Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book of the Week: Heavy Weather, Normandie Fischer

fiction, amreading, books, review, goodreads, I recommend,

I'm no stranger to Normandie Fischer's writing. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing her book, Sailing Out of Darkness a little over a year ago and I loved it. So it's been a truly incredible experience getting to know her over social media and call her a friend. I have the honor of receiving a copy of Heavy Weather directly from her. I was so excited to dive right in - but life got in the way.

But I finally picked it up and started reading one morning this week and was done with it the following night. I literally (in the purest use of the word!) read the last ten or so pages by the light of my phone while my husband slept so I wouldn't have to go to bed without closure.

THAT's how good the book is.

Each character has their own story. Each character pulls you in and makes you want to know more. This community, this town, these people - I want to know them all. I want to be a part of their inner circle. I want to celebrate their victories and mourn their losses. And as a reader of Heavy Weather, I do all of these things.

We start off with Hannah. Hannah stumbles into a scenario that shocks her. She immediately springs to action. Her actions leave her responsible for two beautiful children. Hannah, a temporary mom. Her husband isn't going to be thrilled about this - but she does it anyway.

We learn more about Hannah and her husband Matt. We learn why Hannah finds herself so attached to these kids so quickly. And why Matt is not quite as attached.

These children belong to Annie Mac. A mama who nearly gave her life to protect them from the man she used to love. Roy left her on the brink of death but she held on. And in doing so ensured that her kids would be kept safe. Especially Katie. Katie is Roy's daughter, but pretty much the entire town comes together to keep her safe.

Most especially the lieutenant on duty when Annie Mac is found. Clay Dougherty. Clay is a friend of Hannah and Matt. And quickly becomes a friend and support to Ty, Annie Mac's son. The connection between the two comes as easily as breathing. Ty also takes comfort in Hannah's dog, Harvey, who is an integral part of the story, as well. Which I love, because ... yay, dogs! And my goodness, I adore Ty. This young boy's character is one you'll fall in love with instantly. He's so young and so grown all at once. The big brother. The caretaker. He really does make the story.

The background characters aren't the kind that disappear into the setting. All of the characters have enough heart in them to earn their own books (and from what I've learned, one already has in Becalmed). And I'm kind of already hoping for a sequel to this one or a spin-off so we can see what happens to everyone down the line.

There's another character that I'd be remiss to leave out of my review. That character is the town itself. Beaufort is a beautiful coastal town in North Carolina. It truly exists, though I can't speak to if it's as lovely to live there as Fischer describes. But the town - the town consists of community - people who look out for one another. People who support, lean on and love each other. Sure, there are people who come and go, no doubt. And there are always bad apples. This is no exception, we find out who the bad apples are later in the book.

But the setting of Beaufort envelops Annie Mac and her children. The heart of the town nearly bursts with love for these two kids. It's comforting to see as you make your way through the story. It's a relief to find them cared for after all they've been through. And it's a relief to think of them as safe.

Roy doesn't just up and disappear, though. He wants his baby girl and he's not going to stop until he gets her. We don't like Roy. Not one bit. He's a lot of things that some really bad words would do to describe. But he makes the story what it is - he creates the situation that leaves Annie Mac in need of assistance - and leads to the connections that make the story what it is. Fischer writes evil really well, and writes unity in the face of evil even better.

For this and much more, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Heavy Weather today.

* This is NOT a sponsored post. I received a copy of this book directly from the author and was not compensated in any way for writing about it. There are affiliate links throughout so if you choose to buy any of these books I'll make a few pennies towards my next purchase, so thanks in advance. *

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Free Write: Witnessing History

Anyone who has any sort of social media account at all has seen the ruling from this week.

The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that same-sex marriage is constitutional. In every.single.state. Every single one.

This means that couples who have married in one state because that state allowed for it are now considered legally married in other states.

Now, honestly, I don't have to spell this out for you. You have to know how HUGE this is.

And I'm thrilled. I'm beyond thrilled.

My Facebook feed is full of profile pics that look just like this.

And it's pretty freaking cool, if you ask me. Except you didn't - but I'm telling you anyway.

I haven't written much this week. Or lately. I suppose I've just been in a summer mentality.

We did some traveling over Father's Day weekend. It was a lot of fun, and my daughter and I had some time together while my husband attended a conference. It was nice being with her in a different city. We were in Virginia, but also DC/MD later on.

Although we did fun stuff across the board, like Medieval Times in Baltimore (thanks to The Attic Girl, who I won two tickets from). See? Look how cute we are ...

It was a fun experience, my daughter's first time there, and we spent the dinner portion explaining that she should forget all of the rules we have taught her about eating. And every time we tell her to use her fork? Not this time. Overall a great night.

But then that day we did something more important. We walked around DC for about two hours. Yes. In the crazy heat. Very crazy heat. But my daughter really wanted to get up close and personal with the Washington Monument. And so we started off at the Lincoln Memorial and made our way across the length of the reflecting pool to the "pointy point" - yes. That's what my kiddo kept calling it. We walked for hours and we showed our daughter bits and pieces of our nation's history. We talked about the first president. And the sixteenth. And from a certain spot we could see the White House.

And on that day it just so happened to be the longest day of the year. And so happens that on that same day Postpartum Progress held their annual Climb Out of the Darkness to support women with postpartum mood disorders. And that walk? That lonnng walk and then some? Represented my climb. Because to me this is an important cause. And I advocate for awareness and support and education and reminders that women who suffer and struggle are not alone. Never alone.

By the way, it's absolutely not too late to support my tiny little effort, and that of people across not just this great country, but the entire globe, and make a donation to help raise voices on behalf of moms everywhere. Check out my Crowdrise Fundraising page for more details.

Unfortunately, this week (and then some) of historical moments and joys has not been unmarred. You'd have to have been living under a rock to have missed what I would easily refer to as the massacre that happened in Charleston, SC on June 17th. My heart shattered into thousands of little pieces as I watched the news unfold. So many beautiful lives lost on this senseless day.

There is no way to make sense of how these things happen. There's no way for me to stand beside my friends - arms extended and hearts open - standing there offering support and love to those in my life who fear for their children, their families, themselves. There is a racial divide in this nation. It's not one people like to acknowledge, but it IS there. Life is supposed to be beautiful. Life IS beautiful for so many. But even with the changes that have happened that sprinkle rainbows across my Internet - I still ache and mourn for those lost, and feel the fears for those who feel them.

I recognize - each time something like this happens - who I am. And who I am not.

And then there's this. This beautiful moment that touches anyone watching. Of any race. Any religion. Any nationality. Any political affiliation. Our nation's leader shared a glimpse of his soul as he offered up prayers in the memory of just one person lost. Take a moment and let it move you.

It, too, is a part of history.

I hope that future history-making moments will include more consistent rainbows, strength, and love. Lots and lots of love. Support. Friendship. Release of fears. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book of the Week: Hotel Moscow, Talia Carner

fiction, reading, amreading, book review, recommend, goodreads

When I had the opportunity to review a book by Talia Carner, I jumped at the chance. One of her previous novels, Jerusalem Maiden, was one of my favorite books of 2011.  So I knew that falling in love with her writing style would not be difficult at all. And I was not disappointed as I dove into Hotel Moscow. 

Carner's writing is filled with cultural references. Recognizable - to the point that I can envision myself there and feeling, experiencing - everything in her story. It's almost palpable.

I'm not a big reader of historical fiction, but this isn't all that historical to me as the story is set in 1993. And admittedly, I was old enough then to remember it fairly well.

The deeper history comes in the main character's memories - but they're shared memories, ones that her relatives have told her about. Ones that she hasn't lived through herself but seem to crop up whenever she's nervous or questioning things.

Brooke is a 38-year-old woman exploring Russia for the first time. The reason for her journey is personal as much as it has a professional value. She's there to help women learn valuable skills, women who have developed their own businesses, despite the environment they've battled their entire lives.

The descriptive way that Carner details what Brooke sees, from the moments she arrives in the city and breathes in the architecture and people around her to random pieces of furniture to place us fully in her surroundings is a huge part of what makes me love her writing.

This book is filled with mystery, turmoil, anxiety and pretty much runs the gamut when it comes to emotions. As the reader you can easily put yourself where the author takes you, and this includes the characters' minds. The women that we meet go through so much. We stand idly by, as witnesses, stuck in one spot - hating, loathing, burning with anger.

We hurt. We hate.

We take deep breaths.

Brooke may be the primary character in this book, but this story is not hers alone. The secondary characters hold their own and take us forth on a journey worth participating in.

Hotel Moscow is worth a read. If you'd like to pick up a copy for yourself head on over to Amazon and order it today.

* I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review. There are affiliate links throughout this post. *

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's coming again. Father's Day.

father, daddy, loss, grief, love, family, holidays, life

Father's Day is coming.


You're still not here.

I lack the words.

I lack the poetry.

The thoughts.

The movement.

This year I just stumble along.

Pretending that it won't matter.

That Father's Day isn't coming.

Because you're not here.

I ache.

I sigh.

I breathe.

I cry.

I have lost so much in losing you.

I watched bits and pieces of my wedding video with your granddaughter.

My heart swelled.

So much love.

So much heart.

And the dancing. So much dancing.

She watched. She smiled. She whispered your name.

Said it loudly.

Felt the loss.

I feel the loss.

She'll never dance a hora with you.

She'll never hold your hand on the dance floor as I did.

She won't see us dance, arm in arm. Hand in hand.

She won't stumble forward to find our arms outstretched to hold her - as we pull her in.

She won't know. Experience.

But this week. This week - one of so many weeks - I think of me.

And my losses.

My lacking.

My missing you.

I love you, Daddy.

Happy Father's Day.

* Linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say for this week's Pour Your Heart Out. *

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Judge a Book by its Cover

We all do it.

We all judge the books we choose by their covers.

We're part of the reasoning behind the choices authors make when they work on an image. Whether it's that beautiful blue background, the sandy beach, the bright colors - us, us, us. They're all because of us.

Me. You. Us. The readers.

How many times have you jumped online to download a new book and stopped once you saw the cover? I mean, you're not even really going to have to SEE it. You don't have to look at it every time you want to read. But it can make or break a sale. I know it. I'm guilty of it.

And when it's summertime I'm itching for those beautiful covers.

I've got a few reads that have lived up to their covers for you to toss in your beach tote this summer.

fiction, reading, amreading, I recommend, summer reads,

Ironically, I went to grab a link back to my review of this book and one of the things I quickly noticed was that I stressed at the end of my post was how beautiful this cover is. And how you probably shouldn't judge a book by its cover - but sometimes I just do. This book is beautiful. It was one of my favorite books of 2012. And I read over sixty books that year, so that's saying something. 

fiction, reading, amreading, I recommend, summer reads,

Barbara Claypole White has quickly become one of my favorite authors over the years. My introduction to her writing came from this beautiful book, The Unfinished Garden. It's what led me to digging into her subsequent reads. This story is just as beautiful as the book's cover. The color scheme and the way it catches your eye? Perfect. It's another pick I know will fare you well. Her newest book, The Perfect Son, has a beautiful cover, as well. And it's on my must-read list for this summer.

fiction, reading, amreading, I recommend, summer reads,

A recent read, and Kristy Woodson Harvey's first novel, Dear Carolina was a beautiful story with a cover to match. It needs to be the first beach read you dive into this year, without a doubt. The characters are powerful women you'll wish you could spend time with - and through the writing you actually feel as though you are. I am already looking forward to any and all future releases by her. Top that off with my feeling that this cover is absolutely one of my favorite covers right now and it's a must-read.

fiction, reading, amreading, I recommend, summer reads,

The Mermaid of Brooklyn was a wonderful read. Shearn's take on motherhood and all of the things that come with it was very down-to-earth and enjoyable - even with a bit of a mystical flair.  I could absolutely relate to the way she wrote her primary character and found myself feeling that this really was a perfect read for me.

fiction, reading, amreading, I recommend, summer reads,

Beautiful Ruins is another one of my favorite covers of all time. This book was on my list of summer reading recommendations for 2014. I really enjoyed the story - the characters, the connections, all of it. And I honestly may have enjoyed the setting most of all. Just look at that cover. Don't you want to go there immediately? I'm pretty sure I do. It's a great escape and a perfect summer read.

So, there you have it. A few books I'm suggesting not only because I know they're great reads, but also because they have such beautiful covers. You're going to pick them up, take a deep breath, and dive right into their stories. Because I encourage you to, sure. But because they invite you to slip into their pages and stay there - comfortably - for a long while.

* There are affiliate links scattered throughout this post. If you buy these books through those links I'll make a little money to use towards my next book purchase. And you want to help me save up for that, right? *
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