REVIEW: Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

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From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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“Why wait if you know it’s right?”

Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino has one of the most original storylines and concepts that I have ever read. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was completely blown away. It’s a book of forgiveness, self-discovery, friendship, redemption, and love.

“We can’t go backward. There are too many regrets. Please just move forward with me?

A lot of us may not have had the childhoods that were described in the book, but there is something about both of their upbringings that we can relate to. Letting go of a lifetime’s worth of baggage is hard, but when you have someone that is willing to stand by your side as you process and work your way through then you have found someone special. Love from another person can be seen and felt in a number of ways but in my opinion there is no greater act of love than when a person helps (or sometimes forces) you to find and see your best self as they see you and this is where the true beauty of Swear On This Life lies.

I’ve said it numerous times and I will say it again: Renee Carlino is a go-to writer for me. She never disappoints and always delivers on exceptional storytelling with emotional depth and character development. I savored every single page and it is my hope that other readers will do the same!!

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five

 

REVIEW: Daddy’s Girl by Ben Burgess, Jr.

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ick Johnson has always been an underachieving, borderline alcoholic. He soon finds himself in over his head when his affair with Vickie, an unhappily married homemaker, results in an accidental pregnancy. Vickie abandons Nick to raise their biracial daughter, Lynn, alone. Overwhelmed by the difficulties of single fatherhood and seeking comfort and help for himself in that stressful journey, Nick dates numerous women who will change his life forever. Will raising Lynn force him to mature? Can a single father with a challenging past teach his daughter to become a strong, successful woman? Will a Daddy’s Girl, raised primary by her father, leave Lynn destined to fail from a lack of female guidance?

 

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The synopsis definitely piqued my attention, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for what was written. This book hit on so many issues and emotions. This doesn’t happen too often, but I’m at a loss of words and am unable to write this review in a manner that will give this book the justice it deserves.

Daddy’s Girl delves so much deeper than the daddy-daughter relationship. The content, the pace, the character development, the flaws, the conflict, the pace, the growth; all were perfect. This is by far Ben’s best work to date.

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five

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Buy Daddy’s Girl here!

REVIEW: The Wedding & Disaster of Felona Mabel by Kenn Bivins



Blessed is the woman who has never had anything to love. She can never know the heartbreak that comes with losing it.

Before being wed to happily ever after, Felona Mabel must resolve the disaster that is her life. 

She is a 32-year old, freckled redhead of mixed heritage who has amassed much success as a big city, award-winning journalist. 

Two weeks before her wedding day, she’s summoned back to her estranged, small hometown where her ailing and abusive mother lies comatose, near death and doesn’t wish to be resuscitated. 

Felona, intent on some semblance of happily ever after, resolves that her mother’s impending death may be the necessary closure she needs before her wedding. 

But will a series of cul-de-sacs, twists and last–minute left turns steer Felona toward her inevitable ruin?


First, let me say how breathtaking this cover is. I absolutely love it and it will be one that I will always mention if the topic of book covers is discussed. Now, that that’s out of the way, let me get into the book.

Going home. Sometimes we look forward to the comfort of the place we grew up. And, other times we don’t want to face the past and/or anything or anyone associated with it. Felona falls into the latter category. 

Bivins does an excellent job of putting his spin on the age old tale of how childhood wounds follow us into adulthood if they aren’t properly dealt with. On the surface, Felona’s life looked as if it was going smoothly until she is forced to face her mother and their issues. Sometimes we kid ourselves into thinking closure isn’t needed, but in our most important relationships it is and in this complex and intricately written story, Felona finally gets it. 

“You know what? I love this woman. We’re really good friends. Best friends, actually. We’ve been through a lot and I’m not going anywhere. Unless she comes with me. So…yeah…that’s all I got.”

Of course, there’s a boy. Well, a childhood friend that has turned into a man and he plays a very important role in helping Felona face everything. He doesn’t allow her time back home not to be productive and life-changing. Bivins does an excellent job of providing balance between their friendship and the romantic undertones. 

I was unaware of Kenn Bivins until I saw this cover posted on Facebook by one of my book friends. On a complete side note, as a reader ALWAYS share book (covers, quotes, and reviews) stuff on social media and retailer sites because it is truly a BIG help to authors and other readers. Felona’s life is one of ups and downs that we get to watch grow and evolve through the final page. I look forward to reading more by Mr. Bivins!!




Buy The Wedding & Disaster of Felona Mabel here!