Book Reviews and Gratitude!!

I am delighted to share the first two reviews for More than Coffee, both written by two fantastic writers. And I’m still dancing the happy dance!
The first is by Balroop Singh at Emotional Shadows.

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming and delightful memoir

More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose by Lauren Scott is a heart-warming memoir that captures lovely moments of childhood, of parents’ love, of attachments, of campfires and hiking with the love of her life. The blissful moments come alive as Scott revels in the good times, letting nostalgia transport her into time machine, to watch the reel unfold like “pictures on a camera roll.” She talks about the value of some priceless gifts that are handed down from one generation to another; she takes pride in the stories that such “gems” tell to evoke fond memories of parents. Only the happy times have been shared in this book.

Written in a simple and straight-forward style, Lauren’s poetry is realistic. ‘To My Babies’ tugged at my heart and I am sure all mothers can relate to this delightful poem. Fragrant memories of “Earthquake Cake” made me smile. ‘Simple Existence’ is thought-provoking and made me pause to comprehend the depth of words that dance across “desert dunes and boundless oceans.” ‘Forever Steady’ too gives you a reflective message to take a breather, look at magical wilderness of nature and see how “delightfully birds sing and trees welcome our company.”

I loved this book and finished it within an hour. If you value relationships and family bonding, this book is for you.

The second review is from D. Wallace Peach at Myths of the Mirror:

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely personal memories from the author

This highly recommended and quick read is a compilation of a number of Scott’s personal and precious memories conveyed in both short prose and freeform poetry. A lot of those memories come with the luxury of a hot cup of coffee, but not all. They capture bits of time from idolizing Barbara Streisand as a kid to camping in the Sierras, and lifelong encounters with spiders. Embedded within many of the stories are heartfelt relationships with parents, spouse, and children.

Some of my favorite stories were “Silver Heirlooms” about how simple hand-me-downs become filled with meaning, “Ascent” about grief and the solace of nature, “Laughing Spiders” about big hairy arachnids, and “1989” a romantic relationship initiated by, of all things, an old refrigerator.

I’ve read poetry books by Scott in the past, and the poems in this collection are some of my favorites. They follow along the same lines as the prose pieces and are in many cases reflections of the same topic. My favorite poems were: “The Right Time”, “Simple Existence”, “To My Babies” and…

The Teacher

Its canary boldness
rises up to the sun
alone, yet not lonely,
fearing nothing,
but wearing bravery
on each petal –
standing tall with spirit
in lean green attire
as if soaking up the day’s
endless possibilities.


If you haven’t met my wonderful blogging friends, Balroop or Diana, please pay them a visit. Their talents span from penning profound poetry to creating fabulous fantasy. And thank you for stopping by. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of my book in paperback or e-book format, simply click “buy” on my right sidebar image.

Big Hugs,
Lauren ❤️❤️❤️

Slivers: Chiseled Poetry & Dead of Winter-BOOK REVIEWS

Slivers: Chiseled Poetry by Balroop Singh is an enchanting collection of micro-poetry inspired by haiku, tanka, and senryu, also including acrostic poems. Nature, love, and life itself have inspired the growth of these poetic blossoms. Balroop reveals her graceful way of stringing words together, forming vivid images for the reader, inciting a myriad of emotions.

What I find noteworthy is her admission of thinking these forms would be too simple to write, therefore, her interest had waned. But when she met the challenge, she realized the task was anything but uncomplicated. And she met the challenge flawlessly. As I turned each page, more favorites appeared, too many to list, but here are a couple that resonated:

clasping trees beam/in the misty morning breeze/a glorious sight

These lines evoke backpacking memories of waking up in the morning in our wilderness home, greeting the majestic trees.

I heard melodies/of crescent moon that hung above/Darkness melted with the lilting sound/that merged in the symphony of sun/I chose life.

In this poem, I am reminded that our lives are not without strife but hope always prevails. Life is so much bigger and glorious than we realize.

Through Balroop’s magical word-weaving, she expresses the gift of surrounding beauty not to be taken for granted. She reiterates that we should persevere through the darkness because the light will shine again, and a heart that finds the deepest of love is a heart of gratitude. An exquisite poetry collection to be treasured and read over and over again. Highly recommended!

DEAD OF WINTER Journey 1-4 by Teagan Riordain Geneviene begins with Journey 1 in the first of a series that continues in monthly novellas. I have only recently begun reading the fantasy genre. But many wonderful authors have enticed me into their fantastical worlds of writing, and Teagan Riordain Geneviene is one of them. I was easily pulled into Emlyn’s world, the main character who is only twelve years old. A world with its restrictions appearing seemingly true to life for many.

Emlyn’s story starts in the Flowing Lands at Forlorn Peak, but her life is not all giggles of a twelve-year-old for she lives with a secret only her teacher, Osabide, is privy to. Emlyn can see spirits, but the controlling radical society called The Brethren view her as a disgrace. Because of this, her tale is one of mystery and suspense, of her trying to find her way, discerning who she can trust and who she must run from. Additionally, she keeps hearing the words, “Winter is Coming” which places the reader in a nail-biting position of mystery, wondering what those three words indicate.

Teagan’s writing is so compelling that the readers are invited into feeling emotions of love, acceptance, fear, and oppression, to name a few. This series is captivating with wonderful world-building, a well-developed setting, and characters that either charm or get under your skin. I have enjoyed the unfolding story through Journey 4, and I look forward to continuing the journeys to follow. If you appreciate great fantasy novels, or even if fantasy is not your go-to genre, I encourage you to give Teagan’s series a try. I highly recommend “Dead of Winter” for all readers!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll add these books to your libraries – simply click Buy on Amazon. For Teagan’s books, the link in this post is for Journey 1, but you’ll easily find the books to follow. Happy Reading!

Lauren ❤️

#BOOK REVIEWS: Poetry, Memoir, Fantasy

Recently, I’ve ordered new paperbacks as if they’ll be obsolete tomorrow! And I’m truly enjoying the various genres: poetry, memoir, and fantasy. From the books I share today, I have been prompted to sigh over love-infused prose and verse. Visions from my past have come to life through some flash memoirs, and my attention has been captivated after venturing into an exciting new world of fantasy. I am thrilled to share three wonderful books that I gave Five-Star reviews in hope that you will be inspired to read them as well.

Memoirs of a Star” by Diana Menezes is a collection of extraordinary word weaving in poetic form. Life and love provide inspiration in all their glory and despair. Both can be joyful and messy. There are times when hope feels lost for eternity. But Diana reminds us that the stars continue to shine as though covering us in a blanket of magic. Even if the dark shadows grow, light will glow again.

Diana’s writing is lovely and enchanting, prompting the reader to feel heartbreak, elation, inspiration, or to sigh for a love felt deeply. I have dog-eared many favorites in my paperback, but these are a few that resonated: “The Wrong Road Home” tugged at my heart as I thought of the elderly who find themselves alone in their last chapter of life. After reading, I felt grateful that my dad still had his three daughters to care for him after my mom passed away. “Tangled Moonlight” speaks to a heart that will never let go – the epitome of unquestionable true love. “I Will Stand” inspires us to let go of past mistakes so that we can find our way out of the darkness. “To Have is To Hope” reiterates that we are visitors on this planet, that we have always been together though on different paths, and to remember the promise of a new day and a new hope. Highly recommended for poetry lovers who enjoy entrancing verse about the joys and challenges life and love offer us.

“Flashes of Life” by Pamela S. Wight is a delightful collection of memories spanning from childhood to motherhood to becoming a grandmother. I read this beautiful book in two days, sitting on my patio, the warm breeze embracing me like a friendly hug. Pam writes with authenticity, easily drawing the reader into her marvelous world. In every story I felt love. From her humor, I laughed for my neighbors to hear. In the touching stories, tears found freedom. Several of her narratives take place in Marin County, California where I reside, providing lovely and familiar visuals.

I felt a connection with many of her tales. “Good Morning, Moonshine” describes my stage in life perfectly, making me laugh, especially from these lines, “…we women have gotten a bum rap. Finally, when we’re over that certain age – too old to have babies screaming for a bottle or teenagers breaking a midnight curfew – so we can finally sleep undisturbed, our bodies won’t let us.” “Nap Time” evokes precious memories of when my children were little (now in their late twenties). The chapter, “For the Dogs” touched me as I have received the love of many canines over the years. I’ve also felt the tremendous loss and void in my life when they passed on. “Buttercups, Bollywood, and World Peace” had me dancing in the living room too. If anyone asked which story was my favorite, I couldn’t choose just one. I loved them all!

“Flashes of Life” parallels to the sweet and spicy of a slice of gingerbread – a perfect read for anyone needing a laugh and not afraid to shed a tear or two. Highly recommended!


The Ferryman and the Sea Witch” by D. Wallace Peach is a fast-moving, gripping nautical fantasy where the merrow rule the sea. Panmar, the Sea Witch, swims into the spotlight, luring the readers onto a choppy ride to the dark side with her hungry appetite for human sacrifices. Callum, the second main character, becomes the ferryman, finding himself trapped in a disturbing bargain with the Sea Witch. In addition to Panmar and Callum, Diana adds realistic nuances to the other characters as well, where I felt genuine empathy for some and loathed others without question.

With each turn of the page, the reader becomes curious to learn what transpires between two warring nations: Brid Clarion luxuriating in wealth, and Haf Killick, a floating city of dilapidated ships. Diana’s descriptive writing and world-building is so vivid and real that I felt as though I stood on the Windwraith, balancing to the sea’s rhythm, with Callum an arm’s length away. I was swept into this dark fantasy with turbulent twists and turns but was surprised with the touch of romance. Another fantasy tale of beauty and excellent writing that I could not put down. Readers who revel in Diana’s creative storytelling, fantasy genre devotees, and those seeking something different than their usual choices will love this fantastic nautical adventure. Highly recommended!

If your interest was piqued, simply click on the “Buy on Amazon” below each book image to purchase your copy.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

~Lauren ❤️❤️❤️

Book Review: The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

BLURB:

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

***
D. Wallace Peach’s eighth novel is a collision of medieval and urban fantasy centered in the Northwest Hills of Portland, Oregon.

Madlyn is quirky, blessed with a sarcastic sense of humor, and a tendency to say exactly what’s on her mind. At 28, she’s also abandoned her dreams of a fairytale life. A satisfying career and happily-ever-after romance simply aren’t turning up in her cards, and in fact, her junky car is careening downhill fast. A strong female protagonist with a reluctant streak, she finds herself trapped in a heroic adventure through overlapping worlds, unsure whether one or both are real.

Don’t look for a run-of-the-mill fantasy here. This is one tangled tale crafted especially for readers who enjoy plot twists that keep everyone, including the characters, guessing.

MY 5-STAR REVIEW:

A Fabulous Fantasy with a Twist

The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach ranks high in the unique and clever category. The storyline weaves back and forth between reality and fantasy. Qualities such as integrity, greed, and feeling defeated by life itself play a big part. Peach intersperses delicate pieces of wisdom throughout this adventure that only entice you to press on – eager and excited to see what‘s revealed with each page turn. Madlyn, Cody, and Dustin become likable and genuine characters, keeping you entertained from beginning to end. Grandmother Lillian adds spice to the twist and turns. You’ll run into some bloody circumstances where you may be inclined to cover your eyes, but please don’t. You’ll miss the compelling action and superb description; even the subtle hints of humor add a bit of lightheartedness.

I began reading this book with the niggling awareness that fantasy isn’t my favorite genre. Candidly, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the story for this reason. But let me tell you, I was hooked from page one! Peach has an exceptional skill of painting pictures with her extraordinary words, along with her knack for excellent world-building.

Since I was thoroughly impressed with the writing and story-telling, I’ll peruse the author’s collection for more compelling tales to transport me into exciting imaginary worlds. So, if you’re a fantasy genre enthusiast, then I highly recommend reading The Sorcerer’s Garden. And even if fantasy isn’t your go-to genre, I implore you to dive into this adventure just as I did. Five stars for a fantastic adventure!

If you’d like to pick up a copy, below is the Amazon link:

Visit D. Wallace Peach to peruse her fantasy collection:

https://mythsofthemirror.com/

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Lauren ❤️

(Book blurb was pulled from Amazon)

Amazing Matilda – Life lessons for all ages!

Dear Friends,

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Author, Bette A. Stevens. From lovely poetry to delightful children’s literature to a poignant coming-of-age tale, she has a method of writing that draws the reader in as though present in that very moment. The imagery Bette paints through her words is vivid and because of her breathtaking haiku, I will visit Maine someday! Recently, I read her children’s book: Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale, and let me tell you, we are never too old to read a story written for youth. There is more to this enchanting children’s book that will entice and benefit any adult. I will share my 5-star review in a few minutes. But first, let me introduce you to Bette:

Inspired by nature and human nature, award-winning author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture. Stevens’s books include The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; Amazing Matilda, Children’s Picture Book (Ages 4-11) 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award and Gittle List; Pure Trash (MG/YA/Adult) Short Story; Dog Bone Soup (MG/YA/Adult) Coming of age Novel (2017 KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017); and My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection) 2019.

Bette’s books:

Children’s Books

  • THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO! was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012.
  • AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books.

Fiction General (Middle-grade–Adult)

  • PURE TRASH, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP(KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017).
  • DOG BONE SOUP is not only the title of Bette A. Stevens’s debut novel; it ranks high among the paltry meals that the book’s protagonist, Shawn Daniels, wants to forget. Plodding through mounting snow and battling howling winds, Shawn is ready to leave it all behind—living in poverty, Dad’s drinking, life in foster care, the divorce, the bullies…. Travel with Shawn Daniels through the guts and the glories of life. DOG BONE SOUPa compelling coming-of-age saga.

Poetry

  • MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons   Stevens released her first poetry collection June 2019. MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons (A Poetry & Photography Collection) takes readers on a journey through Maine and the four seasons she knows and loves. To round off the collection, the author includes symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.
  • Stevens is currently (2021) working on a second poetry collection. 

My 5-star review:

This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a sweet little caterpillar named Matilda. She embarks on her transformation to a lovely Monarch butterfly but focuses on one big wish hoping it will come true. During her journey, she finds encouragement from three new adorable animal friends. And they gladly share their wisdom which conveys a deeper message: to persevere, be patient, and never give up – fundamental lessons for all ages. Stevens also illustrated this delightful book, which adds an impressive layer to her talent and skill as an author. But reading about Matilda’s metamorphosis isn’t only for the youth; this wonderful and educational story will also be enjoyed by those who have been reading for decades and decades. I highly recommend Amazing Matilda, A Monarch’s Tale for all ages!

Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator —“A writer inspired by nature and human nature”

Thank you for stopping by and I encourage you to visit Bette’s blog and allow yourself to sink into her evocative writing. Perhaps you have young children or grandchildren who would enjoy reading Matilda’s tale. If not, as I mentioned above, Matilda’s charming little story offers big lessons even for adults.

~ Have a wonderful day, Lauren 💗

Book Reviews: Conflicted Hearts and Twenty Years After “I Do” by D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye’s Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7 

I am excited to introduce you to D.G. Kaye today, or better known as Debby. I have followed Debby’s blog for several years now and it has been a joy to not only read her amazing, witty, and honest writing, but to also get to know her as a new friend who has a big heart. She has written many books, so I pulled two out of the hat: Conflicted Hearts first, then Twenty Years After “I Do.”

My First 5-Star Review:

Conflicted Hearts is a compilation of personal essays from D.G. Kaye’s emotional experiences of growing up with her unloving and narcissistic mother. The author struggles with her obligation as a daughter, but also her responsibility to care for herself regarding her own healthy well-being. In each chapter as she opens yet another window giving us a glimpse into her extremely trying times, the emotions become palpable. Because I am a mother of two adult children whom I love to the moon and back, I often felt tears forming and my heart being tugged at in different directions. How a mother can abandon her own children is something I find difficult to understand. D.G. Kaye writes with emotion, vulnerability, and humor. She is not afraid to admit mistakes, but she will also gladly glow in triumph – moments when I felt like clapping, thrilled with the outcome and thrilled for her!

Unfortunately, she lost her childhood because of her mother’s constant absence in the household. Her mother would rather be out partying, seeking the attention of men by using her luminescent beauty, and by doting on her passion for gambling. With the author being the oldest of her siblings, she naturally slid into the role of “mother” which in turn, shaped her decision of possibly not wanting to have children in the future. Her parent’s relationship ran extremely hot and cold, but mostly hot when her mother kicked her father out repeatedly. She adored her father, so each time he left, fear crept into her very soul that she would never see him again.

