Book Review Tuesday – Sheep Tales – #BRT

How cute is this book? And what a precious and wonderful gift the author gave to his granddaughter by writing this book. Seriously, she’ll have it forever.

Sheep Tales follows young Chloe and her smart Border Collie sheepherder dog, Tobey, on the family farm. Chloe’s parents have sheep and there is one little lamb named Ellie, who somehow gets away from the rest. Panic ensues! But never fear, for Tobey is there.

This book is a treasure, and would make a wonderful gift for any child, especially a little girl who loves animals. With beautiful illustrations from Jamie Forgetta, Sheep Tales warms the heart.

Want a copy? Great! If you’re local, you can find a copy at Stillwater Books in downtown Pawtucket or online at Amazon. Copies are available in paperback or hardcover.

Book Review Tuesday – All the Rest of Her Days – #BRT

All the Rest of Her Days

Maggie is 16 years old and pregnant, a big problem in the 1960s. When she confesses to her parents, they make the decision to send her away to a home for unwed, pregnant girls, where Maggie will stay until she gives birth. Then, the baby will be taken and put up for adoption. She gives birth to a son and carries her secret with her for decades.

Thirty years later, Maggie receives a telephone call from a man who says he is her son. This is actually how the book begins – so the reader has a pretty good idea where it’s going. But this isn’t a mystery; it’s a story about loss and a mother’s never-ending love for her son.

The first seven chapters make up Part One, which focuses on Maggie Porter – her teenage pregnancy, her return to high school and college after giving up her baby, and her eventual marriage to a man named Joe. It ends with her pregnancy and the birth of a daughter.

Part Two begins in Ireland, with Julia O’Brien preparing to leave for America. She joins her brother there and meets a man she will eventually marry. But this couple finds themselves childless after a number of years, and decide to adopt. And yes, they adopt the little boy that Maggie Porter had put up for adoption.

From there the storylines move along – sometimes so quickly it’s hard to keep up – to the eventual point that begins the novel.

The author had a good plot and developed it thoroughly. However, this book was in desperate need of a copy editor. Spelling errors and in particular, the misuse and lack of punctuation mar an otherwise engrossing tale. Copy editors can polish a story and make it shine.

Many parts of this story seemed rushed. This is really more of a saga, spanning decades, but at times the author covers years in a single paragraph. Also, when shifting to a new scene (and a new time period), it’s a good idea to have a break, even with a symbol, to let the reader know. Otherwise, one is left wondering what happened, thinking something was missing.

This book was published seven-and-a-half years ago – it would be my recommendation to have it professionally edited and re-release it.

You can get a copy of All the Rest of Her Days in digital or print versions here:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “F” is for “For Your Eyes Only”

I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Written for the James Bond film of the same name, “For Your Eyes Only” is sung by the Scottish singer Sheena Easton (best known for her snappy “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” hit). The songwriter, Bill Conti (Providence native!), wrote the film’s song with Donna Summer or Dusty Springfield in mind, but the film studio had noticed Easton after her “9 to 5” hit and suggested her. The song was released in June 1981 and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Here is Sheena Easton singing “For Your Eyes Only” live:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “D” is for “Don’t Stop Believin'”

I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Released in October of 1981, this is Journey’s biggest hit, and recognizable instantly from its keyboard intro. It was a Top 10 worldwide hit in 1981, and became the best-selling digital track of the 20th century, with over seven million downloads.

The song has endured for decades, even making it onto the hit TV show “Glee” as its own anthem. And fans of “The Sopranos” will remember it being played during that iconic final scene. It’s frequently played during Detroit Red Wings hockey games and other Detroit-based sporting events. You’ll hear “Don’t Stop Believin'” played during the eighth inning of every San Francisco Giants home game, because Steve Perry is a season ticket holder. And it was used as a closing number in the musical Rock of Ages.

