Saturday, May 8, 2021

Graphic Novel Review of My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noelle Hébert & Translated by Shelley Tanaka

 

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: "A deeply emotional graphic memoir of a young woman’s struggles with self-esteem and body image issues.

All Marie-Noëlle wants is to be thin and beautiful. She wishes that her thighs were slimmer, that her stomach lay flatter. Maybe then her parents wouldn’t make fun of her eating habits at family dinners, the girls at school wouldn’t call her ugly, and the boy she likes would ask her out. This all-too-relatable memoir follows Marie-Noëlle from childhood to her twenties, as she navigates what it means to be born into a body that doesn’t fall within society’s beauty standards.

When, as a young teen, Marie-Noëlle begins a fitness regime in an effort to change her body, her obsession with her weight and size only grows and she begins having suicidal thoughts. Fortunately for Marie-Noëlle, a friend points her in the direction of therapy, and slowly, she begins to realize that she doesn’t need the approval of others to feel whole.

Marie-Noëlle Hébert’s debut graphic memoir is visually stunning and drawn entirely in graphite pencil, depicting a deeply personal and emotional journey that encourages us to all be ourselves without apology."

My Review: I loved the cover of this book, the illustration style is stunning. I have to admit that I struggled with this book a lot more than I expected. It definitely took on a darker tone than I expected and it didn't really raise up out of it much. I had been expecting throughout the book to find a bit of hope or a bit of a break through in the struggle with body image but we didn't really get that too much. It definitely illustrates the struggle that comes from relationships with our bodies and food and the words of those around us. Is there ever really a time where people come to peace with their bodies or find that body positive attitude? This is definitely a personal struggle for so many and everyone handles it so differently and you can't always tell when someone is struggling so much.

My Rating: While this was a difficult book together emotionally, I do really appreciate the way the author managed to bring to light this often private and personal struggle. I give it a rating of Three Paws.


I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley. The above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about the author and her books on her Goodreads Page.

My Body in Pieces was just released in April so you can obtain your own copy now in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or you can request it at your local library or bookstore.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review of Stella by McCall Hoyle

 

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Middle Grade March

Synopsis: "Even dogs deserve a second chance.

Ever since she was a puppy, Stella was trained to use her powerful beagle nose to sniff out dangerous chemicals and help her handler keep people safe. But during a routine security inspection, Stella misses the scent of an explosive. The sound of the blast is loud and scary. Unable to go back to work because of her anxiety, Stella is retired as a working dog.

When a young girl named Cloe wants to adopt Stella, the beagle knows this is her last chance to prove her worth. But how? When Stella smells a strange chemical inside Cloe’s body, a scent that surges just before the girl has a seizure, Stella’s nose makes the connection. But how can Stella warn her new family without them thinking she’s having an anxiety attack? How can she convince others that she can be a new kind of service dog and hopefully save Cloe’s life?

Told from Stella’s perspective, this story is about a special dog who must find the courage to overcome her fears in order to help save a young girl with epilepsy."

My Review:  Being an animal lover and a rescue dog lover, I could not resist this book. This was a much more emotional journey I ever expected, especially being told from Stella, the dog's, point of view. Poor Stella goes through quite a bit in her little life, but she never looses that love of people and that wanting to be a good dog. I also love the way Hoyle was able to bring in a bit of diversity with a character with epilepsy into the story, some young readers will really be able to connect with her. We also get a bit of a connection with mental health issues through Stella herself, another wonderful way to connect to readers in a different way. This was really a beautiful story and I hope so many other readers will give it a chance and pick it up, young and old alike.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this book and can't recommend it enough, it hits you with all the feelings and gives such hope.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!


I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about McCall Hoyle and their books on their Goodreads Page or Website.

Stella was released in March so you can obtain your own copy now in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local bookstore or library.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Review of Heart on a Leash by Alanna Martin

 

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley

Synopsis: "A pack of rescue huskies inspires love and romance in a coastal Alaskan town fractured by feuding families—but can young pups really teach frozen hearts new tricks?

Taylor Lipin has made it her life's mission to leave her hometown and its ridiculous, century-old feud with the Porters behind. But when her sister needs help running the family inn, Taylor agrees to return to Helen, Alaska on a temporary, definitely not longer than two weeks, basis. Or so she thinks, until she's quite literally swept off her feet and into enemy territory by three happy huskies and their drool-worthy owner, Dr. Josh Krane.

Though Josh didn't grow up in Helen with the rest of his Porter cousins, he's heard the stories: Porters rescue huskies. The Lipins are cat people. Keep to your pack. But Taylor is too tempting to give up—plus, his dogs love her.

As Taylor and Josh grow closer, tensions in the town escalate and the need for secrecy starts taking a toll. Soon they'll need to decide whether their newfound love is just a summer fling or if they've found their forever home."

My Review:  This book immediately captured my attention; adorable dogs on the cover - check, small town atmosphere - check, secret lovers - check. I had a lot of fun reading this book, it definitely gave me modern day Romeo and Juliet vibes with family feuds, verbal duels, and a lot of longing lovers. Luckily, this is a contemporary romance so we get that happily ever after and it doesn't take a turn for the tragic. I really enjoyed the characters, Taylor's reluctant return but still full of love for her family. Josh just kind of gets sucked into the turmoil without wanting it but by family blood. I also loved that the dogs played such a role in the story, it kind of makes me want huskies! The family feud was really played up a lot but Martin also manages to poke a bit of fun at it by showing through various characters how ridiculous generation long feuds end up being. All in all this was a fun and enjoyable read and I am looking forward to more books in the series!

My Rating: I was really drawn in by the cover of this book and was intrigued by the synopsis, and the story did not disappoint.  I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for more in this small town and hope to see the family feud broken down!  I give it a rating of Four Paws.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. The above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Alanna Martin and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Heart on a Leash was just released so you can obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekly Reading List

   Welcome to my brand new reading wrap up, now on Fridays.  I have decided to move my reading wrap up from Mondays to make room for Mystery Monday and also because it is easier for me to wrap up the week while I am still in the office instead of trying to post it first thing Monday morning. 



Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review



 Books Finished Last Week: (ish)
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Ruin and Rising
Just One Night
King of Scars
A Court of Silver Flames
Phone Booth at the Edge of the World
Cog
Moonlight on Sunset Beach
Hatchet
Rule of Wolves
One Special Night
Namesake
Furbidden Fatality
Guinevere Trilogy
Death Bee Comes Her
My Body in Pieces
Big and Little
Take My Breath Away
Stormbreak
Fugitive Telemetry
Heart on a Leash


Currently Reading:

Return to Shanhasson by Joely Sue Burkhart - Print- on page 78 of 380



Pages Read/ Time Listened
235:05 Hours Listened This Year(19:00 listened this week) - To Be Updated
6,626 Pages Read This Year (512 Read this week) - To Be Updated

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Death Bee Comes Her (Jan. Pre-Order) - READ
Stormbreak (Feb. Pre-Order) - READ
Lovebug (Feb. Pre-Order) - READ
Wild Cowboy Country (Bday Spree)
Hitting the Books (Bday Spree) - READ
Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bday Spree) - READ
Simmer Down (Bday Spree)
Blood of Zeus (Bday Spree)
Heart of Fire (Bday Spree)
Dead Drop (Bday Spree)
A Time of Dread (Bday Spree)
A Time of Blood (Bday Spree)
The Four Winds (Bday Gift)
The Shadow of the Gods (Giveaway Prize)
Namesake (March Pre-order) - READ
Rule of Wolves (March Pre-Order)  - READ
Fugitive Telemetry (April Pre-Order) -READ




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So wow, been a bit huh?! As I suspected the last week of work at my old job was a bit of a whirlwind and then I rolled right into my new job while still covering things at my old job.  This last week was the first time I have been able to just work my new job.  I have to say that I am very happy at the new job, it is SO much less stressful! With that said, I am no longer able to read or blog while at work so it has really cut into my reading time and blogging/review time. So clearly things have fallen off a bit around here.  I am attempting to start getting back into a rhythm around here but it is going to look a lot different.  First off, I am only going to be posting 2-3 times a week and for now it is mostly going to be requested reviews because I have a bunch of those to catch up on.  Secondly, I am no longer going to be posting weekly wrap ups, I am going to cut things back to my monthly wrap ups for now.  I have let the anticipated releases posts go for now, I don't even have a clue what books are coming out right now!

Please be patient with me as I adjust to a new schedule, as it is I am having to type this post at 10:00pm and I am a bit of an old lady! My only reading time and review/blogging time is after 8:30pm when Munchkin is in bed and the chores are all done for the day. I am working on being able to listen to audio books during the day at the office but I am still learning the systems there so have to keep pausing when I need to focus. Eventually I will be listing a lot there so a vast majority of my reading from here on out will be on audio. 

Anyway, I just wanted to get on here and catch you guys all up and I hope you will stick around because I am certainly not abandoning my love of reading!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Blog Tour & Review of Guinevere Trilogy by Cheryl Carpinello

 

A beautifully written story with fascinating characters, set in medieval England, and featuring characters of legend like the legendary King Arthur and Merlyn…



Read for: Requested Review/ Middle Grade Books/ Arthurian Legends!


Synopsis of Each Book: "GUINEVERE: ON THE EVE OF LEGEND
Princess Guinevere dreaded her upcoming thirteenth birthday. It signaled the beginning of her official role as the Lady of her father’s castle.
No more adventures in the forest with Cedwyn. No more explorations outside the castle walls. No more excitement. No more danger. No more fun.
Cedwyn—her companion for as long as she remembered—viewed her circumstances differently.
A Medieval coming-of-age story relevant today.

GUINEVERE: AT THE DAWN OF LEGEND
Ancient Stones. Mystical Stones. Autumnal Equinox.
Down upon a wide plain the yellow orb shines strong.
R two laughingly ride.
A mist descends. The laughing stops.
A dangerous Medieval tale of two friends. Of a loyalty not often seen.

GUINEVERE: THE LEGEND
Fiercely loyal, Cedwyn always rushes to Guinevere’s defense. Stubborn to a fault. Always there for her. A future Knight? His one and only hope. A hero? Not what Cedwyn strove for, but it sought him.
Guinevere rarely thinks with her head. Just the opposite. Thinking with one’s heart: a recipe for trouble. And trouble finds Guinevere, all too often. Stubborn, she refuses to abandon those depending upon her. Even when ordered by her father, the king.
And so these two—both on the edge of Legend—barrel forth in this deadly dangerous and riveting Arthurian adventure.

My Review: If you know anything about me, I bet you know that I am obsessed with any books surrounding the Legend of King Arthur; so there was no way I could refuse to read a whole trilogy of books surrounding Guinevere as a child. This was a great trilogy of stories, lots of action, definitely some lessons learned and beginnings of legends. I really enjoyed getting to know this adventurous version of Guinevere with her companion Cedwyn as she begins her journey to becoming King Arthur's beloved queen. Throughout the trilogy we get to follow as Guinevere and Cedwyn grow from care free children to young teens that are forced to see the cost of choices and begin taking on the burden of their future roles as queen and knight. Never fear, they are not alone in this journey and we get to see some of the big players in the traditional King Arthur legends. Carpinello is definitely familiar with the traditional tales as well as those that have been re-told over the years and beautifully wrapped her story in amongst those stories in such a seamless manner that it feels like this series belongs in tradition as well. It was easy enough to read that newer readers can enjoy the book and the action will keep them coming back for more, but still intriguing enough that more experienced readers will still find themselves drawn into the books.

My Rating: I thoroughly enjoyed this story and was really drawn in. After reading so many other Arthurian legends, this series had a very familiar feel to them but at the same time gave me a different glimpse at the characters I love so much.  I give them a rating of Four Paws!


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book, the above is my honest review and opinion. 



Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend

Chapter 1

Hunting

 

G

uinevere stared into the shadows along the edge of the forest. She could hear Cedwyn shifting from foot to foot beside her, unable to stand still. She sighed, the bow of sturdy pine in her hand growing heavier like her heart. Her thirteenth Birth Day was in a few days, but she wasn’t excited. Birth Days were supposed to be fun, but not this year. Not for her, not for a princess.

She frowned as Cedwyn adjusted the leather quiver of arrows on his back again. Sometimes, like today, her patience with the nine-year-old was short.

“Guin’ver?”

“Hush!”

“But ...”

“Hush!”

She stamped her foot on the ground, annoyed at being interrupted. “Cedwyn,” she snapped. “What is so important that you can’t be quiet?”

“I’m hungry, and the bottoms of my trousers are damp. Can’t we go back to the castle?” His voice betrayed his hurt at her tone.

Guinevere knew her anger wasn’t with Cedwyn. It wasn’t his fault. The bottom of her green ankle-length tunic, also damp with the morning dew, was starting to make her ankles itch. Her stomach chose that moment to begin grumbling. It started as a low vibration but grew louder as if it hadn’t been fed in days.

Cedwyn heard it and started giggling. He tried to smother the sound by covering his mouth, but he was too late.

Trying to keep from laughing also, Guinevere shook her head. “How are we ever going to shoot a rabbit with all this noise?” She tousled his blond hair to let him know that she was not serious. “Let’s try for just ten minutes longer. Then if we find nothing, we’ll go back. Is that all right?”

Cedwyn nodded, not wanting to make any further noise.

Her eyes wandered across the blue sky. The English summer sun had barely reached above the far hills when they had first arrived at the forest. Now, it was well on its way in its climb toward the dinner hour, and they hadn’t even had a proper breakfast yet. Cedwyn’s mother was sure to be upset that they had been gone so long.

“Come on,” he whispered. “The only creatures we’ve seen moving have been badgers and Cornish hens. We could of had five bloody hens by now.”

“You better not let your mother hear you use that word. Anyway, I told you, it’s good luck to bag a rabbit on the eve of your thirteenth Birth Day,” Guinevere said.

Cedwyn studied her face, unsure if she was telling the truth or not. Then his blue eyes widened, and he grabbed her arm as she turned to continue hunting. “Wait a minute! You promised to help me bag a rabbit on the eve of my tenth Birth Day. You said that was lucky!”

She turned to him, her balled fists on her slim hips. “You need to listen closer when I talk to you. I explained the difference between boys and girls. Boys have to seek luck on the eve of their tenth and fifteenth Birth Days. Since girls are naturally luckier than boys, they only have to seek luck once, on the eve of their thirteenth Birth Day.”

Cedwyn eyed her suspiciously. “But I thought that the eve was the night before. Your Birth Day isn’t until the day after tomorrow.”

“That’s true, but the eve of something can also be anytime close to the day.”

“You sure?”

“Of course I am! Otherwise, what would happen if the day before I didn’t get a rabbit? This way there are more chances to get one. Now, let’s go. I’m sure I saw the grass moving up ahead, and I don’t think it was the wind.” She didn’t mention to him that she needed lots of luck.

Cedwyn obediently followed her, mumbling to himself. “We’re still running out of time.”

They hadn’t gone far when he thought of something else. “Guin’ver?”

She turned, her long brown braid whipping around. “Shh! You will scare the rabbits away!”

“But you also promised to teach me how to hunt with a bow and arrow once you are thirteen.”

“Yes, but if you don’t stop your chatter, I won’t. Do you understand?”

Cedwyn nodded. A slight upturning of his mouth betrayed his satisfaction at her promise.

“Then let’s go.”

He followed, a smile highlighting his chubby cheeks. He then smacked into Guinevere who had abruptly stopped.

“Wha...”

A hand clamped down over his mouth followed by an angry “Shh!”

Cedwyn moved quietly up to her side, his nine-year-old frame coming up to her shoulders. When she looked him, her brown eyes sparkled with excitement in the midmorning light. Her lips formed the word “Look.” His blue eyes followed her out-stretched arm.

There, just beneath the pine trees where the wild grasses grew-- movement. He stared at the spot. Then the tall green stalks bent again, betraying the presence of something beneath.

“How can you tell if it’s really a rabbit?” he whispered.

“See how the stalks move forward a bit and then part?”

Cedwyn nodded.

“Well, the forward movement of the stalks is the rabbit testing out the goodness of the food. And then where the grasses part---that is---when the rabbit stops and starts feeding,” Guinevere said, her pride in her knowledge showing. “Hand me an arrow.” She held out her hand as Cedwyn pulled an arrow from the small leather quiver on his back.

Very carefully, her heart pounding, Guinevere nocked the arrow and steadily drew the bowstring back. Taking a deep breath to steady her arms and calm her heart, she let the arrow loose. She watched the spin of the feathers as the arrow sped to its target like a hawk diving after its prey.

Suddenly a horrendous cry filled the air. Guinevere and Cedwyn jumped into each other’s arms. They crouched on the ground and covered their ears as the shrill cry continued to make their ears ring.

“Wh...what is that?” Cedwyn whispered.

Guinevere shook her head in reply.

And then, a different sound—of something crashing through the grasses and scrub thickets. They inched their way up to peek above the grass. There—crashing and charging around the thickets—the biggest wild boar they’d ever seen.

Cedwyn looked at Guinevere. “Ain’t that your arrow sticking in its side?”

She nodded slowly, in shock that she’d hit anything. For a few moments, they watched as the boar ran first in one direction and then another in what appeared to be a crazed pattern. But Guinevere recognized the pattern: the wounded boar was searching for its hunters .

“Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand. “We have to get out of here now!”

“Why?” Then he had his answer. The boar roared in anger. The ground trembled under their feet as the boar spotted them and barreled straight for them. It had found the culprits responsible for the arrow in its side.

“Run!” Guinevere said, no longer quiet.

Cedwyn needed no further urging. He took off with Guinevere close behind him. The thunderous crashing of the boar through the grasses and scrub brush vibrated through every part of their bodies.

Guinevere chanced a look behind her and realized that the boar was gaining on them. She glanced around. Off to the right was a smaller pine tree that Cedwyn could climb to get up out of danger. He was the slowest, but they were running faster than ever. Guinevere reached for Cedwyn’s shoulder, heard a thud, and her hand found only air. He cried out as he hit the ground. The exposed tree root had claimed its first victim of the day.

She reached down to help him up, but his foot was stuck solid. Seeing the boar grow in size as it got closer, Guinevere’s brain frantically looked for a way to save Cedwyn and herself. If she made enough noise, she could get the boar to follow her into the forest. That would give Cedwyn time to get loose and up the tree.

“I’ll lead the boar away. Get yourself free and then head for that tree.”

Cedwyn looked in the direction Guinevere pointed.

“Get up in it as far as you can go and hang on until I let you know it’s safe to come down. All right?”

Cedwyn nodded, his eyes wide with fear.

“Stay down and be still ‘til you hear from me. Then be quick!”

He nodded again, searching behind them for sight of the boar.

Guinevere jumped and shouted, “Halloo boar! Here I am. Come and get me!” She waved her arms, diverting the boar’s attention to her. Once spotted, she ran. The pounding of its hooves told her the boar was following and, if possible, coming even faster. “Cedwyn! Now!” Guinevere shouted as she dashed for the safety of the trees.

Behind her, the boar charged, pain fueling its rage. Thundering through the grasses and scrub brush, it focused only on reaching the creature responsible for its pain. Behind them, Cedwyn frantically dug and pulled on the root to free his foot.

“Guin’ver! I can’t get loose!”

“You have to! Try harder! Pull harder!”

Cedwyn dug and kicked his foot until he felt it start to loosen. Finally pulling free, he stood up. He could see the boar charging after Guinevere. He ran for the pine tree. Grabbing branches, he pulled himself up until he was too high for the boar to reach.

“I’m in the tree!” he yelled.

Not turning around, Guinevere raised a hand and continued running.

Once in the forest, she slowed to let her eyes adjust to the darkness, and as she waited, the sounds of the boar grew louder. Finally, she could just make out a faint trail. She ran down the path, trying to find some place to hide so that the boar would run past her.

Up ahead was a pine tree with low hanging branches. Using her last bit of speed, she reached the tree and jumped. Her hands grasped a branch; pine needles pricked her skin. She pulled herself up, struggling to breathe, her arms aching from the effort.

Before she could get a good hold, the whole tree shook. Pine needles fell, sticking in her hair and on her clothes. Screaming, she fought to hold on, ignoring the bark cutting into her skin. At least if the boar gets me, I won’t have my thirteenth Birth Day. She didn’t know which would be worse: the boar or turning thirteen.

The boar charged the tree again. Her grip loosened. She screamed louder, suddenly sure that turning thirteen wouldn’t be as bad as facing the angry boar.

“Guin’ver! I’m coming!” Cedwyn’s only answer was another scream from the forest. He loosened his arms and slid down the tree, unmindful of the scratches from the bark.

Guinevere’s right arm flailed above her, blindly searching for a higher branch. Her fingertips brushed the bottom of one sliding through the sap. She stretched up, grasping the branch firmly with one hand. Trying not to think of what would happen if she fell, she let go with her other hand. For just a moment she felt herself slipping down, but her fingers found the branch, and she held on. The boar hit the tree again. It shook hard enough to nearly topple over, and Guinevere screamed once more.

Then she heard another more horrible scream. Its piercing sound traveled up the trunk into her body. Thinking it was Cedwyn, she looked down and saw a rock hit the boar’s side with the arrow. Its angry cry filled the air one last time before the wounded animal ran off deep into the forest.

Guinevere leaned against the rough pine trying to breathe.

“Is it gone? Can you see it?” Cedwyn asked, peeking out from behind a bush.

Guinevere searched the path that the boar had taken. There was no sign of it, and she couldn’t hear it anymore either.

“It’s gone. We’re safe. C’mon out.”

As Cedwyn made his way to her, she climbed down the tree and collasped on theground, her legs too wobbly to hold her. Both of them were a mess. Guinevere proceeded to brush some of the dirt, pine needles, and small twigs off her clothing. Strands of hair had escaped from her braid, and she tried to tuck them back as she pulled out the pine needles.

Cedwyn plopped beside her, brushing twigs and pine needles off his clothes. Guinevere reached over and rubbed dirt off his cheek. They looked at each other and burst out laughing from relief at still being alive.

“I..thought..we..were...dead!” Cedwyn said between laughs.

“You should have felt that tree shake! I was sure I was the boar’s next meal!” Guinevere paused before adding, “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”

“You saved me too. That’s what friends are for.”

“Yes. I’m only glad that we’re still alive to be friends,” she said, squeezing his hand. “Let’s go. We’re really late now, and we don’t even have a rabbit as a peace offering.”

He nodded. “We’re gonna be in trouble.” Then, as if someone had heard them, upon the wind came a faint but clear voice.

“Lady Guinevere! Cedwyn!”

Grabbing hands, the two ran, fearful of what awaited them at the castle.

Suddenly Cedwyn stopped and pulled Guinevere backwards, almost knocking her down. Grinning, he pointed under a bush at the side of the path. Laughter spilled out from her as she saw their trap in the thicket where they had set it earlier that morning. It was no longer empty. Inside crouched their peace offering: a rabbit! They stuffed the rabbit inside the small leather satchel Guinevere carried; their good humor restored until the wind carried that voice again, this time louder and angrier.

“Lady Guinevere! Cedwyn!

 




Amazon → https://amzn.to/30jhehD   





Cheryl Carpinello taught high school English for 25 years. During that time, she worked with numerous students who didn’t like to read for a variety of reasons. However, she discovered that even the most reluctant readers became engaged in the classroom and in reading when she introduced units on King Arthur and the works of ancient world writers. Upon retiring, she set out to write fast-paced, action-filled stories in these setting to encourage young readers to read more. When not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with family, and traveling.
Cheryl’s books:
Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend (1)
Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (2)
Guinevere: The Legend (3)
Guinevere Trilogy ebook only
The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)
Sons of the Sphinx
Tutankhamen Speaks
Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales 1
Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales 2



Website: https://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Blog: carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1


Check out my book at Goodreads!








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Monday, April 26, 2021

Mystery Monday: Furbidden Fatality by Deborah Blake

  Welcome to a brand new feature series here on Eastern Sunset Reads!

In the mess that was 2020, one exciting thing that came about is my discovery of Cozy Mysteries.  Yes, I knew they existed before but I never had a desire to pick one up but last year I ended up reading 17 of them! Clearly they have become a regular thing for me to pick up and it is such a vast genre that I can't wait to dive into more of them.  So Mystery Monday has become a thing and will be a (at least somewhat) regular thing here.  So stop by on Mondays to see my reviews of new books I have picked up, new releases, chat about sub-genres and lots more.

 

Read for: Cozy Mystery/Netgalley/Requested Review & the Animals!

Synopsis: "A lottery winner uses her good fortune to save a local pet sanctuary, but when a body is discovered on the property, she just might be in the doghouse in this first book in a new, charming cozy mystery series from author Deborah Blake.

Kari Stuart's life is going nowhere--until she unexpectedly wins the lottery. The twenty-nine-year-old instant multimillionaire is still mulling plans for her winnings when trying to rescue a bossy black kitten leads her to a semiabandoned animal shelter. They need the cash--Kari needs a purpose.

But the dilapidated rescue is literally going to the dogs with a pending lawsuit, hard to adopt animals, and too much suspicious attention from the town's dog warden. When the warden turns up dead outside the shelter's dog kennels, Kari finds herself up a creek without a pooper-scooper.

With the help of some dedicated volunteers, a cute vet, and a kitten who mysteriously shows up just when she needs it, Kari must prove her innocence all while trying to save a dog on death row. Now she just needs to hope that her string of unexpected luck isn't about to run out."

My Review: I am still new to the Cozy Mystery genre but this synopsis hit all of my buzzwords so I couldn't resist trying it out and I am so glad I did, this might be one of my new favorite series! I adored the main character, Kari, in this book; when we are introduced we immediately find out that she is a pet lover and who can resist a character who loves animals. We later find out she is also a lottery winner and she does some great things with those winnings but it leads her to some rather difficult people and some even more difficult situations. We also get to know a great cast of side characters, who share the love of animals, they are all so quirky and unique and I could totally picture them as friends. I really enjoyed how the story developed, it was definitely a gripping story that keeps the pages turning as the clues are revealed and the story unravels. I will definitely be anxiously awaiting more books in this series!

My Rating: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a super fast and engrossing book that I didn't want to put down. I loved all the characters (especially the little furry ones). I can't wait for more books to come out and excited to be getting into a series right from the beginning. I give this one a rating of Four Paws and Stump Wag!


I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about Deborah Blake and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Furbidden Fatality was just released in February so you can get your own copy now in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Review of The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina & Translated by Lucy Rand

 

Read for: Requested Review/Netgalley

Synopsis: "The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after."

