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Book Review: Dryland by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Alcoholism is a killer. I know it’s ironic to write that statement on a blog I started to talk about wine tasting and wine pairing recipes. (And I do want to get back to the original purpose of this blog – and I will.) But I’ve watched too many people throw away lives on alcohol, and there can be a very fine line between drinking irresponsibly from time-to-time and outright alcohol addiction. 

I hate to admit that I can relate to Nancy Stearns Bercaw’s story in Dryland. But I can, a little bit. When I was a philosophy major, when I was a philosophy grad student working on my Ph.D.,  I knew who I was. It was easy. I was a single mom and a philosopher. Those two things kept coming to a head, though, and eventually, I made made a decision to leave graduate school and pursue another path.

At first, it was “easy.” I threw myself into an unhealthy relationship head first, I started writing professionally, I mommed so hard. That relationship came to a head, and I got safe. Writing took off for me in a big way around the same time. Life hasn’t slowed down since. I met the love of my life, got married, had three more kids, sent the big guy off to college, and I feel like it’s been a total whirlwind! In fact, it can feel like I’m flailing about trying to regain balance and figure out who I am as mom of four. I can see where someone might turn to alcohol to escape the deep existential questions that come up when you’re trying to find a new “box” for yourself. Especially when everything has happened so quickly – even when that “everything” is all good stuff.

Of course, because I’m breastfeeding, and because with three people under the age of four you always have to be on, I drink very, very rarely.

For Bercaw, though, once she left the swimming lanes, she wasn’t quite sure who she was. She fell into the alcoholic spiral and became dependent on the drug to handle life. It isn’t until she realizes that things are out of control that she starts to reign it in and that’s where her memoir Dryland, comes into play.  It’s at times a tough book to read but at the same time, it’s worth making the journey through the book with Bercaw’s words. 

About Dryland

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Grand Harbor Press (April 18, 2017)

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But when she hung up her cap and goggles after college, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.

Praise

“A brave, honest, adventurous memoir that keeps you turning pages as Bercaw travels around the world and rediscovers what it really means to win…at life.” —Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

About Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea HeraldU.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and ScaryMommy.com. In addition to Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, she is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Find out more about Nancy at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Review: It’s Messy by Amanda de Cadenet

Life is rough sometimes. It’s messy. It’s hard. People fail. People struggle along until they succeed. 

Right now, my life is colored by the navy blue glasses of postpartum depression where everything seems so tough and one action can send me into a spiral of anxiety. It’s one of the weirdest things, PPD. Here you are with the sweetest, most wonderful little tiny person – but you’re feeling like crud. I mean… but it’s not about me. At least, not this post. This post is about Amanda de Cadenet’s It’s Messy and how she weaves together essays about her own messy life in a way to make her stories relevant to women reading her book.

De Cadenet weaves her stories together in a candid manner that makes for easy – and fun – reading about not so easy or fun topics. Chapters like “How to Parent in the Time of Trump” go deeper into some of the conflicting situations that women find themselves in. I am certain I’ve read her essays on Huffington Post and in other places, and I’ve always enjoyed her writing style. It’s Messy is an essya collection you don’t want to miss. 

About It’s Messy

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (September 19, 2017)

In this deeply personal collection of essays, creator of the The Conversation Amanda de Cadenet shares the hard-won advice and practical insights she’s gained through her experiences as businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother.

Amanda is on a mission to facilitate conversations that allow all women to be seen, heard, and understood. Through her multimedia platform The Conversation, she interviews some of today’s most bad ass women—from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga—in no-holds-barred conversations that get to the heart of what means to be female. Now, in It’s Messy, Amanda offers readers an extension of that conversation, inviting them into her life and sharing her own story.

