Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Promo: Girls' Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

Title: Girls’ Weekend
Author: Cara Sue Achterberg
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls’ weekend away, they can’t bring themselves to return to lives that don’t seem to fit anymore.

Harried Dani can’t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.
Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they’d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they’re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.

GIRLS’ WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search of who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy by an author who is quickly emerging as one of our most incisive storytellers.

Book Links:

About the author: Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com.

Author Links:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Death at a Fixer-Upper by Sarah T. Hobart

Title: Death at a Fixer-Upper
Author: Sarah T. Hobart
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 17, 2016

About the book: In Sarah T. Hobart's wickedly funny and fast-paced Home Sweet Home mystery series, small-town real estate agent Sam Turner discovers it's bad for business when her clients keep dropping dead.

Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn't exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.

Sam's trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that's more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can't help thinking it's too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she's lost more than a commission. Before Sam's out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she'll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.

~I received a free copy of Death at a Fixer-Upper from Chatterbox for Random House. #RHMystery Pack #Sponsored.~

My thoughts: This was my third book to read of the cozy mysteries I have received from Chatterbox for Random House.  I must admit this one was not my favorite.  For some reason I had a hard time getting into this story.  I just wasn't invested in Sam in the beginning.  I couldn't get a feel for her very well.  I am thinking that this was maybe no fault of the book, but the fact that I was dealing with an ear and sinus infection - followed 2 days later with my son getting strep throat.  So my focus was on other things.  

Once my health cleared up a little, and I was able to get back into the book - then I became more invested and I had to find out who and why someone was killing all of Sam's clients!  The second half of the book I read in one sitting and it flew by!  While the killer from this book was eventually identified, there is a lot of story here that is just waiting to be told.  Story involving Sam and Bernie, Sam and Wayne, Wayne and Max, Sam and her sister. .. . et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  I want to know where these are all going!   

So, even after a slow start, I would recommend this book for a quick cozy mystery.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown

Title: Girl Last Seen
Author: Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co. Teen
Publication Date: March 1, 2016

About the book: Kadence Mulligan played to a packed house of her fans Friday night.  Saturday morning she was gone.

The songs Kadence wrote and sang with her best friend, Lauren DeSanto, had made them both online sensations.  But when Lauren lost her voice, Kady couldn't wait to go solo.  It's no secret the two had a major falling-out and were barely speaking to each other.  Yet Lauren was one of the last people to see Kady the night she disappeared.

The only person who seems to believe that Lauren is innocent is Jude Williams, former outcast turned gorgeous bad boy, but he has reasons of his own for wanting to get back at Kady.  Still, he's Lauren's only ally, and together they look back on their complicated friendship with Kadence as they search for answers.  But are they both really on a quest for the truth?  Or is one of them playing an elaborate game to cover up a crime?

My thoughts: There were 4 major players in this book - Lauren and Kady, best friends since junior high but recently falling apart.  Jude/Nathan - who was Lauren's best friend before Kady moved to town.  He was kind of a dork with a "pizza" face, but Lauren did not seem to notice - until Kady pointed it out to her, as well as to the whole school.  He moved away, but is back - using his middle name - Jude - and that is not all that has changed.  He is still in hopeless love with Lauren, but has many revenge fantasies involving her and Kady. And last is Mason, Kady's boyfriend of the last couple of years.

The story is told in revolving points of view/chapters among these four - with Lauren, Jude and Mason's being in the present and Kady's told through webcasts.  Kady disappears after a solo performance at the coffee shop that Lauren works at.  Her car is at her house, but the door is hanging open and both she and her laptop are missing.  

Lauren is under suspicion due to their recent falling out and Kady's success as a solo artist.  Jude befriends her and together they start to piece together how Kady has destroyed reputations and bullied people in their school - and it is starting to look as if she has been setting Lauren up to take the blame for it all. Both her and Jude are questioned regarding Kady's disappearance and the longer she is gone, the worse it looks for them. 

This was a great read and while I suspected part of the ending - there is no way I could have predicted what actually happened.  You are going to have to read it to find out!

From the publicist: Girl Last Seen is a timely tale, tackling the relatively new phenomenon of Internet fame and the harsh realities that come with it – from the fickleness of fans to the desperate lengths some people will go to for their 15 minutes in the spotlight. Song lyrics, news segments, video diaries, text messages, and YouTube comments are woven throughout, giving the story a uniquely modern feel. The multiple points-of-view are cleverly crafted to implicate everyone and absolve no one, making readers question their own judgment, as well as the motives of each player in this elaborate game of smoke and mirrors. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Pretty Little Liars, the twisted life of Kadence Mulligan will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

~I received a complimentary copy of Girl Last Seen from Media Masters Publicity in exchange for my unbiased review. ~

About the Authors: Heather Anastasiu is the author of the young adult sci-fi Glitch trilogy. She grew up in Texas but recently moved to Minnesota with her family. She teaches creative writing at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. You can visit her on Facebook facebook.com/HeatherAnastasiu and Twitter @h_anastasiu.

Anne Greenwood Brown is an attorney by day and young adult novelist by night. Her works include the paranormal mermaid trilogy: Lies Beneath, Deep Betrayal, and Promise Bound. She lives in Minnesota. You can visit her on Facebook facebook.com/AnneGreenwoodBrown and Twitter @AnneGBrown.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair

Title: A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant Series)
Author: Mae Clair
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: April 26, 2016

About the book: Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real . . .

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer . . .

“Masterful, bone-chilling fiction…one intense thriller. A Thousand Yesteryears will keep you guessing, gasping and turning the pages for more.” —New York Times bestselling author Kevin O’Brien

My thoughts: This book starts right before the collapse of Silver Bridge so you are hooked right from the start.  It then moves forward 15 years in time after Eve's Aunt Rosie dies.  She has inherited Aunt Rosie's house and the family hotel, so she has to make some decisions as to what to do with the properties.  Her mother had moved them after the tragedy as Eve lost her father in the bridge collapse and she had not been back since.  

She arrives in Point Pleasant to discover that her Aunt's house has been vandalized - but the damage is specific to her Aunt Rose's bedroom and dark room.  The rest of the house is virtually untouched.  Suspicious about the break-in, other things begin to happen to only fuel the fire.  Notes are left on Eve's car warning her to leave; she gets weird phone calls that are just static and clicks. Eve's best friend Maggie, who was killed in the bridge collapse, had lived right next door and her mother and brother, Ryan, still lived there.

Ryan just happens to work for the sheriff's department and is involved with investigating the break-in at Eve's house.  He recommends his brother Caden for the repairs to the backdoor as well as the inside of the house.  Caden was Eve's preteen crush, even though he was 6 years older - those 6 years don't seem that big of a difference anymore.  Sparks fly and Eve is beginning to wonder whether or not she should stay in Point Pleasant on a more permanent basis.

Tied up in everything from the bridge collapse to new sightings is the legendary Mothman and the general spookiness of the TNT.  Nobody knows whether the Mothman is real or just a legend, but many claim to have seen him - including Caden - though he has told no one of his encounters. A lot of people believe that the Mothman is responsible for all the bad things that have happened in Point Pleasant. 

As Eve and her friends - both old and new - start to piece together the mystery that her Aunt Rose was a part of - superstitions and mysteries from the past begin to shed light on happenings in the present - and Eve and Caden find themselves in a dangerous situation.  

I really enjoyed reading this book - it was a quick read and I had a hard time putting it down!

~I received a complimentary ecopy from Pump Up Your Book Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.~


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Blitz: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse (with giveaway)

The Neverland Wars
by Audrey Greathouse
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at audreygreathouse.com.

A flash of lightning electrified the sky, shooting light through the forest with a jarring pang. The boom of thunder followed immediately after. The sky was grey and the clouds shifted like a swarm of dark fish in a pond. Gwen feared she would be caught in a storm, but not a drop of rain had fallen yet.

All at once, Gwen found herself in a meadow. She had never been here before; she knew that. Wildflowers cropped up in sporadic clumps, and the long, green grasses were uncut at her calves. The tree line had suddenly broken. One minute, she was racing through the forest, the next, she was floating here. Pausing to catch her breath, she ironically felt safer in this open area than in the claustrophobic security of the forest. She landed gently, unthinkingly. Turning her head to the sky, she saw the faint grey clouds blowing and rolling away. Darker clouds seemed to be coming to take their place.

On the other side of the meadow, Peter burst into the clearing. Bramble was leading him, guiding the boy to poor, lost Gwen. If Gwen had understood the fairy language, she would have already known that.


“Peter?” Gwen shouted. She ran to him, and between her bounding strides and his quick flight, they met in the middle of the meadow, cornflowers and lilacs growing up around them. Perhaps if he had been on the ground initially, she would have hugged him. Peter lingered in the air for just a moment though, and by the time he landed, the impulse to hug each other had melted away into urgent discussion. “What are you doing out here?” His voice carried the sort of anger that only accompanied concern.

“I got lost in the woods; I was trying to come back. Is something wrong, Peter?”

Bramble flitted back and forth, pacing in the air, objecting to Peter and Gwen having this conversation now, rather than when they were safely underground.
“The opposition, they’ve launched an attack. We’ve got to get to cover.”

“What? No, it’s just a storm.” Gwen didn’t understand what Peter was telling her, but she had already made up her mind that she didn’t believe it.

“Gwen-dollie, we’ve got to go. There’s—”

The sky was suddenly drained of light. The thin, grey clouds that had blocked the sun were eclipsed by darker, brooding storm clouds, and as the daylight faded, small, grey flecks began to rain down. As they drifted softly, Gwen knew it wasn’t rain. Her attention was as captivated as Peter’s was, but she did not understand what it was the way he did. “Snow?” she asked quizzically, looking at the grey and dirty powder as it started to fall around her.
Peter held out his hand and caught a flake of it, crushing it in his hand. It left a smoky residue on his palm. “Ash.”

The winds picked up, and more of the ash furiously fluttered down. It became larger, and Gwen could hardly comprehend the charred flecks of paper that were plummeting down. Peter zipped up into the air, jumping more than flying, to grab a large square of it. He came back down immediately, a look of horror on his face.

“Peter, what is it?” Gwen pled, hoping that her fear was born of her unknowing, that if she only had answers she wouldn’t be afraid, but from the look on his face, she knew that answers would only bring more fear.

The invisible hand of the wind grabbed the paper from out of Peter’s hold. It blew straight to Gwen. Catching it, she realized it was a page from out of a newspaper; the title read—ISIS ATTACK ON ERBIL; HUNDREDS DEAD.

She had seen newspaper headlines before, but this news did not belong here. Not in Neverland. It was too dark, too terrifying of a thing to read amid the lilacs and cornflowers. Again, she begged, “What is this, Peter?”

The page was torn out of her hand by the vindictive wind. Peter answered her, with a word she had never feared so greatly. “Reality.”

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Review: Cooking Up Trouble by Judi Lynn

Title: Cooking up Trouble (Mill Pond #1)
Author: Judi Lynn
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release date: April 12, 2016

About the book: Welcome to Mill Pond and small-town country living, filled with fresh air, fresh food, and plenty of fresh gossip—especially when it comes to romance…
It’s impossible not to notice when someone new shows up in Mill Pond. Especially someone as obviously out-of-place as Ian McGregor. His stylish suit and fancy car scream “city slicker.” And when Tessa Lawrence discovers he can’t even change a tire, she has no choice but to help. That’s just what the locals do. And when she finds out Ian’s her new neighbor, of course she’s obliged to invite him to dinner too…

Turns out Ian’s come from New York to open a luxury resort on the property next door to Tessa’s farm, where she grows berries and sells her famous jams and delectable baked goods. But despite their quickly growing friendship and temptingly close proximity, Tessa plans to keep things with Ian strictly neighborly. For one thing, Ian’s got a fiancĂ©e who, unlike Tessa, doesn’t have dirt under her nails. Plus, Tessa knows from bitter experience that a guy this gorgeous is all too likely to break a simple country girl’s heart. Even if he’s as sweet as one of her cinnamon buns—and equally hard to resist…

My thoughts: I liked Tessa and Ian right from the beginning.  They were both very laid back, comfortable with who they are, spoke their minds.  Tessa has been running her bakery/farm for the last 6 years.  She had a fiance once, until she found another woman in his arms, and since then she has pretty much sworn off men.  She writes romance novels during the off season and that is as much romance as she she is inclined to entertain.

Of course, everyone else in her life - from her friend Darinda to her grandma would like to see her paired off with some handsome man.  Ian seems to fit the bill except that he comes with a city slicker girlfriend Lily.  Ian has come to Mill Pond to get his new resort in working order.  This means lots of renovations as well as decorating.  Good thing the girl next door shares his interests and knows the area!   Lily is planning on moving in after the renovations are done, and as she travels all week for work - will only be around on the weekends.  It soon becomes clear (to everyone but Ian) that Lily is not a country girl - nor does she seem to be able to become one. 

I liked Judi Lynn's writing and enjoyed this first book in the Mill Pond series.  The second book Opposites Distract is coming out in July.  She referenced another author Ilona Andrews a few times in this book, so I figured I would have to check her out as well!  I figured that if I liked Judi's writing, then I would probably like someone she likes as well.   Magic Bites is now on hold for me at the library.  

About the author: All of my works are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, smashwords, Scrib’d, Kobo, and more.

I’m a member of Goodreads and my author page can be found at:
I’m lucky enough to be represented by Lauren Abramo at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

I’ve been a member of Summit City Scribes for more years than I care to remember, and they’ve made me a better writer.  Thanks, guys!

My blog can be found at http://writingmusings.com/

My author’s facebook page is:  https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy

You can tweet me at:  @judypost

To sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/_fal5

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Title: Modern Girls
Author: Jennifer S. Brown
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 5, 2016

About the book (from the publisher): An atmospheric new work of historical fiction takes readers into New York City’s 1935 lower East Side Jewish immigrant community, where two women faced with an impossible choice will confront tradition, expectations—and themselves . . .

