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text 2018-06-04 08:10
Book Blitz - Clutch

Clutch
Lisa Becker
Publication date: Original 2015; Re-release 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

** Now with five new bonus chapters **

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Audiobook listeners can get a free copy of Clutch on Audible if you sign up for a 30 day trial!

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses. Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag. Always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry, she was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette. From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow. A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.

 

“Open it… <cough, cough> …sweetie. Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.

 

Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi. She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later. The glossy paper was of less interest and she ripped through it quickly. She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones. An enormous smile overcame her. Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.

 

“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi. It’s lovely.”

 

And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began. From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs. Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses. She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.

 

By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags. And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.

 

“Caroline, sweetie… <cough, cough> …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.” It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career. The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”

Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading, high-end handbag designers.

 

She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf. And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive. But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi, of course, encouraged her.

 

“You’ve got this, sweetie. <cough, cough>,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”

 

 

•••

 

 

Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded). That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers. He oozed charisma. Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.

 

Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand. After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.

 

Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here. You look like you’re going to need this.”

 

“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.

 

“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.

 

“I’m Caroline. Thanks for the…”

 

“Latte.”

 

“Latte,” she confirmed. “Thanks. But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.

 

“I know,” he replied matter-of-fact.

 

Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up. “Please take note of where you are seated. I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot. This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

 

“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.

 

“Looks like it.”

 

 

•••

 

 

About three months into the first semester, Caroline learned that her fun-loving, easy-going, new best buddy Mike wasn’t exactly who he appeared to be.

 

A blanket of white snow dusted the Harvard grounds and it was a particularly slow day in another mutual class, LEAD – Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Professor Moss, a frail man who weighed less than his years, was droning on and on about establishing productive relationships with subordinates or something to that effect. He initiated a discussion about what works better – the carrot or stick approach.

 

“Mr. Barnsworth,” he called, referring to his seating chart and scanning the room until he found Mike in the fifth row. “What are your thoughts?”

 

“Well, it seems to me that good management is all about empathy and being able to enthuse and inspire your staff. You know, appreciating them and respecting them. Showing you care,” he said, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture of true compassion and concern. “And if they can’t get that through their thick skulls, you fire ‘em,” he continued, drawing his finger across his throat.

 

Several students sitting around them started to chuckle while Caroline stifled a laugh. Mike looked around the room and nodded his head, soaking in the appreciation of his sense of humor.

 

“Mr. Barnsworth,” said Professor Moss in a menacing tone, “I would have expected a better answer from you, considering your family history.”

 

Confused by the conversation unfolding before her, Caroline leaned over and whispered to Mike, “What is he talkin’ about?” Mike put up a hand to quiet her.

 

“Later,” he hissed.

 

Twenty minutes later, the two shared a bench outside Baker Library, the chill of winter causing Caroline to pull her scarf closer around her neck.

 

“What was that all about?” she asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.

 

Reluctantly, Mike began to speak. “My full name is Michael Frederick Barnsworth the Third. My family owns a large brokerage firm in New York,” he confessed, unsure of how Caroline would react.

 

Caroline listened as she took in just how old money his family really was. Mike’s great, great, great, great – actually it was hard to keep track of how many “greats” it went back – grandfather ran the first Bank of the United States, which Congress chartered in the early 1800s. His family had advised presidents, dined with royalty, and amassed a fortune that continued today through the Barnsworth Brokerage Firm.

 

“I’m the seventh person in my family to attend Harvard including my father, uncle, three cousins, and grandfather, who was a classmate of Professor Moss,” he continued.

 

Surprised by this unexpected news, she joked, “So you’re just slummin’ with a simple Southern girl like me – and makin’ me pay for drinks, mind you – until you go join the family business and marry someone named Muffy…”

 

“That’s my family’s plan,” Mike laughed. “There’s even an office in the Woolworth Building owned by my family, sitting empty, until I finish business school,” he said reluctantly.

 

“But…” she pressed, touching his hand gently, sensing the family plan may not actually be Mike’s plan – though they had never discussed his plans before.

 

“I want to open a bar,” he said, matter of fact and looking her square in the eye.

Caroline’s head leaned back as she let out a raucous laugh. “You want to own a bar?” she questioned, her shoulders shaking from laughter. “Now I get your goal to drink at every one of the six hundred bars in Boston before you graduate.”

 

“Yup, it’s research,” he said emphatically.

 

“Research?”

 

“Yeah. Every time my parents call, which isn’t very often – they are usually off with their snobby society friends or at Met Balls – I tell them I’m working hard and doing research.”

