Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge: The Witch of Belladonna Bay: A Novel by Suzanne Palmieri

View the challenge details HERE


It’s the trouble you aren’t expecting that gets you. And it’s all around you, Bronwyn, it’s all around you like the air.…Bronwyn "BitsyWyn" Whalen hasn’t set eyes on the red dirt of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, for fourteen years—not since her mama died. But with her brother, Patrick, imprisoned for the murder of her childhood best friend, and her eccentric father, Jackson, at his wits’ end while her eleven-year-old niece, Byrd, runs wild, Bronwyn finds herself once again surrounded by ancient magnolia trees and the troubled family she left behind. She becomes immersed in a whirlwind of mystery and magic as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful night her friend died. And as her bond with Byrd deepens, Bronwyn must face the demons of her past in order to unravel her family’s uncertain future.In Suzanne Palmieri's thrilling new novel, The Witch of Belladonna Bay, readers will learn if love and magic are enough to bring a broken family back together.


This is a story of intrigue, magic and who dun-it.  Suzanne Palmieri did a wonderful job with all the twists and turns in the story line.  There were definitely a few surprises along the way.  I loved the way the characters were brought to life and how you could feel the southern charm through out the book.  I recommend this book, its a great read.  I give it 4 stars.


Suzanne PalmieriSUZANNE PALMIERI is the author of The Witch of Little Italy and the forthcoming The Witch of Belladonna Bay (May, 2014). She is also the co-author of I'll Be Seeing You and Empire Girls under the name Suzanne Hayes. She lives by the ocean with her husband and three darling witches. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.


Praise for the Book: 
"Suzanne Palmieri has crafted a riveting tale that will keep you up late at night guessing what will happen next. It is a story that will intrigue both male and female readers. Guys, don't let this one slip past you."—Jason Mott, New York Times bestselling author of The Returned 
"Ms. Palmieri's authentic dialogue, and ability to paint a family in crisis, is both charming and layered. If you're a lover of Southern fiction, magic in its many forms, and the kind of storytelling that keeps you turning the pages, you've come to the right place, y'all."—Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark 
"Murder, mystery and magic meld in a novel of absolute enchantment. About the lies we tell, the love we struggle for, and the way we find our way back to our rightful place in the world, Palmieri's book is a stunner."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow 
"Magic weaves its way through this beguiling southern gothic, swirling from the moss-laden trees around the Big House through the misty and menacing Belladonna Bay, and settling into the hearts of Bronwyn and her niece, Byrd, whose Strange Ways most people just don’t understand. Reminiscent of 
Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, this bewitching tale of ghostly mystery, love and family ties will enchant you from the very first page and linger in the air around you long after the last."— Wendy Webb, bestselling author of The Fate of Mercy Alban  

Connect with the author: 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke


YOUR PERFECT LIFE (Washington Square Press/Atria; June 10, 2014).  It’s a witty, honest, and touching novel by lifelong friends and co-authors, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, that explores the nature of friendship, jealousy, and unexpected second chances.  

With “a delicious, page-turning premise, and sweet and surprising insights” (New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster), Your Perfect Life perfectly illustrates that old adage: Sometimes, you to have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see what’s in her heart.

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn't lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of Me. Your Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn't know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own.

Liz FentonLisa Steinke

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

( and have been best friends for 25 years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

Your Perfect Life is not only hilarious, but thought provoking as well!!!  Why do we always think the grass is greener on the other side?  Why do we let life get in the way of friendships, fun and just living?  Your Perfect Life is a culmination of all these situations and creates a story about paving your own path, creating your own happiness and empowering yourself in everything you do.  I think that Fenton and Steinke voices and writing are beautifully matched and this story flowed so well you would never know two writers were sharing the pen. 4.5 stars

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Highlight: Footprints by John A. Autero

Book Description

 March 14, 2014
Scott Hrdinsky and his Uncle Joe live on a quiet farm in rural America in the not too distant future. When Scott was eight years old, he received a unique dog named Dozer as a gift from a family friend. When Dozer, a cross breed of an android and a cybernetic organism, fails to wake up one morning, Scott and Uncle Joe embark on a secret mission to save him. Scott and Uncle Joe end up in a tactical, science fiction adventure as they confront Commander Manson Kurse, the supreme leader of the Lancaster Science and Research Facility. Throughout the mission, Scott’s eyes are opened to the covert activities and governmental conspiracies that are hidden in plain sight all around him. Mentored by Uncle Joe, Scott learns to cope with the circumstances in his life and comes to the realization of what is really most important. “Footprints” is a story that twists you around and around and deposits you in the most unexpected place.

Image of John A. AuteroJohn A. Autero is the author of "Footprints", a tactical science fiction adventure set in the not too distant future. An engineer by education, John employs a technical style of writing that combines existing technologies with those that are yet to be developed. John enjoys anything sci-fi, automotive, heavy metal and ballistic. Always a fan of government conspiracies and black-ops, stories like "The Terminator" and "The X-Files" are always on his list of favorites. John was born in the United States and has spent his entire life there, where he happily lives with his wife and pets.

Highlight: Elsker (The Elsker Saga) by ST Bende


Title: The Elsker Saga: Elsker

Author: ST Bende 

Genre: New Adult (sweet) Paranormal Romance -- the book features 18-22 year old gods (and the humans who love them), but doesn't have any explicit nookie. I hope this is okay.

Blurb: You don't win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn't exactly what she was expecting. He's an honest to goodness Norse God - an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia's crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms. Her orderly life just got very messy.

Highlight: Written in Hell by Jason Helford


Book Description:
Written in Hell follows writer Nathanial Blovey on his strange and perilous adventures through Hell.  Nathaniel’s book, a collection of lewd tales set in the old west, failed miserably, prematurely ending his career; however, unbeknownst to him, his stories had become a huge success in Hell.  The Devil decides to send him a one-way invitation to her realm, to write for her, and to keep his damned fans happy.  There is only one problem: he has writer’s block.  With a firm deadline imposed by the Devil herself, Nate has to find a way to keep the most terrible of bosses happy, and survive his trip through Hell.  While there is no fire and brimstone, and a burgeoning civilization is growing, Hell is still a very dangerous place for a soft man like Nathaniel.
Written in Hell is a creepy, fun and thought-provoking journey through Hell, with a guide who can’t help but anger people everywhere he goes.  It takes you through a new and creative re-imagining of Hell.
Author Bio:
Jason Helford has written two books: Written in Hell and From a Killer’s Mind. He’s a devoted husband and father, an avid comic book collector and an enthusiastic craft beer drinker. Prizing originality and creativity more than anything else, some of his favorite authors are Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Robert Asprin and Albert Camus. Please don’t be offended if you are an author and your name wasn’t mentioned, he probably likes you, too. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Bella, his daughter, Maddie, and his goofy dog, Sunset.
Kirkus Review:
Available on:
Amazon Kindle:

Search for "Written in Hell" in the iBookstore

Mandy's Review Round-Up



Haunted by the girl he couldn't save in his youth, and the murder he committed to avenge her, Detective Track Presius has a unique gift: the vision and sense of smell of a predator. When a series of apparently unrelated murders reel him into the depths of genetic research, Track feels more than a call to duty. Children are dying, children who, like himself, could have been healthy, and yet something, at some point, went terribly wrong. For Track, saving the innocent becomes a quest for redemption. The only way he can come to terms with his dark past is to understand his true nature.

Mandy's Review:

This is a fast paced book, and a quick read. If you like mysteries with a little bit of science fiction mixed in then this is the book for you.  The story was well written and kept the reader entertained.  I loved the mix of police detective and science all wrapped in the story.  You can't help but love Track through out the book.  I definitely recommend this book.  I give it 4 stars.


Thirty-something daydreamer Sophie has been single for three years after the man she’d planned on spending her life with abandoned her and their young son just months before their wedding. With her boy to raise, impossible manager to keep happy, household to run and an ex who lives down the road meeting a new man wasn’t even on her radar. 
When the invite arrives for her successful sister’s wedding it reminds her of her single status and makes feelings rise to the surface that Sophie had been successfully bottling for the previous three years. Addressed to her and her ‘Plus One’ it prompts her, with some encouragement from her friends, to embark on a year of dating and she finds that there really are plenty more fish in the sea- but not many that she wants to catch. 
A year later, after numerous dates and encounters with the opposite sex and with her self-esteem being at an all-time low she decides to give up her fruitless quest and get on with life as she was before. Maybe her dream of a fairy tale ending was too optimistic second time around. 

Mandy's Review:

Sophie has been single for three years and decided it was time to get back out there before her sister's wedding.  What follows is a tale of her adventures in the dating field.  This is a funny and entertaining read.  Elizabeth Bell is a wonderful writer who knows how to keep the story flowing.  This is a great summer read.  I give it 4 stars.



Richard North has worked his way up the career CIA ladder; Washington insiders expect his nomination as the next Director. However, an unexpected influence in the White House derails his nomination igniting his narcissistic tendencies resulting in a web of deceit. North’s grandiose revenge strategies result in misdirection, murder and the threat of World War III. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Jack Landis, a decorated Navy Seal, comes out of retirement to join a CIA special ops mission and finds himself in the middle of the web of deceit. He has to rely on his training, experience and instincts to save a good friend, his lover and thwart Armageddon. Jack partners with unlikely allies as he races against time to cut through the labyrinth of deception in an attempt to uncover the truth. 

The story begins with the demise of Osama bin Laden as never been told and details a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. This sophisticated plot includes characters from the White House, Russia and the Jihad community. This page turner will have the reader asking them self, ‘could this really happen?’

Mandy's Review

Who doesn't love a good spy mystery.  This is one of the better books I have read in a long time.  It is full of good guys, a nasty villain, deceit, and good ole fashion espionage.  Mitchell Stevens wrote a marvelous book that hooked me from the very beginning.  I could not put the book down it was so good.  I am a huge fan and can not wait until the next book comes along. This is a must read book.  I give it 5 stars.



There is no such thing as neutral.

According to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, one out of every four students is bullied--and 85% of these situations never receive intervention. Parents, students, and teachers alike have amped up the discussion of how to solve the bullying problem for a networked generation of kids.

Written by bestselling author, Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character's point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. Each girl has a different personality so that every reader can find a character she relates to. The books, based on Scripture, show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for kids.

"So Not Okay "tells the story of Tori Taylor, a quiet sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School in Grass Valley, California. Tori knows to stay out of the way of Kylie, the queen bee of GCMS. When an awkward new student named Ginger becomes Kylie's new target, Tori whispers a prayer of thanks that it's not her. But as Kylie's bullying of Ginger continues to build, Tori feels guilty and tries to be kind to Ginger. Pretty soon, the bullying line of fire directed toward Ginger starts deflecting onto Tori, who must decide if she and her friends can befriend Ginger and withstand Kylie's taunts, or do nothing and resume their status quo. Tori's decision dramatically changes her trajectory for the rest of the school year.

Features & Benefits: Book #1 in a new middle grade fiction series for tween girlsBullying is "the" topic of awareness in schools and the mediaSeries will tell the story in three different perspectives: the bully, the victim, and the bystander"So Not Okay" tells the story of the bystander, a role in which many tweens find themselves.

Mandy's Review:

This is the first book in a trilogy that addresses bullying in the tween realm of life.  Each of the books is from a different point of view.  This book is from the bystanders point of view.  This is a good book for tweens and adults to read.  It brings to light the way we all see things differently and how a simple decision can change your life and those around you.  I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it.  I am planning on giving it to my own daughter to read.  I give it 4 stars.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf


In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences...

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity;the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.


Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden, One Breath Away and Little Mercies.
Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.
Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.
Heather lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her next novel.

Gunderkauf has, yet again, written a book that moved me to tears through her honest voice, keen perspective of relationships in various forms and gripping, intense and heartbreaking truth with characters that I not only related to, but also felt in my bones.  Gunderkauf also highlights the little mercies that make each day a blessing.  It is Gunderkauf's ability to create stories that balance the blessing and the curses of life that make her a favorite writer of mine.  Life is filled with ups and downs, and Gunderkauf writes reality wrapped stories.  This novel was emotional because it cuts to the core of humanity and our desire to attempt to do right when the world seems so wrong.  I highly recommend this novel to ALL and rate it 5 stars!!!!


Little Mercies
Little MerciesVeteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity– the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife.But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. {Read more}

Little Lies – A Novella Little LiesNEWWhen the body of a woman is discovered in a local park, veteran social worker Ellen Moore is called in to assist in the investigation. Police found the woman beneath the statue of Leto, goddess of motherhood, with her bewildered four-year-old son sitting beside her. And it isn’t long before Ellen connects the case to a similar one from a decade past.
Ellen’s professional duty is to protect the child, but she’s not equipped to contend with a killer. As she races to connect the dots, she knows her time is running out. And the stakes are high: If she fails, another mother is sure to make the ultimate sacrifice. {Read more}

The Weight of SilenceThe Weight of SilenceSeven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by a tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. {Read more}

These Things Hidden
These Things Hidden
Allison Glenn tried to hide what happened that night…and failed. The consequence? Five years in prison. Now she’s free. But secrets have a way of keeping you caged…{Read more}

One Breath Away
One Breath Away
In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits. {Read more}

Heather’s books are published by Harlequin.

Running Press Review Round-Up: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell and How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker


Full of irreverent wit, biting sarcasm, and difficult honesty, Bethany Crandell’s debut, SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS (April 2014), explores what happens when we are stripped of our former identities and forced into new situations that make us feel awkward in our own skin. 

Cricket Montgomery, the spoiled, Versace-clad main character of Crandell’s book, is sent off to work as a camp counselor for the summer. Unbeknownst to her, it is a camp for teens with special needs, and Cricket is anything but happy. In the coming weeks, she’ll face challenges that never even scratched the surface of her pampered life at home. It will be a summer of firsts for Cricket. From the discovery that she can actually get by in a world without Vuitton bags and infinity-edge country club pools, to the realization that she may truly care about Claire, Meredith, and the other young campers. And with the help of her cute co-counselor Quinn, whom she seems to be having her first real romance with, she may be able to survive the summer after all.

With Cricket Montgomery, you get a young person who isn’t afraid to be real and say exactly what is on her mind, even if some of the words that come out of her mouth make you cringe. Bethany Crandell lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters, one of whom is “differently-abled.” “My eight-year-old daughter, Rebecca (Becca), has cerebral palsy, says Bethany, “and in her short lifetime, I’ve already seen it all, heard it all, and at times thought it all, when it comes to the obvious differences between her and her typically-developing peers. The story was loosely inspired by my relationship with Becca, and my personal journey to understanding and accepting her disability.” You can visit her at or follow her on Twitter @bethanycrandell.

Summer on the Short Bus is a humorous and harshly honest and non PC story that causes the reader to reevaluate not only themselves, but also our perception of others.  3 stars


Ken Baker’s HOW I GOT SKINNY, FAMOUS, AND FELL MADLY IN LOVE (May 2014), takes readers on a different kind of journey of self-discovery, with brutal honesty and charming wit.

Sixteen-year-old Emery feels out of place in her model Californian family; Emery is, according to her doctor, more than fifty pounds overweight. After discovering her family may lose their house through a foreclosure letter, Emery agrees to take part in a reality show that will win her family one million dollars if she can lose fifty pounds in fifty days. Her aptly named show, Fifty Pounds to Freedom, puts Emery through rigorous workouts, strict diets, and a whole bunch of crippling anxiety that raises questions about family, truth, and freedom. Emery begins to shed fatand the ownership she once had over her body as her personal life spirals out of control. Uncovering secrets about beauty, love, and fame, Emery sets herself free by making the choice to reclaim her identity as the person she wants to be.

The cultural obsession with perfection makes it easy to let the expectations and pressures of society make our decisions for us; Emery’s journey will resonate deeply as she fights to stay sane in a world that believes that losing fifty pounds really can buy happiness.

As an E! News Correspondent, author Ken Baker has seen the harsh realities of fame & reality TV, and not just through interviews. Ken’s appeared on several episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and has known many people who have gone on reality shows, including his fellow E! News correspondents Ali Fedotowsky and Giuliana Rancic. He’s basically seen the good, the bad and the ugly along the way. You can follow Ken Baker on Twitter at @kenbakernow.

HOW I GOT SKINNY, FAMOUS, AND FELL MADLY IN LOVE is funny and smart, with a main character that you could not help but love.  Authentic in the tone, tempo and voice and remarkably believable!  A great read for summer!!!! 3.5 stars

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: FaceOff By Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, Dennis Lehane, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, James Rollins, Joseph Finder, Steve Martini, Heather Graham, Ian Rankin, Linda Fairstein, M. J. Rose, R.L. Stine, Raymond Khoury, Linwood Barclay, John Lescroart, T. Jefferson Parker, F. Paul Wilson and Peter James


Ever wonder who would win in a fight if the most popular thriller characters were paired against their most worthy opponents? Would you bet on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher or Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller, or even Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie over Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch?

For the first time ever, fans will know who comes out victorious in FACEOFF (Simon & Schuster; June 3, 2014; $26.99), an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers. But just when you think you know what happens, FACEOFF will keep you guessing throughout these eleven electrifying stories. FACEOFF is star-studded and is sure to be a fan favorite.

·Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie vs. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch
·Ian Rankin’s John Rebus vs. Peter James’s Roy Grace
·R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Aloysius Pendergast
·M.J. Rose’s Malachai Samuels vs. Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren
·Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani vs. Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper
·Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme vs. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport
·Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn vs. F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack
·Raymond Khoury’s Sean Reilly vs. Linwood Barclay’s Glen Garber
·John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt vs. T. Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona
·Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone vs. James Rollins’s Gray Pierce
·Lee Child’s Jack Reacher vs. Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller

This book is AMAZING!  I have read several of the stories and it creates a craving to read the authors other works.  I have to say that this is a genius idea.  I am a total booknerd and I just adored this book.  I love the short stories, they allow a sampling of the authors works.  It also allows the reader to pick it up for short bits and to be pulled into numerous worlds with numerous characters.  I have to say that I may have increased my TO BE READ pile by a lot.  I loved the pace of the stories, they are written to create an intense connection in a short amount of time.  I can't say enough how much I love this book!  Grab it today!  A must for the beach this summer!!!  5 stars!

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