Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter

The Kitchen DaughterAuthor: Jael McHenry
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9169-9
Publisher: Gallery Books
Purchase Link: The Kitchen Daughter
Source: Book Pleasures

When Ginny’s parents die unexpectedly, Ginny, a sheltered and shy young woman, struggles deeply, seeking comfort within the kitchen.  Cooking is the only thing has ever made sense to Ginny, a young woman with Aspersers syndrome.  When she starts making recipes and seeing the ghost of the recipes owner, Ginny knows she must never reveal this fact to her sister, Amanda, who has been overbearing and pushy since their parents death.  Realizing the ghosts are appearing for a reason, Ginny begins to call them on purpose in order to find clues to a well kept family secret.  In the process Ginny discovers secrets about herself, her family and others and learns how to deal with her grief while trying to overcome her disabilities.

The Kitchen Daughter was a fabulous read.  I loved every minute of this tragically inspiring story.  The novel is surprisingly upbeat for a novel in which you’d expect otherwise.  McHenry brings life and laughter into a challenging situation.  Ginny, who discovers she has Aspersers syndrome, learns to deal with the challenges of her personality rather than hiding behind them.  I loved learning about this syndrome!  It was fascinating to read about.

I found myself with writers block while trying to write this review.  There are some books that are simply wonderful, they click with the reader and leave them wanting more from the author.  It can be hard to put words to these books.  Instead I find myself recommending them to anyone and everyone without a lengthy review.  The Kitchen Daughter is that book for me.  I enjoyed it.  I will re-read it.  I will read more from the author, but I can’t seem to find the words to say exactly how I enjoyed this book.  It was simply enjoyable and delightful to read. It was unique in its storyline which appealed deeply to me.

I highly recommend this book.  I enjoyed reading a story that was realistic to life and not all fairy tales and happy endings.  I also learned something new and found a new must read author to add to my growing list.  It’s a beautiful debut that captures the attention of the reader and guides you through the story.  I can’t wait to read more from Jael.  I adore her picturesque writing style.  It enabled me to envision the setting and characters while keeping a smooth flow and broad appeal.  This one won’t disappoint you.

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Little Black Dress

Little Black Dress: A NovelAuthor: Susan McBride
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0062027191
Source: TLC Book Tours
Purchase Link: Little Black Dress: A Novel
Follow the Tour

Synopsis: 
Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future
Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts . . . and mend them.
My Thoughts:
Characters- The characters are a well developed and intriguing group, full of individualism and personality.  Everyone is so different, yet alike in many ways.  This element gave the characters a real life feel.
Setting- It’s perfect!  Author’s should either write what they know about or research.  Susan chose to write what she knows about and Susan knows Missouri!  The setting fit the book perfectly.  I loved that the main characters was a small town girl, escaping to the big city, thinking she can’t have the best of both worlds, but in the end she does.
Writing style- Susan’s writing is great!  The book is laid back and intriguing.  While the book can’t claim to be realistic, Susan enables the reader to discover a little bit of magic to brighten their day.  Little Black Dress reminded me of why I love fiction.  Fiction is any story, and escape, not always meant to be realistic.  This story is sheer fun and mischief while bringing together family and life issues that can be all together real.  I enjoyed the mix of realism and escapism in this book.  It gave the book a unique storyline and set it apart from others that I’ve recently read.
Flow- This novel flowed seamlessly.  It was an easy read.  I didn’t want to put it down.  However, if I did need to break away due to my hectic schedule, the novel stayed with me.  I enjoyed being able to pick it back up at any time and not feel the need to back track or remind myself what happened recently.
Audience - Anyone, most likely women, who enjoy stories about family relationships or dynamics, romance or magic/fortune telling, will like this book.  It’s for anyone willing to read a fun story with a bit of magic.  If you can’t enjoy the idea of a little black dress that enables the wearer to see a glimpse of her future, don’t read it.  I’ll admit I saw reviews via Amazon Vine that disappointed me.  People were discrediting the book for being what it claims to be, a work of fiction.  Nothing inside the novel is misrepresented by the synopsis on the back. 
Overall – This book was wonderfully written, light and full of entertaining characters and a charming fictional story.  I enjoyed being able to sit back, relax, put my feet up and fade away.  I felt as if I was there with the characters as they discovered more about themselves and the family history so deeply rooted in secrets and hurt, yet full of love.  Of course, that little twist of magic was fun as well!  It set it apart from other novels, I recommend reading it!
About Susan:
Susan McBride is the author of Little Black Dress (HarperCollins/William Morrow, August 23, 2011) and The Cougar Club, selected by Target Stores as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association. Cougar also made MORE Magazine‘s list of “February Books We’re Buzzing About.”  Foreign editions of The Cougar Club will be published in Croatia, France, and Turkey. The Cougar Club centers on three 45-year-old childhood pals from St. Louis who reconnect and discover that you’re never too old to follow your heart.  After Little Black Dress, Susan will pen another women’s fiction novel for HarperCollins and a young adult thriller for Random House (details to come!).
On the personal front, Susan calls herself an “Accidental Cougar” after meeting a younger man in 2005 when she was a St. Louis Magazine Top Single.  They were married in February 2008 and live happily ever after in a suburb of St. Louis.  Susan is a breast cancer survivor and often speaks to women’s groups about her experience.

Additionally, Susan has written five award-winning Debutante Dropout Mysteries (HarperCollins/Avon), including Blue Blood, The Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night Of The Living Deb, and Too Pretty To Die.  She has authored several YA series books for Random House about debutantes in Houston, the debut in 2008 appropriately titled The Debs and followed by Love, Lies, And Texas Dips in 2009.  Gloves Off, the third book, is in pub date limbo.
Visit Susan at her website, http://www.susanmcbride.com/index.html.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Winner of UPrinting Brochure Giveaway!!

Drumroll........

DJKOUTURE!!!  Congratulations!

Visit DJKouture here: http://djkouture.com/

Thanks to all who entered!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Chocolate With God

Hot Chocolate with God: Just Me & Who God Created Me to BeJust Me & Who God Created Me To Be
Author: Camryn Kelly with Jill and Erin Kelly
ISBN: 978-0-89296-845-9
Publisher: Faith Words by Hachette
Pre-Order: Hot Chocolate with God
Age Group:  Juvenile Nonfiction/Activity
Source: Faith Words
Website: http://www.hotchocolatewithgod.com/


About this book:
Written for young girls 8-12, this brand-new series combines the writings of the Kelly girls with journal/activity elements in an engaging, exciting companion book to every girl's walk with God. Each book in the series includes scriptures, fun facts, journal writings, and fun personal quizzes. Girls will be able to express their deepest thoughts and feelings, as well as share everything from their favorite ice cream to the things that make them cry.

In this first book, it's all about the reader. Finding out who you are can be a fun process that will take you a lifetime-and this book gets girls started out in style! A self-guided tour through every area of a girl's inner life, this book encourages girls to find the answers to small questions (What's your favorite color? Your favorite ice cream flavor?, etc.) as well as large ones (What makes you sad? What makes you angry?)

A section on dreams and special gifts will also be included. All little girls have dreams of what they want to be when they grow up, and this book will help them discover which of the special gifts talked about in the Bible they have been given.

With activities ranging from word searches, create-your-own story fill-in-the-blanks, true/false questions, journaling space, a companion web site, fun facts, and scriptures, this first volume in the HOT CHOCOLATE WITH GOD series promises hours of fun and self-discovery!
 
My Thoughts:
 
I loved it!  Being a woman is hard; being a girl on the verge of woman hood is even harder!  This book is meant to help encourage and guide young girls on the verge of womanhood.  Being an adolescent is one of the hardest times in life.  I remember every moment of my pre-teen years and those awkward times where I was just trying to find out who I was and keep to who I was and not let others persuade me to be like them.  It's difficult with all the hormones and emotions that rage through young girls to keep focused on what truly matters, the inside, and who God wants us to be.  Hot Chocolate with girls is a beautiful, interactive guide that empowers girls to be themselves, be godly, and be an example to others.  Everyone will enjoy this book because it’s all about YOU!  It's a journey to self discovery and exploration of who you are and who you want to be.

Quick Guide:  What you'll find in this book....

So you’re busy right?  You are in school, sports, out with friends, helping at home and part of a variety of different activities.  It's hard to pick up a book, especially a devotional book, with so many other things going on.  GREAT NEWS!  This book isn't like that!  This book was designed for YOU!  It's a journal, an activity book, a diary, and adventure... it's your adventure because it's all about YOU!  The book is meant to be fun and interactive.  It engages the reader and helps you discover truths about yourself that are important in helping young girls discover what they want in life and who they want to be, especially at an age where it can be really difficult to know these answers.  So what will you find in here?  Check it out....

Sweet Truths - Encouraging truths from God's word.  These short blurbs come directly from the Bible to help you understand the part of the journal you are working on!  Each truth gives a scripture and then a short explanation of what God's trying to tell us.

Journal Writings - It's all about you right?  So why wouldn't you have a spot to write your thoughts?  These spots are just for you, for whatever you want to remember or reflect on.  It's all about you.

Quizzes - Some of the best ways to find out about you is to take a quiz.  We all do...there are plenty of internet sites that have silly quizzes we play for fun.  This book has quality quizzes to help you understand who you are and what you want to be.  Most importantly, it's all about you.  No two people will have the same answers or come up with the same conclusions because we are all different and that's great!  God made us to be different.  We are special and unique and the quizzes help show this fact.

Word Searches - It's fun!  These word searches have you find 8 -10 words that are all about girls!  The words are important because they matter to each of us, though sometimes not in the way we think.  These were scattered throughout the book.  They are a fun reminder that we are all created in God's image and we are special from the inside out.

Design-it - Help design the next cover of Hot Chocolate with God!!  It's all about you, so why shouldn't you have an input??   Design sections scattered throughout the book.

Fill in the blanks - These sections require you to fill in the blanks.  Since it's about you it can't be wrong, but it can be helpful in discovering your identity and dreams.  It's a helpful guide that enables you to think about things you may not have before.  It's easy and fun!

CamJam/CamFam - Small sections from the author that help you get to know her on a personal basis.  These sections are great because you may or may not feel the same way, but that's okay because we are all different and the sections are meant to show exactly that.  What is important is that you are you! The purpose is to have fun.

Overall, I loved this book.  It's fun and interactive and meant to help young girls discover who they are during a period in their life where they are already trying to do just that!  With biblical guidance, girls are encouraged to be who God created them to be and be happy with it.  I would highly recommend this book.
 
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Job!!!

I am thrilled to announce that I am changing careers!!  With my daughter in Kindergarten, it is time for me to work during the day instead of at night.  I have not seen her much since she started school and it's sad.  I'm thrilled to announce that I obtained a new job with a magazine in my town!  I will be the Assistant to the Director and Event Coordinator.  I am so excited!  This job is right up my alley and I can't wait to dig in.  Thanks for sharing in my excitement and bearing with me during my lack of post during this job search.  I look forward to sharing more reviews and new features with you soon!

A Day In The Life of Kimberley Freeman

A day in the life of Kimberley Freeman
Guest post by Kimberley Freeman, author of Wildflower Hill
Written for A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews

5am. Alarm goes off. I like to write very early in the morning, before the critical side of my brain wakes up. I also like to sleep very early in the morning, especially in winter as it is now here in Australia. My electric blanket is just so warm. Hit the snooze button.

5.20am. Get serious this time. Work out a plan where I fetch my laptop and bring it back to bed. Win! Try to stay off Facebook. Write ten words. Go on Facebook and write 100 words updating status and commenting on friends' stuff. Look at the time. Jump out of bed and throw on track-pants and trainers.

6.00am. Meet my friend Mary-Rose on the bush track at the bottom of the mountain near my house. Walk up talking about writing (she is a writer too). Agree that writing is terribly difficult.

7.00am. Peanut butter toast and a hot cup of tea for breakfast. Make kids' breakfasts and lunches. Pack them up, run one to kindy, the other to school. Vow that I will write as soon as I get home.

9.00am. Get home. Immediately see the seventeen housework chores that need doing. Shake fists and proclaim that I need a wife. Do the seventeen housework chores.

11.00am. Make tea. Vow to start writing before tea is cold. Peek at Facebook. Nobody has responded to my witty morning status update. Feel a little miffed. Open my story, work out where I was up to. Disappear down rabbit-hole.

1.45pm. Have forgotten lunch. Have forgotten load of laundry in the washing machine still. Proudly proclaim on Facebook that I've written 3000 words. Think of self as complete genius. Watch eps of 30 Rock while eating potato chips until school pick up.

3.30pm. Return from school pick up. Make food, bathe children, read to children, put children to bed, then back to bed, then back to bed, then back to bed...

9.00pm. Read over the day's writing. Immediately realise I am NOT a genius. Fiddle with the sentences. Despair. Drink tea. Realise it's ten o'clock and go to bed, promising self to do better tomorrow.

12.00am. Wake up with absolutely utterly brilliant idea for a way to tie up loose ends of the story. Accidentally fall back to sleep and forget it.

5.00am. Repeat.


Monday, August 22, 2011

U-Printing Giveaway

I absolutely LOVE UPrinting.com, an online printing company that offers quality and convenience.  I have ordered business cards and post cards for my blog from their site and they always display great quality.  I have been given the opportunity to host this giveaway by the fine people at UPrinting.com and hope one lucky winner will find satisfaction with the company as well! 


Prize Details:50 pcs Brochure printing for One (1) Winner
8.5" x 11"
100lb Paper Gloss
With Folding (Half Fold, Trifold/Letterfold, Z-Fold, Roll Fold, Accordion Fold),
Outside and Inside Printing
2 Business Days Turnaround
*Free shipping
Restriction: Limited to *US residents 18 years old and above only

Want a chance to win print brochures?  Follow this blog and check out the brochure templates and tell me which one you'd want!  The winner will not be held to the design, it's just for fun. Make sure to leave your email in the space provided so I can contact you if you win.  Please consider following UPrinting on Twitter and joining their page on Facebook.  Much appreciated!  Good luck! Ends 8-28-11 at 11pm CST.


*Disclaimer: Required as per FTC Ruling
This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting and I will receive print brochures for hosting. Visit UPrinting.com for more information about brochures and available brochure templates.*



The Lightkeeper’s Ball

The Lightkeeper's Ball (A Mercy Falls Novel)Author: Colleen Coble
ISBN: 978-1-59554-268-7
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Purchase Link: The Lightkeeper's Ball
Source: Reader Views

When Olivia is informed of her sister Eleanor’s death, she is instantly suspicious. Eleanor, who drowned, was afraid of water and would never willing enter into it, even if she wanted to commit suicide. Expecting foul play, Olivia heads to Mercy Falls under an alias with the intention of finding out what really happened to her sister. In the meantime, to save the family from financial ruin, Olivia’s mother is pressuring her to marry Harrison Bennett, Eleanor’s fiancĂ©e and the man Olivia suspects is Eleanor’s murderer. Olivia who wishes to marry for love and not for money is torn between her desires and her family duty. When Olivia arrives in Mercy Falls she is made aware that her life is in danger as well. It seems the killer does not wish to stop with Eleanor. As the mystery unfolds, Olivia discovers disturbing secrets of the past that may affect her future if she can live long enough.

The Light Keeper’s ball was a pleasant and exciting read! Though I had my suspicions, I was pleasantly surprised when the murderer was caught. Ms. Coble does a wonderful job of weaving a story full of deception and truth. Olivia and Harrison are wonderful characters. I instantly liked them and wanted them to find happiness outside of what is expected of them by their families. The novel has many twists that kept me captivated. I read this book in two sittings. I couldn’t put it down.

I enjoyed the extent to which Colleen talks about God and faith in him in this title. It was enough for the story without being overbearing and feeling preachy. I think this helps to make the book interesting to a wide variety of audiences while still portraying a solid message of faith. Based on this story, which was my first by Colleen Coble, I would recommend the title to others. I also will be picking up other title by Colleen to add to my collection of books.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Northwest Angle

Northwest Angle: A Novel (Cork O'Connor)Author: William Kent Krueger
ISBN: 978-1439153956
Publisher: Atria
Pre-Order Now: Northwest Angle
Source: Publisher for review

I've decided to try something a little different this time around.  Don't worry, if you don't like change I am still going to post my review in the "normal" format.  However, when reviewing a title I ask myself a series of questions, though not all books receive the same questions.  I simply answer until I have enough information and start to write my review.  This time around, I decided to write a "review interview" in an effort to mix things up a little.  Let me know what you think!

What's the book about? (Synopsis)

With his family caught in the crosshairs of a group of brutal killers, detective Cork O’Connor must solve the murder of a young girl in the latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s unforgettable New York Times bestselling series.

During a houseboat vacation on the remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork and his daughter, Jenny, on a devastated island where the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm.
 
Amid the wreckage, Cork and Jenny discover an old trapper’s cabin where they find the body of a teenage girl. She wasn’t killed by the storm, however; she’d been bound and tortured before she died. Whimpering sounds coming from outside the cabin lead them to a tangle of branches toppled by the vicious winds. Underneath the debris, they find a baby boy, hungry and dehydrated, but still very much alive. Powerful forces intent on securing the child pursue them to the isolated Northwest Angle, where it’s impossible to tell who among the residents is in league with the devil. Cork understands that to save his family he must solve the puzzle of this mysterious child whom death follows like a shadow.

What did you like about the book?
It was a well written and thought out book.  It painted a nice picture of where it was enabling me to feel like I was actually there.  I love feeling connected to a book.

What didn’t you like about the book?
I did not like some of the characters names.  This is my first novel by Krueger and when I read the names "Mal and Cork" I had a difficult time picturing them.  Mal is simply not a name.  I was having a hard time associating it with a person.  Cork is better but not by far.  Malcolm would have worked.  Cork just makes me think of wine.

Did you like the characters?  Why or Why not?  Are there specific characters that stood out to you? Were they relatable?  Did they fit their personality?  Were they well developed?  What would you change about them if anything?
Yes, I did like the characters for the most part.  Each character had enough of a back story written to enable me to understand their background and personality.  The author lets you know what kind of jobs they have held and where they are going in life.  I liked how the people were setup it made them feel real, like people you may already know.

Was the story believable for its genre?
Yes, it could be a true story.

Did it flow well?  Explain.
For the most part it had a great flow.  However, there were a few times, when you are in an action scene, that the flow just stopped and then went into a flash back moment or a sub character story.  This left you to wonder if the scene would pick up again or not.

What kind of writing style did the author use?  (Example:  Told by main character, told by multiple characters, told by narrator.)
This novel was told by each character.  I generally like the use of this format, however, the author didn't use names above the chapters to let the reader know who was speaking.  It took a bit for me to know who was talking or realize that the characters had changed. 

Would you recommend?  Why or Why not?
Yes, It had a good story that was easy to read.  It was also easy to relate to one or more of the characters.  The novel kept me hooked from the start.  I enjoyed it.

Would you read more from the author?
Yes I would.  I have already researched his back list titles and plan to read them

Did the setting fit the book?
Yes, the name of the book was where it was located.  It was also described and executed well within the setting.

Would you consider re-reading it?
 Yes

Did it catch and keep your attention?
Yes, it did.  I would pick up and read it even if I just had 10 minutes

Did you figure out the mystery or were you kept on edge?
It was a lighter mystery, so no, I was not on the edge of my seat but it did keep me wondering.

Intensity level? (1. Beginner  3. Medium  5. Out of control)
2

Overall opinion?
I liked the book and felt myself excited to keep the story going until it ended. It was well written, interesting, had great characters, names aside, and kept my attention.

Pillow Rating?
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I hope you enjoyed this Review Interview!  Let me know what you think!!  Dont' worry, the original formatting will be posted as well.  Until then check out the video for this book!  Hope you enjoy it! 
 Pre-order your copy via the link at the top of the post!