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review 2017-05-16 05:10
Before the Rain Falls
Before the Rain Falls: A Novel - Camille Di Maio

By:  Camille Di Maio 

ISBN: 9781503939974

Publisher: Lake Union 

Publication Date: 5/16/2017

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars +

From the bestselling author, Camille DiMaio of The Memory of Us, the smashing debut landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 returns with another stunning follow-up, equally as gripping.

An enthralling modern mystery: BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS —Beautifully written and incredibly poignant, a story of love, loss, and redemption. 5 Stars + Top Books of 2017

A tragic tale which will restore your faith and strength of the human spirit to rise despite adversity― A courageous woman who keeps a dark secret and makes tremendous "sacrifices" that will change her family forever.

Emotional and intriguing. At the same time— a timeless love story, reminding us that often in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way.

Set in humid South Texas (author's hometown San Antonio), a dual storyline (almost three), alternating between Della’s dark and horrific experiences of the 1940s; her parents: Herman and Eva, and sister Eula (the beloved songbird); and Paloma (grandmother Abuela) and Mick’s present-day search for answers―paths destined to cross, decades apart.

Two sisters. A death. Two mysterious portraits. One found, another lost. A town in need of hope and much-needed rain.

Told in alternating chapters between the 1940s and present day. A washed-up journalist and a young doctor cross paths while searching for the truth behind the mystery murder decades earlier.

Della Lee and Tomas Trujillo had been married only four hours when it happened, their newly minted future ripped apart by an ivory-handled knife.

Tomas said he understood why she’d done what she did. But the fairy tales that Della had imagined for them ever since that day were over. Someone had attempted to break that bond.

She made a choice that would change her world forever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.

Texas 1943— Eula Lee had been murdered. The tiny border town was devastated for the second time by the Lee family. The daughter everyone cherished. Della Lee Trujillo was convicted. Guilty of murder in the death of her younger sister.

"The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling."—Lucretius

Alternating from Puerto Pesar—Present Day: Della was back in the place that consumed her memories through seventy years in prison. Now, in her nineties. Tomas had lived in the house for a few years until going off to war, but he had the foresight to take care of all the legal bits that Della never had the chance to consider.

It was not until she returned to her childhood home that phantoms and memories stirred her, making it impossible to rest. There were births, deaths, marriages, joys, sorrows that were absorbed into these walls.

Did their ghosts mingle, along with those of Herman, Eva, Tomas, and Durla—all watching her this old woman in this old house? The painting, the shrine, the beloved girl. Where was the second one?

She looked back at her life. The forties —when she learned to be a champion, catcher of greased pigs. The fifties— when she discovered a love of reading. The sixties— when she sabotaged her chance at parole. And yet they seemed like yesterday.

The days in which her sister was no longer the belle of Puerto Pesar— drawing crowds from around the country to the little church on Sunday mornings. The days instead when Eula resided six feet below the parched soil in the churchyard.

These were her Freedom Days. She would walk around without bars to block the view. That was one kind of freedom. It was the freedom in telling your secrets before it was too late. Her guilt over not being a good enough caregiver for her sister.

Della had a story and she was ready to tell it. This would be the Truth Days.

Present Day: Mick Anders, a reporter for the Daily Talk in Boston, looking for a story to revive his career. He is in Texas to research the origins of a church painting depicting a “crying girl”. He is staying at the La Palma Inn the only lodging in the small border town of Puerto Pesar. He is struggling with his own battles.

His editor wanted him to lie low regarding a fiasco with a senator (backstory here). He had been told to work his magic in this Podunk town and turn the story into a Pulitzer winner. Go to Texas until his other deal blew over. Two weeks of leave. His orders were to find a knockout story or he was finished. No per diem of course since this was not a real assignment.

His girlfriend Stephanie had taken the keys to the Lexus and kicked him out of their condo. He was going to get a story and spin straw into gold and return to the newspaper as the prodigal son.

The area had not had rain for one hundred and eighty-two days. The photo had shown rosaries and holy cards outside the church as people begged for salvation from this hell. Would he discover the mysteries of this family before the rain falls? Before the woman dies without telling her story. He wanted to be the one.

