Friday, October 24, 2014

The Heart of Christmas Release News

I am so excited about the release of The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak  in just 4 days


You can already pre-order this fabulous book on Amazon.com .

Brenda Novak is also offering a $1.00 coupon 

Click over to Amazon if you want to pre-order or clip out the coupon and take it to your favorite store. Be sure to tell your friends about the latest installment from the Whiskey Creek series. 

THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS

Just call her Christmas Eve… Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. Eve’s worried that her future will simply a reflection of her past. There’s no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband – until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after – just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!


For all the exciting news about The Heart of Christmas, The Whiskey Creek Series or any of Brenda Novak's books please go to 


While visiting her website be sure to check out the contest for your chance to win awesome prizes and the freebies page for fun items. 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

After The End by Bonnie Dee

After the EndAfter the End by Bonnie Dee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. I really wasn't expecting a lot when I requested to review this book. I had never heard of the author and it was listed as a zombie romance type, (romance during the apocalypse not zombies in love - there would be a book: "oh I love you so much because you are so smart. Just let me have one taste of your brains. I promise I'll still love you in the morning and I will stop if you say to." Haha). So I was really surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. Yes the editing could have been better but quite honestly I have read some books lately by the big names and guess what? The editing could have been better. I don't know what is going on with that but it seems to be the start of an issue that is no longer limited to self publishing. I did not find the editing mistakes in this book to hamper my enjoyment of the book. The book is pretty much basic zombie fare - the hero, the female who starts out weak but turns out strong, the ditz, the geek, the guy with the antidote who needs to be kept safe,the older wealthy female, the strong black female and the lesbian couple. The author added in a couple of children, one teen and one younger. I thought she did a good job with getting me to care about the characters. I like the way she pulled them together to help each other but also wasn't afraid to tear them apart. This book delves into the thoughts of our hero. We see the way he is thinking and feeling. I like that the author made him a human hero. He has bad thoughts. He has realistic thoughts. He has tired thoughts and he has typical sexual thoughts. I know a lot of people think sex isn't going to happen in a zombie outbreak, (unless it is rape - which seems to be expected), but the reality is it will. People are people. Attractions will be there and sexual release will happen. I thought Bonnie Dee did a good job with the people she chose as the romantic interests. The timing of the unfolding was paced well. It is a z outbreak. Things happen fast because death is waiting. There is also plenty of action. The zombies were a bit different in that they seem smarter than usual. Also they do decompose. That was a huge change. I think that, along with the physiological aspect, makes this a book that could go to series very easily. The author has a good grip on what changes the survivors are going through mentally. The ending of the book had me on edge and still does. I want to know more. I want to find out what happens next for the survivors. I want to know ...well, I don't want to give spoilers, so, I just want to know. Check it out. It is on the intense side but also has it's moments of humor and hope. I am looking forward to reading other books by this author.

* I received a copy of the Kindle version of this book for review purposes. All opinions and thoughts are my honest feelings about the book. *

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ZBurbia Review

Z-Burbia: A Zombie NovelZ-Burbia: A Zombie Novel by Jake Bible
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this to be an entertaining gem in the Z genre. While it is not a truly realistic portrait of what the zombie apocalypse should look like it is a highly entertaining one. (Actually who really knows what a realistic portrait would be? Who has survived one?) I found this book to have realistic settings and plots that were presented with the dark humor I would expect may be found in an event like this. I know most people wouldn't expect that but I do. I think people are people and after the shock wears off the dark humor and sarcasm would set in. What wasn't realistic is the super human survival and/or skills of some characters. I, fortunately, am a reader who understands the concept of fantasy so this does not bother me. I mention it only because I know some people want only reality in this genre. I enjoy the mix and love humor so this book works well for me. There were some minor flaws in editing but those did not greatly affect me. I had fun with the book and am reading book 2 now. The cannibal family was absolutely brilliant. I just love Elsbeth! She is my female Darryl (from the Walking Dead TV Series). No this book isn't the Walking dead or World War Z. But it is an enjoyable read. If you are looking at a fun, fast, action packed, irreverent Zbook try this one.

Two favorite moments from the book, (to give you an idea of the writing):

“I hate clowns,” I say. “Why’d you have to bring up clowns? Zs aren’t enough? Gotta talk about the smiley creepy guys too?”
(Kindle Location 1414)

Holy shit, I think I brought home some cannibal savant or something. Rain Man with a taste for people.
(Kindle Locations 2158-2159)

I would recommend this book to the older crowd for language, sexual references and violence. I would think most adults would investigate a little if they are looking in the z genre for a book for their child but you never know. I think clowns should read it too. Yeah they should read them all. Holy cow I just had a thought...there will be clowns who become zombies!! I just know that will the zombie chasing me!





View all my reviews

The other books in the series:

Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell  Z-Burbia 3: Estate Of The Dead  

Other books by this author:

One Foggy Night: A DEAD MECH Prequel Short  Dead Mech (Apex Trilogy, #1)  The Americans (Apex Trilogy, #2)

Mega: A Deep Sea Thriller  AntiBio: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller  Metal and Ash (Apex Trilogy) Dead Team Alpha

Connect with the author on his website where you will see even more books. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Matter of Grave Concern

A Matter of Grave ConcernA Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not a huge lover of historical romance though I love history. Maybe it is because I feel like the story sometimes goes insane with the romance part and the historical part is dropped off. A Matter of Grave Concern though entertained me on both levels. The story starts with Abigail trying to buy a dead body. What woman does this? A woman whose father is her world and only parent. A woman who grew up at the Royal College of Surgeons where her father was head surgeon. A woman who desperately wants to follow in her father's footsteps in an era where woman married and ran households; if they were forced to work it was mostly frisky business they were doing. Abigail understands the human body but isn't so well informed of the human emotions. When the purchase of a dead body goes badly Abigail meets Max. Max is one of the men who stole from her. A Resurrectionist. Or is he something entirely different?
I love the story. As a teen I loved Frankenstein. Up until I read that story I had not thought much about how doctors learned so much about the human body. Then I was fascinated by the fact that they used deceased people as "live" samples to learn from. The thought of selling someone, deceased or not, made me queasy. I wonder at the desperation of the people who sold them. I had not given as much thought into people who bought them. Having a female character who buys dead bodies was extremely interesting. I assumed men did the buying and selling of them. I hate to say it but it was not only the era and the fact that not much was expected of women outside the home that made me think that way. It just seemed to me something men would do. (haha) Because of this Abigail fascinated me. That she would do so much for her father's love kind of saddened me. That she did it in part because of her own curiosity heartened me. It is good to know that woman who truly wanted to learn and experience had the courage to step out of bounds and find ways to do it. Max has his own demons. He is participating in some heavy evil as a resurrectionist with the gang of men he is with. That he sees Abigail and accepts her as is was awesome. I enjoyed his tug of war with doing what was right and doing what felt right. I also loved the chemistry between Abigail and Max. I think the demons that chased each of them are what brought them so close.
The author, Brenda Novak, is known to me. I have read her Whiskey Creek series, (which I love!), and a few other of her books. She has written 50+. That, to me, is amazing. The fact that the ones I have read are high quality astounds me and speaks of her talent and devotion. A devotion not only to her writing but to her fans. Some authors who have written that many books lose something in a few of them. Over time they seem to become the same thing using different names and words. I have not read all of Brenda's books. The ones I have read are fresh. Each has a story all its own. Since most of what I have read from her are her more recent books I believe she is an author with much to offer. Her characters are well written, not always the most likable people, but then when have you liked everyone you met? Her stories are researched and care is given for them to be "real". I like that more than I normally say. It is not so much that I want my stories to be realistic, (I read a lot of zombie books - so far not grounded in reality). I enjoy fantasy a lot. I just don't want to be taken so far away it is ridiculous. Brenda Novak has the line between reality and fantasy firmly in check and has the ability to blur them in an enjoyable mix. A Matter of Grave Concern shows off this ability with drama, intrigue, romance and heat. I enjoyed reading it. I hope you will too.

*I was given a review copy of this book. I appreciate the opportunity to review books and would not diminish this opportunity by providing a review that was not honest. A book is only as good as the author who is only as good as their reviewer who is only valuable through honesty.*

View all my reviews

* A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN IS ON SALE NOW ON AMAZON FOR $3.99

BRENDA NOVAK IS HAVING A RELEASE PARTY ON FACEBOOK TONIGHT 5-7 PM PST. PLEASE JOIN HER. MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON HER WEBSITE.

http://www.brendanovak.com/


  

For The Love Of Mercy Review

For the Love of Mercy (The Bluegrass Country Series, Book 2)For the Love of Mercy by Leta Gail Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Bluegrass Country series. It is set in one of my favorite states. For the Love of Mercy picks up where For the Love of Big Orange left off yet it is its own book. That means if you didn't read big Orange you can still enjoy Mercy, (though I recommend you read Big Orange - good story and has good background for this book).
In Mercy we meet Jax. He was adopted. He has some issues from that and also from just being spoiled. He is what I would call the typical spoiled, rich BOOK kid. I know plenty of "rich" kids in real life who are not typically spoiled. Jax accidentally finds out that he has a birth sister he did not know about, (or actually does not remember). He is angry that he was not told about her and sets off to find her. This brings him to Kentucky and Mercy Lynn.
Mercy is a down to earth, kind and compassionate woman who takes Jax under her wing. She knows he is searching for something and needs help desperately. What she doesn't know is that he has a diagnosis for a mental issue stemming from his childhood or that she will fall in love with him. The diagnosis could destroy her chances at love.
Both Jax and Mercy Lynn are likable characters. The story revolves around them but also around Emma, Jax's sister. Emma is from the first book For the Love of Big Orange. It was wonderful to see her and Lacie Jo again. I think the author did a phenomenal job continuing Emma's story without letting it overtake Jax and Mercy Lynn's story.
I would recommend this book to readers of romance. It has drama, humor and love. I found it to be an enjoyable, down to earth, home style book. I was easily able to read it in a day. I can't wait for, "For The Love of Justice", to come out!

View all my reviews


For the Love of Big Orange

First book in the Bluegrass Country Series

Connect with Leta Gail Doerr on her website where you can read the first chapter free:


Please also take a look at Random Moon Books. This site provides links and other interesting posts. 

 and is the moderator of Random Moon Books Group.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Christine Amsden with a Giveaway

Hi. On the blog today we have Christine Amsden the author of the Cassie Scot Series. She has brought along Cassie and a GIVEAWAY! Yay!! Thank you for stopping by today Christine and for the awesome giveaway. 

If you know Cassie then you know how crazy her life has been lately. Stress, stress and more stress. We all deal with stress in our lives, though not the same as Cassie. I am always looking for ways to chill. I am always interested in what people do to just relax. Since Cassie has gone through so much I thought it would be cool to find out how she lets go of all the craziness. Here is Christine with the scoop. 

Top 10 Ways Cassie likes to Relax

With so much going on in Cassie's life, it can be hard for her to sit back and relax! But her life isn't all about solving mysteries, escaping from evil sorcerers, or even falling in love. She has hobbies, some of which made it into the pages of the book. Others were overlooked due to time constraints, but I hope they follow from what I revealed of her character. 

10. Shopping – Cassie does love pretty clothes so it follows that she also enjoys shopping for them. Shopping is low on the list because after her parents kicked her out of the house in book one, she didn't have much money. Shopping is a lot more fun when your parents are rich. 

9. Boating – Cassie only gets a chance to take a boat onto Table Rock Lake once during the series, but it is something she enjoys doing. The lake is like home to her. She will also sometimes swim or water ski. 

8. Archery – This was important in the first book. Cassie was actually a junior champion in archery during high school. She doesn't actually hunt, but she enjoys the challenge of hitting the bullseye. She can shoot a gun too, but she doesn't enjoy it nearly as much as the bow. As a point of interest, she first decided to start shooting archery after watching Robin Hood when she was 8 or 9.

7. Meditation – This is part of Cassie's spirituality. It's also an underlying part of the magic system that she can't access, but meditation comes with its own rewards.

6. Yoga – Mind/body connectedness is very soothing. Cassie doesn't do this often enough to be freakishly bendy or anything, but it helps keep her in shape.

5. Eating – Especially chocolate. Not the healthiest way to relieve stress, but I'm afraid she and I have this vice in common. Cassie also likes to cook. 

4. Running/walking – It's important to stay in shape when you do what Cassie does, and it also relieves stress. Cassie likes to run/walk in intervals, although she can run for quite a while if she wants to or needs to. There was an emotional scene in Mind Games where she just ran and ran, trying to escape the horror of a certain self-discovery. 

3. Reading – Cassie's genre of choice is mystery. Unlike me, she doesn't enjoy fantasy. I think it reminds her of what she doesn't have (magic).

2. Play with the kids – Cassie loves her family and she loves kids. She didn't have much of a chance to do this during the books, but I hope her love for her family came through well enough for you to imagine this. As the oldest of seven kids, she looked out for her younger siblings often. And she's still happy to look after them, especially the young ones with more innocent troubles. 

1. Cuddle with Evan – This means of relaxation wasn't available to Cassie early in the series, but by the end it is her favorite method. She enjoys doing other things with him too, but they're not relaxing. :)

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($100 Amazon Gift Card) a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Stolen Dreams - the final book in the Cassie Scot Series



Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.
When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.
But things may not be precisely as they appear.
Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

Buy Links



About The Cassie Scot Series:

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Author Bio

Christine AmsdenChristine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Social Media Links:


Friday, October 3, 2014

Stolen Dreams - My review

Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.
When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.
But things may not be precisely as they appear.
Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

Buy Links


My Review 

Stolen Dreams is the final book in the Cassie Scot series. We have watched Cassie grow so much throughout the series. I had invested so much in my friendship with Cassie that this book was both anticipated and dreaded. The author did a masterful job with this book. I usually do not like the last book in a series. Too often it does not end the way I hoped for. A few times, in the final book, the characters did not even resemble the characters in the first few books. Stolen Dreams did not have either of those issues. 

In the beginning we met Cassie, a young girl, in a magical family, who had no magic. She was trying to find herself and where she fit in to things. We watched her grow, stumbling along through some difficult situations. In Stolen Dreams we see her come into her own. I was so freaking proud of her! 
Evan is back and is another character we have watched grow and come into himself. That was a surprise for me. I am not use to getting to watch two main characters grow up so much. We know from the first book in the series that Cassie and Evan were friends who were attracted to each other. We also know that both their families hated each other. With reason. From the start I knew Cassie and Evan belonged together but just because you belong together doesn't mean you get to be together.
Cassie went through some very tough times and Evan was at the heart of them...not always in a good way. Most writers would have focused on Cassie, after all the story is hers, but not Ms Amsden. She did an outstanding job with the character development of Cassie and Evan. I really loved that she devoted time to us really getting to know Evan. Do Evan and Cassie finally get together? When Stolen Dreams opens she is engaged to Alexander and the feud between the families of Cassie and Evan is at an all time high. Not only that but with all that Cassie has found out, her love for Evan has turned to hate. I have always said you cannot truly hate someone unless you loved them first. The line is fine and once you cross it the road back is long and pain filled. Most never recover the loss of trust needed in order for love to survive. I will leave it to you to discover if Cassie marries Alexander, Evan, someone else or no one else. 

The other part I truly loved with this series deals with all the "minor" characters. Ms Amsden wrote them in such a way that we know they are minor but yet they are major. I love Kaitlyn and Madison. They each have a story to tell, (in this book we find out just how much Madison has to tell! Bomb goes off with her). I definitely want to read the spin offs that tell their stories. The situations they each are in combined with Ms Amsden talent for character development make those books a must read when they come out. I am suspecting we will see Cassie and Evan a time or two in those books which makes saying farewell a bit easier. 

Stolen Dreams is the final chapter for Cassandra. I really loved the wrap up. Each book contains a main case that Cassie works on but has all these mini plots going on. With Stolen Dreams we get the answers to questions we have had since book one. I enjoyed how the author wove this series with its main plot and sub plots. It was truly magical. Nothing was really lost in the wrap up. I think that was an amazing feat. With so much going on it would have been easy to lose a sub plot. Ms Amsden handled it masterfully. 

I am so sad to see the end come to Cassandra Scot. I have loved this series so much. I was so excited to receive my copy of Stolen Dreams but at the same time dreaded reading it because of the goodbye. This was a hard review to write. I didn't want to give away spoilers and at the same time I wanted to talk about it. This entire series was such a delightful surprise to read. I loved reading Nancy Drew when I was a child. This series is my magical grown up Nancy Drew series. Matter of fact the books share space with my old Nancy Drew books. I would like to extend a huge thank you to Christine Amsden for providing me with review copies of her books. My reviews of each of them are my honest feelings about the books. I enjoyed them so much that I also purchased Kindle copies of each book. I would recommend this series be read in the order written. The books are not stand alones. It is a series I would recommend to teens and adults. There are some situations that may not be suitable for younger children. This entire series is a five star series. 

The Cassie Scot Series:

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Author Bio

Christine AmsdenChristine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Social Media Links:

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Sixteen by Ali B

Ali_B_TheSixteen_6_9_14FrontCover.jpgThe Sixteen by Ali B
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I absolutely love this series! The Sixteen is the second book in the Soul Jumpers Series. I highly recommend reading them in order. The Sixteen definitely picks up the pace and the action. We learn more of what Soul Jumpers are and discover something surprising about Iris. We meet new characters as the fight between good and evil continues. The author continues to stress the love and loyalty of family and expands family to those we choose as well as those we are born to. The Soul Jumpers are a family that Iris is now a part of. I love how the author has the soul age differ from the physical age and was very happy to read why that is. It was something I thought a lot about after reading Iris Brave. Be prepared...this book ends with another cliffhanger. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

The Soul Jumpers Series is written for middle graders but I am greatly enjoying it. I believe this is a wonderful series to read with your children, either aloud or just everybody on their own with family book discussions. Actually, since the author is a teacher, I think it would be awesome to see a discussion guide come out for the series. This author really is in tune with what children enjoy reading. I think a discussion guide would be a bonus for busy parents as well as something librarians could use for a middle grade book club. I would recommend this book/series to all who enjoy sci-fi fantasy.

View all my reviews

Iris Brave by Ali B 
IRIS BRAVE, the first in the Soul Jumpers series by Ali B., will be $.99 on Amazon today, September 25th and tomorrow September 26, 2014.
                                     


* I purchased a copy of Iris Brave to review. I received a copy of The Sixteen for review purposes, (in addition I purchased a copy for my Kindle). In both cases the opinions expressed in the reviews are my honest thoughts about the books.*

Iris Brave - Review of the children's fantasy mystery series

Iris BraveIris Brave by Ali B
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up as I was given a copy of The Sixteen, (Book 2 of the Soul Jumpers Series), for review. I felt, to be able to give it a fair review, I needed to read Book 1 first. I am so happy I did! The Soul Jumpers is a children's series geared toward middle grades. Iris is the character telling the story and the language of the book fits the characters age. Some adults may find it too simplistic but I thought it was perfect for the audience it was written to.

The story contains an interesting mystery. Iris lives with her mother and visits her grandfather for the summer. We are told early on that her father died in a car accident. This is where the mystery begins. Iris finds out that it is believed her dad caused the accident by driving under the influence. She sets out to find out the truth and comes across a mysterious guy. I do not want to say too much about it so you can discover the exact mystery for yourself.

I enjoyed the love that Iris has for her family. I was especially happy to learn that the grandpa is her father's father. Too often in children's books, when there has been a divorce or death, missing parent = missing grandparents. It was so gratifying to read about a grandparent staying in the child's life after the death of the child's parent.

I also was impressed with Iris saying she knows she is different. All children go through a time when they are growing up where they feel different. Not only does the author have the character express this but she goes on to tell us how Iris is different. I have a feeling as the series goes on we will learn more of why Iris is different.Iris also speaks of feeling the opposite of her name, Brave. We all have fears, some rational, some not. Having Iris work through hers, often with humor, is a powerful message. I think this book is filled with many positive messages. I did wonder a couple of times at the amount of freedom Iris has. However, when you think about times now, with so many parents working, a lot of middle grade children have a lot of freedom.

Soul jumping is something new for me. I read a lot of books in the paranormal/fantasy genre. It was refreshing to me to come across something still pretty unique in this genre. The mystery is not solved in this book. So be aware that you will need to buy the next book in the series to see where it goes. If your middle grader is looking for a fantasy mystery series this may be one you want to pick up. Personally I think it would be a fun series to read together.There are plenty of things that happen to Iris and decisions she makes that would be excellent conversation starters for parents and their children.

I took off one star just because I felt in a couple of places things did not transition smoothly or they felt rushed. While this interrupted the flow of my reading it did not impact my enjoyment of the book. My actual rating would be 4 and a half stars.

View all my reviews


Iris Brave by Ali B 
IRIS BRAVE, the first in the Soul Jumpers series by Ali B., will be $.99 on Amazon today, September 25th and tomorrow September 26, 2014.



Ali_B_TheSixteen_6_9_14FrontCover.jpg



You can keep up with Ali B. on her website at http://alibbooks.com/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mind Games and Imperfect Parents

I love the Cassie Scot Series by Christine Amsden. One of the reasons I love this series so much is that it has a mix of paranormal fantasy and raw honesty. Sometimes heart wrenching raw honesty coming from or about characters that are multidimensional, much like real people. Cassie has some issues with her parents. She has been hurt, deeply, by them. Understanding and forgiveness may or may not be possible. I have read the first three books in the series and I am not certain if either would be possible for me. I like to think that in the end I would forgive, if only for the peace it would bring, but given what they did I just don't know. 


I think Mind Games is a perfect title for the third book in this series, (read my review here). There appears to be some mind games going on and not just with Cassie's love interest. I feel like Cassie's parents have played mind games with her. I am fascinated by psychology and really enjoy this aspect of the series. For me it is one way this series can be enjoyed over and over. There is always some piece to examine and get a fresh take on as you grow in life experience. 

I am reprinting, (with permission from author Christine Amsden), what the author of the Cassie Scot series has to say about imperfect parents. This article appeared previously on the blog, Emeraldfire's Bookmark.

'Imperfect Parents' by Christine Amsden


No one's perfect, but many of us expect our parents to be. Or maybe the trouble is that as children, we believe they are. The truth comes as a crushing shock to many adolescents, which feeds into the “generation gap” that commonly surfaces during the teenage years. It usually isn't until young people leave home and see some of the world when they can finally resolve the gap between expectation and reality. 

Of course, some parents are more imperfect than others. Some mistakes are easy to forgive or overlook, some human weaknesses, such as temper, so normal that it takes much less to recognize that only we who are without sin should throw stones. 

But what happens when parents make a bigger mistake? Is it okay to forgive them, even though what they did was not and can never be all right? 

I see forgiveness as one of the major themes of my Cassie Scot series. It is my view that forgiveness isn't something you do for the benefit of the person being forgiven, but rather for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving. Forgiving is a process of healing and moving on. It is not about saying, “Well, I understand and that's all right then.” Maybe it isn't all right. Many things aren't. Many people act out of fear or selfishness and do things that leave deep, permanent scars. But when we forgive, which (done correctly) is a long-term process rather than a momentary act, we set aside anger and work towards healing. 

I'm not a big fan of black or white characters. These days, it doesn't seem like anyone is, but it can still be challenging to depict certain people as having redeeming qualities after they do terrible things. I mean, is it okay to like anything at all about a man who kills, or steals, or disowns his daughter out of fear and selfishness?

Cassie Scot's parents are not likeable, but they do love their children. All of them. Including Cassie. She's a challenge for her parents because she reminds each, in their own way, of personal failures. (Part of what I mean by that comes clear in book two, the rest will be revealed in full in book four.) 

I won't tell readers how to feel. Some hate Edward and Sheila Scot (passionately). Some have mixed feelings. Not too many people really like them, and I can't blame them. For my part, I … understand them to a certain extent. They aren't good people who do bad things and they aren't bad people who do good things. They are people who act at times out of selfishness and at times out of fear, but people who still have the capacity to love. 

But this isn't their story. 

Another theme I try to present in this series is that change comes from within. Cassie can't fix the people around her. (This is why I was ultimately forced to write spin-off novels for her two best friends. At first I was as confused as Cassie, thinking she could solve the problems that began to develop in the second book.) Cassie's parents won't change in this series because she doesn't have the power to fix them, and this isn't their story.

Cassie will never have perfect parents; she'll only ever have the ones she got. But she can forgive them, and she can decide that they were wrong about her. She can decide who she wants to be, regardless of what they think she can be. 


Author Christine Amsden


Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.


Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Connect with Christine Amsden








Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Parenting Nightmare


Today when I opened up Yahoo I came across the story of a Utah man who is accused of chaining his six-year old son to his bed. It was disturbing on several levels. Perhaps the part that frightens me most is my fear that we will come across more and more stories like this one. 
Politically this country does not take care of its self. With out of control spending by the government the economy has been severely trashed. The examples the leaders of this country set are that it is okay to spend more than you have. If you believe you have good cause then bad behavior can be excused. If you use the money to help someone else, it doesn't matter how you get it. These examples are from both major political parties and have been increasing for years.
With government stepping into homes taking responsibility for raising children, while requiring parents to learn none, we have parents who do not know a good parental decision from a bad one. We have children growing up with no real values being instilled in them. I'm not saying there is no value in social services. I believe they are necessary. However I do believe people need to be held responsible for their decisions, good or bad. Natural consequences are not a bad thing. 
If government wants to step into our homes they should begin by setting the example with the nation's biggest home. All officials, (the parents), should be setting the example of being able to set aside differences to work together for the benefit of the nation, ( the family). They should set the example of living within their means. Just as those of us with credit card issues need to formulate a pay off plan we can live with, so our leaders should do with the nation's debt. Yes it involves sacrifice. They could start by adjusting salaries to reflect what the people of this country make. The money saved could be filtered in to paying down debt. Perhaps with these adjusted salaries they would truly come to understand the problems we the people endure and what we really need. They should set the example of fair fighting: No name calling. Stay on track with the issue. If things get heated a cooling off time out period, giving time to think about what was said. Respect and attempt to understand the other person's view of the situation. A strong home will make a strong nation. 
As for the article, I do not know this man or what the circumstances actually were. From reading the article, (which can be found at http://news.yahoo.com/utah-man-accused-chaining-6-old-son-bed-221455060.html), let's take an imaginary walk in his shoes. I'll be making assumptions so please keep in mind this is an imaginary walk.
The man in the story became a father at age 22. The child had a mother at this time. The parents have high school or less education. They are not making the big bucks. They are intimate with poverty. A year after the child was born the man was arrested for forgery. Maybe it was a party lifestyle but more likely it was the unending need for shelter, food for an infant and 2 adults, an endless need for diapers, wipes, clothes that are too small before they are well used and way overpriced, toys - many of which are overpriced and labelled as educational leaving some parents feeling they are keeping their child from educational development if they do not buy them, hygiene products and possibly an occasional dvd the parents really wanted to watch but fell asleep before they could. The dad is placed on probation. The family is struggling to make it. Maybe mom is staying at home because child care is too expensive, the slots are full or there is no way to get him there. Maybe mom is working but her paycheck is going for the cost of childcare and that dvd they wanted to watch. Maybe dad is working but with no major education or job skills he is barely able to pay the necessities of shelter costs and food. Maybe mom and dad are fighting a lot at this point. Dad knows he is looked at, by society and most likely family, as the "man" who is failing
 in his responsibility to provide for his family. He turns back to crime - maybe he can get just one more check to go through without getting caught and bring home some tylenol, ear drops and maybe a little car for his crying three year old son. But it doesn't happen that way. Dad is caught and goes to jail. Mom is now alone with a three year being both mom and dad. Maybe she looks at her life and wonders where it went. Dad comes home thinking they can pick up the pieces. He missed his wife and son. He is sure, with a little help, they can make it. But finding a job with a record is proving difficult. Nobody believes in his change. Maybe not even his wife who is just exhausted and depressed. Maybe she decides to try to get her life back and leaves. Maybe she gets ill and dies. Maybe she ends up in jail. Whatever the reason she is gone. Now it is Dad and son. Dad knows the path he is on. Not many believe in a dad raising a child. He has the added stigma of a criminal record, never mind the reason or the change. He does his best but he faces all the responsibility alone and the issue of childcare. He may think that reaching out for help will get his son taken away. After all he is not just a single dad; he is an ex-con single dad. Maybe he turned everywhere he trusted but there was no help. So he makes a bad decision to keep the wolf from the door. Maybe he goes to work worried, scared and feeling awful about that decision. He probably knows it was a bad decision. Not working and providing no shelter and no food for his six year old is a bad decision too. Maybe he took the bad decision he could live with. Maybe he prays constantly for a miracle or just a little compassion and help.
You may think the scenario I wrote of is making excuses. It is not. What happened could have ended much more tragically. I do not advocate any type of child abuse, intentionally done or not. It is my fervent hope that this case is investigated completely and the child's best interest is what is the priority. My point of the imaginary walk is that many parents in this country face many of the issues I brought up. They may think in extremes. They may feel judged harshly so they seek no help. As a nation we need to stop judging each other and start finding real solutions. We need to all be responsible for ourselves, our family, the community and the nation. We need to teach this responsibility to our children. We need to demand it of our elected officials.  

Judgment is only good if it helps bring a positive change. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mind Games

Could there possibly be a Sookie Stackhouse, (pre-TrueBlood TV),that I would feel comfortable recommending to older teens or my friends who didn't like the more "adult features" of that series? Could Nancy Drew be updated in a paranormal world and work? I did not think it was possible. Then I discovered Christine Amsden and her Cassie Scot series and have turned into a believer. I love this series!
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Mind Games is the third book in this four book series, (out now for ebook; Trade Paperback June 15, 2014). For those who know Cassie, you will devour this installment. I am awaiting the final book with bittersweet anticipation. I want to know how things wrap up but am dreading the end of a series I love. 

I was introduced to Cassie Scot when I agreed to review the second book in the series. The author, very generously, sent me the first book along with the second, (signed too! I almost died). I wasn't expecting what was inside the covers of those books. I read a lot and am not extremely picky. I will give most any book a chance. Some I enjoy greatly, some I am greatly disappointed in. A few I have had to shelf just because they are the kind I need a mood for. A few I shelf with the hope a second chance later on will make them better, (it happens and you know it). A very small number I can't get through at all. I choose my books from all genres. I read popular authors and unknowns, publishers and self published. It makes for a variety of writing skills and types. I have learned to not expect anything, (even from popular authors of big publishing houses - they fail too and you know this). So I opened the book with the hope of a good story and was drawn in so quickly I read for hours. I immediately got the same tingle I got when I read Nancy Drew as a girl. Oorah! A winner. Yeah I did do a happy dance. 

Cassie Scot is a young adult born into a magical family. She, however, is "normal". With no magical skills to be found, Cassie decides to open a "normal" detective agency in a town full of paranormals. Since she has no magical abilities she advertises for normal investigations. With no real takers and no real money coming in, Cassie agrees to accept a paranormal case. Why not? She does know the community well. So begins our journey. Cassie pairs up with a paranormal, good looking guy that she was friends with long ago. Just because their families have an issue doesn't mean it will affect them, right? Wow. What that leads to!

I don't want to give out too much as I hate when reviews tell me everything. I have no reason to read it then, do I? I will tell you that the first book hooked me in with the feeling I got while reading it. It was the same feeling I got when I read Nancy Drew. It was the tingle that said this book is going to be my friend. I will visit with it again, (and again). The mysteries presented are good but it is the characters that truly captivated me. Ms. Amsden writes characters that are interesting and likable, (a few not so likable), and very human. The relationships and the road they travel are fascinating, maddening and sometimes heartbreaking. Tell me that doesn't sound like real life. I know, you may be saying I read to escape real life. I get that. I do too. Trust me, you will have that escape. After all how many paranormal relatives do you have? How many paranormal investigations are going on at your house? Exactly. You can relate to the characters but still be taken away. It is magical writing. 

Mind Games is the newest release in the series. So much has happened. Cassie has had her heart broken. She has decided to work with the sheriff's department. And she has faced a family issue that will rip your heart out. She has survived but what was the cost and where will it lead? Mind Games brings us exactly what the title suggests. There is a new love interest, a new mystery and more family issues that give true meaning to the title. I thought I was unraveling things fairly well early on in this book. I didn't mind though as there are layers to these books. The mystery is only one layer. Excitement and suspense flow like a babbling brook in the woods. You may know where it leads but you keep walking along side of it for the sheer fun and beauty of it. As for me unraveling things quickly? Well turns out that the brook didn't exactly go where I thought it did though it was close by. 

Each book in the series has its own mystery to be solved yet it remains woven into the book before and after. There is a cliff hangar, of a sort, at the end. The series has no strong language issues. There are some sexual references, which is why I recommend it for older teens and adults, that are not overly graphic. There is some violence but it is also not over the top. I do recommend, for best enjoyment, that you read the series in order:

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective  15813209

Secrets & Lies                                     17972727

Mind Games                                         20556236


Stolen Dreams (coming soon)

The series is a total of four books which make it perfect for gift giving. I love those kind. I enjoy giving books and being able to gift an entire series without breaking my budget is awesome. (And, why yes, I do think of Christmas year round LOL). 

The author did send me copies of the books for review purposes. I also purchased Kindle copies. After reading the first book I decided the author was well worth supporting by making my own purchases. The books she sent me are on my shelf, enjoying space with my Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Gone With The Wind and Sookie Stackhouse books, (among others). My reviews and this blog piece are based solely on my honest thoughts and feelings while reading the series. My review, neither right nor wrong, is my honest opinion of what I read. I do hope you will check out this series. 

The author has also written:
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Christine Amsden can be found at: