All the obsession of Fifty Shades and Twilight, PF pins a romance that will leave you wanting..,

Do you remember your first love, a college crush, that “someone” who made it impossible to think about anything else? In PF Karlin’s Shattered Fate, Belinda Davies has just met the one man she can’t live without. Robert Pennington is everything she’s ever dreamed of and he is Belinda’s first. Strong, handsome, from a family with position, part of a popular fraternity, and in love with her, Robert is the knight in shining armor she’s been dreaming of, but should Belinda heed the warning of others? His family is wealthy and upon meeting them, she feels out of her league. Robert’s ex-girlfriend, Laura, of two years doesn’t go away easy, and a few misunderstandings could lead Belinda astray. Robert says he’s made his decision and is willing to run the gauntlet to have Belinda as his forever. Getting pinned is only the beginning of the commitment he can offer, and before long they are so much more. I would love to tell the twists and turns of this poignant romance, but I don’t want to spoil the depths of the love and loss shared between these soul mates/star crossed lovers. I must say I was surprised and intrigued by the twist at the end. Didn’t see it coming and what a thrill. All the obsession of Fifty Shades and Twilight, PF Karlin pins a romance that will leave you wanting more. Don’t miss this young and in love story that will leave you routing for happily ever after.    

In Marie Drake’s, You Can’t Force Love, Locked Heart Series, Book One, the title is a true testament to the story and a good piece of advice for life. The book starts with Jordan’s story. A wayward teen with a list of hardships in his world, he struggles with a desire he can’t understand or control. Abandoned by his mother, who has recently remarried, Jordan struggles to make a life with his grandfather in a remote cottage in the country. His time with grandpa reveals that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Torn between the revelations of his own sexual desire and the anger and repulsion he feels, he grapples with trying to fit in and not upsetting the older man. When he loses his battle for control, things go awry, and Jordan finds himself in a new living situation. Kimberly is shuffled around in her mother’s toxic world, dragged from one abusive boyfriend’s home to another. Trying to stay safe and afloat, with desires for normalcy, she finally allows herself to fall for the man her mother is sleeping with. When life is turned upside down for her drug addicted mother and the man they live with, Kimberly finds herself living in foster care with a nice family who truly worries about her, but is it too late? When Jorden arrives at the same foster home, the reader has to think they know what will happen, but don’t be so sure. This heart twisted tale of two troubled teens on a road to destruction or redemption without a place in-between is filled with trauma and passions only a professional can understand. I have a degree in social work, so I recognized the writer as someone who either lived a similar experience, knew others who had, and/or was probably a professional somewhere in the mental health system. I think it is great that she has a story to tell and she didn’t make it PC or PG. In, You Can’t Force Love, the characters are good and bad, but the author offers redemption at a price. Empathy for a murderer, charmed by an abuser, seduction for a girl who doesn’t know love. This story addresses serious issues that are realistic, heartbreaking, and make the reader want to understand the psyche of the character’s choices. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

In Exposed, book four, Tip of the Spear Thriller Series, Belle Ami brings the reader to the pinnacle of espionage, love and danger. Iran’s ongoing determination to stockpile weapons of mass destruction, and determination to destroy Israeli and its other enemies, lands Cyrus back in action. When an Iranian diplomat is put on a hit list, a professional assassin is sent to murder the entire family. The diplomat that changed sides against his own regime is silenced, but his daughter, Jazmin Amin, survives the blast. After losing everyone she loves, including her fiancé the night before her wedding, she pushes forward to find Cyrus Hassani, the only man she can trust. Cyrus’s wife, Layla, returns from self-defense training with the IDF to see her beloved daughter and husband, only to be thrust back into the heat of an Iranian threat. Posing as tourists on a vacation in London the couple meets with other Mossad agents in an attempt to help Jazmin recover important information left by her father. At the time of her father’s death, Jazmin’s cousin and his girlfriend are leading a resistance in Tehran against the Iranian government. When the couple’s identity is blown in the coup, Zara and Mustafa are sent in to extract them to safety. These characters with a past, from book three, return to the fray at Aryeh’s request in exchange for a clean slate. Mustafa’s previous life as a terrorist can finally be put behind them, and they can finally live a normal life, but at what price? Zara has a secret, but she’s willing to put things on hold to help the man she loves. Aryeh might have loved Zara in the past, but realizations of what could have been clash with the new prospects of her life and his. Assigned to protect young Jasmin, he attempts to find common ground between them, revealing his past and opening his heart. When Jasmin is captured under his watch and a plan to recover her goes wrong, Aryeh tries to understand what he sees in the fallout. Confused by her relationship with her captor and his own passion to be with her, everything is riding on what happens next. Belle Ami weaves a non-stop action thriller that will keep you guessing. I had the sense of a ticking bomb in the background, which made it hard to put down. With so many characters, government factions, good guys and bad it was surprising and impressive that the author could keep everything in sink. Though it is a series, the author makes the stories from the past clear with seamless clues. Even the bad guys had a story to tell that bent your ear to listen and empathize. All the key elements for success. Romance, intrigue, action, danger and everything riding on the tip of a spear.

