Tag Archive | romance

Book Review – Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges

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After reading the synopsis of Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book One) by Patrick Hodges, I was compelled to download the book and give it a go. Even so, initially I wasn’t sure how captivating a story about middle schoolers would be for an older reader like myself. But with each increasingly eager page-turn, I became all the more invested in the story and the plight of the characters.

The story centers on Joshua and Eve, two eighth grade students on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: he, a small-for-his-age social outcast; and she, a beautiful A-crowder, newly minted by the school’s it-girl Rhonda.

My heart immediately went out to Joshua, a victim of bullying—something that has plagued him for his entire middle school existence. The psychological effects have been relentless and lasting, not only from living in constant fear of the next assault (courtesy of chief tormenter Brent and his band of cronies), but also from having been ostracized by the entire student body, including those he had once considered friends.

Joshua’s and Eve’s worlds are forced to collide in Science class, where much to their dismay, the teacher pairs them up as lab partners. Beyond horrified with the arrangement, Eve is none too subtle in her vocal objections. As expected, this sets off their teamwork experience (or lack thereof) on rather uneven, uncomfortable footing.

But neither of them would be prepared for the life-altering journey on which they were soon headed.

Always a glutton for a good love story, the one that gradually buds and then all-out blossoms in Joshua’s Island had me smiling my head off every step of the way. There’s just something about young love, and the way it’s written here in particular, that tugs at the heart strings like no other. The honesty. The awkwardness. The innocence. The sweetness. The sigh-inducing, chest-panging “awwww” moments that I’ll admit had me tearing up on more than one occasion.

Although Joshua and Eve are the driving force of this story, there are several supporting characters that also become crucial to its impact and momentum. Deservedly, some of these stand-outs get their own story in subsequent books in the series, and I look forward to reading them all.

When it comes down to it, Joshua’s Island is much more than a love story. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, forgiveness, righting wrongs, good versus evil, and standing up for your convictions no matter the consequences. The lessons to be learned are invaluable, and you will walk away from this book not only contemplating how you treat others, but inspired to pay it forward.

Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for many, including myself, and based on the depth and authenticity of the characters and plot, I would imagine that Patrick Hodges was writing from a very personal place. In doing so, he has undoubtedly given hope to others who have experienced similar harassment and abuse, as well as the comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Needless to say, I adored this book and will be passing it along to my teenage daughters to read next. I just know they’ll love it too.

Please do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Joshua’s Island today.

Get in on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

Get in on Audible

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Patrick Hodges, visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com

 

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My 5 Fave Films for Seasonal Swooning

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To me, there’s just something about the holiday season that screams, “Romance!”

Granted, by February my penchant for flip flops and beach-combing has me cursing winter’s frost with a teeth-chattering “damn you!” vehemence.

But, in December…

There is magic to be had.

Specifically, yuletide movie magic. The heart-swelling, tummy-tumbling, butterfly-inducing variety.

Of course, this doesn’t in any way diminish my overwhelming love for all things bookish. Still, holiday-themed romantic movies always manage to hit me right in the ol’ ticker. Between the elaborate sets, twinkling lights, pirouetting snowflakes, hearthside snuggles, hot cocoa mustaches, trees trimmed to ooh-aah perfection, and the lip locking powers of mistletoe…

I am in holiday hog heaven.

And if spending the twelve days of Christmas perched in front my DVR is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.

So, with that in mind, here are my…

5 Fave Films for Seasonal Swooning

(warning: may cause intense warm fuzzies)

5. Bridget Jones’s Diary

Swoon-worthy quote: “I like you very much just as you are.”

One word… Colin Firth. No wait, that’s two words. One name? No, that’s not right either. Oh, never mind. My brain is mush.

See? This is what Colin does to me. As soon as he graces the silver screen (or any screen for that matter), I am a puddle of goo on the spot. He’s got the brooding, respectable, good-guy routine down to a tantalizing T.

Oh, right. There are other people in the movie too. Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant round out a well-crafted cast.

This film is a clever, hilarious, modern-day take on Pride and Prejudice. Does it resort to outrageous, cringe-worthy silliness at times? Yes. Is it terribly realistic? Not exactly. Yet, somehow, it all works with a certain je ne sais quoi, to the point where I’ve practically worn out my DVD from repeat viewings.

4. The Holiday

Swoon-worthy quote: “I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives.”

As far as movie roles go, Kate Winslet sure knows how to pick ’em. I honestly can’t think of a single film she’s appeared in that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.

(Hums the score to Titanic)

Anywho, The Holiday is so undeniably charming that even my husband likes it (and he usually rolls his eyes while simultaneously blowing raspberries during “chick flicks”). It stars (along with Winslet) Cameron Diaz, Jude Law (those eyes!), and Jack Black—who is, to my pleasant surprise, utterly sweet and appealing here.

