Author Archives: Carrie
by Mary Hogan
Contemporary Fiction/Family Drama
One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .
The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired, and round, she worships her beautiful blond sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.
But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.
Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.
Two Sisters is a powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—as well as their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.
MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Although this book drew me in, I am not sure I could say exactly why. It took quite a long time for things to get rolling. I didn’t even find out the “shocking secret” until nearly halfway through the book, although I had an idea of what was coming. If I had known this book was going to be kind of like a Lifetime movie, I would have skipped it.
Muriel is the youngest daughter in a family with three children. Her older sister, Pia, has always been perfect and beautiful and just right for their mother. Her older brother Logan basically ignored her while he spent time with their dad. So Muriel is the odd girl out, and she’s always either overlooked or on the receiving end of cruelty–resulting in a pretty horrible childhood.
As an adult, she lives in Manhattan and is estranged from her siblings and parents. One day, Pia comes to her unexpectedly with some troubling news. Muriel begins to reflect back on her life and the relationships she has with her family members.
So much of this book made me cringe. As a mother and a sister, I could hardly believe the way Muriel was treated by her mother and sister. It was as if they actually hated her. The reasons were truly not clear to me. Muriel’s mother, Lidia, is a manipulative, selfish woman that always wants to convey that she’s in perfect control of her life, but in reality is just the opposite. Pia is unfortunately much like her.
The two sisters seemed to me to be written much older than their stated ages. Pia, as a grown woman, did something so stupid that probably led to the secret she reveals to her sister. I know this is a book, but I cannot see any woman with even a modicum of good sense to make the decision she did.
I liked the beginning where we got to know how the parents ended up together. It showed the first signs of how Lidia was as a person, and how her actions led to the way her life ended up and the way she raised her children. As the story went on, though, we got less of this interesting backstory, and the present was actually more boring to read about.
I’m not really happy with the way the book ended. I’m not sure that Muriel is making the right decision, but letting go of anger is always a good thing, I guess. I finished this book because I wanted to see if things got better, but it seemed to me that nothing really did.
About the Author
Mary Hogan is the NAPPA Award-winning author of seven young-adult books. Two Sisters is her first novel for adults. She lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Lucy.
by JD Horn
Paranormal Mystery/Southern Fiction
Savannah is considered a Southern treasure, a city of beauty with a rich, colorful past. Some might even call it magical . . .To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South. Despite being powerless herself, of course. Having grown up without magic of her own, in the shadow of her talented and charismatic twin sister, Mercy has always thought herself content. But when a series of mishaps—culminating in the death of the Taylor matriarch—leaves a vacuum in the mystical underpinnings of Savannah, she finds herself thrust into a mystery that could shake her family apart . . . and unleash a darkness the line of Taylor witches has been keeping at bay for generations. In The Line, the first book of the Witching Savannah series, J.D. Horn weaves magic, romance, and betrayal into a captivating Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare.
MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I have to say, this is the first book I’ve read in quite a while that has left me completely satisfied. I liked the main character, Mercy, right from the beginning, and that is always a great sign. The first chapter pulled me in, but as the novel revealed more about the people in Mercy’s life, I absolutely couldn’t put it down.
Mercy is about to be 21, and a member of Savannah’s well known witch family. But, much to her family’s chagrin, Mercy was somehow born without any of the powers that everyone else possesses. To make things worse, her twin sister Maisie is the most powerful witch the Taylor family has seen in ages. And it’s a good thing too–because the head of the Taylor family has just been found murdered.
As if this weren’t enough, Mercy finds herself caught in a love web of sorts: she is dating Peter but in love with her sister’s boyfriend, who seems to have feelings for her as well. This whole amalgamation gets to be too much for Mercy to handle, so she foolishly goes to a false witch who has been her family’s enemy for generations to try to get some help. Soon all the lies that have devised Mercy’s life thus far start tumbling down.
In the beginning chapters, things took off quickly and spiraled from there. I usually don’t like a main character that is helpless, but in this instance, Mercy has an excuse. Literally everyone she knows can use magic against her, while she has none to defend herself with. Still, she handles things as best she can, even though she makes some bad decisions.
Not only was this a murder mystery, but it was a superb paranormal story as well. The reader gets to know several members of the Taylor family and their powers very well. Each one has some personal demons, and each one has lied to Mercy, though they say it’s for her own good. Though the pages mentions such creatures as golems, elementals, and hoodoo witches, I was never confused or had trouble understanding what was going on.
I wish I could say more about why I loved this book, but I would be giving away some big twists–and believe me, there are many! More than once my jaw dropped at the secrets that had been revealed. Even as I was making notes in my head about negative things I would point out in my review, they all eventually came to be explained away through the plot, and I was left very happy with the way things ended.
The author does a marvelous job putting you right in the midst of the city of Savannah. As a matter of fact, the entire environment that he creates is mystical and rich. I have never been to the city, but now I want to go!
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a new twist on witch novels, or just paranormal in general. I am not sure why the author would want to make this a series, as I felt it ended well, but if so I’ll be right there to read the next book!
About the Author
J. D. Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while traveling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. When not writing he is likely running, and he has race bibs from two full marathons and about thirty half marathons. He and his spouse, Rich, and their three pets split their time between Portland, Oregon and San Francisco.
One commenter will win a paperback copy of The Line!
Let me know if you’ve ever been to Savannah, Georgia!
Buying books wholesale is one of the best kept secrets in the world of book buying. While many people love reading from a hard copy book, they are often under the misconception that their favorite titles have to be expensively priced and hard to get a hold of. By going through bulk book distributors, many different book buyers gain the freedom to buy the books they love at more affordable rates. The following categories of book lovers are just a few who could benefit from purchasing bulk books for sale through book wholesalers.
For bloggers who love reading, buying books in bulk quantity is a great way to bring in more viewers. There is nothing blog followers love more than a good giveaway. For a blog post about a favorite book title you might consider giving away free copies, or passing on the savings to fellow bloggers who are interested in the same book titles as you.
In order to survive in the book selling world, booksellers must find the best deals on the most popular titles. Ordering bulk books for sale is a great way to reduce your cost per copy while still getting the books your customers demand.
3. Book Clubs
Many individuals love the community feeling a book club brings, but dislike the high prices of books at local bookstores. To avoid the high costs of the titles your group wants to read, everyone can pitch in and get copies through a wholesale distributor. This makes a book club more affordable and exciting, as you can order the best new titles.
As an educator, it can be difficult to get your students interested in old, torn-up books. If you think purchasing a new classroom book set with book titles the kids love is too expensive, think again. When you find bulk books for sale through a wholesale distributor, the price of each copy goes down.
Story time and reading time are great activities for daycare children of most any age. While kids may love and enjoy reading the stories, they are not always the easiest on the books themselves. Buying books in bulk can give you back-up copies of the books your daycare students love most of all, preventing heartbreak at worn and torn copies.
6. Health Facilities
From hospital rooms to doctors office waiting areas, books are a great way to keep patients occupied while recovering or waiting for service. For large offices or hospitals, bulk books can be distributed evenly throughout the departments. This spreads the book love all around while reducing the cost of purchase on each book.
As new book titles are released, the demand from a library’s readership can get very high on particularly popular items. Buying books in bulk will allow more library patrons to check out the materials they are looking for and reduce long waiting lists on popular items.
These are just a few categories of people who may use book wholesalers to provide convenient and cost effective books for all of their book buying needs. If you are looking to save money on in-demand book titles, buying in bulk can save you a lot of money in the long run.
by Anna Abner
The Red Plague Trilogy, Part One
The red plague has devastated the human race, turning billions of people into zombies with red eyes and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. The virus sweeps through the population so quickly a possible cure is left to rot. Seventeen-year-old Maya Solomon may be the only survivor who knows where it is. But to reach the lab in Raleigh, North Carolina she will have to outrun the infected boy tracking her every step and cross into a city swarming with monsters.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This is quite a short book (more like a novella, actually), so there’s not too much I can say without giving much of the plot away.
To me, this was kind of just a so-so entry to the world of zombie fiction. Let’s do a pros and cons list.
Things I liked:
–the characters actually use the word “zombie”, not “walker” or “chewer” or anything else trying hard to be clever
–the main character, Maya, has been on her own since everything began, and she really, really likes it that way. She’s not sappy or looking for attention, she just sets out to do what she needs to do.
–the book starts before the onset of the virus, and even explains why it is happening.
–the potential male main character isn’t all macho and able to flawlessly kill everything in his path. In fact, he rather sucks at shooting zombies.
Things I didn’t like so much:
–there is a weird, kind of off chemistry between Maya and the guy she meets, Pollard. Kind of a one-way insta-love thing going on. They seem to bond very quickly, in less than a day in fact. This bonding happens between all of the characters though. Maybe it’s an apocalypse thing?
–the timeline inexplicably changes sometimes. At one point, it says it’s been two weeks since the virus took over, but at another it says it’s been six weeks. Both two and six weeks are stated more than once in the book, and I couldn’t find out which one was true.
–there are ideas just kind of thrown out there and not discussed or even a bit fleshed out. I can’t say what I’m talking about without giving a spoiler, but I’ll just say Pollard randomly throws an idea out during a conversation, and it really should have been explored more.
The author does a good job of building intrigue–I’m very, very interested in knowing Ben’s background and just why he is different. I’m rooting for the characters to find a cure, but because the book is so short and moves so quickly, I didn’t truly get a chance to develop feelings for any of them. I’ll have to continue the series to see if things get better from here.
About the Author
Solving for Ex
by LeighAnn Kopans
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I just kind of skimmed the synopsis of this book, so I didn’t exactly catch that it was supposed to be somewhat of a retelling of a Jane Austen novel. To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered. I’ve never read Mansfield Park. The “Mean Girls meets Clueless” part was what got me interested. Unfortunately I didn’t see much of either movie in this book.
The main character, Ashley, was just OK to me. She seemed very very meek at times, then at others she had this fierceness that kind of came out of nowhere. Problem is, by the time she decides to do something about an issue and stand up for herself, the stuff has already hit the fan.
Ashley is in love with her best friend/neighbor Brendan. They are both super smart and hope to bring the school’s Mathletes team to the state championship. Problem is, Brendan seems to be totally oblivious to Ashley’s feelings for him. The relationship between the two started out in a very promising way. There is obviously a chemistry between them, and the fact that they are already friends is very helpful. But both of them make some very bad decisions that cause unnecessary complications.
Although I read this book quickly, I was disappointed by several things. Ashley had to leave her family and previous school because of bullying that got way out of hand. She was being bullied because of a rumor someone started that she slept with a guy, which she did not. Really? Things got this bad over a rumor? And just Ashley was the one being bullied, not the guy? I’m not saying things like this don’t happen in real life, but this scenario really burned me up. Ashley barely has any contact with her parents and siblings after she leaves. I can’t believe her mom would just let her go like that.
There were a few funny and cute parts, though. At the end of every chapter, a little math equation was shown that ended up making me smile.
I am still not sure if I approve of the way this book ended. Without spoiling too much, I feel like the characters jumped into things way too fast. But, like a lot of things about the book, I predicted it.
Overall, I can’t say that I do or don’t recommend this book. Maybe I’m the wrong audience for it because I didn’t know or care that it was a retelling. Fans of Jane Austen may like Solving for Ex more than I did.
About the Author
Keeping an old-fashioned journal is a great way to document your life; using a pen, paper or pencil guarantees that your journal won’t ever be lost due to a computer glitch. Technology has taken over our daily lives, and people often forget that journals can be physically written out on paper. When you write out your journal, you have a record of your thoughts and feelings that lasts forever; physical journals last even when your cloud storage is erased and your computer has died.
Keeping a hand-written journal can enhance your life in the following ways:
- Relieve Stress
In society today, people are expected to consistently stay on the move. As soon as a person wakes up, they keep active until they fall asleep; life is a flurry of work, family, commuting, cooking and cleaning.
Modern life is stressful; if you dedicate a couple of minutes to yourself every day, you can collect your thoughts and calm your mind. Writing is a great way to relax and express your feelings on paper. A couple of minutes of calm can do wonders for your stress levels.
- Stay Inspired
Brilliant ideas and deep thoughts have the tendency to come out of nowhere; if you don’t write your ideas down as soon as you have them, you run the risk of getting distracted and forgetting them. If you keep a journal with you, you can quickly jot down your best ideas right after you have them. Even a sentence or two in your Moleskine journal can help you expound on deep thoughts later.
- Express Your Ideas With No Judgment
Journals are a great place to write whatever you want. No one will ever see your work unless you give them permission to read it; therefore, you can write whatever you please. A journal is like a sacred spot where you can express your deepest feelings without fear of what others will say. When you get your ideas out on paper, you bring a sense of clarity and focus to your life; tons of people have had life-changing epiphanies while writing out their thoughts.
Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to express yourself; when you use a journal for expression, you don’t have to worry about what others will say about your thoughts. This freedom gives you the ability to explore ideas and thoughts that you regularly wouldn’t; oftentimes, this can change your life.
Would I go back to high school? NO, absolutely not! But I would, however, love another chance to go to prom so I could rock a dress like the ones found on jenjenhouse.com!
I myself am a girly girl, and anything pink and flowy is right up my alley. These are some of the girly choices I would pick:
I love the criss cross waist detail. This dress would be perfectly accessorized with sparkly earrings that have a bit of a drop. The v-neck also would feature a necklace beautifully.
I absolutely ADORE the corset detailing on this dress! If you want to stand out from the rest of the satin-clad prom goers, this gown is the way to go. The back even has the lace up look that corsets are so well known for. I’m not sure if I would go this bright pink, but the beauty of shopping on JenJenHouse is that most dresses are available in a variety of colors!
Maybe your personal style is a little less princess-y, and more classic. Here is what I would recommend:
This has all the elements of that fashion mainstay, the little black dress…but it’s still flirty and fun. Best of all, you will be able to move and dance at your prom!
I speak from personal experience when I tell you that having to shop for a flattering gown as a plus size girl is somewhat of a challenge. JenJenHouse has got you! Here are a couple I loved:
This dress has sparkle detail (a must for me, if you haven’t noticed), and the empire waist drops down to flowing ruffles that will help hide anything you want to hide!
This gown pushes up your girls and then helps hide any belly bulges with a strategically placed bow
No matter what your prom style, you will love the selection and prices found at JenJenHouse!
Just to make the experience easier on you, JenJenHouse is also your one stop shop for accessories and shoes! Shop today to get the jump on all your prom needs, and get the worry out of the way.
I am definitely a bath and body product aficionado, so I was really excited to try out the NEW Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash!
There are two varieties, Vitamin Boost B with Kiwi Extract, and Vitamin Boost C with Grapefruit Extract. I received the Vitamin Boost B to try out.
Vitamin B is a natural humectant that gives dry tired skin the boost it needs. New Dial Vitamin Boost Body wash is a new advanced formula that contains a moisturizing Vitamin Complex that helps draw vitamins and moisture directly to your skin. This means healthier, softer skin.
First of all, I really liked the kiwi scent. It’s not something you find often in body products, and it gives a little hint of the tropics during this long, cold winter.
I also liked that the body wash gave a nice lather, thick, and washed off my body easily.
The formula itself is creamy and flows out of the bottle easily.
I found Dial Vitamin Boost Body wash to be really hydrating! I can see myself using this year round, because it gives enough moisture without leaving skin greasy. I will for sure be grabbing a bottle of the Vitamin C Boost variety to try out when I am done with this one!
The really awesome part is, Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg! You can get them for under $3 each at stores such as Wal-Mart.
Be sure to visit the Dial Facebook page for promotions and to learn about new products!
**DISCLAIMER: I received this product at no cost for testing purposes from Purex Insiders. My opinions and content are my own.
If you have to wear a wig to complete a costume or are looking to conceal your baldness for whatever reason, you want something that looks good and fits well. The last thing that you want is to have to adjust your wig or have it look blatantly fake.
The goal of a wig is to have it look as inconspicuous as possible. When people see you from a distance, they shouldn’t be able to tell that you are wearing a wig. Hopefully, people won’t be able to tell when standing next to you that you are wearing a wig either.
To help your wig fit better, you want a wig cap that fits snugly over your head. Wig caps can be used to help an oversized clown wig stay on your head without having to worry about it falling off while you are performing. They can also be used to create a tighter seal between your scalp and your wig to make sure that it doesn’t move around and cause a distraction while you are talking to a client or out with friends.
Wigs can be purchased online, at party stores or anywhere else where costume supplies are sold. They are relatively inexpensive and are thoroughly checked ahead of time to ensure that wigs using real human hair are not tainted in any way.
The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High
by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Shannon’s ‘clique’ is just her and her best friend and she has a super-embarrassing nickname that won’t go away. It is no huge shock when her classmates vote her least likely to be crowned Prom Queen. What is shocking is the new hidden camera reality show she finds herself starring in, titled The Prom Queen Wannabes! Shannon and two other Wannabes must battle to be elected Prom Queen and snag the One! Million! Dollar! prize. After a summer of makeovers and training at Prom Queen Camp, the hidden cameras watch the three of them enter their senior year equipped with secret skills to help wage war on the popular set. Things at Westfield High are about to get ugly, and Shannon must decide how much she’s willing to give up for a shot at winning that tiara.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I haven’t read very many books set in a reality TV world–only You Look Different in Real Life comes to mind, so the premise of Prom Queens was definitely what pulled me in. In this day and age, what high schooler, or any person really, doesn’t dream of having the chance to be on TV and possibly become a millionaire? Shannon isn’t excited at first, but once she gets into it the game she tells herself she’s playing becomes more and more real. But she’ll quickly learn that reality TV is actually the farthest thing from its’ namesake.
Shannon was a weirdly likable character. She has a weird, unexplainable hobby; she only has one friend; and though it’s only her hard-working mom raising her and her sister, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders. I also liked that she wasn’t like a lot of other whiny YA main characters who are the only ones in their world who doesn’t notice when a boy likes them. But what girl wouldn’t want the makeover of a lifetime and the chance to be prom queen?
Although Shannon goes along with everything that’s happening to her at first, once she sees the deception and losses that are piling up, she starts having second thoughts. And that’s when the book really gets good.
The final chapters at the prom were hilarious and outlandish. I loved the final stand the girls made and how everything ended up for all the characters after the show was said and done.
There are plenty of funny moments in the book, and I think contemporary YA readers will love it.
About the Author
Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) and THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH (Sourcebooks, 2013 & 2014) as well as the upcoming ADRENALINE CRUSH from Farrar Straus Giroux. Laurie graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a major in English and minor in Journalism. She’s written for national magazines like ALLURE as well as numerous trade publications and has appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. Yes, that is an actual thing that people sometimes get to be.
When she’s not writing Laurie enjoys hiking, cycling, reading, cross-country skiing, running, going to the movies and drinking tea by the gallon. She lives near NYC, but loves to escape to the mountains in New Paltz, NY where she and her family can often be found climbing over rocks or tromping through the forest.