Read Excerpts for Joanne’s Books! We Know You Will Want to Read the BOOKS!
“Venice?” she asked.
“Yes, Venice.” Tiffany replied.
“Are you sure about that?” Susan was incredulous.
“Yes ma’am. Mr. Allegro, the Venetian Master Glassmaker, wants me to take over his business. The small glass shop and laboratory is in St. Mark’s Square.” Tiffany, herself, could hardly believe what she was saying.
“Wow! That’s some location.”
“Yeah, only the most expensive real estate in the world.”
“I’ll bet it is.” She paused. “So, now what?”
“Well, Mr. Allegro’s lawyer wants me to go there and check out the place.”
“Huh, I wonder why he picked you?”
“Mr. Allegro wanted one of his children to learn the art of glassmaking. But to his disappointment, as they grew, none of them showed any interest in glass blowing. They became real estate agents and hotel managers instead. When he turned eighty, it became obvious to him that his children were going to sell his shop when he passed, because the location is prime in Venice, and it can sell for millions of Euros. He didn’t want that for his shop, so he changed his will. He wants an expert glassmaker to take it over and continue his work.”
“That’s quite a story but you still haven’t told me why he picked you.”
“There are a handful of female glassmakers throughout the entire world but none in Europe. He did some homework and found me. He looked at my website and viewed my pieces. That was it. He decided that he wanted me to take over his shop.”
“Wow! What an amazing story, honey. I’m so proud of you!” She was gleaming with pride for her little girl.
“Thanks, Mom.” She hugged her mother.
“Okay, so what’s your next step?” Susan still couldn’t believe what was happening with her daughter. She still remembered the day when Tiffany told her parents she didn’t want to go to college, but rather become a glassmaker. It was right after a trip to Venice that her parents gave her as a graduation present. They were both infuriated with her, but she stuck to her guns and mastered the art of glassmaking. And now her persistence and dedication were paying off.
“Well, I have to go to Italy. His lawyer wants to meet me and have me sign a temporary contract. Seems like Mr. Allegro has requested the contract to be at least six months, if I decide to take over the shop. And I need somebody to come with me. Are you interested?”
“Ummmm, let me think about that one…” she tapped her finger on her chin for about two seconds. “Heck yeah, I’m interested! When do we leave?”
“Ha-ha! I figured you’d like that idea.” She pulled out her cell phone. “I’m going to search for flights. You can start packing your bags.”
“Woo-hoo! We’re going to Venice!”
A week-and-a-half later, mother and daughter stepped onto the boat taxi and began their adventure in the City of Bridges. As they made themselves comfortable, they each took a deep breath.
“Oh, it’s so good to be back.” Tiffany put on her sunglasses and the foulard with the Bridge of Sighs printed on it that she bought on her first trip. She filled her lungs with the Venetian aroma.
“Mmmmm… and smell the Jasmine! It’s incredible! And the fresh baked bread and the pizza! Oh, this city never ceases to amaze me.” Susan mimicked her daughter.
They both just sat there enjoying the January sunshine sparkling on the emerald green canal and the picturesque colors of the different Venetian structures. Even January was pleasant in this magnificent city. As they glided on the Grand Canal, they were greeted by several tourists on different sized Gondolas. The enthusiasm and cheerfulness on their faces was priceless. They also encountered some high-speed boats that split the waters as their outboard engines grumbled.
“I don’t remember Venice being so busy,” Susan commented.
“I do. The Grand Canal is like one of our busy freeways.”
“Yes, but without the road rage.”
“Oh, trust me mom, Venetians are hotheads just like the rest of the Italians.”
Both women laughed.
“Eccoci, signorine!” the driver exclaimed as he carefully docked his taxi close to their hotel.
“Grazie!” Tiffany happily responded as she handed him a fifty Euro bill.
He swiftly assisted both women off the boat, placed all their luggage on the stone riverfront and took off. “Saluti!”
Both women waved at him.
