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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

When Girlfriends Let Go by Savannah Page (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for When Girlfriends Let Go by Author Savannah Page!

Author Guest Post

Last week I toasted, dined, opened a gift or two, and celebrated another year in my twenties. As I take a break from making progress in the new women’s fiction novel I’m working on to write this blog post, I catch myself in a late afternoon daze, eyes fixated on the new crystal Bossa Nova vase the hubs surprised me with last week for the festivities. It looks dazzling with the sun shining through the window and sparkling it up all prettily, the grass-green hydrangea the perfect introductory blooms for such a classy vase. It’s the kind of vase that says, “I’m a stylish twenty-something…getting ready to be a stylish thirty-something.”

And that gets me to thinking, back to the blog post that I’ve taken this break to write. The twenties. I adore my twenties. It holds all of my adult and “becoming an adult” memories, including ones I hold very dear like those last years of college and the friendships there that I forged.

The twenties hold that first career out of college (that lasted all of six horrifying weeks) and that godsend of a “new first” career that I absolutely loved. There were my two weddings (to the same man, I love him that much), a romantic Mediterranean cruise, a memorable PCH road trip, and a hilarious brief trek to Spain with my sister, all of which I’ll never forget. There have been the hallmark moments like friends’ and family members’ weddings, new additions to the family, building our first home. There’s been the leap over the pond from Oklahoma to Berlin, turning in my The-Bachelor-with-the-girls-nights hat in for one that has Ami Expat emblazoned on it. And, among the countless other memorable things that the twenties have brought me, there’s the writing career I love and a completed When Girlfriends series that I am still surprised is actually concluded (it was bittersweet writing the seventh and final novel this year). They’re not over, my twenties, but when I consider how they’ve treated me, I’d say they’ve more than succeeded my expectations.

It seemed only natural for me to write novels and construct my When Girlfriends series with ladies who are floating about in the same age waters. I’ve got an empathetic ear. I can relate and write with feeling, taking a seed of experience and watching it grow into a fully formed novel that’s honest.

It’s also a blast. It’s a fun time in life to write about because I think that just-out-of-college age is such a rare and brief and very new experience in a woman’s life. It’s that moment when you’re out of the nest, high school’s behind you, and you’ve suddenly got to figure life out. Many have lofty ambitions, maybe a skewed perception of what reality will be before it hits in the face; it looks very different than you ever imagined. Dreams and goals become two separate things, and both can seem daunting to reach. The beauty is that while daunting, they also seem possible, very real to attain. The world’s your oyster and you go out and try to claim it. The bumps and bruises and hilarious stories you share with you BFFs along the way are all part of the ride. It’s a time filled with challenges and experiences that, for the most part, has no prior relative experience worthy to fall back on. (I just think of sitting in front of that computer at my first job, being handed an assignment on some computer program I had never heard of, and thinking, I studied Chaucer. How is that going to help me with this? I then began to question if I’d frittered away the past six years of my life.)

I could endlessly wax lyrical about the all of the quirky plots, zany leading ladies, and myriad broken (and stolen) hearts that can come about when “writing in the twenties.” I’ve enjoyed doing it with my When Girlfriends series, I’m enjoying it with my current project, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it for many years to come. Of course, it’ll have to join among the ranks of the fabulousness that it will be to “write in the thirties.” Because, after all, I’ve heard they are some very fab years, and, well, they’re not that far away. With age comes experience, with experience comes a wealth of inspiration, and with inspiration come some fun and fresh novels that are waiting to be written. I can’t wait!

Until then, I’m going to get back to my current project, see what my twenty-something leading lady sisters have in store. I want to thank Kathleen for so graciously hosting yet another one of my When Girlfriends -Chick Lit Plus tours. And thank you, readers, for reading. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

If you want to meet the girls in my When Girlfriends series the first three novels are on a limited-time 99 cent sale at Amazon, B&N, iBookstore, and Kobo: When Girlfriends Collection, Books 1-3. Save a few bucks, have a few good reads, and celebrate female friendship!

Remember to enter to *WIN* some fun prizes here via Rafflecopter, including some fabulous GIFT CARDS! Entries are super easy.

About The Author

Savannah Page is the author of the seven-novel When Girlfriends collection, heartfelt women's fiction that celebrates friendship, love, and life sprinkled with drama and humor. When she isn't writing, Savannah enjoys a good book with a latte and jazz tunes, Pilates, and exploring her home of Berlin as an American expat.


Book Review

When Girlfriends Let Go by Savannah Page
Book 6: When Girlfriends Collection
Publisher: Pearls and Pages
Publication Date: December 18, 2013
Format: Paperback - 536 pages
              Kindle - 678 KB
              Nook - 628 KB
ISBN: 978-1494740474
BNID: 2940148933489
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: When Girlfriends Let Go

BUY THE COLLECTION: When Girlfriends Collection
Book 1: When Girlfriends Break Hearts
Book 2: When Girlfriends Make Choices
Book 3: When Girlfriends Step Up
Book 4: When Girlfriends Chase Dreams
Book 5: When Girlfriends Take Chances
Book 6: When Girlfriends Let Go
Book 7: When Girlfriends Find Love

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

A novel about love, self-discovery, and realizing sometimes you have to let go.

Jackie Kittredge is the consummate drama queen living the charmed life. She’s enthusiastic, outspoken, and is always looking for a good time. At twenty-seven she’s got a swanky Seattle townhouse, a wealthy husband, a designer wardrobe, the best of girlfriends, and a calendar filled not with meetings and deadlines, but spa appointments and happy hour reminders. On the outside, she’s got it all.

