Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: Summer Love Puppy

Summer Love Puppy Summer Love Puppy by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another awesome book in the Have a Hart Series by Rachelle Ayala. This book tells the story of Linx and Grady. It is a bit darker then the other books in the series. Every family has some darkness. Reading it reminded me of the saying, if the eyes shed no tears, the heart would have no rainbows. Linx never had an easy life. Grady did but, even in the best families, things go wrong. I think Grady proves that every child is different and that it is not only our home that shapes us as people. This is a roller coaster story. It will have you feeling so many emotions. Most likely you will go through parts where you like them, you don't like them but then you love them.
I enjoyed reading Linx and Grady's story, which holds a bit of mystery in it. I hope you pick it up and enjoy it too! The Have A Hart Series is clean romance.

Thank you to the author for providing an advanced review copy. The final book may have slight differences.

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Review: Bloodborne

Bloodborne Bloodborne by Sidney Wood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book came to my attention through BookTasters. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The book centers around Jen, a teenager who is visiting the Middle East with her father. While there she gets kidnapped and is held prisoner. At this point I thought the book was about the current slave trade market. It is and it is more. The author did an awesome job with bringing the horror of the slave trade to light and he did it without being overly graphic. Kudos to him! The story was terrifying to read and I was very invested in whether or not Jen was going to get to go home. Then the author took a sudden left turn. The book turned into one of my favorite genres. Woohoo! And I wasn't thinking it could get any better. I don't want to give out the details as there isn't any reason to read the book then. I want you to read it. It is excellent as a thriller and is shaping up to be an excellent zbook series.
I certainly cannot wait to read book 2. I'm still rooting for Jen.

This book does deal with a mature topic. It is not overly graphic in my opinion. I would let a mature teen read this. It does end on a cliffhanger, so be aware of that. It might be a good idea to pick up Reborn the same time you get Bloodborne.

Thank you to BookTasters and the author who provided an ecopy for review purposes.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: When Love Returns Star Lake #1

When Love Returns Star Lake #1 When Love Returns Star Lake #1 by Lorana Hoopes (LL Hoopes)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Love Returns is the second book I have read by this author. I was provided an ecopy of the book, before publishing, for review purposes. The final version may contain slight differences.

I love Christmas books. There is just something magical about the Christmas season that makes anything possible. Even a second chance love that never had the chance to bloom the first time.

I adore this story so much. First, if you put children and Christmas in the mix you have my attention. Second add in first love coming back and you have guaranteed I will read your book. Who doesn't remember their first love? Who has never wondered, what if things were different and we met again? I will be honest and admit I clearly remember him, (I can still recall exactly what he was wearing and doing the first time I saw him). I do dream about a second chance with him. So you have my attention, you have your book in my hands. This better be good because I am not about shattered dreams when thinking about my first love or Christmas.

I had no need to worry. The story grabbed me from the start. I love the majority of characters. Joy is adorable! I really enjoyed having the custodial parent being the dad. Usually it is a single mom I am reading about. It was a nice change for me. It was also a realistic one. I know quite a number of Dad's in real life who have stepped up. I also enjoyed the fact that there were minor stories going on around them that weren't romantic set ups for future books. Yes that was in there, too, but there were ordinary things going on that were a part of the story. Just like life. People were flawed. There were choices to make. There were misunderstandings and hurts to work out. And there was Joy. Little Joy, who you just want to have the best Christmas and happiest life. Will she get either?

The author writes clean books with a leaning towards Christianity. This book did not overwhelm you with it. It was just a sweet, clean romance. It is a quick read. If you are reading it during the holiday season, this is perfect for relaxing with after a crazy, busy day. You don't have to wait for the Christmas season, though, to enjoy this story. The magic of Christmas is something the world needs on any given day. We all need the hope, the love and the kindness that has represented the Christmas season for decades. The commercialism, eh, not so much. If you need a little sugar in your day to sweeten it, pick up this book.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: A Killer's Grace

A Killer's Grace A Killer's Grace by Ronald Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book through BookTasters. The author provided an ecopy for review purposes.

This book was a surprise for me. It was what I expected yet not what I expected. It opens with a letter from a criminal to a journalist. The letter was not proclaiming innocence though. The criminal admits to the crime but blames mental illness. In reality, this is not uncommon, in my opinion. I have heard many times, it was because he/she was mentally ill. Or abused. Or another excuse. From the opening I expected a story that explores that. I was right but wrong.

The book unfolds with Pitcairn, trying to decide if he should write something or not. It then goes where I didn't expect. Into Pitcairn's life. We learn that while under the influence Pitcairn did something devastating. Something he can't ever change. He can't even truly talk about it, though his AA sponsor and his wife know what happened. He had no way to make amends with this incident. Now, he believes he may have a chance at it. The story then goes on with Pitcairn. We are left with witnessing his journey.But we are not just silent witnesses. With each step he takes we are pulled along, examining our belief about alcoholism, mental illness and more. It is a book that you want to hurry through because you want to know more. But what you want and what you need are at war. You need to go slower. You need to think about a scene. You need to question or examine something. Make sure you have given yourself plenty of time when you begin. I wish I had this book in hard copy. It is one that I imagine would hold a treasure of my musings in the margins. I rarely write in a book but when I do, it is because it touched me deeply. Would I recommend this book? Yes.

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Review: Ken

Ken Ken by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed listening to this story. I found it to be funnier than I expected. When I picked it up, I was expecting a steamy romance. I got that. This story is definitely steamy. I was also expecting it to be a bit more on the serious or depressing side. Being stood up at the altar doesn't make for happy times. Yet that is what Rachelle Ayala gave us. The "honeymoon" was hilarious! The story also held a sweet surprise for me. That twist made it more interesting. The return of the groom made for some tense reading and a what would you do daydream. Yes. Depending on the story and the skill of the narrator, I can daydream myself into the story. I like Chris Abell. He brings the story to life and draws my imagination in. The twist in this story resonated with me and made it easy to put myself in the story. I had a good time. I will probably be listening to this again during the long cold winter days. I recommend the book to romance lovers who like a story with some heat to it.

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Review: Playing the Rookie

Playing the Rookie Playing the Rookie by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this book on Audible.

This is a quick read from a baseball themed series. I have read two others in the series. I'm normally not into sports themed books but I have truly enjoyed this series. The players tend to make cameos in each others books which enhances my investment in the series.

This story involves Jessica, a spring training intern, and Jay. who has come to the US as a rookie to start spring training. There is a spark but will it ignite love or just passion?

I connected more with Jessica. I loved her inner goddess scenes.I liked Jay but just couldn't get into him as much. At first I thought it was because he is a male character. However I have read a few books by this author and this was the first time I had difficulty. Then it dawned on me it was the point of view. I think because each of them had their own narrator, Jay being written in third person was what threw me off. I don't believe I would have noticed as much if I were reading it on my Kindle.I enjoy the look into Asian culture. One of my favorite things about Ms Ayala's books is that I learn something while I am being entertained. She has a way of combining humor with respect in teaching us about different cultures and situations. It is a wonderful gift that helps bring harmony to a battered world.

This book is for mature readers. It is a heated romance that uses mild but somewhat explicit wording. I was listening and had the gardener hooked. I have a small Sitka Rose bush outside my window. He took over 2 hours to trim it, normally he is done in 15 minutes. I guess that is proof this book can be enjoyed by both women and men. Ha!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Writing - JoAnna

A few weeks ago, I decided to share a short story I had written. After writing about Blue I was a bit haunted by her daughter, JoAnna. I wrote her story as a separate yet connected piece. I don't know if I should continue this or just let it end here. Maybe I should just pick another prompt and move on. If you would like to help me decide, please leave a comment, (approval needed due to spam - sorry), tweet one, (@AlaskanBookCafe), or shoot me an email at with the subject short story. Please be advised that the story deals with a mature theme that may be difficult. It is a story of domestic violence, family violence, child abuse. Domestic violence is usually thought of as being a couple issue. In my eyes, domestic is another word for home and home can consist of more than just a couple. For me, domestic violence is a family issue.You are fooling yourself if you believe only the adults are involved. 

If you are in a domestic violence situation, I urge you to call the hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or go to 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline website where a chat is available along with information. ( I cannot link it so please type it in your browser). Leaving is difficult and dangerous. Please talk to someone who can help you. 

Warning: It is not an easy topic nor is it meant for children. There is violence. There may be domestic violence triggers. 

The following story is owned entirely by Alaskan Book Cafe. I am the sole writer of this story. 

JoAnna's Story
My name is JoAnna. I am twenty five. I have brown hair and green eyes. My hair is curly but I take the time to straighten it. It falls to just past my shoulders when curly but nearly to my waist when straight. I am 5'5 and weigh 135 pounds. I watch what I eat and exercise but I am not obsessed. I have gone to college. I was a high school cheerleader. I was a babysitter, a cashier at McDonald's and throughout college, I was a waitress at Cracker Barrel. I now work for Children's Services. I like to dance, hike, and ride horses. I drive a jeep so I can go muddin' in it. I collect fairies. I wish upon stars and birthday candles. I have a boyfriend. He wants to marry me. I have a mom, a brother and a sister. I never really got to know my father. I had a stepfather. Now you know who I am. This is my story.

 I don't have a lot of memories of my dad. He was there when I was little. He went away after Justin was born. When I was little I didn't know why. I do now. My dad wasn't really into kids. He liked them best when they belonged to another family. Don't take that wrong. He loved me when I was little. He just didn't think he should have a bunch of kids he would either work hard to support and never know or know them and watch them grow up poor. My mom, though, she thought having kids made a family. There more kids there were, the less chance anybody could walk away. I guess that came from her mom. My grandma had two kids when my grandpa found someone with no kids and left. I'm pretty sure it wasn't really like that. Honestly though, the only part that matters is how my mom perceived it to be. That perception was what influenced her. My mom was pregnant with me when they married. I have wondered if my dad would have married her if she wasn't.

 I have been told my dad was happy when I was born. That he loved me and was proud to be a dad. My Aunt Margie said I was the only one he wanted.

 “If only your mother would have listened to him and just had you, your father would be here today,” Aunt Margie would start.

 She always made sure to say that she loved Jacelyn and Justin. I suppose she did. It's possible though she just loved Jacelyn and me.

 “It was what happened with Justin. That was why we lost your daddy!” She would cry then.

 She was usually drunk at this point. She was mad at my mom because when my dad left us, he left everyone. Her and her parents were included in that everyone. Her drinking and crying would loosen her tongue up. I was ten, when I learned Justin had a different daddy. I also knew that my dad knew that. The way Aunt Margie told it, my dad wasn't about to have another child after Jacelyn was born. He wasn't ready for her.

 After I was a year old my mom started hinting that she was ready to give me a brother. My dad, so the story goes, kept telling her to wait until things were better. He wanted job security and a home he owned. Mom wanted a baby and husband security. Neither one really won that war.

 So they had Jacelyn. Aunt Margie said my dad was proud and loving again. Unfortunately he was also worried about the future and all of us depending on him. When Jace was a year old, Mom started the hinting again. Dad told her no way. Then, without telling anybody, my dad took care of things himself.
He went to the doctor had a vasectomy done. Aunt Margie said when he came home, he told everyone he came down with a stomach virus at work and needed to go lie down. He took a couple sick days and then life returned to normal. He went to work and my mom kept seeking another baby.

  Aunt Margie said the day mom told him she was pregnant was the darkest day in that marriage. Mom had left Jace and me downstairs with my dad's mom to go to the doctor. When she got back she was glowing and excited.

  “Iris, could you keep the girls over tonight? I have some real happy news for Jackson. I'd like to make him a special dinner and have some alone time, please. Please, Iris? Just for tonight okay?” Mom pleaded.

  Grandma was reluctant but gave in, “Fine Blue. But you come get the girls as soon as Jackson goes to work in the morning.” 

  Mom went upstairs. We could hear her in the kitchen. Grandma looked at Aunt Margie. “That gal is crazy! There's not going to be any happiness in that house tonight!”  No one suspected just how bad the news was going to be though.

 We were sitting at the dinner table eating a special dinner my grandma made us; fish sticks, macaroni and cheese and peas with carrots. Grandma even made biscuits. It was my favorite. Jace liked it too.

 “Might as well make the girls a special meal too,” Grandma had told Aunt Margie. “If the news is what I think it is, no telling when things will settle down for them.” Aunt Margie replied, “I guess a peach cobbler would be nice. It will stretch that little bit of ice cream we have so that everybody can get some.” I don't think anyone got to eat that.

 We were just getting ready for dessert when a roar like you can't imagine came through the ceiling. It was followed by breaking glass and a loud thud. Turned out the loud thud was the table hitting the floor. My dad turned it over when my mom gave him the happy news that somebody was going to be a daddy. I'll say this for her, she didn't lie. Somebody was, just not my dad.

  Aunt Margie, eyes wide, asked my grandpa, “should we go up there?”

 “Nope. Blue knew Jackson didn't want any more children. What the hell was that woman thinking?” Grandpa was a great believer in folks settling their own problems.

 We could hear the yelling getting louder. Grandma was crying. She kept repeating, “Lord watch over my son. Help him accept this new baby.” I guess by then they knew what my mom's news was even though she didn't get to tell them. I guess, too, she should have been praying for my mom. Maybe grandma just figured Mom has her own mom to say prayers. We heard some more thuds, like Daddy was hitting the walls. Then there was running feet and screaming. The door upstairs opened but slammed shut right after. Then things went real quiet and everybody was looking at the ceiling. It's weird how you think you can determine what is happening by looking at a ceiling.

 “I'm going up there!”, Aunt Margie insisted.

 Grandma took us girls and knelt in front of the couch. “We need to pray real hard, girls, so God will hear us.” I don't know. Maybe God was busy or just mad at my mom.

  The next thing we heard Aunt Margie scream to call an ambulance and Grandpa was yelling. I'm not sure at who. I don't even know what he was yelling. I just remember being scared there was a monster upstairs.

  When the ambulance came they took my mom to the hospital and the police took my dad to jail. That was the last time I saw him.

  The next day, Aunt Margie took Jace and me to my other grandmother's house. That was the last time I saw my dad's parents. Aunt Margie would come visit us but always alone.

 Life moved along after we moved to my other grandma's house. It wasn't long until my mom and her mom started getting into arguments. After Justin was born, mom got a job at The Mercado and we moved to,”The Little Village”. I started school . We were poor but so was everyone else in the neighborhood. Then Mom met Rey and our lives changed again.

 It seems like one moment it was Mom and us kids and the next we were, “the happy family.” Even after Rey began hitting Mom, she kept calling us the, “happy family.” It was like she believed we weren't a family if there wasn't a man. I guess that is really why I never told her about Rey. Oh, he definitely scared me. He would come in to use the bathroom when I was in the tub. The first time he did it, he just used the bathroom and then left. Before he opened the door he stopped a moment.

 “I really had to pee, JoAnna. You know how it is when you can't wait.” He winked at me. “Don't go telling your mom. If she gets upset, I'll have to spank her.” Rey could spank pretty hard.

 The next time he came in, he peed and then stood there. After a minute I heard him.

 “Want to see what Daddies look like? I don't want you to be scared when you get married. It would upset your Mom if you were”

 I thought quickly about that. I knew I was suppose to get married. That was the most important thing about being a mommy. I didn't want to be scared and I definitely didn't want Mom upset,so I said okay.

 Things just got worse from there. Rey never did more than having some touching going on but it made me feel sick. I didn't understand why Rey wanted this. If all daddies did that, like he said, then why couldn't I talk about it? Why would Mom be upset? Why wouldn't we be a “happy family” anymore?

 I know now that I should have told her. We ended up not being a “happy family” after all. Even today, as an adult with an education in child abuse, I still felt, deep down, it was my fault. Rey hurt Justin and Mom saw it. For a long time I thought he did to Justin what he did to me. I guess that is where the guilt comes from. Mom kicked Rey out and filed for divorce. Then Rey came back.
 We had gone to the Christmas party at the shelter for battered women and children. It was so much fun. Since Rey left we went to the shelter a couple nights a week. Mom went into a room with other mom's. On Tuesday night Jace and I went into a room with art supplies and long tables. Justin went into a room filled with toys. Both rooms had other kids in them. Thursdays we went into a room with toys but it was just us three with a lady who watched us play. Sometimes she asked what we were playing. Sometimes she joined us. All the time she watched us. The party was different. It was like Tuesday night but better.

 The art room was decorated with lights and a Christmas tree. There was a big chair by the tree. The long tables had red and green tablecloths and were laden with all kinds of food. I remember there was a big disposable pan filled with macaroni and cheese. It made me think about the last time I saw my dad. Mom asked if I wanted some but I said no. I haven't eaten mac and cheese, or fish sticks, since that day. I still don't. There was plenty of other food though. Things like ham slices, potatoes, candied carrots, sweet potatoes with a crunchy sweet topping, rolls and fun stuff, like pizza and hot dogs. One of the tables held nothing but cookies! I had never seen so many different cookies before. Mom fixed us all plates and then we went to sit with Kay.
 Kay was one of the art teachers. I liked her a lot. She always had fun ideas and liked everyone's art work. She had given us a ride to the party and would take us home. We ate. We played. We ate cookies. Then the big moment came. Santa! He was there with a couple of bags of gifts. I couldn't believe it! We weren't even asleep! We sang songs with Santa and then everyone got a gift, even the mom's. After that we went home. We were only there a minute when there was a knock.

 “Kay!” I screamed, running for the door. “Kay's back!”

 I saw my mom coming out of the bedroom but I didn't wait for her. I flung open the door and there was Rey. He had a gun like cowboys use and he pointed it at me.

 “Let's go in the house,” he said, calmly.

 I was afraid to turn around so I backed into the room. I kept staring at that gun. I knew this was bad.

 “Get Jacelyn. We're going in the kitchen with your mom.”

 Mommy was in the kitchen standing with Justin. She was crying but I don't know if she knew it. She never wiped her eyes or her cheeks. I wondered if I was crying like that.

 “Sit down.” Rey told Mommy pointing the gun at her and Justin. He waved the gun at me and Jace. “Stand next to your mom.” I didn't understand it. He was talking so softly, like he wasn't even mad. Except he had the gun. He threw a bunch of paper on the floor in front of Mommy.

 “No divorce. I love you. I love the kids. We're a happy family.” Rey kept saying that over and over. He said it softly, with no anger. He said while he emptied the gun and then showed us each bullet.

 “Blue.” One bullet in. “JoAnna.” Two bullets in. “Jacelyn.” “Justin.” Three and four. “Rey.” Five. “Just in case.” The remaining ones. “I love you, Blue.” “We're a happy family.” The gun went in Mommy's mouth.

 “Please God. Please” I didn't know what else to say. Save us? Save Mommy? Don't let me puke? Don't let me pee? He might get mad. That's it! “Please God. Don't let him get mad.” He didn't sound mad. Maybe he needed to be mad to pull the trigger. “Oh God. What do I do? Help us. I'll be good. He can touch me God. All he wants. I'll never say no. I promise. I'll be a good girl. I'll never be a problem to anyone. I won't fight. I'll be quiet. I promise you God. I'll be the best.” Wait! What happened? Why is Mommy putting Justin on the floor?

 “Go to bed. Take Justin and Jacelyn with you.” Rey is looking at me but Mommy is standing and he still has the gun in her mouth. What's happening now? Rey pushes Mommy toward her room.

“Let's go Blue. The kids are going to bed.” Rey tells Mommy like it is any normal night.

 Except it's not. He isn't suppose to be here. Kay said he couldn't come back. What happened? Where are the police? Kay said the police would come. But they aren't here and Mommy is going to die. I don't know what to do. 'I want my Mommy, God. I told you I'll be a good girl'”

 I can't leave Mommy alone. “Mommy will die if I leave. I have to be a big girl now. It's all my fault. I should have been a good girl. I'll be good now, God. I promise.”

 I sit down next to Mommy's door. I put Justin in my lap and pull Jacelyn as close as I can.

 “If we sit here quietly, then Mommy won't die.” I keep repeating it to them even though I know I'm lying. There is going to be a big boom and Mommy will be dead. Then we will die, too. I guess Rey will go last even though I wish he would go first. But I keep repeating it to Jace and Justin like a mantra of safety. We wait to hear the gun. I don't cry because I'm a big girl. I think I am though. My face feels hot and wet like when I get hurt and I cry. Please don't let us die. I'll never cry again. I'll be good. I'll do whatever he says. I won't cry. I'll be a good girl. I don't want to hear the gun, God.

 I still don't know how my mouth can say one thing while my mind pleads another.

 It feels like forever since I saw Mommy. I wonder if she is still alive. Did I miss the gun sound?  It's getting light out.

  Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Help us! The door is opening! Please be Mommy!

 Rey comes out of the bedroom. He still has the gun but not my mommy! He doesn't even look at us. Maybe he thinks we are in bed? I watch him leave out the front door. I want to go see Mommy but I'm scared she will be bloody and asleep. Please God. Please God.

 My mommy comes out the door! She isn't dead! Oh Thank You! Thank you! I remember. I'll be good.

 “He's gone. We waited for the gun to go off.” I tell Mommy.

 Mommy is holding us. It feels so good. I never want her to let go.

 “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,” Now Mommy is repeating. Maybe she made a promise with God too.

 “JoAnna, wash your face Honey. Mommy has to make some calls.”

I wash my face. The police come. So does Kay.

After that happened, it was always just Mom, Jace, Justin and me. If my mom had a boyfriend we never met him. We went to school, to art class and to play at the shelter. Time passed and we grew up. I never told Mom about Rey and me. I never told anyone until I told you. Jace, Justin and I never talk about that night. I don't know if Jace remembers. I am pretty sure Justin was too young.

 I remember the promises I made that night. I keep them. I hold them tight. I am afraid that if I don't God will not keep us safe.

 I am a good girl. I do what I'm told. If someone wants to touch me, I don't stop them. I don't feel it. I don't tell. I never say no.  I don't cry. I don't argue. I don't fight. I keep us all safe.

 I have a boyfriend. He wants to marry me. He doesn't know how damaged I am.

 I want to tell him, “It's okay. You don't have to love me. I prefer that you don't.”

  Softly, I say, “yes.”


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: Screaming Jenny

Screaming Jenny Screaming Jenny by Becky Muth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Creepy, sad tale of a haunt. It is a short, fast read. It is not for someone who is looking for gory, graphic violence, sex and language. This is the kind of tale you can read out loud before the fire on a chilly, gray day.

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Review: Mistletoe at Moonglow

Mistletoe at Moonglow Mistletoe at Moonglow by Deborah Garner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book during the Christmas in July Readathon. I love it! It is contemporary but has the feel of the classics I adore. Reading it feels like you are there, a part of the hotel. It restores your faith in people and refreshes your soul. I will read this again during the Christmas rush. It will keep me sane and remind me of the true spirit of Christmas.

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Review: The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food

The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food by Randall Kenan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won a copy of The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food in a Goodreads Giveaway. (People really do win!)

I love cooking and have been collecting cookbooks for a number of years. This is not what I call a cookbook though it does have a number recipes in it. What I adore about this book were the stories of North Carolina kitchen tables. Some of them reminded me of my Mamaw's table in Southeast Kentucky. It was the various authors bringing the different flavors that make up North Carolina cuisine and serving them at homes where love ruled the table. Some of the stories will educate you. Some will have you howling with laughter. All will inspire you. These are stories that nourish the soul as well as the stomach.

Your stomach will be nourished, too. Though not a cookbook in the traditional style, there are recipes included. The Annie Collins Pound Cake will delight your taste buds as no box mix for pound cake can. It is divine and not complicated at all to make. I was never one for Butter Beans. I ate my Mamaw's and they were good. My favorites though were Leather Britches. I made the recipe for Better Butter Beans that is in the book and fell in love with Butter Beans. Who knew they could taste so good? If you have never tried cheese grits, I invite you to follow the easy recipe for this southern favorite. If you eat your cornbread on a plate, try it in a cold glass of milk, (a filling supper any night of the week). Sausage biscuits do cure anything that ails you, especially covered in gravy.

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Review: Road Trip: A Haunted Women Tales Trilogy

Road Trip: A Haunted Women Tales Trilogy Road Trip: A Haunted Women Tales Trilogy by Becky Muth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love reading about haunts. I can remember listening to the tales of haunts when I was a child. Southeast Kentucky must be full of ghosts because I heard and still hear tales of haunts that are sworn to be true. I can remember riding in my aunts car with my cousins and going to see the haunted barn and the old haunted schoolhouse in the holler. They are among my most treasured memories. Road Trip takes me back to my roots. I enjoyed this book so much I was sad that it ended. I must have more. If you like stories of haunts that don't need blood and guts or "adult" language this is your book. The author does not rely on graphic violence, sex or shock language. She just tells the tales and lets the ghosts be the stars. My favorite story was Kentucky, of course. It is set in Pikeville, a town I use to visit as a child. When I go back now, I always go to Pikeville. I love how the author takes the haunt and gives us the old tale but adds in present day ties. Going back and forth between the two and watching them unfold together was so interesting. The ghosts of my youth and beyond still live today!

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Review: James And The Amazing Gift

I came across James and the Amazing Gift by Nicola J. Rowley  through BookTasters. I am reviewing an ecopy version provided by the author.

I read children's books, particularly younger children's books, with children of different sexes and ages, often with one or more on the autism spectrum. I also prefer to hold off reviewing for a length of time. I know this may seem unfair to the author but I believe it gives a clearer picture of the book. As parents,grandparents,caregivers and teachers we know how often we will read the same book to our children. What I look for to review them are:

1. Are the children interested? Has something about the story caught them?  Do they care about the ending?
2. Do they like the characters? Can they relate to any of them?
3. After hearing/reading it several times, are they still enjoying it? Do they still laugh? Do they find new things in it? Do they stop paying attention half way through?
4. Do they enjoy the illustrations? Do they make the connection between the words and the picture? Do the illustrations ignite their imaginations?
5. (maybe it should have been higher up) Was I able to enjoy the book the first time? The fifth time? The twentieth time? Did I find it a chore to read it? Was I able to find anything new to comment on with multiple reading?
6. Did age/sex/ability affect the child's view of the story?

I enjoyed James and the Amazing Gift. I found value in the story. The message is an empowering one. I had a couple of audiences. The one most often was made up of two boys and a girl, the youngest 3 and oldest 10 and on the spectrum. The second group was similar in ages and sexes. They had been victims of abuse. I was hoping the story had value for them. I hope the message stays with them. I wish I had been given a book copy so I could have gifted it to them.

Both groups of children liked the pictures though they wanted them bigger. In a print version they may be bigger. They all liked James. I could tell they were relating to the story by the reactions to the lady. The children who deal with autism, thought the lady was on the spectrum. They thought this was why she did not make eye contact or talk to anyone. The children who had been abused thought she was being hurt at home.  I found it interesting and a way to open the door of communication with the first group. After hearing the other children's observations, I was able to introduce different reasons for the lady to be sad, (something important for the one on the spectrum, who was the oldest).  The first group of children are not tired of the story. We have had the book for a month now. We read it often with conversations about feelings and the importance of caring for others.  The second group read the story three times before they moved on. They were still enjoying it at that time. I hope James becomes a part of them.

Sexes of the children did not matter, with both equally enjoying it. Age played a little into it with the three year old not getting the bigger message but still listening and enjoying it. I thought the 10 year old would get bored but he hasn't. This could be due to us working on emotions with him so much. I think it is a lovely story with a much needed message.

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Twitter @NicolaJRowley


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

HSReadathon WrapUp

The last two weeks of July, I participated in the High Summer Readathon at Seasons of Reading. I really love doing the readathons at Seasons of Reading. Michelle is an amazing hostess and always makes the readathons relaxing and fun. The final days had the theme of Christmas in July! As a Christmas lover there was no way I could pass that up. Christmas and Halloween are my favorite holidays. I think, in part, it is because they both have the most amazing books that go with them.

I picked out way more books than I was able to read. I know, no way! haha. I think we all do that. I am a mood reader though so picking out the ones I want to read is purely for the enjoyment of going through my TBR. I rarely stay with my selected books. *Shrugs* 

The books I read were:

My most surprising book was Max and Menna. It is not a comfortable book to read but it is amazing and I urge anyone looking for a good coming of age story to pick this one up. 

My most fun book goes to Tonya Kappes for A Ghostly Secret. I absolutely love the Ghostly Southern Mysteries Series. I knew it was going to be fun to read. Tonya Kappes is my author of the year so I am trying to read all of her books this year. I am having a lot of fun with that. I haven't been disappointed once. A Ghostly Secret, though, is my favorite so far. 

My most beautiful writing goes to Mistletoe At Moonglow. I just fell in love with it. I am going to look for others in this series. There was no real mystery involved in this book. Just a warm Christmas story that I fell in love with. 

My Audible selections were both by Rachelle Ayala. Ken and Playing the Rookie are both on the heated side. I enjoyed the stories and all the narrators. I had the most fun with Ken which surprised me because I really like the Men of Spring Series. 

I loved all the books I selected for this readathon and would recommend any of them. Here is some cover love: 

Christmas In July Covers


I would like to give a huge thank you to Michelle at Seasons of Reading. Please be sure to check out her blogs. She is an amazing blogger with a lot going on. Thank you to all the authors who donate prizes. Yes there are books to be won! Be sure to sign up for all the fun and excitement. My next readathon with her will be the Month Long FrightFall Readathon coming in October. Be sure to sign up  for that if you like horror! I am also thinking of joining her for Banned Book Week in September, (info on True Book Addict); Gothic September and then Season of the Witch in October (info on both at Castle Macabre).

If you did the readathon, please leave a comment with your favorite book. If you read some of my choices, I would love to know what you thought of them. If you plan to join in a future readathon, tell me about it. I really enjoy doing them. Due to spambots comments have to be approved. Real comments, whether they agree or disagree with my opinions, will be approved.

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