Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: Winter White (Belles #2), by Jen Calonita

Winter White (Belles #2), by Jen Calonita
Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are still reeling from the revelation that they share more than just the roof over their heads. The media has pounced on their story and the girls are caught up in a flurry of talk-show appearances and newspaper interviews. They've put on a happy public face, but someone is leaking their true feelings to the press, and while it seems like the world is watching their every move, at least they have each other.

But with cotillion season right around the corner, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood. Mira has dreamed of making her debut in a gorgeous white gown forever-now, if only she could find an escort. Izzie, meanwhile, is still struggling to find her place in Emerald Cove and it's seeming ever more impossible with EC mean-girls, young and old, doing their best to keep her down. As cotillion preparations heat up, though, there are dance steps to learn, manners to perfect... and secret initiations to complete? As if sophomore year wasn't hard enough!

It's time for the gowns to go on and the gloves to come off. 

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (October 9, 2012)

My Review:



I absolutely love this series.  I can't wait for the next book to come out. If you are a fan of Pretty Little Liars, you will probably like the Belles series as well.  Calonita writes a delicious drama full of betrayal, lies, and loyalty.

Izzie and Mira are back in this charming southern drama series.  The scandal from the first book has made the girls put aside their differences and seek comfort in their new found camaraderie.  I love the relationship between the two girls, and the way they balance each other out.  They need each other to weather the storms that this book holds!

There is a little bit of romance in these books, but only a tiny bit and it is very clean.  The cotillion initiation and the ups and downs that come with it are fantastic fun.  The books are mostly about the two girls and their relationships with each other and the people around them.  High society is always fun to read about, especially when one of the main characters is a newbie to that life.

This is a sweet, contemporary coming of age story.

About the Author:
Jen Calonita has always loved writing. Her first published piece was in the sixth grade newspaper where she wrote about an attack snake who bothered her canoe on a class field trip. These days she writes about teen drama, relationships and romance.

An entertainment journalist for ten years, Jen interviewed everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Zac Efron. It was her work in the entertainment world that inspired her first series, Secrets of My Hollywood Life. The six-book series is about a teen starlet named Kaitlin Burke who grows weary of the fame game, but loves being an actress. The series has been published in Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Japan and Russia.

Jen has also published two stand-alone novels. Booklist called Sleepaway Girls: "The picture-perfect setting, the sweet little kids, the seductive freedom from parents, and the lure of adult-like responsibility make this the perfect read-alike to suggest to fans of Ann Brashares' Traveling Pants series."
Reality Check is about best friends who get their own reality TV show. Booklist said: "Fans of Meg Cabot's Airhead series and Calonita's Secrets of My Hollywood Life will eat this fun, timely, cautionary tale right up."

Her latest series is Belles. The series is about two Southern girls and one life-changing secret. The second book in the series, Winter White, will be out in October 2012.

When the self-professed entertainment junkie is not working, she can be found doing one of three things: scrapbooking, watching Glee, or going to the movies. Jen resides in Merrick, New York with her husband Mike, sons Tyler and Dylan, and their Chihuahua, Captain Jack Sparrow.

For more about Jen, check out her website:, follow her on Twitter at: as JenCalonita, Pinterest as Jen Calonita or on Facebook at: Pin It

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, by Nathan Leslie

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, by Nathan Leslie
When Tommy’s parents abandon him as baby, his grandmother Gaga takes him to her reclusive house near the top of Pike’s Peak. When Gaga casts him out, Tommy’s journey takes him to the countryside homestead of Aunt Tess—who hides surprising objects in her fizzy, voluminous hair—to Aunt Penny’s four enormous city houses and her preferred communication by ESP. In the cave-like desert home of Aunt Chelsea, Tommy learns how to hunt coyotes and the proper method of delivering newspapers. Shocked by a secret hidden beneath Aunt Chelsea’s house, Tommy runs off with a mysterious woman he meets on a bus, all while searching for a place to call home.
THE TALE TALL OF TOMMY TWICE captures the innocence of youth and the complexities of contemporary life. It’s a fanciful debut about the wonderment of adventure and the profound effect of family in the increasingly rootless American experience.
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Atticus Books (October 30, 2012)

My Review:
I have very mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, it was well written, imaginative, thought provoking, and more than a little crazy.  On the other hand, it was not a kid's book, even though it is classified as one.  It contains language, violence, and sexual situations (non-explicit).  It is an adult book about a child.