“Wow is this the hotel?” Susan asked in awe as she turned to face the hotel.
“Yep! La Serenissima Hotel! Isn’t she a beauty?” she said proudly.
“Oh yes but it looks expensive, too.”
“No, mom, it’s actually quite reasonable. Funny thing is…even a hole in the wall in Venice looks expensive, but with the competitive pricing, hotels like these are actually reasonably-priced.”
As Lucy left the facility, she heard the echo of the automatic doors slamming shut behind her. She loathed those doors, and she was thrilled that she wouldn’t have them again. She promised herself and Tammy that she would keep on the straight and narrow from now on. Sure enough, Tammy was waiting for her in the parking lot with a huge smile on her face. Lucy had become Tammy’s prodigy. Tammy was the coordinator of the women’s prison ministry at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, and for the past two years, she would drive all the way up to Jefferson Women’s Correctional Center every other Thursday to assist and counsel the women who were interested in deepening their faith or returning to the Church. Tammy loved this ministry and she especially loved it when she reaped the fruits of her labor. Lucy was a proud fruit of labor and now Tammy’s prodigy.
“Oh, so nice to see you, girl!” Tammy cried as she hugged Lucy.
“Same here! Oh, I’m so happy you came!”
“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world! You’re starting a new life today. It’s like a
rebirth. Are you ready, Lucy?” Tammy placed Lucy’s small suitcase in her trunk.
“Oh, yes, I am!” She was ready. She couldn’t wait to begin her new life. God was giving
her a second chance and she was determined not to ruin it.
“All right then, let’s go!” Tammy started her car and took off.
The ride was a couple hours long, more or less, so it gave the two ladies plenty of
time to talk about the future. Tammy explained how things worked in the Catholic faith
especially since Lucy had expressed interest in converting to Catholicism. Lucy listened attentively to the expertise of Tammy, who had been doing this for a long time. Tammy is a schoolteacher, and highly active at St. Gabriel. Lucy also wanted to become active at St. Gabriel; she was certain that the church would deter her from getting into any trouble. (…and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.)
“Let’s change the subject. What do you want to do for work?” Tammy asked.
“Well, I’m not really sure. Who’s going to hire me? I’m an ex-con! Nobody’s going to
“Oh! Don’t say that. Have faith. God’s got this.” Lucy smiled. She was not sure of her faith anymore. She knew her scripture like the back of her hand, but lately, she felt that God was punishing her, so she abandoned Him.
“If you say so,” Lucy said, doubtfully.
“Well, do you have any skills?”
“Ummm, not really. I never had a chance to learn anything,” Lucy responded. But then
she thought of something. “Training dogs! I can train dogs, and I’m really good at it!”
“Oh, that’s wonderful! See, I knew you had it in you!”
“Yes, I suppose I did.”
“Let me think. You’ll have to create a resume, and I can help you with that. Did you
work for a vet or a pet store in the past?” That question jogged her memory. Her parents had a pet store when she was little, and she helped when she wasn’t in school. Working in the store was the best part of her life, and she learned a lot about animals.
“My parents had a pet store when I was a little girl and that’s where I learned how to
“Well, that’s definitely going on your resume. Do you have any other skills?”
Giuliana looked at herself sideways in the mirror. Wow, it’s really showing now. Just over three months and I can tell this one’s going to be big!
“What are you doing up?” Rocco asked.
“I’m just checking myself.”
He hugged her from behind and started kissing her neck. “You’re so beautiful! I always love when you’re pregnant. For some reason, I find you even more sexy.” He quickly moved in front of her to kiss her lips. “Mmmmm…chocolate eh?”
“Si!” she confessed. Anastasia had just brought her some dark chocolate. “And it was awesome.”
“Well, you are eating for two. But now, back to bed!” He loved having her home. She had worked throughout all her pregnancies, but this one was special. She was in her mid-forties, and her gynecologist recommended she take it exceptionally easy with this baby.
“Bed rest for the first six months and then we’ll see.” Dr. Cristoforo ordered.
