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Review: A Reason to Love by Alexis Morgan

[ 3 ] July 25, 2014

18660365Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

Melanie Wolfe is back in Snowberry Creek dealing with the after-effects of her father passing away and the mess he left the business in when she sees someone from her high school days. Spencer Lang. But, Spence died overseas serving his country…or did he? The whole town had mourned for him. Yet, there he was…standing in the cemetery at his own grave. After getting over the shock of seeing him, she invites him to the wedding of their dear friends, Nick and Callie.

Spence can’t believe that Nick and Callie are getting married! It’s like he never existed or meant anything to either of them! Running away to deal with his own emotions, Melanie follows him and finds him at a bar. Knowing that he needs help to process everything he’s been through, she gives him the space he needs but also offers her renewed friendship to help him. Before long, Melanie and Spence are more than friends and yet have also determined to just “have fun” and not set any limitations on each other regarding their future. When they both realize there is more to their relationship than being friends, Spence gets spooked because he still has so much emotional baggage to deal with regarding his imprisonment overseas.

The second in the Snowberry Creek series, A Reason to Love is a good continuation of the story started by Alexis Morgan. The story picks up and continues almost where the first one left off so the reader feels like they miss nothing, yet you really don’t have to have read the first one to fully understand and appreciate the second. The only thing that really bothered me about the story was that Spence seemed to move on to Melanie awfully fast. The first few pages are him making quite the ruckus over Callie and Nick getting married and how she must have forgotten him and yet it doesn’t take long for him to hop in bed with Mel. Seems like there could have been a bit more time spent with him dealing with that or not having such a horrible reaction to the wedding in the first place.

A Reason to Love is a good, quick novel for someone who enjoys romance novels set in small towns with well-loved characters.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

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

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Review: Reborn by C.C. Hunter

[ 0 ] July 25, 2014

RebornReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

To say I was excited to hear that my beloved Shadow Falls series wasn’t quite over would be a complete understatement. When I heard that Reborn (Shadow Falls: After Dark) by C.C. Hunter was being released, I literally shrieked like a teenager waiting for One Direction to come on stage and proceeded to check my e-mail every five minutes, waiting for my advanced copy to arrive. After reading the novel, I must say, I was not disappointed.

The story branches off from Kylie Galen and her chameleon ways and focuses on Della Tsang, Kylie’s spunky vampire best friend who has just as many problems as Kylie had, if not more. From the previous books, I knew that Della had a rough home life. Ever since she caught V1 (the virus which turns humans into vampires), Della has had to deal with her parents’ accusations of being a drug addict on top of keeping her vampirism a secret from her entire family. When Della finds out that there may be another vampire in her family besides her estranged cousin Chan, Della must decide if the truth is worth the risk. Along with family problems, Della must also deal with a new crime spree within her supernatural boarding school of Shadow Falls as well as a shape-shifter and a vampire boy who have taken quite a liking to Della’s rough edges.

I enjoyed hearing about Shadow Falls from another character’s point of view. I was impressed with how seamlessly I fell into Della’s story. I can honestly say I didn’t miss Kylie, which I was really concerned about in the beginning. My main criticism with the book was that it may have been a little too much like the other Shadow Falls books. While Della has a different personality than Kylie, I felt like the writing didn’t bring forth any new emotions. I didn’t feel the growth of the author like I have felt with other authors who have written spin-offs.

Regardless of the writing, I really enjoyed the story. I read the book in three nights while I ignored my ever-growing mountain of homework from my graduate studies. It was fun to sit back and relax into a book with a familiar setting. I thought that the story flowed at just the right pace; I was never bored. I would definitely recommend this book to any who has read any of the Shadow Falls novels, as well as to anyone who enjoys an easy read about a girl trying to fit in inside a crazy, supernatural world.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is planning on attending Graduate School for English Rhetoric and Composition. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

[ 2 ] July 24, 2014

416ksszVSdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Alysia George

If you have ever read the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, Sarah Jio’s novel Goodnight June will serve as a satisfying explanation of its origins. My oldest daughter was especially enamored of the great green room and wore our first copy out, lovingly nibbling on its hardboard cover and insisting on having it read to her night after night. I admit that as I read it at bedtime through the years to all four of my children, I accepted it at face value and never thought too much about the author’s inspiration. The story has a lovely, soothing rhythm and flow to it that helped tip my children in the direction of slumber, and for years I had it more or less memorized. Sarah Jio had a similar experience reading Goodnight Moon to her children, but let her imagination run wild, conjuring a fictional background for this wonderful book that has taken a place of honor among many bedtime routines.

However, if you have never read nor even heard of Goodnight Moon, that will not detract from your enjoyment of Goodnight June in the least. Jio’s novel stands alone as an independently fantastic read. Being familiar with Goodnight Moon will only enhance your reading experience, particularly if you happen to hold it near and dear to your heart, as I do.

June, the main character of Goodnight June, is living what seems, on the surface, to be a successful and satisfying big city life in New York. But while she may have a great career and plenty of money, friends, family, and romance have been conspicuously absent for quite some time. June’s life has become an empty shell. A heartbreaking letter from back home in Seattle is enough to set June in a tailspin and turn her life in an entirely new direction. Returning to Seattle for what she thinks will be a quick visit, June discovers that her beloved great aunt, proprietor of an iconic children’s book store, lead a secret life. June is surprised to discover that her aunt had a close friendship with author Margaret Wise Brown and may have had a role in the creation of one of Brown’s most well-known books.

There are many more surprises in store for June as she uncovers the secrets of her aunt’s mysterious life. Some will affect June far more personally than she could have imagined. And the longer she is away from her hectic New York City lifestyle, the clearer it becomes that it might not be the life she wants after all.

Fresh and charming are the first adjectives that come to mind to describe Goodnight June. It has a little mystery, a little romance, a little despair, and a lot of heart. The story is a sweet, savory and distinctive reminder that it is never too late to make your life into something better.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

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

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Review: 1000 Feelings for Which There Are No Names by Mario Giordano

[ 1 ] July 24, 2014

1000 feelings for which there are no namesReviewed by Poppy Johnson

1,000 Feelings for Which There Are No Names is a fun book with a non-conventional format. Each page uses a variety of large black and blue type fonts against a white background to highlight hundreds of pharases. Cute. But more than that, the phrases are all feelings or rather basic human emotions that everyone will experience at least once in their life.

The book is about an inch thick, so you’ll get your full thousand, and they are numbered chronologically as proof. Some of these feelings are nonsensical, such as “The satisfaction with the year’s first sunburn”. (well, your skin is a bank, and every sunburn takes you one step closer to a potential skin cancer, but okay, important for some people) Other noted feelings are true to the new depicted order of operations for relationships today, such as “The insatiable greed for electronic love notes”.

According to the book, these are some of the feelings people will experience – or suffer through – at one point or another: pain at being an unplanned child, feel shock that the wrong person is in love with you, abhorrence for people with disabilities (meh!), shame over that last thought (to be fair), feelings of prideful “nerds,” comforting smells from sniffing grandma’s old fur coat collar, jealousy of a co-worker fifteen years younger, doubting our own fidelity, the envy of people with real enemies (not sure about this one), feeling of – and I quote the author here verbatim – “the slight envy about the seventy-seven virgins waiting in that other paradise” (SAY WHAT?), the kick of shoplifting, the urge to swerve the car into the guardrail, the remorse you feel when you didn’t return the smile you got from a stranger, shocking coldhearted-ness from yourself , the sobering realization that a certain loss is permanent (my personal favorite from this book as it is all too real), and the identified felling of determination before the first kiss (very true).

The list above is not the spoiler it may appear to be–you have literally hundreds more feelings to read about, so if you still find this topic interesting, go ahead and buy the book. No feeling is missed; some will surprise you, some will be more relevant to your life than others, and some will be quite inappropriate for most. I recommend this book for the sheer value of attempting to discover the unknown.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

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

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Review: How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days by Roberta Temes

[ 4 ] July 23, 2014

418Hckt2YALReviewed by Nina Longfield

Everyone has a story to tell. Such is the basis of Roberta Temes instructional book, How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days. Temes spells out and breaks down the process for writing one’s personal story. She provides day-by-day, step by step instructions meant to lead the writer through the memoir process. These exercises take the writer from beginning to ending, to enhancing one’s writing through description, action and dialogue, to polishing for publication.

Temes begins How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days with an introduction as to what a memoir is; by day two, the reader learns how a memoir is different from an autobiography. Some of the exercises are challenging in their simplicity, such as the three-sentence memoir. It is no easy task summing up one’s life in three sentences or less, but this draws one into the essence of what it is one wants to focus his/her writing around. The exercises are written to help the writer delve into his/her memories. Temes shows that this process can be difficult or fun reflecting back on certain memories. Temes also discusses therapeutic benefits of memory recall. Each writer chooses what subject, character, emotions, and memories to write about each day. How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days illustrates each lesson using examples from student writers to established standards. Such examples allow the reader to understand the exercise and create his/her own results. Temes also sprinkles grammar tips throughout the book that are useful even for the seasoned writer to review.

There is no mystery or magical promise in How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days. The book, however, can fulfill all it offers with work and persistence. If a writer follows the thirty day, day-by-day set of instructions and exercises, he/she can fill many pages. The downside of the book is the rushed final chapters. The concluding chapters on polishing your work and the publishing process seems to only summarize and glance over two complicated subjects. Despite the final chapters, the book as a whole is a great collection of writing exercises and grammatical tips that can aid the novice to experienced writer in creating his or her own written personal story.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

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

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Review: White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

[ 3 ] July 23, 2014

13449631Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

White Space was not really what I was expecting. This sometimes can be very good and sometimes very bad. In this case, it was neither. The writing was very good, the descriptions and onomatopoeic words used were very vivid. At times almost too much. The storytelling was definitely not my cup of tea.

We meet Emma and her friend as they are driving north into a blizzard in Wisconsin. To all those outside Emma’s head she appears to be an intelligent normal college girl; we however get to see inside her mind. And while Emma wants nothing more than to be normal, she isn’t. Ever since her experience ‘down cellar’ (which she tries to keep locked up and never think about) she has had ‘blinks’ or episodes where she loses time. She does eventually come back to herself but feels like she is waking up–only she obviously has not been sleeping. Her friends do not seem to notice and she just tries to live with it the best she can.

The reason for the trip North is from a terrible surprise she got in class. She was given an assignment to write a story in the vein of a famous horror author, Frank McDermott. She was more successful than she could have ever imagined. Apparently, she tapped the same muse as McDermott, since she wrote a story that was almost word for word the same as one of McDermott’s unfinished and unpublished works. Her professor called her in on plagiarism and threatened to expel her.

We also meet Lizzie, through Emma’s blinks. Lizzie is a little 5 year old girl, who happens to be much wiser than she appears. We come to see her dad is Frank McDermott and his talent for writing incredible horror stories comes with a little help. Dark help.

The story spins around these two characters and they draw others in. Strange things keep happening and stranger explanations are postulated. It has a Lovecraftian feel where everyone seems to have trouble holding on to their sanity.

The writing was excellent, the descriptions vivid. The puzzle was intricate, and while the first stage was solved in this book, the ending is meant to pull you back for the next stage. I suspect that people who really enjoy psychological horror will love this one. As I mentioned before, I don’t particularly like this type of storytelling and I couldn’t give it more than 3.5 stars. If it wasn’t for the great writing, it would have been a bit less. It is an emotional rollercoaster and left me wrung out.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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 Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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