Archive for the ‘book review’ Category



“Vivi had draped herself across the chaise longue, her lacy coverlet laid loosely about her. I wondered had Edna had done this before she left. I stirred and tried to sit, but found myself quite weak, my head yet swimming. I had rustled the covers, though, and the whispered sound apparently woke Vivienne for she sat up just then.”


“Vivienne was nothing but kind and gracious, and served me quite flawlessly. Grier made biscuits, especially for me, Vivi told me. There was ham and scrambled eggs and fresh peaches and cream. There was fresh churned butter and honey from the beehive for the biscuits. And glorious coffee.”


rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

VIVIENNE:  Bonjour, Robin. I believe it totally fitting for you to address me by my given name. You did give it to me, after all.

rem:  You grew up on Saisons Plantation. Tell us what that was like.

VIVIENNE:  Oh my goodness. I was born the year after the war started. My first memory is Papá announcing freedom to all the Negroes. He gathered us all under the great oak tree—the one with the swing now—and told them that any who wished were free to go.

rem:  What a poignant moment.

VIVIENNE:  Oh, it was indeed.

rem:  What a tremendous thing your father did. I’m sure they were grateful for their freedom.

VIVIENNE:  smiles They were, Robin. But none of them left Saisons. They all stayed with us and were paid servants instead.

rem:  I recall how benevolent your papá was.

VIVIENNE:  He was kind to all.

rem:  You and your husband run the plantation now, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Henry has a passion for the tea and rice.

rem:  You have a special blend of tea. How did that come about?

VIVIENNE:  laughs When Eti and Gérard and I were small, we were playing at making tea, using pecans.

rem:  How inventive you were.

VIVIENNE:  We were small. We used what we could. laughs We also made pies from mud.

rem:  Who’s idea was it to use pecans?

VIVIENNE:  sighs Eti’s. She always was most inventive.

rem:  I understand you and she were close.


rem:  Can you tell me about her.

VIVIENNE:  hesitates, takes deep breath She was a ray of sunshine, a bundle of joy. No one didn’t love her.

rem:  You had the same birthday didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  smiles Yes. She arrived the day I turned three. Just months before the war ended.

rem:  She followed after you wherever you went.

VIVIENNE:  And mimicked everything I ever did.

rem:  Was that annoying to you?

VIVIENNE:  Mercy, no. I delighted in it.

rem:  pause She died a very tragic death. Can you tell us what happened?

VIVIENNE:  She was pushed. We all knew it. She was in her wheelchair, and fell from the balcony outside her rooms. She couldn’t even stand—she was yet recovering from another fall.

rem:  Also not an accident, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Suzi was so tiny but she saw… She didn’t know who it was, and couldn’t describe very well.

rem:  You knew who it was though, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  Yes. We all knew. It was Lissette Fontaine.

rem:  Vivienne, I’m so sorry.

VIVIENNE:  Thank you. Please forgive my temper. After all this time… I forgave the woman, but it still pains me.


rem:  You raised her girls, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  loud sigh Yes, I did. They were a delight.

rem:  Where was their papá, Monsieur Rowan?

VIVIENNE:  closes eyes She seduced him. And then ran off—and took our dear Simone.

rem:  Dear Vivienne, you have suffered great loss.

VIVIENNE:  We all did. Violet stopped talking, Suzi became most belligerent. They both had nightmares. pauses We adjusted, though. They are now delightful young women.

rem:  A change for you, I’m sure, after raising three boys.

VIVIENNE:  laughs Most certainly different.

rem:  Vivienne, I thank you for chatting with me today. My condolences on your losses.

VIVIENNE:  I thank you, Robin. And it has been my pleasure.









The pursed expression on Eléanore’s face was most entertaining. Clearly she viewed Violet’s mute tongue as a deficiency, and her ability to communicate using her hands as some sort of sacrilege.

            Violet looked to Vivienne, who signed back to her that all was well, and to dismiss the vieille vache. The old cow.

            Vivienne smiled quite demurely, laughing most gaily with her amber eyes. Violet smiled large and satisfied.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Vivienne Hampton, Lissette Fontaine

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Who better to share your dating woes with than your best friend? Who better to compare online dating profiles with? And the dates as a result of online dating?


Lia Promise’s love life has been stagnant as yesterday’s IV. With no prospects in sight, Lia takes to online sites. And ropes her bestie in for the ride.


But Maverick Hoyt doesn’t feel the need-for-speed, and goes along to make Lia happy. That’s what best friends do, right?


As they compare notes, and with one bad date after another, will they realize true love has been right in front of them all along? Will they step aside from their own methods and take a look at the hand of God—and what He just might have been up to all along?



What a fun and adorable story! Watching the friendship between Lia and Maverick, I felt like I was at the next table at the diner, overhearing (not eavesdropping, never eavesdropping) their conversations. Each week as they commiserated, I could feel the frustration mounting. I wanted to punch more than one mouthy date in the nose, and I wanted to offer my shoulder to cry on. I sensed hearts turning and love blooming—and the resistance to it. I laughed as they laughed and watched, from my table in the corner, as love settled—over one of them.


I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



Heather Gray loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. Her books almost always include someone who’s infatuated with coffee, too. Some things just can’t be helped. Heather delights in creating characters who, like her, have their share of faults and foibles, characters who are flawed…but loved anyway.












#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, An Informal Affair, Heather Gray, Love at First Laugh

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“Exactly, Pearl.” Simone tapped her head with her finger. “You are a lady, and the degenerate rake likes ladies.”

If it were not for Scarlett and his treatment of her, I would wonder of his reputation. What I knew of his beloved first wife… Perhaps he grieved so deeply… Something was amiss, I felt it.

“Well Merc surely can’t go. He won’t acknowledge her station.” Pearl turned from the window, rubbing the chill from her arms. “And you can’t go. He thinks you’re dead.” For all her grace and etiquette Pearl sometimes had no tact.

It dawned on us all at the same moment—Simone would be the one to deliver the watch to Fontaine, precisely because he thought her dead—dressed in gray and white with ashes smeared over her face and arms—she would pose as a ghost.

We arranged a time, after Simmie’s 1:00 feeding, and I crept down the stairs. It was a new house so there were no creaky steps. My feet absorbed the plush cushion of the velvety carpet and I slipped on my old work boots on the stoop as raindrops flicked the ground.

Shrouded in a black riding cloak, Simone had donned her costume and followed me out the door. She had spent much time barefoot as a child, and the habit had carried to her adult life. I wondered for a fleeting moment did her time in the village influence her preference.

Tonight she wore no shoes.

Pearl and I both were garbed all in black, my pale hair tightly coiled beneath a black wrap. No hats, only our dresses and cloaks, both against the damp chill and to veil our presence.

Without le bébé inside me, I moved as lithely as Simone. Pearl was light on her feet, but not in the dark and not along the bank of the canal. Tonight would not be the time for her to repeat her episode and fall into the muddy water.

Pearl had sent a message to Scarlett with instruction that it be delivered directly into her hand. If Scarlett was unavailable, Tierney was to read it. Tierney was fond of Pearl and would do whatever she required, no questions asked.

The door was not only unlocked, but stood open. Not a single light flickered, and no shadows evidenced themselves; it was utter darkness. Pearl and I slipped our shoes off and tucked them in a bin by the door.

I led the way by virtue of my former status and therefore, my familiarity with the stairs and passageways as they turned and twisted. As a younger woman, I had visited with Abigail and Harley. Abby and I were dear friends still.

The stairs and hallways were something out of a medieval tale, veering off, hallways offset, alcoves with stairs that climbed upward but no corresponding steps descending. Fontaine had even specified a tower, six stories high, but the room at the top was unbearable in the summer heat. I remembered tales of someone dying in the heat in that room while locked in.

Also cloaked in black, Scarlett waited in an alcove at the end of the passage. She knew a trick to open the door without making a sound. I cast a chastising glance at her. Of all of us, she was at greatest risk. If Fontaine awoke and saw any of us other than Simone, he would have all our necks, regardless of our station or our wealth, or even that Simone had his precious watch.

