Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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What I read last week:
1) That's Not My Suitcase by Laina Turner
2) Surface by Stacy Robinson
3) The Red Sun (Legends of Orkney) by Alane Adams
4) Satisfaction by Andee Reilly
5) The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino
6) Code Grey by Clea Simon
7) Onyx Webb by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton
8) A Geek Girl's Guide To Murder by Julie Anne Lindsey

What I listened to last week:
1) Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
2)  Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

What I'm currently reading:
1) Elements by Jesikah Sundlin
2) A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes

What I'm currently listening to:
1) Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier

What I plan to read this week:
1) The Maze
2) Just The Facts
3) A Window Opens
4) Threads Of Evidence
5) Cancans, Croissants and Caskets
6) A Ghostly Grave by Tonya Kappes

What I plan to listen to this week:
1) Multiple Choice by Claire Cook
2) Days Of Awe by Lauren Fox




BLOG TOUR: The Legacy Of Us by Kristin Contino

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Synopsis: Taking readers from 1905 Italy to present-day Philadelphia, The Legacy of Us uncovers how the lives of three generations of women are changed by love, loss and one little necklace...

Liz Moretti thought she knew almost everything about her grandmother, Ella, from her love of "The Golden Girls" to the perfect pound cake recipe. But when Ella passes away and Liz finds a cameo locket with a marriage proposal engraved inside (from a man who was not her grandfather), she realizes that sometimes a person's secrets are discovered only after they're gone. 

On top of losing Ella, Liz's career as a jewelry designer is stagnant and her love life lacks sparkle, too. When she reconnects with the one who got away, Liz thinks maybe things are finally starting to look up. But after a few drinks and a trip down a flight of stairs, Liz wakes up to realize the cameo is gone. Her ex offers to look for it, but so does Justin, the intriguing new guy in her apartment building. 

While dealing with her feelings for two very different men and generally trying to reinvent her mess of a life, Liz finds answers and solace in Ella's diary. The story of the cameo, and the relationship between her grandmother and great-grandmother, an outspoken socialite from Italy, inspires Liz to grow up and accept responsibility for her missteps. Eventually she must choose between the life she thought she wanted and the promise of something better.


Review: A beautifully told story of four generations of women, their searches for love, their relationships with each other, and their careers. The chapters alternate between characters, so that they each get to narrate their own story. All of the stories are equally engaging, which is often not the case in such books. Amazing well done for a first novel, and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: Four stars

About the author
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Kristin Contino has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Her childhood love of reading and writing translated into a career as a freelance writer and editor, and her work has appeared in retail, business, and parenting publications. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her family, but dreams of moving to her favorite city, London. The Legacy of Us is her first novel. 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kristincontino
Instagram:www.instagram.com/kristincontinobooks

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Surface by Stacy Robinson

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Synopsis: In this powerfully written and insightful novel, author Stacy Robinson explores the consequences of flawed choices, the complex nature of betrayal and forgiveness--and the intriguing possibility of second acts. . . Claire Montgomery has a lifetime of sensible decisions behind her. Yet all it takes is one impulsive indiscretion to bring everything crashing down--her marriage to a wealthy entrepreneur, her status as half of one of Denver society's power couples, and the future she dreamed of for their seventeen-year-old son, Nick. Claire's husband, Michael, angrily blames her for the recklessness that has left Nick's life in the balance, though not nearly as much as Claire blames herself. But as Nick struggles to move forward, Claire too begins inching toward a reimagined future. Along with a fresh perspective come new questions. Are there other reasons for her fractured relationship and Michael's increasingly erratic behavior? Has he, too, been harboring painful secrets? And does Claire dare to find the real truth, when her seamlessly decorated world of privilege and security is at stake?

Review: This book actually holds two very moving stories: the recovery and rehab of young Nick, and the ending of the marriage of his parents, Claire and Michael.  

I was never able to like Michael in the slightest...he was a HUGE jerk. Claire was originally naive and in denial, expecting life to be exactly the same as it had been before her "indiscretion." As the story went on, however, I was impressed with her growth and strength.  Nick was determined, and even when he had troubles with his recovery, he never gave up.

The story is very well written, and flows well. The beginning of the book is a little slow, but once it picked up I didn't want to put it down. The main point of the story, to me, is that our actions have consequences, which may be further reaching than we realize.

Rating: Five stars

About the author
 photo 8327419_zpses57wz0h.jpg Stacy graduated with a BA degree in International Relations from Stanford University, and after satisfying her wanderlust with a three-year consulting and teaching stint in Japan, she returned to her hometown of Los Angeles to continue her career in international marketing. A happy twist of fate brought her to Denver, where she had kids and drifted back into the work she loves most – writing. Stacy is a lover of live music, clever lyrics, and the occasional cycling trip - and enjoys the Mile High city and nearby mountains with her husband, three children and chocolate Labrador non-Retriever, Jagger.

BLOG TOUR: The Red Sun:Legends Of Orkney by Alane Adams

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Synopsis: After meeting a strange dwarf in his garage and finding out his substitute English teacher is a witch, twelve-year-old Sam Baron travels through a stonefire to the magical realm of Orkney where he finally learns the truth about his past: his mother is a witch and his father is a descendant of the Norse god, Odin.

"The Red Sun" is the first book in The Legends of Orkney, the spellbinding series of adventure fantasy novels by Alane Adams. It follows Sam to the realm of Orkney where witches, wraiths, and other menacing creatures cause serious peril to the unsuspecting Sam. Now, it's up to him to save his friends and all of Orkney from a cursed red sun. Can a young witch girl named Mavery help him?

Drawing on Norse mythology, this fantastical story will enthrall middle grade and tween readers with a taste for adventure. As Sam grapples with dark and dangerous elements from his past and confronts his own simmering anger over long ago events, "The Red Sun" sears with wild imagination and breathtaking moments. Follow "The Red Sun" for the high-flying magical ride of your life.


Review: A great book for fans of Harry Potter! Lots of magic and adventure, with comic interludes included.  The main character faces moral dilemmas and obstacles in ways which can be applied to the obstacles of young readers as well. 

If my children were still young, I can imagine us reading this (and future books in the series) the same way we did the Harry Potter series--a chapter or two together every night, then discussing what we thought might happen next.

I would recommend this to all middle grade readers, particularly young boys.

Rating: Four stars

About the author
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"Dear Readers: I wrote this book for my twelve-year-old son who challenged me to write something he would enjoy reading. The Red Sun is filled with exciting characters who struggle to find their true path. Sam learns so much about his past and how to overcome his anger, but will he continue to use his power for good or will he be drawn to the dark side? I hope you enjoy reading the Legends of Orkney series as much as I enjoyed writing them for you. Keep reading!" - Alane Adams


Alane Adams grew up in an old Quaker town called Whittier in Southern California. Adams attended Whittier High School and was active in every possible sport including basketball (proudly claiming the nickname Breakaway Adams!) and swimming and diving. For college, Alane attended the University of Southern California where she wanted to be an English major, but family convinced her to become an accountant to help run a family business. After spending the next few decades helping to build one of the largest recycling companies on the West Coast, Alane left the family business behind to pursue her writing career. Before launching into writing full-time, Alane began teaching full-time at a local university. Finally, the Legends of Orkney series was born when her then 12-year-old son challenged Alane to write a book he could read. She hasn't stopped writing since that day.

Alane's favorite books include any story involving folklore, fantasy and fairytales. When Alane is not writing or teaching, she is hanging out with her three boys, each who have grown up having adventures to rival those of her characters. 

Find out more at: www.AlaneAdams.com

Saturday, August 29, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Murder She Floats (Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective #3) by Stephen Kaminski

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Book Information
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press (August 22, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1939816498
E-Book ASIN: B00NR8QJI4

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Synopsis: A suicide note found in a locked room. A shard of glass buried in a scoop of whipped potatoes. A pickle jar filled with poisonous spiders. Precious jewels yanked off of a woman’s neck but left at her feet. It’s just a week in the life of Damon Lassard when he boards The Vitamin of the Seas with his charismatic mother for a ‘relaxing’ Caribbean cruise. 

After Damon’s acerbic dining companion is found floating alongside the ship and local police rule the death a suicide, the loveable amateur sleuth is left to find the killer himself. He encounters seductive sirens, cunning con artists, and fascinating family members en route to solving not only the murder but a handful of clever capers as well.

Review: While this isn't really a book that strikes my fancy, it is very well-written, and has much to recommend it to others. The victim's family has a multitude of skeletons in the closet, and thanks to the author they all come tumbling out over the course of the story.

Aside from the murder, there are also two other smaller mysteries to be solved, and our hero gets some help from his mother with one of them.  When it comes to the actual murderer, I was totally in the dark as to the identity up until the reveal. 

The author also manages to include some humor along the way, to help break up the tension.

I would suggest that readers start at the beginning of the series rather than just picking up this one as a standalone, but it isn't really necessary to have read the others in order to follow this one.


Rating: Four stars

About the author
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STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. The first three cozy mysteries in the series are It Takes Two to StrangleDon’t Cry Over Killed Milk, and Murder, She Floats. Each of the three has won a Reader Views Literary Award and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk was a finalist in both the 2014 Clue Awards and 2014 Murder & Mayhem Awards.  Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. He serves as the CEO and Executive Director of a national healthcare association and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.
 Author Links:
Purchase Links
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a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Friday, August 28, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Leave Yesterday Behind by Lauren Linwood

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Book InformationTitle: Leave Yesterday Behind
Author: Lauren Linwood
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Pages: 244
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Kindle


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Synopsis: Callie Chennault vaulted to fame on the nighttime soap Sumner Falls, but after a decade of playing the same role, she is ready for a new acting challenge. When Callie is attacked by a stalker on the streets of New York, she takes a leave of absence from the show and returns to her roots in Aurora, Louisiana, to heal both physically and emotionally and determine her next career move.

Former professional baseball pitcher Nick La Chappelle has also come to Aurora to lick his own wounds after a messy divorce. A Cy Young winner and one-time ESPN broadcaster, Nick longs for the quiet of a small town in order to write murder mysteries under a pen name.

Sparks fly when Callie believes Nick is taking advantage of her great-aunt’s hospitality, but they resolve their differences—and surprise themselves by falling in love. Their bond is tested when both Nick and Callie become the focus of a serial killer nicknamed Lipstick Larry. Can they outwit a murderer bent on seeing them dead and survive to build a lasting relationship?


Review: A very exciting read, filled with suspense from beginning to end. The main characters are well-written, and the secondary characters are perfect for enhancing the story.

I was drawn into the story from the first page, and kept turning pages anxious to find out what was going to happen next.

Perfect read for those who enjoy action, suspense, romance and comedy in the same tale. 

Rating: Four stars

About the author
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As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.
Lauren’s historical novels focus on two of her favorite eras—medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. She also writes romantic suspense, where modern heroes and heroines unite to defeat a strong antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.
Her recent book is the romantic suspense, Leave Yesterday Behind.
For More Information

Thursday, August 27, 2015

BOOKSPARKS SUMMER READING CHALLENGE: Vote For Remi by Leanna Lehman

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BOOK INFORMATION
Genre: Political fiction, contemporary, womens fiction
  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (May 13, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1631529781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1631529788

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Synopsis: Fiery US government teacher Remi Covington is relentless in her desire to impart the genius of the democratic process to her students. Her so-called “academically challenged” high school seniors sometimes find her enthusiasm more than a little annoying—so, in an effort to teach her a lesson, they execute a brazen, high-tech, social media blitz touting her as the newest candidate in the upcoming US presidential race. Much to everyone’s surprise, Remi plays along with her students’ ruse—and in a nation weary of politics and career politicians, she unexpectedly finds herself the darling of the American public. 

As the campaign takes on a life of its own, Remi is forced to confront a myriad of long-held social biases and cultural clich├ęs, and realizes she isn’t quite the woman she thought was. Vote for Remi is about a would-be a presidential candidate who, despite being all wrong—the wrong gender, the wrong party, and certainly the wrong social status—discovers that she might be exactly what America needs: someone with a passion for doing what is right.

Review: With all of the political prattle going on these days, this book really hits home with me. Remi and her Do Right Party are a breath of fresh air in a country tired of political rhetoric, campaign promises, and outright lies.

This is a very believable story--well thought out and fully researched. You will find yourself rooting for the underdog, and cheering for how the story ends.


It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, as it is much more professional than many first novels I have read in the past. Here's to a long, productive writing career for Ms. Lehman!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Rating:  Four stars

About the author
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 Leanna Lehman is the author of quirky political fiction novel, Vote For Remi (She Writes Press). She worked in the education field for six years, and specialized in developing online educational programs that assist at-risk teens. She lives in Fallon, Nevada, with her rescued dog Henry Higgins, and spends her free time painting, hiking, snowboarding, camping, and traveling to the coast. She found her passion for writing while undergoing chemotherapy in 2008-2009, when she began journaling her experience.

GUEST POST AND SPOTLIGHT:Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for

Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred


About Unintended:

Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.

Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.

Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Book Details:

Title: Unintended

Author Name:  Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

Genre(s): Fantasy Romance, Romantic Comedy

Tags: Fantasy, romance, comedy, Shakespearian-style, romantic comedy.

Length: Approx. 440 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-08-3
Paperback:  978-1-987976-07-6

Release Date: August 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

Tour Host: Sapphyria's Book Promotions 

Purchase Links:

Amazon ~ 



Mirror World Publishing ~ 



Follow the Tour to Read Reviews, Guest Posts, and Spotlights:


Meet the Authors:


Murandy Damodred (left) & Justine Alley Dowsett (right):

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred (left) enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid roleplayer and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.

From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.



GUEST POST BY JUSTINE ALLEY DOWSETT: Five Ways To Escape To A Fantasy Setting Without Leaving The "Real World"

When writing Unintended, Murandy and I did a lot of ‘research’, which is to say that we took every opportunity to immerse ourselves in medieval culture. You know what I’m talking about; princes and princesses, castles, horses, and handwritten letters. Here’s a list of 5 ways we found that you can use to escape the ‘real world’ for a little while…
1. Explore a castle or other historic site
We chose Casa Loma in downtown Toronto because it’s really the only castle that you can find in Southwestern Ontario, but even still, it was a great experience. As far as castles go, it’s not that old and it’s not that big, but it helped to get an idea of the scope of what our characters would be dealing with. And for a bonus, it has secret passageways to explore and an escape tunnel that leads to the greenhouse!
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2.   Go horseback riding or hiking
I’m sure Murandy regrets our decision to go horseback riding, seeing as she fell from her horse minutes out of the stables and broke her collarbone, but I’ve always wanted to go. If, like Murandy, horses are really your thing, you can always go for a hike. The important thing is to get away from civilization for a while so you can get a taste of what it might have been like back before cars and electricity.

3. Check out your local society for historical re-enactment or visit a renaissance faire
Murandy and I both used to belong to a sword-fighting group called ‘Grand Melee’ where we’d compete in tournaments locally. I learned a lot and it was a great way to stay fit. There are lots of medieval re-enactment groups to be found where you can get a similar experience, or some places host renaissance faires where you can immerse yourself in the culture for a day. Of course, there’s always Medieval Times, as well!
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4. Write a letter with quill and ink
We did this a lot, actually. Ink can be found at your local craft store and we bought our quills from Chapters, but you can find them online if you need to. We also got a hold of some decent stationary and a wax seal. (Yes, we take our ‘research’ very seriously!) Armed with these supplies, Murandy and I spent a good deal of time penning letters to one another. Most of these were in character, which helped to set the tone as well!

5. Watch a movie, television show, or read a good book
Game of Thrones is a really popular one right now, but there are lots of TV shows, movies and books that can take you away. In fact, our publishing house, Mirror World Publishing, is all about escapism, so that’s a good place to start! Of course you can always just read Unintended...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato, She Says Murder by Duncan Whitehead

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Synopsis: When two old friends, bound together by their love of growing fruits and vegetables enter the same competition, how far will they go to ensure victory? A charming story with more twists and turns than a tomato vine. 

FROM THE AUTHOR 

This short story is a cozy mystery coupled with dark comedy. I love dark humor novels as well as cozy murder mysteries and this quick read, I believe, is a charming mystery. So, if you enjoy quick reads, dark humor, and cozy mysteries - this short story is for you. 

Review:  This is a very entertaining mystery that takes a surprising dark turn.  At seventeen pages, it's a very quick read. All of the characters are surprisingly well developed in such a short time.

I would love to see an entire book of short stories of this type.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Rating: Five stars

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: Nacreous by Sarah Elle Emm

~ Release Day Blitz ~

About the Book:
After two members of The Freedom Front are arrested and interrogated by the UZTA’s tyrannical President Nicks, Rain Hawkins and her friends face the alarming reality that their plans to liberate the mixed zones across the United Zones of The Authority might not come to fruition. While the resistance movement is growing outside the walls of the zones, the president’s forces are strengthening and putting citizens everywhere in more peril than ever. When Rain receives warnings that her cousin, Calista, has agreed to support plans to kill the mixed zones, and that her life could be on the line at the upcoming pure zone initiation ceremony, she must decide where her loyalties lie and if all of her allies can be trusted. As The Freedom Front use their abilities to unravel the mystery of the ceremony, The Authority captures some of their friends, forcing TFF to either go into hiding, or plan a rescue mission that could jeopardize everything they’ve been fighting for.




Buy NOW from Amazon - Paperback or Kindle


Hooray, it is finally release day for Nacreous! Thanks for stopping by the fabulous Release Day Blitz, organized by b00k r3vi3w Tours. To kick off the blitz, here are a couple of “Fun Facts” about my writing process… I hope you enjoy!

Writing Playlist:

So…Music. Some authors swear by it. They have their playlist set in the background while they pen their latest manuscript. Me? Not exactly. Music is very important to me. I believe in dance parties, and by dance parties I mean cranking up my I-pod to the music fitting my mood, be this salsa, classic rock, blues, country, classical, whatever, and dancing alone in my room or kitchen. (Yes, I said classical and country in the same list). My kids may or may not be in attendance. They like to watch and laugh. Sometimes, they join in. But as far as my writing process goes, the music is sort of my warm up. So I might turn on some music that fits my mood for parts of the story and listen to it in my car or at my desk before I write, but not while I am actually writing. I need it to be quiet in the room, so I can tell the story…(Ahem, hear what my characters are trying to tell me). ;) While I wrote Nacreous, and the other books in the Harmony Run Series, my favorite music warm-up to set the mood was Lorde. Specifically, the songs Team and A World Alone. In fact, if any of the books from my series could be made for film, I would beg producers to include one of those songs in the movies.

My Writing Process:

I can’t sit down and force myself to write everyday because it begins to feel too mechanical, but I am definitely one of those people who thinks about writing, story ideas, characters, scenarios all of the time, awake or asleep. I love using my dreams in my writing and have written a few of them into scenes in the Harmony Run Series. Back in college, the good ol’ stone ages, I had one of the most terrifying dreams of my life about a man with a triangular-shaped eye chasing me down a corridor, one door after the other, with this woman’s voice echoing all around us, telling him to kill me. When I got to the end of the corridor, I opened the last door, and he was standing there facing me. I woke up sobbing…About a year later, a psychology professor at my university asked some of us to share dreams with him so he could demonstrate dream analysis. I bravely raised my hand, (this was huge for me, since I am very shy in person), and shared my dream in vivid detail. After I finished talking, the entire class got eerily quiet and the professor told me I was dealing with issues beyond his realm of help, and went on to the next student’s dream. That student shared a dream about not being able to make a goal in a soccer match, and the professor dissected his dream in depth for fifteen minutes. Years later, I incorporated that dream, adding on some twists and turns of course, into book one from the Harmony Run Series, Prismatic. 

I also come up with ideas when I’m looking out of the kitchen window, when I’m walking, driving, cooking, gardening, taking my kids to martial arts, helping with their homework, basically, every waking moment. I take heaps of notes. I jot notes down for days. And when I’m ready, I sit down and type everything I can. I woke up the other night, and grabbed the notebook and pen beside my bed and wrote down an idea for another story. So my writing process is sort of a twenty-four hour thing. Oh, and probably the most important part of the process…How could I forget? My dog, Shorty, has to harass me to sit in my lap throughout the day. She eventually gives up and sleeps at my feet or nearby. She spares me the occasional glance or sighs every so often when I talk too much. Yes, I like to talk aloud to myself more often than not. If that dog could talk…Well, thankfully that’s not an issue. Here’s a photo of my writing pal…



Isn’t she cute? I hope you stick around to read about Nacreous. I’m going to look up that old psychology professor to see if he wants to read my latest book… ;)

Previous Books in the Series:

  
(Click on the Cover to know more)

About the Author:

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS, August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.




Stalk the Author:
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The Ginseng Conspiracy (Kay Driscoll Mystery #1) by Susan Bernhardt

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Synopsis: On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgement, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls. 

With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa's Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.


Review: A fabulous first novel and beginning to a mystery series.  Kay and her friends Deirdre and Elizabeth are fascinating characters. The three of them have very different personalities, and they balance each other out well.  All of the other characters in the story were also well-written and fleshed out, so that all of their actions seemed to make sense and fit their personalities. 

The mystery starts almost immediately, and it twists and turns all the way through the book. There is constant action, and suspects abound. When the identity of the murderer is revealed, it is a complete surprise.

The story is set in the fall, around Halloween, so now would be a good time to pick it up and give it a try. However, it is certainly worth reading at any time of year.

Rating: Five stars

About the author
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I'm an author living in northern Wisconsin. Like Kay Driscoll, in my cozy mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy, I'm a retired public health nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. An avid reader of mysteries, I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. and the Wisconsin Writers Association. My other published works include "October 31st", "Midsummer", and "John and Madeline."

My town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint setting of my novel. Ninety-five percent of American ginseng is grown in Wisconsin. I live with my husband, William, and have two sons who are both married and also live in Wisconsin.

When not writing, I love to travel, bicycle, kayak, and create culinary magic in my kitchen. I work in stained-glass, daydream in my organic garden, stay up late reading mysteries, and eat lots of chocolate.

Susan's blog is at www.susanbernhardt.com
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That's Not My Suitcase by Laina Turner

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Synopsis: Sterling Towne decided to take a last minute vacation to a sunny paradise to cheer herself up after a divorce. When the airline misplaces her luggage, she thinks it's just a typical airline snafu until she gets her luggage back only to find out it’s not hers. Rather the suitcase belongs to someone who thought it a good idea to transport a gold Buddha statue via commercial airlines. 

Sterling turns the statue into hotel security for safe keeping but then her room is ransacked, and she’s sure there was someone following her in town. Does the owner of the statue think she still has it? But if so, why not just ask? She’s getting nervous, and even her new friend Steve thinks she might be in danger. 

Is she? Or is her imagination just working over time?

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sterling is a very relatable character, and her adventures on vacation are both fun and suspenseful. 

As I got into the story, I kept alternating between two suspects, and didn't really trust the motives of either one. In the end, one of them DID turn out to be a bad guy.

This is a quick easy read. There are twists and turns in the plot to keep you reading. I hope this will be the first in a series.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Rating: Four stars

The Twinkies Cookbook, Twinkies 85th Anniversary Edition: A New Sweet and Savory Recipe Collection from America's Most Iconic Snack Cake by Hostess

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Synopsis: A comeback cookbook for the perennially popular snack cake, with unique sweet and savory recipes that highlight the whimsical nostalgia of America's favorite dessert.

In celebration of the 85th anniversary of Twinkies®, Hostess® has updated and expanded their beloved and quirky classic The Twinkies Cookbook. This new edition includes the very best recipes from the original, combined with twenty-five new and wonderfully wacky recipes submitted by Twinkies aficionados across the country. From a Twinkie-filled take on chicken and waffles to Twinkie pumpkin pie and beyond, these colorful concoctions will surprise and enchant the Twinkie fan in all of us.

Book Information
  • ISBN:

    978-1-60774-771-0

  • RELEASE:

    Jul 14th, 2015

  • FORMAT

    Hardcover

  • CATEGORY:

    Cooking - Courses & Dishes - Cakes


Review: I love that this book starts with a section about the history of the Twinkie, which adds to its value as a collectible volume.

There are a lot of fun recipes in this little book. A few of the ones I want to try include Twinkie Tunnel Bundt Cake, Twinkie Kebabals, Twinkie Burritos, Chocolate Hazelnut Twinkie S'mores, and Twinkie Corndog.

All of the recipes appear to be quick and simple, which I appreciate.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Rating: Five stars