On the inside, though, Jackie’s charmed life isn’t as it seems. She’s seeing a therapist, battling the demons of coming from a broken home and a past of promiscuity and heavy drinking. She can be selfish and demanding, sometimes even wearing her best friends thin. And now her marriage—what she thought could be her solid foundation—is on the rocks. Her husband Andrew spends nearly all his time at the office (and possibly with his secretary), and apologizes for his absence with lavish gifts and empty promises.

Miserable and desperate, Jackie questions if her marriage is worth fighting for. Then a string of events begins to put things into perspective…into a perspective she didn’t quite anticipate. With her best friends by her side and some tough love, Jackie finds herself not only asking if she’s where she belongs, but if she’s who she’s supposed to be.

This is a passionate story about having to answer some of life’s most important and difficult questions. It’s a story about fear, courage, and personal growth. About what happens when girlfriends let go.

Book Excerpt:

I take a long, slow drag on my cigarette as I lean against the ice-cold, steel railing of the balcony that wraps around my luxurious townhouse. The muffled post-five-o’clock traffic sounds that travel up these twelve floors have retired for the evening. At quarter past eight on a Friday most businessmen, however stressed and strapped, are home from the office.

Those unsettling thoughts of my marriage that crept up at Randy’s are still plaguing me, nearly a week later. They were there before—long before, actually; perhaps a little more light was shed on those thoughts during the discussion of Nathan and Lara. Right now, it’s just me and these disconcerting thoughts as I stand alone in the crisp winter night. Just me, wondering how the hell I went from the altar as an excited, blushing bride, to a woman too often unhappy in her marriage—looking for a fix, maybe even a way out.

The story of how Andrew and I met and fell in love wasn’t exactly something out of a Cary Grant film. No meet-cute, no coy romance, no charming repartee. Yes, there was me, a damsel so often in distress; yes, there was the knight, Andrew, in very shiny armor. There was attraction, there was fondness, there was love—but an affair to remember? Ha!

No, the way I met, fell in love with and eventually married my knight was not in the style of one of my many beloved romantic, black-and-white films. It was me, Jackie Anderson, a twenty-six-year-old hostess, desperately trying to hold onto one of the only jobs I’d survived long enough to earn a full payroll, always on the prowl for a potential relationship—someone to save me from myself, or at least boredom…or poverty.

And then there was Andrew Kittredge, a successful, attractive, and sophisticated businessman, nearly twice my age, looking for a bite to eat but ending up getting much more than he paid for. There was a bit of flirting, a wad of cash handed to my boss to get me off my hostess duties that night for a date, and sparks that danced spiritedly over drinks, dinner, and dancing. Lather, rinse, repeat—you get the picture. Hot attraction and flirty fun, but certainly not a classic Hollywood romance.

Taking another drag, I survey the deep blue Elliott Bay, on past to Puget Sound. Two ferries are leaving the city, probably filled with happy couples who have made plans for a weekend of R&R in Bremerton or a romantic evening on Bainbridge Island. I blow out a steady stream of smoke and lightly chuckle at the imagery of a damsel in distress, high up in her tower, waiting for her knight to ride on in and scoop her into his arms. Oh, irony and it’s not-so-subtle ways.

Some might think our love story is actually charming in its own way. Some of my best girlfriends think it a bit crazy that I was kind of “bought” for our first date. I think it set the precedent for what would eventually become our marriage. Andrew sees what he wants, he goes after it, and if that means paying whatever price, so be it. When I see a man who’s willing to offer me love (and lasso the moon), I’m no fool. When we fall in love and exchange vows, well, maybe we’re both the fools, then.

I rub out the nub of a cigarette and immediately smack another one out of the pack.

Whatever started back at that jazz bar two and a half years ago eventually culminated into what is, thirteen months later, my marriage to Mr. Andrew Kittredge. Often they call marriage “taking the plunge,” but I think the plunging begins a couple months into the marriage. I don’t know; every couple’s different. God knows Claire, who’s been married to her college sweetheart Conner for nearly half a year now, would say that “the plunge” only applies to people who aren’t marrying their soul mate.

Even if some plunging does occur in my marriage, and regardless of when, I honestly do believe that Andrew’s my soul mate. I’ve dated a lot of assholes and wasted plenty of time on men who were boys. Andrew’s the real deal; the best I’ve ever had. I do believe he loves me, he does try to treat me like a princess, and I know he’d never allow for another man to come between us…or for someone to hurt me. And I love my husband. I married him for his charm, his care, his passion, and his expressed and deep love for me. And, yes, I won’t lie—his copious amounts of wealth made signing that marriage certificate a little easier.

I come from a broken and poor home. Getting showered with expensive gifts and whisked off on exotic trips is the royal perk of being the apple of a rich man’s eye. But it certainly isn’t what made me decide to marry Andrew, no matter what those judgmental onlookers might think when they see a mature man with a twenty-something on his arm. If I was looking for marriage for money, I could’ve run off to Vegas with Phil the thick-walleted car salesman from West Seattle or decided to “take the plunge” with the U Dub golfer and Tau Sigma honors student senior year, trust fund, adenoids, and all.

No, I love Andrew. He’s the one I was meant to marry. Can I stay married to him, though? That’s the question that’s gnawing so deeply at me. Is being soul mates enough in a marriage? Does it mean you stay together when the relationship that made you believe you were soul mates to begin with has changed beyond recognition? When people change, when situations change, when life changes… Can you love someone with all your heart but let go and love from afar? What do you do when your marriage becomes a stranger, when you begin to think you just might be better off alone?

My Book Review:

In When Girlfriends Let Go, the sixth installment of the When Girlfriends ... collection, author Savannah Page transports the reader back to Seattle for another visit with the six best girlfriends that we've come to know and love: Claire, Sophie, Robin, Lara, Jackie and Emily. This time it's finally Jackie's turn to tell her story!

