@nextbookescape Review of The Island by Elin Hilderbrand #womensfiction #sisters Review by @LaurieKozlowski

The Island is a heartfelt story of four women who resort to casting themselves away to a private family-owned island of Tuckernuck, Mass. It is a story between two sets of sisters, both sets of separate generations. The women all have their baggage, but it’s the type of baggage you’re intrigued to read about. I hold The Island in high regard because although the book is what I consider to be very long (over 400 pages) it told each of the character’s stories; capturing their triumphs, sadness, elation, and devastation from beginning to end, never missing a beat.
The Island is so many things OTHER than a “light read” in my opinion. It is an ernest look into the lives of very different women. It is a story of love of family, unrequited love that is hard-won and conquered, emotional growth, and surviving trauma. It’s complex concerning the issues woven into this piece of fiction and the ending is well-deserved for all characters. Have I mentioned there are actually FOUR characters’ stories in this ONE novel? It’s well worth the time to read it and will leave readers yearning for more. Good thing Hilderbrand has a solid booklist: I look forward to reading all the rest, too!

-Review by Laurie Kozlowski-   Goodreads | Shelfari | LibraryThing


View more books by Elin Hildebrand on Goodreads. 

Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess’s lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she’s cancelled her engagement.

It’s only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she’s embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store – a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.

But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known. It’s a summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell, filled with the heartache, laughter, and surprises that have made her page-turning, bestselling novels as much a part of summer as a long afternoon on a sunny beach.

Buy this book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play


Romance Meets Addiction Recovery–Review of #CatherineGayle ‘s #romancefiction “Comeback” #hockey

Nicklas Ericsson is an addict. He’s also a star goaltender with the NHL’s Portland Storm, or he was until his addiction changed everything. Now he’s throwing himself into doing all the necessary things to pave his path to a comeback, both in his personal life and on the ice. Nicky’s run out of options, and now his sister and her children are in Portland. They need help he has no clue how to provide, though, and figuring it out might derail all the progress he’s made.

For a few years now, Jessica Lynch has been running the Portland office for the Light the Lamp Foundation. Between her work and several people from her past, she knows more than she’d like about addicts. One lesson she’s learned is that even when addicts try to turn their lives around, more often than not, they fail. That’s why she takes a hands off approach, keeping her heart well away from the addicts she works with, like Nicky Ericsson.

Nicky’s recovery efforts put him directly in Jessica’s path, and she can’t ignore his very real need for help. Where Nicky is concerned, she can’t separate her emotions. His niece and nephews further complicate her efforts to guard her heart. The attraction between Nicky and Jessica is instant and mutual, but she’s misplaced her trust too many times before. Can he prove that he won’t fall back into old habits in time to complete the perfect comeback?


Amazon * Kobo 

~ * ~ * ~ Review of COMEBACK — Portland Storm, book #6 ~ * ~ * ~

Romance Meets Addiction Recovery

Nicky (Nicklas), is a recovering substance abuse addict who plays pro hockey. I loved how his character gave insight to the challenges and triumphs of improving self-image issues and staying strong.
Nicky faced challenges and temptations throughout this book where he could have slipped back into his old ways of using pills and booze as a way out. One specific tragedy toward the end almost had me convinced Nicky was going to relapse and lose his family and the love his life…but he didn’t! He didn’t, and that is what I loved most about this story.
It is a book that shows him as a prospective success and less like a past “user-loser.” It breaks the barriers of stereotypes people going through a recovery program often endure. He works hard to mend broken relationships and is honest with himself, even when times are tough. Best of all, he comes through for his team and family when it would have been easier to go back to his old ways and give up. His story is inspiring and beautiful.

— An ARC copy of COMEBACK was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. —

Star Rating: Five of Five Stars * * * * *

Review by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted to Goodreads.

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~ * ~ * ~ Recent / Upcoming Releases by Catherine Gayle ~ * ~ *


DROPPING GLOVES, Portland Storm Book #7, is available for pre-order at Amazon and Kobo. Release date is *April 23, 2015*. If you’re interested in reading more excerpts and to check out the entire Portland Storm series, be sure to visit Catherine Gayle’s website. She lists all of the books there, including her historical fiction books and short stories. 

A Beautiful Story of Romance and Goodwill–@LaurieKozlowski’s #BookReview of “The Homecoming” by Robyn Carr ( @RCarrWriter )

A Beautiful Story of Romance and Goodwill (Review of “The Homecoming” by Robyn Carr)

Iris works as a florist and Seth is a disabled but active cop, assigned to Thunder Point, a small town in Portland, Oregon. Thier romance blooms gradually though they haven’t seen each other in years, because of a grudge one of them holds against the other one.

