Tag Archives: Book Marks

Book Marks: Crushing by Elena Dillon

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Elena Dillon today. She writes YA (Young Adult) novels with lots of action and suspense and emotion. Read on as she tells us about her free-this-week novel, Crushing.

Crushing coverElena: How do you all feel about love triangles? I know some people love them, and some people hate them. When I sat down to write Crushing I hadn’t thought much about them either way but I also didn’t intend for Crushing to have one as a key part of the romance. Not in my plan at all. I thought I was writing a teenage mystery with a romance. Shows what I know.

The problem started when one of the characters that I intended to be kind of a jerk, Dominic, had other ideas. As it turns out, he’s had a crush on Rory, the main character for a long time. And he refused to be a jerk, he was a sweet guy. He was her friend and, by the way, he had no intention of stepping back and letting this new guy step in and take his girl. Wait, what?

Rory and the other love interest each had a different viewpoint about this situation which added to the complexity of the story. I actually had conversations with Dom, in my head, explaining what I had planned, but he was extremely uncooperative. The entire book felt like one long battle. Looking back I realize I shouldn’t have worried. It all worked out in the end.

All that being said Crushing is all about love, friendship, and choices. I had no idea writing a love triangle could be so complicated. It was a really fun book to write, but I’m not sure who was in charge, me or them.

Crushing is available for Free on Amazon October 19th – October 23rd!

Here’s an excerpt of one of the scenes:

A small clinking sound coming from the balcony distracted me. Huh.

Then another one. Clink.

I got the chills. What was that?

I stood up and slowly moved over to the French doors. On my balcony were two pennies.

Clink. Another one hit the glass right between my eyes.

My heart in my mouth, I looked out into the yard. Gage was standing there holding the puppy and getting ready to throw another penny. He jerked his head toward the beach, turned, then went through the gate on the side.

Oookay. I guess I was just supposed to follow? Why were all the males in my life so overbearing? I huffed and put my shoes on. I needed to revert back to my old ways a bit. My parents were still up, and no way would a walk on the beach go over without a fight. And walking with Gage wouldn’t be any better in their eyes.

I went out onto my balcony. The drainpipe was still there even though it didn’t look quite as sturdy as it did a few years ago. I hadn’t shinnied down a drainpipe in years, but I imagined the process hadn’t changed that much. Good thing I had on appropriate shinnying clothes.

As I climbed over the rail and reached out for the drainpipe, I felt a flurry of excitement. Trouble—an old friend I hadn’t visited in a while. I had to suppress the giggles that wanted to bubble out of my chest. I missed this. I made it to the bottom without too much damage, although I wouldn’t be wearing a skirt anytime soon, what with the scrape on my knee now.

I came through the gate, and he and the puppy were waiting at the beginning of the beach path. By the time I caught up, the puppy was running ahead toward the water and then running back to us, barking and tripping over her feet. Her paws were almost the size of my palms. I think she had grown since I saw her yesterday, and Gage must have given her a bath because her fur was fluffy and she looked even more adorable.

He didn’t say anything; we just started walking. This felt weirdly familiar. Because of his stutter, we had spent a lot of our childhood not talking. If I had something to say, I would just jabber on like a monkey in a tree, and he listened. Too nervous for speech now, though, I tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to say.

We walked and our arms brushed. The squirrels in my stomach were at it again, and now they were doing the Mexican Hat dance. Really? I needed to calm down. I annoyed myself.

Clear and beautiful, the night was made for a walk on the beach. I loved the sound of the ocean, and most nights I fell asleep with my balcony doors open. A bit of a breeze blew, but even though it was still winter, it was only a little chilly.

We found a small sand dune and sat down to watch the puppy running at the waves and barking. Gage was looking out over the water. He looked relaxed, but I could barely keep my knees from bouncing. I really had to focus to keep myself calm. I breathed deep.

“So why didn’t you tell me who you were the other day?” I blurted out.

He laughed. “Sorry, I guess I was shocked you didn’t recognize me. I’m pretty forgettable, huh?”

“Well, since you don’t look the same at all, and you are about a foot and a half taller, I think I should get a pass.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “I hear you’re either a drug dealer, a cheater, or you got the dean’s daughter pregnant. Should I be worried about being out here on the beach with you? I came prepared.” I dangled my keys with the pepper spray my dad insisted I keep at hand. I knew I was perfectly safe, but I wanted the real story.

He laughed. “Wow, is that what’s going around? I guess I’m not surprised. We Southerners do love our gossip. I didn’t actually do any of those things, but in the spirit of honesty, I did get expelled.”

I nodded. If I let my mouth run away with me now, I would never get the story out of him.

“It was for fighting.” He did have the grace to look a little embarrassed. “I would imagine you aren’t shocked about that, but it was unavoidable so—”

“So that’s why you’re back? Because you got kicked out of school?”

He opened his mouth to answer, when the puppy came skidding to a halt right in front of us and decided to shake the water and sand off her body all over us. I shrieked and tried to block it with my hands, but too late. Lovely. Good thing she was cute.

“Did you come up with something to call her?” I asked while I was attempting to brush myself off.