My Review:  I would be lying if I didn't admit that the cover of this book really caught my attention. I have since seen it in person and it is even more stunning. Luckily, that beautiful cover has a great story on the inside as well. I wasn't sure what to expect from it but it ended up being far more than I could have anticipated. The writing is beautiful and poetic, the subject matter the story revolves around is hard hitting but gentled by the stunning imagery and pacing. Messina does a great job of capturing the pain of grief and the way it connects those left behind. I loved following Yui and Takeshi on their personal journey as well as how a place of comfort brought them together. This was such a beautiful book, one I am very happy I read and an happy to have gracing my shelves.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, it was beautifully written and so soothing to read. I loved the imagery and could almost picture it in my mind.  I can't help but give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!


I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Laura Imai Messina and her book on her Goodreads Page.

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World was just released in March on the 20th anniversary of the tsunami, look for it at your local bookstore or request it at your library. It is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sunset on Moonlight Beach by Sheila Robert - Tour and Review


USA TODAY  bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers back to the sun-dappled shores of Moonlight Harbor as its citizens find hope, happiness and humor in the wake of a tragic loss…


Synopsis: "Jenna Jones has been standing on the shore of the Sea of Love for too long. Even with two good men interested in her, she’s been afraid to wade in. According to her best friend, Courtney, she should. The water’s fine. Life is great! Practically perfect, if you don’t count Courtney’s problems with her cranky ex-boss. Maybe Courtney’s right. It’s time to dive in.

When tragedy strikes, everything changes and Jenna’s more confused than ever. But this fresh heartache might help her figure out at last who she can turn to when times get tough.

Full of warmth and humor, Sunset on Moonlight Beach proves that every ending can be the beginning of a beautiful new story."


My Review: I have really been enjoying this series and was excited for the next book to come out, thanks to Pump Up Your Book and Sheila Roberts I was able to read it early and it was so worth it. I was able to jump right back into this series, the setting and characters are all so vivid they stand out in your memory. I have loved the small town atmosphere and getting to know all the characters in this quirky little seaside town. I like how in this book we kind of got a recap about each of the characters we have followed in previous books in the series, it was fun seeing how their stories have continued. This book took us on quite an emotional journey with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I felt every emotion with the characters. I have to say that Roberts has done a love triangle so well, this is one where you can root for either option (but I got the one I like best). I really hope this isn't the end of the series but if it is we still get a pretty satisfying conclusion.


My Rating: As emotional as this book made me, it was so worth the journey. I laughed and cried with the characters and was overjoyed with the happy beginnings they received.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws!




CHAPTER ONE

You have a great life, Jenna Jones told herself as she took the glass of champagne her sister had given her. She was living proof that if you waited long enough and worked hard enough, you could turn a shipwreck into a new life.

She looked around the crowded living room of her great aunt’s beach house. It was filled with friends and family, all celebrating the fact that Jenna was now a member of Moonlight Harbor’s city council, thanks to a special election in March to replace a councilman who’d resigned due to health problems. It had been a hard-fought battle, but she’d won and she had high hopes of accomplishing great things for the town, including getting support for building a convention center.

A town with a city council, it was a little odd. Moonlight Harbor didn’t really have the population to qualify as a city, but the powers that be thought they were close enough, so why split hairs?

“We’re all so proud of you,” said Jenna’s mother, Melody Jones, putting an arm around Jenna’s shoulders.

“Yes, we are,” put in Aunt Edie, the woman who had made Jenna’s new life possible.

“Yes, we are,” echoed Jolly Roger the parrot from his cage. “Give me whiskey.”

“We’re not serving whiskey, Roger,” said Jenna’s sister, Celeste. “You have to ask for champagne. Say, it Roger. Give me champagne, give me champagne.”

“Say it, Roger. Give me champagne,” said the bird, bobbing his head and stepping back and forth on his perch.

“Poor Roger. Nobody ever gives him anything to drink,” said Celeste.

“Poor Roger,” said Jolly Roger, making several of the guests chuckle. “Give me champagne.”

Celeste and Brody Green, Jenna’s ardent admirer and campaign manager, circulated about the room, refilling glasses with champagne or sparkling cider. Daughter Sabrina pouted when Brody poured more sparkling cider in her glass, and muttered, “I’m eighteen now.”

“Which is a long way from twenty-one,” Jenna reminded her, and she rolled her eyes.

Once everyone’s glass had been filled, Celeste performed the toast. “To Jenna Jones, the most successful woman I know. Moonlight Harbor is lucky to have you.”

“Hear, hear,” echoed Brody.

Ellis West, friend and fellow businessman, said, “I’ll drink to that.” Ellis owned The Seafood Shack, the popular fast food restaurant next to the Driftwood Inn.

“So will I,” Jenna said and smiled.

Successful. A few years ago she would have never used that word to describe herself. She’d come to Moonlight Harbor, newly divorced, with a wounded heart and an angry daughter, towing their worldly goods in a rented trailer. She hadn’t been sure how she was going to pay the spousal support the court had allotted her cheating ex, the starving artist, and keep a roof over her and her daughter’s head until she’d gotten Aunt Edie’s invitation.

Aunt Edie had offered Jenna a home and a job running the Driftwood Inn along with the future security of knowing someday the vintage motel would be hers. It had been a rundown dump when she arrived, but she’d turned it into a charming bit of nostalgia and the motel was actually doing well.

So was her daughter. Sabrina had been anything but cooperative when the unwanted change had been dumped on her, but she’d eventually found her feet (along with the love of her life) and, like her mother, had put down roots in the beachside town. There’d been plenty of room for them in Aunt Edie’s beach house, and the older woman enjoyed having them with her.

Jenna looked at the trio of women who were the pillars of her life. Her mother Melody (Mel to her friends), in her early sixties and still slender and beautiful, was standing next to Ellis, whose eyes had lit up the moment he saw her. She was happily holding her two-month old second grandchild. Next to her stood Jenna’s younger sister, Celeste, sneaking an appetizer to her dog, Nemo. She was curvy and cute, the life of the party, now married and responsible for that second grandchild. Then there was sweet Aunt Edie, still perky at almost eighty-six. She was proudly wearing an orange Elect Jenna Jones t-shirt that clashed horribly with her hair. It was a shade of bright cherry red that made her head look like a lost Christmas light, but she’d sported that shade for years and refused to be budged from it, in spite of the best efforts of her friend Pearl at Waves Salon to switch her to something slightly more subdued. Her coral lipstick added yet another interesting palette to the colors that were Edie Patterson. In short, she was adorable.

Yes, Jenna thought, looking at them and all the people who had come to mean so much to her, what more could a girl ask for?

Sex. Getting a sex life sometime before she died would be great. She’d been divorced for almost four years. Surely she was ready to take a chance on love again.

And who better to take it on with than tall, blond, blue-eyed Mr. Gorgeous, Brody Green? Successful, charming, well-off, he was Moonlight Harbor’s catch of the day, and Jenna had caught him the first time they met. Most people already considered them a couple, friends with benefits.

Except there weren’t any benefits, hadn’t been anything beyond a couple of hot kisses, one of them fueled by alcohol and moonlight when she first came to town. Brody was more than willing to offer benefits, and waiting patiently for her to say the word. So far she hadn’t been able to.

Her eyes strayed to Seth Waters, who’d been renting a room at the motel ever since he hit town and started his mold removal business. Dark, swarthy, pirate Seth Waters, who knew how to make the sparks fly. She’d tried his lips on for size, too, but that relationship was stalled out permanently.

Aunt Edie was a big fan of both men, but Brody had been her buddy for years and he was her favorite. “I don’t know what you’re waiting for,” she’d said to Jenna when another Valentine’s Day came and went and her left-hand ring finger was still bare.

“You’re waiting because the time isn’t right yet,” her mother said when Jenna had repeated Aunt Edie’s words. “When it strikes the hour for love, you’ll know.”

Jenna was beginning to wonder if her love clock was broken.

Nothing wrong with her appetite though. She popped another one of Annie Albright’s bacon-wrapped dates in her mouth.

 Annie had her own catering business and a food truck. She’d come a long way from the days of waitressing at Sandy’s.

“What’s going to be your first order of business now that you’re on the council?” Ellis asked Jenna, catching her in mid-chew.

The others all looked at her expectantly.

After revamping the Driftwood, she’d felt ready to change the world. At least the world of Moonlight Harbor. Not that her town needed much changing, but she did have ideas. 

“I’m sure going to be pushing for looking into building a convention center. It would be great for our local businesses if we could bring tourists to town all year long, and a convention center would help us do that. Then we could hold our winter festival indoors.”

The first Seaside with Santa festival had been a disaster, and even though the chamber of commerce had tried again, moving it to earlier in December, luring people to the beach when the weather was iffy was still a challenge. Tourists could be such wimps.

“A good idea,” Ellis approved, “I’m not sure you’ll get everyone in town on board with it though. It costs money to build convention centers and people might not want to make that big of an investment.”

“Yes, but if we all make more and benefit in the long run it will be worth the pinch in the short run,” Jenna argued.

“Good luck with even getting to that,” said her friend Nora Singleton, who owned Good Times Ice Cream Parlor. “People are more concerned with having more sidewalks in town and solving the deer problem.”

“They’re only a problem for our local gardeners,” said Jenna’s pal Courtney. “The tourists love ‘em.”

“I love them, too,” said Tyrella Lamb, who owned the hardware store. “In venison stew. I hope you’re listening, Councilwoman.”

“I won’t be able to get a law passed that you can run around town with a rifle, shooting deer,” Jenna said to her.

“Who needs a rifle? They walk right up to you, the stupid things. I could club one to death.”

Sabrina gasped. “That’s terrible.”

And out of character for a woman who was normally so kind-hearted.

“No, terrible is what they did to my rhodies last spring,” Tyrella said. “They aren’t even supposed to like rhododendrons and the stupid things ate every bud.”

“But they’re so cute,” protested Sabrina.

“And they were here first,” Courtney added.

“First come first served… on a platter,” Tyrella retorted, unrepentant. “The population is out of control. You all just wait. If something isn’t done pretty soon we’re going to start seeing cases of Lyme disease down here. You’ve got power now, girl,” she said to Jenna. “You need to use it.”

“Yeah, to save the deer,” said Courtney. “They’re God’s creatures, Tyrella. Don’t they teach you to have love for God’s creatures at church?”

“I love God’s creatures,” Tyrella insisted. “But I eat hamburgers. Don’t you?”

“See what I mean?” Nora said to Jenna. “I think we’d better take up a collection and buy you a suit of armor. Now that you’re on the city council you’re going to need it.”

Good grief. What had she gotten herself into?

She said as much later when it was just her and her family, seated around the living room, finishing up the leftover appetizers from the party.

“Nothing you can’t handle,” Celeste assured her. She burped baby Edie and handed her over to her daddy.

“Pretty thankless job,” said Celeste’s husband, Henry, as he took the baby.

“Some jobs need to be done, whether we get thanked or not,” Mel said. “I’m proud of you for taking this on.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Jenna said. “Moonlight Harbor is my forever home and I want to do my best for it.”

“It does my heart good to hear you say that, dear,” Aunt Edie said. “I can rest easy knowing the Driftwood will be in capable hands after I’m gone.”

“You’re not going anywhere for a long time,” Jenna said firmly. “You’re going to live to be a hundred.”

“I plan on it,” Aunt Edie said, just as Pete Long, the motel’s not so handy handyman walked into the dining room, resplendent in dirty jeans and a shirt in need of patching at the elbows. As usual, the old coot needed a shave and his chin was a bristly white mess.

He stopped at the little dining room table to help himself to a cupcake. “You’ve got lots of good years left in you, Edie, old girl,” he said.

“Pete, you missed the party,” Aunt Edie scolded.

Which meant that there had been enough food for all the guests. Pete was a two-legged locust and about as useful.

“Yeah, I hear congrats are in order,” he said to Jenna.

“She won by a landslide,” Celeste told him.

“Fourteen votes is hardly a landslide,” Jenna said.

“It is if there’s not that much land to slide down,” Celeste argued. “Moonlight Harbor isn’t exactly Seattle, and it’s not like everyone gets out and votes.”

“True, but the ones who really care did,” said Aunt Edie.

“I voted,” Pete said, leaning against the archway. He stuffed half the cupcake in his mouth.

“Who did you vote for?” Celeste asked him.

“Jenna, of course,” he said around a mouth full of cake.

“Did you, really?” Jenna asked, surprised.

He half-frowned. “Sure. Why not? You whipped the Driftwood into shape. I guess you can do the same for this town. Anyway, keeping you busy with Moonlight Harbor business will keep you off my back.”

“The real reason,” she said with a knowing nod. Pete needed constant nagging.

“A win-win,” he said, then gobbled up the last of the cupcake and returned to the refreshment table to forage for more goodies.

He stayed long enough to finish off the last of the appetizers plus two more cupcakes. Then he left to go hang out at The Drunken Sailor, the town’s favorite watering hole.

Baby Edie was soon fussy and tired, and Henry took her over to the motel room where he and Celeste were staying to put her down for the night and work on the final edits for his latest thriller novel.

“Take the dog with you,” Aunt Edie said.

Nemo, not feeling the love, whined, but he followed his master out of the house. Then it was just the women and time for girl talk.

“What did you think of Ellis West?” Aunt Edie asked Mel.

Mel’s cheeks turned seashell pink. “He’s very nice.”

“And he’s very successful,” said Aunt Edie. “Plus he’s good looking.

“Looks like he’s interested in you, Mom,” Celeste said.

The pink got darker. “He was just being friendly.”

“I think he’d like to get a lot friendlier,” Celeste insisted.

Mel blew it off. “Oh, nonsense.”

“Melody, I think you’ve forgotten how to read the signs when a man is interested,” said Aunt Edie.

“Interested and friendly are two different things,” Mel told her.

“Yeah, friendly, says, ‘Hi, nice to meet you. You from around here?’ then wanders off to talk to someone else. Interested wants to hear the story of your life, never leaves your side and hurries off to fetch food for you,” Celeste said. “How many times did Ellis get you more canapes?”

Now the pink was sunset vivid. “Oh, honestly,” Mel said in disgust.

“He’s a really nice man, Mom,” said Jenna.

“He is, but I’m not interested. There will never be another man for me but your father.”

“Now don’t go getting all sentimental and silly,” Aunt Edie scolded. “You can love more than one man in a lifetime.”

“I doubt it,” Mel said. “Anyway, I’m too old for him. He’s still in his fifties.”

“Not for much longer,” Jenna said. “I think he’s fifty-eight.”

“Age doesn’t matter at this point in life,” Aunt Edie argued.

“I read somewhere that since men die younger than women a woman should marry a man seven years younger than her,” Jenna said. “And what are you always saying to me? Don’t give up on love.”

“You girls,” Mel said, her face still red. “You obviously don’t have enough to do.”

“We’ve got plenty to do, trust us,” Celeste said. “But we’re never too busy for you, Mom.”

“That’s sweet,” Mel said, smiling at her. “You just work on helping your sister get her love life sorted out. Let’s see her find her happy ever after. That’s what I want.”

“Me, too,” said Celeste. “When are you going to figure out what you’re doing?” she asked Jenna. “I’m ready to start planning your wedding.”

“You’ll be the first to know,” Jenna said.

“After me,” put in Mel.

“And me,” said Aunt Edie.

“And me,” said Jolly Roger. “Give me champagne.”

“A good idea,” said Jenna, and went in search of the last bottle. Her love life was enough to drive her to drink.











USA Today and Publishers Weekly best-selling author Sheila Roberts has written over fifty books under various names, ranging from romance to self-improvement. Her humor and heart have won her a legion of fans and her novels have been turned into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark channels. When she’s not out dancing with her husband or hanging out with her girlfriends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends and chocolate.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://www.sheilasplace.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sheila_Roberts

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/funwithsheila

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