Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Rating:           10

General Rating:  A hat trick! This is the third ten I’ve given Fredrik Backman. Appropriately, it’s a hockey story. Backman keeps outdoing himself.

Skip factor:  Another one where I skipped nothing. Not a word.

Favorite line: “It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.”

Who should read:  Anyone—especially members of athletic families.

Summary: People in Beartown live and breathe hockey, so when the deteriorating little town realizes their junior ice hockey team has the talent to win the national semi-finals, residents experience a sense of revival. Then tragedy strikes. One of the team’s members is accused of a violent act. And it isn’t just any team member. It is the best player and son of the team’s biggest sponsor.

This isn’t simply a story about hockey. It’s the story of a town, of friendship, of right and wrong. Quietly, Beartown highlights the differences between being raised female versus male. And loudly, it touches the subject of worshipping male athletes to a point where some people allow the line between right and wrong to fade.

This book makes a reader question love and loyalty. When is it good? And when is it errant?

Characters:  He’s done it again, had me loving multiple characters. Before I reached page 127, I knew I would rate this book a ten. But on that page, when Kira says, “Oh Fatima, I should be asking if I could sit next to you,” I realized Backman had me falling in love with characters all over again. Like a repeat of A Man Called Ove and Anxious People, one by one they captured my heart.

All of Beartown’s characters are quirky, interesting, and deep. I loved Maya, Ana, Sune, and Benji from their introductions. I fell head-over-heels for Ramona on page 352 and Amat on page 353. Then as if I wasn’t close enough to the end and all out of affection, I fell in love with Bobo on page 374, and Jeanette and Adri on 393 and 394.

There were other characters who had defining moments, like Tails and Kira. You’ll love the masses.

Writing:  The writing is magnificent. Backman’s writing in A Man Called Ove and Anxious People was wonderful, but this book? He’s outdone himself. Never say this author can’t write a better book. He keeps turning them out.

Read this author again?  Absolutely. I am patiently awaiting the arrival of Us Against You and Britt-Marie was Here.  And since I’m a digital-book junkie, you know it’s my favorite author when I order a paperback. They’ll be dog-eared, highlighted, and worn from use.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here.

Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

9.5

Snow Falling on Cedar by David Guterson

Rating:                              9.5

General Rating: It’s as if I just finished a classic. This book is tremendous.

Skip factor:  I skipped about 4%, when the author elaborated on fishing and the area. I anxiously scanned ahead to read more about Ishmael, Hatsue, and the trial.

Who should read:  Both men and women and certainly, if you like the classics, you’ll love this. Fishermen, sailors, people who love islands or the coast will enjoy and may even relish the few spots I flipped quickly by. War-story lovers might like. While it isn’t about the war, the consequences of the war markedly affect the characters.

Summary: On San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, a boy, Ishmael Chambers, the son of a newspaperman, falls in love with a Japanese-American girl, Hatsue. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, the world as they know it is forever changed.

Despite being American and because of their Japanese descent, Hatsue and her family are sent to live in the barracks of a camp at Manzanar. The story reveals what Japanese-Americans lost and endured during the war. It follows Hatsue’s journey along with Ishmael, who joins the army to fight the Japanese.

When Hatsue writes a letter to Ishmael saying she no longer wants to be with him and admits she never truly loved him, the passion for life bestowed on him by his parents, withers. During battle, he nearly dies, but lives and is forced to live with the consequences of his injuries. He returns to San Piedro, follows in his father’s footsteps, and heads the town’s newspaper.

Fast forward to San Piedro after the war. There, when a fisherman dies suspiciously, Hatsue’s Japanese-American husband is accused of murder, and Hatsue’s and Ishmael’s paths cross once again.

Characters:  While I can’t say I loved these characters, they inspired me and drew more compassion from me than most characters in other books. Ishmael and Hatsue along with Hatsue’s husband, the charged man, Kabuo, showed great strength throughout life, perhaps Kabuo more than the other two. They were realistic, well-developed souls.

I respected the main characters along with the others on the Island, who came and went with eloquent timing and description. In particular, I liked Ishmael’s mother, who, in her few lines, displayed an easy acceptance of, yet zest for life.   

Storyline: At the risk of being repetitive, I’ll say this is a touching story, many times told, but from an unusually eloquent writer. It reads like a classic. It’s a tale of love, loss, the consequences of war, culture, and discrimination—“the course of things.”

