Blog Tour & Book Review “Waiting for Aegina” The Gift Series #LoveBooksGroupTours

waiting for aegina

Many thanks to Kelly and Love Books Group for including me in this book blog tour!

Waiting for Aegina takes us back to the family and friends saga picking up the story where its predecessor, Evanthia’s Gift, left off.

It is the beginning of the 21st century and friends Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy & Mindy are entering the next stage of their lives – as wives, mothers and business women. Affectionately known as the Honey Hill Girls, after the street where they grew up together, their friendships and love have strengthened with time and different experiences.

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Sophia, now very happily married to childhood sweetheart and Demi’s brother Dean, is still grieving for her mother Ana and worried for her father Alex.  She is also battling with her teen twins from her first marriage, who miss their father since his death and resent her marriage to their “Uncle Dean”, running her successful dance studio and she is heavily pregnant!

Demi has grown from a feisty youngster into a self assured woman, with a Greek fiery temperament and a fiercely protective streak for all those that she loves.  Her children are growing and the business that she runs with her husband Michael and brother, Dean is going from strength to strength – a vineyard that holds weddings and functions in a recently restored Carriage house.  But Demi and Michael are spending more and more time concentrating on their separate areas of the business, and Demi feels estranged from her adored husband and jealous of anyone else spending time with him – particularly his demanding mother!

Donna, the former high school cheerleader/Prom queen married to the football team captain/Prom king, is a teacher with 2 sons.  She has reached her forties and is feeling disillusioned with her marriage as husband Richie lavishes more attention on his sport, car and beer bottle than on Donna and the family.  The attention he focuses on elder son RJ – a keen sportsman like his father – is in direct contrast to the lack of interest that is shown towards younger son Anthony, a sensitive boy who enjoys art, theatre and music.  Donna struggles with her husband’s attitude toward their youngest and his derogatory comments about Anthony’s interests and gentle character.

Amy is now a successful lawyer turned politician, married to Ezra and mother to son Adam.  She is hiding a secret from her past that only Sophia knows – a son born 20 years ago and given up for adoption to a Greek family – but his father is a secret that Amy has never shared.  When her son, Sam, contacts her, Amy is delighted to get to know him through letters and phone calls. But before she has found the right time to tell Ezra and Adam about him or to even meet him face to face, the story has broken in the press that Congresswoman Amy had an illegitimate child and that the father was a now senior Congressman.

Mindy is the only one of the Honey Hill Girls to have never married, having put her soul into the building of her now successful dress design label Bloom.  She has been in love. Nightclub owner Tyler loved Mindy and wanted a life with her, but her long working hours and devotion to her work killed the relationship.  Several years later a chance encounter with Tyler gives Mindy a glimpse of the life that she could have had – marriage and his children.  She takes off to Greece to “grieve” and meets the dashing Apollo, but can this become a long distance relationship or will their differences make it doomed from the start.  As Mindy’s career goes from strength to strength, she despairs that she will never experience in her personal life what friends Sophia and Demi have.

The women’s lives move in different directions but remain intimately connected as they love and support each other through births, love and loss.

My review of the first in the Gift trilogy Evanthia’s Gift can be read here and whilst this book can be read as a stand alone……please, please, please read it as a sequel!  I gave the first book 5 stars and absolutely adored the characters, the settings, and the story telling – so I started the sequel with excitement but also trepidation.  Would it match up to the first novel?  Would I enjoy it as much and feel the characters in the same way?  Would I be inspired?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, yes, yes!  This book is written around the five friends, whilst the first concentrated on the stories of the first generation Greek families, and each chapter is titled with a different friend’s name – Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy or Mindy.  Sophia and Demi featured heavily in the first book, so it is lovely to get to know more about the other friends in this novel and the author gives us some more of their back stories whilst delivering the individuality of the characters.  When I feel that I could be friends with a character, that I think about the people as I go about my day to day life and I might even dream about them – then I believe that the author has really succeeded in creating something special.

There were so many aspects of this book that appealed to me – but as a woman of a similar age with growing children, I identify with these women.  I know that the author’s inspiration came from a group of close school friends and a reunion (see her facebook page), and I have also recently returned for a 30 year reunion with both old school friends and my nurse training set.  The feelings reignited with people who you have grown up with or spent informative years of your life cannot be underestimated – it just happens that these women have remained in each other’s lives and those feelings have only strengthened over the years. Love, loyalty, strength and friendship

Ms Kammenou tackles both the joyful aspects of family and friendship, but she doesn’t shy away from difficult aspects of real life.  This novel tackles depression and counselling, domestic abuse, sexuality, devastation from a road traffic accident, politics, suicide, separation and bereavement.  As the mother of a young gay man, I was particularly moved by the story of young Anthony’s sexuality and the difficulties he and others experienced.  This is very different to my own family.

