Category Archives: books

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Mind of Winter

by Laura Kasischke

Psychological Thriller

Book Description

On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens with the fragments of a nightmare floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. Thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric adopted baby Tatty, their pretty, black-haired Rapunzel, from the Pokrovka Orphanage #2. Now, at fifteen, Tatiana is more beautiful than ever—and disturbingly erratic.

As a blizzard rages outside, Holly and Tatiana are alone. With each passing hour, Tatiana’s mood darkens, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening . . . until Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.



Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from this book–was it supernatural? Was Holly’s daughter possessed, was their house haunted? Whatever I expected, it sure wasn’t what I got.

Mind of Winter focuses on two main characters, 42 year old Holly and her 15 year old daughter Tatiana. Tatiana was adopted from Siberia at almost 2 years old, and ever since has been her parents’ pride and joy. But lately, Tatiana (or Tatty, as she’s called) has been having severe mood swings, acting disrespectfully, and is just in general not the sweet girl that everyone loves. Is it just normal teenage girl behavior, or, as Holly fears, is it something that goes all the way back to her Russian roots?

Though the book does have two main characters, this book is told from Holly’s viewpoint and is really about her. The novel occurs on Christmas Day when Holly and Tatty are snowed in. While Holly scrambles around the house trying to get things ready for Christmas dinner, Tatty acts even more strangely than usual; she changes clothing several times and without any real reason, she appears and disappears seemingly in the blink of an eye, and she’s strangely unresponsive to anything her mother tells her to do.

Holly tries to reason away everything that is happening in the house that day, but as it gets later Tatty becomes more and more erratic. As Holly flashes back in her mind to the process they went through to bring Tatiana home, we see the deplorable conditions the young girl was in before she left her native Russia. Holly is searching for any clues, that she may have overlooked even back then, that could explain what is happening with her daughter.

The synopsis and idea behind this book were very intriguing and offered a lot of potential, which it unfortunately did not live up to. Holly is neurotic, and the reader has to suffer through this by reading her extremely repetitive inner monologue. “Something followed them home from Russia.” Yes, this thought is drilled into our heads enough that it almost becomes the only thing to focus on.

As I mentioned before, we see a lot of flashbacks through Holly’s eyes. Some of them give you a good insight as to the pasts of the characters, but many of them felt unnecessary and didn’t add much to the story. They almost just felt like page filler.

The thing that irritated me most was the end–it was very sudden, and I had to read the last page several times to grasp what was going on. This is because up UNTIL the last page, YOU STILL DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. While some readers may appreciate a shocking twist that comes out of nowhere, I think a bit more foreshadowing would have helped me along.

This is not to say that I did not think the end was very unique. It’s been a couple of days since I finished Mind of Winter and that ending has stayed with me; I keep thinking about everything that happened between Holly and her daughter and attempting to work it out in my mind. Whether you enjoy this novel or not, Mind of Winter is one that will keep your mind working for a while.

View all my reviews


About the Author

Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan.

Find out more about Laura at her website.


SPOTLIGHT: Billy and the Monster Who ate all the Easter Eggs

Billy and the monster who ate all the Easter eggs

About the Book

Title: Billy and The Monster Who Ate All The Easter Eggs

Author: David Chuka

Publication Date: March 23, 2013 

Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing

Pages: 32

Recommended Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: Join Billy and Monster in this third episode of the series titled Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food…CHOCOLATE! This year, they’re spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She’s an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta. This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday. What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

Get your copy of this funny book for kids of all ages that is not only full of laughs but also has a lesson weaved in that you’ll love sharing with your loved ones.


Book Trailer


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The Buzz

“Experience is the best teacher as Billy and his “purple shadow” learn a sweet lesson in Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Beautifully illustrated, nicely formatted, this quick, easy story will be read over and over again.” ~ 5 Star Review, Julia B., Amazon

“My daughter has really been enjoying David Chuka’s Billy and Monster books. This is another fun addition to the “family.” As always, the story has a lovely moral (this time teaching the value of moderation – definitely the biggest word in the book)! It’s based on the very realistic theme of overindulging in chocolate/sweets, which virtually anyone can relate to and which kids find a lot of fun. And, awesome pictures as always. Definitely recommend it.” ~ 5 Star Review, Renee B., Amazon

“I really like the little monster in this book and how they get into trouble together. What child hasn’t snuck into the cache of candies that their parents have hidden? Cute story with a lesson for the little ones in your family!” ~ 5 Star Review, Patricia T., Amazon

“This is a cute story about a little boy Billy and his funny friend Monster. They love chocolate so much that they forget about obeying to older. At night, they sneaked to the chocolate egg pyramid, started eating the chocolate eggs and made a big mess. On the morning, they not only got in a big trouble, but they also got a bad stomach pain. They both had to learn a lessons about MODERATION. Nice illustrations, book well written.” ~ 5 Star Review, OPV, Amazon

“Billy and his monster friend enjoy lots of fun in this book, filled with great pictures and a cute story. It shares a lot about celebrating holidays, and intertwines humor and family love throughout the story. Hidden in the story is a nice message about eating in moderation, a well needed lesson in our culture of over-eating. Billy ends up being proud of himself and makes good decisions by the end of the book, while all the while sharing some adventures with his cute monster friend. Great read to share with your children or grandchildren year round, not just for the Easter holiday.” ~ 5 Star Review, Katie W., Amazon


About the Author: David Chuka

David ChukaDavid Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, ‘If You See a Doctor‘ after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He’s gone on to write more books including the popular ‘Billy and Monster‘ series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you’ll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you’ll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka’s books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He has so many stories to tell and can’t wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Want to win a copy of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs?

Enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka in a Goodreads giveaway (Open U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia; Ends April 17, 2014).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 13, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Do’s and Don’ts by Haley Rose


The Do’s and Don’ts

by Haley Rose

Children’s Manners

Book Description

The Do’s and Don’ts is a whimsical lesson book aimed at teaching young readers the difference between good and bad behavior/etiquette. In the book Zack and Chloe go from being manner monsters to well-behaved children as they provide samples of typical scenarios that not only young children encounter but can relate to. For example, Zack becomes a Manner Monster when he loses a game, kicking and pouting like a poor sport. In contract, good behavior is then modeled depicting Zack congratulating the winning team. Unlike other etiquette books for children that tell a story or just communicate positive behavior, The Do’s and Don’ts compares and contrasts between good and bad behavior. Simply, yet colorfully displayed, are examples of inappropriate behavior and decisions young children may display followed by behavior and decisions that are more socially accepted. Each compare and contrast anecdote is set in the same scene so that young readers can instantly see the differences between good and poor behavior.




The Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose

This is a cute book that does a really great job of teaching kids manners. The illustrations show that you are a “Manner Monster” when you are doing the “don’ts” and why that is a bad thing. The language is very straightforward, and there’s not too much text per page, so your child’s attention doesn’t wander.

My 5 year old absolutely loved this book, which I am very glad of, because he is very often a “Manner Monster”. We’ve read it so many times now, it’s like he’s reading it to me! I’m glad that this book was able to teach him manners in a way he could easily understand…and which I am sure he likes better than his mom and dad scolding him.

View all my reviews


About the Author

Multi-award-winning author Hayley Rose released her first children’s book, Fifo When I Grow Up, about a six-year-old bear starting school in 2002, followed by the wildly popular geography book and #1 best-seller, Fifo 50 States, published in 2010. In 2012, Hayley was selected as one of “The Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading” by In 2013, she branched out with a new series featuring a new set of characters, Zach and Chloe the Louis the manner monster. Her new book, The Do’s and Don’ts, was released in September 2013 and has already garnered four literary awards, including the Readers’ Favorite, USA Best Books and the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards, bringing her career total to twenty-one. The follow up book in the new series, Today I Feel Emotion, will be released in the spring of 2014.

Hayley Lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with her dog Blanche.

Visit her website at

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BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Summer on the Short Bus

by Bethany Crandell

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, Cricket is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this camp is actually for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.

Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance—and losing her sanity.


By Bethany Crandell
A muse, as defined by, is a goddess that inspires a creative artist. I’m not sure that I’d consider myself an “artist”, at least not in the traditional sense of the word, and I’m positive I wouldn’t consider my muse a “goddess”, in any sense of the word, but together my muse and I have concocted some pretty ridiculous awesome stories over the years, and it didn’t seem fair to celebrate the launch of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS without giving some public recognition to the fuzzy little guy who inspires all the magic.
So, without further adieu, I’d like to introduce you to Melvin,
hamster who lives inside my brain.  
(Yes, there is a brain under all that
Most of Melvin’s time is spent in a steady state of this: sloppy, hung
and totally content to strive for uselessness.  
(The weapon is for
the protection of intellectual property, obviously). 
hamster photo: Gun Hamster hamsterguncute.jpg
But once I get him under the white noise of my beloved Revlon Ionic Pro hairdryer *pauses to receive product endorsement check* like I do every morning, well…that’s when the near-comatose behavior goes out the window and Melvin
actually proves himself as a hamster of worth.
His steps are slow and steady at first–it takes a minute to work the kinks out–but soon he’s at a full sprint and that’s when the magic happens, people.  
(Melvin was a stunt hamster in a former life. His sudden ejection from the wheel has nothing to do with the pints of Guinness he threw back at a St. Patty’s Day party the night before this video was taken)
hamster on wheel photo: Hamster hamster.gif
New characters take shape while old ones are revived with exciting new story lines.
Plot holes are miraculously filled and dead ends are rerouted into territory I never knew existed. It’s like he’s morphed from standard issue hamster into a rodent Jedi or something. The force is always with Melvin….
hamster photo: hamster hamster-1.jpg
 (I have no idea who Phil Steak is, but I thank him for this image)
Anyway, there’s so much activity going on in those ten minutes I spend under the dryer each morning, it’s no wonder Melvin has to gorge himself when he’s done.
(Carrying that much poundage on those teensy, tiny little toes isn’t easy, folks)hamster photo:  homyak_34.jpg

I could say that he’s awesome, talented, ambitious, inspiring, loyal…

but there really aren’t enough adjectives to accurately convey my love for this little guy.
Instead I’ll leave it with this:
Quick side note: *whispers so Melvin can’t hear her*
 Hamsters only cost like $5, so coming up with replacement parts,
*coughs* three year life span *coughs*, should you need them,
won’t be a burden on your wallet.
About the Author

I wish I had some mysterious secret to reveal about myself in hopes that you’d find me interesting…but I don’t.  When it comes to me, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an irreverent, sarcastic and emotional girl who writes stories about characters with these same traits.

I live in San Diego with my husband, two kiddos, and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. I’m slightly obsessed with John Hughes and the wonderful collection of films he left behind, and I’m confident that Jake Ryan will be showing up on my doorstep any day now…

I firmly believe that prayer solves problems, and that laughter is the best medicine. Along with avocados. Avocados make the world a better place.

I’m represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.

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2 Summer Camp Survival Packs and Signed copies of the book! US Only.
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REVIEW: My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

My Life with the Walter Boys

by Ali Novak

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Sixteen-year old Jackie Howard knows nothing about her new guardian Katherine Walter when she moves from New York to Colorado. After discovering that Katherine has twelve boys, Jackie fears that living in the Walter house isn’t going to be easy. It’s just icing on the cake that the boys look like Abercrombie models…





Well this book pissed me right off. So much so, that I’m not even going to give it an in-depth review.  Not only is the main character (and the entire book for that matter) wrapped up in so many mindless cliches…at the end she chooses the guy who’s been a jerk to her the entire book. He even goes so far as to throw her dead family in her face.

This book perpetuates the thought that for teenagers, it doesn’t matter how mean a guy is to you, as long as he is hot enough to give you that feeling in your tummy! I have a feeling in my stomach, too. I’m nauseated.


About the Author

Ali Novak is twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate from University of Madison Wisconsin’s creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel My Life with the Walter Boys at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 24 million reads and will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in March 2014.

When she isn’t writing, Ali enjoys watching Food Network shows even though she can’t cook, and reading any type of fantasy novel she can get her hands on. She is a Wisconsin native and hopes to make a career out of writing.

BOOK BLITZ & GIVEAWAY: The Grimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

About the Books: The Grimmtastic Girls

Book #1

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #1: Cinderella Stays Late

Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Publication Date: March 25, 2014 

Publisher: Scholastic Inc. 

Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Grimmtastic Girls: Cinderella Stays Late


Summary: The authors of the hit Goddess Girls series put a fun and girly twist on another super-popular theme: fairy tales!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

A Grimmtastic girl named Cinderella is starting her first week at Grimm Academy on the wrong foot. Cinda’s totally evil stepsisters are out to make her life miserable. The Steps tease Cinda, give her terrible advice about life at the academy, and even make her look bad in front of her new friends, Red, Snow, and Rapunzel! But when Cinda overhears the Steps plotting a villainous deed that could ruin Prince Awesome’s ball, Cinda, her new friends, and a pair of magical glass slippers have to stop them–before the last stroke of midnight!

Book #2

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #2: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost

Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Publication Date: March 25, 2014 

Publisher: Scholastic Inc. 

Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Red Riding Hood Gets Lost

Summary: Red Riding Hood might have a terrible sense of direction, but her grimmtastic friends are always there to help!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

Red Riding Hood is thrilled to try out for the school play. Acting is her dream, and she’s great at it–too bad she has stage fright! After a grimmiserable audition, Red decides to focus on helping her friends Cinda, Snow, and Rapunzel save Grimm Academy from the E.V.I.L. Society. But when Red gets lost in Neverwood forest and runs into Wolfgang, who might be part of E.V.I.L., she needs her magic basket and a grimmazingly dramatic performance to figure out what’s going on!

About the Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Joan Holub

Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated more than 130 children’s books, including Little Red Writing (illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet) and Zero the Hero. She lives in NC and is online at;

Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the author of nearly 50 books for children, including the award-winning picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg). She lives near Seattle, WA and is online at;

Author Blog | Goodreads

Co-authors Joan and Suzanne have written the Goddess Girls, Heroes in Training, and Grimmtastic Girls series. Though they live in different states and hardly ever get to see each other, they spend lots of time together in Grimmlandia.

Facebook (Grimmtastic Girls) | Facebook (Goddess Girls Books)

Online Author Visits

$50 Book Blast Giveaway

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 23, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.


Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.


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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Before They Find Us by Michelle Hansen

Before They Find Us

by Michelle A. Hansen

YA Thriller

Book Description

I’m going to make you wish you were dead.

Just a text. Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Hales tries not to worry. Probably a wrong number. Not really meant for her, and definitely not related to the crime she witnessed six years ago. Right?

Then two states away, a bomb goes off in her best friend’s locker. Soon Ryan is labeled a terrorist and runs to the safest place he knows—Rebecca’s house in small-town Wyoming. It doesn’t take long for the FBI to show up asking questions. Rebecca lies, of course, and says she hasn’t seen him.

Now she’s neck-deep in it with him, whatever “it” is. The only way out is to return to Vegas, where Ryan is a wanted man. The city of lies and illusion tests Rebecca’s wits as she struggles to find the person who framed Ryan and why.

Is Rebecca’s text linked to the bombing? And what does it have to do with a six year old murder? Rebecca needs to find out before she loses Ryan—and her own life.



An IHOP, really? She thought after five years behind bars he’d want a steak, not soggy pancakes and sickly-sweet syrup. But, IHOP was where he wanted to meet.
The old Dodge pickup with a Wyoming plate, lift kit and over-sized tires shouldn’t have surprised her. Of course he’d drive. He wouldn’t want to deal with airport security or get some dorky little rent-a-car. Still, that bucking bronco license plate made her pause as she crossed the parking lot. The truck could have driven right out of her best and worst memories. She wondered if it smelled like chewing tobacco and pine tree air freshener the way Kyle’s used to.
He didn’t tell her what he’d be wearing. There might be another six-foot-tall blond guy at IHOP today. She could just see herself walking up to the wrong guy and asking, “Are you Wade?” only to have him shake his head like she was an idiot.
A bell jingled as she pulled the door open. The moment she saw the guy in the foyer, she knew he was Wade. No one else would have been wearing faded Levis, cowboy boots and a black Jack Daniels T-shirt in ninety-degree heat.
“Mary,” he said when he saw her. She nodded, and he held out his arms.
Never seen the guy before, and she walked right into his arms.
He hugged her tight—a real bear hug—like he’d missed her his whole life. They followed the hostess to a window booth. Wade watched her expression as he slid into the seat opposite her.
She tried not to stare. He could have been any average-looking Wyoming cowboy if it wasn’t for that amazing hair hanging almost to his shoulders, Midas touched, partially covering his left eye. She wanted to push her hands through it and watch the golden strands swirl around her fingers.
“My mom hates it,” Wade said. “She keeps trying to cut it.”
Mary dropped her eyes, embarrassed. “That would be tragic.”
He folded his hands on the table, and she admired his long fingers. Little white scars marked some of his knuckles, but those fingers wrote letters in handwriting so clear and pretty, it was hard to believe they were penned by a guy.
“You do not look sixteen.” He reached over the menus and coffee cups and pulled the oversized sunglasses from her hair.
She tugged on the ruffled collar of her sleeveless shirt. “I’m not. Not really.” She didn’t have to explain why. Not to him. He knew she’d had to grow up fast when her brother went away. There was no child left in her by the time Kyle died in prison. She turned a cup over and slid it to the end of the table so the waitress would fill it. “Why’d you come?”
“I promised Kyle I’d make sure you were taken care of.” He tilted his head toward the BMW she parked next to his pickup. “Looks like you’re doing fine.”
“The car’s not mine. Belongs to my adoptive parents.” She wasn’t supposed to drive it. She didn’t even have a license. They wanted her to prove she was responsible before they cut her loose with a car. Then they took off to Palm Springs for weeks at a time and left her with the housekeeper. “Bleeding-heart, liberal phonies. They’re a means to an end.”
“What kind of end?” Wade considered the car then turned his eyes back to her. “College?”
The air conditioning blew cold on her bare shoulders. She reached for the steaming coffee and brought it to her lips. The bitterness didn’t bother her. She wasn’t brought up for sweet. “The only end I’ll ever want—revenge.”

About the Author

Michelle A. Hansen was raised in southeastern Washington. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English teaching from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and taught high school English for six years.

Michelle loves Pepsi and Doritos more than chocolate. She loves summertime and hates to be cold. She has had three near-death experiences. She’s addicted to office supplies and has an irrationally large stash of pens and notebooks.

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Open INTL:
– $25 Amazon gift card
– Signed paperback copy of Before They Find Us
– Before They Find Us charm necklace, bookmarks and signed postcard
– Ebook copies of Before They Find Us & Painted Blind


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REVIEW: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

The Cellar

by Natasha Preston

YA Contemporary Thriller

Book Description

When sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson goes missing one night, her family, friends and boyfriend are devastated. Nothing ever happens in Long Thorpe, so the disappearance of a school girl shocks the whole community. The police waste no time in launching a search and investigation, but with nothing to go on and no trace of Summer, hopes of finding her quickly fade.

Colin Brown, is a thirty-year-old solicitor living alone after the death of his mother. He suffered a traumatic and abusive childhood, and is left with no sense of right or wrong. Desperate for the perfect family, Colin, referring to himself as Clover, turns to drastic measures to get what he wants.

3 fleur


The Cellar by Natasha Preston

I think it’s pretty cool now that there are places such as Wattpad that allow budding authors to showcase their work and get it out there to broad audiences. The Cellar was first published on Wattpad, but has been picked up by Sourcebooks. 

The story is about 16 year old Summer, who is kidnapped by the deeply disturbed man who calls himself Clover. Summer is renamed Lily, and is thrown into Clover’s cellar along with three other girls he calls his “flowers”: Rose, Poppy, and Violet. Clover considers these girls his family and they must always be perfect and at his beck and call–even if that means cleaning up after his murders.

Summer has left behind a family that never stops searching for her, including her devoted boyfriend Lewis. Lewis will leave no stone unturned to find even the tiniest clue. Little does he know his girlfriend is so much closer than he imagines.

Although the action kicks off very quickly, the rest of the book kind of fell flat for me. I did like the way the book changed chapters so we could see from the perspective of Clover, but I didn’t think the chapters from Lewis were all that necessary.

I can’t imagine having been in the situation that these girls were in, but the decisions they made were sometimes questionable. I see that the original story was something like 87 pages long, so it would seem that the author added extra content to make the book a more common length. This is obvious, because the middle of the book just hangs and the content feels bloated.

I’ve read a couple of other “kidnapped and kept hidden” books, and this just didn’t compare to the likes of Room and Above. The end felt quite rushed, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see it from Summer’s point of view.

If you haven’t read any other books from this genre to compare it to, you might enjoy The Cellar more than I did. I do applaud the author for getting professionally published!

View all my reviews

About the Author

My name is Natasha Preston, but most people call me Tash or Tasha. I don’t mind either. I was born in England and have lived in small towns and villages out in the countryside ever since.

My fiance, Joseph, is the most supportive person in my life. Without his love, help and patience I wouldn’t be where I am today. And this website wouldn’t exist! I’m a proud mummy to an amazing little boy who is my whole world.

At school I drifted through, achieving average grades. I fell into administration and receptionist jobs, thinking that I couldn’t really do anything else.

In 2010 I stumbled into writing completely by accident. I was searching the ‘app store’ and came across Wattpad, an amateur writing site. For the first few months, I just read, but then decided to type up some of the ideas I had floating around in my head. I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love writing.

Writing gave me an escape, and Wattpad gave me the self-confidence I lacked.

I’m having a lot of fun writing my books, so I hope you enjoy reading them.


REVIEW: #16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

#16 Things I Thought Were True

by Janet Gurtler

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan’s mom gets sick, it’s hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn’t as far away as she thought…

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan’s getting to know the real Adam, and he’s actually pretty sweet…in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She’s not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend…and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can’t imagine living without.

3 fleur


#16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler

Pretty much another meh, cookie cutter YA contemp for me. The only sort of interesting twist here is that our main character is obsessed with her Twitter feed because she’s Twitter-famous. Morgan is about to be a senior in high school, and is working at the local amusement park. She’s basically friendless since her best friend leaked a video of Morgan dancing around in her underwear onto youtube that went viral.

Morgan’s mom suddenly has to be admitted to the hospital for a heart procedure. She rushes there even though she and her mom have not always seen eye to eye; her mother has never even told her who her father is. But when Morgan’s mom thinks she’s on her deathbed, she tells Morgan who he is and where she can find him. Morgan sets out with her dorkily cute boss Adam and her new talkative co-worker, Amy, to confront the father she never knew.

This is part road trip story and part emotional novel with a little dash of romance thrown in. I found Morgan herself rather annoying and a bit stuck up, though I could relate to her problem of a narcissistic mother. Adam is super sweet and dedicated, though I think he gives her too much credit sometimes.

Amy was absolutely the heart of this novel, and she brought most of the laughs as well as the deeper, more poignant moments. Her part in the end was the part I liked best. The author did a nice job of connecting you to this lively girl and feeling her pain.

Maybe someone younger than me would like the book more, but as I stated, I didn’t find much special about it.

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About the Author

Janet lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband and son and a little dog named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot.


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Indie Bound (look for your local indie bookstore here!)




by Kevin Berry

New Adult Contemporary

Book Description

Robert is different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people—which he cannot—and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend—he’s decided it’s his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger’s, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn’t, but doesn’t mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl…and not even a major earthquake will stop him.

This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert’s point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.



3 fleur

Stim by Kevin Berry

This is the first book I’ve read from the standpoint of someone who has a form of autism. I’m very glad it was written from the first person, and that it was written by someone who has experience in the matter! It makes the things that happen more valid, to me.

Robert has started college, and his goal is to find a girlfriend. However, his Asperger’s sometimes gets in the way of the things he’s trying to accomplish. It’s not that he’s trying to offend people, he just doesn’t have the social skills that non-spectrum people have; and those who aren’t familiar with Autism Spectrum people can often be insensitive or non-understanding.

I’m glad that Robert had a couple of good friends to share things with, because he is not one to hold things back. His roommates Stef and Chloe help him get through the highs and the lows he experiences. It also helps that Chloe is on the spectrum, since she can relate to Robert’s day to day life.

There were parts of the book where the things Robert did not understand were funny, and others where it was very cringe-inducing or sad. Robert is 19 years old and very intelligent, so I couldn’t really see him not being able to grasp some concepts the way he did.

I would have liked to see more about Robert’s parents and his upbringing. Perhaps this would help me perceive how he interprets the world around him.

I was happy with the ending, though it was kind of abrupt. I liked the book and getting to know a character with autism; I am just not sure that Robert really changed or realized anything about himself.

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About the Author

Kevin Berry is an indie author. His particular niche is writing Aspie New Adult contemporary novels set in an earthquake zone. The first of these is STIM, published in October 2013.

His first novels, co-written with Diane Berry, are Dragons Away!, Growing Disenchantments and Fountain of Forever (humorous fantasy). These are available as paperbacks and ebooks at Amazon and elsewhere.


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