Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Author Interview: Nancy Glynn

Nancy Glynn was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the setting for all her stories. She loves creating worlds with a great love story, be it in a supernatural or contemporary romance setting. She has written the Golden Hills Legacy series (Black 21 and Lana's Calling) and now Town of Destiny series, And Never Let Her Go starting it off. Her love for reading and writing began early and has grown into a passion. It was on her cold kitchen floor where she first wrote a short story called "When Boy and Girl Become Man and Woman," her first written love scene; she was only 15. She devoured any novel she could get her hands on from 13 on, graduating from Sweet Valley High books to Adult novels.

And Never Let Her Go: A Town of Destiny Novel

Eight years ago, Erin Donahue had it all—her own city apartment, a career in photography, and a man who’d do anything for her. But things change. Fate steps in. Now, living in the small town of Destiny, IL, Erin embraces her new life, free of hurting anyone else. She’s all alone, and she likes it like that. Independent, strong…and broken. Until a handsome, divorced rancher drives up her lane and drags her back into a past she wants to forget. 

A forbidden crush born long ago… 

In Afghanistan, Slade Callahan tucks Erin into his dreams and his heart. Guilt plagues him for wanting her when she isn’t his to want. She belongs to his older brother. But when Erin breaks his brother’s heart, she never realizes she’s breaking two. Honor keeps him from going after her. Discharged from the Marines, Slade moves on with his life and lets her go. Until tragedy strikes. His brother is dead. Found in his car with two letters…one to his wife—and one to Erin. 

A letter full of hope and secrets… 

Erin and Slade come together, fighting a love that won’t let go. Tormented by guilt, shame, anger, and the need to forgive, walls slowly crumble. Setting off a firestorm of buried passions, they embrace the truth in the stars. But their journey is only beginning when the letter is read. Decisions must be made. Is Erin strong enough to accept herself and trust in this beautiful love, or will she repeat history with another Callahan man?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review : Bath Monster (Children's Series)

This is a series I will be running for a little while, highlighting some excellent children's literature. During the coming months, there will be many children's books. Stay tuned to learn more about it. Read previous posts in this series here. 

The Bath Monster

Reading Level: Preschool
Author: Colin Boyd
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Anderson Press
Year: 2016
ISBN: 9781512404265
Pages: 32

This is a silly little book about the horrible tale of the dirty bath monster. This book is a great book for boys. I really enjoyed reading this book with my foster kids. They loved it also. We read it quite a while ago.

This was a great book because this is an issue we have faced in our house. Fear of taking a bath because of the water drain. See after you take that wonderful bath that gets you all clean, the dirty water flows down the tub. It is fed to the one and only bath monster.

 In this picture book, we follow Jackson. Who, like most boys love getting dirty and playing in the mud. Of course, his mother tells him he needs to take a bath, or the bath monster will get him. This book is adorable and has a great message about why bathing and hygiene is necessary. It explains dirtiness and such in a child like a manner.

All of the photos include lots of brown and black to really highlight the dirt. While the illustrations make look scary, they also have a cute softness that won't send your child running.

Purchase this book today: Amazon and Barnes&Noble


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review- How To Be Famous (Children's Series)

This is a series I will be running for a little while, highlighting some excellent children's literature. During the coming months, there will be many children's books. Stay tuned to learn more about it. Read previous posts in this series here. 

How to Be Famous

This wasn't a bad picture book. It didn't hold little one's attention for very long, though. 

I enjoyed the story line about a confused bird who believes he is a famous person. He believes it is his mission to tell us ( the readers) how to be famous. The humor in this book took some explaining, but overall I believe children would like it.

Young readers will be every entertained by her storytelling. She has a very elevated sense of self-worth and her lack of awareness and caution. The ending is a bit, different. For sensitive children, I would not recommend this book. For kids that are okay with the death of an animal, I would say go for it.

Ultimately though it left the little one more confused than amused.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for this review by Gecko Press. All thoughts and such are my own. 

