Review: Stretched Too Thin by Jessica N. Turner

Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive by [Turner, Jessica N.]

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Working mothers constantly battle the pull to do all the things well. From managing work and home responsibilities to being impacted by a lack of self-care and time for deep friendships, the struggle is real. At the end of each day, many working moms are exhausted and stretched too thin. But this does not have to be the norm.

In her latest practical and inspiring book, Jessica Turner shows the working mom how to

– work and parent guilt-free
– establish clear work boundaries
– set achievable goals
– discover more flexibility
– develop home management solutions
– prioritize self-care
– invest in her marriage
– cultivate deeper friendships
– feel like a good mom, even while working

Full of compassion and encouragement, Stretched Too Thin will empower women with useful insights and tools to thrive as working moms.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica N. Turner is a great book. It walks mothers through a journey of finding what works. The pages also tell what they can do to help improve their busy schedules so as not to feel overwhelmed. I liked how it had discover, practice, and evaluate sections. Then there were finding, creating, and reflecting sections that were just as reinforcing as the previous sections. In the beginning, there are good questions to reflect upon. This allowed me to think and add to those questions as I dug further into the book. Jessica N. Turner’s Stretched Too Thin guide book for mothers is both encouraging and educational. A must have practical self-help journey for all moms.

Review: Feared by Lisa Scottoline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Machiavelli, a corrupt lawyer, aggressively strikes close to the DiNunzio household, attacking Mary’s father and one of their beloved family friends by filing a lawsuit that accuses them of embezzling from the treasury of a local South Philly social club to which they belong. The lawsuit is frivolous, but Machiavelli ups the ante by spreading rumors that support its allegations, muddying the reputation of Mary’s father.

The claims shake the DiNunzio clan to its foundations, threatening her father’s weakening heart, and Mary steps in to fight back. But Machiavelli is a more than worthy adversary. Then the unthinkable happens, and Mary goes to her own dark side, finding a part of herself that makes her more fearsome than ever before. Is it still a battle between good and evil, when good turns evil? And will Mary be able to find herself, before she loses her soul completely?

Feared, the sixth entry in the acclaimed Rosato & DiNunzio series, expertly explores what happens when we are tempted to give in to our own inner darkness.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Feared by Lisa Scottoline is a heart-racing plot. The intensity of the scenes kept my heart pounding. I was not sure of what would be the outcome. The main character went through a lot of changes recently. From motherhood to catching bad guys, this strong independent woman made me speechless. Her bravery was crazy. Lies, deception, and danger hung in the air. Lisa Scottoline poured suspense and action onto every page. Not one single boring moment. Also, I loved the small community of support that was created for the main character. It softened the hard yet dark edges of this story.

Romance, crime, and mystery are displayed here. I could not get enough of the characters. Mary is the central character. She is pregnant and solved a case that others couldn’t solve. Her instincts are so clear, that it was frightening. Her guesses were right but sometimes the wrong suspect is chosen. But none of that stopped Mary from working the case. Her strong willed personality helped define her as a woman not to be toyed with…as one of the male characters has figured out later in the plot. The connection between Mary and her husband, as well as the connection with another man kept the me guessing. Feared is a novel about facing fears and getting justice. Overall, I would recommend it to readers seeking a rush of adrenaline.

Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From Barbara Delinsky, the New York Times bestselling author of Blueprints and Sweet Salt Air, a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

From a multimillion-selling master of women’s fiction, Before and Again is a story of the relationships we find ourselves in—mothers and daughters, spouses and siblings, true companions and fair-weather friends—and what kind of sacrifices we are or aren’t willing to make to sustain them through good times and bad.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky is a fast paced plot. The story is about a family’s life that gets turned upside down when they loose their only daughter. A five-year-old girl, dead on impact of another car hitting them. The mother was driving the car. Since then, life has beennothing but hell for the parents. A divorce, separation, guilt, shame, and grief immediately consumed me. I felt an instant sympathy for the family, especially the mother. It was intense. Sad, horrifying, and just one big emotionally charged journey. What started out as a sad and dark road, soon proved to hold some hope and light for this couple. I loved how realistic and how I was shown what was happening.