I think I’m falling in love with the town as much as the characters. Everyone, every store, everything, has a story…that is why I think I always connect with Robyn Carr’s stories and the characters she writes. It was no exception that Seth completely won me over by being completely genuine and an all around great guy. In any other book, it would seem boring–but his life story is carefully drawn where I wanted things to work out for him. He was a hell-raiser in his younger days and took many things for granted, but in this story, it’s clear he wants to make amends.

I also admire Iris for being smart and careful with her heart after she’d been taken advantage of. She was determined not to be a victim of her past and took every reasonable approach to rise above the pain and loneliness. She works as a school counselor to teens–that I loved–and I liked how her mending heart wasn’t over-exaggerated like in some novels.

I’m glad I kept reading past the first few chapters, though I wanted to put the book down because at first I couldn’t believe Seth did what he did. If I hadn’t had read Carr’s books before I may have done just that, but I knew there had to be a reason for it. And there was.

Nice and easy storytelling, with sub-plots of a mysterious domestic violence case that was solved by the end, makes this novel another hit in the collection of Thunder Point novels.

Star Rating: Four Stars * * * * 

Review by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted to Goodreads and Amazon.

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Thunder Point, Book Six

Thunder Point, Book Six

 Amazon * Barnes&Noble * Kobo

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he’s been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he’s become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn’t the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he’s finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?


Thunder Point, Book Four

Thunder Point, Book Four

Amazon * Barnes&Noble * Kobo


Thunder Point, Book Five

Amazon * Barnes&Noble * Kobo


Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost fifty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Her highly anticipated new series, Thunder Point, will be released March 2013. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr’s website at www.RobynCarr.com.

Review by @LaurieKozlowski of “Throw like a Woman” by @SusanPetrone #women #fiction #baseball

Forty years old, divorced, with two sons on the verge of adolescence and an ex-husband who considers visitation to be optional, Brenda Haversham isn’t having a whole lot of fun. She’s also no longer qualified for the work she loves, so she’s toiling away in a cubicle instead, trying to make ends meet. Brenda is short on money, short on connection with her kids, and short on any kind of social life. The only thing Brenda has in abundance is her anger. And that turns out to be her greatest asset.

When she was a kid, Brenda’s father taught her how to throw a good fastball. That wasn’t of much use to a girl, but it is enough to astound onlookers at a “test your speed” pitching cage before a Cleveland Indians game. The more Brenda pictures her ex-husband’s face on the other end, the harder she throws. And when someone tapes her performance and puts it up online, Brenda becomes an Internet sensation – and then more than that.

The Indians come calling and Brenda finds her life taking a turn in a new direction. Soon, she’s standing on the mound as the first woman player in Major League history – and dealing with everything that comes with it. The money is great and the endorsement deals are even better. The fury of “traditionalists?” Not so much. And the conflicting emotions of her teammates are even harder to manage. Meanwhile, Brenda’s home life is evolving faster than she can keep up, redefining her role as a mother, a friend, and even a lover. As the season winds down Brenda will find out if she has what it takes to be a winner – at both baseball and life.

A funny, poignant, and endearing novel from a writer of rare warmth and humanity, THROW LIKE A WOMAN is a 95-mile-an-hour heater of a novel.

Susan Petrone's debut novel "Throw like a Woman"

Susan Petrone’s debut novel “Throw like a Woman”


**** REVIEW ****

A Whole New Level of Brave

One of my favorite sports is baseball. I’m not a die-hard fanatic of the sport, but thoroughly enjoyed reading “Throw like A Woman,” because of the realistic angle it portrayed. It featured Brenda Haversham as a strong female who reached for a goal not many people would have the guts to pursue: a career in Major League Baseball.

Brenda isn’t any female lead character. She’s motivated, intelligent, and older, with two rambunctious boys and an ex who chooses not to be involved in their lives. She won me over to her side as the story opened with her envisioning her ex’s face as the ball’s target. This idea might seem harsh, but when you read the story, you’ll see she has every right to feel the anger she does toward her ex, Ed.

I wanted to strangle Ed’s character, especially toward the end, but Brenda’s sons were cute as heck in a destructive and fun-loving kind of way.

