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Smashwords book reviews by SAMANTHAJULIA

  • Brambleman on July 08, 2012

    Charlie Sherman is married, a stay at home dad and a writer who suddenly finds himself homeless as the result of a domestic issue with his wife. While considering suicide he meets a strange creature who seems to be electrically charged and, to put it mildly, smells. Since the creature doesn't give his real name, Charlie calls the "supernatural creep" Trouble. As it turns out, Charlie chose the name well. Trouble offers Charlie a job which comes with a place to stay. The job is to complete a book started by Professor Talton who died some time ago. Talton's widow, Kathleen, wants the book published and allows Charlie to live in her basement and gives him an advance. The book, Flight from Forsyth, takes on a life of its own in Charlie's hands and what the book reveals is shocking. Jonathan Grant's novel, Brambleman, is about what Charlie uncovers about the events in Forsyth, a county in Georgia, from the early 1900's. His research leads to yet another story which takes him to the present. The characters in the book are unforgettable. Kathleen has some dementia but what is even more poignant is her ability to punish people who anger her. She inflicts a fast occurring outbreak of boils-similar to a pox. Dana/Rodika/Arca, who was originally known to Charlie as Dana, presents herself as an art dealer. She is exotic and Charlie is attracted to her. Since much is not as it seems, he is shocked when she is arrested by the FBI during their first date. He learns she has a violent history and asks himself "What kind of a woman would participate in an armed attack on an orphanage?". The rest of the characters include his mother-in-law who hires not one but two assassins to get rid of Charlie. A bus driver who appears when least expected and who also appears as a social worker (a temporary job) when Charlie is being investigated for child abduction. Add the violent and loathsome members of his wife's family and the less than honorable law enforcement officers to the mix and cast is complete. This book is action packed and deals with sensitive issues including racism. A bit of fantasy is included and it does not distract from the story line. Charlie Sherman is a man of honor whose life took many unexpected turns and Jonathan Grant skillfully guides the reader through his journey. The story is told with wit and wisdom. Mr. Grant is a gifted writer and has crafted a fantastic novel. I highly recommend reading Brambleman. I received this book free of charge through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will.
  • 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back on Jan. 01, 2013

    25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, edited by Stacy Juba is a collection of essays written by a variety of authors. Using her blog, Ms Juba asked for essays answering the following question: "What were you doing twenty-five years ago?". The responses make for enjoyable and interesting reading. Included are recollections of school experiences, memorable (and not so memorable) jobs, family life and overcoming obstacles. I was introduced to many authors I was not previously familiar with. I recommend reading this book as I feel there is a great deal to be learned from the essays. I received this book free of charge through LibraryThing Member Give Away and I give this review of my own free will.
  • Billy the Kid's Jail, Santa Fe, New Mexico: A Glimpse into Wild West History on the Southwest's Frontier on Sep. 17, 2013
    (no rating)
    Billy the Kid's Jail, by Lynn Michelson, is a well researched book that tells how the actual location of the jail in Santa Fe, New Mexico that Billy the Kid was housed in was determined. The author also includes interesting and informative historical information on this iconic character. I think this would be a good book to read when planning a trip to Santa Fe. I found this to be a well written book and I recommend reading it. I received this book free of charge through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will. ( )
  • The Irishman&Other Stories on Oct. 07, 2013
    (no rating)
    Stephen Hazlett's marvelous collection of short stories, The Irishman & Other Stories, gives voice to memorable characters. Some of the topics are family, love, disappointment, death, surprise and transitions. Something To Do is a haunting story. Middle aged widower, Phil, travels to Italy and by chance meets a young American woman. They make an unlikely pair, but a relationship develops that brings unforeseen outcomes. In the title story, The Irishman, we learn that John Kelly's father has died and amongst his belongings is a letter written fifty years ago from Annie who, judging from the content of the letter, must have been his girlfriend. The letter had been written just prior to John's father's departure from Ireland for America. After reading the letter, John feels he may have a brother or sister he hadn't known about. He travels to Ireland seeking answers. This powerful story illustrates just how strong family identity can be. Montana is a tale about second chances. A woman residing in a nursing home tells her son she wants out and that she wants him to drive her to Montana. She has always wanted to go there. Surprising even himself, her son, his daughter and his mother embark on a trip that yields surprising results. All the stories are worthy of high praise. The author is a gifted writer who has crafted engaging and original stories. I received this book for free through Library Thing and I give this review of my own free will.
  • An Improper Situation (Defiant Hearts Book 1) on Oct. 21, 2013
    (no rating)
    A knock at Charlotte Sanborn's door changed her life forever. At her door stood handsome Boston attorney, Reed Malloy, and her deceased cousin's two young children. Had Charlotte read the letter Reed sent her a month ago she would have known that the cousin she had never seen had, in her will, given her custody of her children. An Improper Situation, by Sydney Jane Baily, is about an unpredictable journey. Charlotte, a successful writer, had been on her own since she was fourteen. Accustomed to a solitary existence, she believed she didn't need or want anyone and that included these children. She made this clear to Reed, but he refused to back down. He told her that the three of them are staying to "assess the situation". Over time this family, of sorts, bonds. Suddenly "She knew in an instant that all the years of feeling proud of her self-sufficient isolation were a sham. She was a coward, afraid to love because of the pain it caused." She and Reed entered into an intensely complicated relationship. He returned to Boston and the children stayed with Charlotte. Months later a custody issue results in Charlotte and the children traveling to Boston in order to meet with her aunt who is the children's grandmother. While other doors open for Charlotte in Boston, both professionally and culturally, her relationship with Reed remains complicated. The pace of the story builds slowly. A startling discovery places Charlotte in a life threatening situation. Can her wits save her? Readers will find much to enjoy in this well written story. The author skillfully brings the characters to life with vivid prose. We follow their fears, growths and struggles with interest to the very end of the story. I received this book free of charge through Library Thing and I give this review of my own free will.
  • An Irresistible Temptation (Defiant Hearts Book 2) on Nov. 18, 2013
    (no rating)
    An Irresistible Temptation, by Sydney Jane Baily, is a beautifully written love story that takes place in the 1880's. After a failed relationship, Sophie Malloy, travels from Boston to Colorado where she meets a man who may change her life. The story moves to exciting San Francisco where Sophie tries to establish herself as a pianist. Can this talented woman make a new and satisfying life for herself? The well developed characters are believable and interesting. Their lives take unpredictable twists and turns which are described in vivid detail . Because the author writes with wit and sensitivity, the novel flows effortlessly and is worth reading. I received this book free of charge and I give this review of my own free will.
  • Back Again (The Short Story) on Aug. 11, 2014

    A haunting and memorable story.
  • The House With the Wraparound Porch on Oct. 26, 2014

    The House With The Wraparound Porch, a novel by Mary Pat Hyland, opens in 1920 and ends in 2005 and tells the story of four generations of a family from New York's Keuka Lake area. The author brings to the reader a beautifully told saga filled with rich details and memorable characters. The heart of this story is family and the complex relationships within it. By using smooth prose, each character comes alive and the reader becomes engrossed in their quest for their own identity. I found this to be a heartwarming story and well worth reading. I received this book free of charge through Library Thing and I give this review of my own free will
  • Too Close on Dec. 28, 2014

    From the beginning of Nicola and Greg's relationship there were coincidences. They bore a physical resemblance to one another. Nicola shared a tomato allergy with Greg's mother, Mona. Only after the couple became engaged did Nicola meet Mona. They, too, resemble each other physically. When Mona learns Nicola was adopted she begins to suspect Nicola might be the daughter she gave birth to and gave up thirty-six years ago. Too Close, the novel by Elizabeth Krall, is a story of the unimaginable. Is it possible that Greg and Nicola have the same mother? Nicola and Mona agree to have DNA testing. Emotions run high for everyone during the excruciating wait for the results. Ever present is the question of what happens if the test results show the couple is related? This is a story about a sensitive issue and the author tells it with grace and dignity. The characters are realistic. Their emotions, reactions and fears are clearly presented. This is a powerful novel in that the reader can't help but wondering "What would I do if I found myself in a similar situation?" As for what happens with Nicola and Greg- you'll have to read the book and I do recommend reading this book. I received this book for free through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will.
  • Toast To Go on March 12, 2015

    Valentine's Day is approaching and Jemma is definitely not looking forward to it. Her love life is non-existent and she doesn't see it changing. But, then, a note in her toast from a café owner changes everything. There is a reason he has been putting extra strawberries in her morning beverage. Will she give him a chance? Toast to Go is a cute, well written short story. I received this book free of charge through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will.