In a nutshell, the story follows two women in the thick of guy-problem suffrage, who swap homes (and countries) in order to clear their heads and, with a little luck, embark on journeys to healing.

From the get-go, you pretty much know how the story is going to end. But, trust me, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

3. Serendipity

Swoon-worthy quote: “Maybe we’re lying here because you don’t wanna be standing somewhere else.”

Fate. Does it really have the power to guide us toward the people we’re meant to be with? I believe it does. As a matter of fact, I know it does.

John Cusack (whom I’ve fawned over since The Sure Thing) and Kate Beckinsale (how adorable is she?) play Jonathan and Sara, who, despite obstacles of time and space, are unable to quell a mutual longing forged from a single, magnetic, chance encounter.

These would-be lovebirds are so wholesome and endearing that you can’t help but teeter on the edge of your seat, rooting for them every step of the way.

Passion vs. predictability. Which would you choose?

If you’re keen on uplifting, enchanting, seasonal whimsy, then this movie is right up your alley.

2. Love Actually

Swoon-worthy quote: “To me, you are perfect.”

Though touted by many as being the most romantic movie in the history of lovey-dovey cinema, I was initially skeptical. Not typically a fan of ensemble-cast, multiple storyline theatricals, I almost skipped this production altogether. But, then I remembered…

Colin Firth is in it.

Need I say more?

So I gave it a go and, holy swoonmuffins, was I ever glad I did!

This is holiday escapism at its finest, not to mention a prime example of movie-casting gold. Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson (love her!), the-man-can-do-no-wrong Firth, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman (RIP), Keira Knightly (on whom I have a slight girl crush), Rowan Atkinson, Bill Nightly, Martine McCutcheon, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert, Billy Bob Thornton, Denise Richards, and Rodrigo Santoro all lend their acting chops, resulting in a cinematic experience for the ages.

If you are a hopeless romantic like me, you will love this movie with every fiber of your being. Prepare to run the full gamut of giggles, tears, full-bodied smiles, accelerated heartbeats, and dreamy sighs.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

Swoon-worthy quote: “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”

Sigh. I love this movie so much.

When it comes to unforgettable, cinematic-romantic chemistry, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are in a class all their own.

Each time Jimmy appears on-screen as George Bailey, you feel his words and the breaths that propel them. You join him on his quest for the American dream, through all the highs and lows—joy, hope, despondence, and desperation.

I seriously cannot watch this movie enough, or without getting a lump in my throat. Maybe it’s because I’ve been where George has been. Maybe we all have.

But there is redemption.

And Mary.

She is his rock, his safe haven, his home … though he doesn’t always realize it.

Yet her love for him never wavers.

And when George finally alights upon an angel-guided epiphany…

Well, I don’t know a person alive who doesn’t feel compelled to reevaluate their own existence and count their blessings as a result.

***************

So there you have it. Do you agree with my list?

Honorable mentions go out to Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged, While You Were Sleeping, and Happy Christmas.

With so many wonderful romantic holiday flicks to choose from, I’m sure you have your own favorites.

So nuke up some popcorn, hunker down for a yuletide movie marathon, and enjoy. 🙂

Copyright © S. A. Healey
Image source: pixabay.com

More (A Poem/Short Story)

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She kept the bouquets
Given in bloom
Before reverence was a ghost
Rancid lilies
On the bedside table
Patronizing her
With their shelf-life devotion

“Never again will I love,” she proclaimed
“Never again will I give,” she explained
“Never again will I chase the chaser”
“Stroke the ego”
“Be led by reins made from frays of detachment”

She told herself
Life was brilliant, easier
When she kept her heart guarded
Though at the point of sale
She didn’t buy
What she was pushing

Yet she existed without living
Thought without reasoning
Reached for tomorrow
Inside ancient history
Plagued by its confines
As the floor met the ceiling
And the walls closed in

She took to sand and sea
Cloud gazing in the dunes
Spongy beds beneath her spine
Bursts of freckles just a sun-kiss away
As she finally came to

Her fractured fairytale
Still pierced her mind
But its jabs were brief
And its frequency was fading

Oh, but she was slow
To usher in…him
A knight without the armor 
Bold and uninvited
Extracting her from that comfy corner
Of complacency

She took his attention
With a side of suspicion
Despite emotions upending
Without permission
Blending then curving
In all directions

Ah, but it felt too good

Too rare
Too risky
Too scary
Too much
Too fast
Too soon

She charted an escape
A path to resistance
Right there for the taking

She clung to it
Bathed in it
Slept in it
Woke to it
Gorged herself on it
And wore it
Like a second skin

But damn
If he wasn’t persistent
And beautiful
And so easy to adore

But surely
Her surrender
To that exquisite ache
Adhering to her frantic pulse
Was merely a prelude
To a greater pain to come?

No
Yes

Predictions were tangled
And often convoluted
So she took a leap of fate
For this joy was worth
Every maybe

When he showed her the stars
She was infinite
When he opened his arms
She fell home
When he pulled her close
Her body remembered
What she told it to forget
Its artful formation
Both courageous and kind

When he held out his heart
She slipped it on for size
Its perfect fit
Impossible to ignore

And when she let out her crazy
He took out his scars
And when she let down her hair
He caught all her fears
And when he kept coming back
She stopped asking why
And when he loved her
She loved him more

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com

 

 

Just a Little Bit Longer

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I’ve got some good news and some not-so-ideal news.

I’ll get the not-so-ideal news out of the way first…

FILL ME IN’s book release, which was originally slated for May 25, has been slightly delayed. I know this is disappointing, and I am so sorry about that.

I will post an announcement the moment it goes live on Amazon and all other eBook retailers.

In the meantime, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) will remain priced at a discounted 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers, and my Amazon/iTunes/eNovella giveaway winners will be announced upon Fill Me In’s release. I will now be choosing four winners instead of two {please note: eligibility for participation in all giveaways is contingent on being a newsletter subscriber. If interested, you can sign up (or opt out) at any time}.

And…the good news?

Shortly after Fill Me In’s digital release, both books in The Liquid Series will also be made available in paperback format. For those of you who prefer physical books, you’ll have the option to order print copies directly from Amazon.

It had always been my intention to eventually offer print books in addition to eBooks, so now it will simply happen sooner. Much sooner.

Which brings me to other news…

Some of you have reached out to me wondering if I had plans to do any book events in the near future. I am happy to say that I’ve recently been invited to participate in events that will take place this year as well as next year, and most will include author/reader meet-n-greets and book signings — both of which I am SUPER pumped about! As each date and event timeline is confirmed, I’ll post the details on my website www.sahealey.com.

(Pssst…for any fellow New Englanders out there, I’ll be in Manchester, New Hampshire this coming October. Stay tuned for more info!)

There is so much more coming down the pike that I’m itching to share with you. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and thank you so very much for all your support.

With warmth and gratitude,
Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com

 

 

Release Deets, A New Giveaway, & Something To Think About

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I’m sitting in Starbucks, where lately I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time fueling up on assorted coffee concoctions while simultaneously reaping the benefits of free wifi, electrical outlet privileges, and eclectic people-watching.

Leaving the quiet (albeit messy) solitude of my home office to write in a bustling public establishment wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing until a fellow writer friend suggested it as a way to shake things up and combat writers block.

And, guess what? It worked like a charm! Yippee!

But before I pickup the pace with my latest WIP (work in progress), there are some things I’d like to share with you, starting with…

A Book Release Announcement!

I am SOOOOO excited to relay the news that my second novel, FILL ME IN (The Liquid Series Book 2), will be available at all major eBook retailers–including Amazon, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble–beginning Thursday, May 25, 2017! Yikes, that’s in less than a month!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

Is it acceptable to confess that I’m also nervous? Maybe even scared out of my wits? Okay, good. 🙂

So, in honor of all the nail biting I’ll be doing over the next four weeks, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) is currently on sale for just 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers (including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc.), so if you haven’t had a chance to grab a copy, this is an opportunity to get it at a significant discount before it reverts to its regular price upon Fill Me In’s release on May 25.

And, moving right along…

I’ve got another newsletter subscriber GIVEAWAY to tell you about!

This time, I will award TWO WINNERS the following:

1.) An eBook copy of my contemporary romance novella, The High Road (not available in stores)

AND

2.) A $25.00 gift card to Amazon or iTunes/iBooks (your choice)

If you’re not a newsletter subscriber and would like to sign up to get in on this giveaway, you can do so below:

SIGN UP FOR BOOKISH BUZZ

Good luck!

Oh, and something to think about…

Last week I received an email from a lovely reader who shared her regret over giving up her dream of becoming a novelist. I was saddened by her belief that it was too late to chase her passions and incorporate them into her life. Over the course of several exchanged emails, I hoped to make some headway in convincing her otherwise.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it’s never too late. Despite dreaming of becoming a professional writer pretty much my entire life, it wasn’t until I found myself in the thick of middle age that I finally uncovered the wherewithal to do something about it.

Has it been easy? Hell to the no.

Have I contemplated throwing in the towel? Yup. More often than I care to admit.

But I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did.

If you have a dream that you’ve put on the back burner, now is the perfect time to bring it front and center.

I truly believe that dreams can alter destinies. So, I hope you keep dreaming, and I wish you every success and happiness.

With warmth and gratitude,

Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey