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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane!

Author Guest Post

Sisterly Love

I always wanted a sister. Never got one. Just brothers. Maybe that’s why my sisters-in-law are so special to me. They’re always there to be a listening ear and to rejoice with me over my little triumphs in life. Girlfriends are important, too, especially for those of us who never had sisters. Sisters of the heart, we share common interests and good times.

Those relationships with other women are important, aren’t they? But that sibling bond, whether with brothers or sisters, is really important. You all grew up together, united against a common enemy (your parents!). You played together and fought off bullies for each other and you sometimes fought with each other over everything from clothes to boys. Especially boys. In fact, one of my best buddies actually stole her sister’s guy and wound up marrying him. At the time her sis wasn’t very happy about that, but today both sisters laugh about it.

Maybe that’s where I got the idea to have the Sterling sisters find themselves fighting over a man in The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane. Bailey and Cecily Sterling are devoted sisters, and when Bailey comes home to rebuild her life and build a new business Cecily is all for it. Until Bailey goes into partnership with the man Cecily has started seeing. So, how devoted are they? When it comes to men, do sisters share?

How about you? Have you ever fought with a sister or best girlfriend over a guy? There’s sibling love and there’s true love. Is there a way a woman can have both? Neither of my Sterling sisters think so and we’ve got trouble in Icicle Falls. And, I must confess, I sure had fun stirring up that trouble!

About The Author

Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children.

Writing since 1989, Sheila’s books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel On Strike For Christmas was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel The Nine Lives Of Christmas has just been optioned for film and is slated to be a Hallmark movie later this year. Her novel Angel Lane was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Romances for 2009.

When she's not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate. You can visit Sheila at her website,

Her latest book is the women’s fiction/romance, The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane.


Book Review

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts
Book 5: Life in Icicle Falls Series
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Format: Paperback - 352 pages 
             Kindle - 899 KB
             Nook - 741 KB
ISBN: 978-0778316183
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane

BUY THE SERIES: Life in Icicle Falls
Book 0.5: Summer In A Small Town: Welcome To Icicle Falls
Book 1: Better Than Chocolate
Book 2: Merry Ex-Mas
Book 3: What She Wants
Book 4: The Cottage On Juniper Ridge
Book 5: The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane
Book 6: The Lodge On Holly Road (Publication Date: October 28, 2014)

Discuss the book at PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads

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 Tours.

Book Description: 

When it comes to men, sisters don't share!

After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily.

All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased.

Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?

Book Excerpt:

The party was going perfectly until the hostess clutched her stomach with an agonized cry and crumpled to the floor in a heap.

Rory Rourke, her boyfriend and star of the new TV series Man Handled, knelt by her side and barked, “Someone, call 911.”

“Call her doctor,” said someone else.

“Call The Star Reporter,” the victim said faintly.

And that was when Bailey Sterling knew she was in trouble.

She’d been so excited to land this gig catering Samba Barrett’s party. Samba wasn’t an Emma Stone or Kristen Stewart but she was .... someone. Sort of. And with her catlike green eyes and red hair everyone said she was on her way up, like the rest of her party guests. And surely that had meant Bailey was on her way up, too. The West Hollywood apartment had been packed with hot young actors and actresses. As she’d slipped among them bearing trays of goodies she’d heard more than one person rave about the food and had envisioned a whole string of catering gigs after this one.

The shrimp salsa in Phyllo cups had been an especially big hit. “Oh, my God, this is to die for,” America Winston (from the new reality show Hard Ass) had raved. Bailey had smiled modestly and kept circulating, while her assistant Giorgio served up stuffed mushrooms. She’d been working hard for the last three years to earn a reputation as caterer to the stars and things were finally starting to happen.

Except now here was Samba Barrett, writhing on her living room floor, groaning in agony. Only twenty minutes ago she’d been eating those shrimp cups and laughing. Did she have food allergies she hadn’t told Bailey about? Samba had gone over the menu with Bailey, approved everything. How could this have happened? Was Bailey going to be known as killer of the stars?

Thirty people gathered around the actress, some offering advice, some taking pictures with their cell phones, others texting wildly. Bailey stood on the fringe and nervously downed one of her own appetizers.

“You’ll be okay, baby,” Rory Rourke assured Samba.

“I think I ate something bad,” she whimpered.

“Oh, no, that’s not possible,” Bailey protested and everyone turned to look at her. One woman aimed her cell phone at Bailey, capturing her miserable expression. This couldn’t be happening.

But it could. And it did. Now Bailey felt sick. She lost her grip on the tray of canapes she was carrying and down they went, the tray landing on a Jimmy Choos of one of the party guests who was busy recording her hostess’s misery on her cell phone.

The woman let out a yelp and jumped back, then glared at Bailey.

“Sorry,” Bailey muttered, and bent to scoop the mess onto the tray. In the process she managed to get in the way of another guest, nearly tripping him.

He didn’t settle for glaring. He swore at her.

Caterer hell, that was what this was. Bailey bolted for the kitchen and hid out, watching the drama unfold from behind the counter.

My Book Review:

Welcome back to picturesque Icicle Falls, Washington! In the fifth installment of the Life in Icicle Falls series, author Sheila Roberts provides her readers with a tale of romance and sisterly bonds.

In true Sheila Roberts fashion, The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane is told in the third person narrative that alternates between sisters Bailey and Cecily Sterling as they struggle to maintain their sisterly bonds when bad boy tavern owner Todd Black complicates their lives with a mixture of business and pleasure!

The reader is transported back to the picturesque Bavarian style small mountain town of Icicle Falls, Washington, which is nestled in the Cascade Mountains, where they catch up with all the familiar townspeople from the previous books in the series, as well as meeting new lovable characters.

This series is simply delightful, the storyline picks up where the last book left off, it flows seamlessly and is so entertaining that you can't help but become captivated and invested in the lives that inhabit Icicle Falls. The reader easily gets drawn into this story about family, friendship, support, and finding love. Through the laughter, smile, and tears, you'll find yourself cheering on Bailey and Cecily as they each overcome lifestyle obstacles, insecurities, family drama, and strive to find joy and love in their lives.

With a wonderful cast of characters who are realistic and lovable, humorous dialogues and interactions, and a richly detailed description of the town of Icicle Falls, The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane is a lighthearted romance story full of love, laughter, friendship, family, and living a good life, that will leave you wanting to return to Icicle Falls for another enjoyable visit. I love, love, love this series!

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane is the fifth book in the Life in Icicle Falls series.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, June 16
Book Featured at Confessions of a Reader

Tuesday, June 17
Book Review at Books Reviews, ETC

Wednesday, June 18
Book Review at Kimberly’s Bookshelf

Thursday, June 19
Book Review at I Hope You Dance

Monday, June 23
Book Review at Book Club Sisters

Wednesday, June 25
Book Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, June 26
Book Review at Book By Book

Monday, July 7
Book Review at Reading Reality
Book Review at A Simple Life, Really?

Tuesday, July 8
Interview at Acting Balanced

Wednesday, July 9
Book Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

Thursday, July 10
Book Featured at Booklover Sue

Monday, July 14
Book Review at Turning the Pages

Tuesday, July 15
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Always With a Book

Thursday, July 17
Book Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Monday, July 21
Book Featured at Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 22
Book Review at Laurie Here-Contemporary Fiction and More-Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 23
Book Review at Kaisy Daisy’s Corner

Thursday, July 24
Book Review at Doing Some Reading

Monday, July 28
Book Review at Under the Boardwalk
Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, July 29
Book Review at Thoughts in Progress

Wednesday, July 30
Book Review at Brooke Blogs
Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Thursday, July 31
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Return To Love by Kathleen Shoop (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Return To Love by Author Kathleen Shoop!

Author Guest Post

Behind The Scenes: Return To Love

Return to Love is romance novel that I never thought I would write. Why? Because eighteen months ago was the first time I’d written a word of sweet, romantic fiction in my life. Yes, I’d written about love in award-winning historical and women’s fiction, but it wasn’t until I was invited to contribute a novella to an anthology called, Bliss, that it occurred to me that I could write romance, that I even wanted to. And boy, have I fallen in love with it.

Bliss is a collection of stories that are all set in the same house on the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, but each story is set in a different era. How fun is that? Well, I was one of the last to choose my era and the 1960’s was one time period available. I narrowed my setting down to 1969 and I could not be more thrilled with what I found in researching that era! My novella in the collection is called Home Again and from that story, came two characters who I could not stop thinking about. April and Hale Abercrombie—two lost souls who find love together.

Return to Love is a novel, book two in the April and Hale series, and it takes the reader further into their relationship—a journey filled with sweet moments, passion, and humor. Still, knowing that a great romance holds the couple at its center, didn’t keep me from formulating a world around them that went beyond the well-worn stereotypes of the time (or at least I hope so!).

Some struggles of the Vietnam War era are well known and I do draw from them in making Hale a navy pilot. Hopefully he comes across as a fully developed, layered man and not just a hanger holding up a uniform. Likewise when I created April, I wanted to go beyond the well-known archetypes of the time. I wanted her to embody elements of women who were experimenting with freedom and control over their livelihoods, but as I researched I found that was not always a straight path from daddy’s little girl to independent woman breaking glass ceilings. I wanted her to embody the struggle between the two, the struggle that is less often portrayed—a woman with all the advantages, skill, education and desire for a career who is not sure how that will fit with her personal goals.

In Return to Love, April must deal with the loss of a late-term pregnancy. Hale must return to her in order to help her through it. Again, this area of research was fascinating and compelling. The push and pull between a couple caught in the distance and stress that war creates is material rife with passion. But again, there is humor. If nothing else, it is clear that the most resilient people in life are those who find pockets of laughter in grief, in worry, and from this ability to see absurdity in sorrow, there is hope.

It’s my hope that readers love April and Hale as much as I do and find their story heartwarming and satisfying. They are unique fun characters who led me to learn a lot about life at a time that found love and peace to be the motto by which it was defined.

About The Author

Amazon Top-100 Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Her latest book is the romance, Return to Love.


Book Review

Return To Love by Kathleen Shoop
Book 2: The Endless Love Series
Publisher: Oakglen Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2014
Format: Paperback - 261 pages
             Kindle - 848 KB
             Nook - 186 KB
ISBN: 978-1499173291
Genre: Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Return To Love

BUY THE SERIES: The Endless Love Series
Book 1: Home Again
Book 2: Return To Love

Discuss the book at the PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads

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 Tours.

Book Description:

April and Hale Abercrombie’s love is tender and sweet. While he serves in Vietnam, their marriage is marked by trust and the belief that they will grow old together with a gaggle of grandchildren at their feet. But, their charmed marriage changes in the face of losing their newborn daughter.

On leave from his tour, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife and her help her heal. When he arrives, his embrace, his touch, and his love are as perfect as April remembered. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection is strong and soothing. But, April’s heartache remains.

Hale stumbles through his attempts to prove to April that their future will be rich and full of wonder. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April can see Hale’s earnestness, yet she finds solace in putting space between them. With a short time before Hale must return to war will they see that real love endures in the face of adversity, that their marriage can be strengthened even when it looks as though all is lost?

Set on the beaches of the Outer Banks, Return to Love is the second book in the Endless Love series. Book one, Home Again, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Book Excerpt:

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Autumn 1970

Hale’s lungs were tight as he gripped his duffel in one hand and held his uniform over his shoulder with the other. He flew up the steps of the small fishing cottage that his wife was renting from the Shelby family and arrived on the wide porch. He had imagined the moment he’d see her so many times that he felt like he was performing a play. He dropped the duffel right there and knocked on the screen door. Why was he knocking? She knew he was coming. He threw the door open and walked into the small entry. It opened into the family room. He wiped his feet while he scanned the space. “April!”

His heart beat fast and heavy. Yes, he was home under difficult circumstances. Hale’s wife was having difficulty coping with the stillbirth of their daughter. He was worried for her and knew if his skipper granted hardship leave that things must be bad. Yet he was determined, sure as he had finally arrived at the Outer Banks, he was confident that he could make her well. He just needed to see her, to hold her, to tell her everything was going to be okay.

The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight” was playing on the radio. The tune brought a smile to his face. He rushed down the hallway and poked his head into two bedrooms and a bathroom before finding the room April had been using. He tucked his naval uniform into the closet, went back to the kitchen, and turned off the radio, straining to hear any noise that might signal April’s location. He went back outside, inhaling the salty air.

