Carol reviews Women Float by Maureen Foley

WOmenFloatPublisher: CCLaP Publishing
ASIN: B00D208K98
Genre: Fiction

Overview from

Lonely California pastry chef Win never learned how to swim, despite growing up just miles from the Pacific Ocean. Even Janie, her flaky pro-surfer single mother, couldn’t convince her to brave the water, solidifying Win’s fear when she leaves her at the tender age of 9. But when Win turns 29 and decides to take swimming lessons for the first time — finally confronting her hydrophobia and trying to make sense of why her mer-mother suddenly swam off all those years ago — she must also deal with a desperate crush she’s developed on her New Age neighbor, mysterious postcards that keep arriving in the mail, and her bad habit of pathological lying. This touching and humorous look at female relationships and the dramas that come for contemporary women turning thirty also doubles as a loving ode to the small coastal town of Carpinteria and the laid-back SoCal lifestyle that guides it. Poetic and moving, Maureen Foley’s fiction debut is both a perfect beach read and an insightful look at love, accidental families and the power of friendships.


3.5 out of 5 Stars

I find that sometimes novellas will leave me feeling unsatisfied as if there is unfinished business that was suddenly rushed to an end in an effort to complete the story.  That is definitely not this case with Women Float.

The main character, Wen, is complex and comes across as three dimensional.  In addition, despite her insecurities, and in some instances major flaws, I found myself wanting things to get better for her.  Wanting her to improve and get her life in order.

There was one particular quote about a ¼ of the way through the book that just really stuck with me, because of the imagery it created for me.  Wen is looking at an anonymous postcard that she received and she’s thinking to herself:  “I want the postcard to be from Selima. Or my mom.  Or Mia. Any of the countless women who’ve leaned their heads towards mine and told me huge important things, like how to separate egg yolks and whites and were to pick boysenberries.”  I think if we have been lucky we all have people in our lives who have shared the secrets of life.
This is a nice easy read for the beach, sitting in the back yard, or in the house on a rainy day with a hot drink.

Carol reviews Bella Key by Scarlet Chastain


Bella Key by Scarlet Chastain

Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Genre: Erotic Romance


Overview from Barnes & Noble:

Maddie Jacobs must be crazy. At least that’s what her mother thinks. Professionally, she’s confident and secure; personally, she’s a hot mess. Not even a marriage proposal from a man who adores her can quell her search for something more.

In need of an escape, Maddie flees to Key West’s most southern island, Bella Key, to rest and recharge at Casa Bonita. She almost gives up on weekend retreat when the Bed & Breakfast is closed for repairs until Sunny Rojas, the inn owner, extends an offer of friendship, sweet tea and a room. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime partner, Sunny is thankful for the diversion from her own broken heart.

The arrival of a fierce storm forces the women’s emotional journey to a head and leads them into each other’s arms. But can Maddie throw her hangups to the wind and go with her heart? The magic of Bella Key teaches her that passion cannot be placed neatly into boxes labeled right and wrong, because love knows no boundaries.

Review: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

First let’s be clear: this is a novella and approximately 75 pages in length.  The positive side of that is that it’s a nice easy read that can be completed during a lunch break, or two.  The downside, you might be left wanting more.  Typically I am not a huge fan of erotica but the sex scenes in this story are very well written and don’t feel forced.

Then there is the quirky yet likable character of Sunny who brings out the adventurous side of Maddie while essentially reminding her that what happens in Bella Key stays in Bella Key.

Despite the brevity of the story I found that I was satisfied with the ending and didn’t feel as if I was let down or something was missing.  I would recommend this to anyone who has a couple of hours that they want to fill, preferably while sitting on the beach or beside the pool.

Carol reviews The Real Folktale Blues, Book 1 of Beyond Ever After by Random Jordan


The Real Folktale Blues, Book 1 of Beyond Ever After by Random Jordan

Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Overview from Amazon:

Gnidori has not always been a bounty hunter; in fact her first job was as a simple delivery girl wearing her trademark hooded red cloak. However, after her choice surrender of her former position as a Faerie Godmother, she was left with a young girl she had very nearly married to Prince Charming, and an entirely new life filled with simple quietness. That is, after she sealed away her magical talents. Why was her magic sealed away? Well, as she would put it: nothing is ever simple when magic is involved. Years with her magic stripped from her, and Gnidori is drawn into a plot spurred on by Prince Charming once more. She finds herself seeking the Big Bad Wolf, who has returned from death and comes to realize there is more to what is going on than she was told. Before long she encounters a tower fuming yellow smoke and a baby fox born from a human heart. But that’s only the beginning. Can Gnidori survive pirates, faeries, dragons, mirror spirits, time spells, gnomes; and even the most sinister of all: Bluebeard’s Tower? And all without access to her magic?… or maybe she does have it? Beyond Ever After is a series following the chronicles of Red Riding Hood with countless other Faerie and Folktale characters long after or even before their happily ever after. This is not a faerie tale retelling; it asks the great question: What happens beyond the happily ever after?

