Spotlight/US Giveaway: A Gift of Love by Tony Cointreau

a gift of love

A Gift of Love
Lessons Learned From My Work and Friendship with Mother Teresa
by Tony Cointreau
Published by Prospecta Press
Hardcover: 200 pages
September 6, 2016; $20.00 US/$25.00 CAN; 9781632260499

Description

Stories from a life of caregiving for others that will help those who have the responsibility and the privilege of caring for a loved one at the end of his or her life.

After experiencing a comfortable childhood as an heir to the Cointreau liquor fortune, and having had a successful career in show business, Tony Cointreau felt that he needed something more meaningful in his life. This led him to spend twelve years as a dedicated volunteer in Mother Teresa’s hospices in New York and Calcutta, helping more than one hundred people while they went through the process of dying.

Every family eventually has to deal with caregiving and the end of life, and Tony’s friends kept pleading with him to write his experiences so that when they had to face it, perhaps for the first time, they would have a better idea of the simple things they could do to help their own loved ones during those last months, weeks, days, or hours.

This book is Tony’s answer to those requests. His overall approach to caregiving for the living as well as for the dying shines through in each chapter, both in practical matters and in reverence for the privilege of sharing in life’s momentous transitions.


Author Bio

Tony Cointreau, author of A Gift of Love: Lessons Learned from My Work and Friendship with Mother Teresa, is a member of the French liqueur Cointreau family. He was born into a life of wealth and privilege, growing up among the rich and famous. His maternal grandmother was an opera star, and Tony’s own voice led him to a successful international singing career. His paternal heritage put him on the Cointreau board of directors. But he felt a need for something more meaningful in his life—and his heart led him to Calcutta and Mother Teresa.

Tony’s childhood experiences—an emotionally remote mother; a Swiss nanny who constantly told him, “Mother only loves you when you’re perfect;” an angry, bullying older brother; and a sexually predatory fourth-grade schoolteacher—convinced him that the only way to be loved is to be perfect. He set out on a lifelong quest for a loving mother figure and unconditional love, and he found it with Mother Teresa and her work. She became another mother for him, as he describes in his memoir, Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa… and Me.

Tony volunteered in Mother Teresa’s hospices for twelve years, learning to give unconditional love, and helping more than one hundred people while they were dying.

For more information please visit http://tonycointreau.com


Reviews for Tony Cointreau’s Work
“I was so interested in your life with Ethel Merman . . . she was a gifted and fascinating woman. And of course Mother Teresa is smiling down. I don’t think she would ever be anything but enthusiastic about your life and its far-ranging activity. Your book is a wonderful story that nobody else can tell. I even think your family background is fun! You are a Cointreau, but then you also had the important entertainer career — I don’t think they make many more like you.”
— Helen Gurley Brown, Author and iconic editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine

Tony Cointreau’s friendship with my mother was one of her life’s true blessings. Naturally comfortable in the brightest light of her stardom and the softest light of her vulnerable heart, Tony shared an everyday intimacy with Ethel like a second son . . . like my brother.
— Bob Levitt, Ethel Merman’s son

Dear Tony,
I am glad to know that you have experienced joy in sharing our works of love for the poor in our home for AIDS patients. Thank you for your generous gift of love. Please pray for me as I do for you.
God bless you,
— Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity


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a gift of love

Giveaway ends September 12, 2016

All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

  • all the time in the worldTitle:  All the Time in the World: A Novel
  • Author:  Caroline Angell
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  July 2016 – Henry Holt
  • Source:  Publisher/FSB Associates

Description:  Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell’s remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman’s discovery of the things that matter most.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Charlotte, a fledgling composer who is more successful at being a nanny for a young family than she is at her art. At least that’s how she feels. She had the rug pulled out from under her by a mentor who found success with Charlotte’s composition, claiming it as her own. Feeling powerless, Charlotte can barely speak about it to anyone so she does her best at helping care for the McLean children. When a tragedy occurs Charlotte becomes indispensable to the family and is even less inclined to pursue her art. As they do, things come to a head and Charlotte must make a decision that could shake the world even more for everyone involved. As difficult as it is, that decision will empower Charlotte in ways she hadn’t imagined.

I had a hard time finding something to like about a couple of the characters – two brothers, one being the father of the two young children. I found them lacking when it came to stepping up at the appropriate times – two more people to take advantage of Charlotte. And that led me to shake my head at times when Charlotte failed to speak up or act.