Tommy is passed from relative to relative, each one unique in their craziness.  They are passionate, violent, dysfunctional, angry, bitter, sweet, stoic, silent, and the list goes on.  Tommy learns different things from his experiences with each relative and their families.  He even spends some time with a mother figure that has no relation to him.

The story was written in a matter of fact way, that made me wonder if Tommy had any personality at all or if he was just content to float along and do what he was told.  He didn't really seem to have strong emotions about anything.  If he was told to listen, he did.  If he was told to clean, to shovel, to learn, to fight, to eat, to sleep...he did.

In some ways, I absolutely loved the crazy story of this little boy and my heart went out to him.  He never had a home with parents that loved him, but was passed around from relative to relative until there was nobody left to take care of him.  In other ways, the book irked me beyond belief.  So I'm going right down the middle on this one and giving it three stars.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: How I Got Rich Writing 'C' Papers, by Andy Hueller

How I Got Rich Writing 'C' Papers, by Andy Hueller
High school senior Charles Remington Dremmel* wants to graduate with a legacy of two things: 1. winning his senior class's Nerf War and 2. not getting caught writing essays for his classmates (while making enough money to pay his way through college). Now that graduation is swiftly approaching, he decides to share the secrets of his success through this writing guide, which author Andy Hueller has cleverly disguised as a novel.

*Not his real name

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc. (January 8, 2013)

My Review:
It took me a little while to decide to read this book simply because I couldn't decide if it was fiction or non-fiction.  As soon as I started reading, however, I discovered that it was a little bit of both!

In spite of the title, I discovered that this book is not about making money (unless you decide to follow Charles' horrendously unethical business plan idea).  Rather, it is a novel about a boy who has made large donations to his own college fund by charging his classmates to write their essays.  Frequently, Charles interrupts his story about the all important Nerf War going on at school to dissect and give examples of the different grade levels of essays.  

In addition to showing us how to properly write D, C, B, and A letter grade essays, Charles also infuses his story with bits of writing wisdom.  Like the comma splice.  He hates it, and he tells you so repeatedly.  If you don't know what a comma splice is, then I would suggest you read the book. :)

I loved this book.  I loved the silly story about Charles managing his business and the Nerf War and I loved the writing advice.  Andy Hueller gives wonderful advice for anyone interested in writing, but keep in mind that it is intended to be a writing guide for teenagers.  It is not an advanced or professional writer's guide.  

I gave this book four stars.  I didn't give it the final star because there were a couple of instances where the protagonist's "voice" made some of his instruction confusing.  But for the most part, Hueller delivers a nice breakdown of good essay writing technique that is easy to understand and implement.

About the Author:
Andy Hueller is the author of Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle (Cedar Fort, 2010), as well as the upcoming Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth (Cedar Fort, TBD). He writes every day--sometimes the work is a thrilling adventure, and other times it's a slog. He always feels better, however, after he's given it a go. Mr. Hueller teaches at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and their dog. Pin It

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Print Length: 464 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (April 19, 2011)

My Review:
This is the first time I've truly enjoyed a book in the angel genre.  I have read quite a few angel books, but most of the time I find them tacky and cliche.  Unearthly had it's fair share of cliche's, but I enjoyed the characters so much that I almost didn't even notice the things that would normally bother me.

I loved Cynthia Hand's writing.  Especially in the first few chapters, I thought her writing was beautiful.  As the story moves further along it loses a bit of the eloquence, but by that point I was so wrapped up in everything that I didn't care.

I found the concept of a Purpose very interesting, especially since Clara has such diluted angel blood.  She is only a quarter part angel.  The way her Purpose is communicated to her was fascinating, coming in a dreamlike vision while she is wide awake.  The love triangle was different than in most YA novels, and I liked the way Clara navigated her love life.  I felt like she fell in love with the right guy. ;)

Christian is a typical, overly gorgeous hero that most people seem to love and I never do.  Not that there is really anything to dislike, but I just like Tucker more.  Tucker is awesome.  He is 100% adorable.  His reaction to Clara was perfectly normal and I was happy to finally see that in a paranormal romance.

I was left with a lot of questions about the story, which was probably intentional so that I will read the next books in the series.  I couldn't help but wonder what Clara's brother was involved in, and why she didn't really seem too concerned about it.  I also wondered what was the deal with the dark angel and why did he pop up in the story?  Why was he even there?

There were a few things that irritated me about the book, but I really enjoyed reading it.  It was an intriguing book and I have to admit that I am hooked and will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

The Cover:  It's a nice representation of the actual story.  It is similar to other books in the genre while still having a unique aspect about it.  I LOVE the title design.  I want to find that font...

About the Author:
Cynthia Hand grew up in southeast Idaho (very near the Wyoming border). Currently she lives in southern California with her husband and two small children. She teaches courses in creative writing at Pepperdine University. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series with HarperTeen: UNEARTHLY, published in 2011, HALLOWED published January 17, 2012, and BOUNDLESS, due out in January 2013.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.

But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Christian Book


The Kiss by the River:

The girl did not stir when Eanrin lifted her into his arms; her sleep was profound indeed. Her head lolled over his arm, and he was obliged to part her thick hair to uncover her face. It was an uncommonly beautiful face for a mortal.
However, this girl’s beauty was different from any he had ever before seen. For one thing, her skin was rich dark brown, and her hair glossy black. For another, she was imperfect. Her teeth, visible between gently parted lips, were a little crooked. Mud stained her skin, making it darker still, and her brow, even in sleep, was puckered with anxiety or fear. Her dreams must be wicked indeed.
Eanrin grimaced at the sight and almost put her down again. After all, a princess with dreams like those probably had a tale of woe to match. She would certainly wake with expectations of a handsome hero to aid her. As far as Eanrin was concerned, a dash of heroism was one thing, but commitment to a cause? Never. Rushing off to the rescue of Lady Gleamdren was different, for he had determined that she must be his wife and the sole inspiration to his life’s work. Besides, he loved her.
This creature meant nothing to him.
But blood oozed from the abrasions on her wrists. And her body, mortal and vulnerable, lay in his arms. Eanrin rolled his eyes heavenward as though to seek some holy aid. Then he braced himself and wiped the mud off her lips with the edge of his cloak. She frowned in her sleep and stirred, but did not wake.
“Nothing for it,” he muttered.
Closing his eyes and trying not to smell her any more than he must, he leaned in and kissed her . . .

Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, and STARFLOWER, with DRAGONWITCH due to release in 2013. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/31/13

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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Beast, by Cindy C. Bennett

Beautiful Beast, by Cindy C. Bennett
Calli is cursed by her beauty.

Though she knows it's cruel, Calli agrees to accompany her friends to Monster House where it is rumored the beast howls at the moon each sunset. When she hears him for the first time, her heart is wrenched by the anguish she hears in the sound.

Facing trespassing charges for her folly, Calli is forced to move into Monster House where she is to befriend the beast. Using the bribery offered by his father to gain some desperately needed money for her father, Calli accepts his terms. Horrified but trapped by her circumstance, Calli steps inside the doors of the great house to face the unknown.

Alex is cursed by his beastliness.

Alex believes Calli has bribed her way into his home in order to get a look at the beast of Monster House, and is determined to hate her. He isn't prepared as she batters down the hard walls of his soul with her kindness and humor.

Alex allows Calli into his inner sanctum, sharing with her the most private parts of his heart. But when he finds out the truth, will her love be enough to convince him of her true feelings, or will she lose him forever?

Ages: 13 and up
File Size: 243 KB
Print Length: 94 pages

My Review:
Generally I'm not that fond of self published titles, but I've read some of Cindy Bennett's traditionally published work before and so I figured this was a pretty safe bet.  I really enjoyed the contemporary take on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. It was very short and I read it in one sitting.

There were some elements to the story that I didn't find believable, but chose to overlook them.  There were some grammatical issues that drove me a bit crazy, like using the wrong spelling for the same word over and over.  But other than the little things like that, I really enjoyed the book.  It was a fun, romantic teen read that stayed nice and clean throughout.

The characters were fun and I enjoyed their teasing and bantering.  Callie has a bright personality and she is able to win over just about everyone she come in contact with.  Alex is complex, and carries a lot of weight emotionally and physically.  Callie quickly looks past Alex's appearance to uncover the beautiful person underneath the skin.

