Product Review: Green Mountain Coffee

Another great buzz campaign from BzzAgent, I was super excited to try Green Mountain Coffee.  Why, you ask?  Because I really love coffee.  I haven't had any at home for a while, because I have a tendency to drink what is provided for me at work (work sludge, as I call it) so there didn't seem to be any point in buying in, know what I mean?

Well, let me tell you, when you are drinking something nicknamed, "work sludge," anything boiled shoes might taste good.  So Green Mountain Coffee was a pretty tasty treat!  However, I was kind of hoping for something a little extra special.  It was a nice bold morning coffee, but in all reality in the end it was just coffee.  It wasn't until I got a tip from a friend to add a little bit of cinnamon to the top of the grounds that transformed the coffee into a decent coffee into an excellent coffee! 

But what makes Green Mountain Coffee more than just an every day normal coffee isn't the cinnamon added, but their purpose.  Green Mountain Coffee is Fair Trade Certified.  If you're anything like me, you can derive what that could possibly mean by the title alone, but haven't actually heard of the term before.  So let me tell you what it means to be fair trade certified.

Fair Trade:
  • helps farmers get a fair price for their beans
  • improves working conditions
  • assists in protecting the environment
  • supports community development with projects resulting in new schools, roads, health clinics and safer drinking water.*
So in all, by choosing to purchase your everyday morning coffee from Green Mountain Coffee, you are helping not just yourself wake up and boost your day, but you're helping many others across the planet as well.  And if you need an extra kick, add a little cinnamon for flavor, or perhaps ginger, or maybe chai spice?  The options are endless.

* Information derived from the Green Mountain Coffee official BuzzGuide


BOOK REVIEW: Guitar Notes - Mary Amato

Author Website: Mary Amato
Form: eBook
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Romance

I found Guitar Notes on the library ebook downloads, and thought the summary sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a shot.  The book was a very quick and easy read.  I read it in about 4 hours total, I think – less than one day.  The chapters move very quickly, especially in the beginning as Tripp and Layla are establishing their connection.  From the beginning, however author Mara Amato traps you into their world.  Tripp is kind of a sad fellow, but as you read you find out that he has many reasons for his emo exterior.  (He’s not exactly emo, but I kept thinking in the beginning – oh boy, a sad troubled teen…).  Tripp has somewhat recently lost his father, and his best friend moved away at almost the same time.  His thoughts and emotions are actually pretty natural in my opinion.  Layla is a very very good cello player who has a lot of pressure from her father to move forward with her career.  Most surprising though, this the pressure that she receives from her “best” friend.  I have a personality a bit like Layla’s, so I can completely understand the desire to tell Annie (best friend) off and try and explain what’s going on inside to her dad – but they are both so driven and involved, it would not be an easy road to navigate.
Anyhow, this book moves forward expectedly when notes are left in the practice room at school (I forgot to mention, Tripp plays guitar as his emotional outlet…kind of important to include, yeah?)  What starts out as sniping and smart alec retorts turns into understanding and friendship.  The book has many smiling and laugh out loud moments, but at the heart is just sweet and great. I will say, at the climax I was almost in tears.  I mean, I KNEW this book was going to have a happy ending, but some very harsh things were said and I couldn’t help but feel really bad for Tripp.
This book is well written, characters are funny and interesting.  Best of all – this book is in the “teen” section, and it absolutely belongs there.  Very age appropriate and not to hot and heavy, yet I think in many ways it captures the confused emotions and the pressure that some teens face…with a lot of innocence thrown in there.  I liked that.


BOOK REVIEW: Love Unscripted - Tina Reber

Author WebsiteTina Reber
Form: eBook, Netgalley
Genre: Adult Romance Fiction 

What girl at one time or another hasn’t dreamed of randomly catching the eye of their favorite, super-hot, movie star??  This is basically the story that Tina Reber has written. Even if Taryn wasn’t actually dreaming of the dreamy Ryan Christenson, she has definitely caught his eye and affection – this spinning her off into the limelight and razzel, dazzle of the paparazzi, grocery store tabloids and the craze that comes with ultimate fame.
Honestly, what Tina has captured is exactly why I do not go ga-ga over movie stars.  I absolutely love movies, and yes, of course I like the way actors look – who doesn’t…but even as a young teenager I really didn’t become star struck.  Okay, I take that back.  I really had a thing for Devon Sawa.  He was a cutie!  Anyhow, just knowing that 1. I never stood a chance, living in the middle of Ohio, of ever actually meeting these people, and 2. The fact that deep down they were just people, continued to keep me grounded ( and still does) about movie stars.  Reading Love Unscripted I was continually brought back to the Twilight craze when the first movie was filming.  I felt so bad for both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in those early days.  I honestly wouldn’t want to live that way.
Anyway, Love Unscripted captured my attention pretty early on.  Taryn’s chance meeting of Hollywood superstar, Ryan Christenson, was entertaining – and the chemistry was great from the very start.  The book continued to keep me engaged – mostly.  Really, over 700 pages of this relationship seemed a bit too much.  All I know is that I was torn between, “is this about done yet?” and “I have got to know what happens…” pretty regularly. 
I can tell that this book was a first complete and published novel (at least as far as I can tell by website, etc.) because it is a little bit rough around the edges.  Sometimes the dialogue was a bit flat and seemed….well…scripted.  There is a part where Taryn and Ryan decide to let their relationship “grow naturally,” and I kind of feel like the book could have used a little bit of that as well.  As I said, the story was good, and kept me engaged from the start, but it does get a bit rough to deal with Taryn.  She is a bit of a tough cookie.  She has had a run of bad relationships, and that doesn’t help, but she is suspicious at every corner – just waiting on the other shoe to drop.  (Who wouldn’t, he’s a MOVIE STAR!)  No matter how true it is though, the constant back and forth in the book would make anyone reading roll their eyes along with Ryan, “what, we’re back to this?” 
I also had a hard time with her difficulty receiving gifts, and feel that there should have been some kind of impactful big “ah-ha” moment that helped her overcome this…or compromise.  Something. 
The good parts – the chemistry between Taryn and Ryan make this book worth the read.  When it’s just the two of them, and no suspicion or anything, they are excellent.  They are both romantic and loving.  Ryan, from the start, is a normal down to earth guy with an awesome job – even a bit shy, which is always endearing.  With the exception of a brief time in Florida, he seems to remain that way.  Both of them just want to love and take care of each other, even if Taryn is a bit unreasonable with her, “I’ll never let them hurt you,” mantra that she continues to repeat.  Silliness is what that is.  Oh well.
I feel like I may have been a little hard on this book – I really did enjoy it.  I think that a good portion of my feelings about the parts I didn’t like would have been eliminate if a couple hundred pages of this book was cut out.  Yes, really.  They went back and forth on the trust issue so many times, I’m pretty sure we  (readers) could get the point without it happening so much.  I think that Tina’s writing will get increasingly better as she continues to write and publish books, and I’m looking forward to watch her grow.


Starting to read: Love Unscripted

I'm starting a NetGalley book called Love Unscripted, by Tina Reber.  I wanted to share the preface with you:

         "You never know which way the wind blows" was one of my father's favorite expressions.  I used to think it was silly, just one of those sayings we tell ourselves when we don't think we have control over our own destiny.
        But I've since come to realize that sometimes when those winds of change blow, they're strong enough to toss you into a whole new world, and you really have no control over where you fly or how you land.
        I'd always been quite content with my life; it was fairly easy and predictable, with only a hint of drama here and there caused by an occasional light breeze.  There were a few times when Mother Nature hit me with her best shot, but I always managed to land on my feet.
       Somewhere along the line I actually thought I had gained control over the weather, keeping the possibility of a terrible storm always at bay.
       That was until the day the wind blew through my door and carried me away.

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book on sale: 9/8/12; in print 1/1/13


Product Review: UNREAL(TM) Candy

The kids and I recently had the opportunity to test a new product called "UNREAL(TM)Candy," which is basically candy, minus anything that is unnatural. No artificial flavors, colors....products in general.


This was a really good review for us to do, because since the beginning of the year we have been trying to "unjunk" (to use one of the Unreal's key phrases) our lives. We have cut out as much processed, or preserved foods as possible. Basically, we by only buy fresh (and occasionally frozen) fruits and vegetables.  There are very few exceptions to this rule at this point.  And while this works for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - snacks are more tricky. Granted, that is not saying Unreal Candy is "good" for you...it's still a snack food, and as we all know, snack food is a sometimes food - not an everyday food.

Okay, kindergarten lesson over.

So I get coupons in the mail, and need to hunt down the Unreal Candy...simple right? Eh, not extremely simple. I went to one store that was listed as a seller (at least I think it was), but needless to say, no Unreal Candy.  I was a little bummed out.  So a couple days later I hit another store.  At first I thought I was going to strike 2, because the candy wasn't where I was expecting it, but meandering the store a little bit I struck gold!   Here you can see the display I found:

So, looking for Unreal Candy at this point in the game, you're probably not going to find it in a "typical" spot, it seems as though they (the sellers) are trying to make you stumble upon it and pick it up as an impulse buy. Or appeal to kids shopping for school supplies??    Hopefully in the near future the Unreal Candy can be found in....THE CANDY AISLE...(novel idea, right?)  So my thoughts on product placement - needs work.  But this is hardly the candy's fault.

Here's what I decided on (basically all they had to offer except candy covered chocolate with peanuts):

What you see here, the two red "bars" are like caramel bars, the purple is caramel, peanuts and chocolate. The bag is candy coated chocolate, and the last (blue) is peanut butter and chocolate.  (I purposefully tried not to mention the candy these are trying to replicate, unfortunately, if you watch the video of my kids, they aren't so polite...they call it as they see it! =)  )

So I tried one of the caramel bars for myself, and honestly I was under impressed.  I think it just reminded me of  one of those protein supplement bars, they aren't my favorite.  I also was expecting a hard cookie base, I think THAT might have been the biggest disappointment for me.  I'm not exactly sure what the base was, seemed kind of milky...kind of like what is in that candy bar with "milk" in the name...yeah, kind of like that.  BUT, don't let my first impression deter you.  You must have a more extensive research panel.  So I recruited three unbias kids, who just see candy as candy...who cares if it's all natural? IT'S CANDY!!

The judges:
(They aren't excited or anything)

The candy:

And I will let these "judges" speak for themselves in a moment, but first let me give you my opinion.  First I'd like to point out the candy covered chocolates - notice their colors aren't near as vibrant and pretty as the other brand??  Do you think the kids gave a lick about that?  NO WAY, they scarfed them down just like any other candy.  And I will say, they tasted less - well fake.  After eating these I can tell how much of the dye I could taste on THE OTHER candy.

Second, the chocolate covered peanut butter - I saved this for last because I thought it would be my favorite.  It was eh, okay.  Pretty good, but not what I was hoping for.  I think I must be really addicted to the million tons of sugar they put in the original of this.

Last, but absolutely the best - the chocolate covered nuts with caramel.  YUM YUM.  This was my favorite, and Azalyah agreed.  This was her favorite too.  I'm not sure Elijah or Abigail actually attempted to have a favorite.  They were more interested in getting to eat candy!!  Anyway, this candy bar didn't taste JUST like the original, but I think you can never go wrong with the chocolate, caramel nut combination.  It tastes good all on it's own regardless.  And if I were to crave anything - it would be THIS one.

(The kids enjoying their candy)

So in conclusion, would I buy Unreal Candy again?  Yes, I would.  If I'm craving chocolate and looking for a fix, just knowing that this product is doing their best to try and leave the junk out of their food -  I would go for this candy first and foremost.  Not only do I believe in what they are doing,  but the price is comparable. And while I may not have been over excited about a few of the items, they were still very yummy. (Except for the caramel bar...I think that one needs something fixed...)

The Video


Celia on the Run - Sarah Mandel - Win free eBook!

GENRE: Young Adult - Fiction, Romance, Road Trip
FORM: eBook

While I was asked to read this book for review by the author and publisher, Untreed Reads, I have received no compensation for this review outside of the joy of reading!
SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  Nick Novaczek is a cautious soul, a 17-year old with a boring life, a predictable future, and a quiet thirst for danger. On the eve of his beloved grandmother's funeral, danger finds him by the motel swimming pool. Her name is Celia and she's everything he's not. This foul-mouthed beauty is hitchhiking across the country to make amends with her estranged father and doesn't carry an ounce of fear or hesitation in her tattered suitcase. She's bad news all around, but for a rule-follower like Nick, she's intoxicating.

Twenty-four hours after speaking to Celia for the very first time, following one extremely lucky night, Nick is hopelessly hooked and "borrows" his parents' car to join her cross-country mission, even though her story is full of holes. It's the mistake he's been waiting his whole life to make. Together, they dodge a train, jump off a bridge, and scam everyone in their path. Nick is blossoming into a teenage fugitive, just like Celia, and he's never been happier. She may not be who she says she is, but she's got his vulnerable heart.

After weeks of detours, with hundreds of miles left to go, their wild adventure starts to unravel. The money dries up, Celia's dark secrets begin to surface, and it's clear they both want vastly different things out of this partnership. Celia is all about no strings attached and severing whatever they may have between them once they reach their destination, while Nick is head over heels in love and wanting a future with the girl in his passenger seat. They seem to reach a new low on a daily basis, but she won't turn back, no matter how desperate things get. After all, this is her trip and Nick is just the driver. Celia's got a charming smile to pay her way, a willing accomplice, a hidden agenda, and an endless supply of lies. Not to mention a gun.

REVIEW:  A roadtrip gone mad; an adventure gone twisted. Celia on the Run is a trip with two young adults; one wild with love, one driven by something unknown, across the country in a sort of stolen car, forced to live on nothing but their next scam.

I am always attracted to road trip/travel type books. I love the way they are normally set up; with their destinations, and detours. I love how the characters move from Point A to Point B, not only in their trip, but also in their lives. In these types of books, the characters always have baggage of some sort or another. There is almost always attraction between characters, and a kinship formed between them. The books usually end up having playlists – as when you are traveling, music is always involved, and on more than one occasion I have actually purchased music to recreate one or two of the book’s playlists, because I feel like I’m connecting more with the characters and their world. I love “visiting” the stops and locations along the trip, and seeing the world through the eyes of the characters. In the end I’m left with that feeling of wishing I could just drop everything and take a trip of my own.

I can say that with Celia on the Run, most of these things are true; but not the last. This was a road trip I was actually happy not to be a part of in reality. Celia carries a lot of burden, and Nick is a bit oblivious for a good portion of the trip. He knows that there is something not quite right about her, but he is lost in his love and obsession of her to really stop and evaluate what really might be going on. I found this a little bit frustrating, especially when taking a closer look was just a passing thought in his head and then putting the whole thing off as “letting her have her space.” She was very obviously screaming for help.

I was describing reading this book to a friend recently, and I believe my words were something along these lines, “it’s not a bad book at all, actually its written very well and for the most part I like the characters, but I’m reading timidly; waiting on the train wreck that is going to inevitably happen.” The thing is, it is very evident from the start of the book that some major collision is going to happen at some point. Evidenced by the downward spiral of events that starts at Celia and Nick’s very first real encounter, you just know something very serious is going to happen. And it does. Well, many serious things do actually. I was so caught up in the characters, and the story I couldn’t put the book down, but I truly was reading with caution; almost afraid to become too attached to the characters in a way, mostly because I don't typically like too much reality in my books. I live reality; I read to escape it. However, sticking by this book, and finishing it out to the end was rewarding in a surprising way. I was not expecting how it ended, even though could see hints of it throughout, I just wasn’t positive how the author was going to spin the foreshadowing – but I was pretty happy with the results.

Sarah Mandell put not only a lot of time and obvious love into her novel, but there is an entire website that will make this trip even more real (complete with soundtrack!) that I encourage you to check out. 

So, I’d love to give you the chance to take this wild trip with Celia and Nick, and find out what happens on the other side of the train wreck. The publisher has offered a copy of Celia on the Run, therefore I have set up a giveaway  below.  To win a free ebook copy of Celia on the Run fill out the rafflecopter form. The first entry is free (even if you don't leave a comment - just click through, I'm not that particular), and there is an additional option for entry as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Temptation & Twilight - Charlotte Featherstone

GENRE:  Adult - Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook - Netgalley
SERIES: The Guardian Brethren

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, HQNbooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  Iain Sinclair, Marquis of Alynwick, is certain there is a special hell for him. An unrepentant rake, he holds nothing sacred – except for beautiful Elizabeth York. For years, Alynwick has tried to forget the woman he loved so well, and treated so badly. A woman who could hold nothing in her heart for him except hatred.

All of society believes Elizabeth, blind daughter of a duke, to be a proper young lady. But no one knows of her wanton affair with Alynwick. When Lizzy learns of her ancestor’s ancient diary – filled with exotic tales – she longs to uncover the identity of the unnamed lover within and hesitantly allows Alynwick, who claims to have knowledge of the “veiled lady,” to help her solve the mystery.

Eager to be Lizzy’s eyes, Alynwick brings the seductive text to life, and each night it takes greater effort for her to forget his betrayal. With each whispered word, her resolve gives way, without her knowing that a centuries-old secret will lead them to a present-day danger.

REVIEW:   I am in love with Charlotte Featherstone’s writing. She is like the epitome of a good romance writer in my eyes. You know how it is, you read books and you’re thinking, “yeah, that was a good book.” “Enjoyable, perfectly entertaining.” Well, when I read Charlotte Featherstone’s books, it’s more like “YES, this is exactly what I was looking for!” I have a feeling that her books could be rate G, and be written for 7 or 8 year old children, and they would still be excellent. She weaves a story that is interesting and engaging. You not only want to know what happens, you’ve got to know what happens. But what really does it for me are the characters. So unique and well formed. They are likeable, even if they are a bit ruthless and dark – if they have their reasons for their bad behavior, you love them for it. But since her books are not written for children (nor are they rated G,) – I have to admit, what I absolutely love the most is that her male leads are absolutely falling over themselves in love, they are gushing with it, it is their biggest downfall and greatest strength. It is wonderful, and absolutely without a doubt (to this extent) unrealistic. That’s exactly what you want out of a book, right?

Before you jump all over me, yes, it is possible to be absolutely crippled by love – but it’s not really healthy nor have I ever seen it as I have in these books. Reality is a little more…well, real.

Okay, so this is the third book in The Guardian Brethren series, and it is Iain and Elizabeth’s story. The mad marquis, Scottish rake and the blind sister of one of his “brothers,” Adrian. They have a past, they have had passion previously, but Iain walked away from everything that they had leaving Elizabeth broken and a bit hardened. You get little tidbits of their story in Pride and Passion, so going in you already know it’s going to be good. My favorite parts are the simple intimate impactful moments, like Elizabeth and Iain out in the snow. What a beautiful, heart pounding scene! I just re-read my review of Pride and Passion, and even then I said I wanted to give you a little sample of the writing – I denied you then, but I’m feeling a little more generous today I suppose, because I just have to share one little taste. This is a small part of the snow scene I just indicated, and you have to remember, Elizabeth is blind. This scene, in it’s entirety, is my favorite of the whole book, however this is just a portion of the very beginning:

“I have waited for this, Beth, this moment,” he whispered as he took her hands in his and brought her fingertips to his mouth, kissing each fingertip before placing her palms on either side of his face. “When Sussex, Black and I returned from the East, I watched you as you did this – touched Sussex, then Black. And I waited, holding my breath, barely able to control my feelings, waiting to feel your touch on my face. But you did not. You made a polite enquiry after my health and left me standing alone by the hearth. And, then, the other afternoon with Sheldon, you touched him, and I was alone, and apart again. Remembering what it was like to await your touch, and then never to feel it. Beth,” he whispered as he moved closer to her, “won’t you touch me? See me?”

This series is a little different from other series I’ve read. Usually in a series of books you get a straight line, with this one (well, at least the last two – I still need to read the first book) the line is a bit more jagged. Ms. Featherstone goes back and fills in a few gaps you didn’t even realize you were missing from the previous book. The story is the same in parts, yet continues in others. I’m anxious to get my hands on Seductions & Scandal, and I’ll likely revisit Pride & Passion. As much as I’ve enjoyed Temptation & Twilight, I think Pride & Passion is still my favorite thus far, the back story on that one is heart melting.


