#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd ~ The Wyattsville Series Book 4 by @BetteLeeCrosby ~ Family #Saga

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week my choice is another Bette Lee Crosby book. The Wyattsville series is a lovely collection of books with charming and empathetic characters.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Loft by Bette Lee Crosby #BookReview Contemporary Fiction with a Touch of Magic

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week’s choice is The Loft by Bette Lee Crosby, the second book in the Memory House Collection, published in September 2015. Lovely stories with a touch of magic.

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The Summer of New Beginnings (A Magnolia Grove Novel) by @betteleecrosby #ContemporaryFiction #NetGalley #FridayReads

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Due for Publication on 27th March by Lake Union Publishing

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Family, Romance, Book Review

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

The Summer of New Beginnings is a sweet, touching story of the sometimes difficult situations that beset the Briggs family.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby #FamilySaga #HistFic

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

Today I’m returning to Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby. First published in 2013 it’s the first in a gritty, small town family saga.

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Favourite Opening Lines 2017 #Books #AmReading #SundayBlogShare

In no particular order, these are some of the opening lines from books I’ve read over the last twelve months that drew me in.

That Bright Land ~ Terry Roberts

In the summer of 1886 I went down South to find and kill a man. It’s not what I would have chosen, and when I first arrived in the territory, I didn’t want to admit that’s what I was about. Nevertheless, I was well suited to the task – by my past and the shadows it cast in my soul.

My review is here. Book links ~ Amazon UK | US

High Force ~ LJ Ross

As soon as she awakened, MacKenzie knew he meant to kill her. There was no confused, fumbling recollection of what had happened. On the contrary, she remembered everything with horrifying clarity.

My review is here. Book links ~ Amazon UK US Continue reading

Beyond the Carousel (Wyattsville 5) by @BetteLeeCrosby #BookReview #FridayReads Family #Saga

  • 32951455Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: January 2017 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Family Saga, Romance
  • five-stars

A FAMILY TRAGEDY, A 25 YEAR OLD MURDER, AND A DETECTIVE DETERMINED TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT…

Laura Wilkes has everything a woman could want when she snaps the carousel picture. Her daughter, a happy little five-year-old, is holding the brass ring and smiling at a daddy who adores her. Each time the carousel circles around Laura snaps another picture, seven in all. This is a day of unforgettable happiness; one of the few Laura has left.

When Emory Hawthorne came into money bequeathed to him from his long absent father, he moved his family from their cold water flat into a dream house. For all her inherent frugality, Emory’s wife, Rose, and eleven year old Laura, loved the house. As the years passed and Emory’s salary increased, Rose learned to adapt and became more accustomed to being able to buy what she wanted. Laura secured a secretarial job at the bank working for the vice president. And it was there she met Franklin Wilkes. Continue reading

Wishing For Wonderful (Serendipity #3) by @BetteLeeCrosby #Contemporary #Fantasy

  • 23435149Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: September 2012 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
  • four-half-stars

A Magical and Heartwarming Romance…from a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction

Eleanor has loved John Gray since she was seven years old. She grew up believing they would one day get married. They didn’t. They married other people. Now they’re both single again and they’ve got a second chance at love…or do they?

This wonderfully charming and fun romance is narrated by Cupid himself, interspersed by passages from Eleanor and John. This Christmas themed story has several threads woven together, including that of a little dog in need of a home, making Cupid’s job of matching perfect partners more difficult that he would have liked.  Continue reading

Silver Threads (Memory House #5) by @BetteLeeCrosby #Contemporary Fiction #SundayBlogShare

  • 515W1hOlysLAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby 
  • Due to be released on 14th September
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Saga
  • four-half-stars

On the day Jennifer Green was born a pile of stones was placed alongside her scale of life. A few were the dark gray of sorrow, but most were a pale blush color. The largest stone was the rose hue of a sunrise. That one would be placed on the scale the day she married Drew Bishop. Even more brilliant but a wee bit smaller was the pink stone glistening with specs of silver. That one would bring Jennifer a baby girl named Brooke. The Keeper of the Scale smiled. Seeing such happiness laid out before him was pleasing to his eye.

Since the beginning of time The Keeper of the Scale has kept happiness balanced against sorrow for the lives under his protection. But even the Keeper has no control over the outcome of events from the intertwining silver threads linking strangers and events to one another, so there was nothing he could do to alter the consequences of a random thread.  Continue reading

The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd ~ The Wyattsville Series Book 4 by @BetteLeeCrosby ~ Family #Saga

  • 29983645-2Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: June 2016 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary, Family Saga
  • four-half-stars

Revenge, death, deception… These are the things Cyrus Dodd has to overcome if he is to give Ruth the life he’s promised her. The problem is he’s got a prideful nature and when a seemingly innocuous argument leads to a bitter feud with his neighbor, his life changes forever. The plans he has falls by the wayside and before he finds a way to fix it, he comes to understand the meaning of regret.

As Cyrus Dodd looks back over a long life, threaded through with what he considered regrets, he realises those regrets he was holding onto were actually challenges, which eventually developed into blessings in disguise. ‘Mine has been a complicated life, a story worthy of telling, but to appreciate the end you have to go back to the beginning.’

