Saturday, November 21, 2015

Luther and Katharina :A Novel of Love and Rebellion by Jody Hedlund

I am a fan of historical novels. It doesn't really matter what time period, as long as the story is believable and accurately shows the life of the era. In this novel, the author, Jody Hedlund has penned a story of religions clashing, love and the strength of the people who lived through it.

The story of Martin Luther and Katherina is complex.  Martin Luther is a former monk, leading the Protestant rebellion against the Catholic Church. Katherina Von Bora is an escaped nun who is rescued by Luther's followers. The story revolves around the struggle to follow their hearts and religious beliefs.

Jody Hedlund has done a great job of weaving fiction and sixteenth century historical facts in this novel. She made the time period come alive. The two main characters with all the struggles, and at times life-threatening issues, were vivid—it was if I were there, life threatened, fear palpable.

Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora are headstrong characters. Because of this, they continuously frustrate and infuriate each other. Both of them grew to accept each other, and the love they shared is deep and mature.
The author created a beautiful story filled with the emotional and difficult upheaval during this time of religious rebellion.  I highly recommend this excellent read.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

Daria Song does not disappoint with the second in her series of coloring books for adults. I adored the first book, The Time Garden.

Her newest, The Time Chamber, is absolutely stunning. I don't know which of Daria Song's coloring books I like best! I've been fulfilling my inner child, color pencils in hand.
Here's an example of a page:

 Daria Song still tells a story to go along with her art work. Not many coloring books do that.

I've perused the many adult coloring books and I honestly think Daria Song's books have a quality of art,and imaginative story. The thick pages will prevent any bleed through. So I might just  try gel pens instead of color pencils like I did in the first book.

I highly recommend this book for any adult who needs to de-stress!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Blender Girl Smoothies by Tess Masters

I initially chose The Blender Girl Smoothies for its gluten free recipes. However, all of the recipes I've tried so far are amazing! My blender is getting a workout. I can't wait to try more of the many choices in this book. I haven't found one I didn't like.

I've always prepared smoothies with either fruit or vegetables—never both. Well, let me tell you, after following the recipes in Blender Girl Smoothies, I am a fan of mixing tasty veggies and fruits—along with nuts and more!

I love the detailed explanations, including why certain ingredients should be combined to achieve the health benefits, weight loss, energy and other benefits.

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to the (yawn) boring smoothies, this is the choice for you. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging For Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Memory of Mermaids by Spencer Dryden

"Max Weiss, mermaids are drawn to the men of the earth. The goddess filled our hearts with longing for the love of men like you. But we are cursed as well." ~quote from The Memory of Mermaids
There's a book trailer for The Memory of Mermaids...and  I found myself aching to read the book!

Now that you've viewed the tease...Let me tell you what I thought of the book.

Within the first chapter, I found Max Weiss breaking up with his girlfriend—or more like her breaking up with him. The rest of his life has pretty much fallen apart as well. Job, mother dying, mobster connections, you name it. The remaining chapters were just as full, though instead of negative situations, adventure begins making its way into Max's life.

Well, like many do, Max tries to ease his screwed up life with an overabundance of alcohol. He hears screams and...stumbles upon a sea monster—with a mermaid captured in the odd creature's tentacles. An alcohol-induced vision? No such luck.

I loved everything about this story. The interaction between Max and the mermaid Azzaria is enthralling. Max finds  purpose in the request to help Azzaria locate her missing sister. Oh, and it goes without saying the author, Spencer Dryden, knows how to draw a reader into the  steamy passages. Well done!

Max struggles with relentless thoughts and urges of a forbidden relationship, and I rooted for the him to give in--let it happen.However, though lust abounds, I wish I'd seen a little more of an emotional bond between Max and Azzaria.

But to get back to my favorite things about this book: The adorable way the mermaid speaks to Max made me grin. Azzaria doesn't differentiate between a first and last name, using it as one name.
"Max Weiss, the dolphins say it is not safe…"
"Thank you, Max Weiss, it has been many years since I have tasted rum…"
And I giggled out loud at this little comment: "Max Weiss, it gives my heart so much joy to see you again, did you bring some rum for me?" 

I'm a voracious reader, but haven't read a single book about mermaids until now. The Memory of Mermaids is certainly a great start into something new. The human/mermaid interaction is very tastefully done. The twist of mythology mixed with theology is thought-provoking.

This novella is a fun read. Lose yourself in a new world, and a new way of thinking.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review  I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Sea Keeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is a multi-layered story. Lisa Wingate has always captured me with her beautiful writing, and this book did not disappoint. 

Like a decadent cake, there are many layers to this story. The first is s, Whitney Monroe's struggles. On one hand, she is trying to keep her restaurants afloat, along with the people who depend on her. She's drowning—until an inheritance of an old family property on the outer banks of North Carolina comes to the rescue. Or so she believes. The deep emotional journey unfolds into an unrelenting test of strength and soul-searching decisions. 

The next layer is the historical aspect of this story. Whitney happens upon curious items and letters within the inherited property—which derails every plan. It doesn't help that the inhabitants and shop keepers of the property depend on her as much as her employees back home. The guilt and indecision haunts Whitney, and just when she thinks she's made up her mind, another thing drops her to her knees.

There are so many quotes of this books which struck me, way too many to include in this review. Therefore, I will give you my favorite:

"…sometimes the hardest things in life become the building blocks of the greatest achievements."

The icing on this delicious story is what I learned about The Federal Writers, and the mystery behind the Melungeons they came across in their travels.

I've read every book in the Carolina Chronicles and am sad to see it end with The Seakeeper's Daughters

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The Time Garden by Daria Song is by far the best coloring book I've come across.

My mother and father were talented artists. Growing up, I always had access to the best art supplies. There were shoe boxes of markers, coloring pencils and crayons to choose from. Coloring books, poster boards, and just about anything one could imagine were always ready for someone to splash their imaginations across. However, my favorites were the coloring books. 

 I never outgrew my love of taking a black and white drawing and filling it in with a variety of colors. However, the children's coloring books did not fulfill me as they once did. One day, I discovered The Time Garden, and upon turning the first page I was drawn into the magical world Daria Song created.

Now, I may have a blister on my thumb from sharpening color pencils, and I suspect the bump on the side of my finger is due to hours of coloring a single page in this book. The drawings are intricate and detailed. The story that goes along with the drawings is imaginative. I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Hours of entertainment and heavenly relaxation is a promise. This book will be available September 1, 2015. 

I know I enjoyed it! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Timeless Knight by Torie James

As a fan of anything Arthurian or paranormal, I was surprised to find both in Timeless Night. The legend of Camelot has been told in many ways, however,  author Torie James created a unique spin to the age old lore—adding a modern day twist. I knew from the first few pages that I would have a difficult time putting this book down.
 The author, Torie James, penned old world magic, modern day charm, and downright witty scenes throughout this amazing story. The paranormal aspect of the story has a twist I didn't see coming, and at first I thought "No…please don't do this." But oh, what surprises were in store for me. Pure magic was scribed in this tale. I suspect Torie James has a bit of fae blood flowing in her veins. 

Sabrina Foxworth, a strong-willed, modern day woman, is thrown into a whirlwind which changes her life forever. Her childhood dreams begin to make sense—though quite hard for her to swallow. Add to that, Mr. Dreamy-creamy-In-Her-Pants, a.k.a Alex, and all the magical twists he delivers…oh my. Despite her attraction, Sabrina refuses to follow his orders, and does things on her terms. She finds Alex's "explanations" and the ensuing turn of events difficult to believe. However, her very essence cannot deny deep down, she knows Alex speaks the truth. A truth that can be the very death of her.
The scenes are so well written I could "see" them. The personalities of both Alex and Sarah are strong, both conflicting with the other, while at the same time, pulling them closer together. 

The secondary characters, Merlyn, Gawain, Arthur, Guinevere and others are well- developed. I really can't say enough about Timeless Night by Torie James. It's absolutely amazing. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children

I loved the dual timeline of The Mapmaker's Children. Both of the stories intertwine into each other as the book progresses.

 The historical timeline follows the life of Sarah Brown, and her role in the Underground Railroad. Sarah is unable to have children, but she is a mother in many ways, both to her sister Annie, and the children she helps along the way. The author obviously did her research and made the characters walk right off the pages and into the reader's hearts. Sarah Brown's strength and growth were inspiring. (I also loved the historical photos at the end of the book.)

The modern-day timeline is 2014 in a small town, New Charleston, West Virginia. The main character, Eden Anderson, recently settled in this town. Well, maybe using the word settled is not right. Eden is anything but settled, both in the recent move, and her state of mind. Eden is struggling with many issues but the most heartbreaking is her recent miscarriage. While exploring her new home, she finds a porcelain doll head in a very mysterious place. This head is a pivotal part of the story. Her young neighbor, Cleo just about steals the story. I adore this kid. Eden initially doesn't know what to think of Cleo, but soon the two are inseparable.

