Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 Books of 2015!!


This is probably one of my favorite posts to do every year. I love sharing the Top 10 books that I read during the year with all of you. Note that they aren't books published this year but books that I read this year. I'll share the cover, GoodReads link and link to my review. So let's get right into it!! 


1. With Visions of Red: Broken Bonds, Book Three by Trisha Wolfe


2. With Visions of Red: Broken Bonds, Book Two by Trisha Wolfe


3. With Visions of Red: Broken Bonds, Book One by Trisha Wolfe


4. The Touched (The Descendants, Book One) by Jennifer Weiser


5. Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan


6. Seven Day FiancĂ© (Love and Games #2) by Rachel Harris 


7. The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly 


8. Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova 


9. Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling 


10. Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Giveaway Ends in Less than 5 Hours!!

Hey guys!! Check out this giveaway. It ends in less than 5 hours. Some really great prizes to be won. A copy of Transcendence (A Transcend Time Sage Bonus Packet) by Michelle Madow and a signed Earth's End (Air Awakens #3) bookmark. Yes, signed by the author, Elise Kova. This first prize is continental US only. I'm sorry, shipping is crazy. But there are two international prizes. Each for a chance to win a signed Earth's End bookmark. Michelle Madow is one of my favorite authors. I loved the entire Transcend Time Sage and I enjoyed the first book in the Air Awakens series. I'm reading the second book right now. So don't miss this giveaway!! 

Book Review ~ My Secret Summer by Theresa Troutman

Title: My Secret Summer
Author: Theresa Troutman
Release Date: October 26th 2014 (first published October 25th 2013)
Page Amount: 85 pages, E-book

GoodReads Blurb:
Caitlin Conners is a loner; shy and artistic. Her only friend is her sister, Carly. When Carly dies in a car accident, Caitlin has never felt more alone. An overbearing mother makes her life impossible when she meets the boy next door, Dylan Rodgers. Dylan doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd either. He prefers skateboarding to football and is viewed by his fellow students as a pot head. 

Dylan helps Caitlin deal with her grief and awakens her sexuality. Somehow these two misfits strike up a friendship and fall in love, while trying to keep their relationship a secret from Caitlin’s parents. Caitlin resorts to various methods to sneak out of the house to be with Dylan. As the stakes increase, emotions run high and passion ignites. The thrill of ‘getting away with it’ is so addictive and makes Caitlin feel invincible. How long can she get away with the lies before she is found out? 

**Contain mature sexual situations**

I was looking for a quick read but one with substance to it, as well. A book does not have to be long to have substance. The book starts off right in the action (or en medias res, as I learned in English class.) 

The book had a good storyline and showed the different ways that people go about grieving. I liked all of the characters. Although Caitlin did get on my nervesometimes. But when I think about it it makes sense. I liked the relationship between her and Dylan. I think it may have gone too fast. But I liked Dylan a lot. While the story was good and I liked the characters I felt that the story could have delved more deeply into everything that was going on. There were also several typos and I think that the ending was very abrupt. However, to be fair. Theresa released the one year anniversary extended edition but I'm not sure if that's the edition that I got. It was the only edition available through the Nook, though. So I'll check into that. Overall, I liked the story and I would check out other books by Theresa. 3.5 quills. 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review ~ Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan


Title: Perfectly Imperfect
Author: Harper Sloan
Release Date: November 17th 2015
Page Amount: 311 pages, Nook Book

GoodReads Blurb:
**Standalone novel**

Mirror, mirror ... who's the fairest of them all?

I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn't grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all 'mean girls.'

And those mean girls were right - it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world - and I knew the answer would never be me.

The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests.

The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward.

Well, that's definitely not Willow Tate.

No. That will never be me.

Because I'm completely imperfect.

And ... I hate myself.

I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.

I started reading this book very soon after it was released into the world. I stumbled upon Harper Sloan's Facebook page and saw her posting about this book. Honestly, the first thing that drew me in was the cover. It's stunning. Then I saw the little blurb on the cover and knew that I had to see just what this book was about. Once I read the synopsis, that was it, I had to get it. I actually didn't intend to read it right away but I opened up the book on my Nook just to check it out and I couldn't stop reading it. I just kept "turning" the pages. 

The writing absolutely drew me in. As did the character of Willow. I loved Willow. Even though at times she could seem frustrating because of her insistence that she was not beautiful and not worthy of love or anything else for that matter. But this is something that people experience every day. It isn't something that just happens between the pages of books or in a movie or song or television show. This book dealt with real issues. There was a romance in it, yes, and there were definitely several steamy scenes. But I felt that the book did a wonderful job dealing with these very real life issues. This is one of those books that I feel could really help people. An example of why I love the written words so much. It really does have more power than people tend to give it credit for. 

I also loved Kane. He was great character. I loved seeing Willow through his eyes. I also just have to say that I love that he read romance novels. He was a very strong character from the beginning and his strength helped Willow to build up her own strength throughout the book. That isn't to say that he was without his vulnerabilities. Which is a other thing that I liked about him. 

There was another situation that came up in this book that also shows how this book dealt with very heavy issues. It is a feel good romance but it doesn't shy away from these issues. This situation was not at all what I was expecting, that's all that I can say without giving anything away. 

I honestly just absolutely adored this book. I'm having a hard time coming up with more to say because my review would just be a bunch of exclamation points. That's how much I love it. Not only did I order the paperback of this book but I ordered the signed paperback of it. It came a couple of days ago and I was so excited. It's even more gorgeous in person. And signed by Harper Sloan. This book will stay on my bookshelf forever. I don't reread books very often, but this is one that I definitely would. I loved it so much that I would sit down and reread it again right now. I would absolutely recommend this book. It was wonderful. 5 quills!! 


Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review ~ The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson


Title: The Madness Vase
Author: Andrea Gibson
Release Date: July 1st 2011
Published By: Write Bloody Publishing
Page Amount: 120 pages, Paperback 

GoodReads Blurb:
In 2010 Andrea Gibson's poetry was read by a state representative in lieu of morning prayer at the Utah State Legislature. In THE MADNESS VASE, her second book of poems, Gibson seizes us by the collar, hauls us inside some of her darkest moments, then releases us out the other side. The pieces in this collection delve intimately into the topics of family, war, sex, class, gender, and spirituality. They are a rally cry for action and a welcome mat at the door of heart's most compassionate room. 

I saw this collection of poetry in a BookTuber's review. I think she's now known as JournalTree on YouTube. I was intrigued so I ordered myself a copy (along with a book on writing poetry that I think I'll read in 2016.) I really enjoyed this collection of poetry. It dealt with some very important issues like LGBTQ and gender identity. Andrea Gibson faced them head on, along with things like war, sex, spirituality. She isn't afraid to face these things and write about them with honesty. Unafraid of what society may think of what she's written. 

My favorites in this collection were:
- Andrew

- I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power's Out

- Marriage 

- The Jewelry Store 


Her poetry was very abstract but also somehow concrete at the same time in her message. The imagery was terrific, as well. I enjoyed this collection of poetry and would definitely look for Andrea Gibson's other works. 4 quills. 


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review ~ A Letter to My Friend by Rebekah Palmer


Title: A Letter to My Friend
Author: Rebekah Palmer
Release Date: August 16th 2013 (first published July 1st 2013)
Published By: Launch! 
Page Amount: 70 pages, Paperback

GoodReads Blurb:
A book for teenagers written by a teenager. If you are a young person not quite on your own, in college or a young adult, this book was written with you in mind. The truths expressed inside will help you on your journey to becoming an adult who makes Holy Spirit-led decisions and takes on responsibility for those around you. 

Rebekah Palmer is a friend of mine. We met through Facebook through a community of people who have Cystinosis. Rebekah and I both have this rare disorder. She likes to write as well so we get along pretty well. I bought her book two years ago when it first came out but didn't read it until this month. 

Now, I'm actually not a particularly religious person and this book is obviously mostly aimed at religious Christians. I may not be religious but I do consider myself spiritual. I think that there were some good musings in this book. While they were targeted to a more religious audience I do believe that you don't have to be religious to get use out of the messages. That being said, there were some things that I didn't necessarily agree with. But the odds of always agreeing with everyone on everything are slim. One thing that I didn't like - it had nothing to do with the messages expressed - was in the about pages. Now, Rebekah has an amazing and inspirational story. That isn't at all what I took issue with. In the about pages Cystinosis is described as a kidney disorder. I think that Rebekah may have done this to simplify things for people to understand but Cystinosis itself is not a kidney disorder. Nephropathic Cystinosis causes a kidney disorder, it is not a kidney disorder itself. (I don't claim to know anything about the other two types of Cystinosis.) 

Even though there were some things that I didn't particularly agree with, the book was good. It was very well written. There were also some poems at the back of the book. Again, some of them were more religious than I am but the poems themselves were good. I enjoyed them. Rebekah is a good writer. And I am very sure that there is an audience out there for this book that would enjoy it even more because they relate more to the religious aspect. I would give this book 3.75 quills. Merry Belated Christmas, Rebekah!! 


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review ~ Emotion Amplifiers by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi


Title: Emotion Amplifiers 
Author: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Release Date: December 4th 2014
Published By: JADD Publishing 
Page Amount: 72 pages, Nook Book

GoodReads Blurb:
When writing fictional characters, it’s hugely important to convey their emotions effectively so readers will be drawn in and become invested in those characters. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression was written to help writers convey the quality and depth of their characters’ feelings through their thoughts, body language, and visceral reactions. But there are also ways to amplify what a character is feeling, thereby heightening their emotional responses. 

In Emotion Amplifiers, a companion guide to The Emotion Thesaurus, we explore 15 common states that naturally galvanize emotion. States like exhaustion, boredom, illness, pain, and extreme hunger can push characters to the limit, compromising their decision-making abilities and decreasing the likelihood of them reaching their goals. Emotion Amplifiers is a great tool for any writer wishing to tighten the screws on their characters and amp up the tension in their stories.

Last year I read three books that were writing related and I've decided that I want to read at least one book related to writing or some aspect of it every year. I actually have a pretty big collection of these. Some from the Creative Writing classes that I took in college. I have all three other books by these authors. "The Emotion Thesaurus", "The Positive Trait Thesaurus" and "The Negative Trait Thesaurus". I've referenced them all while writing - but admittedly should reference them more - so when I saw this I knew that I wanted to get it. 

I did read the whole thing straight through even though it is meant as more of a reference book. I'm sure that I will be going back to this as a reference often. But from my read through of it, I think that this book is very well put together. Easy to use and informative. It will definitely help when writing characters and their emotions. If you're a writer then I would definitely recommend this book to you. It was well worth the buy and the read. I will absolutely be going back to it many times. 5 quills. 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Short Story Review ~ A Christmas Gift by Stella Wilkinson


Title: A Christmas Gift
Author: Stella Wilkinson
Release Date: December 12th 2014
Page Amount: 28 pages, Nook Book

GoodReads Blurb:
Holly and Caleb had been best friends as children, growing up on the same street, but as teenagers they couldn't be further apart. When Caleb unexpectedly asked Holly to help him pick out a Christmas gift for his girlfriend, neither of them anticipated where it would lead. 

A young adult romantic comedy, from Stella Wilkinson, acclaimed author of The Flirting Games Series. 

"Oh what it is to be young! A funny, light and frothy read." Janie Oakes, Teen Reader Today 

Please note that this is a short story of approx 7000 words (excluding copy-write and back matter).  

I found this through Ryan Ringbloom's "Holiday Reads" feature on her website. Which I was actually featured in, as well. You can find my review for "My Santa, My Elf" here: and while you're there don't forget to check out the other reviews from some other amazing authors!! 

A Christmas Gift was the book that Ryan Ringbloom reviewed. It sounded like a cute read so I went right to Barnes & Noble and got it for my Nook. It read it one night. Partly because it was a fast read and partly because I wanted to see what happened. I liked the character of Holly a lot. She seemed relatable to me. From the way she described Caleb at first I wasn't so fond of him but he grew on me. 

The writing was good and I could picture everything that was going on without any trouble. I love when I can just see everything going on in a book. The Christmas references made it a great read for this month, especially since I celebrate Christmas. I liked the ending, it was a very cute and sweet happily ever after. A perfect feel good Christmas or holiday read. Which is why today was the perfect day to post this review. Merry Christmas!! I give this short story 4 quills!! 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Mini Review ~ Fantastic Mistakes, Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" Speech


Title: Fantastic Mistakes, Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" Speech
Author: Neil Gaiman
Release Date: May 14th 2013, first published May 29th 2012
Published By: William Morrow
Page Amount: 80 pages, Hardcover

GoodReads Blurb:
In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman stood at a podium at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts to deliver the commencement address. For the next nineteen minutes he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength: he encouraged the students before him to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to make good art.

This book, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman’s inspiring speech. Whether bestowed upon a young artist beginning his or her creative journey, or given as a token of gratitude to an admired mentor, or acquired as a gift to oneself, this volume is a fitting offering for anyone who strives to make good art.

I think that the first time that I saw this was in a BookTuber's review video. It sounded like something that I would like and I loved the design of the book, as well. Of course the words on the pages were great but it was just as great flipping through the pages for the colors and design on them. I could flip through this book just for that. 

But I also loved the words themselves. It was such a great and inspirational read. One of those books that I'm sure that I'll go back to again and again to reread parts, just like J. K. Rowling's "Very Good Lives". These are two books that will always grace the my bookshelves. It was also great to hear more about Neil Gaiman. I highly recommend this book to everyone. 5 quills. 


Short Story Review ~ Love at First Book by Sarah Tregay


Title: Love at First Book (A Short Story in Verse)
Author: Sarah Tregay
Release Date: June 27th 2015 
Page Amount: 64 pages, Paperback

GoodReads Blurb:
Love at First Book: a short story in verse... 

From across the coffee shop Lorelei catches a stanza of heart-stopping description of a boy with a book in his back pocket. And that might have been her last line if he didn't leave it behind with a poem tucked between the pages. A poem about a candy-striper with bright hair and an angel's voice who reads to hospital patients like Lorelei does. 

I love books told in verse. I can't remember which book I'd just finished but I remember that I was looking for something really quick to read. I found this through recommendations on GoodReads and thought that it sounded cute so I bought a copy for my Kindle app. 

This was a very cute read. I enjoyed the story and loved that Lorelei was so intrigued by this boy because he carried a book and then left a poem tucked between its pages. I liked Lorelei, too. And the way that it was told was fun. As I said, I love stories told in verse. I love fiction but I also love poetry so it's a great combination of the two. I do feel that the ending was a bit abrupt. I'd say that it's worth the read. Especially if you're looking for something sweet and quick to read. 3 quills. 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Tour ~ Found by Jason Smith: Excerpt & Guest Post, Inspiration Behind the Novel

 Found by Jason Smith 
Genre: Thriller 
Publisher: MaxQ Enterprises
  Publication Date: May 13, 2015  

Not all the good in the world is known - the same can be said for the bad. People, places and events that seem random, really aren't.
How are we to know whose lives will be affected, or destroyed? Will one wrong move make the difference? Will one bad decision end somebody's life?
No one knows what will be lost - or who will be Found.



Excerpt from Chapter One - ADRIFT

Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Joe Suggs received the alert just as he was thinking about stopping for coffee. It didn’t come from the normal radio dispatch, but from theunusual green box that sat on the passenger side seat. The low hum startled him as it hadn’t sounded off in a few months. It took him a couple of seconds to realize it was the box pulsing and not something coming from outside his vehicle. All thoughts of coffee went away. 

He smiled and started to play with his mustache. He was back in. A flood of relief washed over him. He’d been afraid that whatever made it work was broken. He knew it didn’t run on batteries and he’d spent plenty of idle time thinking about how it operated, but it was beyond him.

The box itself was pretty simple. It resembled a recipe holder in size and design, complete with a clasp on the front that didn’t open; it wasn’t supposed to. Suggs knew, from experience, what he needed would be digitally displayed on the top of the little box. He confirmed what he needed to know, then removed his thumb from the clasp. The information disappeared.

He liked the electricity that came from moments like this; wondering what he was going to be asked to do. Suggs asked why he couldn’t just get a text to his cell phone. It was explained to him that they couldn’t risk him not receiving the message. What if your cell phone goes dead and you can’t charge it? What if your phone was off? What if your phone broke and you couldn’t get a new one for a few hours? There were a lot of what ifs. Timing was crucial and he had to be able to return the call within minutes.

Suggs pulled into a supermarket parking lot, to one side off the front entrance. The digital display, on the box, had shown a phone number. He had the number memorized, but he was told to always check first before calling, just in case. Suggs followed the routine exactly, every time, as he thought somehow they would know if he didn’t.

Just as he pulled a cell phone from his pocket, a man dressed in jeans and a Dodgers’ sweatshirt, whose original color was a mystery, moved past him and started sifting through a dumpster looking for returnables. Joe hit the siren for a quick whoop. The man jumped and turned to face him. He put his hands together in a praying gesture, backed away from the dumpster and headed around the corner of the building to the front of the store.

Suggs took in a deep breath. He pulled a small pad of paper and pen out of his shirt pocket. His 6’ 3” frame once looked good on a 200-pound body, but now he was closer to 250, so moving in tight quarters, with full police gear on, wasn’t his favorite thing in the world to do. Suggs flipped the phone open, but almost dropped it. He steadied himself before he typed in the number. He held the phone to his ear and tapped his pen on the pad as he waited to hear the familiar voice. After two rings, and a click, he heard a soft voice.

“Joseph, so marvelous for you to get back to us so soon,” the voice on the other end, named Simon, remarked. “I have a little assignment for you, but it has to happen now.” A sense of urgency ran throughout his voice. “It could be the most important thing you have done for us yet.”

Guest Post:

Inspiration Behind the Novel

    My wife Pam and I were driving home from a short vacation, which had to be sometime in 2007. I think we may have been in the desert outside of Los Angeles - I’m not sure. I was behind the wheel, which is rare, because any long-distance traveling we do in a car she drives. I’m about as useful with directions as I am with an ultrasound machine. She had her eyes closed attempting to nap in the passenger seat, while I deftly turned the middle air conditioner in the console towards me so I would have three of them blasting at my face in the afternoon heat. (She was sleeping, how was she ever going to find out?)

    I don’t know how long I’d been driving, but my general impatience with music had me flipping stations pretty frequently. I’m one of those people who always think there’s a better song to be had somewhere else. I’m not the most die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan in the world, but I happened to hit 'Hungry Heart' just as it was starting.

    “Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. I went out for a ride and I never went baaaack…”

    Hmm, I thought. What if someone actually did that. Just up and left their life for a new one? Started fresh wherever they wanted to go. If they had a wife, kids, a job, or all of those. Or none of those. You talk about an adventure without a safety net. 

    To be honest, I get ideas all the time. I’m a radio and TV personality, so a good portion of my job is trying to be creative five days a week. Some ideas I get work out. Some are just awful. A lot of them are just awful. And it’s not like this was the first time I’d heard that song, I’d probably come across it hundreds of times. So when I got this thought, I spent a few minutes daydreaming about what could happen to a person like that who wanted a life re-start and decided to say ’Screw it, I’m doing it.’ It was just really to pass the time, nothing more. But then I got another idea. And another.

    The guy decided to do this on the worst day of his life. 

    The guy was being chased by the police after he did it.

    The guy gets involved in something that’s way over his head.

    Hey wait a second. This could be…a book.

    After a few minutes my wife woke up, and I said, “Hey, I just had some thoughts these last few minutes.”

    I relayed to her - in greater detail than I will do here to avoid any spoilers - what turned out to be the outline for the first third of what became ‘Found,’ my debut novel. I didn’t know it then, and in fact the whole thing might have just died right there - a temporary flight of brain exercise - had she not said to me “What if there were others like him?”

    No sooner were those words out of her mouth than a switch went on in my head that was unable to be flipped back. I had to try to write this story. 
I had never written anything more than a few hundred words - internet sports columns, mostly - so this would be juuuuuust a little bit more than that. Working at night (and before our daughter was born), I had my days free. Instead of playing ‘Guitar Hero’ for two hours or dozing on the couch watching daytime cable, I’d write. And if after a little bit of trying, if it didn’t work out? No one would know. The stakes were very low. 

    So I wrote. Soon I had eight pages, then fifteen. Then twenty-three. Then I was near forty. Then fifty. I remember fifty, because I had sort of unconsciously set that as the bar I wanted to reach before I re-assessed everything. I didn’t know if I even had anything worthwhile. I mean, I thought I did, but maybe it was all in my head. I needed feedback, so I had the person I trust the most in the world read it. When she got done, Pam asked me what came next. That’s when I first believed I could do it. 

    Would I have gotten on this road I’ve been traveling for the last seven years from concept to execution to publication if I didn’t hear Springsteen on the radio at that day, at that time, in that situation? I don’t know. Maybe. But maybe not. A lot of life is chance, which is what my main character finds out in ‘Found.' Lucky for me, he had already made his choice before the song came on his radio. 

About the Author:

Jason Smith began his career in television production before becoming both a network TV and radio personality. He has spent the last dozen years with ESPN, the NFL Network, and Fox Sports Radio. He currently hosts "The Jason Smith Show", heard nights on FSR and iheart radio.
His other highlights include an Emmy Award for his work on 'Sportscenter,' marrying well, memorizing "Caddyshack" and the '86 Mets. And not necessarily in that order.
And he's glad Revis is back.
'Found' is his first novel.