Trivia: There is no actual “South Detroit,” at least no actual place known as South Detroit, but co-songwriter Steve Perry liked the way it sounded, and it stuck.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “B” is for “Bette Davis Eyes”

I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

I can’t ignore the song that was #1 for the year, even if I’m not crazy about it. Kim Carnes sounds like she’s smoked a carton of cigarettes before she recorded it. What I didn’t know was that the song was actually written in 1974 by Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”). DeShannon recorded it, but who remembers that? No, it was a huge hit for Kim Carnes, who was a songwriter and session background singer for years, until Kenny Rogers commissioned her in 1980 to co-write songs for his new album. She recorded a few other songs, including a duet with Rogers (“Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer”). Actually, Kim Carnes has had a pretty impressive career, and you can read about it here

Here’s the video:

I am going to give a mention to the song I would have included, if it weren’t for the fact that “Bette Davis Eyes” couldn’t be ignored.

“Being with You” by Smokey Robinson – runner-up!

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “A” is for “All Those Years Ago”

I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Why not begin with my favorite Beatle? Here is George Harrison’s May 1981 release, a tribute to his fellow Beatle John Lennon, who had been murdered in December 1980 outside his apartment. What I love about this song, besides the lyrics, is that Ringo Starr plays drums and Paul and Linda McCartney fill in background vocals.

I’m shouting all about love
While they treated you like a dog
When you were the one who had made it so clear
All those years ago

I’m talking all about how to give
They don’t act with much honesty
But you point the way to the truth when you say
All you need is love

Living with good and bad
I always looked up to you
Now we’re left cold and sad
By someone the devil’s best friend
Someone who offended all

We’re living in a bad dream
They’ve forgotten all about mankind
And you were the one they backed up to the wall
All those years ago
You were the one who imagined it all
All those years ago

All those years ago
All those years ago

Deep in the darkest night
I send out a prayer to you
Now in the world of light
Where the spirit free of lies
And all else that we despised

They’ve forgotten all about God
He’s the only reason we exist
Yet you were the one that they said was so weird
All those years ago
You said it all though not many had ears
All those years ago
You had control of our smiles and our tears
All those years ago

Book Review Tuesday – Treading Water #BRT

In author Belle A. DeCosta’s debut novel, we meet thirtysomething advertising executive Caroline McMerritt, whose place among the ambitious, driven Manhattan ad execs is threatened by her own self-destructive behavior. Forced into a leave of absence by her employer, Caroline heads to Maine, to a family cabin on a lake, where she reluctantly adapts to her new surroundings. There she discovers an old journal left behind by her now-deceased mother, and that journal provides much of Caroline’s self-healing. DeCosta deftly transitions between entries from the past and Caroline’s present-day musings.

Add in some well-developed characters and a potential love interest and we’ve got ourselves a story! Truthfully, this is a very well written tale of redemption and second chances. DeCosta uses language in a beautiful way, painting with words, and this reader rooted for the protagonist.

There are some blips that I, as an editor, can’t help but see (you ‘pedal’ a bike – to ‘peddle’ a bike is to sell one on a street corner, and the misuse of lie/lay and farther/further could be fixed by a good copy edit), but otherwise this is a most enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more of DeCosta’s work.

Get a print or digital copy of Treading Water here:

Book Review Tuesday – A Dream Worth Keeping – #BRT

Look at this pretty book cover! It does make one want to tear into it, and tear into it I did this past week. A Dream Worth Keeping is the first novel by author Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast, whose first release was a memoir, The Ferry Home. In this novel, she explores the quintessential themes of love, loss, and forgiveness – of others and of oneself.

Martha Coutu is a pastry chef and chocolatier on the heels of a divorce that has left her with overwhelming self-doubt and skepticism toward men. When George Henderson enters her life unexpectedly, she battles the strong attraction she feels for him with her own memories of the abusive husband she has just recently jettisoned. Their initial meeting goes so well, however, that George asks for more time with Martha, but Martha (great name, by the way!) flees. I mean, she really flees – she packs up her car and drives from Baltimore to Florida, a drive that would run about 15 hours. Once in Florida, she stays with her culinary school chum Annie, who runs a B&B, and befriends Darcy, a local chocolatier with whom she forms a deep bond.

Martha has some major self-acceptance work ahead of her. While she clings to the past as if it’s a buoy, it actually serves to drag her down and keep her from a chance at real happiness. At times, she has a hard time recognizing the man who is actually a snake and a harder time acknowledging the good guy. But I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Martha’s journey is such a major part of the plot that you root for her throughout her roller-coaster ride of emotions. Set in Pensacola, Baltimore, and the coast of Maine, this book is propelled by realistic dialogue that moves the plot (as good dialogue should), gorgeous scenery descriptions, appropriate backstory, and mouth-watering depictions of pastries and chocolates.

