Sunday, March 31, 2013

{Review} The Land of Ather: Day One of the "Quest for the Golden Book" Story by P. R. Aquilone

File Size: 328 KB
Page Count: 161
Copyright: January 4, 2012
Publisher: Laughing Rain Dancer

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Thunderstruck by an enigmatic bookstore owner, John Kardinairo finds himself magically transported to the strange land of Ather. Challenged to find the mysterious Golden Book in seven days, he reluctantly begins an adventure with the help of Lord Mathetes, who once almost completed the same quest. Accompanied by Burech, a fairy-like person who knows all too well the evil that lies in wait, John struggles to survive while defying the fearsome Zanachs to save a woman's life. Will he fall victim to the evil Lord Aquzar's clutches or rise victoriously to achieve his quest?

Mandy's Review:

Since I've begun reviewing books approximately three years ago, I've come to enjoy quite a few fantasy novels. Those that are familiar with my preferences know that fantasy was not a genre that I cared for when first starting out. The Land of Ather is unique in that it is a christian-, or religious-, based fantasy. As I was reading through day one of John's journey, I could easily recognize various Bible stories very familiar to me. Don't let that scare you away, though. If you're not familiar with the Bible, The Land of Ather will simply read as a fantasy with no hidden meaning for you. Either way, The Land of Ather is quite enjoyable.

The imagery of the Ather is quite vivid and easy to imagine while reading. The characters are also quite intriguing and unique. I had a feeling that some of the good guys may be a tad bit bad, but since this only covers day one of John's seven day journey, I haven't had the chance to find out for sure.

Mr. Aquilone's writing style is okay. I believe, though, that as time goes on and he writes more of John's story that his writing will improve. Practice makes perfect, as people say.

This is a very promising start to what will be a highly vivid and imaginative read for fantasy lovers.

*An ecopy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

{Review} Somewhere the Bells Ring by Beth Trissel

ASIN #: B006530S2Q
File Size: 223 KB
Page Count: 78
Copyright: November 8, 2011
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press; Faery Rose Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative's ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn't so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope - until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe - in Bailey and the ghost - before the Christmas bells ring?

Mandy's Review:

I realize that during the Vietnam War, genteel society was a little more uptight than we are today, but I feel that Bailey's parents were a little extreme with her over the pot. She only smoked it one time and woke up with a guy in her room that she only knew the first name of. The insinuations make Bailey sound like she had sex with this boy, but later in the story it's brought out that she didn't. After this one-time experiment, Bailey's parents banish her to Maple Hill. Could they really not handle her on their own?

While Bailey's at Maple Hill, Eric comes home from the war a wounded soldier. When he finds out about Bailey smoking pot, he automatically thinks the worst of her ... which annoyed me to no end. Bailey tried to tell Eric about Edward, the ghost, and all Eric could say was that maybe the one time she smoked pot is causing her to hallucinate. Unless the marijuana was laced with LSD, I don't see how it could make her hallucinate months later. I think Eric was basically an arse and didn't care for him at all.

Despite their differences Bailey and Eric fall in love ... or was it Edward and Claire reincarnated?

Somewhere the Bells Ring is a short story that is an enjoyable read for those who like ghost stories with a slight twist.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 29, 2013

{Review} Decoy (Assassin's Rising) by S. B. Sebrick

ASIN #: B005KW98DI
File Size: 514 KB
Page Count: 295
Copyright: September 2, 2011
Publisher: S. B. Sebrick

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

The last few grueling years of training have served Kaltor well. He's learned to harness the magic within his body, overcome a stronger opponent, avoid capture, and everything else an assassin-in-training needs to survive.

Or so he thought.

But when those they protect at an excavation site release a demon from the Abyss itself, Kaltor realizes just how poorly prepared they all are for what's coming. Within a single night, their mining camp of one thousand people plummets to a couple hundred terrified survivors, the majority turned against each other by the demon's potent abilities. Then he turns towards Shaylis, the largest city in the region, for the next stage of his plan.

In a constant battle of both steel and strategy Kaltor and his friends struggle to delay, deceive and defeat their opponent, who's spent the last thousand years planning out every detail of her assault to perfection. As the number of casualties mounts and her final plan comes to light, Kaltor is left with only one option. He must draw on the secret power within himself, knowing if his true identity is discovered, his life and the fate of the world, will be changed forever.

Kathy's Review:

The fantasy genre is not my favorite. I am not well-read in that genre, don't know the major players, and don't know what separates good fantasy from bad. I can only go by my personal taste.

Decoy, the first book in a trilogy, follows the story of Kaltor, a highborn young man with amazing powers - which he must keep hidden in order to blend in with his fellow trainees. Kaltor and his training pals are quickly thrown into a very dangerous situation. The action picks up and you are taken for a whirlwind ride as Kaltor races to stop an evil force.

This book held my interest, and I am always amazed when an author can just invent a completely different world than the one we live in. There were some familiar elements, but to build entire cities, class systems, etc., takes some serious imagination. The pace of the book was quite good - there always seemed to be action happening with every turn of the page.

The version I received had numerous mistakes, sometimes sporadic, and sometimes so concentrated that it would detract from my reading. I am hoping that this has since been corrected. My only other complaint with this book was that there seemed to be several loose ends that were left unresolved at the book's end. Keeping in mind that this is a series, I'm hoping to see some of those tied up in later books. However, there were minor things in the plot, such as a female bandit that was captured, that seemed like they might develop into something bigger, and never did.

I think this trilogy could be enjoyed by the young adult crowd as well as any fantasy fan. Like I said, it's not usually my cup of tea but I liked it!

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

{Review} Ashes by Kelly Cozy

ISBN #: 978-0985123451
Page Count: 370
Copyright: January 24, 2013
Publisher: Smite Publications

(Taken from back cover)

Anonymous. That was Jennifer's life. But when she survived a domestic terrorist attack and her last-minute escape became the iconic image of the event, that life was over. Wanting only to disappear and become just another face in the crowd, she cashed in on her unwanted fame and moved to a small town, hidden away and safe.

Retired. That was Sean's life. A former covert operative - the kind the government denies exists - he'd been pushed unwillingly into a life of suburban peace and quiet. But his retirement ended when he saw Jennifer's rescue; from then on he only wanted to find those responsible for the attack, even if it meant turning rogue. What Jennifer and Sean will both find is that nothing goes to plan, and their paths will cross in a way neither could have foreseen.

Charlene's Review:

Just another day at the office for Jennifer Thomson turned into a terrifying escape from a collapsing building. Targeted by terrorists, the Federal Building, and Jennifer's narrow escape makes the headlines. The lone survivor of her office, she is thrust, unwillingly to the forefront, and taunted by the deceased families and media. Sean Kincaid watched the events unfold on his television. Haunted by the crying girl being rescued by firefighters, he decides to take matters into his own hands and starts a cross-country journey to find those responsible and bring them to justice. As Jennifer attempts to start a new life, outside the events of that day, she is approached by Sean, offering the man responsible for the attack, and must face a critical decision.

Ashes is a bittersweet story of loss and survival. Writing from the mind-set of a survivor of a terror attack, as well as a well-meaning retired government operative bent on revenge, it flows effortlessly between the two while also drawing a vivid picture of both characters emotional state. Reminiscent of past American tragedies, Ashes is a reminder of innocence lost, and the path to healing. A beautiful tribute, albeit a painful one, to all sufferers of violent trauma, with just enough of a twist to keep you guessing. The ending left me breathless. It will resonate long past the last page, and leave you longing for the sequel. I will definitely be reading Reckoning in the fall.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

{Review} A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang

ISBN #: 978-1439198360
Page Count: 381
Copyright: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Abby's pact with a daemon - whether or not she remembers making it - is binding, so she'd better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there's nearly always a loophole. But her friends' reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal, then gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. On top of everything else, she's lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy. Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

Mandy's Review:

This is the third (and final?) book in this series. It's amazing to me just how much action is packed into these novels. If I were told beforehand everything that would happen, I would have a hard time figuring out just how it would all work. Somehow, though, Allison Pang does an extraordinary job of packing a ton of action into the pages of her novels yet makes it seem as effortless as breathing. They don't feel overwritten at all.

When this book starts off Abby still has amnesia. She believes herself to be engaged to Talivar and well-received by his mother, the Queen. One man changes that when he kills her. Thankfully Phin was there to save the day by using his horn to revive Abby (in case you forgot, Phineas, aka Phin, is a unicorn) and from there begins a whole slew of trouble for Abby to get herself in.

It still annoys me (just a little) that everything falls to Abby to try and solve, save, help, hinder, control, etc. I did appreciate that she was finally able to get a grip on her nightmares. She didn't eliminate them, but she learned how to live with them ... which was symbolic and could relate to anyone reading her story. We all have our own nightmares, things that frighten us and have control over us. Instead of trying to get rid of them altogether, perhaps we should take a closer look at them and figure out how they can help us. After all, our nightmares are a part of who we've become.

I enjoyed the progression of this series. The ending of this novel has some ambiguity to it and could be interpreted a couple different ways, but I think I'll take it to mean the most obvious: Abby lives happily ever after with her true love. No, I'm not going to tell you if she chose Talivar or Brystion. You'll just have to read this series for yourself to know that.

*A paperback copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

{TBR Pile Review} Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

ISBN #: 978-0312674397
Page Count: 208
Copyright: May 10, 2011 (Reprint Edition)
Publisher: Square Fish

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Melinda Sordino's freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends - and even strangers - all hate her. Months pass and things aren't getting better. She's a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she'll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.

Mandy's Review:

I included Speak in my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge for two reasons: One, I have heard and read gushing reviews and, two, I've experienced Melinda's situation in my own past. Because of those two reasons, my interest was piqued enough to purchase the book about a year or so ago.

When Speak first starts off, Melinda is a freshman in high school who doesn't speak, scares easily, has no friends, and the reader has no idea why. After some reading, we find out that her behavior is out of the ordinary ... a change her parents notice, but are clueless as to why. This I found difficult to believe. When a child does a complete 180 degree flip, shouldn't that indicate to the parents that their child has experienced something traumatic and doesn't know how to deal with it? How about some compassion, mom? How about forking over some money for therapy sessions, dad? Instead, they pretty much berate her for doing poorly in school and yell at her for not talking.

The high school friendships, or lack thereof, were completely believable. Peers are often cruel and brutally honest in high school and they often judge someone before knowing the whole story. The popular kids feel as if they're invincible and can get away with anything. On these aspects of the book, Ms. Anderson was on point.

I was (finally!) glad to see Melinda come to terms with her fear and get it under control. When people get tired of a situation or being a certain way, they'll find a way to change their circumstances ... and that's exactly what Melinda did. Kudos to her.

Overall, I can see how this book would reverberate within a young teenage girl who's had their own attack by The Beast, but for me ... I didn't really care for it. I know that I am probably shocking some of you, but I didn't. I'm not discounting the literary merits of Speak, because I believe that there are some. I am simply saying that this book was not life-changing for me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

{Back to the Classics} The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

ISBN #: 978-0684830490
Page Count: 96
Copyright: June 10, 1996
Publisher: Scribner

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.

Kathy's Review:
(Reprinted with Kathy's permission - Originally posted on her blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

I picked this book for the Back to the Classics challenge because initially I thought my book club was going to read it. But we went a totally different direction and read Gone Girl. However, with this pick still looming on my Challenge list, I decided to dive in and knock this one out.

I'm not sure how I escaped AP English and an English minor in college with minimal exposure to Hemingway, but this is my first real foray into his work. I've heard his writing described as simplistic. I'd say that's accurate. I have a son in second grade, who is really just starting to get the hang of reading, and at times, I pictured him reading passages from this book aloud to me. I think he'd be fully capable of doing so. He might not like it, but he could definitely read the words.

At its core this is an epic struggle of man vs. beast. Santiago, poorer than poor, older than old, is able to win a days-long battle with a huge marlin he manages to hook after a very long "unlucky" streak of not catching a fish. It almost kills him to bring this fish up, and then its immense size prohibits him from being able to get it into his boat. So instead he tows it along side, and basically feeds the local shark population on his way back into shore. Although in a total bad-ass fashion he kills a couple of sharks, losing his harpoon along the way.

I believe that when I read the final sentence of this book, I may have spoken aloud, or at the very least, thought to myself, "Well, that was f*cking depressing!" Even though the old man hooked the big fish he's been waiting his whole life for, you can't help but feel bad for the guy. First of all, his fishing buddy, a younger guy, has been forbidden to go with him because of his unlucky streak. So the entire time the old man is on the boat, he wishes he had his buddy with him to help. It's obvious he really cares about the fishing buddy. (And it's mutual; before the old man sets out to sea, his buddy brings him dinner and helps him out around his home.) Second, the triumph of catching the fish is completely deflated by the fact that the sharks turn his great catch into an all-u-can-eat buffet. By the time he gets into shore he is towing a skeleton. Third, it's clear that the old man doesn't have much left in him, and this may have been his final hurrah with the sea.

But, that being said, this is a short and easy read, very easy to understand, and a very simple story at its core. I'm sure that if I were back in AP English I'd be tasked with writing an essay about the deeper meanings of this book, but as I'm a grown-ass woman now, I will not be diving any deeper into Hemingway's work at this time. If you remember any of the underlying themes from your high school English class, please feel free to share in the comments.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

{TBR Pile Review} Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

ISBN #: 978-0812977868
Page Count: 334
Copyright: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

In the near future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of a Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of "printed, bound media artifacts" (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart?

Kathy's Review:
(Reprinted with Kathy's permission from her blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

This book has been on my radar since 2010, as it received literary attention that year, and from the cover and description, it looked different and interesting. I bought it in early 2011 at the airport in Cleveland, headed to Philly, while my boss at the time got a head and neck massage in a kiosk nearby and almost missed our flight, despite my urging that she "wrap it up." Read about 30 pages on the plane, but after that, I decided to take a hiatus from reading it. Not sure why.

After reading the book, I can say it is definitely different. Hipsterish. Smart in a way that some people might miss. A poke at American shallowness and a glimpse into a dystopian future that could await us. And as the title promises, there's a love story in there, as well. Lenny Abramov, pushing 40, balding, nerdy, falls for the young and beautiful Eunice Parks, a Korean girl whose main interests seem to be shopping online for the latest trends and pinging her friends and sister through the GlobalTeens network. This book seems to be both a spoof our current tech-obsessed culture and a gentle warning that we could be headed down the path to destruction of life as we know it. In SSTLS, China assumes financial control over the U.S. and any Low Net Worth Individuals (LNWI) are basically wiped out. Yikes!

Told through Lenny's diary entries and Eunice's GlobalTeens messages, SSTLS is a fully-imagined (not-so-distant) future world, full of its own catchphrases, new technologies and huge corporate conglomerates, F*ckability Ratings and more. Some of you may enjoy this poke at materialism; others may dismiss this novel entirely as hipsterish, pseudo-intellectual drivel dressed up in Cool People Words. I landed somewhere in the middle. At times, I was taken by the clever, slight humor Shteyngart infuses into the writing; at others, I was annoyed by the rather flat and mostly irritating characters and their self-absorbedness. (Is that a word?)

Glad I read it, but glad it's done. Back to Westeros!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

{Video & Giveaway} Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Last month we shared a book club kit for Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. We now have the privilege of sharing the new video and hosting a giveaway for this well-received novel. Please feel free to take a moment to watch the video below and then enter for your chance to win a galley of Me Before You.


Good Luck!!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

{Cover Reveal/Guest Post/Giveaways} The Dragon Carnivale by Heidi Garrett

Why Do I Write Fantasy? or You Never Know Who Might Show Up at Your Front Door

by Heidi Garrett

As long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with the truths that my physical senses cannot explain: the mystical things occurring on this planet. Writing fantastical stories is my testament to these other layers of reality.

There are many ways of looking at our world. Imagine sitting at home, perhaps in your living room. There's a knock on the door. When you open it, a funny little woman is standing there. She is about half your height, and a plaid crimson kerchief - knotted under her hooked chin - covers her head. Her dress is sack-like over her square body. She's wearing an apron that could use a good ironing and she's carrying a battered brown suitcase that's almost as big as she is.

"As long as you're staring, a glass of water would be nice," she says.

Despite her gruff manner, you sense something mysterious about this stranger, and to be honest, you're dying to know more about her. When she crosses the threshold of your home, a strong wind slams the door behind her. You both jump. There hasn't been a breeze all day. In fact, it's sweltering and heat waves have been rising from the melting pavement for weeks.

When you offer it, she almost grabs the glass from your hand, and you can't stop your staring - even though you know it's rude - as she drinks in noisy gulps.

"What? You've never seen a spring faerie before?" she asks.

Before you can answer, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. "Guess not, there aren't many of us left. And I haven't been to the Mortal World, since ..." She stops. Her deeply etched face softens. Something like sorrow pools in her dark brown eyes. She waves her hand. "That's not what I'm here to talk about."

Your heart tugs. You want to pull her from that sad place. "What's in your suitcase?"

She points to the table. "I'll show you."

The suitcase is filled with eyeglasses. There are so many. Some have square black frames, others have round wire frames; there are a few speckled frames with octagonal lenses. You spy a pair of purple ones.

She shoves a pair of thick black glasses into your hand. "Put these on. Tell me what you see."

With the eyeglasses settled on the bridge of your nose, you can't see anything but yourself. You blink. You can see your hands and feet, your legs and toes. But the spring faerie - if that's really what she is - is just a blur. You pull them off. She trades them for a pair of wire rims. With these glasses you can see her and your home.

"What's your name?" you ask.


"Like flowers blooming."

She nods and looks away with that whiff of sadness.

Again, there is something about her that pulls at your heart. You think of the miracle of spring after a long hard winter, and that she shouldn't be sad - if she really is a spring faerie.

"But ... you don't have any wings," you say.

She smooths the wrinkles in her apron. "Not all faeries do."

"But -"

She almost jerks the wire-rim spectacles from your nose. You reach for that purple pair. She doesn't stop you. Now, you can see down the street; your eyes travel the highway. Your view elevates, as if you are a bird. Soon you see the entire city you live in. With each pair of glasses, you see the bigger world.

When Flora tucks the temple arms of a pair of red frames behind your ears, perspective zooms around you. It's like the lens pulls you into outer space, and you can see the entire world and all the billions of people who live on Earth.

Your heart flutters in your chest; it's a lot to take in.

"Now-" Flora hands you a pair of fuchsia glasses with tiny rhinestones embedded in the frames. "Try on these."

When you put them on, you're able to see beyond the physical entirety of the world into the things that you've always known exist, but since you can't see, touch, smell, or hear them, sometimes you've doubted. But you'll never doubt again, because now - with these special glasses - you can actually see the bonds of love that death can never sever, the strings of fate that wrap the brown paper package of all our lives with twine, the tide of time that alters us, even as we never change ...

But most importantly, you've seen that you belong here, on this planet. And you know - without a shadow of a doubt - that everything fits. Including you.

"I don't ever want to take these glasses off," you say.

Flora is already cramming the rest of them back into her bag. "Then don't."

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie is a fairy tale fantasy series that bridges the Mortal and Enchanted worlds. The main character, Melia, is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal. She lives in Illialei, a country in the Enchanted World, with her two sisters and their mother. Melia's father has been exiled to the Mortal World, and her best friend is a pixie.

When the story opens in the first book, Melia is troubled by her dark moon visions, gossip she overhears about her parents at the local market, and the trauma of living among full-blooded faeries with wings - she doesn't have any.

As the series unfolds, the historic and mystical forces that shape Melia's life are revealed. Each step of her journey - to find the place where she belongs - alters her perceptions about herself, deepens her relationships with others, and enlarges her world view.

In The Dragon Carnivale, book 3 of The Queen of the Realm of Faerie, energies in the Enchanted World are shifting and new alliances are forming; the Battle of Dark and Light has begun. Melia is desperate to make things right with Ryder, the young priest from Idonne, but first she must warn the half-bloods in the Mortal World that Umbra is coming for them, and face the powerful Dragonwitch and her spectacular Dragon Carnivale.

The first two books in the series: Nandana's Mark and The Flower of Isbelline are currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. Nandana's Mark is free.

The Dragon Carnivale is scheduled for a June 18, 2013 release.

Sign up for Heidi Garrett's new release email list and receive a lavender and gold Half-Faerie bracelet while supplies last ... because you're a half-faerie, too, right?

Book Summaries:

Nandana's Mark (The Queen of the Realm of Faerie Book 1)

Dark visions haunt the half-faerie Melia, but try as she might, she cannot chase away the images of destruction that are linked to her father's ambitions. Looking for a way to stop him and the visions, she visits the Illustrator and is given a strange mark meant to bring her help. Before it arrives, a tragic accident occurs and a family's dark legacy is revealed.


The Flower of Isbelline (The Queen of the Realm of Faerie Book 2)

The half-faerie Melia wants to save her sister from a false marriage, and their world from a dark power. But her sister is determined to pursue their father's damning legacy, and the cost of denying true love will be apocalyptic.

Author Bio & Book Links:

Heidi Garrett is the author of The Queen of the Realm of Faerie series. Her personal message to all her readers is:

Once upon a time, you lived in an enchanted world, too ...

There is magic in all our lives; sometimes we need to look through different eyes to see it.

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie includes many strong female characters within an intricate fantasy land. It is also a fairy tale fantasy.

The first book, Nandana's Mark, is one of those free ebooks; the second book, The Flower of Isbelline, is now available; and the third book, The Dragon Carnivale, will be released in June 2013.

The series was inspired by the 15th century French fairy tale, Melusine.

Heidi's hope is that when you read her books, you will rediscover the enchantment in your own life.

She currently resides in eastern Washington with her husband and their two cats. So far, she loves the snow. Being from the South, she finds it magical.

Learn more about Heidi and enjoy her stream-of-consciousness reading journal, Eating Magic, at

If you want to say hello, give her a shout out on Twitter at @heidigwrites or on Facebook at

Book Links


The first giveaway is being hosted by the author and is for a $25 American Express Gift Card. Enter below for your chance to win.

The second giveaway is being hosted by us. This giveaway begins now and will end on March 31, 2013. Enter for your chance to win an e-copy of both Nandana's Mark and The Flower of Isbelline along with a lavender and gold Half-Faerie silicone bracelet (see picture above).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Choose the Cover!

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, is letting her fans choose the US cover of her new novel The Signature of All Things! The Signature of All Things is an epic novel of love, ambition and 19th century botanical exploration, coming out from Viking on October 1st.

Voting on three potential book covers will end Sunday night. The contest is running on Gilbert's Facebook page. You can click here for USA Today's coverage including quotes from Gilbert.

I hope you'll take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!

{Review} Singularity by Joe Hart

ISBN #: 978-0615766546
Page Count: 210
Copyright: February 6, 2013
Publisher: Black Spine Books

(Taken from back cover)

BCA Special Agent Sullivan Shale has seen his share of violence and death. He's become weathered and haunted by the harsh reality of his career yet continues on despite a crippling personal loss. But when one of the largest penitentiaries in Minnesota calls requesting an investigation into an inmate's brutal death, even his expertise is pushed to the limit.

Singleton Penitentiary, located in the middle of an inhospitable swamp, has become an island amidst a torrential flood. The prisoners are silent, the staff is belligerent, and the murder committed in one of the solitary confinement cells is unimaginable.

Cut off from the outside world and faced with insurmountable odds, Shale must uncover a secret stretching back half a century and race against time to save himself and perhaps all of humanity from an insidious threat, that may not be human.

Charlene's Review:

Even as a veteran of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Special Agent Sullivan Shale could never be prepared for the horror he is summoned to investigate. Arriving by boat to the flooded island that Singleton Penitentiary has become, Sullivan and his partner, Barry Stevens become witnesses to a grotesque and mysterious crime scene shrouded by silence. Unable to leave the prison, Sullivan and Barry settle in to solve the mystery, and soon find themselves hunted by an unrecognizable foe.

I settled in to start reading, for just a bit before bed, and next thing I knew, I was closing the final page. This is a hypnotic nail-biter from start to finish. I would LOVE to see this as a movie. Or maybe I wouldn't. It was horrifying enough to just imagine. The imagery of the crime and fear of the characters is palpable, and the depth of surprise and terror when the truth is revealed is incredible. No spoilers here. You have to read it for yourself!

Not a huge fan of thrillers, but this one is on my favorites list for this year. A must read for lovers of this genre. Horror has a new name, and it's Joe Hart.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{Blog Tour - Book Blast/Giveaway} Feathered: Being a Fairy Tale by Tom Weston

Welcome to Tom Weston's Feathered Book Blast! Here's your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash PLUS an autographed copy of his new fantasy, Feathered: Being a Fairy Tale! Feathered is the 3rd book in the Alex and Jackie Adventure Series and we're so happy to bring you not only a great giveaway but tell you all about Tom and his new book. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents and ends on March 29.

Whenever Alexandra Caroline O'Rourke, AKA Alex, met with trouble, she generally blamed her younger sister, Jackie. And Alex's sudden engagement to marry a Viking prince, against her will, probably classified as trouble. If nothing else, a wedding held in 11th century Ireland would make it difficult to invite her friends from San Diego. Regardless of blame, Jackie was the only person who could help Alex, but Jackie was still in the 21st century. And Jackie had her own problems, which included uncooperative fairies and strange songs which only she could hear. But most of all, if Jackie could not find a way to make it rain, marauding Vikings would be the least of their worries, because this is Feathered: Being a Fairy Tale and this is an Alex and Jackie Adventure.

Purchase Your Copy:

The Author:

Award winning writer and film-maker, Tom Weston, returns to the fantasy genre for his 3rd novel in the Alex and Jackie Adventure series, FEATHERED: BEING A FAIRY TALE. Originally from England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning his hand to fiction, Tom had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, conference speaker and writer of industry articles and business books. But determining that the business world lacked a sense of humor, Tom decided to hand in his jacket and tie and instead turned to the world of literature. His novel, FIRST NIGHT, set in Boston during the New Year's Eve festival, introduced the unlikely heroines, Alex and Jackie, and the ghost of a 17th century Puritan named Sarah Pemberton. FIRST NIGHT won an Honorable Mention in the Middle-Grade/Young Adult category, in the Writers Digest 17th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel to FIRST NIGHT, called THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG, was published in January, 2010. As with FIRST NIGHT, THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG is also a supernatural mystery, with a blend of humor and history that has become Tom's trademark. Following the publication of THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG, Tom turned to the medium of film to produce and direct the award winning animated short, THERE BE MONSTERS!, based on one of his TALES FROM THE GREEN DRAGON TAVERN. Tom also wrote the critically acclaimed and award winning, Historical Fiction novel, FISSION, based on the true life story of scientist, Lise Meitner. Tom is now working on a new animated short called DANCING DAISY DAY.

Visit Tom Online:

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash and an autographed copy of his book, FEATHERED!!! (Ends March 29, 2013)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

{Review} American Princess by Brittany Nicole Sanford

ISBN #: 978-1451527117
Page Count: 228
Copyright: April 27, 2010
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

The unlikely heroine is a girl named Penny Jackson. She was born with an unfortunate nature of having extra large ears - among other unflattering qualities a typical teenage girl can obsess over.

She is quite particular about what she likes to hear so Penny takes to ignoring whatever is unpleasant to her adept ears. She and her music device are inseparable. When the beat starts, Miss Jackson is constantly swept away into her own world; in this fantasy she is a rock star and a fashion goddess.

Very quickly Penny develops a new talent - one that takes ever far far away from reality.

Charlene's Review:

Penny is your typical teenager. Whenever she has to deal with something boring or mundane, she puts on her earphones and proceeds to block out the world. She is also no stranger to trouble, as her daydreaming ways often find her in detention, or worse. However, her daydreams start bringing her a new reality one day that makes her appreciate her life just a little bit more.

American Princess is a fun, light read with heaps of creativity and mysticism. A very simple writing style that occasionally gets off track, but the basic storyline is enjoyable and the teen angst and emotion is spot-on. I especially enjoyed the illustrations, also done by the writer, Ms. Sanford. They added a fun, quirky quality that most books do not have. This is a dreamy, young adult fantasy by a very imaginative writer.

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 18, 2013

{Review} Mental Pause by Anne L. O'Connell

ISBN #: 978-0984927227
Page Count: 228
Copyright: March 7, 2013
Publisher: Anne O'Connell

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Abbie Slocum, a forty-something, average, middle of the road, housewife and mother of teenage twin boys, tries desperately to keep her outwardly idyllic life together while spiraling into a dark pit of menopausal insanity. Her mind races with suicidal, murderous thoughts so outside of her normal character that it frightens her. The only person she can share the graphic images from her hormonally addled mind with is her best friend, Rachel, recently separated, and the mysterious and titillating Joan, a new friend from Rachel's singles support group.

Women have survived this female passage of life since the beginning of time! Why was Abbie having so much trouble handling it? As the battle to maintain her sanity rages on, Abbie, Rachel and Joan stumble into unfortunate, borderline comical, circumstances that lead to wild nights, experimenting with drugs and two suspicious deaths.

Abbie's cop husband, Conrad, tries desperately to understand what's happening to his normally sweet wife. While vying for promotion, his family gets embroiled in a media frenzy that swirls around a murder trial in which Abbie is the primary suspect.

Abbie takes the reader on an old jalopy ride of uncharacteristic outbursts and wild escapism that leads to tragedy and finally into court where she just might have to plead 'temporary insanity.'

Mandy's Review:


Talk about having a mental breakdown, or pause!

Abbie has been experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, but not just normal ones. These are like the mother of all hot flashes and night sweats. Of course, what is normal when it comes to this body change? I am not of the age to begin experiencing this life change, but I've seen my mother and co-worker go through it. Their symptoms were bad, but nowhere near as bad as Abbie's. It makes me wonder if Abbie's were exaggerated ... of course, this is fiction so why not exaggerate them?!

On top of the emotional turmoil of going through menopause, Abbie has been in the wrong place at the wrong time ... twice. She has been arrested and goes on trial for two murders. Abbie didn't commit the murders (no spoiler, the reader is aware of this the entire book), but can her lawyer prove to the jury that she's innocent?

I was surprisingly pleased with this book. It is well-written and, for the most part, realistic. The book flows easily so the reader has no trouble staying engaged in the story. While it's not an edge-of-your-seat-thriller, it is a nice quick escape into the world of mild suspense. If you enjoy mysteries or suspense stories but don't want anything too "heavy," then this is the book for you.

*An ecopy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

{Review} When Smiles Fade by Paige Dearth

ISBN #: 978-1475096927
Page Count: 464
Copyright: January 23, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Emma was unloved from the moment she was born. Her earliest memory is being severely beaten by her father, Pepper Murphy, when she was just eight-years old. Seething with resentment over the sacrifice of his dreams for a woman he cares little about and children he never wanted, Pepper chooses to blame his older daughter. Her mother, Valerie, makes matters worse with her verbal abuse, leaving Emma isolated with a man that had no boundaries in punishing his daughter, taking his abuse to unimaginable levels.

Emma's father's coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

Charlene's Review:

Emma and her sister Gracie are born into a frightening cycle of abuse at the hands of their parents. When their father dies, their mother finds a new man that continues the abuse, as she looks on. When Gracie is nearly killed by the man, the girls leave home in search of safety and peace. Living on the streets introduces them to new levels of violence, but Emma is focused on the future, and nothing is going to stop her.

When Smiles Fade is a formidable tome. Not only is its sheer size a challenge for the light reader, the magnitude of the contents and their graphic nature lends itself to careful reading. This is not a book for the squeamish, and I strongly caution child abuse survivors of possible triggers in the storyline. The levels of abuse are horrendous and made even more so because they are sadly believable.

Ms. Dearth has a gift for storytelling that she herself describes as an escape from her own child abuse. While I found some of the details extraneous, the whole of the book is astounding in its detail and emotional zest. The ending is truly unexpected and left me breathless. This is the second of Ms. Dearth's books I have reviewed and, given her success thus far, I see many more in her future.

4 out of 5 stars.

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

{Book Tour/Review} Goodnight, Brian by Steven Manchester

ISBN #: 978-1611880618
Page Count: 308
Copyright: January 8, 2013
Publisher: The Story Plant

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was devastating and absolute. Fate had written off Brian. But fate didn't count on a woman as determined as Brian's grandmother, Angela DiMartino - who everyone knew as Mama. Loving her grandson with everything she had, Mama endeavored to battle fate. Fate had no idea what it was in for.

An emotional tale about the strength of family bonds, unconditional love, and the perseverance to do our best with the challenging gifts we receive, Goodnight, Brian is an uplifting tribute to what happens when giving up is not an option.

Mandy's Review:

Anybody who read my review of Steven's other book, Twelve Months, knows how much of an emotional impact he made on me. He quickly became one of my must-read authors, so I had to say "yes!" when I was offered the opportunity to review Goodnight, Brian for this virtual book blog tour hosted by Providence Book Promotions.

Angela DiMartino became the focal character in this book, not Brian (at least for me). She was the one making personal sacrifices. She was the one determined that Brian beat the odds and she made sure everyone else in the family took part in his success. She was the one whose house everyone gathered at twice a week. She was the one calling Brian every night to see how his day was. Angela, or Mama, was definitely the main character, and a great one. Reading about her as a person and her role in her family made me want to know her and call her my grandmother.

When I read Twelve Months, I thought Steven writing in a timeline format was for the purposes of that book. As I began reading Goodnight, Brian, though, I realized that the timeline formatted writing style is simply Steven's preferred way to write. Each time period is segmented in some way so that the reader doesn't get confused. This style doesn't work for a lot of authors, but it seems to work well for Steven. If it's not broke, don't fix it and all that ...

While Goodnight, Brian had some emotional moments, it didn't grip me by the heartstrings like his other book. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn't my favorite. I would still recommend Steven as an author you need to read, especially if you enjoy faith-filled fiction based in reality.

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the tour host for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 15, 2013

{Review} Delilah Dusticle by A. J. York

File Size: 220 KB
Page Count: 33
Copyright: March 3, 2013
Publisher: A. J. York

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Delilah Dusticle has special powers, she can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters Delilah can run up walls and reaches places others just can't. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house Delilah's unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an unexpected turn.

This is the first in a series of touching and funny stories about Delilah Dusticle. Follow her on a journey of self-discovery, friendship and adventure.

Mandy's Review:

Delilah reminds me of Rosie from the futuristic cartoon, The Jetsons. She can go up walls and eradicate dust from every person, crevice, it doesn't matter what or where it is. There's a catch to Delilah's skills, though ... they only seem to work when she's happy and content.

Unrequited love can be very hurtful and that's how Delilah becomes extremely sad and depressed. Once her heart is broken, Delilah starts trailing dust everywhere. Dust even puffs out of her mouth when she speaks, which I find slightly disgusting and it made me want to clean just reading about it. For a little girl reading this story, though, it's very emotional and has a magical feel to it.

Eventually, Delilah becomes best friends with the last person she ever expected. As their friendship grows, Delilah becomes happy again and is able to eradicate dust once more. This first book in the series does end happily for Delilah and I was glad to see it.

This would make the perfect book for little girls, probably around 7 or 8 years old. To be a short story, it has a lot happening. Don't mistake what I write, though ... even though there's a lot happening the story does not feel rushed or lacking in any way. It really is the perfect little story to read to your daughter, niece, granddaughter, etc.

*An ecopy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

{Review} A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang

ISBN #: 978-1439198346
Page Count: 400
Copyright: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Just when her new life as a TouchStone - a mortal bound to help OtherFolk cross between Faery and human worlds - seems to be settling down, Abby Sinclair is left in charge when the Protectorate, Moira, leaves for the Faery Court. And when the Protectorate's away ... let's just say things spiral out of control when a spell on Abby backfires and the Faery Queen declares the Doors between their worlds officially closed. The results are disastrous for both sides: OtherFolk trapped in the mortal world are beginning to fade, while Faery is on the brink of war with the daemons of Hell. Along with her brooding elven prince Talivar and sexy incubus Brystion, Abby ventures to the CrossRoads in an attempt to override the Queen's magic. But nothing in this beautiful, dangerous realm will compare to the discoveries she's making about her past, her destiny, and what she will sacrifice for those she loves.

Mandy's Review:

This book begins pretty much where A Brush of Darkness left off. Abby's trying to recuperate from Brystion leaving her and from being injured during her stint inside a nightmarish painting. Once again, Moira has left Abby by herself. I'm not sure why Moira's even the Protectorate. It's been two books now and we barely know anything about her. I agree with Brystion's assessment that too much is often put upon Abby to figure out.

Talivar has begun expressing his interest in Abby and wants to court her. I don't like the thought of Talivar and Abby together. He just seems to be the rebound and we all know that never ends well for the rebound person. Having him interested in Abby does give a nice balance to Brystion's bad boy persona. If I was Abby, though, Talivar wouldn't have a chance. He seems just a little too needy and apt to smother her. Abby seems a little like me: independent and wants freedom to do what she wants when she wants. If Abby and Talivar do become a couple, he better man up and stop being so needy. I have a feeling that an emotionally smothered Abby will not be a happy Abby.

I liked that Abby, and we, learned more about her past, specifically dealing with her parents. In the first book, we knew her mother died but we didn't know anything about her father. Abby has more family connections in Faery than she realizes and the Queen is not happy about it. Of course, the Queen is going mentally insane so who knows how she really feels about anything.

The book ends on a huge cliffhanger (which annoyed me and made me happy all at the same time). Now I just HAVE to read the third book to see how this all comes out. Will Abby continue to be with Talivar or will she give in to her desires and hook back up with Brystion? What's going to happen to the person at the end of this book who did the most unexpected thing (if I told you who or what it was then it'd ruin the ending for you)? This series is definitely a must read for all you paranormal lovers out there!

*A paperback copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

{Review} Four Days by JP Murphy

File Size: 262 KB
Page Count: 69

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Sydney, a single forty-ish career woman, who is also straight, decides on a spur-of-the-moment weekend on an island in the Caribbean - why ever shouldn't she? Her relaxing "do nothing" weekend turns into four days of incredible sex with a local woman, Carla, who lives overseas and is also on the island for a few days of R and R. Sydney must return to work with an outwardly calm manner whilst her insides are churning with excitement and the inevitable question - is she straight or gay or bi, and does it even matter?

Mandy's Review:

I'm going to try and keep this review PG because I know there are followers who aren't "of age."

This is going to sound mean, but I don't know any other way to put it ... Not everyone should be an author. I don't mind reading a bit of erotica now and then, but this was extremely boring and repetitive. A lot of 'ooooohs' and 'aaaaahhhs' and 'mmmmms' filled these pages ... really? If you're going to write erotica people, try to be a little more imaginative.

Sydney traveled to Jamaica for a 4-day vacation from work. Her first night there, she meets Carla and then they begin fingering each other. Now, don't get me wrong, if I were a single woman traveling to Jamaica I'd be tempted to engage in a little sexual exploration. I don't care if he invents a whole fictional background for himself, but I at least want some information and just a little bit of wooing before hitting the sack with him. What I find hard to believe about Sydney and Carla was that they JUST MET and only knew each other's names. It pretty much went like this:

"Hi, I'm Sydney."

"Carla. Nice to meet you."

Finger, finger, kiss, finger, thumb, ooohhh, aaahhh, climax, smile.

And it pretty much went that way for the whole four days. Every time I turned around they had their face and fingers on and in each other. It was like watching two human bunnies on crack with some Ecstasy thrown in. By the way, the above was my paraphrasing on what actually happened, but it's pretty darn close.

And, oh my gosh, the internal non-stop monologue Sydney has in this "book." It was like reading a timeline: I feel wonderfully refreshed after last night's sleep, think I'll have some coffee to help me get going, do I even have coffee, why yes I do, I'll go put it in the coffeepot and take a shower while it's brewing. Mmmm, the coffee smells heavenly, now what do I want for breakfast to go with my delicious coffee? Granola and cereal? Why, yes, I think that will do nicely ... and on and on and on and on. Thank God this was only 69 pages ... even then, I almost didn't finish reading this story.

Sorry, JP Murphy, but you do not need to put any more "books" like this out on the market.

*An ecopy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

{Review} A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang

ISBN #: 978-1439198322
Page Count: 343
Copyright: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn't at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as-sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus's whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart - and there's no one she can trust to save her.

Mandy's Review:

Now this is a fantasy book that I can get behind! I absolutely loved Abby. Her sarcasm and dry humor were right up my alley and I found myself laughing at her too many times to count. Had Abby been real, her and I would've become fast friends.

Abby's life changed more than she realized six months prior. She knew she was a Touchstone, a human who enables an OtherWorld creature to be permanently "grounded" in this world, but she never realized she was more. Her other abilities showed themselves during her helping Brystion figure out the specifics of his sister's disappearance. Surprisingly, as a Touchstone, Abby possesses very limited knowledge about the OtherWorld. She should have had better training.

Brystion is definitely sexy, but that's partly due to how Abby imagines him to be. Brystion's true self is not-so-sexy and I was a little grossed out that Abby had sex with him in his true form towards the end. He turns out to be not so trustworthy, which disappointed me although his sneakiness is probably more in line with his true nature ... so I understand his actions, I just don't like them.

Phineas, Abby's unicorn, is a little disgusting but funny too. He was definitely not what I pictured a unicorn to be and that's what I liked the most about him. I'm glad he had a "rough" edge about him rather than being syrupy sweet.

The author has done an excellent job of giving all of the characters their own personalities. Each one stood out as individuals, but they blended together well to form this wonderfully entertaining story. Overall this was an excellent start to a promising series. I almost declined to read this series when asked about them, but I am so very glad I did. I cannot wait to see what happens in the second book!

*A paperback copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 11, 2013

{Blog Tour - Review} All About Me: A Journey to the Inside by Elvie Dell

ISBN #: 978-1621370789
Page Count: 88
Copyright: January 7, 2013
Publisher: Publishing

(Taken from back cover)

This book is for born-again Christian believers who find themselves frustrated and confused with internal battles and silently ask themselves, "What's wrong with me? Everyone else seems to have it all together." The key word is seems! There is a rest for God's people!

II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if we are in Christ, we are a new creature, old things have passed away and all things have become new. If you're still struggling with a lot of "old" in you, this may be the insight you long for.

Being saved doesn't mean an instant personality make-over. The new creature this scripture refers to is our spirit man. We are a 3-part being: spirit, soul, and body. Gaining a better understanding of ourselves and learning to differentiate between the three helps bring us peace.

As people begin to recognize where their struggles really lie, and how to hear from their spirits, they find peace in the knowledge of what's normal and common to us all as part of the human experience. Learning to walk out this new found freedom is a fascinating journey. We can rest in the assurance that God has a good plan for our lives.

Charlene's Review:

This incredibly compact "Christian Users Manual" is a jam-packed with down-to-earth, solid Biblical advice. Written with the understanding that being born-again doesn't end our struggles, Ms. Dell walks readers through a step-by-step guide to hearing the Spirit speaking to you, and how our minds and bodies often block out that voice, due to emotion and our sinful nature. No matter where you are in your walk with God, there is something here to help direct you towards the person God calls you to be. I truly admired the simplicity and sincerity of the author, in her writing.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this tour in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

{Review} Legends of the Dragonrealm: Shade by Richard A. Knaak

ISBN #: 978-1451656077
Page Count: 321
Copyright: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Survivor of a once-mighty race of sorcerers, the spellcaster known to those of the Dragonrealm simply as Shade struggles to find an end to the curse he brought upon himself millennia ago in his hope to escape death ... and worse. Instead of immortality, he was condemned to an endless series of lives alternating between darkness and light, with "death" only resurrecting him over and over. His blurred features and unstable but terrible powers a threat to friend and foe alike, the hooded sorcerer must defy not only those who would manipulate him, but also his very self. Worse, he must do so always aware that even the land itself may have sinister designs upon him ...

Mandy's Review:

Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment to me. Before I begin what I didn't like, though, let me say what I did like.

First, the cover is absolutely gorgeous! When you see the book in person, instead of just a picture at the top of a blog post, the colors really pop and are exciting to look at. It was the main reason why I decided to give this book a chance. I mean, if the cover is this exciting then the story inside has to be also ... right?

I also enjoyed the cast of characters and the majority of the settings in this story. They were varied and interesting to read about. They blended well together and helped to form a cohesive landscape for Shade's journey.

Okay ... what I didn't like ...


Rather, I didn't like how Shade was portrayed. He didn't feel real to me. I know he was a 'shadow' or a 'blur,' but he still had human emotions and feelings. My issue with Shade's story is it didn't feel very exciting. He sort of faded into the settings.

Another thing that annoyed me immensely is the repetition of the seemingly impossible turned probable. I sense an example is needed. Okay ... for example ... in the beginning Shade was in a shop looking for an object. He noticed some magic at work set in place by a very powerful wizard. Shade wasn't sure if he would be able to break the spell. He concentrated and then *gasp* what's this?! A teeny-tiny error in the spell that Shade just so happened to find and was miraculously able to use to break the spell. This type of scenario didn't just happen once. It happened over and over again. I mean, come on, I'm all for the shunned main character getting the best of someone who seems more powerful than him, but there HAS to be a limit to his good luck. It became redundant and greatly unimaginative, which turned me off from this book.

Sorry to all you fantasy-lovers out there who enjoyed this series, but this was certainly not my cup of tea.

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

{Review} Cooper Moon: The Temptation by Cheryl Shireman

ISBN #: 978-1625660084
Page Count: 358
Copyright: December 5, 2012
Publisher: Still Waters Publishing

(Taken from back cover)

Welcome back to the small town of Timber Lake, Michigan. The streets may be relatively quiet, but a lot is going on behind closed doors! Most of it revolves around the most attractive man in town, Cooper Moon. Once a womanizer and a liar, Cooper is trying to change his ways. Unfortunately, that's not so easy. One of his ex-girlfriends is determined to seduce him, he is about to receive a blackmail note from another ex-girlfriend, and his wife is tired of his cheating ways. Trouble is brewing, faith is wavering, and love is being tested.

Full of unexpected twists and turns, Cooper Moon: The Temptation is sure to keep you turning pages!

Charlene's Review:

Picking up where Cooper Moon: The Calling left off, The Temptation returns us to Timber Lake after the opening Sunday of Cooper's new church. Still trying to repair the damage of his past, Cooper faces continuing trials with his ex, Libby, who won't let go, a newly interested, Lucy, and his wife, Sally, who still struggles to believe in his new-found faith. In addition, Cooper is being blackmailed, and things just aren't what they appear.

Cooper, while definitely not in running for saint status, is a likable, well-meaning man bent on doing the right thing against tremendous odds. I love how Ms. Shireman takes Cooper's Sunday sermons and adds just a touch of religion without making the reading heavy, with Cooper making the statement that he remembers the passage from Matthew as having been read by Linus in Charlie Brown.

Opening to the first page was like dropping in on old friends. Ms. Shireman has a way of writing that brings life to the town and its people and I feel as if I've known them forever. From Jake, the local cop with secrets of his own, to the gang at Bass Turds, the local watering hole, Timber Lake is full of interesting and conspiring characters. I am addicted to this series. I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens in Timber Lake next!

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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