Sunday, March 18, 2018

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe by Lucinda Stein

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe by Lucinda Stein
When you least expect it, life can turn upside down! With a suitcase in each hand, Liza Murphy stares at the display window that touts Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe. After growing up in the back of a secondhand store—where her graduation reception was advertised to the public, Liza swore she’d never return. But twenty-three-year-old Liza has lost all sense of direction after her divorce. Her mother, Minnie, a product of the hippie era, now resides in an antique store, her eccentricity known to all in the small Midwestern town. To Liza’s chagrin, she’s once again living in a store. When a toddler is abandoned among the antiques, Liza takes in the child she calls Sweetie, hoping the young woman who left her will return. Liza soon finds her priorities change. She falls in love with the child and refuses to report Sweetie to the authorities. When the young woman who abandoned the child returns a year later, Liza is forced to make a decision—give up Sweetie or go on the run.
Heartwarming, engaging and compelling!
Liza Murphy is excited to leave home and leave her eccentric dominating mother. Her mother owns and lives in her antique shop called Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe. Liza moves to the city with determination to make it and never to return to the small town where she grew up. There she meets a man and falls in love and marries. But her marriage to cheating Taylor, doesn’t last long and Liza finds herself broke and busted. She is forced to move right back to where she started…Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe. There Liza must face up to her past, learn to forgive and plan a new future.
But then a surprise comes knocking at her doorstep in the form of an abandoned toddler. Lisa takes it upon herself to become a mother to the child, for a while. After sometime, Liza falls in love with the child and on purpose fails to report the missing child to the authorities. After about a year, a young woman returns to claim her child. Liza, unwilling to give the child up, must make a decision whether to break the law and run for it, or turn the child over to the young woman. But it isn’t such an easy choice because she feels she must do what’s best for the child too. Liza feels she has a second chance with this young child. What will she do?
Lucinda Stein has written a beautiful story of one woman’s struggles in life, only to find that there is hope in having a good life no matter how unexpected. It’s a story of second chances and salvation.
Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe by Lucinda Stein is a heartwarming story filled with many of life’s trials but also life’s celebrations. The storyline is definitely unique and different in such a good way. I couldn’t put it down and turned the pages quickly to find out what would happen next. There are many surprises that are unexpected, which keeps the reader’s interest peaked.
The eccentric characters have unique personalities and are extremely well developed. They are all well fleshed out and detailed. Readers will love the characters as there is much persona put into them. They are very relatable. Although, the plot is somewhat unexpected and different, it is very relatable and enjoyable. It is engaging, captivating and absorbing.
Lucinda Stein is a magnificent, superb writer with words that flow off the page. Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe is a creative story and beautifully written. It is a real page turner and a book that I recommend to all women readers. It is very enjoyable, moving and touching. Readers will be cheering for Liza as she struggles to keep the toddler she calls “Sweetie.” You must pick up a copy of this book to find out what transpires and to find out if Liza gets to keep the child in the end. The ending is very good and satisfying, you won’t be let down.
Chick Lit Cafe gives Minnie’s Antique and Curiosity Shoppe a big 5 stars!
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The Ex Chronicles – A Short Story by Maura Beth Brennan