Caroline Angell’s novel is a study in grief, moving through grief, and finding one’s way through challenges in life. Any reader who has experienced loss of this kind will understand what the characters go through – and that there’s no right way to do it. This is just how Charlotte and the McLean family grieved their loss and started the ascent to a new normal. It’s a compelling story and I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

all the time in the world

Description:

Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell’s remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman’s discovery of the things that matter most.



About the Author:

Caroline Angell grew up in Endwell, N.Y., the daughter of an electrical engineer and a public school music teacher. She has a B. A. in musical theater from American University and currently lives and works in Manhattan. As a playwright and director, she has had her work performed at regional theaters in New York City and in the Washington, D.C., area. All the Time in the World is her first novel. Follow Caroline on Twitter


Praise for All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

“An extraordinary book. Caroline Angell is wise beyond her years in rendering the heartache of grief, and all the different kinds of love we are capable of feeling. I was haunted by All the Time in the World long after finishing the last page. It reads like the work of a mature writer at the height of her powers, not a debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Angell will write next.”  —Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind

“In All the Time in the World, Caroline Angell explores the different ways in which people find their way through grief, and she does it bravely and masterfully. A heart wrenching yet life affirming novel. What a debut!”  — Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

“Caroline Angell deftly handles the complexities of love, grief, hope, humor and family. All the Time in the World is funny, beautifully textured and deeply moving. An absolute joy to read.” 
— Allie Larkin, author of Stay and Why Can’t I Be You?

“There’s wit, wisdom, and insight on every page of Caroline Angell’s great debut novel. But, more importantly than any of that are the emotional truths she reveals at every turn.” — Matthew Norman, author of Domestic Violets


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all the time in the world
Giveaway ends on July 15, 2016

Sunday Post and a review: Living Large in Our Little House by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

you will know me (7:26)  the life she wants (9:27)  image001-2  Untitled-1

Last week on Bookfan:

sunshine beach (6:21) Berkley   pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

Reading plan for this week:

the secrets she kept (7:26)

Same as last week. We’re in the middle of a kitchen renovation so reading time has been limited.


  • living large in our little houseTitle:  Living Large in Our Little House
  • Author:  Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
  • Genre:  Non-fiction
  • Published:  June 2016 – Reader’s Digest
  • Source:  FSB Associates; Publisher

My take:  I’m a fan of the cable shows about finding the perfect tiny house to live in but I’m not sure it would be the right permanent housing choice for me. Maybe for a weekend.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her husband Dale found it to be the best choice for them. Kerri’s book is a combination memoir and How To guide for anyone thinking of making the leap to living in a little house. She uses her experiences of what to do and what not to do when building a small home. Included are lists of pantry/kitchen necessities, details about financial considerations, a helpful index, and a resource list – just to name a few. Kerri and Dale know what they’re talking about – they went from a three bedroom home in the suburbs to a 480 square feet home in the woods!

Several little house owners are spotlighted in the book. They all have unique experiences. There are many photographs scattered throughout. If you’re a fan of shows about this trend or you’re serious about making the move to a little house I think you’ll enjoy this book.


Author Bio:
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a journalist and author who has written a column on small space living for Parade.com. She’s also written on small space living for Mother Earth News and Realtor.com and has been interviewed extensively on her tiny house expertise. Her work has also appeared in Audubon MagazineEntrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo! News, MSN.com and NBC Digital’s pet channel. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Society of American Travel Writers, and the Society of Environmental Journalists, a past national board member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a past president of the Kansas City Press Club, Kerri’s other writing specialties includes animals and pets, business, travel, and the environment. She loves boating and fishing, hiking, and spending time with her husband of 30 years and their dogs. Kerri lives an intentional life with an eye toward sustainability in a 480-square-foot cabin in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and five “recycled” (rescue) mutts, which she documents on her blog, Living Large in Our Little House.

For more information visit her website http://livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Pound For Pound by Shannon Kopp

  • pound for pound by Shannon KoppTitle:  Pound for Pound – A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs who Loved Her Back to Life
  • Author:  Shannon Kopp
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  October 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher via FSB Associates

Description:  “The dogs don’t judge me or give me a motivational speech. They don’t rush me to heal or grow. They sit in my lap and lick my face and make me feel chosen. And sometimes, it hits me hard that I’m doing the exact thing I say I cannot do. Changing.”

Pound for Pound is an inspirational tale about one woman’s journey back to herself, and a heartfelt homage to the four-legged heroes who unexpectedly saved her life.

For seven years, Shannon Kopp battled the silent, horrific, and all-too-common disease of bulimia. Then, at twenty-four, she got a job working at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, where in caring for shelter dogs, she found the inspiration to heal and the courage to forgive herself. With the help of some extraordinary homeless animals, Shannon realized that her suffering was the birthplace of something beautiful. Compassion.