Writing:  The writing is magnificent, and I’m in awe of this author. While I called attention to his wordiness regarding the fishing and the sea in my skip factor, this is truly the fault of the reviewer not Guterson. (I give it a 9.5 instead of a 10 only because of my shortcomings.)

This novel truly deserves its awards and accolades.

Read this author again? Oh, my goodness, yes.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Rating:           10

General Rating:  Finally! A book that makes sense out of the senselessness of anxiousness. I LOVED this book and give it a ten—and I don’t hand tens out easily. This will go down as one of my all-time favorites. The writing is magnificent; the characters, irresistibly lovable; and the storyline, hilarious at times and teaching at others.

Skip factor:  Not. One. Word.

Favorite line: “Do you know what the worst thing about being a parent is? That you’re always judged by your worst moments. You can do a million things right, but if you do one single thing wrong you’re forever that parent…”

Who should read: If you like fabulous writing in laugh-out-loud books or outlandish stories with quirky characters, you’ll love this.  And if you’re anxious, you’ll love. And if you’re an idiot, you won’t be able to put down.

Summary:  This story is about a bridge. And life’s puzzle pieces. Simply, a boy attempts to save a man’s life but the man jumps off a bridge to his death. Later, the boy does save a girl from ending her life on that same bridge, but the boy’s never able to forgive himself for not being able to save the man. He grows up to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a good cop. And a good person. If not an anxious person.

Enter a tired, anxious, idiotic bank robber who has two children, is divorced, has been fired, and needs $6,500 for rent.

When the bank robber—who robs a bank with no money—ends up at an apartment “open house” near this bank, which sits across from the infamous bridge, the lives of eight anxious people converge. The bank robber holds a businesswoman, gay couple (one pregnant), retired couple, realtor, and a little old lady—the worst hostages ever—captive while sorting out what to do before the police storm the building.

What happens in that apartment is quirky, strange, unbelievable, believable, and so puzzling that readers won’t put the pieces together until nearly the final page. It’s one of those ten thousand piecers you have to be patient snapping together, but trust me, in the end, you’ll find Backman has assembled a beautiful picture.

Characters:  Very rarely do I grow attached to two or three characters in a book. Here, I loved eleven characters and a few of their deceased relatives (and friends). Need I say more? Who loves a dozen people in one book? They all had distinct personalities, were anxious, and yes, they were idiots—the good kind.

Storyline:  There is a madness to this storyline, which you might find annoyingly confusing at times, but you MUST hang in there and piece this one together slowly. Wait for it. The story is so much more than a tale of anxious idiots as it professes to be. This book tells of the essence of humans. The individuality and likeness of people.

They’ll be a point when you think, huh? But wait for it. Wait for pieces to start snapping into place.

You may need time to warm up to this one. My friend Joanne had to put it down. She said the anxious people were making her anxious. (Go figure.) She’s going back to read it now and won’t be sorry.

Writing:  I loved the writing of Backman’s novel, A Man Called Ove, but this book? The writing is magnificent. I highlighted so many sentences and bookmarked so many pages, my Kindle nearly overloaded. I’m heading off toward Bear Town and intend on reading everything Backman ever wrote or will write.

Read this author again?  Absolutely.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is anxious. She is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Rating:                              6

General Rating: No, no, no, no, and no. I don’t usually bad-mouth other authors or books but this is a hard no. I give it a 8 for writing but a 4 for content.

Skip factor:  20% At least. I skipped much. I don’t like reading the sex details between a pervert and a child.

Who should read:   For the first time I’m talking about people who SHOULDN’T read this rather than those who should. No one under eighteen (maybe twenty-one), that’s for sure. No one that doesn’t like sex scenes, and certainly no sex addicts. (Let’s not encourage them to get off thinking about kids.)

Summary: It’s the typical student-teacher sex affair. I’m not going to say much more.

I read similar student-teacher story, Choose Me, by Tess Gerritsen and LOVED it. This one? I googled the publishing company to see who would allow sex scenes between a child and pervert to go to print. Okay, they weren’t long lived, but the author sneaks in information I thought better left unsaid.

Characters:  The character development was good. Characters seemed unlikeable and true-to-life. I felt complete empathy for the abused girl. I searched after to see if the author had done extensive research on victims, but could not find.

Storyline: Classic retold teacher-student sex—not love—story.  

Writing:  This author writes well. My unworthy two cents is that she needed a better edit. (This is my blog and I’m usually cautious in criticizing other authors, but this story went too far.)