It all boiled down to this: A portrait found in a thrift store and was thought to be leaking tears. The image of a young girl about four years old. Eula Lee, whose father owned the fish cannery that had been the town’s largest employer at the time. Her sister had murdered her years later. Della Lee had gone to prison and recently returned to the family house after seventy years of incarceration.

However, what was the real story?

The people of the town had enjoyed a regional notoriety for a while. Then the heat, the drought, and skepticism sent people away. Mick had received his Hail Mary pass. “Had one mistake, one reckless grasp at advancement been worth banishment to a Hades what seemed so out of place in a civilized country?"

And could any kind of salvation be found in a convicted nonagenarian and the portrait of a long-dead girl named Eula?”

Mick meets Paloma Vega by chance, who is back in her hometown to help her grandmother recover from a heart attack. An unexpected meeting. He does not realize how this girl and her family will change his life.

Present Day: Paloma Vega. She had moved away ten years earlier. She was a bona fide New Yorker now and grew up in Puerto Pesar. She had a restless heart. She graduated from high school and received a letter from her father in Connecticut. There was a trust large enough for her college and grad school.She had to leave her sister Mercedes who was only six at the time. At nineteen she left for a new future.

Now a few months away from thirty, she was a different person. Four years at NYU, four more at Columbia for medical school, and a two- year residency and a job offer for a permanent position. Her dad would be proud.

Her sister, Mercedes was only sixteen. How was she going to communicate or help her? Who was this creature with the dark eyeliner and darker mood? How would she reach her? She is feeling guilty.

Abuela’s own mother had been a product of the Depression and learned to hoard items for reuse. She had only made four visits in ten years. Not often enough to visit the intricacies of her sister growing up or her grandmother growing old.

Puerto Pesar. Family. There was something comforting about returning home, even if you’d dreamed of leaving it. She had done what any girl from a small border would do when her upper-class father offered her a way out; escaped. She had been too young to think twice. Too starry-eyed to feel guilty.

Until recently. The hospital had agreed to hold her new position for a month so she could go home and help Mercedes take care Abuela after her heart attack. This was the woman who had raised her while her own mother flitted in and about town.

Abuela needed her, even if she denied it. So here she was. She could never repay her grandmother for all she had done raising Paloma and then Mercedes while holding down three jobs to do so. Paloma quickly realized the toll her absence had taken on her sister. What could she do about it in the short period of three weeks while here?

Past 1943: The author takes us back to Goree State Farm for Women— Della Lee Trujillo was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in twenty years and would live out those days at Goree State Farm in Huntsville. At the prison, there she met the musical group and friends, the Goree Girls. The good, bad and ugly. Not much good.

Tomas had said he would wait for her. She drove him away.

On the way to prison, the driver had something else in mind and pulled over at the motel. She had never been with a man, not even her own husband.

Reporters wondered why she killed her sister. To others, she was not a victim help by a captor. She was a convicted murderer being lawfully transported by an agent of the state. She was now helpless. The violation. The humiliation. She could not think about the future ahead of her. No one would listen to a murderer.

While in prison . . . she was consumed with darkness. She feared for her life. She was angry with her mother for leaving, with her father for checking out, with her sister for dying. Eddie for raping her. They had all failed her, and because of them, she failed Tomas.

Everyone thought she was a murderer. It had been her wedding day. In prison, she could not read his letters. She loved him too much to make him sacrifice his happiness for her. She was stubborn. She had to raise a headstrong Eula.

It was all about Eula. It had always been about her. Della and Eula only two years apart. Essentially, momma and daughter. Eula had an effect, on everyone. She had a fearsome temper. The same look on her mother’s face on that last day at the beach with the painter. An unspoken triumph.

However, was she really a murderer? Who was she protecting?

“Regret. A word she knew intimately. Only three people knew the truth about what happened that day, and two of them resided in this cemetery.”

Present day: Paloma and Mick meet, while in town. . . Two East Coasters here for a brief time.