Jackie Kittredge lives a charmed life: a wealthy husband, a swanky Seattle townhouse, and awesome best friends ... she's got it all. But this consummate drama queen can't seem to appreciate what she has because she battles demons from her past, which now has her marriage on the rocks. For Jackie, it takes a journey of self-discovery and putting her life in perspective, a bit of tough love from her best girlfriends, letting go over her past fears, and having the courage to embrace self-growth to accept happiness in her life.

I really enjoyed catching up with all six girlfriends, the author does a great job of intertwining all of the latest news about each of the girls within the main storyline. She has a smooth style of integrating snippets from the previous books' storylines into the current book that makes it easy for the reader to feel like they haven't missed a thing while waiting to read the next installment in the collection.

I loved each of the books in the series, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed Jackie's story the best, because I love how her journey of self-discovery and self-growth changes her into a better person. I loved how her five best girlfriends weren't afraid to call Jackie out and kick her butt with some much needed tough love. I loved the mixture of humor and drama, these six girls are a hoot to follow and they sure do keep the reader thoroughly entertained!

This is such a fun collection to read, the six girlfriends continue to show what true friendship is all about: through good and bad times, thick and thin, ups and downs, and every trial and tribulation that befalls them, these six lovely ladies are supportive and always there for each other. I am looking forward to reading about Sophie's story (part two) in the seventh and final installment in the collection, When Girlfriends Find Love.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, thoroughly fun and entertaining collection of Chick Lit stories that celebrates womanhood and the strong bonds of friendship, then When Girlfriends collection ... is a must read, you won't be disappointed!


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Virtual Book Tour Event Page

Tour Schedule:

August 4 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
August 6 – Shelf Pleasure – Guest Post
August 6 – Relatively Yours – Guest Post 
August 7 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Excerpt
August 8 – Novel Escapes – Q&A
August 11 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review
August 13 – Second Bookshelf on the Right – Excerpt
August 14 – Books Etc – Review
August 15 – The Little Reading Cabin – Review
August 20 – Reading in Black and White – Excerpt
August 21 – Annabel and Alice – Review 
August 21 - Karma For Life Chick – Review & Excerpt 
August 22 – Fiction Dreams – Guest Post 
August 25 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review 
August 26 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
August 27 – Authors to Watch – Review 
August 28 – Two Children and a Migraine – Guest Post
August 28 – Two Children and a Migraine – Excerpt
August 29 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review 
August 29 – Karen’s Korner – Review
September 1 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt

Life Discarded by D.E. Haggerty (Virtual Book Release Day Blitz Event / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Reading Addiction Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book release day blitz event for Life Discarded by Author D.E. Haggerty!

Life Discarded by D.E. Haggerty
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: August 24,2014 (Paperback) / September 1, 2014 (eBook)
Format: Paperback - 220 pages
              Kindle - 1178 KB
              Nook - 284 KB
ISBN: 978-1500829810
Genre: Suspense Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: Life Discarded

Book Description:

Why would a woman who has it all throw her life away? Morgan has the perfect life. She married the man of her dreams. Daniel is smart, gorgeous and successful. Everything she has always wanted in a husband and the father of her children. But he’s also domineering, overprotective and jealous. Is living with him enough to drive Morgan over the edge? Or does something more treacherous lurk beneath the fa├žade?

A gorgeous, sweet woman that is oblivious to her own beauty. She’s shy with men, but a rock to her friends. A librarian in a small town in the mid-west. She’s been waiting a long-time to find the one.

An accountant in the city who will do anything to be the youngest partner in his firm. He always gets what he wants and he wants Morgan. He will pursue Morgan until she submits.

They rush through a courtship and marry within a year of meeting. Morgan’s life is perfect. She has a job she loves, a best friend for which she would do anything and a husband that completes her. But things are not often as they appear. Behind closed doors the loving Daniel that Morgan married is jealous and overprotective. Sometimes he’s even domineering.

Morgan runs away – destroying everything in her path as she disappears. What made this good girl go bad?

Book Excerpt:


Shaking hands steer the car to the nearest full service gas station. Only one or two gas stations in town still offer full service, but she had done her homework and knew this one did. Not only did full service guarantee that someone else would be pumping her gas, but its expense meant that there’s never a wait. Maneuvering the car to the furthest full service pump, she waits, hands clutching the steering wheel, for the attendant.

After what feels like an eternity to her fevered brain, the attendant finally notices her and saunters over to her car. Her eyes follow him, silently urging him to quicken his pace. Come on, come on. “Fill it up,” she squeaks at him when he finally reaches her car. She grabs her over-large purse and jumps out of the car, nearly tripping in her haste. Looking back, she whispers “I’m sorry” to the oblivious attendant before continuing around the building.

When she reaches the rear of the building, she frantically scans the area. Finally she spots the large garbage container, not in its usual spot. She jogs to it and squats behind it; shrinking into herself and covering her ears. Just in time. A loud bang shakes the earth below her feet. Looking up, she sees flames shooting into the sky.

Time to get out of here. She stands on shaky legs, taking a moment to calm her erratic breath before walking in the opposite direction – refusing to look back.

About The Author

D.E. Haggerty was born and raised in Wisconsin but thinks she’s a European. After spending her senior year of high school in Germany, she developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. After high school she returned to the U.S. to go to college ending up with a Bachelor’s degree in History at the tender age of 20 while still managing to spend time bouncing back and forth to Europe during her vacations. Unable to find a job after college and still suffering from wanderlust, she joined the U.S. Army as a Military Policewoman for 5 years. While stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, she met her future husband, a flying Dutchman. After being given her freedom from the Army, she went off to law school. She finished law school and moved to the Netherlands with her husband and became a commercial lawyer for more than a decade.