I knew from talking to Scarlett that Fontaine slept alone unless he had company in his bed. His pitiful wife was abandoned to her apartments, living as much in solitude as Madame Marchand, though not of her own choosing. I knew also that he drank heavily of his whiskey of an evening till he passed out. We used this knowledge to our advantage.

Scarlett had not been part of our planning but she offered what was at once the greatest proposition and the most dangerous—Simone would ride on her shoulders giving even greater impression of a visiting specter. She carried Simone with ease.

Fontaine had an enormous bed with massive columns at the corners. The ceiling was coffered above, and heavy drapes enclosed the space. Scarlett said they were always tied back; it wasn’t cold enough in South Carolina to ever draw them closed. Pearl and I padded to the sides and loosed the ties, the drapes casting the bed and its drunken occupant in utter dark.

Next we drew the windows open, the chill breeze blustering through. My blood ran cold as Fontaine’s gravelly voice rumbled. We all held still as the statue in the square, and I wondered I didn’t faint away from holding my breath.

He muttered something about Sessy and the fire. My skin crawled.

He gargled and wheezed, then it sounded like a wild beast as he settled into slumbered snoring.

I released my breath and resisted the urge to drop to my knees in prayerful thanks.

We had brought candles, and Pearl and I now lit them, placing them on three tables between the windows, away from drapes and wind so they’d neither be extinguished nor catch the drapes ablaze, but would cast shadows with the movement of the wind. We then slid to the wall at the head of the bed and whispered hushed moans, high and plaintive.

Fontaine mumbled again, calling out for Sessy.

Then he saw her and he shrieked like Pearl had when Simone had killed a cotton mouth one summer when we had been dipping our feet in the canal. I feared his staff might awaken and come to his aid; I didn’t realize they would neither hear him nor care if they did.

He sputtered and muttered, and like the character in the Charles Dicken’s tale, begged the spirit to leave him be.

Simone raised an ash-smeared white hand and pointed at him. I couldn’t see him but imagined him to be trembling, clutching the covers to his chin. I could, however, hear his piteous whimpers and felt a fleeting sense of pity. We had banked on the man’s superstitious nature and his lack of interest in all things godly and I now felt we were taking cruel advantage. I knew because Scarlett had told me, he was deathly afraid of ghosts—and here we were perpetrating our ruse with the very thing he feared most in life.

Pearl and I increased our wailing, and so too, did Fontaine. Simone held her position, her accusing finger seeming to reach right into his soul.

When I thought the man could bear no more—truly when I thought I could bear no more—Simone pulled her hand back inside her cloak and pulled the hood over her face. I was by the windows and extinguished the candles, then dropped them to the ground below. Still moaning soft and low, Pearl and I padded to the end of the bed and released the ties at the end, then we left the room quickly and silently, slamming the door behind us and leaving Fontaine bellowing like a wounded bear.

Scarlett led us to a secret stairway and we made our hasty exit. She had said she would retrieve the candles from the ground. We took no time for friendly affection in parting but knew we’d not risk coming to see Scarlett for several days at least.

“Did you leave it?”

Even in the dark, I knew the expression on Simone’s face. “Of course I left it Pearl.”

“I know you did.” Pearl’s breath was ragged. This was the most daring thing she had done in her pampered life. “I was so scared.”

“We all were, Pearl.” I caught just the movement, and that more of a whisper of sound, but I knew Simone had taken Pearl’s hand in hers.

We walked in silence for some minutes. It was the middle of the night and the darkness was eerie, perhaps spookier because of what we had just done.

I was a woman now of seven and twenty years, a wife and mother. I was no longer the adventuresome adolescent I had once been. I made my decisions based on prayer and deliberation, not whimsy or irrational diversion. What had we just done? What were we thinking?


The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind.


It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.


Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.


But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.



#Blogwords, Special Edition, The Long Shadows of Summer, Excerpt, Release Feature

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When artist Willow Sharpe throws herself in front of the riding lawnmower to save her fairy world from being mowed over, the landscaper thinks she’s more than a little loopy.


Clint-doesn’t-talk-much-Kirkland is fascinated by the pixie artist woman. And yet he is drawn to her.


But if opposites attract, can they find common ground and let their hearts do the talking?



