Monday, March 31, 2014

Fool for Books Hop (INT)

I love April Fools Day. Not because you can go around playing jokes on people, and then claiming it was an April Fool's thing.  I love April 1st  because my son was born on this day.  Today is his 11th birthday!!

Here are four books that I have read this year that I have enjoyed.  The Mark of Royalty and Proceed With Caution are not available at the Book Depository.  If an international winner wants one of them, it will have to be gifted as a kindle book.   One winner will be able to make a choice from one of the books below.

To find out more about the book choices, click on the picture to be taken to the book's Goodreads page.

While you are here, there are giveaways that I am running that have low entries.  You may want to enter to win!  Click on the titles to be taken to the giveaway page.  I also am in involved in many tour giveaways.  All of the links are to the right.

Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates ebook ends on April 2
Honor and Innocence by Glen Thomas Hierlmeier ebook until April 8

Use the rafflecopter form to enter this contest.  See terms and conditions to the right. They are also listed at the bottom of the form. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blast ~ "Fortune Cookie" by Josi S. Kilpack + giveaway

Fortune CookieFortune Cookie Sadie Hoffmiller has always liked things to be just so. A place for everything and everything in its place. Order over chaos. And of all things Sadie should be able to control, her own wedding is at the top of the list. With the big day just three weeks away, Sadie is busily adding the final touches to her wedding plans but the arrival of a mysterious letter from San Francisco changes everything. The only person Sadie knows in San Francisco is her older sister, Wendy, whom she hasn’t seen since their mother’s funeral nearly fifteen years ago. Sadie has faced off against murderers and criminals in recent years, yet the possibility of reconnecting with her sister is both overwhelming and frightening. Sadie soon discovers, however, that the letter is just the beginning when Wendy’s world turns out to be a place of unanswered questions, twisted truths, and more than one person with a motive for murder. The more Sadie digs into her sister’s past, the more she places her own future at risk.

Culinary Mysteries


Author Josi S. Kilpack Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.
book blast button       Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fortune Cookie Tour
Tour Schedule

Book Promotion ~ Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War" by Glen Thomas Hierlmeier + giveaway

During his service, Hank befriends a German prisoner-of-war, Max, who tells Hank of his twin sister, Roberta, also in captivity. An unlikely romance buds between her and Hank, leaving Hank conflicted between his allegiance to the American Army and his love for Roberta. Hank decides to break out Max and Roberta, and together they make a desperate flight through war-torn Germany where they witness first-hand the destruction post-war Europe has endured. Leaving Max behind in Switzerland, they make their way to the port city of Trieste, where they board a ship and depart to the seas, dealing with pirates, facing adversity, making new friends, and desperately seeking a safe refuge in a place where their love can flourish.

Follow Hank and Roberta on their intense and captivating journey from country to country as they seek refuge. Read as they make their way through bombed-out cities filled with dead bodies, giving a rare glimpse into the tragic consequences of war, as they remain together bound by love.

