Tuesday, May 4, 2021

REVIEW TOUR: Love on the Edge (Mindful Writers Retreat Series Book 3)

 


Experience love’s emotional gamut from the authors of Mindful Writers Retreat, sure to bring joy and bliss to your heart any time of year. 

From love in the time of war… to love at first sight and long walks in the snow… to sparks flying because of nosy neighbors… Love on the Edge reveals the essence and evolution of the human need for relationship, written in a time when we’re all searching for deeper meaning and connection. 

Featuring works by: Lorraine Donohue Bonzelet, Jennifer D. Diamond, Abigail Drake, Judy England-McCarthy, Phil Giunta, N. J. Hammer, Kimberly Kurth Gray, Hilary Hauck, S. M. Kraftchak, Ramona DeFelice Long, MaryAlice Meli, Amy Morley, Gail Oare, Kim Pierson, James Robinson, Jr., Kathleen Shoop, Demi Stevens, Lisa Valli, Deborah Vita, Madhu Bazaz Wangu, Denise Weaver, and Michele Zirkle. 

Proceeds benefit Allegheny Children’s Initiative—Partners For Quality, Inc.

 
 
Available at....


What a treat!! It was quite the treat to read a book that offered up several stories by authors I have never read before. In fact, I have only read Kathleen Shoop. I’m not going to go into each story as my review would be pages long as there's quite the collection of authors here. These short stories go from just a page or two to several pages to even poems. These are the perfect length for pre-bedtime stories. I kept this book next to my bed for a week or so and read a story or two every night. 

 

I found this collection was more about love than about romance. Romance stories are the best and Love on the Edge offers up several short stories all about romance! Romance just offers this feeling that I can’t get from any other genre... it makes me often smile wistfully to myself. Love on the Edge is about love in general though, not just romance. It’s a story of love between anything or anyone, even an animal, a place... anything that can give you that happy, content feeling in your gut. It’s worth a read and I can pretty much guarantee that this book will offer something for everyone. 

 

I received an ARC of this book with the hope that I would leave an Unbiased Opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that... my opinions.



 
Book Excerpts

Finn & Chloe

Kathleen Shoop

O

nce upon a time a guy sat in a bar. Stood up, mortified, unmoored. Finn Corbett’s perfect life had been balled up and tossed into the garbage like a plane spiraled out of the sky when its engine gave out. He sighed then downed the rest of his Iron City Light, glancing around the Three Rivers Tavern. Had anyone noticed the fat bouquet of ranunculus sitting beside him like it was his Valentine date? He’d gone to three florists on his postal route to find the right combination of every shade of pink and red colors that ValentineDreamer2 had said would melt her heart.

Turns out she was heartless, leaving a guy to stew in his ranunculus juices after sounding so excited to meet him. He checked his watch. Over an hour late. The lights dimmed, the dancefloor filled, and the band cranked out its first moody love song. Time to escape. He slid a twenty for a $4.50 beer under the bottle and stuffed the bouquet into his mail bag. Slipping out of the booth, trying to stay as small as possible, he jiggled the table, knocking the bottle off. A waitress breezed past, scooping it up just before it hit the floor. She set it on the table and bent down. “Um, your flowers.” She straightened bearing a couple of stems.

Pulling up to his full six feet four height, his hairline pricked with sweat.

“They tumbled out of your bag there… oh…” she brushed the blooms with her fingertips. “Like velvet. Ranunculus. A lucky la-dy…” her voice trailed off when she looked back at the table and realized there was no lady. She shoved them toward him. “They’re beautiful.”

“Keep ’em.”

Her face brightened, but before she said more, a customer called her away. Finn pulled his bag-strap over his shoulder and balked, the shocking pain reminding him he’d never get back on the pitcher’s mound if he didn’t baby it a little. Switching the bag to his other shoulder he limped, dismayed. He stopped and lifted his foot. What had he done to it? The leap over the fence when the Rottweiler chased him? The slip off the wet curb when the downpour kept Mrs. Renfrew on her porch with a letter she’d forgotten to add to the box?

He shook his head. Five months since he’d been released by the minor-league baseball team, Altoona Curve. There was only one way back to making his dream come true and that was to be fully healthy. Turns out, being cut from Double-A ball, having no savings or health insurance, made that harder to do than most would expect. But then his luck shifted, just a little tiny bit, like the sun splitting through dark clouds and an ump saying “Play ball,” he found the job as a postal carrier in Pittsburgh.

It had been perfect. His route kept him moving, he had the energy to work out and do physical therapy in the evening and the job paid that bill. All seemed to be going in the right direction until that night there in the tavern when his aloneness sat heavy as a just-filled mailbag. Weaving through dancing couples toward the exit, he considered that he’d never been stood up before, not once in his entire life. Perhaps he should have added the fact he had been (and soon would be again, he just knew it) a professional baseball player to his profile, and ValentineDreamer2 would be nesting the ranunculus in her arms that very moment.

But then he’d have to explain the whole system, why he wasn’t playing right then. It was true, very few people understood the competition in Double-A ball was often better than Triple-A… oh, there he went again. How often did he talk about baseball? Maybe ValentineDreamer2 could sense it through the internet, his self-centeredness sucking away all the energy in the room. Wasn’t that what Sarah had always said to him? Yep. He shook his head as he wove through the Valentine lovers, arms looped around necks, as bodies melded on the dance floor. Perhaps his loneliness had settled in long before he admitted it that night. Perhaps he was getting just what he deserved.


***

Angelica
(A Toxic Botanical Romance)

Lorraine Donohue Bonzelet

A

ngelica’s veins oozed of envy and spite. The sap coursed around her, bleeding down to her last veinlet. The unwanted jealousy was uncontrollable – and it was all Rosemary’s fault!

Before Rosemary’s herbaceous arrival, Edelweiss hovered over Angelica, showering her with loving dew-drops in the morning and glistening winks of his filaments at sunset. He hung high overhead from the rock wall’s crag, anchoring his roots deep into the gritty crevices.

Angelica lived amongst the wildflowers in the field below. She was grateful that she stood a solid foot above the others and closest to Edelweiss’s reach. He was her Noble White Matterhorn and she was his Chartreuse Elixir.

Angelica swooned remembering the days when she would splay her umbels wide and flash her snowy starburst to get Edelweiss’s attention. She wished that his silvery-white leaves would reach down to protect her from the sun and his hairy bracts caress her. Now, looking lovingly up at Edelweiss, all she could see was Rosemary’s orangish underside.

A tender perennial, Rosemary sat in her terracotta throne with the other potted plants: happy-go-lucky pansies, delicately drooping fuchsia, and sweet alyssum. Her handcrafted earthenware accentuated the oversized wrought iron stand that was strategically placed against the rock wall – blocking Angelica’s view of Edelweiss. The entitled plants luxuriated in a three-tiered towering complex, soaking up the organic tilth. From dawn of day until dark of night Rosemary flaunted her soft summer-blue flowers and petite sapid needles. She could almost, but not quite, touch Edelweiss. He shortened the gap, stretching his fuzzy filaments in her direction.

Angelica, on the other hand, was down with the dirt-trodden muck, disrespectfully grouped with the weeds. Her blistering sap was bubbling over! She could not allow Rosemary to connect with her true love. Born and bred on the wild side, Angelica had strong invasive and irritating qualities. But even with all of that going for her, she couldn’t tackle this devious task alone. Angelica called upon the queen of poisons, Aconite. Together they would formulate a lethal toxin to take out Rosemary and win back the undivided attention of Edelweiss. Aconite, the root of all evil, was devilishly up for an herbicidal attack.

Meanwhile, the unsuspecting Rosemary enjoyed being pruned and pampered and praised.


***

For Cheeku

Madhu Bazaz Wangu

A new sun rises, golden yellow, exquisite.

You spread freshness of swaddled joy in my lap.

Lips velvety petals, black amber eyes, silken eyelashes.

Fussy cheeks, wrinkly neck, dimpled hands.

Delight rises from the bottom of my belly, my heart, my head.

I am showered with bliss.


“Do you know who I am?” I ask, smiling from ear to ear. You simply stare.

I can’t stop hugging, can’t stop kissing until

you lay in your bassinet under moonbeams.

When you cry, adoring parents wrap you in a cocoon.

You lull back into a womb like trance.

Kisses on your forehead, on your cheeks, on your tummy

leave a sweetness in me lingering like a lullaby.

My cradle song puts me to sleep to treasure the day in my dreams.


***

Also available in the Mindful Writers Retreat Series...

 
Into the Woods is the title and theme for this assortment of short stories, poems, essays, music, and one walking meditation. Each piece is unique in tone and genre and the result is that the collection captures the fascinating, frightening, fun, healing, and fantastical wonder of time spent in the woods. The twenty-six contributors who attend Mindful Writers Retreats in the mountains of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, are donating one hundred percent of the proceeds to support the research and work of The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Available at....