“But doctor, I need to work.”
“No! You don’t! You can take short-term disability for now and then take your maternity leave when the baby is born.” Giuliana pouted.
“It’s going to be all right. I can take some extra shifts. We’ll be fine,” Rocco said as he patted her hand. While stuck in bed all day long, she caught up on her reading, watched a bunch of movies that family and friends had recommended, did some online shopping, and registered herself on a new website that was sort of like the chat websites where she met Aaron and Bobby—but a bit different. They were called social media. She ended up choosing SpaceFace and set up an account. Her friends who already used it told her it was safe to post pictures and other things that were going on in your life, so she began to post pictures of her family, friends, and herself. She was also making a bunch of new friends, and many of her cousins were signing up for this new website as well. It seemed to have taken off in the Toronto area. Giuliana heard the doorbell.
“I’ll get it!” Anastasia ran to open the door. “Hello, Marina! How are you?”
“Hello, sweetie! I’m good. How are you doing?”
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Five Stars! A Great Read. I liked this story, a young romance, with plenty of drama amid times of Jewish persecution.
Five Stars! War, Romance, and the American Dream. Good Things Always Happen in Springtime is a heartfelt and emotional story about a wartime romance, and the difficulties faced by people torn from their homeland. This book is many things – a romance, a history and an exposition of immigrant life during a troubled period of history. The author has done an excellent job balancing the dark and the light, and what emerges is a celebration of love and of human resilience. Highly recommended.
Teaser Read from “Good Things Always Happen In Springtime”
“During the three-and-a-half-hour train ride to London with their recommendation letters in hand, Charlotte and Georg were talking, organizing, and dreaming about their upcoming life in London.
“Oh, my darling, I am so excited!” Charlotte exclaimed.
Georg put his arm around her shoulder and pulled his wife closer to him. “So am I, my love. So am I.”
“Isn’t this a beautiful hotel?” Charlotte asked as she pulled out a picture of the Savoy Hotel.
Georg looked at the picture and said, “Oh it most certainly is,” The he gave it back to his wife. “I only hope they will hire us.”
“They will. We must think positively, my dear,” Charlotte said.
Georg loved his wife’s positive attitude. If not for that, they would not be where they are today, on a train headed for London. They were one step closer to their final destination, the United States of America. He hugged her again. No need for words.
He fell asleep and dreamt that they were still in Germany. They were married and living in the back of the shop, just as they had planned, initially. One day, while he was working on a shoe and talking with his wife, two Gestapo agents walked in and called out:
“Yes. I am he. How can I help you today?”
“We found this record of marriage today and came to investigate,” one of the agents said, as he showed Georg a copy of their marriage certificate. “Is this yours?” He asked.
“Yes, it is,” Georg replied, terrified.
“Where is your wife?” The other agent asked loudly.
“I am here,” Charlotte said as she quickly came to the front of the shop. The agent took her arm and pulled her out the door. The other pulled out a hood to cover her head and forced her to kneel. Then the first agent pulled out a pistol and shot her in the head. Bang!
Georg awoke in a panicked sweat, but when he saw his beloved sleeping with her head on his shoulder, he slowly calmed down and went back to sleep. He wondered if this would have really happened had they not left Germany. He felt a shiver down his spine, but the gentle breathing of his wife calmed him down quickly.”
Her Spanish Doll
Four Stars! Suspenseful Spice! I received an arc, this book is quite nice a little hint of suspense gives it more rewarding spice. I like it!
Five Stars! Great Read! Interesting read. I love the characters and the plot. Can’t wait for the next one!