Shannon’s poignant memoir is a story of hope, resilience, and the spiritual healing animals bring to our lives. Pound for Pound vividly reminds us that animals are more than just friends and companions—they can teach us how to savor the present moment and reclaim our joy. Rich with emotion and inspiration it is essential reading for animal lovers and everyone who has struggled to change.  (publisher)

My take:  Pound for Pound is a deeply personal look at bulimia, the disease that dominated author Shannon Kopp’s life for several years. As hard as it was to read the details I found it difficult to put the book down as she explained how she went into the downward spiral of the disease and ultimately began to climb out of it.

If you’re an animal lover you’ll understand why it was her connection to volunteering at dog shelters that started her on the road to self-discovery and wellness. She also had people in her life who stood by her during the toughest days. Also important was learning when to ask for help. I’m impressed by the inner-strength she found to keep going.

I applaud Kopp’s willingness to share such private details in order to possibly help someone else on the same journey. If you have someone in your life who struggles with an eating disorder or you just want to learn more about it I highly recommend this memoir.


Author Bio
Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound, is a writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked and volunteered at various animal shelters throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a healthier, more joyful way of living. Her mission is to help every shelter dog find a loving home, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and animal welfare issues.

For more information visit her website www.shannonkopp.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Reviews
“Anyone who has ever loved an animal, battled depression, or struggled with an addiction of any kind will not be able to put down Pound for Pound . . . brave account of the healing power of shelter dogs is not only a page-turner, but a true inspiration.” — Laura Maloney, former Chief Operating Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, current COO of Panthera

“Every now and again a book comes along that can help millions of people deal with all sorts of difficult and challenging times and guide them to change their ways for a better and healthier life. Pound for Pound is one of those inspirational gems. Shannon Kopp’s personal story — the incredibly hard work she had to do and her opening her heart to the dogs with whom she worked — is a must read. She shows how compassion, trust, and love can open the door for people and dogs in need to heal and to grow together” — Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence

“Don’t miss Pound for Pound — a uniquely touching memoir about a woman bravely struggling with bulimia and self-judgment, ultimately healed by the miraculous power of the rescue dogs she devotes herself to.  It’s a story you’ll always remember, a testament to the healing energy of our canine companions, who ask only for love and then give it back in spades.” — Glenn Plaskin, Author of Katie Up and Down the Hall, The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors Into a Family

Pound for Pound is an emotional reminder of the strength of the human spirit and how dogs are more than our best friend; they can also be guides, inspiring us to be compassionate, share joy, and live life in the moment.” — Booklist

Guest Post by Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound

An Exercise in Compassion:
When My Dog Walks Me Back to the Moment
By Shannon Kopp,
Author of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life

pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

During the rare mornings I don’t press snooze on my alarm four times, I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and go for a walk with my dog. In the beginning, I told myself I was doing this for her. I work long days at an eating disorder treatment center, and unlike when I worked at the San Diego Humane Society, I can’t bring Bella with me. She’s a five-year-old, poodle/terrier mix, and frisky to the core. I tell myself that I walk her to get some of her energy out in the morning, but the truth is, these walks are more for me.

During the eight years I was bulimic, throughout high school and college and into my early twenties, I never walked. I only ran. Most of my friends ran for healthy reasons — they ran to feel their own strength, to relieve stress and take care of themselves, to push themselves farther than they ever thought they could go. But I ran for one purpose only: to burn calories. I didn’t really enjoy the angry music blasting in my headphones, but that didn’t matter. The point was to run harder.

Walks with Bella are the exact opposite of this. We stop every few feet because she catches the scent of something she wants to savor. I never listen to music, just the sound of her panting and my breathing and the morning wind. I often don’t know where we are walking to — I let her guide me. She listens to her body, and when her little legs start to get tired, she turns around and we head back home.

I’m still learning how to listen to my body. I have much more experience hating and judging it, rather than fully inhabiting it. But the good news is this: it’s only seven a.m., and I’ve already felt the earth beneath my feet, air moving in and out of my lungs, a heartbeat pulsing in my chest. I’ve watched the sky turn from dark to light. I’ve reached down and touched my dog’s soft coat, and stared into her shining eyes.

I’ve kissed my dog. I’ve thought about the girl who couldn’t run hard or far enough. And I’ve kissed her, too.

