November 25, 2014

A Far Gone Night by John Carenen


A Far Gone Night by John Carenen
A Thoms O'Shea Mystery #2
ISBN: 9780990314851
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Suffering from insomnia, wise-cracking tough guy Thomas O’Shea goes for a late-night stroll through the peaceful streets of Rockbluff, Iowa, and finds himself pausing downtown on the bridge that spans the Whitetail River. When he glances downstream, something catches his eye…something that looks like a body. He scrambles down to the riverbank, pulling the body of a young girl from the water. The girl is naked, with two bullet holes in the back of her head. Ever suspicious of law enforcement, O’Shea chooses not mention the bullet holes when Deputy Stephen Doltch, on routine patrol, discovers him at the river’s edge. When the coroner’s report lists the cause of death as “drowning,” Thomas goes into action.
Confronting the coroner, he is met with hostility. But then the coroner and his wife disappear, along with the body of the dead girl. Once again, Thomas gears up to find answers that will reveal who put the bullets in the girl’s head, why she was killed, and her identity, which may hit a little too close to home.
Teaming up with his friend Lunatic Mooning and Clancy Dominguez, an old buddy from his Navy SEAL days, Thomas and the other two men join together to bring justice to the dead girl, a quest that takes them to the Chalaka Reservation in Minnesota, seedy businesses adjacent to the Chalaka Casino, and straight into the world of organized crime.
A fast-paced story, laugh-out-loud moments and familiar, quirky characters from Carenen’s debut novel, Signs of Struggle, contribute once again to the complex world of Thomas O’Shea. Enter…if you dare.

My review: I have not read the first book in this series but I was able to read this one without any trouble although I do want to go back and read the first one. I was drawn to this book for a couple of read of reasons first it is a mystery and second it is set in Iowa. This book was a very fast read as it is gripping and fast paced. The story line in this book moves right along and I look forward to the next book in this series. I think the author did a good job of making this mystery seem real.  Very good book that holds your attention until the very end. 

About the Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared in numerous popular and literary magazines, and he has been a featured columnist in newspapers in North and South Carolina. A novel, Son-up, Son-down was published by the National Institute of Mental Health.
His debut Thomas O’Shea mystery novel, Signs of Struggle, was published in October of 2012. A Far Gone Night, the long- anticipated sequel, continues the exploits of the enigmatic protagonist and the quirky characters of Rockbluff, Iowa.
John is currently an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina. He and his wife live in their cozy cottage down a quiet lane in northern Greenville, South Carolina. He is a big fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox.
For more information please visit John Carenen’s blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Goodreads.

A Far Gone Night Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 3
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, November 7
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Monday, November 10
Review at The Discerning Reader
Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, November 14
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, November 19
Spotlight at The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Wednesday, November 26
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Thursday, November 27
Spotlight at Girl Lost in a Book
Friday, November 28
Review at A Book Geek
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book


November 24, 2014

It This Monkey's Business by Debra Mares


It's This Monkey's Business
by Debra Mares
ISBN: 9780985089382

Synopsis: “Cabana,” a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It’s This Monkey’s Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama’s scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents’ fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.

My review: This is a nice book for little children that parents have gone through a divorce and are affected by domestic violence. The illustrations are very bright and inviting to children. Also this is not a long book so it will hold little ones attention through out the entire story. A very nice way to help children through a bad story. 

About the author:
For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today’s news, it’s a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children’s book It’s This Monkey’s Business.  Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy.  Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it – she’s prosecuted it – homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.
Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in her family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life’s mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence.
Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth.  In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother’s death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring “The White Picket Fence” killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood.
To bring to life “Cabana,” Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen.
16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.

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About the illustrator:
Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.

November 23, 2014

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider


Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
ISBN: 9781400205578
Hardback

Synopsis: Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently. 
It doesn’t always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.
The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized Simple Mom online community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.
Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.
Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic—Notes from a Blue Bike invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices.
It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life according to who you really are simply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.

My review: I kept seeing this book on the internet but never really looked to see what it was about, in fact I kind of kept ignoring everywhere I saw it. Well one day it caught my attention again and without knowing what it was about I decided to check it out and read it. When I got it I thought oh this sounds interesting. I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting on my husband and dove right in, it grabbed me from page one and I did not want to put it down. Now I started looking more at the cover and the praise for the book and realized that Hey I follow this blog, no wonder I kept seeing so much about the book - duh. Well let me tell you the blog it theartofsimple.net and I encourage you to check it out. To me Tsh and her husband are an inspiration, I applaud them for the way they live. I really enjoyed reading about the travels the family has done and would love it if I could read even more about their time in Turkey. Tsh gives some very good examples on ways to live simply and really makes you stop and think about the things  you do in your own life. She also has included some questions at the end of the book to make you think a little more. Another thing that I like about Tsh is that she admits sometimes she makes mistakes and has to change things as she goes - liking deciding where her children are schooled (home vs public vs private). I encourage everyone to pick up this book and give it a whirl as I do not think you will be disappointed. I will even tell you that this is one of the best books I have read all year. Tsh has written a couple of other books as well that I plan to check out. 

November 21, 2014

Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner


I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles #3
ISBN: 9780312658588
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.
Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.
My review: I really enjoyed this book and all the suspense and mystery that weaved its way through the entire book. One thing I enjoyed was how the author told this story through Brendon's point of view instead of Elizabeth's. The character development for Brendon was done very well. I also like how the author wrote so you will feel as if you can become a part of the book. I was completely engrossed and did not want to put it down. Even if you have not read the first two in this series you will be fin reading this as a stand alone but I can almost bet you will end up going back and reading the first two. This was a fitting end to a fun series but I wish there was more to come. 


Be sure to check out Historical Fiction Virtual Booktours (click here) to see all the stops on the tour.

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta

“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series
“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

Buy the Book

About the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterest, and YouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books
Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, November 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 16, 2014

Thirty - One Review plus a Giveaway



I have bought quite a few things from Thirty-One recently and I have to say I love them all. There are so many things that I like that I do not know if I could pick a favorite. I am going to give you my opinion on a few of the things I have then be sure to enter the giveaway from Sandy at Thirty-One. 

If you want to check out Sandy's website and view the catalog you can click here.

 Be sure to contact Sandy as she offers many specials that are not in the catalog. You can email her at mnvikings84 (at) gmail (dot) com. 


Suite Skirt Purse

I have this purse and two of the skirts to go with it. It is perfect for a night out or an everyday purse. By purchasing the different skirts they have to go over this you can have a new purse anytime you want by just changing out the skirt. This purse holds more than you think it will. 

Deluxe utility with cinch topper

 I have to say when you are traveling this is a must have. When we went to Nebraska for seven days we used this as our suitcase and not only did it fit all of our clothes but we had room to spare. 


Everyday wristlet

 My daughter likes to use when we are going to town and you do not want to take your whole purse with you. 

Lunch break thermal

Thermal Tote

We have both of these at my house. Both can keep your lunch or drinks cold for some time. I drive an hour to work each and put my lunch in there and when I get to work my food is still cold. I love the pocket on the side as the thermal tote as well as it has come in handy. 


OH Snap Bin

This is my newest purchase. It is a fun little bag that can hold quite a few things as you will see in a minute. The unique thing about this bag is that the handle snaps and you can attach the bags together. I think this is the perfect bag to use to put gifts in instead of wrapping them. 

Now on to the giveaway - Sandy is giving away a spa in a bag for one lucky winner. You will receive an OH Snap bin along with - two face masks, soap, lotion, candle, two bath poof,  body spray, two kinds of chocolate, puzzle book, and an ink pen. Everything you need for a relaxing day. 


Here is a picture of the prize you will win



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Spotlight for Barbara Venkatarman - Plus a giveaway for two books

I am going to rerun this book spotlight as Barbara has graciously offered to giveaway one e-book and one audiobook of her's to two lucky winners. I will draw names at the end of the week (one for the e-book and one for the audiobook). The winner will get to choose which book of Barbara's they wish to have. Please enter the giveaway below. 

You can find Barbara and her books on Amazon (click here) Goodreads (click here) or Facebook (click here)

A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamaties by Barbara Venkataraman
ASIN: B00IO94GAY
Audio book

Synopsis: Winner of the "Indie Book of the Day" award. At 8,000 words, this collection of humorous essays explores such quirky topics as: disastrous home repairs, ("A Trip to the Hardware Store"), an unfortunate dinner party ("Dinner is Served"), the truth about lazy people ("Lazy Bones"), the weird life of a debt collector ("Your Account is Past Due") and obsessions with gadgets ("Gadget Girl"). Other essays examine how surreal the aging process is ("Where Did the Time Go?"), why you shouldn't judge a person by their job ("Beyond Belief"), and how to complicate simple transactions ("High Finance"). Like the author's first work, "I'm Not Talking About You, Of Course...," these essays will give your spirit a lift and leave you smiling.


Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkatarman
A Jaime Quinn Mystery
ASIN: B00JXQN0TK
Audio book

Synopsis: Winner of the Indie Book of the Day award. Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 13, 2014

Dream in Color, Think in Black & White by Jonathan T.. Bissell - Review and Guest Post

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Dream in Color, Think in Black & White by Jonathan T.K. Bissell
ISBN: 9780990647409
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Admit it. You’re stuck. Somewhere along the way, you had a dream that you let go of. But it hasn’t let go of you. You're the reason this book was written. Because dreams matter. Dreams are powerful. And sometimes dreams just won’t go away – no matter how impractical, ill-timed or financially risky they are. This is a book about getting unstuck in your life or career. It’s about learning to Dream in Color and Think in Black & White. There are three parts to this book: Dreaming in Color, Thinking in Black & White, and Fulfilling Your Dreams. Each part contains practical “how to” steps and examples explaining how to get unstuck and move toward your dream. The rest is up to you. Let’s get started.

My review:  In this book you will learn how to dream again and move forward with your plans. This was a very quick read as the book was not long but it packed some useful information to help you along your new path in life. I think this would be a good book for anyone wanting to learn how to live out their dreams. 


Guest post by Jonathan Bissell:
Never Say “Someday” Again
What if you woke up tomorrow morning and your dream had become a reality?
What if you’d finally gone to culinary school and become a chef? What if you’d turned all those blog posts into the book you had always wanted to write? What if you’d quit that soul-crushing job you were stuck in and started doing the work you were destined to do? Or what if you’d taken the plunge and begun that new business you’d been talking about for years?
If you’re like most people, the thought of having your dream come true is exciting, but it also stirs up fears and doubts that you just don’t know how to deal with. Most likely, you barely had time to even entertain the thought of making your dream a reality before you shut it down with words like “can’t” and “should” and “someday.”
You don’t like saying no to yourself, but you’ve played the role of dream enforcer for so long that you’ve forgotten how to dream – and you’ve forgotten that the only one who can truly give you permission to dream is you.
In my new book, Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams, I show you how to give yourself permission to fully dream – and how to turn your dreaming into doing until you become the chef, author, visionary leader, or new business owner you’ve always wanted to be.
The road to fulfilling your dream isn’t easy, but it’s waiting for you to walk on it. It’s waiting for you to come and take ownership of it and say, “This is my road. This is my dream. And I’m going to make it happen.”

So come along with me for the journey of your life. Because once you give yourself permission to dream, you’ll never have to say “someday” again.
Meet the author: Jonathan Bissell is a coach, author, speaker and teacher, as well as the CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance. He helps dreamers do and leaders excel.

Born in Liberia, Africa and raised in Upstate New York, Jonathan has lived and worked in Japan, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Le Moyne College. Jonathan enjoys reading, long coffee breaks with his wife, co-creating children’s stories with his daughters, writing poetry, and supporting couples in ministry.

If you’d like to stay current with what Jonathan is writing and doing, or get advance notice on new books or events, sign up for his mailing list at www.jonathanbissell.com. Jonathan can also be contacted for coaching, training, teaching or speaking engagements.


For More Information