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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Her Sights by Robin Perini

In Her Sights by Robin Perini
Published by Montlake Romance (November 29, 2011)
Sold By Amazon Digital Services
ISBN: 161218152X
Genre: Romantic Suspense

About The Author:

Award-winning author Robin Perini’s love of heart-stopping suspense and poignant romance, coupled with her adoration of high tech weaponry and covert ops, encouraged her secret inner commando to take on the challenge of writing romantic suspense novels.  Her mission's motto: "when danger and romance collide, no heart is safe."
As a writer, Robin is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high stakes adventures with a love story sure to melt their hearts. Robin’s strong characters and tightly woven plots have garnered her seven prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finals, and Golden Heart Winner in 2011. Stolen Lullaby, will be published by Harlequin Intrigue® in May, 2012 as Finding Her Son. Her other 2011 Golden Heart® Finalist, In Her Sights, will be published by Amazon's Montlake Romance November 29, 2011.
By day, she works for an advanced technology corporation, and in her spare time, you might find her giving one of her many nationally acclaimed writing workshops or find her training in competitive small-bore rifle silhouette shooting.  She's a voracious reader and a die-hard fan of the T.V. series, BONES.
Robin loves to interact with readers. 

Disclaimer: As a book reviewer for The Romance Reviews, I have been given an ARC edition of this novel, at no cost to me, for my honest review. 
This book review is originally written for The Romance Reviews (TRR). Book Description:
SWAT Team Sniper Jasmine "Jazz" Parker can thread the eye of a needle with a bullet. As the only female sniper in the state of Colorado, Jazz is unique for more than her extraordinary marksmanship skills and cool head. Jazz Parker and her weapon defend the helpless by exacting swift and uncompromising justice. Not bad for the daughter of the town whore. 
After growing up on the seedy side of town, Jazz believed when she'd changed her name and her life at fifteen, she'd buried her past. Two years ago, she even drove away the one man she believed she could love - ex-Army Ranger turned reporter Luke Montgomery - to protect her secret.
Then, in a fleeting second, the time it takes for one clean shot, one perfect hit, to save the life of the Governor's daughter, Jazz's world begins to crumble around her. Her past and her present now threaten to destroy the life she has carefully constructed for herself. Her face and name have been splashed across the front page - by none other than Luke Montgomery - and her past has reawakened with a vengeance. A vicious enemy is bent on destroying Jazz's life, forcing her to turn to the one man she can never have in order to stop the killer before she and everyone she cares about pay with their lives. 

In Her Sights is available for pre-order, the release date for paperback and eBook is November 29, 2011. 

My Book Review:
Jasmine "Jazz" Parker leads a fulfilling life as the only female sniper on Jefferson County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team, a life that she has dedicated to defending lives and upholding justice ... that is until her hidden past comes back to threaten her life and those she cares about. With an unknown enemy trying to ruin her life, Jasmine has to lower her defenses and turn to a man she had once cared about and left, Luke Montgomery, an ex-Army Ranger. Can Jasmine and Luke work together to find out who the enemy is while holding their still smoldering passion for each other in check ... or will the enemy who has them In Her Sights succeed at destroying their lives?

Jasmine "Jazz" Parker has worked hard to create a new life for herself in Colorado, she left behind a traumatic and secret childhood back in New Mexico. Jazz is at the top of her game, she is up for lead sniper on the SWAT team, and life is good as long as she avoids letting anyone get too close to her, including Luke Montgomery, an ex-Army Ranger and the one who made her burn with passion. Just when life can't get any better, an unknown enemy from her past has found her in Colorado and is set to ruin her life. Can she turn to Luke and trust him to help her find her enemy without causing danger to him and his family, or should she stick to her plan and solve it on her  own?

In Her Sights is a fast-paced and action packed story filled with suspenseful twists and turns that will keep the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. Mixed in with the suspense is a sultry burning passion that Jazz and Luke can't deny, their rekindling romance is infused with steamy and poignant encounters that will leave the reader sighing for more. The storyline is very well written, the chapters have a consistent flow, and the characters are solid and real.

From the start, I was engrossed in Jazz and Luke's story. As a huge fan of romance and suspense thrillers, this novel had a riveting combination of both that kept me turning the pages. Fans of romantic suspense thrillers, this gripping and passionate novel is a must read!


Author Guest Post: Joseph Rinaldo, Author of Hazardous Choices

Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Joseph Rinaldo, author of Hazardous Choices!

"Are You Your Book's Main Character?"
By Joseph Rinaldo

The very first book I wrote was so bad, I don't even have it saved to a disk any more. I mean, it really was that bad. I'm not sure where the main idea came from, but it had me researching things all over the internet and the world. The character did things and went places I knew nothing about, experienced things I hadn't even read about, and the ending was so predictable ... Well, suffice it to say, I was not surprised it wasn't published traditionally, and I have never considered self-publishing it.

I've learned a lot since then. The adage "write what you know" is not one I'm fond of, but I have to admit that much of what I have published and much of what I am currently working on draws from my own life and experiences, and that is as it should be. How can you feel the feelings of your characters if you have no shared experiences? Geography isn't important, but relationships are.

In several of my novels, including the two I've so far self-published: A SPY AT HOME and HAZARDOUS CHOICES, there is a character with Down syndrome, a form of mental retardation that is caused by the presence of a third chromosome on the 21st "pair". Down syndrome is not an uncommon intellectual disability; it occurs in at least 1 in 800 live births - possibly more - across all maternal ages, ethnicities, and geographical locations.

My experience with this wonderful population began when I was a child; I have an uncle with Down syndrome; but I had very little contact with him and less information about him until I was nearly an adult. Then, fate played its hand, as it often does, with irony. I met a woman 16 years my senior and began dating her. She had an adult daughter with Down syndrome, and I was "back in the loop". I grew to know and love them both, and I married my then-girlfriend in 1999. As I learned more about my daughter and her life, I became more and more engaged in it by virtue of coaching her Special Olympics basketball team, chaperoning events she attended, and becoming involved in the local chapter of a Down Syndrome Association. I am truly this amazing young woman's father, in every sense of the word, and the only thing we don't have in common is history. 

These experiences made writing about the two characters in my published novels easy - emotional, but easy - and I'm proud of the people they came to be in my books. The novels are not wholly about me; I'm neither (currently) a spy nor a gang member. I do, however, have a profound connection with the male lead characters in these stories. They each have a child with Down. That child is my child. It is also the child of everyone who has a son or daughter with this intellectual disability. Their lives may not be the same, their experiences may be different, but they all have one thing in common - they have Down syndrome, and they are loved.

So, I guess I did "write what I know". 


BUY THE BOOK: Hazardous Choices
Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Prior Book Review on Jersey Girl Book Reviews: A Spy At Home

Hazardous Choices by Joseph Rinaldo

Hazardous Choices by Joseph Rinaldo
Published by: Joseph Rinaldo
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: Murder Suspense Thriller / Contemporary Fiction

About The Author:

Joseph Rinaldo, born in Illinois, spent most of his formative years in Kentucky. He currently resides near Nashville, TN. He attended The Ohio State University and is an avid Buckeyes fan. He currently works in finance, is marries, and is the father of a wonderful young woman with Down syndrome. He has written nine books, and is self-publishing each through Amazon's KDP program.

GET THE BOOK: Hazardous Choices

Disclaimer: At the request of the author, a PDF edition of this book was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review. 

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Wednesday, November 30, 2011, Joseph Rinaldo participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

Prior Book Review on Jersey Girl Book Reviews: A Spy At Home Book Description:

After surviving life in a violent Chicago street gang through his high school years, Darnell Jackson's future appears promising. A football scholarship gives him the chance to escape the thug lifestyle.

During his first year in college, Darnell safely resides in a small Kentucky town, playing Division Two college football and trying to make something of himself. Adjusting to the new surroundings proves tough, but a tough teammate and a girl give him hope that his future will be better than his past.

In the summer after his freshman year, he returns to the old neighborhood to be with his mother. The gang reasserts its hold on him, and the leader orders Darnell to kill a member of a rival gang. Nearly dying in a gang fight, Darnell shoots an enemy gangbanger. This forces Darnell to re-evaluate his future. As a result, he lies to the mercurial leader of his gang, claiming he completed his assignment. After "doing work" for his gang, Darnell receives permission to head back to school and the security of small town life. 

When the head gangbanger learns of Darnell's lie, the small Kentucky town isn't so safe anymore.