During a six month break from the lawyering world, she wrote her first book, Unforeseen Consequences. Although she finished the book, she went back to the law until she could no longer take it and upped stakes and moved to Germany to start a B&B. Three years after starting the B&B, she got the itch and decided to pull the manuscript for Unforeseen Consequences out of the attic and get it published as an e-book. Deciding that she may have indeed finally found what she wanted to do with her life, she went on to write Buried Appearances. After moving to Istanbul, she started on Life: Discarded, her third book.

Between tennis, running, traveling, singing off tune and reading books like they are going out of style, she writes articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, reviews other indie authors’ books, writes a blog about whatever comes to mind and is working on her fourth book.


Book Trailer

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cracks In The Sidewalk by Bette Lee Crosby (Book Spotlight / $.99 Sale Promotion Event)

In association with Author Bette Lee Crosby, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the book spotlight / $.99 sale promotion event for Cracks In The Sidewalk!

Book Spotlight

Cracks In The Sidewalk by Bette Lee Crosby
Publisher: Bent Pine Publishing
Publication Date: September 22, 2011
Format: Paperback - 332 pages
              Kindle - 541 KB
              Nook - 459 KB
ISBN: 978-0983887928
BNID: 2940013393615
Genre: Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Cracks In The Sidewalk
***** $.99 Sale *****

Book Description:

A powerful story that is a heart-wrenching reminder of how fragile relationships can be. Cracks in the Sidewalk is based on a true story.

Claire McDermott is a wife, a mother, a grandmother... Her only daughter is gravely ill... Her son-in-law is resentful and angry... Her grandchildren are missing...

After years of writing letters, hoping to find the children, hoping to bring them back, Claire receives a reply...a dog-eared gray envelope is stuffed into her mailbox, but will it bring hope or simply put an end to the waiting?

Can a single letter change the lives of four people? Claire McDermott and her grandchildren are about to discover letters are a journey of the heart which can ultimately deliver people to their destination.

Book Excerpt:

April, 2006

The dream came back the day I received the letter, I hadn’t thought about it in decades but I suppose it was always there. A thing you’ve carried inside your heart for the better part of a lifetime doesn’t disappear so easily, it slides behind the everyday worries calling for your attention and waits—waits until your heart opens up to let it fly loose again. You never expect that something you’ve prayed for hundreds of thousands of times will come to you in a weathered gray envelope.

‘Dear Mr. and Mrs. McDermott,’ the letter began—addressing me as if I were a total stranger and not taking into account that my sweet Charles had gone to join Our Heavenly Father some five years ago. ‘I don’t know if you remember me,’ it said, ‘because my family left New Jersey when I was only two years old.’ The moment I saw those words, my heart began pounding so hard I could feel the whole of my body shaking; I grabbed onto the arm of Charlie’s old recliner and lowered myself into the seat. After all those years of waiting, I couldn’t spare time for a cry, so I continued reading through the waterfall of tears—‘Recently, I came across some information which leads me to believe that my birth mother, Elizabeth Caruthers, was your daughter. I understand my mother’s maiden name was McDermott, and that she passed away in 1986. Other than these few details, I know very little. If perchance we are related, I would certainly like to meet you and learn more about my mother.’

With the letter still clutched in my hand, I closed my eyes and whispered, “Thank you, Lord,” then I repeated myself another half-dozen times to make sure He got the message. After so many years, I’d given up praying for such a thing to happen—probably settled into believing it simply wasn’t part of the Lord’s plan for my life. But I suppose that once you’ve asked for a certain miracle, the Heavenly Father keeps your request on file and sends it when the time is right. He understood that I had things to do, things I might never have done had I not been so filled up with sadness, but I’ll get to that in time.

‘My name is Christian Caruthers,’ the letter went on, ‘I live in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, I have an older brother David and a sister Kimberly…’

He asked if I would be willing to see him—imagine that, willing to see him? For the past twenty years, I’ve prayed just such a thing would happen. Every child I’d pass by, I’d wonder if that was what he’d grown to look like. Time and time again I’d see some blue-eyed boy and swear by the heavens above it was him—“Excuse me,” I’d say to the child and then ask what his name might be. Willing to see him? Why, I’d go to my grave a happy woman if I could just tell my grandchildren how much I love them and hug them to my chest.

Without waiting for another minute to pass by, I took hold of a pen and answered the boy’s letter. ‘Elizabeth most certainly was my daughter,’ I wrote, ‘and I was right alongside of her the day she gave birth to you.’ I went on to say nothing in the entire world would give me greater pleasure than a visit from him, David and Kimberly. I wanted to say Kimmie, which was what her mother called her, but seeing as how Christian had referred to her as Kimberly I was hesitant to do anything that might change his mind about coming for a visit. I signed my name ‘Your Loving Grandma, Claire McDermott,’ wrote my telephone number big and bold at the bottom of the letter, folded it inside a bright yellow envelope and drove to the post office so it would be sure to go that very same day.

That afternoon I tried to busy myself with some housework that needed doing, but it was useless; my brain couldn’t focus on something as simple as folding laundry. I’d start off sorting a basket of linens and before I knew what happened, I’d find myself standing there with my eyes closed and pictures of those little babies running through my mind. Finally, I settled myself in Charlie’s recliner—which, although it’s an eyesore, has always been a place of particular comfort for me—then I leaned my head into the pillow and gave way to my memories. I can’t say when I drifted off to sleep or even if I was partly awake, but all of a sudden there it was, the dream that has lived inside of me for as long as my memory reaches back.

Everyone was gathered around, all the imaginary people—sisters and brothers of my youth, aunts and uncles, babies that never were—we crowded elbow to elbow around a dining room table, all talking at one time and no one minding. This was my imaginary family—my wonderful imaginary family, huge, noisy, happy, filled with the love of each other and tied together for life. Of course they’re not real, they never were. But they’re all part of my dream, the dream I’ve had since I was nine years old.

A full to overflowing family, that’s always been my fondest wish—brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and more kids than a person can count—but instead I grew up an only child. All I had was Mama and Daddy, two loners who married up and had one baby, me. Dozens upon dozens of times I begged Mama for a baby sister or brother, but she’d push her nose up like she was smelling something bad and say, “Claire, I don’t know where you get these crazy notions, certainly not from your father or me, we’re practical people.”

After I came to realize that I was an only child and would remain an only child, I began creating an imaginary family. I pictured their faces, knew all their secrets and anticipated just what each of them would do in any given situation. First came a sister named Nora; she was sensitive, gentle-hearted and had the soft brown eyes of a puppy dog. Then it was a tall, lanky brother, Paul. After that there was a lengthy succession of cousins, aunts and uncles. Finally, Charlie happened along. Fortunately, he was not a figment of my imagination, he was real, flesh and blood—a person who loved me as I did him, a man who agreed that a dozen babies was just about the right number.

We were married in 1955 and one year later I gave birth to Elizabeth. She was just a tiny little thing when I began to hemorrhage and woke up in the hospital with Doctor Kerrigan explaining how Elizabeth was to be the only child I would ever have. But enough about me, she’s the one I should be telling about.

I know every mother claims their child is beautiful, but Elizabeth really was. Lying there in her crib she reminded me of a golden-haired angel, pink and dewy as a rosebud, with the tiniest, most perfect fingers I’d ever seen. Many a night I climbed out of my own bed and stood alongside her crib watching the tiny breaths cause her chest to rise and fall. “It’s not fair,” I told Charlie, “that she should be an only child.” I suggested that we consider adopting a few brothers and sisters for her, but somehow Charlie could never wrap his arms around that suggestion.

“You never know,” he’d answer, “it could be that Doctor Kerrigan is wrong. Let’s not rush into something. Give it time. Wait and see.”

So we waited, and Lord knows we tried, but we never did have another baby. Elizabeth had to travel the same road I’d gone down. Knowing how lonely such a thing can be, I tried to make things better for her by filling the house with bunches of playmates. When she was still so small she had to stand on a stool to reach the counter, we began having cookie-making parties and we’d invite all the neighborhood kids. After that it was the Brownie Troop, then Girl Scout meetings, pajama parties, and almost anything else I could think of. Looking back, I think those things probably did help, because Elizabeth’s face was never etched with that look of loneliness I had seen in my own.

Our little girl always had an ample share of friends, not because of what I’d done, but because she was chock full of laughter and kindness. And, thanks to the Good Lord, she was also blessed with eyes the color of a summer sky and a smile that made other people feel like smiling back. I’m not stretching things one bit when I tell you Elizabeth was one of the most popular girls in Westfield High and could have dated any boy in town. But wouldn’t you know the one she liked was Jeffrey Caruthers—a lanky string bean with the personality of my left foot. He latched onto her like money in the bank and everywhere she went, he went. Early in the morning, before we were fully awake, the telephone would start ringing and it would be him calling to ask if she wanted to go swimming or picnicking. They’d go off and spend the entire day together then an hour after he brought her home, the telephone would start ringing again because he had a desperate need to say good night. I tell you, that boy went way beyond making a pest of himself. It’s regrettable that Charlie and I didn’t do a thing to squelch it, but at the time we were pleased our little girl was having fun. We figured Jeffrey was a passing fancy and since Elizabeth was barely sixteen, the likelihood was she’d have a dozens of boyfriends before she decided to settle down. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what happened.

They continued to date all through high school—Elizabeth not the least bit interested in any other boy and Jeffrey attached to her like a Siamese twin. Four or five nights a week he’d eat dinner at our house and on those nights he stayed home, he’d telephone her every hour or so. “Doesn’t your family object to your not coming home for dinner?” I asked. “Not at all,” he answered, then he and Elizabeth exchanged one of those lovesick puppy dog looks they’d begun sharing. After a few years of that, Charlie and I began to realize that Jeffrey, who by now had decided to call himself JT, was probably destined to be our son-in-law.

On Elizabeth’s twentieth birthday they went out to dinner together; that night she came home wearing the happiest smile I’ve ever seen and a two-karat diamond ring. That was that—they were engaged and there was no looking back. Every time Elizabeth glanced at that ring on her finger, she’d start talking about what a wonderful husband Jeffrey was going to be. “A wonderful husband,” she’d sigh, “and a wonderful father.”

At the time I was inclined to agree, figuring that a man had to be crazy in love to spend his last dime on such an engagement ring. And spend his last dime Jeffrey did, without one bit of thought as to what they were going to live on—that’s when I should have realized he considered money the measurement of a person’s worth. For someone with such an appetite for the gathering of material possessions, it’s odd that he turned out to be a poor businessman. Money—that’s partly to blame for what eventually happened.

When Elizabeth married Jeffrey T. Caruthers, who now answered only to JT, I honestly believed they’d live happily ever after. I had no reason to think otherwise, she was head-over-heels in love with him and he was just as crazy about her. I’ve never seen anyone act more devoted than that boy. He was always touching Elizabeth, wrapping his arm around her shoulder or twining his fingers through hers. And he’d tell anyone who’d listen how beautiful and smart she was. A man who does things like that is simply not the sort you have cause to doubt.

Charlie, given his masculine point-of-view felt otherwise—he had misgivings about a lad who seldom looked a person square in the eye and labeled himself with initials instead of using his Christian name. “You can’t do a thing about it,” I told Charlie. “Elizabeth loves that boy just as much as he loves her.”

