Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A. Thompson

Seconds Before Sunrise, by Shannon A. Thompson
2014, 277p, YA Paranormal Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

I really enjoyed the first book, Minutes Before Sunset and was excited to continue reading the series. Go here to learn more about book one and read my review. 

Jessica has lost her memory because it's safer for her to not remember who she is. Like the first book, we get both Jessica's and Eric's points of view. I could feel the pain that Eric is dealing with as he is forced to act like he doesn't care for Jessica and is fine with her dating other guys. Jessica feels like something is off in her life and is having a hard time figuring out what it is. She makes a new friend that helps her and feels like something is off with her old friends. There's a lot of emotion in this book on both sides that really comes through and I feel like I know the characters a lot better now. 

Since this is the second book, I felt like I had more of a grasp of what was going on and the double identities were easier to keep track of.  In the first book, Eric was more absorbed with his life as a descendant and I felt like he was more interested in his human life in this book. He still takes his role seriously, and does plenty of training. I was drawn into this story and felt like I was there with them. I loved the ending and I'm looking forward to seeing where this story will go next!

My only complaint is that I was hoping the human identity of Eric's enemy would be revealed. I think Shannon left enough clues for me to figure it out so I'm excited to read book 3 to see if I'm right! 

Content: Mild swearing, kissing. Clean! 

After I read the first book, I wanted to ask Shannon some questions to get to know her better and learn more about this series:

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, but - in terms of considering myself a “serious” writer - I think I knew I was one when I was 11, which is when I started to pursue publication seriously. You see, as a kid, I suffered from night terrors and nightmares that were really difficult to differentiate from reality. My mother taught me how to turn them into stories in order to cope. When she suddenly died, I knew I had to chase my passion immediately. Morbid, yes, but the truth nonetheless. So I began to write seriously at 11, and my first novel, November Snow, was surprisingly published when I was 16. I plan on re-releasing it in November of 2015.

2. What inspired you to write The Timely Death Trilogy?

Most of my novels are still inspired by my night terrors or dreams. Unlike most children, I didn’t grow out of them. Just a little explanation, when I wake up, my dreams don’t necessarily go away. I still see them - almost like a vision - and The Timely Death Trilogy is based off of a series of dreams I had between the ages of 14 and 18. During a dark time in my life, a boy would come and visit me to just chat. I actually shared more details about this, including an excerpt from my actual diary, on my website here:

3. When is the final book scheduled to be released?

AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. is hoping to release Death Before Daylight in January of 2015. I’m currently 50% of the way through the content edit.

4. What was your favorite scene to write (in either book one or two) and why?

Oh! That’s so hard. Um. I love the bat scene in book one, which I talked about on Ky Grabowski’s blog. (→-shannon-a-thompson/) But my favorite scene to write in Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, was a combination of two chapters - (SPOILER ALERT) - Between Eric’s car wreck and the drunk mishap that Jessica finds herself in, I - as sick as it sounds - enjoyed watching how they overcome their struggles in their human forms.

5. What are some of your favorite books and what book are you reading now?

I have so many favorite books, but Meg Cabot has always been one of my favorite authors. Cassandra Clare is up there, too. But I also spend a lot of time reading memoirs and poetry, including Billy Collins and Erin Moure. I’m currently reading a memoir called “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” by Anna Quindlen. It was a birthday gift, and I’m quite enjoying it.

6. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’m a crazy coffee addict, so venturing through book stores with a coffee is my favorite pastime, but I’ve been known to take trips without much notice. I moved around a lot as a kid, so staying in one place is strange for me, so I love traveling whenever I can. If I have to stay home, I love watching old Humphrey Bogart movies with my cat, Bogart. True story.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

My personal manta is “write with passion; succeed with self-discipline.” Basically, always remember how much you love writing and allow that love to push you forward and through the other things you don’t love (like marketing) and you should be fine.

8. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

You are the pen in my hands. Without you, I could not share my words with the world. Thank you for supporting me as I continue the writing journey. I look forward to our future journeys as we venture off together.

Thank you so much, Shannon! It's been fun getting to know you and learning more about your passion for writing. I'm a fan and look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Shannon A. Thompson is a 23-year-old author, avid reader, and a habitual chatterbox. She was merely 16 when she was first published, and a lot has happened since then. Thompson’s work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies, including a Norwegian magazine, and her first installment of The Timely Death Trilogy, Minutes Before Sunset, became Goodreads Book of the Month. The sequel, Seconds Before Sunrise, has released, and AEC Stellar Publishing released her latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, on July 17, 2014.

She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing.

Shannon spends her free time writing, but she loves spending time with her father and brother. She also has one black cat named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review: Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes

Saving Grace, by Michele Paige Holmes
2014, 380p, Clean Regency Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy for an honest review

From Whitney Award Winning Author, Michele Paige Holmes, comes SAVING GRACE, a regency romance from the Hearthfire Romance series:

After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.

This book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let up the entire time. Grace's father has a lot of debt and needs her to marry someone wealthy asap. Grace, however, has her own plans and is determined not to get married and finds ways for her suitors to reject her. They are quite entertaining and I got a laugh out of her antics. 

On the way to the last suitor's house, Samuel Preston, she is forced to make a stop at Nicholas Sutherland's home. While there, something happens and she concocts a plan to get her out of marriage altogether. However, when she meets Samuel Preston and gets to know him, she starts to wonder if she's made a huge mistake.

Grace is a great character! As she described the men her father wanted her to marry, I didn't blame her at all for trying to get away from them! She cares about her brother and sister and has a plan for them to live safely and happily together. While she's trying to figure a way out of her current predicament, she gets to know Samuel Preston and Nicholas Sutherland and begins to realize that maybe marriage wouldn't be so bad after all.

I loved Samuel and was glad that Grace got to know him. Nicholas had a gruff personality and it took more effort for her to get to know him. I was torn between the two men, but felt that she made the correct choice for her in the end. There were big issues between Samuel and Nicholas and as we got to know more of their history, I felt for each of them and wanted them to find a way to come to terms with each other. I thought the ending was perfect! This is a fantastic book for anyone looking for a clean regency romance!

Michele Holmes spent her childhood and youth in Northern California and Arizona. After marrying her high school sweetheart in the Oakland Temple they moved to Utah, and she now feels very blessed to enjoy a beautiful mountain view from her Provo home.

Michele graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in elementary education—something that has come in handy with her five children, all of whom require food, transportation, or Band-Aids the moment she sits down at her computer.

In spite of all the interruptions, Michele is busy at work, with more story ideas in her head than she will ever likely have time to write. Michele’s first published novel, Counting Stars, won the 2007 Whitney Award for best romance. All the Stars in Heaven continues the story of one of the characters from that first novel.

Book Review: Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Cinder & Ella, by Kelly Oram
2014, 269p, YA Contemporary Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy for an honest review

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancĂ©e—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

I was looking for a fun read so decided to pick this book up and read a little bit and then I couldn't put it down! Ellamara is a teenage book and movie review blogger (love it!) who lives in Boston and is online friends with Cinder, a guy she argues about books with. Ella gets in a car accident and her mother dies, so while she recovers, she is sent to live with her father in LA. Her father had an affair and left her mother when she was 8. He has now remarried and has two stepdaughters, Anastasia and Juliette, who aren't thrilled to have Ella come stay with them.

There was more to this book than I originally thought there would be. Ella needs to learn to live with her physical and emotional scars and adjust to family life with people she hasn't met and a father she hasn't seen or heard from in many years. She needs to make new friends and she now has scars from the accident so she doesn't feel attractive at all. Her stepsisters don't like her and she doesn't feel any connection to her stepmom. Her life has been turned completely upside down and she doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. She has plenty to be depressed about and I loved reading how she was able to overcome all of it, especially how she came to terms with her father and his new family.

I also enjoyed her relationship with Cinder. She was able to talk to him about anything and everything. When she reconnected with him, it took her a while to let him know what she was really going through. I loved the way they met and thought it would be smooth sailing once that happened, but there were still obstacles for them to overcome. There are some other great side characters, too. I loved the ending and wasn't ready for this book to be over!

Content: Swearing and sexual innuendo, but nothing graphic.

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Forbidden, by Kimberley Griffiths Little
2014, 397p, YA Historical Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received an ARC from the author for an honest review

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

I loved this book! Jayden is 16 and is preparing for her betrothal ceremony. She's not anxious to marry Horeb but knows that it's expected of her. Horeb has made her uncomfortable lately and she doesn't love him. Their union will be good for the tribe, so she must go through with it. She finds herself enjoying the celebration and dancing with the women is lots of fun. The next day, their tribe is relocating to the northern summer lands and it's the beginning of a lot of changes for Jayden.

I loved Jayden! She was so strong and had a lot to deal with. Just when I would start breathing more easily, something else would happen so I was definitely kept on my toes the entire time. It didn't take long to realize why she didn't want to marry Horeb and the kind of man he was. Kadesh was a sharp contrast to him and it was hard for her to conceal her feelings for him, even though those feelings were incredibly dangerous for both of them. 

I enjoyed her relationship with her sister Leila. Leila was older than Jayden and was engaged to marry Horeb's older brother Zenos, who died a month after they got engaged. Leila changed a lot and didn't always make decisions that Jayden agreed with. They had a lot to deal with and each took a different route but they were always there for each other. 

Towards the end, this book really picked up and I couldn't put it down until I was done. And then it ended on a cliffhanger! I'm looking forward to the second book where the biggest question I have will be answered and to see how Jayden handles the next phase of her life.

There is some content which I felt fit in well with the story and the time period in which it was written. It also helped me understand the real fears that Jayden had. 

Content: There is no swearing. There is some sexual innuendo and brief instances of prostitution. There is also some violence, including assault and attempted rape. 

About the author:

Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Blast: Ginnie West Adventures, by Monique Bucheger

Ginnie West Adventures - collage

About the Books

Book 1: The Secret Sisters Club

The Secret Sisters Club - cover

The Secret Sisters Club (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 1) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: March 18, 2012 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 238 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13

Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs want to be sisters. Tillie's divorced mom plus Ginnie's widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters.’

Before long, Ginnie suspects Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her dead mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about … until Dad takes the journals away.

Book 2: Trouble Blows West

Trouble Blows West - cover

Trouble Blows West (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 2) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: April 13, 2012 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 234 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13

Book Summary: Putting her body in motion before her brain is in gear creates a mountain of problems for 12 year-old Ginnie West. Ginnie is certain that defending her twin brother from the biggest bully in sixth grade was the right thing to do, but she soon finds out she couldn’t be more wrong.

Bullies don’t like being embarrassed by girls at school—especially when they are being abused at home. When Ginnie figures out Pierce’s awful secret, she switches gears and decides to be his ally, because he won’t let her be his friend.

Book 3: Simply West of Heaven

Simply West of Heaven by Monique Bucheger

Simply West of Heaven (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 3) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: January 1, 2013 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 288 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13

Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs are matchmaking geniuses. They schemed to get Ginnie’s widowed dad to fall in love with Tillie’s divorced mom. Then Ginnie stumbled upon her late mom's journals, making life totally awesome sauce … until her dad confiscated the journals.

Ginnie is counting on Tillie's help to make Dad change his mind, but Tillie's not sure the ghost of Ginnie's mom will make a good addition to their new family tree. When a blast from the past shows up and makes Tillie go nutburgers, Ginnie is torn between helping her BFF and having her questions answered.

Book 4: Being West is Best

Being West is Best - cover

Being West is Best (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 4) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: April 19, 2014 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 350 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13

Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs, Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, are matchmaking geniuses. Together, they maneuvered Ginnie’s widower-dad into proposing to Tillie’s divorcee-mom. Sweet! Certain they are well on their way to sisterhood, each girl is floored when Tillie’s lousy-excuse-for-a-birth-father puts in an appearance after a six year absence. Too bad “lousy dad repellant” doesn’t come in a can.

Even though Tillie’s dad has sobered up and is determined to make amends, Tillie would rather he just disappear again. If he stays, “Operation: Secret Sisters” may need to be renamed “Operation: Not Gonna Happen.”

Amazon Print Books Signed by Author

About the Author: Monique Bucheger

Author picture Monique

When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, sons-in-law, and adorable grandchildren, cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of the Ginnie West Adventures series, picture book, Popcorn, and plans to write plenty more.

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About the Illustrator: Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is an author/illustrator that specializes in children’s art. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie and Bean’s Dragons. He is the illustrator of several picture books such as Popcorn by Monique Bucheger, Bongo Flo by Carolyn Quist, and Lucius and the Christmas Star by Jim Long. He is the author of The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis, The Stone of Valhalla the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. You can find more about him and his books at:

*$25 Book Blast Giveaway *

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Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)

Contest closes: November 27, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open to: 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 Monique Bucheger and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: More Mormon Origami by Todd Huisken

Tour Schedule

More Mormon Origami, by Todd Huisken
2014, 144p, LDS Crafts
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

Last October, I reviewed the first Mormon Origami book. You can learn more about it and read my review here. I could pretty much cut and paste that review since most of it still applies. I'm still terrible at folding paper, only now I realize that I will either always be stuck on level 1 designs or I will need to be taught step-by-step in person by someone who is good at this. My hope was to be up to level 3 designs by now with the first book, but I'm still struggling with level 1 designs.

The author starts by showing the different kinds of folds. Then there are design sections, Book of Mormon, Armor of God, Church History and Latter-Day Temples. Within each section there are different designs marked with skill levels, 1-3, with one being the easiest. There are step-by-step instructions for each design which helps a lot. Almost every page has trivia so you learn a little something while you're (working at) being creative.

There really are some great designs in here. I want to get some fun paper so the sister missionary dresses will look as cute as the ones on the cover. This book is great to help entertain young children and if they catch on quickly, this book (along with his first one) will keep them busy for hours! I would recommend getting this book in print so the directions will be easier to follow and you can flip to the front to refer to the folds more easily. And I stand by my statement that learning how to make some of these might make you the coolest Primary teacher ever!

About the author:

Todd Huisken is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Counseling Manager at LDS Family Services in Fountain Valley, CA. He attended Brigham Young University and The University of San Diego and has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Todd has served as the Assistant Director of Disaster Mental Health Services for the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has worked with victims from the San Diego Fires, Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and spent two weeks in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. He was an early morning seminary teacher for six years. He is the author of The Dating Directory and the founder of Process and Content, a graduate program newsletter at the University of San Diego. The most important thing about Todd is that he has been married to his beautiful wife for 21 years and they have three daughters and a son and they try to make Disneyland their second home.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Gerbs in the House by Lydia Lukidis

Gerbs in the House: The Dilly Dally Bedtime Routine, Written by Lydia Lukidis; Illustrated by Heather Cook; Photos by Bailey J. Thompson
2014, 44p, Children's Picture Book
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

Mocha says it’s bedtime, but Petri wants nothing to do with it! Reading books, singing lullabies and juggling plates are only a few of the things Mocha does in an attempt to tire his son out. Although Petri is entertained, he still refuses to sleep. He just wants to dilly dally! Worn out by his son’s shenanigans and silly antics, will Mocha ever get Petri to bed before losing his marbles?

Petri isn't ready for bed and is pulling out all the stops to stay up--he starts with a story and a snack since he's so "hungry." Then, when his father, Mocha, has taken care of him and can relax, he hears noises coming from Petri's room and when he checks on him, Petri is dancing and making a huge mess! Just when Mocha thinks he has gotten him to sleep, Petri surprises and frustrates him. Mocha needs to figure out how to get his son to sleep so he can rest, too!

This short, cute story reminds me of a few nights when my children were younger. I certainly can understand Mocha's impatience and willingness to do what he needed to in order to get some much needed sleep. I love the illustrations and how some of the photos of real gerbils are integrated with the drawings. I thought it was cleverly done and will hold children's attention. The rhyming story is creative and fun to read! This is a book that is enjoyable for both children and adults!

About the Author:

Lydia is a story teller and a magic maker. She is a multidisciplinary artist with a deep passion for writing and creating. After receiving her Bachelor degree in English Literature from McGill University, she has been writing books, short stories, poems and plays for over two decades. So far, fifteen of her children’s books and eBooks have been published, and she has toured the world with five of her marionette plays. In addition to her creative work, she also writes educational and curriculum based texts for children and is a workshop facilitator.

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Book Blast: Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: Ten Thankful Turkeys | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Powdles | Publication Date: October 4, 2014 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2 to 8 Summary: This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

Kindle version available for only 99 cents from Amazon on October 24 & 25, 2014. Grab your copy now!!

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About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the "new kid" in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children's book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children's picture books and released books in her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2013/2014. Her husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

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* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) Contest closes: November 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: 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 Angela Muse 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

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewoves by Jeff Gunhus

Tour Schedule

Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewolves, by Jeff Gunhus
2014, 167p, Middle-grade Fantasy
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the tour host for an honest review

Fresh from confronting the Lord of the Vampires in the limestone catacombs beneath Paris, Jack Templar faces his toughest challenge yet as he searches for the next Jerusalem Stone, this one being held by the Lord of the Werewolves.

But the narrow escape from the vampire lair came at a great cost and Eva battles to survive the new vampire blood in her veins. The only chance to help Eva is to continue their quest and find the Jerusalem Stones. Reuniting the Stones will not only stop Ren Lucre’s coming war against mankind, but also transform Eva back into her human self.

From the ruins of ancient Delhi to the depths of the Black Forest in Germany, Jack and his friends face monsters, bewildering riddles and treachery from the most unlikely of places. Through it all, they are plagued by the Oracle’s prediction that at least one of their group with not make it through the adventure alive. Worse yet, they know that Kaeden, the Lord of the Werewolves, will do his best to make sure none of them do.

But they are monster hunters of the Black Guard… and they will do their duty, come what may.

I've read all the Jack Templar books (this is the fourth) and this one is my favorite so far! I said that about the last one, too, so they just seem to get better and better! Each book reveals a little more about Jack and his family and, based on information given in this book, I'm not sure that I want him to succeed in his quest. Jack and his friends are collecting the five Jerusalem Stones which they believe will help them defeat Ren Lucre and rescue his father who's being held hostage. There's now another reason to collect them. They collected the first one in the last book and are now searching for the werewolves to get the next stone.

I love how quickly these books move. It seems like this book had a few less action scenes than some of his others and I liked that. The story still moved along at a great pace. I'm not sure who to trust and betrayal sometimes turns out to be someone helping Jack. And then sometimes it's just outright betrayal. Since I'm not sure who to trust, I'm trying hard to figure it out and can't, which keeps me coming back for more. I'm glad there are more books and look forward to reading Jack's next adventures! 

I think the author does a great job at summarizing what's happening in the story so you could read them without going in order, but each book is so much fun to read that you might as well read them all. This is a great series for a reluctant reader because there's no time to get bored. Highly recommended!!


Chapter One

It seemed impossible to digest that Ren Lucre, the Lord of the Creach, the one raising an army to destroy the world, the monster who most wanted me dead and who kept my father prisoner in his dungeon, was actually my grandfather.
But I knew my friends deserved the truth, so on the first day on the boat leaving Paris, I told them everything. They were shocked, of course, and didn’t know what to say.
Will, my scrappy friend from Sunnyvale, put an arm around me. He’d stuck by my side during my whole crazy adventure into the world of Creach, monster hunters, and ancient prophecies. “Wow,” he said. “And I thought my family was messed up.”
It was the perfect comment. Five out of six of us laughed, including T-Rex, my other friend from middle school, along with Xavier and Daniel, who I’d met at the Monster Hunter Academy.  Then we spoke openly about what my monster relatives meant to our mission – stopping Ren Lucre from destroying human civilization – and how each of us felt about it. Not that it solved anything, but it did make sure we all had the same information. Everyone felt better afterward, everyone except the sixth member of our party who stood silently staring out into the night. It was an unspoken understanding that the best way to handle that situation was to just give it time and leave it alone. She would come around eventually. We hoped.
But that was three days ago and, with night closed in around us, the stress of our situation made the companionship of that moment seem far away. 
I turned my back on my friends and stared up at the moonless night sky. I felt the gentle movement on the river as it carried our boat west, away from Paris. The bank slid by silently on my right, just a dark shadow of trees.
“I can’t take any more of this endless debate,” Daniel said behind me. “I say we fight, and the winner chooses our next move.”
I clenched my hands into fists and wondered whether I should just let them give Daniel my answer. I turned to gauge whether the comment had been a joke to release the tension or a real suggestion. Neither would have surprised me.
Daniel stepped toward me and, by the look on his face, I don’t think he was sure either whether he’d been joking or not. He was taller than me by a foot and built like a star high school quarterback, with broad shoulders and thick twists of lean muscle. His once ridiculously good looks now had the blemish of a fake nose attached to his face where a swarm had screechers had chewed off the original. Even though I’d saved him from dying that day and we’ve been friends and fought side-by-side ever since, some of the old tensions between us still leaked out every now and then.
He and I hadn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot when I’d arrived as the new guy at the Monster Hunter Academy. The ancient school in France served as the training grounds for the Black Guard, the secret society tasked with protecting the reg, or regular, world from the Creach. He was already top dog there when I showed up with everyone whispering about the prophecy, about how I might be “the One,” how I was the last Templar knight. There’s nothing a top dog like Daniel appreciates less than another dog showing up and peeing in his yard. Well, peeing in his front yard and then trying to steal his ex-girlfriend is worse. Yeah, that happened too. Worst of all, he still had a thing for her.
All that was supposed to be behind us now. We were friends, comrades-in-arms who’d faced down screechers, dragons, goblins, desert djinn and even an entire vampire horde together. Still, under the stress of the last few days, we were at each other’s throats.
“Back down, you idiots,” said a voice from behind us. It was Will. “You guys are acting like morons. You’re just tired. We all are.”
He stepped between us like the mini-pit-bull he was, pushing each of us back with a hand. Because of his small size, enemies often underestimated Will, and sometimes his friends did too. But I knew no one tougher or more loyal. Out of respect for him, and because neither of us really wanted to fight, Daniel and I backed away from one another.
Will was dressed in the same gear we all had, black pants, black t-shirt, and a jacket with multiple pockets. Exactly the same outfits we’d all been wearing three days earlier when we battled the vampire horde in the catacombs of Paris.
Three days ago.
It seemed like a lifetime.
Especially since that was how long it had been since any of us had more than an hour or two of fitful sleep.
“That’s better,” Will said. “We’re all tired and more than a little grumpy, so let’s just assume people are going to say dumb stuff they don’t mean, okay?”
“Like when I said I wasn’t hungry,” said another voice. “I was just kidding about that.”
T-Rex, piped up from the opposite side of the small steering house in the center of the boat. He stepped out, hand on his oversized stomach, looking unhappy. I smiled at him not because of what he said but because his presence on this adventure always reminded me about the strength of friendship. He was here because he would do anything to help his friends. And if that meant traveling halfway around the world to battle monsters, so be it. He was along for the ride.
“’Cause, honestly, I’m getting really hungry,” T-Rex said.
T-Rex had thinned down since leaving Sunnyvale, and he’d kicked his habit of picking his nose when he was nervous, but he still didn’t look like an obvious fit to be a monster hunter. His round face, freckled nose and wide waist had made him a perfect candidate to be a Ratling at the Academy, working the kitchens and serving the food he loved. But as soon as I decided to seek out the five Jerusalem Stones from the five Creach Lords who had them, he’d stood right next to the others with his short sword clutched to his side, demanding that he come along.
“That much we can agree on,” I said. “I think we’re all hungry.”
Xavier, the brainiac of our little group, gave a nervous glance to the boat’s bow. “We better hope she doesn’t get too hungry.” 
While most of the Black Guard relied on their swords, crossbows and other weapons to fight the Creach, Xavier’s brilliant mind was a weapon in and of itself. He was only twelve, the youngest of our group, but his inventions had saved our bacon more than a few times already. His brilliance made him a little socially awkward though since he didn’t see the need to filter anything that came to his mind. You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. This comment about the last member of our group only said exactly what the rest of us were thinking but were too polite – or afraid – to say out loud.
My eyes flicked towards Eva, the proud fighter who’d been the first to tell me about this whole undiscovered world swirling around me. Eva, the fourth level monster hunter who was one of the most feared members of the Black Guard even though she only had one hand. Eva, the first girl who I’d fallen for but who wisely had kept us focused on our mission, which was so much larger than either of us. She was all these things, but since the events of the catacombs under the streets of Paris, she was one other thing as well.
She was Eva the vampire.

Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel.

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/4/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Because of Love by Shauna V. Brown

Tour Schedule

Because of Love, by Shauna V. Brown
2014, 96p, Christmas
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

For Christmas, all Phoebe Brown wants is to give her daughters new shoes to replace their heavy leather boots. But because they have very little money, her husband refuses to pay for them. Inspired by true events, this Christmas story shows how the power of love can change even the most begrudging heart.

This is a short, sweet Christmas story and it's centered around shoes!! Josephine Brown is being teased at school because she wears thick, heavy, ugly boots. Her mother, Phoebe, is tired of it, and understands how her three daughters feel because she has felt self-conscious about her big, ugly boots before, too. 

Their father insists on them all wearing sturdy boots since he walked across the plains with bleeding feet. His shoes had worn out early on and he was always trying to find something to wrap around his feet. The women want pretty shoes and decide to pray for a Christmas miracle and each set about doing their part to make it happen.

This book brought me back to a simpler time. It shows what a family can accomplish when they work together (and even separately) to bring happiness to each other. Phoebe was hurting for her daughters and knew how they felt because, as an adult, she had felt judged for her boots. I think all of us mothers can relate to how much we hurt when our children are hurting and want to do what we can to help.

This is a heart-warming story which I will share with my children this year. It's a book that makes you appreciate what you have and realize what Christmas is really all about!

About the author:

Graduating from Brigham Young University with a degree in speech and drama, communication, has provided Shauna V. Brown with many opportunities to use her talents. She has written and directed original plays and presentations for church and community. She has shared her musical talents, numberous scripts and presentations with pioneer trek groups for the past eighteen years. Shauna has equally enjoyed being a guest speaker and presenter at BYU Education Week, women’s conferences, firesides and community presentations. Shauna and her husband, Rick, are blessed with six children and fourteen grandchildren. For the past twenty-two years, Shauna has written an original Christmas story as a gift to neighbors and friends.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Spotlight: Recipes and Road Stories by Hannah and Caroline Melby

Hannah and Caroline Melby recently released their book Recipes and Road Stories, a collection of stories and recipes from their years traveling together as musicians.  

Genres: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Cookbook

By the time Hannah was in the 11th grade and Caroline was in the 7th grade, the Melby sisters were touring the country in bluegrass bands, with Hannah on fiddle and Caroline on mandolin. Today the sisters are the front persons of a very popular Nashville-based country music touring band named HanaLena.

The sisters, who grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, performed from an early age—Hannah is now 28, Caroline is 24—evolving from bluegrass to progressive country as they perfected their songwriting and performance skills out on the road. In 2008 they won the “Best New Act in Country Music” competition at the Colgate Showdown in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville—and took home a check for a cool $100,000 presented by country music star LeAnn Rimes.

Do they ever have some great stories to tell about coming of age on the concert trail! Recipes and Road Stories blends touching and rollicking road stories with an assortment of tasty recipes, and then tops everything off with plenty of exciting photographs. Also contributing recipes are friends they made on the road, including Rhonda Vincent, a 5-time Grammy nominee who has been called the “Queen of Bluegrass,” and Claire Lynch, who is the reigning Female Vocalist of the Year for the International Bluegrass Association.

Recipes and Road Stories: From Life on the Road with Sisters Hannah and Caroline Melby of the duo HanaLena was published by Sartoris Literary Group in September 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon

You can also follow this sister duo on Twitter.

This book sounds amazing! This excerpt made me cry (and is worth the read).

A High Lonesome Cowboy Wedding Never to Forget

This is one of our favorite stories. It is dear to our hearts, but it is a hard story to tell for reasons that soon will become apparent.
It was a hot summer day in Mississippi.  We drove for hours from Nashville, down to Sallis, Mississippi, located outside of the “big city” of Kosciusko.  Once we arrived in Sallis, we turned down a winding, gravel road that led us to an old high school gym.
We unpacked our gear for what we thought would be a typical wedding.  What we didn’t know was this would be anything but a typical wedding, and it would probably change all of our lives a little, even if we didn’t know it at the time.
 We were greeted by a handful of handsome boys dressed in heavily starched white shirts and jeans.  They had matching tan cowboy hats to top off the outfit.  They helped us carry our sound equipment into the small, but inviting gym that had been transformed into a beautiful wedding venue.
The groom stepped up and introduced himself with a firm, good ole boy handshake that made you feel like the world would be in good hands with him.  The bride was a beautiful mother of five with a smile as wide and bright as if she had won the lottery.
We set up for the ceremony and got ready to perform.  But before the wedding began we all gathered around to say a prayer. It was a well-spoken and beautiful prayer, the kind that made you feel like God was watching over the couple at that very moment.
When the wedding began, we played "Ashokan Farewell" as the doors opened and the bride began her long walk to meet her husband at the altar.  As she began that journey, she was accompanied by one of her sons who walked at her side. Then after a few steps they paused long enough for another child to replace the first child—and so it went, the bride alternating her children so that each of them ended up walking her closer to her soon-to-be husband.
Something about the togetherness of that moment touched every heart in the room. The bride finally reached the spot where she would change her last name and hopefully her entire life.  On either side of the couple were a line of finely dressed boys and girls, each of whom was one of their kids.  I say "their kids" because I have never seen a family as close as they were on that day.  They didn’t point out whose children were their biological ones.  They were a family.  That is all they needed.
After the “I dos” and the ever so anticipated kiss, they turned and walked down the aisle a second time, but now as husband and wife.  We played the reception soon after.  They cleared the chairs and got ready for a good ole time!  They had their first dance.  They looked at each other with such compassion and adoration.  They somehow knew they were supposed to be there together at that very moment.
The bride and groom each danced with the children, one by one. During one song, the bride’s youngest boy walked on stage and pulled on my dress like you would expect any small child to do when he wants to ask a question.  I bent down to listen to his request. It was the sweetest and saddest question I have ever heard.
“Would you play a song for my mommy and me?" he asked. "I haven’t danced with her yet and I am afraid she has forgotten about me.”
I hugged him and said you bet!
I'm not sure, but I might have stopped the song we were playing half way through to honor his request.  I was so touched by his innocence and his need to have a dance with his mom.  As I watched with awe, the bride came over and grabbed her youngest boy from the stage and held him close while she danced with him.  
After the last song was played and the last dance was danced, we loaded our instruments into the car and were ready to head home.  The boys in starch all came up and gave us their going away present; I believe it was almonds tied up in a red bandana.  We had the best time.  Before we left we got a big hug from the bride and groom.  They told us "thank you" as most people do.  But, they decided to tell us why this wedding was so special to them.  We knew a little background about them, but nothing prepared us for the story they told.
The bride had lost her husband a little while back.  She was left with five kids.  She was doing all she could to hold the family together, but it never seemed like enough.  One day she was praying for the Lord to send her a man that would love her and all of her children, and it wouldn’t hurt if he was tall, dark, and handsome.  She told God that the man would have to come to her, because she didn’t have any time to go out and search for him.
While she was on her knees praying, one of her daughters came looking for her and told her someone was at the door.  She got up with tears in her eyes and opened the door.  There stood a man.  He was tall, he had dark hair, and he was handsome.  He asked her if her husband was there.  He had known him a while back and heard he lived here.  She invited him in and told him of her late husband’s passing.  They talked for hours.  His wife had passed away as well.
Shortly after that meeting, they fell in love and got married.  God had answered her prayers.  He had sent her a tall, dark, and handsome man that loved her and all of her children, and she loved his children as well.
We left the old country place with tears in our eyes and a new-found appreciation for love and an acceptance of the mysterious way God works.  We traveled home in silence, reflecting on the life changing day we had experienced.
I wish my story stopped there.
A few months after their wedding, the mother of her five children and of his three, answered a knock at her door.  A man was standing there.  With a pained look upon his face, he removed his hat.  She knew something was wrong before any words were spoken.  He told her he regretted to inform her that her husband's train had derailed, and that he had not survived the train wreck.
For the second time, her world fell apart.  She had to put aside her pain.  She had eight children to take care of now, so for the second time, she was forced to become strong.Hannah 


Deep Fried Oreos
Cleek Farms, Kingsport, Tennessee
Host of annual Cleek Farm Corn Maze

  1 1/2 cups milk
  2 eggs
  2 cups all-purpose flour
  1 teaspoon baking powder
  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon salt    
  3/4 cup confectioners' sugar (sift for best results)
  8 cups vegetable oil for frying

Mix first 6 ingredients. Heat oil. A deep fryer works great, but you don't have to use one. Dip the Oreo in the batter, place in fryer until golden brown. Remove, cool slightly, and apply sifted powdered sugar. This is a simple funnel cake mix.