Read an Excerpt

“Hank, this is what I want you to do.”  Captain Stein stepped closer and looked Hank squarely in the eyes with a very serious look, as if to say, this is damn important to me, so listen carefully and do what I tell you to do.  He had Hank’s attention anyway with everything he revealed without Hank making any effort to find out for himself.  All this information was just ‘falling into his lap’.
“Yes, sir.  What can I do?”  Hank was anxious to know what Stein had in mind for him to do.
“I want you to meet with the girl, Roberta.  Get to know her first; don’t get in too much of a hurry.  We don’t want to spook her into keeping her mouth shut.  Use your friendship with Max to get her confidence; she’ll want to know everything about him.  Use that to find out what you can about how much she knew or Max knew about what Schoellkopf was doing.  Find out who he was talking with and meeting with.  They should know who was coming to the house.   She probably knows what they did with the records from his office.  We need everything, every scrap.  Get any clue you might be able to schmooze out of her that could help us find the bastards who are still on the loose out there.”
Hank was dumbfounded---speechless---couldn’t contain his angst.  He felt the heat rising on his skin and knew he was turning a bright red.  He felt like he had unexpectedly been caught in a devious plot---couldn’t run forward or backward---couldn’t do anything to get out of the plight thrust upon him.
“What’s the matter, Hank, you look like you just saw a ghost?”
“Ah, ahhh, nothing, sir.  Ah…I…ah, just never imagined I would be doing this kind of thing.  You caught me off guard.  All I ever wanted was to be a farmer.  I never in a million years thought I would be chasing criminals in Germany.  I don’t know the first thing about this kind of work.”
“You’ll do fine, Hank.  I saw how you befriended Max and that makes you uniquely prepared to meet with his sister; his twin sister no less.  You’re just looking for information.  Get to know her; gain her trust.  You are a good man, Hank, just be yourself.  At any rate, none of us chose to be where we are now, but we have to do what we have to do, and this is what our country wants us to do right now.  I know how much you love America, and I know you’ll get this job done for all of us.  Now, pull yourself together, man, and get to work.  Go see her right now.”
Hank silently chaffed at the sound of being called a “good man”, which he certainly wasn’t feeling at the moment.  He was trapped in his own plot, thinking, Why in the hell did I ever agree to meet with Oliver and Max.  Now look at the fix I’m in.  I should have let well enough alone and never seen them again.  Gain her trust?  What about Max’s trust?   Hank felt dirty and didn’t see his way out of his mess, so he did the only thing he could think to do in the moment.
“Ok, if that’s what you think I should do, then that’s what I’ll do.”
“Those are my orders, Corporal.”
“Yes, sir.”
The ride out to the Displaced Persons Camp, the DPC, wasn’t nearly as long as Hank would have liked.  He needed time to think, but within minutes, the Army Jeep pulled up in front of the impoundment surrounded by a tall wire fence with barbed wire strung along the top.  He showed his identification papers and they drove into the compound.  Max had a sick feeling in his stomach and his hope that something would happen to keep his meeting with Roberta from happening was fading fast.  He had no alternative but to see his job through.  He felt like he was losing his integrity---felt ashamed.
The detained SS Officers and those related to them were being held apart from the displaced persons, the officers in one row of former Army barracks and the women and children in separate barracks, divided by another wire fence.  His meeting with Roberta had been arranged in a small building nearby that was formerly used as an office for the commander of the former German Army facility.
The guard escorted Hank into the building where Roberta was waiting in a small interrogation room in the rear.
“I’ll lock the door behind you.  Knock when you are finished.”  The guard instructed as Max entered the room.
Roberta sat on a straight backed wooden chair at a small table in the center of the room. The late morning sun streaked through the barred window at the rear casting its golden glow across the floor and onto the black prison gown she wore, forming the image of the bars from the window.  It struck Hank as a very sad scene.  He saw Roberta as a victim caught up in an evil situation.  Hank was more excited than he even imagined he would be---his breathing elevated and everything around him seemed to disappear except the vision of Roberta seated with her head down, eyes fixed blankly on the table.  He was still uncertain how he would begin, and awkwardly pulled his chair out and sat down without speaking, quietly looking at her as she sat still with her head hanging down---sadly, he thought.  The sight of her and the sadness evoked a flow of empathy in him.  He decided to sit quietly without speaking and wait for her.
Roberta didn’t move.  Hank was struck by how small she was, much smaller than Max, but with the same dark brown hair, almost black.  Her skin was silky smooth and her hands were so tiny and looked so innocent.  Hank realized he hadn’t looked at a woman seriously, really looked at a woman since he left Wisconsin.  It had been four months.  He was enjoying their silence.
After what seemed to Hank a very long time, Roberta slowly raised her head, revealing the dampness of tears on her cheeks; she had been crying for a very long time.  Then she raised her sad silver-blue-green eyes to meet his.  He was startled at how beautiful she was and her look seemed to penetrate right through him as if she could see all the way to his heart.  He was momentarily mesmerized; the golden glow of the sun seemed to shimmer, and his heart beat faster---he had not expected this.  It took a few moments before he realized they had not spoken.  He felt awkward.
“Hello, my name is Hank.”
“Do you know who I am?” She quietly intoned just those few words, but they were music in his ears, like the wind blowing gently through the pines atop the bluffs at home.  They beckoned him, made him feel warm.
“Yes, Roberta.”
“Then you know why I am here?’
“Yes, I do.”
“Are you going to help me?”
“Well, I don’t know?”  Hank was taken aback.  He didn’t expect her to ask for his help, but deep inside he knew that’s what he wanted to do.   It was his natural instinct to help.  He had no idea what she had been told of his visit.  “What do you think I can help you with?”
“They broke into my home and took me away.  I have not done anything wrong.  I am innocent.  I had no idea what my father was doing in the SS.  I only know that he is a very generous and kind man who is fair and just.  Why have you imprisoned me?”  Roberta spoke pitifully from her broken heart.  It was obvious she was suffering greatly in her circumstances.  “Are you here to interrogate me too?  Like the others?  Do you want to force me to say things that are not true?  Should I tell you lies so you will leave me alone?  They told me my father is dead, that he killed himself that he didn’t really care about me.  How could they be so cruel?  Why?  Why?  Why?”  Roberta began sobbing uncontrollably, and Hank felt the full emotional burden of her pain, reacting how he would to any person in need; he reached his arm around her shoulders and comforted her.
“It’s OK.  It’s OK.  I understand.  Go ahead and cry.  I don’t mind.  There, there.”  Hank was drawn to her as if by a spiritual force, not a magical or religious experience, but a feeling he understood her and felt her pain intensely.
It was several minutes before Roberta could compose herself.  Hank withdrew his arm somewhat reluctantly.  She felt really good to him.
“No, Roberta, I am not here to interrogate you.  I’m not going to badger you, threaten you, or abuse you in any way.  I am very sorry about your father.  I’m sure he was a very good man and he loved you very much.  I need to get to know you better so I can understand how I can help you.  There is nothing I would like better than for you to be able to get out of here and go home.  This war has been miserable for all of us.”
“Home?  Home?  I have no home.  My home in Munich was given to the Nazi’s.  The British have taken my home here in Hamburg.  My mother is dead, now they tell me my father is dead, and my brother was taken prisoner by you Americans and I don’t know if he is alive or dead!  I have nothing, nothing, and no one!”
Hank was startled.  It was enough that Roberta began sobbing again, but he was surprised to learn she had not accepted that her father was dead, and she didn’t know about Max either.  Hank felt an incredible sadness for her, but he thought better of telling her that Max was alive and he knew where Max was, and that Max was looking for her.  These were things he could use at the right time to get Roberta to cooperate and maybe even to forge a friendship.  He would need time to decide how to proceed, and just when to tell her these things.  He needed to get out of there for the time being and come back prepared the next day.  At that moment his head and his heart were at odds with each other.  He needed time to get his emotions sorted out, and didn’t know for sure what he wanted for himself.  The words his father spoke to him the last night they were together rang in his ears… sometimes your special moments will grab you unexpectedly.  No matter how they come, you have to be ready.  Hank wondered if this was such a moment.  His heart seemed to be immersed in ecstasy, but his head was pulling him back---trying to discern the wisdom of his father’s words.  The moment and its illumination necessarily had to pass, but the conviction it etched in his heart would remain forever.

About the Author: Glen graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, then earned a Masters of Business Administration at The University of Wisconsin at Madison. He served in the US Air Force on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory space exploration program and on the design phase of the development of the F-15 fighter aircraft. After leaving the Air Force, Glen returned to Wisconsin and became Vice President of the largest bank in his home state, First Wisconsin National Bank. In 1979, he moved on to become President and CEO of several real estate development and management companies. Glen retired in 2009 to devote full time to his grandchildren and his writing. Glen is the author of Honor and Innocence, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember.


There is an opportunity for one person to win and ebook copy of the book.  To enter, use the rafflecopter form.  I have not read this book, so it will be an 18+ contest.  See terms and conditions to the right and in the bottom of the form. This contest ends on April 8th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DVD Review ~ The Saratov Approach ~ Blog Tour

On what seemed like any other day, Elders Travis Tuttle (Corbin Allred) and Andrew Propst (Maclain Nelson) are approached by Nikolai (Nikita Bogolyubov) to teach a friend. But then the missionaries experience the unimaginable—they are kidnapped, beaten, and held for ransom. While their families, friends, and the world pray for their safe return, Tuttle and Propst are tested physically, emotionally, and most of all—spiritually.

My thoughts:  Before my son left on his mission to Chile in January, he told me he didn't think it would be a good idea for me to watch this movie.  He thought that I would worry about him more than I already do.  

When I saw that "The Saratov Approach" was available for review.  I jumped on it.  Could it be that I am experiencing a little bit of motherhood rebelliousness?  It is possible.  

I am glad that I watched this DVD.  It is well done and illustrates the power of faith and prayer.  Elder Tuttle and Propst were put in a difficult and dangerous situation.  They could have given up at anytime, but they didn't.  They continued to listen to the spirit and with faith helped each other through the ordeal.  I loved watching how they related to each other and showed compassion for their captor.

This DVD didn't make me worry about my son any more or less.  It did increase my faith that my son is watched over.  It strengthened my spirit. I  intend to show how rebellious I am by watching it again.

Purchase Links:

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Watch the trailer:

Book Blast ~ "Unplanned Motherhood" by Lena Sledge + giveaway

unplanned motherhoodUnplanned Motherhood
Unplanned Motherhood is a non-fiction collection of short stories written by moms and dads about their funny inspirational or motivational journey as a parent. Unplanned Motherhood is based on the web series created by Lena Sledge.

