Author Archives: Carrie
Even though the Holidays are upon us, that doesn’t mean that we as tech savvy humans will be spending less time on our smart phones. Whether you’re looking for new recipes or trying to avoid talking to your nosy cousin, you will need some helpful, attention getting apps on your phone. Here are my favorites!
If you don’t have Pinterest by now, where have you been for the last five years? 😀 Pinterest is a hub where anyone can create and share ideas. From unique recipes, to how-tos on how to roast a turkey, to step by step guides on making slime for kids, Pinterest is an app so many of us can get lost in. It’s also filled with gift ideas, so it’s one to keep on your phone year round!
If you’ve stayed too long at your host’s house because you’re having so much fun, or you’ve decided that you just can’t bear to hear any more of your uncle’s grossly over exaggerated stories, Hotel Tonight is the app you need. This app is designed specifically for finding you a hotel room on short notice. It aggregates nearby hotels at the best prices, and has a simple to use interface. I have used this app myself and I had no issues at all upon checking in to the hotel. You can look at amenities and hotel ratings before you book, and there are often coupon codes available.
Speaking of coupon codes; you know you need to shop this next few weeks, so why not make the most of your money? Retail Me Not is amazing for finding coupons and deals for your favorite stores and restaurants. You can find coupon codes to use online, or those for in store use. Users can also vote on whether or not a certain coupon code worked for them, so you won’t have to waste your time trying codes and seeing if one works. Black Friday sales can be found here too.
I haven’t yet met a person young or old who wasn’t fascinated with this app! Think of a character from anything–movie, book, television show. Akinator the Genie will ask you questions until he figures out who or what you are thinking about. This app is playable by even younger children, because most can answer yes or no questions about their favorite characters. Once you try it, you will try more and more because you realllly want to stump him 🙂
I hope this guide will help you get through the season with minimal stress and maximum enjoyment! Let me know some of your must have apps in the comments.
Six Little Secrets
by Katlyn Duncan
YA Contemporary Suspense
Pub. Date: November 24, 2017
Some secrets can never stay hidden for long…
Six teenagers meet in Saturday detention: a brain, a beauty, a cheerleader, a rebel, a recluse and the new girl.
But someone is watching. Someone has made sure that they are all in the same room at the same time. Someone knows that each of them is hiding a terrible secret…
…and by the end of detention, everyone will know the truth.
About the Author
Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in New England. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her ever since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
1 winner will receive a $25 B&N Gift Card, US Only.
5 winners will receive one of Katlyn’s Backlist Titles in eBook Format, International.
11/13/2017- Cindy’s Love of Books– Review
11/13/2017- Books,Dreams,Life– Excerpt
11/14/2017- Smada’s Book Smack– Review
11/14/2017- Stuffed Shelves– Review
11/15/2017- Sweet Southern Home– Spotlight
11/15/2017- Books at Dawn– Review
11/16/2017- Twinning for Books– Interview
11/16/2017- Savings in Seconds– Review
11/17/2017- Hooked To Books– Excerpt
11/17/2017- Mama Reads Blog– Review
11/20/2017- Owl always be reading– Review
11/20/2017- Daily Waffle– Interview
11/21/2017- Kendra Loves Books– Review
11/21/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review
11/22/2017- Jo’s Book Blog– Guest Post
11/22/2017- Queen of Books– Review
11/23/2017- Literary Meanderings– Excerpt
11/23/2017- Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World– Review
11/24/2017- BookHounds YA– Guest Post
11/24/2017- Texan Girl Reads– Review
When the Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten, the tree is up, and the halls have been decked, many families like to spend Holiday nights together watching some of their favorite films of the season!
In our house, my husband can’t let a Christmas pass without watching his two picks: A Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Grinch who Stole Christmas.
One film that is a must for this momma is Elf. I also HAVE TO watch The Nutcracker some time during December.
We so love cuddling up on the sofa with our boys and having popcorn and cocoa while making these traditions they will surely remember as they get older.
Coming out right in time for your family to enjoy during the Thanksgiving break is a new take on Dickens’ perennial tale, A Christmas Carol!
The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri
Written by Susan Coyne
Starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce
Bleecker Street will release THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS in theaters on November 22, 2017.
The stars of The Man who Invented Christmas have been in other amazing films, and I have partnered with Grace Hill Media to offer this AWESOME giveaway!
The giveaway includes a DVD combo-pack of the following movies:
The Sound of Music
Beauty and the Beast
A Christmas Carol
One reader will win ALL THREE of these films to share with those you love!
All you need to do to enter is TELL ME WHAT YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY FILM IS!
This giveaway will end on November 24, 2017.
Thanks for stopping by! Please check out this behind the scenes featurette about The Man who Invented Christmas.
by Michael Okon
Welcome to Monsterland, the scariest place on earth.
When world markets are decimated by a crippling plague, philanthropist, and billionaire businessman, Vincent Konrad decides to place monsters in a theme park setting to promote education and tolerance. Copper Valley is chosen as the primary site for the park in the United States.
Wyatt Baldwin, a high school senior is dying to go to the opening and when he lands special passes to the park, he and his friends are expecting the experience of a lifetime.
After all, in a theme park where real zombies, werewolves, and vampires are the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?
About the Author
Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.
2 winners will receive a signed finished copy of MONSTERLAND, US Only.
10/30/2017- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt
10/30/2017- Abooktropolis– Review
10/31/2017- Books,Dreams,Life– Spotlight
10/31/2017- Texan Girl Reads– Review
11/1/2017- Reese’s Reviews– Guest Post
11/1/2017- Under the Book Cover– Review
11/2/2017- Dazzled by Books– Excerpt
11/2/2017- A Gingerly Review– Review
11/3/2017- Twirling Book Princess– Excerpt
11/3/2017- Birdie Bookworm– Review
11/6/2017- Books at Dawn– Guest Post
11/6/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review
11/7/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview
11/7/2017- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review
11/8/2017- Savings in Seconds– Spotlight
11/8/2017- Novelties– Review
11/9/2017- Sweet Southern Home– Spotlight
11/9/2017- Twisted Book Junkie– Review
11/10/2017- Parajunkee– Interview
11/10/2017- The Midnight Society– Review
by Neil Gaiman
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies…and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path.
4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is another one of those novels that I read because it has been adapted into a TV show, and I wanted to experience the source material first. If the Starz series is at all faithful to this book, it will be dazzling to watch.
Shadow, upon being released from prison, learns that his wife has died. With nothing else to lose, he takes a job as a bodyguard of sorts for a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday. Shadow soon finds himself in a dreamscape world of gods, monsters, mythological beasts and much more. A battle between old gods and new seems to be on the horizon, and though he doesn’t know it yet, Shadow will be an integral part of the shaping of the future world.
At around 700 pages, this is the largest novel I have read in quite some time. Still, I read it rather quickly. Shadow is not particularly smart, or charismatic, or interesting, but something about him makes you root for him anyway. He is an open book with almost everyone he meets, and I suppose that is endearing.
I did enjoy the weaving in of all the the different major and minor gods throughout the story. A lot of them I could figure out, but some I did have to look up. A fantastic thing about American Gods is that, like America, there is a melting pot of deities in this book; gods from India, ancient Egypt, Norse mythology, Ireland, and lots of places in between are included.
There is far too much to mention to explain why I liked this book so much. Suffice to say that when it was done, I was sad that I had to leave Shadow’s world. The author does a superb job of making sure there are no loose ends left behind, and that is a feat with the sheer number of characters and subplots going on in the story.
That’s not to say American Gods is perfect–there are a number of stories told which seem to have no point in relation to the main plot, but are entertaining to read regardless. There are characters that shows up once, briefly, then never again. At times the author seems to be including gods and their background stories just because he knows them, an info dump of sorts.
I never lost interest even though the pace moved slowly, because there is a tone throughout the novel that something big will be happening just around the next corner. And that’s for sure–Shadow’s ride is anything but boring. This is a book you have to experience to learn what others are talking about.
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.
by Geoffrey Girard
Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.
After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.
Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J. M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps into the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.
I suppose this novel is being billed a a ghost story. I wouldn’t say that. There is some touch of the supernatural, for sure. There are definitely creepy moments that gave me the chills. But Mary Rose is not a ghost, not anything I can pinpoint.
Mary Rose is a 26 year old English woman who is about to be wed to American lawyer Simon Blake. Upon a visit to her home country, Simon is told a family secret. Though it might be his and Mary Rose’s undoing, he is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to her 20 years ago, on a foreboding and desolate island in Scotland.
I read this book very quickly, mostly because there were so many questions surrounding Mary Rose and her past. She’s a quirky woman to say the least, but everyone around her seems to love her in spite of her weird ways. For his part, Simon does seem to truly be in love with Mary Rose. He’s an attorney, someone who knows that answers are to be found if you look hard enough. And that’s what the plot of this book is, really–Simon looking for answers in Mary Rose’s past to learn more about why she is experiencing such nightmarish events in her present.
The story is told in alternating chapters from both Simon and Mary Rose’s points of view. I liked this because it shows that things are happening to both of them, things they cannot explain, but it also shows how each one reacts to the other.
This book has an overall dark and creepy tone, and it’s a great read for this time of year. I turned the pages well past midnight in my hurry to find out the truth behind Mary Rose and her island. Just as you think you have the real answers, something else happens and you’re lost again. I do think the ending left a lot of questions, in comparison to the other, logically explained events. It’s a bit ambiguous so if you don’t like stories without concrete finales, be aware of that.
About the Author
Geoffrey Girard writes thrillers, historicals, and dark speculative fiction. His first book, Tales of the Jersey Devil, thirteen original tales based on American folklore, was published by Middle Atlantic Pressin 2005, followed by Tales of the Atlantic Pirates (2006) and Tales of the Eastern Indians (2007). Simon and Schuster published two Girard novels simultaneously in 2013: CAIN’S BLOOD, a techno thriller, and PROJECT CAIN, a companion novel for teen/YA readers which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for “Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel.”
In 2017, Carolrhoda Books published TRUTHERS, a YA novel about the 9/11 conspiracy, and Adaptive Books published MARY ROSE, a psychological thriller/ghost novel.
Girard’s short fiction has appeared in several best-selling anthologies and magazines, including Writers of the Future (a 2003 winner), Prime Codex, Aoife’s Kiss, The Willows, Murky Depths, Apex Horror & Science Fiction Digest, and the Stoker-nominated Dark Faith anthology. The debut collection of his short fiction, first communions, was published by Apex Books in May, 2016.
Born in Germany and shaped in New Jersey, Geoffrey currently lives in Ohio and is the English Department Chair at a famed private boys’ high school. Prior to teaching, he worked as an advertising copywriter, web developer and marketing manager. He has a BA in English literature from Washington College and an MA in creative writing from Miami University, where he is now working on an MFA. He has presented and led workshops on creative writing at schools, bookstores and various writers’ conventions/events.
Photo Content from Geoffrey Girard
I have never met a single person in my 32 years that claims to not like music. It seems to be a universal theme that can unite us all–though we might like different types, we all like the sound of music.
For as long as humans have been walking the Earth and creating things, there has been music. Of course, the first instruments were our bodies; singing and humming with our mouths, clapping with our hands and tapping out a beat with our feet. As we progressed as a species, we learned to use the objects in the natural world to make more sounds and put them together, from drums made from animal skins, to seed filled shakers, to flutes carved from tree branches.
Though making music is decidedly more technical now (for the most part), one benefit of the advent of the electronic world and connectivity of the internet is that we can experience and share more than just the music we have in our area or have grown up with. The biggest hit of the summer was a Reggaeton worldwide smash, “Despacito.” How many of us have gone deeper into exploring Latin music because of how much we loved this song?
Even though it’s true much music now is made with sound boards, electronic drums, and synthesized beats, there are still those creative souls who love to use simple, acoustic instruments to give us stripped down songs. Singer songwriters such as Ed Sheeran have risen to the top of the charts with many heartfelt hits.
Music is struggling to be kept in our schools, but I can still see its’ promise in younger generations. For example, recently my high school alma mater resurrected its’ band program after years of it being defunct due to lack of funding. The band is small and full of novices, but they are learning, and the community loves to see and hear their presence at football games and parades.
My own nine year old son takes weekly guitar lessons, and he seems to be showing some natural skill, according to his teacher. He loves modern day artists like Green Day along with older ones such as Bon Jovi.
To ensure that future generations are able to study music, funding is needed in early elementary levels to include arts programs in as many schools as possible. As students progress in their training and might want to study music at the college level, scholarships such as those offered by John Jesensky give kids a chance to chase their dreams and passions.
Thanks to such generous donors as John Ross Jesenky and many others, the promise of music will be in the world for generations to come.
Found a new house? Moving to a new home can be exciting, a fresh start with a world of possibilities opening up before you, but the actual packing and moving part can be a huge headache if you don’t take the time to plan for it correctly. There’s so much to do and think about when you’re moving from one house to another, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and do things on autopilot when there might be simpler, smarter, more efficient ways that will cut down on the stress and labor involved. If you’re looking at moving soon, here’s a few things to keep in mind that can help make your moving day as smooth and enjoyable as it can be!
- Do a pre-move. Before the actual moving starts, clean up the kitchen and bathrooms in your new home and stock them with some essentials: toilet paper, a shower curtain, a bath mat, paper towels, garbage bags, cleaning supplies. Also, pack an overnight bag of the things you need to feel normal, like if you were going away for a weekend trip. Every family member should have their own personal bag packed up like this. With these things set up and ready, you’ll feel much more comfortable and prepared in your new place to stop and take a break for self-care when you need to, and you won’t have to scramble to search through your packed boxes or rush to the store to get basic supplies.
- Go label crazy. Label the tops and sides of boxes. Label what’s in them, and what room they should go in. Color code them. The more you label, the better the chance nothing will get misplaced and everything will end up where it’s supposed to be. Nobody who has moved was ever sorry that they labeled things too much.
- Who needs bubble wrap? Popping the bubble wrap may be the best part of moving as far as the kids are concerned, but you can save on wrap and pack more efficiently by using your clothing to cushion the fragile items you’re packing. You can even stuff stemware or other small breakable items in your socks to keep them secured.
- Before moving day comes purge day. Before you start packing everything up and hauling it to your new home, get rid of absolutely everything you don’t want to start spending the rest of your life with. Clothes that don’t fit? Toys the kids don’t play with anymore? Busted furniture? Appliances you haven’t used in years? Donate them if they’re in good shape and throw out everything that’s junk. Motivate yourself by scheduling a garbage or donation pickup. The less you have to pack, the easier your move will be, and the less clutter you’ll have at your new place.
- Seek professional help. It’s tempting to think you can save money by calling in favors, renting a van, and doing all the moving yourself with the help of your friends and family, but hiring a moving company to do the heavy lifting and driving for you can make a world of difference when it comes to having an easy moving day. A reputable company with lots of experience will know exactly what they’re doing and can blow your mind with how fast they’ll get everything moved, and when you factor in all the time and costs you’ll have to cover if you move yourself, it can make good money sense too.
- Take lots of pictures. Before the moving starts and everything gets packed up, your camera can be your best friend. Take pictures of how the cords on your electronics are set up. Take pictures of your most valuable belongings in case anything gets lost or damaged and you need to file an insurance claim. Take pictures of your most important documents and paperwork in case they get misplaced.
- Don’t fill up your fridge. Moving perishable food? That’s the last thing you need to deal with! You don’t want to have to throw away perfectly good food either, so for the last week or two before you move, try to stop buying food that needs to be refrigerated when you go to the grocery store.
The internet is full of great tricks for finding creative ways to pack things, so if you take the time to research you can find all kinds of other ingenious ways to make your move cheaper, safer, and more efficient. The main thing is to make a plan and a checklist and keep yourself organized so you can deal with the mishaps and unexpected surprises of moving day with grace and confidence. Once you’re in your new home, all the trouble will have been worth it!
Best Day Ever
by Kaira Rouda
I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.
4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Ohhhh man. Paul Strom is one creepy dude. Control issues doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Paul is a middle aged man married to a younger, beautiful wife. They live in the suburbs with two boys and he works for a huge advertising company. Paul is taking his wife Mia away for the weekend to their cottage on Lake Erie, and he has promised both her and himself that this will be the BEST DAY EVER.
I will never be able to hear those words again without an ominous tone behind them.
I truly cannot give the specifics in this review that I want to, because the delicious details that unfold in this book are what kept me turning the pages until my eyes were drooping. The story starts off with Paul and Mia on a road trip on their way to their cottage. Alone time for the couple is at a premium because they have two young boys and Mia is a stay at home mother, but Paul has planned every single detail and he is not a man that likes it when things don’t go his way. As the day passes, we learn more about the truth behind this seemingly perfect couple and just what exactly Paul is willing to do to keep his life just the way he wants it.
I can’t stress this enough–from the beginning of the book, I knew there was something off with Paul. The story is told from his point of view, and you quickly get the sense of what kind of man he is. He has pictured his life a certain way, and does everything in his power to get it. Mia, for her part, is a good wife and mother to her two boys. She was young when she fell for Paul’s charms and soon married him, but the past ten years with him have slowly opened her eyes to the truth.
I read this book SO FAST because I knew something was coming, but I didn’t know what. The author is not so subtle with the foreshadowing, but it works to help set the sinister tone of the day for Paul and Mia.
The only thing I had some issue with was the ending, as it seemed a bit anticlimactic, but the more I think about what occurred, the more it seems realistic. The uncertainly is certainly relatable for a lot of women, and chilling.
Best Day Ever is recommended for any reader who likes a story where they’re not quite sure where they will end up, but they know the ride to get there will be exhilarating.
About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope, was the Winner of the Indie Excellence Book Award in Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Winner of the USA Book Awards in the Women’s Fiction category and received Honorable Mention in Mainstream/Literary Fiction for the Writer’s Digest Book Awards. Her novel, The Goodbye Year, which was released in May 2016, was Redbook Magazine’s “20 Best Books You Absolutely Must Read This Spring.” Kaira’s latest novel, Best Day Ever, is one of the major launch titles for Harlequin’s new imprint Graydon House, and will be available on September 19, 2017.
Kaira is also the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs and the creator of Real Living, one of the nation’s most successful real estate brands and the first national women-focused brand in real estate. She has given speeches to both women and men’s entrepreneurial conferences and programs across the country on the power of women as consumers and in the world. Kaira was named Best Entrepreneur from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and was also recognized in Entrepreneur magazine’s inaugural Top 50 fastest-growing, women-led companies list.
In addition to her many entrepreneurial and literary accomplishments, Kaira is very active in both her native Ohio community and in her community in Southern California, where she now resides. Her philanthropic pursuits began when she founded Central Ohio’s first homeless shelter for families when she was twenty-five years old, and Kaira has since received numerous awards for her civic service.
Kaira’s family includes her husband of 28 years, her four kids, and her two spoiled dogs. She lives in Southern California and is at work on her next novel. After living in Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, she now enjoys the beach whenever possible.
Connect with Kaira Rouda
Twitter: @KairaRouda / Instagram: @KairaRouda / Pinterest: @KairaRouda
I am thrilled to share with you this EXCLUSIVE clip from the film!