Dee Dee is a surfer, an aspiring tennis player, and a girl who is always up for a good party. One summer in particular stands out in her memory as she reflects upon her life. With her close band of friends around her, Dee Dee sets out to thoroughly enjoy her summer off and does not hesitate as she goes about seeking the company of friends new and old. Her “blow out summer,” as she calls it, teaches her some valuable lessons and gives her time to reflect on her own choices as she learns who is worthy of her affection and trust and who falls short.
Set in Huntington Beach, California, Blow Out Summer, by Denise Ann Stock, reads less like a novel and much more like a memoir. The conversational tone of the book makes it a quick and easy read. Dee Dee’s reflections on her experiences with the drug trade and her laid back approach to her participation in drug trafficking read shockingly smoothly. For as deeply involved as Dee Dee seems to be in buying and selling illegal substances, she seems much less concerned than she should be. I attributed her naivety and lack of real concern to the time period, the mid 70’s.
I found myself waiting for that one point in the story that would point to a gripping climax. Everything in Dee Dee’s eventful summer points to an action-packed high point. However, with all her close calls, second guesses regarding her associates, and her relationship woes, there never came that one moment where the entire book seemed to pull together. Reading much more like a diary of the summer, I was a little disappointed not to see a resolution to many of the dilemmas created by the main character and her friends. I believe I was more determined to find answers than Dee Dee herself.
The one scene providing the most harrowing visual comes when Dee Dee’s friend, Jaycee, makes a frantic call about a possible overdose. I felt, as a reader looking for answers, this was an ideal opportunity for the plot to tie neatly together with some life-changing decisions being made on the part of both Dee Dee and her friends. As in real life, however, secrets prevail, and not much changed for those most deeply entangled in drug use and trafficking.
As pleasant as Dee Dee seems throughout the story and as much as her remembrances of her eventful summer kept me interested, I felt the overall story was missing something. The memoir style of writing Stock uses is appealing and will suit readers seeking a fairly light read without highly stressful rising action.
Pages: 360 | ASIN: B01C58JXJI
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Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).
Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever-mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.
Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.
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The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils, written by Z. Vally, is about Alexis Theodorou, a 24-year-old woman from Britain. Alexis is visiting the dreamy location of Cyprus to attend college. Her charming and witty persona mixed with her good looks helps her to live in the new country, and soon she finds work as a housekeeper- even if that occasionally comes with its own set of troubles. Soon, after a few mishaps with work, she meets a handsome Swede by the name of Sven where she begins a whirlwind romance. But this romance soon comes with its own turmoils, and Alexis soon learns that the biggest obstacles in life are often the ones within ourselves. Will she be able to overcome her inner battles to marry the man of her dreams?
The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils is a romance novel guaranteed to warm your heart and put a smile on your face. Filled with quirky nuances, questionable intentions and breathtaking moments, this story will be your perfect summer fling.
The romance between Sven and Alexis is slow to start; however, it gives the story time to build on Alexis, her personality and the exciting characters within her work and personal life. I loved the character Molly and her carefree spirit. Her ability to hitchhike and find fun was impressive and I could easily imagine her as the perfect friend to travel overseas with.
The language is beautiful, and the magical landscapes are easily envisioned with the rich description of the sights and sounds. At times the novel goes into depth about the history of the city, adding to the vivid imagery. You can feel the sun on your face, taste the delightful food prepared and smell the salty tang of the crisp blue sea. It is easy to get caught up in your thoughts as you imagine a holiday where you can experience such serenity and beauty. At times the story was a little slow, but this was overturned through comedic moments and important lessons learned by the characters.
The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils also gives the reader a taste of life as a student abroad, as they battle the ups and downs of college, finding work and meeting new faces. There are also the barriers that come with being overseas; from not understanding parts of the language or being questioned by the law for seemingly innocent activities. The characters struggle to find suitable work and come across problems such as dodgy roommates, unsavoury bosses and misleading men.
Many readers will be able to relate to the sorts of lessons that Alexis experiences. From learning to stand up for yourself and being able to leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, to making foreign friends in new countries, The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils will be relatable to all those who have travelled or lived in a new destination or country. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light and romantic novel, set in a dreamy holiday destination.