Once again I laughed with these ladies, but I also cried with them.  Their characters grow throughout the book and the author describes real life, not sugar coated, warts and all.  I loved this sequel and can’t wait to get my hands on the final book in the saga.  A great warm, emotional family saga to pack in your suitcase this summer!

I forgot to mention that once again Ms Kammenou demonstrates her wonderful Greek heritage with beautiful descriptions of Greece but more importantly of the food preparation.  Then interspersed with the chapters are recipes and directions to make the dishes, and they are so mouth watering that my family were treated to the Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers last night!  More wonderful recipes can be found her her website.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another 5 stars for this heart warming contemporary, family novel.

About the Author:

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. cover photo 2She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

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Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Find Effie:

On Twitter: @EffieKammenou

Facebook: @EffieKammenou

Website:  www.cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com

Gift Saga

 

Book review: The Pursuit of Ordinary by Nigel Jay Cooper

I was given an advance copy of this book through The Book club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

What would it be like to one day be walking along the road with your wife, feeling the impact as a car crashes into you and then to be watching your wife cradling your dying body?  But then you realise that you aren’t watching yourself die from some faraway place, but you are actually in a body and have a voice….that belong to someone else?!

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Dan is a homeless man, wandering the streets of Brighton when he witnesses this fatal car crash and his life changes completely.  His head is suddenly inhabited by someone else, claiming to be called Joe and saying that he is the dead man.  How can this be happening?  Add into the equation the wife of dead Joe, staring at him at the scene of the crash and asking over and over if he saw it….Dan/Joe doesn’t know what is happening!  Sometime later he comes across the wife, Natalie, sitting in the park and after he speaks to her, he determines to follow her home and Joe wants to tell her that he is still here.

Natalie is stunned when the homeless man turns up on her doorstep several months after the death of her husband Joe with his story.  She surprises herself and Dan when she lets him into her home, and then into her life.  Does Natalie truly believe that her husband is somehow now inhabiting another man’s body, or does she have a different motive for inviting a stranger into her home?  Does she even understand this herself – after all she is a grieving widow?  As Dan starts to open up about his life before he found himself on the streets, is it possible that Natalie can help him to find his way home again?

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This is a beautifully crafted surprise of a book.  The storyline is actually very simple, dealing primarily with human relationships and emotion. The writer manages to explore bereavement, grief, love and anger, whilst also including domestic abuse, family conflict, manipulation, miscommunication and mental illness.  The growing relationship between Natalie and Dan is fascinating as they learn to trust each other and themselves.  They are flawed characters and yet the way that they change and grow made me alter my opinions of them along the way.  Mr Cooper has written these characters with such compassion and tenderness that it is impossible not to care for them.  I felt that this care was also shown toward the secondary characters – Dan’s father, Natalie’s parents and even Joe’s mother.

This book is not what it seems to be at the outset.  But then the title should give us a clue, as what is the definition of “Ordinary” – it will be different for all of us.  In the current climate it is wonderful to read a novel that has such a positive and empathetic insight into mental health and mental illness.  There are surprises for both the reader and the characters as to who has the greater needs and the importance to have insight into one’s own situation.  Whilst the story is simple and focuses on these two, or maybe it is three people, there are many twists and turns that will pull you in and certainly had me hooked.

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I found this an intense and emotional read from start to finish and would describe The Pursuit of Ordinary to be absolutely extraordinary. A huge 5 stars!

Publisher: Roundfire (27 april 2018)

Goodreads Author: Nigel Jay Cooper

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nigeljaycooper/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nijay

 

Available from

AmazonUK:

AmazonUS

Waterstones

Barnes and Noble

Foyles

WHSmith

About the Author – Nigel Jay Cooper

Writer and author, born in London, England. He now lives in Brighton (via Nottingham) with his partner, their two children and greying ginger dog.

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Following on from the success of his bestselling debut novel, Beat The Rain, Nigel’s second novel The Pursuit of Ordinary will be published on 27 April 2018 and is available to pre-order now. Nigel was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the Best Debut Author for Beat The Rain. Nigel previously worked as a writer and editor for Channel 4 Television and as a newspaper sub editor.

He’s a sometime marathon runner and occasional actor and singer in local musical theatre productions. Sometimes his brain switches off and lets him sleep, but not that often.

