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Friday, July 20, 2018

Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester!

Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Format: Paperback - 285 pages
               Kindle - 4897 KB
               Nook - 6 MB
ISBN: 978-1611882605
BNID: 2940162129646
Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

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:

Mac Anderson holds life in the palm of his hand. He has a beautiful wife, three loving children, a comfortable home, and a successful career. Everything is perfect—or so it seems. Tragically, Mac is destined to learn that any sense of security can quickly prove false. Because an invisible enemy called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has invaded Mac’s fragile mind and it is about to drop him to his knees. He does all he can to conceal his inner chaos, but to no avail. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system, and the struggles of an invisible disease, he loses everything—most importantly his family.

One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes might contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.

Book Excerpt:

Mac jumped up, panting like an obese dog suffering in a heat wave. His heart drummed out of his chest. Startled from a sound sleep, he didn’t know what was wrong. He leapt out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. There’s something wrong, he finally thought, I…I need help. He searched frantically for an enemy. There was none. As he stared at the frightened man in the mirror, he considered calling out to his sleeping wife. She has enough to worry about with the kids, he thought, but was already hurrying toward her. “Jen,” he said in a strained whisper.
She stirred but didn’t open her eyes.
The constricted chest, sweaty face and shaking hands made Mac wonder whether he was standing at death’s door, cardiac arrest being his ticket in. I have to do something now, he thought, or I’m a goner. “Jen,” he said louder, shaking her shoulder.
One eye opened. She looked up at him.
“It’s happening again,” he said in a voice that could have belonged to a frightened little boy.
Jen shot up in bed. “What is it?”
“I…I can’t breathe. My heart keeps fluttering and I feel…”
“I’m calling an ambulance,” she said, fumbling for her cell phone.
“No,” he said instinctively, “it’ll scare the kids.”
She looked up at him like he was crazy.
“I’ll go to the emergency room right now!” Grabbing for a pair of pants, he started to slide into them.
Jen sprang out of the bed. “I’ll call my mom and have her come over to watch the kids. In the meantime, Jillian can…”
Mac shook his foggy head, halting her. “No, I’m okay to drive,” he said, trying to breathe normally.
“But babe,” she began to protest, fear glassing over her eyes.
“I’ll text you as soon as I get there,” he promised, “and then call you just as soon as they tell me what the hell’s going on.”
Jen’s eyes filled. “Oh Mac…”
He shot her a smile, at least he tried to, before rushing out of the house and hyperventilating all the way to the hospital.

I’m here, Mac texted Jen before shutting off the ringer on his phone.
The scowling intake nurse brought him right in at the mention of “chest pains.” Within minutes, the E.R. staff went to work like a well-choreographed NASCAR pit crew, simultaneously drawing blood while wiring his torso to a portable EKG machine.
As quickly as the team had responded, they filed out of the curtained room. A young nurse, yanking the sticky discs from Mac’s chest, feigned a smile. “Try to relax, Mr. Anderson. It may take a little bit before the doctor receives all of your test results.”
For what seemed like forever, Mac sat motionless on the hospital gurney, a white curtain drawn around him. I hope it isn’t my heart, he thought, the kids are still so young and they need…
“Who do we have in number four?” a female voice asked just outside of Mac’s alcove.
Mac froze to listen in.
“Some guy who came in complaining of chest pains,” another voice answered at a strained whisper. “Test results show nothing. Just another anxiety attack.”
No way, Mac thought, not knowing whether he should feel insulted or relieved.
“Like we have time to deal with that crap,” the first voice said. “Can you imagine if men had to give birth?”
Both ladies laughed.
No friggin’ way, Mac thought before picturing his wife’s frightened face. She must be worried sick. But I can’t call her without talking to the doctor. She’d…
The curtain snapped open, revealing a young man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck.
This kid can’t be a doctor, Mac thought, the world suddenly feeling like it had been turned upside down.
“Your heart is fine, Mr. Anderson,” the doctor quickly reported, his eyes on his clipboard. “I’m fairly certain you suffered a panic attack.” He looked up and grinned, but even his smile was rushed. “Sometimes the symptoms can mirror serious physical ailments.”
Mac was confused, almost disappointed. So, what I experienced wasn’t serious? he asked in his head.
The young man scribbled something onto a small square pad, tore off the top sheet and handed it to Mac. “This’ll make you feel better,” he said, prescribing a sedative that promised to render Mac more useless than the alleged attack.
“Ummm…okay,” Mac said, his face burning red.
The doctor nodded. “Stress is the number one cause of these symptoms,” he concluded. “Do you have someone you can talk to?”
Mac returned the nod, thinking, I need to get the hell out of here. Although he appreciated the concern, he was mired in a state of disbelief. I’m a master of the corporate rat race, he thought, unable to accept the medicine man’s spiel. If anyone knows how to survive stress, it’s me.
“That’s great,” the doctor said, vanishing as quickly as he’d appeared.
My problem is physical, Mac confirmed in his head, it has to be. He finished tying his shoes.
Pulling back the curtain, he was met by the stare of several female nurses. He quickly applied his false mask of strength and smiled. A panic attack, he repeated to himself. When put into words, the possibility was chilling.
The nurses smiled back, each one of them wearing the same judgmental smirk.
With his jacket tucked under his arm, Mac started down the hallway. Sure, he thought, I have plenty of people I can talk to. He pulled open the door that led back into the crowded waiting room. That is, if I actually thought it was anxiety.

Mac sat in the parking lot for a few long minutes, attempting to process the strange events of the last several days. Although he felt physically tired, there weren’t any symptoms or residual effects of the awful episodes he’d experienced—not a trace of the paralyzing terror I felt. And they just came out of the blue. He shook his head. How can it not be physical? He thought about the current state of his life. Work is work, it’s always going to come with a level of stress, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. He shook his head again. I just don’t get it. He grabbed his cell phone and called Jen. “Hi, it’s me.”
“Are you okay?” she asked, the worry in her voice making him feel worse.
“I’m fine, babe.”
“Fine?” she said, confused. “What did the doctor say?”
“He said it’s not my heart.”
“Oh, thank God.”
Her reaction—although completely understandable—struck him funny, making him feel like the boy who cried wolf.
“So what is it then?” she asked.
He hesitated, feeling oddly embarrassed to share the unbelievable diagnosis.
“The doctor thinks it was a…a panic attack.”
This time, she paused. “A panic attack?” she repeated, clearly searching for more words. Then, as a born problem solver, she initiated her usual barrage of questions. “Did they give you something for it? Is there any follow up?”
“Yes, and maybe.”
“What does that mean?”
“He gave me pills that I’d rather not take if I don’t need to. And he suggested I go talk to someone.”
“Talk to someone? You mean like a therapist?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant.”
“Oh,” she said, obviously taken aback. “Then that’s exactly what you should do.”
“I don’t know…”
“Is there something bothering you I don’t know about, Mac,” she asked, “because you can talk to me, too, you know.”
“I know, babe. But there’s nothing bothering me, honest.” He took a deep breath. “For what it’s worth, I don’t buy the anxiety attack diagnosis.”
“Well, whatever you were feeling this morning was real enough, right? I could see it in your face. It wouldn’t hurt anything for you to go talk to someone.” She still sounded scared and he hated it.
“Maybe not,” he replied, appeasing her. In the back of his head, though, he was already contemplating how much he should continue to share with her—or protect her from. “I need to get to work,” he said.
“Why don’t you just take the day off and relax?” she suggested.
Here we go, he thought. “I wish I could, babe,” he said, “but we have way too much going on at the office right now.”
“And maybe that’s part of your problem,” she said.
“I’ll be fine, Jen,” he promised. “We’ll talk when I get home, okay?”
“Love you,” he said.
“And I love you,” she said in a tone intended for him to remember it.
Excerpt from Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester. Copyright © 2018 by Steven Manchester. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought-provoking, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest novel, Three Shoeboxes.

Three Shoeboxes is a poignant story about a man struggling with PTSD and the complicated dynamics of family relationships that will simply pull at your emotional heartstrings. 

Author Steven Manchester weaves a richly descriptive and complex tale that follows Mac Anderson as a traumatic past event that he has repressed for nearly twenty years suddenly comes to the surface when he comes across an auto accident on his way home from celebrating the fifteenth wedding anniversary with his wife Jen. This repressed event triggers a frightening journey down the rabbit hole, and as Mac's world is suddenly turned upside down, the effects of continuous panic/anxiety attacks lead Mac to feeling broken, alone, depressed, and turning to alcohol that ultimately results in him losing his job as an advertising executive, and more importantly his family. Mac's change in behavior results in a charge of domestic abuse and a one-year restraining order. Mac's family also goes through the trauma of having their lives turned upside down, no one is the winner in this difficult situation. Desperate to get his life back, Mac checks himself into an intensive in-house detox rehab treatment center, and while the road is long and hard, he faces his PTSD and alcoholism diagnosis with the hope to reconnect with his three children: Jillian (13), Bella (8), and Brady (7). Mac's journey is filled with life lessons, animosity, unresolved dysfunctional family issues, regrets, acceptance, hope, and an emotional chance to renew the bonds of family. Three shoeboxes filled with hope and unfailing love for his three children leads Mac to a good place where he strives to gets his life back on track.

The reader will be easily captivated and drawn into Mac's realistic and heartwrenching journey. The author does a wonderful job of intertwining Mac's traumatic past with the difficulties that he faced throughout his journey. You can't help but get swept away and experience the full gamut of emotions as Mac and his family faces a crossroad in their lives as they struggle with an unresolved dysfunctional family dynamic due to PTSD, while considering the intense and difficult choices of how to deal with their current life issues and the unknown future for their family.

Three Shoeboxes is a powerful and compelling story written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you ponder about the effects of mental illness (PTSD), alcoholism, and your own family dynamic. This is the kind of story that will stir your soul, and resonate with you for a very long time.


About The Author

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve MonthsThe Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island, the national bestseller Ashes, and the novels Goodnight, Brian, and The Changing Season, as well as A Christmas Wish (Kindle Exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette), and The Thursday Night Club (novella). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
The Story Plant - Publisher

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) print copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on July 1 and runs through September 1, 2018. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

07/01 Review @ CMash Reads

07/01 Showcase @ tfaulcbookreviews

07/02 Guest post @ Writers and Authors

07/02 Interview @ CMash Reads

07/03 Review @ Sunny Island Breezes

07/03 Review @ Tome Tender

07/05 Interview @ Mythical Books

07/06 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape

07/09 Review @ Socrates Book Reviews

07/09 Showcase @ Stacking My Book Shelves!

07/10 Review @ Reading Authors

07/11 Guest post @ My Life. One Story at a Time

07/12 Guest post @ BooksChatter

07/14 Review @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader

07/16 Review @ Lauras Interests

07/17 Showcase @ Cheryl's Book Nook

07/18 Review @ My Life. One Story at a Time

07/20 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

07/27 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

07/27 Review @ Books Direct

07/30 Review @ Good Reads

08/01 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

08/03 Review @ Bookbug Blog

08/04 Review @ Koops Konclusions

08/07 Review @ Eastern Sunset Reads

08/16 Review @ Life at 17

08/20 Interview @ Blog Talk Radio

08/20 Review @ Just Reviews

08/21 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

08/29 Review @ Bookalicious Travel Addict

08/30 Showcase @ What Is That Book About

08/31 Showcase @ Teatime and Books

Blog Talk Radio w/ Red River Radio Dellani Oakes


  1. Great review. I agree with you that this story will stay with the reader for a very long time. A powerful read!

    1. Hi Cheryl! Steve's books always tug at the heartstrings. :)

  2. Glad it was a hit. I love books that bring emotions bubbling to the surface. :-) Have a great weekend.

    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Hi Sherry! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!

  3. Thanks for sharing this information with us. It's very helpful for us.

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