It was amazing to read about the different team members, each of them stood out in a small but significant way. They are the type of characters who you want to know more about. My favorite team character was Stuart, from the Minor Leagues. He has a superstition about touching people. Also, the rapport (bullying) from a few Major League players worried me until I realized Brenda could hold her own with them. I loved how the bullying issue panned out, in the end.

“Throw like A Woman” is packed with humor and grown-up words your mother would insist only hell’s angels would say (if hell’s angels played for the Cleveland Indians and had a woman’s body, heart, balls, and brains.)

I’m a sucker for a romance story, and the sweet romance in this novel was outstanding. The sparks between Brenda and Charlie knock this story out of the park. A must read for those who love inspirational stories based on breaking societal barriers.

Star Rating: Five Stars * * * * *

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted on Goodreads.

*— Review disclosure — “Throw like a Woman” ARC was provided by the author and publisher  via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

* ~ * ~  *  Book Specs * ~ * ~ *

Published by: The Story Plant

Page count: 336 pages

Release Date: March 24, 2015

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Susan has published several short stories and non-fiction writing. Visit her website “Clips & Credits” section to be directed to them.

About The Author


Susan Petrone grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and although she’s moved away a couple of times (Annapolis, MD, and Alkmaar, The Netherlands), she lives there still. Her short fiction has been published by Glimmer Train, Featherproof Books, Muse, Conclave, and Whiskey Island. Her first novel, A Body at Rest, was published in 2009 by Drinian Press. Her second novel, Throw Like a Woman, is due out in March 2015 from The Story Plant. Her short story, “Monster Jones Wants to Creep You Out” (Conclave, 2010) was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. Her plays have had performances and/or readings at the Cleveland Playhouse, The Lamb’s Club (New York, New York), St. Johns College (Annapolis, Maryland), and several smaller non-Equity houses in Cleveland, Ohio. She co-authors the Cleveland Indians blog (ItsPronouncedLajaway.com) for ESPN.com’s SweetSpot network. On the non-fiction side, Susan’s work has appeared on CoolCleveland.com and ESPN.com. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University and lives with one husband, one daughter, and far too many dogs in a little house near some medium-sized woods.

Author Spotlight : Romance and Women’s Fiction Author, Ann Roth #Women #Relationships #Fiction

Ann Roth has written numerous romance novels for Harlequin, but most recently, has also waded out into self-publishing. I’m excited to feature her new e-book exclusive titles today, in celebration of this wonderful author’s work! Congrats, Ann, and thank you for writing such heartwarming, romantic, and beautiful stories for readers to sink their hearts and minds into.

~ Another Life Book Blurb ~
Learning of her husband Stephen’s fatal heart attack is the worst thing Mary Beth Mason can imagine… Until she learns about the other family he left behind. Another wife, another daughter, another home…


* Click Here To Buy This Book *

~ Review of Another Life ~

Five Stars * * * * *

An Unconventional Story of Two Widowed Mothers

When I first read the story blurb for this book, I knew I had to read it. Never could I have predicted how it would all pan out, but the happily-ever-after in this book will certainly have the reader re-considering ‘the norm’ when it comes to death of a spouse, family, relationships, and friendships with those who seem to be enemies in life.

I loved both of the heroines, for different reasons. Mary Beth’s determination to build a life after the death of her unfaithful husband, with her teenage daughter, Aurora, was courageous and admirable. She literally started with no qualifications for a job, since she had been a stay-at-home mom (encouraged by her husband to do so). Yet, she used the limited but valuable experience from her former high-class life in directing charities, events, and volunteering…to find a career and start over. Also, her persistence as a stern but loving mother to Aurora was wonderful. She gave her teenager the much-needed structure older kids need, but resist. She was strong.

Caroline was also a great main character. Though she struggled with her husband’s infidelity as Mary Beth did, she was open to a friendship with ‘the other woman’, Mary Beth. It wasn’t all neat and tidy…as you could imagine! But unlike Mary Beth, Caroline had anchored herself with a steady career and was raising her eight year old daughter, Jax, when she learned of Stephen’s (their husband’s) infidelity. Both Jax and Aurora played a pivital role in the book, too, concerning families and friendships.

I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading more of Ann Roth’s e-book exclusives. Highly recommend for those who love stories about family, friendships, healing, and love.

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski–also posted to Goodreads and Amazon.

LIKE THIS REVIEW? If you hang out more on Goodreads, why not connect with Laurie, there, too?