The Ex Chronicles – A Short Story by Maura Beth Brennan
Angie thinks she has found the love of her life. All goes well until she starts getting phone calls from a sultry woman and realizes her man is cheating. She decides to take matters into her own hands and confront the two lovers. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Angie likes to daydream about movie stars and films. She is a movie buff and is constantly comparing her life to those in the limelight. One day as she is having car trouble, she meets a handsome hunk named Bryce. They hit it off and begin dating. They even move in together.
Everything is wonderful, and she thinks he is the love of her life and that it will last forever. Or so she thinks. But then the unthinkable begins to happen. She begins to receive phone calls from a sultry voiced woman and fears that Bryce may be cheating on her.
What ensues is a hilarious, yet sad, turn of events. Is Bryce cheating on her? And if so, will she catch him in the act? Will her mother say, “I told you so?”
In  the short story, The Ex Chronicles by Maura Beth Brennan is a short story filled with humor and crazy antics. It is a lighthearted romantic comedy. Angie is a fun and humorous character that is always thinking about romantic movies and comparing herself to movie starlets. She dreams of meeting and loving men like Jude Law, Ryan Reynolds and Channing Tatum. When she meets the extremely handsome and muscular Bryce, she is over her head with excitement and falls hard for him. Her mother is always giving her advice and tells her that she shouldn’t be giving it away so easily. Angie thinks her mother is old fashioned, until she realizes that she may be right.
I loved The Ex Chronicles- A Short Story by Maura Beth Brennan. It is the story of a typical short love affair gone wrong. It is very relatable and Angie is a character that many women will see themselves in. I certainly did. This book is so funny and amusing. It is decidedly entertaining and easy to read. I was initially attracted to the book cover. It’s flirty, enticing and artistic. And, the book did not disappoint, as it is flirty, enticing and creative too.
Maura Beth Brennan has done an extraordinary job of putting a lot of action and hilarity into one short story. The characters are fabulous and well established. They are certainly relatable and likable. I was impressed by how she was able to create multifaceted characters with such few words. The plot is engaging and absorbing. Readers will love the quick scenario and the satisfying fun ending. The Ex Chronicles is a perfect short chick lit style read. I read it through quickly and loved every word and the entire storyline. If you love short romance stories and chick lit reads, you will love The Ex Chronicles. It is fulfilling, gratifying and hilarious.
Chick Lit Cafe highly recommends The Ex Chronicles, a short fun romantic story.
Purchase The Short Story The Ex Chronicles by Maura Beth Brennan @Amazon Today

Those Who Swallowed God by Dayron Maxwell

Those Who Swallowed God (The Adventures of Narvix) by Dayron Maxwell
Life is hard when you got red skin, scimitar shaped horns, and twitter labels you as a Section 8 archangel. Life is even harder when your psychotherapist dismisses the choir of angels fluttering outside your gate as a form of psychotic depression.
When divine judgement wears a tailor suit and leads an army of winged humans, Narvix’s mundane life of retro PC gaming and afternoon snoozes during fourth period calculus, erupts into a roller coaster of dodging lightning bolts, facing a flaming woman, and preventing genocide from reaching his street address.
Narvix, has to come to terms with his true identity as a superhuman alien. He has red skin, and unusual shaped horns. His therapist thinks he is crazy. He is labeled as a, mentally unfit for service, archangel. But, his personal mission is to save his friends from human genocide.
Narvix’s uneventful life suddenly explodes into a crazy mind blowing ordeal of darting lightning bolts, coming head on with a flaming woman, dealing with winged humans and preventing human genocide from attacking his neighborhood.
Those Who Swallowed God by Dayron Maxwell is a captivating, lighthearted, yet intense fantasy read. It is compelling and intelligent. It is creative and beautifully written, with words that flow off the page. The dialog is very clever, meaningful and intriguing. I loved how every word was divinely arranged to portray a fictional tale with magnificent narrative, twists and turns.  It is a very intense book, with a lot going on. I couldn’t put it down and read it through quickly. There are many spins to the storyline that kept me intrigued and turning the pages quickly.
Narvix is an unusual, creative character. He is funny, well developed and multifaceted. All the characters are well fleshed out and have very strong places in the story. This is one of those books that once you start it, you put everything aside to keep reading it, in order to find out what will happen next. It’s that good.
Those Who Swallowed God by Dayron Maxwell has all the components of a great coming of age fantasy read. But with a little extra added humor. Which I especially loved. It is unique in every way. The descriptions are written with extra flair. Everything from the settings, to the characters, are described in a vivid visual way tantalizing the imaginary senses. There is also quite a bit of emotion written into the storyline which keeps readers feeling various reactions of passion and sentiment. It kept me engaged as I felt a strong connection to the various unusual characters.
Narvix is an exceptional tough guy protagonist. He is great. I loved Those Who Swallowed God and highly recommend it to all fantasy lovers and to those who want to read an extraordinarily good read.
Purchase Those who Swallowed God by Dayron Maxwell @Amazon

