Sep 062018
 

The Last Weekend Of The Summer
by Peter Murphy
on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2018

The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy cover

Synopsis:

They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.

A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.

Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway!!

 

Book Details

Genre: Literary Fiction

Published by: The Story Plant

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)

Purchase Links: The Last Weekend Of The Summer on Amazon The Last Weekend Of The Summer on  on Barnes & Noble The Last Weekend Of The Summer on  on Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy author
Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.

But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.

 

Connect with Peter at:
peterdmurphy.com
Twitter – PeterD_Murphy
Facebook – PeterDMurphyAuthor

Q&A with Peter Murphy

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Both! In my first novel, LAGAN LOVE, history and mythology were the backdrop and Ireland’s economic boom was a force of conflict and juxtaposition. Much of the story happened in places I frequented and people I knew showed up in the book.

The times I have lived through can be found in BORN & BRED, WANDERING IN EXILE, and ALL ROADS. These books—THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY—spanned a period of sixty years, and global events became a part of the different characters as they followed their own paths.

Now while most writers insist that their books are not about themselves, that might not be the whole truth. Every writer has been formed by experiences that shape perspective and reaction. Writers should write about what they know and, in my case, by virtue of all that happened me along the way, I know a little about my life.

In my most recent novel, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER, I focused entirely on family dynamics and made little reference to time and place. Family is timeless, fascinating, good and bad, and a very fertile place for a writer to work in.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

It really depends on the story. LAGAN LOVE was my homage to my home town of Dublin. I wanted to record a way of living that was being altered by progress. The ideas started to form back in the mid nineteen-seventies but the story was not written for another thirty years.

You can read more about that here: http://peterdamienmurphy.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-behind-lagan-love.html

As it was my first effort at writing a novel, I tried following the swirling story line and got hopeless lost. I would still be there if it were not for the intervention of my editor and publisher, the great and wonderful Lou Aronica, who could see far more clearly than I. Under his guidance I found my way to the end.

THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY happened by accident. I had the idea in mind but when I began to write it, it didn’t work—something I had to accept one hundred pages in. So, I started again, wrote almost another hundred pages and arrived at the same conclusion. Then, after a few weeks of despair and despondency, I realized that it had to be three books. I was, however, able to recycle much and now one of the original first chapters can be found near the end of the last book.

Like many things in life, wisdom and knowledge comes after the doing and each book I write teaches me a little more about writing. THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER was planned and plotted before I wrote anything.

That said, the closing scene was written very early on because it came to me one evening and I loved it. It still causes me to get a little choked up.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

Notwithstanding that: Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination etc, the answer is yes.

This was a cause for concern when I first published, but most people enjoyed seeing themselves in the pages and it became a joke amongst a small circle of friends back in Dublin.

I had one negative reaction from a person in Toronto who was very upset to be “used as a character in a novel,” but he hasn’t read it. If he did he might like the character he helped to form.

I see no point in taking a real person and applying a thin disguise. Also, people should be able to see a part of themselves in written characters. They may not like what they see but that is how we relate to each other—real or fictious, for good and bad.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Each book has been a different experience and has changed the way I write. While writing my first, I would walk with my dog when I was trying to resolve some issue. Often the solution would form in my mind so I would phone home and leave myself a message. I also discussed plot issues with my dog and, depending on her level of disinterest, I would know what had to be done next.

Other times I stared out the window not seeing what was there. Instead I saw my imaginary creatures resolving their issues. Writers are, by many definitions, mad as hatters and the more I write the madder I become.

Tell us why we should read this book.

This is a very difficult question for me to answer as I was raised to believe that self-praise was no praise. So, in an attempt to brag modestly, I believe THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is the written version of a weekend by the lake with family—something most of us can relate to, to invest in, and thoroughly enjoy without having to spend hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get there. It is the story of people most readers already know and will recognize. Some readers may even find themselves by the lake. And while the world around us seems to be going through one of its “confused” phases, it is a story of how we find our way through difficult times.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

The great Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhague, who produced work of such quality that he has quietly won three Governor General Awards.