There are minor punctuation errors (“Let me drive Maggie” is not the same as “Let me drive, Maggie”), but they don’t detract from the overall story, which is well-constructed, with one odd pop-up of a nearly-forgotten character at the end of the story, but the author quickly dispenses with him and moves forward. A Dream Worth Keeping is well worth reading, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys baking, traveling, and a well-written romance.

You can purchase A Dream Worth Keeping at Amazon ( or locally in Rhode Island from the publisher, Stillwater River Publications, at their bookstore, Stillwater Books (

The Summer of Princess Diana – Editorial Review

Sharing this editorial review for my newest novel! Get your copy here

Title: The Summer of Princess Diana

Author: Martha Reynolds           

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age Fiction

Young American Diana Driscoll is looking forward to attending the London wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, courtesy of her wealthy Father. However, while on a stopover in Switzerland, she receives a phone-call that dramatically changes her plans, and not just for the Summer.

The Summer of Princess Diana opens with a short prologue set in 1976 before moving to 1981. This brief mid-Seventies opener sets the tone of the novel. It’s light, charming, and incredibly readable, while giving a sense of something a little deeper beneath the surface.

Diana is understandably spoiled and indulged, but Ms. Reynolds manages to make her likeable and interesting. Diana is aware of her lucky position in life, and the superficiality she exhibits during the early stages of the book never becomes too irritating.

Following the life-changing conversation with her mother, Ms. Reynolds is careful to realistically develop Diana’s awareness of her impecunious situation without the prose losing its frothy, slightly fun edge and jaunty pace. This skillfully maintains the narrative’s engaging style while subtly drawing out Diana’s hidden depths.

Indeed, Ms. Reynolds has an intrinsic knack for knowing when to leave well alone to let the reader exercise their imagination, or simply sail through with the story. Unpleasant issues are not exactly glossed over, but dealt with in a manner that does not ask too many questions, either of the perpetrators or the reader.

This approach might be viewed as slightly one-dimensional and it could possibly be argued that elements of The Summer of Princess Diana could have been explored with more insight. Nonetheless, this simplistic approach is refreshingly easy to read, cleverly thought-out, and deceptively well-structured.

There is an abundance of fine, descriptive detail throughout the novel which brings the characters and settings vividly to life. In particular, the Swiss countryside is beautifully captured and the seamless blending of the French language with its English counterpart adds complete ease and authenticity to the story.

Once Diana begins to live and work as an au pair with the Brusadin Family, the novel really flies while still keeping the airy, feminine touch to the writing and the sporadic brushstrokes of gently whimsical humor.

The dynamic between the Brusadins and Diana is delicately examined, yet the reader can keenly feel the vulnerabilities, tensions, and subtle power struggles that exist between them all in the Swiss farmhouse. Intrigue, apprehension, and poignancy simmer through this area of the narrative, which combined with the brisk pace, make the majority of The Summer of Princess Diana hard to put down.

Kenny, the Brusadin’s son, evolves from a prototypical, tantrum-throwing toddler to a somewhat pitiful little figure surrounded by foreboding elements. The motif of Diana’s brothers running in front of a car during the prologue, and Kenny doing similar, lends a continuity and possibly premonitory link between his life and hers.

From Diana’s first meeting with Monsieur Brusadin, he exudes mildly predatory behavior. However, it is with his friend, Luigi, that a particularly nasty incident with Diana occurs. This is given more emotional depth than other troubling moments in the novel, highlighting its impact and Diana’s subsequent maturity and growth.

Madame Brusadin’s portrayal is a masterclass in understated poignancy. Through the smallest of expressions and merest of mannerisms, she conveys a wealth of unspoken regret and disillusionment while still clinging to an ill-fated optimism.

The Summer of Princess Diana is a captivating read that navigates some dark issues with sensitivity and a lightness of touch. Reynolds has written an original and absorbing story with a sweetly satisfying ending and a protagonist who, despite her faults, never fails to appeal.

This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.