Purchase this book at Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
Goodreads Description: 

Take a trip to the zoo with this irrepressible pigeon as it preens and poses alongside all the animals, right up to the sharp teeth of a grumpy lion. A cheeky layered story full of deadpan humor and a fresh illustrative style.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Author Interview: Brandon Jackson

Check out his book! 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I realized early on, beginning maybe around the 2nd-3rd grade. I used to love drawing pictures of scenes from some of my favorite movies and retelling the stories in my own voice. The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorites as a little kid. I guess because I was always so imaginative. From there I became real interested in the horror genre and would begin writing short stories. Poetry didn’t come into my life until around my early teens and ever since then poetry and spoken word has been my love.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It usually depends on the length of time that I’m feeling overly inspired or if I’m just coming out of a positive or negative experience in my life when the ideas are fresh on my mind. Throughout this time, I’ll write poems periodically and when I feel like a certain chapter in life has come to an end, then I’ll compile all of those poems from that time and put them into a collection to share with the world. So I’d say the entire process usually takes about a year or a year and half for me to go through the motions and complete a project.

What is your writing process?

I never know when inspiration is going to hit me. It can come from something as simple as a conversation between me and a friend. I can be in the car, listening to music and a song lyric will speak to me. Sometimes, a line just pops into my head that I feel has to go into a poem. From then, I might jot down ideas or write down lines that come to me until I get a full concept on what I want to express in the piece. When I’m comfortable enough and feel excited to spill it all out, I’ll sit in front of a computer and type out the poem. I don’t like leaving a poem unfinished but I don’t like forcing its completion either. If I feel like it’s being forced, I’ll stop and come back to it later. Other times, it flows easily and I’m able to complete it all at once.

What would you say is your favorite subject to write about?

I’ve always been a writer that writes about love in some way. Unconditional love and a lot of times heartache. I believe these two feelings are the most universal and everyone can relate to it in some way. I’m a believer that love is everything and acknowledge that the world definitely needs more of it. A lot of writers think it’s such a cliché and will say they don’t like writing love poems but I like to dig deep below the surface to shed light on the emotional and sometimes ugly parts of how we as imperfect people handle something that was made perfectly for us to share with one another. Love.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

My own experiences. Current events. The experiences of people around me. Conversations. Being a poet, you have to be a good listener and an even better observer.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Before poetry, I was big into the horror genre. I loved scary movies and Stephen King was one of my big inspirations back then. I used to dream about writing novels and my books becoming a movie! So around 13-14, I wrote my first book and one of my teachers at the time coached me on the process of shopping the manuscript around to try and get it published. This never happened which I guess everything happens for a reason because looking back I feel I definitely needed more time and growth in my craft. Once I gave up horror novels and short stories, I fell in love with poetry and spoken word. I didn’t publish my first collection of poetry until I was 23 years old called The Parts Medicine Can’t Reach.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 

I love doing anything artistic. I love going to plays, going to poetry/open mic events and art shows. When I’m not working or moving around so much, I like to just be still and enjoy the peaceful moments whenever and however I can.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

One of the most surprising things about creating a book, especially when you are self-publishing is the time and love you have to put into it in order to make sure it’s everything you want it to be. When they say self-publish, it is actually a do-it-all-yourself thing unless you have people to help you in any way. I’ve seen a lot of people do the same and you can tell the book was rushed. You have to edit, edit and edit again. Once everything is complete, I was amazed at how proud I felt when I had published my first book in 2013 because I had finally reached such a long time goal. If you put love into your work, people will notice that love and will hold it dear for themselves.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

One of the most influential poets I’ve admired is Rumi. His work was so timeless and beautifully written. That’s the kind of impact I want to leave with people…generations, providing work that is timeless. I also love writers like Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Maya Angelou. They have such an unapologetic truth planted in their work, not being afraid to go into the deepest, darkest places and exposing that to the readers and listeners. My writing tends to dive into emotional spaces that we don’t speak about out loud because of the fear of being judged or looked at differently but they are spaces we have all been in just the same. I feel it’s a nakedness that writers cherish in order to be a seed in someone else’s life or situation.

Tell me about your latest book of poetry.

From A Sky’s View is my third collection of poetry. Every book I’ve done has been special to me because they reflect a certain period I was in at that stage in life. The prior collections really encompassed Brandon being a writer and also a student. I’ll be the first to admit my shortcomings and the longing in things I wish to understand. I believe we as writers do it, not just to share but because we have the passion to reach an ultimate understanding. My previous work dealt more with my scars, my mistakes, my experiences with love, life and heartbreak. From A Sky’s View includes this as well but it’s more from a self-aware standpoint. I’ve matured more with each collection and I believe the poetry shows it. But I am still learning and with that the work will still grow. My perspective on things now may not be the same a year from now. I embrace that kind of change. I wanted this book to speak to the dreamers. It’s about dealing with pain and letting go of that pain in order to move on and find your freedom again. It’s enlightening when you realize things you didn’t before. You can look back and see things you didn’t see before. That’s what From A Sky’s View is about.

What would you say your mission is as a writer/poet?

I really want to be a representation for those wanting to heal. I am a poet because I want people to recognize that no matter what our differences are, many of our experiences are the same. I’m an advocate of love, self-love as well as spreading it around as much as we can. I want to promote a kind of shamelessness in being vulnerable. You can be vulnerable and strong. It doesn’t make you less of a person. I use writing and poetry as my outlet for my own healing and I want people to take that home with them and apply it to wherever they may be hurting. I am still a student in this thing called life, we all are and I feel it’s important to share for the next person and the next person and the next.

From A Sky's View Review: 

This is such a lovely book of poetry written by a Brandon L. Jackson. From a Sky's View is a selection of various poems of love and it will make you feel so many things. The weight of these poems is beautiful. They are powerful, encompassing and show the deep emotions the poet has. 

I am not very well versed in poetry to be quite honest, but I have never read a better poetry book. This book was very much one of my favorites. I found myself crying and smiling through the various pages. 

This book was incredible! 

"I never knew a smile could be a dangerous thing, until you made me do it, differently...."

I have never heard him read his poems but I feel like I could hear him. The power of his words, they just flow in my head, he has a gift for words, pace, and rhythm. 

From a Sky's View is a very weak powerful read. Invoking all the emotions love brings, and bringing the vision of a great poet to life. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Review: Einstein's Beach House

I love short story collections. Einstein's Beach House was an instant favorite. The stories are very well written, extremely detailed, and many times terribly tragic.

I am going to break this book down by reviewing some of the stories that are located in it. Overall I will give this book a 4 out of 5-star rating,.

The first story was Hue and Cry, this was my favorite out of all of them. It was dark, twisted, and incredibly impactful. This was a sex offender. About the way, he was treated. It had an excellent, realistic ending.

The second story was  La Tristesse Des Herissons, which as a gripping tale about a couple having a baby, but with a twist. They decide to adopt a hedgehog. Which is a bit of a wrong decision, and chaos eventually ensues.

Strings,  the third story which was about a lady who is married when her ex-lover needs help, she is nervous but does help him anyway. Ultimately this creates an internal struggle and turmoil. She struggles with the unresolved feelings he has. The story has an emotional depth, unlike anything I had previously read the book. It is so realistic, shows a loving relationship between husband and wife.

Limerence, this one was quite a perfect short story. It was a heart crushing bittersweet love story about a boy and girl. The story is told about how a boy how fell for a girl who is not a virgin. Her impurity is causing quite the emotional response in our main character. He falls her her despite knowing this. It was sweet and very much a quick read.

I love when I get a chance to read a few books by a particular author, it really gives you a feeling of their style and if you like them. I had previously read the Biology of Luck and absolutely loved it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest and 100% unbiased review from the author. All thoughts and opinion expressed are my own.

Links: Barnes and Noble // Amazon 

Goodreads Description: 

A couple adopt a depressed hedgehog;

 a mother is seduced by the father of her daughter's imaginary friend;

 a man kidnap's his ex-wife's pet turtle.

 In eight tragi-comic stories, Einstein's Beach House: Stories features ordinary men and women rising to life's extraordinary challenges.

About the Author: 

Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize.He has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West BranchHis work has been shortlisted for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received "special mention" for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 201

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: All But Normal

All But Normal 

Trigger warning: Domestic Abuse 

I want to admit going into this memoir I didn't think I would like it. In the end, I loved it 

This is an emotionally charged, roller coaster, thought provoking memoir. One that will stick with me for years. I enjoyed the way the story was told even if it was on a tough topic. This book is about domestic violence. It is one man's personal account of what his family went through. I couldn't believe the experiences the entire Thornton family lived during their lives. 

The writing style brings humor and fun to a topic that is extremely dangerous. At points in the book, I would be laughing, and enough the stories told, then the next I would be afraid, angry, and at times mortified by the abuse I was reading. My heart ached for the family. 

What is interesting is that this is also the story of what it is like growing up with a mother who has Traumatic Brain Injury. The author Shawn Thornton's mother was a bag of mixed emotions at times. One minute she was the sweet, loving, perfect mother we all want, then with the switch of a flip she would be yelling cuss words, screaming, and at times wielding weapons. Even though there is a reason for this, she was injured it didn't help the trauma a childhood like this created. 

 This was all really hard for Shawn to deal with. When he was a young boy, he believed that this was all normal. This is how mothers act. As he got older, developed friends, went to other people's houses he soon realized that was not normal. Even with all this trauma Shawn still credits his parents for making him the man that he is today. 

Shawn's mother had a love of Christ, she was a believer and often showed great compassion for people. Growing up in a Christ-centered house would put him on the track to becoming a Pastor, giving his life to God, and ultimately trying his best to show that same compassion to people.

Ultimately this book's message is one of hope. Hope that no matter what you have experienced in life, if you hold on to what you believe in, you can get through it. Learning to be mentally healthy and overcome the greatest of challenges. This book encourages taking small by significant positive steps in your life. Just because you have been dealt a bad hand, have a mountain to climb doesn't mean that you can't be a shining light for people. 

Disclaimer I did receive this from Tyndale House Publishers for free in exchange for this post as a part of their Tyndale Blog Network. 

Goodreads Description: 

Growing up, Shawn Thornton's life was anything but normal--but then, so was his mother.

After waking from a coma following a car crash, Beverly Thornton's once sweet and gentle disposition had been replaced by violent mood swings, profanity-laced tirades, and uncontrollable fits of rage. Inside the Thornton house, floors and countertops were piled high with dirty laundry and garbage because Bev was unable to move well enough to clean. Dinners were a Russian roulette of half-cooked meat, spoiled milk, and foods well past their expiration dates. A moment of frustration might prompt her to hurl a knife at Shawn, his brother, Troy, or their dad or to vehemently cuss them out, only to shower them with love and affection moments later as though nothing had happened. And God help the family cat!

On several occasions, Bev even tried to jump out of the car on the highway while Shawn and his brother struggled to keep her inside. Yet this same woman was also a devoted Bible reader, Sunday school teacher, and friend to the elderly, poor, and marginalized wherever she went. How the same woman could be a saint one minute and a nightmare, the next was a constant source of frustration for the family. Then one day, after decades of embarrassing outbursts, a surprise discovery finally helps the Thornton family come to grips with Bev's difficult condition and brings Shawn to a startling realization that changes the course of his life forever.

A heartwarming coming-of-age story, All But Normal is a powerful reminder that sometimes the "broken" people in our lives are the ones who need fixing the least

About the Author: 

Shawn Thornton serves as Senior Pastor of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. He is also the Bible teaching voice heard daily across America on the half-hour radio program, “All Things New.” 

Shawn has the honor of serving on the Board of Directors of Awana Clubs International and on the Board of Directors of the Joni & Friends Foundation. 

He blogs regularly at PastorShawn.com. Shawn and his wife, Lesli, have three young adult children—Jon, Katie, and Megan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Author Interview: Adam Bolander

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

That’s debatable.  I’ve always wanted to write books. My biggest obstacle was my obsession with video games.  Every time I started writing something, it wouldn’t be long before I lost interest and went to play video games instead.  It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that it finally stuck.  I still don’t know what was different that time, but I was sitting in agriculture science class, and rather than listen to my teacher ramble on about the finer details of the Brangus bull, I decided to pull out my Alphasmart (best tool a writer on the go can have, if you ask me) and start writing.  And I didn’t quit.  For the first time ever, I actually finished a book.  Yes, it was only 100 pages long, and yes, it was terrible, but it was still a huge thing for me, because it helped me discover my love of writing.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Impossible to say.  Depending on what the book’s about, the style I’m writing in, and how much free time I have, it can take me anywhere from a few months to more than a year.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I work full time taking calls at the Walmart home office.  You wanna know a dirty little secret?  Whenever the calls are coming slow, I’ll start writing.  Heck, sometimes I’ll churn out a paragraph in between calls even when we’re busy!  Don’t tell my bosses, though.  I write stories for free, so I still need this job!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm, my ability to fill every letter I type with enough awesome to MAKE YOUR FACE MELT?!  No?  Okay… Then perhaps my inability to write anything I think I’ve seen before.  Have you ever taken a look at the YA section of a Barnes and Noble?  You’ll see a ton of Twilight and Hunger Games ripoffs.  I want my stories to be memorable, and to do that I can’t just regurgitate what Myers, Collins, or anybody other author has spat out a hundred thousand times.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Well, there’s this noodle between my ears that just won’t shut up.  In all seriousness, though, I draw inspiration from everything.  Like T.S. Elliot said, “A good author borrows, a great author steals.”  That’s not to say that I rip off my favorite authors (please see above question), but I do take mental notes when I read their books, thinking “Wow, that’s cool!  I wonder if I could do something like that?”

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Like I said, I was in my junior year of high school.  That would make me sixteen years old.  It was a story about an orphan being adopted by Santa Claus and brought to the North Pole because he’s the chosen one to win the ancient war against the Winter Warlock.  Hey, I told you it was terrible.  May the old PC that holds it rot in a landfill forever.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
Video games!  Yeah, that beast never went away entirely.  I don’t play as much as I used to, but I do still play… a lot.  RPGs like Final Fantasy are my favorite, since they can tell me a cool story as I play.  I also like to read books (comes with the territory, y’know?), watch Netflix, drink pina coladas and get caught in the rain.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it well.  I’m not joking, the fact that I could write books that other people actually wanted to read blew my mind.  I mean… what’s wrong with people?

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I feel like my best books are inspired in equal parts by JK Rowling and Brandon Sanderson.  I’ve always admired how Rowling was able to write a story that’s appropriate and readable for kids and teens, but still enjoyable for adults.  That’s my goal for every book I write.  Likewise, Sanderson is the king of modern day fantasy, if you ask me.  He introduced the concept of magic having rules to me, and I’ve taken that rule to heart.  That’s what allowed me to write Juryokine, after all.

What do you think makes a good story?
A lot of different things, depending on the story.  The biggest thing, at least for me, is that I have to be able to identify with the characters.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a book that was supposed to be “SOOOO GEEEEEWD!” and put it down without finishing it because the heroes are empty headed, vapid balls of clichés.  Just write them like regular people, authors!  It’s not that hard!  You’re around them every day!  Arrrrrgh!

*storms away shouting incoherently*
*stops and looks back*

Thank you for having me, Andrea!  Happy reading!

*goes back to insane ranting*

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stacking the Shelves- Book Haul // Winter Haul // 1

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page, this is an event  hosted by Tynga's Review!

Happy Winter dear readers! I am having a great 2017 so far! I am actually reading while attending winter quarter. Which I am super surprised about. I have bought and received many books in 2016.  Let's check them out. I purchased so many books this wither.  I am officially on a book buying ban.  

Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
The Illiad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
Moby Dick by Herman Melville 
Mary Poppins Bind up 80th Anniversry Addition  

Received For Review:

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Day and A Life Blog Tours

A Day and a Life (The Hawk and the Dove #9)

I have always found that monks were very interesting. They are extremely devoted to their beliefs and practices, that is something that I admire. They are naturally called to this religion. It is obvious that the author Ms. Wilcock who is also fascinated with the monks and writes deeply and emotionally about the experiences about two monks that are eager to practiced their faith. 
Like many people finding their faith they feel they do not measure up to the more experienced monks. Of course this causes them to question their calling and question everything they believe. Eventually they begin to work through this and overcome their fears about the abilities they have. They look deeply into themselves. The find their strengths and weaknesses over time. 
The author takes us on a journey. The journey is one everyone must take at some point, she is showing us the regardless of who you are people are people. People are important no matter how small they are. Everybody has challenges. 
There were three things I disliked about this book. Those are: 
1.  I didn't like who much of these story seemed stuck in details about the century the book was set in. 

2.  The wordiness in the book. It felt at times that things were explained could have been done in an easier and less complex way 

3.  The story was slow. There was so much detail and descriptiveness it weighted the book down. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from Kregel in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Goodreads Description:

The monastic rhythm of life at St Alcuins means that all is peaceful on the surface, but beneath there are strong currents as each monk contends with his own hopes, fears, challenges, and temptations. Not every monk is settled and secure. 

Sadness permeates the monastery when it is discovered early one morning that one of the novices, Brother Cedd, has disappeared. It quickly becomes clear that disturbance in the life of one can impact many. As the day goes on, the question looms: will Brother Cedd return? And what will be the consequences if he doesn't? 

In this moving conclusion to The Hawk and the Dove series, Pen Wilcock describes a single day in the life of the community weaving a deeply touching, frank, and witty tapestry of monastic life.