General Fiction

#BookReview
One Summer Day in Rome by Mark Lamprell
@marklamprell @Flatironbooks

Synopsis:

Mark Lamprell’s The Lovers’ Guide to Rome is an enchanting novel about three couples drawn irresistibly to Rome, narrated by the city itself.

Alice, an art student in New York City, has come to Rome in search of adventure and inspiration before settling down with her steady, safe fiancé. Meg and Alec, busy parents and successful business people from LA, are on a mission to find the holy grail, a certain blue tile that will make their home renovation complete—but soon it becomes clear that their marriage needs a makeover as well. Connie and Lizzie are women of a certain age—“Sometimes I look at my laughter lines and wonder what on earth could have been that funny”—who come from London to scatter the ashes of their beloved husband and brother. Both women are seemingly done with romance, but Rome has other ideas.


Book Rating: 8/10

Absorbing, romantic and incredibly moving!

One Summer Day in Rome is a story about love, new love, struggling love, eternal love, and lost love.

The story takes place in the time span of one day and takes us into the lives of three couples; Alice and August, university students from different continents who test the idea of love at first sight; Alec and Meg, a middle-aged married couple who’ve lost that loving feeling; and Constance a heartbroken widow who recently lost her soul mate.

The prose is light, humorous and incredibly descriptive. The narration is unconventional. The characters are multi-layered, real and endearing. And the plot is an entertaining mix of emotion, dialogue, humour, hijinks, mishaps, and passion.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started One Summer Day in Rome but it wasn’t long before Lamprell not only swept me away to a city he obviously knows and loves and gave me a truly romantic guidebook to all the history, must-see landmarks, culture, lifestyle, and food but also immersed me in a heartfelt, touching story that made me laugh, smile and even cry.

Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                                          

For more information on Mark Lamprell follow him on Twitter at: @marklamprell

#BookReview
The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest van der Kwast
@ernestvdkwast @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

In this international bestseller, a poet struggles to decide if he should put his family’s or his own needs first when he returns to Italy to help run the ice cream dynasty he left behind years ago in this charming tale perfect for fans of A Man Called Ove.

As the heir to a proud Northern Italian ice-cream dynasty, Giovanni Calamine’s family is none too happy when he decides to break with tradition and travel the world as a notable poet. So when Giovanni receives an unexpected call from his brother, he is faced with a difficult decision: return home to serve in his family’s interests or continue on his own path in life once and for all?

In a heartwarming tale that weaves history with lore and poetry with delicious culinary curiosities, The Ice-Cream Makers paints a century-long, multi-generational portrait of a family wrestling with the conflicting pulls of legacy and desire.


Book Rating: 8/10

Poignant, intriguing, and delightfully entertaining!

The Ice-Cream Makers is set in both Rotterdam and Northern Italy and is the multi-generational story of the Talamini family and their ice-creaming making dynasty.

It centres around two brothers; Giovanni, the oldest who decides to branch out from tradition and lead a life filled with words, festivals, travel, and independence; And Luca the youngest who does what is expected and continues the family business of making ice cream like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather did before him.

The prose is rich and sophisticated. The characters are unique, diligent, and authentic. And the story is ultimately about family, sacrifice, responsibility, guilt, tradition, love, poetry, and ice cream.

Overall the Ice-Cream Makers is a well written, fascinating story that reminds us that family legacies can often be a blessing and a curse, that the choices we make often have far-reaching consequences, and that ice cream is the result of mouth-watering ingredients, a complex process, and a lot of hard work. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Ernest van der Kwast, visit his website at: ernestvanderkwast.nl

or follow him on Twitter at: @ernestvdkwast

 

#BlogTour & #BookReview
The Rainbow Player by David Kerby-Kendall
@dkerbykendall @Authoright

Synopsis:

England footballer, Sammy Hatchington, has never considered sexuality before. As a teenager, Sammy broke the mould of his youthful peers with his desire to open the door to life’s endless possibilities. He escaped a deprived estate and, with the help of Old Thomas, his surrogate father, Davey, his soul-mate, and Gran, the connoisseur of footballer’s bottoms, launched himself on a path toward his personal and professional goals. Now, several years later, he must make a decision that could destroy everything he has fought for, and create a furious media frenzy………

David Kerby-Kendall’s joyous and witty novel challenges preconceptions about professional sportsmen and love, and is also a delightful and moving story of a young man’s journey to self-knowledge.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Heartfelt, humourous, and incredibly moving!

This is an entertaining, captivating story that not only reminds us to live and love to the fullest, enjoying each high and learning from each low, but also highlights the unfortunate stigma and stereotypical mentality surrounding professional sports.

The characters are flawed, genuine, caring, and lovable. The writing is witty and direct. And the plot is a captivating tale about life, familial dynamics, coming-of-age, friendship, perseverance, support, and unconditional love that will not only make you laugh but also make you cry.

This truly is a well-written, thought-provoking novel by Kerby-Kendall with a nice amount of emotion, drama, humour, and character development. And even though this novel is certainly rooted in the LGBTQIA genre it’s so much more than that, at its core it’s a story about love, pure and simple, with no limits, no labels, and no regrets!

Author Spotlight:

I’m originally from Leicester, but I’ve had therapy and I’m now allowed out into polite society.

We don’t have culture in Leicester; we have Gary Lineker and Walkers crisps…..oh, and Richard III, though we did sort of borrow him from York.

Actually, that’s not fair. I love my home town. It’s wonderfully diverse, has two amazing universities and, for a short while, was the centre of the universe when our football team won the Premiership, at odds of 5000-1. There was more chance of the Pope having a Number 1 hit, apparently!

And, of course, it holds the most amazing memories; of living with my Grandmother, who was my soul-mate, and encouraged me in the arts and, most importantly, as a ridiculously shy teenager, to go on stage. Well, mostly encouraged; she did tell me I had a singing voice like a cat being ironed, but we’ll gloss over that!

After leaving school I spent eleven years in banking. I left the TSB with the worst cash error record in Leicester, but as a successful chief clerk as, with the latter job, I only had to organise the branch and talk to customers, not add anything up. And so began a journey to London to study acting at the London Theatre School and immerse myself in café society and shouting at people who stand on the left side of escalators.

I remember once, in my second year at drama school, standing in Trafalgar Square at 3 am, waiting for a night bus, having drunk Lake Windermere in Merlot (this is actually part of the drama school syllabus), looking up at the beam of light trained on Nelson’s Column, thinking, ‘This is amazing; I’m an actor living in London; I’ve found freedom’. And it was true. The move and the change in career broadened my mind wider than I had ever thought possible. I know it’s a cliché, but I began to find a part of myself I never knew existed (or maybe was just too scared to admit to). It was liberating and exhilarating.

After graduating, there followed a few somewhat unmemorable acting jobs, including dropping my leading lady into the orchestra pit during a production of The Boyfriend in Rhyl (I don’t think the twenty-seven people in the audience were very impressed) and a few normal jobs in order to pay that annoying ‘rent’ thing. Two years in advertising (wearing pink braces and throwing a hissy fit if your double-shot gingerbread latte wasn’t quite hot enough), telemarketing, stage-door-keeping and being a butler at Phantom Of the Opera (pouring champagne down rich people’s sleeves).

Finally, I got lucky and had a run of eight consecutive plays, including three productions of Jack Shepherd’s Half Moon. I still had to pinch myself (not hard; I’m a wimp with pain) that someone of Jack’s standing would cast me in his play.

Then, having played rugby and tennis and kept reasonably fit at the gym all my life, my body decided to age 104 years in six months and I ended up having twenty-four operations in ten years. However, there is always a silver lining as this is when I started writing.

In 2007 I wrote a play called Save Your Kisses For Me which actually included The Brotherhood Of Man’s Eurovision-winning song (the first record I ever bought. I was young and had questionable musical taste…..as opposed to now when I’m older and have appalling musical taste). From it’s small-scale success I became the In-House writer for Heartbreak Productions and have been lucky enough to have adapted some marvellous novels for the stage, including three of David Walliam’s children’s books (Billionaire Boy is currently on a national tour). I’ve also had my own independent plays produced and will be returning to the acting profession later this year in my next play, 20:40, which concerns depression.

When I was adapting my first novel, I found myself in a Soho café on a break between rent-paying jobs. Normally I have great difficulty concentrating on anything if there’s extraneous background noise. However, on this occasion, I started writing and didn’t stop for four hours, by which time my mocha was congealed and I was half an hour late for pointing a spotlight at the stage of Phantom Of the Opera. From that day, I have done nearly all my writing in cafes. I love the energy and atmosphere; like-minded people writing plays, books, composing songs, creating new business ideas, forming new friendships. It seeps into your pores and wraps you in this all-encompassing creative blanket. I love the fact that café society has been going on for centuries. You can just SEE Picasso and Modigliani discussing surrealism and Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac pushing the boundaries of acceptability in literature.

I write in longhand with a fountain pen. I know that sounds like I’m about to disappear up my own bottom but I genuinely can’t write with a biro, and get absolutely no inspiration from staring at a laptop screen. I re-read the last few pages to get myself back into the work again (this takes about ten minutes) and then I shift my mind a degree to the left of normality. If I’m writing dialogue, then I’ll read everything back in my head and act out each character. Being an actor, if it doesn’t sound natural, I will know straight away.

I love writing. No, ‘love’ doesn’t cover it; I adore writing.

Now most of the operations have finished and, as well as retuning to acting, I’m returning to the gym and the tennis court (at least I have an excuse to lose now).

I’m very lucky; I get to do two things that I love; making up stories and pretending to be other people. Also, I get to pay the bulk of the rent by lighting Phantom Of the Opera, playing David Garrick in the tours of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and also taking tours of the Royal Opera House.

There isn’t much time to relax, but that’s OK. When I do get time, I love sport, poetry, music (Meat Loaf to Mozart), meditating in Highgate Wood, keeping fit, reading, and spending time with friends, being ludicrously immature one moment and putting the world to rights, the next.

What I love most about my life is that it can’t be labelled. I hate labels; they constrict us and are an excuse for people to hate each other. Someone recently said to me, ‘How can you like sport AND poetry?’. I replied, ‘Who made up the rule that you can’t?’.

Thank you to David Kerby-Kendall, Whiteley Publishing, and Authoright for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following link.

                      

For more information on David Kerby-Kendall, visit his website at: davidkerbykendall.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @dkerbykendall

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Every Secret Thing By Rachel Crowther
@bookollective

Synopsis:

Can you ever bury the past?

She’d recognised in him something of herself: that sense of not belonging, of secrets fiercely kept . . .

Five friends, newly graduated, travel together to the Lake District. Young and ambitious, they little imagine the events that will overtake them that fateful summer, tearing their fragile group apart.

Twenty years later, they return to the same spot, summoned by a mysterious bequest. It’s not long before old friendships – and old romances – are re-kindled. But soon, too, rivalries begin to re-emerge and wounds are painfully reopened . . .

How long does it take for past sins to be forgiven? And can the things they destroy ever really be recovered?


Book Rating: 7/10

Intense, sobering, and perceptive!

This is a character-driven novel that reminds us that life is precious and short and that everyone and everything that enters it shapes, defines, and influences us.

The writing is intelligent and descriptive. The characters are complex, secretive, and selfish. And the plot, although a little slow at times, is narrated from multiple perspectives and written in a past/present style that does a remarkable job of revealing all the personalities, motivations, and actions within it and finishes with a nice little twist.

This is ultimately a novel about life, friendship, secrets, manipulation, desire, jealousy, acceptance and forgiveness and has a very contemplative, moody feel. And although it is very clear from the onset that Crowther is a strong, literary writer I would have preferred the characters to have a few more redeeming qualities and be a little more likable.

About the Author:

Rachel Crowther qualified as a doctor and worked in the NHS for twenty years before succumbing to a lifelong yearning to write fiction, previously indulged during successive bouts of maternity leave. She has an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Oxford Brookes, and a string of prizes for her short fiction.

Her first novel, THE PARTRIDGE AND THE PELICAN, was published in 2011 and was a Tatler ‘sizzling summer read’. THE THINGS YOU DO FOR LOVE is published in August 2016 and has been called ‘a delight of a read’ by Fay Weldon, ‘the very best sort of fiction’ by Juliet Nicolson (A House Full of Daughters) and ‘a richly textured tale of life and love’ by Richard Mason (The Drowning People).

Rachel has five children, two mad dogs and an abiding passion for music, art, cooking and travel, both in Britain and further afield. She currently lives in Surrey.

Thank you to Bookollective for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Rachel Crowther, visit her website at: rachelcrowther.co.uk

#BookReview
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
@elinhilderbrand @littlebrown

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand, a summertime story about identical twins who couldn’t be any less alike.

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike–and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together–or at least appear to–the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart. A story of new loves, old battles, and a threat that gives a whole new meaning to the term sibling rivalry, THE IDENTICALS is Elin Hilderbrand at her page-turning best.


Book Rating: 10/10

Absorbing, enchanting, and absolutely irresistible!

This story is set on the picturesque islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and gives us a glimpse into small-island living, complete with alluring beaches, endless sun, infinite gossip, and competitive rivalry. It is told from three different perspectives; Harper, a free spirit who is fun and kind but often impulsive and reckless; Tabitha, Harper’s mature, responsible, workaholic identical twin who struggles with underlying grief; and Ainsley, Tabitha’s teenage daughter who is popular, spoilt and in desperate need of some additional parenting.

The writing is flawless. The plot is a perfect blend of heart, hope, angst, and drama. And the characterization is well-developed with a wonderful cast of characters, including three generations of strong, determined women who learn to embrace the future and let go of the past. 

This is, ultimately, a story about family dynamics, sister relationships, heartbreak, secrets, expectations, loss, grief, forgiveness, dreams, love, discovering one’s true self and the undeniable special bonds between twins. It is the perfect summer read. It sweeps you away to another place, gives you some tears, gives you some smiles and I absolutely adored it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

For more information on Elin Hilderbrand, visit her website at: elinhilderbrand.net

or follow her on twitter at: @elinhilderbrand

#BookReview
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
@robinnelee @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.


Book Rating: 9/10

Sophisticated, alluring, and extremely passionate! 

This is a thought-provoking, intriguing novel that reminds us that women can be confident, powerful, intelligent, attractive, sexual beings at any age and that being famous often has many drawbacks.

The prose is genuine and raw. The characters are authentic, honest, multi-layered, and appealing. And the plot sweeps you away into an engaging saga about motherhood, independence, responsibility, age disparity, stardom, art, seduction, desire, lust, love and unquenchable chemistry.

This a wonderful debut for Lee. It’s an exquisite love story with palpable emotion, strong narration and an ending, which I logically understand but still wish was different, that will resonate with you long after you finish the final page. 

About the Author:

 

ROBINNE LEE is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds. She recently completed shooting Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, playing Ros Bailey. Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. The Idea of You is her first novel.

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is due to be published on June 13, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

For more information on Robinne Lee, visit her website at: robinnelee.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @robinnelee

#BookReview
Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg
@CaraAchterberg

Synopsis:

The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia. The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by. And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face. Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal. Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Authentic, heartwarming, and intriguing!

This is a thought-provoking novel that reminds us that life is unpredictable and that when it comes to “normal” perspective is everything.

The story is told from three different points of view; Kate, a mother, wife and daughter who spends all her time and energy taking care of those around her; Jenna, a teenager struggling with hormones, individuality and new love; and Everett, a husband and father who is impatient, selfish, and too wrapped up in his own wants and needs to appreciate what’s right in front of him.

The prose is reflective and sincere. The characters, including all the supporting characters, are complex, strong, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling tale full of familial dynamics, friendship, infidelity, secrets, coming-of-age, honesty, humour, love, as well as an in-depth look into the stereotypical mentality, difficulties and extraordinary abilities that those with Asperger’s experience.

This is the second novel I’ve read by Achterberg and once again she has blown me away with this well-crafted, touching story that gives us a real, raw look into a contemporary multi-generational family.

About the Author:

Cara Sue Achterberg is a blogger and novelist who lives on a hillside farm in South Central, Pennsylvania.

Cara’s novels, I’m Not Her (August 2015, The Story Plant) and Girls’ Weekend (May 2016, Story Plant) are both works of women’s fiction. Her upcoming novel, Practicing Normal, will be published June 2017 by The Story Plant.

Cara is also the author of Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids in tow. It’s a guidebook for the organic life.

Cara is a prolific blogger and currently posts regularly two blogs which can be accessed through her website, CaraWrites.com.

Cara teaches creative writing and her essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, national magazines, websites, and blogs, in addition to local media.

Cara grew up in Hockessin, Delaware (and still considers Delaware the best state of all).

Cara is passionate about organic food, clean air, productive gardens, uncluttered lives, and real relationships. She is also passionate about adopting rescue dogs and currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.

Cara’s next project is a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs.

When not writing or weeding (which can sometimes be one and the same), Cara enjoys running, hiking, reading, visiting Virginia wineries, and trying not to fall off her favorite horse, True.

Thank you to Cara Sue Achterberg, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                 

For more information on Cara Sue Achterberg, visit her website at: carawrites.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @CaraAchterberg

#BookReview
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
@JuliaFierro @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island, an islet off the coast of Long Island. Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns to live in “The Castle,” the island’s grandest 

estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children biracial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals. 

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island’s bread-and-butter. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. 

Her upbringing on economically segregated Long Island and her fascination-followed by-heavy research into gypsy moths inspired this novel, translating her acute observations into a literary meditation on race, politics, and community. In incorporating the political tensions of the 1992 presidential election, Fierro makes powerful parallels to the 2016 presidential Clinton campaign. 

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations. 


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Pensive, poignant and undeniably tragic!

In this latest novel by Fierro, she transports us to Avalon Island, an islet infested by not only the gypsy moth but small-town, small-minded politics, economics, and environmental consciousness.

The prose is vivid and exquisitely descriptive. The characters are destructive, materialistic and damaged. And the plot, which is ultimately about love, life, loss, cruelty, deception, familial dynamics, and vengeance has too many subplots and tackles too many issues, including industrial pollution, social and class division and strife, abuse, racism and emerging sexuality to not get a little bogged down and awkward.

I have to admit this was a really hard one for me. There is no doubt that Fierro can write and write well and some readers will love the dark, somber feel of this story, but for me, I couldn’t quite connect with the characters and the story had too much misery and not enough redemption.

About the Author

JULIA FIERRO is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer and Cutting Teeth. Her work has been published in Buzzfeed, Glamour, The Millions, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, a creative home to more than 3,500 writers in NYC, Los Angeles and Online.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Julia Fierro for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Julia Fierro, visit her website at: juliafierro.com/author/

or follow her on Twitter at: @JuliaFierro

#BookReview #BecomingBonnie by Jenni L. Walsh #BonnieAndClydeVersary
@jennilwalsh @forgereads

Synopsis:

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.


Book Rating: 9/10

This is a remarkably fascinating interpretation about the life of Bonnelyn Parker, a young, sweet, god-loving girl who became known as one of the most notorious outlaws of the 20th century. She was, ultimately, a victim of the times and longed and strived to help support and protect those she cared for.

It is a story about familial responsibilities, poverty, coming-of-age, survival, friendship, dreams, desire and love.

The prose is precise and fluid. And the story takes us back to the mid-to-late 1920s to a dusty town on the outskirts of Dallas where people worked hard but didn’t always have much, prohibition was in full force and the worst, longest and deepest economic depression was just about to hit.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story. It is a well written, intriguing, rich story, and even though there is not much known about Bonnelyn’s early life and the events that led up to her close, intimate relationship with the fugitive Clyde Barrow, Walsh has done an exceptional job of taking historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is both alluring and exceptionally captivating.

About the Author:

Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia’s countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni’s passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. 

Thank you to Jenni L. Walsh and Forge Books for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now!

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links:

                                          

For more information on Jenni L. Walsh visit her website at: jennilwalsh.com 

or follow her on Twitter at: @jennilwalsh

#BookReview
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman
by Denis Thériault @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his postal rounds every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle — Bilodo has taken to stealing people’s mail, steaming open the envelopes, and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Ségolène’s letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Ségolène, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision — he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Ségolène under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for? Denis Thériault weaves a passionate and elegant tale, comic and tragic with a love story at its heart.


Book Rating: 8/10

Unique, quirky and exceptionally thought-provoking!

This is a short but poignantly sweet story about a young, content postman by the name of Bilodo who lives a simple life by day and a much more exciting though deceptive life by night as he secretly indulges in the writings of strangers and the lives and love those letters express.

The prose is exquisitely descriptive. The imagery is beyond words with metaphors and similes that ignite all the senses. And the plot is truly a well-crafted love letter to Haiku poetry, Zen philosophy and Japanese culture from the symbolic, magical kimono to ‘ensō’ the circle representing creative enlightenment all the way to the sobering yet karmic ending.

This is ultimately a story about life, love and death and although the storyline as a whole is morally questionable the writing itself is so beautiful you can’t help but be engrossed, immersed and swept away in this poetic, fable-like, love story.

Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

For more information on the titles available from PGC books visit their website at: pgcbooks.ca

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