Category Archives: Uncategorized

What Americans Believe About Australia

I suppose one could say that Australia, like many other countries, has been linked to certain stereotypes within books, movies, and other media.  That’s no surprise–people like to have their thoughts about a place and usually stick with them.  Today, I’d like to explore some of these preconceived notions about Australia.  Some may have the truth behind them, but others are probably far from true!  If any of my readers are from Australia or have ever been there, please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

AUSTRALIA HAS DEADLY ANIMALS EVERYWHERE YOU TURN!

When you mention Australia to most Americans, one of the first things they will often comment on is how there are so many types of animals there that can kill you, and in fact, they are waiting at every turn–even in your home!  To be fair, for such a small land mass, Australia does have a rather concentrated amount of venomous and otherwise dangerous creatures.  Between snakes, spiders, sharks, and crocodiles, there’s plenty to be frightened of Down Under.  But using good observation skills and being vigilant in nature will go a long way.  Don’t be surprised to find huge spiders in your house though :O

 

AUSTRALIA IS HOME TO ANTIQUATED AND SHELTERED ABORIGINAL PEOPLES

Aborigines are the indigenous people of Australia, who were occupying the continent tens of thousands of years before the Europeans arrived.  While there are certain thoughts Americans would have about the Aborigines, mostly from films, most of them are not true.  Though there are surely those groups who are still hasty to adapt to the modern world, for the most part Aboriginal people of Australia are technologically involved. Playing the didgeridoo still sounds really cool after all this time though.

AUSTRALIA IS A DESOLATE, DESERT LAND

I can easily see how this would be the first thought for many American citizens–nearly every movie about Australia takes place in the stark looking Outback.  This is also definitely a partial truth, because the continent is home to TEN separate desert areas.  They are full of diverse species of plants and animals.  But, there are also other sides to the country, such as lush beaches, and city and cultural centers such as Sydney.  These cities and metropolitan areas are often the hubs of Australia’s economy.  Everyone can picture the famous Sydney Opera House, right?

 

AUSTRALIA HAS WILD KANGAROOS GALORE!

I can admit, I really just want this one to be true, and judging by the fact that there are actual “Kangaroo Crossing” signs in Australia, I have faith that it is–and I will just leave it at that.

Advertisements

Comforting Those Who Need Us Most

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Thessalonians 4:13-14

Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss. At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one. Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone. We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.

_T2A0127.dng

For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one. But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy. We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But what if someone struggles to heal? What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction. How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”

There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about. The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter. Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again. I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.


Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.

Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us. As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).

It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone. As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another. Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Thessalonians 4:17-18

BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Breaking by Danielle Rollins

breaking

Breaking

by Danielle Rollins

YA Thriller

Scheduled Release: June 6, 2017

breaking_tagline_med

Book Description

Companion novel to Burning.

Prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this commercial YA thriller.

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Underhill Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school—or her demanding mother—her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Underhill Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Underhill are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…

Suspenseful and scintillating, with hints of the supernatural, this fast-paced thriller will keep readers hooked.

Danielle

About the Author

Author of the best-selling MERCILESS series, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, BURNING, and BREAKING. I’m currently working on the last installment of the Merciless books, & starting a new series to be announced later this year.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

PURCHASE THE BOOK:

Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Goodreadssshgiveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of BREAKING, US Only.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Breaking is touring with Rockstar Book Tours for 2 weeks! Click the banner at the top of my post for full details, including links.

RELEASE DAY BLITZ & GIVEAWAY: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern



I am so excited that PERFECT by Cecelia Ahern is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Cecelia Ahern, be sure to
check out all the details below.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for 2 sets of finished copies of FLAWED & PERFECT
courtesy of Fierce Reads and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
 
 

 

Title: PERFECT (Flawed #2)
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Pub. Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook
Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.
Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.
But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.
Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With  tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.
And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?
Title: FLAWED
Author: Cecilia Ahern
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 368
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, & audiobook
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and flaws are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

 
sshexcerpt
Chapter Eight
            They stay there for three hours.
            My muscles burn, my feet ache, but I’m afraid to move.
            When the fire has reduced to a smolder, Granddad and Dahy are ordered to place the bundles of food onto the coals. The farmworkers watch from their orderly line, their F brand armbands all visible on their right arms, just above their elbow.
            This was supposed to be a celebration, a coming together to show that the Guild couldn’t beat them down. Now the Whistleblowers themselves are here. Hiding behind the tree, huddled on the ground, hugging my legs, shivering from the damp forest, I can’t
say that I feel empowered. This feels like a defeat.
            Granddad and Dahy cover the food with the soil so it will cook under the ground in the heat. Granddad looks at the ground, his work finished, as though he’s buried me alive. Again I want to call out to him that I’m okay, I made it out, but I can’t.
            A phone rings and the female Whistleblower takes it. She steps aside, walks away from the others, so she can talk in private. She moves closer to me in the woods. I tense up again.
            “Judge Crevan, hello. It’s Kate. No, Judge, Celestine isn’t here. We’ve checked everywhere.”
            Silence as she listens and I hear Crevan’s voice from where I stand. Kate walks farther and stops by my tree.
            I press my back to the tree, squeeze my eyes shut, and hold my breath.
            “With all due respect, Judge, this is the Guild’s sixth visit to the property and I believe Mary May was meticulous in her search. We’ve checked everywhere you can imagine. I don’t believe she’s here. I think the grandfather is telling the truth.”
            I can hear the frustration in her voice. They’re all under pressure to find me, pressure placed on them by Judge Crevan. Kate takes a few more steps, right into my
eyeline.
            She slowly scans the forest, her eyes searching the distance.
            Then she looks right at me.
About Cecilia:

At twenty-one, Cecelia wrote her first novel PS, I Love You, which was sold to forty-seven countries. The film of the same title, directed by Richard LaGravenese and produced by Wendy Finerman productions, starred Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Bates, Gerry Butler, Harry Connick Jr, Gina Gershon and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. PS, I Love You was one of the biggest-selling debut novels of 2004, reaching number 1 in Ireland and in the UK Sunday Times bestseller
list. It was also a bestseller throughout Europe and the USA, staying on the best-seller list in Germany for 52 weeks.

That same year, in November 2004, her second book Where Rainbows End (as Rosie Dunne hardback in the US, Love, Rosie paperback in US) also reached no.1 in Ireland and the UK, remaining at the top of the Irish bestsellers list for 12 weeks and again was a bestseller internationally.  Where Rainbows End was adapted for film titled Love, Rosie and will be released in Oct 2014, starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Her third book If You Could See Me Now was published in November 2005 and also
became an international bestseller. It has been optioned by producer Simon Brooks, producer of Love, Rosie.

Cecelia’s fourth novel A Place Called Here (published under the title There’s No Place Like Here in the US) also became an international number one bestseller.

Thanks For The Memories, her fifth novel, was also a huge bestseller and is now being adapted for a TV Drama Series by Gate Productions.

The Gift was published in October 2008 and became an International bestseller. It is optioned by Oscar winning producer Andreas Bareiss, and it is going into production later this year.

Her seventh novel The Book Of Tomorrow was released in October 2009 and eOne
Television are developing it for a TV series in the US.

In March of 2011 her two short stories, Girl in the Mirror were published.

In November by Cecelia’s eighth novel The Time Of My Life was published and
also became a bestseller.

Her ninth novel One Hundred Names was published in October 2012 and became a
number one bestseller.

Her tenth novel How To Fall In Love was published last November and also became
another bestseller.

To date Cecelia has sold over 22 million copies of her books worldwide.
sshgiveaway
Giveaway Details:
2 Winners will receive finished copies of FLAWED & PERFECT, US Only.
Ends on April 18th at Midnight EST!

 

Is There a Right Way to Send Easter Baskets by Mail?

stock-images-easter-basket-graphicsfairy-purp1

Are you debating whether to “do” Easter at all this year? The question may seem odd, but many people do face this dilemma every spring. It isn’t a question of whether you really want to send gifts to your family members. It’s more an issue of practicality. If you live in the Calgary area and have relatives spread all over the country, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to send out your holiday gifts by mail. You may have genuine concerns as to whether an Easter basket may reach your relatives in time to be of any use to them. If so, you should know that a new system is in place to assure success.

There is Never a Need to Do Without a Festive Easter Celebration

You should never be in a position where you are forced to contemplate the thought of doing without a festive celebration of each and every holiday that comes along. The Easter celebration is certainly no exception to this rule. You should never feel that the cost of sending a timely seasonal gift to your friends and loved ones is beyond the scope of your budget. On the contrary, even if the people nearest and dearest to your heart live well outside the borders of Canada, you should still feel able to send them a reminder that you are thinking of them.

Sending Easter Gifts to Far Away Relatives is Easier Than Ever

It’s actually easier than ever to send your Easter basket to friends and relatives anywhere in the United States and Canada. There’s a whole new system in place that will allow you to make use of the latest technology to ensure a same day delivery in many areas. Even if your basket is going all the way down to the southern United States, it will still reach your relatives in a safe, efficient, and timely manner.

What Makes an Easter Basket a Holiday Themed Success Story?

There are a number of important factors that make an Easter basket from a commonplace item into a true holiday success. For one thing, it’s obviously the thought that counts. You have clearly taken the time, made the effort, and spent the money to remind your friends and loved ones that they are on your mind and near to your heart. Beyond this, there are certain aesthetic qualities that a successful Easter basket needs to exhibit. The contents of the basket should be carefully arranged, while the construction of the basket itself should be sturdy, long lasting, and easy on the eyes.

You Need to Be Sure That Your Gift Will Get There on Time

Your main concern will be to make absolutely certain that any gift you send will reach its intended recipient in a safe and timely manner. This is an area that you need to be assured of success in before you risk your hard earned cash. Luckily, technology has improved dramatically in the past few years to the point where you can now send an Easter basket to your friends and loved ones overnight. The basket will reach them in time to celebrate the holiday and receive a timely reminder from you. This is an issue that is naturally of the highest impact, so it’s reassuring to know it has been taken care of.

Where Can You Go to Be Sure Your Gift Will Arrive on Time?

The Easter season is nearly upon us, and it’s important to be ready. The time to make your gift giving plans is now. If you are ready to send Easter gift baskets any where in Canada and US, there’s a place you can go to make sure they will arrive on time. You can visit an excellent new site called Sweetbasket.com. This is the place where you can go to view an exciting new selection of Easter gift baskets and get precise details on how to make sure your gift will reach your loved ones in a safe and timely manner. Visit the site for more details on how to make this Easter a joyous occasion for your loved ones.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Spurt by Chris Miles

spurt_tour_banner

Spurt

by Chris Miles

Middle Grade Fiction

spurt

Book Description

Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no bloomer: an eighth grader, and puberty is still a total no-show. Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends all winter vacation. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—until he finds out it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating. Jack is out of luck. But then he comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Fourteen year old Jack Sprigley believes he doesn’t have much going on for him at this point in his eighth grade life. He’s the only boy he knows who hasn’t started puberty–not even one single hair down there! His friends haven’t spoken to him in weeks. He’s bullied by his hulking classmate. But when he gets the chance to stand out again in a way he did a couple year prior, he takes it–though things are not what he expects them to be.

I guess I thought, based on the description of this book, that it would be more about a boy trying to ACTUALLY fake puberty, and that would have been hilarious. That’s not really what happens here though. Jack is supremely bothered that he’s still so young seeming compared to his friends, but he’s more concerned about standing out and being special than the changes not happening to his body. In his defense, his friends did treat him pretty crappy, but maybe at 13/14 kids are just that way to each other.

There were a whole lot of misunderstandings and non communicative scenarios going on, so much so that they kind of make up the basis of the book. There were conversations that were hilarious, sure, but there were just as many that were kind of mean spirited and frustrating. If these kids would have just talked to each other so many problems could have been solved!

There is definitely some risque subject matter in the novel, so although it’s a middle grade book, parents might want to give it a quick read first. But always remember, if they don’t learn it from you, they will learn it from somewhere else! The book has plenty of laugh out loud moments but some readers might find characterization to be lacking. I might recommend this book for older middle grade/young YA readers.

248340

About the Author

Chris Miles has written several books for young readers in Australia. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in publications throughout Australia. He works as a website designer and developer, and in his spare time he indulges his love of Doctor Who, LEGO®, Dungeons & Dragons, and anchovies. He is a dog person (though not literally).

PURCHASE THE BOOK:
sshgiveaway
– 5 Winners will receive a Copy of Spurt by Chris Miles

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

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Tiago by Catia Skye

Tiago

by Cátia Skye

YA Contemporary Romance

Two shattered hearts. One unstoppable love.

Nominate Tiago, by debut YA Romance author Cátia Skye, for consideration by Kindle Scout and you could win a $25 Amazon Gift Voucher, and you could get to read the book for free! Scroll down for excerpts, blurb, author info and, of course, the giveaway!

Tiago, by Cátia Skye, Book Cover


New York, USA

Kezra, sixteen, dumped by her boyfriend of six months after he took her virginity, shocked by revelations about her father, falls into an abyss of panic and anxiety. On doctor’s orders, she is sent on a vacation to get away from pressures.

Lisbon, Portugal

Tiago, seventeen, has lost more than most lose in a lifetime, believes implicitly in the inevitable Portuguese Tragedy, has left the thug-life, has left school, is just trying to survive each new day.

Neither of them is looking for love…


Categories:

  • Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary
  • Romance > Series
  • Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Coming of Age
  • Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Geography & Cultures > Europe

sshexcerpt

Kezra

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

I am no looker.

I’m not a dog either. But I am no looker.

Aylin used to say I was precocious. “Precocious when it comes to boys,” she’d say.

By the time I was done dating Conor, I said I was nothing but a fool.

I started dating too early. Antoni was the first guy I ever saw. I was fourteen, close to fifteen, sporting braces on my teeth. We shared a kiss, nothing passionate, innocent.

Until he touched my breasts and I went cold.

Fourteen. Was he a freaking idiot?

Dawson happened after that. It lasted three months. I was more grown up, more developed. My breasts, especially, were more developed.

I hate my breasts.

But it was Conor who would thrust me into the black world of adulthood with an indignant slap I am certain I will never forget.

I write because I am lonely.

I write because I hurt.

I write while tears drip from my eyes, turning the screen of my tablet into splotches of pixelated rainbows.

The way I was brought into this world has nothing to do with how I feel about love.

It has everything to do with how I feel about myself.

How much horror can a mind endure?

Are the pains of a sixteen-year-old laughed at by those older then her?

What pain did my mother suffer? (“Sometimes I went without food so that I wouldn’t have to take that bastard’s money, Kez.”)

My pain is nothing compared to what hers must have been. And yet, the pain I feel is phenomenal.

Tiago

P.S. I Love You (2007)

Just before the sun rises, when the world is silent and the River Tejo laps gently at the stone steps leading to the giant Praça do Comércio square, leaves of golden sunlight shimmer above the surface of Lisbon’s great river. This is my favorite time to sit on these steps, flicking stones into the water, letting my gaze drift west toward the ocean.

And I think of her.

I do not weep anymore. My eyes are dry. I have wept this entire river twice over and still that will not bring her back.

The seagulls taunt me, cawing in accusation. I should have moved faster, they say. I should not have been so complacent with my joy.

I never deserved that joy. I know it.

Tiago

Deadly is the Female (1950)

It is the week for meeting Americans. And if I thought my encounter with Dahlia went bad, then I can only compare my meeting with the one called Kezra to something just short of a nuclear war. It’s my fault, mostly. But it’s also her fault.

I would love to say that our first encounter is quaint and sweet, that it is the type of first-meeting you expect from a Rom-Com.

It is not.

It is a disaster.

And I am nothing short of a hungover bastard.

But let’s call a spade a spade. Guilt must be placed where guilt belongs. And this chick is a real stinker of a piece of work too.

I guess you could say I started it.

I did.

But she contributes gladly to the atomic chain reaction which follows.

Dare I say, I think she even revels in it.

Copyright © 2017, Cátia Skye. All Rights Reserved.


sshgiveaway

ENTER HERE TO WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD!


About Cátia

Cátia Skye Avatar

Cátia Skye is a New-York-born, Portuguese-American gal who now resides in the romantic heart of Lisbon, Portugal. She is the single mother of one rambunctious little boy, and pens romance novels between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. each night when her boy finally falls asleep.

Tiago is her first novel.

Visit Cátia’s Website

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls

by Amy Engel

Literary Fiction/Thriller

roanoke-girls_final

Book Description

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

2fleur

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

First off, I will say that this review will come with a serious TRIGGER WARNING for many reasons, just a few I will name here: suicide, pedophilia, incest, etc. Do not go starting this book thinking it’s a run of the mill thriller about a missing girl, because it is not.

In Kansas, there is a house where the girls born there, Roanokes, never seem to leave…or if they do, they don’t last long. Lane is the daughter of one of those Roanoke Girls, and though she was raised far away from Kansas, she is forced to go back there after her mother kills herself. Lane joins her cousin Allegra, who was raised in the house by their grandparents, and another orphan.

This book tells the story of one life changing summer in the lives of teenage Allegra and Lane, but also, the current tale of how Lane must go back to the Roanoke House after ten years because Allegra has gone missing. Secrets will be found out, and horrors hidden far too long will come to light even as Lane feels the pull of the house she thought she had escaped on her once again.

I do not want to give away the main “secret” of the plot, but I will say that it’s not really that much of a secret since it’s kind of blurted out around 20 % into the book. Once this comes out, it didn’t take much for me to imagine the rest of the storyline, and as I finished the book, I was right on nearly every prediction I made about what would happen.

Lane is not a particularly likable main character. Even she knows that she’s not a good person, but she goes out of her way to expose her flaws and make herself seem worse than she really is, even as a teenager. For someone who has so much self introspection throughout the novel, she truly does have no sense of how to make herself stop doing the self destructive things that she does.

The other characters in the book weren’t much better. Allegra strings along a guy who’s madly in love with her until she can’t have him anymore; only then does she want him. Everyone else in Roanoke House turns a blind eye to what is happening right in front of their faces, and ultimately I cannot say there was one single person in this book that I liked.

The other main issue that affected my rating of the book is that it’s beyond the scope of believable, unless there are these types of stories somewhere out there and I’ve been living under a rock and not heard them. I cannot believe that THREE different generations of women could be so deeply affected by the same man. I also cannot believe that the people who were not part of the family could accept what was going on.

I’m not sure who I would recommend this book for; but if you decide to give it a shot just know that you’re going into a novel that tries hard to be dark and twisty, but ultimately I just found gross and predictable.

amy-engel-color-credit-trish-brown-photography-200x300

About the Author

AMY ENGEL is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults.

Connect with Amy

Website | Facebook | Twitter

.
Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

tlc-logo-resized

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

by Suzanne Kamata

Coming of Age Fiction

mermaids-cover_-3x4

Book Description

Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal–the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana–has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one’s allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.

2fleur

MY THOUGHTS:  2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS


The Mermaids of Lake Michigan
by Suzanne Kamata

Being honest, it took me several chapters to get into this book. For at least the first 10 chapters, time goes back and forth from the main character being a little girl, to her current age, high school senior. And by the way–this is a total guess. I never specifically read either an age for the narrator and her sister, OR a year when this story takes place. Though the few context clues lead to the late 70’s.

Our main character is Elise. Though she’s the older sister, she’s always been outshone by her little sis’s grace and beauty. So when free spirited Chiara breezes into town, bookish Elise is quickly enamored of the colorful world she experiences with her and they become best friends.

Though I thought that Elise had a good head on her shoulders, it doesn’t take her long to follow in Chiara’s not so innocent footsteps and lead her life down a spiraling path. I suppose we as readers are meant to surmise that Elise is tired of being the good girl that always comes in second best, but this just didn’t come across for me. Elise meets a guy twice and is instantly in love with him. She makes terrible decision after terrible decision, and into her life come a parade of random people that in the end, don’t mean that much to the story.

This novel was a very fast read, but I can’t say it was for me at all. The things Elise did just were not smart, even though I guess she felt she had no other choice. She’s also BEYOND naive and even seeing some of the shadier sides of the world beyond her town does nothing to make her face reality. I was glad when the ending came but it left a lot to be desired.

View all my reviews

suzanne_kamata_thumb1

About the Author

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Connect with Suzanne

Website | Twitter

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

sshgiveaway

One commenter will have the chance to win their own copy of The Mermaids of Lake Michigan.  US and Canada only please!

Lenten Reflections and Giveaway

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I have been doing some thinking about what I would want to “give up” for Lent.  Last year, I didn’t even bother because I knew I had long days with a newborn and I was so tired I was bound to lose any willpower quickly.  But my son, in second grade and learning about the deeper meaning of Lent now that he is getting older, came home today asking, “Mom, I don’t know what I want to give up for Lent. Why do we give up things?  Can you help me think?”

After a little while, I told him that Lent was a special time for us to think about how Jesus lived his life for us, and everything he gave up for that, including his life.  I didn’t know how much detail my kid would understand.  I told him the best way to live during Lent was to maybe DO things that Jesus would like.  After all, Lent is a time to make our faith stronger, and I am a believer that any way you choose to do that is fine.

image002

One way you can partake in Lent is to learn more about the life of Jesus, the tales and mystery surrounding him, and how he affected others, such as the apostles.

Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery is a supremely interesting show.  Each episode explores in detail some facet related to Christ: the Shroud of Turin, Mary Magdalene, the Cross.  While the story is reenacted in the foundation of the show, you are taken on a journey around the world to hear from religious and secular experts to learn more about the episode’s subject.

Season 2 of Finding Jesus will debut on Sunday, March 5–just in time for your family to experience together during Lent.  The first episode is centered around the apostle Thomas. Known most famously by his somewhat notorious nickname, “Doubting Thomas,” this episode proves that there was so much more to his life than his momentary disbelief.  After his faith in the risen Christ was restored, he traveled and spread the word of the Lord, affecting the faith of millions today.

Doubt is such a prevailing theme in everyday modern life.  A person is always wondering if they’ve done enough; if they have said something wrong; if they are doing right by their family.  I believe Lent is the best time to realize that you should give up your doubts to the Lord, just as Thomas did.

sshgiveaway

I am giving away a $25 gift card to Lifeway Christian Stores to one commenter.  It’s just in time for you to get a new bible, gift for upcoming confirmations and communions, and much more.

Please leave a comment letting me know if you have seen Finding Jesus, and if so, what you think about it.  I will choose a winner on March 10.