A holiday pastiche from the authors of Mindful Writers Retreat, sure to light your festive candles!

From a Thanksgiving snow storm that mends old feuds… to the family misunderstandings that fuel new ones… a quirky elf and some romantic stardust will get you ready to go Over the River and Through the Woods on a journey through time!

Proceeds benefit Ligonier Camp & Conference Center Home of the Mindful Writers Retreats, Ligonier, PA

Available at....





Mindful Writers Retreat Authors 


The Mindful Writers retreat together several times a year in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. While there, they write books and come up with some wonderful stories. They share these in their anthologies.


Find the Mindful Writers Retreat Series on Facebook HERE

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I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR'S GIVEAWAY
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$50 Amazon.com Gift Card plus a Love on the Edge paperback
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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

COVER REVEAL: MOO U Hockey






 

PLAYMAKER BY SIERRA HILL

Release Date: June 7, 2021
Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3iFVKDT
Cover Design: Christine Coffey

BLURB:

There’s no faking it in love or hockey...

Transferring to a new school under false pretenses is harder than I expected, especially when my cocky new housemate, Callan Thomas, annoys me at every pass. He’s treated like a god and revered by everyone on campus. Too bad he made me feel like a rejected fool the first night we met.

But that doesn’t stop me from accepting his offer to become his fake girlfriend, because he has skills that I need. Only Callan can help me improve my game and make the USA women’s hockey team.

I try to keep despising him, but he keeps proving my first impression was wrong. And the more time I spend with him, the more complex my feelings become. I need to tell him the truth about who I really am before anyone finds out and things go too far.

Problem is, I think they already have...


SNOWBALLED BY MELANIE TING

Release Date: June 7, 2021
Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/366wdyu
Cover Design: Christine Coffey

BLURB:

She needs Prince Farming . . . but she got me instead.

Sure, life’s been easy for me. Growing up in an oceanside house in SoCal, playing top-level college hockey, driving a luxury car with a generous allowance—sounds like the dream, right? Turns out what I didn’t have was freedom. And when I decided to transfer to Moo U for my last year of hockey, my controlling father cut me off. 

No money, no car, no friends. I’m just another student struggling to make ends meet. The only place I can afford to live is the Meyers’ farm, where I’ll work in exchange for room and board. Farm work is so exhausting that I don’t even have time to wallow in the crappy turn my life has taken. Zoe Meyers is a hot blonde Amazon with all the energy of a chipmunk on crack. And her positivity is making me realize how lucky I really am, even though I’m broke. Too bad she’s not impressed by a guy who can’t figure out which end of a goat to milk.

Because suddenly I want to impress her. I want to do a lot more with her too . . . if I can get her out of the barn and into my arms.



GOALKEEPER BY ANDI BURNS

Release Date: June 7, 2021
Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/39Xy4H2
Cover Design: Christine Coffey

BLURB:

Winning games has always been his focus, but will winning her heart become the ultimate goal?

Everyone at Moo U knows the party doesn’t start until Paige Underwood arrives. Not only is she beautiful, she’s fun and charming too. Guys want to date her, and girls want to be her best friend. All Paige wants is to have a good time and make videos for her beauty channel--and maybe get that girl down the hall to do her eyeliner correctly. Is that too much to ask? 

According to her parents, yes. They’ve said the party’s over and that it’s time to get focused.

Spencer Briggs knows all about focus. He’s had one goal since he set foot on the ice as a kid: make it to the NHL. After years of hard work and endless practice, he’s the starting goalie for Moo U and mere steps away from his dream. He can’t afford distractions, and isn’t interested in relationships. And he definitely can’t afford to flirt back with the gorgeous girl in his lit class. 

He needs to stay serious. She needs to get serious. But now serious sparks are flying . . .




Monday, April 12, 2021

REVIEW & EXCERPT: Just My Luck by Adele Parks


JUST MY LUCK

Author Adele Parks

ISBN: 9780778331735

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: MIRA Books

 

Book Summary:

 Adele Parks has brought her #1 Sunday Times sensation, JUST MY LUCK (MIRA Trade Paperback; April 6, 2021; $17.99) to the US!

 Be careful what you wish for...

 After spending happy hours, parenting classes and barbeques together for the last 15 years, Lexi and Jake Greenwood have celebrated and shared almost everything with the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, including their lottery numbers. Then one night, the unthinkable happens. Someone has been telling lies – lies dark enough to burn bridges and tear the tight group of friends apart. When the Greenwoods win a stunning $23 million in the lottery with their group’s numbers shortly after their dramatic falling out, the Heathcotes and Pearsons believe they’re entitled to part of the prize... and the three couples will do anything to claim what is theirs.

Reader beware: the last chapter will change everything.

A compulsively readable portrait of the fragility of friendship, the corrosiveness of sudden wealth, and the dark side of good luck, Adele Parks’ latest domestic thriller will make you think twice about trying your hand at the lottery.


 Add to Goodreads

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Books-A-Million | Powell’s







 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

Saturday, April 20

 I can’t face going straight home to Jake. I’m not ready to deal with this. I need to try to process it first. But how? Where do I start? I have no idea. The blankness in my mind terrifies me.

I always know what to do. I always have a solution, a way of tackling something, giving it a happy spin. I’m Lexi Greenwood, the woman everyone knows of as the fixer, the smiler—some might even slightly snidely call me a do-gooder. Lexi Green­wood, wife, mother, friend.

You think you know someone. But you don’t know anyone, not really. You never can.

I need a drink. I drive to our local. Sod it, I’ll leave the car at the pub and walk home, pick it up in the morning. I order a glass of red wine, a large one, and then I look for a seat tucked away in the corner where I can down my drink alone. It’s Easter weekend, and a rare hot one. The place is packed. As I thread  my way through the heaving bar, a number of neighbors raise a glass, gesturing to me to join them; they ask after the kids and Jake. Everyone else in the pub seems celebratory, buoyant. I feel detached. Lost. That’s the thing about living in a small village—you recognize everyone. Sometimes that reassures me, some­times it’s inconvenient. I politely and apologetically deflect their friendly overtures and continue in my search for a solitary spot. Saturday vibes are all around me, but I feel nothing other than stunned, stressed, isolated.

You think you know someone.

What does this mean for our group? Our frimily. Friends that are like family. What a joke. Blatantly, we’re not friends anymore. I’ve been trying to hide from the facts for some time, hoping there was a misunderstanding, an explanation; nothing can explain away this.

I told Jake I’d only be a short while, and I should text him to say I’ll be longer. I reach for my phone and realize in my haste to leave the house I haven’t brought it with me. Jake will be wondering where I am. I don’t care. I down my wine. The acidity hits my throat, a shock and a relief at once. Then I go to the bar to order a second.

The local pub is only a ten-minute walk away from our home, but by the time I attempt the walk back, the red wine has taken effect. Unfortunately, I am feeling the sort of drunk that nur­tures paranoia and fury rather than a light head or heart. What can I do to right this wrong? I have to do something. I can’t carry on as normal, pretending I know nothing of it. Can I?

As I approach home, I see Jake at the window, peering out. I barely recognize him. He looks taut, tense. On spotting me, he runs to fling open the front door.

“Lexi, Lexi, quickly come in here,” he hiss-whispers, clearly agitated. “Where have you been? Why didn’t you take your phone? I’ve been calling you. I needed to get hold of you.”

What now? My first thoughts turn to our son. “Is it Logan? Has he hurt himself?” I ask anxiously. As I’m already teetering on the edge, my head quickly goes to a dark place. Split skulls, broken bones. A dash to the hospital isn’t unheard-of. Thirteen-year-old Logan has daredevil tendencies and the sort of mental­ity that thinks shimmying down a drainpipe is a reasonable way to exit his bedroom in order to go outside and kick a football about. My fifteen-year-old daughter, Emily, rarely causes me a moment’s concern.

“No, no, he’s fine. Both the kids are in their rooms. It’s… Look, come inside, I can’t tell you out here.” Jake is practically bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. I can’t read him. My head is too fuzzy with wine and full of rage and disgust. I resent Jake for causing more drama, although he has no idea what shit I’m dealing with. I’ve never seen him quite this way before. If I touched him, I might get an electric shock; he oozes a dangerous energy. I follow my husband into the house. He is hurrying, urging me to speed up. I slow down, deliberately obtuse. In the hallway he turns to me, takes a deep breath, runs his hands through his hair but won’t—can’t—meet my eyes. For a crazy moment I think he is about to confess to having an affair. “Okay, just tell me, did you buy a lottery ticket this week?” he asks.

“Yes.” I have bought a lottery ticket every week for the last fifteen years. Despite all the bother last week, I have stuck to my habit.

Jake takes in another deep breath, sucking all the oxygen from the hallway. “Okay, and did you—” He breaks off, finally drags his eyes to meet mine. I’m not sure what I see in his gaze, an al­most painful longing, fear and panic. Yet at the same time there is hope there, too. “Did you pick the usual numbers?”

“Yes.”

His jaw is still set tight. “You have the ticket?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, it’s pinned on the noticeboard in the kitchen. Why? What’s going on?”

“Fuck.” Jake lets out a breath that has the power of a storm. He falls back against the hall wall for a second, and then he ral­lies, grabs my hand and pulls me into the room that was de­signed to be a dining room but has ended up being a sort of study slash dumping ground. A place where the children some­times do their homework, where I tackle paying the household bills, and where towering piles of ironing, punctured footballs and old trainers hide out. Jake sits down in front of the com­puter and starts to quickly open various tabs.

“I wasn’t sure that we even had a ticket, but when you were late back and the film I was watching had finished, I couldn’t resist checking. I don’t know why. Habit, I suppose. And look.”

“What?” I can’t quite work out what he’s on about. It might be the wine, or it might be because my head is still full of be­trayal and deceit, but I can’t seem to climb into his moment. I turn to the screen. The lottery website. Brash and loud. A clash of bright colors and fonts.

The numbers glare at me from the computer—1, 8, 20, 29, 49, 58. Numbers I am so familiar with, yet they seem peculiar and unbelievable.

“I don’t understand. Is this a joke?”

“No, Lexi. No! It’s for real. We’ve only gone and won the bloody lottery!”

  Excerpted from Just My Luck by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2021 by Adele Parks. 

Published by MIRA Books

 

About the Author

Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her InJust My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.

 

Follow Adele Parks

Author Website

Twitter: @AdeleParks

Instagram: @adele_parks

Facebook: @OfficialAdeleParks

Goodreads


 

 

Monday, April 5, 2021

REVIEW TOUR: The Whispers by Heidi Perks


The Whispers by Author Heidi Perks

 


Publisher: Arrow Publishing
Pages: 399

 

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life.

But what has happened to her? 

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. 

Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And as the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks…

 

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Amazon UKAudible | Hardback

 

I found The Whispers to be one of Heidi Perks’ best novels yet. It was difficult to pause while reading and go about life... it was fascinating to see the clique in action.  It’s hard to get invested in a story when you don’t like the characters very well. Anna, Nancy, Rachel and Caitlyn are a clique of four and they aren’t extremely likeable. This is a story of the secret's women keep from each other from even themselves. You see them all start to fall apart as one of them is incredibly manipulative. She’s jealous. These are all toxic relationships... we get to see I all collapse down in a ring of jealousy and obsessive, secretive women! 

 

Heidi Perks is an amazing author. She developed the characters so flawlessly. I found myself mumbling and being irked right along and at most of the women. I’m not one that likes pettiness and secretiveness but this book has it in spades. Even though it isn’t my favorite to read about petty women or characters in general, I found this one to be more thrilling than I expected. The depth of the character development was amazing. You really feel disdain or sympathy for them. Perks excels in building up the story until you can’t set it down.  

 

I received an ARC of this book with the hope that I would leave an Unbiased Opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that... my opinions.






About the Author


Heidi Perks

I’ve always loved reading and writing and for as long as I can remember I’ve been making up stories, poems and even magazines that I’d sell to unsuspecting family members for 20p. I fell in love with Enid Blyton and books like The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, and somehow managed to get through GCSE’s and A-levels while spending most of the lessons staring out of the window and creating other worlds in my head.  

In 1997 I graduated from university and moved up to London to begin a career in marketing. But after three years I moved back down to the south coast and, drawn back to the sea, eventually to my home town of Bournemouth where I still now live with my husband and two children.

After fifteen years of marketing and thrown into the new world of motherhood I decided to make some changes to my life. I left my job in 2012 to look after my family and finally took pen to paper to start writing a novel I’d been thinking about since a holiday six months earlier.

 The following year I was accepted onto the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course, which fuelled my desire to become an author even more, and I began writing Beneath The Surface. This was published by Red Door in March 2016. 

By then I was already deep in the throes of Now You See Her. I met the amazing Nelle Andrew from PFD who offered me representation and after a year we had two incredible pre-empts for the book from Emily Griffin at Century and Marla Daniels at Simon and Schuster in the US.

I am now writing my next book, which will be released in the UK in July 2019.



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