This site is basically targeting all of you book lovers out there who may be in the process of looking for a great book to read! I have a lot of things to say, so sit back and enjoy a quick peek inside some amazing works of art. This site is also for authors. if you would like to have your book considered for review, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org <3 Ashley
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It is not that often that a first time author amazes me with his book and blows me away with it. This is one of those times. Jesse Lee has written a remarkable account of one young man’s summer before college. The simplicity of the story line and the incredible character creations held my eyes captive to the story and would not let go until the very last page.
Jason is a typical nineteen year old boy. Graduating from high school, he realizes that he only has this one summer left to party and hang with the friends he grew up with before people move away and college life begins. Jason goes full speed ahead and doesn’t waste a moment. He decides it is high time he loses his virginity and does so in a rather awkward way and pays the price for that decision shortly after.
Spending as much time as possible with his best friend Tawny, the two of them party it up, hook up with people, experience break up, and have the time of their lives. They amount of alcohol they consume is worrisome, but the memories they create are unforgettable.
At first glance this story appears to be simply about a guy drinking too much and making it his business to get laid as much as possible, but I think there is more to it than that. What I got out of this story was a young man coming into his own. Jason finds himself. He discovers more about himself in this one summer than I think he even realizes. He does this by making bad decision, going out on a limb several times, being accepted and rejected, and taking chances. All of this gives him a sense of self.
I give so much credit to Jesse Lee for writing about this. This is a fantastic story that would be beneficial for high school and college aged kids to read, although I am not so sure their parents would agree with me on this.
A big part of what made this story so incredible was the characters. Jesse Lee allows his readers to make an emotional connection; allows us to share in their emotions; to laugh when they laugh, and cry when they cry. I think that their situations are relate-able and allow the readers to feel a certain kinship with these characters. A bond is formed and between reader and character, which is exactly why I can say with such confidence that Jesse Lee has an incredible talent for writing and is completely inspiring.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Below you will find an interview I had with Brenda Hill. I was lucky enough to have this inspirational woman agree to answer some questions. Her answers are great, and very informative. I hope you all enjoy; I know I did!
Also below you will find my reviews for both of her books. Check out www.frontstreetreviews.com if you are looking for more great book reviews!
What inspired you to become a writer?
My grandfather read to me and told stories about knights of olde and castles in his native France. Since then, I’ve always had a book open and several waiting in a must-read stack.However, I never thought I could become a writer - someone literary who writes lyrical prose that almost sings as you read – until I owned a bookstore in the 1980s and met published and aspiring authors. Some asked me to edit their manuscripts and I realized most were ordinary people, working men and women who were housewives, store clerks, business owners, doctors, and attorneys. But the aspiring writers believed that with work and dedication to the craft of writing, they could become published authors. Some did while others kept working at the craft. That taught me a valuable lesson: keep learning and never give up. While I’m still not a literary writer and never will be, I do hope to entertain with my stories.
What inspires you to write about women and their struggles?
Probably because of the struggles in my own life. In my first novel, Ten Times Guilty, my female lead, Tracy, is a struggling single mother trying to do the best for her son. At one time I had the entire responsibility of raising and providing for my own son, so I knew of Tracy’s desperation and her struggle to do better on limited funds. While I didn’t experience her sexual assault, I’ve survived other traumas, so I could write about panic, hopelessness, and finally, the determination to take control and survive. Beyond the Quiet tells about a grieving widow who discovers her happy marriage was a sham. I wasn’t a widow, but I did lose my husband of thirty years to divorce, so I knew all the emotions: loss, shock, grief, betrayal, and rage. Some of my character’s other experiences, such as meeting a man who made her toes curl, hasn’t actually happened yet, but I have an active imagination. I’d love to meet a Terry O’Neal in my own life. My Amazon Short, Am I Wife or Daughter? is based on my own experience with my mother’s care. Again, what happened in the story wasn’t my actual experience, but all the dilemmas and emotions - the indecision, the resentment, and guilt – were all there.
Who inspires you?
Anyone - man, woman, or child - who has a dream and works at achieving that dream. They may fall at times, as I have done, but I admire and learn from those who pick themselves back up and continue on the path to their goals.
Do you have a favorite character from one of your books? Who do you relate the most to?
Lisa, in Beyond the Quiet. She experiences all the emotions that accompanies loss and betrayal, yet she grits her teeth and goes back to work, determined to learn why she was betrayed. In her quest, she learns about herself and emerges as a stronger, loving woman.
What books would we find on your bookshelf?
Quite a variety ranging from Memoirs of an Invisible Man to The Da Vinci Code. From fantasies to biographies. I also read some paranormals, love stories, and thrillers.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The lesson I learned years ago: Keep learning all you can about the craft of writing, and never give up.
REVIEWS: 'Beyond the Quiet'
Not only does Brenda Hill create an amazing story, with characters that will stay in your heart long past the stories ending, but she also teaches many life lessons to her readers as well. I not only enjoyed this story, but I felt as though I came out of it feeling better about myself; I was reminded of how precious life is and how wonderful it can be.
Lisa, a woman in her mid forties has never experienced life. She went through the motions of her marriage and raised a daughter. It takes losing her husband and finding out some terrible truths about what he did while they were married to really open up her eyes. She realizes that she has been living in a near loveless marriage and has never taken the time to get to know herself. Coming to the harsh realization that she is short on money, Lisa picks herself up and out of her depression and pity party and gets back to work as a real estate agent. This is where she meets Terry. Terry is the other piece in the puzzle to Lisa finally opening up enough to learn about herself.
Brenda Hill takes her readers through a story all about Lisa and herself discovery. She finds out what it is like to truly love someone, to truly hate someone, and all that is in between. At forty-four years old Lisa is just starting to live her life. Her self-discovery and attempt to open up to the world is jarred when she learns more about her husband’s betrayal, her friend’s betrayal, and encounters a man who is stalking her. This story is definitely not lacking in excitement!
What I truly love about this story is the fact that although it has many components to it, they are all vital to the story line and the reader is never once confused about what is going on. Brenda Hill does an absolutely fantastic job of writing in a clear, concise fashion that allows for her readers to keep up and enjoy everything they are given. To me this is one of the big hurdles of being a truly talented, amazing writer; and Brenda Hill has nailed it!
If any of her readers never experienced what real love is like, Brenda Hill gives it to them in big doses in regards to Lisa and Terry’s relationship. Each and every time that they are together, Brenda Hill does a perfect job at not only describing the way that they are totally and wholly in love with each other, but she allows her readers to feel the love deep in their souls. I got those warm and fuzzy feelings each time I read about their experiences together. To be able to love like that even once in your life, if only for a few months, is truly a gift.
I think the ending of this book was surprising, but appropriate. I would recommend this to anyone who is ready to take on not only the joy of a good, solid read, but also for those ready to go along with Lisa on her journey through life and self discovery to what it means to truly live.
'Ten Times Guilty'
As amazing as her most current book, Beyond the Quiet, Brenda Hill continues to awe and inspire her readers. Her heroic female characters are impossible not to fall head over heels in love with.
Tracy, a single mother with a baby boy, is trying her best at the game of life. She is providing just barely for her son by working as many hours at work as she can so they can hopefully someday eat better than spaghetti, rice and beans that seem to always be on their plates. Trying to find the time to attend college classes so she can better herself, Tracy speaks to her boss at the museum where she works about getting more hours. This is where she meets Karr. He is the new security guard. Seeing red flags when it comes to this man, Tracy decides to avoid him at all costs. Karr realizes she is doing this and starts to put the pressure on. He asks her on dates and doesn’t seem to like taking no for an answer. He even starts to make inappropriate sexual comments and advances.
Karr takes his advances to a whole new level when he follows her out of the museum one night, ignoring her requests for him to leave her alone. As Tracy continues to tell Karr to get lost, he becomes more and more angry, finally reaching his boiling point. He grabs her and brutally rapes and beats her, leaving her for almost dead, but not before threatening the life of her child if she ever tells.
Tracy is scared into silence. Thinking only of keeping her son safe, Tracy lies to the authorities about who did it and acts as though she did not see her attacker. She is put into the hospital for a few days to recover from her attack and decide what her next step is. Thinking that the worst is finally over couldn’t be further from the truth for Tracy. She finds she needs to pull all of her strength together, most of which she never even knew she possessed, to get through this trauma. With the help of some professionals in the field Tracy finds herself on a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs that prove to be the hardest test she will ever have to endure; one that will test not only her sense of security but also her own self worth.
Brenda Hill has a knack for creating vivid characters that touch her readers to their very souls. As much as I loved reading this courageous story, a part of me couldn’t help but wish it would end just so that Tracy’s pain would end. I don’t think I have ever hoped for a happy ending as much as I did with this book.
Not only could the characters be portrayed in real life, but Brenda Hill creates real life situations that can or have happened to women. As a survivor of sexual assault, I found this story refreshingly honest regarding the actual emotions that women go through when they are violated. This tells me that Brenda did her research. This book reiterated the fact that women can find strength from places they never knew existed both within themselves and from the outside world. This is a great reading tool for women to help keep their spirits alive when they feel like giving up the fight and letting their perpetrators win.
I would recommend this book to any woman who isn’t afraid to laugh, cry, and share in the joys and sorrows of Brenda Hill's’ characters as they fight to regain their lives and seek justice.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Victoria Howard has painted her readers a beautiful picture of Scotland with her words and descriptions. Set in modern times, she tells a wonderful love story that is riddled with suspense.
Anna MacDonald moves to the Scottish Highlands to make a fresh start. After ending a bad relationship and leaving her job, Anna moves into a croft that was left to her by her grandmother. She is tired of the city and wants some peace and quiet so she can spend her summer writing a book and also reconnect with her childhood friends.
The last thing on Anna’s mind is meeting a man. Not only does she meet a very good looking American man whose boat breaks down near her croft, but she instantly feels an emotional and physical connection with him. Trying her best to ignore these feelings, Anna finds herself in a heap of trouble. She gets a letter offering a hefty sum of money to sell her croft, which she quickly declines. Soon after, she appears to become a target to someone. This someone is pretty adamant that he wants her dead. She gets shot at, her home gets broken into, and her car is tampered with, among other things. Fearing for her safety, Anna’s friend convinces her to allow Luke, the dreamy American with a heart melting smile, to stay with her until she can find out who wants to hurt her.
As the days go on, Anna and Luke form a special bond and cling to each other. At the same time, Anna’s stalker is upping the ante and Luke will stop at nothing to find the man so that Anna will be safe.
Victoria Howard does a wonderful job with her character creations. In fact, I found myself falling for Luke! She allows you to see inside their world and form a bond with them. I also liked the description of the landscape. Victoria Howard gives just enough description without going overboard.
The suspense of the story was what really captured my interest. I adore a good love story, so with the added suspense Victoria Howard has created an amazing story that will captivate her readers until the very end. I would recommend this story to any romance and suspense lovers. The romance is not too over the stop, so it will not spoil the story for all of the suspense lovers out there!