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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Jersey Girl Book Reviews: Top Ten Books Read In 2016

2016 has been an awesome year of reading, reviewing and hosting virtual book tour events for Jersey Girl Book Reviews. From NY Times Bestselling Authors to Indie Authors, I have read 170 wonderful books, and trying to narrow it down to my Top 10 favorites has not been easy. While I have enjoyed every book, here is the Top 10 Books I Read in 2016 that simply moved me the most.

1) The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

2) Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio  

3) Silver Threads by Bette Lee Crosby                           

4) Layers of Her by Prescott Lane                                  

5) Faultlines by Barbara Sissel

6) Dead Is Dead by John Lansing

7) Silent Sentry by Theresa Rizzo

8)  In The Dark by Chris Patchell


9) Between Black And White by Robert Bailey 

10) Love Alabama by Susan Sands

And there you have it, my Top 10 Books that I read in 2016! 

Check out my complete 2016 books read on Goodreads: 

Stayed tuned to see what fabulous books are in store for 2017 on Jersey Girl Book Reviews! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Spooning Daisy by Maggie McConnell (Book Blast / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for Spooning Daisy by author Maggie McConnell!

About The Book

Spooning Daisy by Maggie McConnell
Book 1: An Otter Bite Romance Series
Publisher: Lyrical Shine / Kensington / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Format: Paperback - 314 pages
               Kindle - 893 KB
               Nook - 480 KB
ISBN: 978-1601836878
ASIN: B015VA3O10
BNID: 978-1601836861
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Comedy

Buy The Book:
NOTE: Spooning Daisy will be on sale for 99 ¢ until January 2, 2017
Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce to die for. But Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a "bit of trouble" at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy's sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just the beginning.

Book Excerpt:

His laugh was immediate. Daisy realized how ridiculous her allegation was. Max Kendall's particular brand of woman didn't need lies to motivate her into his bed. His women were fun and adventurous and, unlike Daisy, didn't have impossible expectations.

"I thought we were talking about you," he said with a dying chuckle. "But if you think you're helping the enemy..." With his good leg bearing the brunt of his weight, he rose from the bed. Grabbing the handles on his duffle bag, he slowly stepped toward the bathroom.

"If the lights were dim and the music soft and the wine expensive." 

Max turned at the door. "And?"

"And what?"

"I don't believe for one second that you, Daisy, would be undermined by lights, music, and wine."

"And… if I thought you were...special."

"And what makes a man special?"

Daisy hesitated at the fork in her road. She could give Max an honest answer or… "Well, for one thing, he's very forgiving--"

His eyes crinkled as his grin returned.

"--And he would never use all the hot water just to prove some ridiculous point."

"I guess I'm not the only one who has trouble giving a straight answer. See you when the water runs cold." The bathroom door clicked shut.

"And he makes me smile," Daisy murmured, smiling.  

About The Author

Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.


Contest Giveaway

Maggie McConnell will be awarding a Kate Spade necklace: enamel "forget-me-not" blue flowers (U.S. only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the blast event

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blast Event

Event Participants:

December 5: Welcome to My World of Dreams
December 6: 3 Partners in shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!
December 7: Straight from the Library
December 8: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
December 8: Fabulous and Brunette
December 9: Readeropolis
December 12: Dena Garson-Real... Hot... Romance
December 13: Louise Lyndon Romance Author Hear Me Roar
December 14: Reviews by Crystal
December 15: Rachel Brimble Romance
December 16: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
December 26: Mixed Book Bag
December 27: Lilac Reviews
December 28: Book Giveaways
December 29: Books,Dreams,Life
December 30: Jersey Girl Book Reviews
January 2: Notes From a Romantic's Heart
January 3: Kissing Bandits
January 4: Two Ends of the Pen
January 5: Harlie's Books
January 6: Booklover Sue

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Date with Desire by Heather McGovern (Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for A Date with Desire by author Heather McGovern!

Book Review

A Date with Desire by Heather McGovern
Book 2: A Honeywilde Romance Series
Publisher: Lyrical Shine / Kensington / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: December 20, 2016
Format: Paperback - 272 pages
               Kindle - 1234 KB
               Nook - 960 KB
ISBN: 978-1601838391
BNID: 978-1601838384
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Kensington Books

Buy The Series: A Honeywilde Romance Series
Book 1: A Moment of Bliss
Book 2: A Date with Desire
Book 3: A Taste of Temptation (Pub Date: April 25, 2017)
Barnes & Noble
Kensington Books

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:

Nestled in the lush green mountains of North Carolina, the Honeywilde Inn will be a romantic’s dream getaway, if only the Bradley siblings can keep it running. It will take a combination of hard work, good luck, and the kind of love that dreams are made of . . .

Devlin Bradley knows Honeywilde Inn’s no-dating-guests policy is a sensible one, but when has he ever followed the rules? Sure, he’s been working to change his reputation as the rebellious Bradley brother and town troublemaker, but the captivating new guest from Atlanta is worth risking his family’s disapproval.

Anna Martel is going to relax—even if it kills her. The alternative is a spectacular breakdown, according to her therapist, and that’s something Anna would like to avoid. Taming her workaholic ways isn’t going to be easy with nothing to focus on, though—until she meets devilishly attractive Devlin. His slow, sexy smile is a temptation she can’t resist, even if she knows he’s nothing more than a distraction. Or is he?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Looking at the Bradley brothers was like staring into the sun.
A beautiful, blue-eyed sun, so big and bright the sight hurt a lit- tle, but Anna still studied them with a sharp eye as they buzzed around the check-in area.
They were all tall, hair the color of rich coffee, and in the kind of rugged shape that came from working in the mountains. The family photo on the resort’s website didn’t do them justice, especially not the rakish-looking one in the corner.
He was more like a sun god.
A sun god, sent to whisk a weary traveler like her away from the ever-tightening grip of big-city reality. Pamper her with luxury and cater to her every whim and wish.
Good Lord, she was word-vomiting in ad copy.
Her brain whirred on high-speed work mode when she was sup- posed to be checking into the Honeywilde Inn and Resort to relax and recover.
Her therapist was right. The time had come. She either took a break or had another breakdown. The choice was hers.
“You’ll be in Cabin Five,” one of the other Bradley brothers said. His shiny name badge announced him as Roark Bradley, General Manager. “Trevor will show you the way up. Cabin Five sits at the highest point on the property.” He turned to who she guessed was the youngest of the three. “Trev, take my truck and have Ms. Martel fol- low you. Five can be tricky to find until you know your way around.” While he murmured to Trevor about offering to help with her lug- gage and watching the steep bend in the last turn, the third brother
stepped out of his corner.

Devlin Bradley, Hospitality Manager, his name badge read.
Devil Bradley might be more fitting.
The slow, sly drag of his gaze up her body, from the tips of her toes to the sunglasses stuck on her head, would be lewd if he didn’t look so adorable trying to hide it.
Arms crossed over his body, he leaned against the reception desk and scratched along his temple, checking her out around the side of his hand and in between his fingers.
All of this, she noticed from the corner of her eyes because she was not checking him out too. But, if she were checking him out, she’d say he was easily the handsomest of the three.
No, handsome wasn’t right. His brother, the manager, was hand- some.
Devlin was sexy.
Tall and filled out, he was still a little leaner than his brothers. His dark hair was too long on top to be considered professional, eyes hooded like he’d recently woken from a post-sex nap, and a jawline that’d make any model jealous. Broody, in a classic James Dean sense, but with a hint of boyish charm.
He was the type they hired to advertise trendy clothing lines, and she was half tempted to call her office and let them know.
But she was not working right now. She was supposed to be on vacation.
Just a woman, on vacation, admiring a good-looking guy as he proceeded to fake cough so she’d look in his direction.
Anna pinched her lips together to keep from smiling.
Devlin was tempting, no doubt a handful, and she couldn’t deal with any of that at the moment.
Taking a break from her burgeoning career, leaving her job in the lurch, that was enough to handle. Following her therapist’s advice of rest, recovery, and “participating in the process of grief ” would likely prove too much.
She had no room in her vacation for blue-eyed devils, she sucked at relaxing, and the process of grief could take a flying leap off this mountain.
“Are you all set, ma’am?” The youngest Bradley straight up ma’am-ed her as he walked by.

My Book Review:

If you are looking for a delightful romantic story set in the picturesque mountain region of North Carolina, then look no further, A Date with Desire is the book for you!

A Date with Desire is a thoroughly entertaining romantic tale that will easily keep the reader turning the pages. The story follows the unexpected romantic meeting of Anna Martel and Devin Bradley, when Anna goes on a much needed vacation to the Honeywilde Inn, a North Carolina mountain resort owned by the Bradley family. Anna is a workaholic from Atlanta who came to the resort for rest and relaxation, but when she meets the devilish Devin, she can't resist the temptation, while Devin can't help but break the Bradley family rule of no dating the guests!

I really enjoyed following Devin and Anna's story. I couldn't help but enjoy watching the chemistry that developed between them, especially when it is a love at first sight kind of romance. They are simply made for each other, and it you can't but cheer for them as their relationship develops into love.

A Date with Desire is a fast paced and fun romance story that has engaging characters, humorous interactions and witty dialogue, troubled pasts and buried secrets that come to the surface, drama, and a sweet romance. The author provides the reader with a rich description of the beautiful mountain resort setting in North Carolina, that will make them long to visit the sights and sounds of this picturesque locale for themselves.

A Date with Desire is an enjoyable and lighthearted romance story that will leave a smile on your face.

A Date with Desire is the second book in the Honeywilde Romance series, and can be a stand alone read.


About The Author

Heather McGovern writes contemporary romance in swoony, southern settings. While her love of travel and adventure takes her far, there is no place quite like home. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son, and a collection of Legos that's threatening to take over the house. When she isn't writing, she's working out, or binging on books and Netflix.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Carolina Romance Writers, and she's represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.

Connect with Heather on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or her group blog. She'd love to hear to from you!

Author Website

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

December 19 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt
December 19 – With Love For Books – Review & Excerpt
December 20 – Books Dream Life – Excerpt
December 20 – Chick Lit Plus – Review & Excerpt
December 21 – T’s Stuff – Excerpt
December 22 – Book Lover in Florida – Review & Excerpt
December 23 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review  & Excerpt
December 23 - Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Sound Of Rain by Gregg Olsen (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Jean Book Nerd, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Sound Of Rain by author Gregg Olsen!

Author Guest Post

10 Random Things About Me

11.     I’m terrified of heights.
 2.     I corresponded with serial killer Ted Bundy
 3.     I’m always on the hunt for the best chile rellano.
 4.     I prefer milk over dark chocolate.
 5.     My PO Box is 7 and I’m on the waiting list to get Box 1.
 6.     I once wrote a book in 8 days.
 7.     It took me 4 years to write one of my books.
 8.     My favorite flower is the trillium.
 9.     I’m still waiting for Lorde’s new music.
 10.   I’m no quitter.

Book Review

The Sound Of Rain by Gregg Olsen
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: December 13, 2016
Format: Paperback - 350 pages
               Kindle - 2536 KB
ISBN: 978-1503941960
BNID: 978-1503941960
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

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 Jean Book Nerd. 

Book Description:

Former homicide detective Nicole Foster has hit rock bottom. Driven off the force by her treacherous partner and lover, she’s flat broke and struggling with a gambling addiction. All Nicole has left is the dream of a warm bed at a homeless shelter and the haunting memories of three-year-old Kelsey Chase—whose murder case ended her career.

As Nicole obsesses over the old facts, she realizes everything about that case felt off: a disinterested mom, a suicidal pedophile, and too many questions left unanswered. When the little girl’s grieving father begs Nicole for help, she’s drawn back into the investigation…and given one shot at redemption.

But the deeper Nicole digs, the more evil she uncovers, including betrayals that hit painfully close to home. Will a shocking discovery be the key to finally getting justice for Kelsey and resurrecting her own life?

My Book Review:

The Sound Of Rain, author Gregg Olsen weaves a fast paced, riveting, and multi-layered mystery thriller that simply takes the reader on an exhilarating roller coaster ride.

Set in Bellevue, this bone-chilling dark tale has enough drama, gripping suspense, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep the reader holding their breath, guessing, and sitting on the edge of their seat. You can't help but feel compassion for former homicide detective Nicole Foster as she gets a second chance to solve the mystery of three year old Kelsey Chase's kidnapping and murder, while seeking justice and redemption for her past sins. With every riveting twist and turn that unfolds in the story, the intensity and suspense mounts until the surprising climactic ending that will leave you completely spent.

If you are fan of dark suspense thrillers, then The Sound Of Rain is a must read. You won't be disappointed!


About The Author

Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances. 

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child. 

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner's Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen's Snapped, Court TV's Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E's Biography. 

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People,Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post. 

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington's Secretary of State for the book's contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival. 

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater). 

Author Website

Contest Giveaway

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

5 Winners will receive a Copy of Signed Copies of The Sound of Rain by Gregg Olsen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

December 12th Monday JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW 
December 13th Tuesday Readsalot SPOTLIGHT
December 14th Wednesday fallxnrobin REVIEW & TENS LIST 
December 14th Wednesday TTC Books and More REVIEW 
December 15th Thursday CBY Book Club SPOTLIGHT  
December 16th Friday The Phantom Paragrapher REVIEW 
December 17th Saturday Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW & FAVORITE BOOKS 
December 17th Saturday Books, Dreams, Life SPOTLIGHT 
December 18th Sunday Captivated Reading SPOTLIGHT 
December 19th Monday Mama Reads Blog REVIEW & GUEST POST 
December 20th Tuesday A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW & MUSIC PLAYLIST 
December 20th Tuesday Rose's Book Corner REVIEW 
December 21st Wednesday Jersey Girl Book Reviews REVIEW & RANDOM THINGS 
December 21st Wednesday The Avid Book Collector SPOTLIGHT

Monday, December 19, 2016

Amelia's Hope by Candis Vargo (Book Review)

In association with Reading Addiction Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Amelia's Hope by author Candis Vargo!

Book Review

Amelia's Hope by Candis Vargo
Publisher: Fifth Ink Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: November 13, 2016
Format: eBook - 140 pages
               Kindle - 2889 KB
               Nook - 289 KB
BNID: 2940153322131
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
Amazon - US
Amazon - UK
Amazon - CA
Barnes & Noble

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 Reading Addiction Book Tours.

Book Description:

“Even though I was decaying, Amelia was growing. It was like some beautiful symphony the way both things were happening at once.”

Sacrificing your life for your child is one of the greatest ways a mother can show her love. For Cara Michaels, that sacrifice was made.

At ten weeks pregnant, Cara was diagnosed with a fast-acting cancer and was faced with the ultimate decision… That decision, was to forgo life-saving treatment to ensure her child would come into this world unharmed.

Cara shares with us the last months of her life as she prepared to give birth to her child and for her husband, Joel, to parent without her.

But a husband can only handle so much before he breaks…

Grab your tissues because you're in for heartbreak.

Book Excerpt:


Everyone has a story, I know that. Just like everyone has that moment, or for some, moments, in their life that changed them forever. I don’t mean the moment where you realize your career sucks and you want to do something different, or the sudden urge to get covered in tattoos - not that there’s anything wrong with that. No, I mean the change that happens deep inside of you. The one that comes from within the core of your being—the one that is no choice of your own; it just happens. It’s uncontrollable and irrevocable. Suddenly the person you see in the mirror has a depth within their eyes. A depth that has been born from inconceivable pain.
It’s a moment that, for the rest of your life, you try to make sense out of. Whether you try to figure out why it happened or why it changed you so much, you search for some sort of reasoning. But there isn’t any. It just is.
Well, my name is Cara Michaels, and this is my story…
I thought the moment that changed my life happened when I found out I was pregnant. I guess in a way, it did, because if I wasn’t pregnant, I would have had a fighting chance…
But my real life-changing moment came several weeks later. The day I’m talking about is March, 10th and it was a beautiful spring morning. The sun was shining brightly in the softest blue sky as a gentle breeze danced through my hair. It was abnormally warm for the beginning of March but I loved it. Life couldn’t have been better as my devilishly handsome husband, Joel, drove us to our new home. I’m sure you think I’m joking when I say he’s devilishly handsome, but boy was he. His lips were luscious and pink, and always seemed to be begging to be kissed, and behind his chocolate brown eyes was a depth of passion that came straight from his soul. The way he would look at me with such love, it was like something from the movies. A love that most women only dream of. And there was just something delicious about the five o’clock shadow that covered his chiseled jawline. His muscles weren’t like a body builder, but they were large enough that his tee shirts hugged him tightly. And he always smelled like Old Spice. I loved that about him…
Joel had always promised that before we started our family, we would buy our own house. And he was keeping his promise.
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,” I said as I smacked my hand on the dash. “Can’t you drive any faster?”
Joel glanced over at me, smiling, before returning his eyes to the road and shaking his head. “We’re a block away. You’ve survived this long; I’m sure another two minutes won’t kill you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. If people can die from heartache, I’m sure excitement can kill too.”
Joel laughed. “Those two things aren’t even remotely comparable.”
“That’s not the point…” I perked my head up and moved it at different angles, trying to look around objects that obstructed my view. We were driving through a suburban neighborhood so it was only trees and vehicles in my way.
The first time we drove through that area we got lost…and again the second time. It would take anyone a while to be comfortable navigating the maze of cookie cutter houses in the subdivision. I had made Joel drive by the house often enough that he now had no problem finding it.
“Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” he sighed in mock exasperation.
I squealed with delight as we pulled into the paved driveway that sat on the right side of the tan house. I unbuckled my seatbelt and had my hand on the door handle, waiting to open it. The moment the car was in park, I jumped out and ran across the walkway that curved through the front yard. I slid my hand along the wooden railing as I made my way up the brick steps that led to the porch, then turned to look at Joel.
“Ugh, come on,” I complained as I peeked through the windows, anxious to get inside.
I had been waiting for this day since we closed on the house a month ago. Much to my dismay, Joel and I had agreed to give the previous owners an extra thirty days to move out. If it were up to me, we would have moved in the same day we signed the paperwork. That wait was excruciating, just so you know.
“Calm down, Killer,” Joel joked as he joined me on the porch and teased me by dangling the key in front of my face. “Ready?”
“Yes, yes, now come on!”
After he unlocked the door, Joel held it open for me.  As I walked inside he said, “Welcome home.”
Two words never sounded so nice.
My cheeks started to hurt from smiling so widely as I danced from room to room, talking about how I could decorate and lay out the furniture. I’m sure Joel couldn’t make out a word of what I said because I was talking so fast. The main level had a decently large galley kitchen that was down the hall from the living room, though they were close enough that you could see one if you stood in the other. There was a large dining room that would require us to buy a new table; the one we had was way too small. At the end of the hall was the bathroom, which also had the washer and dryer in it, and an office sat beside it. The first time I toured the house, I decided I was going to turn that office in to a laundry room and I was starting to think that I would make that one of our first projects. I made my way back to the entry room where Joel still stood and stopped in my tracks.
“When do the movers come?” I paused to catch my breath. I hadn’t realized how winded I was. “We need to get everything done as soon as we can so we can start working on the baby’s room.”
Joel walked up and placed one hand on my stomach and the other around my back as he gave me a quick kiss.
“Don’t you worry, the van comes in a few hours and I will make sure everything gets done.” He looked down towards my belly as he spoke, “you just need to tell your mommy not to stress over anything. We have seven more months to get everything ready.”
“I know stress isn’t good,” I sighed. “There’s just so much to do and…we have a home now! Our own house to raise our little family! How exciting is that?”
“Very.” Joel laughed as he started to massage my shoulders.
Pain shot through me and I inhaled sharply as I tried to wiggle out from Joel’s grasp.
He narrowed his gaze. “What’s wrong?”
“I just got this bruise,” I moved the sleeve of my shirt down off of my shoulder so I could show him.
“Christ, Cara! What the hell did you do?”
The bruise sat next to my collar bone and was bigger than I remembered, stretching nearly to my armpit. The outer edge was a light blue but the majority of the bruise was deep purple, certainly not a pretty sight.
“Lord only knows. You know me—I could have walked into a wall or something.” Which was the truth. I couldn’t remember how I got the bruise but I’m also the type of woman who bends down to plug in a lamp and hits my head on the wall.
“That doesn’t look like something you’d get just from bumping into a doorway, Cara.” Joel placed his hands on the edge of the bruise, careful not to hurt me, and leaned in as if to get a better look.
Wiggling free, I pulled my sleeve back up, careful not to hit my shoulder. “It’s just a bruise Joel. I’m not going to die,” I laughed. He seriously had a tendency to worry too much. “Really, have you not seen where they took blood from me the other day? I look like I shoot up.” I held my arm out to show him the puncture wound. The scab was still visible from where the needle went in and that too, was bruised.
“Alright, well just-” his words were cut off as the moving van pulled up. “That was fast. I’ll have to text Ryan and let him know the van is already here. He wanted to come over and help out.”
Ryan was Joel’s best friend. They first met in middle school but went separate ways after high school. Someway, somehow, life had brought them together again and they now worked together at the same company. Ryan had always had a touch of a rebel side to him and as soon as he was able to legally get a tattoo without parental consent, he did. Now he had full sleeves that covered both arms. When he ran out of room there, he started to get some down his chest and a few on his legs. It suited him well, though. He was still getting a tattoo whenever he could but for the time being he was making it his life’s mission to get a Harley. No, he never wore leather or a bandanna to try to fit the typical biker guy stereotype. That’s something we loved about him; he was always just him. He never wanted to fit in to any stereotype.
Anyway, Joel was able to get the day off for the move but Ryan had promised to come by after work to help out.
“Ok, wait, he isn’t going to bring Jenn, is he?”
It’s not that I hated the woman, she was just way too needy. She was the type that practically begged for constant attention and it drove me crazy sometimes. She was pretty, I’ll give her that. I mean she was tall and skinny with long red hair, so I guess you could say we were complete opposites. I’m a little on the short side—okay a lot on the short side. I was never overweight, but my body was definitely curvy, which was only enhancing thanks to the pregnancy, and I had shoulder length black hair and green eyes. Jenn was the typical blue eyed beauty. Maybe a part of me was jealous—maybe. But Joel’s grimace told me all I needed to know.
My shoulders fell as I leaned my head back. “Oh my God,” I groaned. “Fine. But that girl is seriously annoying.”
“Put her to work,” Joel suggested.
I stared into his eyes as I pointed my finger at him. “Seriously, that’s a genius idea. Or we can just ‘accidently’ lock her in the basement. Just saying.”
As Joel was about to respond, my cell phone rang. I looked down at the screen and saw that it was the hospital. “Kidding,” I whispered to Joel as I stepped into the other room and answered my phone.
The only time the hospital ever called was to remind me of an upcoming appointment or if I’ve missed one. I had just had an appointment a few days ago and wasn’t due to go back for another month. For all I knew, maybe midwives called their patients randomly throughout the pregnancy. This is my first one so I was clueless.
After I answered the phone, my body went cold. They didn’t give me bad news…they just didn’t give me any news at all really. It was the receptionist at the doctor’s office that called me and all she said was that Pam, my midwife, wanted to see me to go over the results of my bloodwork. I didn’t know if that was normal or not, but I was confused nonetheless, and a horrible feeling sank to the pit of my stomach. Especially when she said that Pam wanted me to come in now.
When I hung up the phone, I walked out to the front porch where Joel was talking to the van driver. I didn’t plan on interrupting their conversation but Joel saw the worry on my face and immediately turned his attention to me. I’ve always loved that about him, how he cares so much.
“Hey, what’s going on?” He rubbed his hands down my arms.
“That was the hospital. Um, they said we need to go back in, that Pam needs to talk about the results of my blood work.”
“What? Why?” Now his expression resembled what I’m sure mine looked like. Confused. Lost. Worried…
“I—I don’t know. But they want us to go in now and I’m trying to stay positive but I’m scared and I don’t know why they would want me to go all the way in right now instead of waiting for my next appointment.” My words were rushed and mushed together and my hands were flinging around as I used them to accentuate my speech, something I only did when I was upset.
Joel pulled me in for a hug. “Hey, hey—it’ll be okay. Ryan will be here any minute so try not to think too much. It’ll be okay.”
After Ryan and Jenn arrived, Joel drove me to the hospital, leaving Ryan in charge of getting everything off of the moving van. I sat in the waiting room, anxious to see what Pam so desperately needed to talk to me about. Whenever I was sitting, at least one of my legs was in constant motion and I chewed on my nails. When I was walking, I was sprinting. The nurse finally called my name and I jumped right up. Usually the nurses would make me pee in a cup and take my weight but this time Joel and I followed the petite blonde in pink scrubs straight into the exam room.
“Pam will be with you in a minute,” the nurse said as she typed something into the computer that was in the room. I scooted up on the bed and swore I saw something in the nurse’s eyes when she glanced at me. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t good. The nurse left the room and though we only waited a few minutes, it felt like eternity to me. I came up with a million questions in my head and I prayed I wouldn’t have to ask any of them.
“Cara, how are you feeling?” Pam asked as she walked into the room.
“I don’t know. I felt great but now I’m pretty nervous.”
She pressed her lips together before saying, “I’m going to be straight with you here. There were some things that came back in your bloodwork that set off a red flag.”
I glanced at Joel before quickly turning my attention back to Pam. My heart clenched in my chest before it began racing. I tried not to worry but apparently that’s easier said than done.
“What’s that mean?” Joel asked. I was grateful that he spoke up because I didn’t trust my voice.
“Well nothing is certain yet.” Pam leaned against the wall. “Cara, I have a few quick questions for you. Have you felt dizzy or maybe extremely tired lately?”
“Well, yeah. Isn’t that normal though?” My heart pounded in my chest. I thought those were normal pregnancy woes, weren’t they?
“Yes, it is to an extent. What about shortness of breath or maybe some bruising?”
“Yeah,” I dragged the word out. “You’re really starting to scare me.” My palms were sweaty so I wiped them along my pants to dry them.
“May I see?” Her eyes widened and she raised her brows, making it less of a question and more of an order.
“Yeah.” I stood up and turned my back to her as I lifted up the back of my shirt. The sting of her cold hands on my flesh made jerk away from her a little bit. I think she mistook that for pain because she immediately backed away. As I let my shirt fall back down she continued to speak.
“Well, I’d like to get some more tests done,” Pam paused. “Specifically a bone marrow test.”
“A what?” Joel snapped.
“What for?” I grabbed Joel’s hand.
“Well nothing is certain-”
“Pam, what are you testing me for? What’s wrong with the baby?” I felt the blood drain out of my face. Not my baby. Anything but my baby.
“No, the baby is okay and growing well.”
I was relieved that my baby was okay, but me? What in the world could be wrong with me? “Then it’s me? What is it?”
“Why don’t we get that bone marrow test and go from there, okay? We’ll get you sent over for the testing right away and then back here in my office on Monday if that’s alright?”
“I—yeah…” My head was filled with questions but I was too confused to get any of them out. I probably should have asked some of them, but what would I ask? Even with all of the questions in my head, none of them would have given me the definitive answer I wanted right then.
I was nervous about the bone marrow test. I thought I would be in excruciating pain and would be sore for a long time. I don’t know why I thought that, but it didn’t hurt too badly. It was more of an annoying pain, kind of like when the dentist pulls a tooth after giving you Novocain. You don’t really feel the pain of tooth being pulled, you really just feel the pressure. Does that make sense?
I tried not to worry, but that proved to be nearly impossible. Joel did his best to comfort me as I did my best to be strong for him. I’ve always known how much he loved me, and I never wanted him to go through the pain of seeing me hurt in any way. I always said that I wanted him to die before me, so I could keep him from feeling that type of pain, so I pretended to be strong.
We worked on unpacking over the next several days, and when Monday finally rolled around, I was a nervous wreck. I kept telling myself that whatever it was I would be fine and my baby would be fine because I wouldn’t let anything happen to my baby. I couldn’t.
When Pam walked in, a sad smile crossed her face and I knew the news wasn’t good. My body went cold as I tried to prepare myself for whatever it was she had to say.
“What is it?” I croaked and Joel wrapped his arm around me and kissed my head.
Pam slid her stool over in front of my chair as she sat down and placed a hand on my knee. “I’m afraid there’s no easy way to say this, Cara. You have acute myeloid leukemia.”

My Book Review:

Amelia's Hope is a compelling and emotional story that follows Cara Michael's story as her world is turned upside down when she is diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on her tenth week of pregnancy, and the difficult decision that she makes to sacrifice her life by forgoing chemotherapy in order to give her unborn baby life.

Author Candis Vargo weaves a heartbreaking story told in the first person narrative, as Cara takes the reader along on the last few months of her heart wrenching journey, and how this unexpected tragedy completely devastates her husband Joel.

I found myself captivated by this story, it took me on a roller coaster ride where I felt the full gamut of emotions. You just can't help but feel compassion and empathy for Cara and Joel as their world is turned upside down by the traumatic diagnosis that completely shattered their dreams except for the little miracle that was growing in Cara's tummy. This is a beautifully written story that easily draws the reader in from beginning to end. It is a thought provoking and emotional story of a mother's undying love for her unborn child, and a husband's unfathomable sorrow and emotional attempt to pick up the pieces and move forward that will simply tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul.

Amelia's Hope is a powerfully emotional women's fiction story that will break your heart, and stay with you long after the last word has been read.


About The Author

Growing up on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere, as a child Candis Vargo used her love for books as a way to escape reality (and her brother constantly trying to kill her--literally). She blames her love of all things Horror on being born on Friday the 13th and will always find joy in scaring her friends.

You will find a little piece of her in every book she writes. She loves a good happy ending but isn’t afraid to keep her stories real, even if that means telling the side of a story most people are afraid to tell.

Never caring for the norms or boundaries, Candis has written several genres from Horror to Erotica.

When she's not writing or reading, she can usually be found chasing her children around or binge watching Netflix. She currently lives in Rome, Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. 

Author Website / Blog
Amazon Author Page

Virtual Book Tour

Click on the above link for the tour schedule.