It's a short week for virtual book tour events on Jersey Girl Book Reviews. I'm going to enjoy the long 4th of July Holiday weekend with fun in the sun at the beach and a trip to the Yankees - Orioles game at Yankees Stadium on Sat 7/6/13.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July!
This week, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host two virtual book release day events!
Lost Without You by Heather Thurmeier
Virtual Book Release Day Event
In association with author Heather Thurmeier
Book Description: Lost Without You
Zoe Oliver never wanted to be on another reality TV show… until Chip Cormack made an offer too good to refuse. He’s guaranteed her a payday this time and a chance to redeem herself in America’s eyes. But Zoe worries she won’t be able to focus as her desire for Chip grows and her strength to resist him weakens. When she learns she’ll be roughing it in the woods with Chip and without luxuries like indoor plumbing and electricity, she’s instantly on edge, feeling naked and terrified that her scars will be exposed and her secrets revealed. When Zoe’s past turns up on the show, she fears she’ll lose not only the life she’s sacrificed everything else to have, but also the affections of the only man she’s ever trusted with her heart.
The Wishing Hill by Holly Robinson
Virtual Book Release Day Event
In association with author Holly Robinson
Book Description: The Wishing Hill
What if everything you knew about your life was wrong?
Years ago, Juliet Clark gave up her life in California to follow the man she loved to Mexico and pursue her dream of being an artist. Now her marriage is over, and she’s alone, selling watercolors to tourists on the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk.
When her brother asks her to come home to wintery New England and care for their ailing mother, a flamboyant actress with a storied past, Juliet goes reluctantly. She and her self-absorbed mother have always clashed. Plus, nobody back home knows about her divorce—or the fact that she’s pregnant and her ex-husband is not the father.
Juliet intends to get her mother back on her feet and return to Mexico fast, but nothing goes as planned. Instead she meets a man who makes her question every choice and reawakens her spirit, even as she is being drawn into a long-running feud between her mother and a reclusive neighbor. Little does she know that these relationships hold the key to shocking secrets about her family and herself that have been hiding in plain sight.
Down And Out In Beverly Heels by Kathryn Leigh Scott
In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours
Author Guest Post / Book Review
Book Description: Down And Out In Beverly Heels
Meg Barnes, a beloved actress for her role as TV detective Jinx Forgarty, has it all but thanks to her newlywed con-man husband, loses everything and ends up living on the streets of Tinsel Town in her Ritz-Volvo. This fun, light-hearted romance takes us into the Hollywood social swirl, but also delves into the gritty truth of what it is to be “homeless and hiding it” in one of the most glittering, fashionable cities in the world. It’s also a story of redemption with a “Thelma and Louise” twist as Meg, incorporating skills she learned as a TV detective, tracks down her fugitive husband and struggles to regain her reputation, career and friendships.
In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Devil's Necktie by author John Lansing!
Author Guest Post
I’ll bet all of you know of at least one person who is still underwater on his or her mortgage. The real estate bubble peaked in 2006 and burst in 2007. To say that many people got hurt in the economic downturn is an extreme understatement.
One of the big winners was the Colombian drug cartels. They made a killing in real estate while most were sweating blood.
In the early 2000’s, cash was king in NYC. The cartels were so wealthy from cocaine sales that they were desperate to unload their cash. They were willing to take a loss and gladly went into business with undercover cops posing as legitimate bankers, knowing full well that if a million dollars got cleaned, they’d probably lose the next million. They might get lucky and get two million cleaned and then lose the third. To the cartels, it was just the cost of doing business.
The money laundering cells knew the cops would have to clean the first installment to prove their bona fides to the cartels. After that, it was anyone’s bet.
Fifty percent of two million was still a million in clean U.S. greenbacks.
And then in the mid 2000’s the cash seemed to evaporate. The cops weren’t making as many arrests, putting as much cash on the table. A Detective I knew in NYC talked to an old confidential informant who said the reason the cash dried up was, real estate, plain and simple. And he explained how it worked.
The government had a program in place at the time called the Foreign National Loan Program. If you were an alien with a passport, visa, good credit, and you could put ten percent down on a house, you were good to go.
All the major banks were making these loans.
The cartels recruited straw buyers for this government program. They’d fly them into the country, pay them fifteen grand for their name and clean credit, and go to town.
The cartel’s went into a neighborhood, paid cash for a house using drug money and a false social security number, and then put the house back on the market.
The straw buyer would step in and make an offer on that house. The ten percent came out of a bank account controlled by the cartel. When the bank approved the loan, the cartel was paid for the home with clean money and they still owned the house.
Scams like this fueled the housing boom in Las Vegas and South Florida.
The cartels would get a dirty appraiser to inflate the homes value, and then refi. The bank would lend on the higher value and the cartels would skim the profit. They’d flip the property until the loan was upside down, and then walk away.
Everyone turned a blind eye, because everyone made his or her money upfront. The banks, the brokers, the appraisers, underwriters, inspectors, and title companies all got fat.
The politicians went along for the ride because the tax bases in their cities grew along with the false bubble creating paper wealth.
Everyone got rich until the musical chairs stopped and entire neighborhoods went into bankruptcy from fraudulently inflated home values.
At the end of the day, the Colombian drug cartels were big winners.
Interestingly, we never really heard that part of the story.
About The Author
John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of Grease. He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas' More American Graffiti, and guest starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced Walker Texas Ranger, co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series Scoundrels. John's first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. The Devil's Necktie is his first novel.
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 Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered, and Jack is the lead suspect. Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Columbian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and Murderers. Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover... either way the body count will rise.
Jack Bertolino stood on the balcony of his loft in Marina del Rey, tending a dry-aged New York steak on his prized possession, a top-of-the-line Weber gas grill. He didn't miss winter, not one little bit. Here he was manning the barbecue in his new uniform, a black T-shirt and jeans, while his cousins were chasing heart attacks shoveling snow off their Staten Island driveways. That image never ceased to put a smile on his face. That and the salty ocean breeze that floated in over the marina.
Jack nursed a glass of cabernet and watched the long line of bright white FedEx trucks return home from their final deliveries and park in neat rows in the lot next to his building. It sure beat the sight of patrol cars jammed onto the sidewalk in front of a precinct house.
Early evening was Jack’s favorite time of day. The sun was just starting to paint the clouds a muted orange. From his fourth-floor vantage point, Jack could see a string of jumbo jets in the distance, silently making their final approach to LAX. Stacked eight planes deep, their slim silver bodies glinted in the setting sun. For the first time in Jack Bertolino’s life, he felt at ease.
His cell phone chirped, snapping him out of his reverie. He tossed some Japanese eggplant onto the grill, closed the lid, and checked his cell phone screen for the name of the caller.
“How’s my Italian stallion?”
“Mia . . . ,” he said instantly, his tone neutral, giving away nothing.
“All the planets are aligned, Jack. It’s time for you to man up and make an honest woman out of me.”
Jack couldn’t help but smile. Mia’s throaty voice and light Colombian accent had the power to make a grown man weep. More important, it could make a bad man give up his secrets. He hadn't really been surprised when he received her text. He knew it was only a matter of time. Payback’s a bitch.
“What can I do for you, Mia?”
“It’s what I can do for you, papi. My lips . . . they’re still magic.”
“I love it when you talk dirty.”
“Only for love or money.”
Although Jack was enjoying the back and forth, he was no longer in the business. “Why are you calling, Mia?”
Mia dropped her act as well. “We need to talk.”
“It’s not a good time,” Jack said as he opened the lid of the grill and pressed his fork against the steak, checking for doneness.
“I’m not in New York.”
“That’s why I’m in Los Angeles.”
Jack didn’t reply right away. He did a quick analysis of how Mia could know he was living in L.A., what kind of trouble she might be in, what kind of blowback he was going to suffer just from having this conversation. He came to the instantaneous conclusion that however this new wrinkle in his life played out, it would definitely have an impact on his newly found state of bliss.
Mia answered some of his unspoken questions. “I’m still connected, Jack, and you’re still on the radar screen. There are certain people—who will remain nameless, because I’m not on your payroll anymore—who are not convinced you’re out of the game.”
“I’m happily retired,” Jack fired back, wondering if his response sounded forced, wondering why he cared.
“And happily divorced?”
Jack didn’t respond. His private life was none of Mia’s business. He had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants, a line in the But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. Jack had never taken the bait, but had to admit he’d been tempted.
Mia was one of the best CIs in the business, and she and Jack had done groundbreaking work together.
With the help of Mia and DEA agent Kenny Ortega, Jack and the team of NYPD narco-rangers he headed up had put away a heavy hitter in the cocaine trade. Manuel Alvarez was the head of a Colombian drug cell that had been importing a thousand keys of coke into Florida on a weekly basis, and the poison was dripping into New York City. Jack and his group had put away a major cartel scumbag, and Mia had gotten rich. The feds had a financial equation in place when dealing with CIs. The greater the quantity of drugs an informant was responsible for delivering, the more money it was worth to the United States government. They were happy to give to get. Mia did very well for herself at great personal risk. Informants had a short shelf life. Once a major domo got busted, the cartels worked very hard to discover where the “sickness” had come from. If your name ended up on the short list, you turned up dead.
Jack had made a promise to Mia that if things ever got too hot to handle, he would do whatever he could to help her out of the jam.
Mia was turning in her chit. “Meet with me in an hour, after I get settled in.”
“I’m about to have dinner, Mia.”
“Vista Haven Road, 3468. You owe me, Jack.”
“It was a two-way street,” he reminded her.
“And I don’t want it turning into a dead end.”
Jack was about to protest, but she clicked off. He turned back to his grill, but now he was unsettled. Mia had always been a cool customer, but there was an edge of panic in her voice. Jack let out an irritated groan. He shut off the grill with a hard snap. He wouldn’t be able to eat anyway until he found out what the hell was wrong.
My Book Review: The Devil's Necktie is a riveting tale that takes the reader into the seedy underworld of crime, drug cartels and murder. Author John Lansing weaves a fast-paced crime thriller set in Los Angeles and written in the third person narrative, that follows the dangerous quest of retired NYPD inspector Jack Bertolino as he investigates the heinous murder of Mia, his former confidential informant, and the woman whom he had recently shared a passionate night together. Jack's investigation leads him into the seedy underworld of drug cartels, where he finds himself caught up in a dangerous and deadly world that he thought he had left behind.
This riveting realistic story is full of intrigue, action, drama, suspense, murder and dark humor that draws the reader in and keeps them captivated and turning the pages. As the reader follows Jack into the shady world of cops and crime, the multitude of plot twists and turns will keep them guessing what will happen next. Jack takes the reader on a wild ride when his dangerous adventure takes him into the upscale areas and seedy gang infested neighborhoods of LA. It is a seedy and gritty world of drugs, gangs, money laundering, and murder ... where he clashes with cops, drug gangs, ruthless drug cartels, and a variety of old and new enemies... all in the pursuit of Mia's killer.
With a multidimensional cast of characters who leap off the pages; gritty dialogue and vivid interactions; richly detailed description of the neighborhoods and local landmarks in Los Angeles; and a no-holds-barred storyline that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats holding their breath as the chilling trail of crime and murders leads up to an explosive climax; The Devil's Necktie is one hell of a thrilling story that you won't be able to put down and leaves you wanting more!
RATING: 5 STARS *****
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaways
Win An eBook Copy of The Devil's Necktie
During the virtual book tour of The Devil's Necktie, author John Lansing is offering one (1) lucky winner an eBook copy of The Devil's Necktie and a Kindle! Enter the contest giveaway using the Rafflecopter entry form below. Contest Dates: June 1 - July 31, 2013.
Author John Lansing has offered one (1) eBook Copy of The Devil's Necktie to be given away on each tour stop. Enter the contest giveaway by using the Rafflecopter entry form below. One lucky winner will be notified by the author and/or a representative from Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
In association with Xpresso Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book cover reveal for I Breathe You by author Lori L. Clark!
Book Cover Reveal
I Breathe You by Lori L. Clark
I Breathe You by Lori L. Clark
Expected Publication Date: July 2013
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
When a tragic accident leaves Rhane Evans -- lead vocalist for the rock band Fate's Crazy -- permanently unable to speak above a whisper and kills the love of her life, she moves across the state to pick up the pieces. Shattered, Rhane struggles to understand what happened the night of the accident, an accident everyone blames her for, even though she wasn't driving the car.
Enter Ian Callahan. He's the one person who may have a more tumultuous past than Rhane. Though they try hard to deny the sizzling attraction between them, it proves nearly impossible. When Ian's troubled past threatens to tear them apart, they begin to believe happiness isn't in their cards.