Pages: 195 | ASIN: B00SF5I61M
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In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.
Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.
Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”
When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.
In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.
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Like Peaches and Pickles follows Georgia as she fights to maintain her position in a work place that is quickly changing. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Throughout my long career in journalism and communication, I never worked anywhere that did not have politics. I never understood politics or learned to play the game. I was always horrified to see workers caught up in politics and crushed alive. I always thought that if I did the best job I could do, if I always tried to exceed my boss’s expectations, and if I stayed as far away from office politics as I could, then I would be fine. However, I soon learned that was not true. I wrote this book for all women who have ever been caught up in office politics, but especially for those women whose lives were forever scarred by despicable, ruthless bosses.
What I liked about Georgia’s character was that she continued to develop throughout the story. What was your inspiration for her character?
I was inspired by the strong women I met over the years whose lives became ensnared in office politics. Women who fought back against wage discrimination and sexual harassment. Women who were vilified for trying to bring about positive changes in the work place.
I really liked how I could relate to the office politics in the story. What experiences from your own life did you bring into the story?
Like all authors, I draw from my own experiences. It was my naivety when it came to back-stabbing office politics that often got me into trouble. I worked 10 years at a major Southern research university, so I definitely had experiences of my own to weave into LIKE PEACHES AND PICKLES, like political hires, wage discrimination, sexual harassment, fraternity hazing, arrested athletes, and campus scandals. I mixed my personal experiences with stories I heard from faculty and staff members at universities and colleges across the United States and Canada.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on the third book in my “fruity” series–tentatively titled ROTTEN BANANAS. It is about a recently retired university professor who moves to a retirement complex for a safe, no-stress life full of Bridge games, yoga, water aerobics, music concerts, art classes, afternoon tea, and shopping trips to the Mall and Walmart. But one morning as she looks at her Bridge partner and counts up 40 points in her hand, she decides she wants more than that. So she signs up for a Caribbean cruise on the Emerald Dream, where she meets a stowaway, tangles with drug smugglers, gets kidnapped, and becomes involved with a “hottie” secret agent. What could be better than this?
The university’s selection committee nominates Georgia Davis to become their first woman vice president — a job she’s coveted for more than a quarter century. But the university’s new president, Paul Van Horne, sours her plans by ignoring the committee and hiring Carl Overstreet, his old college buddy instead. In spite of her outrage and better judgment, Georgia begins having romantic feelings for the despicable scoundrel who is now her boss — at least until he fires her. But Van Horne and Overstreet soon learn that a Southern peach like Georgia does not go quietly into the compost bin. And Georgia discovers that revenge can taste as sweet as romance. Like Peaches and Pickles — a deliciously wicked story — will make you laugh, love and cheer for one Southern peach with a pit of steel.
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.
To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis. The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.
The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.
A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.
This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.
The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.” Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.
This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6
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Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.
Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.
Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.
Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.
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A Guardian Falls starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she rescued him from her father’s killer. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from book 1 in the series?
I wanted Mara to grow as a character into the heroine everyone needs her to be. In the first book she started off as an immature teen and at the beginning of this book there are notes of that too. I had a reader tell me recently she really didn’t like Mara at the beginning of this book because she was so unsure of herself and treated Kess poorly. But as more responsibility is placed on her Mara rises to the occasion.
At the time this book was written I also did not intend to write another book in this series so I wanted to end the story. Magical artifacts and other races gave me the perfect opportunity for all out war instead of single combat between Mara and Laran. Finally, and this is a spoiler alert, I was able to take Mara’s relationship with Kess to a whole new level.
Mara doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but this makes for a more realistic character. Can you relate to Mara? Was there anything taken from your life that you put into your characters?
I wrote the first draft of this novel when I was a teenager myself. I was young and awkward and I had just lost my dad. Everything I knew was changing around me. Mara mirrors all my insecurities as I navigated the end of high school, a relationship with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and starting college. She shows my triumphs at those times as well. When you read Mara’s life in a way you are reading mine.
One thing I thought you did well was writing both in-depth dialogue scenes and epic battle sequences. How do you balance both to create an engaging narrative?
I always think of my books like movies. I see the scenes in my head and try to write them that way. For me words should never be static, they should have a life of their own. When done properly you really aren’t reading at all; you’re watching a movie in your head. I’m sure it seems crazy to some but it’s how I read books as well.
I always try to write something I would like to read and aspire to have a great fantasy series. I keep those books and movies in mind when writing and try to emulate those writers. I don’t have a formula on how I write a novel simply because I hate formulas. When I’m writing I try to keep myself intersted in a project. If I’m getting bored so is my reader. I like plot twists and action so whenever I feel the momentum in the book slow it’s time to spice it up. I always have a general plan for a novel. The question is always how I get there.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next novel I am working on is the next book in this series with a working title of Descendants Rising: Chronicles of the Coranydas Vol 3. I am aiming for a February 2018 release date and the fourth book should be released later in 2018. I am also writing a short story that will be featured in HallowErotica 2017 due out this Halloween. It is a first person narrative of Nisha Patel’s life before she met Alexandria Diego in For Their Sins.
All looks bleak when Mara is forced to return home after her love’s brush with death. She only has one magical artifact and the army seems out of reach. The consequences should she fail or even succeed finally set in and Mara has doubts about everything. There will be a war of blades and magic with Mara at the center, but Mara wonders if she has the strength to survive.
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The Secrets of all Secrets follows Zane who receives a USB from a stranger that contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun novel?
I wanted the premise of the story to be wacky and like a fairy tale with epistemological overtones. Many of us grew up with fairy tales of one sort or another, so the concept is recognizable. The USB is Jack’s bean stalk. Once it’s there, he has to climb it. The USB idea occurred to me because I use them in my work as a college professor. I wondered what would happen if all knowledge, the meaning of life, etc. were on one? The next question: What parties would want to pursue The Secrets and to what lengths will they go to get them?
In this story you combine irony with wry humor and manage to keep it all topical. What themes did you want to explore when you started this book?
The overarching theme is illustrated by Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest: “The stuff that dreams are made on,” which is what The Secrets represent. What would be the government’s dream for getting The Secrets? Probably something to do with gaining ultimate power. Corporate America’s dream? Wasn’t there someone who said there’s no such thing as making too much money? The two crazy extremists’ dream is to create an Anti-Amerika, “Amerika with a k.” That the representatives of these entities are comical bunglers illustrates the way in which human beings can wreck any mission. As for the two main characters, Zane and Dali—Everyman and Everywoman—the dream is more about self discovery. It’s a classic conflict: individuals versus institutions and malevolent factions. Jack versus the Giant.
Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters. How did you set about creating their dynamic relationship?
What’s kind of funny is that when I started the novel, there was no Dali. Once I got to the point in the story where Zane begins his quest, I knew he needed a partner, someone equally smart, resilient, and resourceful but with a different sensibility. Zane is an intellectual. Dali is more pragmatic. There is tension between them, but there’s also balance. “Two peas in a pod,” as is stated ironically early in the book. It doesn’t hurt that they are attracted to each from the start without admitting it to themselves.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a satire of political correctness. I’m hoping to finish it and have it published in a year or two. Some of this is dictated by my teaching schedule, but if you know any publishers willing to give me a triple figure advance, I think I could work a little faster.
Zane, a seminary and grad school dropout, obtains a USB drive left by a cloaked figure on a bridge in the middle of the night. The drive’s content offers Zane “The Secrets of All Secrets”—a tantalizing proposal for someone who has nothing left to lose.
Following the drive’s directions, Zane heads to Florida where he encounters Dali, a poor waitress who received an identical USB. Initially clashing, they band together, taking a chance that The Secrets are genuine as they receive more instructions from their USBs.
Four conflicted government operatives; an extremely tall corporate executive with an extremely short, scholarly hit man in tow; and two crackbrained, fringe-element, anti-government separatists are after The Secrets—and are all willing to kill to get them.
Zane, Dali, and their pursuers encounter an armadillo festival, visit a nudist resort, and hang out with a presumed dead ’60s rocker. Pandemonium occurs at each venue with Zane and Dali one step ahead of everyone… that is, until all parties convene for a climactic confrontation over The Secrets.
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