A Compelling Tale of Loss and Reconciliation #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Return

by Nicholas Sparks

 

What Amazon Says

 

In the romantic tradition of Dear John, an injured Navy doctor meets two extremely important women whose secrets will change the course of his life in this #1 New York Times bestseller.

 

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

 

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved beehives, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

 

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues—until a crisis triggers a race to uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could ever have imagined.

 

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

 

My Thoughts

 

I’ve enjoyed several of this author’s books, and this one didn’t disappoint me. The myriad plot twists kept me engaged. At the end, I was afraid that one detail might be left to the reader’s imagination, but I was pleasantly surprised and relieved when it was unexpectedly resolved in the epilogue. I like how the prologue gives us an idea of how the book will end. If you like a feel-good story about loss and reconciliation, The Return is for you.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Writing My Protagonist #Tuesday Tidbit #Open Book Blog Hop #Excerpts

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Fellow blogger Stevie Turner asks this question. “Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?”

Frankly, I don’t want to understand villains. So, I write from my protagonist’s point of view. But I like to have my villain change, to a certain extent.

Take, for example, The Red Dress. After Eve, my protagonist, tells her college roommate, Charlene, about a painful memory associated with a red dress, Charlene bullies her into giving her the dress. Eve gives in, but when her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same. Twenty-five years later, Charlene is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before she dies, she and Eve are reconciled.

Below are two excerpts. The first shows us Charlene’s villainous side, where she bullies Eve into giving her the dress. In the second scene, near death, Charlene undoes what she did twenty-five years earlier.

***

“You know, I can see why you put this dress off to one side. It’s only hurting you now. Let me take it off your hands. You don’t need it anymore.”

“But my mother made it. She worked long days at her job as director of the public library. There were only two weeks left until the prom when I told her I wanted a new dress, so she stayed up nights and scrambled to get it done.”

“Oh, you poor, homesick baby. Now you miss your mommy, who made this beautiful dress for you. Are you gonna cry now? Go ahead, crybaby. Cry.”

Eve was stunned but shouldn’t have been surprised. Her roommate cared little about others’ feelings. Her sympathy and curiosity were only a ploy, and she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.

“Fine, take the damn dress. I don’t care,” Eve said before turning away in disgust.

***

Eve stared at Charlene as she lay there sleeping. Her old college roommate hadn’t really changed.

She looked around the room again. Was the red dress in the closet? She looked back at Charlene, who seemed to be sound asleep, and wondered what would happen if she got up, walked over to the closet, and looked inside.

Charlene opened her eyes and said, “It’s still there.”

“What?” asked Eve, leaning forward in her chair.

“The dress I took from you years ago in college. It’s in the closet.”

***

Thanks to Stevie Turner for inspiring the above with her Open Book Blog Hop prompt this week. If you’d like to participate, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Novel About Reconciliation #Friday Fun Reads, #Reblog

Note: I posted this review last spring when the book came out. It was recently discussed by one of the groups in which I participate. So, I thought it worth a second look.

 

Goin’ Home

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2020

 

What Amazon Says

 

Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy settle down after the storm that has almost destroyed the town, only to find that the most peaceful garden can harbor a serpent. The town is thrown into chaos, when a mass killer is returned home to die after fifty years in prison. The town is divided and they find themselves in the middle.

There is humor when the new church secretary confuses names, and sends the hearse to pick up a dog. A country music singer appears on the scene, and Jim learns a secret from the past.

For readers who enjoy the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers to which I belong. Goin’ Home is the sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze, which I reviewed here.

I was riveted from the first page. I laughed, got mad, but was finally rewarded in the end. I love the way the parsonage cat appears in the first and last chapters.  I was left wanting more.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

A Novel About Reconciliation #Thursday Book Feature

Goin‘ Home

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2020

 

 

What Amazon Says

 

Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy settle down after the storm that has almost destroyed the town, only to find that the most peaceful garden can harbor a serpent. The town is thrown into chaos, when a mass killer is returned home to die after fifty years in prison. The town is divided and they find themselves in the middle.

There is humor when the new church secretary confuses names, and sends the hearse to pick up a dog. A country music singer appears on the scene, and Jim learns a secret from the past.

For readers who enjoy the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers of which I’m president. Goin’ Home is the sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze, which I reviewed here.

One thing in this book that jumped out at me was the way Pastor Jim and his wife call each other darling. I don’t think I noticed this in Where Sheep May Safely Graze, but it might not have been as prevalent. When Phyllis was growing up, people used that term of endearment but not so much anymore. I feel that a book set in the present day needs to reflect the present times.