Laurie Kozlowski on Goodreads


~ My Sisters Book Blurb ~
In some families, there is pain and loss, but there is also the unbreakable bond of love. Sisters Margaret, Rose and Quincy Lansing were never a close or loving family. When receive the tragic news that a car accident has claimed the life of their mother, they must return to their childhood home. In unraveling their mother’s secrets, they find not only revelation, but also strength, hope, sisterhood, and a chance for love…

* Click Here To Buy This Book *


~ Father of the Year Book Blurb ~
Entrepreneur Will Stoner was a competent executive, but when he became guardian to the son he’d never known about, Will did the only thing he could—he hired help. Dena Foster did a great job with his son. Her gentle ways took the trepidation out of parenting, and despite a bad marriage that made Will mistrust women, he warmed to Dena. Now he wanted more from this nurturing beauty—for himself.
First he had to erase the doubt he saw in Dena’s eyes about his feelings for her. Was being a successful businessman, caring father and loving husband too much to ask for?

* Click Here To Buy This Book *

~~~ About The Author ~~~

Award-winning author Ann Roth lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband. After earning an MBA, she worked as a banker and corporate trainer. She gave up the corporate life to write, and if they awarded PhDs in writing happily-ever-after stories, she’d have one. In 1999 Ann won the prestigious Golden Heart award for unpublished writers for best long contemporary series. Since then she has sold numerous romance and women’s fiction novels, as well as a novella, a serialized online romance and many short stories. She’s also waded into self-publishing. For a list of her books and more, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit www.annroth.net .

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Book Escape Review of ‘Journey To Murder (An Alex Warren Novel)’ #Amreading #Suspense

A Wonderful Cozy Mystery With A Great Twist

5 Stars * * * * *

DJ Owen is a new author and her talent to tell a well-balanced mystery without extreme gore or violence was just what I had in mind. I’m usually hesitant to read those types of books because I have a low tolerance for violence, unless it is well-justified. I was not disappointed one bit, and rather amused by the book blurb, so I gave her book a chance and loved it.

Alex is a single mom and since the unsolved murders of parents and her husband, she and her daughter rely on her sister as Alex travels to find her own ‘justice’ in the world by targeting serial rapists and killers to prevent them from hurting anyone else. I know…I was hesitant about this story-line, too, until I read further into the story. It seemed a bit redundant, at first, for her to be a killer and to be going after other killers. But it’s also clear that her conscious is traumatized from the deaths of those closest to her. She will do anything to protect even a stranger from being attacked and feels deep remorse about her actions. In a way, this is a psychological thriller, but on the lighter side.

Kyle is a cop who steps in to help with Alex’s fifteen year old daughter, Amy, when Monica (Alex’s sister), is abducted by a dangerous psycho. I won’t say anything more, because it would tell too much, but the twist at the end was great. It is a short and cozy mystery, so expect predictability. But this book packs a punch with suspense, thriller, a sprinkled in love story, family, and  friendship. It is well worth your time to read this book if you like any or all of those elements. For me, it was just enough suspense to keep me intrigued without grossing me out. I loved it.

A side note: this story also contains the first chapter of the next book, Journey to Redemption, of the Alex Warren Novels series by DJ Owen.

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski – also posted to Smashwords

* Being that this book is a new release and isn’t yet on Goodreads or Amazon, I’ve only posted a review to Smashwords, in addition to this blog post.*

‘A Journey To Murder’ On Smashwords (Epub available download for Nook or read it directly, online)

Book Blurb

Alex Warren is a single soccer-mom and freelance writer with a mission — to help prevent the weak from being victimized. Traveling in her Winnebago, she seeks out those who would harm others to prevent them from hurting another person. She begins to fall for a Sheriff’s Deputy causing her to rethink her life when her only sister is kidnapped. Will she save her sister, or are both doomed?

About DJ Owen

DJ currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.  She published her first newspaper at age six, interviewing her family members, typing her own stories and articles, drawing her own comics, and selling one copy of her one and only issue for a nickle.

She has always loved the written word, reading everything she could get her hands on.  She started out with The Bobsey Twins, then moved to The Hardy Boys.  She never really cared for Nancy Drew, but did read them if she had nothing else around.  Eventually she discovered Black Beauty, and as she moved into junior high and high school she began reading encyclopedias for fun.  She would read Popular Science and Mechanics Illustrated magazines, and then would read her mother’s Ladies’ Home Journal and Redbook… (Bio continued on her blog.)

Read her entire bio at her blog, HERE.