The author writes with honesty and when she finds herself acknowledging enlightening realizations, she revels in her own personal growth. I read Conflicted Hearts not only as a memoir, but also as a compelling self-help book. And a difficult decision lies in waiting with each turn of the page exemplifying the author’s courage and strength. I am sure her struggles are felt by others so that her personal growth benefits those who live each day in similar circumstances.

This is the first book of D.G. Kaye’s that I have read and because her writing is natural, conversational, and engaging, I am excited to read more from her. This book definitely falls into the can’t put down category. If you enjoy reading memoirs and self-help books, I highly recommend Conflicted Hearts. You will find yourself on an emotional and inspirational wild ride that will both touch and tug at your heart. An excellent read!

My Second 5-Star Review:

D.G. Kaye’s memoir, Twenty Years After “I Dopiqued my interest for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been married for thirty-one years to a man who is not only my loving husband but who is my very best friend. I wanted to read what the author had to say on the subject, and she certainly inserted many pearls of wisdom of which I agreed with. Before I met my husband, I had dated a man twenty years older than me, so reading her perspective on the age difference grabbed my attention, as well. This was the second book that I have read from Debby, so I was already familiar with her beautiful, conversational writing.

Debby offers snippets of insight from her own experiences on how to keep a marriage happy and unbreakable. She adds how humor can lighten any heavy situation and intimately writes of how sex ultimately changes from dating to married life. Most importantly though, she conveys that love has no timeline. Couples should enjoy each moment together and unconditional love will carry them through the difficult times. I was moved by this lovely collection of stories from Debby’s marriage to Gordon, and how she met true love when she least expected. An enjoyable read and one I highly recommend!

Short bio:

Debby Gies is a Canadian memoir/nonfiction writer who writes under the pen name D.G. Kaye. She writes about real life experiences and matters of the heart sharing life lessons in hopes to empower others.

Social Links:

www.dgkayewriter.com

www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)

www.facebook.com/dgkaye

www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7


I look forward to reading more books from Debby and I hope you will pay her blog a visit to learn more about this wonderful author and to sink into her inviting and conversational writing, as well.

Thanks for stopping by! Lauren 💓💓

BOOK REVIEW for John Howell: Eternal Road – The Final Stop


I was thrilled to be a part of John’s blog tour in helping him promote his new book which is now a new favorite in my home library. So, today I introduce John Howell again and I’m sharing my review of Eternal Road – The Final Stop.

My 5-star review on Amazon:

What a thrilling ride Eternal Road – The Final Stop turned out to be! We are introduced to James who is on a road trip in his classic 1956 Oldsmobile, but we are shocked when he ends up dying in a tragic car accident. And yet, we still find him driving his Oldsmobile when he decides to give a hitchhiker a ride, who surprisingly, happens to be his childhood sweetheart Sam. She is now an adult because seventeen years have flown by since they have seen each other. And when Sam breaks the surreal news to James that they have both passed on to eternal life, his head spins with questions that cannot be answered just yet. So, the two begin a compelling journey together in the afterlife. The challenges and twists and turns they encounter are spellbinding. John inserts time-travel which takes the reader to interesting historical time periods where Sam and James have critical decisions to make. Interlaced in the protagonists’ story is just about every genre and topic you can imagine: adventure, old west, suspense, romance, artificial intelligence, including visits from the devil, which I’ll admit, were a bit unsettling but had me on the edge of my seat.

Throughout their story, the more Sam and James learn about each other, the more the reader assumes a certain outcome. And yet, the events in their journey lead to a surprising ending. Their unfolding relationship tugs at the heart and settling family matters brought me to tears more than once. Eternal Road keeps the reader engaged to the very last sentence. This is a novel that simply cannot be put down! I was captivated from the very beginning to the point of wanting to skip work just so I could cozy up at home and read more about James and Sam! If you are up for a road trip in a 1956 classic Oldsmobile, I highly suggest you hop in and begin turning the pages!

Here are the universal links:

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad

Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

If you’d like to contact John…

Blog Fiction Favoriteshttp://johnwhowell.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

John has a quick wit, a knack for clever dialogue, and an amazing talent for writing compelling fiction. So, I hope you’ll pay him a visit and don’t forget the universal links above for a copy of his book.


Thanks for stopping by! Lauren
💓