I recently saw a great review of, Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey, just as I was looking for my next Audible. I like McConaughey’s movies, and I have a place in the Austin area, too. So, I thought I’d give it a go – see what this Texas celebrity has to say about his life. At first, it sounded like a self help book, and I worried I had downloaded it too soon. There is a preacher-like intro that had me on the fence about continuing to listen, but I am glad I did. Matthew, at fifty, has a lot to say and an impressive resume of thought provoking philosophies and an abundance of life experience. He’s funny, down to earth, someone who takes dedication to succeeding to a whole different level, but the average Joe can learn something from the stories Matthew tells. Not afraid to laugh at himself or confront his flaws, I found myself appreciating his talents even more than I did in, True Detective, one of my favorites shows to this day. If you don’t like the book in the first 30 min, keep listening! You will laugh, be amused, envious and even impressed by this celebrity memoir. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio, written and narrated by Matthew McConaughey. 

A Murder of Principal, by award winning author, Saralyn Richard, has all the drama, intrigue and suspense needed to pull off this intense, inner-city high school mystery. Lincoln High is struggling with the usual issues surrounding students and faculty, even before the new principal, R.J. Stoker, shakes things up. Gangs, grievances, sexual harassment, and other tensions cause conflicts and rivalries. Stoker makes waves, and his new right-hand assistant struggles to balance the schedule before faculty grievances sink their maiden voyage. Just who has put a target on Stoker’s back? Plenty of characters have motives, but this suspense-filled mystery will keep you guessing who done it until the very end. Lots of clues and a few scattered red herrings will keep you engaged and trying to identify the killer. A Murder of Principal, is a nostalgic page turner that you won’t want to miss.

Wonderfully written and fantastically portrayed, The Chanel Sisters, is truly one of those books I didn’t want to put down or to end. Even better than Little’s debut novel, Wickwythe Hall, which was a masterpiece in itself, this story holds a bit of scandal and intrigue that has you routing for the women’s suffrage movement. I’ve never been more intrigued about the life of Coco Chanel. I highly recommend the Audible version. The reader had an amazing French accent that put me right in the center of early 1900’s France. With the story telling ability of Sara Waters and Philippa Gregory, Judith Little takes a fictional turn at spinning the life of Coco Chanel through the eyes of her younger sister, Antoinette. Impoverished, struggling, with the desire to be ‘better’, the Chanel sisters are the true winners against the societal rules of their time. Romance has never been so poignant. I can hardly wait to see what page in history this author turns to next! I can’t recommend The Chanel Sisters enough. Delightfully BBC material.   (So far, I haven’t found official questions for this book, so I formulated a few for my neighborhood book club.)

The Chanel Sisters, by Judithe Little

BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION by Minette Lauren

(Spoiler alert! Don’t read the questions until you have read the book!) 1.The story starts in Aubazine France, after the death of the mother, when all three girls (Gabrielle (Coco), Antoinette, and Julia) are abandoned at the orphanage by their father. How do you think you would have fared in the shoes of the Chanel sisters, being separated from their two brothers? The boys were given to a peasant family as free laborers. Who do you think fared better in that situation — the males or the females? 2.Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel’s story is told through the eyes of Antoinette, but Julia is also her sister. What happens to Julia and why do you think Antoinette’s vision was more appealing to the author/reader? What do you think about Gabrielle statement, that she wanted to be something better? 3.Where do you see early impressions that possibly led Gabrielle Chanel down the path to fashion? What did she really longed to be? Their aunt, Adrienne, was only a year older than Coco and made a big impression on them. When their paternal grandmother took them for a visit, do you think their time in the park, watching the “Elegante” might have driven the girls in a certain direction? 4.Raised in a convent in Aubazine, why were Gabrielle and Antoinette moved to another convent in Moulins? What do you think their impressions were of the uniforms for the wealthy verses the poor? In an attempt to blend in, the girls tailored their own uniforms. Gabrielle was very particular about how clothes fit, and the nuns were impressed. Do you think this experience made Gabriella understand how people judged importance by attire? Was this possibly the first instance where we see her need to be recognized? Isn’t it interesting that she resists her artistic talents as a means of success and only uses it as a means to get by? 5.Coco wanted to be a singer and paid for lessons while she was a seamstress. It was at this time she met Etienne who encouraged her to sing. After spending all her money on lessons, and trying hard for years to get a role that might shoot her to stardom, what do you think about her giving up and leaving Antoinette? At twenty-three Coco became Etienne Balsan’s mistress. Do you think she loved him? Was there anything else she could have done at the time to escape poverty?
  1. Joining Balsan at his estate near Compiègne, she took time off to think about her life and where she was going. She needed a vacation from trying to be famous and failing. Coco borrowed clothing from him and altered it for herself. She rode horses and thought a lot about comfort, even in polite society. Do you think her ‘Dress to live,’ ideology was what made her brand transcend through the ages?
  2. What do you think of Antoinette’s shop keeper beau and how after being seen at the opera with Adrienne and her intended, she was shunned by her peers?
  3. During WWI, Coco used fabrics that no one had ever worn before. Jersey was usually used for men’s underwear, and suddenly she was making women’s clothes out of the soft fabric. During the war, she also used rabbit instead of chinchilla. Gabrielle was a wizard at using what she could afford. Do you think this is a trait she learned early on at the orphanage? Why do you think these cheaper fabrics appealed to the wealthy? What about the expensive feather hat gift to a celebrity? Antoinette was supposed to be better at business, but she was worried. Do you think Coco knew the benefits of spending money to make money?
 
