Review of Hanging Stars on Big Willow Creek, by Sarah Hill

Spring has sprung, the robins are hopping about our yard in search of food and nesting materials and the lawn is beginning to green and grow. That means I’ll soon have to pull the lawn mower from winter hibernation. I love this time of year, a time of new beginnings.

Speaking of which, as of late, I’ve been delving into the genre of romance, something I’ve never done before.

Today, I present my review of Hanging Stars on Big Willow Creek, by Sarah Hill.

Here’s what Amazon says:

Rylie Johnson is living her dream as a best-selling author in New York with her husband, Spencer and their imaginative little boy, Alex. As she prepares for the release of her newest book and upcoming book tour, her world is turned upside down when she receives a phone call from home. She must return to Idaho, the place she left twenty years ago and help care for the woman who raised her. Rylie comes face to face with the past she worked so hard to forget and learns things aren’t always as they seem.

My Turn:

The story speaks volumes about the human condition. How we perceive our world, based on childhood experiences.

Sarah does an excellent job of creating characters that are realistically human and are easy to become emotionally invested in. There are no true villains in this book, but that makes them all the more relatable.

Rylie grows up in a home that is both materially and emotionally impoverished. The object of ridicule and bullying, she understandably grows defensive and cynical of those she deems to be, ‘one of them.’

This story speaks to anyone who’s ever felt isolated, unworthy, and unloved. It reminds the reader that there are still good and caring souls out there and that everyone has potential, despite their circumstance.

A gently rolling plot, with a down home feeling, that will appeal to those who enjoy a good heart tugging read.

I give this, FOUR STARS!

Meet Sarah:

SARAH HILL, lives in Idaho with her husband, 3 dogs and cat. When she isn’t feeding, playing or doctoring one of her fur babies, you can find her watching a chick flick or favorite Hallmark movie, hanging with family and friends, reading or taking pictures (because photos are important!) Some of her favorite things include the world of Harry Potter, Mexican food, camping, playing pranks, laughing and kissing her husband.

Sarah is also the author of Call of the Blue Heron, her debut novel, which was published in November of 2019. She continues to listen to the characters who find her and whisper their stories in her ear and plans to get their stories out to the world.

Connect with her and purchase a copy:

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Review of Breathless, by Yvette M. Calleiro @YvetteMCalleiro

Happy Thursday! Hopefully, those of you who’ve partaken in whatever form of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations that COVID regulations have allowed, are now recovered.

Today I’m reviewing, Breathless, A Short Story, by Yvette M. Calleiro.

Here’s what Amazon says:  

What if the fairy tale kiss that always awakens the damsel in distress takes a sinister turn? What if prince charming’s kiss no longer produces a happily ever after?

Silena’s infatuation with William hits a speed bump when he rejects her. After all, she is just a maid, and he is a young, rich aristocrat in the 1920s. Why would he have any desire to waste his time with the help?

On one particularly lonely day, Silena calls upon her magic to transform into a sexy flapper for the night. Her dream to enjoy one night with William is finally in her grasp, but her magic comes with consequences that neither William nor Silena could ever imagine.

My Turn:

I must admit that the romance genre is not typically my thing, but after a glimpse of this blurb, I thought, why not?

Needless to say, I was glad I did. This quick read story was entertaining. The main protagonist was likeable, and easy to sympathize, while the antagonist was self-indulgent.

However, by the end of the story, I felt an ounce of sympathy for the antagonist, as well. I’ll not say any more about the matter, to avoid a spoiler.

What I enjoyed most about this story, was the fact that it didn’t follow the typical “Happily ever after,” of all those Disney cartoons I grew up watching. This was raw, with bitter consequences of wise advice not heeded, and a few of the seven deadly sins committed.  

I wouldn’t hesitate to read other material written by this author. Well done, Yvette! I throw you, FIVE STARS!

Meet Yvette:

Yvette M. Calleiro is a heavily addicted reader of both young adult and adult novels. She spends most of her time pseudo-living in paranormal worlds with her fictional friends (and boyfriends). She’s also been known to ride the stationary bike at her gym for hours while reading anything from paranormal to fantasy to suspenseful thrillers.

When she’s living among real people, Yvette M. Calleiro is a middle school Reading and Language Arts teacher. She’s been sharing her love of literature with her students for over twenty years. Besides writing about the various characters that whisper (and sometimes scream) in her head, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying the beauty of the ocean.

Yvette lives in Miami, Florida, with her beautiful son who enjoys paranormal and adventurous stories as well. She also shares her space with an assortment of crazy saltwater animals in her 300-gallon tank.

Connect with Yvette and purchase your copy:

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Review of The Donnelly Brothers, by Anthony Gallucci @AuthorGallucci

I’m writing this on a snowy Saturday afternoon, up here, in the Great White North. My preference is early morning, but the kids are busy organizing their rooms, so I thought it would be a great chance to get this one out.

Today I’m reviewing, The Donnelly Brothers, by Anthony Gallucci. Anthony was kind enough to provide me with a paperback novel, in exchange for an honest review.

Here’s what Amazon says:

The Donnelly Brothers is the tale of two brothers growing up in New York City. It portrays the beauty of the city and the struggles of borough living. The city becomes plagued with a corrupt Mayor and the citizens become enraged. A war begins amongst the city’s people and the police. There are riots, looting and even murders. The brother’s can’t stand by and watch their city be destroyed. They make a plan to overthrow the Mayor and to restore justice and tranquility to their home. The Donnelly Brothers is full of love, loss and the pursuit of happiness.

My Turn:

If there was ever a book that adroitly conveys the author’s deep emotional connection to a place, The Donnelly Brothers, easily slips into the upper echelon.

Bobby and Dominic Donnelly, born and raised in New York City, have more than their fingers on the pulse of their beloved Big Apple. Indeed, they are, in their very essence, a part of its heart.

This story is far more than action and heroics. Anthony does a fantastic job of creating characters that are realistically imperfect, yet courageous and loyal to the end. A band of brothers, and sisters, so to speak, of unlikely defenders against a greater evil. All in service to the greater community.

I have recently found myself using the expression, “You cannot judge a book by its cover (though this cover is well done), but you can judge it by the characters.”  

The Donnelly Brothers, achieves this standard, with precision.

The action is swift and well executed, but what really impressed me was how easily I could connect and empathize with the characters. There was the necessary ingredient of growth through personal challenges, and the constant variable of change that occurs in real life.

In addition, I would encourage the reading of the Epilogue. A nice touch to the finish.

Overall, I must say, well done! FIVE STARS!

Meet Anthony Gallucci:

I am a small town boy that moved away from his little cedar cabin when I turned 17. I went on many adventures all over the United States and it has been amazing. I decided that it was time to start writing about the stories I heard throughout my adventures so that I could share them with others. It’s unfair to keep the amazing stories I have in my head and not be able to share them. Cascade, was my first try at writing one of these stories and bringing it into existence. Now available is my second book The Donnelly Brothers!

Connect with Anthony and purchase your copy:

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‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #35 Entry Part 6) by MarkBierman@mbiermanauthor#IARTG #WritingPrompts #FlashFiction #WritingCommunity

HELLO EVERYONE AND WELCOME TO AUTHOR SUZANNE BURKE’S “FICTION IN A FLASH CHALLENGE!” EACH WEEK SHE FEATURES AN IMAGE AND INVITES EVERYONE TO WRITE A FLASH FICTION, OR NON-FICTION, PIECE INSPIRED BY THAT IMAGE IN ANY FORMAT AND GENRE OF THEIR CHOOSING.  MAXIMUM WORD COUNT: 750 WORDS. IN ADDITION TO RUNNING A WONDERFUL BLOG, SUZANNE HAS WRITTEN MANY EXCITING BOOKS. PLEASE A HAVE A LOOK AT HER SITE: WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Here is my contribution to this week’s prompt. Enjoy!

“Oh Sheila, could this night get any better? I mean, you, me, just the crickets.”

“Oh, yes, Paul . . . it’s wonderful. There’s really no where else I’d rather be.”

“There’s something intoxicating about spending a night under the stars with a beautiful woman. Do you know that the constellation, Cygnus the Swan, is above our heads right now? Go ahead, look! No not at me. Look up, my dear. Do you see it? Yes, that’s it. See the splendor of it all? You want to know something, and it’s the truth.”

“What? What is it?”

“Keep looking up. I mean really take it all in.”

“I’m looking, and yes, it’s heavenly—”

“Just like you, my Sweet. Now I have something for you.”

“Really! What is it! Shall I close my eyes?”

“If you’d like. Yes, and hold out your hands, too. I love your radiant smile, by the way. Here it is. Okay, now open them.”

 “A mirror?”

“Yes, I want you to look at it, and then up again at the Swan. No, not at me, the Swan. Not that I mind the love in your eyes. No, Sheila, look up and compare. Why do you look so disappointed?”

“I don’t understand, that’s all.”

“Stop looking at me that way. No, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. I just wanted you to see that this constellation is just an ugly duckling, compared to you.”

“Oh, I see . . . of course, thank you, Paul.”

“I have a poem that I wrote for you. It’s about our love and this is the perfect night to read it. Here it goes. She is the light of my—”

“Stop!”

“What?”

“Please, Paul . . . I-I can’t do this anymore!”

“What do you mean? I planned this whole evening! Even made your favorite, Caprese salad, which is disgusting, by the way. Are you saying we’re through?”

“Just, turn away for a moment. Would you please, I cannot look at you, any longer. I’m so sorry, but you need to fix it.”

“Fix what?! I thought you said I was perfect!”

“No fix it! Pull it out!”

“Sheila! You are so devilish! But I cannot do that, this is a public park. There are still families about.”

“No! Not that! Pull out that ghastly nose hair that’s been waving at me all night.”

Review of Victoria’s War, by Catherine A. Hamilton

Well, the sun has sunk its fiery head below the horizon to close a wintry Sunday. The weekend is almost history, but I want to spin the time dial back into this past weekend, for a moment.

i want to talk about an excellent book I had the opportunity to read these last few days. As you’ve “guessed” from the title, the book in question is Victoria’s War, by Catherine A. Hamilton.

Here’s what Amazon says:

In Victoria’s War, Hamilton gives voice to the courageous Polish women who were kidnapped into the real-life Nazi slave labor operation during WWII. Inspired by true stories, this lost chapter of history won’t soon be forgotten.POLAND, 1939: Nineteen-year-old Victoria Darski is eager to move away to college: her bags are packed and her train ticket is in hand. But instead of boarding a train to the University of Warsaw, she finds her world turned upside down when World War II breaks out. Victoria’s father is sent to a raging battlefront, and the Darski women face the cruelty of the invaders alone. After the unthinkable happens, Victoria is ordered to work in a Nazi sewing factory. When she decides to go to a resistance meeting with her best friend, Sylvia, they are captured by human traffickers targeting Polish teenagers. Sylvia is singled out and sent to work in brothels, and Victoria is transported in a cattle car to Berlin, where she is auctioned off as a slave.GERMANY, 1941: Twenty-year-old Etta Tod is at Mercy Hospital, where she’s about to undergo involuntary sterilization because of the Fuhrer’s mandate to eliminate hereditary deafness. Etta, an artist, silently critiques the propaganda poster on the waiting room wall while her mother tries to convince her she should be glad to get rid of her monthlies. Etta is the daughter of the German shopkeepers who buy Victoria at auction in Berlin.The stories of Victoria and Etta intertwine in the bakery’s attic where Victoria is held the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond. But when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

My Turn:

Now, I have to admit, I like reading just about everything WWII, but this book was so well crafted and researched, that it had my full attention and left a lasting impression.

Catherine does a fantastic job of creating realistic characters and scenarios. I couldn’t help but feel a range of emotions towards both the prisoners, and some of the helpful Germans, alike. The fate of one character, I won’t spoil it, caused a lump in my throat.

This is not a shoot-em-up, we’re the greatest heroes ever, type of story. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of suspense and action, too.

Victoria’s War is exactly what the title suggests. It’s about the tragic experiences of a young and innocent woman who was forced to grow in self-confidence and courage. I believe that Victoria represents so many that went through those horrific trials.

If you’re queasy, rest easy. The descriptions of the prisoner camps and victims is sprinkled throughout, but just enough to give you an impression of the conditions. There are no excessively gory details.

What I came away with is a new respect for the courage and resilience of the brave men and women who fought against tyranny, in the face of extreme danger and nearly insurmountable odds. Many selfless and self-sacrificing acts of kindness are carried out and warm the heart against the chill of the Nazi regime.

Five Stars!

Meet Catherine:

A native Oregonian of Polish descent, Catherine A. Hamilton spent several years as a freelance writer. Her articles and poems have appeared in The Sarasota Herald Tribune, The Oregonian, The Catholic Sentinel, and The Polish American Journal. She is the author of a chapter, “Katherine Graczyk”; in Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember the Nazi Occupation. Edited by Richard C. Lukas, pp.31-37, (University Press of Kansas, 2004). Her debut novel, Victoria’s War, is now available: Plain View Press (2020).
Hamilton lives in the Northwest with her husband.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

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