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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Practicing Normal by author Cara Sue Achterberg!

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Format: Paperback - 336 pages
               ebook  / Kindle - 1868 KB
ISBN: 978-1611882445
BNID: 978-1611882445
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Providence Book Promotions.

Book Description:

The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.

The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.

Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

Praise for Practicing Normal:

“Does facing the truth beat living a lie? In PRACTICING NORMAL, Cara Sue Achterberg has given us a smart story that is both a window and a mirror, about the extraordinary pain ― and the occasional gifts ― of an ordinary life.”
– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN

“What does it really mean to have a normal life? Achterberg’s stunning new novel explores how a family can fracture just trying to survive, and how what makes us different is also what can make us most divine.”
– Caroline Leavitt, author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and the New York Times bestsellers PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW

PRACTICING NORMAL takes a deep dive into the dysfunctional dynamics of a ‘picture perfect family.’ A compelling story about the beautiful humanity in the most ordinary of lives: from first love to a marriage on the downward slide to an unexpected family tragedy. Achterberg handles each thread with tender care and we can’t help but root for every member of the Turner family.”
– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THE VANISHING YEAR

Book Excerpt:

Waving to Jenna as she waits at the bus stop, all I can think is, Please let her go to school today and stay in school all day. Jenna is such a smart girl; I don’t understand why she doesn’t apply herself to her studies. She could be anything. A doctor, even. I was a nurse, but Jenna is smarter than me. Of course, that was twenty years ago. Before I married Everett. Before Jenna and JT were born. Before we ever lived in Pine Estates.
I was the one who chose the house. Everett thought it was pretentious, and it was. All the houses on our end of Pine Road were pretentious. But it was the nineties. Everyone was building McMansions and taking out ridiculous loans to pay for them. Everett had just left his job as a police officer for the job at FABSO (Family and Business Security Options).
We needed to start a new life. We celebrated the new job and didn’t talk about the fact that things could have turned out very differently if his captain had chosen to bring charges against him. Instead, he recommended Everett for the job at FABSO and made it clear Everett would be wise to take it.
I remember lying in bed holding Everett the day he turned in his gun and his badge. He was devastated. Being a cop had been Everett’s dream since childhood. “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a cop. If I can’t be a cop, who am I?”
“You’re a father and a husband. That’s so much more,” I told him. He didn’t say anything about it again. He got to work. He made something of FABSO. And he’s tried so hard to be a good dad.
I don’t remember much about my own dad, and whenever I asked my mother she would say, “There’s nothing to remember about that louse except that he was a louse.” When I pressed her later, after I’d grown up, she’d said, “It doesn’t matter now. He didn’t want to be with us enough to stay.”
All that bitterness can’t hide the fact that when my father left, he apparently took my mother’s heart. She’s spent the rest of her life alone. Except for me. And Evelyn. Although, once Evelyn left home, she didn’t come around much. These days she visits Mama on Saturdays, unless she has something more pressing to do, which is most weeks. Mama annoys her. I suppose I do too. We don’t fit into Evelyn’s shiny, perfect life.
When I first met Everett and told Mama about him, she was skeptical. “A cop?”
I told her how he’d wanted to be a cop since he was a little boy, the same way I always wanted to be a nurse. I gushed about how he told me I was beautiful and how he said he’d been certain about us the first time he saw me. Mama said, “Men will say whatever it takes, Kate. When will you realize that?” But I knew she was wrong about Everett.
I met Everett in the ER. I was treating a patient who was high on coke or meth or God knows what. He was lean and riddled with track marks, his strength coming from whatever drug was flooding his body. I didn’t recognize him as one of our regulars—the ones who showed up like clockwork in search of pain meds. This guy was out of his mind and covered in his own blood from where he’d scratched his thin skin. Another nurse helped me attempt to strap him to the gurney with the Velcro holds, but he was out of his mind and reached for the needle I was about to use to sedate him. Everett was nearby at the desk filling out forms and heard me yell. In just moments, he wrestled the junkie to the ground and held him still as I plunged the needle in. When the man finally collapsed, Everett lifted him back onto the gurney and secured him.
