08 April 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews 'AT THE EDGE OF A DARK FOREST' by Connie Almony



Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

A modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast

This deeply compelling, raw, and insightful story of Connie Almony's, inserts the reader into Cole Harrison’s intensely troubled life… A life that’s filled with self-loathing, self-absorption, and alcohol abuse. Cole Harrison was only half a man. Ugly on the outside, and ugly on the inside. At least, that is what he thought of himself. A war veteran amputee that suffers from PTSD, he frequently has visions and nightmares of the worse kind, carries an ever-present peace-consuming guilt, and exudes a surliness that he uses along with his disfigurements to keep everyone at a distance.

Cole makes a somewhat hesitant agreement with a man he recently comes across, to try out and potentially invest in the prototype prosthetic's that this man’s daughter Carly Rose has developed. Carly, upon Cole’s insistence, moves into his mansion and life to help train Cole with his new limbs. But Carly soon realizes that Cole’s brokenness isn't just physical and that she’s unable to help this terribly damaged man.

Can Cole become a whole person again – even though he’ll always be missing limbs? As Carly draws closer to him and begins to see Cole may actually contain a heart - a package from his past arrives for him and everything begins to fall apart for Cole. Carly has to leave and now alone, Cole now faces an even greater battle than he did while on active duty. Can he battle his demons enough to let in the only one that can help? And could the contents of the package that broke his resolve, possibly be also what’s needed to pull him back together again?

This modern-day retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story was intensely heart-stirring and inspiring! Barely able to pause from reading, I was surely a captive of this heart-rending though heart-warming novella, as Cole Harrison was of his precarious mental prison. 'At the Edge of a Dark Forest' is immensely well-written, but what I found particularly engaging, were the conversations and thoughts of the characters… They were exceptionally realistic and captivating throughout the entire story! The romance was also tender, sweet, and credible, and brought an overall sheen to this uplifting tale. It is a story that discerningly demonstrates that it is only God that can renew our spirit and fulfill our deepest needs. Thank you Connie Almony for this remarkable story, that is both a tribute to the brave men who risk life and limb to fight for our freedom, as well as those who work tirelessly to help those brave men recover from the ravages of war with the assistance of prosthetic limbs. Highly recommended!! 
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This book may be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.

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GIVEAWAYS! We are giving away TWO copies of Connie's book this week, a Starbuck's Gift Card Giveaway AND also a Giveaway from Connie this week -- a $10 Gift Card to an online bookseller such as Barnes & Noble! Please "like" Connie's FB author page and let me know you did in order to qualify. Remember to leave your e-mail so that we may contact you if you win!



58 comments:

  1. NOELA what a wonderful review of a heart rending story. Connie certainly has been blessed with amazing talent, I can't wait to read more by her, :-)

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more TERESA!! Connie Almony has a true gift for writing, which is hugely evident in this exceptional story! I'm extremely keen on reading more from her as well!

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    2. Thank you so much Teresa. I'll try to get another book out for you soon :o).

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  2. Um ... I'm without words :o). I know, I'm a writer and I should have some .... but they are gone now. Thank you so much for this review. It was a blessing to write this story after having heard about and read so much of what our military has done for us. There is no way to truly repay them completely. This is just my little contribution.

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    1. haha thanks so much CONNIE... Actually that's a very big compliment if I was able to render you speechless, lol! ;) Connie, I think your story will go a very long way in helping people to understand more about PTSD as well as bringing awareness to it, so I'm sure they would deeply appreciate your contribution! Thank you again for your amazing story... I know it will stay with me for a long while. x

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  3. What a lovely review as always, NOELA, of an equally lovely story. Please hurry, CONNIE! Can't wait for your next one either! No pressure, though. lol

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    1. Thanks DIANA, it was an amazing and very touching story wasn't it! But we're not greedy so we won't put pressure on Connie for her next story... Sooo, when will it be released Connie?? ;)

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    2. Noela, the next publish date is in God's hands (but isn't everything). I hadn't originally planned to be an "indie author" so I have a manuscript (series) being shopped to traditional houses now. They are set in a college residence hall. I felt a need to address what Christians often experience in these settings, having been a resident director of an all-male dorm (and lived in the building with the guys) many years ago. I am currently working on a novel that will feature the mother of a non-verbal autistic boy. It's been a real joy to write about the blessings of my own young man in that story.