5 Lessons on Life Learned from Morning Walks with my Dog:

  1. Chart Your Own Course
  2. Live in the Moment
  3. Allow Yourself to Pause and Enjoy
  4. Listen to Your Body, Not Just Your Mind
  5. Learn to Experience Life

© 2016 Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound 


Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound, is a writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked and volunteered at various animal shelters throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a healthier, more joyful way of living. Her mission is to help every shelter dog find a loving home, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and animal welfare issues.

For more information visit her website www.shannonkopp.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Living Large in Our Little House by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

living large in our little house

Living Large in Our Little House
Thriving in 480 Square Feet with Six Dogs, a Husband, and One Remote–Plus More Stories of How You Can Too
By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
Published by Reader’s Digest
Hardcover: 240 pages
June 7, 2016; $24.99 US/$33.99 CAN; 9781621452522

Description

Based on the successful blog, Living Large in Our Little House, the book is a practical and inspirational memoir about the joy and freedom of tiny house living.

Traditionally, the American Dream has included owning a house, and until recently that meant the bigger the better. McMansions have flourished in suburbs across the country, and as houses got bigger we filled them with more stuff. Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell had been subconsciously trying to live up to this American Dream when circumstances forced her and her husband into a 480-square foot house in the woods. What was supposed to be a writing cabin and guest house became their full-time abode and they quickly discovered that they had serendipitously discovered a better way of life.

They realized that by living smaller, they were in fact, Living Large. They were not spending extra time cleaning and maintaining the house, but had the freedom to pursue their hobbies; they did not waste money on things they didn’t need; and they grew emotionally (as well as physically) closer. Kerri and her husband realized that Living Large is less about square footage and more about a state of mind.

As Kerri relates the story of her transformation to a “Living Larger,” she also profiles more than a dozen other families living tiny house lives and offers practical advice for how you can too. The book will:

– walk you through the financial advantages of small space living

– help you define and find the right size house

– teach you to scale down to the essentials to be surrounded only by things you love

– show you how to make use of outdoor space

– give tips on how to decorate judiciously

and much more.

Whether readers are inspired to join the tiny house movement or not, they are sure to be inspired to Live Large with less.


Author Bio
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a journalist and author who has written a column on small space living for Parade.com. She’s also written on small space living for Mother Earth News and Realtor.com and has been interviewed extensively on her tiny house expertise. Her work has also appeared in Audubon MagazineEntrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo! News, MSN.com and NBC Digital’s pet channel. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Society of American Travel Writers, and the Society of Environmental Journalists, a past national board member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a past president of the Kansas City Press Club, Kerri’s other writing specialties includes animals and pets, business, travel, and the environment. She loves boating and fishing, hiking, and spending time with her husband of 30 years and their dogs. Kerri lives an intentional life with an eye toward sustainability in a 480-square-foot cabin in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and five “recycled” (rescue) mutts, which she documents on her blog, Living Large in Our Little House.

For more information visit her website http://livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Reviews

Living Large in Our Little House is the open, honest, and enjoyable story of Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell’s journey to simpler living. Woven into this well-written narrative is a wealth of solid advice from her, and others in the tiny house scene.” —Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, designer, author of Microshelters, and host of HGTV’s Tiny House Builders

“With her down-to-earth and elegant storytelling, Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell reveals that there’s a tremendous joy in living simply, without debt, and with a strong connection to the land—in short, a truly sustainable lifestyle. For those interested in living lightly and fully, this book is an elixir for realizing your dreams, describing a path to Living Large on a lot less than most people ever imagine.” —Sarah Susanka, architect and author of The Not So Big House series and The Not So Big Life

Living Large in Our Little House mixes a sense of history with personal anecdote, case studies, interesting personalities, and tips and tricks. It really has something for everyone in its pages and will inspire countless people to get busy living!” —Andrew Odom, co-founder of Tiny r(E)volution (www.tinyrevolution.us)

Living Large in Our Little House offers big insights into the realities of tiny house living. Whether you’re thinking of going small for financial or environmental reasons – or because tiny houses are too cute to resist – this is a must-read guide to help you make smart decisions and enter into tiny house living with a Living Large attitude.” –Jodi Helmer, sustainable living expert and author of The Green Year: 365

Living Large in Our Little House helps put faces to a movement that’s often portrayed as being about houses rather than the people who live in them. It’s the people who make the stories come alive.” –Greg JohnsonSmallHouseSociety.net

“The author didn’t join the tiny-house movement entirely by choice—financial circumstances prompted her and her husband to move into a 480-sq.-ft. cabin in the Ozarks. She’s since embraced the lifestyle, and her book includes personal anecdotes, interviews with families living in tiny homes across the U.S., and advice on decorating and on making the most of outdoor space.” –Jennifer McCartneyPublishers Weekly 


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The Girl From Home by Adam Mitzner

  • the-girl-from-home-9781476764283_hrTitle:  The Girl From Home
  • Author:  Adam Mitzner
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  April 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; FSB Associates

Description:  The acclaimed author, whose recent novel of suspense Losing Faith was declared “startling . . . a well-crafted story” (Kirkus Reviews), takes you on a gripping psychological thrill ride in this electrifying tale of a millionaire who will go to deadly lengths to get what he wants.

