2015 Book 175: WORTHY by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
ISBN: 9781477830130 (paperback)
ASIN: B00QQYZYOQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

They might’ve been a family.

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever. 

Buddy was only a baby when his mother died and four years old when his father died in a horrible accident. His maternal grandparents relocated him to Florida to live with them and start a new life. Virginia had fallen in love and was looking forward to life with Aaron and his son. Their relationship had barely progressed from a light flirtation when it tragically ended with Aaron’s death. Catherine Ryan Hyde presents a story that asks what makes any of us worthy of love in her newest book Worthy.

Virginia has struggled to build a new life for herself, but she has never forgotten Aaron and his son. Just when it seems as if her life is looking up, her dog disappears and her fiance is the reason why. As Virginia struggles to pick up the pieces of her life after her broken engagement, she must also struggle with the dilemma of what to do with her dog. Jody Schiller is considered a shy and sensitive young man. He leads a relatively reclusive life in a rural cabin with his grandfather. Jody knows he isn’t quite “normal,” but he deals the best way he knows how. After witnessing a man abandoning a dog in the freezing cold and snow, Jody rescues the dog and finds his first friend. This dog quickly becomes his lifeline in more ways than one when his grandfather dies. But Jody’s lifeline may be clipped when the dog’s owner comes to get her dog back. 

Worthy isn’t just a feel-good story about a man, a woman, and a dog. It is a story about self-worth, a search for happiness, and a search for a sense of family and belonging. Jody and Virginia love and are loved by their jointly-owned dog, and it is that love (along with more tragedy and trauma) that bring them together. I found Worthy to be an extremely fast read. I found the characters to be believable and relatable. If you’re looking for a feel-good, hopeful-ever-after read, then you’ll definitely want to add Worthy to your TBR list. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2015 Book 162: FOR YOUR LOVE Review

For Your Love (Blessings #6) by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062207999 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062208002 (ebook)
ASIN: B00QQMNINM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow & Company

Return to Henry Adams, Kansas–an unforgettable place anyone would want to call home. . . .

Mayor Trent July and his wife, Lily, are enjoying life as newlyweds and embracing the challenges and joys that come with being adoptive parents to two wonderful boys. But fatherhood has inevitably forced Trent to think about his own birth mother.

Raised by his grandmother Tamar–and, in many ways, the good people of Henry Adams–Trent was blessed with a childhood full of love. But he can’t help wondering what happened to the scared teenage girl who gave birth to him. And questions that he’s never voiced are now begging to be answered: Who was she? Is she still alive? Why didn’t she want him?

Trent has always believed that no good comes from dwelling on the past, especially when you have a loving family, a strong community, and folks who depend on you. But when the past comes to Henry Adams, Trent has no choice but to face it–and the woman who left him behind. The truth will shake his very being and everything he thought he knew about life, love, and the bonds that hold families together . . . but can also tear them apart. 

Imagine a contemporary small, rural town filled with loving, caring people. Imagine a town with little, if any, unemployment. Imagine a town where everyone works together for the betterment of that town and its inhabitants. Now imagine this town was founded by Black Americans in the mid-1800s and that multiple generations of descendants of the founding families have continued to reside there and raise their families. This mythic town is the town of Henry Adams, Kansas and is the setting for the Blessings series of stories by Beverly Jenkins. For Your Love isn’t just the story of this town or one family, but multiple families and their search for more.

The first person we’re introduced to is Rita Lynn Babcock in California and the only thing we know is that she’s received a letter from her deceased mother revealing a shocking secret from her past. Next we’re introduced to Trent July. His family is one of the founding families of Henry Adams. Trent is on his third marriage and has two adopted sons, Amari, and Devon. Trent’s father, Malachi July, is a trained veterinarian and owner/operator of the Dog and Cow restaurant in town. Trent is a trained architectural engineer and is currently working as the mayor of Henry Adams. Trent’s only regret in life is that he doesn’t know his birth mother. Just when you think you know where this story is going, the reader is whisked to Dallas, Texas and introduced to nineteen-year-old Bobby Douglas, his nineteen-year-old girlfriend Kelly “Kiki” Page, and their eleven-month-old twins, Tiara and Bobby Jr. Bobby and Kelley are struggling to provide for their young family when they are asked to relocate to Henry Adams, Kansas. What follows is a story of a town offering a foundation to a young family, affording them respite from abject poverty and the chance to be a part of something bigger.

Over the course of this story, Trent reconnects with his birth-mother, Rita. And Bobby and Kelly realize that there are good people willing to offer a helping hand to those in need. Needless to say, there is a lot more going on than just the story of Trent, Rita, Bobby, and Kelly. The reader is introduced to the older generation of Henry Adams, as well as the youngsters (trust me when I say you’ll want to read about Devon and his swagalicious wardrobe). Are there problems to be faced in Henry Adams? Of course there are, and one of the bigger problems is dealing with a loss of support services from a neighboring town. Throughout all the ups-and-downs, this tiny community bands together to ensure that no one is fighting a battle alone.

For Your Love is actually the first story I’ve read by Ms. Jenkins. At first I was a little lost since there was obviously quite a bit of backstory to this town and its residents that I didn’t know. However, once I got into the story it didn’t really seem to matter about what came before (although I’m adding all of the previous titles in this series to my TBR list just so I can catch up). Ms. Jenkins has crafted a wonderful story about a town and community anyone would want to live in. Not all of the people in this town are wealthy financially, but they have a wealth of friendship, love, and support that can’t be measured. There’s family drama, old jealousies and hurts, greed and avarice, and more. If you enjoy stories featuring families and communities dealing with realistic problems, then you’ll want to add this HEA (happy/hopeful-ever-after) story to your TBR list. I look forward to catching up on the Blessings series and reading more from Ms. Jenkins in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes via TLC Book Tours. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Author

Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including five previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, Vibe, and many other publications.

Find out more about Beverly at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

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Guest Post: Author K. J. Larsen

It’s always a pleasure when an author agrees to visit The Book Diva’s Reads. Today I’m pleased to host a visit from K. J. Larsen, author of Bye, Bye Love, the latest in the Cat DeLuca Mystery series. Ms. Larsen will be discussing the lessons learns from characters.

Five Things Your Characters Can Teach You 

We’re all familiar with the expression: You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. It’s something you say when your bat-shit crazy sister is on the local news again. 

The coolest thing about being a writer is that you really can pick your family. You can pick their friends and a cat that doesn’t scratch furniture. You get to pick every character’s secrets and the closets they hide them in. And you can create a crazy switched-at-birth sister, but you have to pretend she’s not the real one everyone sees on TV. You might want to throw in a hunky guy or two because eye-candy is good for the soul. But whatever you do, pick your family wisely. Create people you want to spend time with. You’ll see a lot more of this family than the one the Universe dumped on you. And you know the Universe is still laughing. 

Here are five things our characters taught us. 

1) Characters need you to love them. If you love them well, your readers will love them too. They’ll cheer and laugh and grieve for your characters. They’ll send you emails encouraging you to write faster. And if you’re lucky, your characters will become their family too. 

2) Be patient and allow your characters to come to life. Resist the conventional advice that tells writers to chart each character’s stats and history before beginning to pen the first page. Don’t bully your characters. Honor their voices. Everyone has a story and each character is the hero of their own. If you get out of their way, they’ll tell you theirs. 

3) Let your characters surprise you. Spend time with them. Walk in their world. Note how they move and speak and smell. If they make you laugh, chances are they’ll make your readers laugh too. When we sisters wrote our first book, Liar, Liar, I got up each morning and had coffee with our protagonist, Cat DeLuca. Sometimes I had lunch with Cat’s crooked Uncle Joey or her interfering, Italian Mama. I spent as much time as I could with our characters. But I only took the two hunky guys to the shower with me. 

4) You can’t always save your characters. When we sisters were plotting our third book, Some Like It Hot, we created Billy Bonham, a funny, quirky guy that I adored. We had big plans for the guy. He was to become a permanent player in the Cat DeLuca Mysteries. Billy was a goofy gumshoe and we set him up in a cheesy low rent office on Chicago’s south side. 

When we sisters write, we divvy up the scenes between us. I offered to do the first scenes and Billy Bonham had me in stitches. He was working undercover, disguised as Santa Claus, and he was hilarious. And then, unexpectedly, a few pages later someone shot him. It just happened and I couldn’t save him. My sisters read what I’d written and agreed. We changed course. That’s how you honor a character’s voice. It was Billy’s story and I let him tell it. 

5) Developing characters is an intuitive process. Know you have everything you need within you to create something fresh and uniquely yours. Connect with your creative source and write something amazing. 

Author Bio:

One day three sisters, linked by a voracious love of mysteries, set off to write their own. Hunched over a mojito and bucket of steamer clams, the Pants On Fire Detective Agency was born. Julianne, Kristen and Kari Larsen, (horse trainer, minister and irreverent baker) deliver a sizzling read and easy smile. Liar Liar is the first book in the Cat DeLuca mysteries. The sisters live in the Pacific Northwest and Chicago area and are currently at work on Cat’s next, most fabulous adventure.

Connect with the author:     Facebook      |     Website 

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Guest Post: John Raab, CEO & Publisher of SUSPENSE Magazine

As many of you know by now, I love reading mysteries, suspense, and suspense thrillers. Needless to say, I am excited to host a visit by John Raab, CEO and Publisher of Suspense Magazine. As I said, I love mysteries, suspense and more, Mr. Raab loves villains and today he’ll discuss some of his favorite villains. 

One thing I like to do is sit down and think of a question and then try to answer it. Does that sound strange? I mean sitting around thinking of stuff and then answering it to myself? I guess if you really think about it, yea it’s pretty strange. But anyway that’s how my mind works when I don’t have some Captain Crunch cereal to occupy mind.

Well the question I pondered over this time was “Why do I like villains so much?” To me it’s the villain that draws me into the story. In most cases the hero will always survive, so when I watch a movie or read a book and see that the hero is in trouble in the first ten minutes, I just think to myself “It’s not like he’s going to die right now, so what is the point of this?”

One thing you rarely ever see if the villain in a life threating situation so early on in a story. I mean can you sit back and think when was the last time a villain was put into that kind of situation? I can’t. Most of the time you see the villain being, well a very, very bad guy or girl. They cause some pain to someone, steal the jewels, or show off their power to the reader or watcher, early on so you hate them right from the start.

Now sometimes you will see the back story of their life, giving you the sense why they grew up the way they did and even in some cases they started off good and ended up being bad, example Darth Vader.

Ok I’m getting off topic. I decided to talk about some of my favorite villains and why I love them so much. They are in no particular order.

Jaws – What I love about him is that he thinks. You might not think of Jaws thinking, but even Quint says “he’s either very smart of very dumb.” To this day people are still afraid to get into the water because of Jaws. He never said a word. He let that damn creepy music do all his talking.

Darth Vader – I mentioned him earlier because he is a very complex character. He started out being good but was seduced into darkness. He was ruthless. He made sure anyone around him knew he was in charge. If you didn’t like it, tough he would simply use the force and strangle you. Randall Flagg / The man in black – Flagg was Stephen King’s most used villain. He was written in several books with several different personalities. “The Stand”, “The Dark Tower Series”, “The Eyes of the Dragon”, I could go on and on. What made Flagg so special was the fact that he was several different people and had several different personalities. You might think Pennywise was worse in “IT” but Flagg would look at Pennywise and laugh. Dr. Hannibal Lecter – To several top authors he is the best villain ever created in novels. Lecter was a villain that could have you over for dinner, making you the main course, but also had a side that was soft (the end of Silence of the Lambs). He was calculated. He was precise. He was highly intelligent. He was everything that you would want in a man, except for the fact he might eat you for dessert. Moriarty – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did such a wonderful job writing one of the best characters ever in literature with Sherlock Holmes, I would say he did an equally superb job in creating Moriarty. Cunning, intelligent, ruthless, and driven, would be some of the words used to describe him. Although readers might pick up a Sherlock Holmes book because of Sherlock, when Moriarty was involved it would elevate the story that much more.

Now I’ve given you only five. We could go on for days talking about villains, but that would be a very long post. I will say that all the villains listed do have one thing in common, something that I think is the most important feature for any villain. They all knew they weren’t perfect. No matter how many people they would kill, or how many millions they would steal, they always knew that one day they would face someone that would catch them or kill them. However, that didn’t bother them and in most cases didn’t stop them from doing what they loved to do. Being bad is much more complex than just being a petty thug. Showing a full range of emotions and being able to feel pain from the inside, shows they are human (well except the shark but if you remember in Jaws 2 this fish was getting revenge so it did have emotions). Anyway, let me know your thoughts and some of your favorite villains. After all the hero will pretty much always survive, but what will happen to the villain?

John Raab
CEO / Publisher
Suspense Magazine
26500 Agoura Rd.
Calabasas, CA 91302
Check out Suspense Radio: www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine

Showcase: SUSPENSE Magazine

Suspense Magazine
by John Raab
on Tour June 2015


Suspense Magazine is an all digital magazine that was founded in 2007. We publish short stories, interviews, exclusive excerpts, articles and more. We have also in the past published alternate endings to very popular books, IE: Sara Paretsky’s book Critical Mass.

Suspense Magazine is chock full of stunning artwork, intriguing fiction, and interviews It’s a winner!”  —Tess Gerritsen, International Bestselling Author

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More About John:

John Raab founded Suspense Magazine in 2007. Also the host of three radio shows on Suspense Radio Network (Inside Edition, One on One, and Beyond The Cover) also the producer for two more shows, Crime and Science Radio and The Story Blender.

The CEO / Publisher of Suspense Publishing a book publisher that publishes #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Paul Kemprecos, along with several other authors.

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