He was parched. Just ahead, he noticed a bar with some tables set along the sidewalk. He sat down at one of those tables and looked for a waiter. He sat back and enjoyed the scenery. It was a quaint little town in northern Italy right by the Lake. Garda Lake, to be exact, and the quaint little town was Desenzano del Garda. He wasn’t there as a tourist, although the setting was perfect. The sun shone on the lake like a diamond gleaming under the jeweler’s light. Tourists walked up and down the street, chatting and taking photos. He was in town for business. He was between meetings and decided to do a bit of sightseeing. But he also needed to get away from those boring business meetings. He didn’t like the fact that he had to put on a game face every time he pitched to a new client. But that was his job and he was damn good at it. He was thinking of his next meeting and was immersed in his thoughts when he heard a voice.
“May I help you sir?”
It was like he fell out of space and crashed headlong into reality. He turned his head to look toward the voice and he saw the most captivating brown eyes he had ever seen. He blinked a couple of times and shook his head slightly to ensure he was, indeed, awake.
“Sir? May I help you?” She repeated impatiently. She had other customers and she didn’t have time to deal with daydreamers. She thought to herself, “Come on, wake up, already!”
“Yes.” He finally managed to say. He was mesmerized by this creature. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was like the scenery he was enjoying; refreshing and classic. He couldn’t help himself. He just stared at her, trying to find a flaw, but she had none. Her enchanting brown eyes, her luscious lips, her round face, those alluring curls slipping out of her bandana. She had no makeup on, but she looked like she had spent hours in front of a mirror. She was perfect. Perfection in its most subliminal form. This perfection caught him off guard and did not allow him to speak. His mouth was open, yes, but he was not able to enunciate. He wanted to tell her what he was thinking but he couldn’t. He was a stranger to her.
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With All of Me
Five Stars! Great Page turning book. Story is captivating and a fun read!!
This book was interesting. I liked the fact that heroine in this book was middle aged and trying to find herself again. Spoiler alert 🚨 This book also, addresses emotional cheating before the real cheating happens.
“She thought she saw a vague smile on his face. Was he thinking about her? He did look peaceful though, like he was resting. She knew he needed to rest and she had always made it clear to him, from day one. Thank God, he was out of danger. That was most important to her, right now. She placed her right hand on the glass and noticed the ring Aaron had given her. She wore it only in his presence because it symbolized the love that united them.
Tears rolled down her face when she realized that their relationship was over. That didn’t matter right now. What mattered now was that he was alive and that he was given another chance.
It was up to him now to realize what kind of life he was living and the consequences that came from that lifestyle. Even his wife would scold him from time to time about his lifestyle and she always agreed with his wife on that.
His wife—there she stood, also staring at him through the other window. She was surrounded by her family. The two sons he always boasted about, the youngest son’s wife and the granddaughter he loved so much but rarely found the time to be a grandfather to. She had never met his wife—or seen her, for that matter.
The only thing she knew about her physical aspect was that she had lost weight following some diet. Giuliana could relate to that because she also had lost weight, but only following a strict diet given to her from her family doctor.
She noticed that he wasn’t as dark as she; he looked more Mediterranean than East Asian. Her first impression was that his wife was a classical, humble, patient, tried, East Asian, Catholic woman.
His wife noticed that she was staring at her. Although she was very thankful to her for saving his life, she couldn’t help but be angry and jealous of her as well. She looked Mediterranean and certainly not over 40.
She could never compete with her. God, look at her, she was a beautiful, mature, full-bodied woman, full breasts, luscious lips, big brown eyes and—most of all—fair, olive skin. She was certain that out of all her physical features, it was her fair skin that had attracted him to that woman. She hated her but she had to maintain her calm for her children.”
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Traveling Boomers – First Stop: Italy
Five Stars! Yes I’m traveling to Italy! And yes, I loved the info in this book. Especially the tip about the water. Good one. I’ll keep an eye out for these vendors. What country is next?
