Review: Beyond Derrynane

02_beyond-derrynaneBeyond Derrynane
by Kevin O’ Connell

Publication Date: July 7, 2016
Gortcullinane Press
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages

Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.

When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.

Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.

Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.

In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

My Review:

Beyond Derrynane is the first novel of a very compelling new historical fiction series. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Mr. O’Connell took us to Ireland, France and Austria and each place seemed so very real and wonderful. The characters are alive and vibrant. Eileen is a strong woman who never forgets who she is and will never be taken for granted.

There are two very distinctive parts of this book. First, we see Eileen’s tumultuous marriage to John O’Connor. Their marriage began in violence and ended with a mutual fondness. Eileen’s strength gave her the courage to overcome incredible abuse and take control of her life. She refuses to be the damsel in distress. She will save herself. She is an amazing character who I would like to see more of. Next, we see her life in Vienna where she tries find a different path.

The Court of Maria Theresa was truly magnificent. I really appreciated that Mr. O’Connell did not dwell on the drama and negativity of a royal court. It was fresh and robust. Eileen’s relationship with the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. I’m really looking forward to see how Eileen’s relationship with her will continue once she goes to France.

Beyond Derrynane is a very good start to a very compelling series. I look forward to the next installments. I want to know how each character develops and discover where their journeys take them.

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About the Author03_kevin-oconnell

Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For more than four decades, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 16
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 17
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 19
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, January 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Sunday, January 22
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, January 23
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 24
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, January 25
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 27
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, January 30
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 31
Review at Book Nerd

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Review: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

26827675Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
Written by Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley
Published on November 3, 2015 by Ballantine Books
228 pages
Memoir

Synopsis:

The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.

My Review:

Earlier this month I binged watched Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath and I was completely blown away. I have always been bewildered about the lure of Scientology. After watching Leah Remini’s series, I can’t believe all the abuses that happened to the former parishioners that she interviewed.  However, Ms. Remini didn’t go in great detail on the series about her own experiences with Scientology. For that reason, I quickly purchased her book and read it in two days.

Ms. Remini tells her incredible story with an easy flow that really captivates you. Her stories are really unbelievable and it amazes me that such a strong woman can be pulled into the craziness of Scientology. But that’s what a cult does…they brainwash you from a very young age. She tells of her earlier experiences with Sea Org which really wasn’t for her. Her humor flows through her stories where you don’t just cringe the entire time you are reading. There were many times that I was laughing at loud and shaking my head at the same time. From signing “billion year” contracts to paying millions of dollars to get “cleared”, she goes on and on about the audacity of Scientology.

One of the most incredible statistics Ms. Remini provided was the actual membership of Scientology. Through of its propaganda one would believe that its membership is well into the millions. No, she estimates it to be just 35,000 worldwide. This is proves how successful the Scientology propaganda machine is. I was really astounded at that low number; especially with the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta as members.

Tom Cruise is mentioned quite a bit throughout the book and particularly his wedding to Katie Holmes. This event was the beginning of the end of Ms. Remini’s relationship with Scientology and she only asked one simple question, “Hey, where’s Shelly?” She basically ruined the wedding with that question. But it wasn’t so simple. The Scientology leaders from that point on made it there mission to make Ms. Remini never ask that question again. To this day, no can answer that simple question. Where is Shelly Miscavige?

Leah Remini is an incredible brave person for telling her story. Others who has expressed their concerns about Scientology have been attacked via defamation and lawsuits. Her book has started much need conversations on why Scientology should be classified as a “church.” It’s a cult and should be treated as such. As she preached throughout the book, the IRS needs to take another detailed look at this organization. They shouldn’t be able to hide their abuses by claiming “religious freedom.”

Thank you, Leah Remini for braving the attacks from other Scientologists and I hope you continue your crusade!

5bookrating

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Guest Post: In the Mood

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In the Mood: How to set the stage for writing fiction by Jennifer Lamont Leo

I’ll admit it; I’m addicted to author interviews. I love to learn the stories-behind-the-stories. I keep a file of author interviews I’ve collected over the years. Every so often I pull them out and leaf through them, looking for inspiration. I’m especially interested in the little daily practices that authors use to “prime the pump” and get themselves ready to write. Some writers read a few pages of a favorite book. Others take walks, putter around in the kitchen or garden, pray, or meditate. Still others retype what they wrote the day before to get into the “voice” of their character. (If you want to read a really interesting collection of tactics used over the centuries, check out Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.)