Where was she? He leapt off the porch and crossed the gravelly lane called Beach Road stepping onto the sand, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of her. A seagull clipped Hale’s head as it landed off to the side then flipped a whitefish into its mouth. As far as he could see, the beach was empty, yet he thought he should walk it, search for April. He didn’t know which direction she would have walked, but he started out anyway.

Heading south, a flock of black birds escorted him from above. Scores of them moved together like one great wing flapping in the wind. The whoosh of their collective descent was punctuated by their coarse, throaty screams.

The sand worked into Hale’s shoes, each particle stabbing at the skin below his ankles. He pushed one shoe off and then the other, leaving them near a smattering of driftwood that had been pushed ashore by high tide. The birds dropped, their calls growing louder, drowning out the surf. One by one the black skimmers rained from the sky like bombs, their red beaks bright against the gray sky that had crept in with Hale’s arrival. Some of the birds landed in the shoals and poked and prodded at the sand.

He came upon the largest cluster of birds, the beige sand peeking out in small patches among the blackness, and his eye went to a different form, a woman sitting rod straight, motionless in the center of the black avian shroud. Her blonde hair whipped in the wind like the sea grass at his feet. Hale stopped. His heart thumped. April. He willed himself to breathe, to move toward her. He’d never seen such a sight, the way she seemed partly born of the sand, partly able to sprout wings and fly away.

“April!” he said, waving even though her back was to him. She did not respond. He called again, his words turned back to him by the stiff ocean gales. He jogged toward her, weaving in between napping skimmers, hopping over those that were too busy eating to move out of his way.

When he had nearly reached April, he halted again. He suddenly felt nervous about his excitement; he felt her sadness as though they shared the same soul. He’d never seen such a stunning sight in his life. Her elegance was apparent even sitting on a beach, in the middle of birds. She turned her head slightly, her profile facing him. His stomach flipped. Oh my God, is she beautiful. The wind tossed her hair, making her appear as though she were posing for a magazine shoot.

Even from a distance, even from the side, he thought he could see the sparkle of her blue eyes. The way they were set, wide on her face, made it seem as though he saw something slightly different every time he looked at her, something more, something alluring, hypnotizing. Those eyes.

There was no woman more captivating, he was sure. Or more lonely. Her sadness seemed to leap over the sand to him, to well up from the soles of his feet, filling him, squeezing the breath from his suddenly heavy lungs. If he felt this, then her pain must be far greater. Her emptiness more profound. He’d helped her create life, but he hadn’t been there when it ended.

My Book Review:

In the first book of The Endless Love Series, Home Again, author Kathleen Shoop introduced the readers to April and Hale Abercrombie's journey towards true love. Their journey continues a year later in the second book in the series, Return To Love, where they have gotten married and are expecting their first child. But a heartbreaking tragedy occurs while Hale is serving in Vietnam, April had delivered a stillborn daughter. Hale comes home on a temporary leave, and as the couple grieves the loss of their newborn daughter, April struggles with the loss in an unbearable way that has her both needing Hale and pushing him away. Return To Love is an emotional and poignant story of how a couple struggles to face the hardship of a traumatic loss, and have the strength to find a way back to each other in order to heal, love, and move forward.

Set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the Vietnam War period of the early 1970s, author Kathleen Shoop weaves a hauntingly beautiful tale of love and loss that follows the journey of a young couple who struggle with life's daunting hardships: a husband serving overseas in Vietnam, a pregnancy that ends in a stillborn birth, their struggle to deal with the grief from their traumatic loss, and their attempt to save their fragile marriage and move forward without losing each other.

Return To Love is an amazing love story that will pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. The reader can't help but feel compassion and empathy for the young couple as they deal with the loss of their newborn child, and their struggle to help each other heal in order to save their fragile marriage. The author delves into the subject of loss, war, and marital relationships in a thoughtful and respectful style that makes the reader want to lend support and wrap their arms around April and Hale. It is a raw and tender story that will have the reader experiencing the full gamut of emotions, from heartbreak to the heartwarming belief that the strength and power of love really can overcome anything.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, July 7
Interview for Bound by Passion

Tuesday, July 8
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Book Featured at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Wednesday, July 9
Guest Blogging at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 10
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Babbling About Books and More

Tuesday, July 15
Interview at Butterfly-O-Meter Books

Tuesday, July 22
Book Review at One Life. One Story at a Time.