  1. Boy Capel was the love of Coco’s life. He helped her to make her brand by fronting the store financially for a long time. In the book, it portrayed part of her popularity as a source of entertainment. Women wanted to see Capel’s lover, so they went to Chanel to see Coco. How did you feel when he could finally marry her, but didn’t?
  2. Coco didn’t take her business seriously for a long time. She had to exhaust the possibility of stardom and realize that marriage to Boy Capel would never come. What role did Antoinette play in her success? What did you think about the newspaper posts to tell people where they were?
  3. Antoinette finally gives up on her dashing Argentinian’s return and falls for a young Canadian soldier, leaving Coco behind in her world of glamor and time of need. What did you think about Antoinette finally getting married and leaving Europe, and then the way she left Canada?
  4. Influences from the orphanage were sewn into Chanel’s design. From the little black dress to Black and white stripes, believe it or not, the black nun’s habits played a part in her fashions. Chanel’s Logo was catchy, but most people don’t know that it came from the orphanage where the sister’s grew up. The overlapping circular windows created the Chanel emblem/logo we know today. The chain belts Coco created are reminiscent of the rosery beads that the nuns wore around their waists. Around 1930, Gabrielle even built a staircase in her home that was an exact replica from the orphanage. She begged Antoinette to forget their past and to never speak of it to others. Coco told everyone that they were raised by old maid aunts in the country. After she’d proven a success, why did her past matter so much?
  5. Do you think Coco spent her whole life looking for adoration and trying to find love? Did the abandonment issues make her feel unworthy of love?
  6. Not much is known about the real Antoinette. In the book, was her death a murder-suicide?
    Trivia: (answers not in the book) 1.Why did the author, Judithe Little, name the book The Chanel Sisters? 2.How old was Antoinette when she died? 3.True or False: Did Coco Chanel die as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel?
  1. Coco’s parents were married, but was she born out of wedlock?
  2. Was Coco Chanel a Nazi spy?
  ***The author of this book suggested another great read— The Woman Before Wallis, by Bryn Turnbull…it’s about famous influential people such as the Vanderbilts and Prince of Wales.       Answers: 1.It was what she called the book as she was writing it. This is often the case while an author writes a story. Little said that they couldn’t come up with a better name, so they stuck with the name she’d been using since the beginning. The title tells the reader that it’s not just another Coco Chanel story.
  1. Antoinette was only 33
  2. False, when she was born, her mother was sick, and her father was away. No one was there to correct the misspelling of Chasnel. Coco was too embarrassed to ever correct it, because doing so would reveal the poverty of her birth.
  3. Yes, she was born in a poor house and it was later that her father, Albert Chanel, married their mother.
  4. Coco was a friend of Churchill, but she had a Nazi lover. It is said that she was on the German side from the beginning of the war, and she resided at the Ritz, where Nazi headquarters was located.
  Questions for this book club discussion were formulated by reading, The Chanel Sisters, listening to an interview with Judithe Little, and resourcing Wikipedia.            