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I love lists. Being the organized and yes, a bit OCD person that I am, I use lists for many situations in my life. For example, grocery shopping, Christmas gifts, painting a room, or writing a novel. And perhaps most importantly, as a guide for my husband to use for completing the daily tasks I assign him. (The last one really helps promote marital harmony!) Lists are important for keeping you on track with the essentials of whatever activity you’ll be doing. In the case of this book, the activity will be travel. I will discuss traveling to Italy, and the lists will be many. But in the end, we will tie everything together in a nice, little, green, white, and red Italian bow. Ah, Italy! The Garden of the World! Famous for its superb food and wine. Famous for innovative artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Dante Alighieri and so many more. But it’s also famous for its fast sports cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. And how about their two-wheelers like Ducati, Bugatti, and Vespa? And let’s not forget fashion. The entire world knows that Milan and Rome are the fashion centers of the world with brands like Armani, Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Fendi, and many more. And last but not least; Italy’s gorgeous cities like Florence, Venice, Pisa, Rome, Naples, and Milan. Did you know that Italy has the largest lake in Europe? It’s called Lago di Garda or Lake Garda. I once lived on its shores, and it is spectacular! When you reach this magnificent lake, you dive into a Mediterranean climate nestled in northern Italy. Italy has exerted a tremendous influence over European and world culture, ever since the Roman Empire which was the center of it all for hundreds of years. The beauty of Italy has been known for centuries and has captivated and enchanted writers and artists. Here are some quotes from the very famous: “A man who has not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” —Samuel Johnson “The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo.” —Mark Twain Traveling Boomers – First Stop Italy – Read a Sample… “Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” —Fanny Burney “Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” —Bertrand Russell When should you go to Italy? Baby Boomers can go whenever we like. However, keep in mind that Italy can get very hot and muggy in the summertime, not to mention the airfare can be significantly more expensive than going in early spring or early fall. Not all hotels, bars, restaurants, museums, and other tourist attractions have air conditioning. Considering this, I recommend you travel from April to mid-June or September to mid-October. Although winter travel would be very economical, the weather can vary from heavy fog in the north to heavy rain in the south, along with a snowfall here and there. Museums and other tourist attractions are normally closed during the winter season. I promise, you will have fun in Italy, especially after you’ve read this book. You’ll be the most organized traveling Baby Boomer ever! You will be the envy of your friends and family, and eventually, you’ll be the go-to person for travel advice. Here we go!
Baker’s Dozen Anthology
Five Stars! Recommended. The story is superbly illustrated, simply and clearly told and provides an easily remembered moral for even h e youngest child. You’ll be glad you included it in your Christmas story collection.
Five Stars! Highly recommended!! This book is collected escorts readers to several different countries and time periods while encountering diverse personalities. You’ll enjoy reading about Wally.Highly recommended!!
Five Stars! I really enjoyed to read. A great story. Well written and with good descriptions. This story was full of events and kept me wondering what would happen next. A great story that I recommend.
Five Stars! Excellent writing. I highly recommend this book. The story is beautiful as well as the illustration. I story a family would enjoy reading together.
Five Stars! Perfect Choice. For many years this was a regular read in my preschool class. I decided I needed a copy of this wonderful story on generosity in my own library when I started working on a children’s church series. The story is classically beautiful, the illustrations are appealing, and the message of generosity is timely.
I’m a dog whisperer…well…not really but this story was whispered to me by my precious Doxie, Wally! Can you believe it? Note: this short story was featured in a short story contest held by the Brevard Authors Society in 2017.
Hi. I’m Wally! Wally wasn’t my first name though, it was something else. Anyway, I don’t even remember my old name. It’s so long ago. I’m a red, shorthaired dachshund. You probably have read a bunch of Doxie stories, but you’ve not read mine so here goes. I was born in Auburndale, Florida with three other puppies. I was the only red one of the litter. My brother Oscar was a black and tan Doxie, my sister Trixie was also black and tan, and my other sister Stella was chocolate brown and white. Sometimes I think about them, but I don’t remember them well. We were all so small.
One day, my humans allowed me to leave the house. The door was open, so I went out for a walk. Well, I was out for a long time, and after a while I wasn’t near my house anymore. I couldn’t even smell my house. I was in a big yard with a big building and a bunch of those moving things on wheels that make a whole lot of noise when they move. I hate those things! I hate them so much that I try to chase them, but they go way too fast for my little legs. As it became dark, I found a place to sleep inside a broken box.
My growling stomach woke me up in the morning. I wandered around looking for food. I was beginning my search when a human lady saw me and picked me up. “Well, aren’t you a beautiful little dog!” she said to me.
I barked back, but then she held me in her arms, and I felt something beating. I liked what I heard, so I licked her face. “Oh, you must be hungry!” she said to me and I licked her even more. Yes, I was hungry! I was very hungry!K
“Let’s get you home and I’ll give you some food,” she said, as she placed me in the back of her big moving thing. I had never been inside one of those things. After a few minutes of it moving, I didn’t feel very well so I threw up. Then, I found a nice warm corner and stayed there until the thing stopped. “Oh, you poor thing! You got car sick! I’m so sorry, little guy,” she said to me when she picked me up and brought me inside her house.
She put me down on the cold floor and started searching for stuff in her cupboards. Then she placed a dish of food down for me to eat and another dish with water for me to drink. I ate everything up very quickly, so she gave me some more. Then I went to her feet and tried to jump up into her arms, but she ignored me. She was talking into a small square box. That was silly, I thought. What could possibly be in that little box? Were humans able to become small to fit inside those things?
While she was talking on that box, she picked me up and placed me on her lap on the couch. I know what a couch was because we had one in our old house. I remember all of us climbing up on the couch and sitting with humans. It was my favorite thing to do. When she was done talking on that box, she put it down and began talking to me.
“Well, first things first. Because I found you in a Walmart parking lot, I’m going to name you Wally,” she said, as she softly petted my head. I liked that. “Do you know who that was on the phone? It was my friend Maria. She has a dachshund rescue and she’s going to take care of you and eventually adopt you out.”
I didn’t know what adopt meant, but her voice sounded soothing, so I guessed what she was saying was all right. A few days later, I met Maria. She was really nice. She had a bunch of dogs just like me at her house. We had such a great time together; we ate, we played, we slept, and we went for walks around the house. One day, Maria brought me to a strange place. I didn’t get good vibes in this place. Some lady took me from her and put me on a high cold table. Then, somehow, I went to sleep. When I woke, I felt weak. I didn’t feel like playing or eating or walking; all I wanted to do was sleep.
I felt weird, but I figured it was nothing. In a few days, I was back to normal. Maria took all of us to a park, along with the rest of the dogs. There was a male human there with a female dog that looked like my sister Stella, but her name was Bella. How odd that was! Bella and I played together, and she was very motherly to me. I suppose she felt like I was her pup. We hit it off. I liked the man human too, he was very gentle.
Then a few more days passed, and I traveled quite a bit. We arrived at another human house. That same human man came out to greet me and so did Bella. I was very happy to see them again. Then another female human came out to greet me. She picked me up and hugged me tight. I squirmed at first but then I felt comfortable in her arms, so I stayed there. “Oh my, you’re such a beautiful dog. You’re so sweet! You know, I love you already, Wally!”
As she spoke, I licked her again and again. “Well, Honey, it looks like Wally loves you too.” The male human said. I agreed with him and I licked Honey over again. A few months went by. Bella and I were the life of that new house. We did everything together; we ate, we slept, we played in the backyard, we went for walks with our humans, and my favorite, we watched that colorful picture box at night, sitting on the couch and snuggling with our humans.
I usually sat on the male’s lap and Bella usually sat next to Honey. One day, the male human, whose name was Dan, went away with a big moving thing. I hated that big thing and I didn’t want it to take my Dan away, but I couldn’t do anything about it. One afternoon, Bella, Jo (I found out her name wasn’t Honey, but Jo), and I went for a walk. It was very hot. While we were walking, I heard another dog barking from far away. That bark was scary! Bella assured me there was nothing Baker’s Dozen Anthology – Read A Sample to worry about, because the dog was far away. When we turned around to go back to our house, I noticed the dog trying to come out of the fence.
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