Let's start with my 5 star review:"Come Back to Me" by Leslie Hachtel is a quick read and if you love time travel and science fiction this is a nice light weekend book you'll enjoy. The characters are engaging and there's a cliff-hanger ending that will definitely leave you eager for the next book in the series!
Friday, November 24, 2023
Sunday, October 22, 2023
5 Star Review for Alle C. Hall's "As Far As You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back" - review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Before we get to my review, here's more information about her novel:
Nominated for The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award, Alle C. Hall’s debut literary novel, As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back is a-girl-and-her-backpack story with a #MeToo influence:
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
An astounding true story of a young woman driven by her desire to escape chauvinism blazes a whirlwind path full of mystical encounters and unexpected adventures. From love to lawsuits, her business and personal life intertwine, bringing her to untold heights. Uncanny predictions at a chance encounter with a Fulbright Scholar from India follow her throughout life, as if written on the wall and fated to happen.
Chauvinism from her youth make her determined to explore opportunities. She breaks through a glass ceiling of seventy men, enjoys traveling for a year, and returns to found an innovative startup in New York City. Whether skiing the powdery snow in Aspen, or waking up on a beach in Mexico to men with machine guns, each adventure brings challenges and insights to add to an ever-broadening awareness. A lucky break merges with swirling thoughts to ignite a new business. Running a successful startup attracts ADWEEK Magazine of New York. She places first on their list of "The Dynamic Dozen." It should have been smooth sailing, but sharks were circling. A court battle followed.
Entertaining and inspirational stories are told from pivotal times in history. Readers gain skills about life and business. The narrative will make you laugh at humanity, provoke anger at infuriating situations and leave you inspired to reach goals. Stimulating questions are raised, which will generate a deeper introspection.
Publisher: Hammond Publishing (August 2019)
Print Length: 293 pages
About the Author
Marilyn Howard broke through the glass ceiling at Grey Advertising of New York to become their first female art director while in her early twenties. In 1970, she founded an innovative startup. Creative Freelancers Inc. became the first agency to connect businesses with freelance artists and writers, and operated for over 25 years in the center of Manhattan. ADWEEK Magazine of New York featured her in “The Dynamic Dozen,” those women under forty they identified as most likely to succeed. In 1997, her company became the first agency on the Internet. The author holds a B.F.A. from Syracuse University.
Visit her online at:
Her website: http://www.thewritewall.com/
Her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Marilyn-Howard/author/B07XFPWDK2
5 Star Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
This is such a fast paced book full of inspiration and adventure! Just reading the book summary is enough to draw you in and leave you wanting more more more! Marilyn Howard is unstoppable and it's so much fun to be carried along her journey. The Writing on the Wall is anything but predictable and boring and readers of all ages will find their own take-away - but each will be inspired differently. This is a great book full of adventure that will leave you reflecting on your own life choices. I ordered a second copy to give to my daughter because I feel this is a fabulous book for a young woman who is coming of age. Thank you Marilyn Howard for sharing your story! Definitely a 5 star read!
Blog Tour Calendar
October 9th @ The Muffin
Join WOW's blog at The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of Marilyn Howard's memoir The Writing on the Wall. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
October 11th @ Stranded in Chaos
Join Sara for her review of The Writing on the Wall.
October 13th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for her review of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
October 15th @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog for her interview with author Marilyn Howard about her book The Writing on the Wall.
October 18th @ Bring on Lemons
Join Crystal for her review of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
October 19th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for her review of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
October 20th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features a spotlight of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
October 21st @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for a guest post by Marilyn Howard about life skills and how not to trip and fall on the small stuff.
October 23rd @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with author Marilyn Howard about her book The Writing on the Wall.
October 24th @ School Librarian in Action
Join Zarah as she reviews The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
October 25th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog for a guest post by author Marilyn Howard about palm reading and the science behind it.
October 27th @ The Faerie Review
Join Lily as she reviews The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
November 1st @ Pick a Good Book
Join Debbie as she reviews The Writing on the Wall on her Instagram page. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book, too!
November 2nd @ Katherine Itacy's blog
Join Katherine for her review of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
November 3rd @ StoreyBook Reviews
Visit Leslie's blog for a guest post by Marilyn Howard about daydreams and keeping your eyes open to opportunities.
November 5th @ Pick a Good Book
Debbie shares a guest post by Marilyn Howard over at her blog today that talks about some good news regarding childhood disabilities.
November 8th @ The Mommies Reviews
Visit Glenda's blog for her review of The Writing on the Wall by Marilyn Howard.
Sunday, October 1, 2023
I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I remember in 4th grade someone made a comment about looking as big as my friend's pregnant mother. Let me tell you I never wore those stretchy stirrup pants again. My weight wasn't the problem. My mindset was the problem. I tried limiting what I was eating. I tried exercising. If it's out there, I've tried it. I even thought about bariatric surgery when I saw people having success with that. You know what though? Nothing worked for me long term because I wasn't changing the problem - I was only trying to change the outcome.
Just like the rest of you - I really want to be the best version of myself. That's a moving target since life is always changing and evolving. I can't tell you what next year is going to look like, but I CAN tell you that in 2023 I committed to get healthy. I didn't commit to a diet. I committed to myself that I would get my spiritual walk in check, my head in check, my emotions in check, my exercise in check, my diet in check, and my attitude. I didn't like the aching joints, the bloated belly, the negative thoughts, the frustration...and the list goes on.
Monday, September 25, 2023
5 Star Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Death and the Sisters
by Heather Redmond
September 25 - October 20, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
The tangled relationships between Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary’s stepsister Jane Clairmont form the backdrop for an intriguing historical mystery, set in London in 1814, that explores the complex dynamic between sisters and the birth of teenaged Mary’s creative genius.
London, 1814: Mary Godwin and her stepsister Jane Clairmont, both sixteen, possess quick minds bolstered by an unconventional upbringing, and have little regard for the rules that other young ladies follow. Mary, whose mother famously advocated for women’s rights, rejects the two paths that seem open to her—that of an assistant in her father’s bookshop, or an ordinary wife. Though quieter and more reserved than the boisterous Jane, Mary’s imagination is keen, and she longs for real-world adventures.
One evening, an opportunity arrives in the form of a dinner guest, Percy Bysshe Shelley. At twenty-one, Shelley is already a renowned poet and radical. Mary finds their visitor handsome and compelling, but it is later that evening, after the party has broken up, that events take a truly intriguing turn. When Mary comes downstairs in search of a book, she finds instead a man face down on the floor—with a knife in his back.
The dead man, it seems, was a former classmate of Shelley’s, and had lately become a personal and professional rival. What was he doing in the Godwins’ home? Mary, Jane, and Shelley are all drawn to learn the truth behind the tragedy, especially as each discovery seems to hint at a tangled web that includes many in Shelley’s closest circle. But as the attraction between Mary and the married poet intensifies, it sparks a rivalry between the sisters, even as it kindles the creative fire within . . .
Praise for Death and the Sisters:
"Death and the Sisters is a terrific blend of gritty history with a mystery that will keep readers turning pages. Impeccably researched and imaginative, Redmond’s first Mary Shelley Mystery immerses readers in the drama of young Mary Godwin and her family, as well as her budding romance with Percy Shelley, as they work together to solve a wonderfully bookish murder. I thoroughly enjoyed this series kick-off and can’t wait for the next story!"
~ Susanna Craig, author of The Lady Knows Best
"Death and the Sisters is a rip-roaring murder mystery with twists and turns that introduces teenaged Mary Godwin, not yet the author of the immortal work Frankenstein, as an amateur detective. Redmond's foray in the world of rational atheists in early 19th century London is a mesmerizing, forceful delight."
~ Eilis Flynn, author of The Riddle of Rym
"Crafted with vivid historical detail, an artfully twisted plot, and engaging characters, Death and the Sisters is an excellent start to what I hope will be a long-running series."
~ Dianne Freeman, author of the award-winning Countess of Harleigh Mysteries
"It might be the way London comes to life in all of its dark and gritty complexities, or the dynamics between Mary and her step-sister, Jane, as they set out to find the killer of the man who they discover dead in the bookshop. Everyone is a suspect—even Percy Shelley who has caught the eye of the women in the household. Propulsive and immersive, Heather Redmond is at the top of her game until the intense and satisfying end."
~ Mary Keliikoa, author of Hidden Pieces
"An intrepid cast of characters, a stunningly atmospheric 19th-century London, and a riveting murder… Highly recommend."
~ Melissa Bourbon, bestselling author
Genre: Historical mystery
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781496737991 (ISBN10: 1496737997)
Series: Mary Shelley Mystery, 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Kensington
Read an excerpt:
Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.
She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, has received a coveted starred review from Kirkus Reviews.
Catch Up With Heather Redmond:
BookBub - @heatherredmond1
Instagram - @hiestandheather
Twitter - @heatheraredmond
Heather Hiestand Redmond's Reader Group on Facebook
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!
Click here to view Death and the Sisters by Heather Redmond Tour Hosts
ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN:
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Heather Redmond. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
Thursday, July 20, 2023
I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and whispered "this may be the day that changes your life forever; or maybe not, but brace yourself beautiful". I stopped myself from putting on deodorant and quickly applied the hydrating eye cream that helped me feel less old.
Every year since I turned 40 I've been going for a mammogram right before my birthday. It made sense to me - to associate something somewhat negative with something positive and therefore they'd even out. Kind of like having dental work done without numbing so I can get a fancy latte on the way home. Life is all about balance afterall, isn't it?
I'm a bit of what most would call an awfulizer - but in all fairness, my daddy told me "prepare for the worse, hope for the best, and you'll always be ready for whatever comes your way". So, here we are, Monday, July 10th 2023. This was supposed to be an amazing year since 23 is one of my lucky numbers - and since 7 is also... you'd think this whole damn month should be filled with glitter, unicorns, and sunshine. It has not included as much of those things as I'd hoped.
The mammogram went smoothly. I wore all the right clothes, and I was in and out in record time. I stopped at the office and got lots of things done since no one knew I was there - no interruptions and no children in tow meant I was a professional machine! Stopped and helped a friend and then on the way home, blocks from my old house, on a stretch of road I once walked with our now teenagers, I got the call. I assumed they were calling to tell me everything looked fabulous and they'd see me next year.
After pulling over, I put the new appointment on my calendar... "we need to get you back here as soon as possible" they had said. I'd be going back on the 12th for another more in-depth mammogram and an ultrasound and a meeting with the specialist who would give me more information before I left the facility. I made sure I had hung up the phone and put the van in park. I dialed my Pastor and sobbed into the phone for what felt like an eternity before I could summon up the courage to tell him what was going on.
"I can't do this - not right now..."
"how do I tell Mark that I might not be okay?"
"I breast fed all those babies - doesn't that count for anything?"
Pastor talked me through things and reminded me that I can do hard things and I've done hard things and no matter what, Mark is the best husband and he is going to help me.
I never did turn the radio back on.
I drove around the block several times.
I needed to tell Mark before I got home. The kids would know there was something wrong if I came home with a tear-stained face. It was too early to worry them.
"Hey - can you meet me at the neighbors pole shed?"
He met me and held me while I sobbed into his big strong chest. He held me while the tears flowed down my face into his cut-off shirt.
I made it through the day and then we had a family meeting. By that time, I had washed dished, made dinner, vacuumed the house, and done the normal mom things and I was in control of my emotions. I could calmly and very matter of factly explain that:
"Mommy has a small - VERY small spot on her boob. It wasn't there last year, so it hasn't been there long. We are going for more testing after summer vacation. This is all going to be fine, a bit inconvenient, but fine. Ask questions and it's okay to talk about this."
Questions ranged from "is it cancer?" to "are you going to die?" and my eldest son just gave me a squeeze which says a lot from a teenage boy.
July 12th 2023
Mark came with me for the procedure(s). It was a lot of waiting for him and I felt very guilty for taking him away from the farm. Long story short - the initial reading was NOT wrong. I was in a much better mental place though... it's hard to explain, but I have 4 daughters and statistically, 1 in 5 women will get breast cancer and if I look at it that way, I'm incredibly thankful to have it. God knows I would die a thousand deaths to spare myself from having to bury a child. I am however incredibly angry. My mother refuses to have regular mammograms saying she doesn't care if she has issues or not. She thinks it's some kind of conspiracy between the medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Needless to say, we have NO family history. Not like, no one in our family has had breast cancer, but like no one (until my mom) has lived long enough to be tested ... I started going a few years ago because I want my daughters to have a medical history to go off.
anyway - here we were - standing in a warm dark room listening to the specialist explain the next steps. We were assigned a breast health coordinator who provided a lot of great information. We named the tumor Ralph and I looked at my husband as we walked out and said "fuck Ralph". There's of course still a chance that Ralph is just a happy little benign tumor. There's also a chance he's not. The good news is he is 4mm and my left breast was always a bit of a slacker anyway ...
The kids are being incredibly supportive and trying to look at the situation from a practical standpoint. It's not likely this will kill me, and I'm strong and healthy. I'm still eating the way I always have - and we sometimes laugh about how maybe I should have eaten more garbage and less salads... but in reality that's not how things work.
For now, we are living our best lives and as soon as I get home from vacation I'll go in for the biopsy (with my husband by my side) and we'll see what lies in front of us. A few things I've decided:
If I need chemo or radiation I'm shaving my own head instead of waiting for my hair to fall out
If anyone call pull off having just one boob, I can
I'm going to take lots of pictures of my boobs ... not to share, just for me. Because you don't realize how beautiful something is until you try to envision life without them
Thanks for being here on this journey - it's scary, but I've done hard things before God's got me through thick and thin.