Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt

Finding the Worm, by Mark Goldblatt
2015, 352p, Middle-Grade Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .

Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.

Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.

I loved Twerp and was excited to hear that there was a sequel. (You can learn more about Twerp and read my review on it here). I read this book with my children and we all loved it! This book is great as a standalone. There are some references to incidents that happened in Twerp, but you won't feel lost if you haven't read it. 

This book is set in 1970 so times were simpler. There's a group of boys who are best friends and hang out together. Their friend, Quentin, has been sick and in the hospital and they learn that he has a brain tumor. They are worried about him but are told he'll be fine so when he comes home, they treat him like they always have, but are a bit more careful with him. There are some funny things that happen, some of which involve a pinball machine and, separately, a wheelchair. He seems to be getting better and then gets sick again and it's not until the end that we find out what his diagnosis is. There were a few tears shed while reading this book.

There's also a girl involved with their group this time around. Her name is Beverly and she's anxious to race Julian to show him she's a faster runner. He has a reputation as being the fastest runner and she feels a need to beat him but he doesn't want to race a girl. It was fun to see how that storyline wrapped up. There are also some great storylines that include Julian's principal and Rabbi Salzberg.

This is a book that made us laugh, cry and think. When we were finished, my daughter (age 11) asked to read Twerp because she wanted more of this group of boys and their friendship. This book is a little more serious but I enjoyed it just as much! If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, these are ones you'll want to read!

Mark Goldblatt is a theologian, novelist, columnist and book reviewer as well as a professor at Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York. 

His controversial first novel, Africa Speaks, a satire of black urban culture, was published in 2002 by The Permanent Press. His second novel, Sloth, a comedic take on postmodernism, was published in 2010 by Greenpoint Press. The Unrequited, a literary mystery from Five Star/Cengage, followed in 2013  the same year Random House released Twerp, a novel for young (and old) readers.

Goldblatt's book of political commentary, Bumper Sticker Liberalism was published by Broadside/Harpercollins in 2012. He has written hundreds of opinion pieces and book reviews for a combination of the New York Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reason Magazine, Commentary, Ducts Webzine, The Common ReviewUSA Today, the Daily News, Newsday, National Review, the Daily Caller and the American Spectator.

His academic articles have appeared in Philosophy Now, the Chronicle of Higher EducationAcademic Questions, Sewanee Theological Review, English Renaissance Prose, Issues in Developmental Education 1999, the Encyclopedia of Tudor England and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

He has been a guest on Inside City Hall on NY1, the Catherine Crier Show on Court TV and done dozens of interviews for print and web journals and radio stations. His integrity has been called into question by the Village Voice, which should count for something. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Colorful Characters in Mormon History by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon

Colorful Characters in Mormon History, by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon
2015, 260p, LDS Non-Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

Most Mormons are mild-mannered, well-behaved, law-abiding citizens who tend to get along well with their neighbors. But every once in a while, there's a renegade. You know the one: a little bit wild-eyed, ready to rumble, out to go where no Mormon has gone before. Face it: we all know one.

Well, if you think you've seen a colorful character or two in your ward, you should check out the colorful characters in this book some Mormons, some non-Mormons who impacted Church history. These people are a whole new breed of colorful.

You'll meet the guy who is credited with starting the gold rush and putting San Francisco on the map California's first millionaire, who dies selling pencils on the street. You'll meet the Mormon FBI agent who was killed in a shoot-out with Baby Face Nelson, but not before taking out the Baby. You'll gain a whole new appreciation for the General Authority who peppered his sermons with profanity. And that's just scratching the surface.

Most of all, you'll find yourself shaking your head in wonder, having a knee-slapping good laugh, and maybe even shedding a tear or two here and there. 

This is an interesting and fun read! When I read the title, I knew that J. Golden Kimball would be included. He's the General Authority who peppered his sermons with profanity. The only parts of his life that stuck with me over the years are the stories I read when I was younger that made me laugh and think he was quite the character. I did, indeed, gain a new appreciation for him as I learned of his background and more of the good things he did. 

There are some that aren't Mormons but are included because they had an impact on Mormon history, like Mark Twain, Lilburn Boggs and Lewis Bidamon (Emma Smith's second husband). 

I enjoyed reading these stories and learning more about the people that were included in this book. There were some that I wasn't familiar with at all and I especially enjoyed learning what impact they had on the church. It's well researched and the author corrects some versions of stories that have circulated for years. This is a book that will appeal to everyone, whether you enjoy reading about church history or not!

Click here to take a quiz to find out which colorful character in Mormon history you would be. I got Mary Fielding Smith. I'll take that!

About the Author

Kathryn Jenkins Gordon is the managing editor at Covenant Communications and the author of the bestselling Butch Cassidy and Other Mormon Outlaws of the Old West. She is fascinated with history, especially Church history, and especially the colorful and quirky parts of that history.

She is a writer and editor who has worked for forty-three years in corporate and internal communications, public relations, media relations, marketing communications, and publications management. She likes her job at Covenant best of all the ones she's had.

Named an Outstanding Young Woman of America, her interests include reading, writing, cooking, traveling, and doing family history. She has met five presidents of the United States, sailed up the Nile River, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, eaten tempura in Tokyo, and received a dozen long-stemmed red roses from a stranger on the street in Athens. She and her husband, Glenn, parent a family of ten children and five grandchildren spread over three continents.

Summer Book Trek Challenge 2015

I did this challenge last summer and it was so much fun!! As a bonus, I won some fabulous books! This is a challenge to read fiction books by LDS authors during the month of July. To learn more about the challenge and join in on the fun, click on the "Summer Book Trek 2015" link above.

Here's the list of books I plan to read for this challenge (I've included links to my reviews as I've posted them):

Girl of Mine by Taylor Dean
Trouble in Loveland by Jennifer Peel
Veils & Vengeance by Rachelle J. Christensen
Worth Waiting For by Sally Johnson
The Haunting of Springett Hall by E.B. Wheeler
Stick in the Mud Meets Spontaneity by Rachael Anderson
The Kiss That Launched 1000 Gifs by Sheralyn Pratt
Another Time for Love by Lynne Larson
A Timeless Romance Anthology: Annette Lyon Collection
Love on a Whim by Aubrey Mace

I'm sure I'll be adding more as I go. It's going to be a fun reading month!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Blog Tour/Review: Bilwok: Dawn of the Trolls by George Anthon Kibbie

Tour Schedule

Bilwok: Dawn of the Trolls, by George Anthon Kibbie
2015, 192p, Middle-Grade Fantasy
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

When Bilwok discovers the ancient record of his people, it changes everything he’s ever known about himself, his fellow trolls, and the world beyond his hidden home. Now he has to decide where his loyalties lie and how far he’ll go to find the truth. Discover the intriguing world of trolls in this fascinating fantasy that’s filled with twists and surprises!

This book is set in the future in a place called Tennevollen, when trolls and man are at odds with each other. Bilwok, aka Billy, is 14 years old and runs with a rough crowd. It doesn't take long for him to completely change his ways and become a model child and student. His best friend, Wardoll, is not happy about that at all. There's underlying tension between the two of them for the majority of the book and Wardoll is bent on getting revenge.

Bilwok and Wardoll are very different from each other. When Bilwok is away from Wardoll, he sees things in a different light. Wardoll is a character that, even though he's unlikable, there are things that happen that made me feel somewhat sympathetic towards him. However, he does still make some poor choices. Bilwok becomes friends with a Troll girl, Grinella. They grow close and are loyal and supportive of each other, which just adds to Wardoll's anger.

I don't read about trolls very often and had fun reading something different. The characters  are lovable, unlikable, or questionable. There were a few that I wasn't sure about for a while, but their intentions were spelled out by the end so I don't feel like there's any remaining mystery about them. That part didn't necessarily appeal to me but I know when my daughter reads it, she will like that. 

I thought this was a great start to a fun series!  There are surprises and twists that keep the story moving at a fast pace. It will hold the attention of young readers and keep them coming back for more. The ending isn't resolved and, while not necessarily a cliffhanger, it left me wanting more. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes next!

George Anthon Kibbie is a science fiction and fantasy writer. Known to friends and family as “Tony,” he grew up watching science fiction movies and reading voraciously, often staying up all night reading an entire novel. After each movie or book, he would dream about how to make it better. Eventually he stopped dreaming and began to write.  Current published novels include “Justice,” “Strength of Blood” and “Dawn of Creation.” Other work include being a columnist for Professional Safety, the trade journal for the American Society of Safety Engineers and a technical writer for the construction industry. He lives with his eternal companion Charlotte in Layton, Utah.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: Base Hits and Home Run Relationships by Trina Boice

Base Hits and Home Run Relationships, by Trina Boice
2015, 288p, LDS Non-Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Love is like baseball, so hit a home run in your relationship! With Trina Boice's advice, any man can learn how to step up to the plate. Learn tips, stats, and skills to make a powerful and lasting romance whether you're in the “minor leagues” of dating or the “major leagues” of married life.

I like the idea of this book and think it's full of great advice! There are three main sections, or "innings." The first inning is "Play Ball!" where the author explains how her book is set up. She gives some advice, then turns it over to her son, Cooper, who shares his perspective on the topic being discussed and shares tips and examples to help be successful in dating and relationships (yes, he's tried and tested these ideas himself). She also shares Stats in each chapter and has assignments which are various challenges and go along with the baseball theme. Women aren't off the hook, either. She has a section for them at the end with advice, assignments and challenges as well.

The second inning is "The Minor League." Most of the chapters are in this section and some of the topics include first impressions, how to flirt, when to call a girl, courting and dating ideas (these work for relationships at every level), persistence, first kiss, defining the relationship, and finally, the proposal.

The third and final inning is "The Major League." This deals with marriage. There are topics that cover newlyweds, sex, continuing courtship in marriage, forgiveness, communication and avoiding divorce.

No matter which stage your relationship is in, there is something for everyone in this book. Dating can be scary and I liked how Trina and her son, "Coach" Cooper, break it down and explain it. The baseball theme makes this book fun to read and is something men can relate to. I enjoyed their stories, get to know you games and questions, questions to reflect on, and advice. I also thought the body language discussion was interesting. 

I had to read through it quickly this time and plan to go through it again slowly. There's a lot of information and assignments so it will take quite a while to get through all of it if you're looking to improve your relationships. I also plan to share it with my son when he starts dating so he can feel more confident in the dating game. Guys (and girls), this is a book worth reading and you'll want to follow through on the assignments!

About the author:

Trina Boice is the author of 21 books and currently teaches at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Las Vegas, as well as for BYU-I online. She loves movies and writes reviews here.

She was honored as the California Young Mother of the Year in 2004, an award which completely amuses her 4 sons. She now writes for Homemaking-Cottage.com, BigWorldNetwork.com and is the Entertainment News Editor for BellaOnline.com. Trina earned 2 Master’s degrees and 2 Bachelor’s degrees and competed in college on the Speech and Debate team and the Ballroom Dance Team.

Trina also studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain and later returned there to serve an LDS mission in Madrid for 1 ½ years. She has a Real Estate license, Travel Agent license, and a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.

She worked as a Legislative Assistant for a Congressman in Washington D.C., and was given the “Points of Light” Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her domestic and international community service.

Trina was selected by KPBS in San Diego to be a political correspondent during the last presidential election. If she told you what she really did she’d have to kill you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spotlight: Legendary Women of World History Series by Laurel A. Rockefeller

I was contacted by the author to review these books and want to bring them to your attention now. First of all, they sound like they are fantastic! Also, you can currently get the first two in play format for free on Smashwords. I was unclear as to what the difference between the plays and the biographies are, so I asked the author and this was her response:

The biographies are always written first. There are three at present and a fourth as a work in progress.Those take anywhere from four weeks to three months each to research and write.

The plays are adaptations from those biographies (which are short -- less than 100 pages each). So most of the work on the stage adaptations is formatting. Some new scenes are written to cover important events covered in exposition in the biographies. Remember, these are CREATIVE NON FICTION so I cannot just make things up in the biographies.

The stage plays have to fictionalize a LITTLE BIT to work on the stage.

I would say about 80-90% is the same; it's that ten percent where the biographies won't work as is for the stage where I have to fictionalize and/or re-write.

Go here to get your copies today!!

Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni, by Laurel A. Rockefeller
2014, 52p, Children's Non-fiction Biography

Why is The MorrĂ­gan's raven crying? Only Britons with hearts for true liberty know!

In 43 CE Roman conquest of Britannia seems all but certain -- until a chance meeting between King Prasutagus of the Iceni and a runaway slave of royal decent from the Aedui tribe in Gaul changes the fate of the British islands forever.

Rise up for liberty with the true story of Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni and discover one of the most inspiring stories in history!

Based on the accounts of Roman historian Tacitus and supplemented with archaeology presented by the BBC. Told through the eyes of a 5th century mother and daughter facing the Saxon invasions.

Catherine de Valois, by Laurel A. Rockefeller
2014, 66p,Children's Non-Fiction Biography

War made her queen of England. Her love for a Welshman made her immortal.

Best known as Henry V's Agincourt bride from Shakespeare's "Henry V," Catherine de Valois was an extraordinary woman of faith, courage, and conviction in an age of politically powerful women.

A younger daughter to King Charles VI of France terrorized by his mental illness, Princess Catherine survived the ravages of his schizophrenia, a civil war at home, and King Henry's war with France to become one of England's most fascinating and courageous queens. Her children by her second marriage and their descendants changed the landscape of England and Scotland forever, forging together the United Kingdom.

Meet the real Catherine behind the Tudor and Stuart dynasties in this beautiful biography for the entire family.

Includes a detailed timeline, bibliography, and link to a special reading award.

Mary Queen of the Scots, by Laurel A. Rockefeller
2015, 76p, Children's Non-Fiction Biography

Queen Mary Stuart was one of the most beloved and controversial women in Scottish history. The granddaughter of King James IV and his wife Margaret Tudor, Queen Mary's status as heiress-apparent to the English throne paired with the violence of the Scottish Reformation set the stage for one of the most dramatic and poorly understood lives of the 16th century.

Mary Queen of the Scots tells Mary's true story, focusing primarily on her reign as queen of Scotland, celebrating her life more than her death, and showing us all why she was truly a woman ahead of her time.

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA, author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller has written over a dozen book titles since August 2002 including The Peers of Beinan science fiction series, American Stories, the Legendary Women of World History biography series, and her latest passion: the My First Cockatiel Series.

Enjoy Ms. Rockefeller's books in English and Chinese in your choice of digital, paperback, and audio editions narrated by dynamic British voice artist Richard Mann.

Talk to Laurel and join the conversation on twitter at https://twitter.com/laurelworlds, follow Laurel on pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/peersofbeinan, and then check out Laurel's blog at http://peersofbeinan.wordpress.com.

Book Blast: The Children of Darkness by David Litwack

The Children of Darkness, book one of the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers by David Litwack

“But what are we without dreams?”

A thousand years ago the Darkness came–a time of violence and social collapse when technology ran rampant. But the vicars of the Temple of Light brought peace, ushering in an era of blessed simplicity. For ten centuries they have kept the madness at bay with “temple magic,” eliminating forever the rush of progress that nearly caused the destruction of everything.

Childhood friends, Orah and Nathaniel, have always lived in the tiny village of Little Pond, longing for more from life but unwilling to challenge the rigid status quo. When their friend Thomas returns from the Temple after his “teaching”—the secret coming-of-age ritual that binds the young to the Light—they barely recognize the broken and brooding man the boy has become. Then when Orah is summoned as well, Nathaniel follows in a foolhardy attempt to save her.

In the prisons of Temple City, they discover a terrible secret that launches the three on a journey to find the forbidden keep, placing their lives in jeopardy. For hidden in the keep awaits a truth from the past that threatens the foundation of the Temple. If they reveal that truth, they might release the long-suppressed potential of their people, but they would also incur the Temple’s wrath as it is written:

“If there comes among you a dreamer of dreams saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”

add to goodreads

Praise for The Children of Darkness

“A must-read page turner.” Kirkus Review

“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction Fervor

“The Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois

“A fresh perspective on our own society…[an] enjoyable read that will make you wonder just how society will judge us in the future.” Lexie

Author David Litwack

The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.

After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

BookBlast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 7/12/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blog Tour/Review: Hotel Moscow by Talia Carner

Hotel Moscow, by Talia Carner
2015, 448p, Historical Fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher through TLC Book Tours for an honest review

From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that tells the riveting story of an American woman--the daughter of Holocaust survivors--who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, and finds herself embroiled in a perilous mafia conspiracy that could irrevocably destroy her life.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where "capitalism" is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed--and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

A moving, poignant, and rich novel, Hotel Moscow is an eye-opening portrait of post-communist Russia and a profound exploration of faith, family, and heritage.

In 1993, Brooke Fielding heads to Russia, with a group of other women, to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women. It's nothing like she had envisioned it would be. She quickly learns that the women over there live under difficult circumstances and the mafia is in control.

This was such an interesting book! I was feeling sorry for Brooke and all she was dealing with. Then we meet two Russian business women, Svetlana and Olga. They put up a front for the Americans but their personal lives are hard. Food is hard to come by and their living conditions are less than ideal. Svetlana also has a young daughter to care for so some of her decisions are made to keep her safe and fed.

Brooke was a likable character. She wanted to help the women the best she could but also found the entire situation too difficult to deal with. She was wary of some of the men "helping" them and, with the help of Svetlana and Olga, was able to uncover some corruption. Her parents are Russian Jews and Holocaust survivors who barely escaped from Russia years earlier and she heard their stories growing up. Through her experiences, she was able to better understand her parents and came to appreciate her Jewish heritage.

This book takes place within a week. There were times that it seemed a bit disjointed but it was fascinating! It was hard to read at times and I would need to put it down but found myself drawn back to it to see what would happen next. This book will interest anyone looking for a thought-provoking novel set during this time period.

There is some content to note: There is some violence and swearing, including two uses of the "f" word. There is also a short, descriptive rape scene and a short, descriptive sex scene.

Purchase Links

About Talia Carner

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women's economic forums. This is her fourth novel.

Visit Talia at her website, taliacarner.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Talia's Tour Stops:
Tuesday, June 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, June 4th: Raven Haired Girl
Friday, June 5th: Charmingly Modern
Monday, June 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, June 9th: A Utah Mom’s Life
Wednesday, June 10th: As I turn the pages
Monday, June 15th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, June 22nd: Bibliotica
Tuesday, June 23rd: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 24th: A Book Geek
Thursday, June 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, June 25th: Doing Dewey
Friday, June 26th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, June 29th: Book Dilettante
TBD: Luxury Reading
TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: More for the Heart by Ekta R. Garg

More For the Heart, by Ekta R. Garg
2015, 65p, Clean Contemporary Fiction
My Rating=3.5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Two more stories about the power of love. Two more stories about the characters you remember. Two more stories for the heart.

“Making The Proposal”: Readers learned in Two for the Heart about the end of Pooja and Akshay’s unique arrangement—get married and then prepare their divorce papers—but did you wonder how it began? Just how did Pooja and Akshay make this crazy deal in the first place? Find out in this first story in More for the Heart.

“Reminiscence”: In Two for the Heart, sisters Rose and Helen reconnect with great reluctance after an 11-year estrangement. These two women have spent more than a decade apart. What convinces Rose to stay this time around? Sit at the table with Rose and watch her internal transformation in the second story in More for the Heart.

A few months ago, I reviewed the companion book to this, titled Two For the Heart. You can learn more about that and read my review on it here

The teaser for the first story was that we would find out the reasons Pooja and Akshay agreed to get married. "Making the Proposal" is the "rest of the story" for Pooja and Akshay. I think we got enough clues in the first book that I felt like I already knew the reasons so this story seemed a bit redundant to me. However, I do like Pooja and Akshay and they were fun to read about. I enjoyed learning how they met and reading about their courtship and their early interactions with each other's families. I wouldn't mind reading even more about them in the future.

I felt like I got a little more out of Rose's story, "Reminiscence." She wanted to become someone and left those she loved behind as she struck out to fulfill her dream. She does some reflecting in this story and is trying to determine if it was all worth it. We also get a glimpse into the thoughts of the man she left behind and the decisions he made. I didn't feel like there was closure to this story but rather we got each sister's perspective of what happened between them to get them where they are.

While I do find this concept interesting, I think I would personally enjoy one book rather than two. I tend to forget details so sometimes it takes me a while to get involved with characters again. Or, I just need to read them back to back so the stories will flow more easily for me. I think the author does a great job of giving just enough information to make a satisfying read but with enough questions to make you want more. I didn't feel that this second book answered every single question, and I thought it worked well for these stories. I'm not yet ready to give a final verdict on these so I'm looking forward to reading more!

Since the start of her publishing career in 2005 Ekta has edited and written about everything from health care to home improvement to Hindi films. She has worked for: The Portland Physician Scribe, Portland, Oregon's premier medical newspaper; show magazines for home tours organized by the Portland Home Builders Association; ABCDlady.com; The Bollywood Ticket; The International Indian; and the annual anthologies published by the Avondale Inkslingers, based in Avondale, Arizona.

In 2011 Ekta stepped off the ledge and became a freelancer. She edits short stories and novels for other writers, contributing to their writing dreams. She is also a part-time editor for aois21, and she reviews books for her own book review blog as well as NetGalley, TypeReel, and Bookpleasures.com.

Prairie Sky Publishing serves as the publishing arm of Ekta's professional writing blog, The Write Edge (thewriteedge.wordpress.com). When she's not writing, Ekta is a domestic engineer--known in the vernacular as "a housewife." She's married, has two energetic daughters who keep her running, and she divides her time between keeping house and fulfilling her writing dreams.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cover Reveal: Death Unscripted: A Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery by M.K. Graff

 We are so excited to be revealing the cover for Death Unscripted as the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries series by M.K. Graff! 

Let's get to know a little more about the author before you get a peek at the cover.

Marni Graff had a successful career as a registered nurse who wrote on the side before writing full time. She has a degree in English Lit and studied Gothic Mystery at Oxford University in England. She also wrote articles for Mystery Review magazine, where she interviewed many of the authors whose work she admired.

Marni is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. The Green Remains and The Scarlet Wench trace Nora’s move to the Lake District where murder follows her.  In process is The Golden Hour, set in Bath, England. Premiering in the next few months will be Graff’s new Manhattan series, Death Unscripted, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio. This new series is based on Marni’s favorite nursing job in real life.

Marni is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique   techniques. She writes crime book reviews at Auntie M Writes and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, an author’s cooperative. A member of Sisters in Crime, Marni runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven which allows writers experience reading their work out loud and getting immediate feedback. 

Twitter: @GraffMarni

“Graff gets behind-the-scenes of soaps just right. As well she should—she was there!”
        Marilyn Chris, Obie and Drama Desk Award winner; Wanda Wolek on “One Life to Liv.e”

Trudy Genova has the best nursing job, working as an onset and script medical consultant for a Manhattan movie studio. No more uniforms, night shifts, or real emergencies. That is, until a soap opera actor Trudy has a tense relationship with dies suddenly while taping a hospital scene—but not before pointing his finger accusingly at Trudy.

Detectives Ned O’Malley and Tony Borelli view Trudy as a suspect, and in an effort to prove them wrong, Trudy interferes with their investigation. Then a second actor dies, and Trudy realizes she’s put herself right into the path of a killer.

With knowledge gleaned from the author’s real work experience, readers will enjoy learning the intricacies involved in taping a daily television show.

And Now for the cover you have been waiting to see!
Don't you just love it? It's so beautiful yet you can feel the suspense!

Pre-Order your copy here:

Follow along with the event on Facebook

And enjoy all the blogs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison

My Fairly Dangerous Godmother, by Janette Rallison
2015, 322p, Clean YA Fantasy/Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Some people bomb auditions. Sadie Ramirez throws up during her tryouts on TV show America's Top Talent. Her performance is so bad, it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance's Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar: a gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel wearing fairy godmother in training. She misinterprets Sadie's wishes and sends her back in time to be a part of The Little Mermaid story and then makes her one of the twelve dancing princesses. Wishes are permanent, and if Sadie wants to get back to her home, she'll have to strike a magical bargain--one that involves stealing a goblet from a powerful fairy queen.

Janette Rallison is one of my favorite authors so I had high expectations going into this book and am glad that she delivered! This book is awesome!! I laughed through most of it. I watch America's Got Talent with my family and we love it! Sadie tries out for a similar show called America's Top Talent. She's a singer and her audition goes horribly wrong. She's guaranteed to be a YouTube sensation, and not in a good way. She meets her fairy-godmother-in-training, Chrysanthemum Everstar (Chrissy), and is granted three wishes. Her first wish lands her as The Little Mermaid. Every young girl that fantasizes about being a mermaid should read this. The reality of life as a mermaid was hilarious! 

She gets out of that situation and ends up as one of the twelve dancing princesses. I laughed harder at her being a princess than a mermaid. She brought up good points--who wants to give up electricity, indoor plumbing, cars, the internet, technology, etc., to be a princess? Chrissy has a way of technically giving Sadie what she wishes for but it's obviously not what Sadie has in mind when she makes her wish.

Returning home proves to be quite the adventure and Sadie learns a lot along the way. There are definitely obstacles for her to overcome and she's fortunate to meet someone willing to help her. I enjoyed every single character in this story.

This is the third book in this series. I read the first one a few years ago and remembered that I enjoyed it even though I don't remember the specifics. I didn't read the second book and I was glad that this one works well as a stand alone. I will definitely share this series with my daughter. It's clean and fun! Sadie's story is resolved but the series is really about Chrissy becoming a fairy godmother so it's left open for more. 

Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cover Reveal: Drowning Sandy by Sarah Daley

Originally, Drowning Sandy was published as book 3 in Summer Hearts, May 20th, 2015 but now, for the first time ever, it is being released on it's own!!! 
Coming to you July 6th, Author Sarah Daley's debut novella, available in paperback and e-book!

Interested in grabbing a copy of Summer Hearts? 

Get it on Amazon here

First, let me introduce you to this brand new author.

Sarah Daley lives in Arizona with her best friend and husband, Chris, their adorable monster child, and neurotic dog.

At the age of six, she became a reading machine. Devouring everything she could possibly get her hands on. In high school she almost failed English three times because of her detest for writing book reports. Today, Sarah writes whatever stories haunt her dreams, and struggles to focus on one idea at a time. When she isn’t enjoying time with her family, or writing, you will find her nose stuck in a book, or out walking and enjoying the sunshine.  

Now, for what Drowning Sandy is all about:

The water is calling...
and Sandy can no longer resist the urge to unleash her mermaid form. But a simple swim in Lake Ontario ends when she discovers the truth of her own banishment. When long time crush, Alardo, seems to shift in a direction she never dreamed possible, Sandy must make a choice — mermaid or human? Once she chooses, she can never go back.

Are you ready for this?

