Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: The Women of Longbourn by Gianna Thomas

The Women of Longbourn by Gianna Thomas is Book 6 in the Darcy and Elizabeth series
59 pages, ebook
Published October 15, 2014
Source: I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

Description: - What were the aspirations of The Women of Longbourn? -

"Marriage...the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune." (Pride and Prejudice)

In the early 1800's, young women were expected to be accomplished, marry well, obey their husbands, and bear their children, especially the heir whether to the peerage or the gentry.

But was that true of all The Women of Longbourn?

A short story, The Women of Longbourn, takes a closer look at the Bennet family women and what their dreams may have included. And don't be surprised when you learn that even the female servants had dreams as well.

Come along with Elizabeth Bennet as she records the aspirations of the Bennet women— and the female servants who care for their needs—during the fortnight prior to the Meryton Assembly. And enjoy Lizzy's comments that are interspersed in her journal with the family's interactions and how they may have differed with most families in the early 1800's in Regency England.

And if you've ever wondered exactly what was expected of the female servants in a household such as the Bennets, wonder no more. The Women of Longbourn will give you a bird’s eye view of their duties and how they were carried out in the household of Fanny and Thomas Bennet.

My Review: This is a very short story, but it really delves into the female characters of the beloved Pride and Prejudice story. Written by Lizzy Bennet in a journal format, each woman--even the servants--is given her own chapter that tells more about what she looks like and what her personality is like. I loved reading about each woman's hopes and dreams and enjoyed coming to know each character better. This knowledge helped me understand some of the reasoning behind actions. Like I mentioned before, it's short, but it is fun and clean!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Where There Is Love by Mya O'Malley


Where There is Love 

Where There Is Love by Mya O'Malley
Published October 10th 2014, 137 pages
My Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Description: Mia Dennsi is a beautiful young woman who has experienced a challenging childhood. As an out of work teacher, Mia accepts a position for home-schooling a troubled, misunderstood teenager. Mia makes it a priority to help Cassidy overcome her challenges and reach for her dreams. In the process, Mia experiences healing of her own; she is faced with issues she must now come to terms with.

Mia finds a rare friendship in Jamie, her caring and attractive neighbor. The relationship starts off as friendship, but will Mia let this healthy friendship bloom into something more or is she destined to a repeat the vicious cycle of making the same mistakes over and over again?

Through the various twists and turns of Mia’s love life, she is forced to make a decision that will affect her entire future. The reader cannot help but root for this character to succumb to true love and happiness.



My Review: I loved reading this heartfelt story in alternating points of view. The reader gets to enjoy the inner thoughts of both Mia and Jamie. Each chapter is clearly labeled and I never felt confused about who was speaking.

Mia always seems to fall for the wrong kind of man and even though she was warned away from Josh, she can't help herself and finds herself dealing with an unexpected issue. She has worked hard to get through school and is now searching for the job as a teacher. She is offered a position to home school a challenging teen, which really helps Mia learn a lot about herself. 

Jamie is new to the apartment complex and is ready for a relationship. He can't help feeling attracted to Mia, his neighbor, yet she can't give Josh up. Jamie will just have to settle for a good friendship. Why is it good guys never catch the girl?

I could understand Mia's dilemmas, but hated the thought of her jerking Jamie around while trying to make decisions. Timing is everything and I think they both had to go through the experiences they did to end up where they found themselves. Mia basically raised herself and had problems because of that and I loved the way Cassidy, the student, helped her realize that she needed help. Jamie is such a great friend, but sometimes a person needs to take care of his own needs and put his foot down. In doing so, he dug deep within himself to find the truth about his feelings. I loved watching their friendship develop and the way Jamie really stepped in to help Mia when she needed him the most.

Content: I honestly don't remember there being much in the way of language or violence--maybe a word or two; kissing; two very, very vague implied intimate moments--very tastefully done with no details, but the events were necessary for the storyline. Clean!


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About the Author:  
Mya O'Malley 
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.
Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her fifth novel.
 
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett


Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) 

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld Book 23) by Terry Pratchett
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published September 8th 1999 by HarperPrism

Description: In a fit of enlightenment democracy and ebullient goodwill, King Verence invites Uberwald's undead, the Magpyrs, into Lancre to celebrate the birth of his daughter. But once ensconced within the castle, these wine-drinking, garlic-eating, sun-loving modern vampires have no intention of leaving. Ever.

Only an uneasy alliance between a nervous young priest and the argumentative local witches can save the country from being taken over by people with a cultivated bloodlust and bad taste in silk waistcoats. For them, there's only one way to fight.

Go for the throat, or as the vampyres themselves say...Carpe Jugulum.



My Review:  I was a little nervous starting this one, thinking it would be gory horror at it's finest. I was quite surprised to find it was a very humorous satire about vampires and witches. It did take me several chapters to get into it, but once I did, it was a lot of fun. This is part of a series, but I never felt lost at all just reading this one.

The king of Lancre is celebrating the birth of his new baby girl and invites the Magpyrs to join in the festivities. When Granny, Nanny, and Agnus realize there are vampires in their midst, ones who have no intentions of ever leaving, the do what they can to expose them for what they are...and fail...for these are modern vampires. These three witches set out to save their country and encounter a lot of fun, quirky characters along the way.

I loved the witches and the imagery. Granny was great fun and had a lot of good insight to share. Agnus and her inner counterpart, Perdita, constantly had me laughing. I can't forget Igor, with his lisp. I think my favorite part was when the witches were trying to determine if these guests were vampires or not. From garlic, to mirrors, to inner thoughts, and pink haze--it was a crazy, yet laughable experience.

Content: there were a couple of mild expletives used quite a lot, but apparently they're not considered swear words in England; there was some mild to moderate violence and blood, but nothing gory.
 
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About the Author:
Terry PratchettSir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe. Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987 he turned to writing full time, and has not looked back since. To date there are a total of 39 books in the Discworld series, of which four (so far) are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal. A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller, and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback (Harper Torch, 2006) and trade paperback (Harper Paperbacks, 2006). In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry's latest book, Snuff, was published in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received four honorary doctorates from the Universities of Warwick, Portsmouth, Bath, and Bristol. His acclaimed novels have sold more than 45 million copies (give or take a few) and have been translated into 33 languages.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett admitted to being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: At First Sight by Mya O'Malley


At First Sight 

At First Sight by Mya O'Malley
ebook, 239 pages
Published August 4th 2014 by Astraea Press 
My Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Description: Modern love can be a headache. Just ask Annie Morgan, who, recently divorced, finds herself in the middle of the proverbial online dating jungle. Making a deal with her best friend, Annie agrees to go out on exactly five online dates out of seventy-six potential suitors.
Shane Nicholls was jaded, he had his heart broken and never got over the hurt. Now, convinced that all women are trouble, he avoids drama at any cost. Funny thing is, drama seems to find Shane around every corner.
Can Annie, a romantic at heart, find love online or will she find love at first sight the old-fashioned way, by awkward, chance meetings with Shane Nicholls? Through a number of obstacles and heartache, Annie and Shane find that love at first sight really does exist if you truly believe.
 
My Review: Annie has recently divorced and is now looking for love again. Her best friend, Sam, gets her to agree to go out with five guys from the online dating site that she recently joined. I was amazed at how her dates turned out. Are there really guys out there like that? There were some very humorous situations, that's for sure. I love the way Annie gets so emotional about Shane and assumes that she knows all about his type, yet upon self-examination, realizes that maybe he sees her in a similar way. Annie is a very no-nonsense girl and I love how she handles some of those awkward dates and situations.
Shane hasn't ever recovered from the broken heart he suffered from years ago, yet he finds himself going on one bad date to the next, with drama and crazies at every turn. Shane has been burned, yet he tortures himself with the dating scene, just in case he can find that special someone. He comes across as tough, but he's got a heart of gold--he's an amazing teacher and not everyone can do that. I love the part when he takes his dog, Tiny, in to be checked out for fleas.
Shane and Annie meet in such a sweet way but their insecurities and assumptions lead to misunderstandings and obstacles that may prove to be too great to overcome. With a story built upon misconceptions, I wasn't sure how things would work out, but they did. I loved it!

Content: minimal swearing; no violence; kissing--no intimate details. Clean!
 
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About the Author:  
Mya O'Malley 
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.
Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her fifth novel.
 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Candy Canes and Christmastime by Linda Hoffman Kimball


Candy Canes and Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World 
Paperback, 178 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media 
My Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Description: If the holiday rush has you feeling like you’ve been run over by a reindeer, this is the book for you! Linda Hoffman Kimball presents a compilation of heartfelt and humorous stories and ideas that help families refocus on the sacredness of the season. Discover unique traditions, fresh ideas, practical tips, and spiritual insights so that your family can get back on track. There are even some recipes! This is a great gift to give your friends, neighbors and relatives.
My Review:  It's crazy to think that the holidays will be here before we know it! I haven't quite finished the book, but I've read enough that I feel I can give my honest opinion and if the rest is anything like what I've read, I'm in for a real treat. This is a great book to savor during the busy holiday season.
My life is crazy busy and I'm very good at making myself feel guilty, especially when I don't feel that I'm enough. I look at women around me and wonder why I'm not more crafty and creative. The message that I really picked up strongly from this book is that you don't have to be like that to make memories. Things can be simple and that's okay. I'm not trying to knock anyone who goes all out, because that's okay, too, especially if you have a talent for that. 
I loved the way each little story was told--some were told in a very tender, humble way, while others were quite humorous. I was able to take something away from each story that I read. In fact, I often felt validated that it's okay to do only what I am able and those are memories, too.
 
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About the Author:
Linda Hoffman Kimball is an author and illustrator based in Illinois and Utah. Candy Canes & Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World is the 5th compilation for Cedar Fort in the “In the Real World” series. This series on topics compelling to Mormon women, features the voices and experiences of a wide array of women “in the trenches” who candidly share what they have learned from the highlights – and even the lowlights – in their efforts to build Zion. She is a blogger with Segullah.org and writes a column for the quarterly journal Exponent II with which she has been affiliated since 1975. Her other books include humorous novels for LDS adults Home to Roost (Hatrack River Press) and The Marketing of Sister B. (Signature Books), an essay compilation Saints Well-Seasoned: Musings on how food nourishes us – body, heart and soul (Deseret Book) and the children’s picture book Come with Me on Halloween (Albert Whitman Co.). Learn more at LindaHoffmanKimball.com.
Linda Hoffman Kimball earned a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Boston University. She and her husband Christian have three grown children with marvelous spouses and three delightful grandchildren. She loves to travel, make creative messes, and consume dark chocolate.
  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Pastels and Jingle Bells by Christine S. Feldman

Pastels and Jingle Bells (Heavenly Bites Novella #1) (Heavenly Bites Novellas) 
Pastels and Jingle Bells (Heavenly Bites Novella #1) (Heavenly Bites Novellas) by Christine S. Feldman

Kindle Edition, 60 pages
Published October 31st 2013 
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Description: Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever: the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be. In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy.

A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year…is Ian.

My Review: It's getting to be about the time of the year when Christmas stories come out. I was excited to read this one because I really do love Christmas stories--especially romantic ones.

Trish had a difficult childhood, all because of bully, Ian. Years later, when their paths meet again, she has the chance for revenge, but can she do it? 

Trish has really done a lot for herself to get to the point she's at. She's happy and successful and even though she holds a grudge, she doesn't let that get in the way of her being a kind person. I think her experiences really shaped who she grew up to be. Ian's past has created the man he grew up to be as well. I love the kind of father he is and I love how sweet he is.

I think a lot of people can relate to this story. Kids do dumb things, especially when they don't know how to express their feelings. I loved the heartwarming message that was given in this story.

Content: short, sweet, and clean!

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About the Author:
Christine S. FeldmanChristine S. Feldman writes both novels and feature-length screenplays, and she has placed in screenwriting competitions on both coasts. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her ballroom-dancing husband and their beagle.   
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith


The Land Uncharted (Uncharted, #1) 

The Land Uncharted (Volume 1) by Keely Brooke Keith
Paperback, 306 pages
Expected publication: October 21st 2014 by Edenbrooke Press 
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Description: Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society. As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.
 
My Review: Lydia is a young woman at the end of her training to becoming her village's doctor. She and her family live in the Land, an unheard of area in the South Atlantic Ocean--one that hasn't been discovered by anyone since the founders in the 1860s. This society is absolutely incredible! They are able to completely support themselves and have a system set up that is very functional, if still technologically behind the times of the rest of the world. The world around them is in chaos and in search of resources, yet this landmass remains undetected--until Connor accidentally lands on it. As he searches for a way to return home, he discovers that life here in the Land isn't all that bad. 
I loved the simplicity of life in the Land. For the most part, people are genuine and real. I love that these people are very connected to their past and their families and do what they can to support their society. Of course, there are a few "bad guys," but that all adds to the story. 
Lydia is a very self-reliant and independent woman, yet she realizes some things about herself when Connor shows up. I love the support and encouragement he gives her, especially when she was at her low point. Connor is a very brave and loyal man. He's the type of person who lives in the moment and looks toward the future, instead of living in the past. I love the self-restraint he showed in many situations, as well as the commitment he develops towards his new home, friends, and family.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was written and loved how the ending wrapped things up somewhat, but still left the story open for more. I can't wait to see what's coming next!
Content: no language; mild violence (fighting), a few deaths that weren't descriptive; mild, sweet romance. Clean!
  
About the Author:
Keely Brooke KeithBorn in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely was a tree-climbing, baseball-loving ‘80s kid. She grew up in a family who frequently relocated. By graduation, Keely lived in 8 states and attended 14 schools. Keely’s many adventures include: being an exchange student, recording with a former Beatles producer, being chased through the New Mexico desert by a rattlesnake, jumping out of an airplane at 14,500 feet, and sleeping under the open sky in the Australian outback.

Keely is a bass guitarist and plays on worship teams and for solo artists. She is married to singer/songwriter John Martin Keith, and they frequently perform and tour together. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.

Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville with her husband and their daughter, Rachel.
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