Friday, February 28, 2014

Cover Reveal: Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon

Title: Ring Around the Rosie
Author: Julie Coulter Bellon
Series: Hostage Negotiation Team, #4
Release Date: March 2014

This is a series I have enjoyed reading! I've only done an official review on here for one of them, Ashes Ashes. You can read my review on that book here.

Julie is also offering a sneak peek of the first chapter on her blog. You can read that here.

If you enjoy fast-paced, clean, romantic suspense novels, you must pick up this series! 

Julie is married with eight children and ten published books. She loves to travel and her favorite cities are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She would love to visit Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, and Scotland someday. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order. You can find out more about Julie and all her projects at

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop!

For this giveaway, I'm offering one person a $10 Amazon Gift Card so they can purchase a book of their choice! The usual rules apply: You must be able to use an Amazon Gift Card. The winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. You don't need to follow my blog to enter, but that is always appreciated. :) Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog!

Also, be sure to check out the other stops in this hop. There are lots of goodies being offered!

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Brooke's Review/Interview: School is a Nightmare #5: Winter Breakdown, by Raymond Bean

My 9-year-old daughter, Brooke, loves to read and wants to have a blog of her own one day. She has committed to review one book a week and they will be featured on Fridays. This is the final book of a 5 book series!

School is a Nightmare #5: Winter Breakdown, by Raymond Bean
2013, 101p, Middle-grade Fiction
Brooke's Rating=5 Stars
Source: Own a Copy

Justin has been looking forward to winter break since the first day of school. It's finally arrived and he can't wait for some lazy days at home and time off from 4th grade. Unfortunately his family has different plans and they don't include relaxing at home. He thinks school is the worst, but a week off might just have him begging to go back!
In School is a Nightmare 5, Justin is so happy about winter break. But before then he has a few issues at school. He calls his teacher the worst right in front of her face. Justin and some other kids start blowing powdered sugar at each other. Justin falls over and cracks his tooth. He gets in some trouble with that and has to have some of his presents taken away. Grandma comes over and tells them that for Christmas they are going to Aruba. Justin and his family are so excited to go to Aruba. On the plane to Aruba Justin's teacher Mrs. Cliff is there too. His grandma and his teacher Mrs. Cliff become bffs. He is not all that happy with his teacher being on the trip. There is still a lot more to this book but I don’t want to give out too much!

I loved this book and it was my all time favorite. I feel that Justin has some great times and terrible times. I love this series and wish there were more. If Raymond Bean comes out with more I will definitely read and review them. I have loved these books since book one. Justin has some really bad punishments but I love to see how he can work through them. These are the only books of Raymond Bean's books I've read so far. I think he's a great author and can't wait until I read one of his other books. Justin's family is interesting. His sisters always are getting him in trouble or he's getting himself into trouble. His parents can always come up with crazy punishments.

I love this series and hope he comes out with more.

Brooke was super excited when we heard from the author and even more excited when he agreed to answer some questions. Here's our interview with him:

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 I've always loved writing. It's something I've done for as long as I can remember. My closet is full of notebooks going back years and years.

2. What inspired you to write School is a Nightmare?
School Is A Nightmare was inspired by many things. When I was a kid there were times when I dreaded going to school. I think all kids go through stages of loving school and disliking it. The main character in School Is A Nightmare thinks school is the worst. He fails to realize that he's the root of his problems, not school.

3. What other series have you written?
I love writing books in series. I wrote the three book Sweet Farts Series. It's a fun, silly series that was a ton of fun to write. Capstone Kids just released Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire in February 2014. I hope to write more Benji books and expand the series.

4. What are you writing now?
I'm writing a few things right now. OUT OF THIS WORLD is a fun new series about a girl who's mom is an astronaut and her family will be the first family to live on a space station. I'm having a blast writing it.

5. What are some of your favorite books and what book are you reading now?
I teach fourth grade during the day, so I love many books for that age group.I love Frindle, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Tale of Despereaux, Maniac Magee, and so many more.

I'm currently reading The Magician's Elephant. I think this is my fifth time reading it, and it gets better every time.

6. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I'm not writing I love to spend time with my family. I enjoy basketball, going to the beach, and playing with my kids.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice for aspiring writers is to have goals. Set goals for how often you're going to write and how much time each day you will devote to your writing.

Thanks, Raymond, it's fun to getting to know you better! We've read The Magician's Elephant once and I actually don't remember that much about it, so it's good to hear that it gets better each time you read it. We'll have to read it again. We're looking forward to reading more of your books and it sounds like you'll keep them coming for years to come!

Speaking of Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire, the book trailer is out now and you can view it here.

About the Author

Raymond  Bean is a dad, a  teacher, and the Amazon best-selling author of the  Sweet Farts and  School Is A Nightmare series. His books have ranked #1  in Children's  Humor, Humorous Series, and Fantasy and Adventure. They  often rank among  Amazon's top 100 books for children.

Baseball: A Ticket To The Bigs releases August 23 and Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire comes out January 2014.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Skylight by Kevin Hopkins

Skylight, by Kevin Hopkins
2014, 384p, Suspense Thriller
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

The catastrophe has been predicted for decades. But it arrives with a swiftness no one expects. On an otherwise beautiful October evening, the air at high altitudes suddenly becomes unbreathable, depleted of oxygen. The consequences are devastating.

In the United States alone, 12 million people die, almost instantly.

Energy executive Martin Fall is with his family in Denver on the day of The Catastrophe. Miraculously left alive, he begins the long journey home to Los Angeles, as society begins collapsing all around him. Within months, the city becomes an armed compound, teeming with 80 million migrants fleeing for the safety of lower altitudes. Fall is lost among them, struggling for a reason to go on.

But soon he has no choice. Trapped in a web of lies from those he trusted, allied with others he barely knows, he must risk his life for a technology he scarcely comprehends—one that may be the world’s only salvation.

We first meet Martin Fall, who along with his wife, Jeannie and daughter, Cassie, are visiting their friends, Ray and Sara and their daughter, Darby, who live in Denver. We know right away that something terrible is going to happen. Martin and his family are preparing to head back to Los Angeles the next day, and have just finished a barbeque and are at the soccer field for Darby's game. Suddenly, people start falling to the ground. Some are barely breathing and others stop. At the end of the evening, out of the six of them, only Martin and Darby are left alive. Martin knows he needs to get back to LA and when he starts to realize the enormity of what has happened, he's not sure how he's going to get there.

Time moves ahead 10 months and Martin is living in the slums, digging ditches for a sewage network. He is approached by a former colleague to come back to help solve a major problem. He agrees and then has to figure out who to trust if he wants to be alive in the end.

This is a hard book for me to summarize. The plot is complex and I had to re-read parts to make sure I understood what was going on. We find out about the missing 10 months in flashback and how Martin and Darby were able to get from Denver to Los Angeles. We also learn that Darby is no longer with Martin and the flashbacks fill in the holes.

It's an intense read that I would have to put down for a while to digest. When I got about halfway in, though, the action picked up and the stakes became higher and it was hard to put down. Martin is someone who cares about people and is a true hero. He wants life to be better for everyone and will do what it takes to insure that happens. He knows the big players in town and sees the way they live in comparison to everyone else. He also learns about their desire to control everyone's lives and I loved the conversations he had with some of them because he was able to ask questions I've wondered about myself. 

This is the kind of book that I will enjoy reading again because I can pick up on things that I missed the first time around since I already know how it will end. In the Author's Note, Mr. Hopkins says this book originated from a desire to find a solution to the environmental issues we are faced with. He has heard both sides of the debate and nobody is focused on a solution. What if there was something that would satisfy both sides of the argument: What if we could find a solution that preserved both our planetary environment and our personal freedom and prosperity. (You can read more about his thoughts on this here.) This is a great suspenseful read, free of profanity, that will get your heart pounding and keep you guessing on who to trust until the very end.

Meet the Author:

Kevin Hopkins is the director of energy and environmental research for The Communications Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank. He previously served as director of the White House Office of Policy Information, where he advised the President of the United States on economic, energy, and environmental policy, and also was senior policy counsel to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. He has published several books on U.S. economic and social policy, including “The Catastrophe Ahead” and “Poverty and Welfare Dependency,” and served for 20 years as a senior contributing editor to Business Week magazine. Skylight is his first novel.

Congratulations Porcelain Keys Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who participated in my Porcelain Keys ebook giveaway! The winner is Mary P.

The author's giveaway ends tonight so you still have a chance to win a signed copy. You can do that here.

Come back tomorrow to enter another giveaway which will be a blog hop, so you can also visit other blogs and enter to win lots of cool prizes!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Blast: From Gods by Mary Ting

From Gods by Mary Ting

Did you just see a flash of lightning across the sky on a clear sunny day? Don’t blame Mother Nature.

Skylar Rome should have been having the best summer ever, before heading off to college. Suddenly her whole life changes while visiting her cousin, and meeting the Grand brothers; Mason, in particular. Though she’s sure he is someone she should stay away from, the attraction was undeniable.

Strange things begin to happen, throwing
Skylar’s life into turmoil. Implausibly, she gets caught up in a world where the descendants of ancient gods have super powers, and evil beings are after her. Not only are her discoveries difficult to accept, but now she is running
out of time and running for her life, while trying to unravel the mystery of what they want from her. Forced into a battle set into motion long before she was born, will Skylar find the answers she seeks, or will she die trying?

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Praise for From Gods

“A fast paced adventure full of mystery, action, magic and romance! Readers won’t be able to put this book down!” ~InD’tale Magazine

“From Gods takes mythology to a whole new level of imagination with its incredible plot and amazing characters. It’s full of hotness that you never want to end!” ~Michele, Insane About Books

“From Gods by the AMAZING AUTHOR Mary Ting is OMGods good!! If you even LIKE Greek Mythology, set aside some time because you will DEVOUR Mary Ting’s Demi Gods and Vultures!!!” ~Mindy, Books Complete Me

“This book is “electric” as it blends paranormal romance, mythology (which I love), action and suspense together for an amazing read. Mary Ting, you’ve done it again! This book exceeded my expectations and I was literally blown away as if I were struck by lightning!” ~Vanessa, Fairiechick’s Fantasy Book Reader

Author Mary Ting

Bestselling/award-winning author Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

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BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/23/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blog Tour: Living in the Eleventh Hour by Robert L. Millet

Living in the Eleventh Hour, By Robert L. Millet
2014, 160p, LDS Non-Fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from publisher for an honest review

Just as the scriptures teach us that the Second Coming of the Lord will be "at midnight" (Matthew 25:6), so the signs of the times teach us that "midnight" is close at hand.

In Living in the Eleventh Hour, author Robert L. Millet points our minds and hearts toward the future—to the glorious day that lies ahead. This encouraging work not only assists us a Latter-day Saints to recognize and better understand the signs of the times but also reminds us of our individual responsibilities as we prepare ourselves and the world for the much-anticipated return of Jesus Christ.

Filled with uplifting quotations from Church leaders, insightful scriptural texts, and engaging personal experiences, this timely book inspires us to live today as if He were coming tomorrow.

Brother Millet's faith-building message is clear: Steadfastly doing the small things that allow us to live each day with faith, rather than fear, builds our trust that the Savior's return to earth to rule and reign will be a glorious and welcome event.

This book is a good reminder of what we all need to be doing daily to prepare for the Second Coming. Since nobody knows when it will be, we need to be prepared at all times. There are lots of scriptures, quotes and personal stories included. 

He spoke on filling our lamps with oil. When he was a Bishop, a couple came to him asking for help in getting more spirituality in their home. They hadn't been active for many years and their home life was falling apart. He gave several suggestions and they had a "reason" not to do each thing he suggested (reading scriptures, family prayer, Family Home Evening, even attending church). He asked again what they wanted and they said they needed to get God's Spirit in their home. At that point, he understood the parable of the ten virgins more fully. As much as he wanted to help them, there are some things that just can't be shared. They wanted the blessings that come with doing all those things but weren't willing to actually do them to obtain the blessings themselves. 

He also spoke about what it means to treasure up the word. I like this quote: "...Because we are largely a product of what occupies our minds and because our feelings and actions are so inextricably linked to our thoughts, we must see to it that what we think about is worthy of a son or daughter of God striving for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. ..." (p. 42) It's not possible for us to be thinking about the scriptures every minute of the day, but we can each find time to read or listen to something uplifting each day. He also spoke on the importance of memorizing scriptures and how remembering them in our tough times can give us strength. 

There are some other great insights and discussions and towards the end, he has a chapter on knowing the signs of the times. He doesn't go into them in any detail but shares principles he has gleaned over the years relative to reading the signs of the times. He ends by listing some of the personal responsibilities we share as we do our part to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Son of God. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I felt like I was able to check off some things that I'm doing well and also determine the areas where I need to make improvements. This is a book that reminds us that there is a lot to look forward to in the coming days and years and we need to be full of faith rather than fear.

You can read an excerpt here.

About the Author

Robert L. Millet, an Abraham O. Smoot Professor and former dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, is a professor of ancient scripture and a lifelong scholar of the last days. After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU in psychology, he earned a PhD from Florida State University in religious studies. He has served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a seminary teacher, bishop, stake president, and member of the Materials Evaluation Committee. He and his wife, Shauna, are the parents of six children.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Video Series by Michelle Wilson, Week 2

It's week 2 of Michelle Wilson's video series, author of Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat? This is a book that I enjoyed reading (and absolutely love her sense of humor) and will read again and again. Click here for more information and to read my review of her book.

Last week, I shared her first video, which is part 1 of a radio interview she did with Carole Mikita on KSL's 'People of Faith' program in Utah. In it she shares a long-kept secret, what to do when someone says they don't like you, and she speaks to the power of God's perspective in our lives. You can view that here.

This week is part 2 of her radio interview with Carole Mikita, where she discusses the power of perspective and letting go of the negative things from the past.