Here are some of my favorite ways to get in the writing mood:

Music

Did you know that the root of the word “music” is “muse”? If your writing muse is napping, turn up the volume and wake her up!

Novelist Bret Lott opens his writing time by listening to certain music: a different “soundtrack” for every project. He prefers music that’s complex and instrumental, so that the words of the song don’t get mixed in with his own. While writing her bestselling Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon listened to Scottish folk music, “trying to grasp the cadence and charm of their language.”

My debut novel, as well as the sequel I’m working on now, are set during Prohibition. At the library I found a CD of hit songs of the 1920s, and for a while that was my writing soundtrack. Recently I discovered the wonders of Pandora and have downloaded my own selections. Now when I hear the opening strains of “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate,” I shimmy myself right back into my story.

Objects

Some writers use objects to get into the writing mood. Kent Haruf says he writes the first draft with a stocking cap over his face, typing blind so as not to be distracted by the words on the paper. Others don a certain shirt or pair of slippers. Several writers have mentioned lighting a candle at the beginning of every writing session. I love this idea, except I tend to be forgetful, and a shrieking smoke alarm is unhelpful to the creative process. Instead, I collect old magazines from the 1920s that I find in antique shops. They’re fairly inexpensive, and the ads and illustrations are great for helping me capture the clothes, hairstyles, decorating, and even popular slang of the era. I also have an antique lipstick case that I display on my desk. It helps me conjure up an image of the “flapper” who might have carried it, back in the day.

Tastes and Smells

Catherine Palmer prepares for writing her Regency-England romances by brewing tea in an elegant china pot. Amy Tan burns incense. I don’t yet have an aroma associated with my novel, but if I did, it would probably be bootleg whiskey or bathtub gin (on second thought, I’d probably best leave well enough alone!).

How do you get in the writing mood? Do you have certain tricks, habits, or rituals that set the stage for your writing? If not, maybe give it a try. Who knows—your muse might just appreciate your lucky bowling shirt as much as you do.

03_jennifer-lamont-leoAuthor bio:

With a passion for all things historical, Jennifer Lamont Leo captures readers’ hearts and imaginations through fiction set in times gone by. Her debut novel, You’re the Cream in My Coffee, set in 1920s Chicago, was published in 2016 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. An award-winning author, journalist, copywriter, and editor, she writes from the Idaho mountain home she shares with her husband, two cats, and abundant wildlife. Visit her at JenniferLamontLeo.com.

 

Blog Tour: The Semper Sonnet

02_the-semper-sonnetThe Semper Sonnet
by Seth Margolis

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Diverson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 374 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

READ AN EXCERPT.

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In this stunning thrill ride, perfect for fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry, a long-lost manuscript, written for Elizabeth I, holds the key to unlocking the past—and to eliminating the future.

Lee Nicholson is ready to take the academic world by storm, having discovered a sonnet she believes was written by William Shakespeare. When she reads the poem on the air, the words put her life in peril and trigger a violent chase, with stakes that reach far beyond the cloistered walls of academia.

Buried in the language of the sonnet, in its allusions and wordplay, are secrets that have been hidden since Elizabethan times, secrets known only to the queen and her trusted doctor, but guessed at by men who seek the crown and others who seek the world. If the riddles are solved, it could explode what the world knows of the great Elizabeth I. And it could release a pandemic more deadly than the world has ever imagined.

Lee’s quest for the answers buried in the sonnet keeps her one step ahead of an international hunt—from the police who want her for murder, to a group of men who will stop at nothing to end her quest, to a madman who pursues the answers for destructive reasons of his own.

As this intelligent thriller moves back and forth between Tudor England and the present day, Lee begins to piece together the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words, carrying the story to its gasp-out-loud conclusion.

My Review:

The Semper Sonnet is a new compelling thriller by Seth Margolis. It is captivating from beginning to the end. There is no slowing down when reading this book. The characters are strong and bring the story to life. I’m a big fan of Dan Brown and I found The Semper Sonnet to be very much in the same vein. I will say it will be very difficult to write a review without spilling any spoilers; however, I will do my best not to give anything away.