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    3. CONNIE, both those book themes sound extremely interesting... and now after having a taste of your writing, I can't wait to read them all! Praying God's blessing on your writing and success!

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  4. This is a very moving story. I bet it was hard to write but will benefit a lot of people when they read it. . I went to her Facebook page and liked it. fishingjan[at]aol[dot]com

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    1. Yes, I saw you there :o). Surprisingly, this story wasn't as hard for me to write as others. I always fall in love with my characters and love getting to know them, so the story tumbles out as if they are telling it to me themselves. My sisters have both worked with veterans and gave me insights I didn't have from my training in the mental health field--things specific to war. However, the hardest part for me was keeping it to novella length, as was the plan.

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    2. Thanks for coming by JAN! You're so right about it being a moving story... one that I think will touch many souls as they read.
      CONNIE, I just have to say... You did an EXCEPTIONAL job in keeping this story exciting and interesting while keeping it to a novella length. Not many novella's accomplish that feat as successfully as you have done!

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  5. Oh my this book looks good, sure would love to win, thanks for the chance

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    1. Good luck Shirley ... OR God Bless :o).

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    2. SHIRLEY, you can take my word for it, it really is an exceptional story! I hope you get a chance to read this wonderful book some day soon. Thanks for coming by!

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  6. This book sounds terrific.......I was married to a double amputee from Vietnam God bless you for writing this book
    Chris
    granvilleATfrontiernetDOTnet

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    1. Welcome again Chris. Thanks for joining us again today.

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    2. I imagine this story would be really special for you to read CHRIS. Thanks for coming by too, always lovely to see you!

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  7. Linda Dianne StoweApril 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Hi Connie,I would love the chance to win and read a copy of your well written book.It sounds wonderful,kind of sad but wonderful.I also love starbucks That would go so good, while reading this great book.I love reality and this sounds so very real and true.Things like this does happen and it's so true to life for many people.Blessings to you and I hope your sales soar high on this book.linda.stowe@att.net.

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    1. Yes, Linda, Starbucks is definitely a big draw :o)! I love reality stories too, especially ones that seem to find hope out of hopeless situations. I've seen real life miracles at my job in Christian Counseling and my sister shares many stories in her daily life--she is gifted in evangelizing. I hope to share stories like these with readers to inspire them in God's work.

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    2. Though this story covers emotive issues, you can be assured LINDA that it is also a very uplifting and inspirational story too! And you're so right about it being a very realistic story... I found the characters to be exceptionally so as they battled real-life emotions and circumstances. Thanks for stopping by Linda!

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  8. You know I'm not a big contemporary fan but this book was so good and it had such timeless elements. Great review, Noela!

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    1. So glad you crossed genres for me. Thank you dear one!

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    2. I'm like you in that respect CARRIE, I am such a huge Historical romance fan... but it's stories like this one that bridge the two genres with such great writing and story-line that you're not even thinking about the time jump! :)

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  9. This book is waiting for me on my Kindle. Sounds like a wonderful read -- great review, Noela!! Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Don't let it slip down too far on your Kindle before you get to read it MARIAN... because I know you will absolutely love this story!! :) Thanks Marian!

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  10. This book sounds good...I liked Connie on Facebook. :)

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    1. Oops, forgot to leave my email. debsbunch777@gmail.com

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    2. DEBBIE, hello there, and yes, it is a great read!! Thanks for coming by to read about Connie's book and entering the comp!

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    3. Thanks for Liking me. That term always reminds me of Sally Fields acceptance speech, "They like me. They really like me." Anyone remember that one??? Or am I showing my age :o)?

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    4. Debbie, this is a super read. LOL Connie!!! Noela, you do us proud with your reviews!

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    5. Connie, I don't know about that acceptance speech, but that is more likely due to me being an Australian rather than showing you your age lol!! I like Sally Fields however!
      Carrie, thank you so much for your words of encouragement!

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  11. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has long been a favourite of mine. Great review thank you.

    FB

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. You're welcome and thank you MARY! You know, I was inspired by this book to borrow the dvd off my daughter to watch Beauty and the Beast again... And trust me, it had nothing on this story! And the best thing was, the characters aren't breaking out in song constantly either, lol. Thanks for stopping by to read about Connie's story, Mary!

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    2. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite as well. I first loved the idea of loving someone for their insides rather than their outsides. But what made the Disney version even better to me was when the Beast "gifted" the library to Belle. He knew her well enough to give her the one thing she'd truly enjoy. The look on her face reminded me of how I felt the first time I went into the new book store, called Borders in Rockville Maryland, so many years ago. It wasn't very big but every inch was filled with books you couldn't reach unless you climbed ladders. To me it was like swimming in chocolate :o).

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  12. I am intrigued by this one. Thank you for the wonderful review.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks MELANIE, and I really hope you get to read this amazing novella soon!! Thanks for coming by!

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    2. Melanie, I hope you have a chance to read it :o). God bless!!!

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  13. What a great review! I look forward to this retelling of beauty and the Beast. Always a favorite story of mine.
    We all have hurts and pains we deal with. Some more on the surface and obvious than others...

    I liked Connie on FB

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Patty, you are so right about the hurts. My specialty as a counselor was working with the highly successful, perfectionistic types who were so afraid of not succeeding. They often felt they were one small mistake away from utter failure. And yet the world around them put them on a pedestal, believing they had it all. So they had no one to listen to their fears. No one understood. They need Jesus, too!

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    2. Thanks PATTY, and I'm so glad you came by to read about this wonderful story. I know you'll love it!! You make a very good point too! So often our hurts are on the inside, emotional or physical, or even both. And in the same respect, God can also help us with them, and change those hurts into something more positive. God bless!

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  14. I am interested in reading AT THE EDGE OF A DARK FOREST, because I have met and know more than one veteran with PTSD. I have visited and liked Connie Almoney's author page on Facebook.
    Kaye Whitney
    kayewhitney@bellsouth.net

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    1. Thanks, Kaye, for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the book. Thanks for Liking me, too :o).

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    2. Hi KAYE, I wish you all the best in winning this book but hope you get a chance to read it regardless. Thanks for coming by OWG!!

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  15. A beautiful review. Sounds like a deeply moving story. Military hero stories always make me cry. My brother is in the military and we constantly worry about him. I liked her FB page!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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    1. Thank you SUSAN, I've got a feeling this story will touch you too. It's very honest, and very real. I'll be sure to pray for your brother too. Bless you Susan!

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    2. Susan, I'll be praying for your brother too. Thank him for me. We own him and his colleagues much!

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  16. Would love to read this book, sounds so interesting.
    oh.hello.hiya@gmail.com

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    1. Hello there my Pinterest friend DANIE!! It's a fabulous story Danie, a very heart-warming and interesting read. Something I think everyone would enjoy reading. All the best with your entry! You just caught me, as I'm heading off to bed now. Hope you have a wonderful day!

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    2. Hope you get a chance to read it :o). Thanks for stopping by.

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  17. This looks like a must read!

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    1. mandn(at)wisper(dash)wireless(dot)com

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    2. Yes, it is and if you have a family member or friend affected by war, I strongly recommend this book as a great bibliotherapy read!

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    3. It sure is 'MANDN', and ditto to what Carrie said! Thanks for coming by!

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  18. Wow, GREAT REVIEW NOELA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a powerful story, the kind I like !!! The words exceptionally realistic and captivating caught my attention, and knowing that you made it a point to call it both a tribute to the brave men who risk life and limb to fight for our freedom and as well as those who work tirelessly to help those brave men and women recover from the ravages of war with the assistance of prosthetic limbs, I want to read this book.. You gave such a fantastic review, I believe all that read this review is going to want to read the book. The emotional impact is such a deciding factor also.. I look forward to getting to know Connie Almony, I am now following her on FB, she sounds like my kind of read .. Thank you so much Noela !!!!!
    Have a blessed day, Rosemary Foley rfoley@salemstate.edu

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    1. just so you know... silly me in a rush posted this on Carrie's page, couldn't leave the website up after reading it so I had toput my comment together on a word document and after my meeting and training, came back and went back to put my comment in, and put it in the wrong place !!!! UGH !!! Life is getting crazy lately, they are terminating my job and I have to get a new job and interview and do trainings and meetings .. don't know how I do it !!! hope I am not to late to enter for the giveaway !! Rosemary

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    2. Bless your big heart ROSEMARY!! :) You know... If you've left a comment on the interview as well as this, that will gain you 2 chances to win. Add another comment to Diana's review, and you'll have 3!! :) I'm so glad to hear you liked the review and it has encouraged you to read this wonderful book. It's a great one, and I know everyone who reads it will enjoy!
      I don't know how you do it either!! But I'll be keeping you in my prayers about this job and everything else. Bless you Rosemary, and thanks for your kind words to both Connie and myself!!

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