6/27/17

Thy Paintbrush to Abstract Images - Shavonda Robinson


5+ Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
A collection of poems that will take readers on a constant visual journey by creating a world between an abundant imagination and reality based situations.

This poet has a way of waving her magic wand and putting up a persuasive point of view.

This poet also has super pen powers on the page with a creativity level that cannot be tamed, and she will dazzle you with dazzle you her captivating gift when it comes to connecting with others by using images and musicality to tell different poetic stories throughout the entire book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (POET) -
Shavonda Robinson is an accomplished writer whose credits include being published in a few anthologies and magazines. She also is the founder of Create Something for the future," an online poetry magazine for upcoming poets and writers. She has won a few poetry awards for being most creative and poet of the year in a few poetry competitions and Songwriting awards. She is inspired by the power of words, when it comes to transforming ourselves and our thought's by the written word. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her two beautiful children.


MY THOUGHTS -
Beautifully written poems! Each one so different from each other, very unique and original. I can see why this is called "Thy Paintbrush to Abstract Images" each poem so vividly paints a picture. I can see each poem as a living painting, playing out the story line as I read it.

I found myself nodding as I read most of these, either agreeing with what they spoke to me or thinking in my mind "Yep, been there". Very enjoyable indeed! I do hope she continues to write. I would love to read more by her.

Captivating Taste

Your vision is beautiful.
I am beautiful by your taste.
Different flavors of art,
I can not erase.
Pieces may fall in between
You and I.
I can see your artistic view, faraway.
You are an angel flying away.

Beauty has held me captive for years.
Baby, you got me so addicted
To the colors in you,
Like a rainbow so bright
And full of truth.
Your vision is what led me right to you.
If I could, I would walk through the sea
Just to get to you.

anna get lost in your world,
So I can spend my time
Exploring all of you.
Boy, let me tell you,
Your colors shine through.
Different colors of art
Shall lead me to you.

Your vision is beautiful.
I am captivated by your taste.
You are an angel flying away.
I live in forbidden paradise
Where you and I belong together.
I am captivated by your love.
You dare me to fulfill a naughty dream
When I am thinking of you.
Somewhere in a place
Where I can imagine
You and me together
Until the end of time.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from RABT Book Tours  -  Thank You! 

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6/26/17

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone - GUEST POST

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone Tour Banner

on Tour June 19 - July 7, 2017


 ABOUT THE BOOK -
Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.
The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city's bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.
Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.
When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah's eternal wrath.
CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.
What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.
Purchase Links:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Writing Forbidden – Full of Loss and Risk 

As my research for Forbidden began, I prepared for long hours reading about Islam, and searching for a Muslim consultant. The only task that went smooth as glass was my interview with Edmonton’s imam, Mustafa Khattab. He gave me an armful of books and videos and an ongoing offer of assistance. Too soon, he moved away. Even so, I surged forward believing that learning about a foreign culture is simply a matter of study.

My search for a Muslim consultant took about a year. My criteria was simple. I wanted a professional woman who was Canadian, devout and yet moderate in her practice. Not many Muslims, especially women, are trusting enough to correspond with a non-Muslim stranger. Perhaps I have an honest face, because Dr. Sahar Albakkal saw my Facebook profile page and enthusiastically agreed to help me learn about Muslim beliefs, suggest Arabic names and terminology, history of Islam, and interpretation of the Koran.

Two years into Forbidden’s project, I began to admit that I had taken on an enormous task. And a dangerous one. Friends and family who learned of my intent to write a novel with Muslim characters were curious. When I explained the hero and many of the sub characters were peaceful and kind men and women, their attitude became negative. In fact, sometimes very critical. Relationships ended.

My own dear husband would become nearly livid if I talked about the great things I had discovered about the Middle East and Islam. It soon became clear that behind his agitation was irrational fear. He clung to his beliefs that Muslims are killers, terrorists. Yes, he agreed that there are law abiding Muslims everywhere, but there was no way to know who you could trust. For him, it was better to keep all of them at a distance.

And worst of all, he believed I could be inviting trouble to our home. Other authors have had to run, hide from extremists. It occurred to me also that some readers may have the same distorted views. I visualized them posting spiteful, negative reviews on Amazon. I began to believe that I probably should not publish Forbidden.

Perhaps rumors had reached ISIL, I thought. I watched for shadows near my doorstep, and locked my doors and gates 24 hours. I had joined the paranoia team.

Then I remembered the gift.

On one freezing winter day, I broke my cardinal rule. But there I was, inviting a stranger into my vehicle. I can’t explain the force that over ruled my common sense. And there sat a woman in my passenger seat, looking as terrified as I felt. Immediately, I learned she did not speak or understand English. We nodded and pointed. I smiled, trying to reassure both her and myself. While driving, and trying to figure out how to communicate, I held my hand to my chest and said, “Canada.”

She smiled brightly and said, “Afghanistan.”

I could barely breathe. Stopped at traffic lights, I turned to her. “Afghanistan?”

Her pride was obvious.

She could have been my dear grandmother, the one who made me cookies and wiped away my tears. Instead of taking my hand in a goodbye shake, this dear Muslim woman enveloped in me in her arms and kissed my cheek. A loving spell had been cast, and Forbidden began.

There is no rational explanation for our meeting. I shall never forget her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow! Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog. What an amazing story. It actually brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills! As did your book! It has been so wonderful chatting back and forth with you via email - I will always consider you a friend.

Please read my review of F. Stone's book 
"Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket" - 
 

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6/21/17

Chase Me (A Sage McGuire Romance) - Sharon Kleve


4 Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
Sage McGuire had a great job she loved. All that changed in the blink of an eye when her long-time boss, Mr. Smithfield, had an accident involving an over-sized rubber band. When Mr. Smithfield’s semi-worthless son, Daniel, takes over Smithfield Laboratories Sage figures it’s time to turn her childhood dream of being a PI into reality.

After a night of unadulterated, mind-blowing sex Sage mistakes Sergeant Carter Morgan of the Portland Police Department for a serial killer and runs for the hills, but his sexy pinecone scent and black leather pants have her coming back for more.

Sage’s wild spirit, crazy red hair, and quirky sense of humor take Carter for the ride of his life and he’s more than willing to stick around and see what kind of trouble Sage can get herself into next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

Sharon is a multi-published author of contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other's arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is pick up a new book and sink into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.

Email: sharon.kleve@yahoo.com
Blog: http://authorsharonkleve.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharonrkleve
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKleve


MY THOUGHTS -
I just love these short, quick reads that you can easily do in one or two sittings!
This was a fun, flirty read. I loved the quirky characters - very good character development even for a short story. I still got a good feel for Sage's personality. I also liked Carter :-)  And... well I kind of agree with Carter - I don't think Sage should be a PI. But I don't think she is going to listen to either of us!  LOL
Now, Daniel (Sage's new boss) He was a real mystery - I am really curious about him. I hope the next book explains more. I get the feeling something's up with him that we don't see.

Was the story believable? Not necessarily. But I don't feel that all fiction stories have to be real - it is "fiction"! Sometimes I just want a fun, feel good type book, and that's what this was. It entertained me! It served its purpose! And now I am looking forward to the next one! This was a great summer pool-side read!

If you are looking for something not too serious, a little suspense and a lot of fun - this is the book for you!

OH!!!  PS&BTW - I love the cover! Isn't it cute?

*  The sex in here is not graphic - I didn't have to close my eyes once!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from the author - Sharon Kleve  -  Thank You!  

Order your copy from amazon - HERE

6/20/17

ICED: A Resort to Murder Mystery - by Avery Daniels


June 20, 2017 Book Blast

Synopsis:

Iced by Avery Daniels
Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime.
She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who know what's best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn't understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice.
Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to her widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth
Published by: Blazing Sword Publishing, Ltd
Publication Date: May 31st 2017
Number of Pages: 296
ASIN: B071LFD6JV
Series: A Resort to Murder Mystery, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Kindle Unlimited  | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Today everything in my life changed.
I’m the events coordinator and membership manager, in training that is, at a five star resort in Colorado. Some days, like today, it feels like I was sacrificed to some sadistic little idol somewhere. Coordination of conferences and meetings of all sizes in the resort’s convention center facility was part of my training. But this particular event, a Leadership Luncheon that brought together the town’s community leaders to network, was a challenge from the first minutes this morning.
"Julienne, this event must be executed with precision and perfection." Those are the favorite words of my boss, Chad. This particular event is a daylong exercise in patience.
Every job has its great parts and it’s not so great. Today encompassed one of the more unpleasant aspects of my job. Occasionally, okay usually, the hardest part of my job is the customer relations and today was particularly difficult. Some customers just can’t be satisfied and some events are riddled with issues.
We were only serving a modest seventy-five attendees, but I had already been assailed with special requests and numerous complaints. Picky doesn’t begin to cover it.
“How hard would it be to setup for a video presentation with a large screen and surround sound?”
“There are windows. It’s too distracting, people will be watching the hotel guests walking around.”
“Can we change the setup of room C from an L configuration to a U shape? But only for that one session, then move it back.”
“Can we get the Lobster for the buffet flown in that morning? Scallops are out….Can we have the scallops after all?”
“Music piped in during the breaks?”
“No music piped in at all.”
“Red tablecloths with white napkins.”
“Royal blue tablecloths with white napkins.”
“White tablecloths with yellow napkins.”
“Candles on mirrors for lunch centerpieces.”
“Fresh flowers for centerpieces.”
The changes continued even after the event started.
The Convention Center, with its classic European décor had a small lobby area with a few potted trees and plants on column stands. The rest extended down a hallway with two large areas on each side that could be divided into smaller rooms via partitions that extend from the walls as needed. The space could be up to eight small rooms, four on each side, or any combination from one to four rooms per side of the hallway.
The hallway was wide with several half-circle console tables including marble tops holding large dried floral arrangements and a few elegant chairs. The walls displayed large paintings of the Italian countryside and vineyards with carved gold gilt frames.
I was in a partitioned room overseeing the set up of the lunch buffet. The Italian Renaissance architecture was accentuated with interior details and décor that created a European elegance, all lit with the warm glow of a massive amber glass chandelier.
The room was a rectangle with the entrance from the hallway to one end and the door to the catering staging area at the opposite end. The buffet table was along the wall next to the staging door so wait staff could easy restock food items. The six-person round tables covered in rich golden linens were scattered strategically throughout the room to allow easy traffic flow. The thick carpet felt plush and cloud-like under foot.
I was surveying the buffet table with a critical eye. The five foot long ice sculpture of a swordfish occupied the center of the table and looked as though it was caught in mid leap, frolicking in a wave and ready to dive back into an unseen ocean. My stomach growled as the succulent smells of seafood teased my nose. The attendees would be returning to this room for their lunch and keynote speaker shortly.
"Brad, where are the crab leg metal crackers and little forks? Can you grab a few dozen and bring them right away?" Brad, slim and serious, had joined the team only two months ago and was picking up extra hours at every opportunity. He had asked to work this event as soon as I blocked out the time on the schedule. This would give him a good paycheck. He was lanky and took off with an easy loping stride to the staging area through the back door.
The door to the staging area had barely closed when I felt a hand grab hold of my derriere with an iron hard grip.
"This is more like it honey. I haven't had any fun today."
I whirled around and stumbled back. "Don’t touch the staff. That includes me Pastor Tom." I practically shouted. Pastor Tom Drake was well known around town, and getting national attention lately with his mega church. He was included in the luncheon due to his influence, but he was just Pastor Tom since he was a local guy who started his church and radio ministry from his garage.
I had contended with bad behavior before, but never this grabby. I think I was going to have a bruise left from his vicious hand.
"You’re not being very fri…friendly." I noticed his eyes were droopy and then I caught a whiff of the scotch he must have gotten at the Gilded Hornet pub next to the convention center building.
I decided to alert security we needed a person to monitor the rest of the event and turned to go. His iron hand grabbed hold of my arm and yanked me to him. Without a thought I took my knee to his groin and enjoyed watching his mouth form an "O" as his breath whooshed out. I broke free and backed away. I wasn’t turning my back on him again.
"I will see you fired for that you bitch." He whispered with a jagged voice.
He couldn’t do that, at least I was pretty sure he couldn’t. I guess I’d find out. I rubbed my still smarting arm where he grabbed it. Brad would be back or the event participants would start to wander in so he couldn’t do much more, but I didn’t want to stay and find out. I backed out the door to the hallway toward the lobby and took my cell phone from my pants pocket.
"Hey Ron, we have a person under the influence at the luncheon in Convention Center. Can you spare someone for the afternoon?"
"I’ll make sure somebody’s there immediately Julienne. How bad is this guy?"
"Well, I’ll probably have a black-and-blue handprint on my arm and …my backside." I took a deep breath.
"Son of a … I’ll be right there. You stay away from him." Like I would go near that Neanderthal again, pastor or not.
The other participants were starting to exit the smaller break out session rooms and meander to the banquet room and bathrooms. The noise level began to creep upward from multiple conversations competing to be heard.
There was a loud crash of metal from the banquet room and a participant jerked open the door and froze in place. "Oh sh…" The participant’s mouth gaped and his eyes were large circles.
I ran over to the open door and saw Pastor Tom impaled through the chest with the sharp end of the Swordfish ice sculpture, from his back right through to the front. His head was forward against his chest. Blood, running down the swordfish tip that jutted from his chest, dripping to the carpet. Drip, drip, drip in a macabre but surreal scene.
***
Excerpt from Iced by Avery Daniels. Copyright © 2017 by Avery Daniels. Reproduced with permission from Avery Daniels. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Avery Daniels Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table.