Thursday, July 24
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, July 28
Book Review at Becky on Books

Tuesday, July 29
Guest Blogging at My Book Addiction and More

Wednesday, July 30
Book Review at Mom Loves 2 Read
Book Review at Book Club Sisters

Thursday, July 31
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hungry Mother Creek by Heather W. Cobham (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Hungry Mother Creek!

Author Guest Post

Building A Resilient Character

Maya Sommers, the main character in my novel Hungry Mother Creek, is forced to deal with the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. She survives the initial physical danger but struggles to overcome the emotional impact of the hurricane and her husband’s death. She initially distracts herself with work and running and avoids talking about what has happened. Maya tries to convince her sister Laura that she is fine, but her panic attacks and obsessive thoughts about the past are evidence of her continued internal conflict.

As Hungry Mother Creek continues Maya becomes more resilient and begins to heal emotionally. She learns from her new relationships in Oriental N.C that talking about her deepest feelings and relying on others are crucial to recovering from her tragedy. She also begins to explore her spirituality to help make sense of the death and destruction she has witnessed. Maya is stuck when she avoids the past with distraction and denial. She begins to move forward with her life when she actively addresses her emotions and experiences related to Katrina and her husband’s death.

Research has shown that people who take action in the face of tragedy are more resilient and bounce back more quickly. Resilient people tend to have a good social support system and are good communicators. They are optimistic, persistent and determined, empathic and have a life purpose which motivates them to preserver. Having a strong spiritual life also contributes to resilience by helping make sense of the tragedy. Now that Maya has increased her resilience, she will cope more effectively when faced with future challenges.

What is your level of resilience? How would you fare if faced with tragedy similar to what Maya experienced? Building resilience takes a balanced approach, a combination of active engagement and solitary reenergizing. The following tips can help you increase your resilience:

• Let yourself experience strong emotions but realize when you may need to avoid them to continue functioning.

• Step forward and take action to deal with your problems but also step back when needed, to rest and recover.

• Spend time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement but also spend time alone to nurture yourself.

• Cultivate supportive relationships, self esteem, spirituality and optimism.

• Look for ways to help others in the midst of your own difficulties.

• Take care of yourself physically with regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep.

We all will face our own Hurricane Katrina’s, perhaps multiple times, so as we age it’s important to build resilience. This will allow us to rebound more quickly after a tragedy and be strong enough to help others through their pain and grief. In the midst of tragedy and challenge is the opportunity to reap new wisdom, skills and strength. The more resilient we are the more quickly we can identify the good that comes from a crisis and begin applying it to our life. Eventually Maya would have increased her resilience, but the hurricane and her husband’s death provided a strong outside force which imparted these lessons more quickly.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” 
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

About The Author

Heather Cobham grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Oriental with her husband and yellow lab. Heather has always loved to write and has written poetry and short stories since she was a child. Seven years ago she consciously created more time and space to write a novel and the publication of Hungry Mother Creek is a dream come true. Heather is a licensed clinical social worker and works as a counselor in a private practice in New Bern, N.C. She writes on Wednesdays, Fridays and the weekends and is currently working on the sequel to Hungry Mother Creek. Heather fights writer’s block by running, paddle boarding and kayaking.


Book Review

Hungry Mother Creek by Heather W. Cobham
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing / Star Online Publishers
Publication Date: March 9, 2014
Format: Paperback - 385 pages
             Kindle - 799 KB
ISBN: 978-1495936418
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Hungry Mother Creek

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:

To the outside world, it looks like Maya Somers lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, her husband, the bungalow they shared and her job. But inside Maya knows Katrina gave her the gift of a fresh start. She and her yellow lab, Doodle Bug, leave the destruction of the Gulf Coast for North Carolina and settle in Oriental, a quaint fishing village on the Pamlico Sound.

In her new home by the water, Maya begins to rebuild her life. She knows she needs to heal from her abusive marriage and the trauma of Hurricane Katrina but isn’t sure where to start. It isn’t long before teachers appear to help her: Hazel, her elderly but spirited neighbor who has secrets of her own, Travis, a handsome kayak guide to whom she immediately feels a strong attraction, Buster, a crusty old fisherman who always seems to show up just when she needs him, and Bay Witherspoon, the much younger wife of a wealthy attorney who becomes a close friend despite their initial differences. Maya finds the most profound help when she is welcomed into a women’s circle that meets on the banks of Hungry Mother Creek. Gathered with these women, Maya learns that becoming vulnerable and sharing her pain with others is the first step of her healing journey.

But what is the second step? Maya isn’t sure but with the help of her loyal yellow lab, her new friends and the peace of living by the water she stays the course. Ultimately Maya finds the healing journey to be messy, tangled and unpredictable, and the end result is nothing she could have ever imagined.

Book Excerpt:

Maya walked to her small kitchen area just behind the living room. She smiled to herself as she placed the casserole on the bottom shelf and wondered what type of condensed soup Hazel used to make this. She guessed it must be Cream of Mushroom, a southern staple she had used many times while helping her grandmother make Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

As she turned back towards the living room, Maya’s heart lurched when she saw Hazel was holding the decorative urn she thought had been discretely placed, but it must have caught Hazel’s eye. “Maya, this urn is beautiful. I love the yellows, blues and greens in the pattern. Surely you didn’t find it here in Oriental? It’s so well-made.”

Maya’s pulse quickened and she felt the color drain from her face. She stood frozen not prepared for this discussion and unsure of how much of the truth she wanted to share.

“Maya, are you okay? You look like you might faint.” Hazel placed the urn on the coffee table and hurried to Maya’s side. She placed her hand in the small of Maya’s back and led her over to the couch. Hazel’s hand was small, but very strong and her touch comforted Maya as she lowered herself down to the couch. She had a flash of insight that said she could trust Hazel and as she regained her composure, Maya decided to be truthful.

“Sorry if I scared you, Hazel. It’s just that this urn is much more than a decoration. It contains the ashes of Steven, my husband who died two years ago because of Hurricane Katrina.”

Well, it was a lot easier than Maya thought it would be, sharing this truth, although not the whole truth, with the first person outside her family. It actually wasn’t that hard talking about the ashes. The hard part would be answering the questions that may follow.

“Steven has a brother who wasn’t able to come to Mississippi after his death,” her words tumbled out, “and everything was in such a state of destruction and confusion I didn’t feel right about spreading the ashes in Mississippi. I’ve just kept them with me since then.”

As Maya was speaking, Hazel sat down beside her on the couch, her hands folded neatly in her lap as she listened. Maya and Hazel’s eyes met and Maya could see Hazel’s eyes were moist with emotion. She reached over and took one of Maya’s hands into hers.

“Oh, honey,” Hazel started, her southern accent drawing the syllables out. “I am so sorry. Losing your husband is one of the most difficult things to endure. My husband died when I was just 50 and it took me a while to make sense of my life, not having him in it. At least we’d already had 25 years of marriage and a son. You and Steven still had so much left to do together.” Hazel’s eyes filled again as she squeezed Maya’s hands.

Maya turned her head to look out the creek window. She was embarrassed by her lack of emotion and didn’t want Hazel to see her dry eyes. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she even muster up a couple of tears for Steven? When he was alive he made her cry easily. Now a lump did form in Maya’s throat.

She felt his grip tightening on her upper arm as he dragged her out into the parking lot of Sherlock’s, the pub a couple of miles from their house. When they were away from the entrance, he said, “Don’t you tell me I’ve had enough to drink ever again! Do you hear me? You embarrassed me in front of my friends.” He shot the words at her through clenched teeth and she physically recoiled, shrinking as his grip on her arm tightened. He yanked her arm for emphasis and continued, “I can’t help it if your lame ass is wasted after three or four beers but I’m fucking fine so leave me alone. If you can’t hang anymore then maybe you should just go home.”

He released her arm, turned and strode into the pub without looking back. Maya instinctively began rubbing her arm. The emotion she had been holding in her chest erupted and tears rolled down her cheeks. She knew she couldn’t go back inside and since Steven had the car keys, so began the walk home, her body weighted by shame.

Hazel squeezed her hand and Maya turned back to look at her, the urn prominent in her peripheral vision. “Well, at least you found his body and knew for sure what happened to him. I've heard of so many people who are still searching for their loved ones who most likely got washed out to sea.”

Maya’s face flushed knowing she wasn't being fully truthful, but she wasn't ready yet to talk about the real cause of Steven's death. After a few seconds of silence, she said, “Thanks for understanding. You’re the first person I’ve told outside my family.”

“Well, Maya, please know you can talk with me any time about Steven, and for extreme circumstances I can always make you another casserole.” Maya smiled, appreciating Hazel’s humor and the change of topic.

“I know I've already said this, but I’m so happy you decided to rent my boathouse. I grew up here with my mother and grandmother but have been alone for the past fifteen years so it feels good to have another woman on the property.”

“It feels good to be here. When I visited in April something just told me this was the place to come. I’m looking forward to meeting more people, getting a job and creating some happy memories here.” Maya smiled, feeling very comfortable sitting next to Hazel. Maybe one day she would tell Hazel the whole story.

“I better get on my way so you can heat up that casserole for dinner. Good luck with your job search and I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.” Hazel stood and walked to the door, Doodle Bug following at her heels.

Hazel’s hand rested on the doorknob just a millisecond longer than necessary. Maya waited for her to turn back and say something else. Hazel never turned but opened the door and stepped out into the humid early evening. The sound of cicadas filled the air.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Hungry Mother Creek, author Heather W. Cobham weaves an emotional and inspirational tale that follows Maya Somer's journey of personal healing, and the rebuilding of her life after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Set in the picturesque coastal village of Oriental, North Carolina, the reader is easily drawn into Maya's emotional story as she struggles to come to terms with her abusive marriage, the death of her husband, and the rebuilding her life. Settling in the quaint little fishing village with her yellow Lab, Doodle Bug, Maya embarks on a personal journey of renewal with the help of a supportive group of people she meets. It is a journey that is an inspirational testament to the strength of the human spirit to survive, heal, and thrive after a traumatic experience.

Hungry Mother Creek is a beautifully written and emotionally compelling tale that pulls at the heartstrings and stirs the soul. The story delves into the difficult issue of abusive marriages, traumatic life experiences, loss and grief, new beginnings, and the renewal of a person's life through a strong bond of friendship relationships. The reader can't help but establish a connection with Maya and feel empathetic as her story unfolds, it invokes a gamut of emotions that will resonate long after the last sentence has been read.

I loved the wonderful friendships that Maya builds with the local group of women, their relationships are heartwarming and inspirational,  their understanding and support enables Maya to find peace and learn to move forward with her life.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful and  rich description of the North Carolina setting, the author easily transports the reader to this tranquil fishing village on the Pamlico Sound, that easily captures the sights and sounds and flavor of the townspeople.

Hungry Mother Creek is an uplifting story of self-discovery and life's renewal, and perfect for a lighthearted summer read.


Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Everyone who leaves a comment on the Hungry Mother Creek tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases a copy of Hungry Mother Creek by August 4 and sends their receipt to will receive 10 bonus entries!

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

July 21 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
July 23 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Review
July 24 – The Ultimate Late Bloomer – Q&A & Excerpt
July 28 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 29 – The Little Reading Cabin – Review 
July 30 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review & Guest Post
July 30 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review & Guest Post
July 31 – We Read to Live – Review & Q&A
July 31 – Book Reviews and More by Dee – Guest Post & Excerpt
August 1- Steph the Bookworm – Review
August 4 – Karen’s Korner – Review

Hold Still by Lisa Regan (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Hold Still by Author Lisa Regan!

Author Guest Post

10 Things People Would Be Surprised To Know About Me 

1. I love romantic comedies. Love, love, love them! I know they are silly and unrealistic and not characteristic of real relationships but they make me all happy. I can’t get enough.

2. I also love revenge movies like Man On Fire, Italian Job and Count of Monte Cristo.

3. I once boxed a girl in a bar for money. I won $50.00.

4. I studied martial arts for 10 years and used to teach children. It was awesome.

5. My favorite class in my graduate program (which was in Curriculum & Instruction) was School Law.

6. I have all 10 seasons of the show Friends and whenever I am feeling bummed out, I watch some of them. I don’t know why but that show cheers me up. My favorite seasons are 5 and 8.

7. My feet are always freezing. I frequently steal my husband’s giant man-socks and wear them over top of my own socks.

8. I don’t eat lettuce. It doesn’t agree with my stomach. So in salads I substitute fresh spinach.

9. My favorite book as a child was Sesame Street Grover’s The Monster At The End of This Book—it scared the crap out of me every time and yet I wanted to read it again and again!

10. I hate cooking but I love to bake.

About The Author

Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author. Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013. It was runner-up for Best Novel. It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection. In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.

Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Her third novel, Hold Still was published in late March 2014!


Book Review

Hold Still by Lisa Regan
Publisher: Self Independent Publishing / Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 16, 2014
Format: Paperback - 396 pages
             Kindle - 1205 KB
             Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1477826416
BNID: 2940149424092
Genre: Crime Fiction / Murder / Mystery / Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: Hold Still

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 Goddess Fish Promotions.

Book Description:

Three men are viciously assaulting Philadelphia's prostitutes, and it's up to veteran detective Jocelyn Rush to stop them. She catches two, but they won't betray their partner, the most dangerous of all, and the attacks continue, striking closer to home. Jocelyn's only real clue comes when a monster from her past resurfaces--now she must race to connect the demons of her past with the villain of her present--before the sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.

Book Excerpt:

Pacing, Jocelyn loosened the brace on her wrist and rubbed the skin lightly before tightening it again. Exhaustion made her legs ache. It was nearing the end of her shift, but she knew they’d be there well after their shift doing paperwork. She remembered she’d promised Olivia they would go get a Halloween costume in the morning.

“This isn’t right,” Jocelyn said. “Why are they protecting this guy?”

Kevin sighed. “Who cares? It isn’t our problem anyway. Let’s just charge ‘em and leave ‘em down there till SVU picks them up.”

“With what?”

Kevin ran a hand over the thinning hair at his scalp. “Jesus Christ, Rush. With whatever we can. Rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault.”

She stopped pacing and looked at Kevin. “We need the third guy.”

“This is not our case. We’re not going after the third guy. We’re charging these guys, and we’re going home.”

Jocelyn stood before him and put her hands on her hips. She arched her brow until Kevin groaned loudly, leaning back in his chair and looking at the ceiling as if he wished aliens would abduct him right that very second. “What the hell, Rush?”

“When SVU takes over, I want to make sure we did our job.”

Kevin shook his head and looked back at her. “We did our job. Look, we’re not getting the third guy through these two. Did you offer Warner a deal?”

Jocelyn nodded. She rifled through her desk for the bottle of Ibuprofen she kept there. “He’s not taking a deal.”

My Book Review:

In Hold Still, author Lisa Regan weaves an intense, gritty, and suspenseful crime thriller that will captivate the reader's attention from the start, and take them on an exhilarating roller coaster ride as the story unfolds with every intriguing twist and turn.

Philadelphia Police Detective Jocelyn Rush investigates a vicious series of sexual assaults on the city's prostitutes when Anita Grant, a former prostitute and acquaintance from Jocelyn's past, requests to only talk to her after being sexual assaulted and tortured by three men who had crucified her hands and feet with nails to the floor in a condemned house. The investigation reveals that the vicious sexual attacks on the prostitutes have been occurring going back four years. And if that isn't enough, dark family secrets and a traumatic past resurfaces and haunts Jocelyn, but the only way to solve the case and bring the sadistic criminals to justice is for her to deal with the past before danger comes her way.

Hold Still is a riveting crime thriller that engages the reader to follow Jocelyn as she investigates the vicious sexual assault cases and deals with the resurfacing of her family's dark past. The reader can't help but get caught up in the gritty suspense and partake in trying to guess the identity of "Face," the third evil and most dangerous of the criminals. The author weaves an intense and chilling page turner of a tale with clever clues, intriguing twist and turn, and with enough vivid and rich descriptions of the violent acts and the detailed investigation that easily keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seat.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the author does an awesome job of providing the reader with a detailed description of the various sections of Philadelphia and its local landmarks.

Hold Still is a gritty dark crime fiction novel with enough violence, suspense, thrills and chills that will easily hold the reader's attention. It is definitely a must read for the diehard crime thriller fan.


Contest Giveaway

Author Lisa Regan will be awarding an eCopy of Hold Still to five randomly drawn commenters during the tour and a print book of Hold Still to five randomly drawn commenters (US & Canada ONLY).

A grand prize of a $50 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

The tour dates can be found here:

Virtual Book Tour Schedule