Category Archives: reading

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Dark Screams Volume 3 Short Story Collection

Dark Screams, Volume 3

Short Story Collection

Horror/Suspense

Book Description

Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.

GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.

NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.

I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.

THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

This is a fine collection of scary short stories.  While some offer more chills than others ( I wouldn’t read Nancy alone at night), they all had great twists and led to pretty cool conclusions.

My favorite story is probably Nancy by Darynda Jones.  It’s the story of a high school girl who seems to be tormented by a poltergeist–but when a new girl in town tries to help her, she discovers a shocking secret.  This story was rather scary…I DID read it late into the night and kept looking over my should to make sure nothing was there!

Another great one is I Love You, Charlie Pearson by Jacqueline Frank.  As the story of a young boy who seems to have a very creepy crush on an older girl unfolds, you get squirmy and by the end you have your mouth open in shock…because the ending was definitely unexpected!

Dark Screams Volume 3 is a gathering of perfect little bites of fiction, and as you finish one story you’ll definitely be ready to move on to the next one.  Reader beware!

 

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The giveaway is for a $25 e-gift card to the e-retailer of your choice,

plus a copy of Dark Screams, Volume 3.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Ray

Let Me Die in His Footsteps

by Lori Ray

Historical Fiction/Mystery

Book Description

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory.  Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place.  At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future.  Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys.  That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age.  Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers.  But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives.  Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served–or did she?

As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started.  If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago.

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MY THOUGHTS:

4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

This book is set in the South in the early to middle 1900’s, and it moves at about the same pace as I expected life did back then: slowly, taking time for things to happen, but they are oh so delicious when they do.

The girls in this rural Kentucky town have abilities called the “know how”; some are both with the gift of being able to predict when things will happen, or just strong feelings about certain things, and some are born without gifts.  The book tells the story of two sets of sisters, a generation apart, in which one sister has strong abilities and the other has none.

Our main character is Annie Holleran.  On the verge of becoming a woman, she and her sister go down to a forbidden property one night to perform the tradition of seeing one’s future husband in the well.  But instead of seeing a boy, Annie sees a body.  Events only get more sinister from there, as we begin to learn the story of Annie’s mother and her sister, and how events from the past can affect the present in ways we never expected.

I definitely liked Annie as a character.  Because of who her mother was, some people in their tiny town were wary of her and what her abilities might hold.  Annie is like her mother in some ways, but she’s her own person in the most important ones.  She abides by tradition but doesn’t focus her life around it.  She has her own thoughts on who she should marry and how he should treat her.

The story has a slight supernatural touch, just enough to give the plot a darkly mysterious edge but never fully explained.  The entire town is affected by “the know how”, whether a girl has it or does not, and the townsfolk all believe in the powers and hold them in high reverence.

As I said, the plot moves slowly, but watching it unfold in the way it did was a fantastic plot device within itself. You find yourself feeling many different things about the characters as you learn more about them, and you will change your mind completely on some things by the time all is revealed.

This is a great summer read for anyone who likes their mystery with a bit of the unknown.

 

About the Author

Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she graduated from Kansas State University.  Her debut novel, BENT ROAD, published in 2011, was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, named a 2011 New York Times Notable Crime Book and named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas. BENT ROAD has been optioned for film. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel.  Her upcoming novel, LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, will be published June 2nd. Lori also serves as treasure for the Sisters in Crime organization and is a liaison to the Author Coalition. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. 

Publisher’s Weekly has included LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS in their 2015 Spring/Summer Edition of Book Buzz. It is one of 39 Fiction, Debut and  Non-fiction titles featured. Readers may download the free publication via THIS LINK and are able to read an excerpt from each of the included titles. 

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One reader will win a copy of LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS. US/CAN ONLY PLEASE.

To enter, please leave a comment on what your favorite flower is!

Winner will be drawn June 13.

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Destroyed by Krys Fenner

 Destroyed

by Krys Fenner

YA Thriller

Book Description

Bella has lived a rather boring life, but that all quickly changes. A new position in school forces her to take charge. A new boyfriend (her first), Jeremiah, hands her a confidence she has never known before. A new role in her church’s Fall Production makes her a leader. But that all gets destroyed when an attack by her father’s enemy turns her into the center of attention. Bella believes things couldn’t get worse, but they do. Can she survive the road of destruction and emerge stronger? Or has all that she gained been destroyed forever?

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Using Psychology in Writing

by Krys Fenner

There are two ways to use psychology in writing. One gets very technical, while the other is more descriptive and action-oriented. There are two questions I would ask. Whose perspective is the story being told? And who is your audience? Once those are answered, then you’ll know how much terminology should be included in the manuscript.

Theoretically a work of non-fiction directed at a psychology student, psychologists, psychiatrist, or any counselor will be filled with more terminology than say a work of fiction intended for a young adult (12-18), new adult (18-25), or adult (25+) audience. Pieces of fiction are more likely to be action-based than using terminology. However, this again depends on the point of view character and your audience.

If the novel is written from the perspective of a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist then the use of technical terms is highly probable. But if the book is written from a character suffering a particular psychosis, the character isn’t going to think “I have an adjustment disorder with a depressed mood.” Instead, actions and words of that character will display the psychological issue. If I was an author writing this character, then I would take into consideration how to demonstrate their problem.

Let’s say Jane has just gotten divorced. To describe an adjustment disorder with depression, I would reference her problems sleeping or lack of appetite. I would write about Jane’s refusal to spend time with friends. Or how she misses time from work. I could show her crying a lot or getting frequent headaches. All of these things would be symptoms of the psychological issue without verbally giving it a name. So, what if the point of view were changed?

With all that is going on, Jane recognizes she has a problem and decides to go see a psychologist. The doctor Jane chooses consults with another psychologist in their practice. We’ll call Jane’s psychologist, Dr. Tracy. If I were writing the scene from Dr. Tracy’s point of view, then I am more likely going to use technical terms, especially if she is speaking to a colleague. However, as a writer I will take into consideration my audience. Who am I writing the story for? Do I expect people who read the novel to understand these terms? If not, I have two options: define the terms in the book or dumb the terminology down.

It isn’t hard to write a book using psychological issues without technological terms. You just have to know who your audience is and whose perspective the story should be told from. The difficulty is in making sure the actions and feelings the character displays are accurate and appropriate for the situation. If you can do that successfully, the terminology won’t matter; the story will.

About the Author

At the age of 16, Krys Fenner fell in love with Psychology and Creative Writing. At that time she wrote her first short story dealing with sexual abuse and forgiveness. Psychological issues in her family filled her with the desire to help others using her own experiences. So in 2004, she earned an Associate of Arts in Psychology. And while her sister is the one with dreams of becoming a Psychologist, Krys Fenner returned to Creative Writing. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts and plans to continue on to a Masters degree, where she can major in her first love (Creative Writing)  and minor in her second (Psychology).

Author Links:

Purchase:
(Destroyed is on sale through 5/15/15 and a portion of the proceeds is be donated to Women’s Center of Jacksonville.)
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Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN only)
  • 3 Grand Prize Giveaways: Each includes books from other authors, signed copy of Destroyed, plus swag.
  • 5 paperback copies and 5 e-books
  • 5 T-shirts

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

Xpresso Book Tours

BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

 Scarlett Undercover

by Jennifer Latham

YA Mystery/Supernatural

Expected Publication: May 19, 2015

Book Description

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic fifteen-year-old, ready to take on crime in her hometown. When Scarlett agrees to investigate a local boy’s suicide, she figures she’s in for an easy case and a quick buck. But it doesn’t take long for suicide to start looking a lot like murder.

As Scarlett finds herself deep in a world of cults, curses, and the seemingly supernatural, she discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks…and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

About the Author

I write because it’s the only job I’ve been able to stick to for more than two years.  Seriously.
I’ve lived lots of different places.  Here’s the list:  New York City; San Francisco; Augusta, GA; Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Madrid; Providence, RI; and now…Tulsa, OK.
I’ve had some really weird and really normal jobs.  The weirdest was helping out with autopsies.  The one I’d go back to if I couldn’t write is being a school psychologist.  The one I still do sometimes is teach yoga.
I live with my two daughters, two dogs, a cat, three turtles, three hermit crabs, a bunch of fish, and a husband (mine, of course).
I love watching people.
And I love writing about the people who live inside my head, even when they don’t play nice.

WebsiteTwitter  | Facebook | TumblrInstagram | Goodreads

PURCHASE THE BOOK:

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10 winners will receive a finished copy of SCARLETT UNDERCOVER. US Only.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

REVIEW: Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron

Lucky Strike

by Bobbie Pyron

Middle Grade

Book Description

Nate Harlow has never had a lucky day in his life. He’s never won a prize, he’s never been picked first, he’s never even won a coin toss. His best friend, Genesis Beam (aka Gen), believes in science and logic, and she doesn’t think for one second that there’s such a thing as luck, good or bad. But only an extremely unlucky person could be struck by lightning on his birthday… and that person is Nate Harlow. By some miracle, though, Nate survives, and the strike seems to have changed his luck.

Suddenly, Nate’s grandpa is the busiest fisherman in their small, beachside town. And Nate finds himself the center of attention, the most popular kid at school, the one who hits a game-winning home run! This lucky streak can’t last forever, though, and as a hurricane draws close to the shores of Paradise Beach, Nate and Gen may need more than just good luck to save their friendship and their town: They need a miracle.

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS


Lucky Strike
by Bobbie Pyron

Nate is so unlucky, that he gets hit by lightning on his 11th birthday! He does survive it though, and it seems that somehow, it has had an effect on him–everything he does now turns out right. It even appears he can affect the luck of others!

But Nate soon learns that just because a wish comes true, doesn’t mean it solves every problem in your life–in a lot of instances, it can create more.

Nate and his best friend Gen are kind of the outcast kids of their small town, but they have each other and their families, at least. When Nate gets struck by lightning, his luck changes, and he finds himself a very popular person all of a sudden. It doesn’t take him long to learn that popularity comes with a price, and his “blessing” of good luck is more like a curse, at least when it comes to the relationships he has with the people closest to him.

I think this is a pretty good middle grade offering that 5th-7th graders would like. Gen and Nate have a pretty good friendship, and I think a lot of kids would relate to the way they are outsiders.

Lucky Strike had plenty of humorous parts, which I think young readers will enjoy as well. There are also moments of sadness and suspense that will keep readers quite engaged.

I liked the writing, though everything seemed to move very fast, even for a 250-plus page book! As I said, this is more geared toward middle grade readers, and they will love learning Nate’s story.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Bobbie Pyron was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid.  She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.

Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog’s Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award.  It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.

Bobbie Pyron’s book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children’s Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Bobbie Pyron’s Website.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BobbiePyron
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bobbie.pyron?fref=ts

Buy ‘Lucky Strike':

Amazon
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Book Depository
Indie Bound

Follow the Tour:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Apr 2 Spotlight & Giveaway

Rockin’ Book Reviews Apr 7 Interview & Giveaway

Hott Books Apr 8 Review

Always Reiding Apr 9 Review & Excerpt

Geo Librarian Apr 10 Review

Curling Up With A Good Book Apr 13 Interview & Excerpt

fuonlyknew Apr 14 Review & Giveaway

Once Upon A Story Apr 15 Review & Excerpt

Beneath the Jacket Reviews Apr 16 Review

Indie Review Behind the Scenes Apr 17 Live I 6 pm cst

Cassandra M’s Place Apr 20 Review & Giveaway

In Bed With Books Apr 22 Review & Excerpt

In Bed With Books Apr 22 Interview

Allison’s Book Bag April 24 Interview

Allison’s Book Bag April 24 Review

Mary’s Cup of Tea Apr 27 Review & Giveaway

Deal Sharing Aunt Apr 28 Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Bound for Escape Apr 30 Review

What U Talking Bout Willis? May 1 Review

Lisa’s Writopia May 4 Review

Books, Books, and More Books May 5 Review & Excerpt

Beth’s Book-Nook Blog May 8 Review

Sweet Southern Home May 11 Review

The Crypto-Caper Review May 12 Review

One Frugal Girl May 15 Review

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Fish Also Go to Heaven by Tammy Brown Elkeles

Fish Also Go To Heaven

About the Book

Title: Fish Also Go To Heaven | Author: Tammy Brown Elkeles | Illustrator: Raquel Afonso | Publication Date: October 28, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 42 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 8

Summary: Fish Also Go to Heaven – A unique optimistic view of a loss of a loved pet.

Ellie’s best friend is her little goldfish. Spending every moment she can with him and telling him all her secrets. And at school she talks about him all the time as well. But one morning little “Fishie” is not moving….

Like all children, Ellie loves her little pet, Fishie. Sometimes young children are confronted by the realities of life that no one lives forever, especially little fish. How will Ellie and her mother handle the situation when Fishie is not moving one morning?

After trying to spare Ellie the pain and replacing Fishie by a similar fish, after a while the new fish jumps out of his fish bowl. Mother must now teach Ellie about one of the most basic facts of life. What happens to fish when they die? Are they OK wherever they are? Will we ever see them again? How will Ellie handle the loss of her goldfish? How will mother help Ellie with her loss?

Fish Also Go To Heaven offers kids a lesson about the facts of life and death in a unique optimistic way that will make it easy for them to handle similar loss. The book will help parents of tender children discuss the subject of loss with their kids and ease the grieving process for those who are faced with such loss.

This children’s book is suitable for a read aloud bedtime story for preschoolers or as a self-read for older children.

* PRICE DROP *

* “Fish Also Go To Heaven” is available as an e-book for only 99 cents from Amazon between May 5 & 7, 2015. Or, subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can grab an e-copy for FREE! *

Amazon * Goodreads

 

The Buzz About the Book

“My daughter loves this book, I read it to her over and over again. Warmly recommended.” ~ Daphna, Amazon

This bittersweet story deals with the subject of loss and death in a creatively spiritual way that would appeal to small children as well as their parents, who may debate how to answer such questions as ‘What happened to my cherished goldfish?’ Highly recommended.~ Shiran B., Amazon

This lovely bed time story gives an insight into how to help small children to deal with loss in a lovely manner. The illustrations are cute as in other books by the same author. I generally feel that Tammy’s stories, invite me into her life and experiences with her children.~ Odvir, Amazon

 

About the Author: Tammy Brown Elkeles

Tammy Brown ElkelesI started to write children’s stories soon after a gave birth to my first child. I believe that children are an endless source of inspiration and joy and they can teach us important lessons about life. I live in Tel Aviv with my husband Miki, a photographer and documentary director, and my two boys. Being a staunch optimist, I believe that we have the power to influence reality and shape our own lives, and that is the message I wish to convey through my writing. I graduated with a BA in chemistry and nutritional biochemistry and later studied advertising as well as interior design. It was only in my thirties that I got to realize my childhood dream, studying playwriting and screenwriting and making writing my main focus. Works Published I currently have seven children’s books available on Kindle, and there are more to come. My book The Birds’ Bakery will soon appear in print nationwide. I’m also working on a comic books series for teenagers, D.J. Dirty Brown, to be published on Kindle.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: May 18, 11:59 pm, 2015

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, Tammy Brown Elkeles 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 INTERVIEW: Blood Matters by Aviva Bel’Harold

Blood Matters

by Aviva Bel’Harold

YA Supernatural

Book Description

Grief changes people.

Brittany used to be a normal teen. She ate like one, slept like one, and had typical teenage mood swings. But after she found her best friend dead, everything changed.

Grief might explain her loss of appetite and her lack of sleep. It might even explain why she sees her dead friend everywhere she goes. But it certainly won’t explain why everyone she touches develops bruises or why she’s attracted to the smell of blood.

And, she’s pretty sure grief dosen’t make you want to rip apart your boyfriend just to get closer to his beating heart.

But what happens when it’s the choices we make, not the creature inside, that proves the monster is in us all?

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1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

I love people. I love being around them. Listening to their life stories. Talking to them. Entertaining them with my life stories. I love doing this so much that for a long time I figured I should have been an actress. But I had kids before I could pursue a career in acting.

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2.  What made you want to become a writer?

I never wanted to be a writer… No, actually, that’s not entirely true. I never thought I could be one. You see, I’ve always had stories — huge epic fantasies in my head. But I’m dyslexic so I never thought I could become an author. I always figured I’d just be a good story teller — you know, the kind of person who’s good to have at parties.

 

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3.  Who or what gives you inspiration?
I think we need to find inspiration wherever we can — daily! So for me my kids inspire me. Growing up is never easy even when things look like they are. Growing up is met with challenges and learning opportunities. And the way kids will face them head on is an inspiration. My kids have inspired me to keep on trying even when I don’t succeed (or at least it doesn’t appear that I am succeeding).
My husband also inspires me to be better. He loves me, just the way I am, but for him I constantly want to be better.
My friends inspire me to find joy in the now. They tell me time and again that if I’m not having fun then I should reevaluate how I’m doing things. Even if its a simple change of attitude.
And finally my fans inspire me to keep going even then I feel like I’m all tapped out. A simple note or mention can to a long way for inspiration to pick up my pen and get another chapter written, edited, finished.
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4.  Tell us about Blood Matters.
Blood Matters is the only way I could envision vampires to be real. Up to coming up with this idea I thought vampires were a nice idea but not really feasible.
However, as I wrote the book I fell in love with EV (the parasite). And it was my love for her — my heroic villain — that kept my pen moving across the page to the books completion.
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5.  What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
The hardest part is balancing everything. I mean, how much do I write each day/week? How many days do I let the dishes pile up? When the story is flowing I don’t want to stop to make dinner or clean, or even spend time with my family. Yet when I’m in problem solving mode (others might call it ‘writers block’) then the dishes, no the whole kitchen, in fact the whole house is cleaned! Sometimes I worry that living with me is like being with someone who’s bipolar. It’s can’t be easy for my kids or my hubby (but I think the dogs are ok with it…)
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6.  What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
I need my pen. Silly really. My Uni-ball Signo 207 pen. Its not the best out there, though it’s not the cheapest either. They are disposable so I go thought a couple each month. But without my pen I’m lost. My second necessity is coloured paper. I have a crazy system with different colors of paper for different editing stages… Oh, and printer ink — I’m hooped if the printer runs out of ink.
Other than that… I guess my sauna is also a necessity. I go in there and it’s like a dark room — no distractions. I get a lot of good writing/editing done there.
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7.  What are some of your favorite books?
Favourite books are like clothing to me. I will love a shirt of pair of pants so much that I’ll wear it until it is falling apart. Books are the same. If I love it I read it over and over again until it is completely worn out so the words aren’t legible any more. Then I put those books on my featured book shelf so everyone can see them (even if they don’t look like much to look at). Some of the books that have made it there are:
Harry Potter (all of them)
The Twilight series
The Left Behind series
Ann McCaffery’s Dragon Rider’s series
Kelly Armstrong’s The Summoning as well as The Gathering
Artemis Fowl
And all books by Torey L. Hayden 
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8.  Are your characters based on anyone you know?

No, not in this book. I did however borrow names for it but not because the characters represented anyone, I just liked the names.

 

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9.  What, if anything, are you working on right now?

Right now I am working on a space adventure that takes place in a solar system ruled by magic that’s being misused. It’s a YA that’s a dystopian space opera with magic. It’s going to be amazing!

 

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10.  Why do you love writing?

Writing makes me feel like I’ve lived more lives than the one I’ve been given. Also, I like meeting new people and when I write I feel like I do that with each new character. And lastly, even if I wasn’t writing I’d still be making all these things up — so being a writer helps me justify all my daydreaming.

 

 

About the Author

Aviva Bel’Harold writes young adult fiction: Horror, Science Fiction, ­Urban Fantasy, etc. — as long as the ­characters are young, full of life, and out for adventure. When she’s writing, you’ll find her curled up on a sofa with a pen and a pad of paper, ­surrounded by her adorable puppies.Born in Winnipeg and raised in Vancouver, Aviva Bel’Harold ­currently resides in Calgary with her husband, four children, and six dachshunds.

Website | Facebook | Twitter: @AvivaTheAuthor

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REVIEW: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

The Homesick Texan’s Family Table

by Lisa Fain

Cookbook

Book Description

From beloved food blogger Lisa Fain, aka the Homesick Texan, comes this follow-up to her wildly popular debut cookbook, featuring more than 125 recipes for wonderfully comforting, ingredient-driven Lone Star classics that the whole family will love.

There are few things finer than a delicious, homemade meal shared with family and friends. Take it from Lisa Fain, a seventh-generation Texan who loves to cook and serve up the best dishes her home state has to offer—even though she now lives half a country away.
     The Homesick Texan’s Family Table showcases more than 100 of Lisa’s best and most-loved recipes, ranging from down-home standards (think cheesy nachos, comforting chicken and dumplings, and fiery wings) to contemporary riffs on the classics (who knew adding Mexican spices to a German chocolate cake would taste so good?).
All of Lisa’s recipes are made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, yet still packed with real Texas flavor that will make your grandmother smile. Whether you’re looking for a party-friendly snack like Pigs in Jalapeño Blankets, a Mustard Coleslaw to bring as a side to your next potluck, a weeknight- and family-friendly meal like Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy, or a mouthwatering dessert like Ruby Red Grapefruit and Pecan Sheet Cake, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table has you covered. After all, with some mighty fine food and mighty fine people to enjoy it, any meal can be cause for celebration.

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MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

I appreciate cookbooks that don’t have a ton of unattainable ingredients, because I live in a small town and would have to travel far from my tiny grocery store to get them.  The recipes in this book might have a LOT of ingredients, but for the most part they are easily gotten.

There are recipes that you already know and love, like Chicken Spaghetti, and there are some familiar favorites that are given a Texas twist, like Jalapeno Cornbread Sticks.

One thing to know is, don’t get this cookbook if you don’t like things spicy.  Nearly every recipe contains a pepper of some kind, and there is even a lengthy section on the beginning to teach you about the different kinds of peppers and how to handle them. I guess you could omit the peppers if you wanted…but that means eliminating a lot of the flavor too!

As a Louisiana girl I do like my food with a kick, so this book was a nice get for me. The inclusion of similar ingredients in many recipes makes it a bit one note at times, though.  I am looking forward to making my own Texas Sheet Cake!

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REVIEW: Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

Girl Underwater

by Claire Kells

New Adult Coming of Age

Book Description

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.

In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.

4fleur

MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

This book caught my interest because of the disaster survival aspect of it, but there is so much more than that going on. Avery is a college swimmer going home for her Thanksgiving break, when her plane goes down in the Rockies. She, along with three young boys and a teammate, Colin, are the only survivors. They have to scrape together what they can of the wreckage to keep themselves alive through days of blizzards.

Colin and Avery knew each other before the crash, of course, but going through something so traumatic together has altered their relationship in ways neither of them really understand. Avery, who already has a boyfriend, is too busy dealing with her PTSD and the loss of her swimming career to think about Colin–much. But circumstances keep bringing them back together even months after the rescue, and they will have to face what happened in the mountains and their true feelings for each other.

Like I said, I wanted to read this book because of the idea of such young people not only surviving a plane crash, but everything else that comes their way after. But, within the first couple of chapters of the book, you learn that all five of them have been rescued and lived through their ordeal, so that definitely takes away some of the thrill while you are reading the chapters that take place after the crash.

Avery is a bit hard to pin down as a character; sometimes she is quiet and reserved, while at other times she makes her opinions well known. She is always trying, but really not quite fitting in wherever she is. Unfortunately it took something like a plane crash and months of therapy to help her learn to be herself.

The romance between Colin and Avery felt sort of rushed to me, as the scenes on the mountain were not really great in relaying their emotions. I do appreciate the fact that the three kids were there for Avery and Colin to worry about, which makes the book not just a couple trapped together and falling in love sort of thing.

I thought the author did a great job in portraying PTSD, as signs can show up at so many times and in so many ways. Avery, like others suffering, insists she does not need help, but is forced into it to the betterment of her psyche.

The ending was a little too nicely wrapped up for such a messy (not in a bad way) novel, in my opinion. But overall the story is worth a read, and definitely different from most of the new adult offerings out now.

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About the Author

Claire Kells was born and raised outside Philadelphia. She received a degree in English from Princeton University and a medical degree from the University of California. She lives and works in the Bay Area. This is her first novel. @KathKells | http://clairekells.com

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REVIEW: Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler

Pretty Ugly

by Kirker Butler

Literary Fiction/Satire

Book Description

From a producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother.

Miranda Miller’s mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. Lately, that mission’s been difficult. Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire; and the reality show Miranda been trying to set up for Bailey (and herself) just went to their biggest rival, Starr Kennedy and her tyrannical stage mother, Theresa.

But Miranda’s got an ace up her sleeve. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, thank God, and Miranda is going to make damn sure that this one will be a pageant champion, too.

Unbeknownst to her, Miranda’s husband Ray, a nurse with a hobby of popping random pills, has knocked up Courtney, the less than brilliant seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients. With a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids (and two more on the way), a mountain of debt, and no real friends, Ray is desperately hoping his life puts itself back in order.

Meanwhile, the Millers’ two boys are being “homeschooled” by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a well-intentioned widow who spends most of her time playing solitaire and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, that Jesus.

They’re just your typical dysfunctional American family.

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Pretty Ugly: A Novel by Kirker Butler

Oh my God, this book was so awful in the most amazing way. It tells the story of young Bailey Miller, pageant queen extraordinaire, and her family. Mom Miranda was a queen in her day but pushes bailey to be even better; dad Ray is hardly ever home due to the time he works to cover Bailey’s costs; grandmother Joan believes she has a personal line to Jesus and waits for his command and advice in everything she does. Meanwhile, Bailey has decided she is done with the glamour life and sneaks chocolate bars when she’s supposed to be practicing.

Nearly every character in this book is a huge caricature of someone Southern–and as a Southern lady myself, I recognized each one. Ray is having an affair with a teenager. Miranda is pregnant but that doesn’t stop her from getting in fistfights. I could really go on and on, but I don’t want to ruin your reading experience. Trust me, the more you get to know the Miller family, the better (worse?) they get.

Don’t go into this book thinking it’s all about the pageant scene–actually not much of the story happens at pageants. The family’s dynamics are the heart here.

I would imagine some people will be thrown off or quickly dismiss Pretty Ugly because its’ characters are such ridiculous stereotypes…don’t do this. I promise, you either know or are one of the people in this book, especially if you are a Southerner.

I subtracted one star because there are a few moments that are predictable, and also because sometimes the author goes off on tangents describing the backgrounds of people we don’t really need to know about. The book is a standout, however, one of the most unique I’ve read lately.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Kirker Butler is an Emmy nominated writer and producer. His TV credits include Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and Galavant among others. Kirker grew up in Kentucky, and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.

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