What she did extremely well was relay how manipulative an abuser can be and how devastating the consequences to a victim. For that, the author deserves credit.

Read this author again?  Not if she publishes with this publisher again. I’m totally shocked other authors condoned this.

Find another book and read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon. 

9

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richarson

Rating:           9

General Rating: Excellent writing and character development. I even loved the mule, Junia, named for the lone female apostle. (Google to verify.) This novel reminded me of The Whip, only I enjoyed it much more.

Skip factor:  Nothing.

Who should read: If you like fabulous writing about simple people but with deep meaning, you’ll love this one.

Summary: It’s the story of a blue girl from Kentucky. (There truly was a blue family in Troublesome, Kentucky, and other blues have been identified in other places on occasion. Methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder, causes the blue-tinged skin.) Cussy Mary or Bluet or Book Woman, as she’s sometimes called, takes a job in the Pack Horse Library Project distributing books to poor Kentucky families in the wilderness.

Every night her father lit a courting candle, hoping to find a husband for her, but Cussy Mary wanted nothing to do with marriage as a married woman wasn’t allowed to work for the Library Project.

The novel follows her hard life as she distributes books to the impoverished of the backwoods. She lives to deliver her books to her patrons.

Characters:  Great character development. The interaction between Cussy Mary and her dad, along with her relationship with her clients—especially Angeline and Henry—captured my heart.

Storyline: I had not heard of the Pack Horse Library Project before reading this novel. Although fiction, this story reads like non-fiction and is completely believable and realistic. The storyline follows the undulating life of the pack-mule librarian, but the way the author tells the story, how she sees the book woman’s simple life, will capture a reader’s heart.

Writing:  The writing is tremendous. No more need be said.

Read this author again?  Absolutely.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Choose Me by Tess Gerritsen

Rating:           9

General Rating: A riveting read! Loved this. If you haven’t selected your FREE June Amazon First Read yet, choose this, Choose Me.

Skip factor:  1%. Nearly nothing.

Who should read: If you like a fast-moving whodunit or a puzzling mystery crime novel, you won’t want to put this book down.

Summary: When Frankie Loomis investigates the apparent suicide death of a beautiful, brilliant college student, Taryn Moore, she knows something is amiss.

Enrolled in Professor Jack Dorian’s English class, Taryn friends an overweight, quiet boy and butts heads with several female students. She argues with them over who is to blame in the star-crossed lover tales class they’re studying. The class examines famous mentors who have had affairs with students and the outcomes of those relationships.

There’s only one direction for this story to go, right? And it does.

Taryn Moore, more than a little over the top, has recently been dumped by her high school sweetheart, and now, fits nicely into the stalking-my-ex category. But when Professor Dorian—who is married to an over-worked doctor, spending too much time on her ailing father in addition to her patients—compliments her, Taryn refocuses her stalking onto Professor Dorian. And like the classic mentors of his class lectures, Dorian makes a fatal mistake.

The story spirals forward. Was it suicide? Murder? And if murder, was the perpetrator her old boyfriend? Her side-kick friend? The professor? Detective Frankie Loomis pulls the reader along in her journey to the truth.

Characters:  This story is totally plot-driven. I made little connection with any of the characters other than the professor’s wife, whom I felt sorry for. Yet, despite not being drawn to the main characters, Gerritsen creates clear pictures of each. I believed Taryn was beautiful and crazy. Jack Dorian could have been anyone’s typical professor (until he wasn’t), and even Taryn’s overweight student friend slithered into the suspect box, Red Sox baseball cap and all.

So character development? Good.

Storyline:  Great storyline. The author doesn’t hide the fact she is copying a story that has been around since the beginning of time, she flaunts it. You know what’s going to happen. It’s one of those books you mumble, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do, it….dang, they did it.

BUT, her story-telling skills are superb, so you can’t put it down.  

Writing:  Writing is better than good. Perfect pitch between dialogue, narration, and mystery. Gerritsen keeps you guessing without boring you.

Read this author again?  Absolutely.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Rating:           7 (7.5 out of 10, or a 4 out of 5)

General Rating: A fun summer read.

Skip factor:  4%. I skipped a little, not much.

Who should read: If you are a single, unappreciated mom or a woman immersed in the dating world, you’ll like this book.

Summary: Amy Byler’s ex-husband up and left three years ago, so when she runs into him in the drug store, she’s shocked, to say the least. John, the ex, went to Hong Kong on a business trip and never returned. He left Amy alone to raise their two children, Corrinne (Cori) and Joe, and moved in with a much younger woman, as his son Joe puts it, “to rebuild his self-esteem at the expense of his family.”