“Gotta give you credit. That’s pretty clever,” she replied, nodding her head.

 

“And true. If I’m going to open the best bar ever, I need to know what works and what doesn’t.”

 

“Okay. I get why you don’t want to be a wizard of Wall Street. But why a bar?” she asked, not understanding his desire for the life of a bar back.

 

“My parents weren’t around a lot growing up. My father spent more time in the office than my mother spent jetting between boutiques in Paris and ski chalets in Switzerland. And believe me, that was a lot,” he confessed. Caroline looked down in her lap, her heart sinking at the thought of the small boy with the winning smile being ignored by his family.

 

“I was pretty much raised by a series of au pairs. My favorite was Linnea who was nineteen when she came from Sweden to live with our family. She was obsessed with Tom Cruise movies and we would watch them all the time,” he explained, a wistful look on his face as he recalled fond memories.

 

“Cocktail!” Caroline exclaimed.

 

“Yup, I want to be the sole proprietor of a place where you can shake margaritas bare-chested,” Mike laughed. “It’s going to be called The Last Drop,” he stated, not looking for her approval.

 

“Great name,” she admitted, nodding her head. “Especially when your folks drop kick you out of the family.”

 

“I know. I’m preparing to be disowned, which is why I’m getting you used to buying the drinks,” he said, flashing her a smile.

 

“Well with any luck my business will allow me to continue payin’ for drinks.”

 

“The purse thing?”

 

“Yes. The purse thing,” she said, mocking him. “I aim to start a line called Clutch, because it’s one of my favorite handbag styles, and in honor of my aunt Mimi. She always says ‘Find somethin’ you love and just hold onto it.’”

 

“Sounds like a smart lady.”

 

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

 

Her latest novel, Links, is a second chance romance that explores what happens when two high school classmates have a chance encounter after 15 years. #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken called Links, "Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!"

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

 

As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

 

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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review 2018-05-27 10:32
Quantum Ontology: "What is Real - The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" by Adam Becker
What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics - Adam Becker

The Universal-Wave-Function vs. The Pilot-Schrödinger-Wave-Function vs. the Collapsing-Schrödinger-Wave-function as a Stab at Explaining Reality.

 

 

 

The diversity of possible comments on this book reflects ironically the Everett paradigm of quantum ontology. There are as many views of reality as there are observers. Thankfully in all instances, given the depth of some of the possible interpretations, the interaction of the observer state wave and that of the rest of the universe is extremely asymmetrical - the universe has a great effect on the observer but the latter's effect on the universe is mercifully, infinitesimally small. There is no doubt that the philosophical implications of the developments in modern scientific thinking are in lagging mode. This is because of the extreme complexities of the formalisms created to describe the reality as seen by human observers with a certain evolved sense of perception. The modern philosopher has to tread wearily through the theory before emerging tired and almost at wit's end to be in a position to even expound a valid opinion, least of all an emerging new philosophy, on the ontological basis of the quantum world. This is the first time I’ve read a book on Quantum Mechanics wherein three of the major outlier physicists appear: David Bohm, Hugh Everett III, and John Stewart Bell. 

 

 

If you're into the Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics, read on.

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review 2017-08-23 21:29
Links
Links - Lisa Becker

I love everything Lisa Becker has ever written!  Her Click series was one of the most original and creative series I've ever read. And now I am equally in love with Links!

 

This is the story of Charlotte Windham who spent most of her school years as a smart, nerdy girl who tutored her classmates for extra money.  One of the students she tutored was a guy named Garrett Stephens, a gorgeous hunk of athletic loveliness that made her heart race. And now, some 15 years later, their paths unexpectedly cross and sparks fly, not that either of them wants to admit it.

 

This is a fabulous story that explores the trials and tribulations of moving beyond the stigma of one's past, of seeing someone for who they are now than who they once were. It explores how hard it can be to even see yourself as you are now and to really see how much time has changed you. This is a story about life-changing moments and the paths those moments open up. Lisa tells this story with humor, without losing the darkness that life can sometimes hold. Charlotte and Garrett both are the kinds of characters that I love to read about. They are real people, with real problems that I can relate to and understand. They aren't perfect; instead, they make mistakes and are just as flawed as the rest of us!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=13024
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text 2017-05-12 14:47
Feature Friday for Charity Becker's Presence: Awakening with Interview and Excerpt

 

Today for "Feature Friday" let us welcome the awesome Charity Becker with Presence: Awakening the first book in the Presence Series.

We will have info about the book and author. Plus a great interview with Charity and a excerpt from the book.

