Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Seven Steps to Closure

WARNING: Reading this excerpt will make you want to read the book.  Enjoy!

The Seven Steps to Closure by Donna Joy Usher

I was sitting in the hairdressers, resembling a large wet rat and feeling no closer to obtaining closure. To make things worse, a huge billboard of Jake had been erected straight across the street from Funk Hair - which was Elaine’s brother Tristan's hairdressing salon.
'Yummy,' Tristan had commented, rubbing his hands together when I pointed out the billboard to him and Elaine.
Elaine had kindly responded by sliding one of the pot plants into the window, and positioning me with my back to the board. But if I bent down a little and peered into the mirror I could still see the side of his face, one of his legs and the words Jake Well..... yor. It was a little disturbing.
Tristan is - of course - gay. He is much shorter than Elaine, and doesn't look anything like her - probably due to the fact that they have different biological fathers. Elaine's Dad died when she was quite young. She doesn't remember him and considers Tristan's Dad - a tidy looking Italian man - to be her father. Tristan has taken his father's dark looks and combined them with their mother's good looks and the results are quite stunning. A lot of the women who come to get their hair done at Funk Hair come to enjoy the scenery. Tristan hires a bevy of gay men and women, all of them desirable. He also won the ‘Australian Hairdresser of the Year’ award two years running, so the patrons are never disappointed when they leave the salon. It normally takes weeks to get an appointment at Funk Hair and months if you want to see Tristan. I was very lucky to be one of Elaine's best friends.
'Hmmmmmm,' said Tristan thoughtfully, as he lifted my hair from my shoulders and held it around my face at different lengths.
'Ahhhhhhhhh,' said Tristan contemplatively, as he pulled my hair back behind my head and played with my fringe.
'Uh huh,' said Tristan decisively, as he looked at a colour chart and held different swatches of pigmented hair around my face.
'I didn't say anything about a colour change,' I whispered urgently to Elaine, who was flipping through a magazine with Benny asleep on her lap.
She held it up for me to see. 'See this Tara?' She pointed to the date. 'A current magazine - you and Dinah should try it some time.'
I stuck my tongue out at her.
Meanwhile Tristan had stopped work and was staring at me in the mirror with one eyebrow raised.
Uh oh.
'Did you not ask Elaine to fix this appointment for you?' he asked imperiously. (Have I mentioned that not only is Tristan gorgeous, but he is also a huge drama queen?) 'Did you not beg her to get you in with me as fast as possible?'
'Well actually,' I said.
'Shhhh,' he responded, holding one finger up in the air. 'You beg and you plead and now you insult the master.'
'Oh no, no,' I gushed, 'no, it's just that I've never coloured my hair before.'
'Never?' He held the back of one hand to his beautiful forehead as if about to swoon. When he had recovered he snapped, 'Sebastian, Veronica, major hair emergency. I need you here now.’ And then he started pointing at the colour chart and very rapidly giving orders. I couldn't quite make out what he was saying, and I was trying really, really hard because I was starting to feel a little panicked. What if I looked awful when he'd finished? What if he gave me a hairdo that, while nice on someone else - someone hip and chic and eighteen years old - did nothing for me at all? And then I would have to smile into the mirror, and I mean really smile. Smile so that it made it right to my eyes while I gushed about my hair - when all I really wanted to do was go home and spend hours staring at myself in the mirror willing myself to like it. Oh and worse, I would have to pretend to Elaine that I loved it. I would never be able to get rid of it. Christ what had I done?

Thank you to Donna for allowing me to post this excerpt!  I wish I could have provided a review for this novel, as I certainly have added it to my TBR list!  Alas, it is the season for gift giving, Christmas plays, parties and many other things that have kept be very busy.  I relish my reading time these days!  Watch out, January will bring many new reviews and suggestions!  If you need a gift for the reader in your life or maybe a present for you, you've been good this year right?, this book is a great choice!  Check out for more suggestions and reviews!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Good Woman

The Good Woman

Author: Jane Porter
ISBN: 978-0425253007
Publisher: Berkley
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Highly Recommended

Is it possible to leave it all behind? 

