Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Book Blurb:

16 year old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

My Review:

Before I begin to write all the wonderful things about this book I wanted to start by saying, I absolutely LOVE the cover!! Isn’t it beautiful?! I think it’s gorgeous and now after reading the story, I realize it is a great image of what the story is about.

Untraceable is a thriller! We have young, stubborn and determined Grace who is consumed with figuring out what happened to her dad. Everyone in town, including the sheriff and Grace’s mom are insisting that her dad died drowning and that there is no reason to keep searching for him. Grace will not believe he is gone and repeatedly goes to the woods searching for him. What she discovers while she is there is more dangerous than bears and rushing rivers!

This is the first time I have read a young adult thriller. Most young adult books that I’ve read and enjoyed have been paranormal for the most part. Untraceable was unique and creative and I loved every minute of it!

I really enjoyed Grace! She is such a strong, stubborn girl and although I questioned some of her decisions, I understood her point of view and related to her! She is so determined to uncover the mystery of her dad that she is obsessed in a major way. Her obsession nearly costs her all her relationships and her life.

Oh….we can’t forget to talk about mysterious Mo. Grace meets Mo in the woods and there is so much mystery surrounding him that it was extremely exciting. He is hot, has an English accent and seems to be just a really nice guy! Loved him!

The whole plot was fascinating. The more that was discovered about what was going on in the woods and in the town, the more frustrated I became with it. I wasn’t frustrated with the story, but I was frustrated at the situation in the story. The author creates this realistic portrait of the evil going on and it gave me chills!!

The ending was surprising and completely unpredictable which made it that much better! We are left with lots of questions and I will be grabbing the 2nd book up as soon as I can. I highly recommend Untraceable to those that love a good fast-paced suspense with a bit of romance!

Content: Clean romance, some passionate kissing but that's it!

Thank you to S.R. Johannes for providing me a free copy of Untraceable in exchange for my honest review and opinion. All opinions are my own.

About S.R. Johannes:

When Shelli was younger, she spent all her time outdoors, hiking, camping and living the Girl Scout Way.

Somewhere along the way, she got away from nature and earned an MBA in Marketing, kicking off an 18-year marketing career in Corporate America.

Eventually, Shelli traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She started her own marketing & communications business, www.bilaninc.com, where she worked with Spanx, Goody Hair Products, Chick Filet, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.

In addition to juggling nap schedules and client meetings, Shelli focuses on her writing. She is a frequent speaker on marketing and book publicity at SCBWI conferences across the U.S, and runs a popular book marketing blog, Market My Words (www.faeriality.blogspot.com).

In her spare time (yeah right!) and if the kids allow (yeah right!), Shelli obsesses over movies, reads children’s books (over and over), and still dreams of sleeping in on the weekends. But most importantly, she is finally getting back to her roots by running her own Girl Scout Troop in Atlanta, helping girls get back to nature.

She currently lives in Atlanta with her dog (Charley), British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess that someday will change the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview and Giveaway (set of e-books and necklace) with Sandra Byrd

Hello, Sandra Byrd, and thank you so much for talking with me today! To begin, could you just tell us a little about yourself?


I knew that I wanted to be a writer at six years old, as soon as I'd learned to read the Bobbsey Twins books. Really! When I was a kid I wanted three careers: to be a hair stylist, to be a waitress, and to be an author. After I mohawked my Barbie I knew I wasn’t cut out for the hairstylist career. I actually was a waitress in a Jewish deli when I was a teenager, and I worked for a caterer. Writing, however, was the real passion. And it stuck.
I earned my first rejection at the age of thirteen, but eventually became a bestselling author in spite of it all! I've published more than three dozen books for tweens, teens and women.
I'm also passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. I've mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.  Here's my coaching page:

I live Washington State with my husband Michael, a chaplain, our two children, and a circus dog named Brie!

I also live in Washington state, how neat!!
Did you receive a clear “calling” from God or have you always had a desire to write?

I always knew I wanted to write, but while my husband was in seminary I thought I'd have to put it aside for a long while, though I was working as an editor at the time.  I prayed about it and I felt God telling me," Why wait?"  Why, indeed? I've been writing ever since.

Who has inspired you the most?

My husband.  He's been a constant presence in my life for 26 years and has always made me get back on the computer every time I've fallen off and skinned my knees. :)

Where do you spend your time writing? Describe your office space?

I have a lovely office with a "peek" view of the lake behind our house. It's painted in a sage green, which I love, with glass and redwood furniture.  Right now the walls are covered with Tudorana, as I am writing a Tudor-set series.  I also keep my most-treasured books in my office, and a good speaker system, as I love to listen to music while I write.

You recently have had a book published, would you take this time to describe it to us?  How and where can readers buy your book? (versions and locations)

I've had some print books published this year, but I'm also very excited about the books I've loaded onto kindle and nook.  They are series I wrote some time ago, but I've completely updated each and every one.  They're written for two age groups:  tweens aged 8-12,  and teens aged 11-14.  The covers were redesigned to appeal to today's girls, but the insides of the books are still very much what I designed them to be: an anchoring of family, faith, and friends within a girl's heart as she grows into a young woman of her own.

There are two free short stories on my website, too, both for the younger girls.  Please check out this page:  http://www.sandrabyrd.com/teens-ebooks.php

It's a long page! So be sure to keep scrolling down to learn more about, and access links to, each book.

I know your book is catered towards young girls, being a young girl is pretty tough yet fun, what is one thing you are glad you never have to go through again from that age and what is one thing you miss about being that age?

I most miss the carefree expectation that anything is possible.  I still think much is possible, but I've added some gravitas to my expectations as I've aged! I'm glad I never have to go through the mean-girls thing again.  We as women, all of whom had to survive that in one form or another, should be inoculated for life against gossip! 

Is there a spiritual message in your book?  If so, what is it and what can readers expect to get from reading it?

I like to describe my books as having a gentle Christian faith.  The first series, Secret Sisters, is perhaps a bit more evangelical as it comes from my own background of not having grown up in a Christian home.  The other two have Christian messages woven, through, too, but perhaps more in helping girls to understand and live life through a Christian world view.  I always try to remember - these are stories, meant to entertain, not devotionals.  So while faith permeates the pages, the story is what counts!

What’s your favorite part of the story?

I love girls coming to understand that when they lose their lives, willingly, they gain it, and more, back in return!

Do you have any other books in the making?

I'm currently finishing up a devotional for Tweens which will be published by Tyndale House in fall, 2012.  I'm very excited to get that into girls' hands!

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out?  Anything else you’d like to share? 

Here's the website: www.sandrabyrd.com  Please sign up for my newsletters, or friend me on facebook.  That's where the contests are!

Coffee or Tea?  Both! Vanilla Latte or London Fog Steamer
City or Country?   Small picturesque town?
Dream Vacation?   I've  been to London, I've been to Paris, but I still dream about going back to both.  Someday!

ENDS Nov 25th
**USA addresses only, please**

Okay readers, here is your chance to win
one set of any of the e-books (whichever your winner chooses) and this double cross necklace.


*Leave an encouraging comment about the interview/author with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). Use this format kcmelone(at)yahoo(dot)com

*If you leave a comment you will be entered unless you specify that you do not want to be entered.

*Here are the ways to get entries:

(First entry) The mandatory comment saying you would like to be entered with your email address.

+1 Become one of my followers OR subscribe to my blog by email.

+2 Rate my review on Blogging for Books by clicking here.

+2 Read and leave a comment on any of my other reviews located on this blog.

**You can earn a total of 6 entries if you do all of the above entry options. Make sure to tell me in your entry comment on this post which of the things you did to get extra entries. (You can put them on one comment if you want to, you don’t have to separate each entry into its own comment or anything like that.)**

*The contest will run from today (Nov 17) until Friday (Nov 25). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner either directly and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.
Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scary School by Derek the Ghost

Book Blurb:

You think your school's scary?
Get a load of these teachers:
Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire
Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess
Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex!
Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch
The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost!
Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky!

My Review:

One of my favorite books as a young kid was Sideway Stories from Wayside School and Scary School reminded me a lot of that book!! It was similar in layout and style but completely different in content!  In Scary School by Derek the Ghost you have chapters pretty much dedicated to getting to know the characters!! Each one is about someone Derek is talking about but then they flow easily in to the next chapter!! I had a really great time reading this book!! The characters are all fun, unique and bit scary in the 8-10yr old way. 

I loved the story on Ms. Fang!! She is a vampire and when she gets mad at the kids in her class she’ll suck their blood out and die.  Sounds gruesome but it isn’t really; because nobody really dies permanently so it’s not too tragic.  I also found the whole 3 Rachel thing hilarious!! There is Rachel, Raychel and Frank (pronounced as Rachel). 

I agreed to review this book because I thought it might be something my 8 year old girl would enjoy because she is actually reading Sideway Stories at Wayside School right now.  She saw me reading this book and then asked if she could.  No sooner did I put it down, did she pick it up!! She was cracking up the whole time too!!

I was a little worried that it had the potential to be too scary for my 8 yr old but it wasn’t.  She found the scary stories funny and entertaining and loved the added sketches throughout the book!!

If you are looking for a great, silly, scary story book for your 8-10 yr old, I think this is an amazing option!! Sure to be entertaining!!

Thank you to the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinion.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.
About Derek the Ghost:
Derek is an eleven-year-old ghost who haunts the classrooms and hallways of Scary School, writing down all the spine-tingling often hilarious things that go on there. Despite his ghostly state, Derek still enjoys reading comic books and hopes to one day become a master ninja. If that doesn’t work out, he will continue to share the fun of this very special, very secret school, so all kids can experience the scariest school on earth. Derek the Ghost communicates through the first-time ghost whisperer Derek Taylor Kent, who is a writer and performer in Los Angeles, California.


I won my first blog award!! Woo-hoo!! I am so excited!! Last week I was awarded this from Rachel from Thoughts from a Complusive Reader.  Come and check out her excellent blog here.  Rachel is a undergraduate student of English and Modern History at the University of St. Andrews.  In her spare time, which I'm not sure how much that could be while in school, she reads. She loves to read Christian fiction, in particular Amish and Historical romances.  Thank you Rachel for this great honor!!

The Liebster Award is given by fellow bloggers to blogs with fewer than 200 (or sometimes 300) followers. For those of you who don't speak German (the only German I know is what I hear my brother-in-law yelling at his police dog), "liebster" means "darling". I love that word!!

Here's how the award works:

  • When you receive the award, thank the blogger who gave it to you and link back to them.
  • Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  • Choose three to five blogs that deserve a bigger following, give them the Liebster Award, and let them know you’ve done so by leaving a comment on their blog.
I have deicided to award bloggers that have less than 100 followers like myself.  There are so many great blogs out there and it is really hard to choose but I went with three I felt were great blogs and reliable sources.  Because I like to read books that are not all Christian Fiction but also Young Adult, I have included both genres.

Best Reads (2010-2011) - Kav is a Library Techinician that lives in Canada and loves to read!  She started her blog so that she could keep track of all the books she's read and point out her favorites!  She has lots of book reviews on her blog plus she does lots of giveaways! She has her books labeled by author and it is all listed on the side, which makes it really easy to find a review on a book you're interested in.

Through the Fog by Margaret Metz is really great blog!! We have very similar tastes in books and I can always count on her reviews to show me whether or not I'll be interested in that book! She usually writes a summary about the book and then her take on how it was.  I believe she is also starting to write her own book on fibromyalgia, which she suffers from and talks about on her blog!! Great blog!

The Book Diva is another blog that I love and that I relate to.  She is a stay at home mom that loves to read and started a blog to review about books!  She loves romance books of all genres - which is me in a nutshell.  I also feel in order for me to enjoy a book it almost always has to have some sort of romance going on! Besides writing reviews and doing giveaways she also writes really fun posts like her series Dirty Little Secrets.  Fun blog!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Book Blurb:

After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?
Christmas has always been special to cake decorator Mattie Eash, who was born on the wondrous holiday.
Yet the season has lost its appeal in the three years since then, her childhood sweetheart abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Mattie has moved on, left Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania and pursued her dreams of a cake shop in Berlin, Ohio and given her heart to someone new. Someone unlike Gideon Beiler. Someone safe.
Then an unforeseen setback forces her home and into painful proximity to Gideon. Will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy—or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

My Review:

I am a big fan of Cindy Woodsmall so when I got the opportunity to read her latest book I jumped on it! I was a little nervous though with it being a novella because I read her trilogy’s and I am always sad to see them end so I was worried how I would feel after this one ended in under 200 pages!!

I was really satisfied with the length and the story line!! As always with Cindy Woodsmall she creates these deep and meaningful characters that you just can’t help falling in love with!! I especially fell head of heels in love with Gideon!! He is such a tender hearted man and I admired how he repeatedly thought of others over himself. Mattie was also great; she was a scatterbrained baker that I could totally relate to. I myself bake and decorate cakes so I understand her really well!

Like all other books by Cindy Woodsmall there is a lesson to learn; this being that the truth is always the best answer to all. Lying to someone you love, even just to protect them, can do more damage than you thought possible!! Gideon had to learn this the hard way! Not only was this a lesson of lying but also of forgiveness! While forgiveness can be hard it is what we Christians need to do!

One of my biggest issues with novellas is that they don’t really get deep in to the story and you just feel short changed on the people and the story. I did not feel that way at all about The Christmas Singing. It was deep and emotional, humorous and overall charming! Overall I felt warm, cozy and satisfied with The Christmas Singing and I will be anxiously awaiting Cindy’s next book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

About Cindy Woodsmall:

Cindy Woodsmall is a veteran homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a Christian Book Association best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her lastest book, When the Morning Comes, hit the New York Times best-sellers extended list and the Christian Book Association best-sellers list.

Cindy’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity

Thyme for Love by Pamela S. Meyers

Book Blurb:

April Love has always dreamed of being a chef. But she didn't expect a former fiancé or murder to be part of the recipe for her new job. When April Love signs on to be an in-house chef at an old lakeshore mansion in Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, she comes face to face with her long-lost love, the drop-dead gorgeous Marc Thorne. It doesn't take long for their old magnetism to recharge, but how can she trust the guy who left her nearly at the altar eight years earlier? Her gut tells her something happened to Marc in between-something he's reluctant to reveal. When April's boss is murdered, Marc is accused of the crime. Unless April can find out who really killed Ramón Galvez, her chances for love will end up at the county jail. But someone else is just as determined she not solve the mystery...and will go to any length to stop her. 

My Review:

Here’s a surprise for you!! What if you showed up at a job interview for a job you’ve been just dying to get and your ex-fiancé’ is there? And not only does he work there but he could potentially be your future boss!!Yikes!! Do you run from the job you’ve always wanted or do you toughen up and face your fear!!  When April Love starts the process of trial period there at the Lakeshore Mansion a mystery is suddenly thrown in to the mix when the man that was supposed to hire her and become her boss is murdered!! Her hunky ex Marc is suspect yet she knows deep in heart there is no way he a killer! Marc and April will have to put their issues aside to try to get answers to mystery behind the recent murder!!

If you are big fan of Christian suspense as I am, I think you will find Thyme for Love a great book!! I feel I’m pretty good at figuring out who the bad guy is when I start reading a mystery novel yet I didn’t quite have it all figured out in this book.  There were some things I guessed correctly and other parts that blew me away!

Not only does this novel hold your attention with the mystery but it also grabs your heart with the romance!  I loved the hero Marc Thorne! He is handsome, sweet, and he can’t deny his attraction and intense longing for his past love April.  I loved the romantic tension and sweet moments they shared! 

Thyme for Love also gives us these great descriptions of all that April Love is cooking.  I felt like I could drool over the breakfast cart that came by the office with pastries and goodies every morning!! I would really love someone to swing by my office with some of those goodies!!

Last but not least we have a lesson to learn.  In Thyme for Love there was A LOT of gossip.  The tongues were wagging in that office like nothing else!!  Pamela reminded us how much damage our gossip can do, and she also reminded us that we should be slow to judge others!  April struggled with getting caught up in the gossip and therefore I found her easy to relate to because I feel lots of Christian women struggle with refraining from the gossip train!!

Make some thyme for this novel in your life, you won’t regret it!! Grab a pastry and a cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy a great story!!

I read this as an ARC provided by the author.  I received no compensation for this review! All opinions are my own.

About Pamela S. Meyers:
Raised in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Pamela has published articles in Today's Christian Woman, Christian Computing Magazine, Victory in Grace Magazine, Ancestry Magazine, Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Ezine, and the ACFW Ezine, Afictionado. Her true story, Like Son, Like Father, appeared in His Forever (Adams Media). She has served as a sign language interpreter for her church, and currently is involved in her church's outreach to the Japanese community and is a leader of a women's Bible study group. She now resides in Illinois.

Buy Thyme for Love on Amazon here!