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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 6/2-8/13

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 6/2-8/13

Tuesday 6/4/13

One Good Man by Marie McGaha

In association with CBLS Promotions

Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway

Book Description: One Good Man

Allison Hamstead thought it was love. Finally, after all the years alone, someone loved her in spite of the fact she was fat! Not that her size had ever kept her from being successful, but it had kept her far from personal relationships. She’d heard all of the fat jokes ever told, all of the things people in her office said behind her back, and she didn’t miss not having a boyfriend, or dates, every weekend. Did she? But now she was in love and she couldn’t wait to introduce him to her best friend, Sarah. And what a mistake that had turned out to be! It wasn’t long before the love of her life and her best friend were living together, and Allison was humiliated.

Starting over is never easy, but Allison is determined to do just that and moves far from Chicago to the warm waters of Biloxi, Mississippi where she accepts a position at one of the floating casinos. For the first time in her life Allison feels like she’s truly at home. She loves her job, she loves her boss, who is like a father to her, and she loves being a part of all the excitement going on around her. Except for one little thing…

Her boss’s eldest son, Stephen is probably the most handsome, gorgeous, and sexy man she’s ever laid eyes on… and he knows it! And for some reason he acts interested in her. Then her mother comes to visit and winds up dating her boss. Her accounts start showing large amounts of money missing. And her ex shows up unannounced and says he wants her back. Can anything else possibly go wrong?


Wednesday 6/5/13

Breathe by Kate Bishop

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Author Guest Post / Book Review

Book Description: Breathe

Alex thought she had married the man of her dreams: successful, gorgeous, and delighted by her small-town charm. When he walks out six months later, proclaiming to have 'found himself' (with the help of a stunning yoga teacher), she 'finds herself' alone in an unfamiliar city, vengefully drinking through his prized wine collection, living on takeout, and refusing to answer the door. When this fails to cure her broken heart and bruised ego, she reluctantly allows her new friends to intervene. Slowly, Alex learns to define success on her own terms; she discovers the secret to love in all its forms, and the perfect flying crow pose, one breath at a time.

Friday 6/7/13

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway

Book Description: Still Life in Brunswick Stew

Cherry Tucker's in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry's goose.

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! Still Life in Brunswick Stew is the second book in the Cherry Tucker humorous mystery series. Bonus: Includes book club discussion questions.

Luke's Tale by Carol McKibben (Virtual Book Tour Spotlight / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Virtual Book Tour Cafe, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Luke's Tale by author Carol McKibben.

Virtual Book Tour Spotlight

Luke's Tale
by Carol McKibben

About The Author

Carol writes from the heart of a dog's eyes. Often telling her stories to LaberDoodles, Basset Hounds and any stray that happens by, it wasn't long before people stopped to have a listen as well. Now Carol writes for people and speaks to large audiences, dogs included.

Luke's Tale by Carol McKibben

Lukes' Tale by Carol McKibben
Publisher: Troll River Publications
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 185 pages / Kindle - 375 KB 
ISBN: 1939564026
Genre: Family Drama

BUY THE BOOK: Luke's Tale

Book Description:

Luke, an intelligent, 89-pound yellow Labrador retriever, has an odd ability to understand human conversations and actions. When his owner’s girlfriend, Sara Colson, discovers she has breast cancer Luke is the sole secret keeper of her disease. Not knowing if she’ll survive, Sara leaves her boyfriend, Ashlundt Jaynes, to shield him from the pain. Luke, knowing how to give unconditional love, is the catalyst bringing the two lovers back together and helps them stay together while Sara and Ashlundt overcome a series of life-changing events. 

At the heart of Luke’s Tale is the story of two lovers and their struggle with unforeseen disillusionment to build a lasting relationship -- and the loving, furry creature who is devoted to them beyond all reason.

 Book Excerpt:


September 15, 2015

The world is darker today. Not because I’m blind. My world is always black. But this day my heart is broken.

I sit for a very long time next to the door. I long for her smell of fresh cut flowers, her touch and her gentle voice. I visualize her face. I see the fullness of her lips and the deep compassion in her dark eyes. She is the most caring human I’ve ever known. I long for her comforting arms around me.

People come up and pet me. One nurse offers me a bowl of water. I remain aloof, not wanting to be distracted in case… in case there’s some word. She couldn’t possibly be capable of being with me now.

Bay leaf and ocean scent assault my nostrils as I feel Ashlundt pass by into the ER. I stretch my nose toward him, searching for some sort of hope. I feel his desperation as he hurries past me with two words, “Stay, Luke.”

My stomach growls. I suppress the hunger. It doesn’t matter now. In trying to push away the anguish, my mind wanders back to when Sara left us. I was younger and not blind. She wanted to protect Ashlundt from the pain of her cancer. She must have known that he wouldn’t be able to cope with her being sick.