Of course, he grumbled and groused a bit, but I think it had more to do with his losing a daughter than about Jeffrey himself. Once Charlie learned to live with the thought, he treated JT just as he would a son.

Three nights before the wedding, when we were all at their rehearsal dinner, Elizabeth announced, “JT and I are planning to have nine kids,” then she gave Jeffrey a beaming smile and said, “Right, JT?”

When he gave a nod of agreement, I could almost feel the happiness bursting out of me—grandchildren, now what could be sweeter! “See, you were wrong about the boy,” I whispered into Charlie’s ear, then started settling into my new role—Grandma. Nine kids—those words were like the song of angels in my ear, angels promising I’d soon be blessed with the big family I’d always dreamed of.

I figured they planned to start a family right away, but month after month went by and there was no further mention of babies. I bit down on my tongue to keep from prying into issues that were private between a wife and her husband, but Elizabeth was my daughter and I couldn’t help but worry. Then eighteen months after the wedding, on an ordinary Tuesday evening when they’d come for a meatloaf dinner, I noticed something different about Liz—she was bubbly as a glass of champagne. After dinner she exploded with the news that they were expecting their first child. “Isn’t it wonderful, Mama?” she said rubbing little circles around her still flat tummy.

I had dozens of questions; was she feeling alright? Any morning sickness? When was the baby due? Were they hoping for a boy or girl? “Boy or girl,” she laughed, “why, I’m hoping for twins!”

I expected at least a chuckle from Jeffrey, but he was busy watching an NBC newscaster tell about how some stock had gone up thirty-nine points in a single day.

“I knew I should have bought that,” he grumbled, “See Liz, I told you we ought to be putting our money where there’s growth potential!”

“There’s plenty of growth potential right here,” she answered, still rubbing those little circles around her stomach.

After that Elizabeth and I slipped off to the kitchen and sat with a hot cup of tea. “I’ve already started knitting a sweater for the baby,” she confided. “It’s white, with yellow edging. You know…good for a boy or girl.”

It’s been some twenty-seven years, but I remember that evening as if it took place yesterday. We talked for hours, talked about little things, such as how she’d decorate the nursery and what clothes a newborn baby might need. She was busy writing a list when she stopped and looked up, “You know Mom,” she sighed, “I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this baby. JT’s not much on prayers, but every single night I pray for this precious baby, that he or she will be healthy and have lots of brothers and sisters.” She hesitated a moment then said, “I also pray that I’ll be a good mom, the sort of mom you were.”

It’s funny how hearing your child say something like that can cause a lump to rise up in your throat, a lump so huge you can barely breathe. Elizabeth must have noticed because she reached over and wiped a tear from my eye, then we both started grinning like we had cheeks full of cherries. There are moments in life when you feel your cup is full to overflowing—that was just such a moment and it’s stayed in my heart all these years. Elizabeth didn’t mention the fertility doctor that night but I don’t suppose there was any reason for her to do so.

David was born six months later and two years after that Elizabeth gave birth to a beautiful little girl who she named Kimberly. I loved both of those babies as if they were my own and I could barely wait from one day until the next to do some babysitting. “If you’ve got errands to do,” I’d say, “I’ll be happy to take the children.”

“I know, Mom,” Elizabeth would answer laughingly, “I know.”

Back then, when life seemed to be about as good as it could possibly get, I never imagined the sadness that would take hold of our lives.

Neither did Elizabeth.

Literary Awards for Cracks In The Sidewalk:

Amazon Family Saga Bestseller
FPA President’s Book Award
Royal Palm Literary Award

Reviews for Cracks In The Sidewalk

• Reviewed By Samantha Rivera for Readers' Favorite
 Elizabeth is a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother. She has no care in the world but to accomplish these goals and she works hard at them despite the treatment she is given at the hands of her husband. When Elizabeth falls ill suddenly during her pregnancy with their last child, her husband determines to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that means her children (including her newborn son) will also have nothing to do with her. It's almost a year before Elizabeth is finally able to see her young children again, but even then things are not what they might seem in Cracks In The Sidewalk.

Cracks In The Sidewalk is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down. Elizabeth is a woman that any woman would be proud to be. She is able to roll with the punches and even when people behave in a reprehensible way towards her she is incapable of truly hating them and can only feel sorry for the love they don't have. Her plight is one no mother would ever want to find herself in, but at the same time it is one that will draw you in. This is a heart-wrenching story but it is also a beautiful one of love and devotion and forgiveness. For Elizabeth's children and her mother it is also a story of miracles and of overcoming any obstacle life may put in your way. An excellent book by Bette Lee Crosby.

• A moving, emotional story...when I read this book I felt so moved, I was crying at the end...writing flowed beautifully...depth of characters and insight kept me turning pages.-Bria Burton

• A compelling story...Well written, with a realistic, compassionate telling, Cracks In The Sidewalk will bring readers into the family, happy to be a part of it.-Angie Mangino

About The Author

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction--the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write."

Crosby's work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal and Reviewer's Choice Award and Reader's View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.

Her published works to date are: Blueberry Hill: A Sister's Story (2014), Jubilee's Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Cupid's Christmas (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), Spare Change (2011), and Life in the Land of IS (2012). Life in the Land of IS is a memoir written for Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world's longest living quadriplegic.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Waiting for Heaven by Heather Gillis (Virtual Book Blast Event / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for Waiting for Heaven by Author Heather Gillis!

