Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Summary

August Summary 

  1. The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer - read 8/1/10
  2. Freefall by Mindi Scott - read 8/2/10
  3. Matched by Ally Condie - read 8/3/10 
  4. Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs - read 8/4/10 
  5. Chill of the Night by James Hayman - read 8/5/10
  6. Evermore by Alyson Noel - read 8/7/10
  7. Spells by Aprilynne Pike - read 8/8/10
  8. Catwalk by Melody Carlson - read 8/8/10 
  9. Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner - read 8/11/10 
  10. Firelight by Sophie Jordan - read 8/13/10
  11. The Candidates by Inara Scott - read 8/15/10
  12. Inner Circle by Kate Brian - read 8/16/10 
  13. The Phantom Diaries by Kailin Gow - read 8/17/10
  14. Legacy by Kate Brian - read 8/18/10
  15. What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader by Adrianne Ambrose - read 8/20/10
  16. Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs - read 8/20/10 
  17. Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis  - read 8/24/10 
  18. Chasing Brooklyn - read 8/25/10 
  19. Ashes to Water by Irene Ziegler - read 8/26/10
  20. The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay - read 8/27/10
  21. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford - read 8/29/10
  22. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - read 8/29/10 
  23. Manifest by Artist Arthur - read 8/31/10 
Review books:17
Library Books:5
Books from my bookshelf: 1

Favorite of the month: 

Progress in Challenges: 
So how was your reading month?

Book Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan


Firelight by Sophie Jordan (Draki Book #1)
Publisher:Harper Collins
Publish Date: September 14, 2010
Hardcover, 336 pages
Young Adult Paranormal

My Review:
Why I read this: I was fascinated by the premise.  Draki are different from the typical werewolves and vampires so I wanted to see what Ms. Jordan did with this book.

How is the novel driven:  Tough call, there are events, but I think the characters and learning about Jacinda and Will and the others in their groups is what really drives the novel.

My thoughts:  Wow.  That's pretty much it in a nutshell.  I was fascinated by this book and had a hard time putting it down.  I loved seeing a new world, one inhabited by Draki.  Jacinda made a fascinating character.  She is very desired by her group to be joined with the alpha male of the group soon because of her special skills, but when she makes a mistake one day and her mother learns of what the group plans to do to her, her mother takes Jacinda and her sister and goes on the run.  Now Jacinda has to fit in at a regular high school and be a regular girl.  But she doesn't want that.  She doesn't want to lose the Draki part of her and being away from her group will do that.

Enter Will.  It's kind of like Romeo and Juliet.  Will's family hunts Jacinda's kind and though Will isn't really into it, the connection between the two of them can spell danger for Jacinda and others.

Ms. Jordan does a beautiful job of weaving the world-building with the story in this book.  I was fascinated by the characters and the Draki and the story kept moving at a great pace to keep me intrigued throughout.  The ending was satisfying, but has me looking forward to the next book.  If you are looking for something a little different in the paranormal YA fiction genre, then Firelight is the book for you.

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

About the Book:
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.
About the Author:
Sophie Jordan grew up on a pecan farm in the Texas hill country, where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she's also the New York Times bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she's not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler.

Her Website

FTC Information: I received this book through Book It Forward Tours for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CSN Stores - Corelle dishes, serving bowls, glassware and so much more

I love dishes, dinnerware and serving bowls.  My first dinnerware when my husband and I got married was Corelle and we both loved it.  We still have it and look forward to a day when we can redo the kitchen of our house so we can use it again.  CSN Stores has a wonderful selection of Corelle products that are great for any home and great for wedding gifts.  I know a nice set of bowls, a dinnerware set or glassware make a great wedding gift.  And Corelle has so much more as well. 

I like these dishes, I like the simple and they would actually go with my kitchen now:

The bolder me loves these:

Need some new glassware, Corelle has this as well.  These really strike me.

And of course the wonderful Canisters - I could really use some new canisters.

So check out what CSN Stores has to offer in Corelle and come back soon to check out my review of a CSN Stores product, but for now I'm off to dream about new dishes :)

Also CSN Stores has much more to offer in their more than 200 stores, so check them out, you are sure to find something that you are looking for.

What are you Reading Monday - August 30

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and join in!