Bewitching - Alex Flinn

Title: Bewitching
Author: Alex Flinn
Rating: 5 stars
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Form:  ebook

Synopsis: (from goodreads)
Bewitching can be a beast. . . .
Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.
I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.
You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching

Bewitching will not disappoint fans of Alex Flinn’s fairytale re-tellings. The synopsis says the book is about Kendra (the witch who turned Kyle into a beast in Beastly). This is true and not true. We learn more about Kendra and get a deeper feel for her personality and her start as a witch. However the majority of the story is taken up by Emma and Lisette.         
There are four fairytales that are retold in this book. I’m not telling which ones because it ruins the stories. Yes stories there are also four different stories being told. It works really well though. At times Emma and Lisette’s story got to be too tragic and too much for me to handle, I wanted to strangle Emma numerous times and usually when it got to that point, there would be a break and a short story like an intermission. It was a format I’ve never seen in a book before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As for the characters; I believe they were well written. I mentioned before I wanted to strangle Emma a few times, but when you really think about it and think like her, you realize it’s no surprise why she does what she does. Now Lisette was sort of hard to figure out. Where she went with her was no surprise, but it took me a while to figure out that was definitely the personality being developed for this character.
I loved the ending of this book. I was rooting for one way and then the way the author ended it was not what I expected, but so much better than what I was rooting for. I especially liked how things end for Kendra. It’s a happy ending, but not all of the tales told in the book had a happy ending.
Now I will admit, I’ve only read two of Alex Flinn’s books: Cloaked and Bewitching. I did see the movie Beastly which is alluded to in Bewitching. I plan on reading A Kiss In Time, in fact I have it requested from my library now. I really liked Bewitching better than Cloaked. I’m not sure why but Cloaked didn’t grab my attention. It was good, but it wasn’t a favorite. Bewitching however, I couldn’t put down. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. If you love fairy re-tellings as much as I do, than this book is definitely one you should read.
Review by Stephany


Partials - Dan Wells

Title: Partials
Author: Dan Wells
Rating: 5 stars
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Form:  ebook

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.
When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.
Combining the fast-paced action of
 The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival

I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian future books lately: Hunger Games, Matched series, Divergent series, Under the Never Sky, and Eve to name a few. Partials is more post apocalyptic dystopian. It’s only been 11 years since a war and a plague has destroyed almost all of humanity. The first thing I liked about this book is the lack of the love triangle. There’s a little romance but the main character, Kira, is already established in who she likes. (I think who she likes will change in the second book, but I will say no more, spoiler).

A similarity this book shares with the other ones I mentioned is it’s about Kira discovering who she is. She’s a very headstrong character who does not let go of her beliefs, similar to Katniss. I like the relationships Kira has with her friends. Everything is very realistic. Her relationship with her boyfriend is not perfect and it wasn’t love at first sight. The situations the characters kept getting thrown into kept making me forget they were 16-19 years old. Kira is 17 and a nurse’s intern. She did salvage runs and already knew how to use a gun as well as any soldier.

The book was a little slow at first but towards the middle it starts to pick up. There’s quite a bit of action and political intrigue. Of course in all dystopian future novels the government has something to hide. What Kira finds out though, I’m not sure even the government is aware of it. The ending was slightly predictable, but not completely. There were enough twists that made me go, what?

I definitely can’t wait for the second book and Mr. Wells was kind enough to give us a novella in the fall to make the wait bearable. The novella is called Isolation and is more about the time before and during the war. The next book in the series is called Fragments.

Review by: Stephany


Dreams of a Book-a-holic 1

I’m not sure about you, but I have some very creative dreams, and I know a lot of them come from being such an avid reader, so I wanted to start a new meme, if you will, in which I let you take a glimpse inside my head. However I doubt I’ll be able to post this regularly on a weekly basis, because it has to do with dreams, and I can’t exactly *make* myself dream something every week/night, etc. I do regularly have vivid and weird dreams, so hopefully I’ll get enough material to keep you entertained. I’d love to hear some of your dreams as well!

Monday Night: I dreamed that my husband and I owned a café, but at this café we stocked blood, so that we would be able to serve any vampires that showed up (obviously). Well, “they” (whoever they are) caught word of our extra stock, and we were coming after us, so husband and I were frantically trying to get rid of all of our blood.

Wednesday Night: I dreamed that I was being chased by some evil guy. He was not special on his own, but he had a companion that was a ghost. Anyway, I was running the halls of what looked like a boarding school and made my way up into an attic. I decided to hide in one of the hidden away rooms up there, but as I was crouching in a dark corner I realized, there was no way I could hide even in a hidden room in a dark corner, because no matter what the ghost would be able to find me.

The Selection - Kiera Cass

GENRE:  Young Adult - Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SERIES:  The Selection Series

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

REVIEW:   The Selection ended up being a surprisingly good novel. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, except a beauty contest for a prince. Really, the story started out sounding a little bit like the biblical story of Esther, but that is when you are expecting a snobbish, arrogant prince; but once you get to know the characters, particularly America and Prince Maxon, the story itself really starts to take shape. From the beginning it is very obvious that there is going to be a love triangle – but because of the way this story plays out, it’s easier to accept than what happens in most of the Young Adult novels I read; where girl is totally in love with Boy A, then something happens and she falls on Boy B. For this story, one boy sacrifices his love because it’s what he feels is best for her. The way it’s laid out, you can see where it seems like he’s making the right decision, even when your head is screaming, “nooo!”

There were no great feats of action, or major events in The Selection – in that way the book might actually seem a little bit dull. There were a few attacks by rebel camps, but since the action was outside and America was inside, you didn’t actually get to “see” it. The main plot of the story was pretty much about the selection process, what the girls were doing to impress the prince, and what events, interviews and dresses might end up on TV., etc. Even America, and her internal struggles didn’t even seem all that captivating on their own – it was the typical struggle between boys, and her true feelings, and doing what is right. This book is not really a “new” concept.

The characters are what makes this story. Each of the girls in the selection have their own personalities, and in the end, with a few exceptions, you actually like all of them. America is a very strong character. She’s got a good foothold on reality, and doesn’t run around doing a bunch of reckless things that aggregate you to pieces. She wants to do what is right, and that war between what is right and what she wants isn’t as petty as it has seemed in other books. I think Kiera Cass has created a very strong leader in America, she’s able to think on her feet and make good decisions. Not to mention her mild sarcasm, and obvious way with knowing how to say just the right thing. Prince Maxon is very sweet in his innocence. He made me smile more than once, and truly is the perfect mix of regal, and royal, as well as typical self-conscious teenage boy. Then there is Aspen, the boy that ranks below America on the cast system, but whom she has been secretly dating for two years. He is another very strong character, with morals and doubts of his own. Honestly, in this love triangle, there doesn’t seem to be a “best choice.” Both boys are equally appealing and very strong characters. I know my favorite, and I know who I think America may end up with, but really the book could take many directions, and I’m looking forward to seeing which way it actually goes.


City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare

GENRE:  Young Adult - Paranormal, Romance
FORM: Audiobook
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads): The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

REVIEW:  There were parts of City of Lost Souls  that I loved. There are parts of this book I’m not overly fond of. If you don’t mind, I’m going to be completely honest - and I know that I may get a little bit of a backlash, considering the large amounts of Cassandra Clare/The Mortal Instruments fans. Just let me say this first; my current favorite series is The Infernal Devices, I am absolutely in love with this series. So I have no issues with Clare or her writing. I also loved the first 3 books of The Mortal Instruments – I couldn’t get enough and read them back-to-back more than once. I think what has happened, for me anyway, is this is one of those stories where you think you can never get enough…until you do.

We, as fans, never want books to end, we want to know what happens next, we want more story, more of our favorite characters. But the thing is, too much is almost always a bad thing. I quite honestly think this series should have ended two books ago. There is nothing really new going on that doesn’t make the book feel like a soap opera. There are more relationship dynamics – and lots of unsupervised teenagers. I was okay with this up to a certain extent, but it’s starting to feel a lot less like a young adult novel (even though the most graphic details are left to your imagination – which I think is a good plan).

What I do like is, take out the soap opera and all the relationship stuff and you’ve got a pretty good story. I enjoyed Jace and Clary and Sebastian dynamic (up until the end that is). I also enjoyed “Team Good,” and their trial and errors in trying to help Jace get back to normal. More than anything Magnus and Simon have carried this book for me. They both had witty things to say (to each other and in their various scenes) and just seemed to provide the most entertaining interludes between scenes. I am very, very, very thankful not to have a cliff hanger to the caliber as the last.

I will see this series to its end, and hope for a mostly happy-ever-after, but unlike Clockwork Princess – I’m not exactly waiting on pins and needles for it. I am looking forward to seeing Sebastian get what is coming to him. I’m hoping for no more threats or accusations on who has evil intentions (specifically for Jace and Clary, I think they have both proven themselves loyal and shown they are not sociopathic by now…). I guess I want a non-confusing, mostly without crazy twists that make you want to throw your book, good versus evil to finish this series out…finally. But I’m not the author, so I guess I’ll take what she gives! ;)


The Note in which I tell the world why I went from “trying vegetarian” to a new lifestyle

* note: this is copied from a Facebook note, where I actually do "know" people.  :)

My disclaimer:  Much of my rambling is a result of my personal experience, and my own thoughts and ideas.  I was going to add a few links to back some things up but now I can see that that isn't an option on Facebook notes, but there is a lot of speculating going on in my head that I may not be 100% accurate on…if you want to contradict me in a polite fashion..I’m fine with that.  If you want to slam me…really, I guess I’m fine with that too, but don’t be surprised if I don’t really care what you have to say today or any day in the future.  Delivery of information is key…if you want to be heard, do it in a mature fashion.  We’re not in High School anymore.  (okay, some of you might be in High School still…but those of you I know are better than that!)

I kind of wanted to put down into words why I felt it was best for ME to continue on the vegetarian path.  I am not going to tell you why you should do it, because this – like many other life decisions – is a personal choice.  I find it amazing how much kickback this particular choice brings, and how many people want to tell you how wrong you are.

So first, let me just address a few questions.  YES, I’m getting plenty of protein.  Anyhow, it’s not the protein that our bodies need; it’s the amino acids, 13 of which that can be broken down from a single protein, that our body uses.  So while I may not be getting as much actual protein as I have in the past, I  can tell you without a doubt that I am getting many more amino acids than I was in the past.  And doesn’t it just makes sense that it is easier for our bodies to give it what it needs straight out rather than making it “work for it?”  Outside of that, I eat many other protein sources that are not meats, in fact all of the foods that we eat include small bits of protein.  I’m also going to point out, that unless I decide to become some kind of big-time body builder, I don’t need an unusual amount of protein.

The second most frequently asked question; do I ever crave a big fat juicy steak?  No.  I don’t.  I was never a “cow” person to begin with.  Hamburger was always a struggle for me to eat in any form.  I could somewhat tolerate sirloin hamburger meat in my spaghetti, but most days I just wish I would have left it out.  What I did crave was a turkey and cheddar with chipotle sauce on pretzel bread sandwich.  YUM YUM!  When I first started attempting this diet and I did fall to temptation, this was always my go-to.  And then, recently, my father-in-law stopped in for a visit and he bought a big bag of Taco Bell tacos.  Nothing special, just plain and simple tacos, but they did smell divine.  I wanted to eat one…and this was just a week or so ago.  But then I thought about the effects of the red grease of death (taco meat) when I WAS eating meat and how bad it could possibly be when I hadn’t had meat in months, and figured that was one negative reaction that wasn’t worth the “fall in to temptation.”

We were created to eat fruits and vegetables.  I know many of you, my friends, are not Christian – but surely you can respect the fact that prior to becoming privy to the scrumptious meats that can be found by killing a mammal, bird, or sea dwelling creature, we had to survive somehow.  Now I’m not going to go into the politics or the “but’s” – I’m just saying that fruits and vegetables are the easiest foods for our bodies to process, we gain the most nutrition from them simply because our bodies easily break them down into the nutritional pockets our bodies need (vitamins, fiber, minerals, amino acids, etc…).  It is food in its purest form; rather than being manipulated, shaped, pushed, and magic-ed (by use of eggs, flour, milk and an oven) into a different shape and form.

And to all my friends who are Christian – YES, God did give us permission to eat meat.  I’ve used this argument over and over and over.  But what God did not tell us to do is to pump said animals with hormones to make them bigger and fatter and more meatier (is that really a word, because spell check is letting it go through…?).  We [humans] do some really stupid crap to get the “biggest bang for our buck” [$] when it comes to our food.  And we have had some really awesome results – need I remind you of Mad Cow Disease?!  Not to mention the conditions in which these animals are forced to live in.  It is my conviction that this is NOT what God meant when he said to “have dominion” over the animals, fish and birds.  So we know that steroids have negative effects on us mere humans.  Yes, big muscles do result in some cases, but there are so many negative side effects that we are not allowed to use steroids in this fashion.  I suppose the thought is that the hormones we put into these animals is putting out results into our meat products that are so small in amount that it’s not really effecting our health.  I beg to differ…

Wait, pause!  Okay, here is my mind cutting in and tossing around another truth that at this point is necessary to address.  YES!  We do these same crazy stupid things to our fruits and vegetables. We grow them so that they come out bigger and prettier; we add pesticide, herbicide, insecticides, suicides, homicides, and whatever else we can use to make our fruits and vegetables bigger and badder than ever.  So now I’m walking in circles.  And unfortunately, it is EXTREMELY difficult to get away from all of this “we add everything to our products” scenario – unless you happen to be a wealthy and are able to buy the most organic of the organic of products 100% of the time, or you’re a farmer with a very large fertile land, and are able to grow everything under the sun.  I guess the same can be said about meat, assuming you can hunt, skin and…do all that fun stuff to get your own meat, that would be most ideal.  But unfortunately, my inner Katniss has yet to make an appearance, so I don’t see any version of this happening in my family.  Additionally, once again I go back to our bodies breaking down nutrition; it can take up to a week for our body to fully digest some meats, while fruits and vegetables are digested in a much quicker fashion – it’s a much easier process for our bodies. So, basically, I’m saying that it’s impossible to get away from all the bad stuff in our foods – but I’m also saying that by cutting the meat I believe I have chosen to lessen the evils.

Okay, this is the point when I tell you about my personal experience.  If you are of the male gender and are still reading my lovely musing – I just want to warn you.  I am going to talk about my female monthly cycle….feel free to continue to read, but I’m giving you a heads up out of politeness.

So for the past two years I’ve been dealing with monthly…issues.  It’s not been pleasant or pretty or fun.  I am very sensitive to hormone changes.  This first became evident when I was between 18 and 19 and taking birth control pills.  I didn’t know what was going on at the time, and it took a few trips to the Dr before we figured out the root of the problem, but every month in the first week of taking the pills I would react by vomiting until there was absolutely nothing left in my stomach, and then dry heaving for at least an hour afterward.  This would happen for at least days 1-3, if not for 5 days.  Once we figured out the association between the pill and the vomiting, I got a sort of placating “well, sometimes this medication has this sort of side effect.” (really, violent vomiting?)  So, because I was on the lowest hormone enhanced pill, I was given another medication to counteract the vomiting.  I don’t know what it was.  At the time I didn’t care, it worked so I was fine with this.

My second (third, and fourth) indication that I’m a tad bit sensitive to hormone changes was when I had my kids – the shift from being pregnant, and all of the hormones that build up over 40 weeks time, to suddenly not being pregnant and having practically none of those hormones made for an EXTREME shift in my emotional well being.  I could explain this to you, but it was not a fun time and to me is kind of personal.  So no.  Let’s just say it was pretty bad.

Back to the now, or the last few years anyway.  I’ve been having increasingly bad monthly cycles.  Bad as in I have NO CLUE when I’m going to start, I would spot for one, two, three weeks before having a fully fledged flood on my hands.  I was emotionally a wreck during these times.  Some months were pretty good, some were bad, some were really bad.  It seemed like there was no rhyme or reason to the entire cycle ever.  I go see my Midwife, who refers me to a Gynecologist.  Both of which have said that I seem to be in a pre-menopausal state, and that I wasn’t ovulating every month. (And this is EXACTLY what I wanted to hear at 30 years old!)  So the prescribed solution was to put me on a medication that would boost my hormone levels and tell my body to ovulate, and then regulate my cycle further by taking birth control (which I hadn’t taken since before having kids).  I tell the doctor of my birth control issues, and they said that if I have problems with the one prescribed to come back and they would try something different.  Seemed logical at the time, so I decide to give the solution a try.  I took ONE PILL…ONE!  I was up all night, and I had not adequately remembered my body “on” birth control pills, but it is NOT pretty.  Violent is too delicate a word for it.  And all the time in my head I’m thinking, “there is something just not right about all of this.”

So from here I decide I am NOT taking this advice, no medication for me.  I start tracking my cycles on a calendar, including every ache and pain, every spot and flood.  I determine, on my own, that the Dr and Midwife were partially correct.  I was likely ovulating every other cycle.  I would have a semi normal month, 28 day cycle everything was okay, and a horrible month (or 40 days rather) of hormones, craziness, non-predictable stuff.  I’m guessing this was a month of non-ovulation, but I’m not a doctor.  I decide I can live with this.  We aren’t having any more kids, and at least I have a better idea of what’s going on.

And then we started making changes to our diet.  Justin is head first, ALL IN!  Vegan, mostly raw food if he can.  I am WAYY too attached to milk, cheese, and eggs to go vegan, despite the fact that I know many of the same hormone issues exist there as well.  But I decide to give being a vegetarian a try.  At first I struggled.  I was like a kid that you told they couldn’t have something, they become more desperate for that one thing.  I never did like meat all THAT much prior to making this move, but suddenly I wanted it much more.  That first month I experienced the motherload of hormonal breakdowns.  It was very reminiscent of the type of emotional shifts that took place after giving birth.  I do not know for sure, I have no information to back up my hypothesis, but I suspect that I was going through a withdraw – a “meat hormone withdraw” if you will.  Because after a month of wishy-washiness I stuck to my guns and went full on vegetarian and have yet to look back.

I noticed a difference right away.  That first month (after the crazy month mentioned above) instead of being somewhat hateful when my period came around, I didn’t even notice a shift in my temperament.  Usually I have to be very deliberate about what I’m thinking; make myself realize that I’m getting mad over something extremely stupid, (WHY WOULD YOU COLOR THAT CAT GREEN…CATS CAN’T BE GREEN!!! – okay, that was a completely made up scenario, but it was a bit like that). This was 2 months into the diet change and I couldn’t even tell I was moving into my monthly cycle.  The cramps, while still there, were not nearly as painful.  So, I’m thinking…”okay, this is my ‘good’ side” and I wait for the next month.  28 days later, another perfectly smooth cycle.  Now I’m thinking…hallelujah, I’m healed!

The truth is, I believe I am.  It’s been several months now and I have had perfectly timed 28 day normal cycles ever since I changed my diet.  This is just one change.  Between more energy and generally less doomsville and more happy feelings from my end, I can’t help but think that cutting meat has been the reason why.  It has honestly been the only real major change that I have made in my life that could have such a drastic effect, and it makes me wonder, what other things have changed that I just don't know about?  By getting rid of all the unnecessary hormones, and I think it’s possible we are getting much more than we realize, has affected my body in such a way that I can’t see myself going back to eating meat…no matter how tempted I might be by a taco bell red grease of death taco!


Insurgent - Veronica Roth

GENRE:  Young Adult - Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
FORM: Audiobook
SERIES: Divergent

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Oh the dreaded Book 2, how I hate thee! Let me count the ways:

1. You are the book in between, neither the beginning – where you are meeting new friends and enemies and being introduced to a new world. Nor the end – where the conclusion of a story is met, all issues are resolved, and everything is happy in the world….or it is not.

2. You are the book in which is most always the biggest cliff hanger – the book where you realize that you are invested way more than you want to be and instead of thinking, “hey, the next book in xxx series is coming out, you are constantly thinking…I CANNOT WAIT, I CANNOT WAIT, I CANNOT WAIT.

3. I think authors do this to torture us.

Okay, so it’s not all that bad…oh wait, scratch that. IT is. I actually have anxiety about reading the 2nd book of series (and 3rd if there happens to be 4 books instead of 3). I don’t like being held on the pin of a needle, and since you never know what’s going to happen at the end of the 2nd books – it just sort of becomes a love/dread relationship.

BUT…..Insurgent was not all that bad. I think one of the things I like most about the Divergent series is that Veronica Roth does not leave you foaming at the mouth for her next book, however #2 above does still apply because….you are invested. You must know what happens next. Insurgent does not leave you at the cusp of death or at a moment where you realize you accidentally stabbed the one you love most in the world in the chest (YES, I read a series where the 2nd to last book ended exactly this way). Thank you, Veronica! I appreciate not wanting to throw your book across the room in frustration. Especially since it was an audiobook located on my iPhone – that would have ended up to be a VERY expensive toss!

This time around Tris and Tobias gave me a lot of ups and downs that just weren’t there in Divergent. In Divergent they are at the cusp of attraction and new love, but in Insurgent their relationship has a bit more dynamic. There are many decisions and evaluations that must take place between the two of them. I think there were points when I felt that they were both unfair to each other, but I guess relationships do work that way, we overestimate our other half and expect them to be something a little bigger than they actually are. Another shout out to Veronica here – unless she does something really crazy in book 3, there IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! A way overdone story line, and it’s about time someone takes the initiative to do something about it! (or NOT do something, as the case may be.)

The action in this book was EXCELLENT! At times it did feel a tinsy bit reminiscent of Mockingjay, but regardless the action scenes kept you invested for sure! And of course there is the big secret of the book. I will say that I was expecting that to be something a little different than what it was, but I’m very curious to find out what they are going to do with the new information gained.

This next paragraph is going to be a bit spoilery so if you haven’t read the book, and are like me and don’t want to know anything about it – stop reading now.

The one scene I did not like, and did not really see the point in, is the one where Tobias takes off his belt and beats his father. It seemed kind of random, and really, really far out there. There were so many ways he could have proven he wasn’t a coward, but to beat him out of nowhere like that, unprovoked, was really weird and it just didn’t sit well with me.

Okay, so let’s go Book 3. 1 year countdown…are we ready?


Unconquered - J.D. Davis - WIN A KINDLE!

About J.D. Davis
J.D. Davis was raised in Quitman, Texas, a quiet community in the northeast part of the state. Having grown up in a small town in the rural South—similar in many ways to the cousins’ hometown of Ferriday, Louisiana—with many similar influences as the cousins, he has meaningful insight into these three men.

Davis attended the University of Texas on a full academic scholarship, received a B.A. with highest honors in economics, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He later received a master’s degree from SMU.

As a successful businessman, Davis achieved the highest credentials as an actuary and became a principal in a large firm while still in his twenties. He currently manages an employee benefits consulting practice that covers the southern region of the United States, with offices in four cities.

Davis remembers his father watching Jimmy Swaggart on television and being intrigued by the evangelist's magnificent piano talent. As a teenager, Davis became a huge fan of Jerry Lee Lewis. He first attended one of Lewis’s live performances as a college student and was awe-struck to see this man put on a breathtaking performance. Davis grew up listening to country music of the seventies and eighties, when Mickey Gilley was consistently producing number one country hits. He became fascinated by the ways these three very different cousins achieved and dealt with eventual success and has been a dedicated fan for years.

Davis has worked with a talented team of many. His editors included Elizabeth Kaye, an award winning journalist who has often written about southern music and southern preachers. As a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, she interviewed Sam Phillips and gathered firsthand experience of Jerry Lee Lewis when covering sessions at which he played with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison. As a contributing editor to John Kennedy’s George magazine, Kaye wrote extensively about Billy Graham and his son Franklin, traveled on several missionary trips with Franklin, and worked with ABC’s 20/20 to produce and write a major Billy Graham profile.

You can visit his website at http://www.unconqueredthebook.com.
Visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UnconqueredTheBook
Visit his Twitter page at https://twitter.com/Unconqueredbook
If you would like to view his book trailer, you can view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CrVQv2lJJ8

About Unconquered
The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley
In 1935 and early 1936, three cousins were born into tight-knit families in Ferriday, Louisiana. Rare piano talent, strong parental relationships, the Pentecostal church, family struggle, and a variety of musical influences worked together to produce men who changed twentieth-century music and culture. The individual stories of these three cousins illustrate their varied paths from small-town America to a world stage. Woven together, the collective story becomes even more compelling and amazing.

UNCONQUERED is a story so unlikely that it would not be believable if written as fiction. It tells of rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and country music star Mickey Gilley. These very different men, raised in the same time and place, with similar talents, were fated for entirely different destinies even as their lives would always be profoundly intertwined. Born into poverty, each man, in his own way, would become an iconic figure blessed with the ability to thrill and inspire.

The story's touchstones of music, perseverance, and faith could wield such force only in the American South. There, in the Louisiana lowlands’ Concordia Parish, their story began in the midst of the Great Depression.  
Purchase your copy at http://www.amazon.com/Unconquered-Cousins-Swaggart-Mickey-Gilley/dp/1612540414/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335293561&sr=8-1

~~~ WIN A FREE KINDLE! ~ ~ ~

J.D. Davis will be giving away a FREE KINDLE!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to win!  This giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canada citizens.  Deadline is June 1 and announced on June 2.  If you are the winner, contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife (at) gmail.com or Tracee Gleichner at tgleichner (at) gmail.com.  You have 48 hours to reply.  If we do not hear from you in 48 hours, another winner will be selected.  Thanks and good luck!


A Cold Creek Reunion - RaeAnne Thayne

GENRE:  Adult Fiction - Romance
FORM: eBook - Netgalley

SYNOSPSIS (from Goodreads):   
He was the one you called when you needed rescuing…

But who was Taft Bowman going to call when he needed help? Because ten years ago Laura Pendleton, the love of his life, had left town without a word, then or since. Now she was back, with a new last name, and two adorable, high-needs little ones in tow. Well, Taft had been stupid enough to let her go once before…he wasn't about to make the same mistake again. He'd never stopped loving her, and one look at those adorable little faces and he knew that he was meant to be with Laura and her kids forever. All he had to do was convince her that this time he was a man she could count on!

REVIEW:  So I’ve decided you might as well add “Small town life,” and “ranch cowboys” to my list of books I apparently gravitate towards. When I look at the scope of books I like to read, it gets broader every day. I mean, one day I’m reading about ships and pirates, another day I’m in the London Ton, the next I’m chasing down vampires, and then I’ll finish it off riding a horse. Such is the way of a book lover!

A Cold Creek Reunion
has actually been sitting in my iPhone for a while. It’s a book I got from NetGalley, and while I try my best to be pretty time sensitive when I get a book from them, this particular one has continued to be pushed back to another time. I mean, it’s a Romance, so it’s a winner from the start, however the story line has been done (which obviously doesn’t bother me, since I DID request the book – right?), but I think I have to be in the moment that I feel like reading that particular kind of book. It doesn’t always happen that way, but apparently this one was one of those kinds of books.

And I must really have been in the mood, because I read two books back-to-back with extremely similar plots. Small town life, runaway bride returns home, old flame flares. It’s obviously a very frequently done plot, in all of its varieties. Like I said, I choose this (these) books, so I’m not knocking the over done plot here – but I’m pretty sure I’ve read 3 or 4 more that have the same basic outline. Thankfully, author creativity makes them not precisely the same book. Anyhow, reading two of these books back-to-back has helped me to really appreciate the value of a good writer. I am not going to name the other book I read, because…well, just because; but let’s just say that the other book was “less than” A Cold Creek Reunion, as far as stories go. While reading the other book I thought, this is a nice story. I’m enjoying it. Of course I love the way the story plays out, the idea around a rekindled romance. But it was just okay. Reading A Cold Creek Reunion in comparison was almost like night and day. I really got to know and enjoy the characters. I loved the town and the people in it. I could envision the story playing out in my head, it became much more than just words on a page. There was life and meaning in there.

Now, if I could tell you what the differences are as far as writing technique, details, etc., I would. I wish I could tell you why one book was just okay and the other evoked such a response that in the end I actually had tears of happiness. Maybe I was just having a sappy day? Or maybe with A Cold Creek Reunion, I had more time to really focus on the story where as the other book I was constantly being interrupted by one or three kids. Those are very distinct possibilities, but I truly believe there is a reason behind why one captured my attention so greatly and the other just merely entertained.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Quaker Oatmeal Squares

*  This is a new thing on this blog..don't be alarmed, you have come to the correct place.  I'm going to attempt to keep up with ONE blog instead of multiple. So expect updates that aren't JUST book related, but that are also about family and various other things.  


Another opportunity to try another great brand, and another great product. I am so thankful I found BzzAgent, because I love trying new things, and who wouldn’t love the benefits of free, or deeply discounted? I totally recommend signing up to be a BzzAgent if you like to share your opinion, blog, talk, or just try new products. It’s so worth it ( and completely legit, as I’ve seen a few discussions asking this very question…)

This time around I got to try Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal. Cereal is like breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack at our house. We love our cereal (or breakfast foods in general, honestly.) I feel like every time I take on a campaign something major is happening in our live. Last time it was my son’s birthday, which worked out perfect, because I got to experiment on all of the party guests! This time, however, all the drama didn’t work quite as well. Well, I guess it’s a matter of perspective. We just bought a new house, and when my package arrived, we were in the midst of packing, moving, unpacking…I forgot to add painting and ripping up carpet. Yeah. Fun, right? Well, I kind of tried to hide away the cereal so I would have time to do a truly good review. I knew the cereal was going to be great, I love almost everything Quaker puts out anyway. I even got ….two bowls(?) of it myself…but I had every intention of handing out the sample boxes to a couple friends or family and getting their opinion. That was before my kids discovered we had new cereal in the house. And it wasn’t just new cereal, but it was in mini boxes!!!! Nothing could possibly be more exciting. Plus it is quick and easy to put together a bowl of cereal, or just open a mini box and let them eat it as a dry snack. So this time around, the kids are the guinea pigs. After tallying the results…..

~ Direct quote from 7 year old, Azalyah
“Mommy, this new cereal is yummy. I think it’s now my favorite.” ~ Direct quote from 5 year old, Abigail.
“______.” ~ This would be 8 year old, Elijah, who generally doesn’t have much to say about anything.

So yes, I do believe we have found a new favorite to add to the circulation. Oh, I forgot to mention, Azalyah was very thrilled when she saw a commercial and found out that the cereal was actually healthy too. (Mom likes this…so glad to kick the Lucky Charms to the curb……okay maybe not, even I like the sweet stuff now and then!) Healthy is a triple bonus, because, as all moms know, sometimes it’s hard to get anything of value past the lips of our children. Not sure how this happens, but I think that children are just the best manipulators. They know if they hold out, somehow, some way they are going to get something “better” (less healthy) to eat.

So once again, thank you Bzz, for the wonderful opportunity, and thank you Quaker; for once again creating a breakfast that pleases all (or most – who knows about Elijah.)


Infamous - Sherrilyn Kenyon

GENRE:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SERIES: Chronicles of Nick

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads.com):  
The world has fallen in love with Nick Gautier and the Dark-Hunters. Now Nick’s saga continues in the next eagerly anticipated volume...

Go to school. Get good grades. Stay out of trouble. That’s the mandate for most kids. But Nick Gautier isn’t the average teenager. He’s a boy with a destiny not even he fully understands. And his first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him.

He’s learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive such a difficulty? But that isn’t the primary skill he has to master. Survival is.

And in order to survive, his next lesson makes all the others pale in comparison. He is on the brink of becoming either the greatest hero mankind has ever known.

Or he’ll be the one who ends the world. With enemies new and old gathering forces, he will have to call on every part of himself to fight or he’ll lose everyone he cares about.

Even himself.
REVIEW:  Infamous is the continuation of Nick’s story, and I have been enjoying this series since it came out a few years ago. I have a love for sarcasm, and that is one thing you can rest assured that you will get whenever reading Sherrilyn Kenyon, but Nick’s version is extremely teenage and wonderful! I like this book because, unlike reading her other books – while the characters continue to appear and reappear in the books, the “main cast” for each story changes almost every time; but in the case of The Chronicles of Nick you get the same basic cast. Yeah, a few are added and taken away here and there, but the people you know and enjoy stick around a bit longer.

At first I was a little bit surprised at the length of the book (short…), but I have a tendency to forget that it’s a Young Adult novel, which makes the length even more appropriate. And then I listened to it….and found that the book contained many teenage angst monologues and pep talks and feel good verbiage. Was I missing this before?? I don’t know, but I felt like it was lathered on rather thick this round. At one point the book even sounded as if it was doing the, “here’s the good feeling wrap up for the end of the book” thing that books sometimes do…when they aren’t going to end in a dramatic cliffhanger, and when I looked at my iPhone, I realized there was still almost 2 hours left in the audiobook. Whoops!

I am anxious to find out what is going to happen with Nick. The will he or won’t he turn big, bad, and evil?? What I love about this though, is no matter the ending (and I have an idea of how I think it’s going to turn out), Nick has so many layers, which is explained in Infamous, that even though Nick may “change his story,” all of Sherrilyn’s other books still stand and are an accurate account of that version of Nick. I love complicated layers in books, especially series like this one, it makes them much more interesting!

So yes, I found the book a little bit slow at times, however that does not take away from my general love of this series. I love the characters, I love the action, I love the pace of Nick and Cody’s relationship. I’m looking forward to more….