Waiting For Heaven Banner 2

About The Book

Waiting For Heaven 2

Waiting for Heaven by Heather Gillis
Publisher: WestBow Press
Publication Date: March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover & Paperback - 228 pages
              Kindle - 452 KB
              Nook - 800 KB
ISBN: 978-1490827865
Genre: Memoir / Religion / Spirituality

BUY THE BOOK: Waiting for Heaven

Book Description:

Life can sometimes lead us to unexpected places, to only leave us broken, desperate, and hurting. Heather Gillis and her husband, Mac, waited in anticipation for the birth of their third child. Like many Christian couples, their dreams and expectations in marriage, parenthood, and daily life developed differently than they’d planned, and left them grieving a life that would never be. Their journey gives insight into a new normal and uncovers the stepping stones of the healing process. In their process, they re- discovered God’s abounding love through their experiences of joy, heartbreak, and purpose. Heather reaches out to parents around the globe to speak openly about being a wife, mother, friend, relative, or stranger during life-changing trials and devastating struggles. In God’s love, she has found beauty in the midst of pain and struggle, as well as peace in His presence on Earth while waiting for Heaven.

Book Excerpt: 

Life is not about how comfortable I can be; to expect life to be comfortable is unrealistic. I’m not exempt from the harshness or pain of this world. I have realized since Bowen’s passing that there are no guarantees in life; to think otherwise leads to disappointment. When I was pregnant, I assumed Bowen would be healthy. I assumed that when I left the house, I would return, unharmed. I assumed for some reason I would make it through life unscathed; I never thought I would be writing these words.

We can do all the right things in life, but that doesn’t guarantee us rewards or benefits in this life. We did not choose the path we are walking, but God willing, we will endure what comes our way and to where God wants us to go. We can have all the plans in the world but God is in the driver’s seat, and God knows what he is doing; we just have to trust him. Uncomfortable situations have taught me to trust in God, and I have learned more than I ever thought I would; and still am.

About The Author

View More:

Meet Heather Gillis. In her book, Waiting for Heaven, Heather recalls the story of her infant son, Bowen, and her family's journey with polycystic kidney disease. Through Bowen's short life and death, she and her husband, Mac, discovered the true meaning of God’s love and grace. By telling her poignant story in the book and speaking to groups, Heather hopes she can help others through the challenges of loss and devastation; giving hope that their can be joy and happiness again. After Bowen's death, Heather founded Bowen's Hope, a ministry serving kidney disease kids and their families, especially those getting dialysis treatments at Phoenix Children's Hospital. She's also involved with Camp Maska for dialysis patients in Arizona, and has raised over $50,000 for the PKD Foundation. In addition, Heather volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, an organization serving meals and providing temporary housing to families with children in the hospital. Heather works part time as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She and Mac have two living children, Brooklyn and Blake. With a serving heart, Heather’s passions are her family and helping others.

Visit Heather online at 


Contest Giveaway

Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card

Pump Up Your Book and Author Heather Gillis are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the prize.
  • This giveaway begins August 1 and ends on August 29, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 1, 2014.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Blast Event

Book Blast Event Schedule:

Friday, August 1
Fandom Monthly Magazine

Monday, August 4
3 Partners In Shopping, Nana, Mommy & Sissy Too!

Tuesday, August 5
Inside BJ’s Head My Life Loves and Passion

Wednesday, August 6
My Life One Story At A Time
Authors & Readers Book Corner

Thursday, August 7
The Book Connection

Friday, August 8
Blooming with Books

Tuesday, August 12
A Book Lover’s Retreat
The Busy Mom’s Daily

Wednesday, August 13
Home On Deranged

Thursday, August 14
Cheryl’s Christian Book Connection

Tuesday, August 19
Books Direct Online

Friday, August 22
My Devotional Thoughts

Monday, August 25
Undercover Book Reviews

Tuesday, August 26
Maureen’s Musings

Thursday, August 28
Book Reviews From A Christian Gal

Friday, August 29
Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Sister Surrendered by Darla M. Grese (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Sister Surrendered by Author Darla M. Grese!

Author Guest Post

Dying Sister Made It Clear: Tell My Story

It was after coming across my sister’s journal that I knew without question that I had to share her story. It took me months to actually read the journal in its entirety, it was simply too hard. I could almost hear Kelli’s voice as I read her written words. Her entries were raw, at times incredibly disturbing, but for the most part, painfully sad. Each and every time that I read it, my heart breaks just a little bit more. It always will.

Kelli made it clear throughout her journal that she wanted me to tell her story, hoping that it could hopefully prevent other veterans from dying within the same system. Clearly she was losing her battle and knew it. But instead of battling in the trenches alone, silently, she documented her torment, knowing one day that she’d leave it behind for me to read.

Kelli referenced several times that she was surrendering to God, which is why I chose the title Sister Surrendered. Kelli had an extremely strong faith in God which is something that I ironically struggle to find.

I opted to include some of the actual journal entries within the book, not knowing of a better way to convey Kelli’s messages’. But what I didn’t anticipate was me commencing in an almost dual- dialogue between Kelli and me, which ended up setting the tone throughout the entire book from start to finish.

Sister Surrendered was actually written as a screenplay early on. I wrote it prior to the lawsuit even coming to light. Writing screenplays were familiar and I found solace in writing them. But it was after the settling of the case, a couple of years later, that I knew writing a book was the right answer, it just was. I began writing the book on Jan 1st, 2014 and finished in mid-March. It was fast, it had to be. I struggled to begin writing it, nervous of the emotional roller-coaster that I was about to embark on. So when I finally committed to putting my thoughts to the keyboard, I had to do it as quickly as possible, at times, hyperventilating between sentences. It was a painful journey, peeling back layers of grief that I’d prefer to stuff away. It’s easier that way isn’t it? At least it is for me.

About The Author

Darla M. Grese is a twin sister who lost her better half to side effects from prescribed medication. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she is an advocate of Veteran X and Veteran Hope programs that address mental illness, PTSD, and unintentional addiction issues. Both programs are sponsored by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and focus on Veteran recovery and independence. She raises money for “Team Kelli” and annually participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach ( While continuing to bring awareness to this cause, being a loving parent is her favorite passion and the main focus of her life. Darla’s love for the arts has been expressed as a talented actress with appearances in The F.B.I. files, The New Detectives, Diagnosis Unknown, Wicked Attraction, Discovery Channel’s The Haunting, and the movie Atlantis Down. She currently works full time as a respiratory therapist at a trauma center in Norfolk, Virginia.

Her memoir, Sister Surrendered, is her latest release.


Book Review

Sister Surrendered by Darla M. Grese
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Format: Paperback - 212 pages
              Kindle - 2314 KB
ISBN: 978-1497541207
Genre: Memoir

BUY THE BOOK: Sister Surrendered

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Visit the book’s Facebook Page.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book Tours.

Book Description:

When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace. This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco. I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met. I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.

Book Excerpt:

It’s been three years now since Kelli’s been gone, but for me three minutes. At times, I feel stuck. And as time has passed, the personal messages and phone calls have lessened, people have moved on and that’s understandable. I’ve had many moments of loneliness, longing for my sister’s backing. Unless you’re a twin, it’s hard to understand what twin-loss is, but trust me when I say, it’s debilitating at times. It’s like learning to walk again, one step at a time, without your crutch that keeps you from falling. Even local musician Jessica Doran, being a twin herself, was inspired to write a song after hearing about Kelli's story. The fact is, I don’t know how to live as an individual and I need some help working through this. I’ve actually decided to look into a facility, that ironically Kelli and I looked into for her, located in Arizona. According to my therapist, The Meadows’s reputation in dealing with trauma goes unmatched. Through the help of intensive weekly counseling, which I highly recommend by the way, I’ve learned that I too suffer from PTSD, caused by the years leading up to Kelli’s death, and her death in and of itself. I need to process her death, something I’m pretty sure I’ve not done yet. Instead, I’ve focused my energy on parenting, working, the lawsuit, writing, part-time acting, keeping up the house, and anything else I could distract myself with. And proudly, I’ve done a decent job with the exception of acting. I haven’t landed a significant role since Kelli’s death which I attribute to low self-confidence and anxiety. Just auditioning for me now, is at times, very uncomfortable. But I’ll continue my pursuit in following my dream, regardless.

Brady and I have an amazing relationship. I’m not great at a lot of things, but parenting, I’m great at. As a matter of fact, I’m great at worrying about everything and everyone else except me. After all, I’ve never had to deal with myself because I’ve always concentrated on helping everyone else in my life. So taking care of me is a foreign concept. But I have to learn. I just do. So hopefully soon, I’ll leave home for a month, maybe longer, and work with professionals who can teach me the tools that I need to continue on twin-less.

This memoir was initially a screenplay which I did in fact complete only a month after Kelli’s passing. It sits on my nightstand. It wasn’t long before Kelli died that she jokingly suggested that I write a screenplay about us and then we would play ourselves. I laughed it off, reminding her that she couldn’t act and hated being on camera. But after losing her, I wished I would have responded by saying, “Kel, let’s write it together, and once it’s finished, we’ll figure the rest out.”

Although I feel strongly that the VA Hospital was responsible for Kelli’s death and years of anguish, I must also say that I feel just as strongly that the VA does in fact have great doctors, who in fact, care about their patients, mine included. I do not believe that any Veteran, ever, should hesitate in going to a Veterans Affairs Hospital because of what I’ve written. However, I do believe by telling Kelli’s story that certain practices the VA Hospitals adhere to will be looked at, hopefully. I believe that when appropriately prescribed, medicines are necessary and they’re proven to work. But it’s when they’re prescribed irresponsibly that they can result in dire consequences, including death and suicide.

Read Chapter One and Two HERE.

My Book Review:

Sister Surrendered is the poignant memoir about twin sisters Darla and Kelli, bonded by love and friendship, and their heart wrenching journey through childhood to adulthood. Through Kelli's personal journal entries, Darla weaves an emotional account of their shared lives, and the heartbreaking loss of Kelli due to the negligence of the VA healthcare system that failed to properly oversee her medical condition and needs.

This is a beautifully written and touching tribute that demonstrates the love and strong bond for a twin sister that will pull at the heartstrings and stir your soul. Through the determination and dedication to make sure that Kelli's life was not in vain or forgotten, Darla keeps her twin's memory alive through the sharing of Kelli's journal entries, and the documenting of her difficult life journey dealing with mental illness and addiction that tragically ended her life. Darla brings to light awareness for a VA healthcare system that is wrought with mismanagement, medical negligence, and utter disregard and failure to properly provide the appropriate medical service to the veterans and helpful caregivers resources for their loved ones. You can't help but feel the full gamut of emotions as Kelli and Darla's story unfolds, this is definitely an inspirational and compelling story that must be told in the hope that it will help other veterans and the general public who are in need of proper medical care.

Kudos Darla for having the strength, courage, love, and determination to let Kelli's voice be heard.


Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:

Monday, August 4
Interview at The Writer’s Life

Tuesday, August 5
Guest Blogging at Bookingly Yours

Wednesday, August 6
Book Featured at Bound 2 Escape

Thursday, August 7
Guest Blogging at Confessions of a Reader

Tuesday, August 12
Guest Blogging at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Thursday, August 14
Book Review at My Life. One Story at a Time.
Book Featured at Maureen’s Musings

Monday, August 18
Book Review at Authors & Readers Book Corner

Tuesday, August 19
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, August 25
Interview at Blogcritics

Tuesday, August 26
Guest Blogging at Pink Fluffy Hearts

Wednesday, August 27
Book Featured at My Book Addiction and More

Friday, August 29
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews