Friday, December 19, 2014

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake - Review

Review by Marlene Engel

On the outside, Tamsin’s life seems to be perfect.  She has an amazing husband, two great kids, a home in a prestigious neighborhood and more money than even she knows what to do with.  But it doesn’t stop her from trying to spend as much as she can, as she upholds her social image, with the best of the best that only money can buy.  But as she’s putting together her all-white Christmas extravaganza, in hopes of topping last year’s and out-doing her neighbors, some unexpected visitors stop by and her world gets turned upside down.  Expecting it to be her husband walking through the door, Tamsin gets the surprise of her life when she comes face-to-face with bailiffs that have come to repossess the house.  And, with her husband nowhere to be found, Tamsin is left to pick up the pieces by herself.  Thank goodness for Tamsin’s sister, Sam, who steps up to help her out and be her rock throughout this whole ordeal. 
Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake is a touching, laugh out loud story that shows the bond of two sisters, the important things in life and who’s really there for you when the chips are down.  With a fun story, witty characters and lots of holiday cheer, this is the perfect book to get you in the holiday spirit. 

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About the Author: 
I was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC I worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day I might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.  After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, I left my life in TV to write.

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she's not toiling over her latest novel, Sue can be found enjoying large bags of chicken crisps, large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream and 'The Biggest Loser USA' on series link.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Christmas Light - Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
The road of life is often filled with potholes, some deeper than others, and curves that are sometimes sharper than anticipated. Both threaten to derail us.  In The Christmas Light, four families are journeying life’s difficult stretch of road.  What would happen if the roads they are traveling lead them to the same place?

Sixteen-year-old Kaylee is a sophomore who is facing a life-changing decision.  Her dad has accepted a new job in a city far from their current home.  They’ve decided to delay their move until Kaylee’s situation is resolved.  Is staying the best solution?

The past year in particular has been a great struggle for six-year-old Avery.  Christmas is approaching, but Avery has more demons than sugarplums dancing in her head.  While she lost her father three years ago, the reality of not having her father in her life anymore has never been more tangible nor more frightening than it is right now.  Her mother, Jennifer, shares her daughter’s heartache. Can they find a way to face their new normal?

Coming home late one Sunday night from a weekend trip, Ryan finds his wife, Julie, waiting up for him, waiting to tell him good-bye.  Soon thereafter, Julie remarries and moves with her new family to another state, leaving their daughter, Sofia, with Ryan. Sofia has adjusted to day-to-day life with her dad and occasional visits with her mom, but Ryan is stuck. What will it take for him to stop dwelling on what went wrong and see what is going right?

Lily is the directory of ministry services for Grandon Community Church.  At age thirty-five, Lily and her husband, Stephen, put their loving marriage at the top of their “Counting our Blessings” list.  One blessing they have not been able to add to this list is the gift of a child.  Does Lily believe in miracles? Is Lily’s heart’s desire in her future?

If you believe that God does indeed work in mysterious ways, you will feel his hands-on presence in Donna VanLiere’s delightful book, The Christmas Light.  If you are perhaps feeling like his presence is mysteriously absent from your life right now, read this book for comfort, patience, and hope; comfort because you are not alone on life’s bumpy road, patience because there just might be a rest area around the next bend in the road, and hope because it keeps us focusing on the positive over the negative while we wait.

Author Donna VanLiere skillfully presents four separate stories, four roads if you will, that she beautifully brings to the same corner of the world, uniting them all in ways that are plausible and satisfying.  If you believe in every day miracles and Christmas magic, you’ll love this holiday readIf you veer more toward the skeptical, The Christmas Light just might change your mind!

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About the Author: 
..a mom, a wife, an animal lover, and a closet comedian at home. She's passionate about cooking (...and eating), reading, movies and teaching, inspiring, challenging and encouraging dreamers! She doesn’t like watching sports on TV but is a huge fan of athletes under five feet tall who call her Mom. Donna also loves to write books.

Donna has won a Retailer's Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, two Audie Awards for best inspirational fiction, has been a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and is an inductee in the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence joining such luminaries as Coretta Scott King, Hugh Downs, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Senator John Glenn. She also serves on the board of directors for National House of Hope, a residency program that is offered in several states for abused and at-risk teens.

One of Donna’s great loves is teaching and speaking. She has appeared at countless events around the country including keynote addresses at the prestigious Patricia Adams Lecture Series at Heidelberg University, Women of Faith, Among Friends Conferences and Extraordinary Women.

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St. Martin’s Press is giving one lucky winner a print copy of
The Christmas Light
(US Only)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stillwater Rising - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

A month after a deadly shooting rang through the Stillwater Bay School, Jenn is still feeling the aftermath.  Her son was one of several people who were killed during that horrific event.  She has a hard time accepting that the school, where her son and many other children (and teachers) were killed, is still being used.  It causes a bone of contention between herself and her best friend, Charlotte, who is the mayor of the town.  To make the situation even more difficult, Charlotte’s husband is not only the principal at the school, but is being marked as a hero for stopping the gunman’s rampage.  He’s having a hard time accepting that title, which leads a reporter to believe that he may be hiding a secret.   

Another woman who is having a hard time and grieving a loss of her own is Julia.  She is the mother of the gunman who eventually turned the gun on himself and took his own life.  She’s been getting shunned and harassed because of her son’s actions and has become a prisoner in her own home.  She doesn’t even feel comfortable visiting her son’s grave, for fear that she may come in contact with the parents who are mourning the loss of their own children … children whom her son killed.

This book is a very emotional and powerful story.  It hits on a very delicate subject and shows you how people handle grief in different ways.  Many times society and the media only portray the suffering of the victims and their families.  The author takes it a step further by showing the grieving process of the gunman’s family.  We tend to forget that many times they are victims themselves. 

Steena Holmes does a superb job with this story.  You can feel the emotions seeping off the pages.  It’s a very sad and emotional novel, but one that is so well written that you can’t help but want to read. 

Purchase the book at:

About the Author:
Growing up as a small town Canadian girl, there wasn't much to do but ride your bike, hang out with friends on the beach and daydream. I always wanted to write but never dreamed it was something I could do as a career. I love to travel and fell in love with the sheep covered hillside, old castles and romantic history of Scotland and England. I dream about waking up in Tuscany and touring small town shops in the south of France with my husband, of placing my toes in the ocean and experiencing history first hand. As a mother with three daughters, I'm learning that teaching them to pursue their dreams is a lasting legacy. I love to wake up to the Rocky Mountains, will forever enjoy the taste of coffee and chocolate and can't imagine the day when a story doesn't unfold in my heart. Living a life with passion and pursuing dreams is a life well lived.

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BookSparks is giving 1 lucky winner a print copy of
Stillwater Rising

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Melissa Foster's New Street Team & a Giveaway!

Huge Giveaway from NYT & USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Melissa Foster

To help celebrate the release of her newest Romance, bestselling author, Melissa Foster, has created a fun Street Team for readers of her books and lovers of the Romance genre. As part of this launch, she will be giving away lots of prizes—and I mean lots. From chocolate gift baskets to autographed books to super swag, she will be giving away more than 20 prizes, and as many as 520!

If the Street Team reaches 500 members by Monday, December 22, every single member will score an Advance Review Copy of her upcoming novel, Seaside Secrets. That means that you can enjoy the newly released Seaside Sunsets and then immediately read the next installment in the series. Pretty cool, huh?
Not in the mood to join the team? Not a problem! You can still enter the Rafflecopter contest for your chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card and autographed book.
Now that I know you’re excited, read on to learn more about Melissa’s Street Team and her newest release, Seaside Sunsets.
About Melissa’s Street Team

Do you LOVE Melissa Foster’s hunky heroes and smart, sexy heroines? Want to tell others about her books and help spread the word while gaining exclusive peeks at upcoming releases? Join Melissa’s Street Team, and become one of her most trusted fans!

Fab fan benefits:  Personal interaction with Melissa, lively discussions with other super fans and romance junkies, sneak peeks into future publications, exciting challenges with great prizes/swag, and fancy badges for your website, blog, and social media profiles.

About Melissa’s Newest Release

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother--and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sensual, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie's business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the blond beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie's life--and his heart--upside down. In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away

Recommended for readers aged 18+

Get Seaside Sunsets on 
AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, or Google Play!

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Seaside Sunsets - Review & Giveaway

Seaside Sunsets
Seaside Dreams # 3
By: Melissa Foster
Releasing December 16th, 2014

Jessica Ayers has lived a sheltered life with little more than cello lessons and practices taking up her day. Now a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she escapes the prim and proper symphony to vacation in the Seaside community in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and determine if she is living life to the fullest or missing it altogether.

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother—and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sensual, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie’s business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the blond beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie’s life—and his heart—upside down.

In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away.

Buy Links: Amazon | Kobo | iTunes

Review by Marlene Engel

Jessica has devoted much of her life to her cello career.  Spending several hours a day practicing and many nights performing doesn’t leave much room for a social life.  Despite her mother’s disapproval, she decides to take a much needed hiatus from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and spend the summer vacationing at the Seaside community.  Hoping to experience life and see if she has indeed been missing out, she goes against everything her mother has worked so hard to help her achieve to find out.

Founder of OneClick, one of the largest search engine websites, Jamie Reed has decided to spend the summer at Seaside and work remotely from his grandmother’s cottage.  He wasn’t looking for a relationship, but there’s something about sweet, beautiful Jessica that piques his interest.  But when he gets news that a major glitch has occurred within his company, his attorney/friend comes by to discuss business with him.  Known to be a bit crass with the ladies, he takes it upon himself to confront Jessica about hers and Jamie’s blossoming friendship and succeeds in driving a wedge between them.  But will Jamie find out what’s happened before it’s too late? 

Love is buzzing at the Seaside community and Jamie has been bitten by the bug.  Join him, along with the rest of the gang from Seaside as friendships are made, love develops and lies are told. 

I have read all of the books in the Love in Bloom series.  This one is definitely on the top of the list as one of my favorites.  The characters are relatable, the story enjoyable and the passion is sizzling hot!  Why not treat yourself to a beautiful sunset?  Seaside Sunsets!

Author Info
"Melissa Foster is a wonderful connector of readers and books, a friend of authors, and a tireless advocate for women. She is the real deal"-- Bestselling Author Jennie Shortridge
"What sets Melissa Foster apart are her compelling characters who you care about... desperately. This is psychological suspense at its most chilling. I dare you to read the first chapter and not be hooked."  International bestseller, M.J. Rose 
Melissa Foster is an award-winning, International bestselling author. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary CafĂ©. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway
Two Digital Copies of SEASIDE DREAMS:
Seaside Summers Book #1

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Leaving Time - Review and SIGNED Book Giveaway!!!

Review by Deb Czajkowski

Alice Kingston became an elephant advocate at the age of nine.  She loved elephant jokes (Why are elephants wrinkled?  They don’t fit on the ironing board.) and she loved all stories about elephants.  It was no stretch for her to become an elephant researcher, to study elephants in Kenya, to feel at home in the wild with her beloved elephants. Then, unexpectedly pregnant, she chooses to marry Thomas Metcalf, the baby’s father, and join the team at the elephant sanctuary in Massachusetts that Thomas founded.
Jenna Metcalf is the daughter of Thomas and Alice.  For the first three years her life, Jenna went with Alice almost daily into the elephant enclosure, sitting or playing near Maura, Alice’s favorite elephant. Then one day, Alice disappears, and Jenna begins a ten-year search to find her.  Jenna wonders: Is her mother dead? Or was she abandoned by her mother?  Could a mother really not love her daughter enough to stay? Or at least to take her with her if she left?
Serenity Jones is a psychic.  She sees hundreds of people, some real and some not. After becoming famous for finding missing persons, especially children, Serenity made an incorrect call involving a child that cost her everything.  Now, years later, Jenna shows up at her door, seeking help in finding Alice. Serenity makes it abundantly clear that she no longer finds missing people and she definitely no longer works with children.  Still, Serenity asks herself:  Can she resist Jenna’s determination and passion?  Can she risk helping a child again? 

Virgil Stanhope is a private detective, having served both on the police force prior to becoming a detective and also as one of the original investigators on Alice’s case.  Virgil always suspected there was more to Alice’s disappearance than was uncovered, but the case was quickly closed with a strict warning to leave it alone.  Thus, for Virgil, Alice became “the one that got away.”  Now Jenna is at his door, asking for him to investigate the case with her.  Virgil is forced to consider:  Will reopening Alice’s file awaken sleeping giants?  Is he more concerned with his own demons or the real reasons for closing that case ten years ago?

Is there a more unlikely trio to join forces than an indomitable thirteen-year-old, a skeptic psychic, and an alcoholic private detective?

Author Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time is an intriguing take on a mystery/who-dunnit that also incorporates true-to-life narratives about elephants. The main characters (listed above) take turns progressing the story, each giving information from his/her perspective.  The trio of sleuths have their own histories that further color in facts and details that brought them to this present-day quest.  Alice tells her story, too, focusing largely on her life as a scientist of the elephant kingdom.

I did indeed find Leaving Time entirely fascinating and engrossing; I didn’t want to put the book down.  The fictitious but fact-based storyline of elephants in the wild and in captivity totally pulled me in, even though I confess to not being a pet-person myself.  The trio’s perceptions kept me eagerly turning pages.  While there is so much more to Leaving Time than elephants, you may just find yourself loving elephants at the end of this author’s story.  Treat yourself to this fascinating as well as informative read!

Purchase the book at:

About the Author:
Jodi Picoult, 48, is the bestselling author of twenty-three novels. Her last eight novels have debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Her highly anticipated new novel, Leaving Time, was released in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.  She received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Dartmouth College in 2010 and another from the University of New Haven in 2012.

Jodi is part of the Writer’s Council for the National Writing Project, which recognizes the universality of writing as a communicative tool and helps teachers enhance student writing. She is a spokesperson for Positive Tracks/Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, which supports youth-led charity fundraising through athletics; and is on the advisory committee of the New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty. She is also the founder and executive producer of the Trumbull Hall Troupe, a New Hampshire-based teen theater group that performs original musicals to raise money for local charities; to date their contributions have exceeded $100K. She and her husband Tim and their three children live in Hanover, New Hampshire with two Springer spaniels, two rescue puppies, two donkeys, two geese, ten chickens, a smattering of ducks, and the occasional Holstein.

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BallantineBooks at Random House is giving 2 lucky winners
signed copies of Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Night Before Series - Signed Children's Holiday Books Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought, what better way to celebrate than with some fun holiday themed books for children?  After all, I am Book Mama. 

While at the store, my daughter came across “The Night Before” book series by Natasha Wing and became an instant fan.  The series follows the theme of the classic poem, Twas The Night Before Christmas, but with a modern twist.  The author has written The Night Before books for just about every imaginable occasion.  From Christmas, to the first day of school, to her newest book, The Night Before Hanukkah.  There are a lot of fun books in this series and all are so fun and cleverly written. 

Today, we are spotlighting The Night Before Hanukkah.  The book starts off with … Twas the night before the eight days of Hanukkah … and goes on to bring you a fun story full of holiday traditions that’s sure to please everyone, young and old. 

It’s not often that I host children’s books at my blog, but when I come across books like these, I must make an exception.  This series is so fun, cleverly written and very enjoyable!  Since buying our first book from this author, we have since purchased many more.  It won’t be long before we have the whole series.  Yes, these books are that good and so fun to read!

Today we are giving away two copies of Natasha’s books.  We have signed copies of The Night Before Hanukkah and The Night Before the Night Before Christmas.  To enter, leave a comment saying which book you’re hoping to win and what you most look forward to at the holidays.  If there are more than one thing you are looking forward to, leave each in a separate comment so that each can be counted as an entry into the giveaway.  Winner will be announced on Monday.

About the Author:
When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher.  I’d line up my stuffed animals – Billy Bear, Boing Boing, Easter Bunny – in front of a board with magnetic letters and numbers and teach them the alphabet and how to count. In high school I wanted to be a tennis player.  I was on the tennis team and played at our neighborhood tennis club in the summers – and even competed in tournaments. Then in college I thought digging dinosaur bones would be a cool job. Or working at a big time advertising agency. It wasn’t until after college, when I was working at my own small public relations agency, that I decided I really wanted to write children’s books. I was so inspired by the magic that happens when reading a book that I wanted to see if my active imagination could create magical moments for kids all over the world. So I started writing. Luckily, I sold my first manuscript,Hippity Hop, Frog on Top, in 1992.  I’ve been writing ever since.

I love the freedom of being my own boss, of coming up with ideas on my own, and writing that first draft to see if my idea has any spark. I’m not so crazy about the revising process although there are thrilling moments when I figure out a better way to say something, nail dialog, or work through a complicated plot line. The most exciting moment is when an editor says they want to publish my story.  Then I know all my hard work has paid off, and that soon, children will enter my imaginative world through a book.

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