  The Rendezvous in Paris (The Blue Coat) is the first book in an intriguing new series that holds all the mysticism of time travel, romance that spans generations and historical details of World War II. Author of the award winning Out of Time Series, Belle Ami has crafted a well told story with an intricate plot and rich characters. When Rose loses her dear grandmother to cancer and is bequeathed all her worldly treasures, she has no idea about the true value of the possessions she inherits. A tattered coat doesn’t seem like much, but paired with a beautifully crafted heirloom, its energy is more than transforming. Taken in by a league of sisterly Holocaust survivors and friends of her belated grandmother, Rose is asked to assume the position her grandmother held in fighting anti-Semitism and a new rising world order. Though she doesn’t understand her role or the cryptic dreams that call her to take a stand, she can’t ignore what must be done. A mysterious stranger appears on her grandmother’s stoop on the first day of shiva, making a lasting impression on Rose and fueling her mother’s distrust. Though she hardly knows the handsome, young man that says he knew her grandmother, Rose is compelled to reach out to him when she needs help. A trip across the world will shed light on the past and the future, but will it be enough to stop the evil that targets the Jewish population and covers the world in a blanket of hate once more. If you enjoyed The Girl Who Loved Da Vinci or The Girl who loved Caravaggio, don’t miss this trip back in time to the siege against The Third Reich in The Blue Coat Saga. The Rendezvous in Paris is the first book in Belle Ami’s brave new series that captures the reader’s imagination and instills hope in humanity.
I bought this book as an audio for my book club. When I read the blurb, I thought, ugh! It sounded like one of my grandpa’s old westerns, and I thought I would be bored to tears, but I also read that Tom Hanks was due to play Captain Kidd’s part, and so away I listened…. I was intrigued from the very first paragraph as the history of Texas unfolded through the eyes of the older gentleman and war veteran, Captain Kidd. Traveling around from town to town reading the news, this old-timer was the equivalent of today’s social media. Picking and choosing newsworthy stories to tell the people from near and far, he brought more to the patrons than what news he read from the papers. Kidd was recognized as entertainment and enlightenment for rural populations, that were still trying to find their footing during a post civil war Texas. He read to people of all classes, and the fee was only a dime. After losing his print shop and taking to the road, he finds himself burdened with the task of helping a young ten-year-old girl return to her German family near San Antonio. The journey is long and the trials of their travels are many. I thought the description of the night sky, the Irish woman’s explanation of the girl’s psyche, and the way the captain assessed his role as a messenger in life are wonderful highlights in the book, showcasing the authors talents. Her ability to balance history, story and description of the landscape and it’s inhabitants was five star!
I first picked this series based on the beautiful cover and the reincarnation premise of the book. The profound historical aspect and the travel to exotic locations was a bonus for me. Alex and Angela share a love that transcends many lives and a passion for art that might be their Achilleas heal. Angela’s talents place her under the FBI’s radar when a Rembrandt painting goes missing, but Alex and his family are right by her side. The masterpiece is tied to one of Angela’s prior lives, but what role does Alex play in Rembrandt’s history? With a mystery to solve and a wedding to plan, they are again swept up in their timeless love affair. In book two, Angela predicts the theft of a valuable painting that belongs to Alex’s family friends. In the third book, the famous work is absconded to Mexico and is placed in the hands of a notorious drug lord. While Alex and Angela explore the history of Rembrandt’s stolen painting in Amsterdam, the thief is weaving his own past, present, and future in Mexico, but love always complicates things. Does he share a part of the provenance and has his deed to please his uncle opened up Pandora’s box? I appreciate the historical and descriptive details given by the author. The dedication she has to place the reader in the right environment to understand art history is an art in itself. With a splash of detail here and a snippet of description there, Belle Ami paints an exciting story, spinning just the right amount of facts to weave into the steamy plot. This book is romantic, mind-opening, and a great adventure to right the wrongs of the past. Don’t miss this riveting third book in Belle Ami’s Out of Time Series and learn how the future is tied to the past.

I was told I should read this book years ago, but somehow I never got around to it. I think it seems fitting that I should discover it now with Covid and heated politics at its height. The book is a little depressing, since it is about the oppression of women and freedom in society. It’s set in the future, which correlates with today. Toxic waste and other environmental and social variables have made men impotent and women barren. With the population declining and modern technology making things simpler to abscond freedom, Ofred finds herself as a Handmaid to a prominent couple, who can’t have children. Separated from her husband and child, since all first marriages are considered null and void, Ofred has few other choices under the new regime. Chilling and thought provoking, it’s a must read for the philosophical mind.
Latest Blog
Apr
2021

Latest Blog

Shattered Fate, by PF Karlin

All the obsession of Fifty Shades and Twilight, PF pins a romance that will leave you wanting.., Do you remember your first love, a college crush, that “someone” who made it impossible to think about anything else? In PF...

Read more All blogs
The Blossom Banter Newsletter
Sign up for updates on upcoming Hot in Magnolia releases, giveaways, contests, sneak peeks, and other goodies!