The situations were not easy but I could easily see all of this happening in real life. It’s difficult to lose a loved one, especially one that was so young and in the mother’s care at the time…the physical and emotional trauma would be hard. Yet Barbara Delinsky showed that there is always a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. We may lose ourselves but not all is lost. There is hope for a future…overall, I would recommend this to readers everywhere.

 

Review: Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden is an awe inspiring tale of the bond between two sisters. Being an older sister, I can relate to these sisters. My baby sister has moved away to pursue her dreams, and I felt like we drifted apart. But we still love each other and are there when we need each other. The same can be shown in this book with the Talbot sisters. Their aunt passes away and that starts their reunion in becoming closer. From there their journeys become messy, complicated, and scary. But they now, have each other in their lives again and from there they learn and help each other. I loved the protrayal of the sister bonding moments, the emotional rollercoaster each one took, and the sacrifices they made. It was a steady piece of fiction. The plot was heartfelt and realistic. Overall, I recommend it to readers.

Blog Tour: Play for Me by Celine Keating


Interview with Celine Keating

ULM: What inspired you to write your novel, Play for Me?

A train trip across Canada, a kind of concert in motion, jumpstarted the idea. I had begun studying classical guitar, which led to writing for music magazines. When I heard about the train ride and how several bands would be performing, jamming, and interacting with their fans, I decided it was something I just had to be part of and write about. It was quite an experience, and I found myself wanting to explore why music is so powerful for us and about obsession and hardcore fandom. To top it off, on the train I was berthed next to the leaders of two of the bands and had a front row seat to their very explosive romantic breakup – they became the models for my lead singer Blaise and her guitarist JJ. 

 ULM: What was it like creating the main character, Lily?

I actually based Lily in large part on my sister. Her twin daughters were going off to college and she was suddenly confronted with empty-nest angst and the realization thatshe had lost sight of her own needs through years of work and childrearing. I wondered,is it possible to reinvent yourself in middle age, to rediscover your own creative potential? In a way, Play for Me is a cautionary tale, especially for women, of what can happen if you lose touch with your deepest self.

ULM: Since your novel is around the central theme of music, what kind of music do you enjoy listening to? 

While I love most styles and kinds of music of music, my favorite is anything guitar-centric, whether rock, acoustic, classical, flamenco. I also really enjoy singer songwriters.

ULM: How would you describe your novel, using only three words? 

emotional, intelligent, honest 

ULM: How would you describe your other main character, JJ? 

 He’s charming, sweet, needy, super talented, and, ultimately, selfish.

ULM: What advice would you give to other writers?

I advise writing every day, even if just for 15 minutes. One trick I use if I’m stuck is to work off other writers. Sometimes I copy out entire passages I admire and then use that as a base to write something of my own. It’s a great way to improve technique. I also recommend joining a writing group – whether in person or online –for feedback, advice, and support. 

ULM: Do you have any future writing projects that you can share with us, readers?

I’m currently working on a new novel set in Montauk, Long Island, with a broad cast of characters. It’s about the conflicts and pressures – environmental and financial – on a beach/resort town.

ULM: What is it like being both a writer and editor? Which task would you say was easier? How long have you been an editor?

A very interesting question! I think it’s sort of right brain/left brain – both are creative in their way and both also require basic language skills, but overall, editing requires the analytic part of the brain while fiction depends on the intuitive and on the imagination. Happily editorial work doesn’t make the same kind of demands on me that fiction does –of invention and imagination. So they are complementary but very different. For me, editing is easier, because most of it can be learned, whereas fiction is an art, and any art relies on being able to tap into the deeper parts of the self and on honing one’s creativity and unique point of view—and how all of that works is something of a mystery! I’ve been an editor for decades. I started out in publishing as an editorial assistant and worked my way up through various editing jobs. Then I switched to magazine copyediting, and now I work as a freelancer. 

ULM: Being a music reviewer, would say that this had some influence on writing your novel, Play for Me? 

Yes, absolutely. I have been able to do many interviews with musicians for various articles and found their lives and struggles to be quite interesting. So I used a lot of that material in the novel. Also, in writing reviews one has to describe – to people who are listeners but not necessarily musicians – how music sounds. Finding the right descriptivewords and a way to put them together is a unique kind of challenge. The experience writing reviews really helped when I was trying to communicate how JJ’s music sounds to Lily so the reader can imagine it, and also to understand the profound effect the music has on her. 

