Review of Love’s Funny That Way by Pamela Burford

Four high school friends make a marriage pact. If any of them are still unmarried by age thirty the rest of the group has to find a suitable partner for her, and she must stick with the choice for at least three months before moving forward or calling it quits. Since Raven Muldoon turns thirty first, and she’s still not married, the three other girls choose Brent as her match.

Granted, this story was a little silly. It certainly wasn’t terrible, but the idea that any thirty-year-old career woman would continue to date a womanizing cheater like Brent for the entire three months just because she promised to do it over a decade prior was a little too difficult for me to believe. Yet, without this, there’d be no story. It’s what they do in television and in movies, and it’s done in books. Without a little implausibility, there’d be no books, TV shows or movies, so I got past that.

This is a short book. I read it in less than a day. It’s also definitely not a “clean” romance. There are some explicit sex scenes here. In fact, at one point the sex scene went on for several pages, so readers who are uncomfortable with this might want to be aware of it.

Overall, reading this book isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours by the pool. I just grabbed another one of the author’s books so it compelled me to read on.

4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

 

Review of The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

This is the story of Emma and Jane…and a house. Emma is the girl before and Jane is the eBook Review Gal Book Review of The Girl Before by J P Delaneycurrent occupant of One Folgate Street. Through alternating POV, we learn the tale of obsession, control and murder, while finding out just how closely these two young women’s lives intersect and parallel one another.

I was drawn to the description of this book. “In the tradition of Girl on the Train…and Gone Girl,” had me hooked. Yet, I found very few similarities…the first one being that they all have the word “Girl” in the title. As with Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, there are some pretty dysfunctional characters involved. Honestly, I didn’t like any of them. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate the writing and plot. In fact, I found the plot to be quite unique – a control freak perfectionist who designs the perfect house and expects only perfect people to live there.

Unfortunately, there were several things I didn’t like about the book. I found that some of the characters seemed to change far too abruptly. Not wanting to give away any spoilers, I can only say that it was a little too Jekyll and Hyde for my taste. It was as though the author suddenly changed things up to suit the plot.

I wasn’t a fan of the way the book was arranged. For one, I didn’t like the format in Emma’s POV. There were no dialogue quotes, which made it confusing at times. There was a lot of “he goes” instead of “he says”, which I found irritating and juvenile. Also, each chapter was either labeled “Then: Emma” or “Now: Jane”, which made things somewhat monotonous and confusing as well, since I found the women so similar.

My other issue was the wishy-washy women involved. Both Emma and Jane had endured life-changing events that brought them to One Folgate Street, yet they were quickly able to become controlled by Edward. The ending was a letdown and lukewarm at best.

The Girl Before is a quick and easy read. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I’d hoped.

 

3 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

eBook Review Gal received a complimentary ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review of The Things We Knew by Catherine West

Lynette Carlisle has been forced to be so strong for so long and now things are beginning to collapse around her. At just twenty-four, she’s had to be the lone caretaker of her family’s crumbling estate and her father, whose failing health she can no longer ignore. When a family meeting becomes necessary, Lynnette soon learns that her siblings have also been dealing with their own struggles and burdens since leaving home. The family reunion becomes a cathartic and eye-opening opportunity for them all.

eBook Review Gal Book Review of The Things We Knew by Catherine West

I can’t say enough great things about The Things We Knew. It’s a beautiful family story that tugged at my heart. The author has expertly woven an immensely appealing tale that follows the lives of some extremely likable and believable characters. The character development is flawless. I was drawn in immediately and was easily able to connect with each character.

This is a story that shows a family that is nowhere near perfect and that’s what makes it so believable. Some very difficult topics are tackled here – alcoholism, infidelity, drug abuse, domestic violence, just to name a few. Yet, it never comes off as soap opera-ish. Families can be messy and this book hits all the right notes.

There’s a lot to take in and there’s a lot going on, but since the author’s writing style is so breezy it never feels bogged down. I especially found the dialogue to be genuine and sincere, it’s written in a way that family members actually to speak to each other.

