May 30, 2014

Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan features more than 1,000 goddesses and heroines from around the world. This is an excellent resource to use but also a fun read. Not many books sold as an encyclopedia would I want to read cover to cover, but this one I did, and I’d want to read it again!

Book Description
Groundbreaking scholar Patricia Monaghan spent her life researching, writing about, and documenting goddesses and heroines from all religions and all corners of the globe. Her work demonstrated that from the beginning of recorded history, goddesses reigned alongside their male counterparts as figures of inspiration and awe. Drawing on anthropology, folklore, literature, and psychology, Monaghan’s vibrant and accessible encyclopedia covers female deities from Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, Asia and Oceania, Europe, and the Americas, as well as every major religious tradition.” – Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines

My Thoughts
Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines is a well researched and easy to read encyclopedia about Goddesses and Heroines in mythology. It has the ones that you likely have already learned about such as Athena, Brigit, and Cleopatra. However, it includes so many that you have likely never heard about, such as Niamh, Vasilisa, or Selene?

Goddesses & Heroines are divided by their location in the world, making it easier to find ones that you may be searching for, or learn about a particular culture at a time. If you know the one you want to search for, that is easy to do too, just look in the index. Think you might be named after one of these ladies? Take a peek, I won’t tell!

This is a must-have reference for all mythology fans. It is also great for someone who writes fantasy stories that needs some inspiration for characters. As a gamer, I’d also say it would be great for character names that are unique and can provide meaning to your digital self. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 29, 2014

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi is a look into the lives of two women from Kabul, Afghanistan in 2009. Hashimi presents the readers with the customs of the Afghan people and current standards to which women are still held up to portray. Although it is a fictional story, it is timely and is similar to many situations these women currently face.

Book Description
A luminous and unforgettable tale of two women, destiny, and identity in Afghanistan

Kabul, 2007: The Taliban rules the streets. With a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can rarely leave the house or attend school. Their only hope lies in the ancient Afghan custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a son until she is of marriageable age. As a boy, she has the kind of freedom that was previously unimaginable . . . freedom that will transform her forever.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great-grandmother Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life in the same way—the change took her on a journey from the deprivation of life in a rural village to the opulence of a king's palace in the bustling metropolis of Kabul.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell interweaves the stories of these two remarkable women who are separated by a century but share the same courage and dreams. What will happen once Rahima is old enough to marry? How long can Shekiba pass as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?” – The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

My Thoughts
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a very different novel than I have read before. The characters and situations in it are in Afghanistan, and shows how being a woman or a girl there is actually like, and it isn’t pretty. We know this from news reports we may have watched, head about, or read in an article. However, none of that gives you a feel for what it is like for these women. Nadia Hashimi does an excellent job portraying how their lives are like by weaving it into a beautiful story that illustrates much more than I could ever give it justice in a review.

The main character of Rahima, takes on the “bacha posh” which means she’ll get to dress up and act like a boy, until she is of age to be sold to be married. She is given freedoms that she never otherwise would have had growing up as a girl. Her great-great-grandmother Shekiba also did this, a century earlier, and even served as a guard to the King’s harem.

The overall story was exceptionally well written, and I would even re-read this one again. I learned a lot from the characters in it, and found a new appreciation for women of this country, and ones under similar circumstances. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Ember Island by Kimberly Freeman

Ember Island by Kimberly Freeman is a moving story that puts two brilliantly crafted female characters, in different eras, and seamlessly tells their stories. Ember Island is about hidden secrets, starting over, and the courage to follow your heart.

Book Description
In 1891, Tilly Kirkland is reeling with shock and guilt after her tempestuous marriage ends in horrific circumstances. Fleeing to the farthest place she knows, Tilly takes a job on Ember Island in Moreton Bay, Australia, where she becomes the governess to the prison superintendent’s precocious young daughter, Nell. Tilly knows she must keep the past hidden in order to start a new life, but she doesn’t know that Nell is watching her every move and writing it all down, hiding tiny journals all over their rambling manor home.

More than one hundred years later, bestselling novelist Nina Jones is struggling to complete her next book. A reporter asking questions about her great-grandmother sends Nina retreating to her family’s home on Ember Island, where she hopes to find her lost inspiration somewhere in the crumbling walls. 

Though they are separated by years, both Tilly and Nina must learn that some secrets never stay buried, but what matters most is learning to trust your heart.Ember Island

My Thoughts
Ember Island is a book where the two main characters from a different ere connect, not through past life, but through diary reading. The main characters of Tilly and Nina are both likeable in their own right, but I enjoyed reading about Tilly more. Tilly wasn’t actually the owner of the diaries that were written about her, it was the young Nell, Nina’s great grandmother who wrote about her.

Freeman’s passion for storytelling is not just with the characters that inhabit her novels. She also pays attention to detail in the setting, so it brings the reader into the story to feel like they are there with the characters, living their story right along with them. I love this about her novels, and it is one of the main reasons I can finish her stories in a day. I highly recommend this book for you to read, especially if you enjoy setting oriented and detailed characters that will leave you thinking about them long after you finish the last page.

* Thank you to the publisher of Ember Island, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 27, 2014

Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal by Don Mann

Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal by Don Mann is a fast paced, exciting read that takes fans of the series, and new ones, on a wild adventure of military ops that most of us will only ever read about.

Book Description
Real-life SEAL Don Mann brings all of his insight and experience to the next installment of the SEAL Team Six series.

When a senator’s wife and teenage daughter are kidnapped, Thomas Crocker and SEAL Team Six are sent to Mexico’s lawless countryside, where federal agents protect instead of hunting down violent narcotics kingpins. The two women have been kidnapped by the Jackal, a drug lord drunk on power and influence. He also happens to be a self-styled modern Che Guevara, who has undergone plastic surgery to disguise his looks and justifies his brutal methods and Machiavellian drug empire with the politics of social revolution. The Jackal is as ruthless as he is colorful, and he must be stopped.
Crocker and the SEALs have only a matter of hours to track down and rescue the two innocent civilians held at the mercy of this madman. With dirty cops, dangerous cartels, lavish tropical estates, double-crosses and plenty of bullets, Hunt the Jackal places the team in perilous new territory and demonstrates how elite warriors can adapt to and fight in any situation.

With insight into sensitive intelligence so top-secret it can only be hinted at in fiction, Mann and Pezzullo’s extensive knowledge has for several books offered a look behind the curtain at the life-or-death, black-ops missions executed by only a handful of the bravest soldiers. Now, with Hunt the Jackal, the authors focus their lens even closer to home upon the dangers that lurk just across the U.S. border in a pulse-pounding thriller that ups the ante even as it sheds light on the real-life heroes and villains of the fight against narco-terrorism.” – Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal

My Thoughts
Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal is a well written and captivating story. This is the type of book series that truly puts the reader at the heart of the characters, and makes them feel thankful that while their job is highly interesting, it is one we only want to read about, and not take part in. It is also the type that makes us thankful that there are people out there, such as the author, who put their life in danger to protect us and our country.

If you really want to see what the elite warriors that protect and serve our country do, this is a great book to read. I’m not going to ruin the plotline and give away details like that. The characters and plotline are genuine and will engage you to want to continue reading, and likely grab the other books in the series, too. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal, Mulholland Books, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 23, 2014

“The Crown” and “The Chalice” by Nancy Bilyeau – Now in Paperback!

Historical novels can be exceptionally well written, and are truly captivating when reading in this modern age. One of my favorite authors of this genre is Nancy Bilyeau. Two of her best-selling books are now available in paperback, and if you haven’t read these yet, I strongly urge you to!

The Crown - Book Description
An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . .

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.

But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.” – The Crown

My Thoughts
The Crown’s main character, Joanna Stafford, is a very intriguing character. She is a nun, and yet she is quite opinionated, takes charge, and really fights for what she believes in. This is no stereotypical nun, so don’t think that a novel about a nun is necessarily boring, because this one sure isn’t!

Bilyeau is able to create the settings in such detail it really does make you feel like you are walking in this part of history through the story. Sometimes authors use of descriptions are boring and quite honestly, I just skim over it. Bilyeau’s text doesn’t make me want to skim over it. She is able to draw the reader in, and wants to read more, which is a true talent!

The Crown is an extremely well researched historical fictional novel. I don’t pretend to be overly knowledgeable on this part of history, but from what I remember from college history courses (and looking up things online that are in the book), it does remarkably well.

Overall, the text is a little drawn out in some places, but it is a very enjoyable read. The main character is fabulous, and is a very worthy read. I recommend it for all historical fiction fans to read, especially those who also enjoy watching The Tudors.

The Chalice - Book Description
In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.

Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.

To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies…” – The Chalice

My Thoughts
The Chalice is the story of Joanna Stafford, an aristocratic nun whose life is crashing down around her, thanks to King Henry VIII. She is highly intelligent, cunning, and has an outstanding personality that makes the reader truly care about her as a character. She gets highly involved with plots for political and religious power, but the choice of her actions is all hers.

The author did excellent research for this book, and you can really tell she took time to know what she was writing about as you read it. You’ll get an amazing story form her, but you will also learn about the royal court, ladies in waiting, religion, prophecies, and much more in this book.

This is marvelously crafted book that will keep you reading until you have to put it down, so be sure to set large amounts of time away before you get started! I love this book and definitely recommend it to all historical fiction lovers, and those who just like a good book.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Crown and The Chalice, Touchstone, for providing me with a copies of these books for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Solomon Seduction by Mark Atteberry

The Solomon Seduction by Mark Atteberry is a book that aims at showing us how many enticing things that are thrown at us are not necessarily good for us, and in fact, can be quite bad for us. Read this book and be guided on the better path, and bypass the temptations that may lurk around the other corner.

Book Description
Have you found yourself in circumstances you never envisioned, tangled up with people you never approved of, and doing things you never imagined?
It seems impossible that the valedictorian of the entire human race would ruin his life by making dumb choices, but Solomon did. Solomon was better equipped to see through Satan’s deceptions than any man who has ever lived, other than Jesus. But in the end, he became just as blind to them as everyone else.
Pay attention to the news and you’ll see that it’s not just the numbskulls that fall into Satan’s traps. It’s also the best and brightest of America’s fathers, husbands, and sons. Many smart guys who love God end up being ashamed and humiliated by Satan’s seductions. With humor, grace, and a pastor’s heart, Mark Atteberry seeks to offer practical suggestions on how to avoid a similar fate. His prayer for readers is to experience a wake-up call to move forward and determined on an upward path.” – The Solomon Seduction

My Thoughts
The Solomon Seduction is a very wise book for men in today’s society to read. Of course women can also read it and learn quite a lot from it, but it would especially help men to read it.

People today believe that having the most of stuff is better, having the pricier options is better, having many women is better, etc. Life isn’t meant to be lived like that, and steps from this book can really help to open the eyes of even the most materialistic person you might know.

Chapters (or wakeup calls) include:

1. Sin seems like a good idea
2. God's commands seem out of touch
3. Your glory is more important than God's glory
4. You're more influenced by enticements than warnings
5. Sin management seems like a better choice than repentance
6. Your faithful friends are troubled by your behavior
7. Your drinking glasses cost more than some people's houses
8. There are a thousand women lined up outside your bathroom
9. The throne of your heart goes from being a chair to a sofa to a sectional
10. God draws a bull's-eye on your chest

If you or someone that you know needs a serious wakeup call in their life, this is definitely a book that you should have them read. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Solomon Seduction, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Spirit Bridge by James L Rubart

Spirit Bridge by James L Rubart is book number three in the “Well Spring” series. If you have read this series up to now, this is a must-read book in the series for you! Also, if this is the first time you’ve even heard of the series, this is a great book to read, but it would of course, be best to read the prior two before this one.

Book Description
The Warriors Riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms, set captives free, and awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling for The Spirit Bridge.
Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in the spiritual realm . . . but each is reeling from vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.
But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes to be the trump card—a hidden strategy set in motion before Warriors Riding even began—that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he's just set it loose.
The street magician Simon—finally free of Zennon's alternate reality prison—is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there's Miyo—a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn't know about. These two will be pivotal in the final war.
If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on. If only they knew how to fight against Zennon's final assault.
The Spirit Bridge is the epic conclusion to acclaimed author James L. Rubart's Well Spring series, which will propel each of the Warriors Riding on a quest of true identity, ultimate freedom, and a final battle that will leave them changed forever.” – Spirit Bridge

My Thoughts
Spirit Bridge is an adventurous religious story that is actually a really fun and engaging read. The characters are intriguing, and part of a group that is known as the “Warrior’s Riding” which goes into the spiritual realm to do battle with evil.

This big evil that they face is Zennon and his demons, who wants to destroy this group of spiritual warriors. This is a true battle of good vs. evil, and is quite a storyline to go an adventure with the characters to battle it out.

I hadn’t read the other two books in the series before reading this one, and I really wish that I had read the prior two first. It didn’t necessarily take away the enjoyable experience of reading this one, but it would have definitely been better to read the first two before this one.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel and definitely want to go back and read the previous ones in the series. I definitely recommend it!

* Thank you to the publisher of Spirit Bridge, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 20, 2014

Outnumber Hunger

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans is struggling with hunger? That is more than 49 million in the United States of America, or about 13 million families.

Thanks to General Mills who has teamed up with Feeding America, Big Machine Label Group, and Target, we can help to “Outnumber Hunger” in your community. It is simple to do, and you probably don’t even have to do or buy anything extra to help. Simply purchase the specially marked General Mills products and enter in the code online at For each code that you enter by January 31, 2015, General Mills will donate 55.5 cents to Feeding America – which is enough to secure 5 meals for the local food bank.

When you buy 5 of the select food items (with codes) at Target, you’ll also receive a free Outnumber Hunger Now CD ($4.99 retail value, while supplies last), featuring artists from the Outnumber Hunger concert, listed below.
  • Florida Georgia Line: “Cruise”
  • Rascal Flatts: “Changed”
  • The Band Perry: “DONE.”
  • Cassadee Pope: “Wasting All These Tears”
  • Thomas Rhett: “It Goes Like This”

The Concert event for it was great, too. If you missed it, check it out on YouTube, or watch below.

To view more on how you can help to outnumber hunger, watch this video on YouTube…

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by General Mills via Platefull Co-Op.

May 16, 2014

The Power of Your Angels by Isabelle Von Fallois

The Power of Your Angels by Isabelle Von Fallois is a powerful 28 day program that is designed to help the reader stop destructive behavior patterns. If you have a challenge in your life that you want to turn into a positive one, this is definitely a book you should read to help you overcome the challenge.

Book Description
Accessible and effective, this succinct guide reveals a 28-day program designed to correct toxic behavior patterns so that readers can connect with their true essence. Positing that it takes 21 to 28 days to break old habits, this personal journey features a daily, channeled angel message for each step of the curriculum. Offering exercises, rituals, and case studies, this step-by-step process increases daily contact with personal angels and helps to form a more positive belief system, so that synchronicities and miracles become a standard part of life. Complete with meditations, real-life examples, and pragmatic suggestions for action, this dynamic tool is for anyone hoping to realize their dreams.The Power of Your Angels

My Thoughts
The Power of Your Angels is a practical program to help you with anything from conquering your addiction to chocolate, smoking, lose weight, or anything else you are struggling with giving up.

This book has 28 chapters that you use one day and chapter at a time to create a lasting change in your life. Each day of the program contains a channeled angel message, suggestions, meditation, and stories to help you along your path.

I read this book in whole before starting the program. I personally like to read guides like this before getting fully into the program. If you don’t want to do that though, that is perfectly fine. I then used it to help enhance a certain part of my life, for 28 days, as suggested. After I finished the 28 days, I saw an improvement in that area, not necessarily something drastic, but a small change that has continued to be improved upon, which is ultimately the goal.

Overall, I think that this book presents the reader with a set of tools that they can use to help improve their life, if used with the intention of doing so. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Power of Your Angels, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor is a historical fiction novel about the Titanic. It is based on a real story of a group of people form an Irish village, and the author creatively weaves fact and fiction to tell a truly memorable tale about a part of history that many of us have been captivated by.

Book Description
A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman…

Ireland, 1912…

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982…

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.” – The Girl Who Came Home

My Thoughts
The Girl Who Came Home is an excellent historical fiction that is well researched and engages the reader in a memorable journey with the Titanic and characters who could have been on it.

Hazel Gaynor does a beautiful job creating and sharing her characters in this story. The setting is rich in detail without being overly done, and the characters that live in it, make for the type of book that can be visually seen in your thoughts as you read it. The story takes the reader back and forth between  1912 and 1982, while still being able to cohesively tell the tale of Maggie and Grace.

For many people, the very real story of the Titanic is something we want to learn more about and when it comes to historical fiction, this is one of the best I’ve read that is based on this historic journey. If you love reading about the Titanic, this is definitely a book that you’ll want to read. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Girl Who Came Home, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 15, 2014

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke is a novel about love, loss, and the deceptive lies that a presumably dead husband left his mourning widow.

Book Description
A young widow discovers her husband was not who he claimed to be—and finds herself falling in love with the wrong man.

Eva has only been married for eight months when her husband, Jackson, is swept to his death while fishing. Weighed down by confusion and sorrow, Eva decides to take leave of her midwifery practice and visit Jackson’s estranged family with the hope of grieving together.

Instead, she discovers that the man she loved so deeply is not the man she thought she knew. Jackson’s father and brother reveal a dark past, exposing the lies her marriage was built upon. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the depth of Jackson’s deception, she must also confront her growing attraction to Jackson’s brother, Saul, who offers her intimacy, passion, and answers to her most troubling questions.

Will Eva be able to move forward, or will she be caught up in a romance with Saul, haunted by her husband’s past? Threading together beautiful, wild settings and suspenseful twists, A Single Breath is a gripping tale of secrets, betrayals, and new beginnings.” – A Single Breath

My Thoughts
A Single Breath is a novel rich in characters, locations, and plot twists, resulting in an unforgettable story about how one woman’s loss of her husband turns into something much different than she could have ever anticipated.

Lucy Clark did a brilliant job creating the characters for this novel. They were fully developed to give the reader a sense of knowing them, and caring for the result of them. The main character, Eva, is one that you could cry with, and be truly outraged with her “husband” as well. I found myself cheering for her journey of discovery and without giving any plot twists away, I am glad that her struggle took her where she need to go in life.

I enjoyed reading this book and found the characters and setting to be beautifully written. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a mystery about lost loves, and secrets they held.

* Thank you to the publisher of A Single Breath, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan is a book about sisters, family, and the secrets that are entwined in them throughout a lifetime. This debut novel takes the reader on an inside look at how secrets can change families.

Book Description
One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired, and round, she worships her beautiful blond sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

Two Sisters is a powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—as well as their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.” – Two Sisters

My Thoughts
Two Sisters is not a happy go lucky type of novel by any means. It is a sad story with characters that pull at your heart. It is written well, and keeps the attention of the reader to continue reading. The mother is narcissistic, the father isn’t really there, and the three siblings have a really messed up relationship with one another. The youngest child, Muriel, wasn’t wanted, and feels unwanted in the family, but continues to yearn for more and has a longing to be wanted by all of them, keeping their deepest darkest secrets.

The secrets that were kept in this highly dysfunctional family were big (and no, I won’t tell them here – read the book for that!). However, I would have liked to see how it played out with the family more than it did.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was at times a bit lengthy in areas where it didn’t need to be, but I can overlook that. The novel is also more about the family as a whole, and not just the “two sisters” as the title would suggest. I don’t mind that at all though, because to see how their relationship was, you had to see how they were in the family as a whole.

* Thank you to the publisher of Two Sisters, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 14, 2014

Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell is novel about a woman who doesn’t have the best luck in love, but is an erotic novelist. She is a middle-aged single mom, that you wouldn’t exactly expect to write such steamy romances, but there is more to Sadie than meets the eye. If you are looking for a fun and entertaining book that is more than you would originally expect, this is a book you’ll want to read!

Book Description
At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. She’s an everyday mom in many ways—a little overweight, over-committed and struggling to raise an eleven-year-old girl as a single parent. But Sadie has a secret—while the rest of suburbia sleeps, she makes a living writing erotica under the pseudonym K. T. Briggs. Though her own sex life is nothing worth noting, she’s fabulous at creating steamy fantasies with perfectly waxed, incredibly fit, scantily clad characters.

But everything changes when she encounters a strangely familiar man during a routine visit to Target. Is Sadie losing her mind, or has her latest hunky character wandered out of her manuscript and into reality? As Sadie tries to negotiate this bizarre new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking . . . places where “happily ever after” might not be so far-fetched after all.Happily Ever After

My Thoughts
Happily Ever After is a fun read that would be perfect to read on a weekend getaway, or just relaxing at home with a glass of wine. It is the type of book that keeps you reading because the characters and the story both go so well together that it feels like you are a part of the story.

The author did an excellent job with creating the main character, Sadie Fuller, a single mother, 46 years old, and an erotic novelist. She is witty, charming, and definitely has laugh out loud moments. While writing her current manuscript, she encounters a man (very handsome man) who claims his name is the main character of the book she is writing. How ironic is that? Her world suddenly seems full of possibilities, more precisely, romantic possibilities, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred (in the best way possible, of course).

Overall, I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good novel about life, love, and pursing dreams.

* Thank you to the publisher of Happily Ever After, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss

The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss takes the reader on a journey that blasts through the normal sense of reality, and goes across different dimensions of the multiverse. Truly a remarkable read that I couldn’t put down!

Book Description
Join Robert Moss for an unforgettable journey that will expand your sense of reality and confirm that there is life beyond death and in other dimensions of the multiverse. Moss describes how he lived a whole life in another world when he died at age nine in a Melbourne hospital and how he died and came back again, in another sense, in a crisis of spiritual emergence during midlife. As he shares his adventures in walking between the worlds, we begin to understand that all times — past, future, and parallel — may be accessible now. Moss presents nine keys for living consciously at the center of the multidimensional universe, embracing synchronicity, entertaining our creative spirits, and communicating with a higher Self.The Boy Who Died and Came Back

My Thoughts
The Boy Who Died and Came Back is the story of Robert Moss and his experiences during his near death experiences. Having traveled the realms of other areas from a very young age, when he had his first experience with dying and coming back, Moss is an excellent resource for reading more about such experiences.

I can’t give a review of this book the justice it is due because I haven’t experienced these realms. However, reading this book about the author’s experiences is the next best thing, and one which I highly encourage everyone to read. This is a brilliant read that I definitely recommend to everyone in this realm and beyond.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Boy Who Died and Came Back, New World Library for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger is a cleverly written novel about how fate and coincidences come together in life. What chances and paths we take in our life lead us to our destiny? Can we ever really make sense of it all? Probably not, but it is a fun ride with the characters in this novel!

Book Description
What determines the course of our lives? Chance . . . or destiny?

On Midsummer's Day, 1982, three-year-old Azalea Ives is found alone at a seaside fairground.

One year later, her mother's body washes up on a beach—her link to Azalea unnoticed.

On Midsummer's Day, 1992, her adoptive parents are killed in a Ugandan rebel uprising; Azalea is narrowly rescued by a figure from her past.

Terrified that she, too, will meet her fate on Midsummer's Day, Azalea approaches Thomas Post, an expert in debunking coincidences. Azalea's past, he insists, is random—but as Midsummer's Day approaches, he worries that she may bring fate upon herself.” – Coincidence

My Thoughts
Coincidence follows the life of Azalea, and how significant events happen to her and her family members on Midsummer’s Day. Abandoned on a Midsummer’s Day, her mother’s body is found on the same day (one year later), and then her parents that adopted her, were killed on the same day (ten years after she was found). Coincidence? Azalea thinks it is more than that, and begins to think that her fate with death will come for her on Midsummer’s Day, too.

Azalea meets a man, Thomas Post, who is rational and does not believe in these coincidences as anything other than that. The romance between the two doesn’t seem to shake Azalea’s feelings about her fate, and Thomas starts to think that she might be inching closer to that fate based on her thoughts and actions of it.

Overall, this is an interesting novel that makes the reader think about fate, coincidence, and the bigger picture. I enjoyed reading it, and think that if you also like books with meaning behind it, this would be a good one for you to read, too.

* Thank you to the publisher of Coincidence, Harper Perennial, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 13, 2014

The Bride Says Maybe by Cathy Maxwell

The Bride Says Maybe by Cathy Maxwell is the second book in the “Brides of Wishmore” trilogy, this one focusing on Lady Tara Davidson. After scandals and love lost, can she ever truly be happy, and also help out her family in the process?

Book Description
New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell returns with a delicious new series, The Brides of Wishmore

What happens when a bride says maybe?

She'd once been the toast of London, but now scandal has brought her down. Still, pretty, petted Lady Tara Davidson can't believe her new fate. She had wanted to marry for love . . . but her profligate father has promised her hand to none other than Breccan Campbell, the "Beast of Aberfeldy" and laird of the valley's most despised clan! Well, Tara may have to marry him, but Breccan can't make her love him—can he?

What happens when the groom insists?

Breccan Campbell is nobody's fool. He knows that Tara is trouble. Yet he's determined to reform the Campbell name even if it means forging an alliance with the arrogant beauty. There's no doubt that Tara is a challenge, and Breccan loves nothing more. For he's vowed to thoroughly seduce Tara—and make her his in more than name alone.” – The Bride Says Maybe

My Thoughts
The Bride Says Maybe is another well written and captivating read by Cathy Maxwell. I didn’t necessarily like the main character of this book when she was introduced in “The Bride Says No.”  However, in this book, she is more likeable, which makes for reading it a fun and breezy read. Lady Tara Davidson has more depth, and is much more than we previously read into her character than in the first novel in the series. The character of Breccan is fun and really challenges Lady Tara, which makes for an intriguing read of romance from a seemingly unlikely pair.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the second book in the trilogy, and definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance novel. I can’t wait to read the third in the trilogy!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Bride Says Maybe, Avon, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 10, 2014

So, Strep Throat is Worse Than I Remembered…

I just finished up my 3rd semester of nursing school, not getting too sick at all throughout a semester which threw me in with sick kids, many different hospitals, schools, etc. No, my body (gladly) waited until after finals to throw strep throat at me. How thoughtful, huh? Actually, all kidding aside, I am very glad I didn’t get it during the actual semester because it is horrible!

Okay, so most of us remember that we had strep throat as a kid, right? I had it once or twice. I didn’t really remember what it felt like though, and didn’t think much about it as an adult. I bet you are probably thinking the same.

At first, it mildly hurt to swallow. More of an annoyance really. Cough drops seemed to work. I didn’t cough much, but it sort of numbed it. I was getting tired a bit easy, but I figured that was just because it was the end of the semester.

Then, the next day, I woke up with a big white spot in the back of my throat. It really, really, hurt to swallow anything now. Hot stuff, cold stuff, room temperature, food, cough drops, etc. It all freaking hurt… and it hurt bad! I was also extremely exhausted, felt weak, had a fever, felt nauseous, my ear hurt, pretty much, I just felt terrible.

Strep throat is awful. If you have any of these signs of having it, get to a doctor to see if you need antibiotics, because you do not want this to linger any longer than it has to. As a future nurse, I’ll also be much more empathetic to people who have strep throat because I can actually remember just how much it hurts now. 

Have you had strep throat? Do you remember what it felt like? 

Get It Done by Sam Bennett

Get It Done by Sam Bennett is a book for procrastinators and anyone who wants to get things done. If you find that you are putting things off and not doing what you really want to do, or have to do, this is definitely a book you will want to read!

Book Description
Creative people tend to see the world a little differently than everyone else. But that doesn’t mean they can’t zero in on their goals, get focused, get organized, and not only accomplish what they want to achieve but earn money doing it. In Get It Done, a beloved teacher and successful writer, actor, and comedian helps you get a handle on your own particular — even peculiar — creative process and harness your energies in positive, productive, and income-generating ways. Sam Bennett’s innovative exercises, inspiring true success stories, and bonus online components will shift your thinking and prompt the kind of insights that turn underperforming geniuses into accomplished artists.Get It Done

My Thoughts
Get It Done is a brilliant self-help book that really helps creative types focus in on getting the projects they want to do done. Many things can block you from accomplishing your goals, and with the exercises and insight from this book, you can get the motivation and insight into yourself to actually do it.

As someone who considers herself both creative and organized (most of the time), I am also sometimes a procrastinator, especially when it comes to the creative things I want to do. Sure, I can get my nursing school homework finished way before time, and study with enough time to make good grades, but when it comes to writing that book I started years ago, or a painting I’ve wanted to do, I just don’t do it. Instead, I do things like re-organized my closet, sort my bookcases, or some other random thing I don’t really need to be doing. If you can relate, this is definitely a book you need to read to help get you back to doing those creative things you actually want to start, or finish.

This is an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone looking to do anything creative. If you think you don’t have the time to do it, then I recommend this book to you even more!

* Thank you to the publisher of Get It Done, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.