Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Charlie: A Love Story by Barbara Lampert

Charlie: A Love Story

by Barbara Lampert

Publisher: Langdon St. Press

Release: January 2012

Pages: 204

ISBN: 9781936782253

Amazon buy link ($14.95):

Barnes & Noble buy link ($14.95):

buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($9.99):


Nook buy link ($9.99):


Barbara and Charlie
Book Summary
Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and the author, Barbara Lampert. It takes place in Malibu, California. When Charlie turned eleven years old and started having some health problems, a journal Barbara was keeping about her garden quickly became mostly about Charlie.

Charlie: A Love Story is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and a human. And as a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, Barbara brings that sensibility and understanding to Charlie’s story as well.

Charlie was Barbara’s loyal confidante and best friend. He was indomitable, had a zest for life and an uncanny emotional intelligence. As Barbara says in her book:

“Charlie’s a big dog, not just physically but in every way. He has a big heart, a big smile, lots of courage, a big appetite, and a great, big, generous spirit. Charlie’s the emotional core of our family, the most solid being I have ever known, and wise beyond his years. Charlie and me. It’s a great love affair, a once-in-a-lifetime connection.”

Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary relationship.

My Thoughts
Charlie: A Love Story is a touching memoir about Barbara Lampert and her golden retriever, Charlie.  What started out for the author as a gardening journal, evolved into a memory keeper of the special, loving relationship of Barbara and Charlie. 

I don't think anyone could read this book without being touched.  I'd suggest you have a box of tissues ready, as you will find yourself tearing up.  I do wish there had been a lot more of the happier stories mixed in with the sad, to balance it out a bit.  There are pictures of Charlie, the author's garden, and the other family pets throughout the book.  Charlie: A Love Story is a beautiful tribute to a very special dog.

Barbara and Charlie
Author Bio
Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology.

Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She considers them the magic on the planet. Barbara has had dogs most of her life and hopes to have at least one by her side always. She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured.

Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty.

Today Barbara lives happily in
Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry.

Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

Knee Deep

by Jolene Perry
May 1, 2012

Publisher: Tribute Books

Genre: YA/Contemporary Romance

Book Summary
Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both. 

My Thoughts
This was the second book by Jolene Perry that I have read.  Jolene definitely understands the complexities of young adult relationships and it comes through in her writing.  She writes about situations that are relevant to today's young adults.

Knee Deep tackles the subject of abuse and violence in a high school couple's relationship.  I think Jolene did an excellent job of bringing to light what can happen in an abusive relationship and the affects it might have on others.

While reading Knee Deep, there were a couple of times that I teared up and there were a couple of times that I had to walk away from the book because I felt uncomfortable.  It reminded me of someone I knew when I was in high school.  A good book is not only about the characters, but the emotions you feel while you are reading.  This is a book I will not soon forget.

Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska
with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of
Night Sky and The Next Door Boys.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An RAOK Surprise

While catching up on my blog reading, I came across a blog post that totally took me by surprise.  I was so touched, that I wanted to take a few minutes to share it with my blogging friends.

I just want to say THANK YOU, Elysabeth!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meet Susan Weston From Ring Around The Rosy

My goal in life was to become a topnotch journalist. I loved writing. Always had. Ever since I can remember that’s all I ever wanted to be. Suddenly, the goal was at hand. Within reach. I got it. My first big byline! I beat out all the other reporters at the scene and the paper printed my story. MINE!
I was ecstatic. So… there I was drinking a cup of coffee and reading my story. My headline! GEORGIE PORGIE PUDDING AND DIE by me, Susan Weston. Word for word just the way I’d written it. Not one word changed. I’d been first on the murder scene the night before. Got there before the cops, so I got a pretty good look at the body. Turned out to be a guy I knew from the neighborhood. Pretty gruesome, too. Not a sight I’m likely to forget. 

