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.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Year To Remember by Shelly Bell (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Shelly Bell, author of A Year To Remember!

Author Guest Post

By Shelly Bell

I was thrilled that Kathleen volunteered to host me on her blog. My husband was Jersey born and raised, so I feel a deep connection to the state. I even send Sara, the protagonist of A Year to Remember, to New Jersey. My in-laws and brother-in-law’s family remained in the state and we visit at least once a year.

In honor of Kathleen’s graciousness, I’ve listed the top ten things I love about New Jersey.

10. Going down the shore. Michigan has shore, but we have lake shore. It’s not the same. I love the salt on my tongue as I walk along the sand. There’s nothing more relaxing (unless I’m lounging with a good book sans kids!). We take the family to Point Pleasant and waste the day on rides and arcade games.

9. The food! Seriously, I’ve never seen so many independent pizza parlors. And they’re all good! Then my favorite restaurant in the world, Harold’s deli, is located not far from my in-laws. My husband and I order one sandwich and split it with our two children. We really appreciate all the diners which are great for families!

8. The music. Some of my all-time favorite musicians come from Jersey: Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and Frank Sinatra.

7. The location. My in-laws live close to NYC and Philadelphia, but I don’t have to stay there. I can spend the day in a major city and at night, return to the suburbs to relax.

6. Great Adventure. I made my daughter’s dreams come true when I brought her to Wiggle World. Despite the ninety-five degree temperature, we all had a great time!

5. Atlantic City. Casinos, great restaurants, and shows. Other than a babysitter, what else do you need?

4. Appalachian Trail to Broadway in Less than Two Hours! The scenery is beautiful. My in-laws live in suburbia, about five minutes from farm country. That’s in addition to the ocean. I’m always amazed.

3. No state sales tax on necessities! I’ve been known to buy an entire fall wardrobe for my kids while visiting my in-laws.

2. Buying gas. If you live in Jersey, you probably don’t think about it, but it’s so nice to have someone else pump your gas at the station. You can’t find a full-serve station anywhere in Michigan. Don’t take it for granted!

1. My husband. New Jersey gave me my husband, the greatest man in the world. How can I not love it?

About The Author:

Shelly Bell started reading at three years old. In elementary school, the librarian gave her books to test out for the school library. As a teenager, she spent her allowance each week on romance novels, enjoying both young adult and adult romance. Married to Jason in 2003, they have two children and reside in the metro-Detroit area, where she reads on her Kindle each night when her family falls asleep. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and writes both women’s fiction and paranormal romance.

Shelly Bell's A Year To Remember Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

* Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card *

Post a comment on Shelly Bell's A Year To Remember Virtual Book Tour Page on Chick Lit Plus to enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! Anyone who purchases their copy of A Year To Remember before August 13th, and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries!

A Year To Remember Book Trailer 

Book Review

A Year To Remember by Shelly Bell
Published By: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback - 314 pages / Kindle - 537 KB / Nook - 3MB
ISBN: 161935098X
ASIN: B00741E47I
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: A Year To Remember

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.

Book Description:

When her younger brother marries on her twenty-ninth birthday, food addict Sara Friedman drunkenly vows to three hundred wedding guests to find and marry her soul mate within the year. After her humiliating toast becomes a YouTube sensation, she permits a national morning show to chronicle her search. With the help of best friend, Missy, she plunges head first into the shallow end of the dating pool. Her journey leads her to question the true meaning of soul mates, as she decides between fulfilling her vow to marry before her thirtieth birthday and following her heart's desire. But before she can make the biggest decision of her life, Sara must begin to take her first steps toward recovery from her addiction to food.

Book Excerpt:

Plunged into darkness as the door closed behind me, I couldn’t find the light switch. I hit my knee against a chair and groaned from the pain.

The door opened and someone entered the room. I assumed it was Missy coming to rescue me once again.

“I can’t find the light switch, Missy. Do you know where it is?”

Without warning, someone yanked me tightly against his warm, solid body. I heard his slight intake of breath and then he kissed me.

I know I should have fought against it, but whoever he was, he kissed sinfully well. At first, his soft lips whispered lightly against my own, seeking permission. When not only didn’t I stop him, but made a little moan of approval, his tongue caressed my lips until I opened my mouth. Only then did he allow his tongue to touch mine, first tentatively exploring the hidden depths of my mouth, and then hard and passionately, as though he’d never get enough of me.

He tasted like a heavenly combination of whiskey and cake. His tongue teased mine in sweet caresses, heating my blood to a fevered pitch.

Desperately needing to learn the identity of my mystery man, I lifted my hand to touch his face. He grabbed it away, nibbling on each fingertip then gently brushed his fingers across my cheek. I licked my lips in preparation of more kisses, but instead of kissing me, he spun me around in circles, confusing my sense of balance. As the world tilted on its axis and I tried to regain my bearings, he silently left the room.

For a few minutes, I stood rooted to the spot, attempting to recover from the encounter and craving more from my mystery kisser. Blushing from my response to him, I knew although I never saw his face, I would have made love to him if he asked. Before him, no one in twenty-nine years made my body burn that way.

Suddenly, I remembered the room’s two floor lamps. I floundered around the room until I smacked into one. After finding our coats, I left the synagogue with Missy.

Ending the evening of my twenty-ninth birthday with a kiss from my mysterious suitor should have thrilled me. Instead, I wondered why he (as drunk as I was, I was pretty sure I would have noticed if it was a woman) didn’t unmask his identity.

Was he married?


Fifteen or eighty-five years old?

Or even worse, embarrassed to be discovered kissing me?

My Book Review:

A single twenty-nine year old woman ... a drunken wedding toast with a promise to be married by her thirtieth birthday that was videotaped and posted on YouTube ... a plan to find her soul mate within the year ... and a national morning show following her progress. The result: one woman's year of following the yellow brick road on a personal journey of self-discovery.

Sara Friedman is a twenty-nine year old single woman from Detroit, Michigan. When her younger brother gets married on her twenty-ninth birthday, Sara's drunken wedding toast turns into a passionate promise to find her own soul mate and get married by her thirtieth birthday. Someone videotaped her toast and it went viral on YouTube gaining national attention from the media with a proposal to follow her progress via a blog, and if she succeeds in finding her soul mate, they will provide the wedding on air. From online dating to speed dating to the local Jewish social network, Sara dives into the dating pool in search of her soul mate. With trial and tribulations along the way, Sara's embarks on a journey of self-discovery where she will learn about herself, what is important in life, and to accept the blessings and enjoyment of a fulfilling life.

A Year To Remember is an entertaining and witty story about self-discovery and acceptance. The author weaves a realistic tale that readers can relate to, who hasn't had issues in their lives that they had to deal with and overcome? By following along on Sara's journey of self-discovery, the author engages the reader with a realistic and thought provoking look at issues that any woman may have dealt with in their own lives. Written in a humorous and witty style, the story is told in the first person narrative by our neurotic protagonist, Sara Friedman. Sara draws the reader into her story with a lot of humor and bares her insecurities and flaws for all to see. You can't help but become her cheerleader as her year long journey of self-discovery leads her along the path to finding out about herself and the surprising revelation of her soul mate.

The cast of characters are realistic and engaging, their quirky personalities and interactions provide an entertaining story that will keep you laughing along with their antics. Sara is a realistic woman with real flaws, insecurities and issues that are easy to relate to. Her strength and determination throughout her journey comes through in a way that has the reader cheering for her, hoping that at the year's end she'll succeed in not only finding her soul mate, but that she'll also discover and accept herself for who she really is. With best friend Missy encouraging, guiding and having Sara's back like only a true lifelong BFF would, it made me smile and think about my own lifelong BFF. I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Sara's soul mate, since I don't want to provide any spoiler information, suffice it to say I had a feeling it would be "him" all along, and I wasn't left disappointed.

The author provides a wonderful description of Sara's journey. I really enjoyed how the author described Sara's year of self-growth in an entertaining, thought provoking, inspiring and thoughtful manner. The neat part of the author's descriptive style of writing is that she allows Sara to be quirky and not a dark character, and even with flaws and insecurities, it's okay to laugh at yourself as you discover and accept who you really are.

A Year To Remember is a lighthearted story of self-discovery and finding romance that will leave a smile on your face.



  1. Replies
    1. I got a kick out of the guest post. lol

      Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host Shelly's virtual book tour event.