The scandals of the Lee family had been talked about for years. Mick and Paloma discuss speaking with Abuela to find out more about Della Lee. She would know stories to help point him in the right direction. Abuela begins telling what she remembers. She is recently home from the hospital and weak.

Where it all started: She recalls a trip where Eva and the girls and the painter went out of town. Eva packed up and left while Herman was at work and the little girls were in the house alone until he returned. Two young girls, ages six and four. Eva never came back. Herman retreated from everything except his office and the girls had to fend for themselves.

Della Lee was no murderer. Her mother had thought she was innocent. There was no proof and it was complicated by the fact Della pled guilty. However, uncle Tomas was convinced of her innocence.

Tomas came back from service defeated by Della rejection. He volunteered for combat and joined the Marines, and turned down a safe post with the army locally. Was Eula like Eva? Carrying on with the boys—rages. But to everyone else a saint?

DiMaio takes us back to the Lee family when they came to Puerto Pesar around the turn of the century. Herman fell for a local girl Eva. She was troubled, beautiful. Some said she was unfaithful. Herman Lee had money. They had a daughter, Della and a few years later another girl named Eura. The mid-twenties and Herman was a slave to keep Eva happy.

Then along came a vagabond from El Paso. He earned his keep as he went along painting landscapes and portraits. They said his name was Teddy Brown. Eva and Teddy caused quite the scandal. The husband was busy with work and she would meet him at the coast.

Herman Lee found out something about the painter Teddy Brown and he died in an airplane crash on his way to Europe. A tragedy. Two young girls left alone. Eula’s troubles started when her mother left. The paintings.

Mick is drawn into the story and, Paloma is a real distraction for him. Seeing the painting, and going to her grandmother’s house. However, he was here for a reason.

He needed to meet Della Lee, now ninety years old and lived alone. This woman seemed normal. How strange it must be for her at this age reentering the real world. He had come originally to see the portrait of her sister. Santa Bonita. He soon comes to respect this woman. Why had her mother gone away for ten years and then go find her? They lost a mother so young and a father so tragically.

“Things aren’t always as they seem. Don’t assume you know everything you might have read about me is the truth. Only I know the truth. And the only other two who did have long since died.”


An exclusive interview with the woman herself. Incarcerated for seven decades. He needed this knockout story. He felt alive. Difficult to think this woman could have murdered anyone. Mick must learn the mysteries behind Eula. He hoped she could hang on and have enough strength to get it all out.

"Sacrifice is sanctifying." Mick was learning this family was about religion. However, it was cryptic. What drove her to murder her sister if so much had gone into protecting her?

There were also two portraits. One of Eula and one of Della. A story which needed to be told before it could be snatched away, as so many other things in here past. Holding on to things so deeply driving you to do things that seem inexplicable.

So much fun reading about the tales of the Goree Girls All Strings Band! The friendships of these women. The letters from poor Tomas pouring out his heart. A doctor and a journalist pulled into this saga.

Two people from the East Coast, visiting a small border town, and transformed by a place that did not even show up on most maps.

At 95% was dying to learn what happened that night. This lady can write folks! She has a knack for tugging at your heart strings and never letting go.

A beautifully told, tragic tale. Women enduring facing insurmountable hardships. Loved ones separated. Choices and consequences which trickle down through generations. A sacrifice. A strong parallel between the generations.

With memorable characters, and conceptual depth, and heart-pounding tension, DiMaio’s novel is one that simply unputdownable. I love this author! From her first book, I knew this one possessed a God-given talent. A gifted storyteller.

Both timeline stories were equally developed, absorbing, and engaging. The characters jump off the page and you feel their intense pain, agony, and difficult decisions. Both heartbreaking and a very satisfying ending. This saga and its characters will remain with long after the book ends.

There are also religious tones with both her books regarding Roman Catholicism and its distinctive beliefs including certain doctrines, beliefs, and sacraments: Other distinctive Catholic practices include veneration of saints, use of the crucifix, and the use of rosary beads in prayer.

Through all the pain, loss and tragedy there is hope and life gives us surprises and something beauty out of tragedy when we least expect. For fans of historical, women’s, literary and contemporary fiction as well as romance, suspense, and modern mystery.

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Charles Martin (Long Way Gone), Richard Paul Evans, Fredrik Backman, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Karen White, Kristin Hannah, Katherine Hughes (The Secret and The Letter), Sarah Jio, Kate Morton, Lisa Wingate, and Diane Chamberlain.

I adore the author’s book trailers: They are powerful, moving, emotional and will immediately draw you into the lives of her characters. Oh, and the stunning cover . . .

View Book Trailers:
Before the Rain Falls
The Memory of Us

What a great way to spend a Saturday! Set aside the time—Unputdownable. Spectacular—another smashing hit by Camille DiMaio! Fans, you will want to pre-order BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS, now.

In the meantime, if you have not read The Memory of Us , highly recommend. Would love to see both these played out on the wide screen. Movie worthy!

A special thank you to the author, Lake Union, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.




Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/08/Before-the-Rain-Falls
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review 2017-03-28 05:18
Beach Breeze
Beach Breeze - Joanne DeMaio

By: Joanne Demaio 


Publisher: Joanne Demaio 

Publication Date:  3/7/2017 

Format: Kindle 

My Rating: 5 Stars 


Blog Tour, Coming March 28.

A long time favorite New England author, Joanne DeMaio returns following Wishing on Snowflakes and Beach Blues (2016) 2016 Best New England Summer & Holiday Reads with her latest BEACH BREEZE, as we continue the journey with the memorable characters of charming Stony Point, a beach town on the coast of Connecticut.

Having read all DeMaio’s books, was anxious to catch up with the characters we have come to love and care about, as family and close friends. There has been a lot of tragedy and some of the characters (more than others), are having a very difficult time with their grief and loss.

An entire community has been shaken to the core, with the loss of a dear friend, Salvatore Deluca. He came into their lives and brought second chances to many. He made a huge impact (larger than life attitude, touching many), and his presence will not soon be forgotten.

Jason is having a particularly hard time. He had a second chance to live when his brother Neil died nine years earlier in an accident. He was able, to walk away after the wreck with the help of a prosthetic leg, below the knee. He also was given a chance at love two years earlier when Maris unexpectedly returned to Stony Point and his life. They married a year earlier.

Then Sal came into their lives like a breath of fresh air. Someone for Jason to fish with. Someone to talk with about construction, design, his father’s Vietnam war stories, and his brother. It felt as though Neil had returned in the guise of Sal. He had just given the eulogy and left shortly afterward.


He was asking himself if he had run out of chances. Everyone was concerned about him but he was not ready to face everyone and his grief. He is not sure he will be anytime soon. He did not get to say good-bye to his friend. He feels cheated. Jason feels as though he has lost his brother all over again.

. . . “In his happiness, he’d been foolish enough to forget one important lesson: On any given day, hour, or minute, life can spin out from under you. It happened nine years ago, when he lost his brother, and Jason nearly didn’t survive the day. So it’s important to be wary and not trust happiness, not too much.”

In addition, Sal’s mom Elsa is also making some drastic decisions, since the passing of her son. She had planned to renovate the Bed and Breakfast Inn (the old Foley’s cottage) and Jason was the architect. However, now she is putting a stop to the project and putting it up for sale; ready to return to Italy.

Celia is also filled with sadness over the life she and Sal will never have. She is also considering going back to Addison. Their engagement only last two days before Sal’s heart surgery. Sal, age 36, would be dearly missed by everyone. Even though his visit to their town this past summer was brief.

Maris is also making changes in her life. She had returned to Stony Point from a Chicago fashion career to settle her father’s estate and reunited with her sister Eva. Now Maris is considering quitting her job since it appears the people in town need her more now than ever.

Everyone was supposed to make a pack not to make any sudden grief-motivated decision that they would regret in time. Not until at least six months had passed. There were many who wanted to pack up and leave their paradise to escape their loss and pain.

Michael, Sal’s friend from New York is back in town to deliver all of Sal’s messages and letters, as well as few surprises for those he left behind. Emotions run high. Jason is out of control and pushing everyone away.

Cliff and the entire community hold an inn-intervention. The entire family is in crisis. They try and stop the tag sale. Elsa does not want to think about the business team: Jason, Celia, and Lauren. It was to be the future Ocean Star Inn, and now Sal was gone, Celia has left, and her dream had evaporated into the sea’s midst.

Jason is also upset thinking he no longer hears his brother for inspiration. Now Elsa DeLuca no longer needs his service. He had been so excited about the plans.

Everyone is concerned about the Inn and their loss. A place that holds all their friend’s history. However, will Jason and Elsa be able to bond and carry on with their dreams in Sal’s loving memory as well as the rest of their friends and community?

“It’s never the end, even when we really believe it is.”

Just when Jason thinks he has reached his lowest, Sal has a surprise for him to honor his brother. He had written special notes for everyone. Where second chances happen in the most unexpected ways. New beginnings.

From sadness, love, loss, friends, and special memories of the sea, we get a sneak peak (excerpt) from Joanne’s upcoming book, THE BEACH INN, coming May 16. Where we continue with the special friends of this charming seaside community. Coming up is "Operation, Heal Jason’s heart."


Appears there are some big changes coming. The toughest challenge―learning to heal, love and trust again. Looking forward to seeing what lies ahead.

"A new season of love, adventure, and heart-healing awaits in the quaint seaside village of Stony Point. So pull up a sand chair and book your stay for a page-turning getaway in The Beach Inn."

If you have not read Joanne Demaio’s books, you are missing a rare treat. Full of emotion, heart, and soul, with vivid descriptions and settings, memorable characters and sea breezes which transport you.

Highly recommend reading in order, to enhance your overall reading experience. Still hoping for a Hallmark TV series.


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/Beach-Breeze
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review 2016-12-14 10:11
The Marriage Lie
The Marriage Lie - Kimberly Belle
ISBN: 0778319768
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: 12/27/2016
Format: Other
My Rating: 5 Stars

Top Books of 2016
Talented author, Kimberly S. Belle returns following The Ones We Trust (2015) and The Last Breath (2014), with a deliciously domestic psychological suspense thriller, THE MARRIAGE LIE.

“A page-turning” grip-lit. An exploration of the complex lies, betrayal, and dark secrets of a marriage. Do you really know your partner?

A happy husband and wife living in Atlanta, GA. Iris and Will Griffith, are approaching their seventh anniversary. They have their dream Victorian home on a quiet street in Inman Park with the porch and working on a baby to complete their family.

Will is headed out of town for a three- day business trip to Orlando, FL and gives Iris a beautiful anniversary ring, the night before. He is a Sr. Software Engineer with a consulting firm and has a conference to attend.

Iris is a school counselor at the exclusive K-12 Lake Forrest Academy in a leafy suburb of Atlanta. They are a privileged and elite tribe of troubled kids with wealthy parents of surgeons, news anchors, socialites, and professional athletes.

Soon the horrific news comes that Liberty Airlines Flight 23 has crashed, shortly after taking off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Seattle Washington. All 179 passengers are presumed dead. However, it was not Will’s plane. He was on his way to Orlando. Safe, correct? However, he is not answering his phone.

Iris soon learns William Matthew Griffith was on that plane. How could this be? This has to be a mix-up. However, as Iris begins investigating, frantic with worry and fear over this unsettling news, she learns there was no conference for Cyber Security for Critical assets: An Intelligence Summit.

He cannot be dead. It was not possible.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The stages of grief. How could a man headed to Orlando end up on a westward-bound plane? How could he have died? Could the conference have been moved to a different location? Was there another woman? Had he been cheating? Was he leading a secret life on the west coast?

Iris finds he booked a one-way trip. He booked two tickets in opposite directions. Why? Iris goes from heartbroken to being furious. He lied. How could he do this to her? To them? Terror overwhelms her.

With the help of her twin brother, Dave she begins digging into Will’s past. However, the question is, "does this lie override their seven years of marriage?" Does it erase their love?

Will said he grew up in Memphis and moved to Atlanta straight out of grad school at the University of Tennessee. His entire life had been on the east coast, not west. His parents were dead, and he had no siblings. He never talked of friends or family. Besides his colleagues and acquaintances his only high school friend residing in Costa Rica.


They had eloped when they married, with only her brother and his partner, James, and her parents, as witnesses. She knew his childhood wasn’t pleasant, but nothing something he talked about.

How well did she know her husband? Iris is determined to get answers. A pilot error. What if Will is not dead? How could he leave her here all alone unarmed and clueless to fight this battle? She wants to defend him; however, she is unsure.

She and her husband shared a home, a life, and the past. Their relationship had been built on trust and honesty. There had never been any reason for either of them to be jealous or suspicious. Until now.

Who is this Corban Hayes showing up from Will’s gym? She does not even know this guy. How could she mourn a guy she longer is certain she knows?

Could her husband be a wanted criminal, a serial killer, or a rapist, or a murderer? Nothing is as is appears. His job, his past, their life. Has it all been a lie? Money missing. Crazy messages. Something is not right. Does she want him to be dead, or face the fact he is not the person she married?

Things start getting weird, and she and her brother Dave begin to uncover more about Will’s dark past, leading us to more twists and turns, and the explosive conclusion! (great ending!)

From money, lies, deceit, blackmail, and betrayal. Innocent lives, justice, revenge. A twisty gripping ride and with each turn, you do not know whom to truth. Reliable? The author does an outstanding job of weaving the mystery and suspense with the deep dark secrets for a wild adventurous ride.

Psychological suspense and family drama with a perfect marriage on the exterior, yet beneath the façade; a marriage with dark secrets and lies with fatal repercussions. A chilling and haunting tale. Also a nice tie in with the student Eva. Those with money and those without--when money does not always provide happiness.

An ideal choice for book clubs and group discussions (as always, Belle includes an extensive guide). A thought-provoking question: To what extent does a person’s past influence or define one’s future.? There are many emotional complex decisions and moral dilemmas sprinkled throughout the novel. The what ifs; if faced with similar circumstances?

As always I enjoy re-visiting with the cool parts of Atlanta which I lived for many years, the Historic neighborhoods, landmarks, restaurants, and the wonderful Beltline. I could imagine myself back there! Belle's descriptions are so vivid.

I loved Dave, Iris’s twin brother. Kimberly adds just the amount of wit and humor with the psychological suspense and mystery, for a nice balance. I knew the first book I read by Belle, she would be an author to follow. Each book is unique, crossing several genres- love her writing style!

For fans of domestic suspense: Sandra Brown, Paula Treick DeBoard, Kate Moretti, Susan Crawford, Laura McNeill, and Paula Daly will enjoy this twisty look "behind closed doors" of a marriage.

A special thank you to the author, MIRA, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Cover love- The paperback is stunning!


Three years in a row! My Top Book List for each year.


2014 The Last Breath
2015 The Ones We Trust
2016 The Marriage Lie




Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/05/01/The-Marriage-Lie
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review 2016-10-31 23:32
Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Mysterious China
The Spectacular World of Waldorf: Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Mysterious China - Beth Ann Stifflemire,Barbara Terry

The Spectacular World of Waldorf: Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Mysterious China  

By:  Beth Ann Stifflemire

ISBN: 194327763X

Publisher: Waldorf

Publication Date: 11/1/2016 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 5 Stars


A special thank you to Waldorf Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A comical Labrador is the latest hit in the new children's book travel series, THE SPECTACULAR WORLD OF WALDORF-- Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Mysterious China,featured in the third installment by Beth Ann Stifflemire and Barbara Terry.

Mr. Waldorf is a lovable and adventurous canine on a voyage to see the United States and the world.

His first stop was the State of Texas, the second Alaska, and now his is on his journey outside of the US on the other side of the world to China! Join him as he discovers this new adventure.

Waldorf discovers this beautiful and ancient place, so colorful and bright. His first stop is the capital of Beijing, one of the most populated cities in the entire world. He also visits the Forbidden City, and on to the Great Wall of China. He learns lots of exciting details. The structure has been around for over 2000 years.

Next, he heads to the Yangtze River, one of the longest rivers and watches the animals swim and makes new friends. Moving along he sees a giant mountain peak and a large panda bear. Mount Everest is the highest mountain peak in the entire world and has snow all year! Can you imagine? He gets on his gear and enjoys all the fun outdoor sports.

He makes his way back to Beijing and enjoys the beautiful sites and some nighttime fireworks. He takes a little rest and gets ready for his next adventure.


With bold colorful illustrations, ideal for kids ages seven-nine. From second-third grade reading level. In addition, younger children will enjoy the images while parents or older siblings read to them.

My granddaughter, Avery is in AIG classes (3rd grade) and she gives the series her “thumbs up, a seal of approval!” My grandson, Brady, (1st grade) loved the adventure with lots of fun along the way. Educational, informative, adventurous, and entertaining!

Well-crafted, a great way to help children learn about different cultures, diversity, languages, geographical areas while assisting them with reading, and social studies, as well as introducing them to new things.

A clever fun way to help kids explore other parts of the country in the privacy of their own home or school. Parents, grandparents, educators, teachers and kids will love Mr. Waldorf and will want to follow him to the many cities, and parts of the country where he explores. creative learning experience!

Mr. Waldorf loves to read and needs his specs. He tends to lose them along the way. Readers will need to help him find them. This comical Labrador draws children into his whimsical adventures in search of his lost reading spectacles for a bit of mystery.

The strong visual narrative makes this an appealing choice for a wide range of ages. By the turn of the last page, children will immediately begin imagining the next adventure. (Hi-res glossy images pop with color)!

Get onboard. Join Waldorf, as he travels to his next stop. Coming up next: Russia, the largest country in the world! Join him as he discovers interesting and fun places. Collect them all- Idea for gift giving!


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/02/The-Spectacular-World-of-Waldorf-Mr-Waldorf-Travels-to-the-Mysterious-China
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review 2016-08-01 04:25
Everything We Keep
Everything We Keep: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale

By: Kerry Lonsdale


Publisher: Lake Union 

Publication Date:  8/1/2016

Format: Other

My Rating:  4.5 Stars


A very special thank you to the author, NetGallery and Lake Union for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.. Also my July "Kindle First" Pick (e-book).


Kerry Lonsdale delivers a riveting debut EVERYTHING WE KEEP, a woman who attends her fiancé’s funeral instead of her wedding. From intrigue, mystery, secrets, and betrayal; being true to oneself.

Aspiring Dreams. Second Chances. From letting go, to healing, forgiveness, and love.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has been planning a perfect wedding and perfect life with her childhood sweetheart James Donato (Donato Enterprises -import/export business). James had made promises- they would grow old together. They had been together since they were eight years old as best friends; inseparable.

They each had their own dreams. Aimee’s to open her own restaurant. James' passion was art. However, his family would not hear of this career from an early age. Aimee helped him hide in her own house as a child, to find solace, offering a place for painting without his parent’s approval.

Claire the mother had wanted James and Thomas working at the dad’s company, when they grew up, and James painting pictures was not part of her plan.

However, James disappears while on a trip to Mexico, right before the big wedding day. A tragic boating accident. She never saw the actual body. When he returned they had decided he would quit Donato Enterprises and pursue art. Painting was his passion. If she had insisted he stay home, they would be married and on their honeymoon in Saint Bart’s.

Aimee is devastated and many answers still unsettled. In addition, she receives more bad news when her parents sell their restaurant (The Goat) due to financial reasons, and she had planned on buying it. She had worked with them for years, and had envisioned buying it when they retired. They owed too much money on the business.

Over the years, while she helped her mom craft new recipes for the restaurant, James painted, and his talent and their friendship flourished turning into much more. Sous chef and restaurant manager, Aimee is at odds with her life and cannot figure out why her husband was taking off at the last minute; and the events leading to the death. She had so many memories connected to both.

Things become even more complex , when a psychic named Lucy (Lacy) shows up at the funeral and says James is alive.An enigma, she remains a mystery to the very end. Readers cannot imagine how she is connected.

Thomas, James brother (his beneficiary) shows up with money saying she was entitled. The check was dated the same date as James’ funeral. With no job and no restaurant, she is tempted to take the money. Are these two connected?

Should she use the money to start her own restaurant? Something was drawing her to Joe’s, a special place she and James frequented, to find it for lease. Joe’s Coffee house was closed. The café was empty. Gone forever. Just like everything else in her life.

Five months later, Aimee’s designer friend, Nadie wants her to attend a gallery opening for Wendy V Yee Gallery (international photography). The photographer was Ian Collins. Nadie had created a beautiful space for the artistic talent. They soon become friends.

She also starts thinking about turning Joe’s into "Aimee’s Café." James had even suggested the name. A place where they spent their Sunday mornings. Her friend, Nadie had told her she needed to move forward. Now at age twenty-seven could she be the proud owner of a business with no plan, no employees, or no product? A boutique coffee shop and gourmet eatery.

Aimee receives many clues through paintings that leaves her wondering if James may still be alive. She does not want to tell anyone-they would think she was crazy. She has to find out. She had buried her fiancé and mourned him. She missed him something fierce, and that longing only fueled the seeds of doubt Lacy had planted. Until those went away, it wouldn’t be fair to let Ian assume she wanted anything more than friendship.

After fourteen months since James left for Mexico and one year since she buried him, Aimee’s search leads her to Mexico, with clues from the mysterious psychic, and the art gallery post card from Mexico.

Ian Collins whose wife died five years earlier, comes along- he too has suffered a painful past. Aimee’s heart reached out to him, as she knew exactly how he felt. Hollow and incomplete. Loss left an empty cavity in the chest.

If James were alive, it meant something bigger and more sinister had been going on around her and she had been too naïve to see it. However, when Ian’s sister opens up to Aimee, she learns he too has suffered a great loss and this journey with Aimee may be what he needs, and at the same time capturing his photography.

Lonsdale takes readers on a suspenseful and emotional journey, to an intense mystery of the past about James’ childhood, his accident, and how each character is a connecting puzzle piece.

Part Two takes us to The Emerald Coast to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, to a boutique beachfront resort, and a gallery to meet the artist, Carlos at this mysterious gallery. Did the postcard and painting prove James was alive, or was she wasting her time, looking for answers for the last nineteen months.

As the Belize Sunrise, true artists elicit an emotional response through their work, whether art or cooking –could Ian be the man for her, to catch her, or can she give up James’ ghost? Aimee’s heart was divided from James to Ian.

“The worst feeling in the world is never to be remembered by the one person I can’t forget.”

Does Aimee know whom she can trust? Was she losing her grip on sanity? From James, Imelda, Thomas, Lacy, James missing paintings, a death, and now Ian; opening her heart to him. It was all to to much. Who were the victims? Can perfection be an illusion?

A splendid debut, complex, multi-layered mystery and suspense, keeping readers glued to the pages to learn the dark family secrets, and the whereabouts of James’ missing paintings.

“The pain of rejection, the pain of betrayal, and the pain of everything that had been lost to us.”

When you reach the halfway mark, there are many unexpected twists, 75% intense, and the best part is the Epilogue- Twisty and surprising (Loved it)! Contemporary fiction, mixed with suspense, romance, and intrigue. Not only a physical journey traveling thousands of miles, also an internal journey.

From mental illness, DID dissociative identity disorder, fugue, emotional trauma, assault, and forgotten memories—being true to oneself. When life cannot be forced upon someone, against their will. Discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear, and the lengths they will go to protect.Would make for an entertaining movie.

Can’t wait for the next two books: All the Breaking Waves, Dec, 2016 and What We Leave Behind June, 2017! An author to follow.

Amazon Kindle First (Prime) readers, you can read this title early, before, August 1 release date. BTW, it is 3:06 am just finishing. After reading, dying for a delectable scone and an espresso! When reading, you will relate.

For all you fans of (2015) James Hankins The Prettiest One,you are going to love this smashing new name in contemporary domestic suspense!

A very special thank you to the author and Lake Union for an ARC (paperback). Also my July "Kindle First" Pick (e-book).


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Everything-We-Keep/cmoa/56fc8d4d0cf2e1f8bbc2f7cb
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