Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Caramel and Magnolias

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Title: Caramel and Magnolias
Author: Tess Thompson
Release date: February 1, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction; Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult

Bestselling author Tess Thompson, whose debut novel Riversong touched the hearts of readers worldwide, delivers a captivating and suspenseful tale of the possibilities that await us in life and in love – if we can find the courage to get off the sidelines. Crushed by a broken heart, ten years ago Cleo Tanner walked away from her acting dreams and now leads a quiet, secluded life in Seattle. Sylvia, her best friend from college, is trapped in a loveless marriage, distraught by her desire to have a child – until an adoption agency owner in relentless pursuit of Cleo offers to help. Just as Sylvia begins to experience a love so profound that only a mother can feel, a detective approaches Cleo with disturbing questions about the adoption agency. Determined to protect her friend, Cleo jumps into a dangerous investigation that forces her to confront the ghosts of her past. A toast to friendship, motherhood, mended hearts and new beginnings, Caramel and Magnolias reminds us it’s never too late to reawaken the heart.
Links: Amazon Barnes and Noble Goodreads
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2011, she released her first novel, Riversong, which subsequently became a bestseller. Like her main character in Caramel and Magnolias, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, Emerson and Ella, and their puppy Patches. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.
 Links: Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Tess Writes 

Guest Post

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. ~Henry David Thoreau
The end. I love to type those words. The first draft of novel writing is a high. Everyone has a unique process. Mine begins with the characters. Once they’re firmly cemented in my mind, they tell me the story. I am merely the delivery vessel. Tell their story is taped to my computer screen.
I do not think about theme or genre during the first draft. But after I type the words, the end, the themes become apparent to me. Ah, so this is what I was writing about.
The last several years have yielded a tremendous amount of work, primarily two projects. One is Caramel and Magnolias (a romantic suspense, released February 1 by Booktrope Editions). The other is historical fiction set in the 1930’s in the American south (released later this year as a trilogy).
Caramel and Magnolias is about four people living on the outskirts of their own lives, or as I describe in the book, “the sidelines”. They’ve accepted their lives of quiet desperation. They cope with their loneliness and isolation by immersing themselves in their work.
It wasn’t until I read through the first draft that I realized I’d been writing about myself.
For years I’d been unhappy in my marriage. But I felt trapped. I couldn’t imagine a way out. I was worried about my children, primarily. And I felt responsible for his happiness. I couldn’t hurt him by telling the truth. I want out.
So I accepted my fate. I had my two beautiful daughters. I had my work. Surely this was more than most people had?
And I never uttered the truth to a living soul. Not my best friends. Not my mother. I was good at pretending everything was fine. I convinced myself it didn’t matter that I was slowly dying or that I was utterly alone despite being married.
I had a mantra. I am a good wife. I am a good mother. I can be happy. I will be happy. Just try a little harder.
Every night I asked God, please make me a better wife and mother tomorrow than I was today. And please let me love him as I should.
But then something happened that changed everything. I started being seen and heard. Riversong climbed the bestseller charts. My blog, Inspiration for Ordinary Life, developed a loyal following. I was something more than what the outside saw - good mother, loyal wife, caring daughter. I was an artist who had something to say that mattered.
Many readers wrote to me that I’d inspired them or moved them with one of my blog pieces. And it was always the pieces I hesitated to write, the ones I thought might expose too much of my soul that received the most response.
The more truthful I was, the more readers responded.
And the more readers responded, the more truthful I became.
I understood, as I never had before, that to create art one must tell the truth. How could I be a real artist, I asked myself, if I can’t admit the truth to myself? I dread the rest of my life.
But still I stifled it. Be grateful for what you have, I told myself over and over. I immersed myself further in my work. And then something amazing happened. A friend actually asked me the question no one had ever asked before.
Are you happy?
And I did something amazing. I answered with the truth.
No. But I’m trapped.
I knew it.
What was this? Someone saw the truth despite my skills at deception. Only one. But it was enough. Because telling the truth unleashed something I couldn’t take back. I was jarred awake. I knew I had to get out or I would slowly die.
In the months that followed I made big and necessary changes in my life. It was painful in every way – telling him, telling my daughters, telling my parents. There were many dark days I wondered how I would get through.
But I did. I am on the other side now. I am free. I am happy. Yes, I’m terrified some days, no question. However, in the midst of the fear, I am also hopeful and excited for the rest of my life. Like my characters in Caramel and Magnolias, I am choosing to live instead of walking around half-dead. I am no longer quietly desperate. I am living with purpose. I am living with passion and dreams and faith.
And my work? All the better for it.
The truth does indeed set you free. 

