Art Of Seduction
By: M. Orgeron
The Prologue is the introduction you need to see that Catherine Stern is the head of this powerful family in Louisiana, and to show you just how powerful she is. Catherine has three sons, Gabriel, Zander and Liam and her other son Vin.
She has raised her boys to take over the family business that she has built. Now it is time to help them build the life she knows they need. She starts with Gabriel. But he will fight her every step of the way. Here enters Fallon. She is a strong and smart woman that has fought all of her life to survive. Catherine teaches her the finer things in life so that Gabriel will fall hard and fast. And the ensuing battle is interesting. But Fallon is up for a challenge. When certain secrets come out the guys all have troubles understanding them but they do make them understand their mother more. When Gabriel realizes that he is completely in love with Fallon he sees how they really can be happy even though his mom found Fallon.
My take on this book:
I loved reading this book. There was enough drama, danger and hotness that kept me interested. I laughed so many times at Fallon and Zander that my stomach hurt. Gabriel is so intense that it can scare you. But beneath it all you see the love and sense of family. To me those are two of the most precious things in this world. This is a 5 star read.
Till the next book, Nancy
Most of you know me, Leigh Lennon, who started this blog last year. With my writing and my love of showcasing new authors, I was falling behind what I really wanted to do with this blog. I am teaming up with an amazing woman who I’ve met. I would like to introduce you to a new face of this blog. I will still blog from time to time but I am going to hang back a bit and work on the admin side of blogging and my own writing but don’t think you will lose me. I will still be on here from time to time to share my love for books. Nancy reads on the average of one to three books a day and I am so happy to have her here with me. She has become someone I call a friend and I hope you enjoy her reviews as much as I do! ~Leigh
Here is a little note from Nancy:
I am Nancy George; wife, mother and beyond avid reader. I am a stay at home mom and caregiver to hubby who loves to read. My love for reading started when I was young. When I was grounded all I was allowed to do was read and I was hooked. It took me to so many different worlds. That has continued as I have gotten older. 2017 I discovered a whole new to me world of authors and I have been hooked ever since.
Stick with us-we will have a lot to say!
You can find us at
Leigh and Nancy.
As I am recapping some of my favorite blog articles of 2017, I wanted to share this with you. Losing a parent is a pain that is hard to describe but I hope this brings to those grieving this holiday season, some comfort.
A couple months ago, I was unfortunate enough to lose my mother. This loss has put me through a gambit of emotions. I doubt there are even names for each of the emotions I have found myself wading through. Even though I was fortunate enough to have my mom for forty-one years of my life, I simply feel too young to be motherless.
This is the one true piece of reality I keep traveling back to. Being a mother myself, I feel robbed of my inability to share the magical moments with her that she shared with me. I find it a hard pill to swallow honestly. Existing in a world where the eternal and unconditional love of my mom is no longer a part of my daily life seems slightly hollower than it once did. I can recognize that I was able to have my mother be a part of my life far longer than other friends and I can look back now with gratitude at all the time I was able to share with her.
Coupled with this understanding is the fact that I still have my dad in my life. Many of my friends, both younger and older, have lost both set of parents by this stage in their life. To add to that blessing, that father of mine is as wonderful as they come and I adore him beyond measure. I know I must be grateful for what I have, but it doesn’t lessen my desire to have my mother’s love back in my life once more.
This is what I have learned so far on my short journey through grief. This road will continue to become a longer and longer one to navigate as the first year without my mom will soon turn into two, and then five and ten and so on.
I had a great relationship with my mother. It was not always perfect because at times I could be a real pain the ass, but our bond transformed into one of friendship. As I got older and a little more mature, I realized the importance of being less self-absorbed. It was then that our relationship turned into a connection from which I have very few regrets. In talking to friends who have lost their parents, I have come to realize something very important. Regardless of the relationship you share with your mother and whether you spoke to her daily (like me) or once a year, the loss you feel over her death is not invalidated. It is a real entity and you are entitled to grieve.
The first milestones without her have felt as if I am missing a major part of my body. I have already been through the first Mother’s Day without her. I dreaded this day and was full of sadness as I watched it grow closer on the calendar, though I knew I couldn’t just wallow in my own feelings of loss and remorse. Just like her, I am a mother as well and I knew that I had children who were counting on their mother that day. So what did I do? I got my rear in gear and looked after their wellbeing. That is what being a mom is all about. You put your kids before yourself. Always.
What I didn’t expect to affect me so awful was the first of my children’s birthday without her. It was something I always shared with my mom. She was there with me for each one of them and without thinking, we would always drift back and reminisces about each of my children’s births. After all, my children along with my sister’s children were her pride and joy.
I am not the only one missing her. I have children that miss her immensely every day. Even though geography was against us, my kids saw their grandmother quite often considering the distance between us. My children also knew that whenever they wanted to talk to Grandma, she was just a phone call away. My sister misses her too. So do her kids. My dad misses her most of all. I can’t even begin to explain how he feels. The list doesn’t just stop there either. There are countless others whose lives she touched and who miss her as well. I mean, for crying out loud, it was standing room only at her funeral! Many people loved her! I need to remember that I am not the only one grieving.
The process of grief is as diverse as each individual who experiences it. I remember the day of the funeral and my sister and dad being so overcome with emotions of loss and sadness. I barely shed a tear, which is odd considering I am someone who is extremely emotional in my own right. But we all process grief differently. I thought something was wrong with me, as if I didn’t miss her as much as my sister did. I’ve learned as time has gone by that it has become far harder for me than it was when I was in the midst the funeral. Regardless of the how you grieve, grief is grief and it sucks rotten eggs.
It doesn’t matter if your mom has been gone one day or ten years, you will inadvertently pick up the phone to call her or say something along the lines of, “Oh, mom would get a kick out of this.” I remember as we were preparing for her funeral, my sister was after a specific picture of the three of us together at the beach. It was my mom’s favorite place on this earth. My sister was down stairs looking for it, and in her mind she immediately thought, Oh, I will just go up and ask mom, she will know where it is. She shared that with me later on and I confessed that I too had similar moments that overwhelmed me without warning. I was always one to pick up the phone when my kids did something outlandish. My mom and I would laugh over even the littlest things concerning her grandkids. I miss that, more than I thought I would. There are going to be triggers and moments that bring back painful memories. I keep telling myself to be prepared for them, but unless you have gone through this yourself, you simply can’t fathom the emotional distress that will fill you when they occur.
You can’t help but feel a degree of despair when you see other adult children and mothers out spending time with one another. It fills me with both jealousy and thankfulness. Obviously, the jealousy part is self-explanatory. I want my mom here with me doing the things those other people are. The thankfulness part is two fold. First, it made thankful and blessed to have had my mom as long as I had. But on top of that, I am glad for those friends that still have their moms because I know how much I miss mine. For my friends that still have their moms on this earth, I am glad they haven’t had to feel the pain of loss I have.
The last thing I can share concerns those that still have their moms with them in this world along with anyone who has recently lost their mother. I was thankful my friends reached out to me, cried with me, and sat vigil with me as I spent her final days on Earth by her bedside. As much as my friends who sill have their moms hurt for me, they don’t fully understand the extent of my mourning because they simply have not traveled this same road. I was fortunate enough to have some friends who were able to pick me up emotionally and helped carry me through the process of loss. They themselves had already experienced the heartache I was so new to. One day, I will be that steady hand for a friend who has recently lost their mom. I know it will be in this moment that I will understand that all this pain was not in vain and I can help comfort those that are totally lost in their grief.
Maybe not all these ideas pertain to you. If you indeed have joined the same club I never wanted to belong in, you will find a tall list of absolutes that come with a loss so deep. In closing, I will leave you with one memory I have of my mom pertaining to her death. As a child, we attended a funeral where a mom was saying good-bye to her child for the very last time. It is an image I will never forget and it made a lasting impact on my mother as well. Shortly after, she sat my sister and I down and told us that no mother should ever have to bury a child. Being a mother now, I agree whole-heartedly with that statement. She continued to explain to the two of us that there was a natural progression to life and, although I hate this natural progression, I know this is what she would have wanted. She would have wanted her children to out live her. She would want us to carry on and keep her memory alive. I know she would have been proud to know that we are still trying like hell to make that happen.
Above is my mom with my kids at various times in their lives. She was certainly one that took picutes of everything and I am thankful now to have those memories.
Pictured above is one of the last pictures I have with my mom. Being from the Pacific Northwest, this sign amused her.
Below, in the first image, my father and I sprinkling her ashes in the ocean as was her desire. Although we are smiling, it was a hard day for us. But this is what she wanted and in that way, it made us happy. The next picture is the last family picture we had taken together. Again, I am so thankful my mom insisted on this picture. I miss you Mom!
With the premiere of Big Little Lies that was made into a mini series by one of my favorite authors, I wanted to recap the movie/book similarities and differences! I hope you enjoy!
Let me start this review by declaring that I am a huge fan of author Liane Moriarty. She has a way of weaving certain words and details into her stories with a technique that leaves me awestruck every time. I read her book Big Little Lies last summer and was excited when the mini-series with Reese Witherspoon was announced for February 2017!
After reading the book and watching the miniseries, I decided to do a comparison between the book and the mini-series to see which one I liked more. Please be aware that this, unlike my other book reviews, will contain spoilers towards the end. Proceed with caution if you are intending to read this book, which I highly recommend you do!
First off, this was probably my favorite book by Liane Moriarty to date. I will say that the ending left me mad, but only because I didn’t figure out the plot twist on my own. Looking back once it was done, I started to see the subtle clues left by Moriarty all throughout the book. She really is a master storyteller with an incredible talent for keeping you hooked until the absolute end of the book.
A plot summary of the book may help a bit to get things started. (No spoilers just yet) The book is based around three women. The first is Madeline Mackenzie, a strong woman with no filter. She speaks her mind at every opportunity and is a force to be reckoned with. She and her first husband (Nathan) are divorced, though Nathan happens to live in the same town with his much younger free spirited wife (Bonnie) and their child (Skye). Madeline is also remarried to Ed and together they have had two children, one being the same age as Skye.
Madeline carries a lot of rage towards Nathan. In her mind, he abandoned Madeline and the daughter they share, Abigail, because he claimed being a parent was just too hard. Later on when he marries the much younger Bonnie and starts a family with her, Madeline is faced with many of the same emotions she failed to work out previously. It certainly doesn’t help matters when Abigail forms a bond with Bonnie. This bond causes Madeline to fear that her emotional grasp on Abigail may be slipping right out of her own hands. Ed, Madeline’s current husband, does his very best to understand the emotion turmoil his wife finds herself in. He knows that Madeline’s feelings range from cheerful to rage and that they can swing as the wind blows, but this is just how Madeline is and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Celeste, the next central female lead in this story, is far different from the brash and bold Madeline. Celeste is far more reserved and, for lack of a better term, tends to space out at times. In the book, Madeline and Celeste become close friends when a near drowning brings them together. Celeste had taken her twin sons to swimming lessons and was off in her own world when one of the boys happens to wander away during the lesson and nearly drowns. Madeline, dressed as stylish as ever, doesn’t hesitate and jumps in fully clothed to save Celeste’s son. From that point on, a friendship blossoms and they become thick as thieves. No matter Celeste’s comfort level with Madeline, she never reveals a secret she has become very good at hiding.
Jane, the third in our trio of female leads, is new to the small coastal Australian town. She’s a young single mother who is often mistakenly thought of as a nanny and not mother to her son. Her son, Ziggy, is her world and she makes it clear that raising him is her mission alone since Ziggy’s father has never been a part of his life.
The story begins as the three women prepare for their children’s’ kindergarten orientation in December. (Schools start in January in Australia due to their seasons being opposite ours.) On Orientation day, an encounter with a bully leads to a confrontation between parents. There was an attempt to choke a sweet little girl by the name of Amabella (and that is not a typo; the name is French as indicated in the book). Ambella’s mother, Renata, happens to be as fierce as Madeline is and understandably wants to know who was responsible for this attack. When the little girl, Amabella, points to Ziggy, Jane’s son, lines are immediately drawn in the sand. Madeline takes sides with Jane, pulling Celeste in with her, while Renata vows vengeance for her daughter. Tensions further rise when Ziggy, questioned about the incident with Amabella, denies ever hurting her and Jane doesn’t make him apologize for something he didn’t do.
When school starts the following January, both mothers and their children don’t allow the incident to rest. Renata does all she can to makes sure Ziggy is singled out. When invitations for Amabella’s birthday party are handed out, everyone receives one except Ziggy.
Madeline is outraged by Renata’s actions and decides to take matters into her own hands. She soon organizes an outing to Disney on Ice for the entire kindergarten class, which happens to fall on the very same day as Amabella’s birthday party! This leads Renata and Madeline into a stand off that continues throughout the book.
(Now, if you haven’t read the book and want to, I suggest you stop reading at this point!)
The character of Madeline Mackenzie was described in the book as a taller woman with brown hair. That is a far cry from Reese Witherspoon, who played the dynamic character of Madeline. However, after watching the show, I can’t imagine anyone else playing Madeline. Reese was phenomenal and every bit the sassy character that Madeline Mackenzie is portrayed as in the book.
Another difference I noticed with the portrayal of Madeline was that in the book, she and her current husband Ed share two children, a boy and a girl, together. The character of Chloe, Madeline’s daughter with Ed, is in the same class as Ziggy and they end up becoming good friends. The son Madeline shares with Ed was not included in the HBO mini-series. Frankly, he wasn’t that necessary for the story line of the show, so it didn’t surprise me that his character was cut.
Nicole Kidman portrayed Celeste and, at first, this was hard for me to imagine. In the book, Celeste is painted as a younger, more naive woman who falls victim to her abusive husband. The idea of a younger character made more sense when trying to understand how someone would allow herself to become a victim. (More on that later.) The choice to use Kidman in this role did work within the plot of show and it lead to some very steamy scenes in the mini-series.
Jane was the one character who in my mind was represented by the actress I pictured, Shailene Woodley. This was by far the most accurate character representations based on the details from the author. In the book, Jane’s parents were vital characters in her life since she was such a young mother. Jane begins a kindred relationship with Madeline, as Madeline understands what it is like to be a single mother at a young age. (A big difference here is that in the book we learn that Madeline promise Jane’s mother, Mrs. Chapman that she will look out for Jane.)
HBO’s version follows the plot at the beginning of the book fairly closely. The major difference at the onset is that the show takes place in Monterey, California whereas the book takes place in Australia.
There aren’t too many differences in the book/show for the first half of the mini series. After the third of seven episodes, fans of the book should start to become aware of some majors differences. Madeline works at the local community theatre and the production she has been working on side by side with the director is in fear of being shut down due to its content. This detail is not in the book, but it is a fun twist given that Renata is the one pulling the strings behind the scenes to make life for Madeline all the more challenging. Celeste, a non-practicing lawyer, is asked to represent the play at Madeline’s request. This causes a great divide between Celeste and Perry because Perry is controlling and doesn’t want his wife to work. The mini-series also includes an affair between Madeline and the director of the production, though she remains faithful throughout the book to Ed.
Jane reveals to Madeline both in the show and book that a man previously sexually assaulted her when she was younger. The product of that night is Ziggy. Jane immediately becomes fearful when Ziggy is accused of hurting Amabella. Her concern is that violence runs through her son’s veins because of his father’s actions.
In the book, Madeline learns that Jane’s attacker’s name is Saxon Banks. When Madeline shares this information with Celeste, she is outraged because this is the name of Perry’s cousin who happens to also be Perry’s best friend. The name of the attacker in the show was changed to Saxon Baker and there was never any inclination of him being related to Perry.
Abigail, Madeline’s daughter from her first marriage to Nathan, is working on a secret project in both the book and the show. Due to Bonnie’s influence and her bohemian ways, Abigail makes the decision to auction off her virginity to the highest bidder in an attempt to raise money for Amnesty International. That was just as shocking in the book as it was in the show!
Madeline’s reaction was just as extreme and as humorous as you’d expect (the same reaction I’m sure most people would have!). Due to the way Madeline’s character is portrayed, I couldn’t’ help but laugh at her take on this serious issue. Obviously the idea is beyond ludicrous, yet it somehow manages to convey a very serious undertone regarding the character of Abigail. On the show, Abigail shuts the site down on her own but in the book it is only shut down once a man from the United States offers Amnesty International one hundred thousand dollars to have the auction terminated before the intended completion. Abigail ends up raising a substantial amount of money for her cause and still keeps her virginity intact, much to the delight of Madeline. However, the person behind this large donation is closer to Madeline than anyone suspects. (The anonymous donor is another tidbit of information not found in the mini-series.)
