Wednesday, December 31, 2014


ISBN #: 978-1462115396
Page Count: 200
Copyright: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Break the recipe code for your favorite foods! Free of grains, gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy, The Recipe Hacker is a mouthwatering collection of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Learn to use easy ingredient substitutions to transform traditional dishes into real, healthy comfort food masterpieces, without sacrificing any of the flavor! Enjoy healthier, whole-food versions of Key Lime Pie Crispy Orange Chicken and Banana Pancakes.

Step-by-step photos, dozens of recipes, and delicious flavors will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy all the comfort foods you crave and keep your body (and skinny jeans) happy at the same time!

Mandy's Review:

I know what you're thinking, "How can it still taste good without gluten, dairy, soy, grain, or cane sugar?!" I had the same thought. I chose to review this cookbook because my husband and I need to get on a healthier lifestyle program and this request came in just as I made the decision that we would try the gluten-free route.

Confession time: I didn't follow any one recipe exactly. Like Diana, I, too, am a recipe hacker. I like to read recipes and then tweak them to our liking. Especially since I'm not quite ready to give up any dairy products just yet.

The cookbook is divided up into 5 sections: Breakfasts, Appetizers, Main Dishes, Sides, and Desserts. So, if you were so inclined, you could plan an entire day's menu out of this one book. My intentions were to try one recipe from each section. I didn't quite get that far (I'll explain later).

Since I already had some bananas on hand, off to the store I went for gluten-free flour and organic cane sugar (recipe calls for coconut palm sugar and blanched almond flour - told you, I'm a recipe hacker) to make the Banana Pancakes on pages two and three. I must say, for a healthier version, these pancakes were yummy! My pancakes didn't have a strong banana flavor. I think a banana's used to mostly help bind the batter as well as sweeten it just a tad (especially since you're supposed to use a ripe banana). Overall, breakfast was a success!

Next, I wanted to try a dessert since I've heard that a lot of gluten-free desserts are cloyingly sweet. No, I'm not a huge sweets fan. As a matter of fact, if I eat or drink too much sugar I become nauseous. Upon seeing the Zucchini Brownies recipe on pages 196 and 197, I knew I wanted to try these next. There is some work involved in this recipe since you have to shred, squeeze out the excess water, and mince the zucchini. It really is worth it, though. No, they don't taste exactly like your fudgey, ooey-gooey brownies that you're used to, but these will satisfy that sweet tooth ... and they're healthier for you.

I feel like I need to give you a fair warning: if you're like me and living on a budget, you may want to consider the cost of living gluten-free before completely switching over. Granted, a healthier you is priceless, but there is quite a cost difference between items that include gluten and those that don't. For example: a 5 pound bag of AP flour can be gotten for between $2 and $3. I bought a 2 pound box of gluten-free AP flour for $5.38. As a cost-conscious shopper, paying more for less was not a pleasing thought but I also knew that changing our lifestyle would incur additional costs. I just wasn't expecting it to be quite so much.

Overall, though, I would have to say this cookbook is a success and should be tried by those of you looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Although I may not have followed some of these recipes exactly, this cookbook has inspired me to look at the recipes I make on a daily basis and see where I can cut out the gluten for healthier versions. I encourage you to become your own recipe hacker!

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

{Release Day Review & US Giveaway} MOTH AND SPARK by Anne Leonard

ISBN #: 978-0143126218
Page Count: 384
Copyright: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

A prince with a quest, a beautiful commoner with mysterious powers, and dragons who demand to be freed—at any cost

Filled with the potent mix of the supernatural and romance that made A Discovery of Witches a runaway success, Moth and Spark introduces readers to a vibrant world—and a love story they won’t soon forget.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the power Mycenean Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in Caithenor that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming. Torn between his quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, Tam and Corin must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.

Mandy's Review:

Fair warning, this review will have a bit of a spoiler. I try not to give spoilers in my reviews but I need to this time in order to explain some of my feelings.

First, I will say, the novel is beautifully written in that Anne Leonard presents a world in which I would enjoy living. She has presented a new twist on fantasy that works well with a reader's imagination. There's a bit of a love story thrown in, for all you romantics out there, which is a pretty recognizable situation: well-to-do nobleman has an illicit love affair with a commoner.

Corin is not like other nobleman, though. He is tired of the games the courtiers play in order to win his affections. No longer do the plunging necklines, heaving bosoms, and dainty actions have an effect on his libido. As soon as he sees Tam, he is smitten and, soon, in love.

Tam is only at court because her sister-in-law is a courtier. She feels it an obligation to come to court to help where she can. Seeing Corin for the first time, she thought he was a soldier and falls in love immediately. Finding out he's the prince to the throne, Tam realizes that their love can never fruition into what she'd like to have most: marriage and children.

***** Here comes the spoiler *****

Circumstances are soon out of the king's control when war breaks out. Corin must go out with his soldiers and try to hold off the enemy as much as they can. Before he leaves for battle, Corin's father, the king, marries Corin and Tam in the middle of the hall ... which made me feel a little confused. The book summary and the story leading up to this point almost adamantly stated that the prince would not be able to marry a commoner. It was forbidden. Then, after the marriage is done and Corin and Tam are back together again, it's stated that who the prince marries isn't actually a law but more of a known fact. Putting that in the novel almost made it seem like an afterthought, like the author was trying to justify why she allowed the two to marry after making us feel like it was a law of the kingdom that the prince could not marry below his station.

I'll try not to give any more spoilers as I finish up my review ... Corin finally has his chance at the end of the novel to free the dragons, as was his mission from the start. And, I hate to say this, but the ending was a little anti-climactic for me. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Overall, Moth and Spark was a novel I rather enjoyed. Should there be sequels I will read them. The two issues I had with the novel were really  minimal in the scope of the entire story, so please do not let that stop you from grabbing your own copy ... especially if you enjoy a good fantasy novel with a bit of romance thrown into the pot.

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


This giveaway is for one physical copy of MOTH AND SPARK to a U.S. resident. The giveaway will close on January 2nd. The winner will be randomly chosen and will have 48 hours to respond with their U.S. mailing address (no PO boxes, please).

Good luck!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

{The Bookish Inquisition} Author Chat Invite: Jackie Parry

Our next author chat will take place next Sunday, January 4th, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. We will be chatting with Jackie Parry, Of Foreign Build author.

After suffering an emotionally-brutal bereavement and against her counsellor’s advice, Jackie ran away. Suddenly within a new culture, with a new husband, and no friends, she was living in the obscure world of cruising with zero knowledge of boats.

Crashing within the first twenty-four hours, Jackie realised life would never be the same again; a floating home with no fridge or hot water, and with a dinghy instead of a car. Suffering self doubts, she became fearful of her new world.

The first off-shore voyage took Jackie into a ferocious storm, which battered her physically and mentally. Amid the raging seas, Jackie shed the fear she’d been harbouring.

Soon she was blissfully voyaging around the world, but she still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels in love with another.

Not only did Jackie deal successfully with the challenges of her new existence, she also battled with the testosterone fuelled nautical world to become both a professional captain and a qualified maritime teacher.

Most importantly, Jackie found herself.

To Join the Chat:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0104)
5.) Click the "Join" button

*Reminder: The room will not be open until 30 minutes before the chat is to begin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

{2014 TBR Pile Challenge Review} THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling

ISBN #: 978-0316228534
Page Count: 503
Copyright: September 27, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

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

Talk about high expectations. Rowling had some moderate success with a children’s series, the name of which escapes me right now … Porter? Barry Porter? Anyway, this was Rowling’s first foray into the world of grown-ups, and with a pedigree that included such a beloved series, it’s hard to not expect greatness.


I really struggled to like this book. I don’t know if I ever got there with it. For starters, the book suffers from an ailment known as “TooManyCharacteritis” which is characterized by a meandering plotline including lots of protagonists, leaving the reader confused as to who is the hero at the center of the story. Was it Andrew? Krystal? Each character has good qualities and bad qualities, which I guess is like in real life. But with so many characters (which took me til more than halfway through the book to sort out and remember who was who and married to whom), it’s hard to establish who is driving the story.

The story centers around the death of a member of parish council and the politics and the relationships forged in this small town where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone’s business. From the perspectives of both adults and teens, Rowling provides a complete landscape of Pagford and its intricacies. But at the end, do we care?

Sure, there’s people and events that are recognizable as part of any community. But at 500+ pages, and with an end result that left me extremely disappointed, I’m not sure I would recommend anyone become emotionally invested in this book and its characters. I’m not sure what Rowling was going for, here. In a world like Harry’s, where good ultimately triumphs over evil, I guess I was expecting the “good guys” to win in the end. Not to give anything away, but that doesn’t happen. There. I saved you 500 pages worth of reading. Go re-read Harry Potter, or try her crime fiction written under the pen name of Robert Galbraith, instead.

If I hadn’t been reading this for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge (one more book to go!), I’d probably have abandoned this one mid-way.

Monday, December 22, 2014

{Review} WHY HOMER MATTERS by Adam Nicolson

ISBN #: 978-1627791793
Page Count: 320
Copyright: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Adam Nicolson sees the Iliad and the Odyssey as the foundation myths of Greek—and our—consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.

Why Homer Matters is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by the poems themselves and their metaphors of life and trouble. Homer’s poems occupy, as Adam Nicolson writes “a third space” in the way we relate to the past: not as memory, which lasts no more than three generations, nor as the objective accounts of history, but as epic, invented after memory but before history, poetry which aims “to bind the wounds that time inflicts.”

The Homeric poems are among the oldest stories we have, drawing on deep roots in the Eurasian steppes beyond the Black Sea​, but emerging at a time around 2000 B.C. when the people who would become the Greeks came south and both clashed and fused with the more sophisticated inhabitants of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The poems, which ask the eternal questions about the individual and the community, honor and service, love and war, tell us how we became who we are.

Mandy's Review:

As it was with most of you, I was introduced to Homer during my scholastic years (more specifically: 8th grade). While we discussed the roles of the Greek gods and goddesses and what some underlying meanings may be, we never really considered the idea of the Iliad or the Odyssey representing life now. We never considered how old Homer really is or how his stories tie into the culture of his time.

But who is Homer? Is it one man or multiple men? Was he a short, blind man living out his days by the sea or is he himself a myth created to represent the most well-known epic poems of all time?

Adam Nicolson really delves into the past to try and uncover the above answers plus some. It almost seems that each century archaeologists uncover relics that reference Homer in some way. But, just when they think Homer's time period can be pinned down, something else is found that makes historians realize Homer is actually older than what was initially thought.

Why Homer Matters is a thoroughly researched, intelligently written novel. If looked for hard enough, we could all find a writer whose works speak to our life. I enjoyed Homer's epic poetry, but he doesn't "speak" to me as he does to Adam. If you enjoy historical research that relates to an infamous writer and how that writer's work affects history through the ages, then you'd enjoy reading Why Homer Matters.

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

{Blog Hop} First Line Friday #6

First lines of novels can capture your attention, give you a clue to the character's past or present, set the stage for the entire novel, or more. First lines are extremely important and have a great responsibility. With that in mind, we'd like to welcome you to First Line Friday.

Please use the Linky List below to link your First Line Friday post so others can check out your blog.

Lupe's Read
The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.

Charlene's Read
My brother was the one constant in my life until John du Pont murdered him.

Monday, December 15, 2014

{Review} SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes

ISBN #: 978-0143126485
Page Count: 384
Copyright: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Liza McCullen will never fully escape her past. But the unspoiled beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the freedom and safety she craves—if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah. That is, until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel.

The mild-mannered Englishman with his too-smart clothes and distracting eyes could destroy everything Liza has worked so hard to protect: not only the family business and the bay that harbors her beloved whales, but also her conviction that she will never love—never deserve to love—again.

For his part, Mike Dormer is expecting just another business deal—an easy job kick-starting a resort in a small seaside town ripe for development. But he finds that he doesn’t quite know what to make of the eccentric inhabitants of the ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel, especially not enigmatic Liza McCullen, and their claim to the surrounding waters. As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide in this hugely affecting and irresistible tale full of Jojo Moyes’s signature humor and generosity.

Mandy's Review:

My first foray into Moyes' writing style was when I read Me Before You and it wrenched my heart. Silver Bay affected me in a similar way.

Mike's analytical personality results from a childhood where he witnessed his father losing the family's wealth by one bad decision. Mike rarely makes a decision based on feelings. Instead, he looks at all options, facts, and figures. So when his property investment company looks for a new place to build a new hotel getaway, Mike analytically determines that Silver Bay would be the best option.

Liz considers Silver Bay her sanctuary. It's the place she came to in order to escape her life and the horrible incident precursoring her arrival. Hannah, Liz's daughter, doesn't understand why she's not allowed to leave the Silver Bay area. Unfortunately, it's not something Liz or Kathleen, Liz's aunt, knows how to explain to Hannah. In order to further protect herself, Liz keeps her distance when it comes to the opposite sex. Giving her heart over to someone who could further hurt her is not something she's interested in.

Mike and Liz are only two people in a love triangle. There's also Greg, who has thought, if he's patient enough, he's had a chance with Liz for the past few years. Kathleen's been running from love in the form of the lovably persistent Nino Gaines, which makes me wonder if this is a family trait.

Silver Bay is a lovely novel. The characters are complex enough to give them dimension without being so dense that you cannot understand them. I rooted for Mike and Liz the entire novel and cried for them towards the end. Yes, I cried. I seem to do that with Ms. Moyes' novels. They offer a wide range of emotions with characters believable enough to be based on people you already know. I would recommend this novel to all you romantics out there.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014


ISBN #: 978-0062338327
Page Count: 384
Copyright: September 30, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original Edition

(Taken from back cover)

Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There’s no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee’s Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung.

Rumor has it that the Sung’s fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sung’s house, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is the guesthouse in the garden locked up - and what’s inside? Where is the missing guest of honor?

Then, Mabel Sung and her son, Leonard, are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to the organ donor scandal. To save her business and her reputation, she’s got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer.

Charlene's Review:

Aunty Lee is back, and as fastidious as ever, as she minds her small restaurant that caters to local Singaporean dishes. Never too busy to keep up on the local news, she finds herself in the middle of another mystery, and this time, her reputation and livelihood is at stake. She is being accused of murder but she is sure there is more to the story than meets the eye. Aunty Lee embarks on a plan to find the link between the murder, a mysterious prayer group, and illegal organ transplants, and clear her good name forever.

As the second in the Aunty Lee series, I was delighted to review Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials.

Aunty Lee is a force to be reckoned with, and nothing stops her from finding the truth. She, along with her helper, Nina, and a slew of lively characters make this an enjoyable story. Reminiscent of many mysteries, Aunty Lee always seems to land smack in the middle of murder. Her tenacity and personality make the storyline stick together, as she is a most formidable and stubborn sleuth.

There is nothing heavy, or dark in this series. Aunty Lee mysteries are light and often times comical, focusing more on the antics of the amateur detective than the actual deeds. Adding to the richness of the story, Ovidia Yu depicts a culture and world vastly different than ours here in America, especially as it relates to Aunty Lee’s old-world ways. I’m not sure I’d be game to try some of Aunty Lee’s recipes, but I would definitely love to see more books in this series.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014


ISBN #: 978-0143125938
Page Count: 432
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books
We are so excited to be able to present you with this giveaway, sponsored by Penguin Books!!!

A novel is a story transmitted from the novelist to the reader. It offers distraction, entertainment, and an opportunity to unwind or focus. But it can also be something more powerful—a way to learn about how to live. Read at the right moment in your life, a novel can—quite literally—change it.

The Novel Cure is a reminder of that power. To create this apothecary, the authors have trawled two thousand years of literature for novels that effectively promote happiness, health, and sanity, written by brilliant minds who knew what it meant to be human and wrote their life lessons into their fiction. Structured like a reference book, readers simply look up their ailment, be it agoraphobia, boredom, or a midlife crisis, and are given a novel to read as the antidote. Bibliotherapy does not discriminate between pains of the body and pains of the head (or heart). Aware that you’ve been cowardly? Pick up To Kill a Mockingbird for an injection of courage. Experiencing a sudden, acute fear of death? Read One Hundred Years of Solitude for some perspective on the larger cycle of life. Nervous about throwing a dinner party? Ali Smith’s There but for The will convince you that yours could never go that wrong. Whatever your condition, the prescription is simple: a novel (or two), to be read at regular intervals and in nice long chunks until you finish. Some treatments will lead to a complete cure. Others will offer solace, showing that you’re not the first to experience these emotions. The Novel Cure is also peppered with useful lists and sidebars recommending the best novels to read when you’re stuck in traffic or can’t fall asleep, the most important novels to read during every decade of life, and many more.

Brilliant in concept and deeply satisfying in execution, The Novel Cure belongs on everyone’s bookshelf and in every medicine cabinet. It will make even the most well-read fiction aficionado pick up a novel he’s never heard of, and see familiar ones with new eyes. Mostly, it will reaffirm literature’s ability to distract and transport, to resonate and reassure, to change the way we see the world and our place in it.

Giveaway Details:

First ... Doesn't this novel sound AWESOME?! We think so.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below, with your email address, letting us know which novel would cure a specific ailment of your choosing. For example, Mandy's cure for someone suffering from Wiccaphobia (the fear of witches) would be to recommend The Penguin Book of Witches because it gives a knowledgeable and historical account of witchcraft and the witch trials. It would help the person to view a witch as a person and not someone to be feared.

The giveaway will be open until December 17th. The winner must be a U.S. resident and will be chosen/notified on 12/18. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen in their place.

Be creative and let's have some fun!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

{Blog Hop} First Line Friday #5

First lines of novels can capture your attention, give you a clue to the character's past or present, set the stage for the entire novel, or more. First lines are extremely important and have a great responsibility. With that in mind, we'd like to welcome you to First Line Friday.

Please use the Linky List below to link your First Line Friday post so others can check out your blog. We want to see your First Lines!!!

Charlene's Read
He knows who I am.

Mandy's Read
There is a pair of linked questions at the heart of this book: Where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter?

Lupe's Read
In the second millennium B.C., while the Elam nation was developing a civilization alongside Babylon, Indo-European invaders gave their name to the immense Iranian plateau where they settled.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

{Review} WORTHY BROWN'S DAUGHTER by Phillip Margolin

ISBN #: 978-0062195357
Page Count: 384
Copyright: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harper; Reprint Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from book jacket)

Recently widowed attorney Matthew Penny has come to the newly settled Oregon frontier to start a new life. He encounters the most challenging case of his career when a former slave, Worthy Brown, asks him to save his teenage daughter from the man who owned them.

Worthy Brown's Daughter is a compelling white-knuckle drama about two broken men risking everything for what they believe. Woven through with rich historical detail, it is a breathtaking narrative about the extent of evil and the high price of true justice.

Lupe's Review:

"I've been here too long, Mr. Penny. If someone sees us talking, it could go bad for me." He started to walk away. 

"Wait. If I decide to help you how can I get in touch?" 

"Don't worry about that. If you gonna help me, I'll find you." 


This historical fiction novel, set in the early years of Oregon's statehood (1860's) is set up beautifully. We are already endeared to the young, widowed attorney Matthew Penny early on, so it really sets up the emotions and you have already figured out just whose side you want to win by page 1. I really adored this book because Mr. Margolin clearly does his research and has masterfully crafted not just what the Old West would have looked like, but the people who live there and how day to day lives were accomplished in a state that had JUST come into being.

So to start, we have poor Matthew, who has recently become a widow while traveling to the West, and while grieving, has managed to set himself up as a fairly reputable and honest lawyer. His first major case is not going well and as he is leaving the hearing one day, a Negro man comes up to him, Worthy Brown. He comes to him with information to trade if Matthew is willing to help him get his teenage daughter back from the man who used to be his owner when he was a slave. See, when Caleb Barbour, the man who owned Worthy, moved with Worthy and his daughter Roxanne, they (Worthy and Roxanne) became free, since Oregon did not allow slavery. Well, Barbour and Worthy strike a deal, and only Worthy fulfills his end. Barbour is holding Roxanne captive in his home as a servant.

On another story line, we have Sharon Hill, who is, to put it plainly, a whore with designs of grandeur. She has come to Oregon to find a wealthy man to "marry"; she plans to just have the money and prestige, really. She thinks she finds this man in Benjamin Gillette, one of, if not then the most, wealthy and important man in Oregon. She begins to plan...

How Mr. Margolin manages to streamline these two very different story lines so seamlessly is amazing to me and I thoroughly enjoyed watching as lies unraveled, plans fall apart and two men risk losing everything in the name of true and honest justice. This wasn't just a book about slavery and the abolishment, which it very well could have done, but about truth, justice and those who are strong enough to seek them out, when everything around them tells them to let it alone and let it be.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

{Cover Reveal} INDIE AND PROUD by Christine Fonseca

About INDIE AND PROUD: You did it! You achieved your dream of writing and publishing your book. You should be happy. Instead you feel trapped in an ever-changing publishing race, stressed over the never-ending to-do list, and frustrated with yourself for continuing to doubt your talents, despite achieving your goals.

Face it, being a creative is difficult, and achieving some measure of success in the business doesn’t make you immune to your own fears and doubts. If anything, your achievements have added even more pressures. Indie and Proud shines a light on those fears and pressures, providing tools to deal with your frustrations and embrace your passions again.

Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses everyday examples and stories from writers and other artists to help artists find and maintain their balance in the exciting world of independent publishing. With specific strategies to address self-doubt, underlying fears, and the truly intense nature of being creative, Indie and Proud is a must read for anyone ready to embrace everything it means to be Indie.

Available: Preorders available 12/10; Book releases 2/2/2015

About Christine Fonseca: 

Critically acclaimed and award-winning nonfiction and fiction author Christine Fonseca is dedicated to helping children and adults find their unique voice in the world. In nonfiction, she delves into the world of giftedness, resiliency, and temperament, offering children and adults a no-nonsense, how-to approach to facing the world without fear. She has taught parenting classes for more than a decade, works with educators to understand the social and emotional needs of the gifted, and is a frequent presenter statewide conferences on topics related to children and education. Christine works as a school psychologist in the elementary, middle and high school levels. She also coaches children and parents to work through their anxieties and discover their talents.

Christine has written self-help articles for, Johnson & Johnson, Bop/Tiger Beat, and Justine Magazine. She was awarded 2013 Special Achievement Award from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference for her body of work and efforts to give back to the community and was a semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book (YA) for her thriller, Transcend. Recent titles include The Girl Guide, Quiet Kids, and YA suspense novel, Collide.

Christine lives in the San Diego area with her husband and children. When she isn’t crafting new books, she can be found sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at the local coffee house, or exploring the world with her family. For more information about Christine Fonseca or her books, visit her website

Author Website: 
Author Twitter:   

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

{Book Blast} VACANT by Alex Hughes

Book Details:

Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery-Thriller
Published by: Penguin (Roc)
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0451466942
Series: Mindspace Investigation, #4
More: This Book Contains Excessive Strong Language

Purchase Links:


Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…

Read an excerpt:


A sea of thoughts crashed into me like a tsunami, chaos given form with impossible force. I focused only on the back of Isabella's sweatshirt, as I followed her through the crowds, past the food on the outside rim of Phillips Arena.

She finally moved into one of the alcoves with the big sign--A something and a number. My eyes were in slits, focused only on her to block out all those damn minds. She stopped against the concrete wall, pulling me a bit out of the way. The crowd pushed against my shoulder periodically anyway, bursts of particular minds striking mine as their bodies ran into my shoulder.

She said something.


"This was a terrible idea," Isabella said, in the tone of someone repeating themselves. "You're not…"

"It's fine," I said, through gritted teeth. "You paid all the money for the tickets, You begged me to come. We're here. Let's see the show."

"But--" Isabella waffled. Isabella Cherabino was a senior homicide detective for the DeKalb County Police Department, and as such was normally decisive. She must have had strong emotions about this concert, which I'd know if I wasn't spending every spare bit of my energy shielding against the crush of minds all around me. There were times when telepathy was more of a curse than a blessing.

"It's okay," I said. It wasn't, of course, but I was here, damn it. Might as well get through this.

She pulled me further down the hall, and waved our tickets again at new people, who pointed her down a set of stairs. I followed, one step behind her, entire vision focused on the back of her shirt.

The ancient twice-remodeled stadium hosted hockey games, so it wasn't exactly gorgeous, and the floating screens overhead looked like they'd fall down at any time. The whole place smelled like fried food and beer, old beer, but that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was the people. Maybe a hundred thousand people were jostling and yelling and talking and thinking around me, loudly. Their mental waves in Mindspace, groups upon groups of thin, normal mind-waves, added up to an ocean of force that overwhelmed all of my senses.

She found our seats and pushed me into mine. I gripped the ancient wooden armrests with shaking hands.
I had no idea how she'd talked me into this. Telepaths did not like crowds. I hadn't had to deal with this level of overwhelming mental force since my final testing, more than twenty years ago now, and I strained under the pressure like a piano suspended over a cartoon character's head. I swallowed, forcing myself against it.
My old teacher's voice in my head reminded me that strength didn't always get the job done, no matter how manly it felt at the time. Sometimes you had to be the duck, and swim with the current while the rain slipped off your back. I tried that, focusing on moving through the pressure cleanly rather than blocking it. A surfer on the edge of the sea, pushed along but not fighting. It helped, but only some.

Then Isabella reached over and took my hand, and warm feelings leavened with a little guilt rolled up my arm.

"Thank you for coming, Adam," she said, quietly. With the physical connection I could feel her even through my shielding.

And I looked over, and remembered why I'd come. I was with her.

Isabella was a beautiful woman with strong Italian features, thick, slightly-curly hair she usually wore up, and a curvy body well worth a second look. She was a few years younger than me at just-forty, had a black belt in something Asian and deadly, and was one of the smartest people I knew. Her sense of justice in working with the police had been one of the things that had kept me on the wagon these last four years.

er strength of character and huge work ethic had been an inspiration for far longer.

It was impossible for me to believe that she was willing to date me; I'd been in love with her for years, and even though I couldn't say it out loud yet, and even though we hadn't had sex--she hadn't been willing to make the nearly-permanent commitment sex with a telepath implied--we were dating. Four months and change now. And she'd been falling asleep in my arms nearly as long. She'd even filled out the official relationship form with the department, calling me boyfriend in plain text where anyone could read it. It was a miracle, as far as I was concerned.

So if I had to stand in the middle of the worst press of minds in my life, I would. I'd do nearly anything for her.

After ten minutes or so, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared. The minds roared too, pressing against my consciousness like a hand squeezing a tube of toothpaste with the lid still on--like that lid, I felt under pressure, impossibly strained. I wondered whether I'd really be able to survive this.

The screens came on, and the image of the aging rock musician Cherabino liked came on in a still photograph. Then the image fractured to be replaced by the concert logo. The crowd roared, and Mindspace trembled with pressure and interacting minds. Only two hours until it was over. She'd spent a fortune on the tickets, I told myself.

A manufactured smell--of volcanic gas, engine oil, and ozone--flooded the stadium, and the roaring of the crowd grew louder. Then the lights dimmed, green spotlights flooded the empty stage floor in front of us. The smell of deep woods added to the mix in the air, growing things and moss and sunlight cutting through the darker smells of civilization. The smell came back to me from the minds around me, lessening the pressure with pure sensation.

A trapdoor opened in the middle of the stage, and a figure was slowly raised into the green light. The rocker's peaked hair caught the light with glitter and phantom holograms, and the clothes were not much better, tight-fitting to a fault, glittering. She slung her spiky guitar in front of her body, and strummed.
The noise filled the stadium and every mind in it, shaking our seats with pure sound. Isabella next to me was transfixed, her focus coming through between our psychic link.

The minds around me echoed back the sound of the opening bars of the song, echoed back the lights now turning red as the rocker screamed about dropping bombs, about bursting minds in the sixty-year-ago Tech Wars. And as she quieted, and sungintense notes about a child growing up in a shattered city, every mind in the place cried with her.

I dropped my shields, dropped them entirely, and pulled my hand away from Isabella.

"What?" she said.

"Shh," I said. The band was rising up at the back of the stage on more platforms from the floor, the lights ramping up, but I didn't care. I closed my eyes.

The music swelled in screams again, drums coming in, and the beat fell into the minds of the crowd, rising too. The vision of what was happening on stage came through a thousand minds, an overlapping kaleidoscope vision of one idea, one experience, one moment. And it continued. It continued.

No one was here who didn't love this band. No one paid who didn't live for this moment. And here, in the middle of all of it, I felt like a feather flying in the wind, a glider sailing on the sea of emotional high. The music swelled again, and my heart with it. Sound and vision and fury and a thousand happy minds crashed into me, and I breathed them in. I breathed them in.

Some time later, the world dissipated into a sea of clapping, and I came back to myself. I built shields, slowly, to block out the Mindspace now fracturing into chaos. The pressure, the unpleasantness returned, and I returned to laboring against it, but left in my mind was that one, pure note, the note that had started it all.

Isabella poked me.

"What?" I said, reluctantly opening my eyes.

"I said, did you like it?"

"That was… that was great," I said. It was the understatement of the century.

"Are you okay?" she asked. Then she got that facial expression where she wondered if she needed to call Swartz, my Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. "You look… high."

"Just the concert," I said. I stood then; someone pushed by on their way to the aisle. "Can we hang around until most of the people are gone?" I asked. I'd rather not deal with all those minds wanting so desperately to get out of here; I was already feeling the edge of that flight response and didn't want it intensified.

"Sure," she said, but she looked at me suspiciously.

As another couple moved out of the row, squeezing in front of us, I realized I had to make an effort at conversation now. I really wanted to sit down and process what I'd just experienced--something I'd never, in my forty years, even dreamed of--but this was Isabella.

"What did you think of the ballad about the miniature giraffe?" I asked her.

"That was hilarious," she said, still looking suspicious. But she sat down, and I sat down, and as people moved out of the old stadium like ants and strange smells moved through the system, we talked.
After awhile she was even smiling.

I'd done well tonight, I thought to myself. But at the back of my brain, I wondered. Did I really need something else in my life that was that… addictive?

We waited over an hour, until the majority of the minds had left. When we walked out of the arena building, it was dark, and the street was nearly deserted, just a few clusters of people here and there. Our breath fogged in the late-February air, the winter on its last greedy weeks of cold. Bioengineered trees with luminescent glowing orbs illuminated the sidewalk in dim blue light that stretched farther than you thought it should, beautiful and simple, feeling artificial and natural all at once. They held up well to the cold, I noticed, as I huddled in my jacket a little deeper.

A small group of guys stood about a hundred feet away, their body language tense and confrontational. Cherabino's hand moved towards the gun on her waist she wasn't carrying.

Then one guy yelled, and the group turned inward. The dull slap of repeated fist-blows hit the air.
Cherabino considered whether to get involved.

I turned—but it was too late. A man stood there, at least fifty-five and thin. He was short for a man, balding, with dark skin that caught up blue highlights from the bioluminescent streetlight. In Mindspace, his presence had wiry strength and desperation mixed. He held a pole as tall as himself, maybe fifty t-shirts hooked into loops on the pole, shirts with a cheaply-copied logo of the band we’d just seen.

“Buy a shirt. Just ten ROCs,” he said, but his tone was angry.

“No thanks,” I said.

“Keep moving, sir,” Cherabino said, a little of her cop voice leaking into her speech, moving towards a defensive stance.

Another guy came up, behind us, one of the ones from the group who’d been fighting. The others held back, working out their aggression, close to leaving. I moved around to look at him.

“Buy a shirt or my buddy and I have something to say.”

“No way those are official shirts,” I said. “You’re stealing from the artist.”

I felt the first guy’s decision, but Cherabino was already moving.

Pain from behind me. Cherabino in judo mode.

The buddy charged me. I went to get a grip on his mind—and failed.

He punched me in the jaw. I saw stars, and my legs went out from underneath me.

I blinked up, trying to get my bearings, but he kicked me. I whimpered. Not the most manly moment, but it hurt, damn it. I pushed back up.

Cherabino was over me, then, badge out in the guy’s face. “Police,” she said.

She went flying and somebody kicked me back down again. I put my hands over my head to protect it and tried to get a grip on the guy’s mind one more time. Slippery fellow—we had bad valence, terrible valence, and I couldn’t get a grip.

I went for the first one—and him I could grip. I hit the center of his mind, knocking him out. He slumped down, landing on top of the abandoned t-shirt rack.

I got up to my knees just in time to watch Cherabino punch the buddy in the face. “Police,” she said, standing over him. “Don’t ever let me see you around here again.”

“Shouldn’t you arrest them?” I asked.

She considered it, then gave me a hand up.

The buddy took off running, and she let him go. “Not worth interrupting my date over,” she said.

She glanced back at the guy I’d knocked out. Then sighed. “Is there a way to wake him up? Leaving him unconscious probably isn’t the best of ideas.”

I took a look at my handiwork in Mindspace. “If I wake him right now he’ll have the world’s worst headache.”

“Serve him right. Do it. Then let's get out of here.”

We walked back to the parking garage across the street, her feet moving faster than I preferred. Her anger was still in play. Mine too. We shouldn't have gotten involved in a stupid fight outside of Philips.

She found her car, an old beat up sedan, where she'd left it on the fourth floor. Her parking job was crooked, which was typical for her. She unlocked the car and let us in.

“You sure we shouldn’t have arrested them?” I asked, as I swung myself down into the seat.

“We’re in Fulton County and off-duty. More trouble than it’s worth,” she said, but wasn’t exactly happy about it. She turned on the fusion engine, it slowly warming up with a whine.

I closed the door. My body was calm by now, my heartbeat more settled, but I still felt jumpy, still felt too sensitive. I was open to Mindspace, monitoring what was going on, which is why I felt it.

All at once, I felt a shift in the world, a collapsing in, a hole disappearing into the fabric of Mindspace. A cold wind across my sense of the future, itching and then gone. A mile away, perhaps, just at the edge of my senses for even the strongest signal. A mile away behind us.

My stomach sank. “Someone just died.”

“What?” she said.

“Someone just died behind us. Violently, to be that strong.”

“Murder?” she asked.

“Or they fell off a building and impacted the ground. Strong, violent stuff.”

She sighed. I felt her considering.

“Go ahead and turn around,” I said. She was a workaholic, and obligated to the department. Getting in the way of her job wasn’t going to get me anywhere. And the feeling of that death bothered me. I wanted to know what was going on.


“It’s fine,” I said. "Let's find out who died."

"Okay." So she turned the car around.

Author Bio:

Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time!

You can visit her at: 

Tour Participants:



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{The 2015 Amazing Book Race Reading Challenge} Sign-Up Post for Lupe

I cannot wait for 2015!!! Who's with me?! To see the rules for this reading challenge, click here.

Reading Level: Dances with Books

Reading List:

1.) Fiction: Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
2.) Sci-Fi: The Martian by Andy Weir
3.) Sci-Fi: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
4.) Horror: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
5.) Horror: The City by Dean Koontz
6.) Horror: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
7.) Humor: Choose Your Own Adventure by Neil Patrick Harris
8.) Memoir & Autobiography: As You Wish by Cary Elwes
9.) Memoir & Autobiography: Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
10.) Memoir & Autobiography: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
11.) Young Adult Fiction: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
12.) Young Adult Fiction: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
13.) Young Adult Fantasy & Sci-Fi: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
14.) Young Adult Fantasy & Sci-Fi: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

Monday, December 8, 2014

{The 2015 Amazing Book Race Reading Challenge} Sign-Up Post for Mandy

Hi, everyone!

Because I review so many books during the year, I'm going to start out with the So You Think You Can Read? level for this challenge (see challenge details here). Below is my list for this challenge:

1.) Historical Fiction: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
2.) Debut Goodreads Author: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
3.) Memoir & Autobiography: As You Wish by Cary Elwes
4.) Humor: People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann
5.) Fiction: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
6.) Horror: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon


1.) Young Adult Fiction: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
2.) Mystery & Thriller: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

{The Bookish Inquisition} Transcript and Invitation

Yesterday, we chatted with THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE author Richard Siddoway. If you missed it, we've provided you with a transcript of our conversation below. We want to thank all of you who attended. Below the transcript is an invite to our next author chat on January 4th.

Richard Siddoway Chat Transcript:

LRR: Hi, Richard! Nice to see you. =)

Richard: Nice to be here.

LRR: How has your Sunday been? Ready for Christmas?

Richard: We're almost ready. We're leaving this afternoon for a short trip to Las Vegas to see our youngest daughter and then continue on to Mesa, AZ to visit our oldest son.

LRR: Oh, wow. That sounds like fun. You have 8 children, correct? Do the other 6 live at home?

Richard: We have four who live in Utah and four who live out of state. So, we see four of them quite often, but miss the others. We have 26 grandchildren and wish we were able to see all of them more often.

LRR: Oh my goodness! That's a huge family!!! I bet when everyone's together it's a lot of fun. =) Did you begin writing when your children were small?

Richard: I've written ever since I was a teen, and had a few things published under a pseudonym. The first thing published under my name wasn't until 1992, when I was 52 years old.

LRR: Did you write the same type of stories as a teen?

Richard: Sort of. The first thing I wrote back about 1957, was about a cashless society where everything was purchased using a card and a biometric scan of your fingerprint.

LRR: Very futuristic for that time period, but almost a reality now. What prompted your interest in writing?

Richard: When I was a senior at the University of Utah, I needed a class to fill my schedule and took one in creative writing from Dr. Brewster Geilsand, who was one of D.H. Lawrence's friends. He encouraged me a great deal.

LRR: What was the one piece of advice he gave you that you still use to this day?

Richard: He said, "Make your characters real."

LRR: And are your characters based on people you know?

Richard: Yes. In fact this new book that will be released next month deals with an autistic child. I have a severely autistic grandson who exhibits all the behaviors that Corky does in the book.

LRR: How does your family feel knowing that you use them as references and inspiration in your story?

Richard: They're OK as long as I disguise them. Often I change the sex of the person and, of course, the names change.

LRR: How long did it take you to write THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE?

Richard: It took about a year. You make a good point though. I probably should have explained that mercurial behavior better. All of the people who read the book before publication were familiar with autistic behavior and it didn't seem to bother them at all.

(LRR Note: His answer above was partly in response to a question and a couple comments I made that I promised I would not provide in the transcript because it presented a spoiler.)

LRR: Do you always use the same people to preview your work before it's published?

Richard: No. I have some people who ask to read everything, but I usually try to find someone who has some familiarity with the topic. For example, when I wrote "The Christmas Wish," Senator Orrin Hatch and his wife, Elaine, had asked to read it and provided a nice endorsement.

LRR: I saw THE CHRISTMAS WISH was made into a CBS movie. Did you have any say-so in how it was made?

Richard: Very little. Beth Polson bought the rights to make the movie and became the producer. She hired the cast, the screen writer, and the director. I did get to go to Burbank and meet Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts during the filming, but that was about all.

LRR: How did you find your first publisher? Did you have an agent?

Richard: This is a longer story than you may want to hear, but I'll try to do a summary. My first wife died from cancer at 45 and left me with six children. Everybody knew somebody I need to meet. One of the women I took out to dinner was a wonderful woman named Sherri Dew. She is the CEO of Deseret Book. During our dinner conversation I mentioned that I had once submitted a manuscript to Random House and after 18 months they sent a rejection letter. She assured me that if I submitted something to Deseret Book, I'd hear back within six weeks. A couple of years later I submitted "Twelve Tales of Christmas" to her. Eighteen months later I received a rejection letter. I submitted it to Bookcraft, and eighteen months later they published the book.

LRR: Oh, wow. I'm sorry to hear about your first wife.

Richard: It's not something I wish on anyone. However, my wife, Janice, and I have been married now for 25 years.

LRR: What is your goal you want to achieve with your novels?

Richard: I always try to write something that is clean and has a message. One of the authors who critiqued Cottage Park said, "You always have a savior in your books." I hope that's true.

LRR: I did appreciate the cleanliness of COTTAGE PARK. So often, nowadays, novels have a tendency to be vulgar.

Richard: I'm not sure what led us down that road. So much of what is published today seems to need a shock value.

LRR: Agreed - I believe society has become immune and desensitized to what would have shocked us 20 or 30 years ago so people/newsmen/etc try to find new stories with increased shock value. Sad, really. I'd like to see a 180 turn and people focusing on positive events.

Richard: I suppose bleed leads, but I'm confident most people are really good people at heart. When I read the language used in many of today's popular novels, that language doesn't reflect what I hear from my friends and neighbors.

LRR: You have very different neighbors than I do, then. =) Is there a message you'd like to send to your readers?

Richard: Thank you for supporting those of us who have the guts to put our pen to the paper (figuratively), and try to entertain.

LRR: Is there anything you'd like to mention that I've not asked you about?

Richard: There is one message I hope comes through in Cottage Park. Our society hasn't developed ways to deal with people who are different. Whether it's autism, Down syndrome, skin color, religious affiliation, or whatever we need to learn to be more inclusive and loving in our relationships with each other.

LRR: I agree. We (as a society) could do better in how we deal with those different from us. Do you have any suggestions on how someone like myself (who has no experience in dealing with these types of situations) could do better?

Richard: Study. When I was in the Utah legislature I was asked to run a bill to secure funding for schools to handle autistic students. I knew nothing about autism and spent hours researching the autism spectrum. Little did I know that I'd have an autistic grandson five years later, who could benefit from these programs.

LRR: How did you get into politics? Was that your major in college?

Richard: No, I was a biology major in secondary education. I was asked by a number of people to run because they were unhappy with our current representative. In the county convention I said there were three things that bothered me about politics. One was that you could buy a vote if you had enough money; second once you got in you felt entitled to stay for life; and third that we didn't vote for people, we voted against people. I vowed to accept no donation over $25, serve three terms maximum, and never say a negative word about my opponent. i won the race and served my 3 terms.

LRR: That's amazing! Would you ever go back?

Richard: I'm not sure I could be elected. I'm a moderate Republican and live in Tea Party haven.

LRR: Ah, understood. Well, I thank you for your time today, Richard. It's been enlightening and I wish you much success in your future. =)

Richard: Thank you, Mandy. I appreciate your time and your critique.

LRR: My pleasure. Have a wonderful holiday!

Richard: Merry Christmas

The Bookish Inquisition, 1/4/16: Jackie Parry

Originally from the UK, Jackie is now an adopted Australian. She grew up with horses in the UK until her world was shattered*. Disillusioned with life she ran away to Australia and met and married Noel. They decided to buy a boat and set sail. So within her first year living in a foreign land she was getting used to a foreign husband and a foreign life on board!

*They’ll be more information in their next book ‘Of Foreign Build’

After suffering an emotionally-brutal bereavement and against her counsellor’s advice, Jackie ran away. Suddenly within a new culture, with a new husband, and no friends, she was living in the obscure world of cruising with zero knowledge of boats.

Crashing within the first twenty-four hours, Jackie realised life would never be the same again; a floating home with no fridge or hot water, and with a dinghy instead of a car. Suffering self doubts, she became fearful of her new world.

The first off-shore voyage took Jackie into a ferocious storm, which battered her physically and mentally. Amid the raging seas, Jackie shed the fear she’d been harbouring.

Soon she was blissfully voyaging around the world, but she still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels in love with another.

Not only did Jackie deal successfully with the challenges of her new existence, she also battled with the testosterone fuelled nautical world to become both a professional captain and a qualified maritime teacher.

Most importantly, Jackie found herself.

Instructions for joining the Inquisition:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0104)
5.) Click the "Join" button

Sunday, December 7, 2014

{Review} SUMMER CRUSH (The Tournament, #4) by B.B. Griffith

ISBN #: 978-0989940078
Page Count: 242
Copyright: October 29, 2014
Publisher: Griffith Publishing LLC

(Taken from back cover)

It's been ten years since the Battle of the Black House. The Tournament has grown beyond anyone's wildest dreams – with dozens of teams, hundreds of players, and millions of fans worldwide.

Every year more teams are added to this global gunfight, and every year the original eight teams get older and a step slower.

Ellie Willmore and Team Blue wonder if each passing Tournament might be their last. What they don't know is that this time, someone plans to make sure of it. A mysterious figure who calls himself the Gardner has his sights set on rigging the Tournament and hand-picking the winners, and he wants Team Blue out.

In a competition without rules, Ellie realizes just how far some will go to win. And in what might be their final Tournament appearance, Team Blue find themselves in a fight for their lives.

Charlene's Review:

In the forth installment of The Tournament series, mysterious yellow roses are showing up around the globe, and death follows. The original players of the Tournament, a state-sponsored global fighting game, are aging and suffering the effects of diode hits, and it seems, someone wants to see them out of the game, for good. If the mysterious "Gardner" is to be stopped and the Tournament restored to its beginnings, the original teams that once battled against each other must pull together and stop him before he kills again.

Having read and reviewed all four of the books thus far, this has to be my favorite. Most likely, because of the change of direction the storyline took, but also because of the action, and the deeper insight into the characters. Mr. Griffith took all the loose ends of the previous installments and wove them together in Summer Crush. I was simply unable to put it down.

Having covered all four "seasons" in his titles, I was disappointed that this series may be winding down. Only until the last page. Mr. Griffith is obviously keeping his options open, and for very good reason. The only way I would like to see an end to this would be if it was written for the big screen. I am fairly certain it would rival The Hunger Games in action and suspense.

This is easily one of my favorite series. 5 out of 5 stars!

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

{Reading Challenge} The 2015 Amazing Book Race

What is The 2015 Amazing Book Race Reading Challenge?

We are excited to welcome you to our first ever reading challenge!

So often throughout the year there are books we are dying to read but can't due to review obligations. This challenge is to get you (and us) to read some of those books you were dying to read the year before, based on the Goodreads Best Books of 2014 list (compiled by your votes during the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2014).

The Race

Below are the reading levels for this race. You can always move up a level, but never down so be sure to choose a level where you'll reach the finish line. Your start up post will need to include your goal as well as link back to us, the host of the challenge.

1 to 6: So You Think You Can Read?
7 to 12: Reading Rainbow
13 to 18: Dances with Books
19 to 24: Survivor
25+: The Librarian

Challenge Details:
Make sure to read all the way through!

1.) This challenge will run from January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2015. Sign-ups will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on January 31, 2015.

2.) Please make sure you sign up in the Linky List below with the link that goes directly to your master challenge list. This is the list you'll keep updated as you review the books for the challenge. You do not have to post your review on a blog; posting your review on Goodreads is fine. Be sure to update your master list with the link to your review of each book as you finish them.

Side Note: Books can be read in any order, so feel free to bounce around!

3.) Each of your chosen books must come from Goodreads' Best Books of 2014 list (found here). We will be confirming your selections so please include the category for each book on your list (i.e. Horror: Prince LeStat by Anne Rice). There are 20 categories so you should have plenty of options. You are allowed 2 to 3 alternatives in case you have novels on your master list you just can't get through.

4.) You can absolutely crossover books from other challenges into this one ... as long as the book is on Goodreads' Best Books of 2014 list.

Monthly Check-Ins:

On the 20th of each month, we will have a check-in post to see how you're progressing. Feel free to leave any links in the comments section to the challenge books you've reviewed the previous month (no duplicates, please).

What's a Race without Prizes?

Every race has 1st (gold), 2nd (silver), and 3rd (bronze) place winners. So, in the spirit of that, we're offering three (3) prizes for this challenge. Entries for the challenge giveaway are earned based upon the number of books you read and provide a direct link to your review. For example:

6 books read and reviewed: 1 entry
12 books read and reviewed: 2 entries
18 books read and reviewed: 3 entries
24 books read and reviewed: 4 entries
25 or more books read and reviewed: 5 entries

So, let's say you chose the Reading Rainbow level but you only finished reading and reviewing (with direct link provided) 8 out of 12 of your books. Well, then you've earned one (1) entry into the challenge giveaway. If you chose The Librarian level and only finished reading and reviewing (with direct link provided) 22 books, then you've earned three (3) entries into the challenge giveaway. Prizes are below.

Gold Medal:
One (1) physical copy of a novel of your choice off of Goodreads' Best Books of 2015 list
List to be announced December 2015 on Goodreads
Maximum value up to $25
Open internationally - Please confirm the Book Depository ships to your location

Silver Medal:
One (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card

Bronze Medal:
One (1) Ebook of your choice (valued up to $6)
Ebook can be chosen from Amazon or Barnes&Nobles

How Do We Determine the Winners?

Participants will be entered into a spreadsheet as they earn entries. On January 1, 2016, three winners will be randomly selected using Rafflecopter. First winner chosen wins the Gold Medal, second winner chosen wins the Silver Medal, and third winner chosen wins the Bronze Medal.

Winners will be announced in our wrap-up post on January 1, 2016 at noon Eastern time. Winners will also be contacted via email, which is the reason why we ask for your name and email address when you sign up via the Linky List. Winners will have 48 hours to respond. If the winner fails to respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen in their place.

Each winner has the right to forfeit their prize, should they be so willing. If this happens, we will chose a runner up winner for that specific medal.

Socially Acceptable:

Feel free to like our Facebook page and chat with us there. We're also on Twitter. Please use #2015TABR when tweeting with us about this challenge.


If you have ANY questions concerning this reading challenge, please feel free to email us at

Grab The 2015 Amazing Book Race Button:

The 2015 Amazing Book Race

Linky List Sign Up:
Will close January 31, 2015

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