When he turned and looked at me with his green eyes, the same eyes Jenna has, I knew I would marry him. I told him that on our second date. He laughed. I’ve always loved his laugh.
When Everett started at FABSO, he made nearly twice the salary he’d made as a cop. I didn’t need to work any longer. It was our chance. I would stay home and take care of our happy family in our beautiful house in Pine Estates. It was our new start. I thought we belonged there.
When I open the door to Mama’s house, she’s already calling for me. She may be losing her mind, but her hearing hasn’t deteriorated one bit.
“You’re late!” she scolds.
“Sorry, JT had a hard time picking out a shirt to wear today.”
“He’s not a baby! I don’t know why you put up with it.”
I smile at her. No sense taking the bait. “You’re right, Mama.”
“You’ve always been so indecisive. I swear if I didn’t tell you what to do next, you’d stand there like a statue.”
“Good thing you’re so good at telling me what to do,” I mutter as I go to prepare her tea.
Mama wasn’t always like this. When Evelyn and I were little, she was our whole world. She baked homemade cakes for our birthdays, and elaborately decorated them with whatever we were currently obsessing over—Tinker Bell, Barbies, guitars, or, for Evelyn, a computer one year, and the scales of justice the year she announced she was going to be a judge when she grew up.
Mama read to us every night. I remember snuggling into the crook of her arm, even when I was too old to be doing it. Evelyn would be on her other side and our hands would meet on Mama’s flat tummy. I loved the stories with a happy ending, but Evelyn demanded that she read “real books.” She wanted mysteries and thrillers instead of the children’s books Mama picked out at the library. So Mama began to read Nancy Drew, but Evelyn went to the adult aisle and picked out John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. Mama tried to read them to us. She’d come to a part that she felt was too racy for us and she’d hum while she skimmed ahead til she found a more appropriate section before beginning to read again. This drove Evelyn nuts. She’d pout and complain, eventually stomping off. Mama would return the books to the library unread, but it wasn’t long before Evelyn was old enough to have her own library card and checked them out for herself.
In the mornings, Mama would braid our hair, pack our lunches with tiny handwritten notes, and walk us to the bus stop for more years than was appropriate. When Evelyn reached high school, she demanded that Mama stop, but she still followed us with her car and waited to be certain we got on the bus safely.
Now that I’m a mom, I know it couldn’t have been easy raising us alone. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten difficult. But I put up with her increasing number of quirks because I feel I owe her. Evelyn doesn’t see it that way, but then again Evelyn doesn’t feel she owes anybody anything.
“Here you go.” I hand Mama the bitter Earl Grey tea she likes over-steeped with no sweetener.
“I’ve already missed Phillip,” she says as I help her out the door to the back porch. She spends most mornings there, talking to the birds that frequent her multiple bird feeders.
“Who’s Phillip?” I ask, mostly to make conversation. She loves to talk about the birds.
The look she gives me is just like the one JT gives me when my random “Wow” comes at the wrong time in one of his lengthy soliloquies on his current obsession. “Phillip is the male cardinal who has begun stopping by each morning. He comes over the fence from the southeast. He’s usually here before the chickadees move in and take over the birdbath.”
I look at the crowd of birds fighting over the seed at the feeder. They all look the same to me. “I’ve got to take care of a few things at home after I run JT to school; I’ll be back at lunchtime.”
“Always leaving me!” she complains. “You can’t even spend five minutes with your mother.”
I’d protest, but there’s no point. She sees things the way she needs to see them. Rewriting history is one of her specialties. I’ve been listening to her do it all my life. When Everett and I took the kids to the beach last summer, she said, “Must be nice! I’ve never had a vacation.” Yet, I remember several summers when Mama took Evelyn and me to the same beach we were headed to. Or when I graduated from nursing school, Mama said, “I’ve always said you’d make a fine nurse,” when, in reality, she’d been telling me for years that I could never be a nurse because I was so weak at chemistry. She thought I should have considered something in business—like being a secretary. She’s been spinning her stories of Evelyn’s escapades, my mistakes, and my father’s general louse-likeness for so long, she probably believes them as gospel truth. They are, I suppose, at least to her mind.
I hurry home, hoping JT has finally decided on a shirt for school. We’re going to be late if we have to argue about it.
Excerpt from Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg. Copyright © 2017 by Cara Sue Achterberg. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

Practicing Normal is a compelling women's fiction story that easily draws the reader into the drama and emotions that come with the complexity of life and the dynamics of relationships.

Set in the town of Pine Estates, the reader can't help but get drawn into the Turner family's story as they face the complexities that occur in their life. Told in the alternating perspectives of Kate (Mom), Everett (Dad), and Jenna (teenage Daughter), the reader can't help but get caught up in the intriguing dynamic of this family, as they each struggle to practice living "normally" while surviving everyday life issues.

Author Cara Sue Achterberg weaves an intriguing women's fiction story that will easily keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. The Turner's story has a great mixture of humor, drama, angst, heartbreak, and crazy trials and tribulations, but their family dynamic is both realistic and compelling, it is the kind of story that anyone can relate to, and provide a chance to ponder about their own family's style of living.

Practicing Normal is an interesting women's fiction story of trying to live a "normal" life while learning to survive life's challenges and twists and turns.


About The Author

Cara Sue Achterberg
is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller, as was her second, Girls’ Weekend. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for liv- ing a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Cara Sue Achterberg and The Story Plant.

There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Girls' Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg.

The giveaway begins on June 1, 2017 and runs through August 3, 2017. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour 

Tour Schedule:

6/01 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

6/06 Review @ Rockin Book Reviews

6/07 Guest post @ A Bookaholic Swede

6/08 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge

6/12 Review @ Book Babble

6/13 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

6/14 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

6/14 Review @ Just Reviews

6/16 Review @ Books Direct

6/18 Showcase @ Mythical Books

6/19 Review @ CMash Reads

6/20 Interview @ CMash Reads

6/26 Review @ Deco My Heart

6/27 Guest post @ Hott Books

6/28 Review @ The World As I See It

6/30 Review @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

7/01 Review @ Cafinated Reads

7/03 Interview @ BooksChatter

7/04 Interview @ Writers and Authors

7/26 Review @ Reading in White Bear Lake

7/28 Review @ BookLove

7/29 Interview @ BookLove

7/30 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

7/31 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Monday, July 24, 2017

Executive Actions by Gary Grossman (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Executive Actions by author Gary Grossman!

Executive Actions by Gary Grossman
Book 1: Executive Series
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication Date: PB - January 13, 2012 / eBook - January 15, 2014
Format: Paperback - 562 pages
               Kindle - 2629 KB
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1626811058
BNID: 978-0983988588
Genre: Political Thriller

Buy The Book: 
Barnes & Noble

Buy The Series: Executive Series
Book 1: Executive Actions
Book 2: Executive Treason
Book 3: Executive Command
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

In the midst of a heated presidential campaign, Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke gets an assignment that turns his world upside down. His investigation uncovers a plot so monstrous it can change the course of America’s future and world politics. Roarke discovers that presidency is about to fall into the hands of a hostile foreign power. The power play is so well-conceived that even the U.S. Constitution itself is a tool designed to guarantee the plot’s success. With the election clock ticking, Roarke and Boston attorney Katie Kessler race at breakneck speed to prevent the unthinkable. But they also know that it will take a miracle to stop the takeover from happening.

Praise for the Executive Series:

“Executive Actions is the best political thriller I have read in a long, long time. Right up there with the very best of David Baldacci. [A] masterpiece of suspense; powerfully written and filled with wildly imaginative twists. Get ready to lose yourself in a hell of a story.”
Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author

“Break out the flashlight, and prepare to stay up all night … Once you start reading Executive Actions you won’t be able to put it down.”
Bruce Feirstein, James Bond screenwriter, and Vanity Fair Contributing Editor

“Executive Command mixes terrorists, politics, drug gangs and technology in nonstop action! Gary Grossman creates a … horribly plausible plot to attack the United States. So real it’s scary!”
Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Exit Plan, Cold Choices, Red Dragon Rising

“Moving at break-neck speed, Executive Command is nothing short of sensational … Executive Command is not just a great book, it’s a riveting experience.”
W.G. Griffiths, award-winning, bestselling author of Methuselah’s Pillar, Malchus

“Executive Command ramps up the excitement … A truly bravura performance from a master of the political thriller!”
Dwight Jon Zimmerman, New York Times bestselling co-author of Lincoln’s Last Days, Uncommon Valor

“Intricate, taut, and completely mesmerizing. Grossman expertly blends together globe-spanning locations, well-researched technology, finely crafted narrative, and intriguing characters to create a virtuoso tale. Highly recommended.”
Dale Brown, New York Times bestselling author

“Executive Treason is more chilling than science fiction … You’ll never listen to talk radio again without a shiver going down your spine.”
Gary Goldman, Executive Producer, Minority Report; Screenwriter, Navy SEALs & Total Recall

Book Excerpt:

by Gary Grossman
Washington, D.C. Sunday 22 June

“Topic one. Theodore Wilson Lodge. Presidential material?” bellowed the host at the top of his Sunday morning television show. He directed his question to the political pundit to his left. “Victor Monihan, syndicated columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, is Teddy ready, yes or no?”

“Yes,” Monihan shot back. You had to speak up quickly on the lively program. There was no air between questions and answers. “If the cameras could vote, he’d be a shoo-in.”

“But they don’t. So again, will it be Mr. Lodge goes to Washington?” quizzed the host of the revamped McLaughlin Group. The reference to the Frank Capra movie was lost on most of the audience. Even AMC and Turner Classics weren’t running very many black and white movies anymore.

“Absolutely.” Monihan didn’t take a breath between thoughts. The host hated dead air. Pause and you’re dead. Someone else will jump in. “He’s totally informed, he’s had great committee assignments and he can do the job. Congressman Lodge comes off as a highly capable leader. Trustworthy. The all-American boy grown up. And he positively looks like a president should look … presidential.”

“So a tan and a good build gets you to the White House?” the host argued.

“It means I don’t have to worry about him taking my job.” The overweight columnist laughed, which made his belly spread his shirt to a point just shy of popping the buttons. The joke was good, but he lost his platform with it.

“Roger Deutsch, freelance writer for Vanity Fair, right now Lodge is trailing Governor Lamden. Can Teddy make it up?”

“No. With only two days before the New York primary, there’s no way Lodge can do it. He doesn’t have the votes. And there’s not enough time to get them. Henry Lamden will be addressing the Democratic Party at the August convention in Denver. But even when he gets the nomination, he’ll have a hard time against Taylor.”

The discussion expanded to include the other members of the panel. They talked about Montana Governor Henry Lamden’s qualities. About President Morgan Taylor’s rigid persona. About the voters’ appetite. And back again to the possibilities. “Is there any way Lodge can do what fellow Vermont favorite son Calvin Coolidge did: go all the way to the White House?” the venerable host rhetorically asked. The panel knew this was not the time to reply. Turning to the camera the host said, “Not according to my watch.”

This was the throw to the video package from the campaign trail.

Teddy Lodge smiled as he sat on the edge of his hotel bed to get closer to the TV set. He was half-packed. The rest would wait until the videotape report concluded. Lodge pressed the volume louder on his remote.

“It’s on,” he called to his wife, Jenny.

“Be right out,” she answered from the bathroom. Lodge tightened the knot on the hand-painted tie he’d been given the day before. The gift, from a home crafter in Albany, would go into his collection and eventually into his Presidential Library. But first he’d wear it for the cameras. She’d see it and tell everyone she knew. More votes.

Mrs. Lodge leaned over her husband and hugged him as he watched himself on TV. “You look great, sweetheart.” He agreed. The footage was perfect: Lodge in the thick of an adoring Manhattan crowd, the wind playing with his wavy brown hair, his Armani suit jacket draped over his arm. He came off relaxed and in charge; less like a politician than an everyday guy. An everyday guy who saw himself as President of the United States. And at 6’2” he stood above most of the crowd.

Lodge knew the unusual statistical edge his height provided. Historically, the taller of the two major presidential candidates almost always wins the election. And he was considerably taller than President Morgan Taylor.

The host obviously wasn’t a supporter. But the coverage counted. He hit the bullet points of Lodge’s career.

“Teddy’s been fast-tracking since college. He graduated Yale Law School and has a graduate degree in Physics at Stanford. The man speaks three languages. He worked on various government contracts until he decided to return to his country home in Burlington, Vermont, and run for State Assembly. Two years later, so long Burlington, hello Washington. Mr. Lodge went to Capitol Hill as a young, energetic first-term congressman. He distinguished himself in international politics and now serves as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He’s as close to a rocket scientist as they come in Washington. He heads the House Committee on Energy and understands the complexities of the issues. But is he going to the White House?” the moderator asked in his feature videotape. “New Yorkers will decide Tuesday.”

And with that set up came the obligatory sound bite. It couldn’t have been better if Teddy Lodge had picked it himself. It was declarative and persuasive. The producer of the video package must have been in his camp.

“Tomorrow the world will be different. More dangerous. More hateful. Different times need different leaders. Make no mistake, there are no more safe harbors or promised lands. Unless … unless we make better choices today than yesterday. Better friends tomorrow than today.”

As he watched, Lodge remembered the clincher was yet to come. Things like that just didn’t get cut. He was right.

“So come with me and discover a new America. Come with me and discover a new world.”

Thunderous applause followed; applause from the audience at a Madison Square Garden rally.

Eighteen seconds total screen time. Unbelievable on McLaughlin. But Lodge was not an easy edit. He’d learned to break the sound bite barrier by constantly modulating his voice for impact, issuing phrases in related couplets and triplets, and punching them with an almost religious zeal.

Like everything else in his life, he worked hard at communicating effectively. He punctuated every word with a moderately-affected New England accent. Whether or not they agreed with his politics, columnists called him the best orator in years. Increasing numbers of them bestowed almost Kennedy like reverence. And through the camera lens, baby boomers saw an old friend while younger voters found a new voice.

The video story ended and the host brought the debate back to his panel. “Peter Weisel, Washington Bureau Chief of The Chicago Tribune, What sayest thou? Can Teddy un-lodge Lamden?”

“Unlikely.” Weisel, a young, black reporter, was the outspoken liberal of the panel and a realist. “But he’ll help the ticket. He’s a strong Number Two. A junior pairing with Governor Lamden can work. The flip side of Kennedy-Johnson. Let the Democrats make him VP. Besides, his good looks won’t go away in four or eight years. TV will still like him.”

Theodore Wilson Lodge, 46 years old and strikingly handsome, definitely could pull in the camera lens. He had the same effect on women and they held far more votes in America than men. The fact was not lost on the show’s only female contributor of the week. “Debra Redding of The Boston Globe, is Lodge your man?”

Without missing a beat she volunteered, “There are only two problems that I see. One, I’m married. The other – so is he.”

What a wonderful way to start the morning, the congressman said to himself.


Excerpt from Executive Actions by Gary Grossman. Copyright © 2017 by Gary Grossman. Reproduced with permission from Gary Grossman. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Executive Actions, author Gary Grossman weaves a riveting political thriller that will captivate the reader's attention, and keep them sitting on the edge of their seats.

Executive Actions is a multi-layered fast paced tale that is masterfully interwoven with domestic and international intrigue; secrets, deception, and hidden agendas; political posturing, plots, threats, and enough surprising twists and turns that transports the reader into the fascinating world of politics and terrorism. The author easily engages the reader to follow ex-Army Special Ops Commando and current Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke's assignment to uncover who was behind the botched assassination attempt on Congressman Teddy Lodge's life ... only to uncover a more dangerous and serious plot by a hostile foreign power to overtake the US presidency.

The reader follows along as Scott is caught up in the middle of a dangerous web of political threats and deceit as this realistic story unfolds. This is an exciting and dramatic story that will keep the reader guessing who is behind the foreign plot until all the puzzle pieces are put together, and the explosive truth is unveiled in this dangerous international cat and mouse game.

As a fan of political thrillers, I really enjoyed how the author transports the reader into the fascinating inner workings of the domestic and international political world. When you add in the suspense and danger of the plot on the US presidency, you get an explosive story that takes you on one hell of a thrill ride, and a book that you won't be able to put down!

Executive Action is the first book in the Executive Series.


About The Author

Gary Grossman is a multiple Emmy Award-winning network television producer, a print and television journalist, and novelist. He has produced more than 10,000 television shows for 40 broadcast and cable networks including prime time specials, reality and competition series, and live event telecasts.

Grossman has worked for NBC, written for the Boston Globe, Boston Herald American, and the New York Times. He is the author of four bestselling international award-winning thrillers available in print, eBooks, and Audible editions: EXECUTIVE ACTIONS, EXECUTIVE TREASON, EXECUTIVE COMMAND and OLD EARTH. (Diversion Books, NYC) and two acclaimed non-fiction books covering pop culture and television history – SUPERMAN: SERIAL TO CEREAL and SATURDAY MORNING TV.

Grossman taught journalism, film and television at Emerson College, Boston University, and USC and has guest lectured at colleges and universities around the United States. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Emerson College in Boston and he serves on the Boston University Metropolitan College Advisory Board. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers Association and The Military Writers Society of America.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

Win A $15 Amazon Gift Card

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gary Grossman.

There will be 1 winner of one (1) $15 Gift Card AND the opportunity to Suggest a Character Name for the Next Book in the Executive Series!

The giveaway begins on June 1 and runs through August 3, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

6/01 showcase @ Thoughts in Progress
6/02 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads
6/03 Showcase @ A Bookworms Journal
6/04 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
6/05 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
6/06 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
6/07 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape
6/08 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
6/09 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life
6/12 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
6/13 Showcase @ Puddletown Reviews
6/14 Guest post @ Books Direct
6/17 Review @ BookLove
6/19 Guest post @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
6/21 Interview @ BooksChatter - GIVEAWAY
6/25 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
6/29 Guest post @ A Bookaholic Swede
7/07 Interview @ Booklishly Me
7/08 Showcase @ Chill and Read
7/10 Review @ Booklishly Me
7/11 Showcase @ Suspense Magazine
7/14 Review/showcase @ Romance Under Fire
7/17 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
7/18 Review @ Blogging with A
7/20 Review @ Lazy Day Books
7/23 Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
7/24 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
7/28 Review @ just reviews
7/30 Review @ Brooke Blogs
7/31 Guest Post @ Brooke Blogs
8/10 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

Monday, July 17, 2017

Modern Love by Beau North (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Modern Love by author Beau North!

Author Guest Post

The Evolution of a Story

By Beau North

Thanks Jersey Girl Book Reviews for hosting me today! Modern Love is my first venture into contemporary romance, a story that is very personal to me. I started writing this story just after the death of David Bowie, as the title might indicate, as a way of processing what it’s like to lose someone you’ve never met that nevertheless touched your life in a very real way. I intended it to be a very short and fun romance, heavy on the humor and pop culture references. I never meant for it to be anything deep or meaningful.

But the story had other ideas. The more I wrote, the more fleshed-out the characters became for me. Alice had always been a bartender in my mind, but then—to my surprise—she became a recovering addict. The ex-girlfriend was originally written as an ex-boyfriend, but that never felt right either, and so the terrible Jamie came to be.

I watched the words hit him, sink in. His eyes went wide, a second later his brows drew down. He shook his head, taking on a more neutral expression.

“So you like…”

“People. I like people. I’ve had boyfriends, girlfriends, everything in between.” - Modern Love, Chapter 6

Maybe one of the biggest surprises for me came when Will transformed from how I’d originally written him, an almost-middle-aged guy of Italian descent to a half-Indian man in his early 30’s. I remember making this change, feeling that click, the satisfying feeling of just having solved a puzzle. Will became something different from what I’d originally intended. He was still self-assured, but he now carried a new awareness of himself, a feeling of otherness that set him apart from the crowd.

“Al, I grew up the brown-skinned son of an Irish Midwesterner, in a big Irish family that I never quite fit into. It gave me some insecurities.” - Modern Love, Chapter 43

It was frightening, trying to tell this story without being exploitative of bisexuality, addiction, or people of color. Allie and Will’s struggles were not my own. I had no experience with them, but I wanted readers to connect regardless. I researched exhaustively, I talked to everyone who would speak to me, who would share their experiences so that I might have a deeper understanding of the characters that were taking shape in my mind and on the page.

“It was bliss, it was rapture, sickly sweet like circus peanuts until they’d stopped doing the job, until I’d needed more and more to reach that feeling. That feeling of a balloon tethered by the thinnest of strings, bob-bobbing in the breeze.” - Modern Love, Chapter 9

I hope that readers will like the finished product. I hope they will find something in Alice or Will, in any of the characters and their lives that makes the reader think “this is my life. This was written for me.”

Because it was.

Book Review

Modern Love by Beau North
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Format: eBook - 192 pages
               Kindle - 1971 KB
               Nook - 396 KB
ISBN: 978-0692894798
BNID: 2940154445334
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book:

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:

"Love at first sight wasn't meant for millennials," thinks Alice Aberdeen: art student, recovering addict, David Bowie enthusiast. Alice is among the recently dumped and only wants to keep her nose to the grindstone until she finishes her degree. Her sister has other ideas and sets her up with new-in-town Will Murphy--tall, dark, and aloof. To say it wasn't an instant attraction is an understatement: He finds her abrasive, with her sharp tongue and don't-screw-with-me attitude. She thinks he's excessively reserved, too damn serious. But the more time Alice spends with Will, the more their slow burn begins to thaw her heart. A man of two worlds, half-Irish, half-Indian, Will feels at home with Alice. He soon realizes her tough shell is hiding extensive scar tissue--from her addiction and recovery to her spectacularly bad ex-girlfriend to the loss of her mother. Modern Love isn't a story about love at first sight but learning to love yourself before being able to see the one you love.

Book Excerpt:

It was night by the time we got to the hotel near the hospital. The moon hung low and bone-bright in the winter sky, giving Will an otherworldly look, illuminating his eyes and casting his face in silver light.

He parked the Jeep and switched it off, looking at me expectantly. “You ready?”

We could have driven back to the farmhouse, but it was forty minutes away and I wanted to be closer to the hospital. Everyone had rooms at this hotel. When Deb asked if I wanted to stay with her and the twins in their room, I shook my head and told her I’d get my own room. I needed different company just then. A tremendous pressure had been building in me since we’d left Minnesota earlier that day. The need to release, to allow my control to slip in some way, was overwhelming. And who better to help me than Will Murphy?

Of course, I couldn’t bring my idiot self to say this. I couldn’t move across my seat, just a little, just enough to signal my wishes. He climbed out of the car, unaware of my turmoil. With a huff of frustration, I grabbed my backpack and followed him out of the car, across the parking lot, chalky from de-icing, and into the lobby, where I was immediately assaulted with the smell of chocolate chip cookies. Will asked the clerk, who had the kind of droopy features that always reminded me of a basset hound, for a couple of rooms. I put my hand on his arm.

“We’ll take one room, please.”

He looked down at me, surprised. “Are...are you sure?”

Was I sure? Sure as death and taxes. “Definitely.”

A hesitant sort of happiness slipped into his smile, making me strangely embarrassed and aware of what I was proposing. There was no doubt in either of us what I meant by asking for one room, and in that moment, it was like disrobing in a room full of strangers.

The clerk, clearly bored with our loaded glances, never took his eyes from his computer screen, only meeting our eyes when he handed over the plastic keycards to our room. We found the elevator and got in, Will punching the button for the third floor. When the doors closed, I stepped closer to him, resting my body against his. One of his long-fingered hands found its way onto my hip, traveling up under my coat and layers of t-shirts, stopping just above the top of my jeans. I shivered at the contact, wondering how his cold hands could make me feel so warm. He dipped his head so that his cheek rested against my neck. His breath shuddered in my ear, and I waited to feel him kiss my neck. He didn’t kiss me, only brushed his lips down my neck, back and forth. It was a torment, but a delicious one.

The chime of the elevator told us we’d reached our floor, and I bit back a frustrated scream. Will removed his hand from my waist and cupped the back of my neck, fingers kneading gently as we walked to our room. It took him a few tries with the keycard before the light flashed green and the door clicked open. It hit me that his hand had been trembling. It took me back to that moment in my bedroom months ago. Had I always affected him this way? The possibility made me feel strangely powerful. I moved, he followed. Action and reaction, the curious geometry of lovers.

I tossed my bag on the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to calm my thundering heart. He stood in front of me, his long fingers grazing the line of my cheekbone. At last, after the painful, almost oppressive silence, he spoke:

“What does this mean?”

I turned my face into his hand, kissing the small mound of flesh under his thumb, the divine bit that palm readers called the Mount of Venus. My lips parted enough to taste that part of him, firm and sweet as ripe fruit. He made a sound deep in the back of his throat and I once again felt a surge of my own power, that I could create such a sound in him by simply surrendering to my own desires.

“Does it have to mean anything?” I spoke into his hand.

He sighed softly, fingers curling around my chin, tilting my face towards his. “Yeah, Al. It does.”

 The words hovered in the air between us, shapeless and unspoken, waiting to be given form.

“Allie, I—”

I pulled him down to me, pressing my lips to his, cutting off the words before they could fully be uttered. It was too much, too confusing, too painful with everything else that was happening. I felt his breath quicken as his lips parted. There was the momentary shock of sensation, the fullness of his lips, the soft heat of his mouth, the pulse-quickening feeling of his hand cupping the back of my head, his fingers buried in my hair.

I reached for his shirt, eager to feel his skin against mine. He pulled away for a second and asked me in a shaky voice if I was sure.

“I’m sure,” I said, kissing the spot on his neck just under his ear, where the vital smell of him was most potent. A strangely, heavy feeling stole into my arms and legs, and I realized that, for the first time in years, I felt intoxicated.

My Book Review:

Modern Love is an intriguing contemporary romance story that follows the unexpected relationship of Alice Aberdeen and Will Murphy.

From the day that Alice and Will meet, there is a strong connection and mutual attraction between them. Alice's personal baggage and tough exterior makes their relationship develop slowly, but Will is determined to beak down Alice's wall and teach her how to find her true self in order to allow love and happiness in her life. 

Author Beau North weaves a wonderful tale full of pain, angst, drama, humor, and tender romantic moments that easily draws the reader into Alice and Will's story. The slow building development of their relationship makes this compelling story worth the read, as their connection is put to the test by serious personal issues in their lives. You can't help but feel for Alice as she struggles with her past emotional baggage, and cheer her on as she embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery with Will's help. 

Modern Love has an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic, flawed, and easy to relate to; witty dialogue and engaging interactions; and a powerful storyline that will take you on a hauntingly beautiful journey where you will experience the full gamut of emotions.

If you are looking for a hopeful and heartwarming love story that follows the unexpected journey of two people who learn to let go of their pasts and open themselves up to a healing and loving relationship, then Modern Love is the story for you!


About The Author

Beau North is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with English Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, an internet collective focused on pop culture.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

July 10 – Brianna Remus Books – Review
July 11 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 11 – Book Lover in Florida – Excerpt
July 12 – Living Life With Joy – Review &  Guest Post
July 13 – SNS Promotions and Reviews – Excerpt
July 17 – Jersey Girl BookReviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 17 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crossing The Street by Molly D. Campbell (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the book tour event for Crossing The Street by author Molly D. Campbell!

Book Review

Crossing The Street by Molly D. Campbell
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Format: Paperback - 290 pages
               Kindle - 1626 KB
ISBN: 978-1611882483
BNID:  978-1611882483
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:
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 Providence Book Promotions.

Book Description:

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down.

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that’s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed.

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.

Crossing The Street is a funny, touching novel that brims life’s complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.

Book Excerpt:

My life isn’t exactly bright and shiny. My name is Rebecca Throckmorton. I live in a small town, and I muddle along as best I can. Four scenes from my world:

Scene one: I am at the grocery store. Aimlessly wandering down the produce aisle, looking at the grocery list, as usual, in my mother’s elegant hand. What the hell is a rutabaga, and why do we need one? Suddenly, I see my father, who is long gone from our family—divorce. He is wearing a gold golf shirt, his khaki slacks, crisp and unwrinkled. His hair from the back is a bit silvery, as I am sure it would be after being away from our family for all these years. My heart lurches—He’s back! He came back! I abandon my cart and nearly bowl over a woman studying kiwis, knocking the one in her hand to the ground. I don’t even stop to apologize, because my dad. I come up behind him, breathe in his cologne—yup, Eau de Sauvage. I reach out to touch his shoulder, and he turns around. I gasp. The man is definitely not Dexter Throckmorton. Instead of a Roman nose, this guy has a schnozz. There is awful hair growing out of his nostrils. His eyes are not velvety and black, like my father’s—they are a watery gray and clouded with cataracts. He hears me gasp and asks, “Do I know you?” I abandon the rutabaga and rush out of the store, grocery list still crushed between my fingers.

Scene two: My sister’s wedding. I am wearing a sleeveless, misty green satin dress with two small lines of silver sequins along the bodice. The misty green is reflected in my coloring and makes me look slightly vomitous. I feel about to vomit, since my sister Diana is marrying my former boyfriend, Bryan Dallas, who stands at the end of the aisle, beaming, his horn rims polished so highly I worry that he might start a fire with their refractions into the balcony. As D comes down the aisle on my mother’s arm (see divorce, above), my mother looking for all the world like an aging Audrey Hepburn in a slender tube of taupe silk, I look down at my bouquet and stifle the impulse to hurl it in my sister’s smug, highly-made-up-with-false-eyelashes-and-dewy-lip-gloss face.

Scene three: Me and my girlfriend, Ella Bowers. I sit with her in front of the TV. We like to watch really old reruns of Lawrence Welk that I found for her on the Family Network. Ella pats down her soft, fluffy lavender white hair, and every time Myron Floren comes on comments how much her mother “just loved that man and his accordion.” I nod and agree, because I don’t intend to hurt her feelings—Ella is eighty-three, and I don’t want her to get riled up and have a stroke. I notice my cut glass tumbler of iced tea is empty, and I offer to go into the kitchen of her cozy bungalow and get us each some more.

Scene four: My day job and what really pays the bills. I get home from my part-time job at Starbucks at four. I stretch, try to do the downward facing dog, and fail, as usual, about three quarters of the way down. My cat, Simpson, ambles over for a purr, and then I go and pee, change into sweats, and sit down at my computer, where I pound out a scene in which four orgasms occur within the space of twenty minutes between Travis and Crystal, who are extremely talented genitally. My latest book, Boys on the Beach, is under contract and due at my publisher in two months. When I think about this, sweat pools into the cups of my bra, because I am behind schedule, and erotica pays the bills, not venti lattes.

There you have it.

My Book Review:

Crossing The Street is a compelling women's fiction story that easily draws the reader into the drama and emotions that come with the complexity of life, the dynamics of relationships, learning to confront one's past, and the ability to make new life choices.

Set in the small town of Framington, Ohio, the reader can't help but get drawn into Rebecca's story as she faces the complexities in her life, and finds herself at a crossroad that will lead her on a personal journey of self-discovery.

Author Molly D. Campbell weaves an intriguing women's fiction story that will easily keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. Rebecca's story has a great mixture of humor, drama, angst, heartbreak, and crazy trials and tribulations, but her journey of personal discovery is realistic and compelling, it is the kind of story that anyone can relate to, and you can't help but cheer Rebecca on as she finds her way and is able to cross the next "street" in her life.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed following Rebecca's endearing and often times humorous relationships with her two best friends, Gail Boatwright, a single real estate agent, and Ella Bowers, an eighty-three year old widow, who is taking care of her grandson's eight year old daughter Bob (Roberta) while he is deployed in the Middle East. The best part is when Rebecca befriends little Bob, and she discovers that this wise beyond the years little girl has worked her way into her heart!

Crossing The Street is a delightful women's fiction story of personal self-discovery, and learning to survive life's challenges and twists and turns, in order to move forward and find happiness in one's life.


About The Author

Molly D. Campbell
is a two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner and the author of one previous novel, Keep the Ends Loose. Molly blogs at Also an artist, Molly’s work can be found at Molly lives in Dayton with her accordionist husband and four cats.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant.

There will be 1 winner of 1 Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell.

The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017.

This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour

Tour Participants:

5/08 Review/ Interview @ Rockin Book Reviews - GIVEAWAY

5/09 Interview @ Writers and Authors

5/09 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

5/10 Review @ CMash Reads

5/10 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life

5/11 Review @ The Book Divas Reads

5/12 Review @ Books Direct

5/13 Showcase @ A Bookworms Journal

5/15 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge

5/17 Review @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

5/22 Radio Interview w/Fran Lewis

5/23 Interview @ Books Chatter

5/26 Showcase @ Hott Books

5/28 Showcase @ Writers and Authors

6/01 Review @ Beths Book-Nook Blog

6/01 Special Feature @ b00k r3vi3ws

6/07 Review/Guest post @ Brooke Blogs

6/08 Special Feature @ b00k r3vi3ws

6/09 Review @ just reviews

6/15 Special Feature @ b00k r3vi3ws

6/22 Special Feature @ b00k r3vi3ws

6/29 Special Feature @ b00k r3vi3ws

7/3 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews