• Book Reviews,  mental health,  parenting,  Writing

    Love Her Well: a book review

    About: Love Her Well

    Paperback: 240 Pages

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 18, 2020)

    Moms are eager for tips and wisdom to help them build strong relationships with their daughters, and Kari Kampakis’s Love Her Well gives them ten practical ways to do so, not by changing their daughters but by changing their own thoughts, actions, and mind-set.

    For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to gloom and doom as moms are told, “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive

    Author and blogger Kari Kampakis suggests it’s time to change the narrative and mind-set that lead moms to parent teen girls with a spirit of defeat, not strength. By improving the foundation, habits, and dynamics of the relationship, mothers can connect with their teen daughters and earn a voice in their lives that allows moms to offer guidance, love, wisdom, and emotional support.

    As a mom of four daughters (three of whom are teenagers), Kari has learned the hard way that as girls grow up, mothers must grow up too. In Love Her Well, Kari shares ten ways that moms can better connect with their daughters in a challenging season, including:

    • choosing their words and timing carefully,
    • listening and empathizing with her teen’s world,
    • seeing the good and loving her for who she is,
    • taking care of themselves and having a support system, and more.

    This book isn’t a guide to help mothers “fix” their daughters or make them behave. Rather, it’s about a mom’s journey, doing the heart work and legwork necessary to love a teenager while still being a strong, steady parent. Kari explores how every relationship consists of two imperfect sinners, and teenagers gain more respect for their parents when they admit (and learn from) their mistakes, apologize, listen, give grace, and try to understand their teens’ point of view. Yes, teenagers need rules and consequences, but without a connected relationship, parents may never gain a significant voice in their lives or be a safe place they long to return to.

    By admitting her personal failures and prideful mistakes that have hurt her relationships with her teenage daughters, Kari gives mothers hope and reminds them all things are possible through God. By leaning on him, mothers gain the wisdom, guidance, protection, and clarity they need to grow strong.

    Review:

    Talk about a timely book.

    Yesterday was the first day of school and it was a start to Chaney’s junior year that I could have never imagined. Never did I think that two of her high school years would be impacted by COVID. On Monday we drove 3 hours round trip to get her driver’s permit. The DMV in Texas is by appointment only after shutting down due to COVID and when I first looked the earliest appointment in our area was in 2021. And to top it all off, her love – theatre – looks drastically different than anything I’ve ever seen.

    This is the current state we are all living in and on top of that, our family is still trying to balance freedom with well-being while realizing that the transition from a teen to an adult is already happening. And this transition, to me at least, feels even more abrupt because so much is out of our control.

    So what can I control? My actions, my thoughts, and my dialogue with my daughter. Easier said than done, I know. But Love Her Well made it a little easier by drawing my attention to certain aspects of my own personality and heart that could use some work.

    This book was an enjoyable read. However, it was not one that I flew through, despite loving every chapter. It’s an interactive book with Q&A at the end of each chapter which made my writing heart delight. I had years of thoughts and feelings bottled up and was able to unwind many of them chapter by chapter, page by page. This book is an experience.

    If you have a teen daughter, this book is a must. It covers everything from friends, to body image, to mental health – something I feel like a lot of these types of books miss. This one is going on the reference shelf because I have a feeling I might need it more than once during these next few years.

    Thanks to Thomas Nelson and TLC Book Tours for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

    This book is available now from your favorite bookseller!

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    About Kari Kampakis

    Kari Kampakis is a mom of four daughters who writes about everyday events and significant moments that reveal God’s movement in our lives. She loves girls and believes many world problems can be solved by music, dancing, and deep conversations with friends.

    Kari’s work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show, EWTN, Yahoo! News, The Eric Metaxas Show, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp’s blog, Hands Free Mama, and other national outlets. Her two books for teen girls, 10 ULTIMATE TRUTHS GIRLS SHOULD KNOW and LIKED: WHOSE APPROVAL ARE YOU LIVING FOR?, have been used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.

    Connect with Kari

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Lies, Lies, Lies Review & Blog Tour

    Book Details:

    LIES LIES LIES

    Author: Adele Parks

    ISBN: 9780778360889

    Publication Date: August 4, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA Books

     

    Book Summary:

    LIES LIES LIES Centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends… and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.

    Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

    Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it. 

    Review:

    This book follows a fairly typical formula for domestic thrillers. Secrets, lies, unreliable narration, and bombshell revelations.

    I enjoyed the book at the beginning. It was engaging and I was curious to see where it went. I like multi-POV plots and this one was done well. It allowed for good character development, even if they were flawed individuals.

    Now for the things that were not my favorite – first being the portrayal of Simon’s alcoholism. He had a severe problem and the author probably could have done a bit more research on the subject. When written well, addiction can draw a reader even further into the story. Here, it became a distraction to me. And Daisy – she ultimately came off weak which was disappointing when she started off as a strong character with a sense of humor and a solid identity.

    There were some good twists in this plot but after a few, they felt implausible and over the top. This of course is just my opinion – for die hard domestic thriller lovers, I suspect they will enjoy chain of events in this book.

    This was not my favorite Adele Parks book but this won’t stop me from reading her next book. We can’t love all the books and again, there will be plenty who do enjoy this book. It’s a quick read and a nice summer escape.

    About the Author:

    Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

    Social Links:

    Social Links:

    Author Website

    Twitter: @AdeleParks

    Instagram: @adele_parks

    Facebook: @OfficialAdeleParks

    Goodreads

    Purchase:

    Buy Links: 

    Harlequin 

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon

    Books-A-Million

    Powell’s

    Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for the gifted eBook in exchange for my honest review. This book is available for purchase tomorrow, August 4th.

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Friendship List blog tour & excerpt

    About:

    Author: Susan Mallery

    Hardcover: 384 pages

    Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (August 4, 2020)

    Synopsis:

    [ ] Dance till dawn

    [ ] Go skydiving

    [ ] Wear a bikini in public

    [ ] Start living

    Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

    Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

    So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

    The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

    Excerpt: Chapter One

    “I should have married money,” Ellen Fox said glumly. “That would have solved all my problems.”
    Unity Leandre, her best friend, practically since birth, raised her eyebrows. “Because that was an option so many times and you kept saying no?”
    “It could have been. Maybe. If I’d ever, you know, met a rich guy I liked and wanted to marry.”
    “Wouldn’t having him want to marry you be an equally important part of the equation?”
    Ellen groaned. “This is not a good time for logic. This is a good time for sympathy. Or giving me a winning lottery ticket. We’ve been friends for years and you’ve never once given me a winning lottery ticket.”
    Unity picked up her coffee and smiled. “True, but I did give you my pony rides when we celebrated our eighth birthdays.”
    A point she would have to concede, Ellen thought. With their birthdays so close together, they’d often had shared parties. The summer they’d turned eight, Unity’s mom had arranged for pony rides at a nearby farm. Unity had enjoyed herself, but Ellen had fallen in love with scruffy Mr. Peepers, the crabby old pony who carried them around the paddock. At Ellen’s declaration of affection for the pony, Unity had handed over the rest of her ride tickets, content to watch Ellen on Mr. Peepers’s wide back.
    “You were wonderful about the pony rides,” Ellen said earnestly, “And I love that you were so generous. But right now I really need a small fortune. Nothing overwhelming. Just a tasteful million or so. In return, I’ll give back the rides on Mr. Peepers.”
    Unity reached across the kitchen table and touched Ellen’s arm. “He really wants to go to UCLA?”
    Ellen nodded, afraid if she spoke, she would whimper. After sucking in a breath, she managed to say, “He does. Even with a partial scholarship, the price is going to kill me.” She braced herself for the ugly reality. “Out-of-state costs, including room and board, are about sixty-four thousand dollars.” Ellen felt her heart skip a beat and not out of excitement. “A year. A year! I don’t even bring home that much after taxes. Who has that kind of money? It might as well be a million dollars.”
    Unity nodded. “Okay, now marrying money makes sense.”
    “I don’t have a lot of options.” Ellen pressed her hand to her chest and told herself she wasn’t having a heart attack. “You know I’d do anything for Coop and I’ll figure this out, but those numbers are terrifying. I have to start buying lottery scratchers and get a second job.” She looked at Unity. “How much do you think they make at Starbucks? I could work nights.”
    Unity, five inches taller, with long straight blond hair, grabbed her hands. “Last month it was University of Oklahoma and the month before that, he wanted to go to Notre Dame. Cooper has changed his mind a dozen times. Wait until you go look at colleges this summer and he figures out what he really wants, then see who offers the best financial aid before you panic.” Her mouth curved up in a smile. “No offense, Ellen, but I’ve tasted your coffee. You shouldn’t be working anywhere near a Starbucks.”
    “Very funny.” Ellen squeezed her hands. “You’re right. He’s barely seventeen. He won’t be a senior until September. I have time. And I’m saving money every month.”
    It was how she’d been raised, she thought. To be practical, to take responsibility. If only her parents had thought to mention marrying for money.
    “After our road trip, he may decide he wants to go to the University of Washington after all, and that would solve all my problems.”
    Not just the money ones, but the loneliness ones, she thought wistfully. Because after eighteen years of them being a team, her nearly grown-up baby boy was going to leave her.
    “Stop,” Unity said. “You’re getting sad. I can see it.”
    “I hate that you know me so well.”
    “No, you don’t.”
    Ellen sighed. “No, I don’t, but you’re annoying.”
    “You’re more annoying.”
    They smiled at each other.
    Unity stood, all five feet ten of her, and stretched. “I have to get going. You have young minds to mold and I have a backed-up kitchen sink to deal with, followed by a gate repair and something with a vacuum. The message wasn’t clear.” She looked at Ellen. “You going to be okay?”
    Ellen nodded. “I’m fine. You’re right. Coop will change his mind fifteen more times. I’ll wait until it’s a sure thing, then have my breakdown.”
    “See. You always have a plan.”
    They walked to the front door. Ellen’s mind slid back to the ridiculous cost of college.
    “Any of those old people you help have money?” she asked. “For the right price, I could be a trophy wife.”
    Unity shook her head. “You’re thirty-four. The average resident of Silver Pines is in his seventies.”
    “Marrying money would still solve all my problems.”
    Unity hugged her, hanging on tight for an extra second. “You’re a freak.”
    “I’m a momma bear with a cub.”
    “Your cub is six foot three. It’s time to stop worrying.”
    “That will never happen.”
    “Which is why I love you. Talk later.”
    Ellen smiled. “Have a good one. Avoid spiders.”
    “Always.”

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    About Susan Mallery

    #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Books for my gifted eBook in exchange for my promotion.

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Black Swan of Paris: blog tour and excerpt

    THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS

    Author: Karen Robards

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA

    BOOK SUMMARY: 

    For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

    In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

    Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.

    Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.

    What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford’s younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can’t allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.

    It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.

    EXCERPT:

    CHAPTER ONE

    May 15, 1944

    When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered. The resultant state of apathy was almost pleasant, as long as she didn’t allow herself to think about it—any of it—too much.

    She was Genevieve Dumont, a singer, a star. Her latest sold-out performance at one of Paris’s great theaters had ended in a five-minute standing ovation less than an hour before. She was acclaimed, admired, celebrated wherever she went. The Nazis loved her.

    She was not quite twenty-five years old. Beautiful when, like now, she was dolled up in all her after-show finery. Not in want, not unhappy.

    In this time of fear and mass starvation, of worldwide deaths on a scale never seen before in the whole course of human history, that made her lucky. She knew it. 

    Whom she had been before, what had almost destroyed her—that life belonged to someone else. Most of the time, she didn’t even remember it herself.

    She refused to remember it.

    A siren screamed to life just meters behind the car she was traveling in. Startled, she sat upright in the back seat, heart lurching as she looked around.

    Do they know? Are they after us?

    A small knot of fans had been waiting outside the stage door as she’d left. One of them had thrust a program at her, requesting an autograph for Francoise. She’d signed—May your heart always sing, Genevieve Dumont—as previously instructed. What it meant she didn’t know. What she did know was that it meant something: it was a prearranged encounter, and the coded message she’d scribbled down was intended for the Resistance.

    And now, mere minutes later, here were the Milice, the despised French police who had long since thrown in their lot with the Nazis, on their tail.

    Even as icy jets of fear spurted through her, a pair of police cars followed by a military truck flew by. Running without lights, they appeared as no more than hulking black shapes whose passage rattled the big Citroën that up until then had been alone on the road. A split second later, her driver—his name was Otto Cordier; he worked for Max, her manager—slammed on the brakes. The car jerked to a stop.

    “Sacre bleu!” Flying forward, she barely stopped herself from smacking into the back of the front seat by throwing her arms out in front of her. “What’s happening?”

    “A raid, I think.” Peering out through the windshield, Otto clutched the steering wheel with both hands. He was an old man, short and wiry with white hair. She could read tension in every line of his body. In front of the car, washed by the pale moonlight that painted the scene in ghostly shades of gray, the cavalcade that had passed them was now blocking the road. A screech of brakes and the throwing of a shadow across the nearest building had her casting a quick look over her shoulder. Another military truck shuddered to a halt, filling the road behind them, stopping it up like a cork in a bottle. Men—German soldiers along with officers of the Milice—spilled out of the stopped vehicles. The ones behind swarmed past the Citroën, and all rushed toward what Genevieve tentatively identified as an apartment building. Six stories tall, it squatted, dark and silent, in its own walled garden.

    “Oh, no,” she said. Her fear for herself and Otto subsided, but sympathy for the targets of the raid made her chest feel tight. People who were taken away by the Nazis in the middle of the night seldom came back.

    The officers banged on the front door. “Open up! Police!”

    It was just after 10:00 p.m. Until the siren had ripped it apart, the silence blanketing the city had been close to absolute. Thanks to the strictly enforced blackout, the streets were as dark and mysterious as the nearby Seine. It had rained earlier in the day, and before the siren the big Citroën had been the noisiest thing around, splashing through puddles as they headed back to the Ritz, where she was staying for the duration of her Paris run.

    “If they keep arresting people, soon there will be no one left.” Genevieve’s gaze locked on a contingent of soldiers spreading out around the building, apparently looking for another way in—or for exits they could block. One rattled a gate of tall iron spikes that led into the brick-walled garden. It didn’t open, and he moved on, disappearing around the side of the building. She was able to follow the soldiers’ movements by the torches they carried. Fitted with slotted covers intended to direct their light downward so as to make them invisible to the Allied air-raid pilots whose increasingly frequent forays over Paris aroused both joy and dread in the city’s war-weary citizens, the torches’ bobbing looked like the erratic flitting of fireflies in the dark.

    Excerpted from The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Robards. Published by MIRA Books.

    BIO: 

    Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.

    SOCIAL:

    Author Website: http://karenrobards.com/

    TWITTER: @TheKarenRobards

    FB: @AuthorKarenRobards

     

    BUY LINKS:

    Harlequin 

    Indiebound

    Amazon

    Barnes & Noble 

    Books-A-Million

    Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an eCopy of this book in exchange for my promotion and forthcoming review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    No One Saw: Review & Blog Tour

    NO ONE SAW

    Author: Beverly Long

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA Books

    Book Summary:

    Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW, a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

    Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

    With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

    Review:

    This might be one of my favorite police procedurals of the year. This is my second A.L. McKittridge book and I’m hooked. He and his partner, Rena, are interesting and relatable, both personally and professionally.

    This book is fast-paced and can be read in a long evening, like I did, if you can’t put it down without knowing what happened.

    I sometimes shy away from books about missing children but when told through the lens of a police procedural, the mission and tactics for finding the child dominate the plot and help me as a reader to feel like I’m reading a book with a purpose, not just a story about a child being harmed.

    The writing was paced nicely and nothing felt rushed, which is another reason good crime procedurals are some of my favorite books to read – the investigation is kept at the forefront. The characters, while some were not likable, were well developed and interesting.

    And most importantly (for me), I thought I had the crime solved but I did not. I love books that make the reader guess and without reaching, come to a plausible conclusion of who committed the crime.

    If you enjoy police procedural novels, this series is a must.

    Thanks to MIRA Books and NetGalley for the gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Buy Links: 

    Harlequin 

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon

    Powell’s

    Books-A-Million

    Author Bio: 

    Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

     

    Social Links:

    Author Website

    Twitter: @BevLongBooks

    Instagram: #BeverlyLong

    Facebook: @BeverlyLongAuthor

     

     

     

     

     

     

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