Guest Review with Jen Locke: Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson

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Jen Locke has kindly offered this short but sweet guest review originally published at Good Reads. Thanks Jen!

It’s been a long time since I read a book in a day, and I consumed this one almost all in one swoop. That’s what happens, I guess, when you can’t sleep.

This was intriguing and, dare I say, gripping. I’ve never actually used that word before, thinking it too cliche. But Two Sisters grouted me, so I guess it’s the right word. I’ve gotta take some time to pull my thoughts together and recover from this sleepless night. I’ll update with more thoughts later.

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Writer’s Block

I don’t know about any of you but when it comes to the year 2017 my attitude can be summed up in this carefully crafted and curated meme:

giphy2017 was 2016 on steroids and Red Bull so farewell to bad rubbish.

However…

I did have great books, talented writers, this blog and kindly and supportive readers during a really tough year for me, both professionally and personally.

Yesterday morning, on the first day of 2018, I woke up feeling something I haven’t felt in quite a while…an odd sense of hope. One thing I hope for is good things to happen to good people, which I have to remind myself daily that I am a good person and I deserve good things.

And I have received good things, and I know this will continue in 2018, especially when it comes to this blog. I started afresh under my name at Twitter around 6-7 months ago and now have over 430 followers, a great deal of them writers and authors. Now I’m following many of them. They are a source of inspiration and information.

Furthermore, 10 writers have reached out to me to read and write reviews of their books. So far I have read two of these writers’ books so look for a couple of reviews shortly and other reviews in the coming weeks and months. It turns out many of these writers have found me via the website Book Blogger List where I am featured prominently. How delightful!!!

As for those 10 writers thank you from the bottom of my heart for trusting me with your “babies,” your books. And I appreciate your patience as you anxiously await my reviews. Like everyone else I’m a busy person. Or as John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So let’s toast to a better 2018. To all of you I wish you love, peace, joy and happy reading !

Book Marks

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Book Riot’s Read Harder 2018.

Cat Person author nabs amazing book deal!

Ugh. The founder of our modern day library was also a serial sexual harasser.

Why are indie bookstores doing so well in the age of Amazon? Because they offer not just books, but an experience, too!

Kirkus give us their best of indie fiction in 2017.

The best gifts for Harry Potter fans.

How awesome is this cake book?

My favorite journalist, Bill Moyers, is saying bye.

Six tips when facing writer’s block.

More books on President Obama to be released.

 

 

 

Book Report: We Were Witches by Ariel Gore

It’s no secret I’m a fan of writer, author, teacher, activist and creator of the alternative parenting magazine Hip Mama Ariel Gore. Her memoir Atlas of the Human Heart is a favorite of mine. And I also love the non-fiction Bluebird and Gore’s primer on writing How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.

Now Gore is back with another tremendous book, a novel called We Were Witches.

“My body is a curio shop.” – Ariel Gore from We Were Witches

We Were Witches is a creative blend of memoir and fiction. We Were Witches is about a struggling single mom named Ariel and her beloved daughter Maia.

Ariel is determined to better her life by getting a college education and working less than desirable work/study jobs in a post-Reagan world of “family values,” skimpy child support checks, a shitty ex, less than ideal parents and a safety net made of spider webs.

But Ariel does have a lot of things going for you including an excellent education, an oddball assortment of loving friends, her own creativity, resourcefulness and writing talent. Ariel also has a street smart wisdom, her feminist spirit animals and Maia’s unconditional love.

As We Were Witches unspools Ariel learns to embrace being a square peg and refuses to whittle herself into a round one.

Vividly written with passages I saw in mind’s eye (especially the one on Maia’s birth, which chilled me) We Were Witches is simply one of my favorite novels of the year!

Book Report

Things have been crazy off-line for me and in the past couple of weeks quite a few writers have reached out to me about writing reviews of their books. Needless to say I’m thrilled they’ve found my corner of the Internet and I can’t wait to read and review these books in the new year.

However, there are four books I recently read and thoroughly loved that I’m going to share them in posts that are more PR than actual reviews so I’m going to share these PR pieces through something I call Book Reports. My first book report is for Courtney Maum’s novel Touch.

 

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Sloane Jacobsen is a trend forecaster for the millennial set. One thing Sloane forecasted was the “swipe.”

Hired by the company Mammoth to lead a conference on all things digital Sloane begins to notice a digital backlash. People are embracing the old school world.of living more analog, cherishing actual human contact with friends, family and community.

Will Sloane expose her findings at the conference even if it jeopardizes her career? And just as she’s dealing with this Sloane’s boyfriend Roman’s op-ed in the New York Times throws huge obstacle her way, one that messes with her professionally and romantically.

Brag Book

Great news! Jeff Abraham, my contact person from Jonas PR told he loved my review of Rhonda Shea’s book Up All Night. He also said Ms. Shear appreciated my honesty!

But wait! There’s more several people have reached out to me about reviewing their books so look for these reviews in the upcoming new year! According to a few of them they found out about me from the website book blogger.com. Hmm, who knew?

 

Book Review: Up All Night-From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons from an Accidental Feminist by Rhonda Shear

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I’ve often used the phrase “if so and so didn’t exist we’d probably have to invent them.” I’ve used them so often that it’s become a tired cliché. Note to self: Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to come up with a new phrase.

But I don’t have to apply this to Rhonda Shear. Shear is all about invention and re-invention. In fact, Shear is a potpourri of re-invention, a sex kitten who has lived nine lives, and will probably live nine more. And she dishes the dirt and tells her tale in her biography, Up All Night-From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons from an Accidental Feminist.

During her life, Shear has been a New Orleans beauty queen and a struggling and striving actress who got to kiss Fonzie from the TV classic Happy Days.  Shear later became a stand-up comic and host of the popular USA network program Up All Night, fueling the fantasies of horny teenage boys, grown men and probably a few lesbians. Shear is also a hopeful romantic who found her way back to her teenage love, now husband, Van Hagen. And last but now least, Shear is now a successful “bimboproneur,” inventor of the Ahh Bra and other underthings, which she sells on HSN.

Life began very modestly for Rhonda Honey Shear born and raised in New Orleans. Named after movie star Rhonda Fleming, Shear’s parents, Jennie and Wilbur Shear, doted on little Rhonda and got her involved in dance lessons at a very young age. It was then and there Shear knew she was destined to stardom. She began to compete (and win) local beauty pageants. She also found the love of her life, Van Hagen and together they had a sweet but somewhat volatile teen-age courtship. After high school, Shear got a BA in communications from Loyola University.

After she received her degree, Shear moved to Los Angeles, where she tried to make it as an actress. She got parts in D-list fair but also got a role in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs. She guest starred on quite a few TV shows like the aforementioned Happy Days, and shows like Cheers and Dukes of Hazzard. Shear. (But she also had to deal with a lot of #metoo issues from some unsavory types in the age before the “Days of Weinstein and Roses.”)

It was through these appearances Shear was able to hone her comedy skills, which inspired her to do her own comedy act. She spent plenty of time working at some questionable clubs but also did her act at iconic comedy showcases like the Comedy Store. She worked a lot with other comics like Gilbert Gottfried, but also developed a comedy act with other funny ladies.

But her teenage swain, Van Hagen, was still on her mind. Through the power of social media, she found her high school honey and once again they connected in a way not often seen other than in Hollywood romantic movies.

But Shear also had dreams of owning her own business and along with her new hubby, created a successful lingerie and lounge wear company, which after a few struggles is doing very well and is sold both via HSN and her website Rhondashear.com. One notable item from her line is the Ahh Bra, an actual comfortable bra!

Up All Night is composed of three parts, part one is about Shear growing up in the Big Easy, part two is about her life in Hollywood and part three is about her life in Florida with hubby Van Hagen and her life as a successful business women. These three parts are composed of chapters Shear calls lessons, lessons which include: Beauty Matters, Don’t Wait for Opportunities, Create Them and Love Has No Expiration Date.

Is this book perfect? Of course not. At times I found it a bit rushed and not fully developed. I wish Shear would have gone deeper into various phases of her life. At times, Up All Night just skimmed the surface. I wanted more cake, less frosting. Perhaps, Shear’s life would be better served through several volumes of her life story. But it’s very likely her publisher wanted to pack it all into one book.

Some of the advice Shear offers verges on Hallmark card clichés or something you might find on a bumper sticker or a fortune cookie (but then again, the advice is pretty good and I think Shear’s heart is in the right place-she really wants to be there for the reader).

Oddly enough, I found myself quite interested in her life as a beauty queen. This could be because I’m from the land of the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin, where women where cheeseheads, not tiaras.

And as a fledgling jewelry designer with a mad love for Martha Stewart and lesser known ladies of business, I gobbled up her tale about developing her business, coming up with the Ahh Bra, and other sexy and also comfy lingerie and lounge wear designs. And I appreciate how Shear shared the good, the bad and the ugly of running one’s business, how she made her mark on HSN and life as a lady mogul. When it comes to our breasts, ladies, I don’t care if you are an A Student, packing a couple of killer Bs, a tempest in a C cup or a cornucopia of riches, a comfortable bra is every women’s birthright!

Ultimately, I grew to like Shear and her brand of feminism. Feminism is often open to interpretation (not too mention misunderstanding). You can be a feminist in so many ways, and Shear more than proves it.