1. I'm an only child.
2. I love dogs!
3. I was born in Iowa City, Iowa and lived in Iowa my whole life until January 2007.
4. I worked as a professional psychic reader for 2 years.
5. I'm a Pisces Sun, Leo Moon with Aquarius rising.
6. I've written 5 books and am in the process of brainstorming a 6th.
7. I don't look or act my age!
8. I ran my first 1/2 marathon at age 50.
9. I love 80's hair band music.
10. My day job is as a claims payment analyst for one of Fortune 500 Magazine's "Top 100 places in America to work."
In association with JKSCommunications, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for He Belongs To Me by author Theresa Rizzo!
Author Guest Post
Who Knows Best?
Parenting is a tough job that stresses even for the most stable, healthy relationship. When a teenager has a child, that rocket-propels her into adulthood. Ready or not, that girl is suddenly a mom and responsible for the financial and emotional well being of another tiny human being--for the next eighteen to twenty-two years. This isn’t like a hamster whose lifespan is only a couple of years.
Yet a teenager is still growing up and maturing herself. Hopefully she has the support of the baby’s father—and even, more often than not, the couple needs the help and support of family. Trying to grow up while raising a child is a daunting challenge that some young people and their family are able to cope with more gracefully than others. Certainly more gracefully than they managed in He Belongs to Me.
Catherine’s parents tried to do the right thing in the beginning. The gave Catherine and Thomas a wedding, welcomed Thomas into their home and even gave him a job, but all the help came with unspoken expectations and conditions. But is that really so unreasonable? So unbearable?
I mean, after all, their Eric and Sarah’s lives were affected by the unexpected, young pregnancy too. And then a tragedy happened that blew the family apart, but one thing that they all had in common was the desire to give Drew, Catherine and Thomas’s son, a happy, stable home. It was a really difficult situation, and when they felt their back was to the wall, Drew’s grandparents felt compelled to do everything they could to protect their grandson from potential harm.
They weren’t evil grandparents. They didn’t want to hurt or punish their daughter, but they were reluctantly willing to sacrifice their Catherine in an effort to do what they were convinced was best for both their daughter and grandson. They weren’t malicious people, just firm believers in tough love.
Did your parents always think they knew what was best for you? Do you know anybody whose parents made tough-love decisions for them under the guise that they were doing it for their “best interest”? I wonder how often the domineering parents do know what was best.
About The Author
Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.
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 JKSCommunications.
He Belongs to Me is a love story . . . a tale of betrayal and deception and of a young mother's determination to recover what belongs to her.
Catherine Boyd will do anything to regain custody of her young son… Even reconcile with the husband accused of killing their son’s twin.
Catherine graduates from college, eager to start a new life with her six-year-old son, Drew. But when she tries to bring him home, her parents refuse to relinquish control of the grandson they’d raised.
Wrongly accused of a horrible crime, Thomas Boyd has buried himself in his career, determined to forget his painful past and the family he lost. But now, five years later, Catherine is back, requesting his help to regain custody of their son — custody he thought she had.
Though older and wiser, when courtroom battles reveal lies and secrets and generations of pain, will Thomas and Catherine find more tragedy and loss, or will old wounds finally heal?
The lawyer handed her and Thomas identical sheets of paper. “These are restraining orders against both you and your husband. Neither of you may take Andrew away from this house. You may not visit him without the expressed consent of either grandparent, pending the court’s review of your case.”
Restraining orders? Catherine glared at her parents. Her mother refused to meet her gaze, and her father’s expression was sad. Catherine scanned the formal document in her hand and then frowned at Mr. Fitzsimons. “Case? What case?”
“In light of your, uh, turbulent past together, your parents are concerned that Andrew’s well-being and mental health would be jeopardized in your care.” He took a breath and laced his fingers together. “I’m sorry, but they will be petitioning the court to terminate both your parental rights.” He hurried on. “You should know that they only have Andrew’s best interest at heart.”
The weight of his announcement slammed into her, dulling her senses. Catherine’s hand blindly sought Thomas. They were terminating her rights? She’d considered the possibility of having to sue them for custody, but she’d never dreamt of having to defend herself.
The lawyer’s voice became deceptively gentle. “I see this comes as a shock, but it really is for the best,” he said. “There is something I could do to maybe make this easier on you. If you want to avoid the humiliation and expense of a court battle you can’t possibly win, it would only take me a few minutes to prepare the necessary documents to give your parents permanent custody, right here and now.”
Indignation warred with common sense. Eyes wide, Catherine turned to Fitzsimons. She let go of Thomas’s hand and took a step forward. “You have got to be kidding. You think I’m just going to walk away from my son that easily?”
“You did before.”
Catherine gasped and reared back, bumping into Thomas. His arms closed on her shoulders. The quiet insult punctured her righteous anger and confidence, as it surely was intended to. She had not willingly walked away from her son—and he knew it.
Thomas stared steadily at the older man. He rubbed her shoulders. “I didn’t.”
“No,” Fitzsimons agreed, his voice hardening. “You abandoned your wife and infant.”
“I didn’t abandon anyone.”
“That’s for the judge to decide.”
My Book Review: He Belongs To Me is an intriguing story about family secrets, deception and betrayal ... a couple's love story ... and a young mother's determination to get her son back at any cost.
Author Theresa Rizzo weaves a riveting story set in Chicago and written in the third person narrative, that engages the reader to follow the emotional journey of Catherine Boyd as she battles her parents with the help of her estranged husband Thomas to regain custody of their young son Drew.
The story opens with Catherine Boyd graduating from Stanford University. While Catherine attended college in California, she gave temporary custody of her son Drew to her parents in Chicago ... or so she thought. Now with degree in hand, Catherine is eager to reunite with Drew and begin the next phase of their lives in California. But Catherine's plans are turned upside down when she learns that the temporary custody of her son that she had signed four years earlier was in fact a permanent custody ... she has given her child away. Catherine's parents won't give up custody of their grandson, they believe that they can provide a better life for him. Faced with two options, Catherine has to decide whether to live with her parents and Drew in Chicago, or reconcile with her estranged husband Thomas and prove that they can provide a good life for their son.
Flashback to Catherine and Thomas' past ... they fell in love, Catherine became pregnant, and they married very young. After a tragic accident that took the life of Bobby, one of their twin sons, Thomas was falsely accused of causing the death of their baby boy, and is forced out of Catherine and Drew's life. Catherine and Thomas separate but vow to reunite after they finish college, but they did not stay in contact with each other over the past four years. Thomas graduated from the University of Michigan and is now a rising financial analyst.
After being estranged for four years, can Catherine and Thomas reconcile and convince the social workers and judge that they are a loving married couple capable of providing their young son with a good life?
He Belongs To Me is a heart wrenching story that captivated me from the beginning, and took me on an emotional roller coaster ride that left me completely spent. This story is filled with enough family secrets, lies, deception and betrayal; mixed in with riveting courtroom drama and suspenseful twists and turns; and a passionate love story that keeps the reader thoroughly engaged and turning the pages. You can't help but get drawn into Catherine and Thomas' story, the emotions are palpable and raw, you feel their loss, grief, anger, love and determination as their journey to regain custody of their son is fraught with heartbreaking trials and tribulations. And if the fight for their son isn't enough to keep the reader enthralled, their passionate love story will reel you in, their relationship is filled with so much emotion and intensity, they have been through so much, but their sexual chemistry and love for each other is undeniable.
With a cast of characters who are realistic and flawed; raw and emotional dialogue; intense and dramatic interactions; and a gut wrenching storyline that mixes the complexities of a dysfunctional family dynamic with a couple's love story; He Belongs To Me is an amazing story that will pull at your heartstrings, and prove that love can overcome the most traumatic situations in life. This is a must read story that will resonate with you for a very long time.
In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Blasphemy Box by author Mandy Behbehani!
Author Guest Post
How Do You Motivate Yourself To Keep Writing?
Many writers I know commit themselves to a certain amount of words, or pages a day. Others stay inspired by reaching out to their networks of friends online and off for feedback, advice, encouragement. Some people channel a well-known writer, like Scott Turow or Hemingway, and some others choose to find motivation in meditation or a hike (with notebook in hand, of course).
I even heard one person say to treat writing like sex: something fun and restorative. (Not a bad take at all!)
None of those tricks has worked for me. Writing is not like some other occupations. To create, out of a cloud of nothing, a cast of characters and a life for each one that intersects with that of the others is hard. Writing is difficult. It’s painful and lonely. And I have trouble with it, just like most other people.
I can only write when I’m writing the right story. The story that works. And even then, staying motivated is not easy. Some days I have to veritably drag myself to my computer, from which I only have to look up to see that the house needs vacuuming, the laundry needs folding, the dog needs walking, the blinds need dusting and the dishwasher needs loading. I force myself to write a few sentences, and when I’m stuck, I work on a jigsaw puzzle, (which the French with their sharp observation skills, call a casse-tete - a broken head), or make myself some tea. I write some more and the next time I’m stuck, I’ll watch an episode of Law & Order (which I’ve already seen ten thousand times) and then I’ll get back to the story and try to write some more.
Most days, that strategy doesn’t work. Nothing works. Except when what I am writing is what I should be writing. So when you should be writing what you’re writing, you’ll write. And stay motivated to do so.
About The Author
Mandy Behbehani grew up and was educated in England. Her first short story was published when she was twelve and she has been scribbling away ever since, as a journalist and now a novelist. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and, over her career, served as West Coast correspondent for Women's Wear Daily and W magazine, as an on-air reporter at KTVU-TV and, for a decade, as the fashion editor and features writer for the Hearst San Francisco Examiner where she won awards for feature writing. Her work has been published in a variety of publications including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Town & County magazine, the San Jose Mercury News and Travel & Leisure magazine.
She lives in California, and, when she's not in front of her computer, she can be found reading a good book, and hiking the open space that surrounds her home with her yellow Lab, Lalou.
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.
"You know that nightmare you've always had? The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty and alone? I'm living it."
Maddy Nelson has an idyllic existence: a handsome husband, great kids, a comfortable lifestyle. One morning soon after she turns fifty, however, she wakes up in her San Francisco home to find her husband Steven announcing that he's leaving her for a woman half her age. And half her size.
Feeling totally unmoored and grieving for her married life and husband, Maddy finds herself thrust into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world of middle-aged singledom. There, she must come to terms with her situation and embark on her new life: divorce proceedings, single parenting, internet dating, and trying to earn a living. It's enough to drive her over the brink.
To help her cope, she shares her struggles in a smart, wry blog named The Blasphemy Box, after her ex-husband's obnoxious habit of having her drop a quarter into a wooden box every time she said something off color. Her madcap middle-aged adventures find her devoted readers who identify with her challenges.
In time, Maddy creates herself and finds happiness in the arms of a good man, and a fulfilling new career as a novelist.
DAY 1 OF SEPARATION
Marriage is the chief cause of divorce
— Groucho Marx
You know that nightmare you’ve always had?
The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty, and alone?
I’m living it.
It’s barely nine on a frigid January morning. The three children have gone off to school, and I’m in the kitchen in my pajamas on my laptop working on my novel when Steven comes lumbering through, toward the front door of our Victorian house in San Francisco, dragging two of my large Louis Vuitton suitcases.
It’s been only a week since he said he was leaving. Not even a week. Six days. We’d only just celebrated the kids’ birthdays. After twenty years of marriage, I just didn’t believe it. I thought maybe he had a cold and was feeling out of sorts. Sure, we’d been bickering a lot lately, mostly about how he was working until all hours of the night with no convincing explanation. And about how he was sick and tired of seeing my nose in a book and that I should take it out and pay more attention to him. And about why he hadn’t touched me for several months. And about that wooden box with a slot on the top, which suddenly appeared on the kitchen table to remind me not to curse. Steven called it the Blasphemy Box, and I was to insert a quarter into it every time I swore. (I’m from England where cursing is the second language.)
He told me he was leaving while we were perusing the baking aisle at Whole Foods. It was the first time he had been grocery shopping with me in a long time. All I could see through my tears was a row of boxes of “No Pudge Fat-Free Fudge Brownie Mix.” I kept asking him if he was joking. He said it was no joke. I blinked the tears away and tried to maintain my British cool—public grief is just not done in England after all, where I come from. I babbled about needing bitter cocoa powder, mascarpone, and ladyfingers for tiramisu. I asked him if he wanted something other than tiramisu. But he just stood silently next to me, not looking at me, far away, already gone.
Had I seen this coming? No! (Well, not exactly.) I thought we were just used to each other, just comfortable with each other, the spark gone, the flame tamed, but still together as one. I guess not. We didn’t talk about it again in that intervening week. I couldn’t. It’s called denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t happen. But it has. It is. Happening. Now.
As he lumbers toward our front door, I look up. “So, that’s it. You’re really leaving.”
“Maddy, don’t start…We’ve been through this. It’s over. ”
No matter how many times he says it, I still can’t believe it.
“Because of some bimbo half your age?”
“And half your size.”
“Her name is Gabriela, Madeleine.”
Gabriela. I want to skin her and wear her like last year’s Dior.
“Yeah, right,” I say, furious, then numb as I get up, pull my stomach in and try to stand straight. I am trying to hold back my tears. I really am. I dig my finger into my thigh, hoping the pain will distract me from the other pain and humiliation. Of course it doesn’t. I just feel the cellulite growing there like kudzu.
My Book Review: Every married women's nightmare turns into one woman's journey of self-discovery ...
After twenty years of marriage and three children, fifty year old Maddy Nelson's husband Steven leaves her for a twenty-five year old woman. Devastated and humiliated, Maddy didn't see this coming, she had always thought that their marriage wasn't perfect but comfortable. When best friend Suzy suggests that Maddy start a blog to share her experience with others as an outlet, The Blasphemy Box was born and it sparks Maddy's journey of self-discovery and finding happiness in her life.
Every once in a while a book comes along that thoroughly entertains me from cover to cover, and The Blasphemy Box is that book! Author Mandy Behbehani weaves a humorous and poignant tale set in San Francisco and written in the first person narrative, that has the reader following along with Maddy Nelson's trials and tribulations as she travels down a winding path of self-discovery when her twenty year marriage ends in divorce. Written in a clever style, this true-to-life story has a touch of humor and sarcasm that captivates the reader's attention, Maddy is someone that the reader can relate to, her story is realistic, you can't help but feel for her and cheer her on as her journey will reveal to her just how strong a woman she really is.
This was such a fun book to read! Maddy is hilarious, her dry humor and sarcastic British personality kept me in stitches. I felt a kindred spirit in Maddy, she's a realistic and normal middle aged woman who has lived with the ups and downs in her life, and when it is all said and done she is still able to stand on her own two feet.
I loved that the author provides inspirational quotes on marriage, relationships, divorce and life at the beginning of each chapter followed by Maddy's inner dialogue of her journey that includes back stories into Maddy's past. It feels like you are sitting on the couch with Maddy as she tells you her life story. Maddy's divorce experience will touch your soul, her lesson of letting go and giving herself a chance to rebuild her life is an inspirational and empowering testament for strong women everywhere. This story's message teaches the reader how to breathe, heal and move forward in your life.
I loved the premise behind the title of her blog, The Blasphemy Box. Maddy's husband Steven tried to curb Maddy's swearing by producing a wooden box with a slot on top, and every time that Maddy said a curse word she had to insert a quarter in the box. I loved that Maddy's blog gave her an outlet to voice her experience and provide the boost she needed to reclaim her life. Let's just say that I totally related to Maddy's potty mouth, I think I need my own blasphemy box.
I have just one thing to say about Maddy's ex-husband Steven, what a total POS! I don't know how Maddy lived with that self-righteous pompous jerk for twenty years. I would never stand for anyone knocking my spirit down by calling me pathetic, criticizing my weight, or dismissing my dreams like Steven did to Maddy ... good riddance to him!
With an engaging cast of characters (especially Maddy's funny best friend Suzy and new love interest Mike); witty dialogue and humorous interactions; and a poignant storyline of one woman's journey of overcoming a traumatic divorce to find happiness; The Blasphemy Box is an uplifting story that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride, it will make you laugh, cringe, sigh, and leave you feeling empowered! The Blasphemy Box is an inspirational, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable story that will leave a smile on your face.
In association with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the book cover reveal event for My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White!
After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.
Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.
She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.
Janessa folded her arms and looked at me for so long I started to
“I wish you’d look at yourself. You’re ruining your life with this stupid
“I’m not obsessed.” I stood up quickly, nearly tipping my chair over. I
rinsed my plate and put it in the dishwasher. I could feel Janessa’s eyes on me
the entire time, but I refused to look at her. “And just because I’m not
interested in this guy doesn’t mean my life is ruined.”
“Let me guess. Was he blond?”
“Knock it off.”
“He wasn’t short. I’ve got to go.” I left the kitchen with Janessa on my
“Was he too cheerful?”
“Oh brother. I’m not having this conversation with you.”
Janessa grabbed my arm and turned me toward her. “Yes, you are.”
“I’m going to be late for work.”
“Then we’d better talk fast.”
“I don’t have anything to say,” I said.
“Then I’ll talk. You listen. You have to start giving these guys a
I folded my arms tightly. “I give them a chance.”
“You give them one date, two at the most. But you’re not really giving
them a chance because your mind’s already made up before you even go out.”
I was getting annoyed. “I don’t have time for this conversation again.”
Janessa was practically reciting word for word what she’d said after my last
date. And the one before that.
“Lizzie. If you don’t want to have the same conversation, do something
different. Shake things up a little.” She smiled and did a little shimmy. I
refused to smile no matter how silly she looked.
“How do you suggest I do that?”
“If this guy… What’s his name?”
“If Chad calls you back, go out with him again.”
“I don’t see the point.”
“Did you get a serial killer vibe from him?”
“No, I got a nice-guy-that-doesn’t-deserve-to-be-led-on vibe from him.”
“Nice guys are good. So you’ll say yes, right?”
“If I’m not interested, it wouldn’t be fair to say yes.”
“Oh knock off the baloney. You haven’t been fair to a guy since high
school. You’re just afraid if you get to know a guy, you might like him. And
wouldn’t that be awful? Was Chad funny?”
“Yes, he was funny.”
I sighed. “I don’t know if I’d call him handsome, but he was cute.”
“Cute is good. Especially if he was funny. So go out with him again.”
“You act like it’s all up to me.” I walked to the closet and collected
my purse. Like a tiger leaping on her prey, Janessa pounced at the bowl on the
entry table and grabbed my car keys. “This isn’t funny, Janessa. I’m going to
be late for work.”
“Then let’s make a deal. You agree to go out with him ten times before
you toss him aside and I’ll give you your keys.”
“Ten times? No way.”
“That’ll give you time to get to know him.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“I’m serious, Lizzie. Ten is a good number. In that amount of time, you
can make a real decision. Instead of one based on a stupid movie.”
Now Janessa was skipping through a minefield. “It’s not a stupid movie
and I’ve got to go.”
“It’s the stupidest movie in the world if it ruins your life.”
“Nothing’s ruining my life and I’m going to be late. Give me my keys and
we’ll talk about this later.” A little tussle ensued as I tried to rescue my
keys from her clutches. I almost had them when she darted to the bathroom and
shut the door hard and fast, locking it behind her. “This is real mature.”
“I don’t care about mature. You’re my best friend, Lizzie. I love
you and I’m trying to save you from yourself.”
I banged on the door. “Give me the keys. Now.” My voice had become
“I’ll give you the keys as soon as you promise you’ll go out with him
“I doubt he’ll ask me out again.”
“Why? Were you a jerk?”
“Are you sure?”
I hesitated, knowing I hadn’t been very good company. “I’m pretty sure.”
“If he doesn’t ask you out, you have to ask him.”
“No way am I asking out a guy ten times. No way!”
“You just have to ask him out once. If he doesn’t return the favor you
can move on. But you have to be nice to him and give him a reason to want to
ask you out again.”
“This is the dumbest idea you’ve ever had.”
“Listen Liz, I’m doing this for you. Give a guy a chance before you give
him the old heave-ho.”
I leaned my head on the door. “Just give me the keys. Please.” Now I was
“You’re the one keeping yourself from your keys. And probably true
I looked at my watch. Now I’d have to risk a speeding ticket or get to
work five minutes late. I wasn’t sure which was worse—a ticket from a police
officer or a tongue-lashing from Delia.
“Fine. I’ll go out with him again if he asks me.”
“If he doesn’t ask me, I’ll ask him?”
“Right. And how many times will you go out with him?”
“Way too many,” I said under my breath.
“I can’t hear you.”
“Ten times. If he asks me.”
The door cracked open. “And you’ll be nice to him?”
“Whatever you say. Now give me the keys.”
Janessa emerged from the bathroom and triumphantly dropped my keys into
my outstretched hand.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
“An idiot that loves you and wants you to be happy,” she said. She
turned and headed down the hall. “Someday you’ll thank me,” she sang.
“If I don’t kill you first.” I slammed the door behind me.