Books Completed Last Week 
Reading Now:
  • Definitely Dead (audible on my Kindle)
  • Tough Customer by Sandra Brown (audiobook in car)
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (audiobook at work)
  • Manifest by Artist Arthur (review)
  • She's Gone Country by Jane Porter
  • Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
  • God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein
  • Personal Demons by Lisa Derochers
Reviews completed this week (books read before this week):

Other books still need to review:
  • Wings by Aprilynne Pike (library) 
  • The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (mine)  
  • The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (audiobook)
  • A Change of Heart by Shari Mauer (review) 
  • Matched by Ally Condie (review)
  • Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs (audiobook) 
  • Evermore by Alyson Noel (library)  
  • Spells by Aprylynne Pike (library) 
  • Firelight by Sophie Jordan (review)
  • The Candidates: Delacroix Academy by Inara Scott (review) 
Summary -

So school has started and it feels good to get back to a regular schedule.  However my body was not quite prepared for 14+ hour days (get up at 5:30, workout, shower, cook breakfast, pack lunches, take kids to school, work 8+ hours, pick kids up, get home, prepare for next day, cook and eat supper, bathe kids).  Whew - it's been exhausting.  But both kids are liking school and the hubby has been helping by cooking.  He even let me get a nap the other night and woke me up when supper was ready - what a sweetie!  So my reading time has lessened a little, but the quality of my reading was great this week.   And you know what - most of the books were by little known authors.  There are some really astounding authors out there and I am so lucky that I am on the tours for their books.  I now have several new-to-me must read authors!

Best of the week:  Ashes to Water by Irene Ziegler - it's great, suspenseful, great characters and well thought out.  Make sure you check out this author.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Review: The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

The Perfect Family

The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publish Date: September 14, 2010 (Amazon says it will have in stock August 30)
Paperback, 264 Pages

My Review:

Why I read this book: I love participating in Pump Up Your Books book tours and when I saw Kathryn Shay's name as one of the authors I really wanted to be a part.  I've read at least 3 of her books and enjoyed all of them and thought this book sounded interesting.

How is this book driven: Character all the way - the events are important, but what the characters do and go through is pivotal to the book.

My Thoughts:  The Perfect Family is a very impressive endeavor on Ms. Shay's part.  She has taken a subject that everyone knows about and most everyone has an opinion on, homosexuality and worked it out from all sides.  What would it be like for you as the mother of a son who figures out that he is gay and doesn't want to hide it?  What about for the father who is a strong proponent of the Catholic Church?.  What about the virile, attractive older brother who is a jock?  What about the boy himself and friends and other family members?  The amazing thing is Ms. Shay handles this with grace without portraying anyone as a bad guy (well except for a few true bigots in the story).  But most of the main characters aren't really sure what they should feel and fall into that gray area that I believe most of us are in.

First I should state I am a Christian, but I found Ms. Shay's book very thought-provoking and eye-opening.  I am one of those who truly believes we should love everyone so I really felt for Jaime in this book.  I felt for most of the main characters.  Ms. Shay did a great job developing the characters so they were multi-dimensional and their struggles felt very real.  I honestly felt I was alongside of each one going through the feelings with them.  They storyline grabbed me and didn't let me go.

I didn't feel like an agenda was being forced on me with this book either, I really felt it was there as a book to read and enjoy and maybe educate a little on the subject of loving those who are homosexuals and accepting them as part of society, not ostracizing them.  It is an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking book.

The character I could most relate to was obviously the mother, Maggie, as I think most moms and most women can.  All she wants is everyone around here to be happy and she thinks she's the key to doing that.  What mom or woman doesn't think that?  I am struggling with it myself.  But the truth is one person cannot make the whole family happy, they all have to work together to do it.  I could also see Michael's point-of-view.  I am not Catholic, but the Methodist Church shares a lot of the same views, but I love that he was a balance, he struggled and was not a characterization of a heavy-handed Christian.  It was a struggle for him to take his beliefs and form them in with his life and the fact that his son was gay.

I just can't say enough about this book.  If you enjoy thought-provoking fiction along the lines of Jodi Picoult I think this is a book for you.  It's an amazing read and one I found hard to put down.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

For more information on Kathryn Shay and this book, please see my tour post here.

FTC Information: I received this book from Pump Up Your Book Promotions for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Book Tour and Review: The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

The Perfect Family
Join Kathryn Shay, author of the women’s mainstream fiction novel, The Perfect Family (Boldstrokes Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in August & September ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

*****My review will be coming later today.*****

About Kathryn Shay

Kathryn Shay is a lifelong writer. At fifteen, she penned her first ‘romance,’ a short story about a female newspaper reporter in New York City and her fight to make a name for herself in a world of male journalists – and with one hardheaded editor in particular. Looking back, Kathryn says she should have known then that writing was in her future. But as so often happens, fate sent her detouring down another path.
Kathryn ShayFully intending to pursue her dream of big city lights and success in the literary world, Kathryn took every creative writing class available at the small private women’s college she attended in upstate New York. Instead, other dreams took precedence. She met and subsequently married a wonderful guy who’d attended a neighboring school, then completed her practice teaching, a requirement for the education degree she never intended to use. But says Kathryn, “I fell in love with teaching the first day I was up in front of a class, and knew I was meant to do that.”
Kathryn went on to build a successful career in the New York state school system, thoroughly enjoying her work with adolescents. But by the early 1990s, she’d again made room in her life for writing. It was then that she submitted her first manuscript to publishers and agents. Despite enduring two years of rejections, she persevered. And on a snowy December afternoon in 1994, Kathryn Shay sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance.
Since that first sale, Kathryn has written twenty-five books for Harlequin, nine mainstream contemporary romances for the Berkley Publishing Group, and two online novellas, which Berkley then published in traditional print format. Her first mainstream fiction book will be out from Bold Strokes Books in September, 2010
Kathryn has become known for her powerful characterizations – readers say they feel they know the people in her books – and her heart-wrenching, emotional writing (her favorite comments are that fans cried while reading her books or stayed up late to finish them). In testament to her skill, the author has won five RT BookClub Magazine Reviewers Choice Awards, three Holt Medallions, two Desert Quill Awards, the Golden Leaf Award, and several online accolades.
Even in light of her writing success, that initial love of teaching never wavered for Kathryn. She finished out her teaching career in 2004, retiring from the same school where her career began. These days, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. “My life is very full,” she reports, “but very happy. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue and achieve my dreams.”
You can visit Kathryn’s website at www.kathrynshay.com.