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Severed: A Novel by VL Towler

Severed: A Novel by VL Towler
Dismembered fingers. Lives cut short. A local investigation will upset the tranquility of a small Louisiana town. Dr. Lula Logan has been asked by her former boyfriend, a detective with whom she had just broken up, to investigate the appearance of severed fingers left at police department headquarters. Then another dismembered finger surfaces at the home of a local producer/writer and his business partner. The writer has been AWOL, and no one knows where he is. As the investigation of the mysterious fingers deepens, we will learn that many people affiliated with the missing writer’s production company, including his wife, have a stake in his disappearance. Notes, emails, and flower deliveries with written threats arrive, received by different individuals who want their involvement in the intrigue to remain undetected.
Set in a contemporary rural pocket of Northwestern Louisiana, [fictional] Nakadee is a university town with a population under 15,000. The citizens of Nakadee, whose ancestors have lived there for several hundred years, while trapped in its relative remoteness, are thankful for its quiet refuge. They purposefully wish to live life in the slow lane. The town is a mix of Creole, Cajun, Black and European inhabitants. Nakadee is a sleepy hollow (near Cane River country), and is likely to grow in leaps and bounds given an anticipated natural gas pipeline construction project which will change its moribund economy.
Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Lula Logan is reluctantly drawn into the forensic investigation concerning a severed finger left at the Nakadee Police Department by her ex-boyfriend, a police detective. She goes through the process of her forensic tasks in her lab:  taking measurements of the amputated fingers, boiling the human tissue [a corpse is found in the woods with a gash in its head], and studying the striae of the bones to identify the type of injuries sustained by the victim. She must also try to identify the weapon or object that might have been used to kill the victim. Dr. Lula works closely with her colleagues, Aggie Sheaf, a Medical Examiner and “Tom-Tom,” a Forensic Entomologist, both of whom become involved in the investigation.
The Entomologist’s information helps uncover the mystery of the warring species of blowfly and black soldier fly maggots that cover the corpse found in the woods. The maggots hold the key to unlocking the mystery of which individual(s) among the small town’s citizenry could be the killer(s). We will learn about the role that flies play in the process of decomposition, their relevance to poultry farm rendering stations used for animal carcass disposal, and which flies are attracted to which type of once-living remains.
Two members of the House of Representatives, Congressmen Matt Killian, who represents a powerful Hollywood constituency, and an up-and-coming Congressman, Ambrose Girabeaux, a black Republican, are trying to negotiate their votes concerning upcoming Markup legislation involving the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, which Killian chairs. The congressmen are fighting over the entertainment industry which has sought Matt Killian’s assurances that he will protect its interests. At the Markup, the two legislators will debate the practices of the industry.
The investigation will also reveal that power comes in all manifestations, sex being one of the most flagrant in the entertainment industry. Powerful men and women who are straight, gay, and pedophiles figure prominently in the playground of the entertainment gods, and they can also filter into the lives of people in rural outposts like Nakadee, too, as hungry and naïve innocents crave to become a part of Hollywood.
Compelling, Intriguing and Intelligent!
 Severed: A Novel is a well written first novel by VL Towler. It is an extraordinary, multi-layered story about crimes perpetrated in a small, rural, Northwestern Louisiana university town named Nakadee. The residents there have an ancestral lineage that goes back for several hundred years. They have a certain passion for their quiet, peaceful, existence and purposely choose to live their quiet lives in the remote rural area. The cultural makeup of the town is a mixture of Cajun, Creole, Black and European inhabitants.
Dismembered fingers, murder, and an invasive investigation will disrupt the small community and set everyone on edge.
Dr. Lula Logan, a highly educated Forensic Anthropologist, is called in to investigate a dismembered finger. She uses all of her resources to investigate and determine not only the victim, but also the murder weapon. She works closely with several colleagues to get to the bottom of the incident. But there is much more going on than just a murder, and there are many individuals and aspects involved in the horrific crimes.
 Severed: A Novel is an extremely intellectual read. Readers are educated on an abundance of things, such as forensic anthropology, the fascinating, intertwined lives of the Cajuns, Creoles, Blacks and European inhabitants, and also the political complexities of the small town.
Author VL Towler has a way with writing dialogue, and I was very impressed. I felt as if I were right there hearing everything that was being said. She also uses various dialects, which I found unusually interesting and very brilliant.
In Severed: A Novel, the plot is comprehensive and deep. It flows effortlessly and is steady and captivating. The mystery narrative continues on, step by step, adding up clues and intensifying awareness of the entire plot. It’s one of the best mysteries that I have read in a long time. All the while, VL Towler weaves within the storyline, like a fine vivid painting, the emotional difficulties that exist within American culture: individual and societal issues, prejudices, conflicts, and complications.
The eccentric and diverse characters are interesting and intriguing. They are exceedingly well developed, and multifaceted. The characters all have their place in the storyline and are cleverly woven throughout. They have a substantial importance in the ending and are tied up in an orderly and tight method, which displays VL Towler’s exceptional and creative writing skills.
The descriptions of the various scenes, people, and more are vivid and alluring. The story is full of intriguing twists and turns, with intricacy and intensity building on every page. It is a compelling page-turner that I couldn’t put down. The ending was a pleasant, satisfying surprise that I wasn’t expecting. Severed is one book that I would read again. I give Severed: A Novel 5 big stars.
Purchase Severed: A Novel by VL Towler @Amazon Today

