Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Secret Daughter

As I saw my new-born baby’s face for the first time I tried desperately to capture her face in my mind—to stamp it onto my eyelids. As she was taken from me I knew I might never see my daughter again. 
38 years later…

‘You were adopted’. Three short words and Sabina’s life fractures. There would forever be a Beforethose words, and an After.

Pregnant with her own child, Sabina can’t understand how a mother could abandon her daughter, or why her parents have kept the past a secret.

Determined to find the woman who gave her away, what she discovers will change everything, not just for Sabina, but for the women who have loved her all these years.

From the bestselling author of Me Without You comes another touching, beautifully told story about the pain of separation and the enduring strength of love.

I knew when I accepted the offer to read this book that this would be a read that would require a box of tissue close at hand.  I also knew that it would be one that I would identify closely with, as I have personally been in the lives of ladies who have had their babies taken at birth, as well as ladies who were adopted at birth and spent years wondering who their mother was.  Yes, I knew the tentacles of emotion would run deep when I opened the first page and started the story.
But, I was totally unprepared for the shock blast of the emotional upheaval that I immediately was sucked into with the opening salvo as a joyous event of the announcement of a pregnancy by a young couple to her parents turned into an evening of parental breakdown and disjointed revelations that left Sabina, the young mother-to-be, rushing to the doctor for tests and answers.  A second visit and confrontation with the parents a day or two later resulted in an even bigger revelation and a true life-shattering announcement that she was not theirs. 
The story was a slow peeling of the layers of Sabina’s life and at the same time a flash-back to the time of the pregnancy of Sabina’s mother, Lilly, and her experience with the Maternity Home System in Australia.  It is also the telling of the same story through the eyes of Sabina’s adoptive mother, Megan, who worked in the system.
While a well written story, in its own right, Kelly did a masterful job of providing a snapshot of the devastation that the Maternity Home System had on the lives of so many people, just in the telling of the story of how it affected the lives of these three families and the effects that dominated their lives for forty years because of the policies and conditions of the home.
Kelly took the time to not only tell a story that would showcase a cause, but she took the time to develop the characters within her story and breath life into them.  You could feel the emotion of the mothers and, on several occasions, I had to set down the book to breath before picking it up to move one again.  I was so caught up in the emotion of motherhood, of unborn children, of bonding, of the idea of losing a child at birth – never to see him/her again.
The supporting characters were there and played their parts well, but the central characters were almost three-dimensional on the page.  You could feel yourself sitting down to tea with them or wanting to reach out and wrap your arms in comfort around them when there was little else you could do. 
I strongly recommend the reading of this book.  It is not an easy read, but it is one that is well worth the effort and time.  I would give it a good FOUR STARS as a literary review, but a full FIVE STARS for the moving story effectiveness of content.  I loved it.  This book was provided to me by Net Galley to read and review.
Thank you for taking on such a hard story, Kelly.  It was deeply appreciated by this reviewer.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING (from Amazon Synopsis)
Find out what readers are saying about The Secret Daughter
‘I adored this novel. Absolutely, 100% adored it. Kelly Rimmer is a beautiful writer … The Secret Daughter packed such an emotional, powerful punch, one that I don't think I've felt before that I'll always associate with her novels from now on.’ Becca’s Books

‘Kelly Rimmer did an amazing job of telling such a heartbreaking tale. This story had me laughing, crying and hugging my daughter a wee tighter. I loved this story!’ Steph and Chris Book Reviews

Kelly-Rimmer-image-2wqurumr64r0jnnc2po1s0ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From her website)
When my childhood friends grew out of make-believe games, I realized that I’d have to become a writer (or join the real world with them, but that seemed far too dull).
Several decades later, I live in rural Australia with my husband Daniel and our two young children, and when I’m not reading, writing, or daydreaming about reading and writing, I have one of those unfathomable IT jobs which no one outside of the industry really knows about.
You can find out more about Kelly Rimmer at KELLYRIMMER.COM 

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Psalter - A Book Review

A medieval prayer book, an Irish saint's prophecy of the last pope, and a forgery that changed the church—forever. Father Romano has run afoul of the modern inquisitors before. This time, it leads to a medieval manuscript and murder. Was it an ordinary theft gone wrong or something more? The Carabinieri in Rome would like to know. Michael Romano is an American priest working in the Vatican's Secret Archives with a penchant for stepping over the line. Church Inquisitors have noticed -- and aren't happy. Nevertheless, Romano is also the Church's senior paleographer, an expert in ancient manuscripts, and his expertise is needed to examine a ninth-century codex known as a Psalter. Father Romano's examination leads him into the past as he uncovers a historical narrative of medieval forgeries, Saracen invasions and a legendary fight for the richest kingdom on earth. Yet he has unwittingly become a target for those who will stop at nothing to possess the secret of the Psalter.

Religious, historical, fast-paced, action thrillers are like a sugar rush for this reviewer.  No, make that a double espresso chocolate brownie sugar rush.  Galen Watson did not give his readers, this one included, an opportunity to breath from the time we opened to the first page till I finally saw “the end” printed at the back of the book.  As I was reading an e-book version, I didn’t even have the cheat of knowing how many pages were left to know how much time was left before we would come to the end of the wild hair-raising ride.
Galen Watson spent very little time dithering about the backstory of side stories as he rocketed through the mystery of the Psalter.  The reader was pulled back and forth between the current time and the great Vatican Library with Father Romano who was investigating the loss of a Psalter and its mysteries and the 840’s during the time when the Vatican was controlled by Popes, Caesars, and the political families of Rome. 
The great mystery centered about Father Johannes and his Psalters.  It was during this time that a great many Psalters were penned by Father Johannes.  There were thousands of Psalters penned by scribes during that times.  What made these so special?  So sought after, even in the twenty-first century? 
Those who read Dan Brown, David Morrell, and other religious thriller authors over the last twenty years will enjoy this novel.  In fact, after reading The Psalter, I was curious enough to go do some research and find out more information on the subject of the Psalters of the era and of the subject of the surprise topic the jumped up about half way through the book and slapped me in the face.  No, I’m not telling…it needs to shock you as much as it did me.  I had to back up and catch my breath and re-think things for a few minutes before continuing…and google a few things.
Yes, this one is going on the “reading it again” shelf.  I give it a good 4.5 STARS.  I look forward to finding more of Galen Watson’s novels to enjoy.  I want to see what new surprises he has in the Vatican closet to keep me awake all night trying to finish a real page turner.

I read the 300 Spartans by John Burke when I was in grade school and decided that I loved historical fiction. When I was a teenager, I read The Egyptian by Mika Waltari, and was fascinated with how he adeptly wove historical events into a fiction, filled with mystery, adventure, political intrigue, and philosophical reflections.

History fascinates me, particularly historical events that shape who we are. It has a major impact on my blog posts and stories, and it's a fundamental theme in The Psalter. When I read a novel, I want to be entertained, of course, but I also want to learn something historically, philosophically, or be provoked. Umberto Eco's character opined in The Name of the Rose, "Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means..." That's what I ask when I read a book, and when I write, I want it to mean something.

In high school, I was an exchange student in the French countryside, and heard about a medieval religious forgery, likely created in a monastery north of Paris in Corbie, not far from Amiens. I read the research over the years, and realized how dramatically it shifted church supremacy, in a dramatic power play that changed the church forever. It was that religio-political fight I wanted to write about. After I sold a business, I took some time off. That hiatus gave me time to reflect, and it dawned on me that if I didn't try to write a novel, I would never know if I could.

I live in the Sierra Nevada's and spend a lot of time in Paris and Normandy. I have a degree in French literature and admit to being a closet banjo picker.

London Tides - A Book Review

Carla Laureano

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

London Tides by Carla Laureano was a work that took this reader through a time of soul searching as I travelled with Grace, a crisis photographer (war), who was finally home from war.  But was she?  This story is the story of a young lady that had to find her way back home.  Though she had never carried a gun, or wore the uniform or any military unit, Grace had buried herself in war for the last twenty years. 
War does not limit its inflicted pain to what ammo can do.  Nor does it limit its victims to soldiers.  The victims are endless.  We have all seen the footage, the still pictures of the costs of war, but what about the costs of war to the eye behind that camera?  To the soul of the person trying to make sure that the world sees the pain, sorrow, and suffering that are happening a world away?
After twenty years, and losing so many of her colleagues who shared her visions along the way, Grace came home war-weary and with a severe case of PTSD.  She came back to see if she could pick up the pieces of the life she ran away from.  London Tides is a love story unlike many others that I have read before.  For as Grace tries to discover if she and Ian, her fiancé of twenty years prior, will be able to rekindle a flame, the love story has a second and third story intertwining beneath it as the back story for both Ian and Grace slowly unfolds like pages of an old book.  Each page revealing more and more interesting details that broaden the picture and provides the depth and understanding to the complex story we are trying to untangle and understand.
Though the love story, itself, seems to be a bit slow at times, the back story and side stories of some of the supporting characters bring it all back to, why?  It is all well worth the read and well worth the outcome as the pages bring all the bits and pieces together to a wonderful conclusion that leaves the reader with answers and a smile on their face.


Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® Award-winning romance FIVE DAYS IN SKYE, as well as the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C.E. Laureano). She's an avid cook, an enthusiastic but untalented singer, and a thwarted world-traveler. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Italian opera singer Sofia de' Medici wants one thing: to sing Carmen in a first-rate New York opera house. She has escaped the clutches of her domineering father to achieve her dream, but can she overcome her own sweet nature and voluptuous beauty to take on the role of opera's greatest femme fatale? Major League baseball star Car Bradford wants one thing: to get his son away from his unfit ex-wife. In order to do that, he needs the help of her dad (and his boss) who demands a strange ransom -- pretend to be having an affair with a beautiful, curvy opera singer to get her the media attention she needs to nab the part of a lifetime. The trouble is, they have nothing in common. She's quirky; he's conventional. He hates her shoes; she hates his truck. She loves food; he sees it as fuel. But as they spend more time together, their awkward charade grows into a passion neither of them expected. Can the star athlete and sensuous diva get past their differences long to realize that they've both found the one thing they never knew they always wanted?
I saw the review for For The Love of the Dame by Miriam Allenson on a friend’s blogsite and thought, I HAVE GOT TO READ THAT BOOK!!!  Come on now folks, here is a book about a young opera singer from a very protective home who finds herself footloose and fancy free on the streets of New York City, trying to land the lead role in Carmen by George Bizet. Wide-eyed, innocent beyond belief and with the voice of an angel.  I laughed till my sides hurt, just at the thought, or should I say memories of another young girl I knew very much like that?
Having been offered the opportunity to read this potential jewel of a book, I set aside a rainy Friday and settled in for an afternoon of pure enjoyment.
Give me a story of a little, hot Italian singer and a great big super-hot baseball pro and this alone is the makings for a great romance novel.  Jealous ex-wives, conniving mother-in-laws, and Opera Directors who just are the donkey’s pa-toot, keep the laughs rolling as Sofia works to get an audition for the part of Carmen.  Her love of Italian cooking and pasta has her shoving her derriere into skirts too tight, and too long (for her height) while putting on four and five-inch heels to overcome her feelings of inadequacy.  She would the create scenes as she strutted down sidewalks and through buildings, with her dramatic Italian looks.  Mama Mia!!  I could see it all.  LOL.
But then you add in all sort of delicious things like little wide-eyed boys who seem lost and alone and desperately in need of a caring parent, and-and this same little Italian who prefers cooking to singing, huh?, and the plot thickens.
But really beneath the fun of For The Love of the Dame, is another story.  This story is about two people who have been hurt and pushed aside their entire lives.  Two people who desperately want to love and be loved, who have been hurt time and again, and are afraid to let themselves discover what true love is.  In the process, there is a very lost and scared little boy who is walking down the very path that they have walked before.  Will they be able to find the resolution to their questions about life and love in time to help him find security and happiness in his life?
Even though written as a light romance novel, I found that the deeper second story was the true story of the novel.  Of course, she is going to get the Opera part!  It wouldn’t be the book without it.  But there is a wonderful mystery written into the story that pops up and surprises everyone.  OH!  Well, that one, kept me from putting the book down and finishing it the next day. (Smile)  The plot just kept getting thicker and thicker. 
Yes, I was captivated with the storyline of the “lost” little boy needing love.  I wanted to tell a few of the badly behaving adults a thing or two about their poorly chosen priorities. But, it was the third storyline that tripped me up and kept me turning the pages.  The real mystery slowly started to reveal itself as Sofia’s story began to go back and unwind, revealing the life of this young opera protégé and her growing up years.
This third line added a depth to the story and added depth to the understanding of Sofia’s character.  Miriam also took the time to create the backstory for “Car”, the male protagonist, adding good depth to him and his character, and answering a good many questions.  She did the same for several of the main characters.  By doing this, she created an intricate overlapping web of twenty years in the lives of the characters of the story. 
By the time I reached the end of the book, I knew that this was one that would be going on my Re-Read Shelf.  I knew that I would want to wallow through the fun, sorrow, laughter, and tears of this delightful story again and again.
I would give this novel a FIVE STAR rating.
Miriam Allenson is a marketing/public relations professional who thinks writing romance is preferable to writing press releases and website copy any day of the week. She and husband, Andy, live in northern New Jersey, just off the Garden State Parkway, which means she can get anywhere from there.
Buy here :   Amazon 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Runway - Book Three of the Hostile Beauty Series A Review


I first had the privilege of meeting Jan Moran when I read and reviewed her first book in the Hostile Beauty Series, Flawless.  She swept me away with the high society, fast action, and ruthlessness that lies beneath the glossy veneer of the beauty industry.  Each of her subsequent installments have seemed to up the ante and have continued to peel back the layers of the industry as Jan shares the stories of each of a group of friends that are deeply involved in the beauty market in Beverly Hills, California, as well as other markets across the globe.
After Fianna Fitzgerald's debut runway showing of her fashion designs, a walk on the Malibu beach with reclusive rock star Niall Finley nearly claims their lives when they get caught in high tides. Will the bond they form in those critical moments be enough to last a lifetime?

When Fianna left Ireland for America to follow her dream of becoming a fashion designer, she was determined to leave her family's ancient past behind and start fresh in Beverly Hills. Fianna never imagined that her goal would place her, and those who work for her, in jeopardy. From the fashion runways of Los Angeles to London, someone is trying to sabotage her debut season. As Fianna struggles between two vastly different worlds, her troubles mount though her friends lend their support in her darkest hours.

Is the terror linked to her family's ancient feudal past or something else? Furthermore, can she leave Ireland with her heart intact, or will she lose it to the only man she's ever loved?

Runway is the third book in the series (but can be read as a stand-alone novel). Follow a group of smart, stylish, entrepreneurial friends as they navigate the turbulences of modern life in the business of beauty. Set in Beverly Hills with action flung across the globe, this engaging series features gutsy, determined best friends, and how they manage to live the lives of their dreams. 
Runway, Jan Moran’s current offering, did not disappoint this reader.  Fianna was already a well-favored character in the first two books, so when Jan devoted this third book to Fianna and her love of fashion, I squealed in delight.  The very vision of a tall Irish beauty with coppery locks and a striking brown/green eye combination that would knock the socks off most any guy who watched her walk the catwalk, or down Beverly Hills Blvd in one of her creations turned my five foot three, grey-haired eyes green with envy.  Long legs are one thing this girl never owned. 
Jan has a knack for bringing her characters back to earth.  She reaches behind all the trappings of the glitz, lights, and the glimmer of the Runway world and allows her characters to be human.  They have real family issues that the reader can identify with.  Even with a fast paced mystery and the impossible Love we would die for walking through the door, she continues to keep her characters grounded in day-to-day issues of living. 
In Fianna, she bestows upon her an extra share of caring and a large heart that sees others first, even in the midst of her own crisis.  She also provided the readers with some wonderful eye candy on the hero side of the aisle with a retiring Irish rock star who is a widower.  Just based on the book’s description, all I could hear, every time it talked about him singing was one of those gorgeous Irish Tenors just crooning away in those hypnotizing Irish brogues.  My heart was sunk.
Jan Moran’s heroines are strong, dominate women who have made their way into the beauty world, have battled against the odds, and have the mental acuity to go head-to-head against the obstacles that fall in their path.  They care deeply for their families and for their friends.  Their loyalty is without question.  They love deeply and with great sensuality.  Not only are the storylines fast-paced and well written, there are scenes that leave you in a sweat.  Jan is quickly becoming a major contender in the Women’s Fiction market for just cause. 
Runway, receives a strong FIVE STAR rating from this reader, with a strong recommendation to read the first two books in the Hostile Beauty Series: FLAWLESS, and BEAUTY MARK.
Q – What's interesting about this contemporary series?

A – This series is a blend of women's contemporary fiction with strong female leads, close girlfriend friendships, and romantic relationships. The single women in the Hostile Beauty series are stylish, creative, and smart, but like any of us, they sometimes make mistakes. I really enjoy helping them overcome their challenges.

Q – Why should readers choose this series?

A – Because they're fun, vicarious stories ripped from the glamorous world of beauty, yet infused with deep friendships and romantic relationships. My award-winning books have reached the top ten bestseller list in prestigious Rizzoli Bookstore, and as high as #14 on the Amazon Top 100 List for paid books. And I'm thrilled that my historical romance, Scent of Triumph, is published by St. Martin's Press, a leading New York publisher.

Q – And what kind of books do you like to read?

A – I read widely across genres. I love Barbara Taylor Bradford family sagas series, Lauren Willig historical fiction books, Melissa Foster romance novel series, Elizabeth Adler epic sagas, Anita Hughes contemporary fiction novels, Danielle Steel strong female leads, Michelle Gable Paris novels, Marie Force romance best sellers, and Candace Bushnell contemporary fiction bestsellers. These are the ones I love to snuggle with by the fireplace.

Thank you for reading! And please visit me online at 
Jan Moran is an author for St. Martin’s Press (Scent of Triumph, 2015). She writes the Hostile Beauty contemporary series, which includes FlawlessBeauty Mark, and other upcoming titles. She wrote Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list. She is represented by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency.
As a fragrance and beauty expert, she has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, including CNN, Women’s Wear Daily, Allure, InStyle,and O Magazine. As an editor and writer, she has covered fragrance, beauty, and spa travel for a variety of publications such as CosmopolitanCostco Connection, and Porthole Cruise.

Friday, June 5, 2015

RETURN - Book Three of The Matt Turner Series --- A Review

Matt Turner’s psychic ability has provided him a window into the entirety of Earth’s intelligent beings—past and present—but this gift has also been his heaviest burden. A talent like Matt’s can only be kept secret for so long, and certain parties who wished to possess lost and rare items viewed him only as a prized tool.
Now there is no more secret. Despite living a reclusive existence—unseen in five years—Matthew Turner is among the most recognized names on the planet, and wealthy collectors are not the only ones out for a piece of the only confirmed, indisputable psychic the world has ever known. Most people simply want his help.
At only 32, Matt has seen and experienced more of life and death than any person alive, and with this unique talent and perspective, he’s now prepared to set right the wrongs of both yesterday and today.
I first discovered the world of Matt Turner back in 2011 when I was bored and desperate for something new to read and started trolling for a new book through the sci-fi stacks.  THE DIG sounded intriguing and when I opened the pages I found myself sucked into a world like never before. 
 As I read the passages where Matt Turner would touch an item of great antiquity and find himself pulled and virtually sucked through time into a new body and looking through new eyes, becoming whoever had last touched that item, and then the person before them, layering through time: WOW, what an idea and concept.  Time and again I found myself stopping because I would find my fingertips tingling with the story.  I would literally close my eyes and envision the experience.  When I got to the end, I flipped the book back to the first page and read it again!  Taking what I had learned from the first read to savor through a second read and wallow in the experience of Matt Turner again.  My love affair with Matt Turner had started!!!
 Now Michael Siemsen presents his third Matthew Turner book, RETURN.  This newest offering brought great joy after years (three to be exact since THE OPAL) of waiting and longing for the return of the character who had so captured my heart and senses as he pulled me through time and back.  Allowing me to experience history in a way we had never experienced it before.
 RETURN has a premise of searching for the lost scrolls from the destroyed Library of Alexandria Egypt.  History has recorded that all the histories, the literatures, the sciences, the mathematics, the astronomies, and so much more, back to the beginning of recorded time, was stored in the stacks of that august library.  When the great emperor of Rome arrived in Egypt in the late 3rd Century, he destroyed the library and wiped the memories of the ancients from the face of the earth.  I personally have wept over the loss of such knowledge over the years.  The very thought of what we have lost to time and could never recover is devastating to this soul that so craves knowledge and the beauty of art and literature.
 Based on fairly recent discoveries and findings in the field of archeology and research in the areas of Ancient Near East studies, new clues have surfaced.  Michael Siemsen took some of these clues and ran with them, creating a believable, viable alternative to the story of the end time of the Alexandrian Library, and the family who reigned during this period of Greco-Roman Egypt.
 Half of the story is seen through the eyes of the Head Steward (the Chief Librarian for the Alexandria Library).  Michael was systematic in the telling of the story.  He walked us through the final weeks and days of the events, leaving out none of the details, as only the head librarian would have had access to and known.  Details not only about the preparations of the library for the coming invasion, but the preparations of the government and royal house as they made ready to meet the onslaught of the Roman fleet.
 Layered over the top of this magnificent telling and rendering of such a mind-boggling time in history, was a magnificent cloak and dagger back at home in the modern world.  The present day is littered with a string of international thugs and thieves, all of whom would love to obtain the scrolls of such antiquity and value.
 Michael Siemsen does not cut his characters short.  He drills down through each of the characters according to the level of their involvement in the storyline, and develops their character to adapt to the needs of the story.  Each of the storylines that is included in the book is well developed and capable of standing on its own as a novella, but put together as a larger novel has created a story that sweeps across time with its’ subterfuge and high-energy action.
 There was no laid-back easy read intended with this novel.  This story was meant to grab you by the throat and keep you tight in its grip till the final page.  Once again Michael left this reader wanting more. 
I would give this book a Five Star rating.
Michael Siemsen is the Bestselling author of 6 novels including The Dig, A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon's story), and Exigency. He lives in Northern California with "the wife," "the kids," "the dog," "that cat," and he occasionally wears pants.
twitter: @michaelsiemsen
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