Review: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I have found myself smiling through an entire book but that is exactly what I found myself doing while reading this one.  This is the debut book from Random Jordan and she weaves an interesting tale full of childhood fairytale characters.  Now don’t run off thinking this is a children’s book or even a fairytale.  The reader is introduced to the person behind the legend and it’s fairly clear that the legend is not the person.  Rather a small aspect of that person.  In some ways it reminded me of the labels we tend to affix to people and how that label becomes the defining characteristic for that person, whether it’s accurate of not.

The story itself is fairly complex and introduces the reader through a variety of characters while Gnidori is trying to determine who has stolen her cloak and seems intent on killing her.  There are a couple of places in the story that get a bit confusing because there is an element of time travel.  However, I found that it was cleared up fairly quickly.  I’ll be interested to see what happens next for Gnidori, Ash, Etti and the rest of the crew.  Overall I found this story intriguing and fun to read.

Carol reviews Finding Bluefield by Elan Barnehama


Finding Bluefield by Elan Barnehama

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Genre: Fiction

Overview from Amazon:

“When Barbara Phillips arrives in Bluefield, Virginia, to begin her medical residency, she thinks she is headed for an uneventful few years filled with work in an obscure little town where no one knows her—which is exactly what she wants.

Everything changes when she enters Nicky’s diner and begins a journey that will last a lifetime as she falls in love against her better judgment and best-laid plans. The free-spirited Nicky later attends the 1963 March on Washington and impulsively and anonymously sleeps with a man in hopes of getting pregnant and starting a family with Barbara. When Nicky gives birth to Paul, her sister steps in to adopt Paul for his own “protection.”

Nicky, Barbara, and Paul escape Bluefield and make a life in upstate New York, only returning to Bluefield years later upon hearing of the death of Nicky’s sister. As their journey comes full circle, Barbara, Paul, and Nicky find their return to Bluefield is the catalyst for facing family secrets and forging family ties.”

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

This story takes place between 1960 and 1983 and follows the lives of Nicky and Barbara.  The story is interesting especially as you place it into historical context and realize how much more difficult it was to be in a same sex relationship in the 60’s and 70’s and the extent that they had to hide their relationship.  Having said that there were definitely times where I couldn’t fathom some of the decisions that Nicky would make just assuming that everything would be wonderful.  She’s not just wearing rose colored glasses she has an entire rose colored bubble around her.  I was disappointed in the lack of ramifications from several of these decisions.  Especially the one where Nicky sleeps with a stranger because she’s always wanted a child.  I just couldn’t relate to Barbara’s non-response to (a) being cheated on and (b) Nicky making such a life altering decision for both of them… without any input from Barbara.

Half way through the story, I realized that although I couldn’t relate to Nicky’s decision making process the story itself was interesting in that it portrays two women living their lives like any other couple and that not all relationships look the same.

Carol reviews The Path Not Chosen by Q.C. Masters


The Path Not Chosen by Q.C. Masters
Publisher: Shadoe Publishing
Genre: Romance

Overview from Barnes Amazon:

“What do you do when you meet someone who changes everything you know about love and passion?

Paige Harlow is a good girl. She’s always known where she was going in life: top grades, an ivy league school, a medical degree, regular church attendance, and a happy marriage to a man. So falling in love with her gorgeous roommate and best friend Alyssa Torres is no small crisis. Alyssa is chasing demons of her own, a medical condition that makes her an outcast and a family dysfunctional to the point of disintegration make her a questionable choice for any stable relationship. But Paige’s heart is no longer her own. She must now battle the prejudices of her family, friends, and church and come to peace with her new sexuality before she can hope to win the affections of the woman of her dreams. But will love be enough?”

Review: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars:
I have to admit to having a like/hate relationship with this book.  The author did a great job of grabbing the reader and engaging them into the story from the onset.  Paige is a sheltered young woman and after entering college is faced with coming to terms with her attraction to her attraction to her roommate and the subsequent romance that ensues.  The process is anything but smooth.  The problem is that the author throws everything but the kitchen sink at Paige and Alyssa: coming out, parental rejection, alcoholism, health issues, jealousy.  With so many significant issues being introduced throughout the story the resolutions or lack thereof felt somewhat superficial.

Having said all of that, as I was reading this I thought that perhaps this book was intended for a younger group who would enjoy the sex scenes and gloss over the other aspects.  Masters style of writing was engaging and I suspect that as she publishes more her stories will only continue to be better.

Carol reviews Tighter Tighter by Lynn Kear


Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Book Description from

“Eighteen year old Kath Branch disappeared from St. James, Illinois in 1975.

That same night, local sandwich shop owner Billy Carlson was gunned down and dumped in the St. James River.

This cold case is personal for prosecutor Meredith Carlson. Billy was her husband’s father.

Convinced she’s solved the case, Meredith lures the now legendary rock star back to her hometown for the first time since she left thirty-five years ago.

Meredith has no idea she’s about to unearth shocking secrets about herself, her husband, and her family.”

1 out of 5 stars

Right out of the box let me clearly state that this is just my own personal opinion and yes I have seen several reviews of this story where it was highly rated.  Unfortunately for me, I hated this story and it had very little to do with the actual writing.  There are a variety of characters with various subplots that all intersect with the major underlying mystery of who killed Billy Carlson.

The problem for me as a reader was that I hated the characters.  The majority of them are self-centered and self-absorbed.

Kath Branch is the stereotypical music personality who cheats on her partner and sleeps around while on the road.  Meredith Carlson wants her 15 minutes of fame by solving Billy’s murder even if that means steam rolling her husband’s wishes. Meredith is convinced the killer is Kathy Branch and will do whatever it takes to prove that.  Ellen Walker isn’t nearly as self-absorbed but she is also not a sympathetic character.  If the opportunity arises for a fling with Kathy, she’s taking it and has informed her husband that she’s going to do just that.  What the heck, he owes her a free pass since he’s cheated on her in the past.

I just hated them, all of them.  It got to the point where I couldn’t stand reading about them.  In fact, I abandoned this book several times.   The only thing that kept bringing me back to finish reading it was that I committed to reading the entire story, but it was hard.

Normally such a complex plot with all the inter-related storylines would keep me intrigued but by the time I hit the 50% mark I’d lost all interest in who actually killed Billy Carlson and never really got interested in the mystery again.  My only goal was to just finish the thing.    Finally there was a turning point in the story where I actually started to enjoy the writing, so much so that I made a note.  It was at the 93% complete mark.

I don’t really want to discourage people from reading this story, but it turned out to not be my cup of tea.  Maybe because if I knew of these people in real life I would not want anything to do with their drama and would be sorely tempted to smack them upside the head.

Having said all of this, despite hating this particular story, I would read something else written by Lynn Kear another try because the writing itself was ok, I just didn’t like the plot/characters of this particular one.

Carol reviews Changing Shape by Kathleen Wheeler

Publisher: KatWheelerBooks (self published)

Book Description from Amazon:

Elizabeth Thornton has worked hard to get where she is in life. An only child raised by a single mother in a small Colorado town, she has risen through the ranks and sits at the top of her field. She has a great career with a top company, a townhouse in a prestigious Boston neighborhood, and all the trappings of success- everything she thought she wanted; but for some reason she hasn’t found the one thing her soul most yearns for. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Elizabeth puts her life on hold to return to Colorado to see to her care. A recent transplant to Carbondale, Hailey Jensen is starting over in a new life of her own making, far away from the daily reminders of everything that she was and is. She is soon befriended by the local bakery owner who becomes a sort of mother figure and forces Hailey to face her demons when she suddenly collapses at work. This is the story of 3 women, whose evolving relationships with themselves and each other teach them how to be who they are, how to be brave in the face of deep potential sorrow and that love can come from surprising places and take surprising shapes. Can the bonds they forge with each other survive the cards they’ve been dealt?

Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is Kathleen Wheeler’s first book and she’s given us three interesting and dynamic characters in Elizabeth Thornton, her mother Patty, and Hailey Jensen.

Hailey comes from an affluent and wealthy family and was raised interacting with the “upper crust” of society.  With the recent death of her father she has inherited the family wealth and business.  However, despite all these advantages she didn’t get to adulthood unscathed.  Her brother was left brain damaged, and eventually died, when he as in a car accident at the age of 17.  Hailey’s mom was the one driving the car and shortly after the accident she abandoned the family and ran off with another man.  Hailey was only 9 years old at the time.  As a result, Hailey has had abandonment issues and protects herself emotionally from people who could hurt her in a similar way.

Elizabeth was raised by her single Mom who struggled financially to raise her daughter while starting and building her own business, “The River Rock Bakery”.  They may not have had a lot of money but Patty made sure that Elizabeth knew that she was loved and supported.

When Elizabeth’s mom falls ill she receives a call from Hailey, who is friends with Patty, explaining that Patty is in the hospital and that Elizabeth should fly out to Colorado asap.  Throughout the rest of the story the reader learns more about all three women and gets to watch as their relationships intertwine and deepen.

This was an enjoyable easy read.  When I say easy I mean that I wanted to finish the story although I was not compelled to read it in one sitting.  What I enjoyed about it was that both Hailey and Elizabeth were strong, smart, successful women.  Yes, they each have issues they need to address, but neither of them came across as being “damaged” or caricatures.  Rather they felt like real people who I might encounter (if I hung out with millionaires) in everyday life.  If you enjoy romance novels I would definitely recommend this and I’m looking forward to Kathleen’s next story.