Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Big City Heat by David Burnsworth (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Big City Heat by author David Burnsworth!








Author Guest Post

Time To Upgrade My iPhone
By: David Burnsworth


I tend to hold onto things. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Other times not so much. Take for instance my iPhone, an unlocked 5 that’s four years old. I love the size and the fact that it fits in my pocket. Oh, and that the rubber cover has protected the screen from cracking after multiple drops. It’s old enough that I had to have the charge jack replaced. Surprising enough that was only an eight dollar part. It bought me an extra year of life out of the phone. But it’s time for a replacement. The funny thing is there’s this iPhone SE that’s similar in size with upgraded internals. I’m already thinking that’s my next one.

Regardless of the title, this really isn’t about my iPhone. It’s about me not being able to part with things easily. Especially things that have been good to me. Like my last car, a Mazda Protégé. It was obvious to everyone but me that it needed to be replaced six months before I finally gave in. Instead, I bought a fresh set of tires and ignored the smoking exhaust and various squeaks and rattles down the highway. And then I bought another Mazda, and the “new” one’s now paid for and got a few more years on it, I hope, because I’m not quite ready to accept that I need a new one.

I once had a job that had started to go south. The signs, again, were there. But I toughed it out a few years too many before making the change. Glad I did and things worked out, but I might have been better served looking earlier.

The laptop I’m writing this on is ten years old. It still works fine now on its second keyboard and battery. And it has been the vehicle I used to write four books, a novella, various short stories and blog submissions, and also hosts my current work in progress. But I get the feeling that I need to back things up more often and have some money set aside for its replacement.

Confession time. I can’t wait to get my new iPhone. And I’m thinking about what I might replace my current wheels with. A nice sports car for my fiftieth birthday sounds about right. That’s more than a few years away so I would still have time to spend with my Mazda.

Is there anything you tend to hold onto?




About The Author



David Burnsworth
 became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern Heat is his first mystery. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife along with their dog call South Carolina home.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads



Book Review



Big City Heat by David Burnsworth
Book 3: Brack Pelton / Heat Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: PB - March 6, 2017 / eBook - April 25, 2017
Format: Paperback - 294 pages
               Kindle - 754 KB
               Nook - 473 KB
ISBN: 978-1635111996
ASIN: B01N6UQHTG
BNID: 2940157525187
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller


Buy The Book:


Buy The Series:
Book 1: Southern Heat
Book 2: Burning Heat
Book 3: Big City Heat


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.


Book Description:

Lowcountry bar owner and ex-Marine Brack Pelton heads to Atlanta in the wake of a panicked 3 AM phone call. A woman is missing and Brack’s friend Mutt is in danger. Brack’s old flame, investigative news correspondent Darcy Wells, now lives there and is set to marry another man. If Brack was honest with himself, and he usually wasn’t, he’d realize that the missing woman isn’t the reason for his visit. His Semper Fi buddy Mutt can handle himself just fine.

When Brack and Mutt team up to find the woman, the Atlanta underworld revolts, the two biggest players target them, and people start dying. Most people would size up the situation, call it impossible, and walk away. But most people are not Brack Pelton. Impossible situations are his specialty. He made it through Afghanistan and when the military commanders mistook suicidal tendencies for leadership qualities they promoted him. Can Brack succeed at finding the woman, protecting his friend, and winning the girl without destroying the Capital of the South? Not since Sherman’s march across Georgia has the city of Atlanta been in this much danger.


Book Excerpt: 


