Thursday, January 31, 2013

Deep Connections by Rebecca Graf

Publisher: Silver Tongue Press, August 23, 2012
Category: Paranormal/Suspense/Romance
Tour Dates: January, 2013
Available in: Print, PDF, and Kindle , 298 pages

Deep Connections is the story of a woman who finds herself caught in a love-triangle with a stalker closing in on her. Brenna sees herself just as a high school English teacher. Slaton sees her as his soulmate. Eaton sees her as a serious girlfriend. To someone in the shadows, she is the fulfillment of a prophecy. Through her, he will exact his revenge. Through her, he will conquer those around him. Someone has to die in order for him to have her. Brenna has to make a decision that will forever change of life and that of everyone around her.

Praise for Deep Connections:

 " Deep Connections is a riveting romantic suspense thriller that will captivate you from the beginning and hold you captive until the end. If you like a scary novel with a twist of paranormal and romance in the mix, then this is the book for you. This is the first book in a series, and the end will leave you hanging and wanting more, only to make you wait for it to be continued in the next book of the series, Dark Connections."- Kathleen Higgins-Anderson, Jersey Girl Book Reviews

 " Deep Connection is a unique thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Who is stalking Brenna and why? As the layers of mystery unfold, you will be pulled into the twists and turns Ms. Graf has so wonderfully written. Wrapped around the mystery is a love triangle between Brenna, the cute sheriff's deputy and the handsome Native American lawyer. Who will win her heart and save her from the evil stalking her? Read the book and find out. I had a hard time putting this one down. I am waiting for the sequel as I am sure it will also be a fantastic read."- Marianne Spitzer, Reviewer

 " This is not a story to read by yourself at night, in a dark and quiet house. Believe me, I tried it, and I actually got a little nervous. It has a good amount of suspense and scariness, and I just couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened. "-Monica, The Readathon

 " This was one of those books that I read in 2 days when I could steal time away from life. And when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about when I'd be able to get back to reading it.  The biggest disappointment, however, comes at the VERY end: When I discovered the story will continue in "Dark Connections" and that I have to wait for it to be released Winter 2013-2013! I want it NOW!"-L. Ocko, Reviewer

About the Author:
Rebecca Graf is a wife and mother of three when she is not writing. From writing online for various companies to book reviews to her own novels, Rebecca spends most of her days reading and writing.

She worked as an accountant for 20 years before taking a chance and trying to make it as a writer. She has been published on sites such as, HubPages, and Natural Family Today. She also freelances where she writes for several different companies.

She is an avid reader and has found a love of writing all types of genres. She self-published her first children's book, A Gift for a Mouse two years ago. Since then, she has started her own publishing company with a friend. Deep Connections is their first publication.

Twitter: @rebeccagraf

1.    What inspired you to write your first book? 

I had always felt an urge to write, but it wasn’t until I had a dream that kept occurring that I began to write just to get it out of my head. It was driving me crazy. It wasn’t a big dream or extra special, but it kept bothering me. From there it developed into a story.

2.    Do you have a specific writing style? 

My friends tell me I’m big on suspense. I like to drop hints but never really tell the reader what is going to happen next. My love is cliffhangers which I hate to read but sure love to write.

3.    How did you come up with the title? 

I was playing along with a title with a friend and we kept saying, “They have a deep connection.” Finally, it hit us that we had to go with that title.

4.    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

That love of family can be strong. Family doesn’t have to be blood related. It is the ones who are there for you and will risk their lives. That is what happens with Brenna. She has many who would give up their lives for her.

5.    How much of the book is realistic? 

Mmmmm. That’s a good question and hard to answer. I think a deep love is realistic. I think finding people who love you is realistic. The rest is way out there.

6.    Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

Nothing personal really is in the story. Some mannerisms come from me or my husband but overall everything is completely from my imagination.

7.    What books have most influenced your life most? 

I think C.S. Lewis’ work has been huge. His works, even the fiction ones, are so deep and thought-provoking. My favorite author growing up was Nancy Keene of the Nancy Drew series. From her I discovered an intense love of reading.

8.    If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Oh, my. That could really vary, but I have to admit that I have found Sophia Knightly to be one. I love her work and her writing style. I can go to her with questions and she is willing to take the time to work with an amateur.

9.    What book are you reading now? 

I’ve got a ton of books I need to review. There are literally hundreds of them sitting on my shelf. So, I really can’t answer that aside from my school books.

10. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

Oh, yes. I guess it depends on what you mean by new. If you mean new to me, then oh my yes. Aiden James is one of them. I love his work and he keeps me hooked. Lauren Carr is another one I am in love with. Marianne Spritzer is a great one that I’ve become good friends with, and so many more that I can’t name them all.

11.    What are your current projects? 

I am working on the sequel to Deep Connections. Dark Connections should be out in a couple of months. The very first draft of the third book is done but needs a million tons of work. In addition to that, I’m working on a couple of others including a couple of romantic thrillers and a comedy. With a friend of mine, we are writing a fantasy story that should be out this year, too.

City of Gods: The Descendant by S.J. McMillan

In 700 A.D. Teotihuacan, Mexico, the High Priest believed himself to be a powerful as the gods. He set a plague on the city as a demonstration of his power. The Gods took pity on the remaining loyal congregation. They granted each survivor immortality and an extraordinary ability. Three loyal survivors were given a mission of great importance: train the lone human descendant of their civilization to stop the evil priest from damning the rest of humanity.

Now in San Diego, California, the time has come to finally make Katalina Deckard aware of her destiny. Her life has been a constant struggle since the loss of her parents when she was young. These struggles have made her a fighter, but she doesn’t believe they have prepared her to save the world. Her friends, who have survived for so long, must convince her that she has what it takes to accept the mantle of the Redeemer.

Release Date: November 16th, 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy

About the Author:

I live in Southwest Missouri with my super supportive husband and our three energetic young rascals. I work as an administrative assistant during the week. Now I get to add published author to my list of roles I play in life.

Being an author was not my first career choice. In my younger years I wanted to be a dancer, but dance lessons are expensive! I also wanted to be Dolly Parton from The Best Little Whore House in Texas. I could really belt out Itty Bitty Piss Ant Country Place, just ask my parents, or their former neighbors.

After a slew of other interesting job choices, I just could not shake the writing bug I picked up in high school. I started writing poetry and still write a poem whenever inspiration hits me. I also love to read, especially paranormal romances and urban fantasies. The love of reading is what spawned the desire to try my hand at writing a novel of my very own. 

I love creating the characters and giving them their own personalities and voices. I have also come to enjoy writing fight scenes. My husband (the wonderful man that he is) will act them out with me so I know exactly how I need to show it to the audience. Call us crazy if you like, but it's really fun to act out a scene using a broom handle as a spear and a foam baseball bat as an axe.

I hope you enjoy City of the Gods: The Descendant. The second book of the trilogy is being edited and I’m working on the third and final book now. I love to hear from fellow authors and readers. You can find me on Facebook at, on Twitter at, or swing by my website at


“Who did this?” Tristan asked quietly, almost more to himself than to Kat.

“Probably that bastard Ryan. He is going to pay for every last thing he demolished,” Kat replied, assuming Tristan was speaking about the chaos throughout the rest of the house. She stepped forward and looked around the room once more. It was then that she noticed the black flowers sitting on her dresser. Kat walked over and pulled the small white card from them. She opened the envelope to reveal a card with a beautiful picture of the same flower in white. Tristan came to stand behind her as she opened the card. It was a simple message, but one she would not soon forget.
I am coming for you.

Tristan plucked the card from her hand and reread it. Kat stood frozen in place, shocked and confused. Her mind raced with unanswerable questions. Who was coming for her? What did they want from her? Was this actually some sick joke Ryan was playing or was someone really coming to get her? Her stomach churned and her head began to pound. She doubled over in pain while fear of the unknown trespasser flooded her brain. It was all too overwhelming.

Kat hugged her arms around her stomach. Her legs gave out and she fell to her knees on the floor. A cold sweat broke on her forehead. Kat was almost glad when black spots started to swim in her vision. She tried to ask Tristan for help, but she could not find her voice. Dizziness engulfed her, and she felt herself begin to fall the rest of the way to the floor. Tristan caught her just before her head and the floor collided. She could barely hear his concerned voice calling her name as the blackness surrounded her.

“Katalina, open your eyes.” Tristan shook her a bit, hoping she would regain consciousness. Sabine and Vivian had heard the commotion, rushed into the room, and directly to Kat’s side. To Tristan’s great relief, Katalina’s eyes opened a crack, enough to see the intensely harsh gaze she gave him. Tristan looked to the girls, who looked equally surprised by her reaction.

“Katalina?” Tristan questioned.

“Leave her alone,” Katalina responded and her nearly black eyes closed once again.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Well, this book really did achieve everything I thought it was going to - it has an amazing storyline, believable characters, a setting that is realistic, emotions that tug at your heart, wit that has you laughing out loud, and an ending that is filled with real and raw emotion.

I was laughing, I was crying, and I was wondering how in the world I would survive once I turned the last page.  These characters became my friends, my closest pals while I was reading and I didn't want their journey to end.

The emotions dealt with in this novel are real and it is refreshing to see an author portray such an honest and heartfelt approach to cancer and all of its terrible side effects.  I thought his treatment of a delicate topic was such a good approach.

Beyond the obvious issue of cancer and sickness the underlying theme here is friendship, love and how when we least expect it our lives can be interrupted in a great or sometimes not so great way - Hazel Grace sure found that out when she met Augustus.  Issac sure found that out when he had his sight taken from him and Hazel's parents realized that as they watched their daughter deal with her own limitations as well as those of Augustus.

I can't recommend this book enough, it will really be worth your while to pick it up - I would however say that I think it is appropriate for high school students and adults.

About the Book:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

About the Author:

John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Leaves by Michael Baron

Welcome to Oldham, CT, a small town rich in Colonial heritage while being utterly contemporary. Situated along the Connecticut River Valley, Oldham bursts with color every fall, as the leaves on its trees evolve into an unmatched palette of scarlet, orange, purple, yellow, and bronze. For more than three decades, the Gold family has been a central part of Oldham in the fall, its Sugar Maple Inn a destination for “leaf-peepers” from all over the country, and its annual Halloween party a stirring way to punctuate the town’s most active month.

But this year, more than just the leaves are changing. With the death of their parents, the Gold siblings, Maria, Maxwell, Deborah, Corrina, and Tyler, have decided to sell the Sugar Maple Inn, and this year’s Halloween party will be the last. As October begins, the Golds contend with the finality that faces them, and the implications it has for a family that has always been so close. For some, it means embracing new challenges and new love. For others, it means taking on unimagined roles. And for others, it means considering the inconceivable. Complicating it all is a series of “hauntings” that touch each of the Gold siblings, a series of benign interventions that will remain a mystery until October draws to a close.

Filled with romance, tension, and unforgettable family drama, LEAVES is the first in a series of novels about a world and a family that readers will want to make their own.

About the Author:

I grew up in the New York area and I’ve lived there my entire life. I worked in retail and taught high school English before I got my first book contract. I have gotten several additional book contracts since then, which is fortunate because I didn’t have the patience to work in retail and, while I quite enjoyed teaching, my approach was a bit too unconventional for most school systems. One school administrator told me that, “there are more important things than being a dynamic teacher.” Since I couldn’t name any of those things (at least in the context of school), I figured I didn’t have a long-term future in the profession. Hence, I became a writer, where I believe people appreciate a certain level of dynamism.

Though I started with nonfiction, I have always loved fiction and I have always wanted to write it. Since I can remember, I've had a particular affection for love stories. In fact, the very first book-length thing I ever wrote, when I was thirteen, was a love story. Mind you, it was the kind of love story that a thirteen-year-old boy would write, but it was a love story nonetheless. I have a deep passion for writing about relationships – family relationships, working relationships, friendships, and, of course, romantic relationships – and I can only truly explore this by writing fiction. These novels have given me a way to voice the millions of things running through my head.

My wife and kids are the center of my life. My wife is the inspiration for all of my love stories and my children enthrall me, challenge me, and keep me moving (and have served as the inspiration for several of the kids I've written about). One of the primary reasons I wrote my first novel, WHEN YOU WENT AWAY was that I wanted to write about being a father. Aside from my family, I have a few other burning passions. I’m a pop culture junkie with an especially strong interest in music, I love fine food (as well as any restaurant shaped like a hot dog), and I read far too many sports blogs for my own good.

PUBLISHED BY: The Story Plant
PUBLICATION DATE: September 25, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9841905-4-6 (978-1-61188-011-3)
GENRE: Fiction
# OF PAGES: 332

My Thoughts:

What a book!  This one really captured my heart and is a great example of why reading is so much fun.  These characters, all siblings who have come back to run Sugar Maple Inn (temporarily) as they decide to sell the family cornerstone.  To kick off the big changes coming their way they decide to host one last Halloween party.

This novel is about more than just one inn, one family or one celebration - it is about relationships and those "things" that touch all of our lives.  It is a novel about change and the sometimes heavy issues that come with it.  It is a novel about holding on to those things that are important while embracing the change that is destined to come.

As a reader you really fall in love with the characters - they become a part of your life and you feel like you are right there with them at the Sugar Maple Inn.  It is a story with rich history and depth and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I hope that this makes it on your TBR list, it is a quick read but one that is worth every single minute of your time!

Book Excerpt:

The River Edge Café had been open for business since the late ‘90s, when a husband-and-wife team made a killing during the tech stock boom and decided to “chuck it all” and follow their passion for fine food. Located on the water between Oldham and Essex, it was popular for its ambitious menu, its beautiful setting, and its attentive staff. However, it had recently lost two executive chefs in quick succession, leading to rumors that the owners were impossible taskmasters and maybe even a little abusive. Deborah didn’t necessarily believe these unfounded stories, but they made her wary through the entire interview process, and even now, in her third meeting with the couple, she wondered if there was something less than genuine behind Carla Bonner’s ubiquitous smile or Vince Travers’s persistence.

“We want you here, Deb,” Vince said. People didn’t really call her “Deb,” but Vince seemed to insist on it. He had been doing so since they first met half a decade ago. “There are maybe two dishes on the menu we think we need to keep. The entire rest of the menu would be yours.”

“It would be like having your own restaurant without the hassle of ownership,” Carla said. Deborah had been in precisely that situation her entire adult life, so she wasn’t sure why Carla thought this was a selling point.

“I’m completely willing to wait until the middle of November if you want to take a couple of weeks off between jobs,” Vince said. “Trina’s an excellent sous chef and she’s doing a great job of holding the fort for us. To be honest, if we weren’t so intent on recruiting you, we’d give her the job right now.”

“That’s very flattering,” Deborah said, wondering how resentful Trina would be of her if she decided to take the position.

This wasn’t the first offer Deborah had received, though it was certainly the most aggressive. She got a couple of calls as soon as word got out about the sale of the Inn. The people buying the Sugar Maple even made her an extremely attractive offer to stay precisely where she was. She never seriously considered it, though. It was hard enough cooking there now that both of her parents were gone. It would be impossible to take direction there from someone else and even harder to watch the inevitable changes they made. Deborah imagined herself collapsing into tears the first time they replaced a table lamp. She was convinced that when she walked out of the Inn at the end of the Halloween party she would never again set foot in the place just so she could remember it forever the way she wanted.

None of the offers she’d received so far had seemed very appealing. She knew that she was running the risk of seeming like a prima donna and she also knew that she should be eternally grateful for the attention, but she couldn’t allow herself to take a position unless it sang out to her. She even considered trying to find a job in a diner or a coffee shop somewhere – something completely one-dimensional with little or no room for personal investment – just to recalibrate. But of course that was ridiculous. How long could she flip burgers before she started slipping exotic ingredients into the ground beef? She had enough money saved to get by for about six months, and if it took that long to find the right spot, that was fine with her.

“I’m not trying to flatter you,” Vince said. “I’m trying to employ you. Your customers will flatter you every time the waitstaff delivers one of your inventions.”

Deborah smiled. The “Deb” thing aside, she’d always liked Vince and she wished the rumors weren’t causing her to question his sincerity. That was the pernicious thing about rumors.

“The package you’re offering is great,” she said, nodding to both Vince and Carla. “I’ve always been fond of this restaurant, and you have a great kitchen. I just need a couple of days.”

“Of course,” Carla said. “Take as long as you must.”

Vince patted her hand. “We’re here for you, Deb. Call me anytime if you have questions. I gave you our home number, right?”

“You did, yes. I just want to take a little longer to think. I’ll call you on Monday.”

Deborah stood and shook their hands. The fact was, she already made her decision, but it didn’t seem polite to turn them down flat. The River Edge Café was a fine restaurant and it did have a sensational kitchen. The more time she spent there, though, she realized there wasn’t anything about this place that felt like home.

She drove through downtown Oldham on the way back to the inn. Waiting for a couple of pedestrians to cross Hickory, she noticed the sign for Sage, the gourmet shop that had opened a couple of weeks earlier. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t visited it yet. When a car pulled out of the parking space across from the store, she decided the time was right. The store was in a moderately large space between a music store and a bookstore. Deborah had a hard time remembering what was in the space before (there had been several shops there over the past few years), but the new owner had done a great job of remodeling it. Lots of blond wood fixtures, warm lighting, and handwritten signage. There was a refrigerator case housing artisanal cheeses and sausages in understated, small-production packages.

Deborah liked being here immediately. Maybe it was the slack-key guitar music coming from the sound system or that one of the front tables was dedicated to the small Tuscan pasta manufacturer she “discovered” a couple of years ago and had used exclusively at the inn ever since. Deborah knew this would be a place she’d visit often. She’d been to all the gourmet shops in the area, and was frustrated by the sameness of them. It was almost as though some food rep came along and set each one up based on some model. This place had a decidedly individual point of view, though. The shelf of spices was an asymmetrical jumble of bottles and tins of different sizes. Next to it was a card that read, “This might not be the prettiest display of spices you’ve ever seen, but it’s hopefully the best. I’ve compared everything on this shelf to the competition and only carry the ones I love the most.” Deborah agreed about the mustard seed, the ground coriander, and the smoked paprika, but she would have chosen a different Telicherry peppercorn.

A man walked up to her while she was standing at the display. “Find anything you like?”

She turned to look at him. He was a little over six feet and lean. And he had very expressive eyes.
“Krendahl has better peppercorns,” she said.

“You’re right, but they only sell from their catalog. I tried, believe me. They also import this fabulous five spice powder, but again, I couldn’t get it. Think I should change the card in the spirit of full disclosure?”

Deborah laughed. “Your secret is safe with me. You’re the owner?”

He extended his hand and Deborah took it. “Sage Mixon.”

“Deborah Gold. So the store is named after you and not after” – she reached for a bottle – “Brookfield’s hand-rubbed Albanian.”

He smiled. “You obviously know your spices. Are you in the food business?”

“I’m the chef at the Sugar Maple Inn – at least I am until the end of the month.”

“Moving on to bigger and better things?”

Deborah rolled her eyes. “That part isn’t at all certain at the moment.” She turned toward another display. “I’ve never seen these preserves before.”

“They’re incredible. They’re all made by a single dad out of a barn in New Hampshire. He sweetens them with a ‘proprietary blend’ of fruit juices and balances each with some kind of spice or infusion. The lemon marmalade is mind-boggling.” He picked up a jar and handed it to her. “He adds a touch of Thai basil. It’s amazing what happens.”

Deborah examined the jar in her hand. If nothing else, Sage was an excellent salesman. Of course she would buy this. Before she did, though, she spent another half hour in the store walking from display to display. Sage stayed with her when he wasn’t helping other customers, and it became obvious that there was a story behind everything he carried. She hoped the visitors who flitted in and out appreciated the thought that went into this. More importantly, she hoped that – appreciative or not – the visitors were plentiful. Oldham needed more stores like this one.

By the time she’d finished shopping, Deborah had the marmalade, a salsa from Nogales, a bottle of raspberry thyme vinegar made a half hour away, and a package of stroopwafels made in Montana, of all places. She didn’t need any of it. She certainly had access to just about everything she wanted from the network of suppliers she’d developed over the years. But it was fun buying here and she definitely wanted to support the place.

“Come again soon,” Sage said as he packaged her purchases. “I will. Definitely. Hey, come by the Inn for dinner sometime in the next month.”

“I might just do that. I mean if you know this much about food, you might actually be able to cook.”
Deborah laughed. “Yeah, it’s a possibility.”

He smiled and his eyes danced. Deborah would definitely be back soon. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush

1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle's courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.

About the Author:

Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

My Thoughts:

The first thing I noticed about this novel was the cover - it has to grab me, peak my interest and make me want to jump in and this one really did!  I love old photos, and a picture is worth a thousand words.  This image on the cover told me that a great story awaited me!

I love books that are set in the antebellum south, it is a time period that I love in American history and I find fascinating.  This author takes you to the time and place in such a way that you don't even realize it is 2013 and you are stuck in your living room with laundry and dishes awaiting you!

I loved the characters, Reed and Belle grab you from the jump and really do keep you interested throughout the novel.  Their heartache as they learn and grow from their past and into their future is inspiring and really does make you root for them as a reader.

I also loved the writing style - this is my first Holly Bush novel but it sure won't be my last! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Maurice Sendak

What a beautiful book...seriously, a book this beautiful hasn't arrived on my doorstep for review in a long time and I am so grateful to The Crown Publishing Group for asking me to review it.

I have always been fascinated with this story as most people have and have been in awe of the storytelling present between the covers.  It is no wonder that this story has been adapted so many times in so many different ways.

About the Book:

"A classic, new and complete. One of the ten best illustrated children's books of the year."
-- New York Times Book Review

The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann's wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.

The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak's art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann's story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.

About the Authors:

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, better known by his pen name E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann), was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. He is the subject and hero of Jacques Offenbach's famous but fictional opera The Tales of Hoffmann, and the author of the novelette The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which the famous ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppelia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote.

Hoffmann's stories were very influential during the 19th century, and he is one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.

Maurice Bernard Sendak is an American writer and illustrator of children's literature who is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, published in 1963. An elementary school (from kindergarten to grade five) in North Hollywood, California is named in his honor.

Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents, and decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s working as an artist for children's books, before beginning to write his own stories.

My Thoughts:

Not only do I adore this book, I am so amazed by how beautiful the illustrations are.  When this first arrived my only thought was how beautiful it would be on a coffee table for the Christmas holidays.  How the beautiful cover and illustrations inside would beckon those who saw it to pick it up and flip through the pages.  

Aside from its beauty, this type of writing just doesn't exist least not in my opinion.  This is what makes a classic earn that honor - they are timeless and no matter what century you pick it up in, it applies to and amazes you as a reader.  I love this story, and this adaptation of it brings it right back to life for me.  
Everyone should own and read at least once this story, and I can see it being a real treasured read for my kids.  

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe

I have to admit that I read this book a while back and am just getting around to reviewing it - I have a whole slew of posts that are drafts and I am really trying to catch up on reviewing what I have already read!

About the Book:

At first Hiram is excited to visit his hometown in Mississippi. But soon after he arrives, he crosses paths with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is also visiting for the summer, and Hiram sees firsthand how the local whites mistreat blacks who refuse to "know their place." When Emmett's tortured dead body is found floating in a river, Hiram is determined to find out who could do such a thing. But what will it cost him to know? Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a gripping read, based on true events that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.

About the Author:

Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, poetry, essays, books, and many articles for academic and popular magazines.  He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, and they are the parents of four children and grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters.  They live in Provo, Utah.

My Thoughts:

The description states that this is a gripping read and that is absolutely accurate!  Wow...I am glad I waited to review it for a little while because you really do need time to digest and reflect on this one.

The characters are realistic, the plot is captivating, the setting one that we all can see easily.  While Hiram's character is fictional others are real and the story vividly portrays what life must have been like during the time of Jim Crowe and how very much change was needed.  Hiram is faced with some tough situations and decisions but his character is one of strength and perseverance.  I love that he is a character of growth and evolution and it is a neat experience as a reader to follow along on his journey.

This book is gripping, educational, important and a great read for middle school aged children.  I would highly recommend this one to parents, teachers and students!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kissing Kendall by Jennifer Shirk - GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY

Jennifer will be awarding a free eBook of Kissing Kendall or an eBook from her back-list (winner's choice) to a random commenter at each stop. (There must be a minimum of 5 comments on each blog for a winner to be chosen).


Hi, all! Jennifer here.

I get asked a lot by writers and bloggers about whether I outline or write by the seat of my pants. Well, I can honestly answer…YES.

To both.

Every writer is different. That’s why there are different stories out there. We all work on a different level. But for me, I have to –HAVE TO—have some sort of road map so to speak to start out with.

So I create a very rough outline before I begin a story. Sometimes it’s not even a whole outline. I may only know what I want to happen in the first six chapters and the ending of the book. But that is enough to begin writing. Plus, I rarely stick to an outline. I usually keep about 75%. The rest changes as I write and I realize what is working and what isn’t.

It does help to look over my outline when I first begin writing for the day, too, because at that point I’m going in cold and need to warm up to my characters. I can’t just WRITE. But once the juices flow, I can then make notes and changes to the outline as I write and even write myself a note of what I want to write about for the next day.

Clear as oatmeal, right?

After many tries of doing it various ways, this system seems to work the best for me.

I so appreciate the chance to showcase my new sweet romance release from Entangled Publishing--  KISSING KENDALL today. I hope you all get to check it out!

And be on the lookout for my fun Valentine’s Day novella coming out the end of this month! It’s called A LITTLE BIT CUPID--about a loner who must find true love before midnight on Valentine’s Day or risk having humanity lose love forever, and with the help of Cupid’s son himself, she seeks out Mr. Wrong while Mr. Right is right under her nose.

Thanks so much to EVERY DAY IS AN ADVENTURE for having me!


About the Book:

Kendall Grisbaum has been trying to pick up of the pieces of her life since the death of her firefighter husband almost two years ago. The last thing she’s interested in is love and feels the best way to start moving on is to concentrate on opening up her new bakery business. Unfortunately, she’s finding it hard to remember those two points now that her old friend and policeman Brad Mayer is back in her life and giving her a helping hand.

After losing her husband in the line of duty, Kendall doesn’t want to get involved with another man with a dangerous job, and refuses to give in to her attraction to the handsome police officer. But Brad has always loved Kendall from afar and now that he senses she might feel the same, he’s determined to show her the real danger would be to lose another chance at love.

About the Author:

Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.

She writes sweet romantic comedies and won third place in the RWA 2006 NYC's Kathryn Hayes Love and Laughter Contest with her book, The Role of a Lifetime.

She's also a board member for Straight Ahead Ministries, an organization involved in helping spread the gospel and aiding medical and pharmacy students in Russia. She resides in a beach resort in NJ, and when she's not involved in all the above, she's taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter, and four hermit crabs.






Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter's Magic by Cynthia Gail

Owner of La Bella Vita, a five-star day spa nestled in the affluent suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, Beth Sergeant knows her elite clientele first hand. She attended their private schools. She was even engaged, although briefly, to one of their most recognized bachelors. But she never fit in to their social-elite world.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. When he chooses to socialize, he has a never-ending list of exclusive events and beautiful women vying for his attention. Yet he never lets himself forget that everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick's dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick's past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Read a FREE first chapter sampler on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To enter the tour giveaway, see the schedule link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at

“Heartwarming and Magical” ~ Romance Reviews Today

“I very highly recommend this book. The writing is excellent and the characters are realistic and easy to relate to. It's full of drama, a little mystery, passion, and romance ... Once I started, I couldn't put it down ... This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Gail and I can't wait to read more!” ~ Life in Review

“The dialogue is engaging, the love story is dazzling and the romance sizzling.” ~ Author Janna Shay