Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Underside of Joy by Seré Prince Halverson + Giveaway

1 Kings 3:16-28,  the Bible tells of a story of two women fighting over who was the the mother of one living child. The case was brought before King Solomon, who said he would cut the baby in two, so both women would have the child. One of the women yelled out, "Please, my Lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" After the woman yelled this out he handed her the baby proclaiming, she was indeed the child's mother (NIV).

The Underside of Joy is a heart-wrenching story of two mothers fighting over 'their' children. Ella Beene and Joe Capozzi have made a wonder and caring home for Annie and Zach. Filled with love and surrounded by Joe's big Italian family. One looking in from the outside would never guess that Ella is the stepmother, because in every single way she is their real...and only mother.

Paige Capozzi, the children's biological mother couldn't handle the stress of motherhood. Soon after having Zach, she just checked out. As far as everyone knew she hadn't even bothered to send the kids cards or called to see how they were doing. Joe divorced her shortly after he met Ella, who openly welcomed motherhood. And for three years Joe and Ella seemed to have it all. It all ended one summer morning in '99.

Suddenly, Joe is gone and Ella is on her own with the kids, helping them to deal with their grief. When out of nowhere, Paige turns up. She is ready to take her children back and is ready to fight for them as their biological mother. Ella's world is turned even more upside than she thought possible, as Paige begins making outrageous claims about Joe. Two women fighting over the children they believe to be theirs. The Underside of Joy will have you asking yourself...what makes a mother, but wait to make judgement because you might not have the whole story.

The Underside of Joy is Seré Prince Halverson debut novel. This one had be grabbing for the kleenex over and over and over again! But don't worry you won't be crying long, because you won't hardly be able to put it down!

I absolutely LOVED this book! I mean it really plays with the heartstrings. I'm not a stepmother, but I know without a doubt if I was I would be just as much a mama bear as I would be with my biological children making me relate to Ella...and if someone was with my biological children no matter who she was or how wonderful she was to my children, well she wouldn't be me and I would fight like crazy for them, so I could relate on some level to Paige! What a story! And what I've written about today is only the first layer of this amazing story! That's right there is so much more, so much deeper. Ella really walks through some serious stuff to find her way to the end. I have only good things about this book, it was amazing! This is a book I know I will be sharing with the women in my life! And I'm going to start with sharing it with all of you! I have a copy to giveaway!

The giveaway is for US/Canada only (no PO Boxes) and ends March 6 midnight EST. Please comment telling what you think makes a mother and make sure to leave me your email address. I will contact the winner and the winner has 48 hours to respond (make sure to check your spam folder cause sometimes my emails go into them). I will choose a winner using! Good-luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The 5 W’s of Seré Prince Halverson

I’m very excited to announce, we have Seré Prince Halverson joining us here at A Novel Review! Seré is the debut author of The Underside of Joy. For more than 20 years she has worked as both a copywriter and a creative director, while she raised children and wrote fiction. As soon as I read the description of The Underside of Joy, I knew without a doubt I wanted to read it! So I am really excited to introduce to you,

The 5 W’s of Seré Prince Halverson

I’m a mom and stepmom whose nest recently emptied and whose debut novel, The Underside of Joy, was recently published. I love to walk and hike, especially in the woods. I adore word games but despise any game involving a ball being thrown at me. I had a crush on my husband, Stan, in 8th grade, went to the homecoming dance with him our senior year, and re-met him at our 20-year high school reunion -- after we’d both been divorced three years and each had two great kids. (This was back in the pre-facebook era, when we’d all lost touch with high school friends!)

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Reading, watching movies, hiking, hanging out with friends and family, traveling, acting as sous chef for my husband.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first play, The Elf Who Stole the Girl, when I was seven. It starred my little sister, Suzanne, as The Girl and I played The Evil Elf. We performed in our basement for my aunts and uncles and received a standing ovation. I think that’s what first hooked me. I worked as a copywriter writing ads, brochures, websites, taglines, and articles. I worked on my fiction whenever I could, but it took me decades to have a novel published.