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me...
Psalm 23:4

Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday night, Mid-May
Brack Pelton waited in his Porsche by a no-parking zone in a very bad part of the city and watched someone he thought he knew well climb out of an old Eldorado convertible. The man entered a ramshackle building with a neon beer mug shining through its one dirty window.
Easing away from the red-marked bus stop, Brack found a better location down the block and pulled in. Before getting out of the Porsche, he woke Shelby, his tan mixed-breed dog slumbering in the backseat, and pulled a forty-five from the glovebox. He verified a round was chambered.
Shelby licked his lips and gave a quick bark as Brack slid the pistol down the back waistband of his cargo shorts.
Patting his dog on the head, Brack asked, “Ready?” A needless question. Another bark affirmed Shelby’s stand on things.
“When we get inside, your job is to find Mutt. Okay?” Shelby licked his face. Brack knew that as long as their target hadn’t escaped out some back door, Shelby would find him. Mutt was one of his favorite people. Brack’s too. That was why tracking him like this went against everything he believed in doing.
Mutt was the one who often rode shotgun with Brack as they’d right Charleston’s wrongs. Now Mutt was the one in the crosshairs. Thanks to an early morning phone call from Cassie, Mutt’s girlfriend, a life depended on answers his friend would give. The forty-five wouldn’t come out unless trouble came up.
The barroom’s rusty screen door screeched open. Shelby darted ahead, already focused on his objective. Brack entered a time warp. Uncanny how even the sour bar wash fragrance and cigarette smoke were the same. Through the old familiar haze, he imagined Mutt standing behind a peeling Formica counter pouring drinks to patrons who could barely afford their rent. Somehow, Mutt had managed to replicate his termite-infested watering hole three hundred miles west of where his original joint stood before some spoiled neighborhood brat burned it down.
“You lost?” A very large African-American man wearing a soiled wife-beater chalking a pool cue confronted the white newcomer.
Meeting his gaze, Brack said, “No. I’m looking for a loudmouth Marine named Mutt. If he’s here drinking, the rounds are on me. If he owns this place, I’m going to beat the life out of him.”
“Big talk coming from someone in yo’ shoes,” he said. Four other men flanked him, two on each side, all with arms folded across their meaty chests. Five soiled wife-beaters in a row. A worn-out AC unit clicked and sputtered, failing to condition the polluted air in the establishment.
Shelby seemed to take longer than usual to find Mutt. Only one thing could sidetrack him. But no women had ever been present in the original Mutt’s Bar in Charleston. They’d been afraid to enter the place.
Maybe Atlanta women were different. Casually Brack removed the half-smoked cigar he’d been saving in his pocket and lit it. The only faithful friend he had left at the moment was his own adrenaline. Brack was angry at Mutt and wouldn’t mind working it out of his system on these five gentlemen facing him.
Three more joined them. Okay, these eight gentlemen.
Brack felt more gather behind him. His wayward dog better have a real good excuse for not warning him.
Taking a drag on the stogie, he exhaled a cloud of smoke to add to the carcinogenic fog. “It’s going to be a bad day for some of you.”
Chuckles echoed around the room, undoubtedly at his expense.
Mutt pushed his way through the gathering mob. A few inches over six feet, he’d replaced his boxed Afro with a close trim since the last time Brack had seen him. His clothes were of a more recent vintage, another change, and to Brack’s untrained eye, quite stylish.
“Opie, you always got to do things the hard way, don’t ’cha?” Brack couldn’t decide if he wanted to punch him or shake his hand. The fact that his friend sported a bridge that replaced his missing front teeth also caught him off guard.
Shelby was not with Mutt. From behind, Brack heard the gruff words, “You want us to take this cracker out back, Mutt?”
Mutt knew as well as Brack did that they were greatly outnumbered. But Brack figured Mutt also knew that a few of his patrons would spend the next few weeks in the hospital if things went south.
Before either of them could say anything, a husky female voice came from somewhere in the crowd. “You got the prettiest dog.”
All the men turned in the direction of the voice. Through a break in the undershirt line, Brack observed a heavyset black woman in a way-too-tight purple body suit. Clearly she’d fallen in love with his dog. Her extra-long orange day-glo fingernails scratched behind his ears.
Sitting on his haunches with closed eyes, Shelby flapped his tongue and panted in what Brack recognized as pure bliss. Two other women wearing similar attire also gave Shelby their full attention. Brack was about to get pummeled by eight or more hulks itching to right the wrongs of their world, yet his dog had managed to pick up what looked like all the women in the establishment.
The spokesman for the wife-beater ensemble said, “We ain’t finished wit you, white boy.”
Brack turned back to him. Mutt got between them. “Easy, Charlie. He’s my brother.” The men looked at each other as if Mutt and Brack could possibly be related. Of course, they weren’t in the traditional sense.
“Summertime” by Billy Stewart began to play somewhere in the room. A real classic.
Circling Shelby, the women moved their ample hips to the beat. The dog, in plus-sized heaven, spun around, not sure which lady to kiss first.
A fourth woman Brack hadn’t noticed until now came from behind the bar to stand beside Mutt. Almost as tall as Brack, with dark brown skin, a buzzed haircut, and toned figure bordering on muscular. Her inked-up arms momentarily distracted Brack.
The man Mutt called Charlie said, “I don’t care who you think he is. He ain’t got the juice to come in here talking about beatin’ you up.”
Mutt turned to his old friend. “You said you was gonna beat me up?”
“Something like that.” Brack cocked his head. “I get a call begging me to drive here from Charleston. It’s Cassie. She’s scared half to death because some men threatened her, and she doesn’t know what you do when you leave her house late at night. Put yourself in her shoes.”
The woman bartender looked at him. “You must be Brack.” Mutt interrupted. “Opie, I’ma tell you like I tol’ Cassie. What I do is my bidness. She ain’t got no right to ask.”
Charlie moved in like he was about to throw a punch. Before Brack could react, the toned female bartender grabbed Charlie by the shirt collar and said, “You really don’t want to do that.”
Mutt said, “Easy there, Tara. We all friends here.” She didn’t let go. Charlie backed off. Brack dropped what was left of his cigar on the floor, crushed it with his foot, and turned back to Mutt. “You better tell me what’s going on, or I will beat the ever-living daylights out of you.”