Unrequited Guilt by Kim Praser

Unrequited Guilt by Kim Praser
Seventeen-year-old Amber Malley’s suicide sparks the depression that has been buried within teacher Kristen Hunter. The single mother of two struggles to cope with the loss of this student while coming to terms with her failed marriage that she denies to acknowledge.
Not only does Kristen work through her depression, Kristen’s father, Paul, deals with the rejection he received from his mother as a child, along with the deaths of his best friend and wife. Amber’s mother, Mary Alice, ignores the truth behind her daughter’s death; instead, she decides to sue Kristen who encourages the composition of Amber’s suicide note. Within weeks of Amber’s death, another student, Brian, commits suicide by walking into a train as a result of rejecting his father’s new marriage.
How will Kristen handle the guilt she feels contributes to these situations? To what degree does she hold herself responsible?
Kristen Hunter is a single mother of two and a high school teacher. Kristen is in denial when it comes to her failed marriage. When one of her students, seventeen year old Amber Malley, commits suicide, it sends Kristen spiraling into depression. Her failed marriage and the horror of her student’s suicide is too much for her to handle.
Kristen must also deal with her own father’s depression and issues due to his own childhood and the deaths of his best friend and his wife.
To top it all off, young Amber Malley’s mother, Mary Alice, refuses to believe the truth behind her daughter’s suicide, and decides to put the blame on Kristen. Mary Alice decides to sue Kristen for Amber’s death because she believes that Kristen encouraged the composition of Amber’s suicide note.
Then if things aren’t bad enough, another student commits suicide. Kristen is overwhelmed with depression and now she is ridden with guilt. Is Kristen somehow responsible for the suicides and deaths of the two young students? That is the question that bombards her mind continually. Will Kristen be able to overcome the depression and come to terms with the guilt that she feels? Will her life continue to spin out of control? Or will she be victorious in the end?
Unrequited Guilt is a phenomenal story of one woman’s unexpected twists and turns in life that result in tragedy and a life filled with depression, guilt and mental torment. How far should Kristen go in holding herself responsible for the deaths of these children? The guilt she feels is unfounded, but she struggles terribly with that and the other issues in her life.
Author, Kim Praser has composed a poignant, compelling and engaging novel that I was unable to put down. I was drawn in right from the beginning and fully occupied throughout. Unrequited Guilt is a real tearjerker filled with raw emotion, hope and inspiration. The storyline is highly imaginative, unique and creative. It is realistic and relatable. Kim Praser encourages the reader to allow themselves to have deep feelings and compassion as she paints the human condition like a portrait. This is a beautiful story that readers will not soon forget. I was touched deeply.
The characters are very well developed and woven into the storyline with meaning and carefulness. Much thought was put into the characters. They grow and evolve beautifully throughout the story. The plot and storyline is like a beautiful tapestry that captivates the reader and won’t let go. Unrequited Guilt is a novel well worth reading and one that readers will relate to on one level or another. The ending does not disappoint. I loved the satisfying finish. This is one that I could and would read again.
Praise for Kim Praser’s Unrequited Guilt a 5 Star Novel.
Reviewed by Chick Lit Cafe
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