Jonathan Caine is a true master of the universe — a currency wizard with a trophy wife, a penthouse condo with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and the desire for more — when his world comes crashing down, spiraling him into a relentless fall from grace. Devastated, Jonathan returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father and attend his twenty-fifth high school reunion, where he becomes reacquainted with former prom queen Jacqueline Williams. Back in the day, Jackie didn’t even know Jonathan existed. Now she is intrigued by the man he has become. But their budding relationship has problems, not the least of which is Jackie’s jealous and abusive husband. Jonathan is determined to learn from his mistakes, but is he capable of complete transformation? Or will a shocking temptation test his desire for redemption beyond anything he could have imagined?  (publisher)

My take:  Jonathan Caine is a man who wants what he wants. Motivated by events that occurred when he was a child he’s willing to do almost anything to get what he wants, what will bring him happiness. He charts his own course and eventually ends up on the wrong side of the law. And that’s just the start of his downturn. 

Out of a job he goes home to New Jersey to look after his ill father. While there he connects with the girl (Jackie) of his dreams from high school at their 25th class reunion. This connection buoys him along as he tries to get his life back on track. Their connection also leads them down a path that will be life-changing for both. Because of their actions on different occasions I found myself equally liking and disliking Jackie and Jonathan. For me that’s always a good thing and adds to my enjoyment of a book.

The Girl From Home is an entertaining thriller. By choice I don’t read many in this genre but every once in a while I like to try one. Like I said, I was entertained but not in an “on the edge of my seat” way. I was satisfied with the way Mitzner wrapped things up and would definitely read more of his books.


Author Bio
Adam Mitzner, author of The Girl from Home, is a lawyer by day and the author of Losing Faith, A Case of Redemption, and A Conflict of Interest. He lives with his family in New York City.

For more information please visit http://adammitzner.com, and follow the author on Facebook

US Giveaway: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison (signed copy)

a small indiscretion

A Small Indiscretion: A Novel
By Jan Ellison
Published by Random House
Hardcover: 336 pages
January 20, 2015; $27.00 US/ $32.00 CAN; 9780812995442

Description
A Small Indiscretion fixes an unflinching eye on the power of desire and the danger of obsession as it unfolds the story of one woman’s reckoning with a youthful mistake.

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in her washed-out hometown for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and yearning for deliverance. Some two decades later, she is married to a good man and settled in San Francisco, with a son and two daughters and a successful career designing artistic interior lights. One June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and threaten to overturn her family’s hard-won happiness.

The novel moves back and forth across time between San Francisco in the present and that distant winter in Europe. The two worlds converge and explode when the adult Annie returns to London seeking answers, her indiscretions come to light, and the phone rings with shocking news about her son. Now Annie must fight to save her family by piecing together the mystery of her past — the fateful collision of liberation and abandon and sexual desire that drew an invisible map of her future.

A Small Indiscretion is a riveting debut novel about a woman’s search for understanding and forgiveness, a taut exploration of a modern marriage, and of love — the kind that destroys, and the kind that redeems.

Author Bio
Jan Ellison 
is a mother of four and a novelist, essayist and short-story writer. Her first book, A Small Indiscretion (Random House 2015) is a literary suspense novel about a harrowing coming-of-age, a marriage under siege, and a mother who must excavate the truth of her past. It was an Oprah Editor’s Pick and a San Francisco Chronicle Book Club Pick.

Jan’s essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Narrative Magazine and elsewhere, and she received an O. Henry Prize for her first short story to appear in print.

Jan is a graduate of Stanford and San Francisco State University, where she spent seven years earning an MFA when her children were small. Jan had a brief career at a Silicon Valley startup, marketing risk management software to derivatives traders. The company went public, Jan became a mother, and instead of leaning in she leaned out, became a stay-at-home mom, and began to write.

Jan’s experiences living and traveling abroad after college continue to fuel much of her writing. She also left Stanford for a year at nineteen to live and work on a shoe-string in Paris and London. She took notes on yellow legal pads, and years later, those notes provided the inspiration for her first novel.

Jan grew up in Los Angeles and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband of twenty years and their children.

