Monday, January 27, 2014

Big Girl Panties - TLC Book Tours

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!
Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.
Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I really liked Big Girl Panties!  It was a fun and quick read.  Just what I was needing.  I totally understood Holly.  I really liked Amanda and Chase too - they seemed like such down to earth type of people.  Logan.....oh my who wouldn't like working out with him as your trainer?  

I did think the final outcome was predictable, just how it got there was not. I love the charity event/Halloween party and plane ride at the end of the book.  I loved how the book started and ended on the plane.  Holly and Logan both grew so much.

I really enjoyed Big Girl Panties.  It was a perfect chick lit book.

Favorite Character(s):  I really connected with Holly.  I absolutely loved her and I too need to lose weight.  I wish I had my own personal trainer.  I must say, she has motivated me to get moving!  She has been throw a lot and is such a good person.

Fast read/slow read:  Very fast read, just the way I like it!

Cover:  I do like it since I love hydrangeas, but I don't get what it has to do with the book or title.

What Others Are Saying:  “Evanovich’s incredibly entertaining debut mesmerizes with wit, heart, and intelligence . . . Quality writing, memorable characters, hot sex scenes, and an emotionally satisfying story add up to a marvelous gem.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Savvy, smart and sexy!” (Susan Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of That Thing Called Love)

Big Girl Panties has wit and heart.” (People)

“A page turner with real heart! This sexy tale will have you racing to your local gym-after you’ve finished racing through this charming, funny novel.” (Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of Curvy Girls)

“Evanovich’s debut effort is a funny, clever, and well-paced read.” (Booklist)

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: ABSOLUTELY - CAN'T WAIT FOR HER NEXT ONE!

Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended New York's School of Film and Television and acted in several improvisational troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had, raising her two sons. Now, a full-time writer, she's an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Synopsis (from Amazon): EAT, SURF, LOVE. A butterfly flaps its wings in New York City . . . and a groundswell forms in Mexico. . . . 

Sometimes the biggest ripples come from the smallest events. Like the day that Emma Guthrie walks into world-famous movie star Garrett Walker’s trailer. When she steps through the door, she’s a novice PA who’s just dropped out of college after losing her scholarship. When she walks out, she’s on her way to becoming Mrs. Emma Walker—wife of an A-list actor. Soon, Emma has made the transition from nobody to red-carpet royalty, trading jeans and flip-flops for closets full of Chanel and Birkin bags, swishing past velvet ropes to attend every lavish party and charity gala on both coasts. With her husband’s encouragement, Emma pens a screenplay based on her life, Fame Tax, which becomes a blockbuster sensation. Through it all, Garrett is her ally and her mentor . . . until their relationship is thrown into question by an incriminating text message that Emma discovers on Garrett’s phone the night of the Met Costume Institute Gala. 

Devastated by her husband’s infidelity and hounded mercilessly by the paparazzi, Emma must flee New York City to get away from it all and clear her head. Her destination? A sleepy coastal town in Mexico where no one recognizes her and there is nothing but unspoiled beaches for miles. Here, she meets Ben, a gorgeous, California-born surf instructor, who teaches her about the healing powers of surfing, shows her the joys of the simple life, and ultimately opens her up to the possibility of love. 

From Manhattan’s hippest restaurants to the yacht-and-celebrity infested waters of St. Barts, Katie Lee’s debut novel is an irresistible insider’s glimpse into a glittering world—and a captivating story about how losing everything you thought you wanted can be the first step to finding what you need.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I really enjoyed Groundswell and can't believe this is Kathie's debut novel (she has two cookbooks, which I must check out!).  I sure hope she is busy writing another book.  Every chapter ended leaving me wanting more.  Emma is struggling to make it in NYC and drops out of school, falls in love with a rich actor and her life seems to have turned around and is perfect.  Her best friend is by her side as her assistant, her days are busy and glamorous until she is delivered a blow that puts an end to it all.  Emma goes back to her easy old ways and finds her true self by fleeing to Mexico.  She returns strong, independent and driven!

Fast read/slow read:  Fast, just the way I like it.  I couldn't wait to get back to the next chapter.

Cover:  I like this one better! 

What Others Are Saying: "Groundswell will sweep you up into a world of wealth, gossip, and glamour, as seen through the eyes of a rags-to-riches heroine who marries a movie star, only to find herself betrayed. But at its heart this novel is about the strength of friendship, the importance of knowing your true self, and the possibility of starting over. A totally addictive summer read."  
J. Courtney Sullivan, author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement and Maine

“You’ll want to dive into this first novel by Katie Lee…. It’s a sexy combination of juicy, off-the-red-carpet dish, a hunky surf instructor (but of course!), and miles of unspoiled beach.”
—Coastal Living (Beach Book Club Pick)“It's the perfect accessory for summer—a really enjoyable read.”
“Just like in her cookbooks, Lee has come up with the recipe for a great summer read.”
—Star (Pick of the Week) 

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Absolutely!

Katie Lee is the food and lifestyle contributor for The Early Show and has appeared on Oprah, CBS Sunday Morning, The Rachael Ray Show, The Nate Berkus Showand Iron Chef AmericaShe writes a regular column for Cosmopolitan and has been featured in publications such as PeopleVanity FairFood and Wine, Town & Country, and InStyleShe is the author of the cookbooks The Comfort Table and The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions. She lives in the Hamptons.
I am probably the only person who didn't know Kathie Lee was married to Billy Joel for 5 years.  Billy Joel was the first concert I went to in high school - it was awesome!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Princess Academy

Synopsis (from Amazon): Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. Sent to an academy to learn how to become a princess, Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and even bandits intent on kidnapping the future princess.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I really liked Princess Academy and how strong and brave Miri is in the story.  She stands up to the other girls, the tutor, the bandits, the traders and the prince.  She was very smart too.  I was really surprised by the ending.  I thought I knew who the prince would pick for his bride, but I was very wrong.

Favorite Character(s):  Miri and Brita were my favorite characters.  They had a great friendship that developed at the academy.

Cover:  I like it.  Miri is cute and reminds of Laura Ingalls. 

What Others Are Saying:  "When it comes to contemporary classics, Shannon Hale has the makings of someone whose books will be read and reread for decades to come."-The 2006 Newbery Committee (The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association)

"Princess Academy is the strong, well-written story of one girl's determination to show that even a small mountain flower can be as valuable as a gold crown." "An unalloyed joy."-Kirkus Reviews

"This is not a fluffy, predictable fairy tale. . . . Instead, Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home." -School Library Journal 

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Yes

New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and dozens of rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. Her standalone book for young readers, Book of a Thousand Days, won a Cybils award. The Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy was followed in 2012 by bestseller Princess Academy: Palace of Stone.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lipstick in Afganistan

Synopsis (from Amazon): Roberta Gately’s lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman’s moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected. 

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. 

But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately’s raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: WOW.  I honestly can't imagine living in a war zone, even post war.  I read about Lipstick in Afghanistan from my friend Mari over at Bookworm with a View.  I am so glad I put it on my "to read" list.  I am just sorry, it took my so long to read it.  

Lipstick in Afghanistan takes you right to Bamiyan.  I felt I was right there along with Elsa and Parween.   This book is intense and left me so thankful for my freedom and all those that protect it.  

Favorite Character(s):  Without a doubt, Elsa but not without Parween.  Individually they were amazing, together they were unforgettable.  

Fast read/slow read:  Very fast, very intense.

What Others Are Saying:  “[Gately gives] readers an Afghanistan that…has the tang of the real deal.” –Publishers Weekly

“[Gately is] a supremely gifted writer and eloquent ambassador for the people who have been banished from civilized society…” –Mark Fritz, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist & author of Lost on Earth: Nomads in the New World

"Gately’s absorbing debut transports readers to the small Afghan village of Bamiyan in the months after 9/11. A volunteer for a French relief organization, Elsa Murphy, a young nurse, has left her tragic life behind in Boston in the hopes of finding a purpose by providing aid and medical care in Afghanistan. Living without running water and on rationed kerosene, the one comfort from home Elsa allows herself is lipstick, which helps her retain her identity behind the veil she wears. Elsa’s work engenders two relationships that will change her life: a friendship with Parween, a young, strong-willed Afghani widow whose hatred of the Taliban is born out of unimaginable loss, and a romance with Mike, a handsome, brave U.S. soldier with flashing blue eyes. Though the Taliban have largely been driven out by the soldiers, Elsa learns they are still very much a presence. In this utterly engrossing read, Gately vividly evokes the beauty and tragedy of Afghanistan, where she, like Elsa, worked as a nurse after 9/11." - Booklist

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Absolutely, The Bracelet is on my "to read" list.

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan.  She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online.  She speaks regularly on the plight of the world’s refugees and displaced.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Marilyn Brant Offers Two Books For 99 Cents!!!

I received this email from Marilyn Brant and was so excited, I wanted to share it with you all.  I just purchased mine!  Happy reading.....

As part of both a January Reader Appreciation Event and a New Book Release Special, I have TWO $0.99 ebook sales going on this week, and I wanted to make sure you knew about them! Also, to try to keep those of us living in cold climates just a little warmer this month, I've got a Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe below that I hope you might like :). 
Reader Appreciation ~ THE ROAD TO YOU is Only 99 Cents!!

The Road to You - Brant - a coming of age romantic mystery - front coverTHE ROAD TO YOU has had a really spectacular reception since its release in late September -- thank you all so much!! This coming-of-age romantic mystery is very close to my heart, and I'm thrilled by the lovely reviews and honors it's received. The novel already has over 120 ratings on Goodreadswith a 4-star average, and 32 reviews onAmazon with a 4.6/5.0 rating, so I couldn't be more delighted.

B&N General Fiction Book Club Moderator and Reviewer for The Reading Frenzy, Deb Haupt, named it one of her "Best Novels for 2013" and wrote:

"Marilyn Brant’s beautifully written new novel takes her talent to a new and darker level. It’s a heartrending tale of loss and of love, a masterful mix of mystery and romance with a good dose of a coming of age tale thrown in. Her meticulous and descriptive narrative paints a perfect picture of landscapes and scenes and gives a realistic look at a crime drama from the '70s...and a road-trip on the historic Route 66 that will keep readers on the nail-biting edge of their seats until she decides to solve the puzzle and let her audience breathe again." 

As a way of sharing my gratitude with you all, the ebook will be on super sale for just $0.99 (until Wednesday, Jan. 29th) at Amazon (worldwide), B&N, and iTunes

AND -- as an extra gift in conjunction with the "Kindle Matchbook" program -- if you buy anew print/paperback edition of this book (or have purchased a new paperback copy of this novel through Amazon in the past), you can get a Kindle copy of the ebook for FREE during the time of this promotion!!
small - All I Ever Wanted - antho cover
New Release ~ ALL I EVER WANTED is Out Now!

ALL I EVER WANTED is a fun, light, and sexy winter anthology that I took part in creating with three writing friends. My romantic novella, "All About Us," is the first story in the collection. All four of our novellas take place in a small Ohio town during the same January weekend. Each short romance can be read entirely on its own, but the characters and events are interconnected. Here's a little bit about my story:

Winterfest is heating up in Abbott Springs...

As the town's yearly festival kicks off, cold days turn into steamy nights, new flames will be ignited, and old romances will be rekindled.

All About Us by Marilyn Brant -- All Sami Abbott ever wanted was permission to be herself. At home, she aims to be the perfect daughter but never measures up. At college, she's the bold girl who had a one-night stand with sexy musician Alex Hamilton. When he arrives unexpectedly in Abbott Springs, her worlds collide and she must reconcile the girl she tries to be with the person she really is.

(The 3 other wonderful novellas in the collection are All I Need by Caisey Quinn, All For Love by Rhonda Helms, and All Or Nothing by Lexi Ryan. Don't miss them!)

In celebration of the release, the ebook version of the anthology is only $0.99 (until Wednesday, Jan. 22nd) at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CAB&NKobo, and iTunes. Print lovers can buy the paperback at a slight discount right now through Amazon, too!

My heroine in the story, Sami, is known throughout Abbott Springs for making delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate. Here's one version of her special recipe:

hot chocolate
  6 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  Pinch cayenne pepper
  2 (12-ounce) bags semisweet chocolate chips
  Cocoa powder, for serving

For stove top: In a large pot over medium heat, whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Add chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted. Cover and turn heat to low for 5 minutes.

Pour into mugs. Dust the top with cocoa powder & serve!
I hope you'll all enjoy these great deals and the stories attached to them!! Ebooks make thoughtful gifts, too, for friends and family who love to read on their Kindle/Nook/iPad/etc. or on their smart phones. So, if you've already got a copy of THE ROAD TO YOU or ALL I EVER WANTED, please consider sharing one or both of these with someone you love, especially now when they're less than $1 each!

Many thanks to all of you for your continued kindness, support, and enthusiasm for my stories. I can't express how much I appreciate having such amazing readers!!

With my very best wishes~

Marilyn Brant
USA Today Bestselling Author

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Hunger Games

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I still can't imagine the world that Katniss and her family lives in.  To go through the lottery every year and the fear of being picked for the Hunger Games....just to frightening.  Also, the district she lives in compared to the Capital, is just not right.  I love how Katniss fights through everything and is so strong.  She is a great role-model.

Favorite Character(s):  Katniss.....she rocks.  I also really like Rue because she was the youngest and Katniss' friend.  

Fast read/slow read:  I listened to the audio of the book, but couldn't wait to listen to more.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Absolutely.  Look for future reviews on Catching Fire and Mocking Jay.

Book or Movie:  My mom made me listen to the book (above my reading level) before being allowed to watch the movie.  I love both of them and have watched the movie a dozen times.  I think the movie did a great job following the book. I loved all the characters too.  The costumes were great.

Meet the Author: Suzanne Collins has had a successful and prolific career writing for children's television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Collins made her mark in children's literature with the New York Times bestselling five-book series for middle-grade readers The Underland Chronicles, which has received numerous accolades in both the United States and abroad. In the award-winning The Hunger Games trilogy, Collins continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. Collins lives with her family in Connecticut. 

Connect:  You can connect with Suzanne on Goodreads.

Purchase it:  You can purchase The Hunger Games online at Amazon.

This review was written by:  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Girl on the Cliff

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself 

To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life. 

Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past. 

Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Wow...two stories told at once.  One present day and one in early 1940's. Bringing together the two stories in one book.  Two families and their connection through time, twists and turns, family secrets discovered through letters from the past. Really enjoyed reading it. 

Favorite Character(s):  Grania...she is a strong woman.  Mary....willing to sacrifice everything, another strong woman.

Fast read/slow read:  A good pace.

Cover:  Love it!!

What Others Are Saying:  "Tautly paced yet picturesque, The Girl on the Cliff is a compelling and romantic novel of recovery, redemption, new opportunities, and lost love."
(Booklist (Starred Review))

"The Girl on the Cliff firmly establishes Lucinda Riley as one of the most compelling and gifted storytellers working today."
(The Paramus Post)

“Colorful writing…Keeps the pages turning.”
(Kirkus Reviews)

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Yes, for sure!

Meet the Author:  Lucinda Riley is the internationally bestselling author of The Orchid House (published asHothouse Flower in the UK, more than 2 million copies sold worldwide); The Girl on the Cliff (an instant New York Times bestseller), and The Lavender Garden (published as The Light Behind the Window in the UK). Her fourth novel, The Midnight Rose, will be published around the world in early 2014. Her novels have been translated into twenty-two languages and published in thirty-six countries. Born in Ireland, she lives with her husband and four children in the English countryside and in the South of France.

Connect: You can connect with Lucinda on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase it:  You can purchase The Girl on the Cliff online at Amazon.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is God Real or Pretend? TLC Book Tour

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Is God Real or Pretend? is the story of young Franklin's engaging and enlightening journey to answer this age old question. Franklin's grandmother, Dr. Wendy Knowles, a professor of astronomy, first provides Franklin with the basic scientific means of determining what is real and what is not and how science distinguishes questions it can answer and those it cannot. Franklin's mission of discovery continues as he meets a kindly professor of Greek mythology who offers a historical-cultural prospective on the question. Here Franklin meets the Greek Gods and their timeless myths. 

Once armed with these new ideas, Franklin is introduced to representatives of the world's five major religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These knowledgeable teachers from each of the great religions charm and delight as they shine positive lights on their religion. Franklin asks probing questions, while learning to appreciate and admire the diversity and beauty of these religious traditions. Ultimately, Franklin's dynamic school report on the immensity and magnificence of the universe becomes the backdrop for his consideration of these important questions. This book is designed for anyone and everyone, young and old, religious or not, who wants to know more about these five great religions. It's the most unforgettable journey, one every thoughtful child (and the curious adults in their life) will enjoy.

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary: A great book to learn about the basics of the five major religions.  I think Is God Real or Pretend? is a wonderful book for 5th - 8th graders to obtain a basic understanding and respect for different religions. I think it is so important for people to accept one another regardless of religious belief.

Warning: I thought this would be a great book for my kids to read, however, I quickly changed my mind after chapter 1. Franklin is rather blunt about Santa Claus.  I think it could have been left out of the book, as it really wasn't needed. If it had, it would have made it great even for many more (younger) kids.  

Fast read/slow read:  Very fast, but may not be for middle schooler.  

Cover:  The cover is perfect for the book!
What Others Are Saying:  Check out the reviews as part of the TLC Book Tour

Monday, December 30th:  Not in Jersey
Thursday, Jan 2nd:  Cherry Blossoms
Friday, January 3rd:  Babblin’ Brooke
Monday, January 6th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Wednesday, January 8th:  Evolving Beings
Friday, January 10th:  Seaside Book Nook
Thursday, January 9th:  Calibamamom
Monday, January 13th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, January 15th:  Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, January 16th:  Joyfully Retired
Wednesday, January 22nd:  Day by Day in Our World

Meet the Author: Jennifer Horsman is the author of many thought-provoking books for both young readers and adults. In addition to a B.A. from UC Irvine in Social Ecology, she has spent a lifetime reading about religion, philosophy, history, and science. 

Connect: You can find her and her books at

Purchase it:  You can buy Is God Real or Pretend? online at Amazon for $14.95.