mothers-day-ecard-free-4Happy Mom’s Day to all of the amazing mothers out there – especially those in the writing, reviewing, reading, blogging world.

An extra “hug” to all of the moms of kids with what the world calls “special needs” – we who love those kids know that they are simply ours and we love them in any shape or form that God gave them to us in.

Today, my adult “kid” will take me and my best friend and her son out for our traditional Mother’s Day event.  We head into the beautiful mountains of Western Pennsylvania to a ski resort called Seven Springs where there is no longer snow, but there is the most amazing Mother’s Day brunch.  We will shop in a fantastic bakery and pick up  some Buckeyes (sinfully delicious peanut butter globs dipped in chocolate) and some pepperoni bread.  Then head to the local butcher where we’ll pick up some of the best cuts of meat around and store them in the freezer to enjoy the rest of the year.  There are tons of local artists’ shops where I’m certain we will find another hand made wooden piece of furniture (a tradition) and whatever other treasures catch our eyes.  It will be a day spent with my family and those two other people who have become the family of my heart if not blood.  It will be a fantastic day, we’ll return home stuffed and broke – but happy and blessed to have spent one more special Mom’s Day together.  It’s the memories that matter the most.

But before we head out for that precious day, I’d like to share some “mom” thoughts with you, my online family.

I’ve been a daughter and I’ve been a mom, so I guess I’ve seen the world from both sides now.

The most difficult job I’ve ever had was being a mom.  The absolutely most rewarding job I ever accepted has been being a mom.  Again, both sides of the coin.

Not every mom is a perfect mom – but I believe we (for the most part) try our best to be the kind of mom our kids need most.  I have said “I hate you” to my mom.  I have heard “I hate you Mom” from my son – and now I understand the heartbreak I handed to my own mom when, in teenage anger I delivered that strike to her heart.  And even though as an adult I know she knew that I didn’t really mean it – words cannot be unsaid.  So be careful with words, they really can wound sometimes.

I think the most precious words I ever heard were from my son when one day out of the blue he said “I love you, Mom.  Thanks for not giving up on me.”  As if I ever could or had.  But hearing the emotion was priceless.

It’s not a smooth sailing kind of life, there are plenty of stumbling blocks along the way.  But it is so worth every single moment.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.  The world might think it’s just one day out of the year – we know better.

And to my own mom who has been gone from my daily life for years now, but never, ever far from my heart or thoughts – I love you, Mom.

If Roses Grow In Heaven

Chasing VictoryTitle:  Chasing Victory
Series:  The Winters Sisters #1
Author:  Joanne Jaytanie
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Published:  March 15, 2013
Publisher:  Romance Beckons
My Rating:  4 stars
Source:  NetGalley

Doctor Doolittle in female form creates X-Men on steroids. Murder, kidnapping, and blackmail follow as world-renowned geneticist Victory Winters is forced to pursue her research on canine DNA.

Victory possesses an unusual innate sense of communication, boarding on telepathic when relating to animals. This unique ability has elevated her status to world renowned genetic research specialist. She is kidnapped and blackmailed with threats to her family, forcing her to work for a rival corporation, Biotec and run by a madman CEO.

Naval officer Tristan Farraday is sent undercover to track Biotec’s experiments. These experiments involve implanting genus canis DNA into humans thereby manipulating their genetic makeup, in hopes to create the perfect soldier.

First suspecting Victory as being associated with Biotec, Tristan later realizes that she has been pulled into this world against her wishes. Victory refuses to divulge the genetic answers Biotec demands. She believes Biotec is looking to exploit her findings, by using them in a destructive manner. Will Tristan be able to rescue her from this madman’s grip and save her family? Can he keep the research Victory discovers away from enemy hands?

Read on for my thoughts on Chasing Victory.  No true spoilers, promise.

Your Favorite AuthorI have a bit of a dilemma.  So I’m turning to the people who I know will understand exactly what I mean by that title.  People who love the written word, especially those words that are written by an author you’ve come to enjoy, love even and trust that they will always “deliver the goods” for you.

I have many “favorite” authors in reality.  Since I read many genre, this probably isn’t all that surprising.  But this is the tale of one un-named author that has been a favorite of mine for more than a decade.  I think that gives me enough invested interest to have an opinion of their work.   Or even of what is lacking in their work lately.

It needs to be said that I mean absolutely no disrespect by this post.  None whatsoever.  It’s simply something that I have noticed over this authors last 3 to 5 novels.  I’m going to assume that writers go through slumps, those times when the words just don’t, for whatever reason, flow easily.  Now I cannot do what an author does.  No way, no how.  Oh, I can put words together to say how a novel affected me, whether I liked it, loved it or would pass it by, regretfully.  But I cannot weave words into the magic of creating a world full of characters that readers would care overly much about what happens to them next.  No that is a magic I do not have.

So when an author who has given me that magical world for years seems to no longer have the fire, the drive, the essence of the characters like they once did – I become concerned.  When the only thing I truly recognize about the novel is the name of the Un-named Author on the cover – I think I have the right to question a bit.  When I am beginning to think the unthinkable – that this author is not writing their books, someone else is – that is when I begin to truly panic.

Because I do not want to believe that.

I am heartbroken to say that I believe I have bought the last new novel by this author.  Oh, I will still request new titles to be put on hold for me at the library, I’ll still read them in the desperate hopes that I am wrong.  God, I pray I am wrong.  But I do not believe I will hand over my hard earned cash any longer for the work of an artist who is not writing the kind of books I know they are capable of giving us.

And no, I will not be naming this author.  I have no intention of being sued over a feeling, a suspicion that might not be true.

What do you do, as a reader, when an author’s work slips into something you no longer recognize?  Do you stick it out with them, thinking it’s a temporary thing?  Do you drop them from your buying schedule like yesterday’s trash?

How long do you hold onto the hope that your feeling is wrong?  I’d really like to know your thoughts.

Cinderella had it EasyTitle:  Cinderella Had It Easy
Series:  The Cinderella Body Club #1
Author:  Jennifer Conner
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Retelling
Published:  March 23, 2015
Publisher:  Books To Go Now
My Rating:  4 stars
Source:  NetGalley

Story one from the a new romance series of the timeless Cinderella story re imagined where four girlfriends make a wish on a locket. They all wish they were beautiful, and look like the girls they’ve always wanted to be. The belle of the ball.

Cami works in the basement of a television station which airs history documentaries. With scars on her face that she acquired in a car accident as a child, Cami finds it easier to be by herself. She gets into a heated debate with the handsome new host of the show she’ll be working on. Is Lance the knight in shining armor who can drag Cami out of her safe zone? With no carriage and no helpful mice, she has to rely on the magic from her grandmother’s locket.

Cami only has 24 hours in her Cinderella body, what will she do with it? Will she keep hiding or can she learn how to live life?

Read on for my thoughts on Cinderella Had It Easy.  No true spoilers, promise.

The Consequence of loving ColtonTitle:  The Consequence of Loving Colton
Author:  Rachel Van Dyken
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  April 21, 2015
Publisher:  Amazon Publishing
My Rating:  4 stars
Source:  NetGalley

It’s all fun and games…until someone’s heart is broken.

They’re not kids anymore, but Milo Caro is certain that Colton Mathews will only see her as his best friend’s little sister for the rest of their lives. After all, he made that clear the night before she left for college. But four years later, her brother is getting married and Colt’s the best man—and guess who is the best man’s last-minute date?

Milo vows to use the wedding to either claim the smoldering firefighter’s heart or douse this torch for good. When Max—her best friend from college, who may be carrying a torch of his own—crashes the party, they devise a plan to make Colt see what he’s missing. But after Colt catches on, he decides to cook up his own revenge.

Now it’s personal. Colt and Milo are at war, and between Max’s questionable acting methods, an unfortunate trip to jail, and a maniacal fiancée, what could possibly go right?

Read on for my thoughts on The Consequence of Loving Colton.  No true spoilers, promise.

How I Wonder 2Title:  How I Wonder What You Are
Author:  Jane Lovering
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  December 2014
Publisher:  Choc Lit
My Rating:  4stars
Source:  NetGalley

It’s been over eighteen months since Molly Gilchrist has had a man (as her best friend, Caro, is so fond of reminding her) so when she as good as stumbles upon one on the moors one bitterly cold morning, it seems like the Universe is having a laugh at her expense.

But Phinn Baxter (that’s Doctor Phinneas Baxter) is no common drunkard, as Molly is soon to discover; with a PhD in astrophysics and a tortured past that is a match for Molly’s own disastrous love life.

Finding mysterious men on the moors isn’t the weirdest thing Molly has to contend with, however. There’s also those strange lights she keeps seeing in the sky. The ones she’s only started seeing since meeting Phinn.

Read on for my thoughts on How I Wonder What You Are.  No true spoilers, promise.

A Twist of DateTitle:  A Twist of Date
Series:  Better Date Than Never
Author:  Susan Hatler
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  September 2014
Publisher:  Hatco
My Rating:  4 stars
Source:  NetGalley

Melanie Porter has been dumped—again. When others accuse her of “being in love with being in love,” she agrees to let her best friend, Patti, step in and direct her dating life.

The Boyfriend Bylaws

Rule #1: No giving out your phone number until approved to do so.
Rule #2: Must obtain permission to accept any date invitation.
Rule #3: No bringing up marriage, kids or the future.
Rule #4: No going to first base without authorization.
Amended Rule #4: No going to first base, or any other base, without authorization.
Rule #5: No scribbling your first name with some guy’s last name. Ever.
Rule #6: New rules may be added as Patti Hartley deems necessary.
Memorize it, live by it, and happy dating!

Read on for my thoughts on A Twist of Date.  No true spoilers, promise.

The Power of ListeningSelf-Help

What makes a good listener?

In this book are a variety of tried and true exercises to benchmark where you are as a listener. Discover the power of being a good listener in the six benefits of being a good listener. Take part in the eighteen concrete activities to become a better listener, plus learn fourteen things to avoid when listening to someone. Of extreme relevance is Chapter 7: Listening Challenges in the Digital Age and how to Overcome Them. One of the first casualties of the digital juggernaut is the art of effective listening and writing. Instead of communicating with people face-to-face, we are reading texts, e-mails, and social media updates. This is a book that can be referenced again and again as you continue your journey of becoming a better listener.

I don’t normally review Self-help books here.  Yet the family and I had been having discussions lately about the lack of listening, really listening to what each of us is saying.  When I saw this available on NetGalley I thought, perfect timing – let’s see what I can learn about listening.

I enjoyed reading this book.  I came away with some insights into focusing better on actually listening instead of simply hearing someone talking at me.  One major plus was that this book didn’t “talk down to me” as so often happens in Self-Help books, at least I’ve found that often.  While I found it interesting, I think the first line of the synopsis is very telling:  In this book are a variety of tried and true exercises…

Honestly, I came away with the knowledge that I already “know” how to listen for the most part, the fact that I allow distractions to interfere with what I’m thinking someone is saying to me is what I need to hone in on.  Reading The Power of Listening will definitely help you pinpoint those areas where you  need some work.  Yet, it’s more of a reinforcement of what we already know.  To really listen to someone you need to focus on them and only them.

*I received an e-ARC of The Power of Listening from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That does not change what I think of this novel.

book dream handIn recent months, I have been honored and blessed by so many people within the book review blogging community.

To the visitors to my blog that return or take the time from their busy lives to leave a comment.  You matter to me.  I simply want you to know that.

To the authors of the many genre of novels that I review – thank you for letting me into your creation just a bit before the rest of the world gets entrance.  When I receive permission to read a book through an e-ARC, it is a gift that I try not to take advantage of.  I try my best to honor that privilege and respect your work.  I don’t absolutely love beyond reason every single novel I review, but if I reviewed it then I at least found something within its pages that captured me.

To the publishing houses that trusted that I would deliver on my promise of an honest and prompt review of their authors’ works.  I appreciate your trust in me – and even when my schedule gets crazy and I end up a day or two beyond the release date of a novel,  I’m hoping that you understand that I am taking the time to read these works in order to hold up my end of the bargain.  That doesn’t happen often, but then.. life happens and schedules have to be adjusted.

I have discovered so many A-M-A-Z-I-N-G worlds through the novels I have reviewed.  I’ve branched out into areas that I might not have if I didn’t have this blog and the ability to learn about so many interesting novels available.  For that I have to thank the creators and hosts of the various weekly memes that give all of us a glimpse into other worlds.

To some people this post may seem silly, a fluff filler piece or totally unnecessary.  But it’s not.  The people, the very many varied people within the expanding walls of book review blogs matter to me on many levels and I believe in giving back to those that give to me.

When things get hectic or difficult I simply want you to know that you matter in this entire puzzle.  And I appreciate the part you have allowed me to play in your lives.

Choas and MoonlightTitle:  Chaos and Moonlight
Series:  Order of the Nines #1
Author:  A. D. Marrow
Genre:  Paranormal, Romance
Published:  May 6, 2015
Publisher:  Full Fathom Five
My Rating:  5 stars
Source:  NetGalley

The Nines, an elite group of vampires, was established to stand as protection for their race. Fractured by centuries of betrayal and loss, the group is now little more than myth, its remaining members scarred and shattered.

Taris, the oldest living vampire, is no stranger to loss and heartbreak. He is all that holds the Nines together as they struggle to save themselves from total extinction.

Enter the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Sarah Bridgeman, whose medical research has resulted in a breakthrough for both humans and vampires. Her work may be the salvation this weary band of guardians has been looking for.

Taris needs to reach Sarah and enlist her help—before those aligned against him can act. Can a vampire king convince a stunning young scientist to save a species that isn’t even supposed to exist?

For now, only one thing is certain: no science can explain the explosive chemistry between them.

Read on for my thoughts on Chaos and Moonlight.  No true spoilers, promise.