Unplanned Motherhood is a comedy web series for perfectly imperfect families, starring Lena Sledge as Layla, a wife and mother of five that gives parenting advice on her real life mommy blog. Her unique parenting style contradicting with her perfect parenting advice lends to a distinct brand of humor. With each episode we see Layla teaching her kids life lessons as she discovers more about herself and the advice she gives to her readers. Unique to this web series is the actual blog that Layla writes where she gives the perfect parenting advice and after many of her posts, follows the tag line; to see how I really handled the situation watch this week's episode.

This web series is special because the viewers of the web series and the readers of the real life blog get to interact with Layla and let her know if her advice is on the money or share their own parenting advice. To follow the Unplanned Motherhood blog go to Stay tuned. Unplanned Motherhood debuts March 28th!!!!

If you'd like to submit a short story to be included in the book Unplanned Motherhood, send 500 words or less Short story must be clean, family friendly as well as funny, inspirational or motivational.
Sneak Peek:

Unplanned Motherhood Cast
Unplanned Motherhood Cast

Starring Morgan Hamilton as Sonny, Stefani Colvin as Brooke, Grayson Kilpatrick as Deacon, Aidan Heuer as Spoon, and Ari Heuer as Ari.

  Episode 1:  

Lena  Author Lena Sledge Lena Sledge is an awarding winning author. Her first book, a collection of short stories called If I Had My Way, won the 2012 African American Literary Award for Best Short Story/Anthology. Her short film, Grandma's Hands, won 3rd place at the River City Film Festival in March 2014. Her most recent project, a comedy web series called Unplanned Motherhood debuts on March 28th on Youtube. Lena Sledge has collaborated on many literary projects as well as tv and film projects. She offers advice, resources, and tips on writing, navigating the independent film industry as well as reviews and highlights about upcoming books and authors. Lena Sledge also enjoys photography, you can view some of her photography work on her website as well as Flickr.

book blast button       Blast Giveaway $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/21/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review ~ "Swept to Sea" by Heather Manning

Swept to SeaSwept to Sea by Heather Manning
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Book Description: Lady Eden Trenton never wanted to leave her privileged existence in London—until her father invites a dangerous suitor into her life. Left with few options, Eden devises the best reprieve she can: escape. Chasing freedom, she stows away aboard a pirate ship, praying she will gain her independence in the colonies before she is discovered by the nefarious crew. 
Captain Caspian Archer has spent the last five years hardening his heart and searching to exact revenge for the event that tore his life to shreds. When he catches word that his enemy is residing in Jamaica, Caspian steers his ship toward the colonies in all haste. His plans soon change, however, when he discovers the young beauty hiding in his ship’s hold. 
Cut from the only lives they have known, Caspian and Eden are pulled together as each pursues a fresh hope upon the sea.

My thoughts: Eden's father is forcing her to marry an abusive man. The family needs the money, so she decides that it is time for her to run to the Caribbean to escape the marriage.

She stows away on a privateer boat, is discovered, and meets a complicated man. She is attracted to him, but afraid of men in general. The story deals with captain Caspian's efforts to prove that all men are not abusers. The captain has an adorable son, who factors into the story as comedy relief and adds a cute factor.

I really liked the characters of the book. There are great heroes and villains. Eden is a young lady who is kind and compassionate. She is great with Reed, the captains son. She has great friends who play a larger roll in the story than is apparent at first. Caspian is complicated. He is rough to garner respect and obedience from his crew. He is also gentle.

I found some of the dialogue and settings to be rushed and not well plotted. This is debut novel for this author, so I believe as she gains experience things will improve. Overall, I am impressed with the story and characters.

This book contains violence and kissing.

Read an Excerpt
"Hmmmm, what have we got here?" Caspian chuckled, tossing his baldric and weapons onto an armchair rather than putting them away. "Why, I do believe that I have a beautiful young lady hiding out under my desk. Now, is that not a strange occurrence, Reed?" Caspian asked. The child giggled, his eyes sparkling in amusement. "I daresay this has not happened to me before."
Lady Trenton's face flushed to a comely pink. She clambered to her feet, but tripped on her voluminous gown.
"Blast these skirts!" She muttered. Caspian chuckled at the word “blast” coming out of those pretty pink lips.
"Shame on you, Lady Trenton. A lady such as you should not use such loose language. Surely 'tis most improper." Caspian suppressed a grin at her reaction.
Lady Trenton gave him a deadly glare. The woman ceased struggling with her skirts and tried to rise quickly. In the process, she whacked her head against the corner of his desk.
After a moment of looking dazed, she crumpled to the floor in an unconscious heap. `
Caspian immediately sobered and stooped down to take her limp form in his arms.
After a second her head jerked up and she struggled against his grasp. Caspian gently laid the woman on his bed. She moaned and curled onto her side, mumbling something incoherent.