***
Excerpt from Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery by David Burnsworth.
Copyright © 2017 by David Burnsworth.
Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.



My Book Review:

In the third book of the Brack Pelton / Heat Mystery SeriesBig City Heat, author David Burnsworth transports the reader back to the lowcountry setting of Charleston, SC for another intriguing Brack Pelton Southern noir / mystery adventure. 

Brack Pelton is an Afghanistan war veteran and owner of the Pirate's Cove bar on the Isle of Palm. When he gets a call that his friend Mutt is in danger and needs his help finding his girlfriend Cassie's missing little sister Regan, Brack leaves his sultry lowcountry home of Charleston, SC for Atlanta. Brack and Mutt team up to find the missing woman while playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the seedy players in the Atlanta underworld. And if you think that isn't enough action for Brack, add in the reunion with his old-flame, investigative news correspondent Darcy Wells, and the heat level jacks up in ol' Hotlanta!

Author David Burnsworth weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale that follows Brack's investigative journey as it takes him all over Atlanta.The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting, it is filled with enough action and unsuspecting twists and turns that takes the reader on one hell of a thrilling roller coaster ride.

As a fan of Southern fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thrilling mystery. I was intrigued by Brack and Mutt's adventure. I loved Brack's gritty nature and sarcastic attitude, and I found myself cheering for him and Mutt as they embarked on another dangerous adventure. 

With an intriguing cast of characters; witty dialogue and dramatic interactions; and a richly descriptive Southern setting, Big City Heat is a classic Southern noir mystery novel that is a must read!

RATING: 4 STARS 




Contest Giveaway



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Burnsworth and Henery Press.

There will be 1 winner of one (1) $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Big City Heat by David Burnsworth.

The giveaway begins on April 22, 2017 and runs through May 29, 2017.

This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

4/24 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

4/25 Review @ CMash Reads

4/25 Showcase @ Sapphyrias Book Reviews

4/26 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

4/26 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life

4/27 Showcase @ BooksChatter

5/02 Showcase @ A Bookworms Journal

5/03 Review/Interview @ Rockin Book Reviews - GIVEAWAY

5/04 Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt

5/05 Showcase @ A Bookaholic Swede

5/08 Review @ BookLove

5/09 Review @ just reviews

5/10 Showcase/Guest post @ Suspense Magazine

5/11 Review @ Blogging with A

5/15 Review/Guest post @ Brooke Blogs

5/16 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

5/17 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

5/18 Review @ Inside of a Dog

5/23 Review @ Bunnys Review

5/25 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

5/26 Review/Guest post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Brothers of Brigadier Station by Sarah Williams (Book Release Day Event)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the book release day event for The Brothers of Brigadier Station by author Sarah Williams!






About The Book



The Brothers of Brigadier Station by Sarah Williams
Book 1: Brigadier Station Series
Publisher: Serenade Publishing
Publication Date: eBook - May 16, 2017 / PB - August 17, 2017
Format: Paperback - 148 pages
               Kindle - 1298 KB
               Nook - 286 KB
ISBN: 978-0648046202
ASIN: B06XC4MSSB
BNID: 978-0648046219
Genre: Contemporary Romance



Buy The Book:



Book Description:

She came to the outback to marry the love of her life. She just didn't expect him to be her fiancé's younger brother.

When Meghan Flanagan, a vet-nurse from Townsville, moves to Brigadier Station in outback Queensland to marry the man of her dreams, she is shocked to discover that perhaps her fiancé isn't the man she wants waiting for her at the altar. The man she's destined to marry, just might be his younger brother.

Cautious of women after a disastrous past relationship, Darcy is happy living on his beloved cattle station, spending his spare time riding horses, going to rodeos and campdrafting. He didn't expect the perfect woman to show up on his doorstep. Engaged to his brother.

With the wedding only hours away, Meghan must make the decision of a lifetime. But, her betrayal could tear the family apart. She knows all too well the pain of losing loved ones and being alone.

Now that she has the family she so desperately wants; will she risk losing it all?

Set in the drought stricken plains of Julia Creek, North Queensland and the coastal city of Townsville this is a rural romance that will leave you asking: Will she marry the right man, for the right reasons?

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is the first in the Brigadier Station series and can easily be read as a standalone. Each of Sarah's stories are linked so you can find out what happens to the other brothers and your favorite characters in future books.




About The Author



Sarah Williams spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to tropical North Queensland to enjoy the heat and humidity and play with Crocodiles. 