 ULM: How did you become a music Reviewer?

 I find that pretty interesting. It’s not every day one hears about meeting a Reviewer of music. Breaking in to music reviewing is similar to breaking in to other writing for publications—with a query letter and your clips (already published work)—except that you are requiredto play an instrument yourself. I wrote a query letter to Acoustic Guitar magazine about a CD I wanted to review, and they accepted. After that they asked if I’d like to review for them regularly, and that led to longer pieces and to writing and reviewing for other places as well.

ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?

 I’m at www.celinekeating.com and I’m always happy to hear from readers. Many of my stories and reviews are available, as well as excerpts from my novels.  


Synopsis:

International Book Award finalist in literary fiction

Indie Excellence Award finalist in fiction

USA Book Award finalist in fiction
“Keating combines the soul-searching of Eat, Pray, Love with the rock ’n’ roll fable of Almost Famous to create a novel of midlife crisis with music at its core.” —Booklist 
Middle-aged Lily impulsively joins a touring folk-rock band, leaving her job and marriage behind in an attempt to find a second chance at life, passion, and art.
It happens without warning: At a folk-rock show at her son s college, Lily becomes transfixed by the guitarist s unassuming onstage presence and beautiful playing and with his final note, something within her breaks loose. After the concert, Lily returns to her comfortable life an Upper West Side apartment, a job as a videographer, and a kind if distracted husband but she can t stop thinking about the music, or about the duo s guitarist, JJ. Unable to resist the pull of either one, she rashly offers to make a film about the band in order to gain a place with them on tour. But when Lily dares to step out from behind her camera, she falls deep into JJ s world upsetting the tenuous balance between him and his bandmate, and filling a chasm of need she didn t know she had. Captivating and provocative, Play for Me captures the thrill and heartbreak of deciding to leave behind what you love to follow what you desire.” (less)

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Play for Me by Celine Keating is a contemporary piece written mostly for women. I can feel the main characters’ emotions as the scenes played out…I also noticed that the writer’s book held her passion for music. Deep, entertaining, and well-told. As I followed the main character, Lily, I got lost within her story. She goes out doing what she loves and ends up entangled in her own problems. Decisions have to be made….and the consequences are intense. Making the novel’s atmosphere that more electrifying. Romance between two that shouldn’t occur, a marriage held by a strong, and destruction of her daughter’s life lay ahead. As I read through the pages and wasn’t sure what advice I would give to Lily. I felt her pain as the plot continued. Celine Keating has a way of luring readers like myself further into the book. 

Play for Me is exactly as it states and the options get harder as one wife slash mother tries living her life and balancing the old with the new. But as with reality, life has a way of knocking us back down to earth. Overall, great read for women everywhere. Easy to relate to and connect with the characters. 

Review: Restless in L.A. 




Synopsis:

It was an innocent online flirtation…until it wasn’t…

Alexandra Hoffman thinks she has it all together. She lives with her work-obsessed husband Jason and their three challenging children in upscale Los Angeles. She never meant to “friend” her old boyfriend, Matt Daniels. She hasn’t seen him in twenty years. But as Alex’s fortieth birthday approaches, she finds herself re-connecting with Matt online—and re-reading her college journal, which details their intense connection and unresolved ending. But Alex’s hands are full with the kids, one of whom she just can’t help, no matter how hard she tries.

Lonely and alienated by the helicopter moms, and from Jason who is never around, Alex’s flirtation quickly moves from on-line to real-world. Alex realizes—too late—that she cannot trust herself. When she meets Matt for dinner, the attraction is undeniable. And when he touches her face, it’s electric. As her life spirals out of control, she clings to her free-spirited life coach, Lark, to make sense of the mess she’s made. But Lark’s advice is clear: Alex must confront her past and find the courage to face her future, even if it means risking everything.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Restless in L.A. by Robin Finn is a must read for all womne. It instantly took me deep into a married woman’s life. Complicated, complex, and adventurous. A full-time mom, battling the struggles of her marriage and children. One of her children has a lot of symptoms that make it hard for him to fit in within a normal classroom setting. His behavior and learning needs are hard. His school isn’t helping him and Alex knows it. Her son needs more. Something different. Alex tries to tell her husband but he doesn’t agree. It’s like a constant battle between them. Tense, messy, and unraveling. Just in case, Alex didn’t have enough to juggle in her life…there’s a photo of her old lover. A man who made her heart race and feel on fire. She ends up making a lot of mistakes, but she needs to really find herself. Life happens…and it can be both bad and good. Restless in L.A. is a contemporary romance that explores a restless married woman’s life. Funny, sad, sexy, and frustrating. Robin Finn writes extremely well. The first few pages were slow, but the plot build up quickly after that. I was hooked. This story was believable. Robin Finn captured real life in her novel. Overall, I recommend it to readers everywhere. 

Review: Who’s Between the Sheets

 

Synopsis:

What’s done in the dark will always be brought to the light. Some secrets can never be kept hidden.

Hazel and Jamal have been together for six years and are just now getting married. Just after the wedding Hazel soon starts regretting saying the words I Do. Hazel eventually begins to realize that Jamal isn’t the perfect husband that she thought she married.

Jamal has never really been faithful to Hazel but marries her anyway. He has been cheating on her for over two years. He loves Hazel but Hazel doesn’t know how to sexually satisfy him, which puts Jamal in a complicated situation.

Xavier has been with Jet for four years and they have one daughter together. Jet wants her freedom to drink and party all night without hearing Xavier breathing down her neck. Xavier wants Jet to be responsible and stay out the clubs, but she isn’t hearing any of that. Jet soon starts sleeping with someone else and when Xavier finds out Jets secret all hell breaks loose, he dismisses her and decides to raise their daughter on his own.

Who’s between the sheets tells a story of different couples who just aren’t satisfied with their partners sexually. You will be amazed when you find out WHO IS actually BETWEEN THE SHEETS.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Who’s Between the Sheets by Shanice B. is definitely one urban romance that readers don’t want to miss. Shanice B.’s talent continues to shine on with every novel that she writes. I can’t believe how realistic her characters are. The emotional journey is powerful and believable. It’s easy to lose oneself within each character’s shoes. Understanding and sympathy can be felt for some female and one male character. Marriage life is full of its ups and downs…especially for characters like Hazel. Her husband has been cheating on her for two years with a stripper. The stripper is pregnant and then ends up losing the baby. But that doesn’t stop the stripper from destroying what’s left of Hazel’s marriage. The marriage is barely hanging on by a thread and only hanging on due to her recent discovery of being pregnant with her cheating husband’s baby. As soon as the stripper comes by with her plan to destroy…Hazel gives up and her husband, Jamal, finds that marriage is just not what he wants anymore. His brother is fed up with the way he treated his wife Hazel but knows that he can’t his brother. Then there’s Jamal’s brother is having relationship issues with his girl. Finds out that she’s been sleeping with another woman. On top of all that, she’s been an irresponsible mother. But after his woman’s lover secret comes out…Jamal’s woman comes back to him. Working on being a better mother and girlfriend to Jamal…but only time will tell if everything will work out for Jamal and his woman. Drama is tenfold in this exciting tale. I was surprised by all the crazy stuff going on that Shanice B. was able to keep things going straight…it was easy and fast to read. I felt like I was watching everything happen as it happened. Incredible…steamy, and contains a lot of adult content…but definitely a must read. Who’s Between the Sheets will keep readers guessing…

 

Review: Behave

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Synopsis:

“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,” wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.”

Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs—and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist, and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax is definitely a must read for all women. This fictional biography piece is a fascinating historical tale that will drag readers down one promising young woman’s life as one life  moment spins her whole life downward…

Andromeda Romano-Lax’s stunning novel portrays a woman’s ambition, work, and motherhood. Behave explores the psychological, emotional, and ethical ways of a smart, attractive, and independent woman. A well-known scientist soon falls into motherhood by accident…and now she’s living, behind a man as nothing more than a shadow. As a student studying sociology, communications, and education this novel….was beyond amazing. It informs, educates, and shows readers…what life was like for women like Rosalie Rayner. Readers will be spellbound by this magnificent story. A most compelling and well-written novel. Overall, I highly recommend Behave to readers everywhere.

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