Although The Things We Knew is listed as Christian Fiction, I wouldn’t say it’s overly so. Yes, there are several references to God’s grace, prayer, etc., but it’s not at all overwhelming or preachy. It never completely takes over the book. Some of the characters are clearly followers of Christ and some aren’t, but they’re working on it. The Things We Knew is a wonderfully uplifting and inspirational story of family, forgiveness and love.

 

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

eBook Review Gal received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Tour Spotlight and Giveaway

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Tour Banner

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Cover PhotoPaperback: 276 pages

Publisher: Andarina Publishing (June 26, 2016)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0997368810

ISBN-13: 978-0997368819

 

ABOUT CROWNING GLORY:

In this beautifully written, heartfelt, witty, and life-affirming memoir, Stacy Harshman tracks her amazing experiment. By wearing dramatic, identically styled but differently colored wigs for weeks in New York City, Stacy Harshman learns more about who she is and what she can find in herself as a redhead, a raven-haired goth, a brunette, and a blonde. 

After hiring a spy to document how people responded to her, Stacy realizes how her hair is woven into every aspect of her life: her self-image, her depression, and her relationships. Changing her hair changed how she approached all of them. 

By turns rapturous, rueful, and riotous, this wise and funny book charts the story of one woman’s way to shake it up, change it all, and discover something new about herself.

 

PURCHASE CROWNING GLORY ON AMAZON.COM

 

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 1ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm.  After a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts.

Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

 

STACY IS GIVING AWAY THESE AWESOME PRIZES TO THREE LUCKY WINNERS:

$25 Amazon Gift Card
One Signed Copy of “Crowning Glory
One Piece of Original Artwork *see the photo below

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of Gold (Wanted: Miss Jane Mutta) by Ryn Shell

This book introduces readers to Miss Jane Mutta, a twenty nine year old “spinster” who eBook Review Gal Book Review of Gold by Ryn Shellstudies dentistry at University and aspires to open her own practice. Since she has the misfortune to be living in the mid-1800s Jane finds it extremely difficult to carry through with her plan. Women weren’t exactly first-class citizens during this time.

When she’s paid to travel and set up shop in the Australian colony, Jane is accompanied by her parents and a lawman since it’s determined she needs chaperoning and protection. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong and Jane is left to her own devices to continue on her quest, which has become a much more dangerous undertaking than she’d ever thought possible.

This is a short book with an old-fashioned feel. I found it interesting and entertaining. It’s easy for modern women to forget how far we’ve come over the centuries and I appreciated Jane’s spunky refusal to be treated so poorly by men.

The book is told in bits and pieces and I was confused once or twice that I’d missed something. Then a few chapters later the author would insert some information and I was able to catch up again. I would have liked a bit more backstory about Jane’s parents and what actually happened to them. I got the gist, but I think that part of the story should have been made a bit clearer for readers.

Douglas Fife’s character doesn’t appear until closer to the end of this book. It seemed that I was just getting interested in Jane and Douglas’s relationship and the book ended. Clearly this is in anticipation for the next book in this series. Therefore, I would hesitate to call Gold a standalone novel. While I really did enjoy reading about Jane’s life before she’d met Douglas, if readers want to find out more about how this relationship progresses they’ll have to purchase the next book.

4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Life was good in 1950s America. In that time between wars, where the country flourished, The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamintelevision was new and women still “dressed” for lunch,  New York City was the place to see and be seen, not by the likes of today’s bratty celebrities, but by the honest to goodness glamorous socialites of that era. The Swans of Fifth Avenue is about that magical time and place, as seen through the eyes of writer Truman Capote, high society goddess, Babe Paley, and a cast of other elegant and sophisticated “swans”.

The odd, unlikely relationship between Truman Capote and his favorite swan is the perfect backdrop for this story. Yet, we soon learn that Truman and Babe have more in common than one might think. Each is self-assured and confident on the outside, but an absolute mess on the inside. Both seem to have “mommy issues” – spending their entire adult lives trying to please, and prove themselves, to their long-gone mothers. They each see the vulnerability and tragedy in the other and that’s what becomes the unbreakable (almost) bind that holds the two of them together as friends over the years.