My Book Review:

Growing up in a Chicago ghetto neighborhood where street gangs ruled everything, a kid had two choices: either join the gang or endure daily beatings for refusing to become a gang member. There was only a few ways to escape gang life: die, become a professional sports player or a professional musician. For Darnell Jackson, Division II college football was his ticket out of the gang lifestyle ... or so he thought .... that was until his two worlds collided due to his Hazardous Choices.

Darnell Jackson was recruited to play wide receiver for Western Kentucky State University Bobcats Division II college football team, even though it was alleged that he had gang affiliation and had an actual criminal record for petty theft. For Darnell, attending WKSU in small town Owensboro, Kentucky, was his chance to finally escape the treacherous Chicago ghetto gang lifestyle. Darnell desperately tried to keep his two worlds separate, but nothing could stop the fact that when college ended for the summer after his freshman year, he would have to rejoin the Knights of Neptune gang in Chicago. The unwritten gang rule was that no one was ever allowed to leave the gang lifestyle unless you died, joined a professional sports team or became a professional musician. For Darnell, that summer back in Chicago would leave him no choice but to obey Slice, his treacherous gang leader, even if it meant that he had to kill other gangbangers. Darnell felt an overwhelming oppressive tension of being part of the gang life again, and his reluctance to kill or be killed, led him to decide to escape back to his other life in Owensboro by lying to Slice about a "completed" mission. That lie would later come to haunt him, as Slice sent his henchmen to Kentucky to confront Darnell for the Hazardous Choices that he made. What happens to Darnell and the sleepy little Kentucky college town will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. 

Hazardous Choices is an action packed story full of suspense that kept me intrigued and turning the pages to see what would happen next. Author Joseph Rinaldo does a great job of describing the differences in both the reality of street gangs and college football lifestyles. As a football fan (college and pro), I enjoyed the thorough description of what makes a college football team work. The author also provides a very realistic description of ghetto life and the gang lifestyle. The characters in the story (college and gang) were realistic and engaging, it was very easy for me to get caught up in all of the characters' stories. The only thing that I didn't quite like was the rather surprisingly abrupt ending of the story, I thought it left the readers hanging, which is a shame. Nonetheless, fans of suspense thrillers will definitely enjoy the roller coaster ride that this book provides.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Author Guest Post: Irene Woodbury, Author of A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis

In association with Chick Lit Plus (CLP), Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Irene Woodbury, author of A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis!

Carol and Wendy:  Best Friends Forever?  

“A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis”

Irene Woodbury

                Have you ever lost your best friend?  Maybe they moved away, or got married or divorced, or took on a second job, or found another best friend?  Whatever the reason, it hurts.  It’s always sad to lose a safe place.  I know what this feels like.  So does Wendy.
                Carol, her best friend and boss at Panache, has sold the store and taken off for an extended stay in Hong Kong with her husband.   She’s not answering e-mails and is unreachable by phone.  She has basically dropped off the planet, and this hurts Wendy because they were close for 25 years.  She is dealing with the loss of a job she loved and a separation from her best friend at the same time.  In the following passage, deleted from the book because of length, Wendy wonders if their friendship meant as much to Carol as it did to her.
I’d always believed our friendship was important to both of us, but as I was now realizing, things were slightly different from Carol’s perspective.  She’d always had a lot more on her plate.  Not only was she an in-demand designer and the co-owner of a wildly successful retail chain, but also a wife and mother.   Her priorities were different from mine.   Plus, she had a mom, a sister and two daughters, so she was surrounded by warm, nurturing, estrogen-bearing types.  A card-carrying member of the sandwich generation.  Bottom line:  she never needed me the way I needed  her.  It wasn’t her fault.  That’s just the way the cookie crumbled.   And now that she’d sold the store and arranged my severance, she needed me even less.   Overnight, I’d become a former employee--a much liked former employee for sure--but still, a former one. 
Yes, clearly, Carol had moved on.   As she and Paul traveled, I knew she’d keep in touch, but only on a casual basis.    A short e-mail here, a brief postcard there, a last-minute birthday card with a few lines scrawled across it.   That sort of thing.    No more just-checking-in girly-girl phone calls; long, gossipy lunches at the Ivy, or cozy chitchats in each other’s offices.  As time went by, we’d morph into casual acquaintances who used to work together and now think of each other fondly sometimes.

                Wendy is clearly having a hard time dealing with the fact that Carol is inaccessible to her at this difficult time in her life.  Carol was, in many ways, like a mother to her.   When they met, Wendy was 20 and on her own in L.A.  Carol was 35, a successful designer and business woman who was surrounded by family, friends, and admirers.  She gladly takes Wendy under her wing and nurtures her personally while mentoring her professionally.   I don’t think Carol is aware of how important she is to Wendy, who becomes overly attached to her because she was never close to her own mother.  As the following poignant passage reveals, Wendy, in her heart of hearts, is a motherless daughter searching for a kind of nurturing and comfort she has never known.
Our new, distant relationship hurt even more because it brought back painful memories of my remote relationship with my mother and how I’d always searched, consciously or otherwise, for a warm and loving substitute.   I was endlessly fascinated by my friends’ relationships with their mothers.  I found it incredibly interesting that two people could be so involved with, and connected to, each other.   Extensions of each other, really.   Mothers, older versions of daughters.  Daughters, younger versions of mothers.  The two forming one complete cycle of life.
I’d experienced bits and pieces of the mother-daughter bond over the years, but it was fragmented and inconsistent.  I never completed the “cycle” with my mother, who died in 1989, and it left a permanent void, an emptiness that could never be filled.   I was intrigued by, and curious about, what I had missed.
At Panache, I couldn’t help noticing mothers and daughters shopping together.   Sometimes I’d drop whatever I was doing and discreetly follow them from one department to another.   I often marveled at the similarities in their body types:  the same drooping shoulders, squared-off butts, stocky legs, long waists.   I also observed the behavioral dynamics between them:  the ongoing tension, the overwhelming bond.  
Concealed behind a rack of designer jeans or a potted palm, I’d eavesdrop on their endless discussions about whether or not the dress was too short, the pants too tight, the boots too expensive, or the purse the right shade of taupe.   These often tense exchanges might have sounded trite and trivial to the casual observer, but to me they were part of some sacred ritual, some primitive behavioral pattern established early in the evolution of the human species--when mothers and daughters sparred over which dinosaur bones, rocks and animal skins to drag back to the cave. 
It was ridiculous, really, this odd habit of mine, but I couldn’t stop myself.   I was intrigued by the mother-daughter dynamic and drawn to it because I lacked it in my own life.   Taking in these poignant retail vignettes from the warm and fuzzy lives of others somehow comforted, yet also disturbed me.

                The funeral scene at the end of the book, where Wendy runs to a corner of the church because she can’t face the pain in the newly-widowed Carol’s eyes, makes more sense when we understand how much Wendy loves her.  Maybe Carol is aware of it, maybe not. 
                Most likely Not, because Carol grew up in a completely different background from Wendy’s.  She was an only child to parents who doted on her.  Her mother designed gowns for some of Hollywood’s most elite, glamorous actresses.  Her father was the wardrobe supervisor at MGM.  When Carol’s parents invited famous designers to their home for dinner parties or cocktails, Carol got to meet them.   She became a successful designer, married Paul, who was in real estate in Beverly Hills, and opened Panache in the late 1970s.
                Wendy arrived in L.A. in 1980.  She wanted to be an actress, and got a few roles on soaps and in commercials.  To have a steady source of income, she applied for a job at Panache.  In the following excerpt, Wendy recalls her job interview with Carol, who is nine months pregnant with her first baby.
For a half hour, we sipped tea and talked fashion, everything from casual sportswear to haute couture.  Then suddenly, Carol leaned forward in her chair and gasped.  She was cradling her belly and rocking back and forth.   “Oh my God,” she whimpered, looking up, eyes wide open.   “This is so embarrassing!   My water just broke!   Go find my husband Paul--he’s here somewhere.  Tell him we need to get to Cedars right away.    I’m going into labor--this is my first baby--I don’t know what to do.   Go find Paul!   Please hurry!”   
Can you imagine?  I was 20 years old and in the middle of a job interview.  I felt like Prissy in “Gone With The Wind.”  I wanted to jump out of my chair and wail,  “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies Miss Scarlett!” 

I tore out of that office, grabbed the first assistant I could find and shrieked that Carol was in labor--I needed to find Paul!   She pointed to his office.   I darted in.  He was on the phone, so I started waving my arms frantically like a deranged castaway on a deserted island trying to flag down a rescue helicopter.   His head jerked up.   “Excuse me, mister,” I babbled, “I was in a job interview with your wife--can you come right away--her water just broke--she needs to get to the hospital!”  
Paul slammed down the phone and leapt out of his chair.   “Holy Christ!” he blurted as we sprinted down the hall to Carol’s office.   She was panting hard by then--like a racehorse about to cross the finish line at the Kentucky Derby--and straining to drag herself out of a chair to retrieve an overnight bag plopped on a bolt of fabric.   Paul grabbed it, slung his arm around her, and slowly they eased their way out of her office.
In the hall, Carol put out a trembling hand, clutched my arm, and murmured, "Go find Maggie in Design Sportswear and tell her I just hired you." Those few, audible words launched my illustrious 25-year career at Panache.

Wendy and Carol clearly needed each other in the beginning. In the last chapter of the book, Carol is planning to come to Paris to spend time with Wendy during Fashion Week, like they used to. Let's hope they both find a way to need each other again.


Buy The Book: A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis
Barnes & Noble

Win a $10 Gift Card: Virtual Book Tour Giveaway: November 14 - December 4, 2011

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury
Published by SynergEbooks
eBook Release Date: August 16, 2011
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Women's Fiction

About The Author:

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, Irene Woodbury's first novel, was inspired by her love of travel writing. Between 2000 and 2006, her stories appeared in many newspapers, including the Washington Post, London Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, and Nevada and The Affluent Traveler magazines.

One of the author's favorite destinations was Las Vegas; she always believed Sin City would be the perfect setting for a novel. In 2006, she came up with the idea for Slot, and, four-and-a-half years, and many visits later, it was finished.

Irene is convinced her book wouldn't work nearly as well in any other city. "Las Vegas has a frenetic energy to it," she says, "and there's plenty of chaos and confusion to go around. Is there a better place for a midlife crisis? I don't think so."

The author has lived in two of the locations featured in her novel: Los Angeles, where she worked at the Los Angeles Times, IBM, and Time Magazine, and Houston, where she graduated from the University of Houston in 1993. She also got married in Houston. (Yes, like Wendy, her lead character, but Irene insists the similarities end there!) Her husband, Richard, a retired Time Magazine correspondent, edited her novel.

Since 1994, the couple have called Denver home. As for midlife crises - his, hers, yours, mine - Irene believes it's a time for asking questions. "Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? That's it in a nutshell," she says. "Writing this novel has been my midlife crisis. And it's not over yet!"


GET THE BOOK: A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis

Disclaimer: At the request of the author, a Kindle eBook edition of this book was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Saturday, November 26, 2011, in association with Chick Lit Plus (CLP), Irene Woodbury participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

Win a $10 Gift Card: Virtual Book Tour Giveaway: November 14 - December 4, 2011 Book Description:

This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair's spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girl's weekend in 2005.

The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margaret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.

She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters. Paula's her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who's looser than a Casino Royale slot. Maxine's her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss. Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with. Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.

And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy's workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston. Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar's! Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?

My Book Review:

45 year old Wendy Sinclair has been on a  roller coaster ride for three and half months ... moving from LA to Houston; an impulsive wedding to Roger, her boyfriend of 7 years; the loss of her job; new homeowner issues and the attitudes from her new hubby's bosses' society snob wives ... has her looking for an escape route. That escape route comes in the form of an invitation from her BFF, Paula, to meet her in Las Vegas for a girls' weekend ... this is one invitation that Wendy isn't going to turn down! The girls' weekend in Sin City turns into an open ended extended stay for Wendy. As she gets ready to board the plane back to Houston, she realizes that she just can't go home ... well not right now ... and so begins Wendy's 2-year odyssey to discover who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Is this a midlife crisis or a journey of self-discovery? Read Wendy's story in A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis ... and find out what she discovers about herself!

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis is a fun read that will have you laughing all the way through the book. Wendy and a cast of crazy characters take on Sin City like gang busters ... ssshhh .... you know the famous saying ... "What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas!"

While I loved the book's description of the storyline, I thought that the story got lost in the overwhelming, yet incredible history and travel guide description of everything Las Vegas. I sometimes wondered to myself, is there really a story in this book, or am I being sold on a trip to Las Vegas? In a lot of ways, the description of everything Las Vegas became repetitious, and I found myself glossing over it while trying to find where the story picked up. Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading about Wendy's midlife crisis or journey of self-discovery, even though it was a bit stretched out over 2 years. The various characters that are in this book are funny and realistic, their own crazy lives add that much more humor to the story. For any woman that finds herself in her mid-forties, this book is a must read ... face it ... we may all have a bit of a midlife crisis in our lives at that age too!