This is my first read by Ms. Coryell and I’m sold. The story zings with fun and the snappy dialogue bounced. As an artist, I totally relate to Willow’s reaction to her endangered fairy scape—and her incessant chatter… And with her heart as love begins to stir. I enjoyed as Willow transferred the things of her life to her fairy character—and when she created a Clint character to go in her storyline.

Ms. Coryell has written a clever story within a story, life imitating life imitating life, love on the page… on the page. Sweet and silly and fair-ily delightful.


I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.




USA Today bestselling author Christina Coryell was born and raised in southwest Missouri, where she lives with her husband and children. She had plenty of people tell her that her degree in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing would be useless. They were probably right. Added to her dual major in History, she became the least likely candidate for nearly every career on the planet, save being a writer. That suits her just fine.

Christina has written from the back hatch of an SUV, in a lawn chair while at soccer practice, in the front seat of her car, with kids climbing on her, and often with extremely loud noise in the background. At least half of her books have been written during baseball games.

She believes great fiction mirrors life, and great life contains a little humor, so it’s difficult not to sprinkle a little funny business throughout her work. Oh…and character is everything.
She loves hearing from readers. You can find all the ways to connect with her at www.christinacoryell.com





#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, Mowed Over, Pepper Basham, Love at First Laugh

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Making plans is normal. Right?


Mari Jenkins had a plan. It was a good plan. She could work the plan. And a stint as a nanny fit in her plan. Sorta.


What did not fit in her plan was Brandon Stone. And especially not his spur-of-the-moment style.


But Brandon’s impulsive and guileless fun draws Mari away from her carefully scripted life. And her plans—and her hope for normal—flitter away.



Ms. Phillips weaves such a delightful tale around some not-so-delightful life issues. Mari’s need for control in a life that has been out-of-control hits close to home for this reviewer. Her conflict over letting go of some of that control, and the stirring of love. But will she cling to her plan and her drive for normal? Or will she let go and make room for some not-so-normal in her plan?






I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.




Krista Phillips writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect at www.kristaphillips.com.








#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, A (nearly) Normal Nanny, Krista Phillips, Love at First Laugh


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Opposites attract. But do they stick?


Black and white, no gray area, Ethan Keller.is quite put off by taste-the-rainbow Nora Simeon. Travel weary and utterly out of her element, she does not make a great first impression. Then again, spouting ill-tempered words at the innocent desk clerk, neither does Ethan.


Thrust together in a compromising situation, Nora and Ethan both back-pedal their previous foul attitudes. And maybe, just maybe even see the pleasant attributes the other has to offer.


As Nora becomes less of an aggravation and problem to be solved, can Ethan taste taste some rainbow in his own life? Does Ethan offer the hand-in-glove solution to Nora’s dilemma?




Ms. Basham has created a colorful masterpiece with her latest Britillachian story. Caught in an unthinkable—and rather compromising—situation, Ethan and Nora run the gamut of reaction and emotion, and Ms. Basham paints their story with skill.



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.






Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. In December 2016, her third historical in the Penned in Time series, The Thorn Healer – released with a 4 1/2 star review from RT and a Top Picks rating. You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.











#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, Second Impressions, Pepper Basham, Love at First Laugh


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There can be more than comfort in food… 

What could well-known and wealthy Graham Cooper Jr. have in common with a blogger like Sloane Bradley, a woman with secrets she’s kept firmly out of the public eye? That is, besides a love of food. Sloane still can’t believe Cooper’s the chef at the restaurant she’s been assigned to promote. But she’s boiling to prove to him that her “little blog” can put his place on the map. She can also fall head over heels for the guy, who has secrets of his own, it turns out…except for one thing. She can’t get past the post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps her walled up in her home studio.


He’d arranged a bouquet of colored pens in a chunky ceramic mug printed with the Simone logo. Paper clips, Post-it notes and bigger notepads were lined neatly in one corner, arranged by color. A flutter of picture-perfect giddiness set loose in Sloane’s stomach. Bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes occupied the other corner.

“It’s not much, but—”

“It’s perfect.”

Their eyes held for less than a second, charged with a rushing revelation for Sloane.

