Book Review – Cursed be the Wicked by J.R. Richardson

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Cooper Shaw lives his life under a pen name and enjoys the anonymity it provides during his journeys across the globe as a seasoned writer for a travel magazine. When his job lands him in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to cover the famous Festival of the Dead, he soon realizes that he can’t stay invisible forever as he faces ghosts from a past he’s been trying to forget ever since he left.

The city holds nothing but bad memories for Coop until he meets a quirky young woman with an old soul and curious insights by the name of Finnley Pierce. While she acts as his tour guide through a town he thought he knew, Finn helps him unearth the truth of his childhood and might even begin to open up his heart.

By unraveling the mystery of his father’s murder, Coop may finally accept who he is, where he came from, and perhaps even realize what he wants for his future.

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When I was a child I loved reading stories about journeys. In Lord of the Rings I was Frodo’s constant companion, and I clung onto Lucy Penvensie’s coat tails when she made her epic journey through Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Luckily for me, some things never change, and when I picked up Cursed be the Wicked by J. R. Richardson, I was delighted that it took me on such an enjoyable and exciting ride.

Ostensibly a paranormal romance, Cursed is the story of Cooper Shaw, a travel writer who floats from assignment to assignment. He seems to live an easy, yet solitary life, but all isn’t as it seems. In the first part of the story we learn that Coop escaped from his childhood home in Salem, Massachusetts under a dark cloud of suspicion. Let down by both his parents, he walked away and never looked back, severing any ties he might have had. When circumstances compel him to return to Salem, his plan is to stay for as short a time as possible, finishing up his article and cleaning up a personal issue at the same time.

But then he meets Finn. A quirky receptionist in the B&B he is staying in, she soon turns out to be more than she appears, and before he knows it, Coop has a companion to help him through his painful days in his childhood town. What follows is a journey into his past, where he has to reconcile his memories with the truth he’s now being told.

To classify this book as a simple love story would be doing it a disservice. In fact, it’s a tale of personal growth, of confronting demons, both perceived and real. It is a story of redemption and love. The characters are so beautifully drawn that by the end of the book I not only felt like I knew them, but wanted to stay with them, even as the story drew to an end. In addition to this, the story line was well plotted and gripping enough to keep me reading on my sofa on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, I finished the book in less than a day.

Cursed be the Wicked deserves five beautifully written, well-plotted stars.

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Book Review and Giveaway – My Mr Manny by Jennifer Garcia

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MyMr Manny Cover (Jennifer Garcia) (3)

 

Mia Balducci misses her childhood days and yearns for the big, Italian family that she left behind in small town Massachusetts. At the tender age of sixteen, Mia moves with her bachelor father to Los Angeles, but no matter how many years pass, it never becomes home to her. The years spent living with her father aren’t easy, especially since she can’t stop thinking about what she once had. Her enrollment in the University of Southern California promises to bring exciting changes to her life, but Mia winds up with big problems instead. When she runs into an old friend from her old hometown of Winthrop, she gets swept up in nostalgia, and she soon loses herself in a quickly-progressing romance. When the fantasy falls apart, she is left to raise her precious little girl, Lucia, on her own. The demands of Mia’s work schedule and Lucia’s needs increase, and their lives become increasingly hectic. It is soon clear to Mia that she needs help. Luckily, her life-saving cousin saves the day and brings the mother and daughter a male nanny – their new “manny.”

After losing his high-pressure job on Wall Street, Dominic Roberts wants to follow his dreams to have a family. He’s already one fiancée down, and there are no likely prospects for another. In order to find the family he so desperately wants, he finds himself getting into the manny business. Since he is fully qualified to provide child care and is eager to leave New York City behind, his sister-in-law is able to land him a job in California working for his first client – the beautiful and intriguing Mia Balducci.

Will Lucia like the new man in her mother’s life? Will Mia? And will this new trio discover the happily ever after they all so desperately seek?

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When I first picked up this book I thought it would be a lightweight, fluffy story about a professional woman and her male au-pair, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although there is lightness in the writing–and the promised HEA–My Mr Manny also explores the pain of a marriage breakup, the fears of moving on, and the fierce attachment that a mother feels toward her child.

The book starts with a scene from Mia’s childhood; a golden time when children could run around the block until nightfall. The scene establishes the importance of her extended family, which is particularly poignant when, at age sixteen, she moves across the country to LA to live with her father. When she reconnects with one of her childhood friends at a college football match, you’d be forgiven to think Mia’s found her HEA. But this is only a small way into the story, and we know from the summary that she has many hurdles to face before she can finally be happy.

As Mia goes through the pain of divorce, we get to feel all her emotions; her fear of the future, hurt for her child and anger at the husband who has rejected them. All this is further confused when she is introduced to her cousin’s brother–a man looking for a change in career–and interviews him for the position of her Manny (a male nanny of course!)

Dominic is hot. We know that from the start because Mia makes herself look a complete fool in front of him. But he’s also kind enough to ignore her fawning, and before long he’s offered the job. What follows is a story of love. Not just between Dominic and Mia, but between her daughter, Lucia, and the two of them as well. Love me, love my child could be Mia’s motto, and it’s clear to see that Dominic does exactly that.

What I loved about the story was the hope that was woven throughout the text. We could have forgiven Mia for feeling angry and bitter after everything she’d faced, after all, who hasn’t wanted to give up when trying to work a full time job and raise a child single-handed? But she doesn’t do that, she strives to give Lucia a happy childhood, and more importantly is willing to accept help where it’s offered. That kind of strength is what attracts Dominic to her, and lights the bright flame that burns between them.

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About the Author

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Author Bio:

Jennifer Garcia’s lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Originally from Boston, she currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, was released August 2013 and her first novella, In My Mother’s Footsteps, was released July 2013.

Find Jennifer on:

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goodreadsgiveaway

Jennifer Garcia is running a Goodreads Book Giveaway from March 2nd to March 8th, 2014.

Enter for a chance to win a signed book, My Mr. Manny

Goodreads Book Giveaway

My Mr. Manny by Jennifer Garcia

My Mr. Manny

by Jennifer Garcia

Giveaway ends March 08, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

For more information please go to Jennifer’s Blog.

Book Review – Beatless by Amber L. Johnson

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Mallory Durham has been left behind and it is making her feel less like an adult and more like an afterthought. Divorce, sickness, educational aspirations being shattered, and her Aunt Sam moving into her home, have made Mal’s life nearly unrecognizable to her.

When Tucker Scott re-enters her life along with his band, will they offer what she needs to once again find her voice and self confidence or will it strip her of it even more?

Told through the dual voices of Mallory as she navigates her new world, and Aunt Sam’s letters to her niece, Beatless tells the story of two women at very different points in their life, fighting the same battles; proving that no matter what age a person is, there are always lessons to be learned.

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There are some writers who are so talented that their stories are effortless to read. Amber L. Johnson is one of those authors. As a writer myself, I know that effortless takes a lot of work, no matter how much of a non-sequitur that might seem. Her words flow gently but they pack a punch, hitting you right in the gut when you expect it least. That’s one of the many things I truly enjoyed about Beatless. It’s a story that is narrated so well that I was almost lulled into a false sense of security, yet before I knew it, I was reading with tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart. And I LOVE that.

First things first – a little about the characters. It’s narrated in first person, past tense, by the heroine, Mal. Left behind at community college while all her friends head away, she’s lost at first, trying to keep her head up when circumstances want to pull her under. Her father has left the family, and her mum is working away and leaves Mal behind in the care of her Aunt Sam. For the first few chapters you feel Mal’s bewilderment as she tries to carve herself out a life from the little that remains. It resonates so well, because I think we can all remember being a teenager, wondering where we fit, whether we’re the only ones feeling that way. Amber captures that mood so vividly it made me have all the feelings!

Under the encouragement of her aunt, Mal gets a job and meets a boy. And what a boy! Tucker is the perfect hero; devoted to his disabled sister, and trying to become the man he wants to be. Like Mal, he dreams of getting away, but he also knows that his family keeps him where he his; he shares the care of his sister with his father, and they both need him.

As Mal and Tucker become friends, confidantes and finally lovers, their story is so poignant it’s almost like you’re spying on something so intimate and raw. Right at the moment when everything feels like it’s finally coming together, something happens that brings their world tumbling around their feet. Oh my, does it hurt.

The story itself is perfect. It’s an emotional journey for Mal, Tucker and Sam, without the plot feeling forced. There are times when they make the wrong choices, treat people the wrong way, but that only serves to make it more real and truthful. Though I can’t give away the ending, it was juicy enough to make my eyes water, and sweet enough to melt my heart.

I’ve no hesitation in labelling this a five star read. So go buy, read, devour and enjoy. Amber has a full schedule of releases ahead and I’m looking forward to every single one of them!

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About the Author

Amber is a full time mom, full time wife, is employed full time, and writes when she can. She believes in Happily Ever Afters that occur every day – despite the obstacles that real life serves up on a regular basis. Or perhaps they’re sweeter
simply because of them. She always has 2 rubber bands on her wrist, a song in her head, and too much creamer in her coffee cup that reads ‘Cocoa’ – because she’s a rebel. If she’s not at her desk, with her boys, or behind the computer, she’s supporting live music with her arms raised above her head and eyes closed, waiting for the drop.  

Connect with Amber

Twitter: @WhereIsJakeRyan
Facebook author page: Amber L. Johnson Author

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