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Monday, March 31, 2014

Blogging from A to Z starts tomorrow. Yikes!!

This is my third year participating in this intense but rewarding challenge.  The first year, my theme was the A-to-Zs of people of the scriptures.  The second year, the A-to-Zs of mythology.  Now, again needing spiritual nourishment, I've decided to go back to a scripture theme and do the A-to-Zs of gospel principles or thereabouts.  Yikes!  I wanted to do something easy this year because life has really been knocking on my door but the knock of spiritual edification was knocking the loudest so here I am.

I've had plenty of time to prepare for this challenge but of course being queen of procrastination, I waited the last minute to get my act together.  I did manage very few pre-prepared posts but after that, I'm flying this again by the seat of my pants!  So, don't be surprised if my "letter" post doesn't get published until 11:59pm on some days.

Okay, the fun begins tomorrow!  Best wishes to all the participants!!

P.S. Want to know more about this challenge?  Then, go HERE.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Author-Book Profile: The Chance by Robyn Carr

I've been enjoying this series.  The coastal backdrop and the close knit characters have found a happy place in my reading imaginary world.  A romance reader's delight!  ~Here's my reviews .. book #1, book #2, & book #3.

The Chance, book #4 to the Thunder Point series, debuted this month.  Check it out!  Oh, stay tune for the follow-up to the series, book #5 comes in July and book #6 comes in September ...pre-order links below.  Happy reading!!

Now that Robyn Carr has earned the #1 slot on the New York Times list many times, the creator of the wildly popular Virgin River and Thunder Point series laughs when someone refers to her as an overnight success.

“The truth is, I was first published in 1978, and it took me thirty years to make it to The New York Times bestseller List,” she pointed out, referring to 2007’s A Virgin River Christmas.

After thirty-plus years of hard work, life is very, very good for the Las Vegas author who began writing when her two children were babies.

Robyn and her husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their son and daughter are grown. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.

About the Book

With its breathtaking vistas and down-to-earth people, Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. The locals embraced Laine as one of their own after she risked her life to save a young girl from a dangerous cult. Knowing her wounds go beyond the physical, Laine hopes she'll fit in for a while and find her true self in a town that feels safe. She may even learn to open her heart to others, something an undercover agent has little time to indulge.

Eric Gentry is also new to Thunder Point. Although he's a man with a dark past, he's determined to put down roots and get to know the daughter he only recently discovered. When Laine and Eric meet, their attraction is obvious to everyone. But while the law enforcement agent and the reformed criminal want to make things work, their differences may run too deep…unless they take a chance on each other and find that deep and mysterious bond that belongs to those who choose love over fear.

Thunder Point Series:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Author-Book Profile: Three Days of Rain by Christine Hughes

Please welcome Christine Hughes ... and check out her New Adult book, Three Days of Rain:

I've always wanted to write. Ever since I was little, I would craft stories and poems but the idea to actually do it "for real" never really crossed my mind until last year. After sitting on three paragraphs of what would eventually become my first novel, I decided to expand upon what I had. At the time I had no real idea of where the story would go, I just knew I had the time to do something with it.
I hadn't researched market trends, I had no idea about query letters or the evil synopsis, and I was green on the idea of agents and editors and all that is publishing, really. I just wanted to write something I enjoyed. I didn't plot, outline, or character build, I just wrote. And then an author friend mentioned that I should take my writing to a conference.
So with the confidence that my novel would surely be welcomed by all who read it, I signed up for as many seminars and critiques as I could. I knew someone would love it. In those two days, I found out I had a lot to learn.
Funny, but as a former English teacher, you'd think I'd have figured out the importance of editing and revision and revising again. You'd think I'd have known that the first draft is just that, a draft. And when the critiques started coming in, I thought I was done for. Not that the premise wasn't good (I was told it was), not that the characters weren't believable (I was told they were), but I used too much passive voice, I tense shifted and there were some holes in the plotline.
A few agents really liked it, but the market trend couldn't support it. Some were not fond of the way I told the story. I queried and queried my way to 57 flat out rejections and a number of partial and full requests that didn't pan out. But along the way I got some great criticism and pointers and I made the story better. Then, on a whim, I trolled the SavvyAuthors website and signed up for a three line pitch to an editor and I did a happy dance when she requested my full manuscript.
A month later, she responded that she loved the story and the concept but it moved too slowly but I could resubmit if I revised. I informed her I sent her a revision that was based on the opinions of agents, authors and peers but I had the original (cleaned up, of course) and I was sending it in to see if it was more of what she was looking for. And guess what? It was! One caveat, I had to revise the manuscript into past tense. Easy peasy, right? Wrong.
Revising into past tense from present is line editing your entire novel. And it kinda stinks. By the end, I thought my eyes were gonna start bleeding and pop out onto my keyboard. But you know what? That little "exercise" tightened up what was loose, filled in any plot holes that might've still been there and forced me to realize I could be a better writer.
The road to publication can be long. It can be a hop, skip and a jump from your first query. Nothing in publication is set in stone. The market is always changing. And the biggest thing I learned is that it's all subjective. Agents A-Y may pass but all you need is Agent or Editor Z to believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. And I believe in my first novel.

Three Days of Rain, New Adult, 326p, published 12/9/13
Amazon customer reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars (32 reviews)

Just when he thought his life was turning around... Things haven’t been easy for Jacob Morgan. Persecuted by the ghosts of his past, Jake lives each day just going through the motions, barely getting by. Then Lily Burns comes to town and befriends him. As Jake starts to heal, he begins to hope that he has finally overcome the mistakes and tragedies that have tormented him for so long. But just when he thinks his problems are solved, his past comes back to haunt him, and once again, Jake is confronted by situations he is ill-equipped to handle. Can Jake hold on to the progress he has made, or will the lies, guilt, and secrets he’s tried to ignore shove him back into an abyss from which there is no escape?

Also by Christine Hughes

[Helping authors promote their books.  Being profiled does not necessarily mean I recommend the book.]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: All The Finer Things by Stephanie Connelley Worlton

All The Finer Things by Stephanie Connelley Worlton, AF, 2014, eARC, 276p, Rating=4
Source: provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Married to one of the most lucrative and sought after plastic surgeons in SoCal, Megan Hamilton has it all. Her posh life, designer clothes, and stunning penthouse leave her wanting for nothing… or do they? Controlled by his obsessive pursuit of perfection, Doctor Matthew Hamilton will stop nothing short of breaking his young, spirited bride into a subservient trophy wife. But when parenthood enters their picture, the entire game changes. How far will Megan have to go to escape Matt's obsessive control and abuse? And how much will she have to lose before she gets there?
Doctor Matthew Hamilton has everything he loves - money, power, reputation. Or at least he thinks he does, until his spoiled wife decides to leave and unknowingly blows a hole right in the heart of his carefully laid plans. With Megan gone, he faces to lose everything and he won't stop until he finds her, because losing is something Matthew simply does not do.
When a fancy car and it's equally fancy owner take up residence next door, Ammon Carter's life of solidarity gets turned on its head. His quiet orchard community is no place for a pampered princess, but as a Scoutmaster, his deep moral code doesn't allow him to be anything but courteous to the young mother. Content as a bachelor, he does his best to keep his distance from the misplaced beauty and her son... unfortunately, his dog has different plans.

I was intrigued from the very beginning. Stories of spousal abuse would do that to me. I had to see it through. I had to know that it ends with justice so I’d know whether to throw the book in the fire or not. I didn’t and I’m not necessarily saying that there was justice in the end. You’ll have to read the novel to find out for sure. Suffice to say that I didn’t throw the book because it had the aura of peace throughout the read. Even when there were incidents of violence, there was a presence of calmness immediately thereafter. For that reason, I didn’t find this book thrilling in the sense of a mystery read. The story of abuse itself foreshadows that there will be something dangerous lurking just around the corner so some sort of mystery was implied. However, I believe that the author wasn’t primarily interested in getting you at the edge of your seat. Instead she focused on character building through this love story.  She concentrated on how people’s personalities, values, and standards give clear cut identity to one’s character. Hence, in regards to looking at people, this vision was a subtle reminder of the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. For example, outwardly, Matt portrays himself as a pillar of the community but behind closed doors he smacks his wife around. Moreover, Megan outwardly seems too posh to survive a country life but come to find out that inside she’s a down to earth woman. Oh, and let's not forget Megan's mom who thinks that she's a caring mom but really a witch! Yep, I know who I liked and didn't.

I did find character inconsistencies. I don’t think that Matt would have taken him that long to find Megan.  I think Ruth is smart enough to put two and two together and figure out that Matt was the man Megan was running away from. I don’t think Carter should have kissed Megan even if it was romantic. Funny, what I think about these characters didn’t really take away too much from the essence of the story. In retrospect, I think they illustrated that people sway a bit from their character. In my examples, Matt had the money to be resourceful but maybe he’s just stupid. Ruth may have been smart but she fell for Matt’s charm and temporarily lost her head. Finally, Carter was human and succumbed to temptation.  Wow, this novel is better than I thought!  So why not 5 stars? Oddly enough the "overall peace" that I mention in the beginning was a double edged sword. Everything was too easy. I wanted to have more oomph somewhere, but strangely enough I don't know exactly where.  Even so, I think this was an overall fabulous novel and recommend to readers who likes clean romance. 

You're in luck! It's currently on sale for 99 cents. What a deal! Well worth it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Disney's Frozen

My two little ones enjoyed this movie, especially my girl.  Thought some of yours might as well so here's the link (click on image) to purchase it and few other related items from Amazon.

2 disc BluRay/DVD + digital copy @$19.96
HD plus bonus features @$19.99
6pc PVC figures @$29.09
Little Golden book @2.74

**Oh, and just in case you haven't seen this amazing lip sync of one of the song's from the movie, "Love Is An Open Door", here it is:

Hmmm, how many takes did this really take?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cover Reveal with $25 Giveaway: Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

Prejudice Meets Pride

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson
Due to be released: 4/28/2014

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off in the form of a dream job offer. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to turn down the job and make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help or of her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Fun, heartwarming, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

RachaelAuthor Rachael Anderson

USA Today bestselling author Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway
Open Internationally
Ends 3/31/14
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 Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Giveaway Alert: Kindle Fire HDX or $229 in Amazon or Paypal!

We are giving away 2 Kindles!!

The first one is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to bloggers who post about this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter in the rafflecopter.

Kindle Fire HDX March
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)
Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

Or $229 Gift Card (International)

Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

Giveaway Sponsors:

I Am A Reader
Feed Your Reader
Inspired Kathy
Ripple Effect Romance Series
Author M.A. George
The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something year Old Girl
Meredith & Jennifer's Musings
Owl Always Be Reading
Author Jennifer Laurens
Bonnie Blythe's Pure Romance
Bella Street's Weird Romance
Author Jennifer Faye
Good Choice Reading
Reviews from a Bookworm
Barbara Silkstone
Rae Z. Ryans, Author
The Stubby Pencil
Author David Pandolfe
Hallowed Ink Press
Author Louise Caiola
The Reporter and The Girl
More Than a Review
Kathryn Jones
Once Upon a Twilight
Author Jason Parent
Author Amanda Tru
Author Cidney Swanson
Paige W. Pendleton
Claudia Burgoa
P.M. Richter - author
RoAnna Sylver
Tigris Eden
The Bloggers Nest
J.L. Weil
The Cheap Ebook
Luthando Coeur
Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke
Author Alecia Stone
Rebecca Talley
Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Simple Wyrdings
Tressa's Wishful Endings
Paranormal book Club (PBC)
Author Stephanie Faris
Author Inger Iversen
Author Theresa DaLayne
Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer
Bound 4 Escape
Author Laura Diamond

Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here:

Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7".

Ends 3/31/14

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 and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: The Faerie War by Rachel Morgan

The Faerie War (Creepy Hollow #3) by Rachel Morgan, YA, 2013, 334p, Rating=5
Source: ebook copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Driven by action, suspense, and a strong heroine, this deliciously detailed, bestselling YA fantasy will keep you turning the pages right up until the epic conclusion...
Violet Fairdale is in big trouble. Her home is gone, her beloved forest lies in ruins, the guy she gave her heart to has deserted her—and she doesn’t remember any of it. The powerful Lord Draven is taking over, brainwashing guardians into fighting for him. No one is safe from the evil spreading throughout the fae world.
As alliances are forged between the remaining free fae, Vi struggles to reclaim her identity and figure out where she belongs in this new world. When someone from her past shows up, life gets even more complicated. He brings with him a long-forgotten weapon and an ancient prophecy that places Vi at the center of the fight against Draven. With the future of the fae world at stake, can Vi carry out the prophecy’s instructions before it’s too late.

I've been following this series when it was initially a serial, short books where you’d get the installments monthly (although it turned out to be a bit longer wait sometimes). It was my first experience with such types of reading and I didn’t care for it. BUT that was because I wasn’t familiar with the concept of very short installments. See, with the first book, I was totally engrossed and enjoying the read and then boom, it ended! Or so I thought, but it was on a pause. Anyway, the first book was so thrilling that I wanted the rest of it right there and then, so I was upset that it left me hanging. I hadn’t realized then that it was meant to be that way. After that realization, I configured my brain to see Creepy Hollow as episodes. That helped but Ms. Morgan got so good at cliffhangers (I personally dubbed her “Queen of Cliffhangers”) that I secretly wanted her to do away with the baby steps and just make one long book. So this impatient person was thrilled when she found out that the author decided to compile the novellas to one book and continue the story in “series” form. Yay!

And so I’m here, on the third and final book to the Creepy Hollow series, happy and satisfied. This finale was simply magnificent. By this time, the character developments were rich. There were certain characters that I rooted for and some I didn’t. This book had the signature mark of crisp writing and enthralling, adventurous storyline that was easy on the eyes and great exercise to the mind. I like the soul wrenching insights and point of views of the characters, particularly here with Ryn. I thought I wasn’t a fan of love triangles, but this series did it right. I love the overall endearing love story this turned out to be.

A definite fabulous addition to your fantasy book collection.  Rachel Morgan can write.  Superbly bewitching indeed!  I highly recommend this series ..this author for that matter.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review + $25 Blog Tour Giveaway: Luminescence by Braden Bell

Luminescence (Middle School Magic #3), YR, 2014, 320p, Rating=5
Source: provided by publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Determined to rescue their favorite teacher, Conner, Lexa, and Melanie confront their worst fears and use their powers in unexpected ways to defeat Lady Nightwing, the treacherous Darkhand leader. But when the trio makes a terrible choice to save Dr. Timberi, their powers may not be enough to keep everyone alive. A thrilling conclusion to the Middle School Magic series!

The cliffhanger to book two was so good that I couldn't wait to put my nose into this finale.  It did not disappoint!  The trio and my fav, Pilaf, were back for new adventures that would test their powers and friendship even more. Their growth proved considerably in this conclusion, well, mainly to two of them.

Oh, Mr. Bell kept me on my toes!  Was Dr. Timberi really alive or has Lexa gone bonkers?  The supposed loss of Dr. Timberi seemed to put a strain on the trio, will their friendship endure?  Lexa was racked with so much guilt that I was sure it'd change her, to what degree?  Melanie's dad, he was hiding something!  Then Timothy, I can sense that something big was going to happen at the tribunal.  Of course, my dear Pilaf, I was rooting for his test to be positive.  What ended up being the answers to these questions?  You'll have to read it to find out but suffice to say that I was treated to a twisty, poignant ending.  Bittersweet and fantastic windup to the series!  Which leads me to ask, "Is there such a thing as 'Oops, that wasn't the final installment!' book?", because I want one of those for this series. ;)

The fondness for this book (the series for that matter) for me was the heartfelt message of love.  It rang crystal clear in the experiences of these young characters, the sweet inclusion of music, the examination of good vs evil, and the dynamics of human relationships.  It's the message that I think young readers need more of and I'm glad to say they'll get it in this series and be entertained in the process.  So make a 3-inch room in your bookcase for these books, filed with your "great reads" collection.  I did.

About the Author
Find him: Blog | Facebook | TwitterWebsite

During his middle school years, Braden Bell was the least-stable, lowest-achieving student in the history of the world. He shocked every former teacher by graduating from high school and college, and then going on to earn both a Master’s degree as well as a Ph.D. A teacher by day and a parent by night, he is around teenagers 24/7. He teaches music and directs plays at a private school, much like Marion Academy in The Middle School Magic series. Whether he fights evil after hours is something he cannot disclose.
Braden Bell holds degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. from NYU. A committed educator, he has been directing plays and teaching school now for over twenty years. Braden lives with his family on a quiet, tree-lined lot outside of Nashville, TN, where he teaches theatre and choir at a middle school. The author of The Road Show, The Kindling, and Penumbras.

Blog Tour Giveaway:

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: My Story by Elizabeth Smart

My Story by Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart, NF, 2013, 308p, Rating=2.5
Source: library

For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.

Elizabeth Smart, the person, gets 5 stars.  This book however gets 2.5 stars because it overall was insufficient in eloquence. I believed the stories she wrote about what happened to her and appreciated the faithful remarks.  The storytelling notwithstanding fell short.  The organization felt off, one too many repetition for my taste, I noticed a discrepancy in timeline, and I sensed a distance to the storyline or in other words, I felt something big was missing.  Yet even with all that, the message of hope can be drawn from her story.  I had just expected that it would be oozing out of the pages.  Oh, it's hard to describe!  I just felt that this could have been written better.  Perhaps it's the timing as well.  Maybe she wrote this either too early in her life to make a seasoned evaluation or too late in her life that the details faded.  Whatever the case may be, the effectiveness that her story merited did not shine in this book.

I do want to say that I did sense hurt and anger between the pages (aside from direct comments of defensiveness).  Rightly so.  At those points, I liked the book.  I also liked the example of faith that brought her stamina to endure.  It's those little miracles in her story that people need to capture from this book.  She may not have told it well, but it's there to ponder so if you can get your hands on this book, go ahead and read it because the controversy of whether or not she reacted correctly in her opportunities to escape or how she didn't go through therapy after she was found was not my concern here.  She did what she thought was best in her circumstances, endured, got home, and moved forward her way.  That's her story to me and it's a great one, even if it was not well written in this memoir.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Out Today! -The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook by Christina Dymock

My printed copy is in the mail.  Thank you Ms Dymock!  But in the meantime, she also sent me an ebook copy.  I took a quick browse and saw a segment on facts and tips about slow cookers.  I also noticed that she gave each recipe a personal touch by briefly talking about it.  I like that.  A story behind the food makes for a lively cookbook. Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying out the recipes.  There's tons of variety!  I'm always a busy bee so I certainly could use a free hand when I can.  So be sure to come back later for my review but meanwhile, check out what others are saying (below and on the tour) about the cookbook and pick one up today ..fresh off the press!!  ~Oh, if you happen to be in Utah on the 27th, go check out her launch party ..see details below.

It's every busy mother's dream-come-true: dinner that makes itself! With the help of your trusty slow cooker and these healthy, easy recipes like Peppery Cilantro Salmon, Sausage Stew, and Dark Chocolate Mini Cakes, you can put dinner on the table even on the craziest of days. Don't let the whirlwind of life stop you from feeding your family the food they deserve -- delicious, home-cooked meals straight from your slow cooker.

What others have said about The Hungry Family:

"The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook is so much more than a cookbook. It's like having an expert in the kitchen with you, holding your hand and helping you every step of the way.
It is a delightful compilation of "oh I'm so gonna try this one" recipes, tutorials for all levels of proficiency which are entertaining to read, and photos to tempt your salivary glands by saying "pick me, pick me!".
-Syndey Cline
Author of Feeding The Masses

"If you are looking for satisfying meals, you have come to the right place. Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook is the tool you need for making delicious dishes your family will devour."
- Shauna Evans
Author of Sweet and Savory:Award Winning Recipes Made Easy, Skinny-licious: Lite and Scrumptious Recipes for a Slimmer You, and 30-Minute Meals for Families

About the Author:
Find her: Facebook | Website

Christina Dymock was once at a dinner party where her husband was teasing her about the frosting-to-cupcake ratio on her dessert. The woman sitting across from them sniffed her delicate nose and said, "If my husband gave me a hard time about my frosting I'd quit baking. That'd show him." To which Christina's husband replied while pointing at his speechless wife, "Try to stop her!"

Christina divides her time between the kitchen and her computer and books and her family of six. (Naturally, the family gets the biggest share.) Because she reads everything, she also feels compelled to write in several genres.

Author of Young Chefs, 101 Things to do With Popcorn, and The Widow's Mite

Get it now here:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: His First, Her Last by Jonathan Sturak

His First, Her Last by Jonathan Sturak, NF or AF ?, 2013, 266p, Rating=1
Source: ebook copy provided by author for an honest review

Engaged couple Jason and Hazel travel across the world to meet her family in this true story of love and adventure. The moment Jason steps off the plane in the Philippines, an exotic island caught between the East and the West, the past and the present, grabs hold of this naive American and seduces him with its beauty, its places, and its people. Temptation looms as the best friend of Hazel tests their relationship and touches their souls. A deeply personal account of the conflict of culture between American excess and Philippine poverty, His First, Her Last explores the ability of love to transcend two worlds apart. But after an accident spills blood on the streets of a remote village, the lives of this couple flash before their eyes. Will he escape? Will she survive? Will his first trip be her last?

I am utterly insulted! This character, Jason, was self-absorbed, tactless, and downright disrespectful. His observation of the Philippine culture was stereotypical and deficient (< ten day trip would make one an expert, right? –sarcasm--). Even if some of the remarks were true, his attitude in its presentation was offensive to the Philippine people. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when he was desperate to get out of the Philippine hospital because he felt that he would not get the proper treatment. He was in a rush to contact the U.S. Embassy (sound Hollywood, anyone?) to get him out of the horror of such primitive amenities. Sure the technology in the U.S. would be better but please show some respect to your host country. Don't be so rude and flaunt your hand sanitizer and remarks of disgust.

The character of the main protagonist was not the only flaw in this book. The entire plot of the book was questionable. From the title and blurb, it would have one believe that there would be a story of romance. I didn't feel any romance between Jason and Hazel. No depth in the relationship was conveyed. The descriptions were one dimensional and vain. Even with the "lives of this couple flash before their eyes" accident or "I almost died when I was five" incident, the events were mechanically recounted. If anything, I felt their relationship was twisted (Jason flirted with Hazel's best friend and Hazel was ignorant to Jason's true character). Instead, the storyline was mainly about pointing out a skewed image of third world countries, in this case, the Philippines; as dirty, dumb, and behind the times.

The author is a good writer. This book was well written in applied terms. The grammar was good. The breaks were at the correct places. Smooth technical reading. The flaw was in the content of the story and the flamboyance to the telling. Take away the insults and have more of the caring Jason (like his tenderness with his soon–to-be nephew, Tony). Moreover, I believe that the author thinks he is doing a service by writing this book. Absolutely not! The tips at the end for travelers might be sound but again an example of disrespect.

I have never felt more passionate about not recommending a book than this one.  This book is definitely a "don't bother"! Please, don’t bother. I already bothered for all of us.

By the way, this book was based on the author's true account of his trip to the Philippines, so this would be a memoir, hence a non-fiction. Yet, his character name was different. So would that make this fiction? Oh, the flaws are endless.


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