From childhood fame to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to teen motherhood to the sexism that threatened to end her career before it started, Amanda shares the good, the bad, and the messy of her life, synthesizing lessons she’s learned along the way. Through it all, she offers an original perspective as a feminist on the front lines of celebrity culture. Edgy, irreverent, poignant and provocative, It’s Messy addresses the issues, concerns, and experiences relevant to women today.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet is a creative force with a lifelong career in the media. She began as a host on British television at the age of fifteen and became a sought-after photographer shortly after—as a result her impressive photography career already spans nearly twenty years. She is the youngest woman ever to shoot a Vogue cover and has photographed many of the most influential figures in popular and political culture. As a media entrepreneur, Amanda is the creator of The Conversation, a series that showcases her in-depth interviews on real topics with celebrated women. Whether it’s in conversations with Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Zoe Saldana, Chelsea Handler, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or in discussions with devoted followers of her social channels, Amanda delivers an honest and authentic voice. The series has aired in eighteen countries and is featured online, with over ten million viewers. In January 2016, Amanda conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Secretary Clinton. In February 2016, Amanda launched #Girlgaze, a digital media company utilizing user submitted content and highlighting the work of women Gen Z photographers and directors.

Find out more about Amanda at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Book Blitz: Diomere’s Exile

Diomere's Exile Tour Graphic
We are delighted to announce the PRE-ORDER AVAILABILITY of Diomere’s Exile by Sabrina A. Fish. Check it out and reserve your copy today.
Official release date: September 29, 2017.
Diomere's Exile
Series: The Gate Keeper Chronicles Book 1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Add to Goodreads
An exiled woman seeking redemption, and the man who distracts her from finding it.
Five Gates. Five Sisters. Five Very Different Men.
Once there were two worlds connected by five magical gates. Then the Gate Keepers closed the gates and disappeared. The Gate Keepers have returned.
Nadia de Quinones was exiled when her nephew, the crown-prince was abducted on her watch. She’ll let nothing stand in the way of her redemption, not even discovering her heartbonded and a connection to an ancient magical gate.
Lord Gregor Cyrene is sworn to protect his country’s royal heirs. After the youngest prince’s life is threatened, Gregor sets out to discover who is responsible and suspects the answer lies with Nadia.
When fate forces their competing goals to align, neither are prepared for the irresistible attraction between them. Can they see beyond their pasts and a millennia old hate between their people? Or will they continue to distrust, allowing those plotting against them to win?

Giveaway

WIN $25 GIFT CARD AND MORE!
Diomere's Exile Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
$25 Gift Card (Winner’s choice: Amazon or Barnes & Noble)
2 Diomere’s Exile eBooks
3 Mystery Prizes
Contest runs from August 29 – October 16, 2017.

About Sabrina A. Fish

Sabrina A. Fish

Sabrina A. Fish lives in Oklahoma with her husband, son, and two cats, where she owns a trophy company and collects names for her novels from lists of award’s recipients. She loves all things chocolate and her husband is sweet enough to never let the candy dish near her computer become empty.
She loves and advocates being involved in the local writing community, and is President for the 2018 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc (OWFI).
She is an annual featured speaker at The Rose State Writing Conference and has been a panelist at Wizard World Comic Con.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, she considers the three years she spent in a Texas high school to be a short trip down the rabbit hole that ended at graduation. She returned to Oklahoma where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. BOOMER SOONER.
When she isn’t writing & promoting her novels or running her company, she can be found reading, scrapbooking, or spending quality time with her family.
To find out more about Sabrina and her books, visit her website https://www.SabrinaAFish.com
Connect with Sabrina A. Fish on social media:

About The Wild Rose Press

The Wild Rose Press

The Wild Rose Press has been publishing electronic and print titles of fiction for more than nine years. Our titles span the sub-genre spectrum from sweet to sensually erotic romance in all lengths to mainstream and womens fiction. To check out the latest and upcoming releases and more, visit https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com.
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Book Review: Bridges by Maria Murnane

It’s not easy when you’re almost 40 and you’re trying to make big things happen. It’s no secret that I’m a big dreamer and that I aim high. It takes a lot of perseverance to make things happen – no matter what age you are, and a lot of courage to battle against the “you’re how old and you’re still trying to make it?” gnomes. When you’re surrounded by people who appear to have more than you – whether you’re looking through the lenses of highlights reels on Facebook or you’re at a friend’s house in Manhattan – it’s even more important to keep your eye on the end goal. 

In Maria Murnane’s latest novel, Bridges, Daphne White is filled with big dreams – and a lot of envy of her friends. When she sees her friend Skylar living in luxury, she begins to experience self-doubt and she starts questioning herself and her dreams. After all the novel she finished hasn’t done anything but land in slush piles and recycling bins at publishing houses. The thing I like most about this fun novel about the power of friendship and dreaming big – and about how things are always more than what they seem when you dig down deep.

Bridges: A Daphne White Novel by Maria Murnane

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears. And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

About the Author

A former PR executive who abandoned a successful career to pursue a more fulfilling life, Maria Murnane is the bestselling author of the Waverly Bryson series (which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly), as well as KatwalkWait for the Rain, and International Book Award winner Cassidy Lane. Maria spent a year playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina, during which she wrote Perfect on Paper. It was initially turned down by several major publishing houses. In an effort to prove them wrong, Maria self-published and implemented a creative, grass-roots marketing campaign. Within a year Perfect on Paper attracted the attention of senior executives at Amazon, who chose it out of more than 10,000 self-published titles for the company’s venture into traditional publishing. They offered Maria a contract, and a year later Perfect on Paper reached #2 overall on Amazon.

Organizations that have invited Maria to speak include the Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, the Baltimore Book Festival, the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the Texas Conference for Women, and Temple University’s Fox School of Business. At her speaking engagements Maria shares the “story behind the story,” an entertaining tale of courage, passion and perseverance that has inspired audiences across the country to follow their dreams—no matter what. She’s been featured in Huffington Post, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Entrepreneur, Money, Shape, and PopSugar.

Maria was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar at UC Berkeley, where she graduated with high honors in English and
Spanish and was an Alumni Scholar. She also received a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from
Northwestern University. She currently lives in New York City and plays soccer four times a week.

Purchase Bridges

You can purchase Bridges on Amazon, here. (Amazon Associates link)

Book Review: Forty Autumns by Nina Willner

In 1989, the wall came down, but until then, there were some moving stories that surrounded those who were torn apart due to the Berlin Wall. A couple of my favorite movies – Goodbye Lenin and Das Versprechen – offer treatments of this time period. Forty Autumns is a memoir that adds to the narrative of families torn apart by the Iron Curtain. Nina Willner paints a picture of this tragic occurrence and shares the stories of five women and how they were reunited once the wall came down.

In a nation that stands divided due to ideology and discord, it’s important to look at lessons about division (and uniting) from our not-so distant history. It is these individual stories, like the ones Willner tells in Forty Autumns that help inspire us.  

About Forty Autumns

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 15, 2017)

In this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Forty Autumns makes visceral the pain and longing of one family forced to live apart in a world divided by two. At twenty, Hanna escaped from East to West Germany. But the price of freedom—leaving behind her parents, eight siblings, and family home—was heartbreaking. Uprooted, Hanna eventually moved to America, where she settled down with her husband and had children of her own.

Growing up near Washington, D.C., Hanna’s daughter, Nina Willner became the first female Army Intelligence Officer to lead sensitive intelligence operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. Though only a few miles separated American Nina and her German relatives—grandmother Oma, Aunt Heidi, and cousin, Cordula, a member of the East German Olympic training team—a bitter political war kept them apart.

In Forty Autumns, Nina recounts her family’s story—five ordinary lives buffeted by circumstances beyond their control. She takes us deep into the tumultuous and terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer, running secret operations behind the Berlin Wall that put her life at risk.

A personal look at a tenuous era that divided a city and a nation, and continues to haunt us, Forty Autumns is an intimate and beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and love—of five women whose spirits could not be broken, and who fought to preserve what matters most: family.

Forty Autumns is illustrated with dozens of black-and-white and color photographs.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Julia Forsman

About Nina Willner

Nina Willner is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served in Berlin during the Cold War. Following a career in intelligence, Nina worked in Moscow, Minsk, and Prague promoting human rights, children’s causes, and the rule of law for the U.S. government, nonprofit organizations, and a variety of charities. She currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey. Forty Autumns is her first book.

Find out more about Nina at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nualla Ellwood

  1. I love books I can’t put down. I hate books I can’t put down. I both love and hate books I cannot put down. They’re so great, and they keep me enthralled – but I wind up reading all day instead of doing all the things I’m supposed to do.
  2. I have great admiration for authors who can write well about PSTD. It stinks. It’s a terrible thing to live with. Suzanne Collins does a good job with showing how PTSD can manifest in The Hunger Games.
  3. My Sister’s Bones by Nualla Ellwood combines both 1 and 2 to create a beautifully written book that delves deep into the psyche of someone who had experienced trauma. Bonus: You can’t put this book down.

 If you’ve ever experienced trauma (and I hope you haven’t), you have moments where you seriously question your interpretation of events. Trauma paints glasses on you that you can’t quite take off, and it creates a filter for the world that may not be accurate. In My Sister’s Bones, Kate, who has returned home after reporting on the Syrian war, is faced with the question of whether what she believes is going on next door is actually what is going on next door.

With three kids under four years old, it’s a rare day that I’ll sit and read an entire book from cover to cover in a single day. This book got that honor, and I’m glad. It was beautifully written, moving, and intriguing – the perfect read for a stormy Kansas day.

About My Sister’s Bones

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 11, 2017)

“Rivals The Girl on the Train as a compulsive read (and beats it for style). — Observer (UK)

In the vein of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Renée Knight’s Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Nuala Ellwood

Nuala Ellwood is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. Inspired by her father’s and other journalists’ experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder, she gained Arts Council Funding for her research into the topic and ultimately made it the main theme of My Sister’s Bones, her debut psychological thriller.

Find out more about Nuala at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

Book Review: Red Year by Jan Shapin

Rayna Prohme is a stranger in a strange land, but she hasn’t let that stop her passion. At thirty three years old, she and her husband are in China when she becomes the lover of Mikhail Borodin. Her husband is there covering the failing Chinese revolution, and she comes up with a plan to try to continue her affair with Borodin. She wants to accompany Mme. Sun, the widow of the revolution’s founder, to Moscow. 

In Jan Shapin’s Red Year, the themes of passion, integrity, and justice are explored within the backdrop of a communist Russia and China. Rayna faces a huge choice after applying to a Soviet espionage school – does she spy on Mme Sun? Does she stand up for the widow? Does she go home with her husband to Chicago? The research Shapin put into the backstory of the novel is very detailed,and the tale she weaves is fascinating. If you enjoy historical fiction, check out this novel.

About Red Year

• Paperback: 286 pages
• Publisher: Cambridge Books (June 4, 2017)

Can a red-haired woman from Chicago single-handedly force Joseph Stalin to back down?

China, 1927. Thirty-three year old Rayna Prohme, accompanying her left-wing journalist husband, becomes the political confidant and lover of Mikhail Borodin, the Russian commander sent to prop up a failing Chinese revolution. In a bid to continue their love affair, Rayna hatches a plan to accompany Mme. Sun, the widow of the Chinese revolution’s founder, to Moscow.

But Moscow does not welcome the women. Borodin shuns them. Rayna’s stipend and housing arrangements are cancelled. “Go home,” she is told. But Rayna does not want to go home to an ordinary life, to her husband and Chicago. Instead, she applies to a Soviet espionage school that soon demands she spy on Mme. Sun. The Chinese widow is, by now, in grave danger as her exit visa is blocked. Rayna must make a choice — Borodin and Russia or Mme. Sun and China.

Praise

Set in Russian and China during the 1920s, this beautifully written novel tells the story of a true American dreamer—a woman who charged into danger in search of passion, justice and some money to pay her bills. A fascinating story. –Susan Breen, author, Maggie Dove mysteries

Purchase Link

Amazon

About Jan Shapin

Jan Shapin has been writing plays and screenplays for nearly thirty years, in the last decade concentrating on fiction. Shapin has studied playwriting at Catholic University in Washington, DC, screenwriting at the Film and Television Workshop and University of Southern California, and fiction writing at a variety of locations including Barnard College’s Writers on Writing seminar, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Her plays have been produced in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. She has received grants from the RI Council for the Humanities and has served as a juror for the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts screenplay fellowship awards. Two previous novels, A Desire Path and A Snug Life Somewhere, were published in 2012 and 2014.

She lives in North Kingstown, RI with her photographer husband. Learn more about Jan at her website, janshapin.com.

Book Review: Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

World War II history has always been a fascinating subject for me – both because I think it’s important to look at the elements of fascism that were present in the war and because some of the most moving stories come from this period. It’s also a very sad and troubled time in world history. In Sons and Soldiers, Bruce Henderson focuses one one of the previously untold stories from the war: the story of The Ritchie Boys – men who fled Nazi Germany, grew up in the United States, and returned to Europe to fight fascism as part of the U.S. Army. 

The story of The Ritchie Boys is both an important one to tell and an important one to read about.  Henderson follows the boys from the time they were children, through their escapes, to their role in helping the Allies to defeat Adolf Hitler. He masterfully weaves together in-depth research and presents it in a manner that keeps readers engaged – from the first page to the final page. 

About Sons and Soldiers

• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (July 25, 2017)

Joining the ranks of Unbroken, Band of Brothers, and Boys in the Boat, the little-known saga of young German Jews, dubbed The Ritchie Boys, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, came of age in America, and returned to Europe at enormous personal risk as members of the U.S. Army to play a key role in the Allied victory.

In 1942, the U.S. Army unleashed one of its greatest secret weapons in the battle to defeat Adolf Hitler: training nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and making use of their mastery of the German language, history, and customs. Known as the Ritchie Boys, they were sent in small, elite teams to join every major combat unit in Europe, where they interrogated German POWs and gathered crucial intelligence that saved American lives and helped win the war.

Though they knew what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured, the Ritchie Boys eagerly joined the fight to defeat Hitler. As they did, many of them did not know the fates of their own families left behind in occupied Europe. Taking part in every major campaign in Europe, they collected key tactical intelligence on enemy strength, troop and armored movements, and defensive positions. A postwar Army report found that more than sixty percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie Boys.

Bruce Henderson draws on personal interviews with many surviving veterans and extensive archival research to bring this never-before-told chapter of the Second World War to light. Sons and Soldiers traces their stories from childhood and their escapes from Nazi Germany, through their feats and sacrifices during the war, to their desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones in war-torn Europe. Sons and Soldiers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will not soon be forgotten.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Sean Marrs

About Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell. He lives in Menlo Park, California.

Find out more at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

I’m going to let y’all on a not so secret secret: I love superheroes. I am a big fan of Batman and of Wolverine. I think Spiderman is pretty awesome, and I’d love to borrow his spidey-powers for a little while. My favorite character is Rouge. I think it’s brilliant that touch is both her greatest power – and her greatest barrier to intimacy with others. In Joshilyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters, main character Leia Birch Briggs is also a huge fan of superheroes. In fact, she even wrote a graphic novel about one. 

In fact, she hooked up with Batman while at a convention promoting her graphic novel. And Batman left behind a souvenir of their one night stand. And from there, the novel begins. Jackson weaves together a fun tale that goes deeper than masks and veneers, and her compelling writing keeps you turning the pages.  

About The Almost Sisters

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (July 11, 2017)

With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Book Review: My Glory Was I Had Such Friends Amy Silverstein

Almost seven years ago, I went through a traumatic experience. The first thing I did, as soon as my oldest and I were safe, was begin to reach out to my network of friends on the phone. I started calling people, because I felt that I could derive strength from my friends, and because I’d become so…cut off from everyone. And, I quickly found out that my friends most definitely were a source of strength for me. It felt good to have people to check in with, to lean on. Amy Silverstein similarly reached out when she was in need of support. She writes about her support network in her memoir, My Glory Was I Had Such Friends.

Amy learned that her donor heart was on its way to failing her, and she needed an immediate heart transplant in order to continue living. When she learned this, nine of her friends put everything on hold to go and be with her and support her – organizing the support so that they could all power through as advocates for Amy. 

Going through a life-threatening situation is harrowing (needless to say). Going through such a situation while accompanied by those who love you and advocate for you and stand by you – so that you always have someone close by to support you – can give you a strength you didn’t know you had. This book is a testimony to the power of friendship and the special bonds of love between friends.

About My Glory Was I Had Such Friends

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)

In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.

Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.

A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.

Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not.  Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.”  They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.

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Photo by Deborah Feingold

About Amy Silverstein

Amy Silverstein is the author of Sick Girl, which won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voices Award. She earned her Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law, has served on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), and is an active speaker and writer on women’s health issues and patient advocacy. She lives in New York.

Find out more about Amy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

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