So like I said, I was drinking my coffee and reading my story and Okay, gloating a little bit. It made me feel good that for once my story got printed and not those other guys. This was it. I knew it. My big chance. Things were going to change now. No more fluff pieces for me. Nope, now the boss would have to assign me to some good stories. And then everything went haywire. The phone rang. Nothing unusual in that. My phone often rings. Of course I answered. The voice on the other end sent goosebumps up my arm, down my spine, and chills down to my toes. It still does. Just thinking about it.

I could hardly hear the caller. His raspy voice faded out, and I only caught a couple of words. Something about liking my story and strawberries. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I figured it was a crank call. Reporters got them all the time. But something about that call bothered me. Nagged at me. 

My life hasn’t been the same since. To find out what happened, you’re going to have to read my book, Ring Around the Rosy available from Amazon. http://amzn.to/PjLvDp

Susan propped the News Gazette on the counter and focused on the headline. ‘Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Die’ by Susan Weston, it blared at her. Her headline. Her story. She’d done it. Finally got her headline. She drummed her hands on the counter and did a little dance step. She swore if her grin got any wider her face would crack. .”Susan Weston, journalist!” she shouted. God, she wanted to shout it from the rooftops. 

The phone rang, startling her. “Who the heck is calling at this hour? “ She grabbed the phone. “Hello.” Bella rubbed against her legs, waiting to be fed. “Hello?” Susan grabbed the box of kitty food, filled the bowl, and set it on the floor.

“Hello,” she repeated, ready to hang up if no one answered this time.

The evil, raspy voice on the other end sent goose-bumps up her spine. “Who is this?” she whispered.

The voice mumbled something she could barely hear. 

“Strawberries? What are you talking about?”

“Just for you,” the garbled voice continued. 

“I can’t hear you. Who is this?” What kind of sick joke is this?

She caught the words, “loved your headline,” more garbled words, and “Watch for Jack be nimble.” Then the phone line went dead.

Susan grabbed the counter to steady herself. Her hand trembled, and she stared at the phone. She dropped the receiver back into its cradle as if it was on fire. But she couldn’t stop the trembling. Her stomach churned. Nausea filled her throat. What was wrong with her? Just someone playing a sick joke. This wasn’t her first crank call, why react like this? Maybe because none of the others had sounded like this. 

He said he liked her story. That shouldn’t bother her. Something about that voice, so harsh, so evil. It gnawed at her. The hair prickled on the back of her neck. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it. 

After pouring a cup of coffee, she read the story under the headline aloud, trying to keep her mind off the phone call. “Police are investigating the death of thirty-one year old George Lucas, whose body was found last night in Lagoon Park near his west side home.” The sound of her shaky voice surprised her. 

What was the matter with her?  “Get a grip, girl.” 

Must be the effect of seeing the lifeless body. The way George Lucas’s eyes stared into space. What was he thinking when he looked into his killer’s eyes? The distant street lamp didn’t help. It cast an eerie shadow on the victim. His face frozen in terror, lips parted in a silent scream, and his head tilted to one side as if it was too heavy for his neck. The way one hand clutched at his throat and the other gripped the note, fingers frozen around it, sent icy chills through her, even now. She shuddered.

Thank God there wasn’t any blood, since the image would forever be embedded in her mind. Susan rubbed her arms to warm them. 

Picking up the paper, she continued to read. “The coroner will determine the cause of death, but early reports indicate that Mr. Lucas was strangled. Lipstick was smeared across the victim’s mouth, and he clasped the nursery rhyme, ‘Georgie Porgie,’ in his hand. The teen who discovered the body reported seeing a man carrying a bag and wearing a gray shirt running from the park moments before. Police have no suspects at this time.” 

Bella brushed against her legs, jumped on the counter, and snuggled against her. 

Susan’s heart pounded. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. So much for the thrill of seeing her name on the front page. The image of the body filled her mind. Her hands trembled while she held the paper and reread the headline with her name below it. It was exactly as she had written it — not one word changed, short and to the point. 