RATING: 3 STARS ***   (Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Goodreads & Shelfari Rating)
                4 STARS **** (Amazon Rating) 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Be thankful for all your blessings and for those loved ones in your life. Love a little more, be happy, content and never take people or anything for granted, because you never know what tomorrow will bring!

~ Kathleen, Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chick Lit 2012 Reading Challenge

Calling all Chick Lit fans:

A new year will soon be here  ... Chick Lit Plus is hosting the Chick Lit 2012 Reading Challenge! 

Come join our host Samantha, me and the rest of the Chick Lit fans in this fun year long reading fest! 


Challengers will read 12 Chick Lit books throughout 2012. You can read more books from other genres, but you need to read at least 12 chick lit books to count for this challenge.

Two of the 12 books need to be from debut authors, and the debuts should be released in 2012. There is a feature on Chick Lit Plus' blog that will highlight new releases and debuts.

Complete Info / Rules on the Reading Challenge can be found at Chick Lit Plus:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
Published by: Norton
Release Date: January 1, 2007
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
ISBN: 0393059014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women's Fiction / Chick Lit

About The Author:

Ann Hood was born in West Warwick, Rhode Island. She grew up with stories of her father's travels around the world during his 20 years in the Navy. These stories inspired her to become a flight attendant for TWA after receiving her BA in English from the University of Rhode Island. She lived in Boston and St. Louis before moving to New York City, where she attended graduate school at NYU in American Literature. 

She is the author of the bestselling novels The Red Thread, The Knitting Circle and Somewhere Off The Coast of Maine. Her memoir, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, in which she shares her personal story of losing her 5 year old daughter Grace in 2002, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and named one of the top 10 non-fiction books of 2008.

Her essays and short stories have appeared in Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, More, Tin House, Ploughshares and The Paris Review. Ann has won a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction, and two Pushcart Prizes. She now lives in Providence, RI with her husband and children.  

GET THE BOOK: The Knitting Circle Book Description:

In the spirit of How to Make an American Quilt and The Joy Luck Club, a novel about friendship and redemption. After the sudden loss of her only child, Stella, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days, not knowing that it will changer her life. Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her reluctance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and, as they do, they reveal to her their own personal stories of loss, love and hope. Eventually, through the the hours they spend knitting and talking together, Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again.

My Book Review:

What would you do if your five year old daughter, your only child, suddenly dies from meningitis? Would you be able to pick up the pieces of your life, after your whole world has come crashing down? Would you ever be able to have joy, happiness and love again? These are the questions that Mary Baxter had to deal with in The Knitting Circle

Mary and Dylan Baxter were living the good life, each was successful in their professions, she was a reviewer for a local newspaper and he was an attorney. They had a happy home life that included their cherished only child, five year old Stella. Their happy little world came crashing down with the sudden death of Stella to meningitis. As they struggled with the the pain of their loss and the grieving process, their marriage starts to crumble as Mary sinks into a deep depression, unwilling and unable to allow anyone, including Dylan, to help her move on with her life. Paralyzed by her grief, Mary is unable to work, socialize, or perform normal daily activities. Upon the constant unwanted urging of her estranged mother, Mary joins a local knitting circle, even though she doesn't know how to knit. Mary is warmly welcomed into the Wednesday night knitting circle by Alice, owner of Big Alice's Sit and Knit, and the rest of the members: Scarlet, Lulu, Ellen, Beth and Harriet. At first, Mary is reluctant to share her story with the other ladies, but as each teaches her new knitting techniques, they also share their own personal stories of love, loss, hope and recovery ... for everyone has secrets and a story to tell. Through their mutual love of knitting and comforting companionship, the ladies of the knitting circle form a strong bond of friendship that helps Mary to heal and start living her life again. 

The Knitting Circle is a beautifully written and poignant story that pulled at my heartstrings. The author weaves a deeply moving and emotional story about the trauma of loss, the stages of grief, and how through a strong bond of friendship through knitting one stitch at a time, people can recover and learn to live a happy life again. This is a painfully realistic portrayal of the grieving process that every person will experience at some time in their life, but mixed with the interesting concept of learning how to knit, one can find the soothing and comforting peace to help their wounded heart and spirit heal. 

This story is semi-autobiographical that mirrors the author's own personal tragic loss of her young daughter to a rare form of strep, and while grieving she learned to knit.