Category Archives: Books and Movies

Book Marks: The Hearts We Mend – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

The Hearts We Mend book coverThe Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

Goodreads Summary

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life.  But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone.  Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart.  But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls.  Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment by moment.  But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something.  Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever.  Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he might be everything she needs.

My Thoughts

This book is just lovely!  Wonderful amounts of sweetness, drama, funny little parts, faith, and love!  Just simply lovely!  I am ready to read more books by Kathryn Springer right now!

I wanted to get to the end so bad, and yet I didn’t want it to end!  I caught myself trying to skim ahead on the page so that I could see what was going to happen several times (mostly nearing the end of the book) and had to stop myself and go back to where I was supposed to be reading.  There were times that I got so frustrated at Jack, just wanting to smack some sense into him, and then I would feel the same way about Evie!

Faith was a big part of The Hearts We Mend but it wasn’t the kind of book that shoves it in your face. If you enjoy reading faith-based books, you will like this one.  But, even if you don’t typically enjoy faith-based books, you’ll most likely still enjoy this book.  It was just really well written.  I highly recommend reading The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie KurtzCarrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

Book Marks: By the Hands of Men – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

By the Hands of MenBy the Hands of Men Book One: The Old World by Roy M. Griffis
By the Hands of Men Book Two: Into the Flames by Roy M. Griffis

Goodreads Summary

By the Hands of Men Book One: The Old World

“With elements reminiscent of Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms, in the midst of World War I, a relationship develops between an English lieutenant and a young Russian nurse – a surprising tenderness against the backdrop of war…with likeable characters, spending more time in the “Old War” is an appealing prospect.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A truly remarkable historical novel – so finely rendered in period detail – that the reader becomes one with the plot and characters. Mr. Griffis has a superb talent for capturing the small details that make up the whole – from the horrors of war to the very intricate procedures involved with early 20th Century Wartime medicine. Charlotte Braninov is a very complex character, one who is beautifully drawn by the pen of Mr. Griffis. Her conflicting feelings on war and her intense emotions sparked by her time treating Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald left me breathless – they were so emotionally powerful. This is a novel that will not only entertain and inform, but pull at your emotions as well – a truly beautiful novel set during a horrific time in history.”
AN OFFICIAL JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB MUST READ
RICK FRIEDMAN, FOUNDER, THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB

With the Great War raging around them, wounded Lt. Robert Fitzgerald falls in love with Russian nurse Charlotte Braninov. Torn apart by illness and betrayal, they pursue separate quests that take them across a world on the verge of change. From Shanghai to revolutionary Russia, they learn that hands of men can create a hell on earth – or, through the redemptive power of love, a heaven in which to truly live.

By the Hands of Men Book Two: Into the Flames

Charlotte Braninov, traumatized by loss and her service as a frontline nurse, returns to war-torn Russia to find her family. Captured by the Red Army, she exchanges one hell for another. Her still-loyal Lieutenant, Robert Fitzgerald, believing the woman he loves is dead, struggles to recover from the ravages of combat and typhus. In a desperate bid to rediscover himself, he commits to serve his country as a pawn in distant Shanghai. Forging their destinies in a world reeling after The Great War, Charlotte and Robert will learn anew the horror and the beauty the hands of men can create when they descend into the flames.

My Thoughts

Wow…

That is the best word I can find to describe these books. Wow! So Good!

Roy Griffis contacted me and asked if I would like to read and review the first two books in his By the Hands of Men series and, of course, I said yes. I was honored and, to be completely honest, a little nervous. I haven’t read many historical novels and I have never read any about war. I wasn’t sure if I would like them and I really, really hate writing negative reviews! Mr. Griffis sent me the novels and I was so excited when I checked the mail and they were there! I love getting new books and was thrilled to see that he signed them for me too! I was ready to dive in! I was already in the middle of another book so I made sure I set enough time in my day to get through it so I could jump into my new, beautiful books.

I’m not sure why, but I felt intimidated when I first started reading book one, The Old World. War…it made me nervous. Please like it, please like it! Well, as I read I quickly realized that I was nervous for no reason at all! It was so good! I couldn’t put it down! Before I knew it, I looked at the clock and it was after 1 o’clock in the morning! I had to make myself put it down so that I wouldn’t be a zombie at work the next morning. As soon as I got home from work I picked it back up and devoured the rest of the book.

Right after I finished the first book, I picked up book two, Into the Flames. Once again, I was sucked right back into this beautifully written novel. Oh my word! It was possibly even better than the first book! I didn’t want it to end! So Good!

I highly recommend reading both of these wonderfully written books and I can’t wait to read the third as soon as it becomes available! Thank you so much, Roy Griffis, for sending these beautiful books to me! These are definitely books that I will read over and over!

Carrie KurtzCarrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

Romance and Superheroes – Free or 99c Today

I’m doing a big promotion for all of my books right now. You may have seen my blog post a couple days ago where I mentioned it. I just wanted to remind you because Tuesday is the last day for one of the books. Here’s the breakdown.

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzLittle Miss Lovesick – FREE on Amazon Kindle April 18-19, 2016
Sydney Riley hears voices in her head…

Voices that keep her sane and voices that drive her crazy. The one thing they all agree on – forget Dirk the Jerk and move on.

So Sydney lets her friends drag her into the wilds of Northern Michigan where Little Miss Lovesick, the loudest voice in Sydney’s head, runs into – literally – the perfect man. Is hot fishing guide Matt Engel the man to vanquish heartbreak?

With the vacation flirtation behind her, Sydney is ready to start again. Soon after, however, a difficult – and must keep – client demands Sydney work with his new contractor. Yes, one and the same Matt Engel, hotter than ever and right here in town.

But when Matt’s past comes between them, Sydney wonders how to prevent another broken heart. As the rest of her life spirals out of control, she learns that sometimes a plan isn’t enough without friends to share the load.

Maybe together they can even help Little Miss Lovesick find what she’s been fishing for.

Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series (in order)

Superhero in Disguise by Kitty Bucholtz, in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series“Superhero in Disguise” – FREE short story on Amazon and all other outlets permanently
The romantic prologue to A Very Merry Superhero Wedding and Unexpected Superhero in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series.

Something was not quite right about Tori Lewis. She knew it, and did her best to hide quietly, not letting anyone too close. But she was getting tired of hiding. That’s what Operation Freedom was all about — discovering her true self. Tonight, Halloween night, she could pretend to be anyone she wanted.

Joe Clarke descended from a long line of superheroes. He knew exactly who he was and what part he played in the world — defending the citizens of Double Bay, Michigan. He loved his job, especially when he found himself rescuing damsels in distress.

But on Halloween, no one is who they seem. Quiet girls can pretend to be bold, confident, adventurous. And even a superhero can pretend to be just a man.

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty BucholtzA Very Merry Superhero Wedding – 99c on Amazon Kindle April 18-20, 2016
A novella in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero series

WEDDING DREAMS…

Tori Lewis can hardly wait for her Christmas Eve wedding to handsome Joe Clarke. But her friends and family don’t think it’s prudent to marry someone you just met. There’s something about him, though. She’s never felt safer in her life. The only question is — does she have to tell him all her secrets before the wedding?

Joe Clarke expected to be a happy superhero bachelor for years to come. But after meeting Tori Lewis on Halloween, he can’t get her out of his head. Marrying a woman he barely knows is hands-down the craziest thing he’s ever done. So how does he explain himself to a woman who doesn’t believe in superheroes?

…AND CHRISTMAS FIENDS

Meanwhile, the city is going through a Christmastime crime spree. In addition to the usual madness and thievery, a gang of robbers is targeting mall shoppers. Joe must juggle his wedding duties with his alter ego Superhero X’s commitment to protect the citizens of Double Bay.

Will it all come together without ruining the perfect Christmas wedding?

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzUnexpected Superhero – 99c on Amazon Kindle April 18-19; $1.99 April 20-21; $2.99 April 22-24
From Wallflower…

Newlywed Tori Lewis wants nothing more than a quiet life with her hunky new husband. She doesn’t expect to walk into a robbery right after her honeymoon. But even more shocking is her discovery that she stopped the gunman with a super power! How did that happen?

Undercover superhero Joe Clarke and his team are investigating a string of missing children. When the father of a lost boy turns up dead, the team must decide if the death is related to the disappearances – or to the super villain group, The Nine.

…To Super Power!

Meanwhile, Tori decides to try out this superhero thing. She needs a mentor, so she asks Superhero X to help, the only superhero she’s ever met – and the only one she’s ever kissed. As they work together, Tori worries that the superhero is getting too familiar. How can she be attracted to one man when she’s wildly in love with another?

Will she have to choose between her husband and her destiny? No one warned her that love would be so complicated!

Get 72 Free Books Today!

Firsts Free for All promo

This is an exciting promotion and I get to be a part of it! There are 72 (!) book series in this list, and the first book in every series is FREE this weekend! When you sign up, you see all 72 free books and you can download them directly from Amazon.com. (They may or may not be available on Amazon’s sites in other countries.)

Then on Monday, you’ll get an email telling you about the other books in each series. Many of those will also be on sale Monday. Yay!

For instance, in my superhero urban fantasy series, Adventures of Lewis and Clarke, the first story in the chronology is the short story where they meet, “Superhero in Disguise.” It’s permanently free everywhere. The second book is the story of how they got married, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding. It’s normally $2.99, but Monday through Wednesday it will be just 99c.

Then Unexpected Superhero, the official book one in the series (I wrote the two prequels because readers asked for them 🙂 ), which is normally $3.99, will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal for a week. That means that Monday and Tuesday, it will be 99c, then it will be $1.99 for two days, then $2.99 through the following Monday, April 25, 2016.

So if you picked up all three books in the series on Monday or Tuesday, it would only cost you $1.98. Sweet deal, eh? 😀

And mine is just one of the 72 series where you’ll find great deals! I hope you find heaps of wonderful books to read. Remember, some of these books will only be free through Sunday so act now!

Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you – since the superhero series is on sale, I decided to put my romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, on special, too. It’s FREE Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19, 2016. I hope you check it out!

Book Marks: Keeper of the Stars – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Keeper of the StarsKeeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher

Goodreads Summary

She blames him for her brother’s death.  Can she let go of resentment and open her heart to love?

Penny Cartwright found it difficult to understand why her younger brother would choose to join a country singer’s band rather than return to Kings Meadow after college…and the separation strained their relationship.  Then a car accident made certain her brother could never return.

Trevor Reynolds has chased stardom in Nashville for more than a dozen years, but it remains out of his reach.  After an accident kills his young drummer, Trevor goes to Kings Meadow to keep a promise – and perhaps to discover what truly matters in this life.

Thrown together by circumstances, Penny and Trevor must learn to give and receive forgiveness.  And if they do, perhaps something beautiful can rise from the ashes of heartbreak.

My Thoughts

I wasn’t opposed to reading this book but I honestly wasn’t really excited to read it either.  I have been in the mood to read exciting, suspenseful books and this clearly wasn’t going to be that kind of book.  I was actually kind of dreading it a little bit.

However…

I really enjoyed it!  Keeper of the Stars has just the right amount of enjoyability, heart, love, faith, and a touch of sadness (not too much) to make it a really good and cozy read.  I give it two thumbs up!  I started it yesterday, late afternoon, and had to make myself put it down so that I could go to bed since I had to work this morning.  I finished it an hour or so after I got home from work.

I am happy to say that I have found a new author that I will be on the lookout for. Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher was well written and enjoyable.  Definitely one I will recommend to fellow readers.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie KurtzCarrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

Join Me at the OC Book Fair in Costa Mesa This Saturday

OCWriterbookfair_Poster_LogoOnlly

This upcoming Saturday, March 26, 2016, I’ll be one of 30 authors participating in the Orange County Writers Book Fair. Fun! 🙂 Click to find out more about who will be there. We’ll have fiction and nonfiction authors, and books for children and adults.

We’ll be at The Lab Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa, CA, from 11am to 4pm. I’ve never been there, but it looks really cool. Kind of artsy and eclectic. And it’s outdoors so it should be perfect at this time of year. (Right now, the weather is supposed to be a gorgeous 73 and sunny!)

If you live in the Orange County area, I’d love to see you on Saturday!

Spring Fling Romance Readers Club Giveaway TODAY

Happy woman with tablet in the park

Guess what I’ve got for you today? Romance Readers Club is doing a Spring Fling Massive Ebook Giveaway today only!

Click the link and scroll through the list of over 100 free romance books. Download any or all of them today! 🙂 My romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, is one of the free books, and free through tomorrow.

There are a variety of subgenres, heat levels, and book lengths. Most are novels, some are novellas, some may even be short stories (I don’t know for sure.) Some of them are free every day, but most of them are free today (and maybe tomorrow) only.

And if dozens of free books aren’t enough to start your spring off right (or your autumn if you’re Down Under), scroll to the bottom of the list of books to see how to have multiple chances to win a Kindle Fire HD6.

Hurry! The giveaway ends in a few hours at midnight Pacific. 🙂

Book Marks: My Name is Mahtob – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

My Name is Mahtob book coverMy Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody

Goodreads Summary

The daughter at the center of the international bestseller and film Not Without My Daughter finishes the story that captivated the world: held hostage in Iran, escape over the mountains, growing up in fear of kidnapping, battling deadly disease, and leaning on the sustaining power of God’s goodness.

Two decades ago, Not Without My Daughter (a global phenomenon made into a film starring Sally Field) told of the daring escape of an American mother and her six-year-old child from an abusive and fanatical Iranian husband and father.  Now the daughter tells the whole story, not only of her imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Iran: living in fear of re-abduction, battling recurring nightmares and panic attacks – all under the menacing shadow of her father.

This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness.  Moving from Michigan to Tehran, from Ankara to Paris, Mahtob reveals the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by her faith in God’s goodness and his care and love for her.

My Thoughts

My Name is Mahtob is a companion book to Not Without My Daughter.  Mahtob Mahmoody shares her experiences in her own words.  She writes about her feelings, thoughts, and experiences while being held captive in Iran and even afterwards when she made it home.

I actually haven’t read or watched Not Without My Daughter but that didn’t make My Name is Mahtob any less interesting.  I enjoyed reading this book and I definitely plan on reading and watching Not Without My Daughter now.

I do have to say that after about the first half of the book it got pretty slow.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t quite as interesting as the first half of the book.  It got a little confusing at times because it wasn’t necessarily in chronological order.

Mahtob Mahmoody did discuss her faith but not to an extent that it was overly religious toward any certain religion.  She is Lutheran but this book isn’t offensive to readers of any religion.  It is just an autobiography of her life and faith and it is a lovely book.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz

 

Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

Too Embarrassing or Too Funny? You Decide

My friend Elena Dillon and I do a lot of career planning together. We talk about what’s working for us in terms of writing faster and better, what marketing techniques seem to work for us and what doesn’t seem to help, and we discuss new things we’ve learned – much of which came via podcasts.

Laughing and pointing emoticon

In fact, we’ve talked a few times about doing our own podcast. I really wanted to, but it’s a lot of work to make it really professional. Then Elena had an idea to do a weekly Blab – kind of like a podcast, but live so there’s no editing. I said “YES!” pretty darn quick! LOL! (You may remember me saying this in the past – John thinks I love being the center of attention. I refuse to confirm or deny on the grounds that it might incriminate me.)

So starting this Wednesday, February 3, we will host a weekly Blab from 7pm to 8pm Pacific interviewing authors. The weekly show is called Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books and it will have a kind of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” feel. We’ll have funny questions like “What is your favorite word?” and “What sound or noise do you hate?” and “What profession would you never want to be in?” as well as questions about the author’s books and characters. The people watching can ask more questions in the chat box during a live Q&A at the end!

To make sure we were ready for our first guest (the very fun Tracy Reed), we did a test run yesterday. We hit the record button when we were ready so we could be sure we knew how to do every single bit of the process, but we said beforehand we probably wouldn’t use it because it would probably be “junk.”

BUT…it was hilarious! I was the show announcer and Elena was the interviewer, but she needed someone to ask the questions of, so she interviewed me. Oh my gosh, we laughed so much! I decided – embarrassing or not – it was too much fun not to share, so I’ve posted it here for you. I hope you laugh out loud at our silliness. 😀

If you’d like to watch our weekly show, go to my Blab profile, then look for and click on the Follow button. You might have to create your own account first to follow. But if you don’t want to do that, you should be able to go to my profile page every Wednesday at 7pm Pacific and find the live Blab that is happening right then.

Elena and I are super excited – we have over a dozen authors lined up already! We hope to see you on Wednesday!