Review: Lucifer Rising

Lucifer Rising by Barbara Fifield
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 1/5


Summary (from goodreads): Can Elsa ever escape cult leader Tyrell, a reincarnation of the devil? What about him does she find so mesmerizing? Tyrell has lured women into his snare over many reincarnations. Will he succeed with Elsa? Or will she be able to break away from him?

When I accepted this book for review, the summary provided sounded very exciting and engaging… but this book was strange. That’s really the only word I have for it. Weird and strange. Here’s why:

One—I felt out of place while I read this. I felt like I had been dumped into the middle of a book on the first page. There was no introduction to the characters, there were no descriptions, there was no explanation. And it didn’t work. Sometimes in a book, that’s ok, because it works with the mysterious quality of it, but in this situation it was just unreadable.

Two—The writing wasn’t good. It felt choppy and vague and un-detailed and empty, as if the words on the page didn’t mean anything. It was very hard to read. The dialogue felt forced and most of the narrative was unclear.

Three—I have a high tolerance for strange and supernatural, but the stuff in this book was just really odd. I didn’t get past Chapter 3.

I’m really sad that I didn’t like this title because I was so excited to read it, and it sounded great… but it was just a really lame book.


New years Resolutions

Ok so it’s December 30th… (wow that came fast!!) Here are my resolutions for 2010:


  1. STOP. BITING. NAILS. I’ve quit plenty of times. It takes weeks. It also takes about three seconds to destroy weeks of work.
  2. Lose the weight I gained over Christmas (yes there is actually some extra luggage on this dancer.)
  3. Read more books (hah)
  4. keep the room clean(er)
  5. get all my Christmas presents knit by August so that I can enjoy the season next year instead of knitting like a maniac
  6. Comment more. I have a kind of policy with myself: If I read a post completely through, I post a comment. I haven’t been keeping up with that and I hope to change that! Comments on my blog make my day. I’m assuming it’s the same with everyone else!

So… what are your resolutions?

Food for thought

Last fall, I was at my community college for school. I was taking a piano course and had gone into an extra classroom to practice. I’d left my purse there by accident.

I went to class and grabbed for my purse and it wasn’t there. I got up hurridly and began to search the classrooms, eventually going back to the room I had been practicing in. The door was locked and my purse was gone.

It isn’t a hard purse to miss. It’s neon green. My Aunt gave it to me for my birthday (or Christmas?) one year, and it was one of my favorites. It had my driver’s permit, my money (all $40 of it), my cell phone, and my social security number.

I was very freaked out and almost in tears. I’m assuming you would be too. I searched the building again for people, but it was empty. It was the dead part of the day at the campus. I left the building and began the long walk back to the student center where I called the security guard.

While I was walking, I got my head back on straight. I prayed and told God that whatever happened was His will and I’m sorry for freaking out and that I knew I’d be ok because He would take care of me but please please please let me find the purse.

After I asked the security guard at the lost and found (he didn’t have it) I started on my way back to the building I had been in, because my daddy was going to pick me up there. I was supposed to call him but I didn’t have a phone. I figured I’d just wait until he showed up.

Well he did show up because he did get a call. A lady who was a customer at our store and a teacher for the school had found the purse and put it in her office. She’d found the phone and called my dad and said she’d found my purse. She hadn’t been able to find me, though, because I was searching the building madly and trying not to worry too much about my identity being stolen by some freak.

When daddy told me the whole story I relaxed and went to get my purse. She smiled and I thanked her for taking it.

When I got home, I thought for a while. What really mattered in the whole situation, and what did I learn? What really mattered was my heart. I learned that my reactions need to be different. Yes after a while I got my head back on straight and trusted God, but that wasn’t the initial reaction. I learned that my trust isn’t wholly in God and it needs to be. God looks at the heart more than our actions. Where was my heart when I freaked out? Where was my faith and my trust? It was in me, and my own ability to keep good track of my things. That was wrong.

I bring this up because we talked about these kinds of situations in our morning Bible study at home. We had some good discussions. We always do, with six people who are both Christians and sinners (and a brother who thinks too hard about everything ;D). But this one struck me as special.

And along the same lines, on Monday night my daddy got in a car wreck. It wasn’t serious, nobody was hurt, and the car won’t be too expensive to fix. But it was like a wake-up call. It was like God was saying “Hey, I hope you realize I can take everything away from you at the drop of a hat.” and we were saying “Oh yeah, You’re right. Thanks for not doing that.” Where was my trust when mommy left the house? This time it was in God. I knew God would take care of us and him. I wasn’t panicked at all.

Trials don’t come slowly. They come quickly and unexpected. So when you’re in a trial, where is your hope? Who do you trust to take care of you? What does your reaction say about that?

Just thought I’d share.


Review: Nine Dragons

Nine Dragons (Audio) by Michael Connelly, read by Len Cariou

Genre: Crime thriller

Rating: 4/5

9 dragons

From Goodreads: LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is off the chain in the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life.

Fortune Liquors is a small shop in a tough South L.A. neighborhood, a store Bosch has known for years. The murder of John Li, the store's owner, hits Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer.

The world Bosch steps into next is unknown territory. He brings in a detective from the Asian Gang Unit for help with translation--not just of languages but also of the cultural norms and expectations that guided Li's life. He uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad, a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.

And instantly his world explodes. The one good thing in Bosch's life, the person he holds most dear, is taken from him and Bosch travels to Hong Kong in an all-or-nothing bid to regain what he's lost. In a place known as Nine Dragons, as the city's Hungry Ghosts festival burns around him, Bosch puts aside everything he knows and risks everything he has in a desperate bid to outmatch the triad's ferocity.


I was so excited to read Nine Dragons, because I love a good crime thriller and had read such good reviews for it. It didn’t disappoint. I was drawn into Harry Bosch’s world and mind right away. The plot keeps you guessing and sitting on the edge of your seat. The dialogue is lively and funny, the writing was good, and the reader was excellent in narration, voices of the characters, and speed at which he read. This is not a title to be missed.

Nine Dragons is book 14 in the Harry Bosch series, but it makes an excellent stand-alone. Only occasionally did I feel “left out of the loop” so to speak. Everything that was necessary to understand the book was explained.

Content: A reader should go into a crime thriller expecting some language. There was some language in the book but it wasn’t too overused. As far as gruesome details, it wasn’t hard to read. I wouldn’t let a kid read it, though.

Recommendation: Ages 16+


Contest: Stitch Style Mittens

Contest is now closed.

I have decided to do something kind of special: I’m giving away a pair of hand-knit mittens or gloves! This contest will be international (because I love you guys so much I’m willing to spend a fortune on yarn, needles, and shipping ;D). I’m using this book to pick the pattern:


which is a fantastic book that I got from Martingale &Company. I’m posting the photos of the pattern the winner will get to pick from. When I end the contest I will post a review on the book.

Here are your choices: White and red bow (mittens), Fair Isle (fingerless gloves), Polka-dots (mittens), Ribbon Wrist (fingerless mitts), and Sequins (mittens).

white bow fair isle polkadots ribon sequins


Contest will run December 29-January 10. Winners will be picked morning of January 11th.

Rules: International, must be a follower, leave a comment. All entries will be in one comment! You don’t have to leave an e-mail address, but make sure you check back to see if you won!

+3 old follower
+1 new follower
+1 every link you post
+3 leave a comment and fill out her poll on the sidebar for Hannah at
Hannah’s Magic Pencil
+5 blog post about this contest
+5 my button on your blog
+5 if you participate in my other contests (5 points for each other contest you enter. See the sticky post on the top of the blog for the links!)

Hey boys! You can enter too! I know the mittens look kind of girly, but if a boy wins I can take off the ribbon/sequins/decor and “man” the mittens up a little bit (because I’m just so cool like that.) Or you can give them to your girlfriend or sister or mom. Because you’re just so nice like that.

Good luck to all of you!


Review: One Scream Away

One Scream Away by Kate Brady

one scream awayGenre: Romantic Suspense, Crime Thriller, Murder

Rating: 4/5


Seven years ago, Chevy Bankes did something horrific to Beth. She’s been living with her ghosts ever since then. Beth has learned to live on her own and has raised her daughter by herself. But she isn’t prepared to face Bankes when she finds out that he’s been released from prison, and that now he’s after her. Neil, an ex-FBI agent, has somehow gotten himself roped into the case. Now it’s causing him to have to dig up his own ghosts and face them, too. Can two people who lost love earlier in their lives learn to love each other, can Beth keep her daughter out of Bankes’ hands, and can Neil save the woman he loves from her worst nightmare?

One Scream Away was one of those books that you stay up late reading and that you can’t put down, and that you yell at whoever interrupts you because it was so addicting good. It was exciting, suspenseful, romantic, mysterious… everything a book should be.

Without giving away anything, there were many parts in this book that I felt my heart rip when I read what happened. The characters were tangible, like I could pluck them out of the book and set them on my table and watch the rest of the story play out. But they were also relatable, so most of the time I felt like the characters themselves.

Pacing and plot were fantastic in this one. It was impossible to see what would happen next, and Kate Brady keeps you guessing until the very last page, and surprises you at the end.

The writing was not the strongest point. It wasn’t bad per se, it just wasn’t very good either. Acceptably mediocre is the best phrase I can think of, because it wasn’t Dante, but it wasn’t hard to read.

My only other complaint was that a lot of the times, Brady describes what things look like, but not what things feel like. Although the characters were very relatable, I found my own imagination supplying the feelings of the characters while I read this.

Content: There was no elicit sex in this book, although scenes are mentioned and skipped over. There was a lot of language (hey, we’re talking about FBI agents and Police officers and Serial Killers here.) and some rather vulgar details. Murder is not exactly pleasant. Although it wasn’t mapped out in extreme detail, the images left in the reader’s mind are ones that are not for the faint of heart. Or stomach.

Recommendation: Ages 18+



Review: The Basic Book of Digital Photography

photographyThe Basic Book of Digital Photography by Tom and Michele Grimm
Genre: Educational, Artistic
Rating: 4.5/5


Tom and Michele Grimm have compiled a magnificent handbook for any photographer, beginner or otherwise. This book has everything in it—from how to pick the best camera for you, to when and where to shoot, to editing, to timing… the list goes on and on.

The book is packed with photos, both color and black and white, examples, footnotes, and easy to read and understand text. At first glance it may seem intimidating, but it is so incredibly reader friendly that it’s suitable for almost any age.

The only thing about this book that I didn’t like was that there were only some pictures that were color, and most of them were black and white.

Recommendation: Ages 10+ to anyone interested in digital photography, whether they have been snapping photos for years or whether they’ve never even picked up a digital camera.


**Thank you to FSB Associates for providing my review copy!**


Guest Post: Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster

I have the privilege of welcoming Wednesday Martin to my blog today!

Stepfamily Sanity this Holiday Season
By Wednesday Martin, Ph.D.,
Author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

When you think of holidays, you probably think of family.

And that's what makes holidays so tough for stepfamilies. At this time of year, couples in a remarriage with children might be feeling . . . imperfect. For example, they might be polarized -- he misses his kids, while she hopes they won't treat her like the maid when they show up. She wants to buy her 25-year old's plane ticket to come for a holiday visit -- he thinks she spoils her kids and young adults should pay their own way.

Even if they're on the same page about their step/kids, both members of the couple likely find themselves facing plenty of misunderstanding from friends and family as visions of sugarplums dance in our collective heads. "His kids won't be here for the holidays? How come?!" "I can't believe they're going to spend only Christmas Eve with you." "You're not doing holidays with his ex? How come? Isn't that the best thing for the kids?"

In the face of all the pressure and misunderstanding, take heart. Here are ten simple tips for stepfamily sanity this holiday season.

1. Give up on "blending." Stepfamilies come together in their own ways, and in their own time -- experts say four to 12 years! Particularly at holiday time, stepkids of any age may feel their loyalty binds more acutely ("Dad's remarried but mom's not so I should spend the whole holiday with her"). And sometimes in spite of a stepparent's best efforts, a stepchild may keep his or her distance, taking a "stand" at holiday time. Don't expect your stepfamily to resemble an eggnog smoothie during the holidays and you'll spare yourself and your marriage a lot of aggravation.

2. Let your stepfamily be what it is. One family I interviewed put up two trees every year, because it mattered that much to them all to honor their own traditions. Respecting those differences can help everyone come together in their own way.

3. Know that you and your spouse will probably argue. From deciding how much to spend on gifts for her kids, to reopening old wounds about how the stepkids behaved during holidays past, couples in a remarriage with children are under extraordinary pressure this season. Arguments aren't signs of failure -- they're opportunities to communicate. Find communication formulas and tips that work for you in Stepmonster and other books for couples with stepchildren.

4. Keep it normal. Whether they're five or 50, what kids want post divorce and remarriage is a sense of belonging. So skip the red carpet welcome and think "inclusive" and "normal." Give mom or dad some time alone with his or her kids, and then do the things you do every day and every holiday, inviting the kids to join. Let older and adult stepkids help with holiday meal planning and prep, serving and clean-up. Little ones can make place cards or holiday art for guests. This helps them feel like family, not guests. And when they're pitching in and happy, stepmom/stepdad won't feel as depleted or de-centered by their visit.

5. Choose side by side activities. Puzzles, stringing popcorn, baking, and watching a holiday movie all let you spend time together without interacting "head on," which experts like Patricia Papernow tell us can be more stressful for "steps."

6. Know your limits. Don't do or give in a way that will increase your resentment. If your stepkids habitually forget to bring anything for you, or have a history of not writing thank you notes, don't go overboard with extravagant gifts and efforts. Let them be your guide to avoid martyr syndrome ("I do and I do for them!") during (and after) the holidays.

7. Strategize ahead of time. Stepfamilies aren't first families. There may be tensions, and that's normal. Spouses might have to plan out activities and time alone ahead of time. "I think I'm going to need a break tomorrow. How about a long walk together first thing in the morning?" This is not a failure -- just a constructive way of adapting.

8. Remember stepfamily members bond best one-on-one. All-together-now activities can activate stepkids' anxieties about who's an insider and who's an outsider. Give parent and stepparent plenty of one-on-one time with kids and stepkids -- and with each other. And don't forget about yourselves as a couple. You need one-on-one time, too.

9. Get out of the house. For stepmothers especially, there can be extraordinary pressure to create that Norman Rockwell aura over the holidays. Before the pressure gets to be too much, get out to see friends and your own family. Take time to pamper, whether it's a spa visit or a coffee with pals who understand and don't judge. Getting out of your own home, away from your stepkids and even your spouse, isn't a sign of failure. It's a necessity, rejuvenating you and helping prevent stepparental burnout.

10. Let go of the guilt. Remember that even first families struggle with unrealistic expectations during the holidays. If things don't go perfectly -- if there are squabbles or hurt feelings -- have faith that this is normal and won't damage the kids or your marriage irreparably. Stepfamily members are bound to have differences and even blow-ups. By showing your stepkids that people can argue and then move on, you are modeling the kind of resilience that will serve them well for a lifetime. That might be the ultimate holiday gift.

©2009 Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

Author Bio

Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., is a social researcher and the author of Stepmonster: a New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do (2009). She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today ( and blogs for the Huffington Post and on her own web site ( She has appeared as a stepparenting expert on NPR, the BBC Newshour, Fox News and NBC Weekend Today, and was a regular contributor to the New York Post's parenting page. Stepmonster is a finalist in the parenting category of this year's "Books for a Better Life" award.

A stepmother for nearly a decade, Wednesday lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. Her stepdaughters are young adults.


Thank you, Wednesday!

See my review of Wednesday’s book, Stepmonster, here.



Review: Stepmonster

stepmonster Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D

Genre: Self-help, memoir, non-fiction

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday Martin has created a handbook for stepmoms. This book is packed with useful (and at times painful) information—the stories that our “evil stepmother” images come from, explaining the conflicts between stepmother and stepchild, how to get the husband to help with the mother-child relationship, and perspectives on relationships from husbands, wives, and even grandparents.

However much I’d like to recommend this book, I can not say that this is the best book for stepparents. I’d have to recommend the Bible first and foremost, because God’s way of life is the only holy and perfect one. A relationship cannot exist between two people who do not work at it, and the only thing that can change the heart of an individual and make them work at it is God. The Bible shows us and targets what the source of the problems in second marriage really is: sin. The Bible also shows that stepparents are a gift, that children are expected to honor them, and that God wants (and helps) all sides of the multi-person relationship to work it out. Only with His help can a strong stepparent-stepchild relationship or second marriage be built.

With that in mind, I can say that this book is a good secondary source, or great for someone who does not lean on the Bible. It explains the psychology behind what goes on in all sides of the triangle’s heads: the new wife, the husband, and the children. I also have to say that Martin is a very good writer, and I was drawn into what she had to say.

Recommendation: I do recommend this book to anyone who wants down-to-earth modern-day insight to understanding the problems in their second marriage.


**Thank you to FSB Associates for my review copy!**


Review: Triangle of Deception

triangleTriangle of Deception by Haggai Carmon
Genre: Crime thriller
Rating: 4/5


Summary (from goodreads):

How do you penetrate the world's most secretive and tightly knit terrorist organization? Dan Gordon's only option is deception. Working undercover in a joint CIA/Mossad mission, he's on the hunt for the source of funding to Hezbollah. He has infiltrated a Lebanese network in Paraguay, only to realize the operation is far more wide-ranging than he's been told.
And when Dan finds himself locked in a grim Romanian prison cell, he wonders if there's still more that he hasn't been told. Was it a security leak that got him arrested? Did the CIA make him a sacrificial lamb? Or has he stumbled on a much bigger plot, one with the potential to disrupt Al Qaeda's operations in America?

Triangle of Deception is one of those sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat books. It’s book four of a series but it makes a wonderful standalone. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving anything away! Fast paced, energetic, and exciting, this is one that any crime-thriller lover won’t want to miss.


**Thank you to Haggai and Bostic Communications for supplying my review copy!**


About the Author:

haggai carmon

Haggai Carmon was born in Israel an d in addition to being an author, heads Carmon &  Carmon/GLOBALAW, an international law firm. In 1985, the U.S. Justice Department started retaining Carmon as its attorney to represent the government's interests in its Israeli civil litigation matters, a task he continues to perform. To learn more about Haggai Carmon please visit For  a non-fictional update on spies, espionage an d counterintelligence please visit .




Review: Knitting with Gigi

KNITTING WITH GIGI by Karen Thalacker, illustrated by Mindy Dwyer

Genre: Kid’s craft (ages 6-13)

Rating: 4/5knitting with gigi

Knitting with Gigi is an awesome kid’s book for any child (or adult!) who wants to learn to knit. There are good instructions and wonderful illustrations to help learn the basic cast-on (starting), knit stitch, decreasing (making it a different shape), and bind-off (ending). Some knitting books are very difficult to learn how to knit from, but the instructions in Knitting with Gigi are very clear. 8 kid-friendly projects make up the second half of the book, all of them easy to follow and perfect for a beginner.

Gigi also has a website where kids can join the “Gigi’s kindness corps” and knit for those in need. Her website also includes videos of instructions to get to “the next step” so to speak. The videos explain the purl stitch, different cast-on methods, and techniques of finishing. By the time a young knitter has finished the projects in the book and watched and learned the information in the videos, they will be ready to go further into the knitting world.

I want to point out a wonderful thing that Gigi (who speaks in verse) has said: “Practice makes perfect will never apply. We all make mistakes, no matter how hard we try. So be of good cheer and do not despair. With time and some care you’ll have something to wear.” Every young knitter should hear this—and experienced ones, too!

The only thing I wish this book had touched on (but didn’t mention) is gauge. Gauge is important because everyone knits differently (example: I knit loose with wool and tight with double pointed needles, so my hat or mittens or whatever else I made might not fit, even if i followed the instructions 100%) so sometimes yarn or needle changes have to be made to make sure things fit. The patterns in the book were not dependent on gauge,  (which is probably why it wasn’t brought up) but it is still an important thing for any knitter to learn.

Recommendation: boys and girls ages 6+.  Adults could learn to knit with their kids with this book too!

**Thank you to Martingale and Company for providing my review copy!**

This book is available to purchase through Martingale and Company or through There is a hardback of the book, and also a paperback version that comes with yarn and needles.


Review: the gift of an ordinary day

gift of an the gift of an ordinary day by Katrina Kenison
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 2/5


Summary (from goodreads): The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers--holding on, letting go.
Poised on the threshold between family life as she's always known it and her older son's departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.
The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women's hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

the gift of an ordinary day may be well written and insightful, if one has a viewpoint like Kenison. I, however, do not. I believe that God governs our lives and plans what will happen in them, and that He is the one that puts our inevitable changes into play. I couldn’t relate to Kenison at all through the part of this book that I read, and because of that I felt nothing compelling me to continue.

I was unable to get very far into this audiobook. Sometimes the author of a book is the best reader for the book, sometimes not. Katrina read this audiobook, and it was very slow—almost too slow to follow. She didn’t read with much emotion, which disappointed me since it was her memoir and her heart displayed through the writing.

I hope other people will enjoy this one more than I did.

Thank you to Hachette for providing my review copy!


Review: The Better Part Of Darkness

THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS by Kelly Gaybetter part of darkness

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime Thriller, Romance

Rating: 5/5

My Summary: Charlie isn’t your average detective/police officer—she works for the new futuristic law enforcement department called ITF. The world has changed since the other dimensions have been discovered. Aliens (who hate being called aliens) now live on earth with humans, and some humans possess supernatural powers. Charlie and her Siren-partner, Hank, have been working on a disastrous case—trying to track down the source and destroy a new drug that is putting people all over Atlanta in comas. But after they begin digging deeper, they discover a whole new level of their assignment: one that puts Charlie, her ex-husband, her daughter whom she loves more than anyone or anything in the whole world, everyone in Atlanta, and the rest of the world, at stake… and  only Charlie Madigan can save them.

The Better Part of Darkness is a fast-paces riveting debut novel that holds you by the neck until the last page. I’ve never enjoyed science fiction so much in my life.

This book had the perfect combination of sci-fi, crime, thriller, and romance to make it an addicting read to lover of any genre. The writing makes it wonderfully plausible and incredibly witty, and the characters were the kinds that you cheered for.

Charlie was my kind of girl—totally kick-butt in every way, shape, and form. She was tough as nails, rock-hard, dedicated to her job, but she had her soft spots for those that she held closest to her.

I will be sitting on the edge of my seat for the sequel of this book, titled “The Darkest Edge of Dawn.”  5 stars and two thumbs up to you, Kelly Gay: you just made my bookshelf.

Content: This book is not for the easily offended. There was language and sexual aspects of the book that make it an adult novel, though there were no sex scenes.

Recommendation: Ages 17+ to anyone who wants to read a really exceptional book.

**Thank you to Sarah from pocketbooks for supplying my review copy!**


Tour: The Better Part of Darkness

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelley Gay
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, Adult, Romance

(I’m still reading this book (and loving it!). Review will come within the week.)

Divorced mother of one, Charlie Madigan, lives in a world where the beings of heaven and hell exist among us, and they aren't the things of Sunday school lessons and Hallmark figurines. In the years since the Revelation, they've become our co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

Charlie works for ITF (Integration Task Force). It's her job to see that the continued integration of our new "friends" goes smoothly and everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground Atlanta, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right.

better part of darkness


Follow the tour!

My Life in Not So Many Words:
Parajunkee’s View:
Crazy Books & Reviews:
The Book Tree:
Book Junkie:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Drey’s Library:
Poisoned Rationality:
Found Not Lost:
A Book Bloggers Diary:
Booksie’s Blog:
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:
My Adventures in Mommyland:
I Heart Book Gossip:
All About {n}:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
Jen’s Book Talk:
Chick with Books:
Reading with Tequila:
Pick of the Literate:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Revenge of the Booknerds:
You Wanna Know What I Think?:
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm:
Patricia’s Vampire Notes:
SciFi Guy:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Book Soulmates:



Review: Gifts of the Heart

Gifts_of_the_Heart2Gifts of the Heart by Karen Boes Oman
Illustrated by Marilyn Brown
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5/5
(Click cover to purchase)


Gifts from the heart tells a very cute story in verse about a Grandma and a Grandpa who go to their Grandchildren’s house for Christmas. But on the way, a huge storm came and swept all their presents away to Little Bow Peep’s house, where everyone was in need of the things that Grandma and Grandpa had. So Grandma and Grandpa gave the gifts to those who needed it most instead of taking them back. Then when Grandma and Grandpa went to the Grandkids house, they explained to the children what happened with their presents. Little Bow Peep shows up with flying sheep in a sleigh and takes all the Grandchildren for a ride to her town, where they receive gifts from the heart made by the people of the town to thank them for giving up their gifts.

This is a wonderful story about giving to people who are in need, and it shows kids that giving is just as much fun as receiving. This is a wonderful story that should be on every shelf!

Recommendation: Ages 4-8

**Thank you to Karen and Bostic Communications for providing my review copy!**


I am seeing orange in my future…

I got a call from Campbell Universtiy today. I’ve been accepted!! Yay!! I got some sort of scholarship, too. But I haven’t gotten any information about it yet. We’ll see :D I’m pretty excited.

That being said: This next spring semester while I’m still at home, the book blogging will be slowing down. Not stopping, but slowing. I’ll probably do two or three books a week at the most. Next year (Fall 2010) I’ll be doing even less. But that’ll only last for about 2 years, because I’m going into CU as a junior.

My major? No idea. I’ll get back to you on that one.

Anyway. I’m excited.

~H :D

Review and Tour: The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano

By Larry SweitzerThe-Ghost-The-Eggheads-and-Babe-Ruths-Piano1
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 4.5

Freddie is a nerd, and he likes it that way. He keeps his grades up, he holds honors positions at his school, and he studies hard. But he’s only second best. Tony is his rival, and Tony is always putting him down. Tony and Freddie both go to Camp Mason over the summer, where Billy Mason died many years ago. Supposedly, there’s a ghost haunting the camp, but nobody has ever seen him.

Freddie is desperately trying to do three things: one, keep Tony from winning the scholarship at the end of the camp, two, find out about the ghost, and three, get a little closer to his crush, Ginny. But there are plenty of things stopping Freddie. How is he going to solve the mystery, win the scholarship competition, and put together sentences that make sense when he talks to Ginny?

The Ghosts, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano was hilarious. I enjoyed this story immensely! The story had the perfect amount of adventure, romance, tension, comic relief, and baseball. Now I’m not really Red Sox fan like Freddie is, but I now have a healthy respect for baseball. The cool part is, the baseball parts weren’t boring to me because of the way they were presented.

My favorite character was Zoe, the perky lively girl who ended up as Logan’s (Freddie’s friend) girlfriend by the end of the book (My second favorite had to be Harry Potter…  Monty’s pet rat.), but I loved all the characters in this story. They had a lot of personality and were relatable and likeable (or in Tony’s case, hate-able.)

There were a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t expect! The pacing was perfect—it wasn’t too fast or too slow, and clues and keys were presented in a logical fashion. The end was totally unexpected and exciting, and got my blood racing. Freddie finally solves this mystery of how Billy died… and even though he didn’t win the scholarship competition, somehow ends up with money for college anyway.

Content: This book was wonderfully clean of everything.

Recommendation: Ages 10+, but suitable for teens as well.

**Thank you to Larry and Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book for supplying my review copy!**



About the author: larry-sweitzer

Larry Sweitzer was born in western Maryland and grew up in a small town where baseball was a way of life. He moved to southern Virginia as a teenager and has lived there ever since. The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth’s Piano is his first novel.  You can visit him online at






The-Ghost tour

Miss the rest of the tour? Here were the stops:

Tuesday, Dec. 1
Guest Blogging at Beth’s Book Review Blog

Wednesday, Dec. 2
Interviewed at Examiner

Thursday, Dec. 3
Book Reviewed at My Overstuffed Bookshelf
Guest Blogging at Write for a Reader

Friday, Dec. 4
Interviewed at Beyond the Books

Monday, Dec. 7
Interview l Chat l Book Giveaway at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, Dec. 8
Book Reviewed at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
Guest Blogging at Carol’s Notebook

Wednesday, Dec. 9
Book Reviewed at Must Read Faster

Thursday, Dec. 10
Guest Blogging at A Book Blogger’s Diary
Book Reviewed at Cafe of Dreams

Friday, Dec. 11
Guest Blogging at The Book Faery Reviews

Monday, Dec. 14
Book Reviewed at Book Bound

Tuesday, Dec. 15
Book Reviewed at One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Book Reviewed at Libby’s Libarary News
Book Reviewed at The Life of an Inanimate Flying Object



Catalogue of legally free downloads online

Because who doesn't like free stuff?

  • E-books: Click here to go to goodreads’ selection of free
  • Librivox has many free audiobooks for download. All the audiobooks are ones that are no longer under copyright laws.

    My favorite Librivox audiobooks:
    **Pride and Prejudice read by Karen Savage
    **Uncle Tom’s Cabin read by John Greenman

  • Digi Scrap  Depot is for those of you who like to do your own backgrounds, layouts, and graphics for your blogs. You can also use things from there for decoupage.
  • Ravelry is a great place for knitting patterns! They’re everywhere.
  • The Daily Knitter is one of my favorite knitting pattern directories. They’ve got tons of patterns and they’re easy to sort through.
  • Free songs for download (note that all of these were offered by the artist for free download for promotions. If you enjoy the music, please consider buying the album.)



Have something you’d like to share or add? E-mail me with a link!

Review and Tour: A Blue and Gray Christmas

A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2/5blue gray

Summary (From Goodreads): In this stunning holiday story, a cache of Civil War–era letters and diaries sweeps the ladies of Covington up into a dramatic and heartwarming historical saga that inspires them to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by war.

I found it difficult to read this book, for a few reasons: one, it’s in the middle of a series and I haven’t read the others. Two, the writing isn’t that good, the style seems odd. The dialogue is unrealistic and the characters are not that likeable.

However, I did enjoy the diary and the letter parts of the book—they were written in an enchanting way, and I could hear the voices and the accents of the writer while I read.

I didn’t finish this book, I felt no attachment to it and found myself skipping pieces and forcing myself to read it. I guess this one just wasn’t for me.


**Thank you to Sarah from Pocketbooks for supplying
my review copy!**

Follow the rest of the tour!

Books Reviews by Buuklvr81
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object
Good Books & Wine
I Read
Morbid Romantic
Book Junkie
My Book Addiction and More
Red Headed Book Child
Blog Business World
My Reading Room
Frugal Plus
Book Magic
All About {n}
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books
Psychotic State
That’s a Novel Idea
My Friend Amy
Brizmus Blogs About Books
A Few of My Favorite Things
Found Not Lost
Jen’s Book Talk
The Princess and the Monkey
Marta’s Meanderings
Broken Teepee
Books, Books Everywhere
Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
Reading at the Beach



Review: David Sedaris—Live for your listening pleasure

david sedaris David Sedaris—Live for your listening pleasure (Audio)
Genre: Radio show
Rating: 4/5


David Sedaris tells story after humorous story, always pulling laughs from his audience (the audio recording is live). This short collection of memoir-esque stories will keep you laughing the whole way through.

The recording features four stories and several diary entries that are sure to have you grinning at the least and crying from laughing at the most.

Content: There was some mild language and some sexual references. Not for the easily offended.

Recommendation: Ages 18+ to anyone who enjoys radio shows, comedy, or just needs a good laugh and a break from reality.



Review: A Christmas Carol, special edition

christmas_carol_cov A Christmas Carol, Special Edition by Charles Dickens and Stephen Skelton
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5/5


We all, at one point or another, have heard the story of A Christmas Carol, whether we read the book in school, watched a movie with the family, or saw the Muppets version on youtube (which, by the way, is my favorite. I heartily recommend it.). But there is so much more to the story that we don’t grasp because of how our culture has changed. This is the way it is with every classic book. But A Christmas Carol is a story that needs to be understood in it’s full impact because of the story it tells and the lessons it teaches. Stephen Skelton has made it possible.

The Special Edition of A Christmas Carol is a small book, perfect to fit in a small handbag (or a stocking!) with a beautiful cover. The book itself is printed with Dickens’ story in the main section of the pages, and the notes, subtext, and annotations printed in the outer margins. After every “Chapter” (called a Stave in the text) there is a discussion section, perfect for any age group, either young children or mature Christians. The discussion features Bible verses and questions, and relates events, topics, and themes from A Christmas Carol to our everyday Christian walk with God. Extra verses and topics follow the end of every discussion section for those older individuals who wish to go further into studying the themes targeted in the book: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation, and Rebirth. At the end of the book is a list of resources for further study.

The story of A Christmas Carol remains, to this day, a classic in literature because it is a wonderful story of sin and greed turned around to Christianity and charity through allegory and parable. It has proved itself a wonderful story to every reader, and will continue to do so forever. Hopefully, this will be the edition that becomes the standard.

Recommendation: All ages. Wonderful for family discussions or group Bible studies. Perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer! Click here to go to Amazon to buy ($7.99 paperback)



Review: It Happened One Night

9780446406901_1681X2544IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT by Lisa Dale
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3.5/5


Summary (From Goodreads): Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward.

Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do. But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.


It was really hard for me to give this book time, I felt like putting it down and giving up after the first few chapters. It wasn’t written particularly well, and I didn’t like the characters a whole lot. I still don’t. However, the story ended up being pretty good.

It was hard for me personally to look beyond the bottom line of the story: Lana had sex, got pregnant with a baby from a man she didn’t love, then she fell in love with her best friend. Her sister desperately wanted her to put her baby up for adoption so she could have it, and her father who never fathered them came back in the middle of it all and caused nothing but problems.

There were a few parts that just seemed out of place—Ron (the baby’s father) coming back and proposing, Gene (sister’s husband) walking out, and the apologies from the father. It just didn’t feel realistic. I’m not quite sure why.

But when I did look beyond that, I saw a very realistic story with good strong characters and the choices and words that they make and speak.

I got into the story about a quarter of the way through, and couldn’t put the book down. The events that happened lined up well, the pacing was good, and it was very original.

I really did like this book, I’m just not particularly sure why I liked it. Maybe it was the fact that the characters acted like real people, they weren't just characters. There were no “happily ever after” moments, although the ending was very good. I think, taking into consideration that in real life or fiction, it’s not really going to get better than it did, it was a very good story.

I’ve read a lot of really good reviews for this book, so don’t let my pessimism discourage you. Again, I liked it, but I’m not sure why. I doubt I’ll ever read it again, but then very few books make it to my “repeat” pile.

Content: For a romance book, this was free of details. There were some scenes, but they weren’t described. There was very very little language (I think there was one bad word total).

Recommendation: Ages 15+


**Thank you to Anna from Hachette for providing my review copy!**


Review: Healthy Bread in five minutes a day

HEALTY BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 4.5/5

healthy bread

Healthy Bread is the kind of cookbook that you pick up and flip through and think “mmm…. Mmmmm. Oh. Yum…… oooohhh……” anyway that’s what I did. My mom bakes her own French bread and grind her own wheat and bakes wheat bread twice a week, and she flipped through and had the same general reaction. “Oh we should make that—no wait, that one—oh, I never knew about that…”

The format in which the recipes are presented are ideal. a description, ingredients, easy to read instructions, time to set/preheat/prepare, and extra things you can do or changes you can make to the recipe.

The information in Healthy Bread is superb. Jeff and Zoë have taken a bread baking cookbook to a further step. They have given tons of extra information about different kinds of flour, seeds and nuts, equipment, tips and technique, and step by step photographs and how-to’s of making artisan bread. There is a question/answer section that answers any question you may come up with, and sources in the back if they didn’t get to your problem. There is also a section in the middle with lots of high-quality color photographs of some of the recipes.  The only downside of this book is that there isn’t a photograph for every recipe. However, you don’t really need it because the recipes are described well enough to know what it should look like.

All in all, Healthy Bread blew my mind for a bread cookbook. This is more than a cookbook. This is a handbook that should be in every baker’s house.

**Thank you to FSB Media for providing my review copy!**


Review and Tour: The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between

Genres: Fiction, Drama, Humor, Romance
Rating: 5/5

light dark ember 


The Light, The Dark and Ember Between is a collection of short stories that show people and events the way they really are. Each story is a beautiful picture of humans and emotions.

Each story in The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between is beautifully set up and developed quickly, by way of characters, setting, and dialogue. I was instantly drawn into each one as quickly as I turned the page.

J.W. Nicklaus is a wonderful writer. His words are fluid and lyric and full of beautiful vivid descriptions, the kinds that you re-read paragraphs because the words were beautiful. His characters are real people living with real situations, fighting to live though their losses. Some stories are funny (Reydeo says “T.V. is dead!”=Radio says TV is dead), some are sweet (momma didn’t spank me after all, and I told God thank you when I said grace), some that dabble in the supernatural (I beheld Satan falling as lightning from heaven.) and some that make your heart sing (yes, I fell in love with you when you were in second grade and you never knew it.).

I enjoyed each and every one of these stories, and this book will stay on my bookshelf for years. They’re the kind that you read over and over, whichever you feel like reading that day. I look forward to more from Nicklaus, and I encourage everyone to get their hands on this book as soon as they can.

Content: there was an occasional cuss word scattered through some of the short stories, but it wasn’t overdone, overly offensive, or inappropriate.

Recommendation: Ages 10+ to lover of any genre.


About the author:


J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).

Snow has been featured prominently in his stories, perhaps because of the seasonless cli-mate he lives in. Nature was meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not hidden from the senses. So to that end, he hopes someday to live amongst those who are able to live through four true seasons, and not just blast furnace and warm.

He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Within the expanse of every waking moment, he hopes his guardian angel keeps its arms open wide and heart ever watchful, for there but for one true Hope goes She.


An Excerpt:
From One Washington Diner:
The interior lights punched holes in the dead of night, and in the stillness I could hear the buzz of glowing neon from the sign above. I’d hoped there would be the slim chance of some distraction from the empty, laughing darkness that taunted me. Pinching the bridge of my nose between thumb and forefinger, I shuffled through the front door, greeted by the hostess/cashier/night manager, who apparently was thriving on the not-so-delicate thrush of caffeine. Her uniform bore the hallmarks of traditional diner-dom: bobby sox, her skirt hemline right around knee level, and wide, flat lapels on her blouse. She looked me over for all of two seconds before making
her vocal appraisal.
“Let me guess…can’t sleep?” Her voice was disarming, welcoming, like a puppy that jumps in
your lap. Managing a frustrated grin I hoarsely replied, “That obvious?”
“Your eyes, your body language—yeah.” I should have had some snappy retort, but my mental haze precluded any such response and subsequently I let slip my small window of opportunity for any suitable comeback.
Instead, I yawned.
“Jeez, my only customer and I’m already boring you,” she blurted out. I thought she smirked, but couldn’t be certain in my unwillingly wakeful state. I glanced around the empty dining room and motioned from left to right. “Looks like you’re swamped. Should I come back later?”
Soft brown curls played upon her left shoulder as she turned her head slightly. “Early a.m. sarcasm—I like it. Sit wherever you like, I’m good at finding people in a crowd.” Even in my sleepless haze, I had to admit she was delightful.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll sit at the counter,” I croaked. “I’ll try not to be a bother.” Her hair gently fluttered as she shook her head. “Works for me. Cop a squat and I’ll be right with ya’.”
My mind was made up—she was indeed delightful, in a common denominator kind of way. Having never exceeded the mathematical scope of algebra during my academic career that suited me just fine.


Follow the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, Dec. 1
Interview l Chat l Book Giveaway at Pump Up Your Book
Guest blogging at As the Pages Turn

Wednesday, Dec. 2
Interviewed at Examiner

Thursday, Dec. 3
Interviewed at Working Writers

Friday, Dec. 4
Guest blogging at The Impression I Get

Monday, Dec. 7
Interviewed at A Book and a Chat Radio Show
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report

Tuesday, Dec. 8
Guest blogging at Beth’s Book Review Blog

Wednesday, Dec. 9
Book reviewed at Reading on the Beach
Guest blogging at Market My Novel

Thursday, Dec. 10
Book reviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Guest blogging at Blogging Authors

Friday, Dec. 11
Book reviewed at
The Life of an Inanimate Flying Object

Monday, Dec. 14
Book reviewed at 25 Hour Books
Interviewed on Introducing Writers Radio Show

Tuesday, Dec. 15
Book reviewed at Books, Books, the Magical Fruit
Interviewed at AllVoices

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Interviewed at Broowaha
Book reviewed at Review From Here
Book reviewed at Cafe of Dreams

the-light-dark-ember-between tour

**Thank you to Nicklaus and Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book for providing my review copy!**




Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.