Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Two: 125 Easy, Perfectly-Portioned Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker and Multicooker

The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Two: 125 Easy, Perfectly-Portioned Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker and Multicooker The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Two: 125 Easy, Perfectly-Portioned Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker and Multicooker by Erica Acevedo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book to be very helpful. I loved that it contains a variety of recipes and then goes a step further with tips. I am adjusting my cooking from a family of 8 to a family of 2 plus small dog. I have been using my Instant Pot frequently with recipes I know how to make. With the help from this book I have been able to prepare smaller meals that are very tasty.

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Review: Unwelcome Guests

Unwelcome Guests Unwelcome Guests by Anna Willett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I read by Anna Willet. I enjoyed it. I liked the way the author kept you guessing on who to trust. That was well done. There were a few parts that were unbelievable for me. This does not always bother me as I know fiction does not mean reality. However in this story, I felt that it did make a difference for me. I’m sorry I’m sounding so vague but I honestly hate giving away things. The story was interesting and made me wonder what I would have thought or done if it were me.
This story touches on sexual abuse but I thought it was well done. Things were explained but not graphically. I thought the author did a very good job giving details that left much of it up to your mind.

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Review: Blush of Love

Blush of Love Blush of Love by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was excited to read this story. I enjoy the author’s writing but this book was special for me because I’m a gamer. I really enjoyed the storyline. There were some minor things in the game world that I couldn’t picture. Because of that I actually would give this 41/2 stars. I rounded up because while I couldn’t picture the game world exactly as written, it did not take from the story. It was a personal issue that formed from my gaming experience. The romance between Safire and Matt, in the game world, was well done. I have experienced that. I have played with a boyfriend on several games. Closer to Safire and Matt’s story, I am now playing a game with a game boyfriend, (for those who don’t game, there is a difference between a boyfriend you game with and a game boyfriend). I thought their game relationship played out very well and it rang true. This was a fun book to read with a multiple genre blend..mostly romance and game themed, with a mystery and some drama involved. Something for almost everyone.
The book is a bit spicy at times. For those who like it spicy, it enhances the story. For those who don’t like the spice, you could skip over without losing the story.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Review: A Christmas Creek Carol

A Christmas Creek Carol A Christmas Creek Carol by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this story. Christmas and Halloween are my favorite holidays. I enjoy holiday themed books and movies all year around. A Christmas Creek Carol was a perfect read on this hot summer day. As much as I enjoyed the Christmas aspect, the true story was Ebony’s story. I loved how Ebony realized the most important things in life are not physical things. Too often we get lost in being a success and having the perfect life. This story is the reminder that you can have everything; success, the ultimate home, the right accessories of the perfect life but if you don’t make time for the people you love you truly have nothing. A quick read that captures your imagination, it is perfect for a rainy spring afternoon, a sultry summer day when Christmas seems so far away, a chilly fall day or a needed moment of relaxation after Christmas shopping.

I was given an ARC by the author for review purposes.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Lucky in Laguna

Lucky in Laguna Lucky in Laguna by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Reality show spotlight. I enjoyed this story. If you ever wanted to know how real these shows are, this is the story for you. I don’t want to go into the story so it will be enjoyable for you to read. I liked the characters. Loved the plot. This would make an awesome beach book, or rainy afternoon book. It is face paced, good for older teens and up.

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Review: The Seventh Day

The Seventh Day The Seventh Day by A.E. Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was okay. Time flow was an issue for me. I would have like some consistency there. The heroine was another issue. She came out strong but became weaker and weaker. This, though, could have been done on purpose. The author might have been trying to show us how the mind alters thing in a crisis. If you don’t go in expecting The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead you will enjoy the book more. It was different enough to grab my attention. I will read the next one in the series.

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Review: Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book on audible awhile back. I did not realize what I was missing. I love the artwork! I have not been a fan of graphic novels. I read comic books as a kid, of course. I loved them. But I always thought of them as a different category from books. I love watching a book unfold in my mind. Especially horror books. Nothing is more terrifying than what your mind conjures up. It knows exactly what your fears are. This graphic novel, though, comes mighty close. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: Unintended Consequences

Unintended Consequences Unintended Consequences by Marti Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the Audible edition and read along with the kindle edition.

I enjoyed the story. I like the idea of a series about innocent people who were convicted. The number of people who live this scenario, in real life, is disheartening. I am all for bringing attention to this. There are some scenes that you read and you think, “not close to reality”. I happen to be fine with this because the author did not claim it was a factual story. The story was interesting to me. A father convicted of killing his child yet insisting his child was still alive. A horrifying scenario.
The story drew me in. There were side stories going on in the background. I thought they contributed to the story. I listened to it in one sitting. I liked the reader. I thought she did well trying to convey feelings and thoughts. It is not an easy task.

It was an entertaining read for me. I would say if you are unsure about it try the sample or seek it at the library. I’m planning to continue reading the series.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Frozen

Frozen Frozen by Christine Amsden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I fell in love with Cassie Scot in the first book I read of the series. I have read every book as they came out and not been disappointed once. I remember when I finished Stolen Dreams I was so sad because the author had said the series was finished. Then came the books about Cassie’s friends. And then, with hope never dying, I got the news that a new Cassie book was coming! Oh joy! The author did not let me down. Frozen picks up flawlessly and it is as if the series never had a break.
What I enjoy so much about these books is the way Christine Amsden blends fantasy with reality, blurring the lines and making the reader wonder if it couldn’t all be true. Cassie is not your perfect heroine. She is flawed as we all are, plagued with insecurities and doubts that come with being hurt by those you love. She does not let those thoughts and feelings hold her back though. Cassie bravely goes on, making her way through life, albeit a life filled with magic, vampires, werewolves and other creatures. Sometimes she makes mistakes that carry costs. Sometimes those mistakes can be fixed, sometimes not. But she keeps going, which is what we should do.
This series is, in my opinion, amazing! I am not big on choosing favorite books. It is too hard. There are so many that deserve that honor and many more I haven’t discovered yet. So I have kept my favorites down to two children’s books, my first book I read solo and my beloved Anne of Green Gables. With Frozen I have discovered just how much I love this series. I can honestly say it is my favorite series. I hope you will give it a try and that you will love Cassie and company just as much as I do.
In my opinion these books deal with heavy topics at times so I would use frequent discussions if permitting my teen to read it. I would recommend reading this series in the order they were released. You will miss so much of the actions and relationships that shape later books.
I would like to thank the author who provided an advanced copy for me to review. No expectation of a review, good or bad, was made. The review, and my gushing, are honestly how I feel about Frozen and the series. It is a series worth investigating. I hope you do.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Wrap up

Well I didn’t do as well as previous readathons. I ended up falling asleep during this one but I expected that. I’m still disappointed in myself but I understand it. I’m still exhausted by the medical happenings of the past week. I am going to continue reading to make up the hours I slept to finish out the readathon. 

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? 
I didn’t really have a specific hour that was the most daunting this time. My health is compromised and one of the effects is exhaustion. The kind that pops up and you just shut down automatically. I can’t do anything about that. No way to plan for it. So that was the most challenging part for me. 

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read! 
I only read three books this time. 
Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt
Aftermath: EMP Post Apocalyptic Fiction by J.S. Donovan
Hidden Under Her Heart by Rachelle Ayala

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? 
I would recommend all three of the books I read. They were different from each other so they appeal to different audiences. They were all good. I was most surprised by Aftermath. I enjoyed Hidden Under Her Heart the most.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile? I would like a choice on how to do the mini-challenges. I know some like the break but, personally, I like having them up at the beginning. If you had enough volunteers, I think it would be cool to post the minis as you did this time but also add them to the posts throughout the 24 hours. In my opinion, it gives us time to pick which ones we want to do and get ready for them. I like the reading part best of the Readathon so I limit myself on other things. This time my personal health challenge limited that even more. Sadly, I only completed the one.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep? 
I definitely plan to be back in October. I am interested in volunteering if I am up to it medically. 

If you haven’t participated in one of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, I would encourage you to try the next one. They are great fun. If you don’t think you are up to it or want to get in some experience there is an awesome Goodreads group, Shadow Lounge Monthly Readathons that does relaxed readathons.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review: Aftermath: EMP Post Apocalyptic Fiction- Book 0

Aftermath: EMP Post Apocalyptic Fiction- Book 0 Aftermath: EMP Post Apocalyptic Fiction- Book 0 by J.S Donovan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Short Story Mini Challenge

Running n Reading blog is hosting a mini challenge called #tellmeastory.
I do enjoy short stories as well as longer length ones. I feel short stories have an important place in my reading life. Days that are too busy to read a novel. Times when I want to feel I accomplished one thing. Haha. While waiting for an appointment, riding a bus, sitting in a park. Short stories can be wonderful. They reduce my stress and open my imagination just as much as a regular length book.

I have written a short story that I previously posted on the blog. Rather than link to it I will add it here. It is a contemporary piece involving domestic violence and sexual abuse. It may be difficult to read so please decide carefully if you want to read it. If you do read it I would love to hear from you. If you would rather contact me privately, please send me a message on Goodreads, (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2288988-frances).

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.”

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Pre-Event Post

I’m so excited to be participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. I always enjoy it so much! I wasn’t certain I would be able to this time with the visits to nuclear medicine this past week. I decided to participate as best I could though and just enjoy it.
I have my lofty goals of which books I plan to read. It rarely works out though to what I actually read. I’m weird like that. I read by mood so we shall see where the day takes me. My books will be from the library, print books I own, Kindle books and audiobooks.

To start the day I am completing the pre-event survey.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 
I am reading from Juneau, Alaska, USA. My starting time is 4am here. 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Omgosh. Too hard. I am looking forward to all of them! I can’t pick a favorite. They will get jealous and then I will have to soothe feelings and read equally from all...at the same time. No way am I that good! 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Well I started out with good intentions of healthy snacks. Then I tasted Hot Italian Sausage Potato Chips. Good intentions flew out the door. I have a bag I have drooled over all week. I can’t wait to bust into those. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

In addition to reading I have really gotten into ColorIt Coloring Books. I love their products! I game, ( currently Sims and Lords Mobile), play Words with Friends, hike and volunteer. I have my reading buddy, Zoey, my shih tzu. I love coffee and chocolate while Zoey loves Wild Harvest Duck & Sweet Potato Jerky Snacks. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

What I will be doing differently this time is just taking things easy. I usually try to get as many books done as I can. This time, due to ill health, I am just going to go easy and enjoy whatever I get done. 

My lofty list of books: 

1) The Trouble With Turkeys by Kathi Daley

2) The Mad Catter by Kathi Daley
3) Hidden Under Her Heart by Rachelle Ayala
4) The Unremembered Girl by Eliza Maxwell
5) Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell 
6) Outage by T. W. Piperbrook
7) Crime Rib by Leslie Budewitz
8) Broken World by Kate L. Mary
9) Pocketful of Bones by Julie Frayn
10) Death By Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves
11) What The Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson
12) Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
13) You Don’t Know What Love Is by P. David Hornik 
14) Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt - this is the one I am starting in 10 minutes

Good luck to everyone participating! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Christine Amsden's Frozen Cover Art Reveal

Cover Art Re-Reveal!

Designed by Lou Harper, the beautiful cover art for Frozen is far more than it appears. It is actually the culmination of years of struggle, of adversity, and of serious backlash over misleading, inadequate, and unprofessional series covers.

Let me back up, because this story doesn’t begin with Frozen at all. It begins with the first book in the Cassie Scot series, which has recently had an incredible makeover.

Many of my reviews for the early books in the series say, “Don’t judge this book by its cover!” They go on to say that the cover is awful, but the book is great. Well, obviously, I’m glad they liked the book, but I’ve been discouraged for years by the flack I’ve received for the covers.

One of the worst consequences of my original covers was the mistaken belief (by some) that my books were mid-grade novels, or at least young adult. They are not! These were written with adult audiences in mind.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, let me show you the before and after images:

The original cover artwork for the Cassie Scot Series were hand painted originals done just for me. And saying that is bittersweet, because when my publisher first suggested going this route, I felt incredible pride at the idea of having artwork created just for me. It made me feel special. At this point, I have something of a love/hate relationship with the original covers because I can’t deny they were mistakes. Yet, some part of me still sees something special in them, something unique that the modern practice of photo manipulation can’t capture.

Take Secrets and Lies, for instance, the second book in the series and the one with the greatest backlash. “It looks too romantic,” many or my readers said to me. And maybe it does. None of these books are romances, exactly, but there is a strong romantic subplot (like it or not), and that pose on the original Secrets and Lies perfectly captures the tension in that book – Evan wants Cassie; Cassie is unsure.

Photo manipulation is incapable of creating such a scene. To do the same thing with photography, I would have to hire my own models, and a photographer, and do a prohibitively expensive photo shoot to make it happen.

But I get it. I really do. The original cover artwork has manican-like faces, and they lack the sharpness, the zing, the edge of professionalism that people are used to seeing on urban fantasy novels.

I asked my publisher to hire a new cover designer for Madison’s Song and Kaitlin’s Tale, two spin-offs following secondary characters, and she did a nice job. Not so nice that I wanted her to redo my whole series, but definitely an improvement. And at that point, I thought I was done writing the series.

When Cassie told me, “Life doesn’t end when you get married,” and made me write Frozen, the first book in her new plot arc, I knew I needed something different for the cover. My publisher gave me some choices, knowing I was unhappy with the earlier artwork, but ultimately I refused them all and asked her if she would hire Lou Harper, who was recommended by some fellow authors.

We found a stock photo model for Cassie, and when I did, I tried to find someone with enough poses that she could be used on additional books and maybe … if I liked Frozen well enough, on a series overhaul. I told Lou about some magical creatures that appear in the book, including a hellhound, which she depicted beautifully standing atop a frozen lake. The mist obscuring the background is another important plot element, and really holds the scene together.

When I revealed the cover art for Frozen to my loyal readers, I got immediate, positive feedback. Some claimed that Cassie looked just like they’d pictured. Many said it was beautiful, and professional, and when I floated the idea of the series makeover, I was met with enthusiastic encouragement. So I went for it.

The result is … breathtaking, I think. I particularly love the covers to Mind Games and Stolen Dreams (books three and four), though I am enthusiastic about all of these. They are obviously more professional, cleaner, and state clearly, “These are adult urban fantasy novels.”

I hope you like the new covers half as much as I do, and that regardless, you’ll give the books a chance. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we often do. I sometimes do, even though I know how the process goes, and how hard it is to find the right representation for a book!

I present these before-and-after covers proudly, but know the books are far more than their covers. Cassie Scot is a labor of love that only comes alive when you peak inside.

Alaskan Book Cafe :

I am incredibly happy to see the new covers. I fell in love with this series when I read my first Cassie Scott book. I have loved every book since. I liked the old covers but they do deceive the reader. The series looks geared to juveniles when it is not. Seeing the new covers gave me goose bumps! I hope they do you too. If you have not read the Cassie Scott series, I hope the new covers entice you to give them a try. I was devastated when I heard the series had ended. I have no words for the joy I felt when I heard that Cassie had convinced the author her story needs to go on. I am so excited over Frozen! 

Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven)

Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.
When a couple freezes to death on a fifty degree day, Cassie is called in to investigate. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.
Two of those preschoolers are Cassie’s youngest siblings, suggesting conditions at home are worse than she feared. As Cassie struggles to care for her family, she must face the truth about her mother’s slide into depression, which seems to be taking the entire town with it.
Then Cassie, too, is attacked by the supernatural cold. She has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.
No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.

Buy Links

Print Release: July 15, 2018
Audiobook Release: TBA

The Cassie Scot Series

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot Book One)
Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot Book Two)
Mind Games (Cassie Scot Book 3)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot Book 4)
Madison's Song (Cassie Scot Book 5)
Kaitlin’s Tale (Cassie Scot Book 6)

About the Author

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, which scars 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. 
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she's a mom and freelance editor.

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