When she's not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs and a cat. She helps to run the local writers center and supports her peers achieve their publishing dreams.

Sarah is regularly checking social media when she really should be cleaning. 






Book Release Day Event





Participating Blogs:

Jersey Girl Book Reviews
T’s Stuff
Books Dreams Life
Fiction Dreams
Chick Lit Goddess
Heather Bloggs
Book Love
What’s Beyond Forks
Book Lover in Florida
The Book Junkie Reads
Brianna Remus Books
Chick Lit Plus



Friday, May 12, 2017

Whiskers & Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Whiskers & Bear by author Giacomo Giammatteo!





Whiskers & Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo
Book 1: Sanctuary Tales
Publisher: Inferno Publishing Company
Publication Date: eBook - March 15 2017 / PB - March 29, 2017
Format: Paperback - 136 pages
               Kindle - 9396 KB
               Nook - 6 MB
ISBN: 978-1940313382
ASIN: B06XNSWN61
BNID: 978-1940313375
Genre: Non-Fiction / Animals



Buy The Book:


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Providence Book Promotions. 


Book Description:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

A PLEA FOR HELP... 

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.

In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.

I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.



Book Excerpt:



Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.
I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.
I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.
An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.
A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”
I wished he’d have kept going.
“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.
The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.
“What are you doin’?”
I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.
“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.
“A grave? Which one died?”
Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.
He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.
Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”
I nodded.
I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.
It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.
Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.
“Who was it?” he asked.
I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.
“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“Thanks,” I said.
He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”
I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.
“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”
“That’s for sure.”
“How long have they been with you?” he asked.
They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.
I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.
“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”
***
Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.



My Book Review:

Animal lovers, boy do I have an heartwarming story for you!

In Whiskers & Bear, the first book in the Sanctuary Tales series, author Giacomo Giammatteo takes the readers into his private world where he and his wife Mikki provide a loving animal sanctuary for forty-five animals from dogs, cats, horses, and pigs!

Giacomo and Mikki meet Bear when they purchased their property. Bear lived in the woods and was definitely the Top Dog in the neighborhood. Over time a friendship develops and Bear becomes a self-initiated protector of Giacomo, Mikki, their animals, and property. When a puppy named Whiskers arrives in the neighborhood and is abandoned by her owners, Bear adopts her, and they become an inseparable duo.

As Whisker and Bear's adventures unfold throughout the book, the reader can't help but feel the full gamut of emotions. From laughter to smiles to tears, this lovable duo will simply steal your heart. And if that isn't enough of an enticement to read this wonderful story, Giacomo has also included beautiful pictures throughout the book that transports the reader into Giacomo and Mikki's animal sanctuary featuring Whiskers, Bear, and the other animals that they so lovingly care for. As an animal lover and mama to three dogs (my fur babies), I can't express enough how much this story touched my heart. I can't wait to read the next installment in the Sanctuary Tales series.

Giacomo wrote this amazing story to help pay for the cost of running the animal sanctuary. The proceeds from your purchase of Whiskers & Bear will go directly to the upkeep of their animals. So animal lovers, please open up your heart and help them keep providing a safe animal sanctuary / home for these deserving rescued animals!


RATING: 5 STARS 







About The Author




Giacomo Giammatteo
is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.


Author Website
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Pinterest
YouTube
Goodreads




Contest Giveaway


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Giacomo Giammatteo.
There will be 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo.
The giveaway begins on April 29th and runs through May 16th, 2017.
This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Virtual Book Tour



Tour Participants:


4/01 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/08 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/15 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/22 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/28 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
4/29 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
5/01 Review @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
5/02 Guest post @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
5/03 Showcase @ Socrates Review Blog
5/05 Showcse @ Books, Dreams, Life
5/06 Review @ Buried Under Books
5/07 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner
5/08 Interview @ BooksChatter
5/09 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
5/10 Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
5/11 Review @ BookLove
5/12 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
5/13 Review @ Lauras Interests
5/14 @ I am not a bookworm!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Play For Me by Celine Keating (Book Review)

In association with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Play For Me by author Celine Keating!






Book Review


Play For Me by Celine Keating
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Format: Paperback - 217 pages
               Kindle - 1699 KB
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-1631529726
ASIN: B00TQMRAFG
BNID: 978-1631529733
Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction


Buy The Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
IndieBound
iBooks
Kobo
Powells
Goodreads


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Premier Virtual Author Book Tours. 


Book Description:

It happens without warning: At a folk-rock show at her son’s college, Lily becomes transfixed by the guitarist’s unassuming onstage presence and beautiful playing—and with his final note, something within her breaks loose.

After the concert, Lily returns to her comfortable life—an Upper West Side apartment, a job as a videographer, and a kind if distracted husband—but she can’t stop thinking about the music, or about the duo’s guitarist, JJ. Unable to resist the pull of either one, she rashly offers to make a film about the band in order to gain a place with them on tour. But when Lily dares to step out from behind her camera, she falls deep into JJ’s world—upsetting the tenuous balance between him and his bandmate, and filling a chasm of need she didn’t know she had.

Captivating and provocative, Play for Me captures the thrill and heartbreak of deciding to leave behind what you love to follow what you desire.


Praise For Play For Me by Céline Keating 

“The author’s writing is exquisite and she was able to put together the story of a woman’s search for self and purpose, one with depth and complexity.”- Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous Blog

“With a background as a music reviewer, Keating combines the soul-searching of Eat, Pray, Love with the rock ’n’ roll fable of Almost Famous to create a novel of midlife crisis with music at its core.”-Booklist

“Play for Me: “A best story of love, lust, and forgiveness.”- The Culturalist

“Play for Me is a serious, moving, and utterly delightful portrait of a woman wavering between the bonds of fidelity and the pull of desire. Céline Keating knows as much about the world of folk/rock music as she does about the workings of the heart.”- Hilma Wolitzer, author Summer Reading and An Available Man


Book Excerpt:



You can read the first part of this excerpt at http://house-of-books.com/
Chapter One: Excerpt Three
           “A digital video cam!” Stephen removed the camera from the box. “It’s not top-of-the-line, but for what you’d use it for, I thought this was just about perfect.”
           “Wow, incredible!” Why would he think she’d want a camera when she could borrow one anytime?
           “You haven’t been able to do anything artistic all these years. I think you’ve been a bit bored. Unchallenged.”
           Lily knew anyone with a real creative drive would have managed to find time.
           “Now’s your chance, with Colby gone.”
           “I don’t know what to say. I’m just stunned.”
           “I knew you’d be overwhelmed!” He pulled out the manual. “Let me show you a few things.”
Lily had been a film student in college, but that was because it had been such a cool major. She hadn’t truly been serious, had she? She couldn’t remember the last time she had even thought about making her own films. She should tell him they should return it.
           “Lily?” His voice had a plea in it; his face had lost some of his animation. “I don’t mean to pressure you to be arty. You can just have fun.”
           She moved the camera out of the way and wrapped her arms around him. “It’s an amazing gift. So incredibly thoughtful of you.” She wouldn’t suggest they return it after all.
           So here she was, two weeks later, lugging the camera along with her suitcase, going to visit Colby while Stephen stayed home and worked on a grant proposal. She assumed Stephen had instigated the invitation from Colby by letting on that she’d been depressed since he’d left home. The train ride was pleasant, the Hudson playing peekaboo out the window, small towns and suburbs whizzing by, and Colby at the end, reaching for her suitcase, giving her a hug, already looking more mature than when he’d left only three weeks before. He even tolerated it when she smoothed a curl from his forehead.
           “There’s this cool bookstore-café I thought we’d have lunch. I borrowed a friend’s car.” He loped ahead to a beat-up Volvo; the inside stank of sweat and corn chips. They drove past boarded-up storefronts and along a thread of river lined with spunky trees. In the bookstore, filled with chic, intense young people, lunch was a shared platter of hummus and vegetables and pita and olives and a slice of scrumptious spinach pie. Even the coffee was good.
           Afterward, they walked around campus and Colby pointed out where he had classes. “Mom, you wouldn’t believe how challenging and interesting the courses are. Not like high school. And get this—when the weather’s good, we do classes outside!”
           His face—like his father’s, normally pale beneath his freckles—was flushed. He had always been shy, but he had found his niche, she thought. One day some perceptive girl would fall madly in love with him. With him, at least, she had done a job she could be proud of.
           He shoved her gently onto a bench and handed her a card. “Happy birthday!”
           She opened the card and a ticket fell out. “What’s this?”
           “My surprise. Tonight, this very night, James Taylor is playing—the school is honoring him. Another band opening.”
           Lily had played James Taylor songs for Colby as far back as the cradle. He liked sharing music with her, even through adolescence, when he introduced her to progressive folk singers like Dar Williams. Lily thought his taste was unusual for a boy his age, but he told her this was what the “alt” types were into.
           At her motel, just a few blocks from campus, she found herself humming “Carolina in My Mind” as she showered, remembering singing it as she pushed Colby’s baby carrier with her foot. She’d had an OK voice once; she’d sung in her high school choir. But when she became pregnant she began to get winded, her voice hoarse and wheezy. “Your body is going through changes,” her obstetrician explained. “After you give birth it might reverse itself, but right now you have asthma.”
           Asthma? From pregnancy? But the asthma never went away. The medication affected her vocal chords, and she was left with a limited range. It was a range that James Taylor’s songs fell into, so she sang to Colby and rocked away. She joked that she had lost a voice and gained a son. It was a trade she never regretted.
           When was the last time she’d gone to a rock concert? she wondered, as she walked through campus to meet Colby. Ten years earlier? Twenty? There had been a time when concerts were the high point of her life—when had that changed? She hardly listened to the radio anymore.
*   *   *
           The auditorium was packed, loud, buzzing, working up a head of steam. Lily was suddenly aware of how much older she was than most of the audience. Not that anyone noticed or cared; she was clearly invisible. Still, she wished she had packed something dressier than her black pullover and pants, or at least brought some funky jewelry. The boys all looked so young, so . . . raw, somehow. She could almost smell the testosterone. And the girls—so pretty, so confident in their bodies. Why was it that when she was their age, slender and pretty herself, she hadn’t felt that way? She slid lower in her seat.
This excerpt continues on May 23 at https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.ca/
          





My Book Review:

Play For Me is a compelling women's fiction story that easily draws the reader into the drama and emotions that come with the complexity of life, the dynamics of relationships, learning to confront one's past, making choices, and moving forward. Set in New York City, the reader can't help but get drawn into Lily's story as she discovers that the empty nest lifestyle is not what she wants, so she embarks on a personal midlife journey of self-discovery and a chance to follow her desire and find happiness.

Author Celine Keating weaves an intriguing women's fiction story that will easily keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. This wonderfully realistic story provides much food for thought as Lily has choices to make, and tries to figure out what she really wants in life in order to fulfill her desire and find happiness. Lily's story has a great mixture of humor, drama, angst, heartbreak, and crazy trials and tribulations, but her journey of personal discovery is realistic, compelling, and very empowering, it is the kind of story that anyone can relate to, and you can't help but cheer Lily on as she finds her way and embraces her true self.

Play For Me is a wonderful women's fiction story of personal self-discovery, and learning to make difficult choices in order to move forward in one's life.


RATING: 4 STARS 




About The Author



Céline Keating is the author of novels Layla (2011) and Play for Me (2015), which was a finalist in the International Book Awards, the Indie Excellence Awards, and the USA Book Awards. Céline is also the co-editor of On Montauk: A Literary Celebration (2016).

Her short fiction has been published in many literary magazines, including Appearances, Echoes, Emry’s Journal, Mount Hope, The North Stone Review, Prairie Schooner, and the Santa Clara Review. Céline’s short story “Home” received the first-place 2014 Hackney Award for Short Fiction. Céline is also a music journalist whose work has appeared in Minor7th.com, Guitar World, and Acoustic Guitar magazines.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Book Buzz Promo Page
Goodreads




Virtual Book Tour Event



Tour Schedule:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Apr 7 Kickoff & Giveaway

Infinite House of Books Apr 10 Interview & Excerpt

Indie Review Behind the Scenes Apr 21 Video Interview

Second Book to the Right Apr 24 Excerpt

Jersey Girl Book Reviews May 3 Review & Excerpt

Totally Addicted to Reading May 5 Review & Guest Post

Urban Book Reviews May 8 Review & Interview

Jean Amazon Reviewer May 10 Review

Nanja Amazon Reviewer May 11 Review

Turning The Pages May 15 Review & Giveaway

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 16 Review

Precisely Mine May 18 Review

Celticlady’s Reviews May 23 Excerpt & Giveaway

Lisa Amazon Reviewer May 31 Review





Monday, April 24, 2017

The First Year by Genevieve Gannon (Book Release Day Event / Author Interview / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book release day event for The First Year by author Genevieve Gannon!






Author Interview


What is your new novel about?

The First Year is a novel about a newly-in-love couple who got married way too fast. Andy Colbrook is a high-flying lawyer with a snobby family and Saskia Hill is a bolshy jewellery designer whose father has done several stints in jail. On their honeymoon, Andy offers to support Saskia so she can quit her day job at a café and devote herself wholly to her art. But Saskia’s fledgling business is only just recovering from the financial blow it suffered when her ex-fiance cheated on her then ditched her with the bill for the wedding, and she is uncomfortable being reliant on her new husband. Tensions begin to emerge. Things are exacerbated when Andy discovers his law firm is in financial trouble. Despite their best efforts to keep the flame alive their marriage begins to suffer. Then Saskia makes a discovery that blows her world apart. 


What inspired the book?