My Guest Post on “You are Awesome” Love Letter – Do You Remember?

Last week I was thrilled to be featured on Angela Noel’s blog “You are Awesome – Celebrating Inspiring People and Interesting Ideas” as her regular Love Letter guest post.

This is actually a poem that I wrote over 14 years ago for one of my closest friends, who had just died after a 2 year battle with breast cancer.  We found ourselves in a situation that I could never have envisaged as our close friendship became one of nurse and patient.  I was recognising signs and symptoms before they were diagnosed, and I encouraged her to accept a referral to my place of work for palliative care.  The day that I called my consultant to arrange for her to be admitted and then called her hubby to tell him, I went home and sobbed.

The next day I donned my blue dress and I went to work to care for my patients and my friend.  I was the nurse in charge and had to be professional, but after handing over to the night shift I couldn’t stop myself from begging the night girls to take good care of her.  She came home the next day, a Saturday, and died at home the early hours of Tuesday morning.  She was 37 and had the most beautiful smile in the world.

Please visit Angela’s post to read my full poem:

Love Letter : Do You Remember?

and have a look around the blog as Angela is one of the most inspirational and beautiful writers that I follow.  Thank you Angela for having me!

The-MondayMotivation

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! #Valentine’sDay

Love is in the air…..well it is Valentine’s Day this week anyway, and I hope that love is in the air for you, whether it be romantic or otherwise.  February 14th has never been a huge deal in our house – I don’t think Dad has ever sent Mum a card let alone flowers.  I have had flowers and cards over the years…and the occasional meal out – but I think after a particularly memorable night, crammed between 2 other couples in a Chinese restaurant and listening to their conversations as we couldn’t hear each other, the consensus was better to stay at home. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We might have passed this on to our kids having just mentioned it to one son, who looked at me as if I was mad even mentioning doing something to mark the day.  Funny thing is we are going out this year – hubby is taking me to a live RSC streaming of Twelfth Night….might even get a McDonalds out of it if I play my cards right (are they gluten free I wonder?!).

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Monday Magic - Inspiring Blogs for You!Valentines (1)

So fingers crossed the current flare of POTS symptoms have passed by Wednesday otherwise he will be taking his daughter or mother in law!!  Talking of POTS – that is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, not the cooking variety – I saw the online community working at its best over the weekend.  A member of a POTS group put up a very distressed post that signalled an intentional overdose of drugs was being taken – the members of the group went into overdrive to find out where this person lived in the world, making contact with personal friends to check on them, calling on Facebook to help via the reporting suicidal thoughts, and sending message after message of support and hope.  I am so pleased to report that a message was posted last night saying that a stranger had called an ambulance, and the POTSIE was safely in hospital being assessed and truly appreciating all the good wishes.  No trolls, no nasty comments – social media at its best!nope

Yours truly has been sitting watching the winter Olympics and gasping out loud.  The wind!! How are those snowboarders doing it?  I have found the ice dancing particularly inspiring – it took me back to being about 8 and reading the Noel Streatfield novel White Boots.  That book changed my life and I was going to be an ice skater!!  Dad took me to Streatham ice rink in south London, I put one foot on the ice expecting to glide away – and, you guessed it, my derriere met with a very cold, wet landing.  Bang went that dream.  But some of those Olympians are inspirational – the young Russian girls literally float over the ice with such ethereal beauty, and the Canadian pair are just something else.  A human body really shouldn’t be able to do that!! (My bendy  friends will recognise this sentence!).

From inspirational athletes to inspirational blog posts!  This week I have added in some posts for Valentine’s – they are alternating with the normal mix of fab posts from some old  pals and some new friends – some spoonies, others not!  So sit back and relax with some great Monday Magic blog posts!

https://shailajav.com/how-it-all-began-15-years-ago/

https://legallyblindbagged.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/night-to-shine-my-two-cents/

http://thedestinydive.com/2018/02/05/valentines-day-date-ideas-that-dont-include-a-restaurant/

https://ginlemonade.com/2018/02/05/anxiety-us/

https://thimbleandtwig.com/crafts/make-rose-petal-bath-bombs/

http://penny-pennystreasures.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/no-matter-how-long-winter-spring-is.html