Credit for both the photograph and the cover design goes to the fabulous Isabelle Roza! You can see more of her work on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artist.Isabelle.Roza and on her website www.isabelleroza.com

Okay, enough stalling, here it is!!!!

What do you think?!?! 

For more fun, come check out the Facebook Cover Reveal event page: 

Book Blast: Luna's Lost Ball by R.A. Milnes II

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the picture book "Luna's Lost Ball" by R.A. Milnes II (June 18 to 20, 2015).

Luna's Lost Ball by R.A. Milnes II

About the Book

Title: Luna's Lost Ball (Shiloh and Friends | Author: R.A. Milnes II | Publication Date: April 30, 2015 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 36 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: Luna is a Labrador retriever and she has lost her most favorite ball. Follow Shiloh and her friends in a tale of friendship, teamwork, sharing, and reward as they help Luna find her lost ball.

Amazon Goodreads

The Buzz About the Book

"Wonderful book for small children! My twins are 4 years old and loved the story and colorful backgrounds! We are anxiously waiting the next in the collection!" ~ Marianne H., Amazon

About the Author: R.A. Milnes II

R.A. MilnesI am a business professional working in the healthcare industry. Luna's Lost Ball began as a gift to my niece and nephew. I have such love for them that I wanted to give them something that they can hold on to. The beauty of this work is that I am able to incorporate my dogs, Shiloh and Luna, into telling a story of friendship, teamwork, sharing, and reward.

I hope that you enjoy this story and it brings your family joy each time you read it. My goal is to continue to write more stories under the Shiloh and Friends brand.

Website Goodreads

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

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

Giveaway ends: July 2, 11:59 pm, 2015

Open: Internationally

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Services

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: Seaside Surprises by Stacy Claflin

Seaside Surprises, by Stacy Claflin
2015,  250p, Clean Contemporary Romance
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from eBooks for Review for an  honest review

Tiffany Saunders is on the run. When she winds up stranded in a seaside town, she wants nothing more than to forget her horrific past and kept moving. But a chance meeting with a handsome local changes everything.

Jake Hunter has some deep emotional scars and is trying to cope with running the family business. The last thing he wants is a relationship—until a mysterious brunette walks into his store and complicates it all.

Tiffany prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong—in her rear view mirror. But dark secrets cannot stay hidden forever. Just as the walls around Tiffany’s heart start to come down, the past catches up with her. Will true love be able to conquer all?

This is a fun, quick read! With her grandfather's help, Tiffany is running away from an abusive husband. She makes a stop in Kittle Falls and meets Jake when she shops at his family's convenience store. Jake was close to his sister who recently died and he is working double shifts while his parents grieve. He feels drawn to Tiffany, who introduces herself to him as Elena, but she is determined to leave town as quickly as possible. She finds herself stranded there and decides to give Jake a chance.

Both Jake and Tiffany/Elena were likable and it was easy to see them as a couple. Jake wasn't looking for a relationship. Tiffany was broken and didn't feel like she deserved a guy like Jake. There were external factors at work to keep them apart as well. It wasn't difficult to imagine the obstacles they had to overcome in order to give their relationship a chance. It was fun to see how their relationship evolved and they had great  interactions with each other.

There were some great side characters in this book. Tiffany's husband was easy to dislike since he was such a jerk and it was a good thing she had a grandfather who was willing to help her. Jake had four brothers who all came to town and they are all so different. They are also all single so it looks like there will be more about the Hunter brothers in the future! 

Since this book deals with abuse, there is some mild violence. The romance is clean; however, the main characters become involved with each other before her divorce is finalized. 

Stacy Claflin is a lifelong storyteller. When she was a child, she would get into trouble for trying to convince others that her stories were real. She thinks she scarred her cousin for life with her cavity monster story. Another time she convinced her friends that she had a robotic unicorn.

Now she saves her stories for novels. Whether Stacy's writing paranormal romance or thrillers, she always has suspense, twists, and turns.  You can count on surprises and an enjoyable escape. She  also likes to keep her stories blush-free.