About The Perfect Family

The Perfect FamilyIn THE PERFECT FAMILY, seventeen-year old Jamie Davidson doesn’t think being gay should be such a big deal…until he comes out to his parents and friends. Even as Jamie celebrates no longer needing to hide his true self and looks forward to the excitement of openly dating another boy, the entire Davidson family is thrown into turmoil.
Jamie’s father Mike can’t reconcile his religious beliefs with his son’s sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage.  And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused.
What happens in their small town community, in the high school, in two churches–one supportive and one not—as well as among friends and relatives is vividly portrayed. Finally, every member of their “perfect family” must search their hearts and souls to reconnect with each other in this honest, heartwarming, and hopeful look at the redemptive power of love and family.

Read the Excerpt!

Maggie heard Jamie come into the laundry room, where she was trying to make headway with the family’s clothes. Turning, she saw him drop to sit on the step and got a look at his face. “You all right, honey?”
“Yeah.” Jamie gave her a fake smile. “I gotta talk to you.”
Her pulse rate sped up. Good news never followed that statement. She set the shirt on the washing machine and leaned against it. “Shoot.”
“I have a date Friday night.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?”
“I think so.” His gaze locked with hers. “I hope you do, too.”
“Of course I do. Can we meet her?”
“It’s not a her, Mom. It’s a him.”
“A him?” She stared at her son blankly. The sound of the refrigerator across the room, the ticking of the clock on the wall seemed unnaturally loud. When realization hit, her mother’s heart tightened in her chest. “You have a date with a boy.”
A long pause. “It’s okay, isn’t it?”
Please God let me handle this right. After a moment of speechlessness, she said, “O-of course it is.”
Jamie’s fingers tightened on their dog Buck’s collar. Suddenly, her son seemed smaller, more fragile in his jeans and sweatshirt.
Maggie crossed to him, knelt down and took both of his hands in hers. His were freezing cold. “Honey, you know there’s nothing you could ever tell me, ever do or feel that would make me love you less.”
A frown. “Yeah, I know that.”
Well, she’d done this right. At least he knew her love was unconditional. But oh my God…the ramifications of his admission were far reaching.
“I just…I don’t want this to make you sad. Especially now that you’re so happy about Aunt Caroline.” He glanced down at the linoleum, then back to her again. “Are you upset?”
“That you’re gay?”
You have no idea. “No, honey. I love you for who you are.”
“Do you feel bad?”
How honest could she be? With Jamie and herself?
“Only that you didn’t tell me sooner.” Not quite the whole truth, but part of it. The easier part. Again, she thought of all they’d shared. Yet, dear Lord, he hadn’t told her something so vital to who he was. The notion made her stomach cramp.
“There wasn’t any need to tell you. I never wanted to date before. Now I do, which is why I said something today.”
“I guess I can accept that.” Later, she knew, his withholding would haunt her. Pushing away the selfish thought, she cleared her throat. “Does anybody else know?”
His expression was wry. “The guy I’m going on a date with.”
“Who is it?”
“Luke Crane.”
Her jaw dropped open. “Luke Crane? Your brother’s teammate?”
“Ma,” he said, sounding like the adult in the situation. “One out of every ten people is gay.”
She’d knew the stats, had brushed up on them for a section of Psyche 102 she taught.
“Even jocks.”
“I know. I never suspected it about him, though.”
“Did you, about me?”
Maggie had had some concerns. Once or twice she’d brought them up to Mike. The discussion always upset him, so she kept her worry to herself. One night, though, over a bottle of Merlot, she’d confessed her fears about her son to her best friend Gretta. She’d sensed all along Jamie was different, but in the end she decided the best course of action was to let Jamie tell her when he was ready. “I had some suspicions, Jame.”
“Why? Because there were no girls in the picture?”
And because he’d been interested in theater, and then started hanging out with a group from the plays. Paul and Nick were gay, she knew from Jamie himself. Also, Jamie had no desire to participate in sports beyond a brief stint at diving. Stereotypical thinking, which embarrassed her, but it had been there nonetheless.
Maggie moved to sit next to her son on the step. Buck compensated by lying at their feet. “Does Brian know? About you or Luke?”
“Did you tell any of your friends? Julianne?”
“No, definitely not her. She’s so right wing Christian, Mom, I can’t talk to her anymore. Especially about something like this.”
“I’m sorry.” Maggie knew she shouldn’t ask, but like prodding a toothache with your tongue, or taking off a Band-Aid to check a wound, she couldn’t leave this alone. “Did you talk to an adult, honey?”
“Um, yeah. Ms. Carson.”
A sudden prick of tears, which she mercilessly battled back. He’d told another grown woman and not his mother. “H-has she helped you?”
“Yeah. A lot.”
“That’s good.”
“Luke and I aren’t gonna hide being together, Mom. We’re not gonna broadcast our dating either, but kids will find out.”
She groped around her mind for the mother role, one she usually fell into so easily. “How close are you two, Jamie?”
“We’ve been hanging out since the Valentine’s Dance. We got to be friends, then it turned into more.”
“Are you happy?”
He nodded. “My first boyfriend.” His expression turned sappy and Maggie’s heart ached and rejoiced at the same time. Then anger took over–that he’d been deprived of this normal adolescent feeling for so long. “It’s fun, Mom.”
“Good for you, honey.”
They talked about the times Jamie had seen Luke and his giddy feeling was even more evident, making it easier not to think about all he hadn’t shared with her.
After a half-hour, she glanced at the clock. Mike would be home soon. So she was forced to bring up the mechanics of dealing with what Jamie told her. “How do you plan to handle this at home? With the family?”
“Brian’s gotta know before anybody at school finds out. I’ll tell him. You tell Dad.”
Which they both knew would be the hardest part of all this.
Mike’s love for his son was deep. But how on God’s earth was he ever going to reconcile Jamie’s homosexuality with the Catholic religion? He was so single-minded about the church. The thought of how his attitude would influence this huge benchmark in their lives terrified Maggie. She squeezed Jamie’s arm and left her hand there, more for herself than him. “Dad will want to talk to you about all this.”
“I know.”
“What about the rest of the family?”
Since he was a baby, Jamie always got this certain expression on his face when he was troubled. Maggie could read it like a neon sign. “No.”
“I don’t want to announce to anyone I’m gay, Mom.”
“What does that mean?”
“That I’m a son, a brother, a friend and an actor, not just a gay man.”
“I understand that.”
“And you didn’t feel the need to announce to anybody that Brian’s straight, did you?”
How wise he was for sixteen. Of course, he’d had time to think this out. And she was still reeling about the effect his disclosure would have on Mike. On all their lives.
“All right. I can abide by that wish, until it’s time for people to know.”
Like Brian’s graduation party, a few months away, if Jamie decided to bring Luke as his date. There were several possibly homophobic people in their lives.
A half-grin from her son. “We’ll tell people on a need-to-know basis.” Standing, he reached out a hand to her. She took it and prayed he didn’t feel hers trembling. When she got to her feet, she hugged him. He held on longer than usual. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too.”
“Come on, Bucky,” he said to the dog, and they both disappeared down the hallway. She heard his feet pound on the steps, the bathroom door close and Buck bark at being left outside.
Dazed, Maggie picked up Mike’s shirt and stared down at it unseeingly. Her heart thudded in her chest as the ramifications of Jamie being gay flooded her. She picked up the stain spray to apply more to cuff, but dropped the can to the floor. Gripping the shirt to her chest, she swallowed hard.
“Stop it Maggie,” she said aloud. This wasn’t a tragedy. If Jamie had a terminal illness, or hit somebody while driving and killed them, or was into drugs that would be a tragedy. His sexual orientation was a simple fact of life.
Forcing herself to move, she put the white clothes in the washer, but random images bombarded her: Brian teasing Jamie about not having a girlfriend…Jamie’s dislike of proms… discussions about having kids, and Jamie saying he wanted some. She thought about Brigadoon. Her son was a boy who’d never experienced longing for the opposite sex but he always played the romantic, heterosexual lead in the plays he loved so much. What had that been like for him?
Her heart ached for her child—what he’d gone through alone, and what he would still go through, even in this day and age. In bigger cities, gay kids were more accepted, but Sherwood was different. And she knew the shattering statistics on gay teen suicide—three times higher than others in the age group.
After she closed the machine’s lid, she went to leave the laundry room, but instead, slid to the floor and wrapped her arms around her waist, trying to squelch her negative thoughts—like the wish to go back to how her life was an hour ago. Like the wish that…no, she wouldn’t even think about that. It took her a while but she won the battle and chose instead to figure out how she could help her son. And her husband.
With Buck at his heels, Jamie took the stairs two at a time. He catapulted into the bathroom, slammed the door and lowered the toilet seat. Dropping down onto it, he buried his face in his hands.
Breathe in, breathe out. Again. And again.
When his stomach settled and he didn’t feel like he was going to hurl, he stood and crossed to the sink in front of the mirror. He looked the same. Too skinny. Great hair, now that it was longer, normal nose. Eyes that, some cheerleader had told him, could get him into any girl’s pants. Showed how much she knew. But as he stared at his reflection, he sensed he wasn’t the same and never would be after what just happened in the laundry room.
He’d told her! Finally, after years of self-doubt that made him sick to his stomach, and when that passed, months of feeling like he was going to bust open from the inside if he didn’t let go of his secret, he found the courage to tell her. Luke’s last text message said, If you do, I will. They’d made a pact to approach both their mothers today.
But, oh God, he’d upset her, this woman who’d been the most important person in his life. He could see it in her face, always filled with gentle love and an acceptance most kids couldn’t fathom.
Typical of her, she’d tried to be brave. She said the right things. Yet he knew her almost as well as she knew him and what he’d revealed would cause her worry and pain. He’d pretended he was good, too, that he hadn’t had sleepless nights over who he was, hadn’t gone through stages of self-loathing and recriminations. He was, after all, an actor. And he had come out on the other side, had accepted who he was. Rejoiced in it, even. Finding Luke just brought it all together.
Still, this step was done. Finally, finally done.
After throwing some water on his face, Jamie opened the door and made his way to his own room. Flopping on the bed, with Buck leaping to the foot of it, he checked his text messages. None. He was dying to know how it went with Luke, who was scared shitless of his parents. But like Jamie, being gay had gotten too big to keep inside any more. It took too much energy to keep the door closed on a closet full of secrets. How would Luke’s Mom and Dad handle it? Would they explode, say awful things that could never be taken back? Luke feared the latter, and having gotten to know the Cranes in the last few weeks, Jamie expected the worst.
Linking his hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling, he thought about his mom again. She hadn’t said any of those awful things and she never would. She’d deal with his being gay and any problems that caused inside her and make his coming out easier for him. Yet Jamie wasn’t out of the woods. Brian would freak, and Jamie would have to smooth over not telling his brother sooner. But it was his Dad’s potential reaction that woke Jamie up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Because of the church he belonged to and the religion he embraced, his own father could reject him. His Dad might say those things he could never take back.
And Jamie didn’t know what he’d do if that happened.
Probably sensing tension in him, Buck barked and moved in to nuzzle him. Jamie petted the dog for a while, then grabbed his phone and sent a text saying, So, how’d it go telling your parents?
After a while there was a chime. I couldn’t do it, Jamie. Maybe we should both wait.
Jamie’s hand curled around the cell. “Now you tell me.”
Disappointment shot through him, harsh and acute. When he got past it, he messaged Luke that it was okay, he should wait until he was ready. But it wasn’t okay, really. The plan was to share the joy of coming out to their parents. He wanted to share everything with Luke.
“Shit!” he said aloud. Bolting up, he knew he had to get out what he was feeling, so he went to the desk, to his journal, which was the only place he’d been honest for months. Once again, he poured his heart out on the pages. Alone
I am alone in this.
I didn’t think I would be.
He promised he would tell.
It was too much for him.
Fear mixes with joy.
Joy colludes with hope.
Hope brings about expectation.
Was he wrong to have told all?
His real self speaks:
No, no, no.
It’s right. No matter what.
Right to be the person you are.
Isn’t it?

More Books by Kathryn (partial list):

Kathryn1Kathryn 2Kathryn 3Kathryn 4Kathryn 6Kathryn 7Kathryn 8Kathryn 9Kathryn 10Kathryn 12Kathryn 13Kathryn 14
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The Perfect Family Tour Schedule

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Monday, August 2
Book reviewed at Colloquium
Tuesday, August 3
Book reviewed at Always With a Book
Wednesday, August 4
Book spotlighted at Examiner
Friday, August 6
Book reviewed at Rundpinne
Monday, August 9
Book reviewed at Marta’s Meanderings
Tuesday, August 10
Interviewed at Literarily Speaking
Friday, August 13
Interviewed at Review From Here
Tuesday, August 17
Guest blogging at Susan Wiggs
Thursday, August 19
Interviewed at Personovelty
Friday, August 20
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Monday, August 23
Guest blogging at Writing Daze
Tuesday, August 24
Interviewed at A Book and a Chat Radio Show
Wednesday, August 25
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report
Thursday, August 26
Guest blogging at The Book Connection
Friday, August 27
Book reviewed at My Reading Room
Tuesday, September 7
Interviewed at Examiner
Wednesday, September 8
Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, September 9
Interviewed at Beyond the Books
Friday, September 10
Guest blogging at The Book Boost
Monday, September 13
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Tuesday, September 14
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Wednesday, September 15
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, September 16
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Monday, September 20
Guest blogging at Running with Quills
Book reviewed at Fictionary
Tuesday, September 21
Guest blogging at Gelati’s Scoop
Wednesday, September 22
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, September 23
Interviewed at Broowaha
Friday, September 24
Interviewed at Working Writers
Monday, September 27
Guest blogging at As the Pages Turn
Tuesday, September 28
Book reviewed at Fictionary
Thursday, September 30
Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Book reviewed at Write for a Reader

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Tour: The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Alonzo

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)
***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

My review coming soon.


Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Becky Alonzo never felt safe as a child. Although she lived next door to the church her father pastored, the devil lived across the street. This tormented man terrorized her family with rifle shots and ten bombings. When these violent acts didn't scare them away, he went even further. During dinner one evening, seven-year-old Becky and her younger brother watched as their parents were gunned down. Today Becky speaks about betrayal and the power of forgiveness. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and has been involved in ministry, including a church plant, youth outreach, and missions, for thirteen years. She and her husband, along with their two children, live in Franklin, Tennessee.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326599
ISBN-13: 978-1414326597


Walking, Crawling, Dead or Alive

I ran.

My bare feet pounding the pavement were burning from the sunbaked asphalt. Each contact between flesh and blacktop provoked bursts of pain as if I were stepping on broken glass. The deserted country road, stretching into the horizon, felt as if it were conspiring against me. No matter how hard I pushed myself, the safe place I was desperate to reach eluded me.

Still, I ran.

Had a thousand angry hornets been in pursuit, I couldn’t have run any faster. Daddy’s instructions had been simple: I had to be a big girl, run down the street as fast as my legs could carry me, and get help. There was nothing complicated about his request. Except for the fact that I’d have to abandon my hiding place under the kitchen table and risk being seen by the armed madman who had barricaded himself with two hostages in my bedroom down the hall. I knew, however, that ignoring Daddy’s plea was out of the question.

And so I ran.

Even though Daddy struggled to appear brave, the anguish in his eyes spoke volumes. Splotches of blood stained his shirt just below his right shoulder. The inky redness was as real as the fear gnawing at the edges of my heart. I wanted to be a big girl for the sake of my daddy. I really did. But the fear and chaos now clouding the air squeezed my lungs until my breathing burned within my chest.

My best intentions to get help were neutralized, at least at first. I remained hunkered down, unable to move, surrounded by the wooden legs of six kitchen chairs. I had no illusions that a flimsy 6 x 4 foot table would keep me safe, yet I was reluctant to leave what little protection it afforded me.

In that space of indecision, I wondered how I might open the storm door without drawing attention to myself. One squeak from those crusty hinges was sure to announce my departure plans. Closing the door without a bang against the frame was equally important. The stealth of a burglar was needed, only I wasn’t the bad guy.

Making no more sound than a leaf falling from a tree, I inched my way out from under the table. I stood and then scanned the room, left to right. I felt watched, although I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not hostile eyes were studying my movements. I inhaled the distinct yet unfamiliar smell of sulfur lingering in the air, a calling card left behind from the repeated blasts of a gun.

I willed myself to move.

My bare feet padded across the linoleum floor.

I was our family’s lifeline, our only connection to the outside world. While I hadn’t asked to be put in that position, I knew Daddy was depending on me. More than that, Daddy needed me to be strong. To act. To do what he was powerless to do. I could see that my daddy, a strong ex–Navy man, was incapable of the simplest movement. The man whom I loved more than life itself, whose massive arms daily swept me off my feet while swallowing me with an unmatched tenderness, couldn’t raise an arm to shoo a fly.

To see him so helpless frightened me.

Yes, Daddy was depending on me.

Conflicted at the sight of such vulnerability, I didn’t want to look at my daddy. Yet my love for him galvanized my resolve. I reached for the storm-door handle. Slow and steady, as if disarming a bomb, and allowing myself quick glances backward to monitor the threat level of a sudden ambush, I opened the storm door and stepped outside. With equal care, I nestled the metal door against its frame.

I had to run.

I shot out from under the carport, down the driveway, and turned right where concrete and asphalt met. The unthinkable events of the last five minutes replayed themselves like an endless-loop video in my mind. My eyes stung, painted with hot tears at the memory. Regardless of their age, no one should have to witness what I had just experienced in that house—let alone a seven-year-old girl. The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.

I had to keep running.

Although I couldn’t see any activity through the curtains framing my bedroom window, that didn’t mean the gunman wasn’t keeping a sharp eye on the street. I hesitated, but only for a moment more. What might happen gave way to what had happened. I had to get help. Now, almost frantic to reach my destination, I redoubled my efforts.

I ran on.

To get help for Momma and Daddy. To escape the gunman. To get away from all the threatening letters, the sniper gunshots, the menacing midnight phone calls, the home invasions—and the devil who seemed to be behind so many of them.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis

Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis
Publisher:Small Shifts Books and Media
Publish Date: July 19, 2010
Paperback, 129 pages
Children, 7-10 years old

My Review:
Why I read this: I was contacted by the author about an interview/tour and review.  The book sounded interesting and like something I might like to share with my son so I said yes. 

How is the novel driven:  Action/plot driven, there is some character development, but the action is what drives this book and that his how it should be for a book marketed to kids 7-11 years old.

My thoughts:  A clever and well-written children's story.  Great for boys and girls 7-11 years old (and older, I enjoyed it). 

Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is a fast-paced story about two elf girls and a cat.  The girls, Enna, Nissa and Mica the cat live on Atlantis and start out on adventure to help save one of the elder elves from their village.  It has a beautiful message of believing in yourself throughout the book.  I love the fact that Ms. McFadden does not have to try too hard to get that message across.  You know how some books really try and it ends up being cheesy (word from the 80s for you parents out there).  Elffolk does not do that.  The message is subtle and weaved into the story wonderfully.

I think this book will easily hold a child's attention.  It's only about 140 pages long, perfect for children.  And while reading it I was so intrigued I kept turning the pages to learn  more of Nissa, Enna and Mica.  I loved the girls and can't wait to learn more about them in future books, but Mica stole the show for me.  He was so typical for a cat.  If cats could communicate with us I believe Ms. McFadden knows exactly how they would act and speak.  I could envision him so perfectly with the different things he did, he really added to the story.

The world creation is wonderful, I loved hearing about the village and the elves as well as the surrounding areas.  The descriptions were well done and not over-done.  I never felt bogged down, but felt I could easily picture the world that Nissa, Enna and Mica were moving through and the various people/beings they encountered.

The ending of the book is great as well.  This chapter of their adventure is tied up neatly but there is strong hints of further adventures to come.  I know I will join in on these adventures when Ms. McFadden releases them.  I can't wait to read more of Enna, Nissa and Mica.

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Action-packed and highly imaginative, Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is a fantasy adventure novel for young readers. An easy, fast-paced read, it tells the story of Enna and Nissa in the mysterious crystal caves of legendary Atlantis. The book is sure to inspire the imagination of a generation of children with its tale of magic and mystery.

Thousands of years ago, on the island of Atlantis, there were signs of a coming disaster. The very first omens were the earthquakes.... When an earthquake strikes the village of Elffolk, an elderly elf becomes trapped in the crystal caves. Two young elves, Enna and Nissa, must save her. But their rescue mission won't be easy. A dark magic lurks within the caves, stirring up danger at every turn and leaving nothing as it seems.

About the Author:
Tina McFadden's writing career began at age six. A dreamer by nature, with a vivid imagination, she would lose herself in the stories of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. By age nine, she had written a whole series of mystery novels. Now a full-time writer and editor, Tina has published articles in magazines, newspapers and on the web, as well as short fictional stories for children and adults. Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is her first published novel.

Tina was born in British Columbia, grew up in Ontario and currently resides in Calgary, Alberta with her husband Vlad. When she's not writing about the adventures of fictional characters, she enjoys real-life adventures like hiking in the mountains and travelling abroad.

Her Website

FTC Information: I received this book from the author for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Author Interview: Tina McFadden (Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis)

Today I would like to welcome author Tina McFadden.  Tina is the author of Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis which is a children's story and my review of it is coming later today.  

How did you celebrate when you found out Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis would be published?

You know, come to think of it, I didn’t do anything big to celebrate! I remember calling my sister and sharing the news with her.

I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember. And as a kid, my younger sister was my biggest (and, well, only) fan. As soon as I had finished writing a chapter in a novel, I would read it to her. She always got right into my stories, anxiously awaiting the next chapter. In fact, she just had her first baby in January, and her daughter’s middle name – Raine – is named after a character in one of the novels I wrote as a teenager. 

Without giving anything away - what is Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis about?

Elffolk is a fantasy-adventure novel for children ages 7 to 10. It’s about elves that live in Atlantis. Here’s a teaser from the back of the book:

“Thousands of years ago, on the island of Atlantis, there were signs of a coming disaster. The very first omens were the earthquakes.... When an earthquake strikes the village of Elffolk, an elderly elf becomes trapped in the crystal caves. Two young elves, Enna and Nissa, must save her. But their rescue mission won't be easy. A dark magic lurks within the caves, stirring up danger at every turn and leaving nothing as it seems.”

Where did the idea for Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis come from?

I’ve always had an interest in ancient civilizations and the legend of Atlantis. I started researching Atlantis about 10 years ago. The idea of a “Lost Continent” has been in people’s consciousness for ages – at least since Plato talked about Atlantis about 2,400 years ago. Thousands of books have been written on the subject – some trying to provide evidence that such a place existed, and probably just as many refuting the claims. It’s been a very controversial subject over the ages – and one that many still wonder about!

I think it’s such a fascinating idea because of the controversy – and the idea that it may have actually existed. I think it’s also alluring because Atlantis was said to have been a very technologically advanced civilization of people. It’s also thought by many to have been spiritually advanced.   

Crystal: I admit I am fascinated by Atlantis and that is why I jumped at the chance to read  your book.

Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

I may have a rough guideline, but I never know exactly how a story will turn out until I start writing. I know I’m in “the zone” when the words flow and I lose track of time – that’s when I seem to do my best writing. Oftentimes, afterwards, I don’t know where the ideas came from – they seemed to just flow through me! 

I see that you are an editor as well as an author, do you think the editor role helps you with your writing?

Yes, I think so. I started writing at about age five or six, and I’ve never stopped. I studied professional writing at university, and then later earned an MA in journalism. All of my jobs have involved writing – from technical writing to marketing writing to journalism. I find it easy and enjoyable to write – I very seldom get hung up on the wording of a sentence or paragraph – and I’m sure I owe that to my writing and editing experience.

I also love that you confess your love of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.  Some of my best memories of my mom reading to me was Trixie Belden.  Do you have a favorite book out of those series?

I had to dig out the old boxes in the basement where I’d saved my favorite children’s books, along with my beloved sticker albums and coin collection!

Some of my favorite Nancy Drew novels included Mystery of Crocodile Island, The Witch Tree Symbol and The Clue of the Tapping Heels. A favorite Trixie Belden novel was The Mystery of the Missing Millionaire. I remember staying up late at night to read those books – long after I was supposed to be asleep!

Crystal:  Sorry to make you dig - but I know all about the coin collection and sticker collection - hmmm - I wonder if  my parents still have that huge sticker book I made :)

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

I love reading, and I read before bed almost every night. Some of my favorites include Memoirs of a Geisha, The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, Wicked, and most recently, The Host by Stephenie Meyer. And like most people of the world, I’m a big Harry Potter fan, too!

Crystal:  Some great books there, one day I will get back to Harry Potter and read the series.  I read the first one got involved in book blogging and haven't gotten back to the series.
What is your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room is the family room in my house. It has a wood-burning fireplace and looks out over the backyard.

What is your favorite spot to read in?

My husband and I recently purchased a wing-back recliner, which is in our family room. I really like reading in that chair. I also like reading in bed.

What is your favorite snack food?

I’m nearly six months pregnant at the moment – so, right now, my favorite snacks are pickles, olives and frozen yogurt popsicles! 

Crystal:  Congratulations on the pregnancy!  LOL at the pickles.  I ate a lot of popsicles with my two pregnancies, but I ate the regular kind (orange, grape, cherry) not the yogurt kind.  Nothing healthy for me in pregnancy :)

What is your favorite season?

I love everything about the Fall – the colors, the smell of the leaves, and the knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. As a kid, I looked forward to going back to school (yeah, can you believe it?). I enjoyed shopping for new school supplies, as well as back-to-school clothes. So even now, every Fall, I feel like it’s a new year. It’s like starting over.

Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

I’m not one to follow a schedule, though many authors recommend that you sit down each day for a certain period of time and crank out some copy. I’ve never followed this process. Instead, I try to write when the inspiration strikes – even if that happens to be 3 in the morning! (I keep a notepad next to my bed.)

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

I do most of my writing in my home office on my laptop.

Did you find writing Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

I wrote the entire book in about three months. That was then followed by a year of editing, reviews and revisions.... In this case, the story flowed pretty effortlessly. However, I’ve been subject to writer’s block in the past, the same as probably every other writer out there! Writer’s block can be very frustrating, especially if you have a deadline.

Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

My book launch on August 25 is a “soft” launch. I’ve partnered with a number of parent coaches, mom bloggers, authors and others who are helping to promote my book via e-mail, social media, blogs and newsletters on the 25th. I have written guest blogs for a few of these partners. I also keep a monthly blog at http://tinamcfadden.wordpress.com/. Over the next few weeks, I plan to do some book signings at local book stores and libraries.

Do you have a new book in the works?

Yes, Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is the first book in a series. A draft of the next book in the Elffolk series is already written. In fact, I wrote it first. I have to make some major revisions to it since writing Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis, but the framework is definitely there! Stay tuned for the second book in the Elffolk series!

Anything else you would like to say?

I’ve come to realize how much work goes into a novel long after you’ve written it! As my mentor, children’s author Teresa de Grosbois, has told me on several occasions – writing the book is not even half the battle. There’s so much more that goes into publishing and promoting a book – it’s amazing. I didn’t know at first whether I could transition from “writer” to “marketing and sales person,” but I have really enjoyed building relationships with other people, and working to get the word out about my book.

I now see promoting a novel like any business - you have to love what you do, or you’ll probably find it’s just too much work. For me, writing has always been what I wanted to do, so there is no questioning it – I’m on the path I want to be on!  

To learn more about Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis, or to order a copy, visit http://www.elffolk.com.

Crystal:  Tina you are so right - that is exactly what I am hearing from a lot of authors that I work with.  The promotion and getting the word out is really time-consuming.  That is why I try and do all I can to help new authors and I really have a lot of fun doing it.  I love getting to know authors a little bit.

Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me

Thank you so much for the opportunity! All the best to you!

Thanks again Tina.  Please stay tuned for my review of Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis later today!