RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child by S. Craig Zahler

Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child

by S. Craig Zahler

Fantasy/Coming of Age Fiction

Book Description

Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child. Born from tragedy and unknown paternity, this asymmetrical and white-haired baby inspires both ire and pity at the orphanage, until the day that an elderly eccentric adopts him as a pet. The upbeat boy’s spirit is challenged in his new home and as he is exposed to prejudiced members of society in various encounters. Will Hug and his astronautical dreams survive our cruel and judgmental world?


4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
by S. Craig Zahler

This was a very quick read, because I couldn’t put it down once I started. The circumstances of Hug’s birth and parentage are mysterious to say the least, and his life is filled with people who don’t understand him. Born to a mother who died upon birthing him, Hug (as he is so named in his orphanage home) is small, malformed, and just plain different. There are some in his life that want the best for him, though, and Hug’s story is told through these stages of his life where people cared for him.

Hug Chickenpenny is a boy who knows he’s different, but doesn’t ask why. He takes his lot in life and does the best he can with it. He’s smart, kind, and always tries to see the best in people, even when these people don’t see what’s good in him.

I loved it best when Hug was able to interact with children his own age; he is not only different from these kids physically, but he is mentally and emotionally more mature and it’s interesting to see how his presence affects others. Children, of course, are the most adaptable when finding something abnormal, and Hug can see himself through these children’s eyes and realize why he might make others react the way they do.

The story is short, and doesn’t give much in the way of background, so you have to be OK with this if you want to enjoy this tale. Hug Chickenpenny is a boy full of heart and wild imagination, and experiencing his story filled me with joy and sorrow both.

View all my reviews


About the Author

S. Craig Zahler is an award-winning screenwriter, director, novelist, cinematographer, and musician. He wrote and directed the films Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and is the author of several novels, including Wraiths of the Broken Land, A Congregation of Jackals, and Mean Business on North Ganson Street.



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REVIEW: YOU by Caroline Kepnes


by Caroline Kepnes



When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.


4.5 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

by Caroline Kepnes

This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read. This book puts you deep inside the mind of a psychopath who thinks everything he does is justified. And the things he does are chilling.

Joe is working in his beloved bookstore when his life changes the day Beck walks in. They flirt, she buys a book, and there is the start of an obsessive relationship that starts way before Beck even knows it does.

I cannot stress enough to you how absolutely creepy Joe is. The thing about him most disarming is that he comes off charming, handsome, if a bit intense, to other people. Women seem to be drawn to him, but there’s never been anyone like Beck. Within a day of meeting her, he has looked her up online, found out details about her life through social media, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, is watching her from across the street as she goes about her life. She doesn’t know this though, and the two get tangled up together in a relationship that “complicated” doesn’t even begin to cover.

Don’t go into this book thinking Beck is an innocent victim in all this. She does not deserve everything that Joe gives her, but she is a quite terrible person in her own right. Overtly using her sexuality to get what she wants, Beck coasts through life in an annoyingly narcissistic manner. She pushes and pulls and manipulates, and in a lot of ways she and Joe are made for each other.

Reading paragraphs full of Joe’s obsessive thoughts could get heavy sometimes, but once the book pulled me in it was very hard to put down. You are both enthralled and disgusted by his mind, and you have to know what ends up happening if his plans go awry.

The only issue I had with this book is that no one Joe seems to come into contact with can see through him or ever suspects anything at all is wrong with him. This seems kind of unrealistic to me, especially considering all the situations he is caught in. Joe seems to be the epitome of the phrase, “I never would have suspected this from him.”

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers. Be prepared for lots of language and vulgarity, though.

View all my reviews



Caroline Kepnes is the author of YouHidden Bodies and Providence. She has worked as a pop culture journalist for Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th HeavenThe Secret Life of the American Teenager and the upcoming adaptation of You. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts she now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles.

Find Caroline on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Are You SAD? Learn about Seasonal Affective Disorder

In the middle of this wintry weather the country has been having, I thought it would be a good time to mention more about SAD–Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Here in Louisiana, moments of sunlight have been few and far between.  It’s been snowy, icy, and too cold to take my kids outside.  Combine that with snow days where I am trying to keep the boys entertained, and it makes for a roller coaster of emotions and some very long days at times.

If you think you might be affected by SAD, check out this infographic to educate yourself and see how you can get help.

How to Start an Emergency Preparedness Kit

In Louisiana, the main weather event we have to be prepared for every year is hurricane season.  This lasts from June to November.  But, due to the nature of the weather we have been having all across the nation, I thought it would be a good idea to write about how to put together an emergency preparedness kit that will help you in a variety of situations.  I should note that this is based on my experiences from the last time we had a severe tropical storm that cut our power out for several days.  The list I am writing will help get you started but it’s highly open to customization.  For another option, you can purchase ready made kits from companies such as My Patriot Supply.

  • Bottled water, at least 2 gallons.  Add more if you will need it to make formula for infants.
  • Canned food that will be in date for the next 2-3 years
  • A manual can opener
  • Matches or lighter
  • A radio for hearing weather updates.  A weather radio is recommended since sometimes signals for broadcast radio stations can go down in strong winds.  A weather radio will ensure you can hear what’s going on at all times since it doesn’t use those broadcast stations.
  • Flashlights
  • A lantern
  • Candles, although I don’t recommend them if you will have toddlers around
  • Supplies for an infant–choose items that will keep for several months in the kit.  You can usually get formula with an expiration date of at least 6 months ahead.  Purchase diapers perhaps a size bigger than the one your child wears.  Wipes will keep for a long time and I would add plenty, because chances are they will be used by more than just the baby in your household.
  • On that note, if you have children, add something for them to do that does not require power.  I can tell you that my child is definitely one of this digital age, and he’ll get bored quickly.  A coloring book, a board game, cards, and small art set are all good ideas to add to your kit.  Try to put something in that your kids haven’t seen yet or in a while so it will be new to them.
  • Batteries for the things that need them, such as flashlights, lanterns, kids games, etc.
  • A first aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pet food if you have the need

Be sure to check your kit at the beginning of each season to make sure your supplies inside are still good and to see if anything needs to be added or replaced based on the needs of your family.  Getting kits from a survival supplier such as My Patriot Supply will ensure the items in your kit are exactly right to have you and your family prepared for your emergency situation.


BOOK RE-RELEASE SPOTLIGHT: Slumber by Christy Sloat

I am so excited that SLUMBER by Christy Sloat is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Christy Sloat, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of the book courtesy or Christy. and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About The Book:

Title: SLUMBER (Slumber Duology #1)

Author: Christy Sloat
Pub. Date: January 12, 2018
Publisher: CHBB Publishing 
Pages: 234
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NTBDGoodreads
Not all princesses get their happily ever after…
They tell me I killed my boyfriend Phillip in cold blood. I stabbed him twenty one times. I’m only seventeen years old, and I am serving life in Spindle Ridge Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
I don’t remember killing him, so it’s really hard to believe I’m capable of murder. In fact I don’t remember anything before I came to Spindle Ridge, not even my boyfriend.
I can only grasp onto my realistic dreams while the madness of the asylum threatens to pull me under. I dream I’m a beautiful princess and there is an evil faerie named Maleficent who is bent on my destruction. The dreams are the closest thing I have to memories of my life, except they aren’t real.
 I’m crazy. I’m not a princess.
They’re the mad illusions of an irrational teenage girl, right?
They’ve assigned me a new doctor, and she says I can trust her, and that she’ll help me see the truth of who I really am.
When she arrived she brought a new patient, Sawyer, who is everything Spindle Ridge isn’t: exciting, mysterious and beautiful. He promises he’s here to rescue me. Trusting either of them frightens me.
 Could it be possible that my dreams are more than just the imaginings of a delusional girl? Could they be truth?
I woke in the middle of the night hearing screams fill the air. This was not uncommon at all, but tonight I wasn’t expecting it. Normally when Adele’s meds are changed, she wakes screaming that she can’t sleep. Adele’s room is
across from mine. She is roughly in her twenties and I never learned how she ended up here. I try not to talk to the other patients. I don’t know why it is, but I don’t fit in with these people. To them I’m the murderer and they tend to
think less of me. That’s fine. I am what they say I am. That’s why I’m here, right?
They told me I stabbed my boyfriend, Phillip, but I don’t remember doing it. I actually don’t remember Phillip at all. No recollection of having been in a relationship either. I must have killed him or else I wouldn’t be in Spindle Ridge.
Dr. Altman says that I have to believe that I did it or we will never get anywhere. I’ll admit it’s hard to believe that these hands could stab a person twenty times. No matter how I imagined it, it is always hard to believe. 
I sat up listening hard for the screams. When they came again I noticed they were not female, they were male. The screams were deeper and reached a longer distance than Adele’s cries ever could. I wondered if the whole building
could hear him.
I pulled my covers up over my neck and covered my face. I just wanted to sleep and fall back into the dream I was having. It was beautiful, and if I had my way, I would stay there forever.
I sat up fast. Closing my eyes, I tried to remember the dream to the last second. It wasn’t the same dream as the
one’s prior. This dream was different! This dream was me and a boy.
I never dreamed of anyone but my parents and the evil woman. The dream’s soft lullaby came back to me as I remembered where I was.
The smell of fresh grass came across my senses.
The sky so blue as I lay on a blanket. I rolled over and saw the face of a boy. He was everything that Spindle Ridge wasn’t; he was beautiful. He had long, shaggy, but not unruly, hair that touched his collar. When he smiled at
me, he looked like a boy in love. In love with me.
“Get up you lazy sack!”
I opened my eyes and was pulled back into the now. I was forced to leave the dream behind as I was being pulled out of bed by two nurses.

About Christy: 

I am a Southern California native, now living in New Jersey! How did that happen? I am married and have two beautiful little girls who love to read just like Mommy. I have had a passion for books since I was a little girl and an imagination for just as long. I hope my books can inspire others to read and to write too.
Giveaway Details:
1 winner will win a finished copy of SLUMBER (US Only).


My Advice for a Happy Relationship

When I was first asked to write this post, I had to think about it for a minute.  Yes, I have been married for over ten years, and they passed quickly.  We’ve had our share of ups and downs.  Even through all that and 2 kids later, I do still feel we have that special “spark.” I’m not sure if the advice I give will be relevant for every couple and every relationship, but here are some little things that work to keep Jared and I close.

Check in with One Another

Everyone has their things to do and people to see on an everyday basis.  While my husband works and I stay at home raising the kids, he still calls several times a day to check in on what we are doing and how the boys are behaving.  It really makes me feel like he’s thinking about me even when we are not together and that we are both in this parenting thing together.

Support Each Other’s Hobbies

While my hobbies might vary from time to time, whether it’s reading or shopping or clothes, my husband is really only interested in two things: sports and video games.  On his off days I give him time to play games if he wants to, and it’s easy for me to watch sports with him because I like to see his passion for the game.  He also encourages me to go off and have time by myself or with my sisters to do things I want to do.  Even if you don’t necessarily love the things your partner does, it’s important to make an effort to try or at least not openly insult the hobbies they have.  If the hobby does become an obsession that makes your partner ignore household and parenting duties though, it’s time to have a talk.

Don’t Hold Major Annoyances Inside

Which brings me to my next point–if you’re having an issue with your partner which is truly bothering you, say something!  Rather than letting your irritation build up to the point of anger which will erupt into a shouting match, directly and rationally communicate about what’s bothering you.  The goal is to get any problem out into the open–they might not even realize there is a problem!

Make any Night a Date Night

Although we don’t always have the time or the money to go out on fancy dinner dates, we often just wait until the kids are in bed and have a little meal to ourselves with no distractions.  We’ll set the table with low lighting and a bottle of wine, and just eat and lazily chat about things.  We don’t have to get dressed up and hire a babysitter.  It helps us feel like people and not just parents, even though we inevitably talk about the kids!

As I said, these are just a few ways my husband and I keep the gates of communication open and make each other feel loved.  We are by no means perfect but after being married for ten years maybe we do have a little bit of magic to share 🙂

If you and your partner are needing a sweet date night, check out the upcoming film Forever my Girl.

Forever My Girl tells the story of music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.  Forever My Girl is an uplifting romantic film about second chances.  This wonderful film is perfect for all of us who believe in courtship, romance, and love enduring all things.  It also has an amazing music soundtrack that includes hot CMA New Artist of the Year nominee Lauren Alaina, Travis Tritt, and Alex Roe who stars in our film as country star “Liam Page.” It releases in theaters on January 19.


Saving Money on Getting New Carpet

Installing carpeting throughout an entire home is costly, but there are ways for you to save in upgrading your flooring. How exactly do you go about doing this? What is the best way to install quality-carpeting, not compromise on the look you want, and save? Consider these tips.

Shop “bulk”
You can purchase the carpeting from a “bulk” or mass-retailer. Warehouses which sell to commercial companies , may also sell to homeowners as well. Not only is carpeting cheaper, you can also find commercial-grade, and industrial-grade (berber-type finish), which is durable, and will last for years to come.

Consider having the company you buy the carpet from do the installation work as well. There are often deals which include “free installation” with whole-home purchase, or discounts on flooring if you buy for an entire home. So, rather than hire two companies (one to buy carpeting from and another installation company), do it all with one specialist. Check out to get an idea of how much carpet fitting costs.

Shop online
Believe it or not, you can order carpeting online. And, you can compare several mass-retailers which offer free shipping, online deals, and installation. So, you will find various qualities, material-finishes, colours, and varieties, all for an affordable price. And, you can have it shipped and installed same (or next-day) with most of these companies.

Comparison shop
There’s no way around it. With any consumer purchase, you have to shop to save. And, the same goes with your home’s flooring. So, before you buy new carpeting, compare, get a few quotes, and consider all specialists.

You have options when it comes to new flooring for your home. Make sure you know all of them before you buy. When purchasing and installing new carpeting for your entire home, these are a few simple tips to save, and ensure you get the quality you desire.

REVIEW: Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Just Between Us

by Rebecca Drake


Book Description

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.


3.5 out of 5 Fleurs de Lis

Have you ever suspected something shady was going on behind the closed doors of your friends’ homes, but were afraid of asking for fear of hurting your friendship? Have you ever had to carry a deep, foreboding secret for your friends which changes you immensely?

In Just Between Us, a group of four women begin down a road from which they cannot travel back once they spot a bruise on one of the group’s wrists. Assuming Heather’s husband has been physically abusing her, the rest of the group, Julie, Sarah, and Alison, make no mistake of giving Heather their explicit advice and telling her they will be there if she needs them. And she does, for a night that they’ll regret forever.

The main issue I had with this novel is that it alternates points of view with each woman taking a turn to have her say…and I could barely tell the difference between the voice or personality of each woman. They all had kids and husbands too, although they were basically background players, and I can’t tell you any of their names even though I just finished the book a few hours ago. The friends have different careers, but these didn’t help me differentiate either.

It doesn’t take long before the suspense begins in this book. Even in the first chapter, as the friends are meeting for coffee, we see that one woman feels like she is the outsider, another thinks her friends are secretly talking about her when she’s not there. This is all pretty normal in female friend groups, and it’s interesting to see that the author included this aspect.

Jumping to conclusions is one thing every character in this book does very well. Without giving away too many important plot details, I will say that the reason almost all events are set into motion is that someone assumes something and rather than asking about it, takes matters into their own hands.

The first part of the book moved quite slowly and took me a while to get into. As I said before, the characters don’t seem to have their own unique voices and I couldn’t really connect with any of them. The action does pick up and there’s a lull while the characters are waiting and expecting their house of cards to fall down. Exposition picks up again towards the end, but by this point I had kind of already guessed the twist.

In the end, I have to say I like the way all of the events came together, even though it was kind of tragic. Just Between Us was not one of the best thriller novels I’ve ever read, but it kept me turning the pages.


About the Author

Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.


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SPOTLIGHT: The Last Thing She Ever Did by Gregg Olsen

The Last Thing She Ever Did

by Gregg Olsen

Psychological Thriller

Book Description

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a psychological thriller exploring the things we dare to do when no one is looking . . .

The community along Oregon’s Deschutes River is one of successful careers and perfect families. For years, up-and-comers Liz and Owen have admired their good friends and neighbors, Carole and David. They appear to have it all—security, happiness, and a beautiful young son, Charlie.

Then Charlie vanishes without a trace, and all that seemed safe is shattered by a tragedy that is incomprehensible—except to Liz.

It took one fleeting moment for her to change the lives of everyone she loves—a heartrending accident that can’t be undone. Neither can the second-worst mistake of her life: concealing it. As two marriages crack and buckle in grief and fear, Liz retreats into her own dark place of guilt, escalating paranoia—and betrayals even she can’t imagine. Because there’s another good neighbor who has his own secrets, his own pain, and his own reasons for watching Liz’s every move.

And only he knows that the mystery of the missing boy on the Deschutes River is far from over.

You can purchase The Last Thing She Ever Did at the following Retailers:

About the Author

Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner’s Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen’s Snapped, Court TV’s Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E’s Biography.

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People,Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

Giveaway is open Internationally. | Must be 13+ to Enter

– Winner will receive a Copy of THE LAST THING SHE EVER DID by Gregg Olsen.

– 1 Winner will receive a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card.



What to Do with Your Military History Degree – The Most Intriguing Jobs Out There

There are so many different degree options available to students nowadays, but few are as interesting as a military history degree. This particular degree may not be as popular as some of the others out there, but once you possess that master of arts in military history you are able to open some rather incredible career paths, some of which you may not have even thought of. So, what are the most interesting jobs you can pursue with a MMH degree from a prestigious school such as Norwich University? Let’s take a closer look.

Military History Professor

If you’ve ever had dreams of becoming a teacher yourself, then that military history degree could just be the way to go about it. With this degree, you can pursue a career as a military history professor, allowing you to share all your knowledge and passion for the subject with your students. These professors can be found in universities and colleges. Chances are you’ll be teaching a variety of history courses and it may not just be military-related. This can prove to be more rewarding for you though, as you get to dig even deeper into history.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that historians make $55,110 per year, but you can make more or less depending on where you work.

Military Analyst

Another way you can put that military history degree to good use is to pursue a career as a military analyst through the CIA. In this job, you’ll be responsible for doing a vast amount of research and then brief various policymakers on what you find. You could be investigating resources from other governments, weapon systems, analyzing civilian relations, war prevention, and military treaties and issues. At any given time you could be working on a number of high-priority investigations at once, and sometimes that may also require traveling on your part.

Military History Unit Member

Another path is to work for the military itself as a military history unit member. This can be the perfect fit for all the information you have learned. If you take this route, you will serve in a unit that is called a military history detachment. You will serve in a large division and an excellent example of this is the infantry. You may be working in the field conducting interviews in order to get first-hand accounts of various combat situations, and you’ll be recording data about military actions as they are played out.

You will also be responsible for collecting photos, documents, and other hard data that may pertain to a combat or maneuver.

A Variety of Intriguing Paths to Take

Your military history degree can lead to all kinds of intriguing career paths that can direct you to a very rewarding job. While this degree may not be the first one that pops to mind, it is well worth considering for anyone with a love, appreciation, and passion for history and military operations.