Copycat by Kimberla Lawson Roby


Copycat by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Befriending Traci Calloway Cole is the best thing Simone Phillips has ever done. Traci is the kind of woman Simone wants to be-in every way possible. She begins copying her role model. Not because she wants to be Traci. She just wants to be exactly like Traci.

Traci doesn’t worry, though. She knows Simone doesn’t mean any harm and that her mimicry is only sincere admiration. Until she discovers how far Simone’s obsession has gone. It is then that Simone’s entire world begins unraveling, and dreadful secrets from her past are exposed with no warning. Secrets that she’ll do almost anything to protect.

Would you find it flattering if someone mimicked your style, taste and behavior? Once Simone Phillips met her role model, author Traci Calloway Cole, Simone has been doing all she can to be just like Traci.

This isn’t Traci’s first time having a woman to copy her style. Which is what left me puzzled as to why Traci was being so naive to Simone’s behavior. Traci has been through this, and even wrote a book about a lady being a copycat and still didn’t have a clue or insight to see what Simone was doing. Her husband warned her and even her sister who met Simone only once but she was able to see Simone’s fascination with Traci was questionable.

This is a quick read that for a short read had some parts that were too detailed in things that didn’t necessarily contribute to the plot. The dialogue was slow but the plot made it interesting. I was curious how long Simone was going to let this behavior continue before it all crumbled. I love reading about couples and their happiness but the relationship between Traci and her husband Timothy just seemed unrealistic and too perfect.

The author delivered an interesting plot without the use of profanity or erotic behavior. References to church, scriptural quotes are mentioned but weren’t overly preachy. Whether low self esteem and lack of self love or maybe Simone had mental issues… I am not sure which but the subject of losing oneself and thinking if they look like or act like someone else that this would bring about happiness is real. In her past, Simone filed for bankruptcy and lately was been responsible with her credit but then with her obsession with Traci she lost her self identity, her morals and ended up with unnecessary material possessions and building up debt that would take years to get out of. She did all this while losing herself and her fiance.

I enjoyed the pre-marriage counseling session between Simone and her fiancé, Chris. I questioned why Chris was even interested in Simone. Simone has a past that she isn’t proud of. Simone’s past gave some interest to the story because I definitely was wondering what she was ashamed of. Simone has some deep rooted issues and her story and her point of view was sad, but it’s even more sad that she didn’t realize how deep and bizarre her behavior was as she was so rapidly transforming herself into Traci.

Both bizarre and humorous, I’d recommend this story to readers who like stories a little outside the norm.

Can You Keep a Secret by Mary Monroe


Can You Keep a Secret by Mary Monroe
Publisher: Dafina
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (89 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

In this page-turning prequel to her thrilling Lonely Heart, Deadly Heart series, New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe introduces Lola Poole and Joan Proctor, fast friends getting a crash course in love, family, betrayal—and other little disasters…

They couldn’t be less alike—except for their restless spirits. Lola came from a loving home, even though it included her father’s live-in mistress. And Joan is a secret wild child chafing under her mother’s watchful eye. So when Lola’s quiet world shatters and her hopes seem out of reach for good, Joan has the perfect consolation in mind.

But the besties will soon discover that boyfriends, money, and good times are no real escape from their families’ ever-scandalous drama. Soon, with demanding stepparents, conniving relatives, and simmering secrets closing in, they’ll have to watch each other’s backs and use their quick wits to save their lifelong dreams…

“A deathbed promise is nothing to take lightly.” And Lola Poole did not take the promise she made to her dad lightly.

Lola Poole and Joan Proctor are the best of friends but come from two different families. Lola’s dad has a live-in mistress and she thinks it’s all right. Joan has a home that’s full of family members. Joan is never alone and hardly has any personal space. Lola is use to being the talk of the town but not in a good way. For someone so young she seemed to have a huge load to carry. Lola’s family members are slowly dismissed from her life. The life Lola once knew has completely changed and the only person still constant is her faithful friend Joan. I love that Joan is a true friend in Lola’s time of need. At their age they should be out having fun and having not a care or responsibility in the world. Due to the fact that Lola promised her dad that she would look after Bertha May, Lola isn’t able to enjoy her youth. I want to call Bertha selfish but maybe it’s a little of her being selfish but also her need for attention and to feel cared for. Her twin children serve no real purpose in her life but to make her feel lesser. This could by why Lola feels obligated to care for Bertha. Sometimes family isn’t necessarily blood related. Those that aren’t born into your family could end up being closer than blood.

Thought the book is short, I enjoyed it. Lola and Joan have a true friendship to admire. They have a valuable relationship that I enjoyed reading about. Lola needed and wanted a family and had to worry about being in this world alone, but Joan made sure that Lola always felt love and she was by Lola’s side. Lola’s life drastically changed, and she went through a lot in her few years. Her life could seem pretty sad to some but I get the feeling that Lola is a strong young lady that will be able to overcome and build off of her pain. She didn’t focus on the bad stuff.  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the story, because Lola didn’t use her unfortunate situation to have pity for herself or turn to a life that took her down the wrong path. The story is a good teaser that makes me want to read what happens to Lola and Joan next.

And the Day Came by Phyllis H Moore


And the Day Came by Phyllis H Moore
Publisher: Del Corazon LLC
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Full Length (219 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Hints of a secret about her father surface when Doris Marie Linney’s mother dies when Doris is twelve. The only girl in a family of five boys, Doris has always longed for a sister. From an early age she has been comforted by her mother’s brothers, the Johnsons, and their extended family. Gatherings at the Lamar bay house always included Doris. She had her cousins, Ida Ross and Bernice to keep her company. However, she was aware of her Danish Johnson heritage and knew nothing of the Linneys.

Doris’s search for her parents’ identities delivers a family saga beginning in the 1700’s, but always leading back to the same breezy slope facing the Aransas Bay. Uncle Jamie’s bay house, set among the bent oaks on the Lamar Peninsula is where she can watch approaching storms and say goodbye to her brothers. It’s also where she can eavesdrop and discover the worries of her uncles.

In this work of historical fiction, Doris reveals the circumstances of the death of her father as told by the sons who witnessed it, but for some reason her uncles seemed to believe he deserved his dramatic demise.

“When they would consent to tell us the story, we’d sit in silence, staring around at each other as if it was a sacred time. I guess it was. It was the death of our father, witnessed by his sons. In a way, they wrote on our memories with their words. We watched their faces when they retold the story and knew they showed our father’s death a reverence because they had been there to witness it and lived to tell it. Doris wished her uncles could show her father the same respect. She wanted him to be the man Ernest and Harry revered.”

Will Doris’s search for the truth about her father confirm her ideals, or will the revelation of a secret lead to more mysteries? Meet the characters driving this saga, Doris Marie Linney, Uncle Bernard and Jamie, Anna Mae, and her lovable brother, Teddy. And what about the Farleys? Who are they and why the mystery with the uncles? The people define the story and they have always been capable of changing their futures.

This is the story of Doris Marie Linnley and her family. It begins just after Heart, mother of Doris and her many brothers, dies while giving birth to the next final addition to the family, a half sibling to the others who goes to heaven with his mother. Doris is then sent away to school and the book carries on through her teenage and adult years.

Unfortunately it moves from past to present with hints at the future then back to the past. Many of the scenes were out of phase with the previous chapters and to be told something would happen in the future made me want to skip the rest of the book and find the future bit. As I was going to review this book I did not do this, but persevered and found the individual scenes were good, although I did find it difficult when the point of view head hopped from Doris to her children. It wasn’t until I got to the end I realised what the main theme was, but this had slipped past me with all the other things going on.

The story could be great but I was left wondering what happened to several members of the family and who were some of the others. They had nicknames, but it wasn’t evident what name belonged to who.

This could be an extremely good book if it moved through the years instead of going from one decade to another.

The scenery and description was extremely well done, especially the parade of nuns. Parts were very enjoyable and the theme was good.

Surviving the Fatherland by Annette Oppenlander


Surviving the Fatherland by Annette Oppenlander
Publisher: self
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (355 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their own dangerous path toward survival, freedom, and ultimately each other. Based on the author’s own family and anchored in historical facts, this story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of war children.

SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children’s war.

This historical novel is based on the author’s parents and what they went through as children in Germany during the Second World War. As the wife of a history buff, I’ve seen a great many movies and heard a lot about the soldiers during that war, but except for The Diary of Anne Frank I’m not familiar with what the children had to go through. This book is eye-opening and heartbreaking, and I would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the war.

Lily and Gunter grew up in the same city, but their lives during the war took very different routes. The book is told from each of their points of view- the hardships they had to face and the struggles to stay alive.

My heart broke for Lily as her mother so obviously preferred her younger brother and worked her like a slave, even turning a blind eye to potential dangers to Lily in order to make life more bearable for herself. It’s hard for me, as a mother, to understand Mutti’s reaction to her daughter, which cannot be blamed on the war as she was already disengaged from Lily at the beginning of the story. Her father lied to the family, telling them he had been drafted, but he is full of enthusiasm to do his part in Hitler’s war.

We first meet Gunter as he takes part in the local youth drill that all the young men had to join—training children to one day be soldiers. Once his father is drafted, life is different for him as well as supplies become short, and he is forced to do whatever he can to help keep his family together.

When Lily and Gunter met, the war was over but they each had to deal with the baggage they gathered during it. They fell in love, but the path of true love, in their part, didn’t run smoothly. I enjoyed the way they were together as they each worked through their own demons.

This family saga is wonderfully written and, aside from the emotional ramifications, very easy to read. I stayed up too late a couple of nights reading it. I was really invested in the characters and wondered what was going to happen to them next. Knowing it was based on the author’s parents, it was obvious they would get together at the end, but there were still moments I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.

I highly recommend this book!

April Fiction Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Highland Hope by Madelyn Hill


Highland Hope by Madelyn Hill
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

“Remember, lasses. Through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule,” were the last words Lady Hope MacAlister’s father spoke before dying. Those very words direct her every action and thought. Sword fighting and leading the men of her clan was second nature to Hope and she has little time for herself or any thoughts of love. Until Aidan MacKerry is captured spying on the clan.

She is beautiful, strong, and quick to pull a sword. But when he kisses her, all thoughts of the lairdship Aidan MacKerry seeks flee his mind. When the enemy continues to undermine Hope, Aidan is determined to aid her—only he didn’t think he’d lose his heart to the Laird of Wild Thistle Keep. When the enemy reveals Aidan’s secret, he must fight for his right to be laird and prove, despite their differences, he loves Hope.

The enemy refuses to back down and continues to threaten not only Hope, but the security of the entire clan. Only together will they be able to save the clan and save their love.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi


I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (272 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

Maddy Starling had it all. A beautiful house, fulfilling volunteer work, a successful husband and a beautiful daughter. She is the glue that holds her family’s world together. But when she commits suicide unexpectedly, everyone’s world is rocked to its core, leaving her family to wonder what they missed. How could they not have known she was so unhappy?

I Liked My Life is told through three alternating points of view – those of Maddy, the deceased mother who isn’t ready to let go of her family, Eve, the almost seventeen-year-old daughter, and Brady, the devoted if absent husband. Sometimes I’m wary of being in so many characters’ heads at one time, but this really works as you get a more complete view of how the family worked prior to Maddy’s suicide and the obstacles they now have to overcome.

This novel touched me in several ways. First, as the mother of two teenaged girls, I saw a lot of them in Eve. In her rebellion, her sarcasm, and her pain. I could also related to Eve’s situation as a daughter myself. I’m lucky enough to still have my mother in my life and couldn’t imagine what would have become of me if I’d lost her in my teens. I could also relate to Maddy’s view on her relationship both with her daughter and her husband. It’s such a fine balance between giving them a little leeway and letting them run all over you. Maddy seemed to have found the balance of power that worked for them all, even if she wasn’t always completely satisfied with the outcome.

I Liked My Life is a rollercoaster of emotions. There are moments that tug at your heartstrings, others that make you laugh or rage in anger. In the end, it’s a story of a life cut short and those that are left behind wondering what happened. It’s also a story about how life goes on and that through the pain, you can find happiness again.

Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman


Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.

A mother will do anything for her child, that much is a given. So when it becomes clear that Annie’s autistic son needs expensive therapy, she turns to her best friend, Sarah, for help. Since Sarah, desperate for a baby of her own, needs some quick cash of her own for pricey IVF treatments, they put their heads together and come up with a plan. Although a crazy, outrageous plan that might just land them in the hottest water of their lives, it’s the only shot they have.

Crimes Against a Book Club hit me right where I live – my kids. Even though I can’t relate to Sarah’s plight with infertility, I can relate to how Annie was willing to go to jail to get her son the treatments he so desperately needed. I loved her relationship with Sarah, and it reminded me of my best friend who is also named Sarah. She’d never think twice to help me or one of my kids out in a time of need. Annie and Sarah have their ups and downs during the course of the story, but in the fashion of true, lifelong friends, they always find a way to meet on common ground.

Funny, heartwarming and a little left of center, Crimes Against a Book Club is a story about real life struggles tackled in an unconventional manner. The characters are real and relatable, even the upper crust members of the book club that Sarah and Annie target with their scam. It’s a story that proves the old saying that necessity is the mother of invention. My only complaint is that I wish there was a follow up novel telling us about Sarah and Annie’s life post book club, but I’m quite happy with what I got in the end. For a first novel, I’m impressed and cannot wait to see where the author takes us next.

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan


Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (284 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

What do you do when you meet the love of your life? A better question is: what do you do when the love of your life is engaged to your best friend? This is the question that struggling novelist James Hernandez finds himself contemplating the day he meets Louisa Bell – the woman about to marry his longtime friend, Rob.

In a way, I can relate to James’ life. Never able to finish that novel, unable to move past his love for Lou, he stagnates, stuck on his dreams. But on the other hand, he doesn’t try very hard to move on from his feelings either. That’s where he and I differ. If he were a teenager, his inability to find happiness with someone other than his best friend’s wife would be understandable. However, as the years go by and his relationships continue to fail and his manuscripts never get finished, it gets to be a bit old. He has very little character growth until the last quarter of the novel.

Lou was much less annoying in the sense that she did everything she could to make her marriage to Rob, James’ best friend, work. Even when Rob wasn’t on board with it all. She doesn’t give in to her suppressed wishes until she realizes that things aren’t as perfect as she wants them to be. By that point, I couldn’t blame her, honestly. You can only give so much without getting anything in return before you stop giving.

I really struggled with the first half of this novel. It felt like it took a long time to get to the point where the ‘big thing’ happened and the story really started. Once we hit that point, I felt more invested in the characters and became involved in what was happening. The story that unraveled in the last third to half of the book was fascinating, engaging, and heartbreaking. I only wish that it had engaged me sooner. Overall, I did enjoy the story and the characters, but for me, it took entirely too long to set up what I felt to be the meat of the plot.

The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire


The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary, Mainstream Fiction
Length: Full Length (374 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

In this tour de force, a father, shaken by tragedy, tries to avenge his daughter’s murder—and restore his family’s shattered life.

It was supposed to be a typical October evening for renowned portrait artist Will Light. Over dinner of lamb tagine, his wife, Sophie, would share news about chorus rehearsals for the upcoming holiday concert, and their teenage daughter, Lucy, would chatter about French club and field hockey. Only Lucy never came home. Her body was found, days later, in the woods.

The Eastern Seaboard town of Port Fortune used to be Will’s comfort. Now, there’s no safe harbor for him. Not even when Father Gervase asks Will to paint portraits of saints for the new cathedral, using the townspeople as models. The only thing Will sees in each face is a mask of the darkness of evil. And he just might be painting his daughter’s killer.

As Will navigates his rage and heartbreak, Sophie tries to move on; Father Gervase becomes an unexpected ally; and Rain, Lucy’s best friend, shrouds herself in a near-silent fugue. Their paths collide in a series of inextricably linked, dark, dangerous moments that could lead to their undoing…or to their redemption.

There’s nothing better than a good whodunit and while The Halo Effect isn’t your run of the mill one, it’s nevertheless a page turner. I love the opening lines: Every day is ordinary. Until It isn’t.

One thing I liked about this book was that the author chose to dive straight into the story. While there was a prologue to set the stage, Ms. LeClaire introduced us quickly to the main character Will who is also the first person narrator of the story. He’s a sympathetic one and not just because his daughter Lucy doesn’t return home one night. There’s something of everyone in him, strength and yet vulnerability all wrapped into one. Something which I found make him complex and likeable.

I’d call this a mystery but at the same time it has a literary feel to it as Will narrates the story of his struggle to survive after Lucy’s gone, his relationship with his wife, and how he sets out to find the truth about his daughter.

Although this is a long book, it’s definitely a fast paced page turner. It’s almost as if, like Will, you want to find out what happened and who took Lucy’s life. The tension mounts and finally you’re given the relief you’re been craving as you read on to finish the story and say goodbye to Will.

If you’re mystery fan looking for something just a little different, I’d say give this book a try because I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Ashes by Steven Manchester


Ashes by Steven Manchester
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Contemporary, Mainstream Fiction
Length: Full Length (257 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life and death has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

Get ready for a gritty, true-to-life feel when you crack open the pages of Ashes. Mr. Manchester brings his two characters to life in all their fallible glory with convincing dialogue, introspection and hard truths. This novel explores how Jason and Tom’s childhood made them enemies and through a quirk of their abusive father’s whims, his last weird request gives the brothers a chance to reconcile before it’s too late. The journey is not as dark as one would expect because there is this glimmer of hope that gets brighter and brighter as the story progresses until it’s realized in an extremely unexpected way. There is so much within in each of us to be found in the personalities of both Jason and Tom that this novel has the capacity of reaching each reader differently from a variety of backgrounds. Ashes is an amazing piece of literary art.

There is humor, but it’s dark and self-effacing at times, other times self-derogatory, and as the journey unfolds, true delightful humor surfaces as the brothers discover how more alike they are in ways they never dreamed. Eventually the smiles and laughter come from someplace honest, healthy and full of promise. Seeing their relationship evolve in a positive manner was a true delight. Bear in mind that they’re guys and some of their words, jokes and references are a little coarse and blunt, but that is one of the charms of the book – I could believe they were real people.

The author was quite detailed in description so a reader could get a true feel of their surroundings, their experiences and the atmosphere. Every word seems chosen with precision to provide a reader with the best reading experience. I was 100% engaged.

It might even be hard for readers to learn just how nasty and scary Jason and Tom’s home life was like as children. It certainly was for me, but it’s integral to the plot conflict and resolution. If not for visiting the past, I’d never know how truly miraculous the eventual ending was. And what a wonderful ending it turned out to be. However, the author had a couple of surprises for readers and main characters alike. I didn’t have a clue what was coming and I think that’s why it was so powerful. Talk about jarring the heartstrings!

Ashes is a compelling read. It just is. It’s character driven, emotionally fulfilling and Jason and Tom are characters a reader can sympathize with. It explores the domino effect of a harsh upbringing and how it can manifest in adulthood – pros and cons. You wouldn’t think that getting beat up by a parent could have any positive aspects, but Mr. Manchester produces a believable and intriguing possibility and it astounded me. The one thing that beastly father did was produce two survivors who became more than the failures that they were labeled as, repeatedly. Jason and Tom, for all their tribulations, are heroic in living their lives successfully, and finding that being a brother to each other is the most heroic thing of all.

If a reader enjoys a story that explores sibling relationships in all their tumultuous roller coaster glory then Ashes is the perfect novel to add to your reading experience.