Posted in 5 paws, Review, romance on February 20, 2018

Synopsis

Greta loves her job as an assistant librarian. She loves her best friend, Will, the high school civics teacher and debate coach. She even loves her mother despite her obvious disappointment that Greta is still single.

Then she meets Mac in the poetry section of the library, and she is smitten. Mac is heart-stoppingly gorgeous and showers her with affection, poetic text messages, and free hot chocolate at the local café where he works. The only problem is that he seems to be a different person in his texts than in his face-to-face conversation.

When the Franklin Library is threatened with closure, Greta leaps into action. She arranges for a “battle of the bands” book jam, hosts a book signing by a famous author, and finally, stages a protest that raises more than a few eyebrows.

Through it all, she slowly realizes that it is Will, not Mac, who she turns to for support and encouragement. Mac has the looks; Will has the heart. How can she choose between them?

Check Me Out is a contemporary romance–with just a hint of Cyrano de Bergerac–that reminds us that it is what’s on the inside that matters most.

Review

This was such an enjoyable book.  The crux of the story (to me) was the fate of our public libraries.  Larger cities are blessed to have wonderful libraries but smaller towns might have problems keeping them open if they do not have a large town base.  In this story, the Franklin Library is on the verge of being shut down because it cannot be made ADA compliant. The library is housed in a historic home with lots of charm and character, but if you know anything about those older homes, they weren’t built with wheelchairs in mind.  So Greta takes this as a personal challenge to make sure the taxpayers vote for the bond to build a new library.  Some of her methods are a bit crazy, but she is passionate and will do whatever it takes to keep her job and the library open.

The story also has a local history aspect.  It seems that whenever someone dies all of their papers end up at the library.  So Greta, with the help of Will, is tasked with sorting through the boxes and digitizing the photos and documents.  In the midst of all the documents, she comes across a Dr Silver who was something of a radical for his time and helped end segregation in their town in Ohio.  However, she can’t find any information about him after that time period and it sets her on a quest to figure out what happened to him.  She even admits to having a historical crush on him.  This story has a nice ending but I’m not going to say how she finds Dr Silver.

The romance was delightful, perhaps a bit predictable, but it unfolded nicely.  Greta apparently asks for something on her birthday each year and Will gives her whatever it is despite how hard it might be to come up with her wish.  Apparently this year she wished for the perfect man, handsome with the soul of a poet.  Will being Will, he introduces her to his cousin who is very handsome and seems to be saying all the right things.  But everyone else knows the truth about Mac and his words, how long will it take Greta to figure it out?  I’m sure you can guess where this is going but I’m not going to spoil it for you.

We loved this book and suggest reading it especially if you are about saving the libraries…just don’t go to some of the lengths that Greta did in this story!

We give this 5 paws up.

 

 

 

Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, memoir, nonfiction, Review, Texas on February 18, 2018

WHY I HATE GREEN BEANS

and other confessions about relationships, reality tv, and how we see ourselves

by

LINCEE RAY

Genre: Humorous NonFiction / Memoir

Publisher: Revell

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Date of Publication: February 6, 2018

Number of Pages: 208

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Insecurity. As women, we all struggle with it. Our skinny jeans mock us. Our age-defying serums with flecks of gold refuse to erase our crow’s feet. Our social media feeds taunt us with everyone else’s picture-perfect lives. If you’ve ever felt uninteresting, unlovable, or unattractive, you’re ready for Lincee Ray’s particular brand of hilarious (and hard-hitting) self-reflection.

Like a trustworthy friend, she shows us that the fastest way to happiness is to embrace ourselves in all our imperfection and trust that God knew what He was doing when He made us. From maneuvering the muffin top to navigating the sketchy waters of singleness to walking the judgmental halls of the workplace, Lincee’s laugh-out-loud look at real life reveals many of the key truths she’s learned about her identity:

Yoga pants are your friend, Jesus sees you, and green-bean diets are never the answer.

PRAISE FOR WHY I HATE GREEN BEANS

“Lincee is a brilliant writer. She once described me as ‘smelling of worn leather, a vintage nine iron and swagger.’ She pretty much nailed it. She is definitely worthy of the final rose.” —Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s Bachelor franchise and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

“I found myself laughing out loud, wiping away a few tears, and cheering her on every step of the way. Lincee is the best friend you wish you had. Get ready to fall in love with her and her fabulous debut book!”  —Melanie Shankle, author of the Big Mama blog

“By the end of this book, you’ll think of Lincee as a favorite friend: someone who shoots straight, finds the funny in every situation, and reminds you what matters most. You are in for a treat!” —Sophie Hudson, author of Giddy Up, Eunice and co-host of The Big Boo Cast podcast

I am not even sure where to start on my review other than I LOVED this book.  It made me laugh, but there were also some parts that were poignant, such as, when Lincee wrote about her marriage and its failure.  I was truly amazed to read her story and enjoyed every minute…I did not want the book to end.

I have followed I Hate Green Beans for a few years after being turned on to it by a friend.  I thought the title of her blog was hysterical because I love green beans!  I don’t remember if I knew why she didn’t like that green vegetable, but I learned why in her book – an evil diet.  Then as I was reading her profile (way back when), I learned that we attended the same high school.  Not at the same time mind you!  But I felt a kinship when she spoke about her time in high school and what she experienced being on the Belles (drill team).  While I was a band geek, I also participated in the Flag Corps, so I could commiserate about those weigh ins!  While I might not be able to relate to everything she wrote about, I could feel her emotions – from angst to frustration to happiness – in each story she told.  She made me feel like I was sitting right next to her in each event in her life.

Lincee even puts her faith out there for all to see.  Her Christian beliefs helped guide her through the tougher times in life and kept her grounded despite any situation.  And trust me when I say there are lots of situations that would test any of us.  She shares various bible verses that helped her in situations when she needed support.  I appreciated her humility in admitting when she needed that extra assistance to get through.

For Lincee to put her life out there for anyone and everyone to read, it shows a courage that many do not possess.  Her honesty, quick wit, and fluid writing will entertain readers and if they enjoy it as much as I did, they will not want to put the book down.  Not all may be able to relate, but I am willing to bet that there is at least one story or situation that will seem familiar – even if it is the insecurity that many of us feel as a woman.

We give this 5 paws up!  We’d give more but our scale is only 5.

Lincee Ray is an accidental blogging superstar from Texas who now writes for EW.com and the Associated Press. An active speaker, she can be found at her popular website, ihategreenbeans.com, where she makes it clear that she believes it’s important to tell your story—even if it makes you seem a little crazy.

 

 ║ Blog║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║

║ Instagram ║ Podcast ║

————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

FEBRUARY 13-22, 2018

GRAND PRIZE:

Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed book plate, $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and Lincee’s Loves Basket which includes: Rave travel hairspray, Minnie Mouse ears, Vodka*, Heartbreakers Candy, Dr. Pepper, chocolate rose, and green jelly beans.

2nd PRIZE:

Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed bookplate, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

3rd PRIZE:

Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed bookplate, $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

(U.S. Only; *proof of age required for vodka)


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Check out the other great blogs on this tour

2/13/18 Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime
2/13/18 Notable Quotable Hall Ways Blog
2/14/18 Review Missus Gonzo
2/15/18 Playlist Reading by Moonlight
2/15/18 Author Interview The Librarian Talks
2/16/18 Review Forgotten Winds
2/17/18 Guest Post Texas Book Lover
2/17/18 Excerpt The Page Unbound
2/18/18 Review StoreyBook Reviews
2/19/18 Notable Quotable Syd Savvy
2/19/18 Notable Quotable A Novel Reality
2/20/18 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
2/21/18 Top Five Momma on the Rocks
2/22/18 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
2/22/18 Review Margie’s Must Reads

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, women on February 13, 2018

Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction

Synopsis

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

Review

A very intense book that peeks into the life of several women that survive a sexual assault (on a college campus in this case) and what the gamut of emotions that they endure. Please note that the assault scenes are not graphic but are powerful.

Each of the three women, Lauren, Brooke, and Nikki, tell their story in their own way. All three stories intersect each other since they are on the same college campus. The women support each other against their perpetrator, Colin. They each feel guilt, remorse, and anger about the situation, and who could blame them? This story also reflects how the situation affects the parents, especially when it comes to Brooke. Her mother is very supportive, but her father blames her and perhaps it is his guilt for not being able to protect her while she is away at college.

While this is a horrible crime against the three, it does make each of them stronger in their own way. From standing up against Colin, to wanting to get more involved on campus and prevent this from happening to anyone else. This incident does not put the university in a good light, and I was angry at the Dean of Students and President for trying to sweep this under the rug just because Colin’s family is wealthy.

This story is well written and I had a hard time putting it down at times. It may be fiction but there is a lot of truth to the story and how it does happen more than we would probably like to admit on college campuses.

We give this 4 paws up

About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on February 12, 2018

Synopsis

Former soap opera actress Veronica Walsh is recovering from her first holiday season in the retail world when she is pulled from retirement to star in a community production of Blithe Spirit. Delighted to play the part of a medium, Veronica must soon also assume the role of amateur sleuth when she finds the play’s director shot dead behind the theater.

Teaming with stage manager Sophie Morrissey, Veronica’s hunt for clues to the murder of Gigi Swanson leads her to a cast of colorful behind-the-scenes characters and a stunning Act Three finale. Will it be a triumph for Veronica, or will the curtain close on more than her career?

Review

Veronica Walsh is caught back up in a mystery and this time it hits close to home as the producer of the local community theater is killed.  Of course, Veronica has to investigate, that is her nature!  But at least this time she has the blessing of a local police detective to do some sleuthing and report back to her.

The mystery of this series is very well written.  In this installment, there are many likely candidates to be the murderer but it isn’t until the end when the truth is unwound that the killer is put in the spotlight.  I kept going back and forth between several characters, wanting them to be the murderer but with no real facts or evidence to support that desire.  I was a little bit surprised when the true killer was revealed, but not too much only because I had worked through most of the characters and there weren’t many characters left to be the killer.

There is an easy camaraderie between many of the main characters.  They are close friends and support each other in many ways, including doing crazy things to unearth a killer!

I have also enjoyed watching Veronica and Mark’s romantic relationship blossom.  It is very subdued in the book, but you can catch undercurrents of their appreciation for each other.

We give this book 5 paws up and eagerly await the next book!

About the Author

Jeanne Quigley grew up reading mysteries, watching soap operas, and vacationing in the Adirondacks, never imagining these pleasures would inspire the Veronica Walsh cozy mystery series. Jeanne’s love of characters—real and fictional—led her to study Sociology and English at the University of Notre Dame. Jeanne has never been a soap star, but she has worked in the music industry and for an education publisher. She resides in Rockland County, New York and is a member of the Sisters in Crime.

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Posted in 3 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Review, romance, women on February 5, 2018

Book Title: Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies by Evy Journey
Category: Adult Fiction, 240 pages
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Release date: December 2017
Content Rating: R (Two bedroom scenes)

Synopsis

Cooking a wonderful meal is an act of love. An act of grace. A gift that affirms and gives life—not only does it nurture those who partake of a meal; it also feeds the soul of the person who creates it. These are lessons Gina learns from her mother.

Gina is a young woman born to poor parents; a nobody (her words) who wants to taste life outside the world she was born into and her passion for cooking is all she has to help her do so. She gets lucky when she’s chosen to cook at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where she finds a world of a privileged class with money to spare for dinners that cost hundreds of dollars. A world of new friends and new challenges—one that exposes her to fascinating people who’re also gripped by dark motives.

Amidst her culinary adventures, she becomes good friends with pastry chef Marcia, and falls in love, in different ways, with, two very different men: Leon, a rich regular client who has been dating Cristi, her friend from childhood, and Brent, a brooding homicide detective. This other world, it turns out, is also one of unexpected danger that eventually threatens her life.

Can the lessons she learned from her mother about cooking and life help Gina survive and thrive in this other world of privilege, pleasure and unexpected danger?

Review

This book is a mixture of romance, a little mystery, and food! All three are a good combination in my book.

This story follows Gina – from her involvement with Leon, a spoiled millionaire, to her attraction to Brent, a police detective, to her life as a chef/cook for a high-end restaurant. Her life hasn’t been easy and she even refers to her family as “white trash” because of where they live and her family life growing up as a child.

The story is fairly consistent in pace and tone. It was near the end that the action picked up as Gina was being targeted because of her relationship with Leon. The who was quite surprising but looking back, it was somewhat obvious by some of the conversations with this character.

Gina is talented and has a soft heart, but sometimes I thought she was naive. She is young, in her 20’s, and that could play a factor in her actions. It also made me wonder about her relationship choices. She did not want to become involved with Leon because of his playboy nature and his previous relationship with her childhood girlfriend, Cristi.

I do like that this story comes full circle and Gina is able to build a strong relationship with her family despite her childhood. I don’t want to give away too much, but her mother is able to find some peace even though tragedy struck her family when she was a young child. This tragedy carried forward and is most likely part of the reason Gina felt the way she did about her family.

We give this 3 paws up.

About the Author

Evy Journey, writer, wannabe artist, and flâneuse (feminine of flâneur), wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

Giveaway

Prizes: Win an ebook copy of Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies. One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card (21 winners total / open internationally to wherever Amazon delivers)

(Ends Feb 24, 2018)

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Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, Giveaway, Review, romance on February 2, 2018

Synopsis

He might be winning her heart before she even knows who he is…

Welcome to Blessings, Georgia, the small town with a big heart! Anyone from a small town can tell you that gossip never stays quiet for long. The biggest news lately is Ruby Dye: she’s been receiving gifts from a secret admirer. But Ruby isn’t sure she can trust this newfound happiness. Nobody knows the dark secrets she keeps about her life before she arrived in Blessings. Is this the beginning of a would-be romance, or is she the target of something more sinister?

Everyone admires Ruby and her determination to do the right thing, especially local lawyer “Peanut” Butterman. He’s finally ready to tell her how he feels. But when trouble arrives on Ruby’s doorstep and their little town is threatened, Peanut may have to prove himself in ways he never imagined.

Preorder the Book Here

Review

I love the town of Blessings and how everyone comes together as a community to support and help one another. Makes me wish I lived in this town (or maybe one similar to it!)

This installment focuses on Ruby and Peanut. Peanut has been sending Ruby gifts as a secret admirer and now is the time to reveal himself and his love for Ruby. Luckily Ruby loves him just as much! The road to the forever for these two is not easy and they have to deal with Ruby’s ex-husband and a serious incident with Peanut that lands him in the hospital. But true love wins out in the end.

This book is very uplifting but has some dark and down moments, but it is what adds complexity to the book. There are some lessons that everyone can take away from this book, especially in how to treat someone.

If you have not read this series, definitely start with the first book as each book builds on the last one.

We give this 5 paws up!

Excerpt

Chief Pittman drove through town with lights flashing, then pulled into the alley behind the bar to the small, clapboard house.

There was no smoke coming out of the fireplace, no lights on anywhere inside, and when he saw the front door open and a tall, gangly boy and a huge bloodhound emerging, he jumped out to open the back door of his cruiser.

As he did, a woman followed them out. She was blue from cold and shivering. She coughed, then couldn’t stop. Then the boy approached and held out his hand.

“I’m Charlie Conroy, Sir. Thank you for calling.”

Lon wondered how desperate they were and then decided to deal with that later.

“You can put your dog in the back and ride up front with me.”

“Yes sir,” Charlie said, loaded up Booger, then got into the front seat.

Lon turned around.

“Mrs. Conroy, I’m Chief Pittman. Thank you for allowing your boy to help us. I’ll have him back as soon as possible, okay?”

“Yes, it’s okay,” she said.

And then another little voice piped up, and Lon saw a tiny little girl standing in the doorway, also wearing her coat over her clothes. She was crying.

“Mommy, Mommy, I’m cold.”

“I have to go,” Alice said, and ran back to the doorway, picked up the little girl and disappeared into the house, shutting the door behind her as she went.

Lon got in. The boy was already buckled up.

“We’re going straight to the nursing home.”

“Yes, sir,” Charlie said, his heartbeat jumping as the Chief drove away.

“So what’s going on at your house? Don’t you have any heat?”

“We don’t have any utilities, sir. We got cut off.”

“When was this?” Lon asked.

“Oh, a few days ago, but I’ll get the money earned to get them back on.”

“Is this why you put out the fliers?” Lon asked.

Charlie nodded.

“That was very industrious. How old are you?” Lon said.

“I’m twelve, but I am the man of the family now,” Charlie said, and then turned his head as they passed the school, looking at it with a mixture of longing and despair.

Another two blocks and he pulled up in front of the nursing home. One of his deputies was already there gathering info, while the other one on duty was back at the station. People were gathering here as the news had spread, ready to help search.

“Here we go,” Lon said, as he pulled up and parked. “You get your hound and follow me.”

“Yes sir,” Charlie said, and leaped out, grabbed Booger’s leash, and took off after the Chief.

Nathan Rose, the nursing home administrator, was trying not to panic as he explained what he knew to the Deputy, Ralph Herman.

“We’ve never had this happen before,” Nathan said. “We lock the doors at night and everything. Wanda is the one who discovered her absence.”

Ralph eyed the aide in purple scrubs. She looked to be in her late twenties, and she also looked scared to death, like someone was going to lay the blame of this on her.

“So, Wanda, how did you know she was missing?” Ralph asked.

“She wasn’t in her bed when I came on duty at six a.m., so I went looking for her, assuming she’d just fallen asleep somewhere else inside the building. They do that sometimes, but I couldn’t find her. That’s when we all began to search. She’s not here.”

“Were there any unlocked doors?” Ralph asked.

Willa’s shoulders slumped.

“The one from the kitchen leading out into the back alley. There’s an extra lock up high. She’s so little, I don’t know how she reached to open it.”

“Either someone helped her, or it was unintentionally left unlocked,” Nathan said. “It’s the only explanation.”

“Have you notified her next of kin?” the deputy asked.

“She doesn’t have any,” Nathan said. “She brought herself here three years back and hasn’t had a visitor from outside Blessings, since.”

At that point, the Chief walked up and didn’t waste time explaining.

“Nathan, I need something that belongs to Gertie…something that would have her scent on it…like her shoes… of a piece of her clothing…something that hasn’t yet been washed.”

Nathan saw the boy and the bloodhound and didn’t ask questions.

“Wanda, you heard him. Bring something that will have Gertie’s scent on it.”

Wanda turned and ran into the building as the deputy recognized the boy.

“Hey, that’s the kid from the flyer,” he said, then glanced at Lon. “Good call, Chief.”

“If it works, we can all thank Peanut Butterman. It was his suggestion.”

Charlie had outgrown his coat months ago, and had been wearing his Daddy’s clothes all winter, but he didn’t have a coat. It had burned up in the explosion. He shivered slightly as he waited, thinking nothing of the discomfort because it had become the norm, but Lon saw it.

“Be right back,” he said, and jogged toward his cruiser, popped the trunk and then came back with a heavy, fleece-lined flannel jacket. “Put this on,” he said, as he handed it to Charlie.

Charlie’s eyes widened.

“I might get it dirty.”

“Son, it’ll wash,” Lon said. “Put it on.”

Charlie didn’t argue. The warmth that enveloped him was so welcome it brought tears to his eyes.

“I thank you,” Charlie whispered.

Lon patted the boy’s shoulder as Wanda came running back holding a pair of cotton socks.

“Gertie wore these yesterday. They were still in her shoes. Will this work?”

Lon glanced at Charlie, who nodded.

“They’ll do just fine,” Charlie said, then glanced at Lon. “Are you ready, Chief?”

Lon glanced around at the small crowd of people who’d gathered to help search.

“We’re going to try this first before we send everyone out in differing directions. If some of you want to go home, you’re welcome. But if there are any who want to follow us and the hound, then fan out in a grid behind him and do your best to keep up.”

A few waved and headed back to their cars, but a good dozen of them stayed.

Lon heard one searcher call out.

“That hound won’t track. I reckon the rain has washed out her tracks and scent.”

“We’ll see,” Lon said, and watched as Charlie Conroy got down on one knee and shoved the socks up under Booger’s nose.

As he did, the hound began to whine, as if sensing he’d just be given a task.

“Hunt, Booger! Hunt!” Charlie said.

The massive bloodhound lifted his head, sniffing the air, then put nose to ground and moved toward the back of the building with Charlie hanging onto the leash. The moment they reached the back door, Booger bayed.

“He’s on the scent,” Charlie cried, and off they went, through two blocks of housing, across the baseball field and then up into the woods, with the cops and the searchers behind them.

About the Author

SHARON SALA has over ninety-five books in print and has published in five different genres. She is a seventime RITA finalist, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Book Reviews, and five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook

Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Giveaway, Review on January 25, 2018

Book Title: The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie
Category: Children’s Fiction, 48 pages
Genre: Fantasy / Nature
Publisher: Page Publishing
Release date: July 2017
Content Rating: G

Synopsis

Popcorn and Jellybean had never ventured down the path beyond the big tree. But since they never really did anything exciting, and even though it made them a little nervous at first, they decided it would be a fun adventure for a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out, if the explorers were not prepared! Join them as they take on new challenges each day, learn how to survive by following the behaviors of the animals they encounter, and go where Mother Nature leads them. And who knows, maybe we could learn as well!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Google Play

Review

What an exciting book aimed at younger readers that is educational too!

Popcorn and Jellybean are on quite the adventure into the woods. I am not sure how old they are supposed to be but am surprised that the parents were ok with them being gone for several days. But as they delve deeper into the woods they come across various types of wildlife and remember details about the different animals and their behaviors from listening to their parents. They are also able to determine what sorts of plants are ok to eat after lessons from the parents. It is amazing what will stick in your mind even if you aren’t trying to learn!

There are times where the words seem older than the target audience, but I think it is a good book to teach children about wildlife and plants but in a fun way.

This book would be great for a reader that is just starting chapter books as the chapters are shorter and easier to read than a traditional chapter book.

We give this book 4 paws up!

About the Author

Bob has spent more than 13 years as a wildlife conservation educator sharing information and animal encounters with audiences of all ages. He has a passion for teaching about a wide range of topics nature related and loves passing it along to his two sons. His youngest son, Colton, was the inspiration behind The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean, where it all started as a simple bedtime story. Bob currently resides in Carlsbad, California, and works as a professional interpreter guide at a world-renowned conservation organization.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: Win a paperback copy of The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie and a $20 Amazon gift card (1 winner / open to USA & CAN)

(ends Feb 10, 2018)

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on January 22, 2018

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Synopsis

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

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Praise for Degrees of Love

​”Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”
– Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

Review

While the concept behind marriages has not changed, the role of each individual in that marriage is in a state of flux. No longer are roles defined by gender and marriages have become a true partnership. But what happens when one of the individuals wants something different? Or what if one is not happy with the other? Or finds what they are looking for from another? That is what this book brings to the table.

Adultery is not a new concept, it has been around since the beginning, but why do some people seek out something more than what they already have at home? In this debut novel by author Lisa Slabach, she allows us inside the marriage of Matt and Susan. They met in graduate school and couldn’t have been more different. Susan is artistic and Matt is scientific, but something still sparked between the two. Time has gone on, there are children, but things are the not same as they were all those years ago. The picture that is painted of Matt is not a pretty one. He wants her home more and to be the more traditional wife and mother. His words and actions did not sit well with me as the reader. I saw it as being narrow-minded and selfish to expect Susan to give up everything for him and the children. Susan, while a strong and fiercely independent woman, is torn between what she wants from life and doing what others expect. Enter Reese. He is Susan’s new boss and he is bewitched by Susan and wants her all to himself with no regard for her marriage.

I’m sure as you can imagine, this story is not going to end well for anyone. It is hard to have an affair and expect to get away with it long term. But what I found as the story progressed is that love comes in many forms and fashions and who is anyone to say what is right or wrong other than those involved?

There are various points in the book where Matt, Susan, and Reese are all cast in positive and negative lights. No one character is right or wrong at all times…they all share the blame for how the relationships evolve and I did feel differently for each character at different points in the book.

The book moved along at a pretty steady pace but really picked up near the end when the affair between Susan and Reese is uncovered by Matt. Emotions are running high and I wondered how the author was going to resolve this issue. I enjoyed the epilogue because it really brought the story full circle and answered any unanswered questions in my mind.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: ​ Win a signed copy of Degrees of Love or a $25 Amazon Gift Card (5 winners, open int’l to wherever Amazon delivers)

(ends Feb 7, 2018)

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on January 22, 2018

Murder of a Good Man (A Piney Woods Mystery) by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery

1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Camel Press (January 15, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

Review

An intriguing start to a new series set in the Piney Woods of East Texas. And since I have family in East Texas, I felt like I was right at home.

Nora is a strong and independent woman that is on one last mission for her mother, to bring a letter to a man in this small Texas town. However, less than 24 hours later he is murdered and Nora is the prime suspect. And as with all cozies, she has to uncover the truth as to who murdered Adam Brockwell and clear her name.

There are quite a few interesting town citizens that play an important role in helping Nora uncover the truth and clear her name. And by getting to know these people, she also makes some friends and learns some history about her mom that she never knew before arriving in this town.

The mystery was quite an adventure and I think I only suspected this character because there was no one else that seemed a likely suspect. There were some clues but not many to try and decipher the motive and reasoning for Adam’s death.

It would be remiss to omit a budding romance and Nora has caught the Sheriff’s eye. He is quite smitten with her and there are a few witty comments he makes that will definitely make you chuckle.

There is even a touch of the paranormal to this story and it added an intriguing twist.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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Giveaway

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Anthology, Dark, Review on January 21, 2018

Synopsis

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.

Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

Review

Enclosed in this book are 17 short stories that range from 3 pages to about 30 (I didn’t count on some of the longer ones!).

Most of these stories are dark and some can be depressing when you look at the storyline.  But at the same time, some of these stories have an underlying moral to the story that should not be overlooked.

I liked most of the stories as they intrigued me and took me on an adventure through another time and place.  Some I wished were longer because I felt like there was more than could be told.  A few ended abruptly and left me wanting to know what happened next.

Overall these stories were intriguing and it was not all hearts and roses, but rather the heartbreak that we all experience at one time or another.

We give it 3 1/2 paws.

 

 

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