Make sure to check everything out and go and give her some love and add her books to your TBR ;)

Happy Reading :)

 


 

Presence: Awakening

 

Mina Jewel swears the boogeyman slaughtered her abusive stepfather. But as far as the quiet town of Port Orchard, Washington is concerned, Mina is a cold-blooded killer and Cadric Jaden had been a saint. After enduring nine years of psychiatric care and whispers of her guilt, Mina is hell-bent on clearing her name, exposing Cadric for the sadistic pedophile he really was, and uncovering the true identity of the strange being who saved her life.... See More Through a whirlwind of near-death experiences and sanity- shattering revelations, Mina discovers that Washington is a hotbed of supernatural activity, Cadric's sinister plan didn't die with him, and that she could hold the key to ending the suffering of millions. . . But first she has to survive.

 

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Buy Links

 

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ONE

~~

“Mina, get up.”

The voice yanked me from my sleep, but I didn’t open my eyes. Opening my eyes would make it all real, make the punishments start again. Of course, I’d be punished no matter what I did; nothing I did was ever good enough. I was never good enough.

“Come on now,” the voice said, “open your eyes.”

My stomach cramped, waiting for the grabbing, hurting hands, but I cracked my eyelids, ready to face it because I had no other choice. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad this time. Maybe they’d get tired, or bored, or distracted by someone else for a change. Maybe.

“Welcome back to planet Earth.”

I turned toward the voice, squinting against the bright morning light. Gradually, a face came into focus. A smiling, kind face framed by soft black curls.

“Alice,” I whispered, and the memories hit me in a dizzying rush. I closed my eyes for a moment, basking in sweet relief. There were no more punishments, Cadric Jaden was really dead, and I. . . Well, I was here, safe at last. “I’m okay,” I said softly as the last bits of fear drained away.

“That’s debatable,” Alice said with a little chuckle. “Now, come on. Get up. We gotta go.”

I opened my eyes to see her still smiling, holding a hairbrush out for me to take.

Sitting up, I took the brush from Alice, then pulled it through my tangled curls. Static snapped with each stroke, and I cringed at the tingle against my neck. “Ugh,” I said, pulling the brush away from my long hair. “If I don’t shower first, I’ll be the only white girl on the second floor with an Afro.”

Alice folded her arms under her breasts, tipped her head to the side, and grinned. “Well, hurry it up, Sistah.”

“Why the hurry?” I raised an eyebrow. “What’s on the activity roster for today? Chess in the game-room? Square dancing? Maybe a little papier-mache?” I gave a mock shiver of excitement and dropped the brush onto my bed.

“Don’t be a dork.” Alice’s dark eyes twinkled with good humor. “Doc wants to see you in his office. . .″ she glanced at her watch. “Like, ten minutes ago.”

“Ah!” I said with a grin. “The truth comes out. Let me guess,” I wiggled my eyebrows up and down. “Anthony on the fourth floor keeping you from your nursing duties?”

Alice blushed and looked to the floor, a smile tugging the corners of her mouth.

“Don’t worry,” I said as I slid out of bed and moved toward my dresser. “Dr. Stevens won’t hear from me how you’ve been gallivanting around the surgery ward with the interns.”

~~

“Good morning,” Dr. Stevens said with a crisp nod. The sudden movement sent his glasses sliding down his long nose, saved only by the red, allergy-swollen tip.

“Aw, no lecture on the importance of promptness, Doc?” I said with a little pout. I slumped down into the rigid leather chair across from the doctor’s.

“Not today.” He smiled pleasantly and folded his hands on his desk. “You’ve made amazing progress, Mina, and done far better than I could have hoped for in these nine years.”

“Did I miss the ′Make A Loony Feel Special Day’ memo?”

Dr. Stevens pushed his thick glasses back in place, ignoring my attempts to rattle him. He’d gotten good over the years, but I was determined to shake him today. I was about to try again when he cut me off with one raised hand.

“Now, I’m not saying we want you to leave us—”

My playfulness dropped like a boulder to the bottom of my stomach, and I sat up straight, gripping the arms of the chair. “You’re sending me away?”

“No, not sending away. I believe you’re ready for the next step in your recovery, to venture out on your own. Isn’t that exciting?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “I. . . I’m not ready.” The first wave of panic rolled my stomach around the boulder, squeezing it into a painful knot.

“In this phase of your rehabilitation, you’ll live your life the way it was meant to be lived, using all the skills we’ve taught you here at Divine Hope.” Dr. Stevens picked up a slip of paper from his desk, quickly looked it over, then held it out to me. “This man is willing to give you a job.”

I swallowed hard, staring at the doctor. “A job?” This wasn’t real. They wouldn’t just toss me out into the big wide world like this. I’d never had a job before, unless you counted working in the hospital library. But that was just busy work, something Dr. Stevens cooked up to keep me from pestering the hospital staff.

When I didn’t take the paper, the doctor stood and leaned across his desk to push it into my hands. I blinked once, then glanced at the paper. There was an address and Oliver Page written in neat block letters. My chest tightened around my pounding heart. It was real. They were throwing me away.

“But. . .” I looked up. “But, where will I live?” I asked, scrambling for something to say, something to keep me here just a little bit longer.

“As part of our rehabilitation program, we’ve secured an apartment for you a few blocks from your new job. Your landlord has many years of experience with ex-patients, so you’ll be in good hands. Each week you’ll come back here for your sessions, and you can always call if you need anything.” Dr. Stevens glanced down at my lap. “Just relax, Mina.”

I’d entwined my fingers so tightly around the paper that my knuckles were white and my fingertips had gone numb. I hadn’t even noticed my hands folded in my lap, my good girl posture, something I hadn’t done in years. I pulled my hands apart, flexing my fingers, leaving the paper crumpled in my lap. Quietly, I counted, concentrating on taking slow, steady breaths between each number.

“Good,” Dr. Stevens said softly. “Good. Now remember, you’re not a prisoner to Cadric anymore. You’ve earned your freedom.”

“Right,” I said, my skin prickling. “Freedom.”

~~

 

Check out the rest of the series 

 

Presence: Wolf Moon  Presence: Smoke and Fire Presence: Into the Dark Presence: August Heat (Presence #5) Presence Caged  

 

 

 How many hours a day do you write?

That depends on the day, how I’m feeling, and what other things I’ve got going on. Since I do editing, ghostwriting, work for video game companies, and do some freelance copywriting in addition to my novels, I feel like I’m writing all day long. If I had to give it an average, I’d say probably 8 + hours a day writing, not including emails, social media, and personal stuff. Thankfully, I type really fast!

 

How do you select the names of your characters?

An interesting tidbit about my characters is that I know every single one of them in my real life. EVERY one, even the bit parts or the people you only see a quick description of one time. They’re friends, family, acquaintances, people that have piqued my interest in some way. It’s not always good, and in fact, every villain in my stories is someone from my life who hurt me or a loved one in some way. So, it stands to reason I’d also choose names based on the people in question. Generally, I use their middle name as a starting point and adjust it from there. Some of the stranger names (like Zia, Teo, and Mr. Boad) are still people I know, but their names are anagrams for something personal. Sometimes an anagram won’t work, so I use abbreviations or the result of a name-code chart I created when I was ten.

 

 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every book review! I deal with negative reviews the same way I deal with positive ones: I thank the reviewer (if possible), and I take the time to appreciate and acknowledge their opinions. If the critical review points out a flaw, I take it to heart and consider the topic for future books. I don’t see a negative review as inherently BAD, but rather an opportunity to look at my writing from a new perspective. That’s not to say I don’t get my feelings hurt; I am human, after all. But I don’t let it affect me on a personal level. Logically, I know my books won’t be for everyone. It’s impossible to write a book that 100% of people will love 100% of the time! If someone is just being mean though, like a troll just out to be hurtful, I’ll ignore it. If a critical review only says “This book is shit” then it’s not really a review, is it? If they won’t take the time to explain why they think it’s shit, why should I take the time to care what they said? That said, I’ve never received a review like that, lol. I appreciate well-worded and thought out reviews, both positive and critical, and I listen when my readers talk.

 

 As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A wolf or a tiger, depending on my mood. I love both equally, and each possesses traits that I connect with. I have a collection of plush wolves and tigers all over my house, and I even have a tattoo with a wolf paw print and a tiger paw print.

 

 What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I wrote a letter to my dad when I was very young, and it said “I hate you!” Of course, I didn’t actually hate my dad; I loved him very much. But I was angry that I’d been caught being naughty and that I’d been disciplined for it. At 5 or 6 I didn’t have the capacity to understand it was my fault I was in trouble because I broke a rule. Anyway, I couldn’t bring myself to say the words out loud (because I knew in my heart I didn’t really hate him), but I could write it out and almost feel brave. But then he read it, and everything changed. I remember it vividly! I stood in my bedroom doorway, peeking down the hall as he picked it up and read it. He turned to face the hallway and I zipped back into my room before he could see me (though I’m sure he knew I was there). The next morning, there was a folded note taped to my bedroom door. I opened it up, and I saw it was my note, and my dad had added to it. He’d circled my poorly scrawled “I hate you!” and underneath, in his flowing, beautiful handwriting, he said, “And I will always love you.” That day, I realized that words were powerful, and that we should wield them with care. A hastily scribbled note of hate and cruelty can destroy a person as surely as a sweet love note can remind them they are adored, appreciated, and wanted . . . even when they’re being snotty little assholes who shot the BB gun without permission.