This one came about slowly. When I sat down to write my first two novels, the concepts were fully formed in my head. I rejigged the stories and characters a lot, but when they were finished, they were how I had imagined them from the beginning. With The First Year, I found myself unsure what I wanted to do. I had an idea of following a couple day-by-day through their first year, but I didn’t know what would happen to them over that time. I thought the concept of the first year of marriage being the hardest was a good one to explore in a romantic comedy. So I wrote a few chapters and scene fragments, then I hit a bit of a wall. I knew I wanted Andy to be a corporate type, and Saskia to be an artist, but I didn’t have much more detail than that. Then one day I came across an article about a designer who had made the same discovery Saskia makes in the book. I did a bit of research and it turns out it is a really common problem. I don’t want to spoil the plot by revealing the big discovery, but once I had that I knew what I wanted Andy and Saskia’s story to be.


What makes the main character who they are?

Saskia Hill comes across really brash but she’s actually quite vulnerable. She loves a man, Andrew Colbrook, who wants to support her as she builds her business, but the idea of being reliant on him conflicts with her feminist values. She eventually accepts his offer to back her financially until she is established, but it never sits right with her and ultimately is the cause of much tension. 

One of my favourite lines in the book comes when Saskia receives a letter from her mother-in-law addressed to Mr and Mrs Andrew Colbrook. She has not changed her name and when the letter arrives she asks of Andy, “What am I? Some sort of subsidiary of you?” I feel like this sums her up perfectly.


Do you base your characters on real people?

My characters are original creations, but inevitably I find myself incorporating traits of family and friends. Usually it’s just a little thing to give the character a ring of authenticity. When trying to *show* rather than *tell* - something that a lot of writers struggle with - I find it helpful to think about how real people display their emotions - the way their postures change, the tone of their voice, what they do with their hands and eyes. Sometimes I’ll lift a small anecdote (with permission) or give a sly nod to a friend by including a personal joke. But generally I try to ensure the characters are wholly their own people.


How long did it take you to write The First Year?

I am often asked this question but this is the first time I’ve ever been able to answer it properly. For about a year, I had a few fragments of this story and a vague concept but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. Then I made the discovery that revealed the plot to me and it was all very fast. It took me about three months to write a three chapter sample, a synopsis and a plot outline. I pitched it to HarperCollins in November, got the go ahead in December and had completed the manuscript by June. It was quite a fast process because I had been thinking about the characters and the supporting players for so long. As is always the case, it needed some major reworking and I relied heavily on my amazing beta-readers. But it basically took one year of procrastination and six months of furious writing.  


What is your typical writing routine?

I used to write at night and on weekends but now that I live in Sydney I find myself getting up early and writing before work. I assume that’s because it gets hot and sunny here very early. That being said, I still try to get some writing in after work. And I can be found most weekends in a café somewhere with a pile of manuscript pages and a laptop.

People love to ask writers if they are planners or pantsers. I think I’m a combination of both. I like to have a plot outline before I begin, but sometimes it is very vague and details emerge – and characters are created or killed off – as the writing progresses.


Where do you write?

I do a lot of writing at my dining room table – but I far prefer to write in cafes. It’s not always possible, of course. Sometimes you have a burst of creative energy at 2am when all the good cafes are selfishly closed, and realistically it’s just not possible to mainline lattes for eight hours and a Saturday or Sunday. But my preference is definitely to write in a café. When I was living in Melbourne I would write a lot at Milkwood in East Brunswick (try the white beans on toast) or a Minor Place (more white beans, these come with Dukkah and avocado). Another favourite is a café called True North in Coburg. They have lovely booths that I like to spread out in, and do great sandwiches with heaps of vegetarian options.


What book do you wish you had written and why?

This is a complete departure from the type of fiction I write, but I am in awe of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Lionel Shriver creates so much tension and complexity. I adore her prose and the way she uses a million little perfectly phrased observations to make-up the story.  I love the way she tricks the reader into thinking they know what is happening, only to discover all is not as it seems as the narrative slowly reveals itself.


Who are you favourite writers?

This is such a difficult question to answer because there are so many, and I turn to different writers for different things. I love Caitlin Moran for the sheer joy she gives me with her hilarious stories. No less important is the strong feminist message in everything she does. I really admire Curtis Sittenfeld’s skill as a story-teller, and Gillian Flynn for the ease with which she spins complex narratives, imbuing her characters with light and shade. Jeffrey Eugenides remains an all-time favourite. Whenever I’m asked about my favourite books Middlesex is always at the top, and his first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was hauntingly, devastatingly beautiful. Oh, and Michael Chabon for so many reasons, especially inventiveness.

In terms of my own genre – which I consider to be a loose grouping of contemporary chick lit with rom-com tendencies -  I LOVE Lauren Sams who wrote She’s Having Her Baby and Crazy Busy Guilty. I also can’t go past fellow HarperCollins authors Tess Woods and Sunni Overend. The Regulars by Georgia Clark is great fun.


Who is your favourite literary character?

I have racked my brain, trying to come up with an answer that isn’t a total cliché, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that Elizabeth Bennett is a sublime literary creation, and has to be my favourite character. She’s clever, sensitive, witty and warm. She loves her sister Jane and her friend Charlotte Lucas, and she’s loyal but not without flaws. She speaks her mind and isn’t intimidated by those who think them better than she is. At a completely different end of the spectrum is Uncle Oswald, a recurring character in the short stories of Roald Dahl. Uncle Oswald is a hilarious, wealthy, horny old man who often finds himself entangled in pseudo-scientific schemes with hilarious outcomes.


What are you working on at the moment?

Having just finished a book I’m a bit of a free agent at the moment. I have two ideas that are in the very early stages, so I’m playing with both of them, thinking about the characters and deciding which one to commit to. I have just started a new job as a feature writer so I am finding that at night I’m spending the time I would normally dedicate to fiction thinking about feature ideas. That being said, I want my next venture to be a departure from my usual books. Neither of the concepts I’m currently playing with could be described as romantic comedies. The First Year has parts set in a court room, which came about because I spent the past few years covering courts as a journalist and my two new ideas are also inspired in part by that part of my job.


What would you do if you weren’t a writer?

This one is tricky because writing is both my hobby (fiction) and my livelihood (journalism). My other hobby is baking, so perhaps if it all falls in a heap I could retrain as a pastry chef. I have made a few wedding cakes for friends, and I really enjoy playing with flavour ideas and pretty shapes. Strangely, when it comes to savoury meals I’m terrible, but I have mastered cakes.


What are you reading right now?

I just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty which I devoured, barely lifting my eyes to draw breath. Liane dazzles me with her ability to tease and entice. I am also reading Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler. I cheated on Sweet Bitter with Moriarty because I found myself at the airport without a book and knew I couldn’t go wrong with one of Liane’s books.


Coffee, wine or something else?

I am completely addicted to coffee. I don’t drink much wine, unless I’m sharing a bottle at a dinner party or something. If I’m at a bar I’ll order sloe gin (rocks and lime), a gin and tonic or a cocktail. Sometimes when it’s really hot I’ll take my laptop to a pub and write while drinking cider and ice. But generally on those days my preference is a café and an ice coffee.


What is your favourite social media platform and why?

I am addicted to social media. I love Instagram and Twitter but for different reasons. In my day job, I work as a journalist, so I love being able to keep an eye on the issues of the day as they unfurl on Twitter. I follow major news outlets, journalists I like and admire, politicians and specialists in my areas of interest. I also follow a few funny accounts to break it up. I like checking-in on Twitter when I take a break from work. Instagram is great for book recommendations, food and bar recommendations, fashion, recipes and just keeping up with what my friends are doing. I recently moved interstate, so it’s great to be able to see what my friends have been up to with a few swipes of my phone.


Of all your books, do you have a favourite one?


This is like being asked to choose between your children! I hate to admit it, but I do have a favourite one. My latest novel, The First Year, is my third. I think because I had been through the process twice before it was less daunting and stressful. I had a lot more confidence and I think it shows in the writing. I also quite like the story. My previous books were what I’d call caper romances. In both, the protagonists hatched hair-brained schemes in order to find love. The First Year is a lot more grounded in reality. The characters’ families and work colleagues play a great role and I feel like they’re more rounded because of it.



About The Author




Genevieve Gannon is an Australian journalist and author. She has worked in newsrooms in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in The Age, The Australian, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, among others. Most recently she covered crime in Melbourne for Australian Associated Press before moving to Sydney to be a feature writer for The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Her favourite books are We Need To Talk About Kevin, Middlesex, Atonement, Prep and One Day. She likes Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and wasabi (not together) and hates mangoes. Her first book, Husband Hunters, was published in 2014. The First Year is her third novel.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Facebook
Goodreads



About The Book




The First Year by Genevieve Gannon

Publisher: HarpersCollins / Impulse Australia
Publication Date: April 24, 2017
Format: eBook - 320 pages
               Kindle
               Nook
ISBN: 978-1460708460
ASIN: B01MXOUWM6
BNID: 978-1460708460
Genre: Women's Fiction


Buy The Book:




Book Description:

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive - but life has other ideas.

Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family's money. They're passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy's job in jeopardy and Saskia's jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.

As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it? 



'Genevieve Gannon writes with a fresh and funny narrative voice ... chick lit at its very, very best' Tess Woods, author of Love at First Flight

'A clever and entertaining read-into-the-wee-hours-of-morning story about love, creativity and the things that make us tick. Genevieve Gannon writes with passion and wit in a story you'll relate to whether you've struggled through love, art or the wrath of public transport ticket inspectors.' Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between





Contest Giveaway






Book Release Day Event



Event Participants: