May 29, 2013

Book Review: A Heart Like Mine

When a young mother dies under mysterious circumstances, those she leaves behind begin looking for answers in the past—and find a long-buried secret they could have never imagined.Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant and hopeful portrait about womanhood, love, and the challenges of family life.

* * * * *

I don't often immerse myself in women's fiction and when I read a book like A HEART LIKE MINE, I have to question why.  I am not sure if it is that the blurbs just don't catch my attention or that I just don't think to look in that section.  My reading habits are definitely going to have to change.
A HEART LIKE MINE blew me away in part because I could relate so easily relate to her.  I also married a man with two children and there were a couple times where we thought that we would end up raising the boys.  I really had to do some heart searching to determine if I was ready for the whole deal.  Like Grace, I determined that I could if I had to though I didn't want children otherwise.  

Grace's perspective only took up a third of the book but I very much enjoyed Ava's also while I found Kelli's to be heart wrenching.  Just another case of parents being so religious that they deserted their child in her time of need.  

A HEART LIKE MINE is very well written and destined to touch the heart-strings of any women but especially those women that decide to be become step-mothers.  I recommend it highly and give it 4.5 stars.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
May 24, 2013

Focus on Life: Reminisce

I have really been missing these weekly posts and I am so glad that I am now able to jump  back into the  parade.  Now I am sure that you are wondering just what parade I am talking about.  Sally Russick of Studio Sublime has taken us on a wonderful journey where she sends up prompts each week and we get to take and show of pictures related to the prompts.

Our prompt this week was:

Have you ever been in the middle of a busy day and all of a sudden you run across a certain baked good, candy, flower or an object catches your attention and you are sent right back to your childhood? 

This week capture what takes you back to moments past and reminisce a little.

I don't have a lot of childhood memories that I would want triggered however this flowers took me back many years.  When I was first was married, we went to Germany with the US Army.  I absolutely loved living there with the interesting foods, castles, great people, castles and expensive cut flowers.  I always had bouquets all over the place.  So when I arranged this bouquet before our monthly potluck I was taken back to a younger time almost thirty years ago.

Now that you have heard my story, be sure to click here to check out all the gorgeous photos and memories.
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May 23, 2013

Contributing to the local economy

Local Economy (journal)
Local Economy (journal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you try to frequent small businesses rather then large box stores?   Are you aware that small businesses actually contribute to the local economy  whereas some of the larger stores are actually a drain to it.

One of my resolutions this year was to shop more locally at the small businesses.  And if they don't have what I am looking for, I then will go online to purchase through a small business.  I find that I am able to find almost everything locally with the exception of the artisan beads that I use in my jewelry.

For my groceries I tend to frequent three locations.  One is a discount grocery whose owners live in the same city as myself.  For fruits and vegetables, I try to go to the farmer's markets in season and I also shop at year around fruit stand that is only a couple blocks from my home.  For my bulk items I head to Costco.  It kinda of stretches the definition of local but their home office is in my state as is Amazon so their employees are spending money locally.

When I do go online to purchase beads, I would say that about 80% of the time I am purchasing beads from a small business where the owner makes the beads herself.  Even there I do love the fact that I am able to find local goods through Etsy.

With our economy struggling, I do try to do my part.  I flat out refuse to shop at Walmart even though the prices tend to be less.  I totally disagree with their practices which include running the small businesses out as well as not paying their employees enough to live let alone contribute to the anything.  In fact the majority of Walmart's employees qualify for food stamps.

Well I didn't mean to get on a soapbox there at the end.  I just wanted to share how I am contributing to my local economy.  How about yourself?  Do you have some tips that would help out others on way to support your local markets?
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May 21, 2013

Book Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch

In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...

* * * * *

This book really started out with a bang with Emily in danger of being killed by a kracken.  It didn't however continue with this level of tension even though more then one character is in danger at different times during the story.  Instead what we have is almost a coming of age story for this interesting group of young adults.

We get the opportunity to learn more about both Emily and Finley as they grapple with their thoughts and feelings as they fall in love.  They are both rather interesting young women and I very much enjoyed learning more about this and their band of misfits.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series because the characters are so intriguing.  Of course it being set in an alternate England doesn't hurt in the least.

I do recommend this book to anyone that enjoys the young adult genre.  Sex is mentioned but there is nothing graphic which really makes this a great book for teens of all ages.  I rate this book a 3.4.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

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May 20, 2013

Earring Swap Review

English: Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose III (ca...
English: Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479-1425 B.C.) Gold. From the tomb of the three minor wives of Thutmose III in the Wady Gabbanat el-Qurud, Thebes. The decorative elements on these earrings were originally inlaid with dark blue and turquoise colored glass. Egyptians wore earrings from the beginning of the eighteenth century onward. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am so sorry.  I really dropped the ball.  I had grand plans to take pics and do up the blog post on Sunday but I ended up with a migraine which is still hanging around.  I am going to try to get them up tomorrow night when we make it home from Saje's biopsy.

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May 15, 2013

Book Review: School Spirits

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

* * * * *

I like Izzy.  She so wants to be a normal teenager but that is rather difficult considering that she comes from a long line of monster hunters.  She has never had the opportunity to go to school or make friends her own age.  So when she has to attend a high school so that she can discover the ghost that is behind the hauntings, it is a whole new world to her.

I found that SCHOOL SPIRITS was a fun book to read even though the subject matter of the ghost out for revenge is dark in a fun kind of way.  The main character Izzy and her sidekicks are easy to relate too even though we really don't get a chance to really get to know any of them with the exception on Izzy.  

I think that this book would be perfect for younger teenage girls as it does explore friendships, the world of high school, and the beginnings of a relationship with Dex.  While there is violence, it isn't the sort that should bother a younger reader because it is caused by the ghost.  I rate this book a 3.8.

 *** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
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May 14, 2013

Semi Settled

Image representing Bloglovin as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase
I haven't really been posting anything personal lately mainly because I have felt unsettled.  Yeah I know that is when I should be posting as the reason I started this blog in the first place was to keep track of my path through life and where I have been.  But....

This is going to seem strange but one of the reasons that I have felt unsettled was the fact that Google Reader is closing down on the 1st of July.  I have been checking out the various readers but ones that I would like on my computer just wouldn't work for my Fire which is what I do most of my blog reading on.  Well I think that I have finally settled on a new reader.  Bloglovin' looks great on both my laptop and my tablet.  Now just to get all my blogs organized...

It really is strange what will throw us for a loop.  We still don't know what is causing all my husband's medical issues but now that I have a new reader I am much happier and will be posting more things other then book reviews.
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May 13, 2013

Book Review: Liquid Lies

Teenage best friends CiCi and Francesca made a decision that haunted them for the rest of their lives. What started as a celebration of Francesca's eighteenth birthday became a tragedy with repercussions neither could ever have imagined. Four years later, after keeping the incident buried, a blackmailer enters their lives, threatening to expose their secret. In the idyllic resort town of Round Lake, Jet Skiers, swimmers and boaters center their lives on their upscale waterfront homes in their picturesque, peaceful Wisconsin town.

Who would expect it to be torn apart by the selfish decisions of the wealthy few? Who would guess that underneath this picture of serenity lay murder, deceit--and more murder? Liquid Lies combines mystery's twists and unexpected turns with a touching coming of age story. As CiCi finds herself in the midst of a hideous chain of events, she must wrestle with lies and their unintended consequences. In the process she confronts her own worst demons, finding herself enveloped in a turbulent vortex of events.

* * * * *

Lately it seems as though all I have been reading is related to the paranormal in some way or another.  Now that is all to the good but I am unable to maintain that as a steady diet or they will all start to run together.  My genre of choice to break things up is romantic suspense.  I find that they tend to shake loose any preconceived notions especially if the zombies aren't behind the local rash of killings.

And they aren't in LIQUID LIES.  This is a very smooth romantic suspense with a lot of twists in turns.  I very much enjoyed meet CiCi and her unusual cast of friends.  And she would be the last person that I would expect to be running about trying to find out just who and why the murder was committed.  

LIQUID LIES is a book with great characters, danger coming from all directions and a lot of unanswered questions. And let's not forget that even though I thought that I had the villain figured out a few times and was wrong.  All the ingredients for a romantic suspense and Ms. Lavrisa does deliver.  

I am just left with a few unanswered questions bugging me such as why would a tiny resort town need a top of the line cardiac center?  And the one that bugs me the most is how flighty CiCi's emotions seem to be in the game of love and this is after she is pictured as the sensible one.  I found these to be plot devices that really caused me to question the story rather then be taken along for the ride.  I rate this book a 3.2.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

May 9, 2013

Book Review: Jack Templar Monster Hunter

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

* * * * *

One thing that I always try to do is not read the blurb for any of the books that I read.  I want to come at a story totally fresh.  Well other then the fact that I picked out the book to read in the first place.  So perhaps you won't be surprised that I didn't quite know that to expect when I start to read.

And what I found was a thirteen, almost fourteen, year old telling  me a story about something that happened to him.  It's a cautionary tale yet I am immediately entranced.  Yes the storyline itself have been done...many times.  And yes everything is all so simplistic and in yours...errr his face.   What caught me was that I was seeing them so clearly from a thirteen, almost fourteen, year old's eyes.  Rather impressive or so I thought.

If you know a kid that enjoys the paranormal then they will probably enjoy this.  It's a great story for younger teens though there is a lot of killing of zombies and harpies, or for anyone young at heart.  I rate it a 3.9.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
May 7, 2013

Book Review: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight

Danny Firoth is an average thirteen-year-old who finds himself at the beginning of his eighth-grade year, struggling with some of the more common concerns that plague a boy of his age: bullies, homework, and his mother. Sabrina Drake is the new girl. She is beautiful and spellbinding, but carries a fantastic secret.

Accepted into the White Rock Academy of Illumination, a school for young Squires destined to become Knights of the Light and battle the forces of the Dark with magical weapons called Bondeds, Danny joins his five closest friends in the training of their lives. Honed in the techniques of blade work by an Elvin swordmaster and educated by a colorful assortment of knightly instructors, Danny and his friends are placed on the path to becoming knighted members of the Light. However, the Dark may have other plans as they unveil a sinister plot in this fantastic tale of dragon-riding adventure, sword-wielding action, and coming-of-age drama.

* * * * *

There are  books that truly remind me just why I love the young adult genre so much.  LIGHT & DARK:  THE AWAKENING OF THE MAGEKNIGHT just happens to be one such book.  From the first page I was caught up in the lives of Danny and his friends who range from geeks to football players.  The one thing that they all have in common besides their friendship is the game of Knights.  It is this game and their ability to see the unseen that sets them on a path that none of them ever imagined.

I was really impressed by LIGHT & DARK:  THE AWAKENING OF THE MAGEKNIGHT and even more so when I discovered that this was Mr. Fife's first book.  The pacing is wonderful and the characters are three dimensional.  While it does borrow slightly from the Harry Potter series in that the Squires or trainees are sorted into armies or houses, I found the story line to be fresh and enjoyable.  I recommend this book to young adults of all ages who are looking for an escape from reality.  I give this book a 3.8.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

May 3, 2013

Book Review: Keeper of the Moon

In their new Keeper roles, these extraordinary women must balance the fate of the world with their desires...  Lust. Elven Keeper Sailor Gryffald's body quivers with it, but is it a symptom of the deadly Scarlet Pathogen coursing through her bloodstream or the proximity of shifter Keeper Declan Wainwright?

Sailor and Declan have had an uneasy relationship ever since they met, and now things are about to get a lot more complicated. A killer is stalking Los Angeles, intentionally infecting Elven with the deadly virus, and now Sailor and Declan must work to keep the supernatural peace while bringing the murderer to justice. But, in doing so, these powerful denizens of the Otherworld find themselves straddling a fine line between lust...and love.

* * * * *

This new series, The Keepers: LA, rocks!  KEEPER OF THE MOON is actually the second book in the series but you can bet that I am going to search down the first book and read it also.

This book is actually the first one that Ms. Kozak has written in the romantic suspense genre but it has it all.  There was a lot of tension as Sailor races to both master her position and to save more of her charges from being murdered.  There is also a lot of sexual tension between Sailor and Declan.  She has had a crush on him since she was a teenager and can't believe that he is also interested in her.

This is really a roller coaster of a book right up until the very satisfying ending when the villain ends up being someone that wouldn't have thought to suspect.  I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys their romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. I rate this book a 4.2.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

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