Otherwise, I was riveted from the first page. I laughed, got mad, but was finally rewarded in the end. I love the way the parsonage cat appears in the first and last chapters. However, I was left wanting more. I hope Phyllis will continue the series.

***

By the way, for the next month, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available on Smashwords as part of its sale to support those isolated as a result of the coronavirus situation. Please click here to visit my Smashwords author page and download these books. Thank you for reading today.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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The Red Dress #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Today, instead of a review of another book, I’d like to share a review of my own new book, The Red Dress, written by someone else. Former radio host Bonnie Blose interviewed me this past Sunday night about my writing and the book at a meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, of which I’m president. Since Bonnie write such wonderful reviews for a book discussion email list to which I subscribe, I asked her to write a review that I could post here, and she did. Please note this contains spoilers. Enjoy!

Bonnie’s Review

Is there a piece of clothing which brings painful experience flooding back? Does it symbolize the power of love and heartbreak for you?

In her new novel, The Red Dress, Abbie Johnson Taylor creates this moving scenario through just such a dress created for her main character, Eve Barry, for her high school prom.

Who hasn’t dreamed of all the senior prom will be? While it may not turn out as the beginning of a romance that will last for life, it is filled with romantic dreams and expectations long cherished and planned.

For Eve Barry, the prom ends in tears and heartbreak. She discovers her date and best friend in each other’s arms, acquainting her with hurt and heartbreak she will never forget.

Twenty-five years later, Eve has moved on. A successful writer of young adult fiction, she has a happy marriage and is the mother of three. As we all do, Eve receives a notice of the upcoming class reunion, but she has no wish to attend. Her daughters have heard about that red dress. Daughter Julie is looking forward to her own prom and wants to wear it.

In a moment of hurt and anger during her first semester of college, Eve’s roommate borrows it  to attend the homecoming dance Eve has no desire to attend. With one word, the dress is gone.

Life is filled with regrets over things we have done and choices we have made. Objects of significance play an important part in our memories as this red dress certainly does for Eve. Is it possible Charlene still has the dress? Should she try to get it back for her daughter? Will seeing it again bring painful memories  back?
One day, while going through email, Eve receives a friend request on Facebook from Charlene she accepts. Soon, she  discovers Charlene has a daughter  Brenda the same age as her younger daughter Ashley. Brenda and Ashley begin exchanging messages and become fast friends.

Ashley tells her mother something is not right with her new friend Brenda. She never leaves the house, preferring to stay with her mother. When they learn Charlene has a short time to live, Ashley wants desperately to go to California to meet and support her friend.

Eve wants to go but knows she has trouble at home. Her older daughter Julie has just begun a new  relationship with the son of her former best friend Adele who betrayed her on that long ago prom night. Now seventeen, Julie is going through the rebellion and angst so often a part of adolescence. Eager to make her own decisions, she clashes with her mother over everything. Maybe it would be best if they had a little time apart!

Eve is experiencing doubts about her marriage, too. Why is Greg so distant? Will he grow close to Chad’s mother as Julie is doing with Adele’s son Chad? Will she have a similar experience with pain and heartbreak her mother had at the same age? Is it possible some trips should not be taken, or must faith be found in the opportunity to mend fences.

Eve and Ashley go to California to spend time with Charlene and her family.

In the end, we learn  Charlene’s husband and children understand the place they have in her life. It is true. Some people love themselves first and foremost and only. Can you ever be complete or happy if dreams remain  unrealize?  Most of all, is it possible for those dreams to have more importance than love? It is a question many of us might ask ourselves late at night when time for deep and reflective thinking is with us as our only  companion.

Taylor’s novel is emblematic of life. Through growth, we may know ourselves better but learn hard truths and the importance of forgiveness. Wisdom and knowledge of ourselves or others does not guarantee happiness any more than forgiveness will, but it is the first step in living which comes with  nothing promised except the opportunity to do and be our best.

 

Bonnie’s Biography

I grew up in Slatedale, Pennsylvania with two fabulous storytellers. For 15 years, I cohosted Jordan Rich’s book show nights on WBZ. From 2006 to 2013, I was the host of the show Books and Beyond on Acbradio.org.
My memoir, “The Art of Dying,” was a winner in the nonfiction category of the NFB Writers’ Division competition, eventually appearing in Magnets and Ladders. In 2019, I received first place for my story “A Heartfelt Revenge” in the NFB’s Writers Division competition fiction category.
I enjoy reading, listening to music, podcasts, and have lived in Ohio since 1982. I am proud of being owned by my cat almost. My son Kevin lives in a nearby town.

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

My Other Books

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
We Shall Overcome

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