In 1930 Cyrus Dodd and his wife, Ruth lived and farmed in Elk Bend, West Virginia. Cyrus’ neighbour, Virgil Jackson, controlled the water supply to the adjoining farms. When Cyrus and Virgil had a falling out, neither would back down and it escalated until Virgil dammed the spring on his land and cut of Cyrus’ water supply, causing his crops to fail. Unsuccessful attempts to end the feud only seemed to make matters worse. Both men were stubborn and strong-willed. Continue reading

Baby Girl (Memory House Collection #4) by @BetteLeeCrosby ~ Contemporary #Fiction

  • 28498856Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: March 2016 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Baby Girl is a mother’s story. It’s about the greatest sacrifice a mother can make when she wants only the best for her child. It’s about falling in and out of love, of losing and finding one’s self. It’s about the perilous journey from passionate young love to happy true love and understanding the differences between the two.

The day Ryan Carter and his mother moved into the old Ballinger place on Spruce Street was the day Cheryl Ann Ferguson’s life began to change. She and Ryan became firm friends. Apart from the father who loved her dearly, he was her only ally. Her mother was a cold, unloving woman, who only seemed capable of negativity, complaining about anything and everything and putting people down. The year her father died changed everything for Cheryl Ann. She felt so alone and the final straw was her mother’s refusal to let her go to college. She left home with Ryan after the graduation her mother failed to attend. Continue reading

Esther’s Gift ~ The Lei Crime Series: (Kindle Worlds Novella) @BetteLeeCrosby #TuesdayBookBlog

  • EsthersGiftAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: November 2015 by Kindle Worlds
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance
  • four-half-stars

In the days before hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai the forecasters predicted it would stay south of Hilo. But Esther Ka’awai, a psychic and gifted wise woman of the ancient culture has seen the future. She knows of the devastation that will come to the island. She has warned those she loves; now all she can do is pray.

Esther describes her gift as ‘a knowing’. She doesn’t have visions or tell fortunes, it’s more the certain knowledge that something will happen. She can’t explain it but she always listens and pays attention to the warnings, although she never knows the outcome. The story is set on beautiful Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands where Esther lives with her husband of more thhawaii-500285_640an twenty years, Keoki. 

When she dreams of the terrible storm heading their way Esther warns as many people as she can, although few heed her warning as the weathermen forecast that the storm is far to the south and no threat to the island. So Esther and Keoki are the only ones prepared when the devastating storm lands. Continue reading

What The Heart Remembers ~ Memory House Collection #3

  • 27395266Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: November 2015 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

TWO LOVERS. ONE CHANCE AT HAPPINESS….When Max Martinelli returns to Paris in search of her lost love, what she finds will change her life forever. 
For three years the memory of Julien Marceau has haunted Max. Her life is stuck on hold simply because she can’t stop wondering what would have happened if she had gone back. Was Julien simply part of the magic of Paris? Or was he meant to be her destiny?

It’s New Year and Max Martinelli, who was introduced in The Loft, is visiting Annie and Oliver. Annie knows Max has something on her mind and she is right. Max is remembering the New Year she spent in Paris with Julien three years ago when they were in love. She never really got over him even though he hasn’t contacted her as he promised. After a disappointing New Year’s Eve party, when she realises she and her old friends have little left in common, she decides to return to Paris and try to find Julien. Annie is against the trip but Max is adamant. She needs to know if she can recapture how they were and if Julien still has feelings for her. Continue reading

The Loft ~ Memory House Collection #2

  • TheLoftAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: September 2015 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

50 YEARS OF MEMORIES ARE HIDDEN IN THE WALLS OF THE LOFT…
Annie only needs to find one… the one that will save Oliver’s life.
On the day of their wedding, Annie saw nothing but happiness ahead, but when an accident calls her back to Memory House, her world is changed forever. Ophelia Browne, the woman who taught Annie to find the memories in a forgotten object, is leaving the house and she’s leaving all those powerful memories behind.
After only three nights in the loft, Annie must now find the single most meaningful memory in Oliver’s mind. If she finds it in time, she can save his life, if she doesn’t…well that’s something she can’t afford to think about.

Annie Cross’s life changed completely a year ago. The change began the day she found Memory House Bed and Breakfast and met Ophelia Browne. Annie thought Ophelia was just a sweet old lady who had a way with herbs and wonderfully scented and seemingly magical potpourri. But Ophelia taught Annie things she never would have believed. And now she was marrying Oliver, in the same church where Ophelia married her late husband, Edward, as a direct result of finding memories in forgotten objects. The minute Annie touched the old bicycle, and began working on sprucing it up, the memories started with an echo of a boy’s laughter. That’s what lead her to Ethan Allen Doyle and from there to his son, Oliver. 

You can tell me seven ways from Sunday there’s no such thing as magic, and you might be right. But since I’ve allowed my heart to believe in the things Ophelia taught me, my life is filled with the magic of love and happiness.

Alone again in Memory House after Annie and Oliver’s marriage, Ophelia decides to drive to church. What happens next changes her life and her outlook. Annie loves Ophelia as if she were her own mother. She and Oliver move back into Memory House in order to look after Ophelia when she’s well enough to come home. While spending time in a rehabilitation centre Ophelia comes to a decision after making new friends and seeing the promise of a new life. A life lived in the present instead of the past. Continue reading

Upcoming Reads ~ On My Bookshelf/Kindle

There are many books in my review list and I’m looking forward to these forthcoming reads.

TheLoft’50 YEARS OF MEMORIES ARE HIDDEN IN THE WALLS OF THE LOFT…
Annie only needs to find one… the one that will save Oliver’s life.
On the day of their wedding, Annie saw nothing but happiness ahead, but when an accident calls her back to Memory House, her world is changed forever. Ophelia Browne, the woman who taught Annie to find the memories in a forgotten object, is leaving the house and she’s leaving all those powerful memories behind.
After only three nights in the loft, Annie must now find the single most meaningful memory in Oliver’s mind. If she finds it in time, she can save his life, if she doesn’t…well that’s something she can’t afford to think about.
Readers will welcome back the much-loved characters from Memory House and enjoy a few new friends!’

TheAmericanPoliceman‘After everything, there is peace. The Collective took London away from the gangs that terrorised the city after the plague and the slow terror of the Breakdown. The blood on the streets has dried. There is food, water and good housing. Everyone has work. But the meek have not inherited the earth. On a bitterly cold night a woman is brutalised and murdered, shattering the fragile calm of the city. The investigation of London’s first murder in two years falls to Inspector Timothy Conlan and the District team of the New Metropolitan Police. Tim ‘Con’ Conlan serenely navigates the harsh new London. He is dedicated, conscientious and smiling. Around him society is broken. People are traumatised, fearful and wracked with guilt. Now the dark, empty spaces of the city are being stalked by a monster. Con must find and catch a killer who seems to know his every move. At the same time, there is something rotten at the core of the new government. In the very heart of the Collective, massive lies are being spun. There are rumours of war, whispers of betrayal. The Collective is harsh, relentless and utterly unforgiving. The problem for Con is simple: find the killer; stay alive.’ Continue reading

Memory House ~ Memory House Collection #1 (Advance Review)

  • MemoryHouseAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • To be Published: 14th April 2015 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A MEMORY TO OUTLIVE ITS OWNER? 
Ophelia Browne knows the answer is yes. She knows because she’s been granted the unique gift of finding and caring for those forgotten memories. But now she’s nearing ninety, and Browne women seldom live beyond ninety. 
Before time runs out Ophelia must find a successor. Someone who can take hold of the gifts and keep the memories from fading.

Needing to get away, if only for a short time, from her life and failed relationship with her boyfriend Michael in Philadelphia, Annie Cross finds herself at Memory House Bed and Breakfast. She almost misses the sign and yet, as she approaches the pretty cottage, it feels vaguely familiar. Her visit to Memory House proves to be the turning point in her life. Ophelia Browne’s cottage in Burnsville, Virginia, is where she’s lived for most of her life. Memory House is just that; a house filled with memories. Ophelia’s own and the ones she feels when she touches the treasures she’s collected over the years.

Ophelia has a gift and is waiting for a special someone to keep the memories from fading away and disappearing. She thinks Annie may just be that person. From their first meeting they feel an almost immediate liking for each other and bond over pots of dandelion tea. Ophelia is skilled in the use of herbs and flowers, their magical and healing qualities and grows them for her own use as well as selling them in her apothecary shop.

Ophelia Browne remembers everything. She remembers things from her own life and from the lives of those who came before her. She has only to touch her hand to an object and she can feel the special memory clinging to it. But now she is getting on in years. In eleven months she’ll turn ninety. Few women in the Browne family live beyond such an age. If death comes before she finds a replacement, the memories might be lost forever.

Annie was only planning to stay a night or two but spends a week helping in the garden and listening to Ophelia’s stories. The peace and tranquility Annie feels at Memory House is like a balm to her soul and she doesn’t want to leave.

Ophelia tells Annie about her dearly loved husband, Edward, and how he fixed up the attic for their bedroom, putting in a skylight so she could lay in bed and watch the stars. Her happiness in those memories shines through and makes Annie question the foundation of her relationship with Michael when he decides he wants her back. Ophelia shows Annie an old bible and talks about who it belonged to. Then a rusty, twisted bike and a rubber ball and when Annie has flashes of a small boy laughing Ophelia knows Annie has the gift. But as Annie discovers more memories, some that have a sense of violence, Ophelia is alarmed and has cause to wonder if she’s doing the right thing.

I love the passages in between chapters written from Ophelia and Annie’s points of view, giving insights into their lives and thoughts. It’s a charming story, full of imagination and incorporating some characters from previous books who it was a pleasure to meet again. And the connection between their treasures and Ophelia’s memories is delightful. Annie and Ophelia’s personalities and the way they relate to one another is explored wonderfully. Ms Crosby’s books have a magical quality and are filled with colourful and unconventional characters who are touching, likeable and easy to relate to. Memory House is no exception and the underlying message as always, gives pause for thought. Oh, and I love the idyllic cover image, such a gorgeous cottage.

‘A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen ~ Edward de Bono’

My thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for an ARC in return for my honest review.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

3222582USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky characters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: TheRoyal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Author links ~ Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

2014 ~ Top Books

There have been so many great books this year, it was a very hard choice but, in no particular order, here are my top 12 reads/listens.

  1. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Alternating between the past and present and telling the story of a family drama. After the death of their father, sisters Meredith and Nina struggle to really get to know their seemingly reserved and cold Russian born mother. As the sisters finally begin to discover their mother’s tragic story the three women can reach out to each other and find the bond that ties them together. My review.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars and because of a terrible misunderstanding he is left behind. Completely alone and facing certain death, Mark struggles to survive in a totally alien environment. When the people back at NASA discover Mark is still alive the race is on to rescue him before his supplies run out. My review.
  3. Once Dead by Richard Phillips. The first of three prequels that set up the Rho Agenda trilogy. Jack Gregory is the CIA’s top assassin but when an encounter with a notorious criminal goes wrong Jack is left for dead. On his death-bed Jack is revived by a dark entity and has the choice of being a host to the demon or death. A sci-fi thriller with a supernatural twist. My review.
  4. Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. A really lovely, romantic and touching story that traverses time. Swan Loch is a peaceful New England town until a killer strikes. Police Chief Chris Hayward and FBI agent Jake Stanton try to solve a seemingly impossible case and for Chris it becomes very personal. Just when all hope is lost Chris finds the most precious thing in his life. A touch of the paranormal in this mystery thriller. My review.
  5. The Black Hours by Alison Williams. A chilling tale of life during the time of the self-styled Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he travels the country seeking out those he believes are in league with Satan. Seventeen year old Alice Pendle finds herself under suspicion in a tale of persecution and superstition. A suspenseful and gripping drama which mixes fact with fiction. My review
  6. Beyond Midnight ~ Asunder by Sarah M Cradit. Part of the paranormal Southern drama series, The House of Crimson and Clover, Asunder finds the Deschanel family reeling with the backlash of shock and horror brought on by the results of a two hundred year old curse. Hope brings them together to face whatever the future may hold. My review.
  7. Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler. A uniquely different concept and delivery with characters that parallel the life and times of Henry VIII and his wives in a modern day setting. Harry Lanchester’s dream of becoming a rock star is shattered with the death of his older brother and as Harry steps up to take the reins of the family business his life takes on an uncanny resemblance to the famous erstwhile King of England. My review.
  8. The Test by John Lansing. Although I’m loving the Jack Bertolino series, this short story is so touching and evocative, with incredibly vivid imagery and beautiful writing that it had to make this list. From the present day Jack Morgan looks back on his teenage years, being a fourteen year old growing up in the Long Island of the 1960s amid the racial tensions of the time and how it affects the rest of his life. My review.
  9. Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius. Frank Barnes, a homeless veteran, is content living on the streets and making the most of the little he has. Chloe Barnes is evicted and left destitute with two small children and finds life in shelters harsh and unforgiving. The two lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling storyline. My review
  10. Don’t Touch (Null City #2) by Barb Taub. Lette Simoneau inherits a drastic form of the family ‘gift’ or curse as Lette thinks of it. Everything she touches each day turns into something different. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to the conclusion that boundaries are self-imposed  and as such are surmountable. An imaginative and fun story with a likeable protagonist. My review.
  11. Disappearing In Plain Sight by Francis Guenette. A very well crafted novel centred on the very tight knit community of Crater Lake on the shores of Vancouver Island. The characters are all genuine and the way they deal with their feelings and situations is very believable and show the complex layers which make up human nature. My review.
  12. Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby. Book three of the Wyattsville series is set at the end of the Second World War as Benjamin Church returns to Alabama. A powerful and moving tale of the prejudices and intolerance of the time, showing the good and bad sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. My review.

And my top 5 series.

  1. Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. This is a supernatural urban fantasy series which really caught my imagination with a very unlikely hero – or anti-hero would probably best describe James Stark, half angel, half human. Stark’s return from 11 years in hell, bent on revenge is a sharp, hilarious and sardonic tale. MacLeod Andrews portrays Stark and a multitude of diverse characters perfectly. Audiobooks 1-3.5.  Audiobooks 4-6
  2. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. An Urban Fantasy series featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, who lives in Arizona and runs an occult bookstore. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms. He is able to shape shift and enjoys hunting with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. A fun series full of myths, legends, gods, goddess, witches and demons. Superb performance by Luke Daniels, with distinct voices for each character. My reviews 1-3, 4-6, 7
  3. The Project Eden Series by Brett Battles. This is a really compelling storyline. As Daniel Ash’s world crashes down around him he’s catapulted into a nightmare scenario. He can’t comprehend the fact that what happened is no accident. And there is worse, much worse to come as a deadly organisation plots the end of humanity as we know it. MacLeod Andrews delivers a flawless narration. My reviews.
  4. The Georgie Connolly Series by E.L. Lindley. Georgie Connolly is a transplanted English woman living and working in Los Angeles. Feisty and very often landing herself in hot water, Georgie acts on the spur of the moment, without thinking things through.  A change from the norm, Georgie is not connected to law enforcement but makes documentaries, no matter how serious the subject. A fun and easy series but with dangerous undertones. My reviews #1 #2
  5. The Black Series by Russell Blake. Artemus Black is a Hollywood P.I. Down on his luck, with money problems, anger issues and an assistant who ridicules him endlessly and a fat cat that hates him. Life couldn’t get much worse. A great characterisation of an easy to like protagonist with a cast of memorable, humorous characters and excellent and witty story lines. My reviews #1, #2, #3, #4

 

Passing Through Perfect (Wyattsville #3)

  • PassingThroughPerfectAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Expected Publication January 2015 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

It’s 1946. The war is over. Millions of American soldiers are coming home and Benjamin Church is one of them. After four years of being away he thought things in Alabama would have changed, but they haven’t. Grinder’s Corner is as it’s always been–a hardscrabble burp in the road. It’s not much, but it’s home.

My thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for sending me an advance e-copy for review

When Benjamin meets the beautiful Delia Finch in Twin Pines, the nearest town to Grinder’s Corner, it’s love at first sight. As their relationship deepens Delia and Benjamin spend as much time together as they can manage. 

Delia’s father, the preacher in Twin Pines, is a harsh and cold man. He disowns his daughter when he learns she is pregnant and planning to marry Benjamin and forbids his wife to see or speak to their daughter. Delia knows forgiveness is not in her father’s nature and what he preached was most definitely not what he practiced. Delia moves to Grinder’s Corner with Benjamin and gains some comfort with Otis as her father figure.

You might think I’m a fool standing there, letting Mister Finch beat on me as he did, but I figured if he got enough revenge he’d go easier on Delia. ‘Course, that ain’t what happened.

I can understand him being mad, but I sure can’t understand him saying those awful things to his own daughter. When he called her a whore, it was all I could do not to tear into him. In my head I kept thinking he’s Delia’s daddy, and when he gets over his mad he’ll forgive her. Even when he said to get out of his house and never come back, I figured Delia’s mama would step in and put a stop to it but Mister Finch wasn’t listening to anybody – mot me, not Delia, and not even her mama.

Alabama in the 40’s and 50’s is a tough place to live for coloured folk with the white/black segregation everywhere. Benjamin and his father, Otis, eke out a living growing seasonal produce. The tiny surrounding community of mixed race families live peacefully together but this isn’t the case across the South in general. Benjamin is a good, hard-working man with decent values and a sense of pride. Delia and their son, Isaac come first, always, and he will do whatever he has to, to support and care for them. They live through good times and not so good times, then one day Benjamin’s world is turned upside down, never to be the same, and he feels the full force of the colour divide. Unable to reconcile his sense of injustice he decides on a complete change for himself and Isaac.

The significance of the title ‘Passing Through Perfect’ is a lovely touch. I wondered how Benjamin’s story would tie in with Wyattsville. I do like the way characters from previous stories are integrated into later ones.

I love the way Bette Lee Crosby tells a story, this one mostly from Benjamin’s point of view with individual perspectives beginning each chapter. It’s a very moving and powerful tale, the prejudice and intolerance of the time show both sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. Benjamin’s acknowledgement of what he considers his place in society is undeniably apparent and is accepted as just the way things are. Despite that and the hardships and suffering Benjamin stays true to his own individuality. 

An uplifting story of family, love, kindness and hope, despite some people’s less than commendable behaviour and attitudes.

Jubilee’s Journey (Wyattsville #2)

  • Jubilee'sJourneyAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: October 2013 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • four-half-stars

When tragedy strikes a West Virginia coal mining family, two children start out on a trek that they hope will lead them to a new life. Before a day passes, the children are separated and the boy is caught up in a robbery not of his making. If his sister can find him, she may be able to save him. The problem is she’s only seven years old, and who’s going to believe a kid? 

Jubilee’s Journey, Book Two in the Wyattsville Series, is the story of discovering lost family and finding love that reconnects readers with Ethan Allen and the other heart-warming characters of SPARE CHANGE.

Forced by circumstances beyond his control, Bartholomew Jones made a decision he’d sworn never to make. He and his wife, Ruth moved to Coal Fork, West Virginia and he took a job as a miner following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. In the following years Ruth bore two children, Paul and Jubilee. When tragedy strikes and the children lose both their parents within the space of a few years, Paul and little Jubilee travel to Wyattsville to find the only family they have left, their mother’s estranged sister.

Paul and Jubilee boarded the Greyhound bus at the Campbell’s Creek Depot. He had a ticket; she didn’t. When he’d asked the clerk at the window how much for two tickets to Wyattsville, Virginia, she’d answered, “Eight dollars and fifty cents.” While Paul stood there counting out the quarters and dimes, the woman peered over the counter at Jubilee. “Make that four-twenty-five,” she said. “There’s no charge for kids under five.”

”Oh, Jubie just looks small,” Paul started to say, ‘but-“

”Maybe you don’t hear so good.” The ticket clerk cocked an eyebrow and looked Paul square in the face. “I said we don’t charge for kids under five,” she repeated, then cranked out a single ticket and handed it to him.

The trip doesn’t quite go to plan and Paul, in the wrong place at the wrong time, ends up in hospital while Jubilee is befriended by Ethan Allen and taken home to Grandma Olivia’s house. It’s good to reconnect with Olivia, Ethan and soft-hearted Detective Jack Mahoney, along with the rest of the characters from Spare Change and catch up with their lives. The new friendship between Ethan and Jubilee is touching, showing the extent of Ethan’s character development since we first met him in Spare Change.

Jubilee’s Journey is an emotive story told with warmth and poignancy. The characters are, mostly, charming and real with relatable characteristics, including a mix of good and not so good traits, and the sense of community in Wyattsville shines out. The story encompasses a range of emotions, sadness, love, kindness and hope and is told from different viewpoints which helps to show the best and sometimes the worst of human nature.

The passages with the first person perspective of a particular character’s thoughts helps to give more of an insight into the depths of their personalities, flaws and strengths. I even found myself feeling (just a little) sorry for Hurt.

Paul and Jubilee have been through a lot but they are strong, kindhearted and very likeable. Ms Crosby has a talent for creating characters you can’t help but empathise with and be drawn into their lives. And even when these same characters misjudge a situation or person, as does happen, they are able to admit when they are wrong. Even though at times it doesn’t appear to be a feel good book, with adversity and misfortune, the conclusion is very satisfactory and the end result is a captivating story of the most important things in life.

Blueberry Hill ~ A Sister’s Story

  • BlueberryHillAuthor: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: June 1014 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Memoir
  • four-half-stars

Based on the realities of her own family, Crosby calls this a memoir of sorts. Traveling back to a time when the sisters were young enough to feel invincible and foolish enough to believe it would last forever, Crosby has bared her soul in a story of regrettable decisions and inevitable outcomes.

Blueberry Hill is a tale of family relationships, love and tragedy. It is a story that will touch your heart and stay with you long after you have closed the book.

A straight from the heart story of two sisters, Bette and Donna, as different as they could be but especially close nonetheless. Donna is the younger sibling, strong-willed and the most adventurous, the wild child as opposed to her more careful and quieter older sister. Donna is determined to live life her way and experience whatever the world has to offer. When you’re so young there are no thoughts of consequences or eventualities, for yourself or your family.

This tale tells of happy times and sadness, the strength and love of a family, of dealing with the results of actions and decisions made. It’s engaging, heartbreaking and tragic but underlying everything the overwhelming love shines through. To watch someone so close deteriorate in health is a horrendous ordeal. Despite her inclination to keep her feelings and suffering contained Donna has a huge capacity for love which is shown through her relationship with her sister and her children.

A very moving and heartfelt recollection of a much-loved sister whose loss is unmistakably still felt to this day. A story that will resonate with all of us who have lost someone close. It must have been so painful and emotional to write but Bette Lee Crosby tells the story beautifully with a wonderful candour. 

My favourite quote is from Ms Crosby in the author’s note at the beginning ~

Each day is a gift. Treasure it and remember it for what it is. There may come a time when that memory is all you have.

BlueBerry Hill may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Spare Change (The Wyattsville Series)

  • sparechange-1400px-copy-2Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: November 2013 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Olivia Westerly is the only person Ethan Allen can trust, and he’s not too sure he can trust her. She’s got no love of children and a truckload of superstitions–one of them is the belief that eleven is the unluckiest number on earth. Olivia avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson.

 

Set in the 1950s Spare Change is a story from differing viewpoints. Olivia Westerly is quite happy being independent and living on her own, working at the telephone exchange. With no desire to get married, much less have children, her life continues comfortably in the same way it has for years. Until, that is, she meets Charlie Doyle. It doesn’t take long for Charlie to woo her and almost before she knows what’s happened they are married and Olivia is happier than she ever thought possible. But Charlie dies on their honeymoon and Olivia is inconsolable.

Ethan Allen is eleven years old living with his parents on a farm. His mama, Susannah, is flighty and totally undomesticated, she just wants to go to New York City to be a singer, it’s all she talks about. But Ethan’s daddy, Benjamin, has no intention of allowing it. Between the fighting, making up and general disregard from his parents Ethan does’t have much of a childhood or upbringing. When horrific and violent events occur he runs to the only person he can think of, the grandfather he has never met.

This is a gritty and, at times, tragic story with very distinctive, well-formed and colourful characters that will surely pull the reader into their lives. It was easy to get involved in the story and sympathise with the characters, especially Ethan. He is very credible given his life up to that point and the developing relationship between him and Olivia is touching.

I like the way the characters are all woven together to create an engaging story with humour, sadness, some violence but also hope and trust. The first person perspectives at the beginning of each chapter is a nice touch, like eavesdropping on that character’s thoughts.

There’s an unmistakable theme of good versus evil running through with a thread of Christianity, not in a preachy way, showing the best and worst of human nature. The epilogue may not appeal to all readers but for me it rounds the story off nicely.

tt10407952fltt   Amazon US  Amazon UK

Cover Reveal ~ Previously Loved Treasures

Previously Loved Treasures will be officially launched on April 28th and 29th.

21416024A lonely widow and a young woman trying to rebuild her life discover a family connection and a run-down second-hand store where the clairvoyant owner anticipates every need. When a pocket watch is stolen, he warns of the danger ahead, but will the young woman listen and heed his advice?

 

 

Excerpt 

In the weeks following Big Jim’s funeral Ida began making plans for what would be her future. Even though Jim was gone, she could set things right by finding James.

The last time she heard from him he was living in Plainview, a town ninety-seven miles north of Rose Hill; a place she’d never before been to. Plainview is where she would start her search. No major highway ran by the town, but there was a back road that wound across a seemingly endless stretch of flat land; land that was barren and without a gas station or roadside stand where you could stop for a sandwich or cold drink. Ida took a bottle of Pepsi Cola from the refrigerator, tucked it into her purse, then pulled on her sensible walking shoes and climbed into the car.

When she started out, Ida felt optimistic, certain she’d find James and just as certain that he’d welcome the thought of returning home. Never mind that thirty years had passed, never mind that he was now a man in his fifties; Ida pictured him as only slightly older than the nineteen year old lad who left home, his hair still dark, his face without the creases of age. She even imagined the possibility he could be married and she delighted in thoughts of a grandchild, a feisty little tyke who would scatter toys throughout the rooms and bring the sound of laughter back to the empty house. In her handbag Ida carried the picture of James. It was the one she had taken the week after graduation, the one where he was leaning against the side of his green Pontiac and smiling the smile of a man without a care in the world.

Ida arrived in Plainview shortly before noon, drove to the center of town and parked the car on Market Street. Once she stepped out onto the street, the thought of ‘what next’ settled on her and ripped loose a bit of the optimism she’d started out with. The town was bigger than she thought it would be. And busier. Much busier.

A few doors down Ida spied a coffee shop where people hustled in and out. That seemed as good a place as any to start. She walked in, sat on a counter stool and waited. Her thought was to start up a casual conversation with the waitress and then work her way around to asking if the girl knew James; but she never got the chance. Before she could pull the picture from her purse, a group of businessmen came in, hungry for lunch and in a hurry. Moments later three ladies followed and before long every seat in the luncheonette was filled. Ida waited, thinking the rush would slow and the girl would have time to talk. But it didn’t. As soon as one group left, another took its place. After lingering over a single cup of coffee for nearly a half hour, she climbed off the stool and left.

Her next stop was the drug store, where the pharmacist shook his head and said that he couldn’t recall ever seeing such a man. It was the same at the dry cleaner, the hardware store, and the library. Ida had considered the library a long shot anyway since James wasn’t one for reading. After she’d thumbed through the Plainview telephone directory, and stopped in every store on Market Street, Ida drove crosstown to the Post Office. She handed the elderly clerk the last postcard she’d received from James. On the face of the card was a picture of the three-story Elgin Hotel, but no street address.

“I’m looking for a young man who may have been living at this hotel,” Ida said. “Of course by now he’s most likely moved into a more permanent residence, so I was wondering if you might—“

“The Elgin burned to the ground years ago.” the clerk replied.

“Years ago?” Ida repeated sadly.

He nodded. “In fifty-eight, or maybe it was fifty-nine.”

That postcard was the last time she’d heard from James, maybe it was because— “Oh my God,” she gasped. “Did anyone die in the fire?”

The clerk shook his head. “Not to my recollection.”

“What about injuries? Was anyone severely injured?” Ida conjured up a picture of James, still a young man but sitting in a wheelchair, incapable of speech, unable to call out for her.

“Un-uh, the place was empty, it closed down a year or so before the fire. When Hilda Wilkins owned the Elgin it was a nice hotel, but after she died it pretty much went to ruin.”

After a good fifteen minutes of chit-chat about how the town had changed and not for the better, the clerk agreed to check and see it they had a listing or change of address for James Sweetwater. He disappeared into the back room and after a lengthy absence returned only to say there was nothing.

“Nothing?” Ida repeated. “No address? No change of address?”

It was late in the day when Ida left the post office. By then her legs were tired, her feet ached and her heart was weighted with more than thirty years of worrying about James.

On the drive home the sky turned from day to dark, and the road seemed to grow longer. The weariness of the years spread throughout Ida’s body. It made her arms heavy and her legs feel as though they had turned to stone. The sorrow of all that had been lost plucked her heart from its rightful place and dropped it into the pit of her stomach; that’s when she began to sob. She’d been so determined, so convinced she could find James, that the disappointment now felt unbearable. When she pulled into the gravelled driveway, the house appeared even larger than it had when she left. Larger and emptier. She climbed from the car and walked toward the door, her shoulders hunched forward, pushing her into a slow step by step movement. Once Ida opened the door, the only sound to be heard was that of a grandfather clock ticking—counting off the seconds, minutes and hours of loneliness that lay ahead.

Not thinking of food, she climbed the stairs and fell across the bed she’d shared with Big Jim. In the fifty-six years they’d been married, she had never once slept apart from him, and now apart was all there was. While the sky filled with stars, and the moon rose, Ida wept. She thought back on the night it all began…

It was in the spring of 1954, when Big Jim told the boy if he wasn’t going to college, he’d have to get a job and pay ten dollars a week for board. There’d been a big row over it and James, in that cavalier way he had of talking down to his daddy, said life was too short for nothing but work.

“There’s a lot of fancy living outside of this little peapod town,” James said, “and that’s what I’m after.” Then he continued on with the statement that ultimately pierced his daddy’s heart. “I’m too smart to end up like you Daddy, way too smart.”

Such an attitude rankled Jim to the core; he’d grown up poor and gone to work when he was not yet thirteen. As a boy he loaded trucks during the day, tended a gas station at night and worked in the print room of the Rose Hill Chronicle on weekends. It mattered not that it was long hours or demeaning work, what mattered was that in time he’d made something of himself. Now, when Jim owned the largest house in Rose Hill and had enough money to send his son off to college, the boy looked down his nose at such an opportunity.

Angry words flew back and forth for nearly two hours then James turned and walked out the door. He stopped for one brief second, looked back, and said, “Bye Mama.”

That fleeting moment was the one that Ida had held onto all these years. She told herself James hadn’t wanted to go and for a long while she blamed Jim for allowing such a thing to happen.

During the first year or two Ida searched for James numerous times. She called the friends he’d known, places he’d frequented, even a few young ladies who occasionally came knocking on the door. It was always the same story—James had been there and gone. When there was no longer a trace of where he’d been, she held to the belief that he would sow his wild oats and then return home. The months became years and years turned into decades but still there was no word. With the passing of time, Ida settled into the unhappy realization that the boy did not want to be found. Although in many ways they were different, Big Jim and his son were very much alike—both of them proud and stubborn. On bad days when the sky was black and her heart heavy, Ida told herself that in time even the most stubborn heart would grow weary of carrying such a grudge, but it never happened.

 

There’s a giveaway on Goodreads for a paperback edition of the book (US and Can)

 

USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author Bette Lee Crosby will be a featured author at the Book Expo America May 29-31, 2014 Booth 2368. Please stop by for an autographed copy and free preview of her new release, Previously Loved Treasures.

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Previously Loved Treasures ~ Serendipity #2 and Giveaway

  • Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Expected Publication: Mid April
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Publisher’s Summary

21416024In Previously Loved Treasures recently widowed Ida Sweetwater and her granddaughter come together in a heartwarming mystery rich with imagination and magic.

Struggling to make ends meet, Ida turns her home into a boarding house and goes in search of used furniture. This quest leads to the Previously Loved Treasures shop and Peter Pennington, a delightfully strange proprietor who anticipates people’s needs. In addition to bargains, Peter hands out sage advice. When a pocket watch belonging to one of the residents goes missing for a second time he warns of danger—but will Ida’s granddaughter listen and will she heed his advice?

 

My Review

Bette Lee Crosby is a new, to me, author but I’m so glad I was offered an ARC in return for a review. I enjoyed the book very much. Ms Crosby has woven an emotive tale with an interesting and diverse mix of characters which gives a good depth to the story.

Recently widowed and lonely, Ida Sweetwater is desperately searching for her long-lost son, renting out rooms to make enough money to pay the private detective, and finding instead something equally as precious.

The unconventional group of people now living at Ida’s house are forming a kind of family unit, not blood kin but all needing, in one way or another, company and comfort from each other. I love that each of them (apart from one) accepts the others for who they are and are willing to give whatever support, advice or help is needed. As Ida brings more people into her life and home they all have something to add to the dynamics of the story and, with a couple of exceptions, the characters are pleasant and engaging.

“Love turns strangers into family”

Her granddaughter finds in Ida the reciprocal love she’s been looking for and lacking all her life and Ida pours all the love she’s been storing up for her son into Caroline.

I particularly like the unusual Peter Pennington and his wonderful shop. Who is Peter really? How does he know just what Ida and Caroline need almost before they do themselves? A touch of magic to add to a heartening story. Not that it’s all sweetness and light. There’s much more to it, heartbreak and sorrow, drama and a touch of mystery.

There’s always one bad apple in the barrel and Max’s actions put a chain of events into motion that affect everyone to a certain degree. Out of adversity comes blessings though and after a shocking incident everyone pulls together to get things back on track. I like the little twist at the end, it rounds everything off nicely.

About the Author

3222582Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a
cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, and the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal.

Her published novels to date are: Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), The Twelfth Child (2012), Cupid’s Christmas (2012) and What Matters Most (2013). She has also authored “Life in the Land of IS” a memoir of Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic.

Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer,
but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

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Bette Lee Crosby has very kindly offered one e-book and one paperback copy of The Twelfth Child. So, the first two people to comment on this post each win a copy.

The ebook has now been allocated. The paperback is only available for mailing to addresses in the US.