Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dr. Seuss: Day 3

Today began with If I Ran the Zoo. Gerald McGrew takes a trip to the zoo. He starts by saying the zoo seems pretty good, but if he ran the zoo, this is what he would do. He goes into detail of all the exotic animals he would bring in. He travels all over and is able to obtain cool, different (made up, of course) animals. His new zoo, McGrew's Zoo, is very colorful and looks like lots of fun to visit. My daughter said she would love to go there. This is a wonderfully imaginative book and we loved the pictures and story.

My Rating: 4 stars

Next up was The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I asked my son if he wanted to read The Cat in the Hat first, but he said no because he likes this one better. Sally and her brother are left home to shovel the snow while their mother leaves for the day (I won't go into the weirdness of that). Along comes The Cat in the Hat who goes in the house and makes himself at home. He makes quite a mess and when he needs help to clean it up, he takes off his hat and there is Little Cat A. Little Cats C, B and A are able to clean the house but they blow it all outside so now the snow is a mess. They keep bringing out more Little Cats to help and it gets messier and messier. Until they get to Little Cat Z. He has VOOM in his hat and it magically cleans up the snow. This is another fun book and I remember reading it to my kids when they were young to help them learn the alphabet.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Our final book was Daisy-Head Mayzie. Mayzie McGrew is sitting in school one day when a daisy sprouts from the top of her head. She has no idea how it got there and all the kids start talking about it. The teacher takes her to the principal's office. He's not sure what to do so he starts to read up on what it might be. It starts to droop so they think that's the end of it but then Daisy starts drooping, too, so they dump water on her to keep both of them alive. Then the principal calls her parents, a doctor and a florist. They, of course, each have a different opinion on what should be done. The mayor also comes so he can act important and then an agent shows up offering her and her daisy lots of money. She signs the contract and Daisy-Head fever grips the nation. She likes it at first but gets tired of it and runs away, believing that nobody could possibly love her anymore. She plucks the petals of her daisy to see if she's loved and it turns out she is! (As in, "They love her...They love her NOT!, etc.) She realizes that friends and family are more important than fame and returns home. As for the daisy: it disappeared and would only occasionally pop out of her head. This isn't my favorite Dr. Seuss book but it's still cute and helps kids understand how important they are, even if they sometimes make poor decisions. 

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dr. Seuss: Day 2

For Day 2, we read Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. There are three stories in this book. The first is Yertle the Turtle. Yertle the Turtle is king of the pond and is quite happy until one day when he decides that his kingdom is too small. He has his "subjects" stand on top of each other so he can see further. He then also becomes the ruler of a cow, mule, house, blueberry bush and a cat. That quickly isn't enough for him so he commands more turtles to stack up so he can now also rule the trees, birds, bees, butterflies and air. He sees the moon and wants to reach that so he can rule it when his throne becomes hungry and tired and the turtle at the bottom (Mack) lets out a burp which causes the throne to fall. Yertle stays king of the mud and the turtles are free to live life as they choose. 

The next story is Gertrude McFuzz. She is a girl-bird that has a small plain tail. A fancy bird, Lolla-Lee-Lou, flies by with two tails. Gertrude becomes jealous and wants to have the same tail so she goes to her uncle who's a doctor and asks him to give her something to help her grow another tail. He tries to warn her that the tail she has is perfect for her but she throws a tantrum until he gives in to her and tells her where the berries are. She finds them and eats one but then that tail just isn't enough so she eats all the berries she can find and grows many, many tails. She's excited to go and show off but then she can't move. She yells and her uncle comes with help and the birds are able to bring her home where all the tails are removed. I love the ending: 

And, finally, when all of the pulling was done, 
Gertrude, behind her, again had just one...
That one little feather she had as a starter.
But now that's enough, because now she is smarter.

The last story is The Big Brag. This starts out with a rabbit who is bragging about how great he is and a bear hears him and starts arguing that he is better. The rabbit says he has the superior sense of hearing and the bear counters that he has the superior sense of smell. A worm crawls out of the ground and says he's tired of listening to their arguing and he has the superior sense of sight. When asked what he saw, he said he looked all around the world and came back to the hill where he saw two fools arguing over who's better than who, and then he goes back into his hole. 

One thing I love about reading with my kids is how easy it is to discuss topics and see what they get out of the book. We have some great discussions when we finish reading. I love the morals to these stories: Stepping on others to get to the top will result in a big fall, envy will make you miserable so learn to be happy with what you have and how you look and one-upmanship proves nothing and makes both parties look bad. 

My Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dr. Seuss: Day 1

Yesterday was Day One of our Dr. Seuss celebration and these are the books we each picked to read. 

My daughter chose Oh, the Places You'll Go!, which is probably my favorite Dr. Seuss book. This is a popular book to give to a high school graduate but I think the lessons in it need to be taught way before that. One of my favorite parts is, "...Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don't. Because, sometimes, you won't." What a great lesson to learn! He also goes on to talk about unslumping yourself, the Waiting Place, being alone, facing your problems and succeeding. It's good to know that even though life is full of ups and downs, we each have the opportunity to shine in our own way and the path is different for each one of us.

My Rating: 5 stars

My son chose Green Eggs and Ham, which makes me laugh because he's one of the pickiest eaters you'll ever meet. Of course, I took the opportunity to talk to him about the importance of at least trying new foods because you never know what you might like. He has been more adventurous lately and hasn't liked most things he's tried but has picked up a couple of new things that he'll eat. I totally understand how happy Sam-I-Am feels at the end of the book! I can get into my comfort zone, too, and only eat certain foods so it's good for me to remember to continue to try new foods because I might just find a new favorite!

My Rating: 4.5 stars

My pick was Happy Birthday to You! No particular reason except that I hadn't read it in a long time. My daughter and I both have March birthdays and she would love to live in Katroo so she can party with The Great Birthday Bird! Not to mention have a huge party at the Birthday Pal-alace! Oh, how I love Dr. Seuss and his made up, fun words. 

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Monday, February 25, 2013

Faith, Hope and Ivy June

From Goodreads: Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other’s homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their journals. Catherine and her family have a beautiful home with plenty of space. Since Ivy June’s house is crowded, she lives with her grandparents. Her Pappaw works in the coal mines supporting four generations of kinfolk. Ivy June can’t wait until he leaves that mine forever and retires. As the girls get closer, they discover they’re more alike than different, especially when they face the terror of not knowing what’s happening to those they love most.

I just finished listening to this audiobook. Ivy June and Catherine come from two different worlds. Ivy June goes to Lexington first. She experiences indoor plumbing, wearing uniforms to school and cell phones. After she's home for a week, Catherine comes to visit her in Thunder Creek (near the mountains) and experiences no phones and the inconvenience of not being able to wash her hair every day.

We get to know the girls as they write their private thoughts in their journals. While there are many differences, they also learn that they are similar in many ways as well. They each have to deal with jealous best friends, boys and worrying about their loved ones. One of the traumatic events was foreshadowed pretty well and I would have been surprised if it hadn't happened. 

I like how it ends with the uncertainty of the future and all the possibilities that await. That exciting anticipation that the future has so much to offer when you're so young. This is a book that I would recommend for younger readers as well as adults.

My Rating: 4 stars

Saturday is Dr. Seuss's Birthday!

Saturday, March 2, is Dr. Seuss's birthday! We're celebrating by reading Dr. Seuss books this week. We have quite a few that we read lots when my kids were younger and they've kind of been pushed to the side as we've started into chapter books. This seems like a great time to dust them off and reacquaint ourselves with Mulberry Street, Horton, Yertle the Turtle, The Grinch, The Lorax, Sam-I-Am, The Cat in the Hat, Daisy-Head Mayzie, and many others. 

If you have time, you might want to visit Seussville for fun games and activities. 

Let's celebrate Seuss!

Friday, February 22, 2013

TBR: Ebooks

I have a lot more ebooks than paper books so I came up with a huge list which I will narrow down to ten. Again, I will pick one of these each month, beginning in March, read it and review it. 

I've only been reading ebooks for about a year so I don't have any that have been on my shelves forever and the good news is, I haven't borrowed any! I've been able to pick up lots of them for free (or pretty cheap). I've looked at the free books on Amazon almost every day and that's the main reason I have so many ebooks. It's time consuming, but I enjoy it as much as actually reading books (yes, I realize I have a problem).

So, here's my list of (some of the) books I plan to read, in no particular order:

1. Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia
2. Drops of Gold, by Sarah Eden
3. The False Prince, by Jennifer Nielsen
4. The Girl in the Gatehouse, by Julie Klassen
5. Daughter of a Thousand Pieces of Gold, by Peg Helminski
6. Child of the Mist, by Kathleen Morgan
7. Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer
8. Francesca of Lost Nation, by Lucinda Sue Crosby
9. I Have People, by Taylor Dean
10. Finding June, by Shannen Camp

Thursday, February 21, 2013

TBR: Paper Books

Don't you just love it when you first start reading blogs and there are acronyms all over the place? I always hope the context will help me figure out what it means so I don't feel like I'm reading a foreign language. To anyone that may not know, TBR stands for "To Be Read." Mel's Shelves are actually quite full and we won't even go into my Kindle. The good news with that is that the storage is so small, I can actually find somewhere to put those books. 

So, really, you might think that I would never buy another book again. But there are always new books coming out and older ones that still look interesting enough to read.

I've gone through my shelves and have chosen ten physical books that I plan to read and review on my blog this year. I have either borrowed, bought or won them in a giveaway. If you see a book on here that I borrowed from you, rest assured that you will be getting it back sometime this year. 

I will pick one each month, beginning in March, and read it and review it. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen. I borrowed this so the lucky owner will get it back!

2. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I tried to read it with my kids a couple of years ago, but they were a little young for it and I've been wanting to finish it and haven't. 

3. Hounded, by Kevin Hearne. This came highly recommended, but is the first book in a long series which is why I've been putting it off (9 books listed on Goodreads with about 5 more half books--oh, my). 

4. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. I've heard lots of great things about this book and picked it up for cheap at Deseret Industries (local thrift store).

5. Splintered, by A.G. Howard. I won a signed copy in a giveaway and am excited to read it.

6. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I've heard good things about this and was excited to see my sister had it so I could borrow it from her!

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. I got this at my book club's book exchange around Christmas and have been wanting to read it. 

8. The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery. That's right, Lucy Maude Montgomery, who also wrote Anne of Green Gables. I borrowed this one from a different sister and have actually had it for a few years, so I really need to read it so I can return it to her.

9. Airel, by Aaron Patterson and Chris White. I met this author at a Costco book signing and told him I already had some interest in his book and could buy it cheaper for my Kindle (it was actually free a few weeks after that and I did wind up getting the second book for free later on). Anyway, he then told me that then I wouldn't have a signed copy so I agreed and bought it. (Remember me telling you earlier that I have a hard time telling an author to their face that I'm not interested in their book? Yes, I'm a sucker.)

10. Lethally Blonde, by Patrice Lyle. I won this in a giveaway last year and figure that I need to read it since the author was kind enough to send me a signed copy! 

What books are you wanting to get off your TBR pile this year?

Tomorrow, we'll talk ebooks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ebooks for $2.99 or less!

As I've said before, I have really been surprised at how much I've enjoyed reading ebooks! I thought I was kind of a book snob and needed to feel the pages in my hands, but have realized that I actually don't. I do still enjoy that and have plenty of books in paper form, but I'm an early riser and I love that I can read without having to turn on lights or wake anyone up. The other advantage for me is that I'm really bad at sneaking a peek at the end (don't judge--sometimes I just want to know if it's worth reading or not), and I don't do that with ebooks. At first, I didn't know how to get back to my location and that's not an issue anymore, but I found that I enjoy books even more when I don't already know how they end.

Ebooks are cheaper, too, sometimes by a lot and sometimes by only about a dollar. I thought I'd share some of the books I either have (and some I have reviewed on here) or want to get. Let me know if you know of any good deals! And remember, the free ebooks may not always be free but they are the day I'm posting this.






Tuesday, February 19, 2013



Fifteen-year-old Christy is on a two week political trip to Washington, D.C. One night, she and the others in her group, eight total, sneak out of their hotel and wander around the city. They've been roaming around for two hours and are now looking for a bathroom. Alex, the good-looking guy she has a crush on, finds a hotel that's a little creepy inside. Christy feels that she shouldn't go in but another guy, Rick, and her roommate, Marybeth, come and walk with her inside. They sneak up the stairs to the bathroom (they figure Alex thinks that's more fun than asking), and as she turns the corner, she sees two men in leather coats, with large guns sticking out, talking to the receptionist. They make her nervous but they don't see her and she heads to the bathroom.

When she steps into the stall, she hears muffled voices and notices a vent just below the ceiling. She's nervous that it might be a guy with a camera, so she climbs onto the back of the toilet to catch the pervert. Instead, she sees a large ballroom and guys with guns similar to the ones she had seen in the lobby. These men are draped in flowing robes and surround a table where four other men sit. Two of the men wear robes similar to the guards surrounding them and the other two are dressed as American businessmen, with their backs to her. 

Marybeth comes to see if she's ready to go and she told her what she was doing and to take a look because something weird was happening. Marybeth doesn't want to but relents and then wants to get out of there so they won't be seen. Christy wants to find out what they are saying so they both look through the vent. Marybeth recognizes the voice of a Senator from Iowa. Her dad told her he was going to save the farmers in her state and is a blessing from heaven. The Senator is being told by one of the robed men that he has failed. They are looking for a favorable result and were told he has the votes. The Senator insists that he does have the votes and the bill will pass. There is a little bit of arguing and Christy and Marybeth witness the gory death of the man who was sitting next to the Senator. It stuns both of them and Marybeth falls to the floor. Christy is nervous that the men might have heard so she looks out the vent again and thinks she sees one of the guys look right at her. Marybeth has passed out and Christy knows they have to get out of there right away. 

The others come in to see what's taking so long and Christy explains that Marybeth has fainted because of what they saw through the vent. Alex, Josh and Rick look through the vent and are sickened by what they see. They hear the men tell the Senator to make it happen and lead him out of the room.

The kids get out of the hotel but the receptionist and guards keep a close eye on them. They run to a different hotel and hide in the laundry room. Christy hears someone walk quietly down the hall and try the door to the room they're in. They fall asleep until 5 am and decide to split into groups to go back to their hotel. Christy notices a guy with icy blue eyes following them and Rick nicknames him Iceman. The kids each type out what they see and get it into the hands of the FBI, who then contact them to learn more. Who is Iceman and why is he following them? Will the FBI be able to keep the teenagers safe? Who does Christy like--exciting, fun Alex or safe, kind Rick?

Christy is smart and nerdy and is glad to make friends with the cool kids and finally feel accepted. She makes some poor decisions throughout the book and I would just have to remember that she's only 15. The plot isn't 100% believable, but that's why it's fiction, and it is highly entertaining. Her relationship with her family was odd to me but it makes the life she needs to live in book 2 easier. There's some suspense, teenage drama, and a love triangle (which continues throughout the series). I thought the story moved along well and found myself interested in what was coming up next. I would recommend this to anyone interested in YA suspense. 

My rating: 4 stars

This book is currently free on Kindle and the two sequels, Protected and Created, are each $3.99 on the Kindle.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jack Templar Monster Hunter

This book starts with two big warnings! The first is that this book isn't for everyone because not everyone can handle it--blood, gore and monsters. And if you read it, you'll become part of the monster world and monsters will come after you, too. The second warning comes when you're brave enough to ignore the first warning! He doesn't want anyone blaming him for nightmares or being fearful of creepy-crawlies in your room. So, read at your own risk!

It's the day before Jack Smith's fourteenth birthday. He's dreaming about Cindy Adams, the cutest girl in school. He's holding her hand and leans in for a kiss when her lips part to reveal a row of jagged, pointed teeth and when she opens her eyes, they're red. She snarls and starts to bite his throat when he starts to scream and his Aunt Sophie comes running into his room. She asks what's wrong and, when he realizes it was a dream, he just tells her its girl problems. She tells him the real trouble starts with girls tomorrow when he turns 14 and he needs to get ready for school. As he gets ready, he notices his body has changed quite a bit and is confused, but likes it.

Jack's dad had been a soldier and was killed when he was young. It was an Army secret and Aunt Sophie told him she didn't know how he died, but Jack thinks she does and is keeping the truth from him. His mother died when he was born so his dad's sister, Sophie, took him in as her own. 

Jack leaves for school and comes across his first monster, who tripped Jack, and while he was in midair, he was able to do gymnastic moves that kept him from getting hurt. The stranger, who was scary looking, watched him and then told him it was good the change has begun because it would make it more fun when they found him tomorrow. Jack was freaked out and took off running for school.

There we meet his two misfit friends and he has a run in with the school bully, which got him a trip to the principal's office. He has another strange experience with her when she also tells him that it's nice to see his change coming on because it will make tomorrow more fun. He has a one day suspension for fighting and she tells him to enjoy it since he has such a big day. He's pretty shaken and, after a conversation with Ms. Hester, the school secretary, he takes off. 

At this point, there's an intermission with more warnings because this is where things get really strange. What is happening to Jack? Why does everyone keep telling him how much fun tomorrow is going to be? What strange creature will he meet next?

I enjoyed Jack Templar Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus. First of all, he's funny. The warnings are fun to read and made me laugh. There is a lot of action and some twists and turns I didn't see coming. Jack is confused for most of the book but goes along with what's happening and gets some of his questions answered. When I finished, I actually went back and reread the beginning because the things that happened made more sense (I actually need to do this a lot--I don't pay enough attention to detail, I guess), and you'll see why I included certain parts of my recap after you read it. There are lots of unanswered questions still by the end of the book and hopefully the next books will answer them.

I read an interview with the author where he said he wrote these books because his oldest son wasn't enjoying reading at all so he wrote a book that he would enjoy. It's a pretty intense book so if you have a child that is squeamish or gets scared easily, I wouldn't recommend this book for them to read. 

You can visit the author's website here. He has an excerpt for book 2 on there (which he is hoping will be out in Spring 2013), FAQ's, a forum, explanations of The Creach (the monsters in the book) and other links and it's just as fun as his book!

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Cinderella Project

I've been wanting to read this book for a while and decided Valentine's week would be the perfect time to do it! As you'll notice, The Cinderella Project by Stan Crowe is written by a man. 

Nick Cairn is working on his doctorate and had three months to finish it. "The stated goal was to understand why supposedly 'perfect love' could go tragically wrong. I wanted to know if there were obvious warning signs on the entrance ramp to the freeway of romance screaming, 'Caution: dead end ahead!' The official literature always gave the usual, unsatisfying answers. I just knew there had to be something more, something deeper." (p. 2)

Moiré De Lanthe shows up in his lab one day and claims to be his new undergraduate assistant. He hasn't had an assistant in 13 months and tries to get rid of her but ends up agreeing to let her help. He's nervous because he's engaged to Ella and feels uneasy that he was so attracted to Moiré.

Ella is beautiful and Nick feels lucky to be engaged to her and is resolved to keep his promise to marry her and stay loyal to her. Ella has a stepmother and stepsister that Nick has never met because she won't allow it to happen. She needs constant reassurances of his love for her and gets him to agree to move the wedding from December to October, which he's not happy about since that's when he's scheduled to defend his dissertation, but agrees because he wants to prove he's committed to her. 

As the story goes on, Ella throws up more and more red flags and you wonder why Nick puts up with it. His parents are still married but their marriage is rocky and he's determined that his marriage will be different and he will keep his promise to Ella to marry her.

He enjoys spending time with Moiré but pushes her away because he doesn't want his conflicted feelings to interfere with his commitment to Ella. 

I enjoyed reading the male perspective in a romance and liked the conversations on love that Nick had with different characters--his parents, Ella and Moiré. This was a fun, clean read and I recommend giving it a chance.

You can visit the author's blog and sample the first chapter for free and he has some other posts where he talks about the development of the three main characters. You can find all that info here.

My Rating: 4 stars

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you all have a wonderful, love-filled day!

I came across an article titled "10 clean, historical romance novels in time for Valentine's Day" and was excited to see what books I had read from the list. I have read none of them and they all look good, so my Amazon wish list just got a little longer! You can view the article here and let me know if there are any you would recommend. I'm also including links to Amazon so you can check them out and see if any of them interest you.

I did notice that Against the Tide is by Elizabeth Camden, who also wrote The Lady of Bolton Hill which I wrote about here. It's Bane's story and looks like it will be good!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I don't know too many people that haven't read Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, so if you happen to be someone that hasn't, I highly recommend this book!

From Amazon: Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

I heard a lot of great things about this book before I read it, so I was hoping I wouldn't be let down, and was glad I wasn't. It caught my interest right away and I couldn't put it down. I have friends that don't normally enjoy books like these and they were pleasantly surprised and gave it good ratings. I know I said in an earlier post that I don't give "fluff" books 5 stars anymore, but here it is:

My Rating: 5 stars

Also, don't forget the free giveaways by Astraea Press. Two free ebooks every day the entire month of February!! That is quite generous. You can go here to get them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lady of Bolton Hill

Since Valentine's Day is Thursday, I'll share some of my favorite romances. I don't currently have a list but I should probably compile one (hmm...already thinking ahead to next year!). So basically, there's no particular order in what I'll be sharing this week. The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden is a Christian romance. It's actually been a while since I've read it, so I'm going to share my sister Alisa's recap of it:

Daniel's dreams are crushed when he is called away from taking the exam that might be his one chance at a college scholarship... because there has been an accident at the steel mill where he and his dad work, and his dad is trapped. Despite his heroic actions (and abandoning his chance at his scholarship) his dad dies... because of a faulty machine part.

Shortly after his dad's funeral, his best friend and the one bright spot in his life, Clara, is sent away to England to live with her aunt.

Twelve years later... Daniel has become a successful businessman who is a little strapped for cash because of his vendetta against Alfred Forsythe - who Daniel holds personally responsible for the death of his father. Alfred Forsythe owned the steel mill that Daniel and his father worked for, and Daniel felt that the faulty machine part could have been prevented if Forsythe hadn't been trying to cut corners. Daniel has a lot of patents on superior railroad equipment, and he refuses to sell any of his equipment to Forsythe. If Daniel's company goes public, then he becomes one of the richest men in America, but he knows the board of the public company will agree to sell his equipment to Forsythe.

Clara returns to America after an anonymous benefactor pays for the best lawyer in England to get her released from prison there. She is a journalist, and wrote a story about the treatment of the children in the mines - which landed her in jail. She returns to America and plans to continue being a journalist.

For Daniel and Clara, friendship comes easy. They seem to pick up where they left off, but life is never that easy... Daniel carries a lot of anger and refuses to have anything to do with God, and then there is the article that Clara writes that seems to put a permanent wedge between them...

And then there's Bane who has been commissioned to destroy Daniel. His plan seems to be working perfectly at first, but he didn't count on how the strength of a virtuous and God-fearing woman could change his heart.

And right as Daniel hits rock bottom he realizes what is really important to him and what is worth fighting for (and what is worth letting go) - hitting rock bottom ends up being the best thing that ever happened to Daniel!

This was a fun, clean read! It was refreshing to read a story where the main characters haven't seen each other in 12 years and there was no animosity between them when they were reunited but rather catching up with each other and continuing their friendship from so long ago. There are still some rough patches--after all, there does still need to be a story. I enjoyed this book and plan to read it again.

My Rating: 4.5 stars


Monday, February 11, 2013

Romance is in the Air Blog Hop

A couple of years ago, I started following the blog I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.


She does A LOT of giveaways and I entered a few and actually won a couple of them. I was so excited to win some free books! She does Blog Hops, which work like this: You can click here to go to her current giveaway, which is a copy of Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (movie is coming out on Valentine's Day) and a $25 VISA gift card. Then, after you've entered her giveaway, there are 148 additional blogs you can visit and enter those giveaways as well! Okay, I know visiting 148 blogs would be a full-time job and too overwhelming to actually do, but my suggestion would be to pick a few blog titles that sound interesting to you and visit them to see if their giveaway is one you would be interested in. Usually you'll need to follow a blog, like a Facebook page or follow someone on Twitter so I've picked a couple of blogs, done those things and then follow them so their giveaways are easier to enter in the future. 


I recently entered a giveaway for a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Splintered by A.G. Howard and won it! There were over 800 entries so I was very excited. I got it in the mail Friday and look forward to reading it. It also came with a key necklace as shown on the front cover--my daughter has taken that over for now. 

The description on Amazon is: "This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own."

It sounds like it might be a little creepy and not normally the kind of book I read, but I'm excited to give it a try. And, isn't that cover amazing?

Here's some info on the author:

Author A.G. Howard

A.G. Howard is most at home when weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I was offered a free copy of this book by the author, Jenni James, if I would write a review for Amazon. I jumped at the chance because I'm trying to get way out of my comfort zone (and I believe it's working)! I finished her book today, so here's my Amazon review:

What a fun, quick read! I've never really enjoyed this particular fairy tale but I love the refreshing direction this story takes.

Prince Frederico is 5 years old when he runs away from Nurse Crabtree and heads off to the pond by himself to collect some strange rocks. While there, an old woman steps out of the bushes and, when she finds out who he is, she puts a curse on him. She tells him his family is evil and must be taught a lesson through the young boy. He's confused and as he heads back to his nurse, he realizes his body is hurting and crippled. His looks freak everyone out and he is taken back to the castle where a young maid named Tilly takes care of him once she's over her initial shock at his appearance.

Fast forward 18 years and we find out that his family was so ashamed of him all those years ago that they told everyone he was dead and buried a box of his old clothes and dirt. Every year, the villagers were required to mourn his death (and pay their taxes) on the anniversary of his "death." Meanwhile, Rumple lives in the cellar under the kitchen and tries to stay out of his family's way. His father has died and his brother, Marcus, is now the king and is not a kind man. Tilly died last year so he's feeling lonely this year.

Aubrynn Sloat is a villager preparing to attend the commencement of Prince Frederico's death. Her father, a drunk, is missing and she hurries to the castle by herself. When King Marcus stands up to deliver his speech, she notices a disturbance and a man is called up to the podium. It turns out to be her father and he tells the King that his daughter can turn straw into gold. She's called to the front and told that if she can truly turn straw into gold, she will become the next queen.

It's fun to read how Aubrynn's and Rumple's paths cross and how they handle the predicament she's been placed in and how the royal family does indeed learn a lesson through Rumple/Prince Frederico. I highly recommend this book to everyone and especially those who love fairy tales!

So this is actually my very first review on Amazon (it's always intimidated me before) and I believe I may have a new hobby!

My Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Caller ID

From Goodreads: When twenty-three-year-old Courtney Beckham is abducted near her home, the search turns up more than just a kidnapping crime. FBI agent Jason Edwards investigates the ten-million-dollar ransom and stumbles upon something he wasn't meant to find. When Courtney catches a glimpse of the caller ID in her kidnapper's home, what she sees turns her world upside down.

I love a good suspense book and this one fit the bill! Courtney Beckham is twenty-three, comes from a wealthy family and lives a charmed life. She's beautiful and has lots of guys after her, but due to a bad experience in her past, it's hard for her to get close to any of them. She's finishing college and works for her father, a developer, whenever he needs her help. 

There was a murder near her home a year ago and the murderer still hadn't been caught so her father didn't want her to ride her horse in the woods or run alone. Her dad takes her mom out of town for a surprise getaway one weekend. She has really missed riding her horse in the woods and decides that what her parents don't know won't hurt them. She takes off without anyone knowing where she's gone (you can see where this is going, right?). While she's in the woods, her dog runs away and when she chases after him, she discovers something she's not supposed to see. She's caught and taken captive. When the person in charge finds out who they have, the men are ordered not to harm her. She finds out who is behind her kidnapping when she sees their number on the caller ID and decides to get away so she can expose them. 

In the meantime, the FBI has been called in and agent Jason Edwards learns all about Courtney and her life. He heads to the woods alone to do some investigating and figures out what's going on. He is stunned by what he finds. 

There are lots of twists and turns in this book (and yes, even some romance!) and I read it quickly because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a romantic, suspenseful story.

My Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Giveaway Winner! And more free ebooks!

Congratulations to Alayne L. for winning the signed copy of Benotripia by McKenzie Wagner! Thanks to all of you for entering. I will have more giveaways in the future!

If you love to read and have an e-reader, there are lots of sources to get free and cheap books. I have a Kindle so I only use Amazon. Here's the link to look at their top 100 free books:

Amazon Kindle Books

I also like Digital Book Today. They send out a daily email with the top free Kindle books. Some of these will make it to the top 100 list, but not all of them do, and I've found some good titles on this list as well. Here's the link to the list for today and, if you're interested, you can sign up to receive their daily email: 

Digital Book Today

Also, for the month of February and in celebration of its second birthday, Astraea Press is giving away two free ebooks every day. You can get those here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered

The middle to end of last year was extremely difficult for me. A lot seemed to happen in a short period of time and I found myself in tears a lot (and I'm not one to cry very often). I know what I should do in those situations but I had some anger, too, and wasn't willing to humble myself enough to do it.

One day, I was reading some book reviews and came across one for this book. I can't locate it now but it touched me that day in a way nothing else had for a while. The title When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered jumped out at me and I felt that it was a book I needed to read. Michael Wilcox gave this talk at a Time Out for Women event. It's not a long book, but it is powerful! 

It's hard for me to put into words what it's about so here's the description from Deseret Book:  "The wind was fierce, and the disciples of Jesus had long rowed against it before the Lord finally came to them, walking on the water in the fourth watch of the night-somewhere between 3:00 and 6:00 A.M. In this talk on CD, Michael Wilcox compares this with our own experiences in challenging times. When our trials go on indefinitely, we should not assume that God does not hear our prayers, or that He does not care, or that we are unworthy. Perhaps we have not yet reached the 'fourth watch.' This comforting message increases our faith and patience, offers profound hope and solace, and explains how the Lord often works with us."

The Fourth Watch is a powerful concept and then he goes beyond that to help us understand what's happening when we arrive at the Fourth Watch and he still hasn't come. That's when we know we're tight like a dish (Ether). He also talks about holding places--sometimes we need more life experiences before we are given the answers we're looking for and he shares his experience with his father who abandoned their family when he was young. I love this quote from this section: "Occasionally, answers aren't given or the blessings we desire don't come or the trials we bear continue because there is no place in our hearts for God to put the answer we need. Life must carve or hollow out this place. The very experiences we are going through help to create these holding places. Yet he still hears our prayers and promises the resolution will come in time."

There are lots of great nuggets in this book and I highlighted the last two pages. I'm feeling much better these days. And no, my trials haven't all disappeared. I have gained a new perspective on them and know that God is mindful of my life. I also love that the title is When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered and not When Your Prayers Go Unanswered. We have the assurance that our prayers are answered in God's time and we need to be willing to learn what will help us become the best we can along the way!

This book is also on CD and I'm wanting to listen to it as well. I have found that when I also listen to a book, I pick up even more nuggets!

My Rating: 5 stars