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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Readathon Opening Meme and Future Update Page

Readathon started at 7:00am CST time this morning, but I had a little puppy who didn't want to come inside - so I got started around 7:30.  My husband picked my book - ZomB by Darren Shan - should've known that would  be the one that he would pick.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? - I am reading from Illinois

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? - This is a tough one - maybe Rooms by Lauren Oliver

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? - Pretzels and Chip Dip - and Dinner out with my husband tonight!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! - Mom of 3 (22, 20, 9) and one puppy; I work at 2 different libraries and am back in college. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I have done a couple of other readathons; but have missed the last couple - I won't be reading review books today - I get to pick them all on my own!  

I am going to use this page to do my updates -

Started 7:30 - Reading ZomB - Drinking coffee
9:00am - page 74 of ZomB - two cups of coffee - been outside in the rain with the puppy twice.  (She was just spayed on Thursday and trying to keep her calm is RIDICULOUSLY HARD!)

10:00am - Finished Zom-B (174 pages) - another cup of coffee and a donut.  My son picked the next book - Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne.

11:20am - Been on a pseudo break - was supposed to be at a soccer game right now, but didn't go due to rain and cold.  Sister has stopped by and so that has slowed the reading down - also spent some more time outside with the puppy. . . haven't been able to get her to cooperate with me this morning.  Only 20 pages into the 2nd book. . .

1:30pm - Just finished lunch - only  70 pages into my book but getting ready to go to a Science Alliance thing at our library.  Should be back after 3.  Happy reading!

Hour Two - Coffee or Tea?

It is morning where I am reading - and coffee is my choice in the morning!  I am all out though so must go make some more!  Go Team Trollope!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dewey's Readathon is almost here!

Hello blogging friends!  I have not been blogging for awhile for a very good reason.  I finally went back to school!  I took two classes over the summer at our local community college and this fall started an online course at UIS (University of Illinois/Springfield).  I am finally going to finish my bachelor's degree (in Liberal Studies) and at the same time am picking up some credits in Library Science at our community college.  I am pretty sure I am going to get an Associate's in Library Science, but don't know what part of Library Science I am going to 'specialize' in. 

I have been reading a lot - I actually have a stack of books that have been sitting here waiting to be reviewed since last July - but I just have not had the time.  I am still working as a library aide at a primary school - but am no longer shelving at our public library - I am now working in the Youth Services department.  I have only worked a couple of shifts, and already know that I am going to like it --- a lot!

But that brings me around to Dewey's Readathon tomorrow (Saturday, Oct 18)!   I am hoping to read a lot tomorrow.  I have to break for a soccer game around 11 - 1  and then will be back at it until my husband takes me to dinner for Sweetest Day.  I am  hoping to read some more after returning home from dinner.  

This is the first time that I have participated in the readathon that I have not been actively blogging and reading review books.  I have a big stack of books to dip in to tomorrow.  Many of them are YA books for future reference in my new position. 

If I could read the majority of one of these series tomorrow I would be happy - 

  • The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (Wither, Fever, Sever), 
  • Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant by Veronica Roth; 
  • The Castor Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption) by Kami Garcia.  
I also have numerous stand alones or the beginnings of series that I could choose from:

  • What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Hayes
  • Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
  • The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little
  • The Shadow Lantern by Teresa Flavin
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • Uncaged by John Sanford and Michele Cook
  • The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  • Panic by Lauren Oliver
  • Zom-B by Darren Shan
  • The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver
I also have two books that I am reading that I need to finish:
  • Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
  • Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride
So what would you start with?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: Billy and the Monster Who Loved to Fart by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Loved to Fart by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Loved to Fart

By David Chuka
Publication Date: January 31, 2013
Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing
Recommended Ages: 3-8 yo

About the book:  In the first book in this epic tale, we discover that Billy loves Monster and Monster loves Billy. They play together. They have a bath together.They even go to school together. There's just one thing that threatens to spoil their friendship.

Monster loves to Fart!...and everyone blames Billy for it!

Will Monster make Billy the uncoolest kid at school? Will Monster cause an irreparable hole in the Ozone layer? Will Monster and Billy both learn how to behave properly in a social environment?

Get your copy today and enjoy this funny book for kids (and also adults), that's not just big on laughs but also teaches a valuable lesson for social situations.

* Get Your Copy for ~ FREE ~ *

* You can download an electronic copy of "Billy and the Monster Who Loved to Fart"for FREE on the following platforms! *

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The Buzz About the Book

"One of the aspects that makes the little children's books by David Chuka so endearing is that he enters territory and vocabulary that in other circumstances would be either verboten or at least judged inappropriate. But instead of writing a story of questionable taste, Chuka creates some hilarious situations and then makes a point of allowing learning from them...Chuka's drawings match the joy of his story and once again he has written a brave little book that will greatly appeal to kids - and to their parents! Very high quality work from David Chuka." ~ 5 Star Review, Grady Harp, Top 100 Reviewer, Amazon

"Yes dear readers kids now have a new friend called the Fart Monster. A buddy that lets them off the hook big time. In this imaginative story by David Chuka your child's imagination will leap to new bounds in giving kids cover for what comes so naturally. The great thing about this is you don't have to hold your nose to enjoy a fun story that is sure to have you and child laughing out loud." ~ 5 Star Review, StevieV, Amazon

"I laughed all the way through this story. I know that boys think farting is funny and I'm sure my grands will love this picture book. Of course us adults have to use some animation, so we can join in the fun. The pictures rock with this simple story, and there are some problem solving discussed and shared with another character. However, the overall problem is, 'Billy is getting blamed for something you didn't do'. In the end the problem is solved and the relationship is forever. Job well done. I'm still laughing. " ~ 5 Star Review, Amazon Customer, Amazon

"This is a not too serious book for kids who love to LAUGH OUT LOUD. I bought it for my nephew and he laughed and laughed and I had to ask him twice to get my IPAD back. But anyway, The book is funny with lots of illustrations that kids love. The illustrations are really good and captivating for a young audience. Not only that the book also gives a moral story at the end of the book. It teaches kids discipline and manners, which is something very valuable in today's society. Overall good book." ~ 5 Star Review, Jomy K., Amazon

"THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS! My 8 year old son stated. He highly recommends it, and also poses the age old question: "Why does Monster keep farting?" " ~ 5 Star Review, Bkustom, Amazon

David ChukaAbout the author: David Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, 'If You See a Doctor' after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He's gone on to write more books including the popular 'Billy and Monster' series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you'll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you'll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka's books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He would like to keep you updated on what he's working on and any giveaways he currenty has on offer. Please subscribe to his newsletter at www.davidchuka.com and you'll get a FREE Coloring and Activity book for your loved ones.

Make sure to watch the video trailers for his most popular books on this Amazon Page and you'll get a little taste of why his books have garnered more than 300 glowing reviews.

He has so many stories to tell and can't wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

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Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: August 9, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: The Maisy Files: Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the first book in The Maisy Files mystery chapter book series by Elizabeth Woodrum, "Maisy and the Missing Mice". Book 2 in the series, "Maisy and the Money Marauder" is coming August, 2014. If you haven't checked out Book 1, you can grab a copy for only 99 cents from Amazon!

Maisy and the Missing Mice

 Maisy and the Missing Mice (The Maisy Files)

by Elizabeth Woodrum
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Recommended Age: 6-10

About the book: Maisy Sawyer is not your average fourth grade student. She is a detective with a special skill for solving mysteries. She loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. When a thief known as The Black Boot steals the school's mascots and her lollipops, Maisy sets out to solve the case. Can she help return the mice to their home in the science lab? Will she ever see her beloved lollipops again? Find out in the first book in The Maisy Files series.

Book Trailer


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The Buzz About the Book

"Maisy and the Missing Mice is a fun chapter book featuring a smart and sassy tween girl as the title character; a solid and interesting plot featuring age-appropriate intrigue and suspense; and some terrific writing that carries the reader on a journey as a detective uncovering clues and solving the mystery of who stole the missing mice. I highly recommend this book as a read aloud book for children between the ages of 6 and 10 or for independent readers between the ages of 7 and 12 who love to read mysteries." ~ Renee, Mother Daughter Book Reviews

"Woodrum certainly knows her target audience and does a very nice job with the character development of Maisy. This is an incredibly kid-friendly story that makes a great introduction to the genre of mystery for newly independent readers. It's a quick page turning read that encourages kids to think outside of the box." ~ The Children's Book Review

"The delights from this book start with the cover art and continue with a fun story that is well-written." ~ 5 Star Review, R. Johnson, Amazon

"My name is Kat. I am 9 years old. I would rate this a five because I like everything about it, the mystery the most. It was fun to read. My favorite part was the mystery and the end. I love this book so much. I think other kids would love it too because it has mystery and most kids would like mystery books. Most mystery books have a good mystery. I would love to read the whole series." ~ 5 Star Review, Heather A., Amazon

"What an Amazing book. I totally love it. I admire the author dedication for writing an incredible book. While reading this book, it was very clear that author understand kids. I’ve always been an avid reader and this book is one of the best books I have read in 2014. This book grabs my attention from the very start of the book and couldn't put it aside till I finish it." ~ 5 Star Review, KristinT, Amazon

"I knew I would love this book simply because I knew it would remind me of the mystery books I read in my childhood. I really love how much trust the teachers and community as a whole put in Maisy. She is well deserving of their admiration as the way she finds clues and finds the mascot for the school is well thought out. This is a story any child would love to read. I hope Maisy continues to solve mysteries..." ~ 5 Star Review, Josh, Amazon

Elizabeth Woodrum
About the author: Elizabeth Woodrum is an elementary teacher in Ohio. She came to love writing when she was in elementary school, but more recently began writing material for use in her classroom. From that writing, grew the desire to write books for the general population of children and adults alike. The Maisy Files, a children's series, is the first series that she has published.

As a reader, Elizabeth prefers the fantasy genre, but she enjoys realistic fiction as well. Some of her favorite authors include JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, and Nicholas Sparks. Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup.

Book Website | Author Blog | Twitter

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* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

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Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: August 7, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Elizabeth Woodrum and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: A Different Kind of Safari by Helen C. Hipp

A Different Kind of Safari Helen Hipp

A Different Kind of Safari

by Helen C. Hipp
Publication Date: Mar 19, 2013
Recommended Age: 5-10

About the book: What do you need to feel happy about being different? Based loosely on real life experiences, this heartwarming and powerful book illustrates how self-awareness, and courage help a young boy named Raymond learn the difference between seeing things as they appear to be and seeing things as they are. Feeling "different and lonely" Raymond befriends a hippo while on Safari in Africa. Unlike other grey hippos, this hippo is pink. Ray is soon carried into a world beyond labels and challenging assumptions. You will never guess what happens next!

The Inspiration Behind the Story by Helen Hipp

A Different Kind of Safari inside page

Inspired by real-life adventure, the story behind the story unfolded when I went on an African safari back in 2001. The trip was lead by my father whose dream was to share the safari experience with his family. Little did I know that this trip was going to incite me to write a children’s adventure book but it did.

The storyline made it appearance when my family spotted a pod of hippos and one was pink! My son Ray fourteen at the time immediately named her “Rosie”. Curious and wanting to learn more about this hippo we asked the guide many questions about hippos and hippo behavior. Specifically I wanted to know why the pink hippo stood so far outside of her pod. The familiarity of the guides answer took me by surprise, he explained that “Rosie” was tolerated but not necessarily accepted by the herd because of her differences. As a parent of a child with special needs I immediately felt a strong affiliation with Rosie’s situation as did my son Ray who has experienced his own challenges with acceptance. Inspired, I decided to share the story with the world by weaving them into a children's adventure book that celebrates differences. The book is entitled “A Different Kind of Safari”. Find out what you can learn from Rosie the pink hippo, and how you can share those lessons with the children in your life.

Book Trailer

The Buzz About the Book

"A timeless book, that will speak to everyone. To be enjoyed over and over again! A fun, yet very thought provoking story for all ages. If books had a satisfaction guarantee, this one would be on the top of the list. " ~ 5 Star Review, Adden B. Chrystie, Amazon

"A Different Kind of Safari is truly a different kind of children's book! The beautiful artwork bring a very special story to life and I am excited the book is now available in audio format for an added bonus while driving kids around town! I particularly love the message of the book, which teaches us to celebrate our unique differences through Rosie the Pink Hippo rather than allow them to keep us from exploring our potentials. I highly recommend this book to all parents and special needs educators in particular. Thank you for writing this wonderful story!" ~ 5 Star Review, missladyjane, Barnes and Noble

"I really enjoyed this book. The illustrations were beautiful. I found this book to be very interesting and it was written from real life experiences. A Different Kind of Safari draws you in along with Ray on his journey to find his happiness and the answers to his questions. I recommend this book to children that are of grade school age but yet many younger children may enjoy the illustrations." ~ 5 Star Review, Whittle House, Goodreads

"The book has a great story. The illustrations are amazing!!!!! Get this book! All children from the young to the old will love this book. " ~ 5 Star Review, Mel, Amazon

"A Different Kind of Safari is not only a good book, but a great story! It is not only for caregivers, teachers and parents, but for anyone who has ever felt out of place. A pink hippo named “Rosie” and her friend “Ray” take a journey and explore their similarities and differences on the river of life. Self- acceptance and the acceptance of others is exquisitely conveyed in a fresh, FUN way through this sweet tail. It is a prize for all libraries!" ~ 5 Star Review, Anna Wood, Barnes and Noble


Amazon (Hardcover) | Audible (Audiobook) | Barnes and Noble

Helen C. Hipp, Author: About the author: Helen Hipp’s experience raising a special needs child led her to an M.A. in clinical psychology and certification as a life coach. She began her career as a psychotherapist to help people find answers for their life problems. Her work eventually evolved into a coaching practice, WithinU Life Coaching, focusing on individuals with special needs and their families. Helen uses her 13+ years of counseling experience and 20+ years’ experience as a successful advocate for individuals with special needs by helping them reveal their innate ability to solve difficult situations. Her debut book " A Different Kind of Safari" puts into words the essence of Helen's teachings addressing the many questions life asks by offering up lighthearted, ever-changing perspectives that transform personal challenges into opportunities.

For more information, visit the books official website and to see a picture of the real Rosie the real life pink hippo that inspired this story, go to www.adifferentkindofsafari.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: August 6, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Helen Hipp and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost Lake
by Sarah Addison Allen

The first time Eby saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard.  Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a lifetime ago.  Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby's past.  Her husband, George, is long passed.  Most of her demanding extended family are gone.  All that's left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It's a lot, but it's not enough to keep Eby from calling this her final summer at the lake, and relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand.  Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness and heartbreak and loss.  Now she's all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope, too, thanks to her resilient daughter, Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward.  Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer. . . and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren't sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended.  Can they find what they need before it's too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places. 

My Thoughts:  I loved this book from the cover to the story line.  For me, one look at the cover evoked thoughts of the south and the mystery and magic that is a part of of good  Southern fiction.  The main characters, Kate and her daughter Devin, were very sad in the beginning, as Kate's husband had died.  She had been walking around in a fog for a year, but when she came across an old postcard from Lost Lake something in her woke up.  Without telling her mother-in-law, who had basically been controlling her life for the last year, she packed up her daughter Devin for a road trip.  

Eby, Kate's aunt, was planning on this to be her last summer of running Lost Lake.  Her husband had passed away and many things were dilapidated and in need of repair.  When Kate shows up after so many years had passed, it starts to bring back old memories.  Some of Eby's summer regulars start to show up and together they determine to stop Eby from selling out to a real estate mogul who wants to turn the area into a resort.  

There are some magical, mystical elements to the story - like the alligator that speaks to Devin and only she seems able to see.   He wants her to find a box that he claims will save them and Lost Lake.  Devin herself is a little magical, as only a child can be, with her wise-beyond-her-years attitude and flair for dressing.  Kate and Wes' relationship is also magical - the first boy she ever had feelings for and almost kissed - meeting him again at Lost Lake.

Being at Lost Lake was almost as if time had stood still - the cabins, the lake, the path through the woods.  Makes me remember a lake we would go swimming at when I was a kid, that still holds a little magic in the memories when we go back today. 

Devin looked out over the water.  They didn't look like knees.  They didn't even look like roots.  They looked like the ancient spires of Gothic buildings sticking out of the top of the water, like there was a church under the lake and she and Bulahdeen could only see the top of it. They were clustered in a section close to the bank, no more than a foot or so out of the water.  She got as close to the edge as possible and looked down.  The water moved slightly, and she thought for a moment that she saw a flash of something electric blue at the bottom.  But, then again, the water was so murky that it was hard to tell just where the bottom was.  She didn't see any evidence that the alligator had been here, or that whatever it was he might want her to find was hidden anywhere.  She even put her hand over her good eye and looked around.   (p175, Lost Lake)

I haven't read anything else by Sarah Addison Allen, but Garden Spells has been on my TBR list forever.  I really must read some more of her work as I enjoyed this one immensely.

Purchase Links:

About the author: New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature -- because, as she puts it, "I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate." 

After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen's accomplished debut "spellbindingly charming." The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.

Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as "Southern-fried magic realism." Clearly, it's a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

Her published books to date are: Garden Spells (2007), The Sugar Queen (2008), The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010), The Peach Keeper (2011) and Lost Lake (2014). (from Goodreads)

Author Links:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On Writing

I am having trouble sitting down to write reviews.  I started back to college 2 weeks ago (after being out of school for 15+ years) and am taking a required English class.  I have been struggling with the first writing assignment (due tomorrow) and because of that have not been sitting down to write anything!   I believe that I have finally wrapped up that writing assignment (whew) so hope to get caught up on reviews now.  I apologize if I have promised a review and missed my posting date.  Hopefully things will start to flow again!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: Autumn in Carthage by Christopher Zenos

Autumn in Carthage
by Christopher Zenos

Nathan Price is a college professor with crippling impairments, seeking escape from his prison of necessity.  One day, in a package of seventeenth-century documents from Salem Village, he stumbles across a letter by his best friend, Jamie, who had disappeared six months before.  The document is dated 1692 -- the height of the Witch Trials.  The only potential lead: a single mention of Carthage, a tiny town in the Wisconsin northern highland.

The mystery catapults Nathan from Chicago to the Wisconsin wilderness.  There, he meets Alanna, heir to an astonishing Mittel-European legacy of power and sacrifice.  In her, and in the gentle townsfolk of Carthage, Nathan finds the refuge for which he has long yearned.  But Simon, the town elder, is driven by demons of his own, and may well be entangled in Jamie's disappearance and that of several Carthaginians, As darkness stretches toward Alanna, Nathan may have no choice but to risk it all. . .

Moving from the grimness of Chicago's South Side to the Wisconsin hinterlands to seventeenth-century Salem, this is a story of love, of sacrifice, of terrible passions -- and of two wounded souls quietly reaching for the deep peace of sanctuary.  

My Thoughts: I find that the more I enjoy the book, the harder it is to write the review - and this book falls into that category.  I really liked Nathan.  He was an accomplished professor, seemed to be well-liked by his peers and his students, but was still flawed with some unnamed mental disorder.  Rather than diminishing his capabilities though, I thought this gave him a greater understanding as to the differences in people and while it may not have made him more accepting, it gave him a different viewpoint.  I loved this passage in one of the earlier chapters, upon overhearing a group of young men discussing a date who had claimed she was bipolar - and laughing about the world being full of crazies.
We are not less than you, you cowardly little snot. We are more than you. We live every day in a world made by and for you, with burdens that would bring you to your knees -- and still manage to outperform you. (p18)
So anyway, Nathan travels to Carthage, Wisconsin in search of his friend Jamie.  He is not sure what he is looking for and comes upon a town while friendly enough, seems to be harboring secrets and mysteries at every turn.  In Alanna he finds a kindred spirit, and is almost afraid to hope that they might have a future together.  She slowly lets him in on the town's big secret, which is that they are time travelers.  

The author has written this book in such a way, as time travel does not seem farfetched at all, but just an alternate life style.  It was not "science fictiony" at all and fit well with the demeanor of the community and the location.  While Carthage seemed like any number of other small communities you might find in the midwest, there were subtle differences that made you realize it was special, wealthy.  The author was so descriptive in telling about Carthage and the surrounding countryside, that I had to look online to see if a Carthage, Wisconsin really existed. (It does not.)

You meet a lot of characters early on in the book, and if you don't pay attention to the chapter subtitles, you might become confused as to who is narrating. The narrators all bring their own flavor to the story, as they should with their different viewpoints.  

I liked the tie-in of Salem and the witch trials.  If Carthaginians and their abilities were discovered, people might very well treat them as they did the so-called witches in Salem. Salem was a very misunderstood community, but there were a few who took in the misplaced Carthaginians, with their funny dress and accent, and helped them remain as inconspicuous as possible.  

The novel wrapped things up in the end, very satisfactorily for me, and I am very glad that I read this book. I wonder if there are any other books in the works regarding escapades of other time travelers in this community. 

~I received a complimentary copy of Autumn in Carthage from Rebecca at The Cadence Group in exchange for my unbiased review.~

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett

The Hollow Ground
by Natalie S. Harnett

Inspired by the real-life deadly coal mine fires in now-infamous Centralia, Pennsylvania, and the equally devastated town of Carbondale, THE HOLLOW GROUND  is an extraordinary debut novel with an atmospheric, voice-driven narrative and an indelible sense of place.  Already being compared to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird, this evocative story about family and the nature of love between a parent and child introduces a stunning and powerful new voice in literary fiction.

It’s 1961, and the ground is burning beneath eleven-year-old Brigid Howley’s feet.  The underground mine fires ravaging Pennsylvania coal country have forced Brigid and her family to seek refuge with her estranged grandparents, the formidable Gram and the Black Lung stricken Gramp.  Tragedy, though, is no stranger to the Howleys, a proud Irish-American clan who takes strange pleasure in the “curse” laid upon them generations earlier by a priest who ran afoul of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of Irish and Irish-American coal miners.  But the weight of this legacy now rests heavily on a new generation, when Brigid, already struggling to keep her family together, makes a grisly discovery in a long-abandoned bootleg mine shaft.  In the aftermath, decades’ old secrets threaten to prove just as dangerous to the Howleys as the burning, hollow ground beneath their feet.

Filled with compelling characters, rich prose, engrossing historical detail, and an extraordinary sense of time and place, THE HOLLOW GROUND is exquisitely crafted and tells an unforgettable story that is certain to move readers. 

My thoughts: Brigid is the narrator of this story, set against the backdrop of the Appalachian coal mine fires of the 1960's.  I had never heard of these fires and found them fascinating, devastating and unbelievable. Brigid tells how her Aunt's house, where they had been living, becomes uninhabitable as the fire nears and literally hollows out the ground beneath their feet. Her family is forced to move to a nearby town and move in with their Grandma and Grandpa.  The fires are raging beneath this town as well.  

I liked Brigid as a narrator.  She didn't sugar coat anything and she also did not feel sorry for herself or her circumstances.  Her family is very dysfunctional and she if basically raising herself.  As secrets continue to be revealed, including the answers to a murder mystery, what she thought she knew about her family also continues to change. 

I really liked this book.  The background was such a stark contrast to the voice of Brigid.  I read this book awhile ago and the story has really stayed with me.  This was a debut book for Natalie Harnett and I look forward to seeing what else she writes in the future.

"Auntie?" I shouted through the sliver of screen visible where the window was open.  There was no answer.  The flecks of snow had thickened to flakes that had a tinge of yellow to them.  The color was odd and pretty all at once and I couldn't decide if it reminded me of something sick or of something lit up just barely by sun.  Dying light, I decided, remembering a poem Auntie had read to me.  And then I got afraid. (The Hollow Ground, p20)

~I received a complimentary copy of The Hollow Ground from Get Red PR and Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.~

Purchase Links:

About the author:  NATALIE S. HARNETT is an MFA graduate of Columbia. She has been awarded an Edward Albee Fellowship, a Summer Literary Seminars Fellowship, and a Vermont Studio Center Writer’s Grant, and was a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Fiction. Harnett has been published in The New York Times, The Madison Review and The MacGuffin. She lives on Long Island with her husband and toddler. 

Author Links:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

And Yet Another Loss

Some of you may remember that we just had our dog, Boomer, put down 10 days ago.  This morning I went upstairs to my bedroom and found our cat, Frankie, had passed away.  We got her back in 2000 when she was about a year old.  She was a very gentle cat, especially when my son was a toddler.  He could lay on her and pull her around by her tail and she would just let him.  She had a very distinctive meow and beautiful green eyes.  Frankie - you will also be missed. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: A Beauty so Beastly by RaShelle Workman (Giveaway)

A Beauty so Beastly
by RaShelle Workman

Genre: Fractured Fairy Tale
Book 1 in the Beastly Series
Release date: July 3, 2014

“For your vanity, your cruelty, and your cold unfeeling heart, a curse I leave upon you . . .”

What happens if the beauty is also the beast?

The stunning Beatrice Cavanaugh is considered American royalty. She has everything except the ability to love. Cursed on her eighteenth birthday, she becomes more beastly than ever, having a newfound craving for raw meat, and an undeniable yearning for the night. Bitterness is her only companion.

After accusing a maid of stealing, a disgustingly kind and exquisitely handsome guy named Adam shows up asking Beatrice to drop the charges against his mother.

Infuriated by his goodness, Beatrice vows to break him. Destroy him. Make him hurt the way she hurts. So she agrees. On one condition: Adam must take his mother’s place as a servant in the mansion. 

Because Beatrice won’t stop until he’s more beastly than she is.

Special Note: A BEAUTY SO BEASLTY will be available for 99 cents until its release date on July 3rd! Then it'll go up to $2.99. So pre-order now!

About the author: RaShelle Workman is an international bestselling author. She writes fractured fairytales with bite and young adult science fiction that's out of this world. RaShelle likes cherry pie, movies, family adventures, and chocolate. If you want to get on her good side, send chocolate. RaShelle's sold more than 500,000 copies of her books worldwide. Sleeping Roses, Exiled, Beguiled, and Dovetailed have foreign rights contracts with a Turkish publisher. 

Her books include:

Sleeping Roses

Blood and Snow (1-12)

The Cindy Chronicles

Vampire Lies (Blood and Snow Season 2)

Short stories:

Rose, Undercover

Cindy Witch

The Hunter's Tale

After the Kiss
Zaren's Travels

Author Links: Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Blog

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Blog Tour: Synchrony by Cindy Ray Hale

This is my stop during the blog tour for Synchrony (Destiny #2) by Cindy Ray Hale. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours . The blog tour runs from May 5 till May 25, you can view the complete tour schedule hereI am running a few days behind for this blog tour and for that I apologize.  I read both the first book in this trilogy, Destiny, as well as Synchrony which is book two.  I have shared my thoughts below.

(Book 1 of Destiny Trilogy)
Cindy Ray Hale

Genre: Contemporary Romance, YA

Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster's son at her Baptist high school. When they're cast together in the school's production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage. 

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend. 

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac's alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.

(Book 2 of Destiny Trilogy)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, YA
Release Date: April 8, 2014

When her parents discover she’s been sneaking out with Isaac Robinson, the forbidden Baptist boy, Mormon girl Destiny Clark decides it’s time to keep their relationship quiet. As their relationship moves to shakier ground, Destiny discovers that Isaac has a terrible secret, and she is left completely shattered.

The moment Destiny feels all hope is lost, Preston Nelson, her longtime church friend and Isaac's bitter rival, arrives like a beacon of light. It isn't long before two separate disasters strike for Preston and Destiny's best friend, Hannah. As Destiny helps them through their issues, she discovers that sometimes the best way to forget about your own problems is to help a friend in need.

Just as her heart begins to mend and her friendship with Preston begins to heat up, Isaac walks back into her life, threatening to rekindle the feelings she’d hoped to bury forever. Will Destiny and Preston find the synchrony they so desperately need, or will she find a way to forgive Isaac and return to his outstretched arms?

My thoughts: I am going to review these books as one.  Because I read them back to back I am not sure where the story ended and the second one picked up.  I liked these books and the whole lover's triangle between Destiny, Isaac, and Preston.  Barring the religious undertones, I bet you can find at least one triangle like this in every high school in America.  

Destiny is only 15 when the book starts and is a Mormon attending Bethel Baptist  High School.  Her family are the only Mormon's that attend and they were former members of Bethel Baptist Church.  When they converted, a lot of their friends didn't understand and broke off the friendship.  While her brother Michael seems to be very well-liked, Destiny doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. At the start of the school year she only has two girls that she calls friends, and one of them turns out to be Isaac's cousin.  

There are actually two more books coming out, Complexity - book 2.5 and Harmony - book 3.  I am going to have to read these because I want to know what happens with these three!  There is also some smaller stories going on - one with Destiny's best friend Hannah and her boyfriend and another with Destiny's little sister Olivia, and a would be suitor.  Both could be explosive all on their own.

Now that I have shared what I liked about the books, I do have to let you know about something that bothered me.  I am a born-again Christian and felt a little bit like the Christians in this book weren't represented very well.  They seemed to be the ones who were unaccepting, rumor mongerers, druggies, and having pre-marital sex.  The Mormons on the other hand, all had close knit families, watched out for their siblings, dressed conservatively etc.  And it wasn't until Isaac, (Christian) decides to learn more about the Mormon religion that he is portrayed in a much better light.  I understand that this is central to the story line, the different religions and the conflicts between the two, but you don't run into very many good Christians in this story. Meanwhile, even though the Mormons are breaking some house rules, there is no comparison to what their Christian counterparts are doing.  I am wondering if some of this is going to change in the next books though and look forward to finding out. 

You can watch the book trailer here:

Are you Team Isaac?

Or Team Preston?

About the Author:  Cindy Ray Hale lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and children. She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies. She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog at http://cinnamoncindy.blogspot.com/. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for "New Era" magazine and The American Preppers Network.

For more information on The Destiny Trilogy and Cindy’s upcoming books visit http://destinybycindyhale.blogspot.com/ or follow @CindyRayHale on Twitter.

Author Links: 
Website /  Website for destiny /  Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+ / Pinterest

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Synchrony. These are the prizes you can win:

- A $25 Amazon Gift Card (INTL), and a Destiny Swag Pack which includes: a signed copy of Destiny, a signed copy of Synchrony, a Destiny bookmark, a Destiny magnet, a Destiny keychain, and a Synchrony keychain.

- An ecopy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris and a swag pack

- A Camp Boyfriend swag pack by JK Rock

- An ecopy of Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

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