Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review Friday: Spellbinding (YA Paranormal)



From the Back Cover:

Salem is the bewitching backdrop to this lush, fast-paced tale of one girl discovering the source of her powers.

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

My Two Cents:

There is no better review of a paranormal YA than from someone who reads them all the time, so I employed my teenage daughter to assist in the read and review.  We both agreed it had a great storyline.  Abby discovering she is a witch is cool enough, but then to discover she is a descendant of a hanged Salem witch?  Awesome premise!  We also both appreciated and were intrigued by the good versus evil edge among the long-deceased, wrongly accused and persecuted witches.  What if the witches did not go quietly into the hereafter, but plotted revenge?  It blurred the line between retribution and justice.

We both also felt connected with the characters, and cheered at the downfall of the Mean Girls who tormented Abby.  The love triangle had an interesting twist on the “soul mate” theme, as is expected in paranormal stories.  It was an easy book to get into, keeping us reading into the night until the wee hours of the morning.  Our only critique was in the conclusion, which seemed a bit rushed, and in the words of my daughter, “the answer was sort of blurted out.”  That said; we both enjoyed reading it, and look forward to more books from this author.

We collectively give it    and a 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review Tuesday: The Beggar Bride

The Beggar Bride:

From the Back Cover:

Angela Harper’s life has never been simple. She’s an orphan who spent her childhood in foster homes. Her handsome, charming husband Billy can’t hold down a job. And they’re both stuck in a grimy London flat with no prospects for their future beyond the periodic welfare check. That is, until Ange concocts a lie that will change their lives. Her con targets the wealthy, twice-divorced businessman Fabian Ormerod, whom, with the approval of her husband, she is determined to trick into a very advantageous marriage—with a quick divorce to follow.

My Two Cents:

 This is from the same author, Gillian White, as my last review and I must say that while I enjoyed that book - The Beggar Bride is my favorite.  This had a more romantic feel to it, and I vacillated between wanting Ange to stay with Billy, whom she was crazy in love with, but at the same time hoping that poor unlucky-in-love Fabian could also win her heart.  I was happy with how White addressed the feelings at the conclusion, and really saw no other way for everyone's happiness.  Still...I felt a little pang for the "one-not-chosen."

From nearly the first page, my heart pounded throughout the entire book.  From feeling the desperation of Ange and Billy, urging them on in their very deceitful quest, through the fear and anguish of discovery and concluding with the worry and hopelessness of potentially losing a child, I could not turn the pages fast enough.  The prevailing thought throughout this entire book - who do you trust when you are also a great deceiver?  My stomach was in knots!!  

Aside from it being a great thriller, it is also extremely thought provoking.  I struggled with wanting Ange to succeed, all the while feeling horrible for the family being deceived.  It made me wonder how far I would go to improve my life, and the lives of my family, and at what point does the justification no longer outweigh the cost to the ones being conned. 

The wrap-up was a bit rushed, and seemed expected; however, I liked it and felt that it was the only way for it to end.  I also loved that there were loose ends...poor old Helena, and those mysterious twins!  Sequel??

I give this    and a 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review Friday: Unhallowed Ground

Unhallowed Ground

From the Back Cover:

Widowed London social worker Georgina “Georgie” Jefferson battles guilt and public disgrace when one of her charges, abused five-year-old Angela Hopkins, is beaten to death. She retreats to Furze Pen, an isolated Devon cottage that once belonged to Stephen, the deceased brother she never knew. In this refuge, she hopes to learn something about Stephen. But the hostility of her neighbors and a series of chilling incidents—including the disappearance of her dog and a stranger lurking around the cottage at night—disturb Georgie’s desperate search for peace. As winter closes in, Georgie must discover who or what threatens her most . . . the tragedies of her past or a new danger from her tormented present.

Once again, master of suspense Gillian White depicts the dreadful, dependent relationship that can sprout between love and violence. 

