Jun 202017
 

Practicing Normal
by Cara Sue Achterberg
on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2017

Practicing Normal

Book Details
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1611882443 (ISBN13: 9781611882445)

Get Your Copy of Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads!

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Kudos:

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

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

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

Check out my review HERE

Read an excerpt:

Waving to Jenna as she waits at the bus stop, all I can think is, Please let her go to school today and stay in school all day. Jenna is such a smart girl; I don’t understand why she doesn’t apply herself to her studies. She could be anything. A doctor, even. I was a nurse, but Jenna is smarter than me. Of course, that was twenty years ago. Before I married Everett. Before Jenna and JT were born. Before we ever lived in Pine Estates.

I was the one who chose the house. Everett thought it was pretentious, and it was. All the houses on our end of Pine Road were pretentious. But it was the nineties. Everyone was building McMansions and taking out ridiculous loans to pay for them. Everett had just left his job as a police officer for the job at FABSO (Family and Business Security Options).

We needed to start a new life. We celebrated the new job and didn’t talk about the fact that things could have turned out very differently if his captain had chosen to bring charges against him. Instead, he recommended Everett for the job at FABSO and made it clear Everett would be wise to take it.

I remember lying in bed holding Everett the day he turned in his gun and his badge. He was devastated. Being a cop had been Everett’s dream since childhood. “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a cop. If I can’t be a cop, who am I?”

“You’re a father and a husband. That’s so much more,” I told him. He didn’t say anything about it again. He got to work. He made something of FABSO. And he’s tried so hard to be a good dad.

I don’t remember much about my own dad, and whenever I asked my mother she would say, “There’s nothing to remember about that louse except that he was a louse.” When I pressed her later, after I’d grown up, she’d said, “It doesn’t matter now. He didn’t want to be with us enough to stay.”

All that bitterness can’t hide the fact that when my father left, he apparently took my mother’s heart. She’s spent the rest of her life alone. Except for me. And Evelyn. Although, once Evelyn left home, she didn’t come around much. These days she visits Mama on Saturdays, unless she has something more pressing to do, which is most weeks. Mama annoys her. I suppose I do too. We don’t fit into Evelyn’s shiny, perfect life.

When I first met Everett and told Mama about him, she was skeptical. “A cop?”

I told her how he’d wanted to be a cop since he was a little boy, the same way I always wanted to be a nurse. I gushed about how he told me I was beautiful and how he said he’d been certain about us the first time he saw me. Mama said, “Men will say whatever it takes, Kate. When will you realize that?” But I knew she was wrong about Everett.

I met Everett in the ER. I was treating a patient who was high on coke or meth or God knows what. He was lean and riddled with track marks, his strength coming from whatever drug was flooding his body. I didn’t recognize him as one of our regulars—the ones who showed up like clockwork in search of pain meds. This guy was out of his mind and covered in his own blood from where he’d scratched his thin skin. Another nurse helped me attempt to strap him to the gurney with the Velcro holds, but he was out of his mind and reached for the needle I was about to use to sedate him. Everett was nearby at the desk filling out forms and heard me yell. In just moments, he wrestled the junkie to the ground and held him still as I plunged the needle in. When the man finally collapsed, Everett lifted him back onto the gurney and secured him.

When he turned and looked at me with his green eyes, the same eyes Jenna has, I knew I would marry him. I told him that on our second date. He laughed. I’ve always loved his laugh.

When Everett started at FABSO, he made nearly twice the salary he’d made as a cop. I didn’t need to work any longer. It was our chance. I would stay home and take care of our happy family in our beautiful house in Pine Estates. It was our new start. I thought we belonged there.

When I open the door to Mama’s house, she’s already calling for me. She may be losing her mind, but her hearing hasn’t deteriorated one bit.

“You’re late!” she scolds.

“Sorry, JT had a hard time picking out a shirt to wear today.”

“He’s not a baby! I don’t know why you put up with it.”

I smile at her. No sense taking the bait. “You’re right, Mama.”

“You’ve always been so indecisive. I swear if I didn’t tell you what to do next, you’d stand there like a statue.”

“Good thing you’re so good at telling me what to do,” I mutter as I go to prepare her tea.

Mama wasn’t always like this. When Evelyn and I were little, she was our whole world. She baked homemade cakes for our birthdays, and elaborately decorated them with whatever we were currently obsessing over—Tinker Bell, Barbies, guitars, or, for Evelyn, a computer one year, and the scales of justice the year she announced she was going to be a judge when she grew up.

Mama read to us every night. I remember snuggling into the crook of her arm, even when I was too old to be doing it. Evelyn would be on her other side and our hands would meet on Mama’s flat tummy. I loved the stories with a happy ending, but Evelyn demanded that she read “real books.” She wanted mysteries and thrillers instead of the children’s books Mama picked out at the library. So Mama began to read Nancy Drew, but Evelyn went to the adult aisle and picked out John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. Mama tried to read them to us. She’d come to a part that she felt was too racy for us and she’d hum while she skimmed ahead til she found a more appropriate section before beginning to read again. This drove Evelyn nuts. She’d pout and complain, eventually stomping off. Mama would return the books to the library unread, but it wasn’t long before Evelyn was old enough to have her own library card and checked them out for herself.

In the mornings, Mama would braid our hair, pack our lunches with tiny handwritten notes, and walk us to the bus stop for more years than was appropriate. When Evelyn reached high school, she demanded that Mama stop, but she still followed us with her car and waited to be certain we got on the bus safely.

Now that I’m a mom, I know it couldn’t have been easy raising us alone. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten difficult. But I put up with her increasing number of quirks because I feel I owe her. Evelyn doesn’t see it that way, but then again Evelyn doesn’t feel she owes anybody anything.

“Here you go.” I hand Mama the bitter Earl Grey tea she likes over-steeped with no sweetener.

“I’ve already missed Phillip,” she says as I help her out the door to the back porch. She spends most mornings there, talking to the birds that frequent her multiple bird feeders.

“Who’s Phillip?” I ask, mostly to make conversation. She loves to talk about the birds.

The look she gives me is just like the one JT gives me when my random “Wow” comes at the wrong time in one of his lengthy soliloquies on his current obsession. “Phillip is the male cardinal who has begun stopping by each morning. He comes over the fence from the southeast. He’s usually here before the chickadees move in and take over the birdbath.”

I look at the crowd of birds fighting over the seed at the feeder. They all look the same to me. “I’ve got to take care of a few things at home after I run JT to school; I’ll be back at lunchtime.”

“Always leaving me!” she complains. “You can’t even spend five minutes with your mother.”

I’d protest, but there’s no point. She sees things the way she needs to see them. Rewriting history is one of her specialties. I’ve been listening to her do it all my life. When Everett and I took the kids to the beach last summer, she said, “Must be nice! I’ve never had a vacation.” Yet, I remember several summers when Mama took Evelyn and me to the same beach we were headed to. Or when I graduated from nursing school, Mama said, “I’ve always said you’d make a fine nurse,” when, in reality, she’d been telling me for years that I could never be a nurse because I was so weak at chemistry. She thought I should have considered something in business—like being a secretary. She’s been spinning her stories of Evelyn’s escapades, my mistakes, and my father’s general louse-likeness for so long, she probably believes them as gospel truth. They are, I suppose, at least to her mind.

I hurry home, hoping JT has finally decided on a shirt for school. We’re going to be late if we have to argue about it.

Excerpt from Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg. Copyright © 2017 by Cara Sue Achterberg. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Q&A with Cara Sue Achterberg

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

Most of my stories grow out of my personal experience, or more specifically, an issue or idea that I’ve been wanting to explore. Occasionally, though current events can draw me in. The idea for my next novel focuses on a current issue. Practicing Normal, though, came from my heart. Perhaps, it grew out of the isolation I’ve always felt in the small rural community where I live. It’s very insular and I’ve often judged others and felt judged by the people who live around me. Practicing Normal explores the question of how well we know each other and pokes holes in our assumptions based on appearances, financial situations, and employment.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I always, always start at the beginning and see where the story takes me. I can’t imagine writing any other way. In fact, if I knew the answer or the ending, I doubt I could enjoy the writing or even find the motivation to write the story in the first place. Every story is a journey of discovery for me. I know that sounds new-agey, but that’s exactly what it is – I learn something about myself, the world, people. Once the story is set in motion, I can’t let go of it and I follow where it takes me. Sometimes that’s scary, especially when the word count creeps up and I don’t see any hint of an ending. Many times I’m surprised by where the story takes me and I marvel at how magical it feels. Practicing Normal spilled out of me quickly like I was watching a movie.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
My characters are absolutely based on people I know, and at the same time they are definitely not based on anyone I know. There’s no way around using what you know to devise characters. Is it done intentionally? At least for me – no. That would be too weird and basing a character on someone I know would take me (and possibly my readers) out of the story. That wouldn’t work.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
It’s very hard to have a writing routine when you have kids living at home, multiple foster dogs, a small farm with horses and chickens, and a distractable personality. But if I have a routine, it’s this: I read and journal early before breakfast. I work on ‘nonfiction’ (blog posts, research, social media, email, website) before lunch, and after lunch I turn to my fiction. I love the afternoons when no one is home and no animal is in need and I can lose myself in a story. The only idiosyncrasies I have about writing are that I need silence to write (no music, no people talking, no TV in the other room) and an enormous cup of tea. I favor black tea in the morning and green tea in the afternoon.

Tell us why we should read this book.
Hmmm….this should be my elevator speech, right? You should read my book because it’s a good story. It will make you think about marriage and family and love and probably make you wonder what your neighbors are up to. But mostly, its characters will touch your heart, helping you to realize that there’s some good (and some bad) in all of us.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love so many authors that it’ll be hard to keep this list short. I’ve always loved John Irving, Joyce Maynard, Wally Lamb, and Anne Lamott, but I laugh outloud at Jonathon Tropper and love the worlds that Barbara Kingsolver creates. Michael Perry and Barbara Brown Taylor are two of the most talented writers I can think of who consistently make me think and wish I wrote better. I’ve recently discovered Kathryn Craft and Christopher Scotten, and can’t wait to read more from them. Sarah Gruen, Elizabeth Brundage, and T. Greenwood make me turn the page happily. I’ll forever love the writing of Connie May Fowler, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Katrina Kennison, and Kate Braestrup because they were the voices that helped me begin to find my own. I have a lot of favorites. I could go on, but that’s enough for now.

What are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading a fascinating nonfiction book call the The Dog Merchants by Kim Kavin. She’s a journalist digging deep into the world of puppy mills and dog rescue and the big business of dogs. As far as fiction, my choices are many times dictated by my book club who have me currently reading, A Tale of the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, but the book I’m really enjoying right now is Kate Moretti’s Thought I Knew You.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’ve actually got two in the editing phase, plus my agent is currently shopping a memoir I wrote about my family and our first fifty foster dogs. One of my fiction manuscripts revolves around a mother and daughter in the aftermath of a texting and driving accident, while the other is a bit less dark and follows a quirky young waitress who goes on a honeymoon with a customer whose just been stood up at the alter.

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

I hate this question because it exposes how out of touch I am with the current movie scene. I guess I’m a cheapskate because I can’t bring myself to blow a hundred bucks on taking our family to the movies, so we wait for most everything to come out online. Add to that my complete inability to retain the names of movies stars and I’m at a loss. If I could freeze them in time, I’d cast Meg Ryan as Kate (because I love Meg and Kate) and Ellen Page (at the age she was in Juno) as Jenna. Everett is a bit tougher – maybe Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon or Robert Downy Jr, but not because any of them are ‘perfect’ just, once again, because I like them.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I love to hang out with dogs – does that count? I also, very occasionally, ride horses. I run or hike most days and love to go wine-tasting at little wineries in Virginia. Any pretty day will find me poking around in my gardens.

Favorite meal?
Easy – steamed shrimp (which I rarely get to eat because my husband is allergic!), Caesar salad (with the dressing on the side), a loaf of crusty wheat bread, olive oil for dipping, and plenty of wine.

Cara Sue Achterberg

Author Bio:

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

CaraWrites.com | Cara Sue Achterberg on Twitter | Cara Sue Achterberg on Facebook

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Jun 192017
 

PRACTICING NORMAL by Cara Sue Achterberg
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by The Story Plant
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61188-244-5
Pages: 352
Review Copy From: Publisher
Edition: ARC
My Rating: 5+

**Tomorrow Q&A with Cara Sue Achterberg and a giveaway**

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.
Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

My Thoughts:

Meet the Turners, your normal upper-middle-class family living in an upscale neighborhood. Husband, Everett, former cop and now a successful businessman, Kate, former ER nurse now a stay at home mom, daughter Jenna, your typical rebellious teenager, and son JT who has Asperger’s and dog Marco.

Not only does everything appear normal from the outside, but the family within, go about their day to day normal routines. But what is truly normal?

The story is told from the POVs of Kate, Everett, and Jenna.

Everett claims to be in love with Kate but is it true actions speak louder than words? Kate’s days are consumed with taking care of her autistic son and elderly mother, who has been a bitter woman since her husband left her and her daughters. Jenna, a loner, who has a knack for B&Es and JT who is a brilliant boy but lives in his own world.

This story is absolutely captivating!! The author’s outstanding writing technique brings these characters, and others in the book, to life. I found myself not wanting the book to end, but then, on the other hand, I couldn’t wait to see how this family deals with the circumstances (vague due to not wanting to include spoilers) that were their norm.

A riveting and engrossing story that I could not put down. I am the newest fan of Ms. Achterberg! I highly recommend this extraordinary novel!!!

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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.
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

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May 102017
 

Crossing the Street

by Molly D. Campbell

on Tour May 9 – July 7, 2017

Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Number of Pages: 290

Purchase Crossing the Street on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

MY REVIEW

5 stars

Rebecca Throckmorton, aka Becca, leads a pretty simple life as a FT erotica author and PT barista. Never wanting children, and a bit of baggage with her father abandoning the family at an early age and her sister marrying her ex-boyfriend, she is content with just her friends including her elderly friend across the street.

Her elderly neighbor’s great granddaughter, a precocious 8 year old, moves in and to Becca’s surprise, not only befriends Bob, aka Roberta, but helps in the care of both the grandmother and the granddaughter. Becca’s life is about to change.

I loved this book! Nothing is better than an author’s descriptive writing that can transport the reader into the story, and this author did just that. Tears, laughter, compassion, anger, are just some of what this reader felt.

A poignant and compelling read. I am hoping, and even hinting to the author, that I hope there is a sequel coming!!!!!!

Read an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

There you have it.

Author Bio:

Molly D. Campbell

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

Catch Up With Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of 1 Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell. The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Apr 212017
 

I Love You Today

by Marcia Gloster

on Tour April 17 – June 17, 2017

I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster

Book Details
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Number of Pages: 402
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Synopsis:

Maddie Samuels is a woman of – and ahead of – her time. She knows she doesn’t belong in the kitchen, and she refuses to become trapped in a secretarial pool. In mid-sixties New York City, she’s not only determined to succeed in a man’s world, but to prove her work is as good – or better – than any man’s.

With “free love” redefining relationships with head-spinning rapidity, Maddie learns how to push the accepted boundaries of established old-boy networks while refusing to accept the all-too-pervasive harassment by men in power. And yet as a woman in love, she discovers that beliefs and actions are often very different things – especially when it comes to a man like the seductive and charismatic Rob MacLeod.

Set in the era of Mad Men, I LOVE YOU TODAY is passionate, sexy, liberating and deeply moving. With a story as relevant today as it was then, this is a novel that readers will take to their hearts and their souls.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This was the first time I read anything by this author but really enjoyed her descriptive writing style.

Maddie, a strong, career oriented woman of the late sixties meets handsome and charming Rob at her new job as an art director. As the synopsis states, it’s the decade of free love, and even though Rob is married with 2 children, an illicit affair begins. One they can’t stop and it doesn’t. (vague to not include spoiler).

The characters are well developed. The story fluid and kept my interest from the very first page to the last word.

I found myself not liking either character. Rob was, when he couldn’t control his drinking, an emotionally abusive, arrogant, lying, entitled man that continued to give idle promises. I rooted for Maddie, however, even though she was a strong and talented career woman, her love for Rob was so overwhelming that she became complaisant with matters of her heart.

I enjoyed the reminders and norms of that time. The fashion, pay phones, smoking cigarettes in offices/restaurants, the Viet Nam War, the Beatles, the landing of the first astronaut on the moon.

I definitely recommend this compelling novel, however, there is some adult language and content that may be distasteful to some. I didn’t find it offensive because I felt it was true to the time frame that the story takes place in.

An intense and powerful read!!!

Reviewers Are Loving I Love You Today!:

“Love, sex, lies, and advertising in the era of Mad Men. Compelling and provocative.” – James Wiatt, former Chairman and CEO, William Morris Agency

“A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.” – Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief, Town & Country

“Marcia Gloster paints an intimate portrait of life in 1960s Manhattan… Readers looking for a peek into the magazine publishing and advertising world of that era will be intrigued!” – Marilyn Brant, New York Times bestselling author

“I Love You Today pulled me right in, from the wrenching love story that could never have a happy ending, to the ultimate strength shown by the main character. An overall compelling journey.” – Andrea Hurst, author of Always with You

Read an excerpt:

Maddie exited the subway and walked a block to the Status offices, arriving just at three. The stark simplicity of the reception area surprised her: a white leather sofa and a glass coffee table stood on a small beige area rug with two matching Barcelona chairs on either side. The only color came from large fashion photos that covered the walls behind the couch and reception desk. She had expected a bit more glitz.

The receptionist was tapping rapidly on her typewriter while talking equally as rapidly on the phone. Seeing Maddie, she looked up with an impatient expression on her heavily made-up face and whispered that she’d call back. Maddie told her she was there to see Mr. MacLeod. After an appraising glance, the receptionist unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit, popped it in her mouth and dialed an extension. Maddie straightened her skirt, suddenly wondering if she should have worn something other than a suit.

Have a seat,” the girl said in a bored voice, indicating the couch. “His secretary will be right out.”

Maddie sat, feeling nervousness creep in and her earlier, all-too-fragile confidence beginning to fade. A few minutes later, a short dark-haired young woman in a miniskirt came in and introduced herself as Tara, Mr. MacLeod’s secretary. Maddie followed her along a corridor lined with several windowed offices on the left and a bright open bullpen area on the right where it looked like some assistants worked in different sized cubicles. On the far side she saw two more large, sun filled offices. In one of the doorways two men stopped talking and glanced at her.

Tara stopped at the second to last office, looked in and grinned. “Rob, this is Miss Samuels, your three o’clock appointment.” There seemed to be an inside joke somewhere in there, but Maddie didn’t get it. Not then.

As she walked in he stood up, buttoned his suit jacket and stepped forward to shake her hand. She caught her breath; not only was he attractive, he had bright emerald green eyes and perhaps the longest eyelashes she had ever seen. Wasted on a man, she thought, trying not to stare. Or, perhaps not. His dark brown hair was cut short with long sideburns that framed his handsome face.

She sat down on one of the metal and leather chairs that faced his desk. A large drawing board, covered in layout sheets, rolls of galleys and photo stats was to his right. On the left, flat files were piled high with books of typefaces and stock photos. The office wasn’t designed for so much furniture; there was little room to move around.

He sat back and asked her to tell him about herself. Interviews generally didn’t faze her, but this time she was unusually flustered. She began by mentioning Today’s Bride, saying that she had liked working there.

“Why did you leave? You weren’t fired were you?”

“No. Not at all. It was just becoming uncomfortable. I’m not sure it’s something I should talk about.”

Her answer seemed to intrigue him. A smile lit up his eyes and he leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “Now you have to tell me, Miss Samuels. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Was it some sort of conspiracy?”

“No,” she stammered, wishing she had never brought it up. “Nothing like that. I was very close to Joan, the art director who hired me. She was a great teacher, actually a mentor for me. I was a kid just out of art school. But after two years her husband was offered a job at Publicis, the big ad agency in Paris and they decided to move there. Before she left she tried to have me named as art director. By then I was doing half the work on the magazine anyway. But the publisher told her he had already decided to bring in a well-known art director from a rival publication.” She stopped, unsure how to proceed.

“So what was the problem?”

“Well,” she took a breath, “not only was he hiring her, but his weekly meetings with his so-called ‘investors’ were really long afternoons at the Biltmore, a few blocks away.”

He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You had to leave because the publisher was screwing…pardon me, sleeping with the new art director?”

She bit her lip, sorry she had mentioned it and realizing she had backed herself into a corner.

“It wasn’t quite so simple. Over the first couple of months she did everything she could to make my life miserable. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to cover photo shoots and then she didn’t even want me doing layouts. She began quietly bringing in her own team. By the time everyone realized what was going on, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. I spoke to the publisher who I knew liked me, but he said it was now up to her. It was out of his hands. So I resigned.” Taking another big breath, she looked at him, hoping she hadn’t said too much.

He shook his head. “Too bad. It sounds like you were happy there.”

“Yes. I was.”

He asked her to tell him more: what her goals were and did she really want a career or just a job until she found the right man to marry.

His questions didn’t surprise her; she had been asked the same things at every interview.

“Mr. MacLeod. I have no desire to be married. I’m focused on my career. I hope to be an art director one day.”

“And how do you plan to become one?”

She looked back at him wide eyed. It was a question she had never been asked. “I guess I’ll just have to keep on working and learning. I’m very motivated, Mr. MacLeod. If something needs to get done, I’ll make sure it happens.”

He nodded, green eyes flashing. “I’ll bet you will. Let me have a look at your portfolio.”

As she stood up, she noticed him glance at her legs. She wondered if her skirt was too short but not wanting to appear self-conscious she stopped herself from smoothing it down. Standing next to him, she answered his questions as he leafed through the pages.

“Miss Samuels, can you leave the portfolio with me? Unless, of course, you have other interviews today.”

“Yes. I mean, no.” She wanted to kick herself. What is wrong with me? “Yes, I can leave it, and no, I don’t have any more interviews today.”

He smiled, amused at her obvious discomfort. “Good. I’d like to show it to the managing editor. I’ve already seen several potential candidates and I expect to make a decision later today.”

She thanked him and he shook her hand, holding it she thought, a bit longer than necessary.

Excerpt from I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster. Copyright © 2017 by Marcia Gloster. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Marcia Gloster

Meet Marcia Gloster!

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, Marcia Gloster built a career in New York City as an award-winning book designer and art director. A decade later, she founded and ran a boutique ad agency specializing in fashion. Gloster is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Studio Montclair and exhibits her paintings in the New York area. Her first book, 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION, was published in 2014.

Visit Marcia Gloster on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook pages!

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these tour hosts for great features, interviews, guest posts, reviews, & giveaways of Ms. Gloster’s first novel 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION!


Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Propotions for Marcia Gloster and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of 1 eBook copy of 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION by Marcia Gloster. The giveaway begins on April 17th and runs through June 19th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!

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 an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 012017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

His name may sound familiar to you since I have reviewed some of his books, and maybe you have too, which I thoroughly enjoyed. MURDER TAKES TIME, A BULLET FOR CARLOS, MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES and OLD WOUNDS. He is a master story teller, IMO.

After reading his first book, Giacomo and I have kept in contact. I was devastated upon hearing what he had endured, while I was on my LOA, and is still dealing with, the residuals of his heart attacks and strokes. Even with all that, he continues to write and keep his animal sanctuary going. He is an inspiration!!!! So who better to showcase in my Author Of The Month feature!!!!!

When he told me about his plight and the book he wrote, WHISKERS & BEAR, to help with the costs for the animals, I had to help. I ask, even beg, please purchase this book, my review is below. If you are an animal lover, you truly will enjoy this book and if you aren’t, I’m sure you know someone who would enjoy it. I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

And a little secret….today his is birthday…if you get a chance stop by any of his sites and wish him a Happy Birthday!

WHISKERS & BEAR will be touring with Providence Book Promotions next month. Follow the tour and you may have a chance to win an eBook copy.

Whiskers and Bear
by Giacomo Giammatteo
on Tour May 1 – 14, 2017

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I think most of us are familiar with domesticated animals and/or are animal lovers. Having had dogs the majority of my life, they become a part of one’s family. But do we really know about these animals?

In WHISKERS & BEAR, the reader will learn the true nature of these 2 dogs. Their intelligence, habits, instincts, friendships, stubbornness, loyalty and love.

WHISKERS & BEAR are 2 loved dogs that are members of a Texan sanctuary that author Giacomo Giammatteo and his wife, Mikki, are the owners of and that care for their over 40+ 4-legged menagerie.

A quick read but so compelling and touching. It will make you laugh, shake your head and even shed a tear.

This book was written to help defray costs of the sanctuary since the author has become disabled due to extensive medical issues. When reading this book, it is evident how this couple love all of their animals. Even though he is slowly progressing, the care of his animals is what he is most concerned about.

Please find it in your heart to purchase a copy. All proceeds will go directly to the upkeep and care of these 40+ members of their family!

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Back to the Sales Pitch


Now, I know you want to hurry up and read it, so here you go. You can buy it now from your favorite retailerAmazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, or Google. And if you want a print version, you can get that from Amazon or B&N, or, you can ask your bookstore to order it.

Giacomo Giammatteo will be back on April 8th….Don’t miss the 2nd installment for Author Of The Month

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 an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.