So… how to these two stories end up connecting? I don't want to give too much away, but I will say both timelines eventually converges, slowly unfolding its secrets one clue at a time. At the end, I was truly satisfied.

I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Free Pass

Since my brain refused to connect with my mouth and I stood gaping like a fish, Austin blurted out his plan, "Be with another guy. Any guy you want. You can do anything with him for two weeks. I just want you to have the experience before we settle down." ~Excerpt

Free Pass by Allie Kincheloe is one of those just one more chapter books.

Throughout this page-turning adventure, I was able to delve into the thoughts and feelings of the characters. I was as surprised as Laney when Austin, the cheater boyfriend, suggests she fool around with whoever she wants for two weeks. Yep, I had to read just one more chapter to see if she'd snap up this free pass, or stab Austin with a pencil again. (Yep, this girl is not one to hold back.)

Not only does Laney accept the 'free pass', but she chooses someone she didn't consider—at first. She also didn't consider the fact that anyone could make her feel so…so damn happy. As a perfect twist, the man she is attracted to is her boyfriend's older brother, Jake. Yep, another page turner. And another…I read it from start to finish in one sitting.  

The relationships are tastefully written and told with sweet, steamy, and sometimes heart-wrenching emotion. To balance the story, the author injected Laney's inner dialogue, peppered with humor and a dash of sarcasm. 

There is a certain realization which peeks through Laney's discontent and confusion, and ends the story with personal growth with satisfying finesse. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a 'free pass' into an unusual, yet endearing, romance.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Neuro Tribes by Steve Silberman

Release date : August 25, 2015

Neuro Tribes—The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
By Steve Silberman

As a mother of an autistic son, I couldn't wait to read this book. Though I have done extensive research into Autism, Steve Silberman opened up the archives of history for me! The previously untold, and sometimes muddied history of diagnosis, treatment (and mistreatment) of the disorder was opened up by Steve Silberman's research. He told the story with such depth, I found it hard to put this book down.

However, Neuro Tribes isn't just about history. It's about the future of the autism community as a whole. It gives hope and new insight to the "neuro-typical" population to accept and embrace the qualities of autism.

I recommend this book to everyone; not only those involved in the autism community, but those who wish to gain knowledge about this mysterious, yet intriguing thing called Autism.  It is no longer an affliction, but a quality and different way of observing—and a pin-point observation that most of us don't have. Steve Silberman gives many examples how those with autism have benefited and changed the world we live in today.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255. 

Note: Though this book is an advanced reader copy, I did find it a bit aggravating to find the historic dates in odd symbolic form throughout the book. Not in every instance, but more often than not. I suppose it's a formatting error. I'm unsure if the print book has the same errors, but the e-book is peppered with formatting errors. Hopefully, the publisher will correct this before release date. I mean, history without dates is quite useless. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Regarding Anna by Florence Osmund

I never wanted to be a private investigator. After high school, I'd had aspirations of becoming an interior decorator and had even enrolled in classes at Morton Community College. But when my parents died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their home three months before my eighteenth birthday, with no relatives to take me in, I was left to fend for myself. And that was when everything changed.~Excerpt from Regarding Anna 

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a book, the author weaving a maze of plot so deep you are right there with the characters? Well, author Florence Osmund gave me that experience. 

Grace. the main character, is left on her own after finding her parents dead. Soon after, she discovers clues in the attic which lead her to believe the two people who raised her may not be her parents after all.  As a young private investigator, Grace doggedly examines any lead in the case she labels Attic Finds. 

Throughout the story, she continues to delve into her confusing past, which leads her to Minnie. This elderly woman is tetchy gem and nearly steals the story with her antics. I adored her. After a rough beginning to their relationship, Grace and Minnie end up working together on the mystery of Grace's past. The camaraderie is endearing, the rapport amusing and the growing relationship is a joy to follow.

The many characters peppered throughout the book are well developed, and vary from snarky to endearing. Despite the number of people, I didn't have trouble keeping track of them. Each of them added a layer, and new revelations into the Attic Find case.

Grace's personal journey to self-discovery and worth, the friendships garnered and the wealth of information she never expected to find ties together nicely...without any loose ends.

I highly recommend this book. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wicked Satyr Nights by Rebekah Lewis

Excerpt: The pale light gave her a bluish hue, and so distracted was he by her natural beauty that he didn't see her scars right away. The puckered flesh traveled her lift thigh and hip coming just to her waist and across her stomach, and likely her back as well. The crisscrossing scar tissue was the only imperfection on her soft, otherwise flawless, skin.
"Oh, vixen." He dropped to his knees and drew her closer. "What did this to you?" He ran his hand over the markings.

I loved the tenderness of above scene.

 That said, read on for my review of Wicked Satyr Nights. 

I couldn't put down this book! Thanks to the author, Rebekah Lewis, I lost sleep. Why? Well, let's sum it up with the fact bedtime meant nothing when it came to putting down Wicked Satyr Nights. Just one more chapter became my motto. 

I am intrigued by mythology, and wow, I inadvertently learned a lot about it. The author seamlessly entwines mythology with contemporary times. Not only that, the premise of this story was so well thought out it is BELIEVABLE.

 Kat, the heroine, is an independent, professional woman: yet her recent accident has her reeling. Finally healed--on the outside anyway--Kat takes an assignment to film a documentary on the urban legend, the Jersey Devil, without really holding any belief such a thing exists--until the winged myth kidnaps her.

It's clear the author did her research, right down to the weapons, curses, lineage of the gods, as well as the strength and weakness each hold. The immense thought involved combining myth, logic, human, god, and nymph is seamless. Not once did I doubt the plot, or trip on a hitch...other than the one in my heart when mythological god and human join with acceptance and love. 

The sexual scenes between the two main characters, Pan (the Jersey Devil) and Kat are steamy and loving. Their conversations are deep and usually fall into playful banter. I laughed out loud several times. I love it when that happens.

I'm drawn to series books, but I need closure. The ending of this book left me wanting more without leaving me hanging. Well done!

I highly recommend this book to those who want to broaden their mind while entertaining the possibility of love despite differences, faults or past mistakes. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison

The Perfect Letter deserves a perfect grade--A+. Chris Harrison has a lot of imagination and writing kudos beneath those good looks of his. I'm surprised he didn't follow the dream of publishing instead of hosting the Bachelor and Bachelorette. Then again, perhaps that's where he garnered so much about Leigh Merrill's, the heroine's, point of view.
I assumed The Perfect letter would somewhat revolve around the world of the shows Chris hosts, but I was wrong. The characters feel real, the mystery surrounding a murder is tangible, and the romance put me through a myriad of emotions. I highly recommend this book. Get “The Bachelor” out of your head and think “The Notebook” instead. A moving read with depth and purpose.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ARC from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis

Captive Trail, by Susan Page Davis, is the second book of The Texas Trail series. Like the first book, this centers on a family in mid-1800 Texas. The Morgan family has a different author and I love her writing voice.

Let me tell you a bit about the story. Taabe Waipu is a Comanche captive. She escapes to avoid marrying a man she doesn't love. She searches for her white family, but on her travels, her horse falls and she's injured and alone. Ned Bright, a stagecoach driver happens along and finds her. He brings her to a mission where nuns take care of her and help her recover.

Okay, if that isn't enough to suck you in and make you want to read this book, then you're dead. 

All kidding aside, this was a great story, filled with major character growth. (Not to mention history about Texan life in the 1800's.) I loved the main character, Taabe Waipu, and admired her tenacity and courage.

The author, Susan Page Davis, has a beautiful writer's voice, smooth storytelling chops, and the ability to make characters come alive in my head.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255. 

Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin

Lone Star Trail is the first book I've read by the author, Darlene Franklin. I'm intrigued enough by the first in the Texas Trail Series to continue on with the other five books. Time will tell if I enjoy the other stories as much…or more.

Lone Star Trail is about German immigrant family, the Fleishers, who leave their home to pursue a better life in the new Union state of Texas in mid-1800. However, life doles out difficult times for this family. A Texan, Jud Morgan, is initially hateful toward the immigrants, but ends up helping them. His views about immigrants gradually change as the story progresses. I like the believability of this happening. It was well developed. Kudos to the author.

The main premise, from what I gather, is about looking past prejudice, and learning about those who seem different and seeing life through their eyes—and hearts.
The book is full of history, which I adore, and the faith lessons are not shoved down your throat. A great, clean read, without being preachy.
On the flip side, the secondary story line wasn't necessary. In my humble, yet honest, opinion, it actually took away from the main plot.
Wrapping this up, I will read Captive Trail by another author I haven't read: Susan Page Davis. It's the next book in this multi-authored series. 

Though I enjoyed Lone Star Trail, I hope the next story stays focused on the main plot without branching off and thinning out the story. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.