WHERE? Where do you write?
I used to write anywhere I could. In bed, with earplugs and the door closed, at the kitchen table or at a coffee house, in a borrowed cabin, and years ago, when I was really desperate, even at Chuck E. Cheese while my kids played.
But now I write from My Little Red Writing Hut. While I was traveling with my son for several weeks last summer, Stan and my in-laws surprised my by building a separate studio for me. I know. Lucky me.
They bought a 10X14 shed. Then they tricked it out with lots of big windows everywhere, tons of insulation, recessed lighting, bamboo flooring, and one wall covered with corkboard and wainscoting. It has a wrap-around porch and looks out over vineyards and redwoods.  I’d once mentioned that I liked red cabins, and when Stan asked me what shade of red, I’d pointed to some funky shoes I was wearing at the time. He snuck one of the shoes out of the closet and took it to the paint store to match the color. That’s my husband. And that’s my version of the Cinderella story.

WHY? Why do you write?
As dramatic as this sounds, I write because I must. Fortunately, I also love to write—most of the time.

Thank-you, so much Seré for joining us at A Novel Review and letting us get to you a little better! I love your Cinderella story! That is so sweet! Wishing you much sucess with The Underside of Joy!

Make sure to get to know Seré better by visiting her:

and make sure to come back to A Novel Review on Wednesday for my review of The Underside of Joy!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

THE 5 W'S OF Kristina McMorris

I am very excited to have Kristina McMorris here on A Novel Review today! Last year Kristina released her novel, Letters From Home, which has received fantastic reviews. I am very excited to get to know her better and to have the oppertunity to review her newest book Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

WHO? Who are you as a writer?
Before diving into a writing career, I was actually J. Lo. Okay, not Jennifer Lopez the person, just her character from "The Wedding Planner." I owned an event and wedding planning business for years—coordinating up to fourteen weddings per summer, ack!—so when it comes to literary projects, I'm most definitely a plotter. Having grown up in the TV/film industry, I tend to develop my stories as if watching a movie—in full scenes and always linearly. Writers who can hop around between chapters boggle my mind.
I also take pride in doing in-depth research, including an internment pilgrimage, vet interviews, war re-enactments, and even a B-17 ride (admittedly, more fun than work). I love delivering little-known historical facts through fictional stories, especially when they shine a spotlight on humble heroes who deserve our recognition.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Spare time? Hmm…I think I've heard of the concept, lol. Honestly, given the utterly glamorous life I lead as a minivan-driving soccer mom of two young boys, spare time has definitely become a rarity. Even now, I hesitate to confess, I'm literally typing this at Chuck E. Cheese. (With the lights, games, tokens, and all-you-can-eat buffet, I swear this place is grooming future Vegas-goers!)
In the free time I do finagle, I love watching movies (especially preceded by great movie trailers), drinking yummy wine with friends, and playing cards with my family. I taught my five-year-old how to talk smack early on, and now that he typically beats us all, I'm suddenly regretting that choice.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Six years ago I was pregnant with our second son. I was high on hormones, evidently feeling superhuman—if I could create life, a book couldn't be all that hard—when I was inspired to pen a novel based on my grandparents' courtship letters. They had met only twice during WWII before the sailor proposed to his sweetheart, uniting them in a marriage that lasted until he passed away fifty years later. My grandma kept each of his letters in a box, which she finally shared with me when I interviewed her for the biographical section of a family cookbook I was compiling, filled with recipes she had created and collected over decades, intended as a Christmas gift for the family.
I started to wonder how well two people could truly know each other through letters alone, which sparked the premise of my debut novel, LETTERS FROM HOME. Of course, the story's Cyrano de Bergerac element—wherein the soldier doesn't realize the girl he's writing to isn't the one replying—was a twist I added in the name of fiction. But bits and pieces of my grandfather's letters live on in my book, as does the initial inspiration that continues to drive me as I trudge through every new project.