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Veiled Mist

“Then what…” he stepped back still holding the gun to Hanna’s head. “Todd? You took Todd? Put him down now!”
Hanna heard the click. Michael was about to pull the trigger. She wanted to do as he’d said, and was about to, but the African warrior appeared near the Cabin and shook his head. “No.”
“You put him down,” Michael hissed.
“We can’t. We need to get him to a hospital. If we don’t, he’ll die. Please let us…”
“You’re not taking my son anywhere near those traitors.” Michael jammed the rifle’s nozzle against Hanna’s head, hurting her and almost making her lose her grip.
“If you shoot me I’ll drop him,” Hanna said.
“Put him down.”
The warrior continued to shake his head. Hanna wished he’d do more than that. A little help would be nice. “You can shoot me, but I won’t put him down.”
“Hanna,” John whispered.
“He knows his son will die if we drop him,” Hanna said.
“Do you have a death wish?” John hissed.
All three heard a distant sound coming from their left. Hanna wondered if her guess was right.
“Put the gun down Michael,” John II said.
Hanna couldn’t see her grandfather.
“Williams? You’re behind this?”
“I am, drop the gun.”
“You bastard. I won’t let you take my son from me.”
“I’m not taking him from you, just getting him to the hospital. You can hate me later, but I’m going to do this even if I have to shoot you.”
Michael lowered the rifle. “You’re going to pay for this. Did you kill my dogs?”
“They’re resting. Hanna and John, head to the clearing.”
Hanna heard the radio static.
“Ray, how far are you?” John II asked.
“One minute.”
“It’s the chopper,” John whispered excitedly, as they made their way to the clearing. “Wow, this is so cool.”
“Quiet John, we can still get shot,” Hanna said.
The chopper now hovered above their heads, its bright beam aimed at the clearing. Hanna realized they stood on a putting green. She took a few steps back and crouched to protect Todd from the wind caused by the chopper’s blades.
“Why are you doing this?” Michael screamed as the chopper prepared to land.
“Because I owe you. Please, Michael, let us save him.”
“No,” Michael screamed, darting towards Hanna.
Her grandfather fired. Michael took another three steps and fell. The black chopper landed. The pilot got out and helped them with Todd. Moments later the chopper lifted off. Both Hanna and John watched speechless as their grandfather and Michael grew smaller. The chopper banked to the right and they lost sight of Tornado Hill. Hanna felt for the boy’s pulse. It hadn’t changed; it was weak, but steady. She looked down once more and saw the warrior’s green glow sliding down the hill, like a water stream. 

 2 of 5 stars false 
On the Caribbean island of Maurray, spoiled-rotten, fifteen-year-old Hanna wakes up to a nightmare. She is not the daughter of an aristocrat but the orphan of a Gypsy. She is the descendant to a mystical Gypsy tribe. Their magic is strong and has lasted six hundred years. Ornella, the tribe’s guardian, arrives at the island with her mutt, Count Dracula, to guide Hanna. Hanna is told she must embrace her heritage or die at the ripe age of seventeen. But Hanna does the unthinkable, she chooses death. She hates Gypsies and would rather die. What she doesn’t know is that her death will destroy the entire tribe. What she also doesn’t know is how persuasive Ornella can be. The nightmare begins


****This book was part of a blog tour, I was provided with a copy of the book for my honest review****
Hanna is a spoiled rotten fifteen year old girl; she likes a boy and does not understand why he doesn't like her back. She has nightmares, when she wakes up one morning her prized doll is broken so she goes to have it fixed. She meets Ornella a gypsy, Hanna finds out she is next to join this gypsy tribe. I loved the premise of this book and was really looking forward to reading it, however when I did start it I had a hard time finishing it. My first impression of Hanna with her sense of entitlement and disregard for other peoples feeling ruined the story for me. The rest of the characters in the book were not very enjoyable either, the only one I really liked was Count Dracula. The storyline was well thought out, original and very creative. The writing was done very well and there were certain parts in the book that held my interest. While the book is good and other people are sure to enjoy it, I personally could not get past my dislike of the characters. I have started reading another one of her books Souls of Darkness, I hope I like the characters in this book better.

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