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, April 15, 2016

Crushed by Layne Gray (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 Crushed by author Layne Gray!

Author Guest Post


Set in San Francisco, Crushed is about a woman, Grace, who thinks she sees her husband having an affair. Her best friend rushes her off to a secret spa in the Napa Valley. There, Grace is able to build up her self-esteem, get back her confidence, learn a new career and even discover hot sex again. She leaves and is on top of the world and then starts to lose it all. With twists and turns, and a new romantic interest, she puts the pieces together about the truth behind the spa.


The novel, Crushed, addresses the topic of failure, not something most ‘chicklit’, or in the case of Crushed – ‘henlit’, novels take on. But the main character, Grace, continues to fail in more and more ways as she proceeds through her journey. She failed at her marriage. She failed as a daughter, as a mother and, in her mind, as a sister. She goes on to fail in business, as well.

In speaking engagements I’ve talked about the concept of failure a lot because it’s not something we usually discuss in open forums, especially in conjunction with a book that is designed to be a fun ride and empowering to women. Many of those in attendance have remarked afterwards how much they appreciated the frankness and how the topic resonated with their personal lives in one way or another.

Grace, the main character, addresses each one of these failures as best she can and she is smart enough to learn from her mistakes and not repeat them.

One particular thread throughout the book is Grace’s relationship with her sister, Nicole, who died fifteen years ago. But Grace is still trying to prove something to her. There is pivotal, and emotional to some readers, when Grace finally let’s go. There were signs that Grace was vulnerable beforehand. And in the end the reader realizes how much stronger Grace is after even if it is not crystal clear until close to the final chapter of the story.

About The Author

Layne Gray is an author, entrepreneur and experienced marketing strategist. Layne’s background is in technology marketing and she has worked for large companies, including as Director of UNIX Product Line Marketing at Oracle Corporation and Director of UNIX Application Marketing at Altos Computer Systems. She was the founder of LKE Productions, a global technology conference production company that ramped to over $20M in annual revenue.

Layne is a seasoned charitable fundraiser who has helped raise millions of dollars for local and national charities through events she has chaired and campaigns she has spearheaded. Bay Area beneficiaries have included the San Francisco Ballet, Junior League of San Francisco, San Francisco Zoological Society. National organizations include buildOn, UN Foundation Girl Up and Mocha Moms.

Born and raised in Oregon, Layne received a B.A. in Marketing and Statistics from the University of Oregon. She has taken the WSET Level 3 Certification and teaches wine classes around the country. Layne is an Emeritus Board member of the San Francisco Zoological Society and a sustaining member of the Junior League of San Francisco and the San Ballet Auxiliary. She lives in San Francisco and enjoys cycling, snow skiing and walking her dogs at Crissy Field.

Author Website
Author Blog

Book Review

Crushed by Layne Gray
Publisher: Pugtastic Productions
Publication Date: Paperback - October 15, 2015 / eBook - October 20, 2015
Format: Paperback - 288 pages
               Kindle - 832 KB
ISBN: 978-0996719629
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book: 

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 Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

After a decade of dialing it in on her marriage – subsisting mostly on school fundraisers and designer trunk shows – Grace, on a whim, surprises her husband at the airport, picking him up in nothing more than scant lingerie and a fur coat. But that backfires spectacularly. Hoping to help, Grace’s best friend tells her of a secret retreat for discarded wives—Finedale, where Grace just may be able to get back her confidence, build her self-esteem, learn a rewarding career, or even rediscover that hot sex needn't be a thing of the past.

Before long, Grace is orchestrating a new, fabulous life. Everything seems to be going brilliantly. But as cracks begin to appear the possibility of another, darker, truth behind Finedale catapults Grace into a role she never anticipated.

Book Excerpt:

It was Wednesday, only two days before Grace’s launch event. The delivery truck arrived, driven by an exquisitely handsome, tan-skinned gentleman claiming in broken English to be the LA wholesaler. By midday, though, the street was completely blocked by the fully-erected party tent, so Mr. Pragesh’s twenty-foot delivery truck could not reach the shop. After much yelling and doodling, Mr. Pragesh came to understand Gigi’s Rorschach map directing him to the narrow back alley used by garbage trucks. Grace headed to the back of her store to unlock the door.
Mr. Pragesh’s larg truck maneuvered its way down the back alley. He nimbly climbed down from the cab and opened the back of the six-wheeler. He and his young helper brought the first item onto the lift and lowered it to the ground.
“What is this?” asked Grace. “It’s not mine.”
“Yes, Ma’am, it is. Here on the manifest…” He showed her the packing list, and she saw the item listed.
“Yes, you may have it on your list, but I did not order a life-size stuffed giraffe,” said Grace with clipped patience.
She stopped Mr. Pragesh and his apprentice from taking anything else out of the truck and pulled out her cell phone.
“Please put someone on the phone who speaks English.” Grace waited and scowled at Mr. Pragesh, who stood quietly and with his eyes closed in a one-legged yoga position, hands set in prayer. His protégé followed suit.
“This is Tyra Pragesh, Mr. Pragesh’s daughter. How can I help you?” a woman asked curtly, with a vaguely British accent. Grace explained the series of events, including her selection of merchandise based on the photos she’d been shown in LA, her frequent calls to check on the status of the shipment, her conversation with Mr. Pragesh the day before, and the very physical reality of the stuffed giraffe before her—right here right now. “Might I speak with my father?” Grace handed her cell phone to Mr. Pragesh and listened as he spoke softly to his daughter in an unrecognizable language. Grace heard the woman respond at length, and finally, Mr. Pragesh handed the phone back to Grace and resumed his closed-eyed yoga pose. “Mrs. Meadowcroft, my father has been trying to tell you that the container with your items never made it to port. There was a storm, and many of the containers on the ship went overboard. The container with your items is somewhere on the sea floor.”
“You cannot be friggin’ serious,” shouted Grace. “Then what did you send up here?”
“My father said that you asked to have everything he had sent up. He matched the photos that you had selected with stock that we had in the warehouse. He gave you some beautiful and priceless pieces, he tells me. You have many more unique items now than what were on your original list.”
“Unique? What am I supposed to do with a life-size stuffed giraffe? It sure as hell doesn’t fit on someone’s knick-knack shelf like the twenty-four-inch wood one I ordered,” screamed Grace, bringing Gigi, alarmed, out into the back alley. “Look, I’ve got an event in two days and I do not have time to get other merchandise. What do you propose to do?”
“The sales agreement states that merchandise can be substituted and that we are not liable for acts of God, which the storm qualified as. Do you understand I am trying to help you?” Tyra Pragesh’s tone softened. “The giraffe was only three months old when it lost its mother and was attacked by lions. The game warden put the fawn out of its misery. The taxidermist stitched up where the lion bites were, and it was good as new, although admittedly dead.”
Grace was speechless. Why the hell do I need a backstory on the stupid baby giraffe, anyway?
Tyra offered to ship up additional goods and provide an even more handsome discount.
“Oh, that’s just precious.” Grace clicked off. Grudgingly, she watched as Mr. Pragesh and his young accomplice unloaded the bizarre items from the truck.
“Precious, indeed!” Gigi danced circles around Mr. Pragesh like a dervish. “Look! Cast elephant end tables, copper platters with embossed hyenas, table lamps with tusk stems, and rawhide shades. Fabulous!” Each group matched the general description of Grace’s original order, but none resembled in the slightest the style or tone she had desired.
“It’s like a mottled menagerie of endangered species salvaged from Victorian attics,” said Grace.
“Precisely!” Gigi was hugging Mr. Pragesh. “This man is a genius. And so handsome. He looks like Great God Ganesh, the hot blue-skinned Hindu god with six arms. What woman wouldn’t become a disciple?!”
Mr. Pragesh looked as if he had been struck in the face.
“Grandfather, the strange lady has confused our elephant god with our most beloved Vishnu,” said the wide-eyed young boy in perfectly understandable English.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Crushed, author Layne Gray weaves a delightful chick lit / women's fiction story that follows one woman's journey of self-discovery and transformation after discovering her husband's infidelity.

On a whim, Grace decides to surprise her husband Peter at the airport wearing only sexy lingerie and a fur coat. But the surprise is on Grace, when she discovers that Peter has been cheating. With her world turned upside down, Grace's best friend suggests that she check herself into Finedale, a secret all-inclusive spa retreat for discarded wives for a bit of pampering while she gets her bearings. While at Finedale, Grace embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery, experiences, and transformation.

Set in the picturesque Bay Area setting of San Francisco, Crushed is a fast paced and entertaining tale that has a nice mixture of drama, humor, romance, and poignancy, that will easily keep the reader engaged as they follow Grace's journey.

You can't help but feel a connection with Grace as her journey takes her down a new path filled with intriguing twists and turns as she rediscovers who she is after the unexpected breakup of her marriage. Through new experiences (some that are pretty hilarious), new friendships, and finding self-confidence in herself, Grace gets through the hardship of marriage, the crushed feeling of betrayal, and the divorce with strength, a positive transformation, and a new start in life. As I followed Grace's journey, I experienced the full gamut of emotions, and I couldn't help but smile and cheer her on as she learned to restart her life.

With a quirky cast of characters, witty dialogue and humorous interactions, a rich description of the Bay Area setting of San Francisco, and a realistic storyline that women can relate to, Crushed is a wonderful story of strength and renewal.


Contest Giveaway

Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card

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Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

April 4- A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt
April 4 –LiteraryChanteuse- Excerpt
April 4- Wendi Nunnery –Review
April 5 –Change theWord – Q&A
April 5 – Chick Lit ClubConnect – Guest Post
April 7 – NerdyDirty and Flirty – Excerpt
April 8 - Sweet N Sassy Bookaholics - Excerpt
April 8 – Authorsand Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
April 8 – – Review & Excerpt
April 8 – Blurbs andWords – Review & Excerpt
April 8 – Aroundthe World in Books – Novel Spotlight
April 12 – LivingLife With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
April 12 – CoffeeholicBookworm – Review
April 13 – CurlingUp With A Good Book –Review
 April 15 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews –Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
April 18 – The Phantom Paragrapher - Review


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. I appreciate your kind comment. :)