BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet

by Jenny Ruden

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

 

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

As a bigger girl myself, I knew I had to read about Bethany’s journey to fat camp. If I had a dollar for every time in my life I heard, “Well you’d be so pretty if you lost weight,” or, “You’re very beautiful for a big girl,”then I could have sent myself to fat camp. The main character, and I’m guessing by extension the author, knows exactly what it’s like to be in the same position. I identified so much with Bethany sometimes, it kind of scared me.

Bee knows she needs to lose weight, OK? Like, she totally gets it. She knows if she could just shed that roll around her belly, her mother wouldn’t hound her so much, her older sister might be nicer, and maybe she could nail down her best friend TJ. But she likes to eat. She doesn’t know how to do the whole weight loss thing the right way. So that’s why, even though she’s dreading it, Bethany makes the road trip to California to spend the summer at Camp Utopia.

Right off the bat, I couldn’t believe the way Bethany’s own family and friends talked to her. They would tell her to her face that she needed to lose weight (and in a rather rude manner), call her fat, and even worse insults. During the road trip, it actually really pissed me off that Bethany’s sister was letting her boyfriend be so cruel to Bee. I have two sisters, and though we may pick on each other, I dare someone else to say something inappropriate to one of us. It’s as if the author was trying to make a point as to how often and ruthlessly overweight people get picked on, but in my opinion it went overboard. I was like, “OK, I GET IT!”

Bethany is a pretty witty girl, and she takes most of the insults hurled her way in stride. A girl can’t hold out forever, though, and that’s why I’m glad when Bee had her breakdown she had a good friend alongside her. There is also romance, but it’s not a main plot point and its’ progression is unusual to say the least.

The book drags in the middle some. I didn’t see the point of Bethany and her friend Cambridge’s little foray into a drug filled party, and I think the book could have done without that scene and a few others that seemed like page fillers. But by the end, there are a couple of really cool surprises and the book wraps up in a believable way.

I think a lot of girls will relate to Bethany and her journey, teenagers or even older. The author had a way of making you feel for a character while also being able to see their flaws. This was a fun summer read and I definitely recommend it.

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About the Author

Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit her website jennyruden.com, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: I Wish by E.B. Tatby

 I Wish 

by E.B. Tatby

YA Supernatural

Book Description

All her life, sixteen-year-old Kenza Atlas has heard the stories, but she never believed them. She never expected the allure of power or, worse, how far the dark shadows could cast. Genies and wishing are for fairy tales, not teenage girls, and especially not in Omaha.

But when a Moroccan jinn with undulating tattoos and mysterious black eyes whisks her 500 years back in time, she witnesses the death of her powerful ancestor and the gorgeous slave she loved. They sacrificed themselves to escape the Caliph, a tyrant named Mazin.

And now he’s after Kenza.

He’s tracked her to her present time. Now she spends her days stealing paranoid glances over her shoulder, obsessing over a slave who died hundreds of years ago, and praying her family will survive.

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MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

This is one of the few books I have read that have Jinn (genies) as the main supernatural character.  While I appreciate novelty in the YA world, I’m not sure I will ever love Jinn as a creature.

Kenza has a Moroccan heritage, and as such, her father has been telling her tales of Jinn and evil in her family generations back.  But Kenza was unprepared for the fact that all of the stories her dad told her were actually true…which she realizes when a Jinn shows up in her bedroom and transports her to the past.  Kenza learns that she shares a body with a powerful relative whose past will intertwine with Kenza’s present in a potentially dangerous way.

Kenza is a teenager, and while she’s not particularly rebellious, her parents are quite strict.  Perhaps this stems from her father’s upbringing in a place other than America, but it makes it somewhat difficult for Kenza to fit in.  She’s even bullied at school.  So I don’t blame her when she jumps at the chance to get away from her parents and her terrible school life.

While the Jinn action starts almost immediately, it still takes quite a while for the book to get rolling.  Kenza goes back and forth through time, but doesn’t actually question the fact of Jinn being real as much as I feel a normal person would.  It also took me a little time to get used to the idea of a Jinn being a part of another person’s body.

The romance can kind of seem like a case of insta-love, but it’s hard to say that it is really–Kenza shares her Jinn ancestor’s thoughts and memories, so while it seems Kenza is falling for Amal when she’s barely seen him, maybe it’s just because of feelings she’s getting from the past.

I can tell this is the author’s first book; the conversations are sometimes stilted and the writing doesn’t flow as easily as it should.  Still, I appreciate a new idea in fiction, and I think if the author puts more work into writing this series could gain a lot of fans.

 

About the Author

E.B. Tatby was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. She is living her life-long dream of being an Author and is passionate about inspiring others (especially teens) to follow their dreams. Above all, she wants to remind them of the power to wish.

I Wish, a YA story, is her first published novel. She is currently working on a sequel.

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Vote & Win with Rudolph’s Pork Rinds!

Pork rinds, a traditional southern food, are a great low-carb snack. Rudolph Foods has been producing pork rinds for more than five decades, still utilizing the same special recipe Mary Rudolph created in her family kitchen. Rudolph Foods is the world’s largest manufacturer of pork rinds, as well as pork cracklins, popcorn and pork stick snacks. Rudolph’s pork rinds can be purchased online or in-store now!

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Well, my plans for this post were to show you some up close photos so I could let you know about the unique airy texture that makes Rudolph’s Pork Rinds so yummy.  I was thinking about doing some pics with a bowl full of them, maybe with some coming out of the bag, so forth.  But, when I went to get my bag of pork rinds to take some photos, this is what I discovered:

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Yes, that’s right.  My husband, who wasn’t aware that I needed to take some pics to include in my review, devoured this entire bag before I had the chance!  If that doesn’t tell you how delicious these pork rinds are, I don’t know what will!

Rudolph’s Pork Rinds come in several flavors, including Hot & Spicy and BBQ, and can be found at a Wal-Mart near you.

Right now, you can enter to win some Rudolph’s Pork Rinds for yourself, or even $100 gift cards!  Rudolph’s is proud to be a part of Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 14-20.  Vote for your favorite big rig to win prizes for yourself and a well deserving trucker!

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT: In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

 In the Mirror

by Kaira Rouda

Women’s Fiction

Book Description

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life – head on. But while she’s busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

 

sshexcerpt

 

Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.
I looked like death.
I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –
I had to get moving.
I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.
I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.
I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.
Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.
My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”
“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.
“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.
“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.
“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.
“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”
Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.
So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.
“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”
“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”
I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”
Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells
request your presence at a
celebration in honor of their daughter
Jennifer Wells Benson
Please see insert for your party time
Shady Valley Center
2700 Hocking Ridge Road
RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells
No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.
#
At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.
At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.
By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.
And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.

 

About the Author

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference;In the Mirror; and the short story,A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

Her latest novel is the women’s fiction, In the Mirror.

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REVIEW: Beyond the Pale Short Story Collection

Beyond the Pale

by Various Authors, Edited by Henry L. Herz

Supernatural Short Story Collection

Book Description

Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

Beyond the Pale contains eleven short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod), Jim Butcher (Dresden Files), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Nancy Holder (Wicked), Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels), and Jane Yolen (Owl Moon).

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening. You are about to go Beyond the Pale.

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MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Beyond the Pale by Henry L. Herz

While I did skip around when reading this collection, I don’t think it made much difference to my review. Basically the only thing that tied the stories all together is that they all have some supernatural element. A couple I couldn’t get into at all, but there were some standouts for me.

“Misery” by Heather Brewer–In this very short story set in a world of grey, Alek is dismayed when he finds out he will not be receiving his special gift. But once he realizes what the gift is, he may change his mind.

“Shadow Children” another by Heather Brewer–Dax is tasked with babysitting his little brother Jon, who always needs a night light on because he is afraid monsters will get him. While Dax is trying his best to reassure him, they both fall into a nightmarish world.

“Red Run” by Kami Garcia–A ghost story with a little twist. You know the main character is riding with the ghost immediately, but is the ghost the one making bad things happen out on Red Run?

“The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones” by Nancy & Belle Holder–A little difficult to follow at times, this is a sort of retelling of Dracula, but with mice as the characters! Original and amusing to say the least.

The collection includes other tales, featuring fae, selkies, and children of shark gods. If you like original supernatural short stories that aren’t TOO dark, you should check out Beyond the Pale.

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sshexcerpt

Below, find an excerpt of Peter S. Beagle’s “The Children of the Shark God”.

Once there was a village on an island that belonged to the Shark God. Every man in the village was a fisherman, and the women cooked their catch and mended their nets and sails, and painted their little boats. And because that island was sacred to him, the Shark God saw to it that there were always fish to be caught, and seals as well, in the waters beyond the coral reef, and protected the village from the great gray typhoons that came every year to flood other lagoons and blow down the trees and the huts of other islands. Therefore the children of the village grew fat and strong, and the women were beautiful and strong, and the fishermen were strong and high-hearted even when they were old.
In return for his benevolence the Shark God asked little from his people: only tribute of a single goat at the turn of each year. To the accompaniment of music and prayers, and with a wreath of plaited fresh flowers around its neck, it would be tethered in the lagoon at moonrise. Morning would find it gone, flower petals floating on the water, and the Shark God never seen—never in that form, anyway.
Now the Shark God could alter his shape as he pleased, like any god, but he never showed himself on land more than once in a generation. When he did, he was most often known to appear as a handsome young man, light-footed and charming. Only one woman ever recognized the divinity hiding behind the human mask. Her name was Mirali, and this tale is what is known about her, and about her children.
Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child—indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter, the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course—as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory—but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.
Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows—considered unlucky by most—and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.
Now it happened that Mirali was often chosen by the village priest to sweep out the temple of the Shark God. This was not only a grand honor for a child barely turned seventeen but a serious responsibility as well, for sharks are cleanly in their habits, and to leave his spiritual dwelling disorderly would surely be to dishonor and anger the god himself. So Mirali was particularly attentive when she cleaned after the worshippers, making certain that no prayer whistle or burned stick of incense was left behind. And in this manner did the Shark God become aware of Mirali.

 

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman

Cancel the Wedding

by Carolyn T. Dingman

Women’s Fiction

Book Description

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?

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MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Cancel the Wedding: A Novel by Carolyn T. Dingman

While Cancel the Wedding isn’t the deepest thing you’ll read, it makes for a good beach book and a quick getaway from whatever might be troubling you.

Our main character is Olivia, a 32 year old who’s soon to be married to her high-powered attorney fiance, Leo. However, when Leo surprises her by telling her that he’s got the date and venue picked out, Olivia sort of freaks out and decides it’s time for an impromptu road trip down to Georgia with her teenage niece. Olivia aims to spread her mother’s ashes according to her final wishes, and just maybe found out about the past her mom Janie never wanted to share.

Once she gets there, though, Olivia finds out there is so much more to the story than she could have imagined. She soon realizes that it will take some time to uncover all her mom’s secrets, and it’s OK with her because she needs some time away from her life anyway. Helping her along this journey is town newspaperman Elliot, whose sweet southern demeanor quickly pulls Olivia in.

I believe that a book’s review is ultimately affected by what the reader expects the book to be. I was hoping that Cancel the Wedding would be a book of discovery and growth, but unfortunately the writing and characters fall into that chick lit, rom com rut that is so filled with stereotypes.

Olivia is a woman in her thirties but she can’t pull herself together enough to break things off with a fiance she doesn’t love. He’s always busy and from the way he seems to be wanting to marry her only to further his career, you know as a reader that there is no chance they are going to work out. Inserting a new, angelic guy into the mix just really leads you down the road you think.

But, the journey was OK. At first, I thought I had it figured out as far as the terrible secret Olivia’s mom had hidden, but I soon found that I did not, and at least that was refreshing. The book also touches on some of the things I was thinking as I was reading it: Why did Janie hide her past but want to be back in it after her death? How did Janie’s husband cope with everything? How will her children shoulder the truth? I didn’t exactly get the answers I may have been looking for, but at least the book attempted to address these issues.

The romance unfolds exactly the way you think it will in this type of book, and there was no surprise there. While Olivia is immature and runs from confrontation, Elliot is painted as a saint, so it’s easy to see that Olivia will choose him over her overbearing fiance Leo. I also thought the scenes at the end with everyone present were wrapped up a little too neatly and on the unrealistic side for my taste, but hey, maybe my life is just too drama filled.

As I said, if you’re looking for light hearted summer reading material, Cancel the Wedding is a nice choice.

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About the Author

Carolyn T. Dingman lives in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two daughters. Cancel the Wedding is her first novel.

Find out more about Carolyn at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Torn by Laney McMann

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Torn by Laney McMann!

Check it out!

TORN by Laney McMann

Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

If young love worth fighting for keeps you up reading all night, you will love this second installment in the Fire Born trilogy.

And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.

To YOU!

You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by September 14th 2014, you are eligible to enter.

Interested?

Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of August 25th, 2014 to enter.

*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 – 500 (or more, if desired) words in length.

About Laney McMann:

 

Laney McMann

Laney McMann

With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

Get a Fitness Boost from Bulu Box!

Who couldn’t use a little help when it comes to choosing the products that will help make your fitness regimen reach its’ maximum potential? That’s where the monthly subscription original, Bulu Box comes in! Here is a little more information on what they offer.

Bulu Box is the first health, nutrition and weight loss discovery box designed to help you feel your best. Each month, you’ll get a custom box filled with a new mix of 4 to 5 premium samples from top brands to try. Every sample is sufficient enough to decide if the product is right for you. Of course, shipping is always free and you can cancel anytime. Share your thoughts about each product in our sample surveys and you can earn 50+ Rewards Points (that’s $5!) each month! Use your points to purchase your new favorites in full size at BuluBox.com! Here you’ll also get expert tips, tricks and a supportive community of Bulugans just like you! Join the discovery and find a healthier you!

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Here is the first Bulu Box I received!  Doesn’t the bright orange and all the motivational quotes going on just make you feel pumped up?

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Inside is an informational card telling you what each item in the box is about, and where you can find the full size versions.

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And the contents of the July Box that I received!

Quest Protein Bar: A bit tough to chew and not coated with that fake chocolate coating, this bar is quite hefty and I ate only half before it satisfied my hunger. $2.39 Value

AdvanceMint Happy Hour Cocktail Supplements: Such a cool idea! These are breath mints that you take while drinking that will, hopefully, prevent you from having a hangover in the morning! While I haven’t yet found myself in a situation to use these, I can’t wait to see if they will really work.  $4.99 value for 2 packets

Garden of Life Raw Protein: Chai is far from my favorite flavor, but this is good mixed with either almond or soy milk.  Makes for an energy filled breakfast! $1.99 Value

Runa Focused Energy Traditional Guayusa Tea: Again, I’m not a big tea fan.  I think I am going to pass these packets on to someone who will make use of them.  $.99 value

Shapeology Burn Blend Capsules: I’ve never used a diet supplement before, but I also don’t think I would be able to feel the effects of these after just using the couple of capsules I received.  Approx $1.20 value.

The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas: Surprisingly good!  I loved the crunch, and they provided a quick afternoon pick me up when I was getting hungry.  $.60 value.

Total box value: All in all I got about $12 worth of product for the $10 cost of the box.  I do love being introduced to new products though, and that’s what I liked most.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR MY READERS:

 

REVIEW: The Great American Slow Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

Book Description

The ultimate in slow-cooker books–with 500 recipes, each adapted for three sizes of appliance. From breakfast to soups, mains to grains, vegetables to desserts, this guide is the only book you’ll ever need to master your slow cooker or crockpot.

Millions of people are turning to slow cookers for their weeknight meals yet often can’t find recipes that match their exact machine. Adapting recipes meant for a different-size cooker doesn’t work–getting the right level of spice in your Vietnamese soup or keeping pulled pork tender requires having ingredients in the right proportion. But now, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have decoded slow cookers, and each of their recipes includes ingredient proportions for 2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart machines, guaranteeing a perfect fit no matter what machine you own. Each recipe is labeled for its level of difficulty and nutritional value, and they cover every kind of dish imaginable: delicious breakfast oatmeals, slow-braised meats, succulent vegetables, sweet jams and savory sauces, decadent desserts. This is the slow cooker book to end them all.

4fleur

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Before you even start looking up recipes in this book, it would benefit you greatly as a chef to read the introduction and tips in the beginning.  This book offers recipes for 3 common sizes of slow cookers, so you will need to know the size of your before you attempt any recipes.
Once you get to the recipes, you are greeted with a wide variety of dishes and ingredients, some common, some more obscure.  I like that this cookbook has slow cooker dessert and breakfast recipes, which for some reason are few and far between in most places.
The best part about this cookbook is that the reader knows that all the recipes contained within have been tried and found true.  At the end of each is a footnote that will help you achieve slow cooking success.  I’m glad to add this book to my collection and I know I will be referencing it often.

COVER REVEAL: Who We Were by Christy Sloat

Who We Were by Christy Sloat
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Coming September 15th, 2014!

“Who we were had washed away with the summer. Who we are was yet to be seen.”

Summer school at Alcott High was only supposed to gain Sadie Peters extra credit, nothing more. Her goal wasn’t to make friends, or gain the attention of the most popular football player, yet she managed both. Her life was cruising along on course … until that summer.

Could a simple stint in a different school change her identity completely and introduce her to love for the first time? How would that affect her relationship with Lily, her best friend?

Hopefully their friendship was strong enough to make it through the tumultuous summer. Sadie learns that great things come with change, but sometimes memories of the past are hardest to part with.

 
About the Author

 

 

Christy Sloat is a SoCal born girl who resides in New Jersey currently with her husband, two daughters and Sophie her Chihuahua. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother’s loving support. Christy passes that love of reading, writing, and creativity to her daughters, family, and friends. When you do not find Christy within the pages of a book you can find her being mommy, wife, crafter, and dear friend. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. Be sure to venture into her Past Lives Series, The Visitor’s Series, and watch for many more exciting things to come.

 

 

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