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Avery Daniels. There will be 1 winner of a $15 Amazon.com GiftCard and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Iced by Avery Daniels. The giveaway begins on June 18 and runs through June 26, 2017.
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6/16/17

Big Look Bible Book by Make Believe Ideas


4 Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
Your family will love these classic Bible stories with bright colors and fun shaped pages! Big Look Bible Book is the perfect way to start engaging your child with some of the most-loved stories from the Bible.

Creatively designed for young children who are learning more about God and about some of the most-beloved people in the Bible, the Big Look Bible Book is a fun and unique way to show children the Word of God! Each page is fully illustrated with colorful artwork, and every page has shaped pages to make the stories memorable and unique.

Little ones will love to see the story on the left-hand side of the pages and a giant die-cut image of a Bible character, animal, or scene on the right side! Nine favorite Bible stories are told in a fun style. Stories include Noah and the ark, Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions’ den, the nativity, and many more!

MY THOUGHTS -
Super adorable, bright, beautiful, colorful pictures. Very simple text for very young simple minds.
They chose the "Hot topics" of the Bible -
Adam and Eve
Noah's Ark
Joseph
David and Goliath
Daniel
The Nativity
The Angel's visit
Following the star
Jesus is the reason
With just a two page spread for each mini story.

This book is a great beginning if you have really young children. I am definitely going to use it with my future granddaughter! Really the only thing I felt was missing was Bible references. I wish at the bottom of each page there was the Bible reference to the actual story. That would have made this a 5 star book for me. Other than that, this book is great!

I love this scary picture of Goliath! -


I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers  -  Thank You!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE

6/14/17

Heavy Weather - Normandie Fischer - Audio review & Giveaway!


4 Stars

ABOUT THE BOOK -
Death, life, family, domestic abuse--Heavy Weather explores all these themes in a memorable and compelling narrative. When Annie Mac's life explodes like a storm at sea, she is helpless to fight back. Left for dead, her two children targeted by her abuser, her life appears to be over. The people who help her show her how to weather a storm that she cannot control.

It takes a town to save a child. That town is Beaufort, North Carolina.Fischer
Annie Mac’s estranged husband vows that nothing will stop him from getting his baby girl. Not Annie Mac and certainly not that boy of hers.

Only four blocks away, Hannah Morgan lives in comfort with her husband and dog, making pottery and waiting for her best friend to come home. When she discovers the two children cowering in the bushes and their mama left for dead, it doesn’t take her long to set her coterie of do-gooders to some extra-strength do-gooding. Add in Clay, a lonely police lieutenant yanked out of his comfort zone and into the heart of this small family, and who knows what will happen?