Mr. Margolis has brought Elizabethan England back to life in the 21st Century. His theories of Elizabeth I are very interesting and thought-provoking. As a person with a history degree and studied that time period, I found his storyline very entertaining and (almost) believable. He was able to create a conspiracy theory about Elizabeth I that will make your mind start spinning and wondering: Could this be true?

Lee Nicholson is the perfect character for this wild chase for knowledge and redemption. She is strong and independent; almost to a fault. I appreciated that Mr. Margolis did not focus on a romantic relationship for Lee. Her intelligence and her ability to persevere were the main tenants of her story. She accepted help but really didn’t need it. She is a true scholar with an independent mind and heart.

If you love Elizabethan history, conspiracy theories, and a fast-paced story line, you will love this book. Overall, The Semper Sonnet is fun and entertaining. At time, some of the story line seemed not very believable.  However, as a whole, the book really works and the unbelievable parts will melt away.

4bookrating

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“Imaginative plotting and depth of character distinguish this centuries-spanning thriller…”—Publishers Weekly

“The Semper Sonnet is a wildly imaginative thriller that fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry will love.”—Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author

“This provocative and knuckle-biting thriller will have you on the edge of your seat as it careens through the hallowed halls of academia into the turbulent past. Hold tight to your farthingales: this is a roller-coaster ride of a book!”—C.W. Gortner, international bestselling author of The Last Queen

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author03_seth-margolis

Seth Margolis is a writer whose most recent novel, THE SEMPER SONNET, was published on April 19. He is the author of six earlier novels, including LOSING ISAIAH, which was made into a film starring Halle Berry and Jessica Lange.

Seth lives with his wife, Carole, in New York City. They have two grown children, Maggie and Jack. Seth received a BA in English from the University of Rochester and an MBA in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business Administration. When not writing fiction, he is a branding consultant for a wide range of companies, primarily in the financial services, technology and pharmaceutical industries. He has written articles for the New York Times and other publications on travel and entertainment.

For more information, please visit Seth Margolis’ website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, December 1
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 2
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, December 3
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, December 5
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, December 6
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, December 7
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Thursday, December 8
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, December 9
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Monday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, December 14
Review at JulzReads

Thursday, December 15
Guest Post at JulzReads

Friday, December 16
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

Monday, December 19
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, December 21
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, December 27
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, December 28
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, December 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, December 30
Review at Broken Teepee

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Book Beginnings: Hidden Figures

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THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name. Book Beginnings on Friday is every week by Rose City Reader.

25953369Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race  by Margot Lee Shetterly

Chapter One: A Door Opens

Melvin Butler, the personnel officer at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, had a problem, the scope and nature of which was made plain in a May 1943 telegram to the civil service’s chief of field operations. “This establishment has urgent need for approximately 100 Junior Physicists and Mathematicians, 100 Assistant Computers, 75 Minor Laboratory Apprentices, 125 Helper Trainees, 50 Stenographers and Typists,” exclaimed the missive.

My Thoughts

This book is so incredibly interesting. Learning about African American women and their role in the space program is fascinating. I watched read and watch so many things concerning the space program but they all failed to tell these amazing women’s stories.

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Happy Halloween

 

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       …✯ ¸.•*¨)


✮ (¸.•´✶Author Brandy Nacole…✯ ¸.•*¨)

 

 

Gemini Brandy Nacole is a writer of urban fantasy books. Her favorite holiday is Halloween, so in order to celebrate we are Trick or Treating across Facebook. Visit each blog to find out their part of the daily puzzle, like the page, leave them a message of either “Trick or Treat” or Happy Halloween, then enter the answer in the Rafflecopter and you could win one of dozens of prizes, the grand prize being cash! Join the Facebook event to make sure you don’t miss anything!

 

 

 

 

Now, a little about our author. She is the author of the Shadow World series and the Spiritual Discord series published by Ponahakeola Press. A reader from a young age, Brandy has always loved folklore and stories of beings that go bump in the night.

 

 

Brandy lives in Arkansas with her husband, three never stopping kids, two snooty cats, two very lazy bearded dragons, and one mellow turtle. She is a member of the Ozark Romance Authors in Springfield, Missouri. Whenever she’s not reading or writing, Brandy is spending her time outdoors wheeling, hiking, playing amateur photographer, and enjoying a good laugh.

 

 

Day 5, October 29th
Check out Brandy’s amazing work

 

 

~~DEEP IN THE HOLLOW is on sale for .99¢ ~~

 

 

bncover.jpgLet me share some wisdom with you. There is evil in this world we cannot see, not because it is hidden from us, but because our minds refuse to accept its existence. But once we are able to get past what everyone says should not be, it becomes our responsibility to stop the evil we now see.

 

 

This insight wasn’t given to me until a year after I lost the most important person in my life: Bryce Rowan. Now, after another death at the same spot where he died—the overlook, where the mysterious lights dance amongst the trees—I begin to wonder if they were accidents after all.

 

 

Lucky for me, I’m not the only curious one in town. Cooper, a ghost hunter (aka chaser), and his sister Jada have moved to town and are starting to ask questions.

 

 

But the more we find out about this town and the people who live here, people who I have known my whole life, the more I begin to think there are those who would rather keep the evil secret, even if it means we will never be safe, and that more will die.

 

 



Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1YLQoHq



 

 

¸.•*´¨)SPIRITUAL DISCORD SERIES¸.•*´¨)
BROKEN FAITH Book #1

 

 

bnbroken.jpgThis was it. The moment Heaven and Hell would clash. But which unearthly being would win, the fallen angel or Hell’s hounds?

 

 

Overtaken by fear, I close my eyes.

 

 

Kayson is a Fallen Angel who has spent decades running from the Hell Hounds while searching for something that no one else believes can be so, not even God. Kayson is determined to find a Blood Child. But when a hound finds Kayson first, he is sure his end has come.

 

 

Falon, Alpha of the Hell Hounds, destroyer of the blood children, and devoted believer in his master’s plan, is bound and determined to drag Kayson back to Hell with him.

 

 

Sabrina is a Vampire, a half-breed created from one of Lucifer’s original blood children. After years of hiding, Sabrina’s fate changes when she finds Kayson barely alive. Against her instincts, Sabrina saves him. Now she and Kayson are both marked by the Hell Hounds.

 

 

Emma is an ordinary human, whose only problem is making ends meet, and getting over the hurt caused by her untrustworthy brother. Her everyday problems become supernatural ones when she finds Kayson and Sabrina hiding in her parent’s backyard shed.

 

 

Kayson, Sabrina and Emma are unlikely allies, thrown together by chance to fight against the most powerful creatures of the underworld in order to follow their world-changing quest. But will the broken faith of one break the faith of all?

 

 



Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1pCek31



RAGING STORM Book #2

 

 

bnraging.jpgAfter Kayson fell from heaven, his life got complicated. His greatest enemies, the hell hounds, thrived on Earth and hunted not only the fallen but the blood children created by their Master. After being chased and confronted by one of those very creatures, Kayson’s life becomes even more complicated. He never expected to be rescued by a vampire named Sabrina. He also never expected to become her protector after she falls prey to a hell hound’s deadly bite.

 

 

Falon, head of the hell hounds, has been desperately trying to hunt down Kayson and Sabrina but with the rain steadily falling—due to interference by the lower-realm Angels, also known as the assemblies—Falon grows irritated. His only option is to threaten those that may know where the fallen can be found.

 

 

With the threat of the hounds finding Kayson and the other fallen, Kayson is running out of time. Stille, once a respected Warrior in the assemblies, is pushing Kayson to leave an unconscious Sabrina behind. After all Sabrina has done for him, Kayson refuses to abandon her. But will his decision leave his friends vulnerable to attack?

 

 

Sabrina is conscious enough to sense the struggles that Kayson is facing. If he knew the torture she’s been going through, she knows he would suffer even more. Sabrina silently fights the darkness that is seeping into her dreams, while struggling to stay strong for Kayson. But when the pain becomes too much, Sabrina has to make a choice that may cost not only her life, but the lives of others as well.

 

 

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/6xPl7Y  



Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/hhC7u8




DARKEST REACHES Book #3
bndark.jpgKayson and the other fallen angels have risked their lives to keep Sabrina safe as she recovered from a Hell hound’s bite. Just when she began to improve, Hell was unleashed as the hounds attacked, and kidnapped Sabrina.
Now, only days after the fight between the fallen and the hounds, Kayson is determined to find Sabrina and bring her back from Hell. The only thing standing in his way is a dangerous fallen angel named Iraja. Iraja has the means to find Sabrina, but he doesn’t do favors without a price.
Sabrina is now facing the nightmare she’s been running from since being turned into a vampire a century ago: her eternal condemnation to Hell. Knowing her only chance of survival may rest by playing nice and turning Hell hound Falon against Lucifer, Sabrina gives into the bitter darkness and now has to fight to remember the good soul she truly is. But when she discovers the role her and the innocent human Emma are forced to play, will her fear get the better of her, and will she be lost forever?
In the third installment of the Spiritual Discord series, the will to survive is tested, worst fears become a reality, and for one, betrayal becomes the only option.
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/0XpKM4
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Blogs for Day 5


Smokin’ Hot Books http://www.facebook.com/luv2read4me

deal sharing aunt https://www.facebook.com/Deal-Sharing-Aunt-124318396397/?fref=ts

http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

Kassidy Carter https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKassidyCarter/

Nerdy Dirty & Flirty https://www.facebook.com/nerdydirtyandflirty/?fref=ts

http://nerdydirtyandflirty.blogspot.com/

In A Bookish World https://inabookishworld.wordpress.com

A Naughty Book Fling https://www.facebook.com/A-Naughty-Book-Fling-979093872159562/about/

http://anaughtybookfling.weebly.com/

Kinx’s Book Nook https://www.facebook.com/KinxsBookNook/

https://kinxsbooknook.org/


to find the daily bonus,
and don’t forget to given them a like and leave a message!



Check one of these blogs for missing letters.


 

Review: The Magnolia Story

 

The Magnolia Story
Written by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino
Published by W Publishing on October 18, 2016
Memoir; 182 pages
Purchased from Amazon

28668633Synopsis:

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?  What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

First of all, I’m a HUGE fan of Fixer Upper. My husband and I recently built a new home. When we have visitors, one of the first questions is “Do you watch Fixer Upper?” Yep, I do! I think the main reason I love the show is how unscripted it is. It is real life with a design focus. I was really excited when I heard that Chip and Joanna Gaines were writing their story. I got it the day it came out. After reading The Magnolia Story, I was not disappointed. It read just like their show. However, they provided so much more. This memoir is their real story.

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Joanna is the storyteller with Chip chiming in with his anecdotes. It pretty much mirrors the TV show. This is a perfect way to tell their story. You feel you are in a room with them while they tell you their ups and downs. Joanna has the lovely, well-spoken voice while Chip gives his wild and crazy quips. But at the same time, they share their story that is filled with real trials and tribulations.

I have to say that Joanna is a flat-out saint! Chip is a real handful. His impulsive nature would be a challenge to any sane person. It’s amazing how she can deal with all of impulsiveness and keep her sanity. She really laid it our there how hard it was at times to deal with of all of Chip’s surprises. I really loved how honest they were about their life and marriage. On the show, it may seem they have this perfect, idyllic life. After reading The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna faced a lot hard problems that most married couples face. What I really love, is that most couples would have called it quits when it got that tough. The Gaines are a couple that leads by example. They are pretty much “what you see is what you get.”

As a working mom, I really understand Joanna’s angst about having a perfect home and maintaining a job to help support the family. Her revelations really spoke to me: surviving or thriving. I think everyone woman would understand her conflict and having to, finally, let some things go. We can’t be perfect. All we need to do is be a good mother to our children and a good wife to our husbands. But it’s also ok to have our outside interests and work.

I really loved this quote:

It all came down to a mind shift in which I asked myself, “What am I going for in life?” Was it to achieve somebody’s else’s idea of what a perfect home should look like? Or was it to live fully in the perfection of the home and family I have?

Chip and Joanna Gaines didn’t disappoint with this charming and honest memoir. They let people know that they are not perfect and they have to work hard to have a successful marriage, family and business. I encourage all fans of Fixer Upper, and basically everyone else, to pick up The Magnolia Story. You will find it funny and inspiring.

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