Blog tour Spotlight ~ "After Life Lessons" by Laila Blake and L.C. Spoering + giveaway

Hulking shadows emerge out of the chaotic flurries of the blizzard. Something is dying, and so they come, like vultures.
After months of struggling south to escape the zombie-infested remains of New York, a snowstorm traps 23-year old artist, Emily, and her son in an abandoned gas station. Starving and desperate, they encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own, who offers them a ride to ease the journey.
The road is a long and dangerous place to travel, and every day brings a new threat. But fear and adrenaline also drive the two closer together; they find laughter and a budding attraction that starts to thaw at their numb and deadened feelings. And that’s when the pain really starts to hit, when places long thought lost prickle back to life. Eventually, they will have to fight not just for survival, but for a future together, or their broken world will swallow them whole.

Read an Excerpt:
Something was dying in the flurries of snow. The wind had piled it into drifts, threw it into icy funnels that danced between the trees.
Emily couldn’t see five feet of road in front of them, but the desperate howl pierced the wind.  A dog maybe, or something altogether wilder. One hand firmly wrapped around Song’s wrist, she dragged the boy along. He grew heavier, slower with each step. Piece by piece, they had let go of their possessions, offered them like sacrifices to the cold, to earth’s gravity and fatigue. Song had long stopped complaining; he’d even stopped coughing, just hung on to her, placing a shaking foot in front of the other.
The dog howled again, and Emily forced her legs to quicken the pace. Song whined, and then his hand slipped out of hers, and he sunk onto a pile of snow. She was aware they were going to die; that was as clear as the icicles that hung from the hard guitar-case she still carried strapped to her backpack. She could barely walk on her own skinny legs and they wouldn’t get far, but she pulled him up anyway, hefted him onto her hip. His frozen cheek came to rest against hers. He coughed, tried to lock his ankles around her waist, but his boots were too slippery, and he soon lost the strength to try again.
Emily was not far behind. With each step along the icy road, her knees shook, and even in the split second in which she slipped, she found herself utterly unsurprised, almost unmoved.
They were going to die.
Blinding pain blasted through her wrist, up along her arm when she landed—hard on her left side, protecting Song from the brunt of it—and, still, she was left impassive. The pain drove tears to her eyes, and the wind froze them on her cheek, but she hardly noticed. She struggled back to her feet, sucked in stinging breath after stinging breath, and pressed forward.
There had to be something out there, something other than the snow, the trees that formed an aisle on either side of them. Hope felt foolish—but this was logic. They were not out in the wilderness; there had to be something.
“Song please, please…” she begged, when he slipped down her thigh again, clinging to her neck like a monkey. She hefted him back up, swallowed the pain that shot through her arm, and tried to squint through the snow. Another howl filled the stillness, closer this time.
In her head, in her legs, it felt like she was running. The truth came closer to padding along on heavy feet, but it was the idea that mattered, the breath that burned in her lungs. She envisioned herself bursting through the trees to some large, well-appointed house, with food and a bathtub big enough to float in, to make it all worth it.
What she found—in the end—was a decrepit gas station, but she reminded herself, sing-song voice in her head and all, beggars can’t be choosers.
They made an inelegant entrance, crashing through the door that hung on its hinges, into a convenience store that had been ransacked long before, the toppled shelves mostly emptied, covered in dust and a fine layer of ice. Emily hauled the both of them through the tangle of wood and wire, past the cash register that lay, gaping open like a wound, on the floor by the counter. The wind whistled through the broken windows, and had it not been for the storeroom just behind the cigarette display, there would have been no point to the gas station at all, not for them.
The storeroom had only one small window and a rotting desk—no food in sight. It was cold, still, but temperature was relative—they were out of the snow, out of the wind, and she could finally set her boy on the floor, and collapse herself.
Every motion sent pain crashing up her arm, and somewhere in the back of her mind that scared her almost as much as Song’s cough and the way his cheeks were burning up the moment he was out of the wind. Biting down, she pilfered through her pack, throwing onto him whatever they had left: a few clothes, a blanket. Where was the towel she’d always used to rub him dry?
“I’m getting some snow to melt, okay? Don’t move.”
Song didn’t answer; Emily grabbed the empty bottle and struggled to her feet. She thought of fires, of tea and food as she stumbled through the store-room, cradling her arm and ducking her chin into her scarf to protect her from the wind. Kicking the door open again with her boot, she squatted down, and pushed snow into the bottle until her gloves were caked in the stuff. She was back on her feet, shivering, when something broke through her pain-addled senses.
The dog barked, once, then again—vicious, aggressive and scared. A shadow hushed through the snow somewhere far ahead. Emily stood, frozen on the spot until, in the distance, hulking shadows emerged—a soft grey against the chaotic white of the blizzard.

Warnings: Contains language some might find offensive, some gore and situations of a sexual nature.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book blast ~ "Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism" + giveaway

Unlocking the Social Potential

To your dismay, your child has received a diagnosis of autism. Along with this alarming news comes the barrage of emotions that suffocates you like an avalanche— denial—confusion—depression—guilt. You want to fix your child; you have a million questions; and you want answers immediately. Autism is a journey in which the child and her family navigate challenges and experience achievements along the way. To guide you in this rewarding journey, Dr. Karina Poirier offers her expertise in this book that parents will find incredibly useful. In this book, you will find the answers you’ve desperately been seeking. Dr. Poirier has provided in simple, easy to comprehend language, an overview of child development, a descriptive explanation of how autism affects each developmental area, and guidelines for advancing your child’s functioning in all developmental domains. You will appreciate the multitude of hands-on, full-color sample lessons for teaching social and emotional skills, language, problem-solving and decision making, and play skills to children with autism. Publisher: Social Cognition Publications | Irvine, CA Color: Full-color illustrations Pages: 300 ISBN (Print): 9780988798205 ISBN (Digital): 9780988798212 Available: March 2014
Available at:

Improving social and communication skills in children with autism

Dr. Karina Poirier, author of Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism, says that understanding a child’s unique needs is the key step to dealing with concerns and developing their strengths. “Bring everything into the light. The worst thing you can do,” she said, “is to ignore the issue. Parents can help their children learn how to communicate better and develop social skills that will help them thrive later in life. Get help early, identify the specific issues you are facing, ask questions, learn everything you can, and devise a concrete and detailed strategy for engaging your child so key skills are developed and strengthened”.

Here are her answers to some key concerns that parents of a child with autism are faced with.

Q: My child can sit through a learning task on the iPad or television; however, he becomes restless and fidgety when working with a teacher. Why? A: Your child’s attention system is reactive. Consider how much children learn from viewing television. Teachers struggle to get children’s attention when an activity does not include the sensory kaleidoscope children are used to receiving when sitting in front of the television. Key Action: Children must be taught at an early age how to develop the mental tools (attend, remember, think) to engage in deliberate and self-directed learning experiences with an adult’s guidance. Q: My child does not respond appropriately to mood changes in others (e.g., when a peer’s mood changes from happiness to distress). Why? A: Your child may be lacking the ability to read nonverbal cues. Children with autism often have impaired ability to read, interpret, and process social and emotional messages. Children who are unaware of others’ thoughts and feelings risk not developing the sense of self. Key Action: Treatment to teach the child the emotional codes that are part of the social experience. The child needs to develop the ability to understand other peoples’ emotions from their facial expression, tone of voice, and body posture. The child should be taught to recognize and interpret how people around him think and feel. Q: My child has difficulty with describing his/her day at school, recounting an experience, or relaying a message. Why? A: Delayed recall skills utilize episodic memory. Episodic memory allows us to remember past events and share these events with others. In other words, it is how we engage in reciprocal conversations with others. Episodic memory produces a conscious awareness of events that have occurred at any one time; it enables people to remember what happened to them in the past or to conceive the future. Key Action: Effective treatment is required for the child to learn about memory strategies and to practice remembering. Through repetition, the child develops not only better recall of past events, but also the skills to communicate the memory of the event to peers or adults during a conversation. Q: My child is verbal and has good command of language; however, he has trouble initiating conversation with others and taking turns during a conversation. Why? A: Children with autism have difficulties in social initiation and social-emotional understanding. Engaging in a reciprocal conversation with others requires the development and interaction of memory, information processing, and expressive communication skills—all of which are pervasive deficits of children with autism. It is not that these children do not desire involvement with their peers. On the contrary, they do have the desire to be socially engaged with others; however, the dilemma lies in the fact that these children lack knowledge of social norms. Key Action: Effective treatment that emphasizes social norms and rules, and teaches children how to process social information by distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information in a social situation. Initiating and maintaining a conversation requires a person to have social knowledge, which is knowledge of event schemas. Q: How much play time is appropriate to include in my child’s learning routine? A: For a young child, teaching through play is extremely important. Play gives children something to do with their ample free time; it also serves the important purpose of honing children’s physical, social and emotional development. Play does not occur spontaneously in children with autism the way it does for typical children. Key Action: Investing significant time teaching through play focuses the child on developing fine and gross motor skills, interpreting the social cues of other children and adults, and responding to those social cues appropriately. Play can be used to develop the ability to interact with, explore, and, ultimately master their surroundings. Play is an essential part of the learning process, and its ability to mimic real-life scenarios makes it an ideal way to stimulate overall development.

About the author:

Karina Poirier, Psy.D., BCBA-D Dr. Karina Poirier is the Director of the Center for Social Cognition , a board certified behavior analyst at the doc-toral level (BCBA-D), and a certified cognitive educational therapist. Her clinical practice is devoted to providing outstanding individuals and group therapy that improves social and cognitive outcomes for individuals with autism, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and related disorders. Learn more at

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Looking forward to "A Beauty so Rare" by Tamera Alexander

This is a book that I am looking forward to reading. I have a review copy!!  I found out about the trailer and thought I would share it with you.

Book Description:  From the USA Today bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and A Lasting Impression comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

Eleanor Braddock, a spinster--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--has long since dismissed any hope of marriage. But when a dying soldier whispers his final words, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn, and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville--her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, mistress of Belmont Mansion. A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life--building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War. And while Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve.

Gerhard Marcus Gottfried, Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne, arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank, Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture. But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow's and children's home run contrary to the wishes of practical, frugal Eleanor, who sees his ideas as costly nonsense.

Yet as the construction project continues, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expected. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry, and even if he were, someone who knows Marcus's secrets is about to reveal them all.

See the Trailer:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review ~ "Mark of Royalty" by Jennifer K. Clark and Stephonie K. Williams

Mark of RoyaltyMark of Royalty by Jennifer K. Clark & Stephonie K. Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Purchased
Genre: Fairy Tale

Book Description: At a time when royal infants are marked at birth, a royal advisor makes a terrible misstep — and an infant princess must be secreted away to save her life. Named Sarah by Miranda, the woman who agrees to raise the child as her own, the girl is unaware of her royal heritage — even though Miranda has done all she can to pair Sarah with the king's nephew, Lord Chad. But unexpected events prevent the expected betrothal.
Determined to fulfill her devoted mother's wishes, Sarah reserves her heart for Chad despite her growing affections for another man. But as plots against the crown unfold, someone accidentally discovers Sarah's mark of royalty — setting the stage for discoveries that will shake the kingdom to its core.
My thoughts: This book reminded me of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. While it didn't take on all of the qualities of the fairy tales, there were many situations that made me think of them.

Sarah was removed from her royal home as a newborn. She was spirited away by a King's adviser to save her life. She is taken by a kind woman to live in a far away land where no one will know the mark of royalty that she bears on her shoulder.

There is also a wonderful, older seamstress who comes to Sarah's rescue at one point in the story to give her a proper dress to attend a kingdom celebration. She reminded me of a fairy godmother. Sarah doesn't know she is a princess, and her suitor is hiding his identity as well.

There is an abusive step-father and a jealous sister.  There are political aspirations from loved ones and suitors.  There is political unrest and jostling for the throne.  There is also romance.

The book was a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the characters of Alex and Sarah. Each is as honest and forthright as possible, but still have misunderstandings and miscommunication.

This book is perfect for lovers of fairy tale stories.

Revealing TWO covers! Shades of Atlantis and Shades of Avalon by Carol Oates + giveaway

Since the death of their parents, Triona Pryor and her brother, Ben, have lived with their aunt and uncle in Camden, Maine. Now in her senior year of high school, Triona loves her family and friends, but she has always felt that she didn't quite fit Camden, or anywhere else. 

Enter Caleb Wallace, the devilishly handsome man who has recently moved to Triona's small town.

While their attraction to each other is instantaneous, it also proves to be dangerous...and deadly. When tragedy strikes, Triona flees to London for solace and to start her life anew. It's there she discovers from an unlikely source that her family has been keeping secrets from her - secrets about not only her birthright, but her ultimate destiny as well. 

Armed with this knowledge, Triona finds herself thrown into a whole new world and into a battle to save the lives of everyone she loves.
This is a new cover.  It was originally published in 2010

Ben Pryor grew up as an average kid in Camden, Maine, unaware of the supernatural storm brewing in his Celtic blood. However, at nineteen, as the last born in the royal line of the beings that once ruled Atlantis, Ben has eagerly embraced his newfound abilities and birthright. 

When Caleb, his sister’s mate, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, the prime suspect is the last remaining member of the overthrown corrupt Guardian Council. 

With the discovery that an old acquaintance has been keeping secrets and the future Ben was so sure of shifting before his eyes, the situation becomes more complicated, the ransom for Caleb too high.

In the sequel to Shades of Atlantis, Ben will delve deeper than he ever imagined into the magical old ways of the Guardians, the secrets of Excalibur, and the truth behind the legend of King Arthur

Expected publication is next month!

Carol Oates came into the world on Christmas morning, in an elevator. Raised just across the street from the childhood home of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, it was only a matter of time before Carol’s love of all things supernatural would emerge. 
She began experimenting with fiction at school and keeps the notebook containing her first unpublished novel in her desk drawer. Over three decades later, all her stories still begin life scrawled on paper. 
When not writing, Carol can be found exploring history with her son. Luckily, he shares her love of old buildings, castles, and tombs. 

"Shades of Atlantis" was the first book that I read of Carol's.  She immediately caught my attention and I loved peeking into her story.

Giveaway ~ Omnific Publishing is offering one winner an ePack of Shades of Atlantis.  Use the rafflecopter form below to enter.  Terms and conditions are to the right and embedded in the bottom of the form.  The contest ends on April 2, 2014.  Good luck!!! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Spotlight ~ "Prodigal" by Rektok Ross

It was supposed to be Lexy Quinn’s year. 

The hard-working wallflower has finally landed the coveted spot as Editor of her school’s newspaper. Then the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her mom is sick, and the family is moving half-way across the country to Preston Hills, Texas. Lexy can’t think of a worse place to be than at a school full of snobby rich kids where she’ll have to start all over to get people to notice her writing, or–who is she kidding?—notice her at all.

When the most swoon-worthy boy in town, who also happens to be the jock celebrity quarterback, gives her an exclusive interview, Lexy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Ash Preston is the perfect guy and, even better, he sees Lexy as she wants to be seen. But can she trust him? 

PRODIGAL is a different kind of love story, where faith, romance, and God converge . . . and it just might change the way you look at your life.

Read an Excerpt
It was only for a second but the bleachers and all the people in them started to spin as I lost my balance. I knew I was about to go toppling head first down the stairs and threw a hand out, desperate to grab something, anything, to brace my fall. Something cold and wet poured down my arm. 
I looked up, shaken, only to realize that what I'd managed to grab was a boy holding a now half-empty cup. And not just any boy. 
Those lips.
Those eyes. 
It was him. 
The boy from last night. 
"You again?" The bemused look on his face made every thing inside me tingle. "Are you okay?" 
I quickly took inventory. 
There was no pain, which probably meant I hadn't done any permanent damage, except to my clothes. Though his crisp polo shirt and khakis were still spotless, there were now dark soda blotches all over my favorite wool sweater that I was sure were never coming out. 
I nodded. "I'm fine." 
"We've got to stop meeting like this," he said, crooking me a smile. He stuck his hand out, picking me back up on my feet, just like the last time. I let him, grabbing on with sticky hands while he pulled me upright. He didn't break eye contact the entire time. 
"I've got you, Lexy!" Brian grabbed me around the waist and jerked me backward toward him. "Are you all right?" His eyes raked up and down the length of my body with alarm, as if searching for broken bones. 
"She said she's fine," the boy said, waving Brian off. "Well," he said, dimpling up at me, "it appears you're now wearing my soda, and I seem to be fresh out of handkerchiefs today. Perhaps we should go get something to clean you up?" 
"Why don't you just watch where you're going instead, Preston!" Brian whipped around, cheeks red. "You could've really hurt Lexy!" 
It was so unexpected, it took a minute for me to fully absorb Brian's words. 
Preston? This was Ash Preston? The boy I'd been warned about? 

I figured the best thing to do, the only thing to do now that I knew, was to just keep my mouth shut until he walked away, and I could forget we'd ever met. 


About the Author:  Rektok Ross is the bestselling author of the debut Young Adult novel "Prodigal." Rektok is also the Official LA Young Adult Fiction Examiner at Rektok graduated college with a degree in journalism and currently practices entertainment law in between fiction writing and obsessing over all things YA. Rektok likes animals, a good underdog story, and dessert at every meal.