Cooper had been paying attention. And, despite all the weirdness, he got her.


rem:   Hullo Laurie! Congratulations on your new(ish) book! (which I loved by the way!) If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LAURIEI rather like right now! If I could transplant my life to Colorado Springs or Seattle seamlessly (and adjust for cost of living), I love those two cities!

rem:   Both beautiful locations! Where did you find this story idea?

LAURIEIt started with the idea to have a food blogger for a main character, one whose life was much different off screen than as portrayed on her website. I’m a huge fan of food bloggers and will fall for a pretty food photo (and run straight to the grocery store to make it). J

rem:   Loved how you wove the aspects of blogging and food prep into the fabric of the story. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LAURIE: The story started with Sloane, but Cooper ended up taking over. He was the easiest to write, surprisingly. His father was the hardest. I kept trying to make him more of a villain than my chosen genre allowed.

rem:   He was a tough cookie, and you did that well. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LAURIEWhite cheddar popcorn and an iced unsweet Arnold Palmer (lemonade + unsweet tea) for sure.

rem:   Yummm to the popcorn, not so much to the beverage… What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LAURIECatch up on all the books and all the sleep and all the vegetable consumption, of course!

rem:   I like the vegetable consumption bit! Congrats again on entering the world of authors! Well done!


Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her stories are fueled by faith, steaming mugs of tea, and her belief that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking with her two little sous chefs and testing new recipes on her husband—especially if she doesn’t have to do the dishes.

Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurieTomlinson or her website, www.laurietomlinson.com.


1 – A stick of Irish butter, cubed into tiny uniform squares. Half-cup portions of white sugar, brown sugar, glittering in the light. And the star of the show, a mixture of chocolate chips and crumbled homemade toffee that was good enough to eat with a spoon. All showcased in sherbet-colored ceramic pinch pots and bowls from the flea market.


2 – His words became more flavored with French as he spoke, as if saturated by the remnant of this woman in his mind.


3 – Cooper recognized the pain in her eyes like he was looking into a mirror. Yes, he was very

familiar with the kind of grief that sneaks up on you. With the dark, smothering bag it throws over your head and the way it pushes you into the back of a moving van.


4 – She scanned the room for Cooper and started when she found him looking directly at her. Whoa. She felt like a dunk-tank seat had plunged her into water.


5 – “À la bonne heure.” Cooper could almost hear the words Simone often told him as she poured tea into his mug. “In good time.” Had his time finally arrived?


6 – But some time while he was in Paris, Marian had become a different person. He’d returned stateside to a full-color version of the woman who’d been living in black-and-white when he left.


7 – This was an unfamiliar intersection—memories of Aaron that made her laugh?


8 – But Sloane was aware. Aware of a strange, comforting feeling that was a night-and-day contrast to the pain. To the numbness. Was this what peace felt like? It’d been so long that it was hard for her to recognize it when it sneaked up on her.


9 – “No, Cooper.” Sloane aimed a razor-sharp glare at him, but her lower lip trembled. “You don’t understand. You can’t even begin to understand.”


10 – …can you be free if you won’t forgive yourself?”


11 – That sacred juncture between past and present was a powerful departure from the vicious cycle her life had been. The hand in hers was the love that had taught her to breathe again.


Wow! What a story!


Sloane Bradley is trapped and emotionally broken by a past tragedy. She had her life in order, a very controlled order, and she likes it that way.


Graham Cooper Jr. ran from his past, trading one destructive habit for workaholic. But as his new restaurant nears opening, his passion for cooking sizzles—and for a certain food and promotion blogger.


Both determined that they’re the last thing the other needs, Sloane and Cooper resist the attraction that simmers between them. But will their pasts put a sweet future in deep freeze? Or can they discard expired emotions and stir up a new recipe for happiness?



Ms. Tomlinson’s dialogue sparkles, her writing jumps off the page pulling the reader right in. Emotions are real, and raw, and I could taste the pain and longing. I felt the taunting burn of a past that won’t leave them alone, and the anticipation of hope that maybe the tragedies have reached their expiration date. I felt the need to hang onto the familiar and the longing to taste something new. Ms. Tomlinson has a secret recipe for story telling and it makes a delightful dish.



I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.




#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, With No Reservations, Laurie Tomlinson

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