Saturday, October 31, 2015

November blog schedule

11/1/2015
smartbrain book review

11/2/2015
A mother's dance ebook review and author interview

11/3/2015
top ten favorite sophomore titles

11/4/2015
how to be brave ebook review

11/5/2015
Thursday thoughts: A parallel life book tag

11/6/2015
Fresh reads Friday and What you left behind ebook review

11/7/2015
daughters unto devils book review

11/8/2015
For the sender ebook review

11/9/2015
Sugar skulls ebook review

11/10/2015
top ten tuesday movie edition

11/11/2015
Pale moon walking book review

11/12/2015
Thursday thoughts: Christmas songs book tag

11/13/2015
Got your attention? Book review

11/14/2015
the new pastor's handbook book review

11/15/2015
Live long, live passionately book review

11/16/2015
tales from the crib ebook review

11/17/2015
Top ten favorite quotes

11/18/2015
why does the other line always move faster ebook review

11/19/2015
Thursday thoughts: Around the world in books tag

11/20/2015
A cure for suicide book review

11/21/2015
Coffee Run book review

11/22/2015
Apocalypse meow meow ebook review

11/23/2015
Instant happy journal book review

11/24/2015
Top ten tuesday thanksgiving edition

11/25/2015
Addicted to busy ebook review

11/26/2015
Thursday thoughts: finding time to read

11/27/2015
The little red book of pr wisdom ebook review

11/28/2015
Rewire your anxious brain ebook review

11/29/2015
The happiness industry ebook review

11/30/2015
December Blog schedule

Friday, October 30, 2015

A new addition to my Author idols!



Hi everyone! Today we're adding Elisa Marie Hopkins to my list of Author Idols. Elisa has written two books so far in her Diamond in the Rough series, and I LOVE IT. The first book I got through a goodreads giveaway. Y'all know I typically don't do romance because I feel like there's no plot, but as fate would have it Diamond in the Rough and Black Diamond were both books I was loathe to put down. We're talking hermit level bumped up to ten. Coworkers were ignored. Customers were dealt with swiftly. Lunch was barely eaten. If you click the pictures below, it should take you to each book's amazon page.



    



What is your favorite food?
Is it too Mexican of me if I say Mexican, lol? I would eat tacos any day of the week. I also indulge in pasta and sushi. You know, carbs.


What is your family like?
My mom is my biggest cheerleader and my best friend, and I get success secrets from my dad. I have two younger brothers who are my homies, and a 10-year-old bulldog who lives for belly rubs. We are all super close.


Who is your best friend?
I have so many best friends. Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley. Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Jenna Marbles. Oh, and Lisa Simpson. Does she count? Elisa, be serious. You don’t even know these people! My best friends are people who are with me through thick and thin, who love me and support me no matter what. Most importantly, people who get me. My mother is on the top of the list. I, fortunately or unfortunately, know a lot of people but I don’t have many genuine friendships just because it’s very rare for me to find someone whom I can really talk to and relate myself with. I hate small talk; I don’t want to be asked what’s up. I want to talk about the world, political instability, what life means, what happens after we die. In my relationships I seek depth, and God knows that doesn’t come by very often.


How long do you spend on Social Media every week?
There’s a joke online that goes, “does running social media count as cardio?” If that were the case, I’d have the body of a supermodel.


Where do you get inspiration for your books?
J.K. Rowling answered this in an interview once and it was spot-on. “The inspiration factory!” People inspire me, failed relationships, movies, books, pain, injustice, discrimination, rain, a meadow of flowers, sunsets—anything that breathes life into me.


I’ve seen you post fan-made earrings, shirts, etc. on your Facebook. What is your favorite fan-made craft?
Anything that readers create with their hands makes me want to sit down and cry. I especially love a pair of ADITR earrings.


What is the most unfortunate thing about being a writer?
I could write a book on this. For me, it would have to be insecurity and self-deprecation. That horrible voice in my head going “what are you doing,” you’re a joke,” “you should quit.” Even now as I sit here and write, I’m thinking, “I suck,” “I’m the worst,” “people only like reading erotica.” I’ve been an author for seven months now and I’m always telling everyone it’s absolutely terrifying. You have to put yourself out there. Writing is about being vulnerable, intimate, and personal, and we put so much of ourselves into our craft, it’s actually dangerous if we think about it. For a long time I was a closeted writer. I was afraid to come out and say I have a blog, I wrote a book. Bottom line, if anyone reads my books, you know everything about me. Well, maybe not my favorite color or that sort of thing, but you know my soul. And it’s incredibly scary and mindboggling to be naked before strangers. You know, because people judge. At the same time though, it’s liberating. You can’t afford to not have faith in yourself, in whatever you do, not just in writing. But especially in writing, you gotta be strong and believe.


What is the most awesome thing about writing?
Connecting with readers. And I don’t just mean saying hi and talking to random strangers about your writing, but having a connection with someone you don’t even know. Making them feel something. The first time I learned about someone who cried reading A Diamond in the Rough, I was like WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING?

Whenever people ask me about my characters, I feel like we’re talking about people that we know who just live in a different world. The paper world. I think characters in general are people with problems like ours, feelings like ours, personalities likes ours. Call me crazy! Jodi Picoult says writing is successful schizophrenia because she gets paid to hear voices in her head. I don’t claim to know my characters to perfection. I think it’s amazing when someone can tell me something about my characters that I didn’t even know.

The last time I was in New York, I was walking on the ADITR trail, as I like to cheesily call it (actual places and locations written about in the book), and the characters were playing out in the scenery around me. This is where Sophie likes to eat, this is where Oliver lives, etc. I felt like I was going to bump into them. It was too real. Again, call me crazy!

Where do you most want to travel to?
Psh, everywhere. If I had to choose a region, I would say the Middle East-ish. I need to ride a camel across the Sahara desert, visit the Taj Mahal, roll around in the Dead Sea. I’m dying to meet a mummy and stare into the eyes of the Sphinx in Egypt. Check out the Parthenon in Greece. Oh, and Japan. Japan kills me with its culture, cherry blossoms, temples, and Zen gardens. It wouldn’t hurt if I meditated on Mount Fuji. Man, I need to start travelling like yesterday. Any willing companions?

What is your favorite scent?
Freshly printed books, new cars, puppies, a real Christmas tree. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but petrol smells soooo good.



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Follow and feature friday

Follow and feature friday is hosted by alison can read and parajunkee. As I'm on mobile, I'll be linking a bit later but take their blog names and add .com at the end.

This week's question:

What are your favorite books that have been made into a movie? - Suggested by Girl of 1000 Wonders.


I really enjoyed the Maze Runner series, and the first Willy Wonka movie.

Follow me on bloglovin! Link to the right.

ebook review: Placebo junkies

Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.
Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!

But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it.
No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….

Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.




My Review: 

15% impression: entertaining. Character voice is for the most part distinctive even if it's a little rough. But unremarkable. Would definitely make a good tv show or movie.

20% impression: I really love the romance aspect of this book. You know insta-love? Its the opposite of that.

30% impression: I really enjoyed the blog entries scattered throughout the pages. The voice was biting and cynical, but wholly entertaining.

80% impression: It was a little slow in the beginning but I started getting more and more sucked into Audie's story. I fell for her, hard, and stared at my screen reading with my phone hidden in the crease of a physical book even when I was supposed to not have my phone out. I gushed to my coworkers. I don't know or care what they were talking about; I jumped and went "oh my god, she was [spoiler redacted] the ENTIRE TIME!"

But would I buy it? For myself, probably the kindle version. It just doesn't fit in with the other covers. For my teenaged sister, definitely a hard copy.

Many thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this book for free so I could review it,

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

book review: Happiness

Christians are supposed to be happy. In fact, we are supposed to radiate joy, peace, and contentment that is so unmistakable and so attractive that others are naturally drawn to us because they want what we have. And yet, in today’s culture, the vast majority of Christians are perceived as angry, judgmental people who don’t seem to derive any joy from life whatsoever. So why aren’t we happy?
Unfortunately, many Christians are taught early on that God doesn’t want us to be happy (he wants us to be holy). In fact, many Christians are laboring under the false notion that God himself is not happy. But nothing could be further from the truth! God does want us to be happy. The Bible is filled with verses that prove that ours is a happy, joy-filled God who not only loves celebrations but also desperately wants his children to be happy. Why else would He go to the lengths He did to ensure our eternal happiness in His presence? We know that we will experience unimaginable joy and happiness in Heaven, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also experience joy and happiness here on earth.
In Happiness, noted theologian Randy Alcorn dispels centuries of misconceptions about happiness and provides indisputable proof that God not only wants us to be happy, He commands it. The most definitive study on the subject of happiness to date, this book is a paradigm-shifting wake-up call for the church and Christians everywhere.



My Review:
Randy Alcorn's 'Happiness' didn't change my life. I was already more or less happy--more so since having converted to Christianity. I have heard of the happy vs. holy vs. joy argument before, so none of these nearly 500 pages (!) came out of left field for me. Every so often I did have to text a verse to my husband for clarification, context, or his opinion whenever a reference felt off to me, but whenever he replied it made sense with what Alcorn was stating. 

If you're a new Christian, this is a great book. This is a great book if you're an old Christian too. But because I found a lot more meaning and fulfillment in getting input on certain passages, I think this book would be even better as a discussion or book club book. Certainly something I'd like to see in a church gift shop or library.

I've read some varied early reviews, and I do somewhat agree and disagree with other's opinions. For instance, I don't think Alcorn is stating "if you're not happy in life you're sinning". I think he meant more along the lines of "if you deny your happiness in what God has given you in the name of being holy instead of happy, you've basically slapped God in the face." But that's what makes this book such a good discussion/book club book. We could talk about these things with friends or colleagues at the same time, maybe over the course of a month as you read this because again it is a pretty long book. 

My tip for reading this book: get a binder clip to act as both a bookmark and a page holder. It will save your fingers/hands from getting cramped or tired.

Book source: Tyndale Blog Network

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book review: The deleted emails of Hillary Clinton

The explosive secret e-mails Hillary Clinton doesn’t want you to read 
(Or maybe she does…She’s crafty like that.)
 
Remember that time Hillary Clinton admitted that she deleted thousands of e-mails from her ultra-secret personal e-mail address while Secretary of State? Thousands of e-mails, she claimed, about her daughter’s wedding? Well, people aren’t buying it: “Hiding the truth” says The New York Post.“Conspiracy or incompetence?” asks Al-Jazeera. “Hillary Clinton Don’t Give a Sh*t” claims Wonkette. Clearly, these e-mails need to be released immediately.
  
Now, thanks to John Moe and WikiLoox, the lost messages have been retrieved and placed in this dossier. For the first time, we’ll get a look inside HRC’s well-coiffed head, reading intimate conversations with family (Bill, Chelsea), friends (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah, Beyonce), and frenemies (Obama, Palin, Putin) alike. We’ll also learn essential details about her private life, from her pop-culture obsessions to her thoughts on yoga, baking cookies, "Scandal," and much more. 
 
Make no mistake—this is a book of critical national importance. Following her journey from mother-of-the-bride to commandress-in-chief, we’ll see how HRC handles the most challenging situations she might face in the White House, including how to respond to people who "reply all" to e-mails and how to wrangle pantsuit retailers as they compete, with increasing desperation, for her attention. Along the way, we will finally get the portrait we need—the one our country deserves—of the woman we may soon call "Madam President."



My Review:

The Deleted emails of Hillary Clinton is a parody book about Hillary Clinton, her time in the White House, and Wikileaks. I really enjoyed this book, even though it was such a quick read that I spent the second half of my shift at work without a book. Let's look at it star by star, shall we?

1-readability: This was an easy and quick book to read. The format for the print book is clean, organized, and uncluttered while still portraying that you're reading an email instead of huge text blocks.

2-content: This book is funny and easy to follow, even if you have no real knowledge about National or International affairs. It's also a treasure trove for conspiracy theorists.

3- characters: Obviously in this sort of book there isn't a lot of room for character development, but we actually did see a bit. Keep pantsuits in mind as you ponder this while you read. Shout out to my favorite characters: Beyonce and Putin.

4-emotions: This book is definitely one to pick up when you want to feel good, laugh, or unwind from a long day at work.

5-buyability: Yes. Buy this book for your coffee table, for a friend, for yourself or your family member who doesn't agree with your political views. Also the family member who does agree with your political views. Buy this book.


Book source: Blogging for books

Monday, October 26, 2015

ebook review: The Secret Mother

Mai Ling is chasing the Chinese dream. She’s escaping to the city, seeking a new life, running away from the old customs of arranged marriage and domestic drudgery.
The Secret Mother puts a face to the label Made in China. It tells the bitter sweet story of a girl – like millions of others – willing to risk everything. The Secret Mother uncovers the life of Mai Ling, a sixteen year old who follows the Chinese dream and pays the highest price


Buy on Amazon
See other reviews on Goodreads








My Review:

I really love the concept of this book. But the formatting made things confusing on the e-reader, I'm assuming especially if you have your letter size set to something that's not the default. It was hard for me to read this at first because I couldn't tell the two characters apart--their voices weren't that individual at all. It made things confusing and frustrating until I got the hang of when the voices were changing (in the ebook version, there's a line break. Not even a new chapter!)

I don't have many comparable books since the only one that even comes to mind is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I would include Amy Tan, but that seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? But by itself, like I said, the concept is great. It's a wonderful story that--overall--I didn't hate reading. I just feel the formatting really affected my rating here.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ebook review: Carefully Everywhere Descending

Audrey Anderson has one chance to escape poverty—excel academically and get into a good school. She’ll let nothing stand between her and her goal: not dating and certainly not snotty Scarlett West. The girls can’t stand each other, so why is Scarlett hanging around Audrey and getting under Audrey’s skin—in more ways than one?
Scarlett needs a tutor, and Audrey doesn’t want the job. She still resents Scarlett offering to pay Audrey to do her homework, but her compassionate best friend talks Audrey into giving Scarlett a second chance. The more time they spend together, the harder it becomes for Audrey to fight her growing attraction to the other young woman.
At the same time, Audrey’s interest in her new neighbor’s bizarre behavior gnaws at her, and she can’t leave the mystery alone. Her relentless curiosity might cost her everything.
 


Buy on Amazon


My review:

Unpopular opinion time. I liked this book. Let's go Star by star:

1, readability: The flow was easy and the sentences were smooth. Subject matter aside, this is the kind of writing voice I craved as a high schooler.

2, plot: When you're reading YA romance, there typically isn't a whole lot of plot. But I did like what happened at the end. I'm not sure if maybe the other reviewers weren't paying attention during the novel, but I didn't find it out of left field at all.

3, Characters: I honestly had a crush on Scarlett because I knew a girl like her in High School and had a crush on that girl. I loved that Audrey is so studious and focused on her future. And Amber is so sweet, I was actually totally hoping she and Audrey would end up hooking up. The whole thing with Mitchell was a little weird, but you know. Writer's license. 

4, predictibility: Did not see the ending coming. I loved it. 

5, buyability: I would definitely recommend getting the kindle book, since you may be of the slightly more popular opinion that you don't like it. But personally, I would definitely buy a print book for a younger friend of mine.

Book source: Netgalley

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: Christmas Chocolat



In this warm, engaging debut novel, four siblings make their way home, where their father, the memory of their mother, and long-held family secrets all collide just in time for Christmas For Maggie Arnaud and her siblings, childhood Christmases meant lavish feasts and beloved rituals. The day began with hot chocolate and cougnole de Noel —the sweet, rich bread traditional in their parents’ native Belgium. Those special holidays ended with their mother’s death, and their father has grown more distant each year. But now, he has summoned his grown children once again. And none of them is eager to expose their imperfect lives to his scrutiny…
Jacqueline is an opera singer living in Brussels—outwardly successful but yearning for a deeper fulfillment. Near Philadelphia, cookbook writer Maggie’s career and marriage are in turmoil. Colette, an aspiring clothing designer in California, lost her boyfriend and her savings in one blow. And roving younger brother Art is still searching for something—or someone. Armed with their insecurities, rivalries—and their mother’s most delicious recipes—the Arnauds gather in Pennsylvania. But a good meal does more than feed the body—it awakens memories, nurtures bonds, and might even bring a family back together.
Includes classic Belgian recipes


My review:

I actually got both a hardcopy and an e-arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is on the hard copy when regarding format.

I really liked this book. It was a really cozy, comfortable book that you would want to read when coming down from thriller or action books. Great for reading during Winter Break, this is the type of book you'll want to read while curled up in front of the fire next to a cat or significant other. 

Characters: So, Magali was interesting enough. I enjoyed reading from her point of view but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Colette's chapters. I wanted to read so much more from Colette. I loved that you could tell which sister was older or younger than the other from their distinct voices. The only one that rubbed me the wrong way was Jacqueline because I felt there was waaaayy too much italicizing in her first chapter. She came around, though.

Recipes: Honestly they sound really good but maybe not that great for a family on a budget.

Plot: Easy to follow, fun to read, not terribly static or cliche. 

AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT DANTE FOR A SECOND OH MY LORD WHAT A SWEETIE PIE. Dante and Colette forever. I will ship it to the end.

Format: The cover is so silky and it fits perfectly in my purse for taking to work. The actual paper looked and smelled a bit on the cheap side, but A) I got an arc so the finished product is bound to be different and B) if not, the story takes your attention right away from that you don't notice the pages at all once you start reading.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ebook Review: 100 Deadly Skills

A hands-on, practical survival guide from retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson—adapted for civilians from actual special forces operations—to eluding pursuers, evading capture, and surviving any dangerous situation.
In today’s increasingly dangerous world, threats to your personal safety are everywhere. From acts of terror to mass shootings, and from the unseen (and sometimes virtual) matrix of everyday crime, danger is no longer confined to dark alleys or unstable regions. Potentially life-threatening circumstances can arise anywhere, anytime, and Clint Emerson—former Navy SEAL—wants you to be prepared.
100 Deadly Skills contains proven self-defense skills, evasion tactics, and immobilizing maneuvers—modified from the world of black ops—to help you take action in numerous “worst case” scenarios from escaping a locked trunk, to making an improvised Taser, to tricking facial recognition software. With easy-to-understand instructions and illustrations, Emerson outlines in detail many life-saving strategies and teaches you how to think and act like a member of the special forces.
This complete course in survival teaches you how to prevent tracking, evade a kidnapping, elude an active shooter, rappel down the side of a building, immobilize a bad guy, protect yourself against cyber-criminals, and much more—all using low-tech to “no-tech” methods. Clear, detailed, and presented in an easy-to-understand and execute format, 100 Deadly Skills is an invaluable resource. Because let’s face it, when danger is imminent, you don’t have time for complicated instructions.
My Review:
 I picked this book up for several reasons. Those who know my reviews won't be surprised to find I picked it up for the cover. But AFTER I looked at the cover, I thought it would be a cool book and I might find some things to try with my husband. I then thought further and hoped this would lead to practical application for women traveling alone, or adult women who have to travel at night, as my case sometimes is.
What I liked immediately about this book was Cliff's note to readers, making clear he's not interested in creating heroes or vigilantes, but in public safety. He stresses that the safest option will always, always be to escape or run.
What I found as I read this book was a really great reference for writers. There were plot bunnies abounding as I read this book. Yes, there are practical self defense ideas and even workout regimes (you thought being deadly was something you can do from the couch?) But all of that was mostly for entertainment and side knowledge that I might have learned from tumblr if I looked long enough. But the side tips, drawings, civilian application to every "violent nomad" skill, and PLOT BUNNIES EVERYWHERE made this book go from an average 4 to a 5 star book. Definitely something I would have for my shelves.
I received a copy of this from NetGalley for an honest review

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Follow and feature friday: rewriting books

follow and feature friday is hosted by parajunkee and Alison can read. Check them out in the linky below! If you got here through the linky, you're on the mobile page. Sorry! If you're using a computer or laptop click here: http://kristinaaziz.blogspot.com/2015/10/follow-and-feature-friday-rewriting.html 

This week's question: If you could re write a book which one would it be and what changes would you make? 

Mm... Harry Potter. #dobbylives.

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EBook Review: Prison Ramen

A unique and edgy cookbook, Prison Ramen takes readers behind bars with more than 65 ramen recipes and stories of prison life from the inmate/cooks who devised them, including celebrities like Slash from Guns n’ Roses and the actor Shia LaBeouf.
Instant ramen is a ubiquitous food, beloved by anyone looking for a cheap, tasty bite—including prisoners, who buy it at the commissary and use it as the building block for all sorts of meals. Think of this as a unique cookbook of ramen hacks. Here’s Ramen Goulash. Black Bean Ramen. Onion Tortilla Ramen Soup. The Jailhouse Hole Burrito. Orange Porkies—chili ramen plus white rice plus ½ bag of pork skins plus orange-flavored punch. Ramen Nuggets. Slash’s J-Walking Ramen (with scallions, Sriracha hot sauce, and minced pork).
Coauthors Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez and Clifton Collins Jr. are childhood friends—one an ex-con, now free and living in Mexico, and the other a highly successful Hollywood character actor who’s enlisted friends and celebrities to contribute their recipes and stories. Forget flowery writing about precious, organic ingredients—these stories are a first-person, firsthand look inside prison life, a scared-straight reality to complement the offbeat recipes.


My Review:

So I happen to know a friend who has been to our local county jail a couple of times. You can imagine how awkward it was for me to ask "Hey, can I ask you some things about jail food because this seems kind of crazy."

Fortunately he agreed, and assured me that Ramen Tamales are an actual thing, as are 'nuts to butts'. I also heard a few stories about jail that are pretty much only funny in retrospect, but still good stories. 

What I like about this book is that it's not just a recipe book. A prison recipe book with no context is boring. But the authors give us context in the form of a story before every recipe, Yeah, there are also letters and things from a few celebrities, but it doesn't need them. The stories and recipes stand on their own.

Overall: I'm still scared to give it as a gift for fear of being offensive, BUT I will definitely be buying it for a few high school grads I know who have never been to prison but will most likely be living off Ramen for a couple of years.

A big thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ebook Review: Wendy Darling

From the Best-Selling Author of Queen of Hearts comes a dark and mesmerizing twist on the beloved Children's Classic, Peter Pan.
Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

Buy on Amazon


My Review:

I thought reading this book right after reading Never, Never was a good idea. Perhaps if they had been by the same author. Whatever the case, I found this book to be incredibly slow. I didn't find myself caring for Wendy Darling at all. I didn't even find myself disliking her by chapter three. I just felt like I had wasted three chapters of my life reading a book about nothing.

The next couple of chapters did have more action with the arrival of Peter, but it still felt off--Peter talked too much like a grown up to me.

I found myself glad that I never abandon a book before I hit halfway through. It got much better about a quarter way through, explaining peter's odd behavior and showing us a Neverland we've never seen before.

As I got deeper into the book I found myself wanting to read it more. The deeper I got the faster I read. It doesn't quite measure up to Never, Never, but I found them also to be different stories altogether. I would definitely read another book by this author, but I probably wouldn't spend money on it.

Overall: borrow this book from your library.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ebook review: Diamond in the Rough

Over the weeks following her disappearance and the discovery of a long-silenced secret, the yellow brick road to Sophia Cavall’s happiness becomes littered with minefields.
Enter Oliver Black and his irresistible persona. He’s strong, caring, and doesn’t question her need for freedom. Sophie is Oliver’s feminine equal—the lioness in his lion lifestyle. She is his eyes and ears, and has his heart in her pocket. They have enough passion to paint the town red with love and a lurking, dangerous rival fears their union is a problem.
The price of fame and a high-profile relationship collides as the media spins a yarn to boost their ratings. Before they know it, the romance begins to falter. Can the two reconcile their opposing views before it is too late or will they lose the greatest love they’ve ever known? A devil of a choice is in order.
The odds are stacked against Sophie and Oliver in this second installment of the Diamond in the Rough series. What is the truth? Who is the real enemy? There’s no two ways about it—ready or not, he will come.


  Goodreads  | Elisa's website

EXCERPT
She watches the glass fog up around her and the water flow to the shower drain. Her face flushed, her eyes dead, she stares off into the distance at nothing. She can feel him—John’s forced weight, his homicidal knuckles. And she can also feel his gentle touch, how he tinkered with her mind. Why had he done that? Why had he been easy on her? For all Sophie knows, he could very well be plotting her demise from inside a jail cell. He could be laughing. He could be lining dominos up one behind the other, getting ready to tip them over, set off a chain reaction. In her heart, she knows…it’s far from over.
Oliver steps into the shower like a light breeze coming through a window just when you need it. Without saying a word, he sits beside her and waits. He wants to hold her in his arms, but he waits. Oliver sees her for what she struggles with; sees her for what she desires. Right now, all of her is yelling, “just let me be.” And he accepts her quietness, just sits there as if saying, “Okay, but I’m here anyway.” She runs her hands through her wet hair and turns to him. After a long silence, it’s Oliver who speaks first. 

“You okay?”
“You really have to stop asking me that.”
“Why?”
“Because I don’t want to lie to you anymore.”
“Then don’t.”
“I know you think I’m overreacting.”
“That’s not what I think.”
“Then why do I see it in your face?” 
There’s a pause, then a sigh. “I don’t think you’re overacting. I think you need to talk to me. I want you to realize that you’re not in this alone. Give your damn pride a rest. You can let yourself go with me. I’ve got you.”

My Review:

I have been waiting for what feels like FOREVER for this book. Elisa was awesome enough to send me an ARC to review. So, did it meet expectations?

What can I say besides Elisa impressed me again? The plot was spot-on, the characters are insanely developed--we even see Oliver show a bit more of his flawed side--and the ending left me wanting More. Like, now. 

Those who know me or my reviews know I typically don't do romance novels. Even if I do get one that I don't hate, I usually don't go gushing about it. But Elisa makes these books feel like they're not even romances. They have real plots! The love scenes aren't cheesy! And also, the love scenes are well placed, well timed, and tactful. 

Can we talk about the ending? Because I reeeeeaaallly want to. But I try not to have spoilers in my reviews. I'll just say that I kind of had an idea what was going to happen, but I didn't realize Elisa would GO THERE. Ahhh! I'm going to need the next book in my hands, like, yesterday. 

My apologies to my coworkers who received exactly 0% of my attention as I read this book and straight up ignored everything but our clients and reading this book between having to deal with our clients.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thank you Lord for Everything

Love surrounds you, beauty, too.

Notice how God blesses you!

Clap your hands, shout and sing:

Thank you, Lord, for everything.

A comfortable and relaxing rhyme tells the story of God s great blessings in this padded cover board book. P.J. Lyons engaging text and Tim Warnes playful illustrations remind readers how much they have to be thankful for."

Buy on Amazon


My Review:

Thank you, Lord, for everything is a children's board book about the many ways we can be grateful to God throughout our normal days.

First, let's discuss the look of this book. 
---Illustrations: Bright, without being cartoonish or cluttered.
---Words: Big enough with a recognizable font without taking over the page-- I was able to read it upside down and my daughter was able to enjoy the pictures.
---Durability: hard board pages on the inside that are resistant to tearing but easy to turn, and the bound cover feels so smooth to touch. Bonus: the cover is easy to wipe off if something spills on it.

What do I think of the story?
A great message, but a page or two did feel like the rhyme was too forced.

But the big question is: What did River think?

Well, I read this to her the minute I got home and saw it on the mail pile. Th initial reading kept her attention and got some smiles. Always a good sign. Then, because it's built to last, I put it in her crib with her to read. This baby sat there turning pages and doing her own version of reading (which is pointing and saying things in baby talk) for hours. 

For ten dollars, this is a great book to get a 15-month old as they grow into toddler-dom and an awesome gift for any parent you might know.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spending Holidays with People I want to Punch in the Throat

For fans of Laurie Notaro and Jenny Lawson comes an uproarious and oddly endearing essay collection for anyone trying to survive the holidays in one piece.
When it comes to time-honored holiday traditions, Jen Mann pulls no punchesIn this hilariously irreverent collection of essays, Jen Mann, nationally bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, turns her mordant wit on the holidays. On Mann’s naughty list: mothers who go way overboard with their Elf on the Shelf, overzealous carolers who can’t take a hint, and people who write their Christmas cards in the third person (“Joyce is enjoying Bunko. Yeah, Joyce, we know you wrote this letter.”). And on her nice list . . . well, she’s working on that one. Here, no celebration is off-limits. 


Buy on Amazon




My Review: 


The author starts this book off in a way that implies she's assuming you've read her last book. This is not really an issue if, you know, you did. But if this is the first book you've read of her it comes off a bit cocky and ridiculous. The saving grace for this, though, is that I found out on the very first page that pumpkin spice EVERYTHING gets on both of our nerves.
As I went on, I got used to the author's voice and was able to focus on the stories themselves, which range from funny to exposing. This is the kind of book that becomes of writers who take a lot of stock into the phrase "be nice, or I'll write you into my next book"
Overall: this type of writing seems better suited for a blog than a book. I most likely wouldn't spend money on this book, despite the stories being interesting and short. But the thing is, I'm not sure I would even borrow it at a library. There are too many other books I'd want to read. The saving grace: I work in a call center with a lot of cynical people who would probably not hate this as a gift.
Thank you NetGalley for the complimentary e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: What Love Looks Like

Moving, Personal Accounts of God's Love from 12 Noted Leaders 
The Church is known for many things. Love is not usually one of them. 
Is it possible to show a hungry world the kind of love the Bible promises? Here are candid stories from twelve respected leaders in the renewal today, promising us that the agape love of God is strongly at work--if we are willing to be vulnerable for his honor. 
Jesus challenges us to let him pour out his love through willing vessels. These remarkable stories inspire us to become outlets of the love through which Jesus will change the world. 
Contributors are Heidi Baker, Stacey Campbell, Mahesh Chavda, James W. Goll, Joan Hunter, Harry R. Jackson Jr., Patricia King, James Maloney, Jackie Pullinger, Mickey Robinson, Doug Stringer, and Barbara Yoder.


Buy on Amazon




My Review:

This book has a lot going for it. It's easy to read, emotional, and changed a small part of my life and thinking. I highly recommend this to Christians because sometimes we get so caught up in the small do's and dont's and different interpretations of the bible that we forgot the top two commandments: Love Me [God] above all, and love [everyone else] your neighbor as yourself.

I mean, every single decision we make comes down to these two rules. You just have to ask yourself: Am I loving God and this person by picketing this funeral? By feeding these people? By refusing to marry these people? By taking in these refugees?

I love that I have this book on my shelf because it's something I can see myself coming back to and reading whenever I feel I've lost myself or my focus in life. The only thing that wasn't exceptional (but kind of was, in it's own way) is that these essays are so brilliantly written and I wanted so bad to cry while reading this. Generally that's a sign of a really good book but I was at work and I work in a call center, so crying is a no-no. 

So Why not 5 stars, Kristina? Like many Christian books, some parts seemed ridiculous and overboard, like refusing to go to the hospital because you want God to heal you--not something I would ever tell my daughter to do. But I mean if you can focus on the overall message I'm sure you'll find it a five star read.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: Ms. Conception by Jen Cummings

Abigail Nichols has tried everything from rash-inducing herbal creams to acupuncture in a desperate, last-ditch effort to get pregnant. Wedged into her iPhone schedule among new business pitches and rebranding design meetings is Abby’s ovulation cycle, along with potential opportunities for illicit afternoon quickies. With all of their hopes and savings on the table, Abby and her husband Jack enter the whispered world of fertility clinics. Along with a meddling mother-in-law, competitive pregnancies, and constant obligatory sex, Abby’s baby-track mind conspires to ravage her career, her marriage, and her sanity. One thing she knows for sure: a healthy sense of humor (and the occasional glass of red wine) is the best coping strategy. One thing she wishes she knew: whether it will be enough. Ms. Conception is an honest but light-hearted novel inspired by the ups and downs of fertility treatments and the emotional burden that rests on those trying to conceive

Buy on Amazon


My Review:

It took my husband and I a year to get pregnant. I felt so much for Abby in the beginning of this book, because I remember crying every month when nature told me I wasn't going to have a baby. I remember snapping at my husband and glaring daggers at coworkers who kept getting pregnant.

I can't even imagine having a meddling mother-in-law and having to spend so much money or be without child. Even now, we don't have that kind of money for treatments. 

I seriously went through so many emotions during this book. I was happy and then sad and then crushed and the happy and then anxious...this book just made me feel so many things and I got so attached to the characters in this book that by the time I put it down one of my coworkers asked me "What's wrong?" and I just started gushing about it and telling her to read it.

When I got to the Author's note at the end of the book, I realized why this book was so good. Writers, you'll hear over and over that personal experiences make for the best books, and this is an example of that. Jen has so much of my respect right now and I can't wait to see if there will be more from her.