Irishman Brian O’ Nolan (aka Flann O’ Brien, etc.) who made absurdity funny and normal.

J.K. Rowling who wrote books that inspired my children to read.

Gabriel García Márquez whose big books caught the world’s imagination and whose final works were masterly in their brevity, style and form.

What are you reading now?

JAMES JOYCE, by Edna O’ Brien.

THE HISTORY OF THE SIEGE OF LISBON by José Saramago.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

Yes. It began as one thing but after submitting the first draft to my editor, it is about to become the story of a simple-minded girl falling in love with a man with a dark secret. Set on the West Coast of Ireland in the early nineteen forties when neutral Ireland was trying navigate its way through the waves caused by the Second World War.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

Maggie Smith as Gloria.

Kathy Bates as Mary.

Zoe Perry as Buddy.

Jason Bateman as Norm.

Rachel Mcadams as Carol.

Viggo Mortensen as Johnny.

Mariana Mourato as C.C.

Ian McKellan as Jake.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

People watching while sipping coffee in the Praça Luís de Camões in the middle of Lisbon.

Favorite meal?

Fettuccine carbonara (or puttanesca.)

Thank you for the opportunity to drop by and “chat” with your readers and for you interest in my book,

Peter

 

Read an excerpt:

As the truck slithered to a halt on the gravel road, Susie and Joey took off. It was one of their cottage rituals, running to Gloria who stood waving from the veranda. For the last few years, Joey had let Susie win but had always made it look like he was running as fast as he could. Johnnie and Carol sat back and watched. They always gave the kids a few moments with Gloria before they joined them.

“So, what’s really going on?” Carol asked without looking over at him.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s a little dark cloud hovering over your head.”

“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it.”

“Come on, out with it.”

“Dad’s coming too. He’s coming sometime Saturday morning.”

“Does your mother know?”

“I don’t think so. Gloria wanted to break the news to everyone at the same time.”

“Oh dear, so Buddy doesn’t know yet?”

“No, and there’s more.”

There always was with his family, but Carol didn’t say that. Instead, she just sat for a moment taking it all in. And when he was finished, she squeezed his hand and leaned across to kiss his cheek. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be okay?”

“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. And we’re all going to have a great time, no matter what.” He smiled and winked at her. “Ready?”

“Showtime,” she smiled back, and she got out and walked towards the veranda. She knew what he was doing; he was getting himself ready for another weekend of enabling his sisters and his mother. She wished he wouldn’t, but there was no point in saying that. Instead, she’d be as loving and supportive as he needed her to be. It was how they dealt with life—along with having a laugh at themselves. “And stop checking out my ass,” she called over her shoulder as she went.

“Better yours than someone else’s,” Gloria laughed as she slowly descended the stairs from the veranda and kissed Carol’s cheek. She still had the most remarkable hearing. “That was something my Harry always used to say.”

“Really, Gloria, I wouldn’t have thought stuff like that would have been a problem for you guys.”

“He was blind, Carol, but he was still a man.”

Carol pretended to look shocked, but Gloria carried on as if she didn’t notice. “But you have nothing to worry about. Johnnie’s still madly in love with you, isn’t he, dear?” Gloria had a twinkle in her eye.

“Of course he is. And I’m still crazy about him—just don’t tell him.”

“I hope so, dear, because I put you two in the east room. I know it’s your favorite.”

“Thanks,” Carol took the old, brittle woman into her arms. “And are you okay, Gloria?”

“Of course I am. Why would you ask such a thing?” But she stayed in Carol’s arms for a little while longer.

“What are you two plotting?” Johnnie asked as he struggled up with their bags. “And don’t worry about me—I’ll just lug everybody’s stuff by myself.”

“And, well, you should,” Gloria reached up and kissed him, and hugged him as tight as her frail old arms would allow. “Your poor wife and children are here for a rest, so don’t be selfish and go around spoiling everything.

“So,” Gloria asked after Carol had gone to settle the kids into the new rooms over the boathouse. “Have you talked with your father?” She waited at the bottom step for Johnnie to take her by the elbow. She could have made it on her own, but she knew he liked to behave like a gentleman.

“Yes, and I hope he knows what he’s doing. It might be asking a bit too much.”

“Not of you, dear, surely?”

“No, I’m okay with it all, and I really want this to work out—for everyone. I was a bit torn up when I first heard, but it’s settled in now and, well, you know . . .”

“Yes, Johnnie, I do.” She smiled up at him and reached up to stroke his cheek. It always reminded her of Harry’s—at least his good side. “Being family means having to go through things like this, and we will all get to play our parts. Hopefully C.C.’s new love interest will provide enough distraction for your mother.”

She paused when they got to the top step and looked up at him for a moment as if she was about to say something else but changed her mind.

“What is it, Gloria? What other secrets are you keeping from me?”

“Far too many for what little time we have left. Now let’s go inside. I have some nice cold beer in the fridge. You might need some fortification before your mother gets here.”

Excerpt from The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy. Copyright © 2018 by The Story Plant. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


Sep 042018
 

THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER by Peter Murphy
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)
Review Copy from: The Story Plant
Edition: eBook
My Rating: 5

Synopsis

They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.

A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

5 stars

Gloria, the 82 year old matriarch, has invited her entire family to her cottage, her son Jake, former daughter-in-law, how has been divorced from Jake for 25 years, their 3 children with significant others and 4 great-grandchildren. The family believes this get together is for Gloria to announce that she may be dying. Someone is dying, but who?

The entire family have secrets and resentments of years past. Can this weekend bring closure? Can those with so much hurt and bitterness forgive not only the other in the family but also take stock of their own shortcomings?

This was such a compelling and impassioned read with a message! The characters believable and fully developed. The writing style allowed this reader to feel that I was a bystander. Will tug on your heart strings!

One quote that I thought was poignant was:
It is so easy to rationalize our own mistakes and just as easy to make too big a deal of the mistakes of others.

Not only do I recommend this as a summer read, I highly recommend it for the message.

Definitely 5 stars!

**Stop by Thursday for an interview with Peter Murphy**

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

 

GIVEAWAY:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for The Story Plant and Peter Murphy. There will be 5 winners of one (1) copy of LAGAN LOVE by Peter Murphy (eBook). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2018 and runs through November 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

  • This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
  • I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
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  • Aug 192018
     

    The Super Ladies

    by Susan Petrone

    August 13 – October 13, 2018 Tour

     

    The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone

    Synopsis:

    For three middle-aged women in the suburbs of Cleveland, the issues seemed compelling but relatively conventional: sending a child off to college, dealing with a marriage gone stale, feeling “invisible.” But changes were coming . . . and not the predictable ones. Because Margie, Katherine, and Abra are feeling a new kind of power inside of them – literally. Of all the things they thought they might have to contend with as they got older, not one of them considered they’d be exploding a few gender roles by becoming superheroes.

    At once a delightful and surprising adventure and a thoughtful examination of a woman’s changing role through life’s passages, THE SUPER LADIES is larger-than-life fiction at its very best.

     

    **Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

    PRAISE FOR SUSAN PETRONE’S THROW LIKE A WOMAN:

    “While, on the surface, this is a novel about a woman battling to make her way in the man’s world of professional baseball, debut author Petrone presents a stirring and humorous story of a woman doing considerably more than that–trying to rediscover herself, provide for her family, and perhaps find a little love along the way.” – Booklist

    “Throw Like a Woman is that rare baseball novel, both a paean to the game and a deeper exploration of character. Susan Petrone has a fan’s heart and a scout’s eye. Read it now. Don’t wait for the movie.” – Stewart O’Nan, co-author of Faithful and A Face in the Crowd

    “For baseball fans who yearn for a female Jackie Robinson, reading Susan Petrone’s fun and absorbing novel Throw Like a Woman becomes a kind of prayer. ‘Please, Lord! Give talent a chance. Let this dream come true!'” – Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow

    “Someday there will be a woman who plays Major League Baseball. And when it happens, I suspect it will be an awful lot like Susan Petrone’s fun Throw Like a Woman. Susan knows baseball and so the novel – and her hero Brenda Haversham – crackles with authenticity. You can hear the pop of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt.” – Joe Posnanski, author of The Soul of Baseball, NBC Sports National Columnist

    “Petrone’s storytelling is first-rate, and she weaves a credible baseball tale with well-defined characters throughout.” – The Wave

     

    Book Details

    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    Published by: The Story Plant

    Publication Date: August 14th 2018 by Story Plant

    Number of Pages: 320

    ISBN: 1611882583 (ISBN13: 9781611882582)

    Purchase Links:   The Super Ladies on Amazon The Super Ladies on Barnes & Noble The Super Ladies on Goodreads

     

    Author Bio:

    Susan Petrone

    Susan Petrone lives with one husband, one child, and two dogs in Cleveland, Ohio. Her superpower has yet to be uncovered.
    Catch Up with Susan Petrone Online:

  • Website: susanpetrone.com
  • Twitter: @SusanPetrone
  • Facebook: @susan.petrone.54
  • Goodreads: @Susan Petrone
  •  

     

    **Q&A with Susan Petrone**

    Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

    A little of both. Typically I will get the germ of an idea and then start building the plot. Along the way, I might pull in inspiration for a character from someone I know or a real-life event that relates to the story. I try not to draw too much from current events because it’s very easy to date a story. I hope that my novels can be read far in the future and still feel relevant.

    Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

    I start from the beginning. However, by the first third/middle of the book, I try to have a general idea of where the story is going. It’s kind of like driving from Cleveland to Akron. Just because you know where you want to end up doesn’t mean that you can’t still have adventures and unexpected events along the way. And I almost always write in the order in which the book will be written—I don’t skip around, writing a section here or a section there.

    Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

    Yes to both parts of that question. With Throw Like a Woman (my first novel for The Story Plant), I was asked often if Brenda, the protagonist, was my alter ego. That character and I had a few key things in common (baseball, Indian food, and the Smiths), but I wouldn’t say she is based on me. Actually, her physical appearance was inspired by a woman I used to see at the daycare where my daughter went to preschool. The Super Ladies has three main characters, one of whom is loosely inspired by a dear friend. I’m curious as to whether people will assume that one of them is my alter ego or which one is the most like me.

    Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

    I don’t have a specific routine. I write when I have the free time, which is generally at night, after my family has gone to bed. My day job is half-time, so I’m off one day a week. That’s also my writing/household chores day (in that order—you have to pay yourself first).

    Tell us why we should read this book.

    The superhero world is slowly expanding to include more than young, super-muscular white guys. The Super Ladies expands that world a little more.

    Who are some of your favorite authors?

    Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Austen are my all-time favorites. They both had a wicked sense of humor and were talented at satirizing the social mores of their day; I think that’s why I’m so drawn to both of them, even though they appear to be very different.

    What are you reading now?

    I just finished Summerland by Michael Chabon, am halfway through The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan, and I just picked up Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

    Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

    My next book is tentatively titled The Heebie-Jeebie Girl. It’s about a seven-year-old girl who can pick the daily lottery number and her great-uncle as they try to find who robbed her grandmother. The city of Youngstown is one of the narrators, along with the little girl, her great uncle, and one of the guys who robbed the grandmother. I keep telling people it’s a bit like Crime & Punishment set in 1977 Youngstown only with jokes.

    Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

    Besides writing and reading? Cycling, running, hiking, gardening, and hanging out and being silly with my daughter.

    Favorite meal?

    I am a sucker for vegetarian tacos or a good Indian buffet.

    Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

     

    Read an excerpt:

    On the way home, Katherine called shotgun, so Abra had to sit in the back of Margie’s minivan amid soccer shin guards, baseballs, stray sneakers, swim goggles, granola bar wrappers, a rubber-banded stack of Pokemon cards, and a book on playing Minecraft. “How was this shoe not on the seat when we left?” Abra asked.

    “I really couldn’t tell you,” Margie replied over her shoulder. “Things back there just seem to migrate around on their own. Hold it up.” Abra did so, and Margie took a quick look at it in the rearview mirror as they pulled out of the parking lot and onto Superior Avenue. “I don’t even think that belongs to one of mine.”

    “Now you know why I called shotgun. The backseat scares me,” Katherine said. “I sometimes get overwhelmed with one kid. How do you manage three?”

    “I have no life. Duh,” Margie replied.

    Margie cut south onto East 12th Street and then turned east onto Chester Avenue, which would take them through Midtown, up Cedar Hill, and back home. As they drove by Cleveland State University, she asked Katherine, “Do we still have to flip the bird to CSU for denying Hal tenure?”

    “Nah, the statute of limitations has expired on that one, I think.”

    “I like the new housing they’re building down here,” Abra said. “If I ever move downtown, would you two come and visit me?”

    “Hell yes,” said Katherine.

    “Sure,” Margie added. “Are you seriously thinking of moving or just toying with it?”

    “Toying. If I can unload the house to the bank, I’ll have to rent somewhere. And I’d be closer to work.”

    “If you move, who will I run with every morning?” “I don’t know. Get another dog?”

    Chester was a wide, three-lanes-in-each-direction boulevard that took them past the university neighborhood and through the dead zone in between downtown, where most of the office buildings and entertainment areas were, and University Circle, where most of the city’s museums and cultural gems were ensconced. Economic development hadn’t hit this middle area, and much of it was taken up by vacant buildings, empty lots, and boarded-up houses.

    Nine fifteen on a Thursday night in mid-May isn’t late and isn’t scary. Still, Margie got a bad feeling when she saw a young woman on the sidewalk walking fast, hands folded across her chest, not looking at the man who walked next to her. The girl was a stranger—not her age, not her race, not her neighborhood, but still, the girl was someone, some mother’s daughter.

    Margie pulled over to the curb, leaving the engine running.

    “Why are you stopping?” Katherine asked.

    The few other cars on the wide road passed by without slowing. No cars were parked on the street; Margie’s van was the only stopped vehicle for blocks. Katherine and Abra followed Margie’s gaze to the scene unfolding on the sidewalk. The man was yelling at the woman now. They couldn’t make out exactly what he was yelling but heard the words “bitch” and “money” a few times. And they could see his flailing arms, his face leering up against hers. She stopped walking and said something to him, and he hit her. She lost her balance and fell against the chain-link fence that ran along the sidewalk. They were in front of an empty lot, where once there might have been a house but now was only a square of crabgrass and crumbling concrete and stray garbage. For a moment, there were no other cars on the road. There was no one else on the street, no inhabited buildings for a couple blocks either way. If not for them, the woman was on her own.

    “Call nine-one-one,” Abra said as the man hit the woman again. The woman tried to get away, but he grabbed her shoulders and shoved her hard against the fence.

    “There’s no time,” Katherine said. In a heartbeat, she was out of the car.

    “Darn it, come on…” Abra muttered as she fumbled with the sliding side door and jumped out. “Keep the engine running,” she said as she followed Katherine.

    “I’ll go with you…” Margie started to say. No, Abra was right. Someone had to stay with the van, keep the engine running, stay behind the wheel in case they needed to make a quick getaway. Glancing behind her, she backed up alongside the people on the sidewalk. It felt proactive. She could hear Katherine’s strong teacher voice saying loudly but calmly, “Leave her alone” and the woman yelling, “Call the police!” It suddenly occurred to Margie that she had a phone. She could call the police. Hands trembling and heart racing, Margie frantically fumbled through her bag for her phone.

    She told the 911 dispatcher where she was and what was happening, the whole time watching Katherine and Abra and the couple on the sidewalk. Suddenly, there was a glint of something shiny in the streetlight as the man rushed toward Katherine. She heard a scream, and then she couldn’t see Abra anymore.

    Katherine got out of the car purely through instinct. There was someone in trouble—helping is what you were supposed to do, right? It wasn’t until she was on the sidewalk, walking toward the man and woman, saying loudly, “Leave her alone” and watching the man turn to face her that she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do next. None. It was then that her heart started pounding and a hot wave of fear tingled through her arms and legs.

    Up close, she could see the guy was taller and more muscular than he appeared from the safety of the van. He was maybe white, maybe light-skinned African American with a shaved head. An indecipherable neck tattoo peeked out from under his close-fitting, long-sleeved black T-shirt. She tried to burn a police description into her brain. The woman yelled, “Call the police!” at the same time the guy said, “This is none of your damn business, lady” to Katherine. The utter disdain in his voice cleared everything out of her brain except one thought: This was such a mistake. This was such a stupid mistake. There was no way this could end well. For a split second, she imagined Hal and Anna without her, wondered if they would think her foolish for getting herself killed in this way. She heard Abra say softly, “Just let her go, man.”

    Katherine could just see Abra off to her right. Margie had backed up, and the open doors of the van were only a few yards away. She could faintly hear Margie’s voice, talking to 911 maybe? Knowing they were both nearby gave her a tiny bit more courage. Katherine took a tentative step toward the woman, who was kneeling by the fence. Her face was bloodied, the sleeve of her shirt ripped. “Miss?” she asked. She looked about nineteen or twenty. Not a woman. A girl. “Why don’t you come with us? We’ll give you a ride.”

    “She don’t need a ride,” the man said.

    The rest of the street seemed eerily quiet. Couldn’t someone else stop and help? Someone big? Someone male maybe? Katherine wasn’t that big, but she was big enough, strong enough. She could help. Slowly she extended her left arm. If the woman wanted to take her hand, she could. Katherine held the woman’s gaze, hoping she could silently convince her that leaving with some strangers was preferable to getting beaten up by her boyfriend. Katherine was so focused that she didn’t see the knife until it was against her arm, in her arm. The man cut so fast that she hardly saw the blade, only the flash of metal against her pale white skin. It occurred to her that she needed to get out in the sun. Why am I worried about how pale I am? I just got cut. She felt the sensation of the blade slicing through flesh, felt a momentary spark of pain, and then the pain was gone. It happened faster than a flu shot—a quick prick, then nothing.

    The man only made one swipe, then stopped, triumphant, staring at her arm, expecting blood, expecting her to scream, to fall. There wasn’t any blood on her arm or the knife. No blood, just Katherine staring at him wide-eyed and unharmed.

    Then the man was on the ground, hit from the side by…something, something Katherine couldn’t see. The knife dropped from his hands and landed near her foot. She kicked it away at the same time she heard Abra’s voice yell, “Run!” But where the hell was Abra? She must be in the van. Katherine couldn’t see her.

    Katherine said, “Come on” to the woman, who was now up and moving toward her. The woman needed no more convincing and was in the car before Katherine, even before Abra. Where had Abra been? How could she be the last one to pile into the minivan, yelling, “Go! Go!” to Margie, who was slamming on the gas before the door was even closed.

    Nobody said anything for a moment. The only sound in the car was that of four women catching their breath, being glad they had breath left in their bodies. Then all of them simultaneously erupted into words of relief and fear, asking each other “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

    “Oh sweet mother, I can’t believe you all just did that,” Margie said. “I thought—Katherine, I honestly thought he was going to kill you.”

    “So did I,” Abra said. “How the hell did he not cut you? How did he miss you?”

    “He didn’t miss me,” Katherine replied quietly. Feeling fine seemed intrinsically wrong, but there it was. Unreal sense of calm? Yes. Pain and blood? No.

    Before Margie or Abra could respond, the woman exclaimed, “Oh my God, thank you! Sean would’ve done me in this time, I know it. Y’all were like superheroes or something. You saved my life.”

    The three women were quiet for a heartbeat. For the moment, the hyperbole of the phrase “You saved my life” was gone. It was arguably true. This was a new sensation. Frightening and humbling. Then Margie said, “Shoot, I dropped the phone.” With one hand on the wheel, she felt around in the great vortex of tissues, empty cups, and scraps of paper in the molded plastic section in between the two front seats.

    “I got it,” Katherine said, coming up with the phone. The 911 dispatcher was still on the line, wondering what was going on. “Hello?” Katherine said. “We’re okay. We got away, the woman is safe. We’re going—where are we going?”

    “Anywhere away from Sean,” the woman in the back said.

    “There’s a police station right down the street at one hundred and fifth,” Abra said.

    “Right, I know where that is,” Margie said.

    A police car with the siren off but lights flashing came roaring down Chester Avenue in the opposite direction.

    “Was that for us?” Margie asked.

    “I think so,” Abra said.

    Katherine hardly had time to explain what had happened to the dispatcher before they were at the station. There was a long hour-plus of giving witness statements to a jaded-looking police officer who told them several times how lucky they were to have gotten out of the situation with no harm done. “What you three ladies did was very brave and very stupid,” he said in closing.

    “We know,” Abra replied.

    They were told they might be called as witnesses if the woman, Janelle, decided to press charges against her boyfriend. Then they were free to go. The three of them walked out of the police station and to the waiting minivan. It was nearing midnight, and the spring evening had moved from cool to downright chilly. Even so, none of them moved to get into the van. Margie unlocked it and opened the driver’s door, then just stood looking at the ground, one hand on the door, the other on the side of the van, breathing slowly. Abra paced in a slow oval near the back of the van, while Katherine leaned against it and gazed up at the few faint stars that could be seen against the city lights. She suddenly wanted to be somewhere quiet, away from the city, away from people. Margie’s voice brought her back: “I’m sorry I didn’t do anything to help.”

    What are you talking about?” Katherine said. “If it weren’t for you, we never would have gotten out of there.”

    Abra walked around the van to Margie. “You were the only smart one. I’m sorry I got out of the car. That was stupid.” As Abra said this, she shivered, her lips trembled, and she started to shake. “That was so stupid.” “I got out first,” Katherine said. “I’m the stupid one.” Katherine almost never saw Margie cry. Even when her eldest child was going through hell, Katherine had been amazed and admiring of her friend’s resilience. But now Margie seemed overwhelmed by heaving sobs. “I’m just so glad the two of you are okay,” Margie stammered. Crying people generally made her nervous, but Katherine joined Margie and Abra on the other side of the van.

    When your friends need you, they need you.

    ***

    Excerpt from The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone. Copyright © 2017 by Susan Petrone. Reproduced with permission from Susan Petrone. All rights reserved.

     

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    Aug 182018
     

    THE SUPER LADIES by Susan Petrone
    Genre: Women’s Fiction
    Published by: The Story Plant
    Publication Date: August 14th 2018 by Story Plant
    Number of Pages: 320
    ISBN: 1611882583
    ISBN13: 9781611882582Review Copy from: The Story Plant
    Edition: Kindle
    My Rating: 5

    Synopsis

    For three middle-aged women in the suburbs of Cleveland, the issues seemed compelling but relatively conventional: sending a child off to college, dealing with a marriage gone stale, feeling “invisible.” But changes were coming . . . and not the predictable ones. Because Margie, Katherine, and Abra are feeling a new kind of power inside of them – literally. Of all the things they thought they might have to contend with as they got older, not one of them considered they’d be exploding a few gender roles by becoming superheroes.

    My Thoughts

    Margie, Katherine, and Abra, three 47 year old friends, living a relatively normal life, until Margie’s daughter’s science project goes wrong, and changing their lives in a dramatic way when they realize they now have super powers. After many discussions between them, they agree to use these abilities for positive situations.

    This is the first book that I have read by this author, but seeing that I read this book in one sitting, it surely won’t be the last.

    At times, a fun read but also thought provoking. How many times, does one wish they actually did have a super power? I know I have.

    The characters relatable, the descriptions elicited vivid imagery and the writing fluid. A delightful and entertaining book with an amusing storyline. Thoroughly enjoyed this read in it’s entirety!! Highly endorse picking up a copy!

    Without giving away any spoilers, if I had the choice to choose one of the ladies’ powers, it would be Katherine’s, aka Indestruca. but to find out what that power is, you will need to read this book.

    **Stop by tomorrow for Q&A with Susan Petrone**

    Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

    Giveaway:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for The Story Plant. There will be 5 winners of one (1) PB copy of THROW LIKE A WOMAN by Susan Petrone. The giveaway begins on August 13, 2018 and runs through October 13, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    REVIEW DISCLAIMER

    This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
    DISCLAIMER

    I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
    No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
    ADDENDUM

    I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

    Jul 012018
     

    Three Shoeboxes

    by Steven Manchester

    July 1-August 31, 2018 Tour

     

    Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester

    Synopsis:

    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.

     

    Details

    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    Published by: The Story Plant

    Publication Date: June 12th 2018

    Number of Pages: 285

    ISBN: 1611882605 (ISBN13: 9781611882605)

    Purchase Links:   AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, & Goodreads

     

    MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

    I wanted to share my review again because I feel it has such an important message

    5 stars

    He has done it again! Steven Manchester, as I have said in the past, is the master storyteller in matters of the heart. But this time, he raised the bar even higher.

    THREE SHOEBOXES is a raw and emotional read, of a family that is dealing with P.T.S.D, depression, anxiety and severe panic attacks, and how it not only affects the person afflicted but those that love and care for him. A realistic look at the struggle and the power to overcome.

    Mac Anderson, husband and father of 3, starts having intense episodes of anxiety but not sure why. These episodes begin to increase not only in severity but also in frequency until they are totally consuming him. As he turns inward, he starts to self-medicate, which results in angry outbursts, alienating his wife and children and jeopardizing his job. And to the lowest point of being arrested for domestic assault.

    A story that will have you so frustrated with Mac one minute and rooting for him the next. A somber realism of the effects of mental illness that still holds a stigma today.

    What’s in those THREE SHOEBOXES? You will have to read this exceptional novel to find out. But a warning, have the tissues close by.

    An intense and compelling read of a serious disease and the triumph of faith, will, determination and love.

    Having read many of Steven Manchester’s books, I truly believe his writing is like a fine wine. It only gets better with age.

    Steven Manchester brings home the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for THREE SHOEBOXES.

    I can’t stress enough what an extraordinary and powerful book this is!!!!!! Highly recommend!!!!

    Check out my reviews on his previous books:
    TWELVE MONTHS, GOODNIGHT, BRIAN, THE ROCKIN’ CHAIR, PRESSED PENNIES, ASHES, and THE THURSDAY NIGHT CLUB

    Stop by tomorrow for my interview with Steven Manchester

     

    Pre-publication endorsements:

    “Compelling and emotional, Three Shoeboxes takes readers on a heart-wrenching journey through some of life’s toughest challenges, always with the ever-present sense of the transforming power of love and hope. Three Shoeboxes is Steven Manchester at his finest.” – Carla Neggers, NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, Harbor Island and Echo Lake

    Raw, moving and brutally honest—Steven Manchester takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Grab your tissues for this heart-wrenching story—better yet, grab a box full!” – Tanya Anne Crosby, NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, The Girl Who Stayed "

    Three Shoeboxes is a compassionate, accessible portrait of a vitally important topic, PTSD, how it affects the sufferer and the family—and how to find hope and healing." – Jenna Blum, NYT & International Bestselling Author, Those Who Save Us and Storm Chasers

    Three Shoeboxes is terrific writing. Manchester’s protagonist’s life becomes nightmarish, his rage palpable, and his ultimate redemption breathtaking. It was enough to bring this reader to tears.” – John Lansing, #1 Bestselling Author, The Devil’s Necktie

     

    Read an 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.

    “Mac?”

    “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?”

    “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.

     

    Author Bio:

    Steven Manchester

    Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island, the national bestseller Ashes, and the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

    Connect with Steven at: stevenmanchester.com | Twitter – @AuthorSteveM | Facebook – @AuthorStevenManchester

     

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    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steven Manchester. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 3 winners of one (1) print copy of Steven Manchester’s ASHES. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited

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