Still Me by JoJo Moyes – Review, Q&A & Giveaway

Still Me by JoJo Moyes – Review, Q&A & Giveaway

 

 

Still Me
Me Before You series – Book #3
by JoJo Moyes

Amazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

 

Description:
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

 

 

Review:

Still Me by JoJo Moyes is the 3rd book in her Me Before You series. We once again get to follow Louisa (Lou) on a new adventure that takes her to New York.  Her friend, Nathan, gets her a job being the assistant to the wife of a wealthy family (Gropniks).  From the start, Lou is excited to arrive in New York City, and at is very bubbly and talkative when she is at the customs check point.  Nothing changes for Lou, as she is as sweet and adorable as ever.  Though she leaves her boyfriend, Sam behind in England for a year, she is very much looking forward to enjoying the sights and fun of NY. 

Lou begins her job working for Agnes Gropnik, who wants Lou to go with her everywhere, even pretending to others that she is a friend.  Agnes is a polish immigrant who marries the very rich, and lives in the world of high society; with Lou helping her to be more confident.  Agnes will have Lou do things for her that will come back and haunt her later.

When given the chance to go home for a short visit, she catches Sam with another lady, and is destroyed by his betrayal.  She refuses to talk to him, and goes back to NY quickly.  Lou will meet a handsome young man (Joshua), who resembles Will (her ex who died), and together they form a friendship, that will eventually lead to an affair.  Just when she makes friends, and is happy on the job, she is fired for something she did not do.

Luckily, she goes to the aid of an older woman next door to the Gropniks, who was rushed to the hospital after a fall.  Lou will accept the lady’s request to stay at her house, and take care of the dog (Dean Martin lol), and in time the woman will come home and Lou will remain to take care of her too.

What follows is a story that has Lou going through various different emotions throughout.  Her contentment with the first job, then the betrayal of Agnes and loss of job, then happiness working for the older woman, which also opens the door to learn more about fashion.  We also get to see her relationship take a turn with Joshua, that make her realize that intermingling with the rich is not her; she does need to discover the real Louisa Clark.

Through her ups and downs, she will come to realize that she still truly loves Sam. Will Lou allow Sam back into her life and trust him?  Will Lou stay in New York or go back home to England?

I did enjoy Still Me by JoJo Moyes, as it was a refreshing and continuous look at a wonderful heroine, who won our hearts way back in Me Before You.  I do suggest that if you have not read this series, to start with the first book.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Q&A with Jojo Moyes, author of STILL ME
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking)

In STILL ME, you bring Louisa Clark, the beloved character you created in Me Before You, to New York City. Why the transatlantic journey?

I really wanted to stretch Louisa in a place where she would be out of her depth. What’s one of the wildest, most metropolitan places you could land a small-town girl? The heart of Manhattan. I have spent a lot of time in the US over the past five years and most trips begin with some time in New York so I have long been viewing the city through alien eyes myself. It’s tough, exciting, challenging, and unforgiving and enormous fun. The perfect backdrop for Lou’s adventure.

NYC is far from Lou’s home in Stotfold, England—what was your research process for finding the places and experiences that Lou enjoys in the Big Apple?

As well as the time I spend on work trips, I came out in October and did a week’s solid research.  I tried to do all the things that I put Lou through—except sleep in a horrible hotel with bedbugs! A friend got me into one of the really exclusive apartment buildings overlooking Central Park, which was invaluable, and the owner then put me in touch with a very experienced realtor who gave me chapter and verse on the realities of living in one of these places. It’s VERY specific, in the same way that it would be if you were a North or South Londoner, and it was important to me that I didn’t get things horribly off-key.


Reading STILL ME is like catching up with an old friend. How did it feel to revisit the story of Lou Clark and some of the other familiar characters, such as Treena and Ambulance Sam?

I absolutely love writing Louisa. By now she does feel like an old friend. It’s really hard sometimes to find your way into a character, and with her it’s like slipping on your favorite clothes. I know her. I know how she would react to any given circumstance. She’s genuine and funny and a bit daft. But what was fun in this book was to really push her forward a bit. She grows up a lot, especially in the last third of the book. I think like many of us she is really still working out who she is.

One character remarks that New York suits Lou. What is it about Lou that makes you want to take her on new experiences? Why do you think she resonates with readers?

I think Lou is very identifiable for a whole raft of people. In Me Before You, it was about being aware that life had somehow slipped away from you and reaching an age and finding yourself leading a very small life—and not being entirely sure how you got there or whether you even wanted to be somewhere else. But in After You a lot of readers seemed to identify with her grieving process—the difficulty of everybody else expecting you to move on and be cheerful and outgoing when you really don’t feel like that at all. Most importantly, Lou is someone who really tries to do the right thing—but often does the wrong thing—which I think makes her like an awful lot of us…

Class divide is a major theme in your books—Lou often finds herself in circles far different from her working-class upbringing, with employment to the Traynors in Me Before You and the Gopniks in STILL ME. Why is this dichotomy important to you and in your writing?

I think in this book it’s much less class than money. All good narratives thrive on tension, and if you push together rich and poor or upper and working class then you have an inbuilt tension in your story. It’s a growing issue in society—the polarization of money and opportunity—and for most people we will only ever have our noses pressed against the window.

At the same time, I think a lot of us now have the lives of very rich people broadcast to us daily—whether they be Kardashians or movie stars, on Instagram or via other social media, which makes that difference more obvious. With Lou, I wanted to ask how it would feel to step into one of those lives.

There is a thread in STILL ME about a public library on the brink of closing in Washington Heights. What significance does the library play in your life and why is it important in the story?

I am passionate about libraries—they are one of the few cost-free resources that offer people not just shelter but the chance to entertain or improve themselves. I spent some time at a library in a very mixed area of Washington Heights where I saw quite how many different functions the public library performed—from a learning opportunity to a safe place, to somewhere people could make job applications, or just escape from their lives for a while. It really worries me how hard libraries are being squeezed in both the UK and the US. There are so few places that don’t require a financial transaction, that really are just about the joy of learning. Once they are gone we won’t get that resource back again.

Another prominent theme in STILL ME is the struggle for women to “have it all.” Louisa finds herself between the pull of New York high society and her life in England; Mrs. De Witt was torn between her fashion career and family life; Agnes struggled to maintain her old friendships after marrying into wealth. Why is a woman’s unique balance to play many roles in life while staying true to herself important to discuss?

When I was a girl I assumed I was the equal to any boy and that I would be treated the same as an adult. For the most part that was the case—until I had children, at which point I discovered that there is always a choice to be made, always a compromise, and that in most cases that belongs to the woman. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports my work and does his best to be an equal partner in all ways—but I am a rarity. I know elderly women who had to give up their careers to follow their husbands, and I know younger women who gave up their jobs because their partners couldn’t be home for the children. I hope that one day we can find a way to make this a little more equitable. It’s good for men, too!

Fashion is a significant element in Lou’s story, notably the red dress and bumblebee tights in Me Before You. In STILL ME, Louisa becomes involved with an East Village vintage emporium, and Mrs. De Witt is revealed as a former fashion magazine editor. What is your interest in this world?

Well, most of my friends would laugh at the idea that I was massively interested in fashion. My default uniform is shirt, jumper, jeans, boots. I rarely wear anything else. But it feels like such an integral part of Louisa’s character, and over the past few years I have discovered a love of vintage clothes. I have a number of vintage outfits—and suppliers—and I find them so much more enjoyable, both to buy and wear, than just a chain boutique. It’s partly textural—the work that goes into some of these older clothes—beading, cutting, stitching—is just beautiful. Even I can appreciate it!

In a couple of your books, including STILL ME, you created dogs that, much like your human characters, have distinct personalities and quirks. Why do your animal characters receive such prominent roles?

I guess because animals are such a fundamental part of my own family. We joke that if we didn’t have our animals we’d have nothing to talk about. All our animals have distinct voices that we use for them (for some reason Eric, our shorthair cat, has a Spanish accent, whereas BigDog, our rescue Pyrenean, has a more lugubrious tone). I think anybody who has close contact with an animal knows that they have just as much personality and just as many expressions as humans do. If I’m writing one into a story, I can’t see why it shouldn’t have a fully formed character in the way that a human does.

Your books always evoke a wide range of human emotion—on one page, you leave readers laughing out loud and on the next, reduce them to tears. Is it a difficult process to combine such an accurate portrayal of the comedies and tragedies of life? How do you create such deep characters and storylines?

Thank you! I consider that an enormous compliment. I guess it comes from the fact that I try to write the books I like to read—and if a book can make me laugh or cry then that author earns my undying loyalty. The key to writing them, I think, is that both laughter and tears have to come from a place that is honest—something that feels true to the character. If I know the character then as I write their experiences I feel what they are feeling—it then becomes easier to translate that emotion onto the page.

What was the Me Before You movie experience like? If you were to cast STILL ME, who do you see playing some of the new main characters?

Writing and being part of the filming of Me Before You was, without doubt, the best—and most challenging—experience of my professional life. I was on the steepest learning curve and I worked flat out for months. But I loved the cast and crew and the director, producers and I are still good friends, so it never really felt like work.

If I were to cast STILL ME I would obviously want Emilia Clarke to return as Lou. And having Sam Claflin as Josh would be a lovely way of bringing him back in! I have no idea who would play Margot—but I always saw her as looking a little like Iris Apfel, the famous NY society fashion icon.

What’s next? More adventures for Lou?

I’ve been saying no, as I would hate to be seen flogging her to death. But when I think about never writing her again I feel ridiculously sad. Maybe a short story?

 


Jojo Moyes is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of After You, Me Before You, Paris for One and Other Stories, The Horse Dancer, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, and The Ship of Brides. She lives with her husband and three children in Essex, England.

 

JoJo Moyes Links:

Website Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads  / Instagram

 

 

JoJo Moyes’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of STILL ME to ONE lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. LIKE JOJO MOYES on Facebook

4. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open to USA only

9.. Giveaway runs from February 1-6, 2018

 

 

 

Share

River Rising (Carson Chronicles #1) by John A Heldt-a review

River Rising (Carson Chronicles #1) by John A Heldt-a review

River Rising

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk / Amazon.au /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 20, 2017

Weeks after his parents disappear on a hike, engineer Adam Carson, 27, searches for answers. Then he discovers a secret web site and learns his mom and dad are time travelers stuck in the past. Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the 1880s.

While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in the Wild West, Adam, journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In RIVER RISING, the first novel in the Carson Chronicles series, five young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they experience America in the age of bustle dresses, gunslingers, and robber barons.

•••••••••

REVIEW: 5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

HAPPY READER ALERT! John A. Heldt has a new series and I think it just may be my favourite one yet. This was a FANTASTIC book! 🙂

River Rising by John A. Heldt is the first book of his “Carson Chronicles” series. A time travel story that takes us back to the 1880’s, you will experience a story rich in true history, mystery, on the edge of your seat suspense, romance, some humour, serious devastation and some fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall in love with. So yes, pretty much EVERYTHING!

Adam Carson is the oldest sibling of 5 and has taken on the responsibility as head of his family when his time travelling parents have become stuck in the past. After convincing his siblings to venture back in time with him to find them, they all begin to realize that they have bitten off more than they can chew .. and now have to struggle in a time when life offered no electronics for communication, was ridden with danger and a looming disaster so great it wiped out generations.

The siblings do split up and I loved that we get to experience time travel in different parts of the country, which offers different obstacles, and new experience for the reader to enjoy. There is “The Great Flood” of 1889 looming and it’s so sad that our smart siblings had no clue it was coming. This is different from most of John’s previous stories as his time travellers always had a strong researched sense of what they would be travelling back to. This was not the case for the Carson siblings and they experienced this flood true to time, as so many did. I have to say, I had a box of tissue at the ready for this part of the book, it was really intense.

There is so much more to this story, but my goodness, I have come to know that when I pick up a John A. Heldt book, I am in for a ride. This was no exception and to be honest I think this just may be my fave of his yet. This long read had a different feel than his previous books and I think it has to do with the urgency to travel back and not being completely prepared for what the past had to offer. There was a naive feel to it in some ways.

John is the master of character development and choosing the right words in the right way to make his reader feel like we are completely immersed in his story. Vivid images always came to mind, and well researched aspects of the 1880’s made the story feel so very authentic. I am a history lover so I truely appreciate it when an author does their homework.

SO SO HAPPY you are back John and I am SO SO looking forward to your next book. You never disappoint!

If you love the time travel, love the adventure, love the history and love the feels, then you will LOVE this book.

HAPPY READING! 🙂

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel t.

about the author

John HeldtFollow John: Goodreads / Website/Blog/ Twitter /

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

Share

Hannah’s Moon ( American Journey #5) by John A. Heldt-a review

Hannah’s Moon (American Journey #5) by John A Heldt-a review

Hannah's Moon

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon. uk /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 8, 2017

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

••••••••••

REVIEW:

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Predictably AMAZING John A. Heldt! Predictably INCREDIBLE John A. Heldt! I say predictably because I expect you to always deliver an easy flow, rich in history and charming time travel story with a dose of romance. You did it once again! 🙂

Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt is the 5th book of his American Journey, time travel, historical fiction, romance series and please PLEASE do yourself a favour and go back and read the first four books. This fifth book is his last book of this series and I am so sad to see it go. Truely! (small disclaimer .. all books can be read as standalones, but characters are revisited).

Claire Rasmussen is our leading lady and she was my fave of all the characters John has ever written. The book begins with utter devastation as Claire and Ron realize that holding their own child in their arms is too far out of their reach. Adoption is hard in current time, and both want a baby badly. Fate just so delivers a time travelling relative that thrust both Claire, Ron and David into 1945 just as WWII is slowing down. All three are soon met with the culture shock of what 1945 brings and while they have travelled with the intent of adopting a child during a time when orphans were plenty, they all begin to realize they are getting much more than they have bargained for.

Ron soon finds himself enlisted at a time when enlistment could mean death, Claire’s brother David is falling in love with a woman and Claire has to deal with being a woman with a child in an era she is not familiar with. So much more to it than all that but I am not spoiling any of this book for you!

John is an expert in my humble opinion, of writing many storylines concurrently and having them all flow together with no confusion what so ever. His writing style is so easy to follow, yet there is so much rich story packed into his pages. I always get a history lesson when reading this series and being a history lover you know I love that. I often find myself thinking about these books long after I am finished and I have concluded I think I may be living in the wrong era at times. LOL What an experience it would be to be a character in John A. Heldt’s book.

Speaking of characters .. incredibly developed, easy to fall in love with, easy to empathize and sympathize with, easy to grieve/be happy/be angry etc with them. Easy to identify with.

I feel like I have gushed so much in previous reviews, I am trying to find new ways to say the same thing. Hannah’s Moon is packed full of adventure, intrigue, suspense, romance and tied up in the end in a perfect way. As expected, I had a box of tissues on demand just incase and I absolutely needed them for this story!

Thank you John A. Heldt for allowing me to be one of your “go to” reviewers for this series. I strongly recommend this series to my fellow history lovers and anyone else who likes an intense ride when they allow themselves to get swept away in a story.

HAPPY READING!

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
September Sky
Mercer Street
Indiana Belle
Class of ’59
Hannah’s Moon

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel T.

About The Author

John HeldtFollow John: Goodreads / Website/Blog/ Twitter /

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

Share

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel – a Review

With Love From the Inside  by Angela Pisel – a Review

 

With Love From the InsideAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Description:
Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.
            Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.
            Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.
            Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don’t try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

 

Review:

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel is a standalone emotional and at times heartbreaking story line.  Grace Bradshaw has been on death row for 17 years, having been convicted of killing her young son.  Grace writes notes to her daughter in a journal, telling her about her days in prison, things of the past, and how much she misses her.   Grace has not seen her daughter in over 11 years.  Her lawyer has been actively searching for the daughter, as well as trying to find evidence to help her.  With all appeals exhausted, time is of essence, as a political change pushes up the dates for those on death row, and Grace’s execution is coming fast.

Sophie Logan lives a good life, as the wife of a successful surgeon.  She is well known in the community, as she attends functions to support her husband, Thomas.  Sophie has kept a secret from her husband. Being ashamed of the truth, Sophie told him her mother was dead. When she receives a letter from an attorney, and hears an announcement about executions being moved up, and a female child killer is next; Sophie decides to visit the attorney.  She makes the decision to not get involved, since she feels the evidence against her mother is true, and she does not want to ruin her current life.

After fainting, Thomas tells her to get checked out, and in doing so, Sophie discovers she is pregnant.  While talking to the doctor about the fainting, she accidently learns about a condition that might be in her family.   What follows is an exciting heart wrenching story that will have Sophie desperately working with the lawyer to prove her mother’s innocence.  It is an emotional tale of truths being told between a couple that will stand together in love; of a mother and daughter reuniting to love and forgiveness; of a desperate attempt to save a life. 

There are other stories within that have Grace being supportive of some of her female inmates; and of Sophie caring about a young motherless boy with medical problems.  The characters in the book were great, and very likeable.  I will not say too much more, as the last half of the book held my breath. It was a race to the finish that took an emotional toll on the reader.  I understand this is the debut novel for Angela Pisel, and it was very well written.  I look forward to more from this author.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

Share

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs – a Review

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs – a Review

 

Family TreeAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Description:
Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes.

Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Manhattan home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child.

But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a year-long coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned ex-cop. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.

 

Review:

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs is a standalone contemporary fiction novel.  We meet our heroine, Annie Rush immediately, as she is a successful producer of her own cooking show and happily married to Martin, who is the star of the show.  Annie discovers to her surprise that she is pregnant, and hurries to the studio to tell Martin the news.  At this point, Annie’s life is about to change.  Much to her dismay, she finds Martin with another woman, and when she runs away, a scaffolding accident will put her into a coma for one year.  When Annie awakens, she has a hard time focusing and remembers very little; she learns that she is back home in Vermont, in a hospital with her family surrounding her.

What follows is Annie’s road to recovery, starting with therapy to teach her body to learn how to do the basic functions again.  Annie confusion is partially due to memory loss, which will slowly return.  In the beginning she has no memory of Martin or her life in L.A.   Annie did have dreams while in her coma of her younger days in Vermont, especially the man she loved, Fletcher.  The story goes back and forth in flashbacks between the days when she was with Fletcher and doing a cooking video thesis, and current day. Family Tree is a story of survival, love, family and betrayal, as Annie tries to restart her life.

Fletcher was a great hero, having never forgotten Annie.  When he visits her in the hospital, she immediately remembers Fletcher, and slowly the romance between will begin. For now they remain just friends.   In her flashbacks, we learn that Fletcher, who was poor, decided that he could not keep up with Annie, and distanced himself.  Especially after a tragic accident with his father, which forced him to stay home.  We also watch in flashbacks how Fletcher learned from helping his father many legal aspects, which changed the direction of his life. In the current time Fletcher is now a successful Judge and wealthy.  Life has changed for both of them.

As Annie memory returns, she learns of Martin’s divorce, the loss of her child and her creation, the cooking show. But Annie’s family will be there for her every step of the way, as will Fletcher, bringing her back to her roots and changing her life for the better.  Once Annie is fully recovered, she will step up to get back what is hers, but with the help of her family and her true love.  Family Tree was excellent and well written story that focuses love, loss, betrayal and second chances.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

Share

The Mud Dance by Neil Grimmett-a review

THE MUD DANCE by Neil Grimmett-a review

The Mud Dance

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 20,2016

When drummer Kenny meets piano prodigy Larry at school, they form their first band, The Pretty Horses, which is later renamed Marine Light. From their early gigs in rural Somerset with a taste of regional recognition to international touring, the two friends blaze their way through the rock and roll scene of the 1970s. Propelled by the promise of fame, sex, and drugs, the lifestyle begins to take its toll on both of them. Ego trips, hangers on, groupies, and warring band members see Kenny and Larry stretch to breaking point.

As cracks start to show in their band and their relationship, Kenny is forced to question the character of the person he’s called his best friend and begins to wonder about their uncertain future. Larry has always had a dark side, but how deep does it go?

Set in the heyday of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, The Mud Dance follows passionate musicians and friends from their well-intentioned beginnings, through to fame, and beyond.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: THE MUD DANCE by the late Neil Grimmett is a stand alone story focusing on friendship, music, obsession and addiction. Told from first person point of view (Kenny) between the past and the present, THE MUD DANCE follows best friends Kenny and Larry who met at school in the 1970s, forming their first band leading the duo to a series of successes and failures with each incarnation of their British rock group. Kenny, as the drummer, stayed true to his calling but Larry was a man troubled in both mind and heart. What ensues is the back and forth, tumultuous relationship between two friends that does not end with a happily ever after.

Neil Grimmett’s THE MUD DANCE looks at the turbulent 70s era of rock and roll-the drugs, the groupies, the pressure to be number one, and the people pushing behind the scenes. Although many survived the upheaval, others were unable to overcome their own demons and the encroaching darkness. THE MUD DANCE is a fated tale of friendship, betrayal, and the madness of perfection and the shattered mind. The premise is a slow build; a dramatic, intense and tragic story. The characters are ill-fated and passionate but in the end, life is fleeting if balancing on the proverbial edge.

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy

Share

The Burnt Fox by Neil Grimmett-a review

THE BURNT FOX by Neil Grimmett-a review

The Burnt Fox

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk /
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 20, 2016

‘It really is this place and not us. There’s a dark power in nature here. Some residue left over from its great, cruel past.’

With an overwhelming desire to escape from the council estate and fearful for his marriage, frustrated author Eliot decides to move his wife, Donna and Son, Bradley to the countryside. He takes a job at the grand and sprawling Cloothill estate. Eliot does his best to fit in while working for the aristocratic Compton family. However, it quickly becomes apparent that country life may not be as idyllic as he hoped.

Eliot and Donna’s marital troubles are exacerbated when farm worker Tobias sets his sights on Donna and Eliot begins to fixate on the Compton’s young au pair, Rebecca. The couple gradually begin to lose sight of themselves as life at Cloothill consumes them.

Unflinching and sexually charged, The Burnt Fox is a startling depiction of the unsavoury side of life in rural England.

•••••••••••

NOTE: Author Neil Grimmett passed away in November 2015 following a brief illness.

REVIEW: THE BURNT FOX by Neil Grimmett is a stand alone, dramatic story line focusing on frustrated author Eliot Barnes, and his long suffering wife Donna. Told from third person point of view (Eliot) THE BURNT FOX follows Eliot and Donna as they struggle to regain control of their floundering marriage. When an opportunity presents itself to move to the English countryside, Eliot and Donna jump at the chance to leave the noisy and frustrating city life behind, hoping for a fresh start working for a reclusive couple and their small child. What ensues is a dark and conflicting series of events that pull the couple deeper into a world that is slowly closing in and destroying their lives. The seductive allure of peace and quiet blinds the couple to the truth about the people and places they have now come to call home.

THE BURNT FOX is a well written, slow building (mostly) narrative that follows two people whose lives have spiraled out of control, consumed by the darkness, and yet feel helpless in the face of the oncoming disaster. Like watching an accident about to happen, the reader is caught in the maelstrom and chaos without the ability to walk away or stop the ongoing fallout when temptation beckons behind closed doors.

Neil Grimmett has written a passionate, intimate and imaginative story; a disturbing look at the dark side of country life; the pitfalls, the dangerous passages, the controlling power of a segregated people who live life by their own rules. The premise is intriguing and dramatic; the characters are controversial and tragic.

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy

Share

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard-a review

PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard-a review

Platinum Doll

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 26, 2016

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream; to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want; a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends; except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth; that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

•••••

REVIEW: PLATINUM DOLL is a fictionalized account of Jean Harlow’s rise to stardom. The ‘Roaring 20s’ and the invention of the ‘talkie’ are the backdrop to Harlean Carpenter McGrew’s life in Hollywood along with her marriage to first husband Chuck McGrew at the age of sixteen; her overbearing stage mother who lived vicariously through the success of her daughter; and heartbreaking ‘miscarriage’ as she started to climb the ladder of success.

PLATINUM DOLL covers but the first few years of Jean Harlow in Hollywood up to her infamous handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, using historical information and fictionalized events surrounding the tumultuous personal life of the ‘Platinum Blonde’. Jean’s introduction to Hollywood begins at an early age (told through flashbacks and memories) as her mother traverses the studios and hot spots hoping to be noticed, while her only child is discovered on a back lot, waiting for a friend.

The story line covers but five years in the life of the Platinum Blonde-from a seventeen year old newlywed to Hollywood’s acknowledgement in wet cement. Because PLATINUM DOLL is a fictionalized story of Jean Harlow’s life, many of the personal and private events should not be taken at face value or to heart. PLATINUM DOLL reads like a movie script or journal documenting Jean Harlow’s rise to stardom.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy

Share