Author Archives: Carrie
by Sarah Dalton
Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.
Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…
Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.
Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?
MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
As it was not told to me before I started this book, I’m telling you as a fellow professional reader: I STRONGLY encourage you to read the prequel novella before starting Mary Hades. This is the first book I’ve read that had a prequel novella, where the events that happened in that prequel were mentioned at all. In fact, the events are mentioned so much that while reading you kind of feel like you missed out on a lot. It’s almost more like starting a second book in a series rather than a first.
Anyway, I did come to understand what was going on, though maybe not as fully as I’d have liked to. Mary Hades (yes, her real name, poor thing) is a high school girl who was committed for psychosis, because she happens to be able to see ghosts. Mary left her mental facility prematurely because of some incident that happened with a doctor trying to kill her there (one of those prequel events!), so I’m assuming she never really got the help she should have. She is, as far as her parents know, controlling things with medication. But Mary doesn’t tell them things are not under control at all. As a matter of fact, she talks to her dead friend Haley almost constantly.
In spite of all this, Mary’s parents think it will be a good idea for the family to take a vacation. Before they even get checked in, a death occurs, and Mary learns it’s probably connected to the ghost of a little girl named Amy who was violently murdered in the area. With the help of a local, Seth, she sets out to learn the truth about Amy and maybe set her free from her earthly torment.
Mary’s parents are not at all the beacon of good decisions in this book. Their daughter, who not too long ago WAS IN A MENTAL INSTITUTION, is allowed to roam about freely. And when they learn she’s dating a guy she just met, they encourage her to go out with him. This all really bothered me a lot, but as is done too often in YA, the parents need to be out of the picture so the main character can do whatever she is doing uninterrupted.
Seth and Mary’s relationship moves way too fast and though they have a couple of intense moments that may have made them feel closer than they really were, the chemistry was not at all there for me and I thought most of their interactions felt forced.
The idea of someone who can see dead people and possibly help them be laid to rest is very intriguing to me, but the potential of this was not fully realized by Mary Hades. As a matter of fact, there was a moment towards the end involving one of the spectres Mary sees that was completely out of left field, unexplained, and just left me wondering what the heck had just happened.
The end of this book was actually the best part, but I don’t think I will be continuing on this series. I couldn’t connect with the characters at all, and it’s sad when the ones you like the most are the ghosts.
About the Author
Sarah grew up in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Derbyshire and as a result has an over-active imagination. She has been an avid reader for most of her life, taking inspiration from the stories she read as a child, and the novels she devoured as an adult.
Sarah mainly writes speculative fiction for a Young Adult audience and has had pieces of short fiction published in the Medulla Literary Review, PANK magazine, Apex Magazine and the British Fantasy Society publication Dark Horizons. Her short story ‘Vampires Wear Chanel’ is featured in the Wyvern Publication Fangtales.
She is the author of the popular YA dystopia series ‘Blemished’ and the gothic novella ‘My Daylight Monsters’. She is currently working on a YA Fantasy series titled ‘White Hart’.
Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
by Jenny Ruden
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].”
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
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.
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.
by E.B. Tatby
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.
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.
For More Information
- Visit E.B. Tatby’s website.
- Connect with E.B. on Facebook and Twitter.
- Visit E.B.’s blog.
- Contact E.B. Tatby.
For More Information
- I Wish is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
- Read Chapter One here.
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!
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:
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!
In the Mirror
by Kaira Rouda
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?
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.
For More Information
- Visit Kaira Rouda’s website.
- Connect with Kaira on Facebookand Twitter.
- Follow her on Pinterest and connect on Goodreads.
- Visit Kaira’s blog.
- More books by Kaira Rouda.
- Contact Kaira.
- In the Mirror is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble or Kobo.
- Download your copy at iTunes.
Beyond the Pale
by Various Authors, Edited by Henry L. Herz
Supernatural Short Story Collection
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.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
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.
Below, find an excerpt of Peter S. Beagle’s “The Children of the Shark God”.
PURCHASE THE BOOK
From Amazon (paperback)
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Visit Birch Tree Publishing for more information!
Cancel the Wedding
by Carolyn T. Dingman
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?
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
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.
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.
J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Torn by Laney McMann!
Check it out!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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?
Inside is an informational card telling you what each item in the box is about, and where you can find the full size versions.
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:
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.
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.