My Two Cents:

This story had a great many twists and turns, most dealing with the history and experiences of the main character, Georgie.  Her life was a series of mysteries that are not fully known to the reader until the very end of the book.  There are plenty of thrills and chills, however, as she moves into her brother’s cottage after his death.  The cast of characters she meets are interesting, and I felt I knew every one of them from my own life.  

Gillian White is able to paint a vivid picture of Furze Pen Cottage, down to the damp cold winter in the lonely hollow.  I could see the gross, moldy shower, and feel the cold wind coming in through every crack.  She really brought her characters to life, for the most part.  I had an issue with the mother at the end, and felt that she had been described as a “keep up with the Jones’” type, when she had more deep seeded issues that were not discovered by the reader, but revealed at the end without prior insight.  The only real issue I have is a feeling that the conclusion is a bit rushed.  Although, I really enjoyed how the author concluded Georgie’s story, I felt just a little lost as to how she got there with the information provided throughout the book. 

I give it   and a 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Always Thank Your Mother


The dance of the trees

I have a sitting area in my bedroom with large French doors that lead out onto a small deck.  My day typically starts and ends on the plush red loveseat that faces the glass barrier to the outside.  It is a beautiful view, no matter what the time of year.   The full foliage of the summer, making the woods a dense forest; the rebirth of life and soft pastels in the spring; the vibrant colors of fall that shift and sway, and eventually fall to the ground; and yes, even the barren trees of winter, devoid of leaves or life, showing off their crooked appendages, allowing a glimpse of life beyond the wooded area of our private enclave.  No matter the time of year, I can find focus and inspiration.

I chose this spot because it is quiet, and I can concentrate without much distraction (I say much because I am still a mom – there is always distraction).  When I get tired, or need a break from looking at the computer screen, or emptying my favorite blue gel pens and filling legal pads, I can look out the window and find something that brings me back around.  This morning is no different.

My daughter informed me on the drive to school that it is the first day of spring.  Naturally, she believes that since it is written on the calendar, the weather should be nice, the sun always shining, and winter a forgotten memory.  It is still cold (it has reached nearly 40 degrees), the wind is still brisk, but the sun is shining, so not a complete loss.  I have been sitting here this morning, going through the usual daily work-ups, checking my calendar for deadlines, forever editing, and trying to get some new stuff down on paper.  I have been hunched over my computer for the past 2 ½ hours.  My back is tight, my brain is screaming at me for more coffee, and my inspiration has left the room, and is wandering aimlessly through the house.

I relaxed against the comfortable cushions of my red couch (did I mention it is red?), and looked out the window.  Since my bedroom is on the uppermost level of the house, I am closer to the tops of the trees, where the branches start to thin, becoming spindly fingers reaching into the blue sky, poking the passing clouds.  My eyes focused on something new, something I had not seen recently among the varying degrees of brown in the woods.  

They are red (of course), and peppering the branches just outside my reach.  Blooms have attached themselves to the long arms of the trees, bursting free of their winter hibernation, breaking up the monotony of the winter wear.  My eyes are drawn to them, and I wonder how long they have been there.  Did they come out in the middle of the night, or with the rising sun?  Have they been there for a while, and I have been that unobservant of them?  Or have they been shy, peeking out only a little at a time, self-conscious of being the first to appear at the party, and wearing bright red to boot?

The answer does not really matter.  It made me smile to see them, to welcome them into the picture frame of my daily existence.  The wind and the trees seemed happy with the blooms arrival, as they danced together, swaying softly to unheard music; an unknown-to-humans spring ritual of beckoning life from the deep sleep of winter.

Where I was lacking motivation and inspiration just moments ago, I am renewed.  Thank you, Mother Nature.  Now…back to work….

Monday, March 18, 2013

A New Day Dawns...War, What Is It Good For? and Other Inspirational Messages

 Lately, social media has become inundated with inspirational posters that pop up on friends Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest boards.  Those little gems that remind one that life may indeed suck, but “keep your head up and enjoy the suck.”  We collect the words of wisdom, re-tweet, re-post, and add to the applicable board.  And the inspiration lasts as long as the act of saving it.

Recently, I have been sick.  I succumbed to that horrible cold bug going around, lingering far too long, causing coughs and sneezes at the most inopportune of times.  It leaves me still sleepy in the morning, no matter how long I have been in bed, and makes it impossible to actually focus and prioritize before mid-morning when the fog finally lifts, and I can properly view the ever growing list of priorities stacking up.  It has been a tough two weeks.

During this period of infirmity,  I lost sight of my priorities, and have allowed others to make those determinations for me.  I have given up control over my life, become angry, sad, confused, and miserable by taking a stand.  A stand that never leads anywhere except to another stand, another fight, never actually gaining on a resolution.  It is all about the fight.  The issues are meaningless, they change randomly, and have very little importance in the whole scheme of things.  And the worst part is - I participated without actually taking a step back to determine if the fight was actually worth fighting.  

I was checking one of my social media outlets, and there was yet another inspirational message posted by a good friend.  Its timeliness is almost eerie; it pretty much sums up what I have been trying to come to grips with all day.  An overwhelming need to fight, to right the wrong, to explain the misconception, and to beg them to just leave me the hell alone.  I have been struggling with doing things I have no interest in doing, in order to “fight the good fight,” only to fall farther and farther behind on the things that I need to be doing – the things I want to be doing, and the things that bring happiness into my life, without the constant contention.  But, alas, I am a fighter.

Yes, I am a fighter.  And part of being a successful fighter, is picking your battles.  So, with the words of wisdom now firmly rooted in my psyche, soon to become a printout I tack on the wall  emblazoned with “New Life Motto” across the top in red Sharpie (yes, red!), I will endeavor to fight the good fight.  I will no longer let others hi-jack my life for their entertainment.  I have important work to do, and important people to dedicate my time and energy that appreciate it.  

I can no longer help those who are determined to be miserable, and seek to make others around them miserable.  I have neither the time nor energy to argue with them when they refuse to see the forest through the trees, seek out the light, or just move on and find their own happiness.  I no longer care how much they pay, or how many people they are able to sucker into “believing” their skewed truths.  I have gazed upon the lush forest, wrapped myself in the light, found happiness in my family, and rediscovered a long-lost love.  The most important thing I have accomplished is I no longer hate them – I pity them.  It has been a long journey for me to get to this place, but I at least put one foot in front of the other until it got easier to step into the life I have been dreaming of for years.  I cannot make anyone take those steps in their own lives – no matter how much I try to convince them there is contentment and fulfillment outside of making someone miserable in an attempt to make oneself less so.  It is unsustainable.  It is as fleeting as the inspirational messages that are re-posted, re-tweeted, and saved never to be reconsidered or acted on.  

So I am all about making a difference in MY life, and hoping that translates into making a difference in others.  Where it works – great!  Where it fails – it is not my problem to fix.  

For the record – here is my new motto:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Get you some of this!!!

Happy March!!  I am stealing an idea from my dear friend, and having a blog contest!  

Here is the deal:

I would like to get between 15-20 new followers during the month of March (okay, so I am starting a little early…I’m really excited!!!).  I am giving away free stuff if you help me!!  How awesome is that?!

The drawing will be random, but you can put your name in the proverbial hat many times in order to increase your chances of winning…here are the rules:

Follow my blog: Click follow on the side, and let me know in the comments that you are following me.

Share my blog on Facebook or Twitter:  You can do this many, many times.  And the more you do, the more often your name goes in the pot.  So, let me know in the comments when you share me, and whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or both!  (or some other social media, such as SheWrites, etc.)

Add my blog to your blog:  If you link my blog to your blog, let me know!  If I have not already done so, I will add your blog to my “People I follow,” AND put your name in the hat for the winnings!!

Simple, right?  Want to know what you are playing for?

I have three gifts I will be giving away:

15 new followers:
1. A $20 gift card to
2. A $20 gift card to Starbucks
3. A $20 iTunes gift card

If I get 20 followers or more by the end of March, I will increase the gift cards to $30!  

So, share, share, share…and you may win, win, win!!!