 

 

As a domestic violence survivor, Charity uses her past as fuel for her fiction, creating strong characters who overcome great odds to learn, grow, and evolve past their own pain. In her non-fiction, Charity is straight-forward and no-nonsense, giving the facts (and her opinions) with no apologies.

Bibliography:Presence: Awakening, Presence: Wolf Moon, Presence: Smoke and Fire, Presence: Into the Dark , Presence: August Heat, Beyond the Veil: Book One, Blyssfully Abnormal, Bird's Town Presents: Chick Rebuilds, Brother Toad and the Giants, The Pit Monthly, the Don't Sweat series, The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect by Gilligames (video game storyline), projects for Nekki (video games), and various ghost writing gigs.

Besides writing, Charity is also a professional editor, as well as an accomplished artist and musician. See her stuff at http://www.optycal.com or chat on Charity Becker's Facebook.

All books are available for great prices at the Blysster Press store!

 

Links

 

Website *** Facebook *** Amazon *** Goodreads 

Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/feature-friday-charity-beckers-presence-awakening-interview-excerpt
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review 2017-04-16 16:05
Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker
Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I - Paula Becker

This biography of one of America’s iconic women captures Betty MacDonald from top to bottom, from her grandparents to the relatives that survived her death. Her books shined a humorous, if sometimes critical, eye on certain aspects of living in the Pacific Northwest as one the last frontier lands in the country from the 1920s-1940s. Now Paula Becker draws the curtain back and shows us some of the things that Betty herself was reluctant to put in her semi-autobiographical novels.

After having listened to Betty MacDonald’s four novels, and having read her Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books as a kid, I felt like I knew her somewhat. This biography filled in some of the blanks and had a few surprises for me as well. Getting to know more about Betty’s ancestors and her first husband was an interesting place to start. I loved that her mom was a no-nonsense kind of person and happily traveled with her husband (who worked for a mining company – if I recall correctly). This job took the family to some of the most rugged areas of the US.

Later, when Betty starts publishing novels, Becker gives a somewhat detailed account of what each one is about. While these books aren’t described one after another all in a row (but are sprinkled in among the biography along the timeline of when they were published), I did find the descriptions a little tedious. However, I have recently finished listening to them and they are still fresh in my mind. I think that if you haven’t read the books in some time (or perhaps you haven’t read all 4 of them) then this would be a good refresher for you.

For me, the most interesting parts were in the last quarter of the book – all that stuff that happens after Betty’s fourth novel, Onions in the Stew, was published. While Betty’s second marriage was evidently much happier than her first, it wasn’t untroubled. There were money problems which surprised me. Betty’s books were very well received in their day, complete with radio and TV series along with a movie. Yet success doesn’t always prepare one to manage money well, especially if one turns that responsibility over to a spouse. Betty was in the unusual position of being the breadwinner for the family and yet also feeling socially obligated to play the merry housemaker. Becker gives us details on this without falling into gossip. I really appreciate that she stuck with known facts and extracts from MacDonald letters to paint this picture of Betty’s and Don’s marriage.

While I had read on Wikipedia about Betty’s legal troubles (several people were not happy with how they were supposedly portrayed in her books), Becker gives us many details. Plenty of those complaining received a bit of fame. Some of them really seemed to enjoy it so it was hard to say that the portrayals in Betty’s books did them any harm.

I was saddened to learn of Betty’s death and this probably sounds quite odd as I’ve known since I picked up The Egg and I so many months ago that she was deceased. However, I’ve really come to enjoy her company through these books. As Becker’s biography walks us through her last months, I really felt for Betty. She died young by today’s standards but I doubt there was much more medicine could have done then. After reading her book about her lengthy stay in a tuberculosis sanatorium (The Plague and I), I can guess that she faced her final illness with the same pointed wit.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Paula Becker narrated her own book and since this is nonfiction, it worked pretty well. She tried her hand at doing a few voices when necessary and those performances were passable. For the bulk of the book, she does a great job of maintaining an even speed and giving slight inflections here and there, letting us know that she’s just as engaged in the book as us listeners are.

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