From the author of Becalmed comes this latest tale of the Carolina coast, introducing some new characters to love--and to loathe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Normandie had the best of several worlds: a Southern heritage, access to schooling in the DC area (which meant lots of cultural adventures), and several years of sculpture studies in Italy. It might have been better for her if she'd used all these opportunities more wisely, but it's possible that the imperfect and the unwise also add fodder for the artist and the writer.

Her life changed radically when she married the love of her life at an age when some would have said she was over the hill and way past her prime. (Clichés often speak the truth, don't they?) A lifelong sailor, she was delighted to find that Michael also longed to cruise lovely waters, which is what they did from Northern CA to Mexico, spending too-few years in the incomparable Sea of Cortez. Sea Venture, their 50' ketch, is back home in North Carolina now because Normandie's mama needed care. Still, it's gorgeous there, too, and she can write from home as easily as she could on the boat.

Her two grown children, son-in-law, and two step-sons are handsome (or gorgeous, as the case may be), talented, and a delight. And now there's a new granddaughter and grandson in the mix--woohoo! She just wishes they lived a lot closer to home.
WebsiteTwitterFacebookPinterestAmazon
ABOUT THE NARRATOR -
Having graduated with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Laura has an intrinsic
appreciation of the mechanisms and techniques that comprise the art of the tale. She's able to
analyze the underlying moods and currents of a book and bring these into her interpretation of
the author's work. She believes her place as narrator is to be the facilitator for all the nuances of
the spoken word and the written word between the author and the listener. Her naturally clear
and fresh voice as narrator contributes that extra dimension of enjoyment. Laura works full time as a professional narrator and voice-over artist. She has narrated titles for Tantor Media, Audible Studios, Dreamscape Media, Insatiable Press and Cherry Hill Publishing. She enjoys a quiet lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest with her loving husband and aged beagle, Dottie. Her days are filled with narrating, yoga, hiking and, of course, always reading.
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MY THOUGHTS -
Well this sure is a heart string tugger!
I have to admit this one started out a little slow for me. I mean it was good, but it seemed to drag on a bit. However it did get much better as the story went on and the characters started to develop.

This is the kind of story where you start out not sure which characters to like and which ones not to like. Hannah kind of bugged me at first, she was so unsure of herself, always thinking she "couldn't handle it", I did end up liking her. The kids were great - their character personalities were perfect. Annie Mac was the one I wasn't sure about. I didn't think she was going to get her own personality, I thought the other's were just going to talk about her. But then - she had her own voice in the story and she became real to me. You couldn't help but fall in love with her.

Audio - The reader did a great job! It was easy to follow. She did the voices well without overdoing them. I liked the inflection in her voice as well as her emphasis on certain words. Sometimes all this is hard to do in an audio book.

I really enjoyed listening to this and I actually think I liked it better as an audio. I think it would have been too slow for me as a book. All-in-all and great summer read - but a bit sad, and very heartfelt with a little suspense.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from AudioBookWorm Promotions  -  Thank You! 

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


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6/13/17

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg - GIVEAWAY!

 on Tour June 1 - July 31, 2017   


4 Stars!

 Get Your Copy of Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads!


ABOUT THE BOOK -
The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.

The Turners know in their hearts that they're anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors' homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger's who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett's secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That's what happens when you're practicing normal.

Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

Read an excerpt:

Waving to Jenna as she waits at the bus stop, all I can think is, Please let her go to school today and stay in school all day. Jenna is such a smart girl; I don’t understand why she doesn’t apply herself to her studies. She could be anything. A doctor, even. I was a nurse, but Jenna is smarter than me. Of course, that was twenty years ago. Before I married Everett. Before Jenna and JT were born. Before we ever lived in Pine Estates.
I was the one who chose the house. Everett thought it was pretentious, and it was. All the houses on our end of Pine Road were pretentious. But it was the nineties. Everyone was building McMansions and taking out ridiculous loans to pay for them. Everett had just left his job as a police officer for the job at FABSO (Family and Business Security Options).
We needed to start a new life. We celebrated the new job and didn’t talk about the fact that things could have turned out very differently if his captain had chosen to bring charges against him. Instead, he recommended Everett for the job at FABSO and made it clear Everett would be wise to take it.
I remember lying in bed holding Everett the day he turned in his gun and his badge. He was devastated. Being a cop had been Everett’s dream since childhood. “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a cop. If I can’t be a cop, who am I?”
“You’re a father and a husband. That’s so much more,” I told him. He didn’t say anything about it again. He got to work. He made something of FABSO. And he’s tried so hard to be a good dad.
I don’t remember much about my own dad, and whenever I asked my mother she would say, “There’s nothing to remember about that louse except that he was a louse.” When I pressed her later, after I’d grown up, she’d said, “It doesn’t matter now. He didn’t want to be with us enough to stay.”
All that bitterness can’t hide the fact that when my father left, he apparently took my mother’s heart. She’s spent the rest of her life alone. Except for me. And Evelyn. Although, once Evelyn left home, she didn’t come around much. These days she visits Mama on Saturdays, unless she has something more pressing to do, which is most weeks. Mama annoys her. I suppose I do too. We don’t fit into Evelyn’s shiny, perfect life.
When I first met Everett and told Mama about him, she was skeptical. “A cop?”
I told her how he’d wanted to be a cop since he was a little boy, the same way I always wanted to be a nurse. I gushed about how he told me I was beautiful and how he said he’d been certain about us the first time he saw me. Mama said, “Men will say whatever it takes, Kate. When will you realize that?” But I knew she was wrong about Everett.
I met Everett in the ER. I was treating a patient who was high on coke or meth or God knows what. He was lean and riddled with track marks, his strength coming from whatever drug was flooding his body. I didn’t recognize him as one of our regulars—the ones who showed up like clockwork in search of pain meds. This guy was out of his mind and covered in his own blood from where he’d scratched his thin skin. Another nurse helped me attempt to strap him to the gurney with the Velcro holds, but he was out of his mind and reached for the needle I was about to use to sedate him. Everett was nearby at the desk filling out forms and heard me yell. In just moments, he wrestled the junkie to the ground and held him still as I plunged the needle in. When the man finally collapsed, Everett lifted him back onto the gurney and secured him.
When he turned and looked at me with his green eyes, the same eyes Jenna has, I knew I would marry him. I told him that on our second date. He laughed. I’ve always loved his laugh.
When Everett started at FABSO, he made nearly twice the salary he’d made as a cop. I didn’t need to work any longer. It was our chance. I would stay home and take care of our happy family in our beautiful house in Pine Estates. It was our new start. I thought we belonged there.
When I open the door to Mama’s house, she’s already calling for me. She may be losing her mind, but her hearing hasn’t deteriorated one bit.
“You’re late!” she scolds.
“Sorry, JT had a hard time picking out a shirt to wear today.”
“He’s not a baby! I don’t know why you put up with it.”
I smile at her. No sense taking the bait. “You’re right, Mama.”
“You’ve always been so indecisive. I swear if I didn’t tell you what to do next, you’d stand there like a statue.”
“Good thing you’re so good at telling me what to do,” I mutter as I go to prepare her tea.
Mama wasn’t always like this. When Evelyn and I were little, she was our whole world. She baked homemade cakes for our birthdays, and elaborately decorated them with whatever we were currently obsessing over—Tinker Bell, Barbies, guitars, or, for Evelyn, a computer one year, and the scales of justice the year she announced she was going to be a judge when she grew up.
Mama read to us every night. I remember snuggling into the crook of her arm, even when I was too old to be doing it. Evelyn would be on her other side and our hands would meet on Mama’s flat tummy. I loved the stories with a happy ending, but Evelyn demanded that she read “real books.” She wanted mysteries and thrillers instead of the children’s books Mama picked out at the library. So Mama began to read Nancy Drew, but Evelyn went to the adult aisle and picked out John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. Mama tried to read them to us. She’d come to a part that she felt was too racy for us and she’d hum while she skimmed ahead til she found a more appropriate section before beginning to read again. This drove Evelyn nuts. She’d pout and complain, eventually stomping off. Mama would return the books to the library unread, but it wasn’t long before Evelyn was old enough to have her own library card and checked them out for herself.
In the mornings, Mama would braid our hair, pack our lunches with tiny handwritten notes, and walk us to the bus stop for more years than was appropriate. When Evelyn reached high school, she demanded that Mama stop, but she still followed us with her car and waited to be certain we got on the bus safely.
Now that I’m a mom, I know it couldn’t have been easy raising us alone. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten difficult. But I put up with her increasing number of quirks because I feel I owe her. Evelyn doesn’t see it that way, but then again Evelyn doesn’t feel she owes anybody anything.
“Here you go.” I hand Mama the bitter Earl Grey tea she likes over-steeped with no sweetener.
“I’ve already missed Phillip,” she says as I help her out the door to the back porch. She spends most mornings there, talking to the birds that frequent her multiple bird feeders.
“Who’s Phillip?” I ask, mostly to make conversation. She loves to talk about the birds.
The look she gives me is just like the one JT gives me when my random “Wow” comes at the wrong time in one of his lengthy soliloquies on his current obsession. “Phillip is the male cardinal who has begun stopping by each morning. He comes over the fence from the southeast. He’s usually here before the chickadees move in and take over the birdbath.”
I look at the crowd of birds fighting over the seed at the feeder. They all look the same to me. “I’ve got to take care of a few things at home after I run JT to school; I’ll be back at lunchtime.”
“Always leaving me!” she complains. “You can’t even spend five minutes with your mother.”
I’d protest, but there’s no point. She sees things the way she needs to see them. Rewriting history is one of her specialties. I’ve been listening to her do it all my life. When Everett and I took the kids to the beach last summer, she said, “Must be nice! I’ve never had a vacation.” Yet, I remember several summers when Mama took Evelyn and me to the same beach we were headed to. Or when I graduated from nursing school, Mama said, “I’ve always said you’d make a fine nurse,” when, in reality, she’d been telling me for years that I could never be a nurse because I was so weak at chemistry. She thought I should have considered something in business—like being a secretary. She’s been spinning her stories of Evelyn’s escapades, my mistakes, and my father’s general louse-likeness for so long, she probably believes them as gospel truth. They are, I suppose, at least to her mind.
I hurry home, hoping JT has finally decided on a shirt for school. We’re going to be late if we have to argue about it.
Excerpt from Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg. Copyright © 2017 by Cara Sue Achterberg. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.
 

Cara Sue AchterbergABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller, as was her second, Girls’ Weekend. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for liv- ing a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites.

Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at -
CaraWrites.com | Cara Sue Achterberg on Twitter | Cara Sue Achterberg on Facebook


MY THOUGHTS -
My first book by this author and definitely won't be my last! I really liked the author's writing style. And this book had one of my favorite things I look for in a book - the changing POV. The chapters take turns between Kate, Everett, and Jenna. I love when books do this because it really gives you a chance to get to know all the main characters.

I think this is one of the first books where I disliked both main characters!  Kate - she reminded me of a "Stepford wife" what a door mat she was. I really lost all respect and sympathy for her (or maybe I never really had it). She only slightly revived her status with me at the end.
And I hated Everett because... well that one is easy - he was a major lying cheating jerk! He would feel bad for cheating on his wife, think about how much he loved her and then leave for his mistress' house. The couple of nice things he did do was like putting two grains of sand on Miami beach, just didn't count for much in the big picture.
The only two I really liked was Jenna and JT the two kids. I also thought their characters were done VERY well! Jenna was your typical teenager, well typical in my mind! LOL I was a lot like her. Not "Goth" but I was a rebel! JT's Asperger’s felt very real to me! Even if it wasn't mentioned in the book I would have guessed it just by the character development. I worked in Special ed. for 14 years and I worked with children with Autism and Asperger’s.
Cassie and Laura were also great characters! They were great for Jenna but also the nudge for Kate that she so needed.

Even though I didn't like Kate and Everett - they were so dang addictive!!!  They were like that TV show you know is bad and you shouldn't watch but you watch it anyway because you are hooked. - I was hooked!

There is some major drama in this story as well as some great suspense and - a great ending to boot!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Partner's in Crime Tours Thank You!

 

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