With the help of Amy’s best friend Lena, Amy gathers herself together, lands a library job at her kids school, and carries on as best she can.

But when John comes back in the hopes of reconnecting with his children, Amy, for the first time ever, is able to concentrate on herself. A little frightened, she takes off to a conference in New York City and her life does a complete three-hundred-sixety degree turn.

While she had thought she and John might reconnect, she begins dating, strikes a romantic relationship, and begins questioning her life and where she is going.  

Characters:  Harm’s characters are both realistic and unique. Amy’s children and friends each have their own quirky personalities, and I especially liked her daughter, Cora, and looked forward to reading the remarks she sent her mother.

Storyline:  Simply, this is the story of a mother who finally has time for herself. I rated this a bit lower because I couldn’t identify with the main character in that, she sometimes appeared sorry that she had children. I couldn’t fathom a mother even remotely feeling that emotion. The story evolved into a happy medium between being a good mother and finding yourself, but I liked Amy the least after that.

Writing:  Writing is good. This wasn’t a page-turner, but it was a fun, easy read. While I didn’t have a passionate desire to return to it, I did look forward to finding out how the story would wrap up.

Read this author again?  Yes. I’d try another of Harm’s books.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Open House by Katie Sise

Rating:                              9

General Rating: A fast-moving crime story about the disappearance of a college girl.

Skip factor:  1% I skipped very little.

Who should read:  Mystery and crime fiction lovers who enjoy novels that provide lots of suspects.

Summary: Katie is a medical student attending a school close to her hometown. Ten years earlier, her older sister, Emma, disappeared during a college party. Katie remains friends, somewhat, with her sister’s best friend, Josie.  When a hiker discovers a bracelet with Emma’s name on it in the area where she was last seen, the closed case is opened and a flood of the past rushes Katie.

Characters:  Oddly, I had to ask myself if I liked the characters to write this. The mystery of the story captured my attention from the beginning, and the clever way Sise introduced the characters had me suspecting everyone. It was a “Maybe it’s her. Oh, wait, maybe him. Oh, no. It has to be her. Or him,” sort of novel.

Katie is the medical student. Although this story is told from the perspective of several characters, Katie, Emma’s sister, is the main character and the most likable.

Josie was Emma’s best friend and roommate. I spent most of the novel trying to figure her out, which I loved. I never trusted Josie but couldn’t figure out if she was a good or bad person until well into the novel. Loved that.

Noah was Emma’s boyfriend at the time but is now married to Josie. I went back and forth about whether he was good or evil.

Brad is the bad teacher who is charismatic but untrusting. He had an affair with Emma. He is suspect right up front—almost too suspicious. But Sise constantly brings other guilty-looking characters in then leads back to Brad to keep you guessing.

Priya is Brad’s wife. She was pregnant with her son and engaged to Brad when Emma disappeared. Although seemingly too frail to commit murder, Priya takes medication for her nerves which quickly forces readers to check her off as a suspect, too.   

Minor Characters are introduced throughout. All add to the story.

Storyline: The is a typical disappearance story but written better than many. Sise introduces suspicious characters at exactly the right pace so as not to be confusing. She also infuses the past into the story smoothly, providing hints that slowly mount until the end. The storyline is believable. I found only a few questionable spots, one three-quarters of the way through and the other at the end. Generally, I couldn’t put it down. Any slow spots paled in comparison to the thrill of the read.

Writing:  Not too wordy and not overly descriptive, which I like. Sise engages readers by constantly pointing an accusatory finger at different characters, her writing clean. She jumps back and forth between POV in each chapter, adding Emma’s past story from ten years prior here and there. It works. As a reader, I wanted to figure out who the murderer was before Emma’s backstory revealed too much. Loved.

Read this author again? For sure. Already downloaded We Were Mothers.

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. See the video of Zahner’s inspiring paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here which inspired her Dream books. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

FREE Ebook

Today & tomorrow Friends Who Move Couches can be downloaded FREE.

Help me out if you can. Purchase Friends Who Move Couches FREE today or tomorrow, Sunday, October 25th, or Monday, October 26 by clicking here.

We small-time authors struggle to make our novels known to the masses. We are one in a billion, literally. (Pun intended.) One way in which we can increase our reviews and become better known is to offer our book free for a few days during our Kindle Unlimited contract period.

Today and tomorrow are the days!

Please help me out. Purchase an ebook for $0, and share with every reader you know. (Pretty please?) Select BUY NOW WITH 1-CLICK (Not Kindle Unlimited.) If you’ve already purchased, you’ll know because the Buy now with 1–CLICK will not be an option.

Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance!

Hope you enjoy and, as always…Read On!!

Cyndie

Friends Who Move Couches by CJ Zahner

Rating:           ?

General Rating: Strong female characters and Evy. Hope you love them. (Disclaimer: I had to put my own novel in the can’t-put-down category. You’ll have to decide for yourself!)

Favorite line: “Sometimes families rise out of the ashes together. Maybe with a smidge of dirt on their wings.”

Skip factor:  0%. Of course.

Who should read:  Any woman who values friendship.   

Summary:  This is almost a memoir.  

Nikki Grey’s idea of living dangerously is not wearing a seatbelt, yet calamity always seems to find her.

Married to a workaholic, mothering three rebellious kids, and feuding with neighborhood friends, Nikki forgets her problems one afternoon by smoking marijuana. That blunder ignites a lifelong yet dormant medical condition, and she loses her driver’s license. Suddenly stranded in her home, she’s forced to stare out the window at women who have ostracized her.

Her true friends encourage her to concentrate on her health, but Nikki is her own nemesis. She embarks on a scheme to win back neighborhood friends and plunges into efforts that only end in muddying her reputation. She becomes the butt of neighborhood jokes. Foolishly, her ache to mend her broken relationships escalates.

Not until her two-timing husband asks her a question that catapults her frivolous suburban life into a tailspin is she forced to stop reaching for others and stand on her own.

Storyline, characters, and author’s note:  

While my life, friends, family, and true-life quotes at the beginning of each chapter inspired much of this almost memoir, many aspects differ. 

First, it’s true I come from a small family and am frivolously addicted to friendship, but thankfully, I married Jeff Zahner, not Mark Grey. Throughout my thirty-eight-year marriage to Jeff, I often wondered how many men would so easily smirk and shake their heads at my escapades. In other words, I married a Blake the Pro right off the bat. Jeff and I have been faithful to each other since the day we met. (He assures me I can state this. He does not want to end up a character in one of my thrillers.)

Second, I’m not a cute, little blonde like Reese Witherspoon. I did this for your reading enjoyment. Imagine the same story with a frumpy, old, nagging brunette?

Third, I have one sibling, a brother, Mike. He is married to Barb. Mike is eleven years older than me. He began dating Barb when he was thirteen, and I was two, so Barb has been like a sister to me throughout life. This is a girly book, so I made Barb my sister. The hard, tragic, almost unbearable truth is Mike suffers from early-onset dementia, and Barb, from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

I do have three children who were rambunctiously mischievous throughout their childhood and teenage years, but I am happy to announce they have surpassed their father’s and my wildest expectations, superseding us in education, strength, courage, and character. My oldest daughter earned a master’s degree and has a resume grown men would kill for. She worked in the professional sports arena (Phillies, Nationals, Orioles, Capitals, Wizards, and Rams). My son is an attorney. (He is also a poker player and pretty good golfer.) My youngest daughter grew up to challenge her father and I as much (if not more) than her two older siblings. She did become a teacher and is currently completing her doctorate in Special Education. Yes, I remain a royal pain in the butt to them, but no one will ever love them like their mother.

Finally, Jody and Val do not live by me. They were my first friends. Val and I played together in the nursery of St Luke’s Church in Erie, Pennsylvania alongside our mothers who attended mass there. Jody moved into my childhood neighborhood when she was two, and I was three. These two women are both brilliant, yet so interestingly opposite in nature that I transplanted them into my adult neighborhood. They remain the greatest of friends from afar. I love them both.

All other friend characters, from Carol and Carolyn to Doctor Jim, are real except for Evy and Ellie (who are the culmination of all my friends), and Janice Everglade (whom I hope I never meet). Reah and Natasha are not the real names of the two friends who broke my heart. Our parting was exaggerated for interest, but I do still struggle over the loss of their friendship. I have come to realize we were friends at a time when we needed each other most. I must trust God’s wisdom, wish them the best in life, and carry on.

One final note, I am truly a girl’s girl and wonderfully blessed with great friends. The one thing I am sure of in life is that the friends I do have would move bodies for me—and I, for them.   

Read on!

_________________________________________________________

CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.