Set in 1935 against the backdrop of World War II’s ominous approach, MODERN GIRLS follows the interlocking narratives of fierce, industrious nineteen-year-old Dottie Krasinsky, and her mother, Rose.

Though Dottie lives with her traditional Yiddish-speaking parents, she’s as modern as a 1930’s girl can get: she has just been promoted as head bookkeeper at a glittering midtown office, plans to marry her swoon-worthy boyfriend Abe, but still dreams of a home ripped from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens. But after a fight with Abe, and a single careless night with the charismatic but unsuitable Willie, Dottie finds herself in the family way. Desperate, she is unwed, unsure, and running out of options. 

Meanwhile, as news of Jewish persecution in Europe spreads, Rose longs to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman in Russia. But when she finds herself pregnant with a fifth child, she wrestles with profound disappointment at being forced to once again set aside political work, even as her brother remains trapped in Poland.

As both mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, and the changing world around them. What they choose to do next will yield astonishing lessons about what truly lies in each woman’s heart. Only one thing is for sure: neither will ever be the same again.

My thoughts: I had a hard time putting this book down.  In today's age, unwed mothers can be frequently found  in every neighborhood.  Working mother's, especially older mother's are also common.  In the 1930's though, standards were still high and getting pregnant before marriage was enough to bring shame down on the whole family.  Business could be lost, opportunities not granted, and not just for the poor girl in question - but for the entire family.  

We think it was such a simpler time, but they had all the same concerns that we have today (just not all the electronics!).  How to provide for a family; how to deal with consequences of a mistaken one night stand; how to care for a family and have a job. These are all things that are still faced today.  

Dottie and Rose may seem like they are from two different worlds, but they are more alike than they know.  They are both strong, independent women living in a man's world. They both take matters into their own hands to secure an outcome that is acceptable to them.  

I am hoping that there may be another book to come so we can see how their decisions affect their lives and where their paths lead them!

~I received a complimentary e-copy of Modern Girls from Penguin Random House through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.~

Review: The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron

Title: The Ones Who Matter Most
Author: Rachael Herron
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 5, 2016

About the book(from the publisher): After her husband dies unexpectedly, Abby Roberts finds wedding photographs of him with another woman, along with pictures of a baby boy. Shocked, she does something utterly impulsive: she embarks on a journey to discover the family her husband apparently left behind.

What begins as one woman’s search for truth becomes a deep bond forged between the unlikeliest of people. Their surprising journey reveals how strangers can quickly find themselves to be family.

Herron’s mastery of grief, love, and the human condition was honed by her career as a 911 volunteer. She says: “Everything I know about the strength of the human heart and its determination to love comes from the calls I take on a daily basis. I’ve heard hearts break. I’ve heard love in every language, and it sounds the same.”

Pack Up the Moon was named by Working Mother magazine as one of the best gift books for Mother’s Day in 2014. THE ONES WHO MATTER MOST resonates with similar themes of family, highlighting how the most unbreakable bonds can often be the most unlikely. Herron’s previous novels, Splinters of Light and Pack Up the Moon, have been called “riveting” (Booklist), “emotional” (RT Book Reviews) and “poignant” (Library Journal).

My thoughts: Sometimes it is really hard to find the right words for a review.  I really enjoyed reading this book.  We no more meet Abby when her husband dies.  She had just asked him for a divorce, so she is confused as to what she is feeling.  Is it grief?  Is it relief?  She had really wanted a child with her husband - she felt that would make her family complete.  Her parents were gone and she had no siblings.  The closest thing she had to family was a surrogate mom, a lady who had been her mom's best friend.  When she discovers what her husband has done to go against their plan for a family is when she asks him for a divorce - and then he dies. 

Left to sort through his belongings, she discovers a past life that he never shared with her. A wife and child (Fern and Matty) that he never talked about, let alone visited.  All he did was send her a check every month. Abby feels a great need to meet this woman and child.  Scott's child - the child she wanted to have. 

The first meeting is awkward, as you can expect, and it gets worse when she shares the news that Scott has died. For Fern it had been a struggle to raise Matty on her own, and she depended on the monthly check from Scott as much as she despised it. She wants to hate Abby, but realizes that Abby had known nothing about them.  Slowly, with misunderstandings and accidental circumstances, Fern and Abby start to form a friendship.  

I did really love this book.  It was messy.  It was emotional.  It was very realistic. There are no cut and dried answers to life - things don't always have a happily ever after - or at least not the happily ever after that we expect.  Great book just in time for Mother's Day!

~I received a complimentary e-copy of The Ones Who Matter Most from Penguin Random House through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.~


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