The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.

My Thoughts:

I always have a hard time putting Jane's books down, so I wasn't surprised when this one was irresistible to me. Jane has a knack for exploring her characters from the inside out. The characters grow and develop over the course of the story, just as we do when faced with trials and opportunities in our life.

The story is told from many points of view, enabling the reader to understand the story from all sides, which gives a unique perspective to the reader. I love this set up in novels. They can be extremely difficult to navigate but Jane makes it effortless for the reader.

The story is a picture of families and dynamics that make them one of a kind unique, special, infuriating and irreplaceable. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Paternity Test

Author: Michael Lowenthal
ISBN: 978-0-299290009
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Rating: Recommended

Having a baby to save a marriage—it’s the oldest of clich├ęs. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one and having a baby involves a surrogate mother?

    Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he’s losing Stu to other men—and losing himself in their “no rules” arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers.

    As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant, married to Danny, an American carpenter. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties—to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires—and wonders: is he fit to be a father?

    In one of the first novels to explore the experience of gay men seeking a child through surrogacy, Michael Lowenthal writes passionately about marriages and mistakes, loyalty and betrayal, and about how our drive to create families can complicate the ones we already have. The Paternity Test is a provocative look at the new “family values."

My Thoughts: 

The Paternity Test is a novel that is sure to turn a few heads as it takes a look at our evolving world and the many different types of families within it. I accepted this book for review because it’s quite different from most books in its genre. The writing is strong, weaving emotions throughout the story that are sure to tug at your heartstrings no matter what thoughts you may have on the topic. However, given that the subject matter attacks a widely opinionated topic, there are sure to be those that love and those who hate this book.  Keeping all personal thoughts and beliefs out of it, this author has a wonderful writing style, imaginative story, colorful characters and something to say that begs you to listen.  If it peaks your interest, go for it.

*Thank you to BookSparks PR for providing this review copy. Visit them at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Perfect Bait

Author: Michael Fowlkes
ISBN: 978-0-9742406-5-7
Publisher: Thunderbird Press
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Recommended Read

Seattle’s commercial waterfront, San Diego’s topless beaches, and the waters of Cabo San Lucas are all breathtaking and beautiful, but in Perfect Bait, these settings are the backdrop for a story of kidnapping, rape and murder – leaving the reader deeply engrossed in a spellbinding and suspenseful thriller.

When Corey Phillips moved to Southern California to start a charter boating operation with his girlfriend Jennifer, he never expected he’d be looking for anything other than fish among the open waters. Lately though, young girls have been disappearing and the local authorities are depending on the FBI to put the pieces of this mystery together. However, the puzzle proves difficult to solve, until Corey and Jennifer find themselves the perfect bait and fighting for their lives.

Michael Fowlkes brings a smooth and addicting writing style to the pages of this novel. The story flows effortlessly across the pages as the action, adventure and suspense hold the reader captive.  While gritty and all-too-real, the book brings to life the horror of crime combined with the beauty of the ocean and a love for boating. Mixed within the pages is a story of love as Corey and Jennifer fight to stay alive, together.

I loved the thoughts that opened each chapter in this book. Simple sentences such as, “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery” signify the beginning of a new chapter, often lending themselves to the story unfolding on the pages to follow. If you enjoy a good mystery/thriller/suspense novel, you’ll love Perfect Bait.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Scandalous Viscount

My Scandalous Viscount
Author: Gaelen Foley
ISBN: 978-0062075932
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Recommended

Meet the courageous men of the Inferno Club as they face their greatest challenge yet: marriage!

Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates he must marry Miss Carissa Portland. He has no regrets over stealing a kiss from the adorable little busybody—a fitting punishment for putting her delectable nose where it didn't belong. But now, caught in a compromising situation, he knows he must make her his bride. He's faced danger before—but nothing like this!

Carissa is not a gossip—she's a "lady of information." And all she was trying to do was warn the rakehell Beauchamp away from an irate husband. But even she can't flaunt Society, and while her head tells her that Beau's a notorious scoundrel, her heart—and her body—are captivated by his dangerous charm. But when Carissa next goes snooping, the secrets she uncovers about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with her own husband.

My Thoughts:
Carissa Portland has always been full of information.  If anyone knows anything about society, it's Carissa.  However, her reasons for knowing the secrets flying through the ton are for her own sanity because she herself has a secret. In order to keep her past hidden, Carissa makes sure she knows what's being talked about among the rich aristocrats in London. When Carissa is caught searching for information, her snooping ends up leading to a marriage of safety. Will her knack for finding information threaten the survival of her marriage?

Viscount Beauchamp, Sebastian, is one of the men of the Inferno Club, a secret aristocratic Order of spies. When Sebastian is caught in a compromising situation with Carissa Portland, a sneaking busybody, he has no choice but to marry her, making his situation harder than intended.   When Carissa finds out more than Sebastian ever intended her to know about him, Sebastian finds himself trying to keep her quiet and safe, not realizing she may just be his greatest ally.

These two lead characters are quiet entertaining to read about. The sparks fly between them from the very beginning as their secrets unfold.  This romance is full of political unrest, spies, bureaucracy, aristocrats and secrets. From the moment you pick it up, you will find yourself wondering what's in it for Carissa and Sebastian, forced into marriage but not into love. It is an enjoyable read.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Advice for the Aspiring Writer

I've had my share of both good and bad advice, but the best advice? Actually comes from my years as a televisions reporter - and it fits in so well with writing that I'm going to write about that today.

Be Yourself.

Early in my journalism career I tried to emulate the best - Katie Couric, Jane Pauley, the list goes on. I watched them like a hawk - from their facial expressions to their little ticks. Did they hold their hands *this* way or *that*? How did that voice inflection go again? How did they say ____? I twisted myself up, down and all around trying to be exactly like my favorite news people because I thought that was what viewers wanted. After all, they were all working for major networks while I was still in small-market news.

One of my favorite people ever, a sports anchor in the town where I worked, was a rancher Monday through Friday and a sports reporter/anchor on weekends. He was funny - very dry humor - had amazing pipes - oh, what a voice! - and a way of saying things that still makes me melt. He'd been in the business for years and years, and one night as I was fiddling with my makeup and hair and going over the story scripts he said, 'You know, all anyone really wants is for us to tell them a story. Our way.'

He'd seen what I was doing - making myself into the perfect replica of what I thought a news person should be. When what I needed to actually do was just report the news in my own way. He mentioned that I was perfectly competent in my impersonations but all that preparation and practice was keeping viewers from relating to *my telling* of the story.

I think that relates to writing, too. Nora (Roberts) and Jayne (Ann Krentz) and Jill (Shalvis) may be best sellers, but they are because they tell their stories their way. They don't imitate or emulate. They are what we all need to be: unique. Shakespeare and Dickens told crazy-good stories. It's okay to hope to someday be that good. The key is to realize we'll only get to that level if we are true to our inner voices, our storytelling abilities and the stories that are in our hearts, waiting to get out.

--Kristina Knight, author of The Saints Devilish Deal

The Saint's Devilish Deal

Author: Kristina Knight
ISBN: 1440552355
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Source: CLP Blog Tours
Rating: Highly Recommended

Esmerelda Quinn has been looking for a place to belong since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was young. The closest thing to home has always been Aunt Constance's villa in Puerto Vallarta, so after a string of hotellier jobs, she's coming home to run the villa.

Santiago Cruz has called the villa home for as long as he can remember. In between surfing events, Constance has always had a room for him. Color him surprised when Constance leaves him with a joint interest in the villa - along with her niece Esmerelda.

Esme isn't thrilled to share ownership of the villa with the the youngest Cruz brother - especially as the Cruz family has been after the villa for years. But Santiago has grown up while she's been away and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall - all over again.

My Thoughts:

One of the things I love about reading is the ability to go anywhere, all from the comfort of your own living room. I'm not a fan of flying, which limits the places I travel too, making books like this one great to read because their settings are somewhere I haven't been or likely won't go. While I am visiting another world through the story, I'm also visiting a place, adding to my reading enjoyment. 

I really enjoyed this book. The storyline that surrounds the villa and the plans to make it a successful establishment interested me.  Something about the setting of a villa intrigues me.  I would love to have my own Tuscan Villa, its romantic. Esme and Santiago have a connection that is spicy hot from the very beginning. Their past relationship and years of knowing each other adds to the connection. I found myself hoping that this time Santiago would settle down and stay in one place, minimizing the risk Esme feels is attached to a relationship with Santiago. Their relationship develops throughout the story, making this book a fun and easy read.  I read it fairly quickly once I started. 

This romance was simple and enjoyable but I found myself wishing the story went a little deeper, the plot line had room for expansion and depth without being too deep. Though this didn't effect my enjoyment of the story, I may have enjoyed it more if the story went deeper.  Needless to say, this book is about romance and romance you will get!  It was a wonderful read.  It took me outside my own life and into the lives of Esme and Santiago.  I highly recommend it.  

About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police – no, she wasn’t a trouble-maker she was a journalist. When the opportunity to write what she wanted – business and family/parenting articles – and to focus more energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it.

And she’s never looked back. Now she writes articles for magazines and such by day and writes romance novels with spice by night. And any toddler-free, five minute break she has. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and 4 year old daughter. Happily ever after.

Connect with Kristina

Buy the Book 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

That Time of the Month by Emily Shaffer

About the Book:
Recently fired and almost broke, thirty-year old Ellie decides to push all distractions aside and form a crash-or-burn plan to save herself and finally pursue her dreams. She gives herself one month to make the near-impossible happen, otherwise she has to leave New York City and move into her niece's toy room. 

The plan seems simple but becomes complicated by a nosey best friend, a difficult roommate, a dreamy stranger, and a really bad ring. As the month progresses, Ellie must confront the realization that by deciding to focus on herself, she may have become completely self-centered. 

Will she let her own ambitions, insecurities, and assumptions ruin her friendships and get in the way of a possible romance? Ruled by endless lists and fueled by several plates of pie, Ellie's comical thoughts and mishaps drive this story from the office to the coffee shop during a month that will leave her with a broken foot, a great pair of shoes, and a forever changed life.

My Thoughts:
If a book makes me laugh, it is very likely that I will love it in the end.  This title didn’t disappoint me in this regard. That Time of the Month is a witty and very humorous novel that kept my attention throughout the entire ordeal that is Ellie.  Ellie, the lead character, is a bit clumsy –to say the least- and has a lot going on in her life.  During this period of transition and search for balance and purpose while chasing her dream, Ellie is supported by a wonderful set of supporting characters that will remind you of those in your life who love you despite your flaws.
That Time of the Month was a lovely book.  Fans of chick lit are sure to enjoy it. I started laughing within the first chapter as Ellie loses her job in a comical scene I still haven’t forgotten. When Ellie decides to chase her dream of becoming a famous author, the book takes off and the laughter doesn’t stop. Ellie is a character that is easy to relate to because she is in a phase of life we all reach at some point in time. The reader is given a comical story that demands attention and deserves it.  I highly recommend the read.

About the Author
I am a Tennessean by birth, and have lived pretty much everywhere. My Dad always says that when I was born, and the doctor tried to slap me to make me cry, that I stood up on the table and slapped the doctor instead…and from then on, I never did anything that I didn't want to do.

Luckily, what I want to do is write…and not carjacking or vandalism.

Like my main character, Ellie, I love making random lists…so here are some random facts about me: - I'm nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other. The world looks like a fun-house mirror if I don't wear my glasses or contacts.
- I was almost kicked out of Graceland for using flash photography in the peacock-mirrored front room, and my tour group shunned me the entire rest of the tour. That made for a lonely trip through the Jungle Room.
- I was once mistaken for a member of Hanson…granted, they all had long hair at the time, but still… not what you want to hear as a girl.

When I wrote That Time of the Month, I really saw it as though it was a movie. I can see every scene, every character and what they are wearing, every piece of pie, perfectly in my mind. I'm currently writing the sequel, That Time of the Year. I love the story and characters so much, that I am tempted to turn the series into a trilogy.

Connect with Emily

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Angels Landing

Angels Landing

Author: Rochelle Alers
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-455-50138-0
Source: The Season
Rating: Recommended
Heat: 2

As Kara Newell packs up to leave New York City for a fabulous, much needed, vacation, she receives a call requesting her appearance at the reading of a will. As a result, Kara puts off her plans to return home and heads to Cavanaugh Island, both confused and interested in the stranger who left her something in the wake of his death. Upon arrival, Kara learns the unexpected truth regarding her family, a truth that changes her life forever.

Angels Landing was a fun, light-hearted and romantic book, but didn’t have the block buster qualities that make novels a top pick, in my opinion. The characters are attractive, loveable and well developed, but they have some annoying qualities that kept sneaking up and making me wince. For example, Jeff, the hot sheriff that’s into Kara, calls Kara “baby” constantly throughout the novel. Jeff begins using this term of endearment almost immediately, which turned me off almost instantly. The term is used far too often and made me feel like Jeff was a player or that he didn’t respect Kara fully. He uses the term so loosely, right off the bat.

The pace of the novel is steady but it didn’t capture my attention and keep it. I would much rather be glued to the pages than find myself taking breaks from reading and putting the book down. I did however enjoy the setting immensely. Cavanaugh Island is a gem hidden in the form of land, surrounded by the sea. The close knit, family community stands up for each other, protects each other and puts their peers in their place when actions need to be corrected or adjusted. The town really had each other’s back, so to speak, and didn’t put up with discrimination or bullying from the developers attempting to take what’s not theirs.

Overall this romance was a good read, but not a favorite. The love story is all about surprise and the unexpected, as are many of the other story lines in this piece of fiction. If anything can be said about this book, it should be that you’ll find yourself wanting to be in Angels Landing, enjoying the locals, the culture, the food and the charm of an endearing island oasis.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquees

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess (Lords of Vice, #5)

Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martins
ISBN: 978-1250001375
Source: The Season 
Rating: Highly Recommended
Heat: 3

The Lords of Vice were not given their nicknames on a whim. In fact, their titles openly air their love of gambling, women and self-satisfaction.  Now, the Marquees of Sainthill, also known as Saint - to the Lords of Vice – is one of the few remaining unwed Lords. When Saint unexpectedly falls for Madame Venna, the unthinkable suddenly becomes a reality and Saint finds himself deeply in love with the proprietress of London’s most exclusive brothel.

Madame Venna has a secret.  Her former life leads her down a specific path that is full of success.  As the owner of The Golden Pearl, Madame Venna lives the life of a wealthy and mysterious business owner, tending to the needs to London’s men. However, outside the walls of the notorious brothel, Madame lives another life, hidden from all those who know her as Madame Venna – or so she thinks. When Madame breaks her cardinal rule and falls in love, her walls are slowly torn down, threatening to expose her secrets and ruin her carefully constructed life.

I greatly enjoyed this romance.  There is a little bit of mystery to the story, though the reader knows it all. The characters, however, are discovering the secrets bit by bit, while falling deeper in love with each passing day. Saint and the other Lords of Vice are well developed, well built upon characters. Those who follow the series are enabled to sit back and fall into the story as if they were meeting up with old friends. The characters are comfortable around each other and it shows. They give meaning to the phrase “Friends are the family you choose.” In addition, the author has found wonderful supporting characters for each Lord, Madame Venna is no different.  She is the perfect pick for the Marquees of Sainthill, who would be quite bored without the intrigue of this woman and her mysterious background.

The story is not without its flaws. There were a few parts that were left unaddressed in the end, though they are minor and did not stick with me for long. For the most part this story kept me turning the pages at a steady pace, I found very few areas that didn’t grab and hold my attention. 

On the upside this romance is full of heat.  The passion between these two is electrifying. It’s visible even when they are not together, which adds to the story in many ways. Though the story isn’t my favorite in the series, it is highly entertaining and addictive.  Hawkins writes in such a way that demands the reader’s attention and holds it effortlessly.  I would recommend this book as well as the series to others.  It’s definitely worth the read and delivers the unexpected.  I’m positive this is the first Marquees and Brothel proprietress romance I’ve read.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In the Pink

Author: Susan McBride
ISBN: 978-0062230768
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: Must Read

At the age of 40, Susan McBride was in her prime, comfortable and happy despite her mother’s fear that she’d never marry. Though still single and fully aware she had a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist than being married, the St. Louis-based author didn’t feel anything was missing from her life.

In 2005, McBride was named one of St. Louis’s top singles by St. Louis magazine. Ironically, at the magazine’s top singles party, McBride met the love of her life and future husband. With Ed, she found a companionship and love she never expected; she began to see what she might miss without him by her side.
A second surprise came in 2006: McBride was diagnosed with breast cancer. Six years later, she recounts her journey through love and survival in her entertaining memoir, In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Guy, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40. The book, released Oct. 2 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a tribute to life and a letter of encouragement to women everywhere.

McBride writes candidly and openly about age, love, cancer and coping. The memoir is a laugh-out-loud account of the author’s journey, even as she navigates through sadness and pain. McBride takes the reader to a place of contentment and understanding, inserting humor to lighten the mood. In the Pink sends an uplifting message that calls on women to follow their dreams and develop self-worth. By sharing her darkest times, McBride encourages others to discover who they are. Readers will be inspired.

*This article is my review of In the Pink as seen in the October issue of Inside Columbia magazine. 
My contribution to the magazine was unpaid.  All thoughts are purely my own.*

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book of the Day: The Time Keeper

The Time Keeper is a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours.
The man who became Father Time.

In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Told in Albom's signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.

My Thoughts: 
I absolutely love everything Mitch Albom writes.  His books are compelling and thought provoking.  They are also uplifting and enlightening while giving the reader a solid storyline and well developed characters.  I haven't missed a book yet, and I won't start now!  Read it with me....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book of the Day: Pleasures of a Tempted Lady

Pleasures of a Tempted Lady

About the Book: 
Captain William Langley knows the ocean well, but nothing could prepare him for what he discovers adrift on the cold Irish Sea. The tiny boat carries two passengers: a child-and Meg Donovan, Will's long-lost love. Meg's disappearance at sea eight years ago was a devastating blow. Now she's back, as beautiful as ever, and with secrets as deep as Will's own . . .After years held captive by a cold-blooded pirate, Meg has finally escaped with little Jake, the boy she's come to love as if he were her own. But the pirate wants his revenge-and Meg must do whatever it takes to shield Jake from the madman. Determined not to lose Meg again, Will vows to protect them both, yet Meg can't risk putting the only man she's ever loved in danger. With the threat to her safety growing, and her passion for Will burning brighter every day, surrendering herself to Will might be a pleasure too tempting to resist . . .

My Tidbit:
I loved this book! Review to come soon. Of all the Donovan sisters, Meg's story captured me the most.  Avoid judging this book by the cover, it's much better than it looks!  If you love a good romance, meaning lots of story with tidbits of love, this one is for you.   Read an Excerpt

Enjoy! - A Cozy Reader's Corner


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Lucky You Are

How Lucky You Are

By Kristyn Kusek Lewis
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0203-5
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Highly Recommended

Waverly has always been the center of her tight-knit group of friends.  The friendship trio includes her best friends, Kate and Amy. When Waverly’s bakery faces financial ruin due to her tremendous debt and her relationship begins to feel less secure, Waverly’s anchor role in the trio’s friendship is tried in many ways. Kate, who is independent and strong willed, faces unsettling questions about her future, while her husband pursues his dream to become governor. Amy, the stay-at-home mom, has a perfect life, or so everyone thinks, but she also has a dark secret hidden beneath her surface.  When the secret threatens to reveal itself, Amy is panicked.  Soon the tight friendships between these three women begin to come apart.  As Waverly faces major decisions in her life, she discovers that the lines between loyalty and betrayal are not always clear, happy endings aren’t always guaranteed in life, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain what you’ve worked so hard for.

How Lucky You Are tells the story of three everyday women. They are best friends, a close-knit group that is more like family than friends.  However, they all have their own secrets.  They all have their own lives behind closed doors, and when rough times hit, their friendship is tested in ways they never imagined possible.  Just like life, these friends doubt, worry, cry, and hope. Though they are committed to their friendships, doubt creeps in and betrayal is inevitable. It’s an honest, compelling and insightful story that looks at the relationships, companionship and dynamics that take place between female friends.

I loved this story.  It is a realistic view of friendship, tested in the midst of tribulation.  It’s raw and open but charming and wise. I felt connected to these women, who lost restraint at points and held it at others. They are characters I feel most women could be friends with.  Their story is one that women will understand and appreciate, making it relatable to most readers. I wanted to cry with them and rejoice with them.  I completely understood Waverly.  Her position in the group, career and troubles resonated with me.  I understood her feelings and connected easily with her as a character.  This is a great debut.  If you love women’s fiction, you’ll love this book.

Join the Bug Squad: Read for the Record!

Square banner
Read for the Record!
Join at  
Join me by reading for the record as an advocate for children's literacy.  Join the Bug Squad.  It's fun for all ages!  Read for a great cause.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter: A Novel
Pin It
Author: Sarah Jio
ISBN: 978-0-452-29838-5
Publisher: Plume/Penguin
Source: Publisher for review

Pre-order: Amazon  Barnes & Nobles


Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

My Thoughts:

Blackberry Winter was difficult for me to read, as a mother, because it struck a chord buried deep within me. Losing a child, in any way, is a mom’s worst nightmare and something no one wants to go through. I didn’t want to read on at points, because I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know what happened, unsure if I could handle reading about it, yet I couldn’t put this book down. It’s was impossible not to keep turning the pages, devouring each and every words as they fell together so perfectly.

It amazes me how well Ms. Jio skillfully switches between the past and present, interweaving the two and leaving clues within each, tying everything together in seamless effort. The characters, Vera and Claire, are well developed and beautifully so. They exist on and off the page due to the writing style Sarah Jio processes. Even now, I’m amazed this story is fiction; it feels as if these characters truly lived and loved.

The setting is perfect. I love Seattle. Ms. Jio does a wonderful job depicting the scenes throughout the novel, giving the reader clear insight and a mental picture of the city, both in the past and the present. I immensely enjoyed this novel. It tugged on my heart strings, fulfilled my love of historical and contemporary fiction, all while giving me just enough mystery and suspense without scaring me off. It connected me to the characters and places in the story, all while keeping me glued to the pages and completely satisfied in the end.

Sarah Jio is one of the most consistent, surprising and incredibly talented authors I’ve read. I’ve had the pleasure of reading each of her three published novels and each has been unique and well written with intriguing characters and an engrossing plot line.  I cannot put her books down. I urge you to hit up your local bookstore, Target or Barnes and Nobles for your copy of Blackberry Winter. You won’t want to miss the buzz this novel is likely to create. It has something for everyone.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 5 Back-to-School Deals for This Week (August 5-11, 2012)


Kid's Jeans for $9 From Old Navy: Old Navy has all their Kid's Famous Jeans on sale for $10through August 15, 2012. This sale is both in-store and online. If you are planning on purchasing multiple pairs, you can sign up for Old Navy emails to get a $10 off $50 coupon. Plus, shipping is free on orders over $50. So you could potentially get five pairs of jeans for just $9 shipped each. If you're shopping in-store, you can print a $10 off $50 coupon from the Old Navy Facebook Page. 

Kid's Jeans for as Low as $8.50 from The Children's Place: The Children's Place has a number of different jeans priced at $10 right now. Use coupon code RETAILMENOT82 to get an additional 15% off your order, making the jeans just $8.50 per pair after this coupon code. Shipping is free on $75+ orders or a flat-rate of $5 on orders less than $75. 

Free 6-month Subscription to Shop Runner: If you do a lot of online shopping, you'll want to check this offer out! Sign up for a free Cozi account and they'll give you a coupon for afree 6-month subscription to Shop Runner. Shop Runner gives you unlimited free shipping to many different online sites -- just in time for purchasing back-to-school clothes, shoes, and electronics! 

Buy One, Get One 50% Off Plus Additional 15% Off at Famous Footwear: Famous Footwear is running a Buy One, Get One Half Off Sale right now. This is a great opportunity to stock up on quality shoes for your kids at low prices. Plus, use this coupon to get an additional 15% off your order total. 

Free First Day of School Printable Signs: Like to take a photo of your children on their first day of school to commemorate the occasion? Download two different free designs of First Day of School Signs. In addition, you can find some other fun free Back-to-School printables here

Re-Posted with permission. Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, author of The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget. Visit her blog,, for the best back-to-school deals and for practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Top 5 Back-to-School Deals for This Weekend

Top 5 Back-to-School Deals for This Weekend
(August 3-5, 2012)

1. Kid's Jeans for $9 Shipped From Old Navy: Old Navy has all their Kid's Famous Jeans on sale for $10through August 15, 2012. This sale is both in-store and online.
If you are planning on purchasing multiple pairs, you can sign up for Old Navy emails to get a $10 off $50 coupon. Plus, shipping is free on orders over $50. So you could potentially get five pairs of jeans for just $9 shipped each.

2. Kid's Jeans for as Low as $8 Shipped from The Children's Place: The Children's Place is offering free shipping on all denim orders, no minimum. Plus, you can use coupon code E6H76QDP82 to get an additional 20% off your order. They have jeans priced at $10, making them just $8 per pair shipped after this coupon code.

3. Crayola Crayons for $0.25 at Toys "R" Us: Through Saturday (August 5, 2012), Toys "R" Us has Crayola Crayons on sale 4 for $1. You must purchase in quantities of 4 to get this price. You can price-match at Walmart, if that's more convenient for you. These make a fantastic addition to Operation Christmas Child boxes.

4. Backpacks for $0.01 After MaxPerks Rewards at Office Max: Use your MaxPerks card to purchase a backpack or messenger bag from OfficMax and you'll get 100% back in MaxPerks Rewards minus $0.01. For example, if you purchase a backpack for $39.99 out of pocket, you'll $39.98 back in MaxPerks Bonus Rewards via an email coupon within 90 days. You can use this email coupon like a gift card to purchase anything at Office Max. This offer is good through Saturday, August 4, 2012. 

5. Get In Free Weekend at Sam's Club: Non-members can stop by Sam's Club this weekend (August 3-5, 2012) for their Get In Free Weekend. Non-members are able to enjoy the same prices as members during this special weekend, no coupon is required. Sam's Club often has great deals on bulk office and school supplies, as well as bargains on electronics.

*Reposted with permission from Litfuse Publicity. Post written by Crystal Paine, a wife, mom of three, author of The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget. Visit her blog,, for the best back-to-school deals and for practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order.*