Thursday, April 18, 2013

When civil rights and forbidden love collide

"This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's, THE HELP, Julie Kibler's, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham's, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd's, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom's, THE KITCHEN HOUSE."

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"Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 - hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night' and `Easy Rider'; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you." Author Roderick Craig Low


Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother's Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.


"A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society." Hagerstown Magazine

"Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening." Midwest Book Review

"A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice." Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop 

"Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list." Readers' Favorite

"A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society." Author Rachelle Ayala

"[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time."  Roderick Craig Low, Author of 'Promises of Love and Good Behaviour'

"This book is not just a story; it's an experience." Author G.E. Johnson

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Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women's NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Megan's Way
2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women's Fiction)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

Chasing Amanda
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women's Fiction, Mystery)
2011 Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)
Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink
Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running
Indie Reader's Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)
Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda

Come Back To Me
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist, 
2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist 
2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist
2011 Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards, Finalist 
Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader
Top Ten Books of 2011, 
Tea Time With Marce
IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

The Women’s Nest, women’s social network:
World Literary Café:
Fostering Success: htto://
Facebook Melissa Foster: (Fanpage)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of: Have No Shame by Melissa Foster

I had no idea what to expect when I volunteered to review Have No Shame. I knew Melissa Foster is an outstanding author, but did not know she would sweep me into the mind of Alison Tillman, an eighteen-year-old girl with an unbridled curiosity and an innocent heart. I felt like a voyeur in Alison’s mind as she blossomed into a mature and loving woman … and came to grips with the stark realities of rampant racism.
While the Vietnam War and civil rights struggles tore at the fabric of society, changes sweeping the country passed by the community where Alison lived like the waters of the St. Francis River. As it had been since the time of slavery, everyone in Forrest Town, Arkansas, knew their place.

When Alison finds the decaying, beaten body of a black man snagged along the riverbank, she has an epiphany: her children will be born into a hateful society where violence against blacks is accepted, even encouraged. Deeply troubled, she begins a mind-opening and life-altering journey that will make her more steadfast and convicted in her belief that all people should be treated equal. It’s an uphill struggle against everything she has ever been taught.

Her brother, Jake, and her fiancé, Jimmy Lee, are among those who brutalize black youths for fun, and most of the town, including the police and Alison’s father, turn a blind eye. She speaks out timidly when she can, but is soundly rebuffed or ignored. Desegregation events of the day swirl around her, sending her life into a tailspin as she grows stronger in character and more determined to stand up for what is right.

In a community where white woman are not even allowed to show kindness to a black child, Alison yearns to know more about the dead man and the families being traumatized by Jimmy Lee and his bullies. She is driven to show kindness to the victims, even if only to say she is sorry for their grief.

Although engaged to Jimmy Lee, Alison is repulsed by his racism, drinking and meanness. She tries to fend him off as he leaves for college, but in a tragic scene reminiscent of the “Vagina Monologues,” he has his way with her. And here Melissa Foster’s writing genius shines. On the one hand, Alison and Jimmy have been intimate and planning marriage for some time. On the other, she is growing to hate his character. The internal conflict is stunning—a woman’s perspective that should be required reading for every redneck in the country.

Burdened with enormous misgivings over her upcoming wedding, Alison inadvertently meets a gentle soul named Jackson, the brother of a young man beat up by Jimmy Lee. Jackson is home on military leave. He has experienced a world where color doesn’t matter, where men of all races fight side-by-side in war, but he also knows the danger of speaking to a white woman in Forrest Town. Alison is drawn to Jackson’s kind nature like a moth to flame, and the two come to know each other through forbidden rendezvous. Before Jackson returns to the Army, Alison gives in to deep feeling of love for him, and her life begins to unravel in terrifying ways.

Alison’s internal struggle mirrors the racial struggle within the country. Her relationships with her family, her husband and her community are both strengthened and destroyed as the true nature of people are revealed by the conflicts of the time. I will not expose the turmoil Alison goes through with Jimmy Lee after her marriage, or how her relationship with her family turns out, but I will say this: if you have ever wondered what it would be like to enter the inner conflicts of a young woman driven by her conscience, then Have No Shame is for you. Readers will be both saddened and uplifted by this compelling, poignant and important five-star read … and they won’t be able to put it down until they reach the end. Bravo, Melissa Foster!

The opinions expressed in this review are those of James L. Hatch, who is solely responsible for its content.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review of: Somewhere My Love by Beth Trissel

Somewhere My Love brings back a cast of main characters from a murder that occurred in 1806. Modern-day equivalent characters are haunted by the spirits of their distant relatives, each being driven by memories and motivations of their originals. The plot builds to a re-enactment of the dastardly crime that both reveals the 200-year-old killer and re-kindles the historical romance that was shattered by it. Amid blooming present-time love, the re-enactment moves to completion … and a new body moves to the morgue.

Julia, an impressionable and innocent British teen, arrives for a summer job to assist with tours and maintenance at Foxleigh, a restored old home along the James River in Virginia. She immediately falls in love with the image in a painting of the 200-year-old master of the mansion, Cole, and sets her sights on the current heir, Wil.

In a stunning twist of fate, the characters she meets in the present, as well as herself, are not only affected by the spirits of the past, but their current physical forms bear strong resemblance to the originals. Wil fights jealousy of his long-dead rival as Julia often confuses him with Cole, her eternal object of affection, but that doesn’t stop him from bedding her.

As the entire cast of characters struggles to create a credible performance of Hamlet for a midsummer night’s eve presentation at the mansion, the original crime re-enactment unfolds. Much of the dialog in the second half of the novel is quoted from the original Shakespeare play, and the interplay of the characters is related to the play as well. Those affected by spirits move in and out of time warps that enable them to experience the thought and feeling of their past originals. Before the play is complete, the original killer and the modern-day killer are revealed … and a wronged spirit from the past saves the day.

The book is well-edited, but I found the extensive use of Old English Shakespearian quotes so distracting and heavy that I could not read this book quickly. It just didn’t hold my interest. Still, I know Shakespeare has many more fans than I, so I would give this book an overall four-star rating.

The opinions and rating expressed here are those of James L. Hatch.