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Review: The 5-Minute Facial Workout by Catherine Pez

[ 1 ] September 2, 2014

Final5MinuteFacialWorkoutCoverReviewed by Meghan Hyden

When my sister and I were younger, we always played around with beauty items my mom had in her bathroom. We didn’t need ‘em, but it was fun to play with them and try them out. As we got older, we were lucky enough to not have the problems that our friends complained about – blame it on good genes and the experimenting we did when we were younger. We learned in our early 20s that the preemptive strike was the way to go, so when I saw The 5-Minute Facial Workout on the list of review books that Luxury Reading was offering, I had to pick it up. I mean, what could it hurt, right?

When the book came in the mail, I opened it right away and was highly impressed: beautiful pictures, concise writing, great information explaining the benefits of facial gymnastics, and a small section just for men. This book is a whole gymnastics program, including how often you need to do the exercises, a “gravity test” to decide which exercises that you need to do, and then the exercises themselves.

The exercises are easy and you can feel them working immediately (I felt a big difference after my first workout). With each exercise comes an explanation of what it can do for you, a picture of the muscles that will be worked, a helpful description of how to do each exercise, and a full page color picture of it being done. Doing all the exercises in the book is quick and, the more you do it, the easier they are and the quicker that you flow through the workout. I’ve done it several times a week over the last couple of weeks and I have seen a difference.

When I told my mom about this book, she asked me a very good question: What age is the book written for? She was looking at the cover and the model in all the pictures is beautiful and I believe somewhere in her early 40s, which left her concerned as to whether it would work for her (I’m in my 30s and my mother is a beautiful 21!). The book is written for people 40 and above, but takes into consideration that people under 40 may want to begin, so it points out different areas that a younger person may want to concentrate on.

Would I recommend this book? Well, I handed it to my mom, so I guess you could say my answer is YES!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

You can find Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) over on her book-ish blog The Gal in the Blue Mask. She’s an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, and the best aunt in the world. She loves gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time at the zoo, library and museums. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is.

Review copy was provided by Robert Rose. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

[ 5 ] September 2, 2014

MadamePicassoPlease join Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy below – open to US residents only

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Eva Gouel is ready to shed her shy, timid country-girl visage and the expectation that she must become a wife to a man she doesn’t love and resolves to find the freedom and adventure only a place like Paris can provide for her. She is determined to make it in this fast and fascinating city without the help of any man and she gets her chance when she secures a job as a seamstress at the scintillating Moulin Rouge. Then one night, while peering out into the audience from backstage, Eva sees Pablo Picasso and her feelings and future are forever sent down a path she could never have imagined.

Picasso, a fiery, young up-and-coming artist, is finding himself stifled and uninspired by his current muse, his long term mistress Fernande Olivier, a woman as tempestuous as the artist himself. When he sees Eva at an art show he cannot help but be attracted to this woman so unlike Fernande. After an unexpected night of passion, Picasso cannot get Eva out of his head and, once the two finally determine they cannot live without each other, both are forever changed. But as happy as the two are in each other’s arms, happily-ever-after does not come easy. They will have to fight against expectations, the negative opinions of those they love the most and a disastrous illness that threatens to separate them forever.

Madame Picasso perfectly brings to life the bright and fast-paced world of the Moulin Rouge’s backstage and the glittering opulence of the theater and its patrons in front, the disheveled yet pulsating energy of the artist’s studios, the vibrant intellectual stimulation of Gertrude Stein’s Saturday evening salons and the very streets and alleys of Paris itself, which becomes its own character. Sensuality and passion are always brimming and boiling over as would be expected in a city like Paris and in its inhabitants who want nothing more than to break away from conformity in their lives and in their art. But this colorful and vigorous imagery, which is so well developed and expansive, took a backseat to the wonderfully nonconforming characters that felt so tangible to me.

Eva is by far my favorite character, a woman of great determination and intelligence but also kindness and generosity. The reader is able to see her change Picasso’s very being and, by doing so, his art and thereby art history itself. Getting to see the inner workings of a man like Picasso, known for his eccentricities and womanizing, was inspiring and I so enjoyed finding a more fleshed-out, sympathetic and very human man within Madame Picasso’s pages. The rest of the characters – even the ones, such as Fernande, that I wasn’t a particular fan of – are just as well presented so that you cannot help but see them right in front of you, with all their foibles, fears and passions right at the surface. And the ending – oh, the ending – I don’t want to give anything away but just prepare yourself for tears!

Madame Picasso is top-notch historical fiction. I have never been a particular fan of Picasso’s work but the intricate story had me reexamining his painting and looking for any connections I could find online between the artist and Eva. That need to know more is always an indicator to me that a book is unforgettable. That is exactly what Madame Picasso is – unforgettable. Highly recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review and giveaway copies were provided by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Win a Kindle Wi-Fi

[ 22 ] September 1, 2014

feature-shop._V388951064_To celebrate Labor Day, I have a Kindle to give away to a lucky reader! 

The giveaway will run thru September 30th and is open internationally.


Less than 6 ounces – lighter than a paperback, fits in your pocket

Hand-tuned fonts for easier reading

Reads like paper with no glare, even in bright sunlight

Download books in 60 seconds with built-in Wi-Fi

Holds over 1,000 books – take your library wherever you go

Massive book selection. Lowest prices. Over a million titles less than $4.99

NEW—With Kindle Unlimited, read as much as you want, choosing from over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days.

Hundreds of thousands of Kindle-exclusive titles that you won’t find anywhere else, including books by best-selling authors such as Kurt Vonnegut

Supports children’s books and includes parental controls

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis

[ 0 ] September 1, 2014

9780451418784Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Because I love anything with a beach setting and decades-old mysteries, I knew I had to read The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis. The heroine of the story, Lane Kramer, is the owner of a charismatic inn along the store in a quirky town called Starry Point. She is young, but she has suffered much heartache due to her divorce and keeps mostly to herself. But when she finds herself with an unexpected guest during the off-season at her inn, Lane will be forced to confront her past and redefine her future.

There is more to Michael Forrester, Lane’s mostly-unwelcome visitor, than meets the eye. At first she wants to turn him away, but she finds a kindred spirit in the professor, who is writing a book. Perhaps it is only in Lane’s head, but he seems more familiar with the layout of her inn than she would expect of someone merely passing through town. Their already tentative relationship becomes even more complicated when Lane’s mother comes for a visit and Michael gets sucked into pretending to be Lane’s new boyfriend.

The Wishing Tide started out so promising, with eerie hints of a possible ghost story, a mysterious past involving Dirty Mary (the beach town’s local “crazy” lady), and a budding romance between Lane and Michael. Unfortunately, there were just too many things going on in the book all at once, and I found myself wishing that Davis hadn’t focused so heavily on certain arcs in the book over others.

When the story opens, Lane is freaked out over lights turning on in the empty house next door. I thought this was an introduction to a supernatural plot, but this was soon cast aside when Michael was introduced as a character. The pretend relationship between Lane and Michael and Lane’s mother’s presence caused parts of the novel to drag on for me. The novel veers off again when Lane becomes involved with Mary after she is falsely accused of the break-ins occurring all over the island.

There were numerous times as I was reading where I paused, remembering that I had thought this was going to be more of a ghost story, and wondered when Davis would touch once again on those aspects. In a more abstract sense, this is a sort of ghost story—one in which the characters are haunted by their own past and the decisions they have made throughout their lives. I, however, had hoped for a ghost story in the more literal sense of things, and as a result was left a bit disappointed.

Despite The Wishing Tide developing in ways other than what I would have liked, I cannot deny that Barbara Davis has a beautiful writing style, pens flawed and intriguing characters, and is an author who I will likely seek out again to read.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 15 ] August 31, 2014

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday are hosted by Marcia at Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

For Review – Paper Copies

187796669781250049353Bitter Greens(1)BullyPulpitclamgreatest-gift-9781476778860_lgStriking-Gridiron-e1399073522890the last breathThree-Bargains-Tania-Malik-e1406718554597Your-Life-Isnt-for-You-A-Selfish-Persons-Guide-to-Being-Selfless51Ds1eWGduL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_UBB-RisenTheBattleforDarraciaTheDarraciaSagabyMichaelPhillipCash-194x300

For Review – Digital Copies


Personal Kindle Purchases


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Review: Sniper’s Honor by Bob Lee Swagger

[ 0 ] August 31, 2014

18668498Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

I found Sniper’s Honor to be a very good read. I do tend to enjoy a book that tells a story of the past and the present in tandem. Here we have Bob Lee Swagger, a rather famous contemporary sniper who learns about Milli Petrova, a WWII Russian sniper who killed Nazis and then disappeared. We get the two stories in parallel–Bob trying to find out what happened to Milli and Milli’s story.

Swagger’s friend Kathy Reilly, a reporter for the Washington Post, sent him an email asking about an old Russian sniper rifle. It peaks Bob’s interest, especially when she mentions it’s in relation to a Russian sniper who disappeared from all the records. A beautiful woman sniper.

Swagger decides to hop a plane and go help his friend do a little snooping to see if between them they can find out what happened to Milli. After they meet up and start poking around, Bob is surprised when a car almost runs him and Kathy down in the road. That’s when he starts wondering if someone was still trying to hide whatever it was that happened to Sergeant Petrova.

What we learn is that she was betrayed by someone in her own government to the Nazis. Stalin sent her to assassinate a man that a high ranking Nazi spy couldn’t afford to have killed. So he betrayed her and did his best to erase her from the record books. This makes Bob and Kathy’s job much more difficult.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There was a lot of good information about snipers in general as well as Russian WWII snipers in particular. I also enjoyed learning about some of the battles that happened on the Russian side against the Germans. Most history classes I’ve had focus on the Western European battles. They leave the Russian side as mostly throwing lots of troops at the Germans to win by extremely superior numbers, like trying to breach a wall of a fortified city. I liked the story on both ends, and I thought it was very well written. It was certainly very engaging and I plan to be reading more Bob Lee Swagger books in the future!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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