This book is only $0.99 for the Kindle version.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review: Rainbow, by Michael Tolkien

Rainbow, by Michael Tolkien
Grace is fascinated by the natural world. To increase this precious sense of wonder she is chosen by Nature's spirit guides and guardians to travel on a funny sometimes fearful journey' with an amethyst stone as her guide and promise of help along the way. Creatures she expects to assist her are too self-important. Her allies are small, often overlooked plants, flowers and insects. Her main goal seems to be discovering what lies in and beyond the rainbow, but her adventures bring her only slowly nearer to its mysterious garden, bridge and palace. Everything appears to be a long way round. She decides to assist a lost, bitter boy - Downcast Don - to rediscover 'wonder' by obtaining for him a specially made silver spade. This takes her through strange and fearful forests, down a well to find an underground forge, and into an overwhelming encounter with an ancient giantess in a bleak desert. Her chief guide, Heartsease, assures her that it's all part of a search for rainbow wisdom, to recognize the importance of all things and people and to accept 'not knowing'. She can then ascend the 'Shining Stairway' to a stranger country beyond.

Up here Grace is nearer the rainbow but time and distance play tricks and she is in danger of being sidetracked. A knight, Sir Cloudy, a kind dreamer who lives in a time warp, invites her to his 'Castle in the Air'. Just short of the rainbow garden she is deceived by a Menace and his monstrous Mother, and only just escapes their clutches. The promised places are beautiful and intriguing but she must learn about what lies under the surface. The palace that crowns the bow bridge is where the guides and guardians weave their many-coloured tapestries that reveal perspectives and choices about the future. When Grace descends the vanishing rainbow steps she meets characters who have made her journey so instructive, and once back in the everyday world she is still herself but somehow more so because she can see and understand more acutely.

Hardcover: 182 pages
Publisher: Thames River Press (March 1, 2013)

My Review:
In a market overrun with fast-paced page turners full of action and heart-stopping romance, Michael Tolkien weaves a blissful escape from the norm.  Rainbow is the story of Grace, a young girl that embarks on a journey of wonder.  Her travels fill her with knowledge and prove just how beautiful her heart truly is.  She can never leave a downcast soul without doing something to help.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I picked it up.  I was surprised and pleased to see that it is written in narrative verse.  It was so different from everything else out there.  While Tolkien followed the popular movement of rewriting an old fairy tale, he did not choose a Grimm tale, but a lesser known story from Florence Bone.

There was no question as to Tolkien's writing ability.  The story was beautifully wrapped up in delicious descriptions and polished off with a splash of adventure.  Grace did not encounter much by way of suspense or danger, but her journey was one of learning.  It was a nice change of pace.  While it is considered a children's book, I honestly felt like it was aimed more at an older audience.  It might be too slow and meandering to hold a young child's interest for long.

If you are looking for another Percy Jackson, Twilight, or Harry Potter, you aren't going to find that here.  This is a thoughtful journey that is full of whimsy and magic.  It's not for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed it.

The Illustrations: I can't decide what to think about the artwork.  While it went well with the throw-back style of writing, I couldn't help but think that it was old fashioned.   I am not the biggest fan of most computer generated illustrations, but I did feel like this artwork could have been more current.

About the Author:
Born in Birmingham in 1943, Michael Tolkien grew up in South Oxfordshire and North Yorkshire. He studied classics and English at St Andrews and Oxford. He has lived in Rutland since 1968 and was a secondary school teacher until early retirement in 1994. Since 1998 his verse has been published in two booklets and five full collections, most recently in 2012. His work has been widely and favourably reviewed. Two of his major themes are deceptive appearances and the conflict of active and contemplative approaches to life. This is also apparent in his recent narrative verse adaptations of Florence Bone’s now largely forgotten fantasy fiction for children.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Gracier, by Milissa Bailey

Gracier by Milissa R. Bailey

Everyone around her knows. Everyone she trusts has lied. And the one man who held the key to Jessica McCabe’s past is dead.

Welcome to Gracier, Iowa, a well-kept community with even better kept secrets. Lives are peaceful, streets are quiet, but behind the tranquility is many a tale to be told. Veterinarian Jessica McCabe has returned, but it is not the homecoming she had expected. Her grandfather, Jonas McCabe and Gracier’s longtime vet has died, leaving behind the practice they had hoped to share.

The reading of Jonas’ will sets off a series of events that bring into question Jessica’s birthright, the truth surrounding her mother’s untimely death and her grandfather’s sanity. With her world turned upside down she is thrown into a partnership with Matthew Cassidy, the man who chose his family’s wealth over Jessica’s love.

Her determined spirit leads Jessica to stay, continue the veterinarian practice and return to the life and the community she loves. But a secret loft and a box filled with a hidden past change the course of her life once again.

Longtime family friends, Dr. Andrew Harrison and retired Sheriff Chester Caughlin know the truth. A promise made to a dear old friend to protect the girl they helped raise is one they intend to keep. But the wheels of fate have been put in motion. The people entrusted with protecting Jessica from the past are losing control. The small town of Gracier, Iowa holds many secrets and those who have kept the truth hidden are about to discover that not everything has been laid to rest.

Book Trailer


"Milissa Bailey has set the perfect stage for the next book in the series with her intriguing characters that are as unpredictable as an Iowa tornado and as genuine as the county fair. The labyrinth of their lives makes you want to learn more about the secrets of Gracier".  - D. Bahrenfuss - Editor

"I was pulled in with the depth of this story and couldn't stop myself from finishing the second half in one sitting. GRACIER is a beautiful reminder of all that is important in life. Bailey has a wonderful gift and I hope she will continue to "breathe"!"

--Leisa Anslinger, author of Forming Generous Hearts, Here Comes Everybody

"...think Jennifer Chiaverini or Jan Karon" - Burlington by the Book

“It was one of those books that I stayed up late reading and picked back up the minute I woke up! ” -Mari Kait

"Milissa Bailey's depiction of small town Iowa is both charming and mysterious--the perfect combination to captivate readers." -C.G.Reader

“Add to that a group of supporting characters you can't help but love. Gracier is a must read.” -Shari

 "I couldn't put the book down...can't wait for book #2!!!!" -RJW


Author Milissa Bailey

Milissa Bailey grew up among the rolling fields of rural Iowa, where she continues to live with her husband, and three children. In her debut novel she draws upon her rich knowledge of the Midwest as she welcomes us to Gracier, Iowa, a well-kept community with even better kept secrets. Readers are introduced to a cast of characters they will come to know, love and hate. Vivid descriptions, palatable anguish, forbidden romance and touches of humor lend itself to the stories weaved in this idyllic setting. The small town of Gracier holds many secrets and those who have kept the truth hidden are about to discover that not everything has been laid to rest.

Milissa, along with her husband, own a marketing firm located in Iowa. She is currently at work on the second book in the Gracier series.

Author Interview

$100 BookBlast Giveaway (starts January 9th)

Ends 1/20/13

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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: Short Straw Bride, by Karen Witemeyer

Short Straw Bride, by Karen Witemeyer
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

Print Length: 371 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; 1 edition (June 1, 2012)

My Review:
This is another sweet, christian romance novel that is free of sex scenes and/or violence.  There is some suspense and romance, but nothing to make you squirm.  Meredith is a strong christian heroin with a vibrant love for the Lord and a desire to do His will.  She gets caught in a predicament that forces her to marry Travis Archer, the recluse cowboy that refuses to let anyone come onto his land. 

The Archer brothers are all so humorous and adorable.  I especially loved Crockett.  He was quite the character.  Jim was funny because he was so stoic, and you never quite knew what he was thinking, except when it came to Meredith's cousin.  

I love characters that have flaws, whether they are physical or internal.  Both Meredith and Travis have strengths and weaknesses that make them more realistic and believable.  

I felt like the second half of the book dragged on a little bit too long.  One thing after another kept popping up to keep the newlyweds from ever being alone together.  But it was a fun twist to see a couple that is forced to marry still try to go through a proper courtship and get to know each other before anything physical happens between them. 

The Cover: I love this cover.  It is super cute, and I love the way Meredith is trying to sneak a peek at the straws in Travis' hands.  The title design is really cute and goes well with the rest of the cover.

About the Author:
CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. In 2011, her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, was a finalist in the Best First Book categories for both the prestigious RITA® award and the National Reader's Choice Award. Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Review: Making Waves, by Lorna Seilstad

Making Waves, by Lorna Seilstad
When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews. But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart--even if it means abandoning the family she loves?

Author Lorna Seilstad's fresh and entertaining voice will whisk readers away to a breezy lakeside summer holiday. Full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, "Making Waves" is the first book in the LAKE MANAWA SUMMERS series.

My Review:
I've been reading a lot of Christian Romance lately.

Making Waves was a really cute historical romance novel.  It had everything that a Christian Romance novel should have: a horrible suitor, a mysterious and handsome hero, a feisty and adventurous heroin, and plenty of Christian values thrown in.

I've never been sailing, but I was able to appreciate Marguerite's love of it from the way the author describes everything so well.  Marguerite is a disaster most of the book.  She stirs up trouble (albeit mostly unintentional) wherever she goes, she is perpetually late for everything, and has this very unladylike love of the water and sailing.  

The challenges and restrictions placed on women during this time period were well described.  Women should not go swimming, sailing, or do anything other than sit around and chat with one another.  While other women do not even seem to notice the restrictions placed on them, Marguerite is not one for sticking to the expectations of others.  She wants to live life to the fullest and she fully plans on doing so, whether it is proper or not.

Roger was a perfectly horrible suitor.  He was boring, self-centered, and rude.  He even became a heartless and violent towards the end.  

Trip was a nicely flawed hero that I couldn't help but love.  Besides being handsome, he also sports a wicked temper and an uncanny way of making Marguerite feel special.  He treats her well and does not expect her to be anyone or anything that she is not.  They both have to learn some things and change a few others along the way.

The Cover:  Meh.  Don't love it, don't hate it.  It is what it is.

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

About the Author:
For as long as I can remember, I loved writing. I even dreamed in plots. I also grew up attending antique auctions nearly every weekend, so history was as much a part of my life as chores on our farm in Iowa, reading books, and playing with Barbies.

So, writing historical romances fit perfectly. Times may change, the style of clothes, the way we speak, but the common threads that unite us remain the same. Couples fall in love. Injustices
happen. We fight for what we believe in. We struggle. We endure. We grow.

After graduating from York College in York, Nebraska with an A.A. and then receiving a B.S.Ed. from Lubbock Christian University, I met and married the love of my life, David. God had
written our love story, and I knew from the moment we met that he was the one. It was not love at first sight by any means, but I was so sure he was "it" that I wrote that I'd met the man I would marry in my diary. We pledged our hearts to one another two and half years later.

I taught high school English until my oldest child was born. After that I began my career as a professional wiper. I wiped noses, counter tops, tiny tushes, tears, and scraped knees.

Deciding that my children were now older and less in need of my constant supervision, I started pursuing my first love again --writing. After joining American Christian Fiction Writers, I found a wonderful critique group and began studying the craft of writing.

David and I have three children ages 18, 16, and 11. We also work in youth ministry and teach youth and adult Bible classes.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: Bah Humbug, by Heather Horrocks

Bah Humbug, by Heather Horrocks
Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

Print Length: 96 pages
Publisher: Word Garden Press (September 9, 2011)

My Review:
This book is described as PG rated fun, and I would have to agree.  It was a very short, quick read about an up and coming TV star changing her neighbor's outlook on Christmas... and love.  Her neighbor also happens to be a famous author whose books she loves reading with her kids.  

I laughed out loud when Kyle mutilated Lexi's snowman for the sake of "research" for his book.  It is totally something that I would do.  I always get so caught up in whatever I am working on that I forget that someone might not appreciate me beheading their snowman to see if a gun could fit inside.  
This short story was super cute and perfect for the holidays.  Plus it was free, so who can complain about that?  There were a few typos and other little things that made me give it four stars instead of five.

The Cover: I love illustrated covers for contemporary books.  I love the feel of this illustration and the promise of romance that it gives off.    

By the way, it is still FREE on Amazon, so hurry and snatch up this fun little story!

About the Author:
I’m an author who had a somewhat unorthodox upbringing. I was raised in South America and the Middle East, and wrote my first stories as a teenager in Kuwait, where my sister and I proved it really is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. I wrote my first novel in three months on a typewriter when I was 21, I used every romance cliché possible (including amnesia — need I say more?), and never rewrote anything, which is why it’s so much fun to pull it out occasionally when I need a good laugh. I wrote sporadically until my youngest child (who is now 18) was two, when I decided it was time to either actually start writing, or to stop saying I was a writer. So I took a class and started doing the scary things that writing requires. Now I’ve written about twelve novels and several children’s books.

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