Nov 012019
 

Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the '80s by Steven Manchester Banner

Bread Bags & Bullies:

Surviving the ’80s

by Steven Manchester

on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2019

 

Synopsis:

It’s the winter of 1984. Twelve-year-old Herbie and his two brothers—Wally and Cockroach—are enjoying the mayhem of winter break when a late Nor’easter blows through New England, trapping their quirky family in the house. The power goes out and playing Space Invaders to AC DC’s Back in Black album is suddenly silenced—forcing them to use their twisted imaginations in beating back the boredom. At a time when the brothers must overcome one fear after the next, they learn that courage is the one character trait that guarantees all others.

This hysterical coming-of-age tale is jam-packed with enough nostalgia to satisfy anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or at least had the good fortune to travel through them.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

5 stars

If you follow my blog, you know I am a huge fan of Steven Manchester’s work and have read many of his books. One thing that I wonder when I start turning the pages of his latest book, in this case, BREAD BAGS & BULLIES, will it be another exceptional read as all his past books. I’ll let you know!!!

I assume, with most parents, there comes a day when we all realize that we sound just like our parents when speaking to our own children. That’s exactly what happens with Herbie, as he gets out of his recliner to tell his own boys to stop horsing around and then the conversation turns serious and advice is needed. Once he returns to his recliner, the conversation he just had triggers memories of years past during a winter’s school vacation in the 80s with his 2 brothers.

I was older than the brothers, Wally, Herbie, and Alphonse, aka Cockroach during that decade but it was one of my favorite decades. I married and both my sons were born during that time.

Steven Manchester has the amazing ability to transport the reader into the story to the setting and the ability to feel that one knows the characters. And with this book, he brings the reader back in time when things were simpler. Where families ate supper together every night once the father came home from work, when children were told to go outside to play but be home before the street lights came on, when kids rode in the back of a pickup truck, when respect was expected and if not there were consequences. It, for me, brought back memories of the toys, candy, food, television shows, when there were only 3 channels, and more.

I will admit, the title threw me a bit because of the Bread Bags, which I was curious as to the significance of how those bags were used back then. And when I found out, it was new to me. If like me, and you don’t know, you will have to read this book to find out!!!

You will laugh, feel the emotions of both the parents and 3 brothers, and I’m sure, you will see yourself in many of the situations or bring back your own memories of that time.

In my opinion, Mr. Manchester has an extraordinary talent for storytelling and bringing a book to life. Did he give the reader another exceptional novel? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!

Another Steven Manchester classic that will withstand the days of time!!!!!!

Praise for Bread Bags & Bullies

“If you loved the ever popular A Christmas Story, be prepared for another classic. Bread Bags & Bullies is a must read! Funny, poignant, and heartwarming—Steven Manchester is a master storyteller.” – Jamie Farr, Actor, M.A.S.H.

Bread Bags & Bullies is a detailed eye-opening experience of the Big Hair decade. Enjoyable whether you were there or not—or just can’t quite remember it.” – Barry Williams, Actor, The Brady Bunch

“Steven Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies captures a simpler time, just before technology began dominating America’s time and attention. This nostalgic story is hilarious, told by a family of characters you won’t soon forget. A must read!” – Ed Asner, Actor, Lou Grant

“Steve Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies is a fantastic blast from the past, evoking all the fun and nostalgia of the ‘80s—even my big hair!” – Audrey Landers, Actress, Dallas

“An extraordinary recall of 1980s pop cultural, Bread Bags & Bullies will make you laugh out loud as you revisit the pains and pleasures of growing up. The book made me want to pick up the phone, call my brother in Nebraska and reminisce about our own snow day adventures.” – Douglas Barr, Actor, The Fall Guy

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, the writing is so vivid, the pace and rhythm so quick, that I truly felt I was watching it on screen.” – Joan van Ark, Actress, Knots Landing

“Steven Manchester’s latest book, Bread Bags & Bullies, made me recall the town I ‘grew up in’— mythical Mayfield. Instantly taking you back to 1984, the characters and situations are so believable that you’ll want to keep turning the pages.” – Tony Dow, Actor, Leave It to Beaver

“It’s always fun to be a part of history and pop culture. Reading the Waltons’ famous ‘Goodnight, John-boy’ referenced in Bread Bags & Bullies was a special treat—especially since the reply was ‘Night, Erin.’” – Mary McDonough, Actress, The Waltons

“A determined effort. Bread Bags & Bullies rocks!” – Billy Squier, ‘80s Rock Icon, Stroke Me

“You can like this book if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. Because if your friends don’t like this book…well, they’re no friends of mine.” – Ivan Doroschuk, Lead Singer of Men Without Hats, Safety Dance

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, Steven Manchester captures the ‘80s to the smallest detail. With each page turned, memories flood back. Using the lightest of touch, he tells his story with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Bread Bags & Bullies is a delight!” – Nick van Eede, Lead Singer of Cutting Crew, Died In Your Arms

“Steve Manchester’s newest novel, Bread Bags & Bullies, is a well-written love letter to the ‘80s—bringing me home with every page turned.” – Bertie Higgins, ‘80s Recording Artist, Key Largo

Bread Bags & Bullies is so—like, totally—‘84, it makes me want to get out my leg warmers and glow sticks, backcomb my hair, and romp around the room to Footloose. And then I remember, I don’t have any hair.” – Thomas Dolby, ‘80s Recording Artist, She Blinded Me with Science

“Manchester’s book, Bread Bags & Bullies, brings to mind many of our techno ditties. ‘How you gonna keep ‘em down on Maggie’s Farm once they’ve seen Devo?’” – Gerald V. Casale of DEVO, Whip It

 

Book Details

Genre: Commercial Fiction
Published by: Luna Bella Press
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-9841842-7-9
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

FRIDAY

It was the afternoon of Friday 13th, the last day before February vacation. A whole week off from stupid middle school, I thought, excitedly.
From the moment I stepped onto the bus, the atmosphere felt electric, everyone happy for the much-needed winter break. Nena’s song, 99 Luftballoons, was playing on some concealed boom box in the back.
Many of the bus’s green fake leather bench seats were split and duct-taped. As I made my way down the narrow aisle in search of a seat, I heard the usual remarks offered to most eighth graders from the high school kids who’d already claimed their territory.
“You can’t sit here, dufus.”
“This seat’s taken.”
Even on such a joyous afternoon, I was quickly reminded that riding the bus was a hard kick in the teeth. It didn’t matter whether they were wearing black leather vests and chain wallets or Swatch watches and turned-up collars on their pastel IZOD Polo shirts, the high school kids were just plain mean.
As I made my way further down the line, the objections got even stronger.
“Oh, I don’t think so, dweeb.”
“If you even think about sitting, you dink, I’ll beat you to a pulp.”
Eat shit and die, I replied in my head, but never out loud.
I hated sitting with the nerds or the kids that smelled like spoiled lunchmeat, but after receiving enough rejections I began to wonder, Maybe the older kids see me the same way?
Although school had its social order, this mobile environment was even less forgiving. At a time in life when the mind is impressionable—constantly worrying about what others think of you, even about what you think of yourself—the bus’s sadistic hierarchy created scar tissue that would help to define many lives for years to come. It was a cruel testing ground for survival, where the tougher or more popular kids claimed the back of the bus. Those coveted seats were sacred territory that most of us spent years aspiring to. On the big, yellow school bus, physical threats were the least of our worries. This is psychological warfare, I realized early on.
Besides having to deal with the pecking order, there was incredible peer pressure to do things most of us would have never dreamed of doing—like distracting the elderly driver, Mr. Gifford. Given that the bus had no seat belts, this daily practice seemed pretty insane to me. I’d never actually seen Mr. Gifford’s eyes; the two narrow slits were usually squinting into the rear-view mirror. “Sit down!” he constantly yelled.
There was always the smell of smoke wafting from the back, though I was never really sure it was cigarette smoke. Usually, there were two kids making out—a boy and girl—and it wasn’t always the same couple. The bus had its own sub-culture, a microcosm of the twisted society we were growing up in.
It’s amazing Old Man Gifford can keep this giant bus on the road and not in one of the ditches we pass on our way home, I thought.
As I claimed my seat beside another outcast Junior High-Schooler, I spotted my brother, Wally, sitting toward the middle of the vessel. Wally had straight brown hair, serious brown eyes and the chunky Bloomfield nose. He looked like my father. Unfortunately, a terrible case of acne was in full bloom, taking away from his rugged handsome looks. Our eyes locked. I nodded toward him. Although he returned the gesture, he was much more subtle in his action. You’re such a butthead, I thought.
A cold breeze tapped me on the shoulder. It’s freezing in here, I realized, turning around to see that the windows were open in the back of the yellow torture chamber. As I turned, I caught a whiff of my bus mate. And thank God they’re open, I thought, trying to place the unusual smell. Fried Spam? I guessed, before noticing that the stinky kid was wearing a Smokey the Bear sweatshirt that read, Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. I had to do a double-take. No way, I thought in disbelief, it looks like Beetlejuice, here, has a death wish…wearing a lame pullover like that. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Just Say No campaign button pinned to the front of it. I chuckled aloud, drawing a look from my new best friend. I pity the fool, I thought, quoting Mr. T.—one of my favorite TV personalities—in my head.
I’d just popped my last Luden’s cherry cough drop into my mouth when I heard it. There was a commotion behind us, much louder than the usual raucous. What the hell? No sooner did I turn in my seat to investigate the ruckus when my heart plummeted past my stone-washed jeans straight into my worn Chuck Taylor high tops.
Owen Audet—the most feared enforcer on Bus 6—was standing toe-to-toe with Wally. He was more than a head taller than my poor brother. Oh no, I thought, Wally’s gotta be shittin’ bricks right now. I swallowed hard. I know I would be. Owen was big, dumb and mean—and heavy on the mean.
“I need to borrow another book,” the Missing Link barked, looming over my brother.
There were a few laughs from the bully’s brain-dead minions.
My mouth instantly went dry, while my heart began to race. Although my brother was on the “big-boned” side, built like a Sherman tank, he still looked so small next to Owen. That dude’s a Clydesdale, I thought, and Wally’s road pizza.
“Sor…sorry, but I can’t do it,” Wally refused, his voice three octaves higher than normal. Even though he sounded like a yipping dog, he somehow stood his ground.
Owen’s face turned beet red. He obviously didn’t appreciate being challenged in front of the crowd.
It’s Friday the 13th, I remembered, and Jason’s back.
Owen grabbed for Wally’s backpack, who pulled away violently.
“Ooooh,” the crowd groaned.
“You must be out of your damn mind, loser,” the aggressor hissed.
“I…I would be if…” Wally stuttered, looking like a terrified Kindergartner, “…if I let you take another book.”
I didn’t blame him. After the way Pop reacted the last time this same nightmare happened, I thought, Wally has no choice. My find quickly flashed back.

~~~

A month earlier, Owen had snatched one of Wally’s school books, opened the bus window and tossed it out—while everyone laughed nervously, hoping they weren’t next.
This could never happen to me, I realized, priding myself on the fact that I never took a book home. This wasn’t because I wasn’t supposed to, or didn’t need to. I’d simply decided early on that if the material couldn’t be learned in the classroom, there was no way I was going to “get it” at home.
When we got home, Wally explained that he’d been “bullied on the bus.”
Our father’s reaction was even worst than the crime Wally had reported. “Bullied?” Pop roared, addressing Wally, me and our little brother in the living room, “there’s no such thing as being bullied unless you allow it, right?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Lions are not bullied by sheep,” he barked, “and I hope to God I’m not raising sheep!”
“Okay, Pop,” Wally mumbled at a little more than a whisper, “I get it.”
“There’s only one way to set a bully straight,” Pop added, staring my older brother in the eye.
Any one of us could have recited his next words by heart.
“Punch him square in the nose as hard as you can.”
“Walt!” my mother yelled from the kitchen, clearly opposed to the tough lesson.
Pop peered even harder into Wally’s eyes. “As hard as you can,” he repeated through gritted teeth.
Three heads nodded.
Message received, I thought, loud and clear. When teaching us, Pop never gently peeled back the onion. He always sliced it right down the middle, cutting straight to the bitter tears.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Wally had heard two earfuls over the missing book—not just from our father but from his teacher, as well. My brother had reported that his book was missing; that he’d lost it. It was better than the alternative. If he’d told the truth, it would have been so much worse. Owen would have been enraged and Wally’s classmates would have labeled him a stool pigeon. And Pop, well, Pop would have thought he was a coward—a fate worse than death itself.
Yup, it’s so much better to lie sometimes, I decided.

~~~

Back on the bus, the crowd grew louder. “Oooooh…” they sang in chorus; everyone was now up on their knees to witness the inevitable pummeling.
I’d always looked up to my brother. Now, I just felt bad for him.
As Owen’s jaw muscles flexed violently, his beady eyes darted back and forth—his baby brain clearly considering his options. He looked toward Mr. Gifford, whose squinted eyes were looking into the giant rear view mirror positioned directly above his head.
“You’re lucky, you little queer,” Owen spat at my brother.
Wally kept his ground. “Why don’t you pick on…on someone your own size?” he stammered.
I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like experiencing a scene from Karate Kid. Wally’s sticking up for himself, even though Magilla Gorilla’s threatening to bash his squash in. Although my brother had found the courage to stare the predator down, I knew he wasn’t crazy enough to accept the giant’s invitation to tussle.
Owen laughed, cynically. “Oh, you’re my bitch now,” he said, “and I’m gonna take care of you good when we get back from vacation. You got it, bitch?”
The crowd didn’t laugh this time; everyone feeling bad for Wally. It could be any one of us at any time, I thought. Owen was an equal opportunity bully who didn’t discriminate.
“I’m gonna beat you down,” Owen promised Wally, “and it’s gonna be like that for the rest of the year.” He chuckled. “And next year, too.” By now, his putrid breath was inches from my brother’s crimson face, spittle flying with every terrifying word he spouted.
I’d never felt so freaked out, and the scumbag wasn’t even talking to me. I don’t know how Wally’s staying on his feet, I thought, proud that my brother’s eyes never left Owen’s.
As the bus screeched to a stop in front of our house, Wally turned to leave. The brakes weren’t done squealing when Owen pushed him in the back, collapsing him to the filthy floor.
Eyes wide, Wally looked up from his prone position.
“Say one word,” Owen growled, “and I’ll kick your friggin’ teeth in right here.”
Wally scrambled to his feet and glared at him again before marching off the bus, hyperventilating from either fear or anger. Most likely both, I figured.
As the bus’s folding door closed and the air brakes belched out a sigh, I turned to Wally. “Do you think the Sleestak will actually…” I began to ask.
“Shut your damn mouth before I kick your teeth in!” he barked.
“Well, okay then,” I mumbled. My big brother was a master of wedgies and Indian sunburns, with years of experience under his belt. I hope you get yours after vacation, I thought.

As we entered the house, Ma was at the stove, making a vat of hot dog stew. “How was everyone’s day?” the short woman asked. She had the kindest eyes and most loving smile—except on those moody days when she’d eaten a bowl of spiders for breakfast.
“Just great,” Wally said, storming toward our bedroom.
“Better than his,” I said, pointing at my brother.
Wally stopped at our bedroom’s plastic accordion door, spinning on his heels to stare me into silence.
The menacing look worked. “I had a good day,” I told my mother, prepared to quell any questions she might have. “Mr. Timmons, my science teacher, nearly choked to death on an apple in class today,” I told her, laughing.
“And you think that’s funny, Herbie?” she asked, disgustedly.
I shrugged. “You would have too, Ma, if you’d been there,” I told her. “He was just starting to turn blue when he coughed it out.”
“Dear God,” she said, “that’s enough. I don’t want to hear another word about it.”
I smiled. Mission accomplished, I thought, knowing there was no way she’d remember my comment about Wally. “Oh, and we’re on vacation all next week,” I reminded her.
“I know, I know,” she said, her face incapable of concealing her disappointment. “When Alphonse gets home, I want the three of you to clean up that pig sty you call a bedroom.”
“Why would we clean it now, before vacation week?” I asked. “It doesn’t make sense, Ma. We’re only going to mess it up all week.”
“Because I said so, that’s why.” She stared at me for a moment. “If you want, I can have your father…”
“Fine,” I quickly surrendered, “we’ll get started when Cockroach gets home from school.”
My younger brother was still in elementary school and took a later bus. I have a half hour to play Atari, I thought, and that new Donkey Kong game is mint.

The Atari gaming system was the best Christmas gift my brothers and I had ever received. Although I’d begged for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Ma adamantly refused. “Not on your life,” she told me, “the last thing you guys need is more encouragement to fight.” Instead, we received a much better—and completely unexpected—Christmas present.
The Atari 2600 came with two joystick controllers with red buttons, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and black game cartridges that looked a lot like Pop’s 8-track tapes.

Wally stormed out of the room just as I was entering.
“Where are you heading?” I asked.
“To do my paper route.”
“Can I come with you?”
“No.”
“Come on, Wally,” I said. “I can help you and…”
“I said no,” he barked. “Besides, I need to hurry today and get it done quick.”
“Why?”
“None of your business.” He stepped through the kitchen, heading for the front door.
“Be back for supper,” my mother told him.
“I will, Ma,” he said, walking out of the house and slamming the door behind him.
“What’s wrong with Wally today?” my mother called out, just as I was starting to control the block-headed ape on the black-and-white TV screen.
Nice try, Ma, I thought, confident that I’d never make the same mistake twice. “He’s just wiggin’ to get his paper route done, so he can veg out tonight,” I told her. “The Dukes of Hazzard are on and he’s in love with Daisy.” I smiled, thinking, We all are.
“Well, there’ll be no Dukes of Hazzard, if you boys don’t get that room cleaned up.”
“We’ll get it done, Ma,” I yelled from the bedroom. “Me and Cockroach will tackle it when the space cadet gets home.”
I returned my attention to the TV screen, and began jumping barrels with my two-dimensional video ape.

Our bedroom door opened and closed like a cheap accordion, catching Cockroach’s fingers within its folds. “Ouch!” he yelled out.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. In fact, each time my little brother screamed out in pain, Wally and I laughed like it was the first time he’d ever hurt himself. Cockroach’s injuries never get old, I thought.
As soon as he stopped his belly-aching, Cockroach and I went straight to work. “Either that,” I told him, “or Ma won’t let us watch Dukes of Hazzard.”
“She wouldn’t do that,” he said.
I shrugged. “You wanna risk it?”
“What about Wally?” he asked. “Isn’t he gonna help us?”
“He’s on his paper route.” I thought about it, surprised that I still felt bad for my older brother. “Let’s just get it done, you little cabbage patch kid.”
He flipped me the bird.
Our bedroom consisted of single bed and a set of bunkbeds that was also used as a fort, a spaceship, or anything our cross-wired brains could conjure up—with a bed sheet draped down from the top bunk. There were two bureaus, Cockroach’s padlocked toy box and a small black-and-white TV that sat on a rickety fake wooden stand, the Atari console and joysticks lying in front on the shag carpeted floor. Three beanbag chairs helped to complete the cluttered room.
Cleaning was not as simple as it sounded. Not long ago, Ma had insisted, “You guys are gross and, from now on, you’ll be doing your own laundry and making your own beds.” I had KISS bedding that once belonged to Wally. Although Cockroach liked to pretend he was sleeping on Star Wars bedding, he enjoyed my hand-me-down astronaut set. It wasn’t easy changing the bedding on a bunkbed, but we finally got it done.
For the next hour, while we put away clothes and moved things around—mostly kicking everything under the beds—Steven Tyler from Aerosmith wailed away on Cockroach’s massive silver boom box. Although we each owned a portable stereo system, Cockroach’s was in the best shape. He takes good care of his stuff, I thought, in case he ever wants to unload it to the highest bidder. It was in pristine condition, with no stickers or corroded battery compartment,. He barely used it, so this was a treat.
When we were done straightening up, I turned to Cockroach. “Looks schweet, huh?”
He nodded in agreement. Without a proper inspection, the place looked immaculate—or at least as clean as it had been in a very long time. “Schweet,” he repeated.
It was amazing to me how different my brothers were. Being stuck in the middle of them, I usually played the family diplomat. Cockroach’s real name was Alphonse, after our Pepere—but we always called him Cockroach. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the way he scurried about, or because no matter how badly Wally and I beat on him we couldn’t seem to kill him. I learned later on that he’d actually been nicknamed after a character on one of Pop’s favorite TV shows, Hogan’s Heroes.
Cockroach was more like a skeleton wrapped in olive skin, while I was built on the sturdy side like my older brother. Although we also shared the small potato-shaped nose, I had blue eyes with curly blonde hair, which made more than a few people confuse me for a girl when I was young. Cockroach had darker eyes and a nose as slender as his build, making him appear like the one piece that didn’t quite fit into the family portrait.
“What do you want to play?” he asked me once we’d finished cleaning. His deep dimples framed a grin that was sure to make most females crane their necks.
“We could play with your Stretch Armstrong doll,” I teased.
His handsome face went white.
I laughed, remembering that ridiculously violent day.

~~~

My brothers and I had enjoyed a few rare days of peace, until turning into our usual slugfest. During the melee, Wally grabbed Cockroach’s Stretch Armstrong doll, who ended up getting the worst of it.
Wearing blue bikini underwear, the bare-chested, blonde-haired rubber doll could take a real thrashing. We could stretch him and even tie him into a knot before he went back to his original bulky form. Whether catapulted high into the air or used as the rope in a heated tug of war match, the action figure was reputed to be indestructible.
Screaming for mercy, Cockroach watched on in horror, while Wally and I put that poor doll to the test. We pulled and pulled, both of us ending up on our backsides, digging in our heels to create more distance between us.
As the first break in the skin revealed itself, Cockroach cried out, “You’re hurting him!”
That’s when something came over me and Wally—who was also known as the Mangler. We pulled harder, mutilating Mr. Armstrong beyond recognition and dispelling the fact that he couldn’t be destroyed. As Wally and I finished ripping the arms off of old Stretch, a clear gel that looked a lot like Crazy Glue oozed out.
“No!” Cockroach wailed.
“That’s weird,” Wally commented, nonchalantly, “the jelly doesn’t have any smell.”
Inconsolable, Cockroach went down on all fours to mourn the death of his favorite playmate.

~~~

“You guys suck,” Cockroach said, back in the present.
I couldn’t argue with him. Our job as big brothers is to toughen you up, I thought, justifying the cruel act. I then realized that Wally the Mangler destroyed everything in his path. The new Merlin six-in-one hand-held electronic game I’d gotten for Christmas a couple of years ago, the table-top motorcycle game he unwrapped last year…everything.
“You want to play Operation?” Cockroach asked me.
“Nah.”
“Perfection?”
“Half the pieces are missing,” I reminded him.
“Battleship?”
I shook my head. “Can’t, the batteries are dead.” I smiled. “What about Twister?”
“No way,” he said, “it just turns into a pig pile with me on the bottom.”
I laughed. That’s right.
His eyes went wide with excitement. “What about G.I. Joe’s, Herbie?” he asked. “We haven’t played war in a long time.”
I was well beyond the cusp of being too old to play soldier, but making Cockroach happy was the perfect excuse for me to play. It’s the least I can do after helping to murder Stretch Armstrong, I thought. Besides, war is not an individual sport.

Wally and I had received the entire G.I. Joe Command Center a few years earlier when we’d both gotten our tonsils removed. “It’s for all three of you to share,” our mother had announced, referring to the large gift. In recent months, Cockroach claimed the cool play set as his own, and we were good with it.
It didn’t take long for my little brother to set up everything on the floor we’d just cleared. The grey G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center was walled in the front and wide open in the back, allowing for the tank to drive in and out of its bay, and the Jeep to enter the Motor Pool. Multiple G.I. Joe action figures manned the communication tactical station with colorful stickers illustrating the security monitors. An armory, filled with weapons, was located directly beneath the Heli-Pad—home to the awesome Dragonfly Helicopter. A holding cell for captured enemies was normally empty—as Cockroach and I rarely took enemies—while machine guns and canons defended strategic positions on top of the spot-lit wall.
For the next hour or so, we fought—and defeated—battalions of imaginary enemies.
“Come in, Flying Squirrel,” I called into a damaged walkie-talkie, “this is Swamp Yankee. How copy, over?”
“I read you, Swamp Yankee,” Cockroach called back on his matching broken walkie-talkie. “The enemy has been neutralized.”
I laughed. Cockroach is too smart for his age, I thought. It must be from all the TV he watches. It didn’t really matter that our walkie talkies had been broken since we’d gotten them. We were kneeling side-by-side only a few feet apart.
“So you really like this girl, Donna Torres, huh?” Cockroach commented, parking the Jeep in front of our perimeter.
I wheeled the tank through the Headquarters compound. “Like totally,” I said, never looking up. Donna’s different, I thought, she’s beautiful. Most girls aren’t too hard to look at, but Donna’s in a class all her own.
“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Cockroach joked, mimicking the funny commercial of an elderly woman pushing a panic button on her necklace.
That’s clever, bro, I thought. After a few moments of tank patrol, I blurted, “I think she’s the one.”
Chuckling, my little brother took the plastic helicopter into the air. “Sure she is, Herbie. You said the same thing about Abby Gerwitz last summer.”
He’s right, I thought. For as long as I could remember, I had a huge crush on Abby Gerwitz. But who hasn’t? I thought. “She likes Richard Giles and everyone knows it,” I told him, and because of that my feelings for her had died a very cruel death. “Donna’s the one,” I repeated, hammering my point home.
Cockroach stopped playing. “Have you told her?” he asked, giving me his undivided attention.
“Sort of.”
“Sort of?”
For weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about exchanging valentines with Donna; giving her those small chalk hearts that said everything I didn’t have the courage to tell her: Be Mine and I Love You. I decided that these colorful messages of affection were much safer to give than a greeting card or a box of chocolates. But what if she doesn’t like me? I kept thinking, torturing myself. I’ll be a laughing stock at school. I began getting heated, picturing Paul Roberts laughing at me, and then me punching his smug face over-and-over-and-over again. Even young, I sensed that love never went unpunished.
On Valentine’s Day, I got to homeroom early and left a box of the chalk hearts in Donna’s desk. I signed the gift, From Herbie. While my heart pounded out of my chest, I watched from the back of the room as she found the candy. She looked back at me and smiled. “Thank you,” she said, and I nodded—my face feeling like it was on fire.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Donna had never gotten the real message I was trying to send.
“I gave her a Valentine’s,” I explained to Cockroach, “but I’m not sure if she thinks I gave it to her as a friend.”
“Oh…” He thought for a moment. “That’s pretty lame.”
“What do you know?” I snapped back. Cockroach was still too young to understand the risk and devastation associated with being rejected by a girl—especially a girl as perfect as Donna. It was like being picked for teams in gym class; no big deal unless you were picked last. And you only have so many shots in Middle School, I thought. If you’re rejected by more than one girl, then you’re destined to be stuck in Loserville for life.
“So what are you going to do?” he asked, bringing me back into the moment.
“I think I’m going to write her a letter.”
“Really?”
“No question.”
While we played, I began to daydream about my crush. I could picture Donna as plain as the bearded G.I. Joe doll I was holding.

Donna’s so choice, I thought. She had the prettiest chocolate-colored eyes and a smile that made me feel like I was the only eighth-grade boy walking the earth. Every day at school, she either wore Jordache or Sergio Valente jeans; these were skin-tight right down to a pair of jelly shoes or clogs. Unlike most of the other girls who wore big hair with bangs—mall hair, as we called it— or tied up in a scrunchy, Donna’s dirty blonde hair was parted in the middle and feathered back. Just like Farah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels, I thought. She usually wore a shirt with shoulder pads and her jewelry was simple; gel bracelets and friendship beads. I’d only seen her in leg warmers and a colorful headband once, realizing she’d look good no matter what she wore.
Yup, I thought, I definitely have to write her a letter. It’s the only way she’ll ever know that I…

“Herbie!” I heard someone scream.
I looked up. Cockroach was gone and I was sitting on the floor alone. Wow, that’s weird, I thought.
“Herbie!” I heard again, struggling to register reality.
It’s Ma, I realized. “Sorry, Ma, I didn’t hear you.”
“How could you not hear me? I’ve been yelling for you for ten minutes.”
Now there’s an exaggeration, I thought. “Sorry, Ma,” I repeated.
“Your father’s home from work. Go get cleaned up for supper.”
“Okay.”
“Now,” she said.

When I pulled my chair out from the kitchen table, Pop was already sitting at the head of it—wearing his faded dungarees and graying crew-neck t-shirt. Thankfully, his same-colored handkerchief—used to blow his nose and then yank out our loose teeth, sometimes one right after the other—remained in his back pocket.
Wally was also there, his face ruddy from the cold.
“How was school today?” Pop asked, blowing on his hot bowl of stew.
“Fine,” Wally mumbled, his eyes on his steaming meal.
“Good,” I added, “we’re on vacation next week.”
The old man looked across the table at Ma. “Lucky Mom,” he said, grinning.
“And we cleaned our room,” Cockroach reported.
“Well, what do you know,” he said, “it’s a winter miracle.”
For the next half hour, besides the occasional grunt or groan, we ate in silence. “Lots of hot dogs tonight,” Pop commented, dunking a slice of buttered bread into his bowl. “Did we hit the lottery or something?”
Ma grinned. “They were on sale, Walt.”
As they discussed the expensive price of groceries, my mind drifted off again. I couldn’t help it. I don’t even care that Donna has a crush on Kevin Bacon, I thought, shrugging to myself. All those hearts on her Trapper Keeper, with his initials written inside each one—who cares. I inhaled deeply. I love it when she wears that Luvs Baby Soft perfume. I could actually smell the liquid baby powder when I closed my eyes. Ahhhh…
“I’m done,” Wally announced loudly, bringing me back to the table. After placing the plastic bowl into the sink, my brother grabbed his heavy winter jacket and put it on.
“Where are you going now?” Ma asked him.
“The cellar,” he said.
“Good,” she said, getting up. “Why don’t you throw a load of towels into the wash while you’re down there?”
Although Wally’s face contorted, he nodded in surrender. “Fine, Ma.”
Within seconds, she was back in the kitchen with an overflowing laundry basket of mismatched towels.
“Bo and Luke Duke are on tonight,” Cockroach reminded him.
“I’ll be back by then,” Wally said, wrestling the bulky basket out the front door.
My father was finishing his second bowl of soup when he asked, “What the hell’s he do down there, anyway?”
“Laundry,” Ma said, standing to fetch him another bowl of stew.

At eight o’clock, Wally, Cockroach and I watched our favorite show—the Dukes of Hazzard. While we sat entranced by Bo and Luke’s unrealistic car jumps in the General Lee—as well as Daisy’s really short cut-off jeans—Ma treated us to our favorite Friday treat: hand-cut French fries, salted and shaken in a brown paper bag. There’s no better snack on a Friday night, I thought. Hold the vinegar, please.
Once the show was done, the TV belonged to Ma—who watched Dallas at nine o’clock, immediately followed by Falcon Crest. For two full hours, she snubbed out one cigarette butt after the next into a giant ashtray that rested atop its decorative wrought iron stand right beside the couch. In no time, the living room was engulfed in smoke, a low-clinging fog that had quietly crept in. While Pop snored on and off in his worn recliner—a half-empty beer can in hand—my brothers and I decided to call it a night. We’d already second-hand smoked a full pack that day.

My brothers and I wrapped up the night with a lively game of Atari Pong.
Cockroach preferred the longer paddles, while I was a bit more skilled and liked the shorter rectangles. I loved it. With virtual reality, there was much less need for actual reality.

Once Cockroach turned out the light and we retired to our beds, I called out to Wally, “Goodnight, John-boy…”
My big brother normally responded like we were part of the Walton Family, but there was no reply tonight. There was no laughter—just silence.
It suddenly hit me. Wally’s still buggn’ out, I thought, realizing that my brother’s fear was so great that it was swallowing him whole. All because of that bullshit on the bus today. I shook my head. He just needs to take a chill pill. I mean, we’re off for an entire week.

Excerpt from Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80s by Steven Manchester. Copyright © 2019 by Steven Manchester. Reproduced with permission from Steven Manchester. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. 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. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Find Steven Manchester Online:

StevenManchester.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook

 

Tour Host Participants:

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



 

GIVEAWAY!!:

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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.
  • 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.
  • Oct 012019
     

    Birth Right

    by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica

    on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2019

    Synopsis:

    Birth Right by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica

    In the mid-sixties, a young woman and a young man meet and begin the romance that will define their lives throughout the decades.

    In the early nineties, two young men meet and forge a friendship that will propel both into newfound worlds.

    Today, those same two men face a reality that could change the course of the world . . . and a fantasy that both have only dared to imagine.

    How these three stories come together is the driving pulse of BIRTH RIGHT, a novel about despots and rulers, spouses and lovers, friendship and brotherhood. Playing out at once on the most global and the most intimate of stages, it is a story about the power one is born into and the power one earns and, at its very heart, the power of love.

    MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

    5 stars

    Caveat 1: I have been a fan of Mr. Aronica’s for many years from when I first became involved in the book blogging community in 2009 and have read many of the books from his publishing company, The Story Plant, (see my previous reviews at the bottom of this post). Some books I absolutely loved, only to find out until much later, that he wrote, but under the pseudonym, Michael Baron. It’s been a while, however, so I was anxious to read this book.

    Caveat 2: What I enjoyed the most about his books was that I always felt that I was transported into the story through his descriptive writing. I could picture in my mind the settings and the characters came to life and felt that I intimately knew them. Did this book do the same for me?

    About BIRTH RIGHT: Days before her wedding, that her uncle arranged, Sandra met Cayetano and knew in her heart that this man would be the love of her life. But traditions ruled and she had no choice but to marry Sebastian. Cayetano married a few years later but also knew that Sandra was the one who owned his heart. For decades, the two would meet every year, which they knew was wrong, but the love they shared was too profound. Nobody really knew either of them more than they knew each other.

    Years later, Alex Soberano, a financial expert in international corporations, meets Prince Fernando the future King of Léon, which Alex’s ancestors had ties to. They became best friends and at the time, Fernando’s father, King Alfonso IV, brought Alex into the fold because he felt the Prime Minister was ruining the country’s economy and that he had plans to become a dictator. Does Alex have a hand in the demise of the Prime Minister? How does Alex’s 10-year-old daughter help with the plan?

    Are these 2 stories connected? And if so, how?

    And now to answer my previous question, did this book do the same for me? OH YEA!!!

    This weekend I became a jet setter, traveling the world visiting places I have never been. The characters were brought to life, not only did I feel connected to them, I was able to feel their emotions of love, fear, friendship, guilt, sadness, loss, sensitivities, and perceptions.

    Once the story came together, I let out an audible gasp to the point, I had to stop reading and process what I just witnessed via the written word!!

    An eloquent and intense read that I could not stop turning the pages!!! !!! Captivating and poignant!! So engrossing that this story will stay with me for a very long time!!

    Highly, highly recommend!!

    Book Details

    Genre: Literary Fiction
    Published by: The Story Plant
    Publication Date: September 7th 2019
    Number of Pages: 224
    ISBN: 1611882664 (ISBN13: 9781611882667)
    Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Alex had been to exactly one inaugural ceremony before. His parents had taken him to see President Marcador take the oath of office back when he was thirteen. That president had turned out to be ineffectual, serving only one term and, even at his young age, Alex had the sense that Marcador was going to be a footnote in Legado history. The man projected so little presence, almost as though he didn’t have enough internal energy to put a persona out there. What Alex subsequently learned was that Marcador was a compromise candidate during a period of transition for his country. The story would be decidedly different sixteen years later, when a wildly charismatic candidate – one who happened to be Alex’s cousin – would take the nation by storm and win the election in a landslide.

    Alex could hardly believe the ceremony he was watching today had the same function as the one he’d witnessed as a boy. This one had so much pomp, so much music, so much color. Javier Benigno was easily the most popular political figure to rise from Legado since the late, ever-beloved Viviana Emisario, and perhaps the first to inspire the passion from the people that seemed to have been extinguished when Viviana’s helicopter had crashed during a diplomatic mission. Viviana’s death had snuffed the joy from a nation. It had done more than that to Alex, but that was a story he would forever keep to himself.

    “Legado was always our most vibrant colony,” said a voice to his right. “This ceremony has more hues than a Joya de la Costa garden.”

    Alex turned to look at the speaker. The man seemed to be about his age and height, though he was a bit heftier all around. Maybe this is what I’d look like if I didn’t spend as much time in the gym, Alex thought.

    “I assume you’re aware that Legado hasn’t been a colony since your great-great grandfather was a twinkle in his mother’s eye.”

    The man flashed a heavy-wattage smile. “Oh, well, of course. But one never stops thinking of their children as children, do they?”

    “Well, we’re all grown up. And we’ve been a democracy continuously for more than a century. I don’t believe our ‘father’ can say the same thing.”
    “I don’t know what you mean,” the man said, laughing boisterously. “The public elected El General to each of his nine terms. By an overwhelming majority, in fact. Usually more than ninety percent.”

    A huge cheer went up at that moment. Looking down from the grandstand, Alex could see that the new president’s motorcade had entered the staging area.

    “Yes, ninety percent,” Alex said to his companion. “My cousin should find that humbling, as he only received fifty-nine percent of the vote.”

    “Cousin? I assume that makes you a Benigno.”

    “Soberano, actually. Javier is a cousin on my mother’s side.” Alex put out his hand. “Alejandro Soberano. My friends call me Alex.”

    The man shook. “Fernando Alfonso Trastámara. My friends call me Fernando.”

    Alex should have recognized the man. He’d certainly seen the heir to the Léon throne in enough tabloids. “They don’t call you ‘Your Majesty.’”

    “God, no. They will hopefully never call me that.”

    “I assume that means you’re wishing for a very long life for your father and not that you’re expecting El General to come back from the dead.”

    The man beamed again. It was easy to see why women found him so irresistible. Between the smile, the future crown, and the massive fortune, what was there to resist? “No, El General is gone forever. Just to make sure, my father sends an envoy every day to dance on his grave.”

    Alex nodded approvingly. The people of Legado did indeed consider Léon to be close family, and the last thing that Alex would have ever wanted was a return to the days when El General dominated Léon so absolutely. Alex was barely in elementary school when the dictator had suddenly stepped down, allowing Fernando’s father, Juan Alfonso Trastámara, to take his rightful place on the throne and to allow for a duly elected prime minister to operate the government, but he could remember his mother spitting invective at the television every time she saw El General speak. And while Alex didn’t truly understand the cause of celebration on the streets of his hometown when El General resigned (and the only slightly-less-raucous celebration that happened when the dictator died eight months later), he would never forget the taste of the pastel con tres leches his mother made that night to mark the occasion.

    “Very wise of your father,” Alex said. “Is he here?”

    “He wishes he could be. He thinks highly of your cousin. But there’s a gathering of several European heads of state that Léon is hosting, so he of course needed to attend that. He sent me to represent the crown in his stead. He’s accurately deduced that my one statecraft talent is waving and smiling broadly, so I’m the perfect man for this assignment.”

    Fernando did some smiling and waving at that point and excused himself. At the inaugural ball that evening, though, Fernando came up to Alex with two glasses of Champagne and offered him one.

    “I noticed you didn’t have a drink,” he said.

    Alex took the glass and tipped it in Fernando’s direction before taking a sip. “I was pacing myself.”

    “I don’t have the remotest idea why anyone would do that.”

    Alex grinned at Fernando’s acknowledgment of his excesses. “Lots of family around. And I wouldn’t want to do anything that might embarrass my cousin.”

    “Hmm. Interesting perspective.”

    “It was nearly time for another drink, though, so I appreciate the Champagne.”

    “Happy to be of service. So, I hear you’ve been conscripted to accompany me to Anhelo tomorrow for the hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

    Just a few hours earlier, Alex had learned that his cousin, the president, had requested that Alex be part of the prince’s travel party for the opening of a new hospital that Léon had funded. The request had surprised Alex, because he’d never performed any sort of official government function before, and there were surely dozens of people on the presidential staff who could have filled this role. Had someone seen Alex and the prince speaking at the inauguration and decided that Alex would be a good companion? He did notice his mother looking at them a lot during the inauguration and then he saw her talking to the president later. Maybe she wanted him to become friends with the prince? But he doubted she would have such influence on the new president, even though he was her younger cousin. Did President Benigno think this might help groom Alex for some future place in his administration – something Alex had never considered and wouldn’t particularly desire, especially now that his career was kicking into its next gear? Regardless, he wasn’t going to turn down the new leader of his native land, and some pomp and circumstance at the side of the prince of Léon could be entertaining.

    “Yes,” Alex said. “It appears they needed to tap the absolute best available talent for this engagement.”

    “I’m flattered. I was afraid I was going to get a member of Benigno’s rotund retinue. Is it just me or is everyone in the president’s inner circle at least forty kilos overweight?”

    Alex chose not to respond beyond a polite smile.

    “No matter,” the prince said. “Tell me: is the Colina after-hours club scene as ribald as its reputation?”

    “I wouldn’t really know. I’m down from New York, and I grew up in Anhelo. I’ve never taken much advantage of the clubs when I’ve been to Colina in the past.”

    Fernando nodded thoughtfully for several long moments. Then his face brightened. “Care to join me on a bit of a research expedition after this event is over? Purely for cultural reasons, of course.”

    Alex lifted an eyebrow. “I believe our plane is scheduled to leave at eight tomorrow morning.”

    Fernando shrugged. “We’ll make it an early night, then. In bed no later than four.”

    Alex had heard that Fernando could be a bit dangerous when out on the prowl, and Alex not only had his own reputation but the reputation of Legado’s new president to uphold. Still, it was difficult to avoid getting caught up in Fernando’s enthusiasm.

    “I’ve heard of a few places that might be ideal for your ‘research.’ And I’m sure they would love a visit from the future king of Léon.”

    “Excellent. One condition, though: you really need to stop calling me the future king of Léon. I already get all of the reminders I need about that from my father.”

    Excerpt from Birth Right by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica. Copyright © 2019 by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica. Reproduced with permission from Lou Aronica. All rights reserved.

    About Our Authors:

    Julian Iragorri:
    Julian Iragorri lives in Manhattan. He has worked on Wall Street since the early nineties.

    Lou Aronica:

    Lou AronicaLou Aronica is the author of the USA Today bestseller The Forever Year and the national bestseller Blue. He also collaborated on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers The Element and Finding Your Element (with Ken Robinson) and the national bestsellers The Culture Code (with Clotaire Rapaille) and The Greatest You (with Trent Shelton). Aronica is a long- term book publishing veteran. He is President and Publisher of the independent publishing house The Story Plant.

    Find Lou Online:

    LouAronica.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook

    Tour Host Participants:

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


    GIVEAWAY:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for The Story Plant, Julian Iragorri, and Lou Aronica. There will be 5 winners of one (1) copy of The Edge Of The World by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through December 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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    Thank you for your interest in this tour!

    Find Your Next Great Read at Providence Book Promotions!

    Previous books that I have read and reviewed via The Story Plant:

    Click on title(s) to read my review(s)
    THE FOREVER YEAR, THE JOURNEY HOME, SPINNING, ANYTHING, WHEN YOU WENT AWAY, A WINTER DISCOVERY, LEAVES, RECOVERY, and AN ANNIVERSARY FEAST.

    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.
    • 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 182019
     

    American Red

    by David Marlett

    on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019

     

    Synopsis:

    American Red by David Marlett

    In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

    In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

    The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.

     

    Book Details

    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Published by: The Story Plant
    Publication Date: July 2nd 2019
    Number of Pages: 535
    ISBN: 1611881781 (ISBN13: 9781611881783)
    Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

     

    Author Bio:

    David Marlett

    David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.
     

    Find Our Author Online:

    davidmarlett.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook
     

    Q&A with David Marlett

    Which of your characters do you like the most and why?

    Oh my…well, AMERICAN RED has a host of characters, each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. So, I would be hard pressed to say which one I liked the most. But if you’re asking which one I most enjoyed writing, then that would be Pinkerton Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of AMERICAN RED’s many actual characters from history…a true-to-life man, bold and brazen man—a bit stuck in the late 1800s Wild West, clearly an advocate of “the ends justifying the means”—seeing his career coming to an end—attempting to do what he thinks is right—while all the same being willing to do some quite nefarious acts in the name of the law. I love his single-minded focus in the face of obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty.

    Which of your characters do you dislike the most and why?

    Clearly that would have to be the two horrific mass murderers: Orchard and Adams. One might think I disliked Haywood—and sure, he was a nasty soul, ordering the death of hundreds. But he was also true to his convictions and was a principle catalyst and advocate for desperately needed improvement of conditions and wages for laborers.

    Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?

    Perhaps it was Neva. She was a real person, and the things she went through were actual events, circumstances. She was complex and full of conflict, just like the male counterparts. But sadly there is almost nothing about her in the historical record, so it was a challenge to bring her to life with the best estimation of her personality. Getting her right was central to the success of the whole book, so I would say she was the greatest challenge. I hope I did her justice.

    What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?

    To trust myself. To allow myself to write what I feel and edit later. To let go and let the story and narrative drive the work.

    What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?

    Well, that would be much the same as the “biggest lesson”: to trust my research and work and let go—to disappear into the past and write what I discover there.

    What was your biggest challenge writing this book?

    Developing and getting to know Neva and the other female characters. The men are documented in history, but not the women. In fact, for that reason, I had this book on development hiatus for over a year or more while I tried to find the story I wanted to tell that was beyond just the masculine plot lines.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    I hope they enjoy AMERICAN RED—that is first and foremost. And in that enjoyment, I would like to challenge them to consider the battling conflicts within the story—as reflected in why I chose and designed the cardinals on the cover—the entanglement we all have with ourselves, not just between right and wrong, but in our perceptions of ourselves and our place and purpose in the world—and our willingness to make a difference in the lives of others. Most will read AMERICAN RED for the story that it is, and that is terrific. But perhaps a few will dig deeper into book—beginning with the Overture—and find themselves within the complexities of the tapestry of humanity and challenge themselves as to what they would do in the position of these characters.

    Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

    I see a terrific ensemble cast for the many characters of AMERICAN RED. As it is currently in discussions for series adaptation, I’ll refrain from weighing in on specific actors/actresses.

    Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your book or series.

    AMERICAN RED is the first of a series of historical legal thrillers carrying some real and some fictional characters through actual events in the first half of the twentieth century. My next (what I am researching/writing currently), ANGELES LOS, tells the true story at the intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous, 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of American” kingdom. It brings forward a number of characters from AMERICAN RED, most notably Clarence Darrow, Jack Garrett, and Carla Capone.

    Favorite foods?

    A great prime rib steak.

    Favorite activities?

    Time spent with my kids. Hiking with my dog. Participating in live storytelling events.

     

    Read an excerpt:

    The lawyer lobbed a verbal spear across the courtroom, piercing the young man, pinning him to the creaky witness chair and tilting the twelve jurymen forward. Their brows rose in anticipation of a gore-laden response from the witness as he clutched his bowler, his face vacant toward the wood floor beyond his shoddy boots. When the judge cleared his throat, the plaintiff’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, repeated the question. “Mr. Bullock, I know this is a strain upon you to recount that tragic day when fifteen of your brothers perished at the hands of the Stratton-”

    “Your Honor! Point in question,” barked the flint-faced defense attorney representing the Stratton Independence Mine, a non-union gold operation near Cripple Creek, Colorado. On this warm summer afternoon in Denver, he and Darrow were the best dressed there, each wearing a three-button, vested suit over a white shirt and dull tie.

    The robed judge gave a long blink, then peered at Darrow. With a chin waggle, his ruling on the objection was clear.

    “Yes, certainly. My apologies, Your Honor,” feigned Darrow, glancing toward the plaintiff’s table where two widows sat in somber regard. Though his wheat-blonde hair and sharp, pale eyes defied his age of forty-nine, his reputation for cunning brilliance and oratory sorcery mitigated the power of his youthful appearance: it was no longer the disarming weapon it had once been. No attorney in the United States would ever presume nascence upon Clarence Darrow. Certainly not in this, his twenty-sixth trial. He continued at the witness. “Though as just a mere man, one among all …” He turned to the jury. “The emotion of this event strains even the most resolute of procedural decorum. I am, as are we all, hard-pressed to-”

    “Whole strides, shall we, Mr. Darrow?” grumbled the judge.

    “Yes,” Darrow said, turning once again to James Bullock who seemed locked in the block ice of tragedy, having not moved a fraction since first taking the witness seat. “Mr. Bullock, we must rally ourselves, muster our strength, and for the memory of your brothers, share with these jurymen the events of that dark day. You said the ride up from the stope, the mine floor, was a swift one, and there were the sixteen of you in the cage made to hold no more than nine-is that correct?”

    “Yes, Sir,” Bullock replied, his voice a faint warble.

    “Please continue,” Darrow urged.

    Bullock looked up. “We kept going, right along, but it kept slipping. We’d go a ways and slip again.”

    “Slipping? It was dropping?”

    “Yes, Sir. Dropping down sudden like, then stopping. Cappy was yelling at us to get to the center, but there was no room. We was in tight.”

    “By Cappy you mean Mr. Capone, the foreman?”

    “Yes, Sir. Our shift boss that day.” The witness sucked his bottom lip. “He was in the cage ‘long with us.” He sniffed in a breath then added, “And his boy, Tony. Friend of mine. No better fella.”

    “My condolences,” said Darrow. “What do you think was the aid in getting the men to the middle of the cage?”

    “Keep it centered in the shaft, I reckon. We was all yelling.” Bullock took a slow breath before continuing, “Cappy was trying to keep the men quiet, but it wasn’t making much a difference. Had his arms around Tony.”

    A muscle in Darrow’s cheek shuddered. “Please continue.”

    “So we was slipping, going up. Then the operator, he took us up about six feet above the collar of the shaft, then back down again.”

    “Which is not the usual-”

    “Not rightly. No, Sir. We should’ve stopped at the collar and no more. But later they said the brakes failed on the control wheel.”

    “Mr. Bullock, let’s return to what you experienced. You were near the top of the shaft, the vertical shaft that we’ve established was 1,631 feet deep, containing, at that time, about twenty feet of water in its base, below the lowest stope, correct?”

    “Yes, Sir. Before they pumped that water to get to em.”

    “By ‘them’ you mean the bodies of your dead companions?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “Ok, you were being hoisted at over 900 feet per minute by an operator working alone on the surface-near the top of the shaft, when the platform began to slip and jump. Is that your testimony?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “That must have been terrifying.”

    “Yes, Sir, it was. We’d come off a tenner too.”

    “A ten-hour shift?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    Darrow rounded on the jury, throwing the next question over his shoulder. “Oh, but Sir, how could it have been a ten-hour work day when the eight-hour day is now the law of this state?”

    The defense lawyer’s chair squeaked as he stood. “Objection, Your Honor.”

    “I’ll allow it,” barked the judge, adding, “But gentlemen …”

    The witness shook his head. “The Stratton is a non-union, gold ore mine. Supposed to be non-union anyway. Superintendent said owners weren’t obliged to that socialist law.”

    “Hearsay, Your-”

    “Keep your seat, Counsel. You’re going to wear this jury thin.” Darrow stepped closer to the witness.

    “Mr. Bullock, as I said, let’s steer clear from what you heard others say. The facts speak for themselves: you and your friends were compelled to work an illegal ten-hour shift. Let’s continue. You were near the top, but unable to get off the contraption, and it began to-”

    “Yes. We’d gone shooting up, then he stopped it for a second.”

    “”By ‘he,’ you mean the lift operator?”

    “Yes, Sir. He stopped it but then it must have gotten beyond his control, cause we dropped sixty, seventy feet all the sudden. We were going quick. We said to each other we’re all gone. Then he raised us about ten feet and stopped us. But then, it started again, and this time it was going fast up and we went into the sheave wheel as fast as we could go.”

    “To be sure we all follow, Mr. Bullock, the lift is the sole apparatus that hoisted you from the Stratton Mine, where you work?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “And the sheave wheel is the giant wheel above the surface, driven by a large, thirty-year-old steam engine, run by an operator. That sheave wheel coils in the cable”he pantomimed the motion-“pulling up the 1,500-pound-load platform, or lift, carrying its limit of nine men. And it coils out the cable when the lift is lowered. But that day the lift carried sixteen men-you and fifteen others. Probably over 3,000 pounds. Twice its load limit. Correct?”

    “Yes, Sir. But, to be clear, I ain’t at the Stratton no more.”

    “No?” asked Darrow, pleased the man had bit the lure.

    “No. Seeing how I was one of Cappy’s men. Federation. And, now ’cause this.” His voice faded.

    Darrow frowned, walked a few paces toward the jury, clapped once and rubbed his hands together. “The mine owners, a thousand miles away, won’t let you work because you’re here-a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a union man giving his honest testimony. Is that right?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    Again, the defense counsel came to his feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Darrow knows Mr. Bullock’s discharge wasn’t-”

    The judge raised a hand, took a deep breath and cocked his head toward the seasoned attorney before him. “Swift to your point, Mr. Darrow.”

    “Yes, Your Honor.” Darrow’s blue eyes returned to the witness. “Mr. Bullock, you were telling us about the sheave wheel.”

    “Yes. It’s a big thing up there, out over the top of the shaft. You see it on your way up. We all think on it-if we was to not stop and slam right up into it-which we did that day. We all knew it’d happen. I crouched to save myself from the hard blow I knew was coming. I seen a piece of timber about one foot wide there underside the sheave, and soon as we rammed, I grabbed hold and held myself up there, and pretty soon the cage dropped from below me, and I began to holler for a ladder to get down.”

    “Must have been distressing, up there, holding fast to a timber, dangling 1,631 feet over an open shaft, watching your fifteen brothers fall.”

    Bullock choked back tears. “Yes, Sir. That’s what I saw.” He paused. When he resumed, his tone was empty, as if the voice of his shadow. “I heard em. Heard em go. They was screaming. They knew their end had come. I heard em till I heard em no more.”

    Excerpt from American Red by David Marlett. Copyright 2019 by David Marlett. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

     

     

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    Find Your Next Great Read at Providence Book Promotions!

    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:

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    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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