Tag Archives: fiction

Jade Emperor quickly sucked me in…

Kelly Boyd’s life was quite predictable with every day planned out and the routine set. Her husband, Steve, is a Vietnam veteran who deployed shortly after their first child, Augie, was born. Now married with six adult children, Kelly and Steve were comfortable with their lives, until a stranger arrives at their door and their routines are flipped upside-down. The Jade Emperor by Suzanne Jenkins quickly sucked me into the storyline.

That stranger turns out to be the son of Steve and his mother is from Vietnam.  Wait, what? Yes. Apparently, Steve had some fun when he was in Vietnam thinking he was going to die at any moment. He even convinced Kelly all those years that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when in reality he was internally hiding that he was in love with someone else in a different country and he never kept in touch with her.

When this stranger arrives, his mother is with him a well. Knowing this, Steve suddenly spends tons of time with the two. When Kelly finds them at a restaurant outside of town, she observes how he treats this Vietnamese woman and realizes that he has never treated her like that. The moment that Steve hasn’t been suffering from PTSD, rather from heart-break hits her. Kelly begins to understand that they’ve both been living a lie all these years.

It doesn’t take long before Kelly brings the family together, a common occurrence. Unexpectedly, Steve and his Vietnamese love, Lee, shows up in the middle of the gathering. Talk about awkward moment! Kelly uses this moment to begin getting to know this lady and her son, Titan, while containing her composure and encouraging her children to be polite.

Then, everything seems to happen quickly in the story and I went from being lost in the story to wondering what just happened and how did everything progress so quickly. The Jade Emperor was mentioned in the story until more than halfway through and there wasn’t much of a history about this Jade Emperor. Personally, I feel like the ending of this story was rushed. The detail of the beginning was lost about halfway through.

The Jade Emperor by best-selling author, Suzanne Jenkins, was provided complimentary through readingdeals.com for an honest review. I feel this story is a 3-star because it begins so well and the detail so realistic, then it lost me as the ending felt rushed and thrown together haphazardly.

It’s “Not by Happenstance”

Being born and raised in the state of Hawaii is what first pulled me to read “Not by Happenstance”. It takes place in Hāna, Maui, a place that takes a long curvy, not-so-motion-sickness friendly, yet gorgeous path to get to. I’ve been to Hāna, so reading a book placed there was intriguing as I’ve never read a fiction story about my home state before.There is a lot of what we call pidgin in this book, something mentioned in the book called Hawaiian Creole. It is used by the locals a whole lot more than my friends and family ever do. But, I live in a more urban area and it is likely that pidgin could still be popularly spoken by those in the Hāna area. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere near there.

I also sensed slight animosity between the locals and visitors, even though this story is set at a bed and breakfast and the main character is not a local, but actually from California. This may be true in some areas, but I like how the story warms up to the visitors when they show they really care. 

The main character is Lokelani (Lani to her friends), she helps her grandmother (who’s real name is Cora, but Lani calls her Puna) take care of the bed and breakfast. Other characters include the interesting Pearl, who is a Chinese visitor who shares the right wisdom at all the right moments; Ahe, Lani’s local friend who doesn’t quite care for haoles (visitors); the college students who wrecked their place; a few others not mentioned much, and most importantly the mysterious, handsome, and flirtatious haole, Easton Allard, who is staying at the bed and breakfast for three whole months. 

Constantly attempting to do things and be close to Lani, Easton talks his way into doing things with her with the encouragement of Puna and Pearl. Frustrated, Lani goes anyway and Easton happily tags along, even though Lani made it clear that she is engaged to Derek. But, Easton makes it clear that Lani isn’t wearing an engagement ring, so technically she’s not engaged to anyone. 

Their adventures go from a potluck at Ahe’s with Lani’s local friends to fishing, hiking, and cleaning the place the college students trashed. Easton is always there to create memories with Lani, which she doesn’t like at first. It’s always sad when an engagement is broken, but when the love isn’t the same for both people, can it really work? Will being single be an open door for Easton or more frustration for Lani?

It is not often that I stay up all night to finish a book, but this is one of them. Enjoyable and adventurous, flirtatious and cautious, “Not by Happenstance” by Rachel Anderson is a book that will make you go through smiles, tears, blushes, and anger all in its 252 pages. 

   

A captivating short story questions morals of dishonesty

Donald recently got out of the military and is on his way home to Savannah, Georgia. He gets mugged and all his money and identification is stolen from him while he is in the nation’s Capitol, Washington, D.C. How will he ever get home when everything he owns is stolen?

  
A stranger offers to help Donald out, feeds him, gives him spending money, and let’s him stay with him at his penthouse home in this short story, The Lost Tourist Franchise by CLR Dougherty. Under his circumstances, Donald accepts this hospitality from this stranger, who soon shares his franchise business and invites Donald to join the business. 

The Lost Touist Franchise business is where people wearing Luthers shirts pretend they’re working as tour guides, they find lost tourists and gently lead them in the direction of what they’re looking for. Even if they are led in the wrong direction, they’ll find someone else wearing the same shirt and be redirected again. This leads to hundreds in tips every day. 

However, on his first day on his own, Donald is approached by someone who claims he’s an agent who will fine Luther because Donald doesn’t have a license. This agent turns out to be a fraud and took $50 from Donald. Then Donald begins to realize that he’s doing the same thing to these tourists, misguiding them. 

What will be more important to Donald, the money he can make being a part of this franchise? Or just returning home to Savannah? 

This short story was sent via email as a result of subscribing to the author’s updates. 

Reviewing: Strike at Charles’ Farm & Are You Eating My Lunch?

Two adorable bilingual children’s books, written by Canadian Dr Nicole Audet, Strike at Charls’ Farm and Are You Eating My Lunch? Simple and entertaining for young children, these books are sure to keep those children guessing!

Bilingual books are not very common here in the States. I found it fascinating to have both French and English on the same pages. This would be especially useful for bilingual readers, who can share the stories in both languages. French is not language I know how to read, so I would be difficult for me to share appropriately.


Strike at Charles’ Farm is a simple story about going around a farm with each animal not doing what they are supposed to be doing. The animals are very honest sharing their complaint about the farm. The farmer, Charles, simply offers them to ask the zoo to fulfill their requests, they might get the treatment they want. Will the animals return to doing their job? Or will they prefer to live at the zoo?


Are You Eating My Lunch? takes the reader through a zoo. Again, the talking animals are cute and welcoming. A boy is asking each animal if they’re eating his lunch. The animals each tell, him they’re eating their own favorite food. But, where is his lunch? Is anyone eating it?

Both books are brief and enjoyable to a preschooler, or maybe a kindergartener. My son, who is now in first grade, thought he’s too big for these stories, even though it captured his attention. The versions I received complimentary for an honest review had both English and French language on the pages. Having my son attempt to read it on his own may have been confusing for him, but once I explain to him where to look for the English words, he would be fine.

In both books, the animals are colorful and adorable. There’s little distraction of backgrounds and the focus simply on the character the page is about. This makes learning to read the words on a child’s own a bit easier to accomplish as it is common for them to use the images to develop an idea of the story.

Personally, I enjoyed these cute and adorable stories. It would be great for a bilingual preschool class, or a class that was teaching a second language.

Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler gives a taste of a mix of emotions

There’s those appetizer sampler platters at restaurants, then there’s a book of samples from various books. I just finished a book, Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler, that has a couple chapters of nine different books. These books took me through a variety of emotions and scenarios. Let me share a little of each, hopefully enough to entice you to check out one or two, or more.


The Dressmaker’s War: A Novel by Mary Chamberlain

Ada Vaughan is a young dressmaker disguising herself as a mannequin for Mr Stanislaus von Lieben, originally from Germany. This story takes place in the 1930s when Ada is a young woman, from a poor family with a big family in a small space. She works very hard to get to where she is as a dressmaker. A fast learner, Ada adapts quickly and soaks in all the information she can learn about various fabrics and takes in the new French and German language that gets thrown her way. Her parents worry about her getting into mischief with Mr von Leiben, but she doesn’t worry one bit and carries on with caution. Descriptions of the naïveté of Ada and her innocence is explicitly shared and it makes me as the reader wonder what type of trouble she could possibly get herself into.

Is Stanislaus von Lieben hiding something? What is his motive? What steps will he take to get to his end goal and once he’s there, what’s next?

This a very intriguing sample and I am encouraged to read the full story someday.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Little Jinhua, about 7, is the daughter of a concubine, who died during childbirth. Her father, Baba, loves to tell stories with Jinhua and is often required to leave their home by orders of the Emporer. One day, Baba suffers from the sharp blade that beheads him. Baba’s First Wife, Timu, is aware of this event and does not want to care for Jinhua, instead plans to sell her. Jinhua is unaware of what will happen next and her entire world is changed in a matter of moments.

I am immediately drawn into this story with the vast detail. It is comforting that a father would spend such precious time with his daughter. I’m curious what will happen to Jinhua. What is she feeling? What will she endure? How will these events affect her future?

The death of a parent is not easy to cope with, especially one as sudden as Baba’s. My heart aches for Jinhua.

The Survivors by Robert Palmer

Three brothers, Ron, Alan, and Davie along with a neighbor boy, Scottie, are playing upstairs of their home. It’s windy and there’s a bang that the boys assume is the sound of the door slamming. While playing Hide & Seek, Davie sees his mother, who’s outside and she shoots herself in the head. Fast forward a few decades and Davie is a psychologist. Scottie uses a different name and goes to Davie’s office.

Why did Scottie seek out Davie? What was in his heavy backpack? And why did he run off?What happened to Ron and Alan?

At first the story doesn’t seem like something I would normally read, yet I was drawn into it with curiosity. I want to continue reading just to learn more about what Scottie’s motives are.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

“Improbability of Love” is the title of a painting that was once worth millions and many gathered to an auction to purchase it. Part of the story is told from the perspective of the painting itself. New owner, Annie lived much less lavishly than the painting has ever witnessed. It expresses her movements while cooking for the man she was dating. The man never shows and she cries all night

I wonder where else this painting has been? What will happen to Annie now that she’s been stood up? Will she ever learn the history of this painting?

If I were to read this book in its entirety, it would be to learn the history of this once sought for painting. What has it been through and how did it end up in a shop collecting dust?

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack

Secret messages in various languages between Herbert and a dear friend, Anna “The Rat”, who was little, hunch backed and had whiskers coming from a mole near her nose. They loved playing chess and even did so through letters with coordinated positions. One day when they are older, Anna finds Herbert and he keeps her safe. The story goes back in time to a time when Herbert arranged for his family to immigrate to New York from Austria during WWII, it cost him everything he owned, including his young son.

Not a typical story I would read even with the captivating descriptions which make the reader feel a part of the story. But it’s still not likely something I would read or enjoy reading. However, it could be a genre someone else might enjoy thoroughly.

Another Woman’s Daughter by Fiona Sussman

Celia is apparently a slave to the Steiner family, who lives in the south, possibly Florida area. She has a 6 year old daughter, Miriam. The Steiners ask to adopt Miriam and they are relocating to England, where Miriam can go to school an have more opportunity.

It hurts my heart to think a mother would allow a child to make such an adult choice. As the mother of a 6 year old boy, I would never allow anyone to take him from me as what happens to the child when living with someone else in a faraway country I could never get to? How would I know he’s safe and loved and cared for?

This type of story is too harsh and real for my heart. It adds a burden to my soul, especially knowing it could have happened to any mother and young child in that day. As it might be enjoyed by other readers, it is just not for me.

The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

Flora is a teenager living in an area where many have deserted for bigger and better things. She’s been dating an older boy, who’s leaving the area as well for college. The two spot a father and daughter who are moving into Dog Cottage, which has been abandoned as long as they can remember. Flora lives with her Mum, her new husband Ronny, their young son James, and have many visitors.

This is a genre I would likely read. I am curious who these new residents of Dog Cottage are and where they came from, what’s their story.

Whatever happened to the men who have gone missing? What Flo make friends with the new residents? Will she ever get her chance to leave the area?

The Longest Night by Andrea Williams

Paul in Idaho Falls 1961 works in the military, stationed to live among civilians and work at a reactor. Married with two little girls, Paul finds sirens rushing towards the reactor before he realizes it’s where they were headed. Rewind two years, the family took a road trip to arrive in Idaho. His wife, Nat, is an adventurous risk-taker type. Something opposite of Paul’s personality & upbringing. Paul’s parents were both uncontrollable drunks, causing Paul to desire people who can control their thoughts and actions, but soon realize that people are just as dysfunctional as his parents. Interesting personalities in this main character, Paul, creates curiosity to read this story.

What happens when Paul gets home after his Master Sargeant leaves him stranded at the reactor 50 miles from home? How does he explain this delay in getting home to his wife and kids? What happened with the sirens?

This book seems like something I might enjoy, yet at the same time, I am unsure. If it falls on my list of books to review in the future I may consider it.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Charlotte recently lost her little boy Keegen. He had a brain aneurism and she didn’t make it to see him before he passed away. Keegen’s father had an affair a couple years before his passing. Charlotte spends time with her grandmother, who lives a few blocks away. Charlottes friend Rae comes by to help make life easier for Charlotte, and she has a little girl Zoe, who is in a recital and breaks her ankle. Charlotte has dreams that come true, this starts off to be a strange realization for her. She dreams about a little girl, Hannah, who has been missing since school let out. She sees Hannah in her dream and studies the environment.

What does Charlotte do when she awakes from her dream about Hannah? Where are these dreams coming from? What’s causing it? Did she have one of these dreams before Keegen’s passing?

With the death of her child, it places me at a defense. Reading only the couple chapters from the sampler, it made it difficult to sleep that night and caused me to spend more time loving my child. Typically I shy away from books that start off like this. But, being able to see the strength in character that Charlotte has gives me hope that she will get through this a lot better than I would. I would consider reading this one.

In summary, this is a long review, but I wanted to give you an idea about each book that is sampled. This Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler was provided complimentary for an honest review by NetGalley.com.

 NetGalley Challenge Advocate

Reviewing IA: Initiate by John Darryl Winston

Occasionally I am requested to review a book via Twitter and I am so blessed to be asked to read a book! It’s my lifetime goal to be paid to read and review books, among other things. Thank you, John Darryl Winston for the opportunity!

Before starting this book, IA: Initiate, I did not read any summaries of what this story would be about and I had no clue what genre or any background about the book. Heading straight into reading, I was pleasantly surprised.

Little did I know that I would love the characters and the adventures they went through. The story starts off on the first day of school and the anxieties that go with it, along with some unexpected circumstances. The main character, 13-year old Naz, shares his protection over his younger sister as they approach various situations from going to school to helping out in the community.

Naz is resourceful and shows signs of supernatural abilities when helping the small business community in hopes to prevent people from switching to the big businesses as well as other parts of the story. This turns out to be a way for Naz to earn money and sometimes food for himself and his sister.

While going through emotional issues and discussing these with his psychologist, Naz and his sister have a long talk about their past. Soon Naz starts realizing that they both remember things from years ago but don’t know where those situations happened.

It’s amazing how the story left me hopeful and nervous, anxious and scared. So many emotions in one book and it leaves me eager to read the next in the series. There is a next, right, Mr Winston?

According to Winston’s website, there is an IA Series. Y’all should check it out: http://www.johndarrylwinston.com/

Book 2 for 2015 read! Her Dakota Man by Lisa Mondello

After skimming through my many ebooks on my Kindle, I came across one the sounded interesting. The last book I read was about a cowboy, so a book a bout a man in Dakota seemed like a decent next book. Her Dakota Man by Lisa Mondello I got for free from one of the emails I receive daily about free and discounted ebooks.

I have to admit, I read way more books now that I have many just sitting in one device and I can take with me practically anywhere. My Kindle Paperwhite is a convenient device that is light and goes everywhere with me!

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Her Dakota Man by Lisa Mondello starts off with a young woman, Poppy Erickson, visiting her old stomping grounds, a place she grew up, literally the home she lived in. Her best friends had married and bought her family’s old home. After a huge flood coming into town, Poppy returns from her city life in New York to help with cleanup as well as rekindle her friendship with her old flame and best friend, Logan McKinnon. Logan’s wife passed away the previous year and kept big secrets from now single dad, Logan, and from her best friend, Poppy.

This book develops characters and the settings with enough details to leave me, the reader, like I was right there with the characters. The storyline builds up with good timing. I felt myself sensing the emotions of the storyline from being skeptical to anger, hopeful to disappointed, confusion to loving.

Overall, a good book that can be read quickly. This light story is perfect to get your mind off the daily grind and sneak you to another place for a couple hours.