For more information please visit http://www.janellison.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter


Praise for A Small Indiscretion:

“Delicious lazy day reading…just don’t underestimate the writing.” —Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 Editor’s Pick
“Ellison is a tantalizing storyteller…moving her story forward with cinematic verve.” —USA Today
“Lovely writing guides us through, driven by a quiet generosity.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Ellison’s debut novel is both juicy and beautifully written.” —Flavorwire 
“Ellison writes gracefully, with moments of startling insight.” —The Rumpus

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a small indiscretion

Spotlight/US Giveaway: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

a small indiscretion

Description
A Small Indiscretion fixes an unflinching eye on the power of desire and the danger of obsession as it unfolds the story of one woman’s reckoning with a youthful mistake.

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in her washed-out hometown for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and yearning for deliverance. Some two decades later, she is married to a good man and settled in San Francisco, with a son and two daughters and a successful career designing artistic interior lights. One June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and threaten to overturn her family’s hard-won happiness.

The novel moves back and forth across time between San Francisco in the present and that distant winter in Europe. The two worlds converge and explode when the adult Annie returns to London seeking answers, her indiscretions come to light, and the phone rings with shocking news about her son. Now Annie must fight to save her family by piecing together the mystery of her past — the fateful collision of liberation and abandon and sexual desire that drew an invisible map of her future.

A Small Indiscretion is a riveting debut novel about a woman’s search for understanding and forgiveness, a taut exploration of a modern marriage, and of love — the kind that destroys, and the kind that redeems.


 

Author Bio
Jan Ellison is a graduate of Stanford University and San Francisco State University’s MFA Program. She has published award-winning short fiction, and was the recipient of a 2007 O. Henry Prize for her first story to appear in print. Her work has also been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. A Small Indiscretion is her first book.

For more information please visit http://www.janellison.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter


 

Reviews
“This voice is alive. It knows something. It will take us somewhere. The magic is accomplished so fast, so subtly, that most readers hardly notice… A Small Indiscretion is rich with suspense…astonishing … Delectable elements of this terrific first novel abound: Its characters are round and real…Ellison gives us an achingly physical sense of family life … Lovely writing guides us through, driven by a quiet generosity … This voice knows something, and by the end of the novel, so do we.” — San Francisco Chronicle, A&E, by Joan Frank

“The literary equivalent of a day spa: sink in, tune out, turn page, turn page, turn page. Delicious, lazy-day reading…just don’t underestimate the writing.”— Oprah’s Book Club Editor’s Pick, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, by Leigh Newman

“An engrossing, believable, gracefully written family drama that reveals our past’s bare-knuckle grip on our present.”  — Emma DonoghueNew York Times bestselling author of Room

“A stunning debut by Jan Ellison . . . Like the photograph that arrives in the mail and sets in motion the plot of this gorgeous novel, A Small Indiscretion reminds us of the intensity of youthful desire and of the fragile nature of a marriage built on secrecy.” — Ann PackerNew York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier

“It might be convenient if our mistakes would fade with time rather than hunt us down complete with consequence, but that wouldn’t make for the kind of taut, hypnotic story Jan Ellison tells. The impact of narrator Annie Black’s ‘small’ indiscretion is anything but, and in a brilliantly paced unraveling, Ellison makes vivid the sometimes tragic interplay of choice and fate, lust and love, youth and adulthood — which can bring its own mistakes. Absorbing, chilling, and moving, A Small Indiscretion is the debut of an elegant writer who will be known and admired from the start.” — Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

“An emotional thriller of the Anita Shreve variety, with revelations that continue and relationships that evolve until the final pages . . . Connoisseurs of domestic suspense will finish this book in a few breathless sittings, then wait eagerly for Ellison’s next trick.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“[A] cleverly constructed debut . . . a deftly crafted, absorbing novel that peels back the layers of Annie’s character as it reveals the secrets of her past and present.”
— Booklist


US Giveaway

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a small indiscretion

Published by Random House
Hardcover: 336 pages
January 20, 2015; $27.00 US/ $32.00 CAN; 9780812995442


Singing to a Bulldog by Anson Williams

  • Singing to a Bulldog (Nov11)Title:  Singing to a Bulldog: From “Happy Days” to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There
  • Author:  Anson Williams
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  November 2014 – Reader’s Digest
  • Source:  Publicist

My take:  Singing to a Bulldog is a slim memoir that packs a lot of inspiration within the 150+ pages. I remembered Anson Williams from the 70s sitcom Happy Days but hadn’t heard anything about him in recent decades. I don’t watch a lot of tv so I missed all the shows he directed. He’s been a busy guy who realizes how blessed his life has been.

