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.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Steven Manchester, author of Twelve Months!

Author Guest Post

Twelve Months 
(Book Excerpt)

Though there were empty tables up front, Vic escorted Bella and me to a darkened back room where no one else was seated. The table sat in the center of the room and was very nicely decorated. I could tell by Bella's face that it seemed peculiar to her. As we took our seats, Vic lit a candle. “I’ll be right back,” he said. 

Bella started to question it, but I shrugged it off. “There must have been reservations for the other tables up front?” I suggested. 

She nodded, and then noticed a man seated on a stool a few tables over. He was holding a guitar and squinting at some sheet music. 

He looked over and smiled. “I hope you guys don’t mind, but I’m trying out tonight for a weekend gig at this place.” 

“Oh, that’s great,” Bella said, with no idea Gary had already landed the job. 

“Not a problem,” I added, acting as though I’d never spoken to the man. And through an acoustic set of love ballads, Gary was just as convincing. 

Bella had no idea but the order had already been carefully spelled out – drinks first, Pinot Grigio for her; beer for me, and the itinerary would begin. Vic approached with both drinks on a small round tray. “Appetizers tonight?” he asked. 

I smiled. “Why don’t we start with an order of little necks in garlic and oil?” 

Vic nodded once and headed for the kitchen, while Gary swooned, “You say it best when you say nothing at all…” 

Bella leaned into my ear and whispered, “How did he know I wanted white wine?” 

I was into my second shrug when Vic returned to the table with a gorgeous arrangement of long stem red roses. Without a word, he placed them in front of Bella and rotated the vase until the card faced her. “Your appetizer should be out in a few minutes,” he said and strutted away again. 

Gary was already on his second number when Bella plucked the card from the arrangement. It read: “Bella, I love you, forever – Don.” She looked up to find the entire restaurant staring at us. 

“And always will,” I whispered when she leaned over and kissed me. 

After the steaming appetizer and another round of drinks, Vic placed a silver platter before my glowing wife. It held a scrolled sheet of parchment secured by red ribbon. She looked up at him, but he never let on. She glanced over at me. “What…” 

“Open it,” I said, while Gary strummed away in the background. 

She did. It was the one thing she'd always wanted from me, but had never gotten – until now. 

 Moments of Destiny 

 From the moment I met you, 

I knew there was a fire between us 

that even hard, driving rain could never put out. 

 From the moment we spoke, 

I knew I’d spent my entire life

 in search of your deep and passionate love. 

 From the moment we kissed, 

I knew my heart was no longer mine

 and I’d finally found my future. 

 From the moment we laughed, 

I knew there would never be enough time 

to share all the things I needed to share with you. 

 From the moment we danced, 

I knew, at last, what the phrase ‘better half’ meant

 and surrendered to your gentle touch. 

 From the moment we walked hand-in-hand, 

I knew I’d discovered my partner

 and that my dreams were suddenly within reach. 

From the moment we lay together,

 I knew I’d made it to heaven

 and thanked God for blessing me with you. 

 From the moment you agreed to be my wife, 

I knew my journey was now worth taking, 

through days of sunshine – 

or nights of hard, driving rain. 

 As her watering eyes read the final verse, the musician stopped playing, the restaurant went silent and I went down to one knee. I opened the ring box. “Isabella,” I said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you be my wife…again?”

She never hesitated and dove into my arms. For a while, we just hugged. 

“I love you so much,” she cried into my shoulder. 

“I know,” I said. “But…” 

She pushed away from me and looked into my eyes. “But what?” 

“But I need your answer?” I said, grinning. 

“Yes…the answer is YES!” she gasped and jumped back into my arms. 

The crowd shared a collective sigh, and everyone was clapping when Bella and I returned to reality. It took a few moments before each table returned to its own conversation and half-eaten meals. 

Chuckling, I introduced my beautiful wife to Gary, the musician. As they shook hands, Gary admitted, “I was so nervous.” 

I bought the man a beer when Vic delivered two previously ordered dinners to our table. Though Bella couldn’t touch hers, I ate and listened to Gary fill the room with a soothing melody. By the time the chocolate covered strawberries arrived for dessert, Bella was emotionally spent. She grabbed me once more for a kiss. “This has been the perfect night,” she whispered. 

“And for all these years…you’ve been the perfect wife, my dear.” 

As we left the restaurant, another round of applause carried us to the front door. I opened it for my new fiancĂ© – only to discover a white stretch limousine idling at the curb. She quickly turned to me. “It’s not over?” 

I shook my head. “It’ll never be over for us.” As we made our way to the limo, waves of nausea threatened to drown me. This is Bella's perfect night, I told myself, our perfect night. Whatever you do ... do not throw up now!

About The Author

Steven Manchester is the published author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Book Review

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Format: Paperback - 326 pages / Kindle - 523 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 161188053X
ASIN: B008D30W9U
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Twelve Months

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

Book Description:

Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family 
he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that keep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not to be the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full.

A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re given here on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, Twelve Months is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.

Book Excerpt:

Go the beginning of the blog post and look under Author Guest Post for an excerpt from Twelve Months.

My Book Review:

What would you do if you were told you only had twelve months to live? Would you want a do over, or would you celebrate the time that is left, make each moment count and live it to the fullest?

Fifty-seven year old Don DiMarco has just retired and was looking forward to the next chapter in his life. But in a blink of the eye Don's world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with colon cancer and given twelve months to live. Twelve Months is a story about Don's journey during the final months of his life, as he learns to accept his fate he composes a "no regrets" list of the top five things he's always wanted to do in his life but hadn't, and he sets out to accomplish each one of them. Don's journey will show him the goodness in his life, bring him closer to his faith, and teach him the importance of knowing what matters most in life.

Twelve Months is an inspirational and poignant story of one man's journey to celebrate the remaining days of his life by living it to the fullest. Masterfully written in a thoughtful style, author Steven Manchester weaves a powerful and compelling tale told in the first person narrative by Don DiMarco, who engages the reader to follow along as he journeys down the remaining days of his life one day at a time. Don introduces the reader to his life story with flashbacks to his past mixed with the current time, as he relives his memories and gives meaning to each day that he has left filled with adventures, he teaches the reader the importance to know and appreciate what and who matters most in life, and to have no regrets.

Rich in details and vivid descriptions of various settings, the author transports the reader as a follower on Don's bucket list adventures to a drive a race car at a speedway, herd a cattle on horseback at a dude ranch, go on a fishing trip to hook a a forty pound bass, tour the US in an RV, and riding shotgun in a police car as a reporter. The reader also follows Don and wife Bella along on their trips: a spiritual revisit to Vietnam, a second wedding and belated Barbados honeymoon, and the many local trips to places in Massachusetts that they loved to visit. Through these wonderful adventures and trips, Don creates long-lasting poignant memories that he shares with his loved ones.

The author has created a cast of characters that the reader can immediately connect with, you can't help but get drawn into their lives and feel the range of emotions as they dealt with Don's terminal illness. My heart broke for Don and his family: wife Bella, daughter Riley, son-in-law Michael and grandchildren Madison and Pudge. I admired Don's positive outlook, strength and courage to live the remaining days of his life with no regrets. The love and admiration that is mutual between Don and his family was heartwarming, and I found it inspirational as they pulled together to celebrate life instead of dwelling in sorrow and pain.

Author Steven Manchester has created an incredibly moving story that will pull at your heart strings, while it is heart wrenching at times, it also has tenderhearted light moments that is simply inspirational. My emotions ran the gamut, it is not often that a book will move your heart and soul, but Twelve Months has accomplished that, it is a story that will resonate with me for a very long time.

Twelve Months is a thought provoking story that will make you take stock of your own life, and it will leave you with some very powerful life lessons: to appreciate and make the most of every moment in your life, to live with no regrets, and to live it to the fullest as if there is no tomorrow.


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