Clearly, the author has taken great liberties with her book, which she does state at the end. Of course, she was never privy to such intimate, long ago conversations. Yet, she’s captured the essence of the time and circumstances beautifully. The Swans of Fifth Avenue is absolutely delightful, delicious and delectable. It was like eating an entire box of the finest chocolates without the guilt. I savored every bit of it and still I wanted more. The characters are so well developed; I was immediately emotionally invested in them. Babe was a tragic, lovely figure. Truman was the self-centered jerk I’d always thought he was. Yet, there was so much more to this book.

Melanie Benjamin has chosen to write this book in my favorite of all POVs – third person omniscient – which was a brilliant move. Although it can be a difficult POV to pull off, the author has taken great care to give each character his or her own individual “voice”. We’re able to view things from varying vantage points and it works magnificently. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable, intelligent story. Ms. Benjamin’s writing is clever, witty and utterly engaging.

I realize some readers have voiced opinions to the effect that this book is nothing more than a fictional retelling of a story about self-absorbed, obscenely rich socialites who sit around spending money and feeling sorry for themselves. That was far from what I took away from this book. The lives of those women couldn’t have been any more different from my own. Yet, I was still able to connect with many of the characters on a human level. The Swans of Fifth Avenue is about human nature, trust, insecurities, regret, life, death and so much more. I HIGHLY recommend this book!

 

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

 

eBook Review Gal received a complimentary ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna

Ruby Clare is thirty-three, unmarried and still lives at home on the family farm with her bitter, abusive mother. Since Ruby’s beloved father died suddenly, Ruby’s day consists of The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna Book Review by Susan Bartonknitting tea cozies, and waiting hand and foot on Martha Clare. Ruby’s spoiled twin sisters, May and June, don’t make life any easier for Ruby. Although they work in the city, they come home on weekends to visit Martha and to torment shy, overweight Ruby.

Meanwhile, psychiatrist Henry Shevlin’s life is in turmoil. His wife, Constance, went for a walk and never returned. After a year of searching for her, he’s decided to attempt to move on by relocating from the city of Belfast to the more rural location of Killoran. Henry settles into his new surroundings nicely while treating some pretty quirky characters, but he never stops hoping Constance will return.

There’s a lot going on in The Godforsaken Daughter – several stories are intertwined and told. While at first it seems to start out as yet another spin on the classic Cinderella story, readers will be quite happy to see that it is so much more than that. Christina McKenna has woven a beautiful tapestry of characters, set against the glorious backdrop of Northern Ireland. Her characters are so charming, compelling and well developed, I was immediately invested in their well-being. I wanted to hug Ruby and tell her everything would be okay.

There are some definite religious undertones at play in The Godforsaken Daughter, but this is Northern Ireland in the 80s after all, so it’s to be expected. The Troubles between Protestants and Catholics are injected at various points in the story. The IRA and British authorities play an important role as well. Ruby’s experimentation with the occult is short-lived and met with negative consequences.

The ending is magnificent and I felt very satisfied with the way the author put all the pieces together. The story was never contrived or overdone.

While reading The Godforsaken Daughter, which I did in one day since it was so wonderful, I found myself searching for more of Christina McKenna’s books. I love her writing and have every intention of reading all of her books. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading engaging stories of life, love and perseverance.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This book is set for publication on 3/17/2015.

Review of There’s a Pattern Here and It Ain’t Glen Plaid by Laurie Frankel

I’ve always believed women should be strong and independent. Go to college, get a great job and learn to survive on their own and not have to depend on a man, or anyone for thatThere's a Pattern Here and It Ain't Glen Plaid by Laurie Frankel matter. Often times I have seen women bounce from relationship to relationship for security, just to survive in life. When one relationship starts to go bad, so does the self-esteem. They start to find another security blanket in order to keep moving on – they never really make a solid life for themselves. Often, the new relationships were just a quick fix or rebound so they could have another place to live. Then the repetitious pattern would keep going, which would never build into a good relationship.

“There’s a Pattern Here…” is packed with encouraging tools to regain your self-esteem and take charge of having a better relationship with yourself.  Solid healthy relationships are built when young girls and women get to know themselves first. Women who have the courage to get to know themselves will soon make better choices. Loving *you* and exploring your interests will help you believe in yourself and give you the courage to be independent. Children from this kind of union between parents are more likely to break the vicious pattern and grow up to be more independent and have greater self-worth. Being independent and building a sense of self is not an overnight process. It requires time.

I loved the way the author told personal experiences through humorous stories. I could relate to these stories. I felt my self-esteem lift and was encouraged to build on my own independence. I strongly recommend reading this book, and utilizing the tools and reference guide to build your own sense of self-worth. “There’s a Pattern Here and It Ain’t Glen Plaid” is a great reference tool to add to your library.

 

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Monica McDaniel

 

 

Review of Fly by Night (A Gracie Anderson Mystery) by Laurinda Wallace

eBook Review Gal has another FAB book reviewer! Suzette Brown is the author of Alzheimer’s: Through My Mother’s Eyes. Suzette is an avid reader and the proud owner of a Certified Therapy Dog named Flower. Suzette got involved in pet therapy services after watching the dogs and owners that visited the convalescent center while her mom was a patient. Suzette’s first eBook Review Gal review is of Laurinda Wallace’s mystery novel Fly by Night. Take it away, Suzette!

I found Fly by Night to be a delightful day-to-day story of Gracie and her faithful dog, Haley. The small town of Deer Creek’s friendly residents and Midge’s (Restaurant) gaveFly by Night by Laurinda Wallace the setting a peaceful aura.  Gracie runs the “The Milky Way Kennel” which also thrives throughout the story. Gracie’s curious nature and sharp wit come in handy even at a fundraiser dinner held by her cousin. Her canine partner is by her side at all times.

This was a well-written book and enjoyable to read. Even the dog’s “speaking” and “thoughts” were conveyed quite nicely. As Gracie lends an ear and tries to figure out the issues within the community, it had my attention. I found myself eager to get back to reading this book to discover what happens.

I had some difficulty keeping up with the vast array of characters (residents).  I read this book on my Kindle and had to keep going back to earlier pages in search of names that were introduced earlier. Initially, I did not realize this book was the third in a series of Gracie Anderson books, so I definitely recommend reading the previous books first – which is a good thing for me because now I plan to purchase and read books one and two 🙂

 

4 of 5 Stars, Review by Suzette Brown

 

 

 

 

Review of Something Good by Darlene Deluca

eBook Review Gal is pleased to announce our newest reviewer, Alexia Bullard, of Triskele Reviews. We’ve asked Alexia to introduce herself to readers. This is what she had to say:

Alexia Bullard eBook Review Gal Book ReviewerMy name is Alexia Bullard, though I prefer to write under A. P. Bullard. I am a voracious reader, as well as a writer. That is: I write fiction, but also read books and write about them. I started reading when I was two, and wrote my first story in cerulean crayon when I was five. I never stopped doing either.

I show dogs, and am the proud mommy of a black Holland Lop named Watson. I am never without at least one book, and usually never without a cup of coffee. (I drink copious amounts, and may or may not have a problem.)

 

 

Now for Alexia’s review of Something Good by Darlene Deluca:

Mandi Evans has had a tragic four years. Divorce, alienation and loss of friendships, missed opportunities for the life she wanted, and a heart-wrenching incident that ripped away the light of her life – her daughter, Paige – were just the start of myriad problems Something Good by Darlene Delucathat leave Mandi struggling to get through the day. Her life is a monotonous, exhausting routine of living in a rundown trailer park while working two dead-end jobs and taking online classes. However, the arrival of Lane Whitmore promises to change everything.

Lane has plans to tear down the trailer park and put in something beneficial to the community. The mothers in the area tell him tales of how dangerous the area has become, and he decides the slum trailer park has got to go. Getting a feel for the area, and hoping to get some work done, Lane seeks out a hot meal at the diner across the street from his hotel. Lane and Mandi cross paths, changing their lives forever.

From the very first page, the reader is drawn into this novel of loss, personal strength, and hope. A surprising romance developing between two incredibly emotionally-engaging characters leaves the reader unable to put it down. Fast-pace, great writing, surprising plot twists, and vivid characters earn this book a high recommendation.

Darlene Deluca’s newest novel, Something Good, is a must-read!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Alexia Bullard