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sweetheart-coconut-cookies

https://theinvisiblef.com/2018/02/12/overcomers-louise-webb-healing-body-turning-illness-something-positive/

http://suzyhomemaker.co.uk/valentines-day-decor-2017/

http://www.abalancedbelly.co.uk/need-talk-fistulas/

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/02/bloody-sexy-drunk-origin-valentines-day/

https://melissavsfibromyalgia.com/2018/02/08/move-every-day-and-some-neck-and-back-pain-yoga-links/

https://www.elitedaily.com/p/i-cant-afford-a-valentines-day-gift-so-instead-im-planning-adorable-surprise-for-my-so-8138638

http://ladyjaney.co.uk/5-blogging-goals-2018-dares-wins/

http://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/valentines-day-blood-orange-cocktail

https://bettysib1998.wixsite.com/young-sick-invisible/single-post/2018/02/05/f

http://www.lifehack.org/524580/100-quotes-about-love

https://dinosaursdonkeysandms.com/2018/02/06/dizzycast-ep-3-a-disclosing-dizzy/

https://laurenconrad.com/blog/2018/02/friday-favorites-275/

http://mummyitsok.com/blog/what-is-postnatal-depression/

Really share the love this week and share these posts, comment and make a blogger’s day!

Have a lovely week,

Claire x

 

 

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The Blessed Project

Flicking through the blog posts on the blog share threads last weekend (Big Up Your Blog), one from Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride leapt off the page at me.  She has invited bloggers to join her in a very special, positive experience – The Blessed Project.

Susie says “Last year, I posted a list of blessings and included a few photos. The exercise took me to a place in my heart filled with love, gratitude, happiness, and sparkly things. My favorite! For the time it took to create the list, it banished bad news, headlines, and normal everyday frustrations like surfing to buy the perfect gift which is as slippery as Elf on a Shelf.”  What could possible be better at this time of the year than to focus on blessings…and some photos to embarrass your kids??

So where shall I start?

My family naturally…..hubby Duncan puts up with a lot, particularly on those flare days when I am horrible to be around, but he is always there.  He spends half his life running me to different hospitals across London and never (well almost never) complains and is always there to pick up the pieces – or just to pick me up!!

The kids…..it is challenging having the student engineer living back at home after 3 years away and my kitchen is living proof, but he is getting better at catching me before I pass out.  The middle one – do all middle children play on the old adage that middle borns have such a tough time? – is due home from uni next weekend and it will be lovely to see him (I think – dirty washing???).  We haven’t heard much from him, but presume that is a good thing – although he does send regular pics to his sister.  Finally my baby – my lovely girl.  She drives me mad with her untidiness, but she looks after me over and above what a teen should have to do for her mum – and constantly plays down the fact that she also has the same condition.

My parents – they live up the road and without them our lives would be so much harder on so many levels. Thank you, Mum & Dad!

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Their first and only selfie!

My wheelchair – yes really!  It has given me a new lease of life as my mobility has decreased and pain has increased.  I have spent the last few years struggling to maintain some independence and to walk.  But the back pain initially and then the disabling effects of 2 back fusions (they really did add to my problems) and more hip dislocations have led to first funky walking sticks, then Smart crutches and now my wheels.  Not what I wanted during my 40s, but I can go out and join in! My eldest plans on taking me ice skating in it but I didn’t like the wicked glint in his eye when he suggested it!!

Friends who don’t give up on me when I blow them out, who stick by me and let me feel like the woman I used to be.  I also am very blessed to have a whole virtual friends family – bloggers and the chronic illness community who give such support and friendship…and “get it”!  Meeting with online Book Club friends at our annual birthday party was a treat.

I feel blessed to have found some kindred spirits this year at our EDS UK support group.

My furry friends – we have been blessed with some extra time with our elderly mutt, Sam, due to an understanding vet and painkillers (yes, for the dog!); but also our surrogate dogs, Chester who I love like my own, and Prince – both come round every week for walks with hubby and cuddles with me!

Samson

Samson

30 years on – meeting up with old school friends and feeling the years just slip away.  Hopefully staying in touch….have already met up with one and his family.Class of 87 pic

Finally….staying with the old school theme, I feel very blessed as the Chair of our alumni committee to have been invited to some wonderful events (Henley, the school drama) including the beautiful Carol Service last night in the parish church.  Talking to some of the parents and staff after, over mulled wine and mince pies, we all said that whether we were religious or not, it was a lovely way to start Christmas proper – putting aside the commercialism for just a short time and enjoying some true Christmas spirit.  There just might be a bit more of this spirit at the pub next week when I go to the One Term On event, for the youngsters returning after their first term at university…..won’t be staying too long as this old bird might really cramp their style!!!

 

Why don’t you link up your blessings with Susie?

Join the Blessed Project and Get Featured!

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The Blessed Project