I’m not sure what makes him tick. It has to have something to do with his brother’s surfing accident. He blames himself to this day. Maybe that’s why he can’t cope with illness or imperfection in those he’s supposed to love. I once was his golden boy. We went everywhere together. Now, my blindness has pushed him further away from me.

I still feel Ashlundt’s athletic strength every once and a while. He’ll brush his large hands over me, and I can visualize his big frame and angular face bathed in his long, sun-lightened hair. I wish he knew how to cope with my blindness. It’s hard not to take it personally.

I wish I could cope better with my loss of sight. I’d always been a watcher. It must be part of my Lab nature. What scares me the most is that I can’t observe my humans, or help them now. Sara has always depended upon our unspoken bond. Ashlundt is another story. I’ve been through tough times with each of them, and I’ve had to be more like that human detective, Sherlock Holmes, than a dog for them. I am the product of a broken relationship.

It’s long past my evening meal when I feel Sara’s presence. I hear nothing but the despair in her voice. “Come, Luke.” She takes me by the collar and leads me to the car.

I sit in the backseat and slowly lay down. I know what has happened but can’t bare thinking of it. She is silent, but her pain is unbearable and palpable in the air. I think back to how Ashlundt pushed her away, even when he finally discovered she was sick. I fought so hard to help him try and win her back…

I’m jarred back to reality as the car stops. I hear the door open, then the backseat door. Sara whispers, “Let’s go inside, Luke.”

Slowly, I follow Sara into the house.

She says nothing as she fixes my kibble and leftover chicken, then leaves the room. My greatest fear has been realized.

After sating my hunger, I go to find Sara in her bedroom. She is lying across her bed in silence, tortured and bereft. Even though I’m not usually allowed on the bed, she says nothing as I crawl up next to her and place my head on her hip. I give out a whimpered cry of sorrow.

We lie together in silence for a long, long time. I have to go outside so badly that my bladder hurts, but I don’t dare leave Sara. She is so cold. I move closer to her, wanting her to feel my warmth, the warmth that Ashlundt should have offered. Time passes. My stomach begins to growl and adds to my discomfort, but it doesn’t matter. I will not leave her.

Sometime later the phone starts to ring. It must be morning. All those distraught voices leaving messages of sorrow on the answering machine. I crawl up to her face, pressing my nose on her cheek to see if she is asleep. Her hand softly touches the top of my head. “It’s okay, Lukey. Thank you for staying with me.” A ragged sigh escapes from her and is joined by my own.

Still we remain motionless. I think back to the chain of events until I started going blind. But, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself. I need to go back to the beginning so that you understand how we arrived at our darkest moment in time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for When the Morning Glory Blooms by author Cynthia Ruchti!

Author Guest Post

Where Did That Come From?

Conducting research for a book is both intentional and organic, both genetic and environmental. We authors write what we know, what we wish we knew, what we don’t want to know but can’t resist because it makes us better people.

As a child, I visited my uncle’s farm on a day when it was time to take the squawking chickens from feathered to freezer. I was the cousin old enough to help Mom and my aunt with the process on a day I wished I could have shaved a few years off rather than be drafted to pluck feathers. Nothing about the process was a pleasant memory for me. But it was a strong enough memory—sounds, textures, smells—that it instantly came to mind when I reached the scene in Anna’s 1890s story in When the Morning Glory Blooms. A freshly dead (interesting oxymoron) chicken arrived on her back stoop. A love gift. And it was up to Anna to divest it of its feathers.

I knew what that smelled and felt like because a corner of my mind held those memories intact until I needed them fifty years later.

I researched adoption laws the intentional way, not the organic chicken way.

And when it came time to write the 1950s scene of a young woman in a maternity ward, my fingers flew over the keys on the keyboard, creating a scene I could again see and smell and feel not from a conscious memory or from Internet research, but from story. I knew that scene because my mom gave birth to me in a maternity ward like that—an open room with ten beds, five along each of two opposite walls, feet out.

Mom told me what the atmosphere was like. I learned more of the story when going through a journal entry she wrote shortly before she died. The journal noted that she’d gotten to the hospital about 11:30 that night, in active labor. As a nurse, she knew all the signs and recognized the stages of each of the other nine women laboring in beds near her in that ward. I read in her journal that the nurses would come to the ward once an hour to check on the ten women, then leave them on their own. At that time no husbands were allowed in the room, no birth coaches, no friend or parents or sister. The women labored alone.

Mom wrote that between arriving at 11:30 and the time I was born at 7:30 in the morning, she’d gotten out of her bed to deliver two other women’s babies! The babies insisted on being born, even though the nurses and doctors were otherwise engaged.

I can picture my mother—a chicken-plucking tough woman—climbing out of her own bed, clutching her belly through a contraction, then encouraging the laboring moms to “Push!”

She wrote in the journal, in a voice my siblings would all recognize, “And neither one of those women named their child after me.”

I wonder how those boys would have felt living with a name like Dorothy.

The stories we authors write are from tangled collections of intertwined thoughts and memories, from research we discover on the Internet this morning and from the smell of singed feathers that lingers in our nostrils for decades.

What’s the story your memories tell?

About The Author

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, nonfiction, women’s events, and outlets related to the Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast she wrote and produced for thirty-three years. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five joy-giving grandchildren.

Her latest book is the Christian fiction, When the Morning Glory Blooms.

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Pump Up Your Book!

Book Review

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 354 pages / Kindle - 712 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 1426770766
Genre: Christian Fiction 

BUY THE BOOK: When the Morning Glory Blooms

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:

Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancĂ© Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not just idle ramblings. They’re Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life.

Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? And what connects them to Becky?

Becky, Ivy, Anna—three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.

Book Excerpt:

“I made tea,” Gil said, as if needing to explain the teapot and cups on the tray in his hands.

“Thanks, honey.” Becky accepted the cup from her new perch on the bed, propped by what Gil insisted were too many pillows. Tea weather. The furnace kicked in, its reassuring warmth accompanied by the faint smell of fried dust. “No hope the company will reconsider?”

“It’s a done deal.”

“Any explanation, other than the obvious?”

“From what I hear, this is a last ditch attempt to stave off bankruptcy.”

“Who else was let go?”

Gil settled against his own collection of pillows and took a sip of his tea before responding. “It might be easier to list who wasn’t.”

“Now what?”

He set his teacup on the nightstand. “Doesn’t it seem as though we’re asking that question a lot lately?”

“Nice fake smile, Gil. One thing we know. You don’t have a future in the theater.”

She didn’t need a cup of tea as much as she needed his arms around her. Divested of her cup, she snuggled into his chest, her ear against his heartbeat. Steady. Stable. Sure. And a little bit broken.

He smelled newly showered with a lingering hint of lemon. Lemon? Oh. From dusting. Bless him. The perfect man? No. Perfect for her? Maybe more than she realized.

“Becky, my peach cobblerness, can we make a pact?”

“I married you, oaf. We’ve already made a pact.”

“About this current crisis. Can we agree not to get consumed by how we’re going to get out of this mess for…for three days?”

“Why three?”

His heart beat a drummer’s timekeeping intro before he answered. “Because it’s less than four?”

How humiliated he must feel. Jobless at his age, when finding other employment wasn’t automatic and switching careers carried more risk than a high-risk pregnan—

“I need time,” he said, “to process what happened without the pressure of needing to have an answer right away. Does that make sense?”

“It’s called a gestation period, hon.” She reached up to stroke the curve of his jaw. “And yes. It makes perfect sense.”

She and Monica were only in the first trimester of their shared grief over their lost friendship. The nauseous stage. Lauren, Monica, and now Gil. Becky was expecting fraternal triplets. Or troublets.

My Book Review:

I love a novel that has interesting intertwining stories, and in When the Morning Glory Blooms, author Cynthia Ruchti weaves a poignant tale about three women set in three different eras that are bound together by their personal stories of unplanned pregnancies.

In 1890, Anna Grissom receives a calling to the ministry, and when she inherits an old house, she opens Morning Glory home for unwed mothers who are disowned by their families.

In 1951, Ivy Carrington finds out that she is pregnant and keeps the news to herself. Her boyfriend Drew Lambert has enlisted in the army and was sent to Korea, and she didn't want the news of her pregnancy to distract him and put him in danger. Ivy works at a local nursing home where she meets Anna Grissom, an elderly resident. Ivy keeps Anna company, and what she thought was just an elderly woman's ramblings turns into a remarkable woman's memoir.

In 2013, Becky Trundle became a grandmother when her teenage daughter Lauren gave birth to a son named Jackson. Becky takes care of Jackson while Lauren attends high school, but she is struggling with conflicted feelings that maybe she is catering too much to her daughter instead of teaching her the responsibilities of motherhood.

Three different women, three different eras, one common intertwining issue of unplanned pregnancies ... each looks for hope to deal with the situation that they find themselves in.

In When the Morning Glory Blooms, author Cynthia Ruchti weaves an uplifting and beautiful tale binding three women's lives together over a span of one hundred years to tell one compelling story of hope and inspiration. Written in the third person narrative, the story flows effortlessly from one woman's story to the next while intertwining them together with the inspirational message of hope that the beautiful morning glory brings when they bloom each Spring. You can't help but become captivated by each woman's story and feel compassion and empathy for how they each handled the situation that they found themselves in. The author transports the reader into each of the women's lives and alternates between the different eras so that their individual stories unfold, then brings them all together in one satisfying conclusion.

When the Morning Glory Blooms is an emotionally charged story that portrays each of the women's struggles and perseverance to get through their situations in rough times with beauty and grace. This is a beautiful novel of hope, inspiration, grace and redemption that should be shared with women of all ages, it is a powerful and compelling story that will resonate with you for a very long time.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 6 – Book Spotlight at Cheryl’s Christian Connection
Monday, May 6 – First Chapter Reveal at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, May 7 – Interview at You Gotta Read Reviews
Wednesday, May 8 – Interview at Examiner
Thursday, May 9 – Character Guest Post at Literarily Speaking
Friday, May 10 – Book Spotlight at My Cozie Corner
Friday, May 10 – First Chapter Reveal at As the Pages Turn
Saturday, May 11 – Book Review at A Peek at My Bookshelf
Sunday, May 12 – Guest Blogging at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, May 13 – Book Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 14 – Book Spotlight at The Busy Mom’s Daily
Tuesday, May 14 – Guest Blogging at The Story Behind The Book
Wednesday, May 15 – Book Review at Melina’s Book Blog
Wednesday, May 15 – First Chapter Reveal at Pump Up Your Book
Thursday, May 16 – Interview at The Writer’s Life
Friday, May 17 – Book Spotlight at The Book Connection
Monday, May 20 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, May 21 – Book Review at A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Wednesday, May 22 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, May 23 – Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at 4 the Love of Books
Thursday, May 23 – First Chapter Reveal at Read My First Chapter
Friday, May 24 – Book Spotlight at Moonlight Lace & Mayhem
Friday, May 24 – First Chapter Reveal at Beyond the Books
Sunday, May 26 – Book Spotlight at Authors & Readers Book Corner
Monday, May 27 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Create With Joy
Tuesday, May 28 – Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Thursday, May 30 – Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Thursday, May 30 – Book Review at Lighthouse Academy
Friday, May 31 - Book Review at Thoughts From Mill Street
Friday, May 31 – Book Review at My Devotional Thoughts
Friday, May 31 – Interview at Blogcritics

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Matters Most by Bette Lee Crosby (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host a virtual book event for What Matters Most by author Bette Lee Crosby!

Author Guest Post

I am delighted to be here on Jersey Girl Reviews today, because it’s like coming home. I am an ex-Jersey girl, and our daughter is still a Jersey girl, as are many of my friends. I’ve found that even though you move miles and miles away, you never leave the people and things that are meaningful behind. That holds true for anyplace you consider home.

In What Matters Most, Louise Palmer is a quirky, superstitious woman who in her deepest heart of hearts is rooted to her New Jersey home. She wants to live there until the day she dies. But when her husband decides to move to Florida, she realizes that is never going to happen.

What Matters Most, like all of the stories I write, was born of a quirky happenstance that occurred in my life. In this case it came about during a golf game. Hubby and I moved to Florida just months earlier and we were loving it. On a January afternoon while most of New Jersey was still shoveling snow, we went out for a round of golf. The sun was shining, the temperature a balmy 78 degrees and life was good. Being there were only two of us, we were paired with two gentlemen who I’d guess to be in their mid to late 60’s. So far, so good. Then I said, “Don’t you just love being here in Florida?”

Wrong question! For the remainder of the round, they complained about how they never wanted to be down here in the first place, that it was all their wives fault and they both wished they were back in New Jersey. Of course, I reminded them that if they were back in NJ, they’d be shoveling snow right now. It wasn’t a deterrent. They continued to complain.

“Not me,” one of them said, “I’d be playing poker with my friends.”

The other one added, “I’d be watching the Giant game with my son.”

“But the weather is so…” I was going to say cold in New Jersey, but never got the chance.

“You’re right,” the more vocal one interrupted. “It’s too blasted hot. I can’t stand this heat!”

I suppose the irony of someone being so miserable in what I considered paradise got stuck in my head and a few years later I began writing What Matters Most.

Although Louise Palmer starts out a silly woman who is far too set in her ways, she does discover what matters most. It’s not the where you live, it’s the how you live that’s important. It’s not how much we keep, but how much we give that counts. Like the Grinch, Louise’s heart grew five times the size when she discovered this.

You can make every day memorable by simply doing one nice thing for someone else.

About The Author

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.

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 then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, and the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal.

Her published novels to date are: Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), The Twelfth Child (2012), Cupid’s Christmas (2012) and What Matters Most (2013). She has also authored Life in the Land of IS, a memoir of Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic.

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.”

Bette Lee Crosby is originally from New Jersey, but now makes her home in Southern Florida where she lives with her husband Richard and a feisty Bichon Frise named Katie.


Book Review

What Matters Most by Bette Lee Crosby
Publisher: Bent Pine Publishing 
Publication Date: March 31, 2013
Format: Paperback - 290 pages / Kindle - 517 KB / Nook - 404 KB
ISBN: 0989128903
ASIN: B00C512W0I
Genre: Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: What Matters Most

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

Award-Winning Story of Friendship,

From Amazon #1 bestselling author of Spare Change and The Twelfth Child comes…What Matters Most. A heartwarming story of acceptance and coming to grips with the reality of change. A Royal Palm Literary Award Winner.

Louise Palmer is a settled-down person. A woman who wants nothing more than to remain in the same house until the day she dies. When her husband, Clay, announces an intention to quit his job and move to Florida, her life is thrown into a turmoil of mixed emotions and strained loyalties. Torn between Clay’s desire for “the good life” and the lifelong friendships of her quilting club, Louise struggles with what to do…until her best friend hatches a scheme to thwart the move.

Before she discovers the truth of what matters most, a marriage will be tested, family relationships will fall apart and the friendships Louise tried to hold onto will change dramatically.

My Book Review: 

Sometimes it takes some changes in your life to make you see what matters most ...

What Matters Most is a wonderful story about love, friendship, family and marriage. Author Bette Lee Crosby weaves an entertaining tale written in the third person narrative intertwined with first person narratives, that follows the journey of Louise Palmer as she learns to adapt to changes in her life.

Set in Westfield, NJ, fifty-three year old Louise Palmer has been married to husband Clay for over thirty years. Louise's life is picture-perfect: from the house that they live in, to her two grown children, to her circle of friends. But all of this is about to change when Clay receives a letter from an attorney naming him the sole heir to his Uncle Charlie's property in Florida. At fifty-five years of age, Clay has been a banker for the last thirty years, but lately he has become weary and ready for early retirement. The attorney's letter is just what Clay needed to push him to decide to retire while he is still young and healthy enough to enjoy life. But there is just one little problem: Louise! Determined to stay in her NJ home, Louise plots and schemes to get her way, only to have it backfire and suddenly her life is turned upside down and changing as they make their move to Florida.

This was such a fun book to read! As the story progressed, I saw myself in Louise in so many ways. As a born and bred Jersey girl, I could relate to Louise's reluctance to move, because I am also a creature of habit and do not like change, except like Clay, I can't stand the cold Jersey winters and would love to move South! I really appreciated the author's thoughtful style of weaving a tale that intertwines wisdom, humor, wit and poignancy throughout the storyline. From Louise's hilarious schemes, to her adjusting to the new lifestyle with a few bumps along the way, to learning the life lesson that home is wherever your heart is, it was heartwarming to watch the transformation that Louise made as she learned to accept change and discover what really does matter most in life.

With a quirky cast of characters who are realistic and fun to get to know; witty dialogue and humorous interactions; a setting that is near and dear to my heart since NJ is my home state; and a delightful storyline that easily captivated my attention, What Matters Most is an enjoyable story about life's changes and new beginnings that will simply leave a smile on your face!


The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Heart Stone by author Sherry Kyle!

Author Guest Post

10 Tips from The Heart Stone on How to Get Your Man
By: Sherry Kyle

Every author puts a little of herself into her characters. First, here’s the story of how my husband and I met ..

I never thought I’d be the type of girl to steal a guy from someone, but that is exactly what I did. Not intentionally, of course.

One week into my freshman year of college, a cute blond surfer asked me out on a date. I said “yes” before I really thought through what my answer would mean for me—and the girl across the hall, who had pointed him out all week as the guy she really, REALLY liked. I was in trouble!

Okay, technically they weren’t “dating,” but she had gone out with him a few times the previous year.

What made the situation more awkward was that she was my R.A. (resident assistant) and had the power to turn all the girls on our floor against me.

The night before the date, I lay in bed contemplating my options. I could sneak out and hide the fact that I was spending time with him, which would be difficult at my college, or I could come clean and tell her. It was close to midnight and I couldn’t sleep.

Being the honest sort, I knocked on her door. When she opened it, the truth of what I was going to say hit me. I was a guy stealer. It smacked me harder when I saw the heart-shaped picture frame on her desk with their pictures. UGH! This was going to be tough.

Surprisingly, she took the news well, saying, “ You can go. He always did like blondes better.” I think what helped was that I offered to back out of the date, and told her our friendship meant more to me than some guy I didn’t know.

I’m glad my redheaded R.A. was so sweet. There was another girl on our floor who didn’t take the news very well, but that’s another story…

That was September 1984. Now Doug and I have been married close to twenty-five years.

I love writing romance into my women’s fiction. I write about women, who need to find someone or something, while the men are the helpful, manly sort—policemen, firemen, etc.—you know the type I’m talking about.

Here are 10 Tips from The Heart Stone on How to Get Your Man:

1. Make the initial meeting count. Look into his eyes. Smile.
2. Debate a fiery topic with feminine charm (aka friendliness and a little flirtation).
3. Prolong your time together making him believe it was his idea.
4. Discover his preferred drink, and offer it to him.
5. Ask him to give up something for you, and see how he responds.
6. Thank him for caring, and for being part of your life.
7. Make him dinner.
8. Stand up for what you believe in. If you’re meant to be together, he’ll fight for you.
9. Trust him.
10. Tell him how much you love him.

About The Author

Sherry Kyle is a graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communications, and a minor in Bible. Sherry is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She currently has three books in print, her award-winning book for tween girls titled The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style all about beauty, fashion, and character, Delivered with Love, her debut contemporary novel, as well as The Heart Stone by Abingdon Press. Sherry and her husband have four children, three biological and one by adoption. She lives along the coast in central California.

The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Pump Up Your Book!

Book Review

The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Format: Paperback - 320 pages / Kindle - 69 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 1426769830
Genre: Christian Fiction / Women's Fiction 

BUY THE BOOK: The Heart Stone

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:

When the biological father of Jessica MacAllister’s son decides to break their custody agreement, Jessica and her son visit her Uncle George for advice and refuge…

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister…

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?

Book Excerpt:

At the sound of his voice, Jessica MacAllister’s knees went limp and her palms grew moist. She sat down on the wooden stool near the kitchen counter and leaned her head on her hand, her elbow resting against the cold tile. Why was he call- ing? She hadn’t heard from him since he signed the papers relinquishing his rights to Jacob six years before.

“Jessi, you there?”

She fought the urge to hang up the phone. “I’m here.”

“I want to see him.”

Her heart beat a strange rhythm. She had prayed this day would never come. “Andrew, I—I—I don’t know,” she stut-tered. As a speech pathologist, she prided herself on her communication skills, but this man could trip her up regardless of her training.

“We can meet at a park. I’ll sit at a distance and watch.” The desperation in his voice was palpable. Jessica’s jaw clenched and her stomach churned. How could she trust that he wouldn’t rush up to Jacob and tell him that he was his biological father? Or worse, what if he wasn’t sober? His behavior when he was drunk could be . . . No.

She wouldn’t let a man who had no part in Jacob’s upbringing suddenly waltz into his life—especially someone who had shown her the ways of the world. But Andrew wasn’t entirely to blame. She’d given in. 

“No. No, that won’t work.” Jessica ran her hand through her shoulder-length hair.

“How about a restaurant? I’ll eat at a separate table. I only want to see our son.”

Our son. Jacob was not their son. He was hers and hers only. Andrew wasn’t there for her when she was pregnant or gave birth. He’d never been there. Why the sudden interest now?

My Book Review:

The Heart Stone is a poignant tale of love, loss, trust, faith, forgiveness, and second chances. Written in the third person narrative, author Sherry Kyle weaves a captivating tale set in Santa Cruz, California, that follows the intertwining lives of Jessica MacAllister, George MacAllister, Evelyn Sweeney and Nick Fuller as they struggle with personal issues, each searching for faith, hope, guidance and redemption in order to move forward with their lives.

Jessica MacAllister is the single mother of six year old Jacob, whose father Andrew Lawson had relinquished his rights, only to resurface six years later wanting to see his son. Fearing what will happen if Andrew comes back into her life, she flees Fresno for Santa Cruz, where she seeks refuge with her Uncle George.

Andrew Lawson is a substance addicted man who is also a fugitive wanted for the murder of his current girlfriend. His pursuit to reconnect with Jessica and his biological six year old son Jacob is relentless ... but does he have an ulterior motive?

George MacAllister is a former missionary who is back in the states after recently having his leg amputated. He is having a hard time dealing with the loss of his first love so many years ago, and readjusting to a new life without his leg.

Evelyn Sweeney is a widow who has lost her husband of forty years. After a year of grieving the death of her husband, Evelyn is ready to move forward with her life, and she hopes to rekindle a love that she had recklessly thrown away so many years ago when she broke George MacAllister's heart.

Nick Fuller is a fireman who has a fulfilling career, but he longs for a wife and family to complete his life. When he is introduced to Jessica and Jacob, he thinks he has found his future, only to discover that his childhood friend A.J. is Jacob's father, who has been accused of murder.

The author does a wonderful job of connecting the characters' lives together in a captivating way, with the themes of single motherhood, child custody, faith, new - lost - rekindled love, forgiveness, second chances and starting over thoughtfully interwoven as their stories unfold. You can't help but feel a connection with the characters, they are realistic and believable, their individual struggles and hope to move forward in their lives engages the reader to follow along with enough drama, suspense, twists and turns, and a touch of romance that will keep you turning the pages.

The Heart Stone is an uplifting and inspirational story filled with hope, love and forgiveness that will pull at your heartstrings and resonate with you long after the last words have been read.


The Heart Stone - Book Trailer

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 6 – Interview at Examiner
Tuesday, May 7 – First Chapter Reveal at 4 the Love of Books
Thursday, May 9 – Book Review at Splashes of Joy
Friday, May 10 – Book Trailer Reveal at Moonlight Lace & Mayhem
Friday, May 10 – First Chapter Reveal at As the Pages Turn
Monday, May 13 – Book Review at A Peek at My Bookshelf
Wednesday, May 15 – Book Review at The Mary Reader
Wednesday, May 15 – Book spotlight at Between the Covers
Thursday, May 16 – Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at Books a la Mode
Friday, May 17 – Book Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, May 17 – First Chapter Reveal at The Writer’s Life
Monday, May 20 – Book Review at WV Stitcher
Monday, May 20 – Book Review at Melina’s Book Blog
Monday, May 20 – Book Spotlight at Jody’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 21 – Interview at Blogcritics
Wednesday, May 22 – Book Spotlight at Book Him Danno
Wednesday, May 22 – Book Trailer Reveal at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, May 23 – Book Review at Found a Christian By His Grace
Friday, May 24 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Seasons of Opportunities
Monday, May 27 – Book Review at My Cozie Corner
Tuesday, May 28 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Lighthouse Academy
Wednesday, May 29 – Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Wednesday, May 29 – Book Trailer Reveal at Review From Here
Wednesday, May 29 – Book Review, Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, May 30 – Book Review at Create With Joy
Friday, May 31 – Book Review at All Grown Up?
Friday, May 31 - Book Review at Vic’s Media Room
Friday, May 31 – Book Review at My Life. One Story at a Time

Monday, May 27, 2013

After Math by Denise Grover Swank ( Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Denise Grover Swank, author of After Math!

Author Guest Post

How Do You Decide What To Write?

I’m fairly prolific author. In less than two years, I’ve published nine books with my tenth to be released June 10, and an eleventh completed and contracted with 47North for a November release. Those eleven books fall into four genres: urban fantasy, rom com mystery, YA sci fi romance, and new adult contemporary romance.

That’s a pretty big freaking range of work.

A lot of readers are curious as to why I write such a broad range and the best answer is because I read a broad range. I read pretty much anything and everything with the exception of true crime novels and lactation erotica. (Did you know there was such a thing? I accidently stumbled up on it on Amazon one day. And then I bleached out my eyes. But hey, to each his or her own.)

Story ideas hatch in my head, but sometimes they roll around in there and wait months to transfer to the page. My upcoming urban fantasy from 47North, The Curse Keepers, first came to life in my head in March, 2012, but I didn’t start writing it until late December, 2012. I was excited to write it, but I had to fit it into my schedule.

I’m currently writing Thirty and a Half Excuses, the third book in the Rose Gardner Mysteries. While I’ve had four books in the series plotted out since August 2011, I only write one book a year. Why? To put it bluntly: Sales.

I love Rose, the main character in the series, but I’m also a full time author, not to mention a single mother. The sales of my books pay for my kids clothes, their food, the electric bill. I’ve sold a lot of books over the last year, but I’ve also added employees. I have a part time assistant who works at my home fifteen hours a week, and I’ve recently hired a virtual assistant to help with other things. That doesn’t even count the editors, the cover designers, my graphic designer, and the host of other professionals I use to publish my books. My assistants and my graphic designer count on the monthly income I provide for them.

Just like Big 6 publishers, previous book sales help determine what I write and when I publish books. I love my YA sci fi series, On the Otherside. I poured my heart into There, the second book of the series. It took three months of a lot of hard work to get the book published. I’ve sold about 5000 copies in six months. Believe me; I’m grateful for every single sale of that book. I’m incredibly proud of There, and I fell in love with a secondary character, even announcing that I’d write a third book in the series, a companion book from the secondary character’s POV. But I’ve sold nearly five times as many copies of After Math in two months.

Which sequel do you think I wrote next?

Obviously, I still write books I love. I can honestly say that I love every book I’ve written. If I have a book I really, really want to write, I’ll write it. But alternating books that might sell well, with books from series that historically have sold less copies, makes business sense.

About The Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

After Math by Denise Grover Swank ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

After Math by Denise Grover Swank
Book 1: Off The Subject series
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Format: Paperback - 250 pages / Kindle - 623 KB / Nook - 540 KB
ISBN: 148265864X
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: After Math

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: 

Scarlett Goodwin’s world is divided into Before and After.

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker Price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety disorder and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him. Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?

Book Excerpt:

“Tucker, what’s your major?”

His face lifts, confusion crinkling his eyes. “History.”

“Why history?”

His mouth opens to say something then he unconsciously licks his lower lip. I’m sure most girls would drool over it, but I see a guy who’s suddenly lost his shield of confidence. Still, I can’t ignore the slight stir in my emotions from the movement. Finally, he shrugs. “I like history.”

His answer is a lie, but I don’t see what good will come from pointing it out. “So what exactly do you like about history? It’s full of dates, which are numbers.”

He shakes his head. “Not the numbers. They get scrambled in my head. That’s the hardest part.” He pauses. “I like the stories. People who did extraordinary things and people remember them. They’re not forgotten and lost forever.”

I watch him as he speaks, the pain that flickers in his eyes.

“Do you like soccer?”

My question catches him by surprise. He blinks and sits up slightly. “Yeah. I’m good at it.”

“I know you’re good at it. I asked you if you liked it.”

His gaze turns out the window, and his mouth turns to a slight frown. “Do you know you’re the first person to ever ask me that question?”

I realize he hasn’t answered, and although I’m curious, I refuse to invade Tucker’s personal life any more than necessary. “I’m trying to figure out how you learn. Some people are auditory learners, while others are kinesthetic. Most guys are visual.”

He shoots me a wicked glance, and to my surprise, I’m happy to see his cockiness return. Sad Tucker makes me feel too personally involved.

I lean forward, my forearms on the table. “I think there’s more to learning than just the senses. If we can tie learning to something we love, we can remember it, and it sticks in our heads longer. So then when we retrieve the information later, it’s easier to find. Does that make sense?”


“So what do you love? What excites Tucker Price?” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I realize I’ve set myself up for a raunchy response.

He ignores it. His jaw works, and he leans back against the seat, stretching his hands across the table. I notice the multiple scars on his knuckles and the back of his hand. “No one’s ever asked me that before either.” His gaze returns to the gray sky.

While I wait for an answer that never comes, it occurs to me that he doesn’t know. As he shuffles through his thoughts, I search my own and ask myself the same question that no one has ever asked me.

I press my head into the seat, stretching my hands out on the table top, and close my eyes. I’m surrounded by people every day, yet I always feel alone, no matter how hard I try to connect. It’s as though a veil has been thrown over my heart, and no one has ever been able to tear it down. Until this boy. This unattainable, untouchable, unreliable boy.

My eyelids flutter open, and I see the despair I’ve stirred in him. My fingers flex, millimeters from his hand, his palms splayed on the table.

For the first time, I feel genuinely connected to another human being and just my luck, it turns out to be
Tucker Price.

And that’s the saddest fact of all.

My Book Review:

After Math is the story of two people overcoming their difficult pasts, while learning to put their trust, faith and love in another person.

Scarlett Goodwin is a junior mathematics major who suffers from an anxiety disorder that cause panic attacks when she is in a social setting. She has learned simple breathing exercises and immerses herself in math problems to relax. She escaped from her difficult past by making plans for her future, she dreams of working for the CIA or DOD analyzing data. She doesn't want to end up like her alcoholic mother living in a trailer park and in dead-end relationships with smooth talking men.

Tucker Price is the star soccer player for Southern University who has his own demons to overcome. His self-destructive behavior and bad boy reputation as a womanizer and hardcore partying has gotten him in serious trouble with the university. He has been placed on academic and behavioral probation, and if he can't pass his algebra class, he will lose his full scholarship. His difficult past has caused him to live a complicated life where his public persona is a weak facade as he keeps his true self hidden under many layers.

Can the tutoring sessions between two broken people bring them together and teach them to let go of their pasts and conquer their personal issues, while learning to live their lives by being their true selves?

In After Math, author Denise Grover Swanks weaves a poignant tale told in the first person narrative by Scarlett Goodwin, who describes how her life was changed when Tucker Price came into her world, and how together they found what they needed from each other. This is so much more than your typical good girl falls in love with the bad boy love story, it an emotional story where two young people learn to overcome their troubled pasts and discover their ability to trust and love another person while achieving personal growth.

I loved the chemistry between Scarlett and Tucker, this unlikely pair fit together perfectly. Their relationship starts out as a friendship which slowly builds into something more. I loved how they were total opposites yet they had so much in common, the way they understood each other and learned to face challenges together was amazing. They developed an intense connection where they learned to trust each other and share things that they have kept hidden from everyone else. The common thread that connects Scarlett and Tucker is that she provided an honest and calming effect and saw him for who he is on the inside instead of his public persona as the university soccer star, while he gave her the confidence to discover and believe in herself. They were simply meant to be with each other!

After Math is an emotionally charged and intense story about self-discovery and romance that leaves the reader wanting more.


After Math - Book Trailer

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: May 13 - June 3, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on After Math by Denise Grover Swank ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of After Math before June 3 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

May 13 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
May 14 – The Book Bag – Review
May 15- Books and Insomnia – Guest Post & Excerpt
May 17 – In the Name of Books – Review & Excerpt
May 19 - Book Whisperer - Review
May 20- eBook Addict – Guest Post
May 21- Samantha March – Q&A & Excerpt
May 23- Chrissy McBookNerd – Review & Excerpt
May 23 - Chick Lit Plus - Cover Reveal
May 24 – eBook Addict – Excerpt 
May 27 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 28 – Lavender & Camomile Press- Excerpt
May 29 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd Book Reviews – Review & Guest Post
May 30 – For the Love of Film and Novels – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 31- eBook Addict – Review
June 3 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review & Guest Post