If you're interested in reading this book in your book club, Michelle is willing to meet with you to discuss the principles in the book and how they've helped you. She's willing to visit in person or Skype in. If you purchase 10 or more books, there are discounts available. She's also created a discussion guide and has chocolate recipes! For more information, click here.

Book Blitz: Unraveled by Julie Daines

Release date: February 2014
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Genre: YA Fantasy/Farytale
ISBN: 9781621086277

When sickness swept through Bronwen’s family, it took the life of her father, brother, and sister, and left her permanently crippled. On the stormy eve of her sixteenth birthday, a faerie-witch gifts her a pair of enchanted shoes. Bronwen slips them on and is healed--but only when the shoes are on her feet. Her grace and beauty catches the eye of the king’s son--Urien, a handsome young man who prides himself on having everything perfect.

When Rhys, an old acquaintance and Captain of the Guard, recognizes Bronwen, he threatens to tell Urien her secret. Desperate to keep her deformity hidden and not to lose the love of handsome Urien, Bronwen quickly finds herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit.

Julie's Top 5 Bookish Pet Peeves

1. Naming emotions! Anger sneaked up and wound it’s way into my fists. No matter
how fancily you say it, it’s still telling.
2. He/she/I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding.
3. Love triangles (in which one character is a complete tool by leading on multiple
love interests. That selfish behavior immediately makes me hate the MC.)
4. Stupid/disengaged/oblivious parents in YA novels.
5. Biting of lips until they taste blood while trying to fight back emotions.

Julie Daines was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.

She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her verveine.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Grand Finale: Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

The Grand Finale for Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate...
To post this Grand Finale and add your Social Media to the Rafflecopter, email Tressa at wishfulendings(at) with "Wildwood Grand Finale" in the subject line!

There is a mystery in Wildwood Creek's history, a mystery that affects Allie's present...

Wildwood CreekWildwood Creek

by Lisa Wingate

Christian Romance

Paperback, 384 pages

February 4th 2014 by Bethany House Publishers

Allie Kirkland has never been one to take wild risks. But when she’s offered a costuming assistant’s job on a docudrama in the hills near Moses Lake, she jumps at the chance. She’s always dreamed of following in her director-father’s footsteps, and the reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step. The family expectations will have to wait.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delevan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the folk songs of Chinquapin Peaks. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, everyone in Wildwood, including Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set, Blake Fulton, seems to be hiding secrets, and Allie doesn’t know who she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself . . . with the most unthinkable results.

Bethany House

Lisa, the Writer

Part IV of IV:

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a writer?

Writing two novels per year for two different publishers these last several years has been very time-consuming, especially while raising a family, driving carpools, and shuttling forgotten sports equipment to stadiums all over a three-county area. I'm still a mom, and I don't want to miss anything, which often means that I'm up late or up early to finish my writing. I think for me, the sacrifice has probably come in terms of giving up time for hobbies and other things I like to do outside of the writing business.

What keeps me going is the pure love of story and at times the letters from readers.  There is nothing more powerful than knowing that your words on a page affected a life, helped to inspire growth, or just walked through the dark night of the soul with someone. A few years ago, a reader wrote to tell me she’d couldn’t sleep on as the first anniversary of her young granddaughter’s death approached, so she picked up one of my stories.  The book took her away from that pain for a while. It made her laugh, and that was what she needed.  There’s an incredible sense of human connection in that.  A story can literally transport the mind, and body, and soul to another place. It never fails that when I’m having a “down” day, a note will come in from a reader and remind me that the human side of story is what matters most.

What advice would you give other writers?

It's gauche to talk about money, but don't do it for the money. Everybody seems to think that becoming a full-time writer is the measure of success, but I would urge writers coming along to really take their time about making the decision to give up another career and write full time. Being financially dependent on writing as your livelihood adds a new level of stress. I've seen the way too many young writers make that jump too quickly, and that always seems to be the question at conferences, “Are you a full-time writer?” I don’t think you’re any more legitimate because you write full time or don't. In truth, it’s more important to find out how to preserve the magic and enthusiasm that kept you sitting down at the computer when no one was paying you to write, and you weren’t sure anyone ever would.

Did you miss the other three parts about Lisa, the other guest posts, or reviews?
Catch them now!

2/11: LDS and Lovin' it - Review
"I quite enjoyed this book, the characters, the plot, the mystery, everything really."

2/12: Mythical Books - Guest Post
"Well, to begin with, that our journeys, struggles, and challenges are never without purpose."

Christy's Cozy Corners – Excerpt
I imagine the words as he’s lookin’ at me, hear the echo as he spies Maggie outside the door. It troubles me not so much for myself, but for my sister. . . .

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - Guest Post
"It’s impossible not to wonder, from the safer vantage point of a modern life, if I could have endured what those pioneer women endured. If I were in the shoes of my ancestors, would I have the metal to survive?"

2/13: Kelly P's Blog – Excerpt
The man trails the steeple along his bottom lip. “Yes,” he says quite slowly, thinking the words in the speakin’. “Yes, you will do nicely, I believe.”

2/14: Mel's Shelves - Review
"I love a good mystery and this book delivered!"

2/16: Brooke Blogs - Guest Post
"There is also, undoubtedly, a bit of my own hidden dream in Allie’s opportunity to join the historical reenactment — to go back in time."

Tell Tale Book Reviews – Excerpt
I felt something . . . happening, but I didn’t know what.

Paulette's Papers - Guest Post
"The story is a combination of folk legend, historical fact, and wild flight of fancy. I like to think of it as part historical, part contemporary, part romance, part adventure, and part drama."

"It was mysterious, and interesting, and exciting to read."

The Written Adventure – Excerpt
“One final thing,” she added. “Are you familiar with the name Bonnie Rose?”
The interview had taken another hairpin turn. “No, not that I know of . . .”

2/19: Getting Your Read On - Review
"Like I said, the ending was my favorite part. The mystery climaxed, the action picked up, the romance finally entered and I got a Happily Ever After."

Bookworm Lisa - Guest Post
"There were two special challenges in writing Wildwood Creek. The first was definitely the research...
The second challenge in writing Wildwood Creek involved the actual threading together of Allie and Bonnie's stories."

2/20: The Wonderings of One Person - Interview
"I think we all have mysteries that linger in our family histories or in our hometowns. Those tales are told at family gatherings, in the corners of local cafés, and around cook fires at Scout campouts. It’s impossible not to wonder, when hearing the retellings of things that have been passed down by word-of-mouth for generations, how much is true?"

Platypire Reviews - Review
"Wildwood Creek is the sort of book that drew me in from the first page, and I had to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen."

"If you are a fan of romance, historical fiction, and/or cozy mysteries, this story is for you. The author has created a completely scintillating story written in exquisite style."

"The way the characters and storyline were woven together was brilliant!"

Reviews By Molly - Review
"I try to remind myself of the things that really matter and to stay focused on what will be significant in a year, five years, ten years, and so on."

Lisa Wingate Author PictureLisa Wingate is a journalist, inspirational speaker, reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over twenty novels.  Her novels combine elements of history, romance, mystery, and women's fiction with nuggets of Southern culture, from the sublime to the humorous. She is a seven-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her works have been selected for Booklist’s Top Ten List in 2012 and in 2013. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

February 10 - March 2nd  US Only
Found out more about this amazing giveaway on the Launch and here.

See Rafflecopter for restrictions.

1 Winner, 1 Amazing Prize Pack from Bethany House and Lisa Wingate:

   $50 Amazon Gift Card

   Print copy of Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

   Handmade-by-author Prayer Box with notepads 

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Brooke's Review: School is a Nightmare #4: Yuck Mouth and the Thanksgiving Miracle, by Raymond Bean

My 9-year-old daughter, Brooke, loves to read and wants to have a blog of her own one day. She has committed to review one book a week and they will be featured on Fridays. This is book 4 of a 5 book series so next week will be the final one!

School is a Nightmare #4: Yuck Mouth and the Thanksgiving Miracle, by Raymond Bean
2012, 110p, Middle-grade Fiction
Brooke's Rating=5 Stars
Source: Own a Copy

Justin is not a fan of Thanksgiving. He feels like it's a "non-holiday," but it's November, and his teacher is in full blown Thanksgiving mode. She's determined to help him learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but he's just looking forward to a few days off from school. To earn them he'll have to research Thanksgiving, dress up like a pilgrim, and suffer through countless lessons about the holiday. Unfortunately for Justin, there's no relief at home because his cousin Darwin is in town. He only met his cousin one time when he was real little, and the only thing he remembers about him is his horrific breath. Darwin is a proud, "non-brusher" and the stench is enough to clear a room. Will Justin survive the big class feast at school? Can he handle sharing his room with his cousin Darwin "Yuck Mouth" McGee? Will he learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving? Find out in the latest installment of the School Is A Nightmare Series, Yuck Mouth And The Thanksgiving Miracle.

School is a Nightmare 4 is my favorite book so far. Justin doesn’t understand the real meaning of Thanksgiving. He thinks Thanksgiving means telling the truth. But everybody else doesn’t think so. He hates having Thanksgiving and for this Thanksgiving his cousin Darwin aka Yuck Mouth is coming. Darwin has the worst breath in world. They go Thanksgiving shopping and he gets to use the scanner. He is excited (and bored) so he plays a game of guess the price. Where he guesses how much it would cost then he scans it and looks at the price then would delete it. After they leave they realize that Justin pushed the wrong button and had spent $7000. Their cousin comes and they go look for snakes out in the woods. But instead they find a turkey and they catch it. In the morning Darwin has poison ivy all over his body. In school they're having a feast and they have to dress up. Justin invites Darwin to the feast and Darwin walks there even though its raining outside. Everybody lets Darwin stay and they have a good time……….almost.

I love this series and all the characters. They interest me and I love to read about how they have troubles but work through them all. His cousin Darwin is different but I like how Justin gives him a chance and still is nice to him no matter how bad his breath is.

About the Author

Raymond  Bean is a dad, a  teacher, and the Amazon best-selling author of the  Sweet Farts and  School Is A Nightmare series. His books have ranked #1  in Children's  Humor, Humorous Series, and Fantasy and Adventure. They  often rank among  Amazon's top 100 books for children.

Baseball: A Ticket To The Bigs releases August 23 and Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire comes out January 2014.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guest Post/Interview: The Gathering by Randy Lindsay

The Gathering: End's Beginning, by Randy Lindsay
2014, 272p, LDS Fiction

Robert Williams didn't expect an early honorable release from his mission, but upon his return home, he sees the reason for the surprise decision. Unemployment, rampant violence, and frequent food shortages have put the United States on the brink of another civil war. As the threads of society unravel, the Williams family must adapt to drastic changes as the long-foretold gathering begins to take place.

I recently had the opportunity to review this book. I found it to be intense. You can read my review here.

Today, the author, Randy Lindsay, is stopping by to share a Top Ten list and answer some questions!


I can think of nothing that reveals more about ourselves than the way we face death. Here is a list of the ten best phrases to use on the last day. As you read through them see if any of them hit the mark for you. And if you want, drop by my website and tell me about any you think I missed.

10. Dad, can I have a $1,000 advance on my allowance?

9. I think we still have time for a Firefly marathon.

8. Oh, just bring me one of everything on the menu.

7. Better start working on the express version of my Bucket List.

6. Where did I put that Get Out of the Apocalypse Free card?

5. Are you sure that the end is Today?

4. More chocolate!!!

3. I’ll get to that tomorrow.

2. The End is Here!

1. I love you.

Great list, Randy! I especially love #4 and, of course, #1 is great! The only one I would add is, "I just need time to finish my book!"

Now, for the interview:

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I made the decision to seriously develop my writing skills. However, I first considered myself an author when I finished my first novel.

2. What inspired you to write The Gathering?
I had finished writing my first novel, a fantasy story, and wanted my next project to be something with substance. I wanted to create a story that had a chance to improve people’s lives. I happened to be sitting in church when the speaker mentioned the importance of families being prepared to face calamity and it hit me that I could write a story that would not only inspire my readers to prepare themselves, but give them courage during a disaster.

3. How many books will there be in this series and when is the next one scheduled to be released?
I have five books planned for this series. I started plotting book two last week and have the goal of finishing it in six months. If everything goes well, it could be out around this time next year.

4. Who is your favorite character to write?
That’s easy, Calvin McCord. He’s a no-nonsense sort of guy and his storyline was the easiest for me to write.

5. Is there anything else about your book that you’d like to share?
Yes. Several of my readers have commented that Calvin’s storyline doesn’t intersect with the others. Don’t worry—it will.

6. What are some of your favorite books and what book are you reading now?
I love post apocalypse stories. Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny is my all time favorite. Giant lizards, atomic cockroaches, and marauding bike gangs, what could be better? I also love the Retief books by Keith Laumer because they are sooooo funny. Right now I’m reading Martian Time Slip by Phillip K Dick and The Alliance by Gerald N Lund.

7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Go to movies, hang out with my kids, and family history research (both mine and for my friends).

8. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Actually, I worked as a game designer for several years. I really like creating board and card games and would be happy to do that. Not as happy as writing though.

9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write. Write a lot. Learn about the craft by reading book on writing and attending classes at your local community college. Join a critique group and get feedback from your peers. Then once you get close to finishing a manuscript, attend a few writing conferences. You can also check out my blog and look at the articles on writing that I have archived there.

Thanks for stopping by, Randy! It was fun getting to know you better. Wow, five books in your series. I'm excited to see where it will go next and wasn't concerned that Calvin's storyline was separate. Now that I know there will be five books, I think there's plenty of time for them to meet up. I'm looking forward to reading book 2!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: The Free by Willy Vlautin

The Free, by Willy Vlautin
2014, 320p, Contemporary Fiction
My Rating=3 Stars
Source: Received copy from publisher and TLC Books for an honest review

Award-winning author Willy Vlautin demonstrates his extraordinary talent for confronting issues facing modern America, illuminated through the lives of three memorable characters who are looking for a way out of their financial, familial, and existential crises, in his heartbreaking and hopeful fourth novel

Leroy Kervin is a 31 year old Iraqi War veteran living with a traumatic brain injury. Unable to dress or feed himself, or cope with his emotions, he has spent the last seven years in a group home. There he spends his days watching old sci-fi movies until he awakens one night with a clear mind and memories of his girlfriend. Realizing what his life has been he decides it would be better to die than to go on living this way. A failed suicide attempt leaves Leroy hospitalized where he retreats further into his mind in order to make sense of his existence.

Freddie McCall is a middle aged father working two jobs. He's lost his wife and kids, and is close to losing his house. He's buried in debt, unable to pay the medical bills from his daughter's childhood illness. As Freddie's situation becomes more desperate he undertakes a risky endeavor he hopes will solve his problems but could possibly end in disaster. Just as Freddie is about to lose it all, he is faced with the possibility of getting his kids back.

Pauline Hawkins takes care of everyone else around her. She cares for her mentally ill father out of a deep sense of obligation. As a nurse at the local hospital, she treats her patients and their families with a familiar warmth and tenderness. When Pauline becomes attached to a young runaway, she learns the difficult lesson that you can't help someone who doesn't help themselves.

The lives of these three characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Willy Vlautin covers themes ranging from health care to the economic downturn and housing crisis, to the toll war takes on veterans and their families. The Free is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America and a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.

I haven't heard of Willy Vlautin before or read any of his books and when I read the summary for this, it sounded intriguing. I like to read a variety of books and this sounded like one I would find interesting.

It's about three people and their lives. Leroy, the soldier, who wakes up one night with a clear mind and decides he doesn't want to deal with life anymore. Most of his story is told through his dreams and would correspond to what he was currently going through. It was sometimes hard for me to follow until I figured that out. There's also Freddie, who worked two jobs just trying to stay afloat. He was divorced and buried in debt, which led to a poor decision which could have cost him everything. Then there's Pauline, the nurse who cared about the teenage girl she met and was concerned about what had been done to her and what would be done to her when she left the hospital. The three characters' lives intersect but they don't really interact much with each other.

This is an interesting book and I'm glad I read it. I enjoy Mr. Vlautin's writing style and my heart went out to each of the characters. I wanted something really good to happen to each of them. Two of the stories ended with hope but I felt that there was more to each of their stories so it seemed a little abrupt.

This book deals with the very real situations that some people face every day and it's that part that can make this a difficult book to read. There's a lot of content in this book: Swearing, including "f" words, a one night stand, teen sex resulting in a sexually transmitted disease and an abortion (no details), drugs and violence.

About Willy Vlautin

Willy Vlautin is the author of four novels: The Motel LifeNorthlineLean on Pete, which won two Oregon Book Awards, and The Free. He is the singer and songwriter of the band Richmond Fontaine and lives in Scappoose, Oregon.

Find out more about Willy at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

Bonus! Click here to hear/download music that Willy made for the book, watch the trailer, and much more!

Willy’s Tour Stops 

Tuesday, February 4th: Love at First Book
Wednesday, February 5th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 7th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, February 10th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, February 11th: Books Speak Volumes
Wednesday, February 12th: My Book Retreat
Thursday, February 13th: Anita Loves Books
Tuesday, February 18th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, February 19th: Mel’s Shelves
Thursday, February 20th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, February 24th: River City Reading
Tuesday, February 25th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Wednesday, February 26th: Bluestalking
Thursday, February 27th: Reading on a Rainy Day
Monday, March 3rd: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, March 4th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, May 5th: The House of the Seven Tails

Book Blast: Paris Cravings by Kimberley Montpetit

Paris Cravings

Can life really turn on a dime,
a missed bus—
or a stuck pastry shop door?

Chloe Dillard’s life has always been complicated. Her mother is a neurotic romance novelist and her boyfriend, Mathew, has been pressuring her to go “all the way”.

But after The Worst Night of Her Life, Chloe escapes on her Senior Class trip to the swoon-worthy city of Paris which takes her mind off her troubles—temporarily. On the final leg of her dream trip, Chloe squeezes in one final run for a last-minute box of decadent pastries. Add a stuck door, subtract a broken four-inch heel from her cute strappy sandals, and Chloe ends up one stuck girl on the bakery shop floor with a sprained ankle.

Rescued by the shop owner’s dreamy son with chocolate-syrup eyes, the beautiful city of Paris suddenly becomes Chloe’s personal secret adventure. And even though Jean-Paul, the oh-so-kind La Patisserie shop boy is the gentlemanly guy Chloe has always dreamed of, even he has a girlfriend.

The police are tracking her down as a run-away, Mom’s having a nervous breakdown over her daughter’s “disappearance”, and Chloe’s just trying to have a Happily-Ever-After even as her dreams with Matt are swirling down the drain.

Could being lost in the city of Paris be just what the doctor ordered? What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city in the world?

Praise for Paris Cravings:

“PARIS CRAVINGS is such a fun read, I couldn’t put it down! This is a humorous, delicious, and dreamy romance set in Paris about pastries, growing up, dating, and making those hard decisions about the kind of guy you want to be with, and who is best for you.” ~Milyssa Rivera

“Who can resist a book set in Paris amidst a Patisserie shop full of eclairs and pastries?! I’m excited this is a series, because anything with a bakery involved and I am in! Paris Cravings started out with a girl, a big box, some high heels and a mishap with a door. Insert cute worker with Hershey brown eyes, a French accent and a missing passport and you have the beginnings of romance.” ~Fire & Ice Blogger


Dear Diary:

I have a confession to make: I’ve become a total idiot over French pastries.

They’re my new favorite food.

My new-found edible souvenir.

My new favorite sin.

Drizzled chocolate, sugar-dusted raspberries, flaky crusts with perfect crimped edges. I’ll have to run a marathon when I get back home to New York just to burn off my new five pounds. French beignets are the worst temptation. Those yeasty chocolate-filled pastries call to me the way Prada handbags call to my mother from Fifth Avenue.

Dunkin Donuts—so yesterday.

Climbing the Eiffel tower, running through miles of hallways at the Louvre Museum, gourmet lunches on the Seine River . . . yes, those are all must-sees . . . if you don’t mind vertigo-dizzying heights and enough paintings to saturate your brain for the rest of your life.

But once I discovered La Patisserie, the rest of Paris became a mere backdrop for my guilty pleasure. What’s a girl to do?

Author Kimberley Montpetit

Kimberley Montpetit once spent all her souvenir money at the La Patisserie shops when she was in Paris—on the arm of her adorable husband. The author grew up in San Francisco, another swoon-worthy city, loves all things Parisian and chocolate and lives in a small town along the Rio Grande with her family.

Kimberley has won many awards for her work, including the Southwest Book Award, the Whitney Award, the Arizona/New Mexico Book Award, is a Crystal Kite Finalist (SCBWI) and included in the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year.

She once stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, eaten in numerous French cafes, ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

She adores all baked goodies; brownies, éclairs, donuts, tarts, and pie, and makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies while revising.

Kimberley is, of course, hard at work on her next novel(s).

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/14/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blog Tour/Review & Giveaway: Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard

Porcelain Keys, by Sarah Beard
2014, 352p, Young Adult Contemporary Romance
My Rating=5+ Stars
Source: Received copy from publisher for an honest review

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned. 

Aria's mother died a few years ago and her father doesn't want any reminders of her so they don't talk about her and the music room is locked shut. Aria likes to break in when her father is gone but if he catches her when he comes home and he's drunk, she's in trouble. She can run faster than him so she heads to their neighbors treehouse when that happens and that is where she meets Thomas one night. He is so kind to her and becomes her friend. She doesn't need to worry about a relationship with him because he told her he doesn't date, but doesn't fill in the details (at least not right away). They do start to care about each other but soon tragedy strikes and he disappears. How will Aria move on with Thomas no longer in her life?

This book is amazing!! It shows the power of music, friendship, love and second chances. I loved Aria and Thomas and how their relationship helped each other get through difficult circumstances. Thomas encouraged her to chase after her dream and helped her find a way to make it happen. 

Nathaniel, Vivian and Devin were great secondary characters and I liked her relationships with each of them as well. Nathaniel helped her fulfill her Juilliard dream and provided her with safety. I loved how Vivian came over to help her prepare for the dance and acted as her fairy godmother. Devin grew on me and I was glad he was able to befriend her and help her through a rough time.

This book is an emotional roller coaster. I was happy and sad, I laughed and I cried, and the ending was perfect! There are quite a few secrets and as they are revealed, her father's behavior makes more sense (even though how he behaved is still not okay). This is a book I highly recommend and will definitely read again. I only have one warning: Once you start, it will be almost impossible to put down!

Book Trailer:

I love this book so much that the publisher has agreed to let me give away an ebook just for my readers! There are other chances to win: The author is giving away 7 signed copies so check out her website for more details!

Giveaway ends 2/25/14. You must be 18 years old to enter and have a valid email address. The winning entry will be verified before being awarded. The winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter. They will receive notice via email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SARAH BEARD is the author of Porcelain Keys, a YA contemporary romance. She has a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor and a hopeless romantic. She enjoys reading and composing music, and lives with her husband and children in Salt Lake City, Utah.