Best Foot Forward (The Liberty Lawrence Series Book 1) by Bea Stevens
Liberty ‘Libby’ Lawrence adores designer labels – even though she can’t afford many. And she especially loves shoes. Her favorites are Christian Louboutin’s – though not those fake ones Bianca Morrison-Wright gets from the market (the red paint rubs off the soles and everything!)
She’s working as a manager (albeit junior manager) at a London hotel, when the boss announces that there has been a theft from his office. Libby couldn’t help noticing some strange marks on his carpet when she was called in for a reprimand recently (not that it was her fault, or anything) which lead her to surmise who the thief is.
Detective Sergeant James Harper, the hunky policemen who is assigned the case, seems interested in her theory – until she names her number one suspect. Libby is devastated, not only because he doesn’t believe her but – more importantly – that this guy knows NOTHING about shoes!
As Libby struggles to convince the sergeant that her hunch is right, her boss that she’s ready for promotion and herself that she’s not really falling for the gorgeous copper, she realizes that maybe she’s wrong about the theft, she’s not suited to the hotel industry and that the handsome hunk is married!
Liberty Lawrence is in love with designer labels, fabulous clothes and shoes especially. She can’t really afford them, as her income as a junior manager at a London hotel, won’t permit. But that doesn’t stop her from loving and wearing the rich looking assembles. One day her boss announces that someone broke into his office and stole from him. Libby had noticed some strange looking marks on his office floor and suspects a certain someone as being the thief. When she tells the hunky and handsome detective James Harper her theory, he seems to be interested until she tells him who she suspects. Liberty is distressed because he doesn’t believe her and more importantly because he doesn’t know anything about designer shoes, which Libby is obsessed with.
While Libby tries to convince the detective of her theory, she is also trying to convince her boss that she deserves a promotion. She is also trying to convince herself that she isn’t attracted to detective-policeman James Harper. She eventually begins to question herself by telling herself that maybe she shouldn’t be working in the hotel business, and maybe she is wrong about her theory regarding the theft and maybe detective James Harper is married. With so many doubts looming, Libby must put her Best Foot Forward.
Best Foot Forward is a laugh out loud romantic comedy. I couldn’t put it down, as it held my attention throughout the entire book. Libby is fun and a bit clumsy too. It is hilarious to read about her antics and her light hearted personality. She loves shoes above all, but is caught off guard with the handsome detective James Harper. She becomes intensely attracted to him. She is a great character that is relatable and intriguing. There is plenty of physical comedy in this story that will keep readers laughing.
The storyline and plot is engaging, interesting and uplifting. There is a lot of emotion, including sadness. For women that love fashion, this is right up their alley. Libby, although clumsy, approaches life and situations in an expensive style with her designer heels. I loved the descriptions of the shoes and clothes and other things, like the settings.
In Best Foot Forward, the characters are very fun and appealing, especially her co-workers. They are well developed and thought out and suited to the storyline. Libby, herself, is a great character and very relatable. Readers will love her funny antics and her spirit. They will also be sad for her at times, Best Foot Forward is a wonderful chick lit read. It has all the important components of a special women’s fiction book. I couldn’t put it down. It is one of the best chick lit novels I have read in a long time.
Bea Stevens has a way with words. I loved the dialog between the characters. She writes in a simplistic, yet smart manner. Readers will be delighted with Best Foot Forward. It is one amusing, entertaining and captivating chick lit read. I loved it and I am sure all women readers of chick lit and beyond will find it very appealing and satisfying. The ending was wonderful, and I am looking forward to the next installment in the Liberty Lawrence series. I want to find out what exciting job Libby finds herself in next and what antics she gets herself into.
Bea Stevens is a great writer and should be noted as so. Pick up a copy of Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens, you will love it as I did.
Proudly Reviewed by Chick Lit Cafe
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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Not Exactly Love: A Memoir by Betty Hafner

Not Exactly Love: A Memoir by Betty Hafner
It was 1969, and all the rules were changing, when Betty, a woefully single French teacher on Long Island, met the handsome but edgy new teacher at her school, a hippie just back from Woodstock. His vitality opened up a new world to her—but when they married, his rages turned against her, and often ended with physical violence. Like millions of women who discover they’ve married an abusive man, Betty was forced to make daily decisions—to suppress her feelings or risk confrontation, to keep it secret or report, and ultimately, to live with it or leave.
Part memoir, part warm-hearted look at the ’70s, and part therapeutic journey, Not Exactly Love: A Memoir is an intense and inspirational story of a woman who grew from her experience
It’s 1969, on Long Island, NY, unmarried and single French teacher, Betty, meets a handsome new science teacher named Jack. He is an edgy hippie type guy and the couple seems to have a lot in common. He is handsome and charismatic, and Betty falls hard for him. His energy and spirit attracted Betty and brought new things and ideas to her. Her life seemed to have opened up and blossomed because of Jack. But Jack also had a bad temper, which was a warning sign that Betty reluctantly ignored.
It wasn’t until after they married that jack’s temper turned to rage and abuse toward Betty. Overtime the mental, emotional and physical abuse escalated to an unbearable intensity for Betty. Betty’s life became a living hell. She was forced to make difficult decisions daily. Should she stay silent, share it with others, confront Jack, report him. It was a daily struggle. A daily nightmare.
How long would she take his abuse? Why does she continue to stay? Will she ever gain the courage to leave him and gain her sanity and freedom back? Will she choose to live with him and his tangents and abusive nature, or will she leave him for good? Betty Hafneranswers all things questions in her wonderful personal account and memoir, Not Exactly Love.
Not Exactly Love is a poignant compelling story of one woman’s life in the face of abuse and how she finally gets the courage to leave. This is the true story of domestic abuse and the strength it takes to face up to it and get the hell out. Just like many women who are in the same situation, it wasn’t that easy for Betty. She had to, little by little, with help and support, gain the courage to leave.
Exceptionally written, Not Exactly Love, is an easy smart read. Betty is a refined, intelligent woman that handles life with grace and class. How she got herself into this situation, how she manages to survive it, and how she gets out is what this story is about. She tells how hard day to day life is with the manipulation and fear that is always looming. She tells of how she evolves and grows in her self-esteem and strength that had been previously stolen from her by her abusive husband. “Why do many, if not most, women stay in an abusive relationship—and how do they overcome the fear in order to leave? Betty Hafner’s memoir is a heroic study of a woman and her strong will, as well as a working guide for women who are also in an abusive marriage or relationship. Betty’s story will help give some women the strength and courage they need, as well as some clear insight and advice. I believe this book should be put into the hands of single young women so they can recognize the warning signs before it’s too late.
Not Exactly Love is set in the 1970’s. Things were very different back then. Women didn’t have the support that they do now. So it was especially difficult for Betty back then. But, what I also loved about it being set in the 1970’s, is that it took me back in time to a more easy simple life. I was able to reminisce with a smile on my face. Don’t get me wrong, this story is definitely filled with emotions such as anger, sadness, distress and ultimately hope, joy and victory. This is an inspirational read that readers can’t miss. It is, hands down, the best memoir I have read in a long time.
It’s a cautionary tale. Betty Hafner shows readers that domestic abuse is the silent tormenter, because she had to keep it to herself at first. Her courage to come out and get help and plan her escape astounded me.
Not Exactly Love is exceptional, heartwarming, engaging and poignant. It is written with eloquence and a beautiful prose that compels the reader to keep turning the pages to find out what will become of Betty. The ending was definitely satisfying and airtight.
I loved Not Exactly Love. It is one women’s horrifying account of domestic abuse, her intimate details of her inner life, and her courageous escape to freedom and a better life.
Chick Lit Cafe Gives Not Exactly Love 5 Big Stars
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