He didn’t start out that way. He had a criticizing father who blamed Anson for all of his own failures. That had to be tough for a kid to live with! What ended up saving Anson was a janitorial job at a California store when he was in his mid-teens. His department boss, Willie Turner, taught him life lessons through brief adages he’d learned in his own life. Willie was an older, alcoholic man who was able to keep his job despite his issues.

In his own way, Willie provided the nurturing that had been missing in Anson’s life. Without realizing it he became Anson’s mentor and Anson listened and used those lessons. What he found out was that Willie knew what he was talking about.

I thought Singing to a Bulldog had a folksy feel to it. It’s chapters are very short (rarely going over five pages). That made it easy to pick up and set down. Each begins and ends with one of Willie’s lessons. The lessons may seem a bit simplistic to some readers but it’s Williams’ memoir and, given he had no parent willing to teach him, the effect of the lessons on his life was huge. It’s not a typical Hollywood memoir although Williams does share a few stories about other stars that all readers will recognize. One thing I found lacking in the book are photos. I would have loved to see a few.

Recommended to fans of the memoir genre, Hollywood memoirs, life advice books.


Click here for a video of the author on Access Hollywood

Author Bio
Best known for his Golden Globe nominated role as Warren “Potsie” Weber on the series Happy Days, Anson Williams is also an award-winning television director and writer as well as a singer and producer. He has directed more than 300 hours of television for a variety of series, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He won the prized Humanitas Award for his writing, has been honored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and served on the board of the USO. Together with business partner JoAnna Connell, he founded StarMaker Products, an international product company. He lives with his wife and five daughters in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews
Singing To A Bulldog is such a meaningful, fun, and uplifting book. I have such sweet memories of Anson . . . like millions of others, I loved him on “Happy Days.” I am proud to be a little part of this wonderfully written, revealing, informative, and entertaining book. Praise and congratulations to Anson.”
— Dolly Parton

“I’ve always known Anson to be a great storyteller as well as a true and generous friend. Now he’s written the most important story of his life — about Willie Turner, the head janitor at one of Anson’s first jobs, whose words of wisdom guided him through a turbulent time in his life and gave him the confidence to move forward to a successful career as an actor, television director, and entrepreneur. Even better, he’s made it into a truly inspirational book of life lessons for the rest of us.”
— Ron Howard

Spotlight and US Giveaway: Monday, Monday: A Novel by Elizabeth Crook

monday, monday
Monday, Monday: A Novel
By Elizabeth Crook Published by Sarah Crichton Books Hardcover: 352 pages April 29, 2014; $26.00 US/$30.00 CAN; 9781621451457

Description: In this gripping, emotionally charged novel, a tragedy in Texas changes the course of three lives

On an oppressively hot Monday in August of 1966, a student and former marine named Charles Whitman hauled a footlocker of guns to the top of the University of Texas tower and began firing on pedestrians below. Before it was over, sixteen people had been killed and thirty-two wounded. It was the first mass shooting of civilians on a campus in American history.

Monday, Monday follows three students caught up in the massacre: Shelly, who leaves her math class and walks directly into the path of the bullets, and two cousins, Wyatt and Jack, who heroically rush from their classrooms to help the victims. On this searing day, a relationship begins that will eventually entangle these three young people in a forbidden love affair, an illicit pregnancy, and a vow of secrecy that will span forty years. Reunited decades after the tragedy, they will be forced to confront the event that changed their lives and that has silently and persistently ruled the lives of their children.

With electrifying storytelling and the powerful sense of destiny found in Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and with the epic sweep of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, Elizabeth Crook’s Monday, Monday explores the ways in which we sustain ourselves and one another when the unthinkable happens. At its core, it is the story of a woman determined to make peace with herself, with the people she loves, and with a history that will not let her go. A humane treatment of a national tragedy, it marks a generous and thrilling new direction for a gifted American writer.

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Author Bio Elizabeth Crook, author of Monday, Monday: A Novel, is the author of three novels, The Raven’s Bride, Promised Lands, and The Night Journal. She has written for anthologies and periodicals, including Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and has served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters. Currently she is a member of the board of directors of the Texas Book Festival. She lives in Austin with her husband and two children.

For more information please visit http://elizabethcrookbooks.com and follow the author on Facebook.

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Reviews: “This rapturous novel starts with one of the most heinous shootings in history, yet every page shines with life. Crook follows three students who endured the tragedy as they grapple with the past, struggle to navigate their futures, and discover that who and what saves us is nothing like what you imagine. Brilliantly realized and so vivid the novel seems to virtually breathe, Monday, Monday is a stunning achievement.” — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“Elizabeth Crook has written an extraordinary novel — an eloquent love story born from an act of random violence, a tale of destruction and redemption. It’s about making a whole life out of a damaged one, and about holding on and letting go. The characters are as real as people you know; their story is subtle, startling, and wise.” — Sarah Bird, author of The Yokota Officers Club and Above the East China Sea

Monday, Monday begins by throwing us into the midst of one of the worst mass murders in American history, a scene painted with such harrowing exactitude that it leaves you wondering how the characters can possibly survive and how the author can possibly sustain such a high level of narrative momentum and emotional insight. And yet Elizabeth Crook pulls it off. This is a brilliant and beautiful book.” — Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo and Remember Ben Clayton

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Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

Saving Each Other

  • Title:  Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story
  • Authors:  Victoria Jackson & Ali Guthy
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  October 2012 – Vanguard Press
  • Source:  Review copy from FSB Associates

(Book flap synopsis) On the surface, Victoria Jackson is the American Dream personified: from a troubled childhood and unfinished high school education she overcame immeasurable odds to create a cosmetics empire valued at more than half a billion dollars. Married to Bill Guthy—self-made principal of infomercial marketing giant Guthy-Renker—Victoria’s most treasured role was mother to three beautiful, beloved children, Evan, Ali, and Jackson.

Suddenly, Victoria’s dream life is broken as she begins to battle a mother’s greatest fear. In 2008, her daughter, Ali, began experiencing unusual symptoms of blurred vision and an ache in her eye. Her test results led to the diagnosis of a disease so rare, the chance that she had it was only 2%. Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO) is a little understood, incurable, and often fatal autoimmune disease that can cause blindness, paralysis, and life-threatening seizures, and afflicts as few as 20,000 people in the world. At the age of 14, Ali was given a terrifying prognosis of between four to six years to live.

Saving Each Other begins just as Victoria and Bill learn of Ali’s disease, starting them on a powerful journey to save Ali, their only daughter, including bringing together a team of more than fifty of the world’s leading experts in autoimmune and
NMO-related diseases to create the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Victoria and Ali narrate their very different journeys of coming to terms with the lack of control that neither mother nor daughter have over NMO, and their pioneering efforts and courage to take their fight to a global level.

Bringing their story to light with raw emotion, humor, warmth, and refreshing candor, Saving Each Other is the extraordinary journey of a mother and daughter who demonstrate how the power of love can transcend our greatest fears, while at the same time battling to find a cure for the incurable.

My take:  As a parent of a child who has an autoimmune disease I was very interested in reading Saving Each Other. I’d never heard of NMO before but now feel I have a general understanding of it. That’s mostly due to the format used by Jackson and Guthy. Written in diary form it was easy to understand their feelings as they were introduced to the disease at the time of Ali’s initial attack. I could relate to their search for medical help that would actually help. I was in awe of how quickly the family started a foundation that would make a cure for NMO it’s focus.

Victoria Jackson was the major force behind making things happen even while fighting anxiety and other issues. Bill Guthy was “the funder”.  And Ali just wanted to be a normal high school kid – play tennis, be with friends, anything but be a poster child for NMO.

As memoirs go I found Saving Each Other fascinating. Yes, the family had means to seek the best treatment for their child but they also shared the knowledge gained through their search. The GJCF (Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation) continues to work for a cure of NMO.

Website:  www.guthyjacksonfoundation.org

 

The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay

Title:  The Shortest Way Home

Author:  Juliette Fay

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  October 2012 – Penguin

Paperback: 416 pages

Synopsis:  Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.

My take:  Sean Doran’s back is killing him and he’s feeling burnt out after years of nursing in third world countries. He takes a break and heads home to Belham, Mass. What he finds when he arrives home are family members who need him just as much, if not more, than the people he left in Africa. He also has to face the reason why he left home to begin with: Huntington’s disease – the cause of his mother’s early death. Has he managed to escape it? Will other family members be diagnosed with it? It hangs over him constantly.

Juliette Fay’s characters stole my heart from the first page. I understood Sean’s motivation, his sister Deirdre’s frustration, and his nephew Kevin’s issues. I loved Aunt Vivvy, Cormac the baker, and Rebecca, a former classmate and friend. By the time I finished reading The Shortest Way Home I felt like they were all family members – that’s how real they seemed. Completely relatable – as stated in the synopsis.

It really is a slice of life novel and it left me hoping Juliette Fay will write another “Belham novel” someday soon. I’m going to want an update on all of the Dorans!

Disclosure:  Review copy provided by the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.