WHERE? Where do you write?
After writing two full novels in the confines of my office, I splurged on a laptop to allow me to edit while sitting on our comfy living room couch. Between the gas fireplace and ottoman, as well as an end table for my mug of tea, I have now found it nearly impossible to venture back into my office—which wouldn't be a problem necessarily, if it weren't for the fact that I'm much more productive when not lounging on said comfy couch. To motivate myself, I recently bought a super-fancy chair and a super-fancy keyboard for the office…and yet, every morning, I can't help but plant myself by the fire. I'm sure there's a support group for this kind of thing.

WHY? Why do you write?
Oh, how I long to be one of those writers who can honestly answer: Because I can't NOT write. I'm envious of those people. So much so, I choose to believe they're not human.
Frankly, many days undergoing a root canal sounds more appealing to me than punching out a chapter from scratch. Editing, on the other hand, I'm a much bigger fan of. Reading my entire piece of work when it's done and polished, then feeling pleased it has turned out to be close to—or, if I'm lucky, even better than—the story I envisioned in my head…this is the main reason I continue to click away at the keys. The other reason quickly became clear the day I received a powerful email regarding my debut, sent from a WWII veteran who, like my infantry character, had served in the harrowing Battle of the Bulge: Keep up the good work, it read simply. Goodness knows, I'm certainly going to try.

Kristina McMorris is an award-winning author and graduate of Pepperdine University. A TV host of weekly shows sine age nine, including an Emmy Award-winning program, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. For more, visit:

Thank-you so much for visiting A Novel Review and letting us get to know you a little bit better! On a personal note, I think you are the first author who did answer the Why do you write that didn't say because she felt you had too. I loved reading that as I, myself have a love/hate relationship with writing and I was beginning to feel alone! Thank-you again and wishing you much success! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves By Kristina McMorris

After suffering the loss of her mother, Maddie Kern is about to audition for Julliard. Her future is full of music and promise. She lives in California with her older and very protective brother TJ who is now watching over her, while their dad is unable to face the reality of his wife's death. Maddie is secretly in love with Lane Moritomo, TJ’s best friend and is planning on keeping it all hush hush until the right time.

What could be wrong with that? They are young, in love and have their whole lives ahead of them. When Lane’s parents unexpectedly tell him a Japanese matchmaker has found him a match and he will marry in the next few months. With news of an impending marriage the couple runs off and elope. When they wake up the next morning, not only has their world chanced but the world around them has changed with the news Perl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Lane, his family and other Japanese immigrants all over the country are suddenly looked at as the enemy.

TJ angry at his best friend and mad at his sister joins the war effort and enlists. Lane’s family loses everything and heads off to a relocation camp, after realizing they can't survive. Lane determined to do right by Maddie leaves her behind. But now Maddie is viewed as a traitor by those around her and she no longer seems to fit anywhere.

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves follows Maddie, TJ and Lane through WWII. Maddie goes off with Lane’s family where his mother is less than enthusiastic to have her around. TJ and Lane both become soldiers.  I would say this is the most moving novel I have ever had the pleasure to read. I immediately loved Lane, he was  so sweet and thoughtful. The whole world was placed on his shoulders. He went through the entire novel always with purpose and thoughtfulness of those around him, a true hero. Maddie and the rest of the characters grew with each passing page, until I loved each and every one of them and their stories. Bridges of Scarlet Leaves had me reaching for my box of Kleenex more than once. A war/love story like none I’ve read before. It’s filled with tradition, honor, triumph and tragedies. I strongly strongly recommend Bridges of Scarlet Leaves.

On a personal note, I think there is something about WWII love stories. I always like to picture my grandparents and what their lives would have been like while reading them. This story hit close to home for me, as my grandfather was at Perl Harbor that fateful day. He was one of the lucky ones. For years I had wished he would talk about his days in service, make history more real for me. Through McMorris’ writings I can understand why he said nothing of the things he saw.
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