George Lucas lived in her neighborhood. She’d seen him a few times in Meliti’s Market talking to old Mrs. Meliti. Although they never spoke, they had nodded and smiled hello. Nice-looking guy, about her age. What a shock seeing him dead. Another shiver shook her body. Seeing a dead body was bad enough, but knowing the victim threw her for a loop. Made it personal.

Arriving only a few minutes before the police showed up and ordered her to leave, not that they had to tell her twice, she had viewed the crime scene and then skedaddled lickety-split. She knew enough about crime scenes to maintain a distance, knew if she got too close, she’d compromise the scene, maybe even leave trace evidence of herself behind. She didn’t need that. But she’d been close enough to read that paper in his hand, a nursery rhyme. She’d seen every gory detail.

The nursery rhyme letters, cut out from newspapers and magazines, and bowl of chocolate pudding and the strawberry pie that had been dumped on the victim’s head would stay in her memory for a long time. Of course, the police requested that information not be printed. 

Requested, hell. Demanded was more like it, but Susan understood. Those were facts only the killer knew, and it prevented crank confessions. Couldn’t give the public too much information. After waiting behind the crime scene tape long enough to hear the possible cause of death, she hurried home to write her story before the deadline.

Susan walked around the kitchen. To sweeten the deal, her colleagues hadn’t shown up until well after they’d taped off the crime scene, hadn’t seen what she’d seen. So Ernie printed her story. Her first big byline!   Even that cocky reporter, Dan Hill, hadn’t beat her out this time.

Staring at the large headline, she sipped her coffee. The words from the phone call rambled around in her mind. 

“Strawberries. The voice on the phone said something about strawberries. Strawberry Pie dumped over the victim’s head.” Her voice cracked at the memory.

Only the killer knew about the pie. Her body shook. Had she been talking to the killer? What else had the caller said? Jack be nimble. Another nursery rhyme.

Grabbing the counter to steady herself, she repeated part of the nursery rhyme “Jack be nimble…” 

Her mind raced. She pushed away from the counter and paced the kitchen, trying to remember the rest of the rhyme. 

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick. That’s it!”

What the heck did it mean? Was he going to kill again? Was there a serial killer out there? 

She grabbed the phone and dialed the police department. Maybe it was nothing, but she needed to report it. Something didn’t sit right.

Roseanne lives in Northeast Ohio and where she enjoys life as a wife, mother of six, grandmother of fourteen and great grandmother of one.  Besides writing, Roseanne enjoys embroidery and quilting, especially combining the two. She also enjoys blogging, tweeting, facebooking and posting on various writers groups.  

Visit Roseanne at her website www.roseannedowell.com or her blog http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

The Soldier's Wife

by Joanna Trollope

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 320

Book Summary
What happens when love and duty collide?

Dan Riley is a major in the British Army. After a six-month tour of duty in
Afghanistan, he is coming home to the wife and young daughters he adores. He’s up for promotion and his ex-Army grandfather and father couldn’t be prouder. The Rileys are united in support of Dan’s passion for his career.

But are they really? His wife, Alexa, has been offered a good teaching job she can’t take because the Army may move the family at any time. Her daughter Isabel hates her boarding school—the only good educational option for Army families—and starts running away. And Dan spends all his time on the base, unable to break the strong bonds forged with his friends in battle. Soon everyone who knows the Rileys is trying to help them save their marriage, but it’s up to Alexa to decide if she can sacrifice her needs and those of her family to support Dan’s commitment to his work.

With her trademark intelligence and grace, Joanna Trollope illuminates the complexities of modern life in this story of a family striving to balance duty and ambition.

My Thoughts
Although The Soldier's Wife is a work of fiction, I felt that it gives the reader a chance to see what the struggles are that a military family might go through.  It can be hard on the spouses, children, and extended family while the soldier is away.  Will their loved one be safe?  Will they come home alive and in one piece?  It's a waiting game that can be full of anxiety and worry when a loved one is off to war.  The flip side of that is when the soldier comes home.  With the joy can be a whole other set of worries and anxieties.  Will the transition of melding back into a family be a smooth one?  How much will each person have changed?  Will the family be making another move, to who knows where?

I found The Soldier's Wife a hard book to put down.  The characters drew me into the story and into their lives.  I kept wanting to tell Dan and Alexa to sit down and talk to each other.  You can't make the marriage work if you don't make the time to talk and share about your lives.  And poor Isabel.  She didn't want to be at boarding school, so she chose to run away.  She just wanted to be home with her family.  And still her parents didn't get it.  They sent her back!  There are other people in The Soldier's Wife, such as Alexa's friend Jack, and Dan's father and grandfather.  They just want to see Dan and Alexa work things out for the better.

At the end of the book, there is a section of Topics & Questions For Discussion, Enhancing Your Book Club, and A Conversation With Joanna Trollope.

This was the first book of Joanna Trollope's that I have read, but it won't be the last.  I enjoyed reading The Soldier's Wife and I would recommend it to others.

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years. She is the author of seventeen highly acclaimed bestselling novels including Daughters-in-Law, The Other Family, The Rector’s Wife, A Village Affair, Other People’s Children, The Choir, and Marrying the Mistress. She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen’s Birthday Honors List for services to literature, and is the current chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. She lives in England.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Review of Listening To Africa


by Diana M. Raab

Publisher: Antrim House

Release: April 18, 2012
Paperback, 70 pgs.

ISBN: 9781936482184

Book Summary
Poet Diana M. Raab travels to the heart of Africa with her family to experience the beauty and fascination of another world. During her safari, she observes the distress, the delight, and the dignity of the humans and animals who live there and parallels them with her own quest for health.

Here is one of the poems you will find in Listening To Africa:

Mischievous Monkeys

This morning as I sat reading my book
inside the empty breakfast tent,
my eyes caught some stirrings
on a buffet of exotic cheeses.

A family of funny monkeys
from a neighboring tree were tempted
by this edible fermentation, as they
sprang themselves onto
the decorated elongated table. 

I stood up and tip-toed in their direction.
After another monkey spotted me
and stared deep into my green eyes,
warning me to leave, he tossed 

himself onto a nearby branch,
cheese dangling from his primate mouth.
The hostess announced her presence
and clapped them away while another rascal
dropped slippery green grapes to the ground

and scurried up yet another tree.
He glanced back at me like a naughty child
who understands a forehead
written with punishment, 

like the one given to my children
during their own mischievous moments.

Here in this African jungle,
I do not want to be a parent—
all I want to do is chuckle
and slowly sip my coffee
and skip along with my day.

To read other sample poems from Listening To Africa, click on the following link:  http://listeningtoafrica.blogspot.com/search/label/Sample%20Poems


Other Reviews
“Diana M. Raab makes a pilgrimage from the 'familiar neon of home’ in America to Africa, bringing her family, her passion and her pen. Her moving words carry us with her in narrative poems re-plete with vision, humor and irony. In her inner and outer journey, the poet transforms fear and sadness into beauty and love as her heart opens 'in this place which will remind you of your reason for living.’”
- Susan Wooldridge
author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

“Diana M. Raab takes us on a joyous poetic journey of words and photos. She juxtaposes her wisdom, essential wellness and depth of feeling in exploring four-legged friends, illness, and hope, making this an extremely powerful collection."
- Cara Nusinov
author of Unrequited Loves and Other French Kisses

My Review
Listening To Africa is an interesting collection of poems about the experiences of Diana M. Raab and her family's time in Africa.  The poems are divided into four sections, which are titled: Early Thoughts, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.  Through poetry, Diana M. Raab has shared her experiences and observations of Africa, it's people and their cultures, and the animals living out in the African Plains.  Raab, through her poetry, also shares her observations of life in America to that of life in Africa. 

Although I have never physically been there, I was able to experience a bit of Africa through Raab's words.  After reading Listening To Africa, I don't think I'll ever look at life the same way again.  I know that I am truly blessed to have all that I have.  

I would recommend this book of poems for anyone who enjoys reading poetry or wishes they could visit Africa.  

Diana M. Raab is a memoirist, essayist and poet. She has a B.S. in Health Administration and Journalism, and an RN degree from Vanier College in Montreal, in addition to an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Spalding University’s Low-Residency Program.

Diana has been writing from an early age. As a child of two working parents, she spent a lot of time crafting letters and keeping a daily journal. A journaling advocate and educator, Diana teaches creative journaling and memoir in workshops around the country. She frequently speaks and writes about the healing powers of writing.

She’s the award-winning author of eight books, and the author of over 500 articles and poems. Her release is
Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Depression, co-edited with James Brown, which is a compilation of essays by renowned writers discussing how addiction has influenced their literary lives. She is also editor of Writers and Their Notebooks, a collection of essays written by well-known writers who keep journals.

Raab is the author of two memoirs,
Regina's Closet: Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal, winner of the 2008 National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir and Healing With Words, the 2011 Mom's Choice Award Winner for Adult Nonfiction.

She is also a registered nurse who teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and at various writing workshops across the country. She is the author of four poetry collections,
My Muse Undresses Me (2007); Dear Anais: My Life in Poems for You (2008), winner of The Reader Views Award and an Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award; The Guilt Gene (2009); and Listening to Africa (2012).

Her poetry and prose have appeared in national journals and anthologies such as
Rattle, Rosebud, Litchfield Review, Tonopah Review, Writers' Journal, A Cafe in Space, the Toronto Quarterly, Common Ground Review, The Smoking Poet, Snail Mail Review, New Mirage Journal, Lucidity, Blood and Thunder, Jet Fuel Review, Ascent, and The Huffington Post.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bride-and-Seek by Elysabeth Eldering


by Elysabeth Eldering

Published by: Elysabeth Eldering on Amazon

Genre: paranormal romance

Cover design by: H. C. Paye

Format: eBook, available for Amazon Kindle

Book Description
Based on the legend of Covington Manor, Bride-and-Seek introduces us to Isabella, a young woman from a wealthy family in the 1800s, as she anxiously waits to learn who her betrothed will be. She trusts that her father will choose wisely for her, but her heart yearns for it to be her best friend William.

At the masked ball thrown in her honor she falls for the man who claims the first and last dance of the evening, the man who makes her heart beat faster and her blood pulse stronger.

After the wedding, the celebration ends in tragedy as the lovers are parted by the cruel turnings of a simple game of hide-and-seek.

My Thoughts
Bride-and-Seek is a story that is based on a legend about a young couple who gets married and the tragic event that takes place on their wedding night, because of playing the childhood game of hide-and-seek.  

Although I found Bride-and-Seek interesting, as it was based on a legend I was already familiar with, I didn't feel drawn into the story.  I didn't feel a connection with the characters that, for me, makes a story truly memorable.  I would have liked to have seen this story expanded on, perhaps letting readers learn about the friendship between Isabella and William.  I wanted to know why Isabella yearned for William to be her betrothed. 

Since Bride-and-Seek is labeled a paranormal romance, I thought some kind of mention about a ghost or spirit might have added to the story.  

If you like romance with a bit of tragedy, then you might want to read Bride-and-Seek.

AUTHOR BIO - Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series.  Her stories "Train of Clues", "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests).  Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.  Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet.  When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her writing.  

For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog at http://jgdssseries.blogspot.com or the JGDS website at http://jgdsseries.weebly.com

For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog at http://elysabethsstories.blogspot.com or her website at http://eeldering.weebly.com


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