Coming back to the lives of Amabella and Skye in which there is continued abuse occurring to both girls as the school year moves along. Both girls are still being bullied and everyone is quick to jump to the conclusion that Ziggy is still behind it all. (Both shown in the show and book.) Ziggy soon becomes the target of a petition to have him expelled, though there are never any eyewitness accounts to support the accusation that he is the one hurting the girls. What is most shocking of all is the fact that Ziggy and Amabella, against all odds, have become good friends and Amabella continues to refuse to identify who is hurting her.
Another commonality between both the book and the mini-series is an annual school fundraiser hosted by the PTA. The event might closely relate a dance or a ball and this year’s theme happens to be Elvis Presley and Audrey Hepburn. Parents are encouraged come dressed as either of these two figures but I have never seen an event quite as spectacular as described in the book and portrayed in the mini-series. Of course the city of Monterey exudes money, thus being the reason the event is over the top.
As everyone begins to arrive at the ball, Perry and Celeste are shown having an epic fight at home in both the book and the show. It is not uncommon for their fights to become physical. Celeste is abused throughout the book and series. She does all she can to fight back, though she often does so only in self-defense. She never fears for her life until later on when it is revealed the actual bully who has been targeting the girls is one of Celeste’s twin sons.
Celeste is quick to make the connection between her son’s behavior and that of her husband’s and knows that she needs to get her children away from their father as soon as possible. It is after she has secured an apartment that Perry happens to answer her cell and learns of Celeste’s plan to leave him. All of this is happening as both the book and the mini-series continue to steamroll their way to the fundraiser being attended by the entire town.
On the night of the fundraiser, Perry confronts Celeste and begs her to give him one more chance. We know the same as Celeste that they have already tried counseling and even their current counselor is in favor of Celeste’s plans to leave Perry.
(The following is from the book)
When they arrive at the fundraiser, (in the book) Perry is upset but keeps his emotions at bay. Celeste finds Renata and Bonnie to apologize for her son’s behavior towards their daughters, vowing to get him help and to break the cycle of abuse. Soon everyone is on the balcony together, including Renata, Celeste, Jane, Madeline, Bonnie along with Perry, Nathan and Ed. Here, Celeste reveals to Madeline that she is the one who donated one hundred thousand dollars to Amnesty International in order to have Abigail’s site shut down. Nathan thanks Celeste and Perry for their generosity, not knowing that Perry is a controlling and abusive jerk who would not be happy to have his money spent like that without his knowledge or permission.
Once Perry fully grasps what Celeste has done, he makes a jab at her about how she likes to keep secrets like the apartment she just acquired. Celeste does all she can to keep this occasion civil and tries to introduce him to the people on the balcony he has never met before. As Perry continues to argue with Celeste, Jane approaches the couple.
It is in the moment, Jane says, “I already know you.” That is all Jane needs to say before Celeste comes to a bombshell of a conclusion regarding her husband. Celeste now realizes that Perry really was Saxon Banks, the man that had assaulted Jane earlier on. This also makes him the actual father of Ziggy! As Celeste puts two and two together, she then begins to realize that Perry had given his cousin’s name to Jane on the night of the assault and had probably done the same to an untold number of other women in the past. Celeste, in that moment, understands his abuse was not merely a private detail they shared together, though these encounters often led very passionate sex. She always assumed his abuse that manifested itself into hot and fervent sex was something they shared together and was just part of their relationship.
Perry knows he’s been busted, but he claims he doesn’t understand why Celeste is so upset. This is when she realizes that Perry is far sicker than she’d ever imagined. Perry says they will talk about all of this at home, but, after she says something to him, he backhands her in front of the others around them. As Ed comes to her defense, Renata picks up her phone to call the cops. Bonnie completely flips out on Perry and accuses him of being the actual reason his son is hurting innocent girls. As she draws closer to him, Bonnie unintentionally pushes Perry off the balcony. The fall is just enough that Perry ultimately dies from the impact.
Renata tries to cover up Bonnie’s role in Perry’s death. Ed wants to tell the cops the truth of what occurred, but Madeline goes along with the idea of protecting her ex husband and his wife. Ed is livid and feels betrayed that Madeline chooses to protect Nathan over what her own husband wants her to do. (The scene that shows the hurt that this causes Ed in the book is pinnacle to the story line the book follows and is quite dramatic.)
This is when it is revealed that Bonnie’s father had abused her earlier in life. This is what caused her to lose it when she realized Perry was the reason that his son was abusing and bullying her daughter. The guilt of what Bonnie’s done doesn’t take long to become too great and she eventually confesses to killing Perry.
Celeste later leaves town with her sons to start over and take another chance at life. Before she leaves, she sets up a trust for Ziggy since he was in actuality Perry’s son. Jane begins a romance and Madeline is forgiven by her husband for siding with Nathan over him.
(This is from the Mini-Series)
With the mini-series, when the showdown started on the balcony, it was just Renata, Celeste, Jane and Madeline. When Perry started to beat Celeste, Bonnie saw what was going on and came to Celeste’s rescue. Instead of falling off the balcony, Bonnie shoves Perry down the stairs. She never confesses to the murder and all the women covered up the death together. The mini-series ends with all the ladies, including Renata and Bonnie, on the beach playing with their children.
As for which version was better, I’d have to go with the book. It’s no secret that a book nearly always contains a great deal of information that was left out of the film adaptation. However, with that being said, the mini-series did a great job bringing the characters to life. Though the book lends its way to the imagination of a few steamy love scenes, the show reveals a very R-rated production. I absolutely loved the opening credits and the theme song was so catchy that I continued to hum it to myself long after the seventh episode had finished. I just wish that the ending of the series were true to form with that of the book. If you have a chance, please share any differences that I may have left out. I hope you check out the book and the mini-series. It is time that won’t be wasted!
If you have been introduced to V. Theia’s wonderful MC series, here is a novella that will surely have you on pins and needles until you have read if from cover to cover.
You met the man.
NOW KNOW THE MONSTER
Hades wasn’t always the Raging Rebels president
and sworn enemy to Rider Marinos.
YOU KNOW HOW IT ENDS
In vivid, graphic, vignette glimpses,
the layers of Hades are peeled back to reveal
the monster who was always beneath his surface.
SEE HOW IT ALL BEGAN
His end was cast in stone.
And his life had many pathways
and a myriad of chances
to change the man he turned out to be.
As with all atrocious actions, the clock is ticking.
Hell is waiting for Hades.
Disclaimer: Intended for 18+ There’s no HEA. This is not a romance. It’s a recount of a monster’s life into what made him the way he was.
Not to be read before Dirty Salvation and Preacher Man.
Second Disclaimer: What happens in the Hummer doesn’t always stay in the Hummer…
Lynsey M. Stewarts debut novel, Let Me Be Your First was a book that left me wondering how this was just Ms. Stewarts first book. It was written as if this was her second or third book. I love reading debut books. I read more debut books than any other type of book. When an author catches me with her writing like Lynsey has, I will put her name on my tbr list for any other book she writes.
I love books when they take place in another country. I feel I can live through these characters. This is coupled with the character of Elle, the girl next door, who any reader can identify with. Elle reveals she is a virgin, waiting for the right guy. In comes Luke, the hot social worker who seems a little loose with women. But when he shows interest in Elle, she is willing to see where this relationship goes. However, as much as he tries, calling him nervous about commitment would be an understatement. Where Elle is ready to see where this might lead, Luke ends up cheating on her. Giving him the special gift of her virginity stings a lot but she moves on; though he can’t. Cue in the swoon worthy Ben who makes Elle feel so special but because of her fear and hurt from Luke, she enters her relationship with him very slowly.
What I loved:
There is a Luke or two in all of our lives. As a reader, being able to relate to the struggles that Elle tried to reconcile in her mind is one way to draw a reader into the story.
She has a group of women that are her people! I love to see in a story (as in life) how we pull in a group of people that become the family we choose.
I love the English lingo, things that only Brits say. It makes me want to come and immerse myself in the culture but at the same time, it is written in a way that the yankee in me can follow.
I give Let Me Be Your First 4.5 stars~
By Diana Rose, YA Fantasy Romance Published Author
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