“Bailee.”

“Cute. What made you pick it?”

“Well, we had to bail her out, so it seemed to fit. She reminds me of you, actually.” He nudged me with his elbow.

“I remind you of a dog?” He was obviously not trying to win any points with me. First I’m fat, and now I remind him of a dog.

“Uh, no. She reminds me of you. Getting herself into messes I have to get her out of.”

“Oh really?” I smiled. “Well it’s been a long time since you have attempted to get me out of any messes.”

“Until yesterday. And tonight.”

I frowned at him. “As a matter of fact I was thinking earlier that my life has never been more dramatic than since you showed back up.”

“So it’s my fault?”

“Well, it stands to reason. My life seemed normal before, and it’s been upside down since you got back . . .”

“Ah. I see.”

That reminded me.

“Hey what did you mean when you saw me in the storm drain and said ‘of course’?” I glared at him again.

“Just that. Of course you would get stuck in a storm drain trying to save a puppy.”

“You act like you know me now. You don’t, so don’t pretend you do.” I wasn’t sure why, but I was mad. It didn’t make any sense, since I was pretty sure he hadn’t had a choice about leaving. Still, he didn’t get to pretend like he knew anything about my life now.

He didn’t say anything, just turned away. Now I felt bad.

We stared out at the ocean for a while just listening to the waves. I thought about when he left. There had been a hole in my heart where only he fit. I had shut off that part of my heart and didn’t even realize it. We weren’t the same people now, and I didn’t know if we would ever be able to get back to the closeness we had when we were kids, or if I wanted to.

The puppy had finally tired herself out. She came over to me and climbed into my lap, then she curled up and went to sleep. She was adorable.

There was something I wanted to ask him. I wasn’t sure if I should, but I really needed to know.

“What happened with that fight? I don’t understand.”

“Holden’s a tool,” he said with a grimace.

“Well, yeah, but you knew that when we were eight. Why would you hit Dominic when Holden was the idiot?”

His face got serious, and he didn’t answer right away. He looked back out to the ocean.

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“Umm, no.”

He looked back at me. “That didn’t sound too convincing.”

“Well, we’re good friends. It’s complicated.”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re either dating or you’re not. I’m hoping not, since you’re out here with me. That wouldn’t be cool.” He sounded disapproving.

I didn’t want him thinking I was like that. Eww.

“We aren’t. Our parents would love it, and I don’t think he would object, but he hasn’t asked, and I made it clear I don’t want a boyfriend. Clear enough?” Sheesh.

“You don’t want a boyfriend, or you don’t want him for a boyfriend?”

“As you well know, I have two very large overprotective brothers and a dad who still likes to think I’m six years old. Would you want to deal with that?” I realized he had turned the conversation back to me and away from him. Convenient. “You still didn’t answer me.”

He looked back out to the ocean before he answered. For some reason I knew the answer was important.

“I don’t like him. He should have made Holden let go of you himself. No guy has the right to put his hands on a girl against her will. Ever. If you aren’t doing something about it, you are enabling it, and I hate that almost as much. Even if he isn’t your boyfriend, as your friend he shouldn’t have allowed it. If you don’t believe me, ask your brothers.”

Wow. Okay. I think I hit a sore spot.

“I guess I can see your point of view. I don’t actually think Dom saw it until you guys started pushing and shoving, but okay. He probably doesn’t take Holden seriously, since we see him like that a lot.”

“He grabs you a lot?” He was starting to look angry.

“No. He’s obnoxious and drunk a lot. I appreciate that you were concerned, but it wasn’t necessary.”

He shrugged. “That’s your opinion.”

“I can take care of myself. I’m not sure why nobody gets that.” Why were guys so irritating? Ugh.

“Yeah I saw how well you were taking care of yourself.” He didn’t look convinced.

I wasn’t getting anywhere. I looked at the time on my phone. I didn’t want to go, but I also didn’t want my parents to check in and find me gone. That would not help my situation.

“I’d better get going.”

I handed him Bailee so I could get up. She was obviously exhausted from her adventure. “I’m glad your uncle let you keep her.” I rubbed her head.

“Yeah, I think he feels bad because he isn’t home much.”

“I worried he would make you take her to the pound,” I said as I brushed myself off.

“Well, I think he wishes he could change his mind now,” he said with a laugh.

“What happened?”

“She chewed a pair of his seven-hundred-dollar shoes. Not a banner moment for her.”

“Oh man. Poor Bailee.” I reached over and gave her a scratch. “It’s not fun to be labeled a troublemaker.” She looked at me sleepily and licked my hand.

I worked up the nerve to ask him something I’d been wondering about since he came back.

“So…” We started back up the beach toward home.

“Uh-oh.” He laughed.

“No more stutter?” I asked.

“Nope. Gone for good.”

“I’m going to be totally nosey here. What happened?”

“It’s fine. When we moved to Florida, my grandma and I took foreign language classes.”

“And that helped?”

“Yup. She read somewhere that it could help. I became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.” He shrugged like it was no big deal. “Once I could speak another language without a stutter, it pretty much went away. Totally gone by the time I was fourteen.”

We had stopped in front of my gate. I reached out and gave him a hug, squishing Bailee in the process.

“Whoa. Okay.” He hugged me back.

“I’m sorry. I’m just so happy for you.” I knew it must have been more work than he let on. I was relieved he didn’t have to live with that stutter forever. I could feel tears behind my eyes trying to get out.

“It’s okay, Rory. I’m all good.” He shook his head at me.

I gave him another squeeze, then let go and stepped back.

He walked me through the gate up to my back door. I turned and we just stared at each other.

“I’d better go in.”

“Wouldn’t want the parents to know you are out with the bad boy and not the ‘Mr. Perfect’ they’ve picked for you,” he said.

I felt bad that he knew how my parents felt about him. My life was not usually this full of drama. I huffed out a breath. “Sorry.”

“Here, give me your phone. I don’t want you to have to climb down a drainpipe just to talk to me. I thought you would just come out the back door like a normal girl. I should have known you would do things the hard way.”

We exchanged phones and put our numbers in.

He handed me back my phone. His face was serious all of a sudden. “Now I won’t lose you again.” He gently brushed his fingers over my cheek and pushed a piece of hair behind my ear.

I shivered. We stood there staring into each other’s eyes. Bailee yawned a huge yawn, and the moment was lost.

“See you,” I whispered as I snuck in my back door. I turned and looked through the window. He was still watching me. When he turned and walked away, there was a tiny ache in the area of my heart. I already missed him. Not good.

* * *

Elena DillonAuthor, Elena Dillon, is the winner of a Weta Nichols Writing Award and an InD’tale RONE award. She was also a finalist in the Book Buyers Best, the Published Maggie’s and the Reader’s Favorite Awards all in the Young Adult category. She writes sweet teenage romance with sass, suspense and swoon.

Elena has never lived anywhere besides Southern California, which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife to her husband of twenty-five years and a mother to her three kids and high-maintenance bulldog, Brutus. A self-proclaimed nerd, she spends her days writing and catering to Brutus, who considers her “the help.”

Book Marks: Instant Happy Journal – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Instant Happy JournalInstant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn

I love journals! I love happy things! I love the cover of this journal!  I just love this!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten control of myself, I’ll explain why I love this so much.

Goodreads Summary

This colorful diary inspires journalers to apply happiness guru Karen Salmansohn’s Instant Happy principles to their everyday lives, with 365 prompts to encourage a year of gratitude.

On the heels of Karen Salmansohn’s wildly popular gift book Instant Happy comes this happiness journal, with daily prompts to help you think about and apply happiness wisdom to your own life. Each page features a specific intention, inspiring quote, surprising scientific fact, or thought-provoking question to ponder.

When you approach your day with Salmansohn’s “happiness prompters” in mind, you amp up your ability to notice (and create!) many more joyous moments in your day. But that’s just half of what it takes to live a supremely happy life.

This journal teaches the top two habits of happy people: to naturally set their intention to enjoy a happy day, then end the day reflecting on what made them happy. When you end your day writing about what went right, you further strengthen your happiness mindset. With fill-in dates so that you can write and reflect at your own pace, this little journal features a graphic design and fresh attitude perfect for today’s modern happiness-seeker. 

My Thoughts

If you read the beginning of this post (which I’m assuming you did or you wouldn’t be at this part), you already know how I feel about this journal.  I am so excited that I was given the opportunity to review it! I absolutely love journals so you can probably just imagine how excited I was when this was delivered to my house!

This Journal isn’t just a blank, write whatever you did that day type of journal.  It has little prompts at the beginning of every page encouraging you to focus on happy things.  Such a wonderful idea!  Especially in the “post all of your troubles and drama on social media” days we live in!  Sometimes people just need a boost of positivity and this journal helps you find the good in each day and situation!  I love it!

I decided to give this copy to my daughter and I’m planning on buying one for my niece and one for myself. If you like keeping a journal, or you know someone who does, then I definitely recommend picking up a copy of this journal.

There are so many prompts that I loved but here are two that I thought I’d share:

Love yourself for who you are now. Believe in who you have the power to become.”

“Be a kind person. Yes, even to jerks. Let them be jerks. You be a kind person.” 

*Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books 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.

“The Good Girl” Part One by Tracy Reed (Free Today)

Are you a dreamer? I am. I love to dream and visualize my life. In The Good Girl, Gabriella Townsend had one dream, work for Morgan Grant Holdings. In her mind, it’s the best company in the world and they offer the most opportunity for advancement. Unfortunately, like in real-life, dreams don’t always happen in our time frame, but in God’s. I like that, because it means when I put my dreams in His hands, they turn in into so much more.

In The Good Girl (free on Amazon through Friday, September 25!), Gabriella was content waiting for her dream job and when it happened, she got more than she expected.

The Good Girl CoverEXCERPT

gabriella

We pulled up next to a huge jet and parked.  My nerves were on edge.  I should have known we’d be traveling on the company jet.  Tony got out and opened my door.  “Mr. Marchant will be here shortly.”

“Thank you.”  He helped me out of the car and my mind filled with a thousand possible ways this could be bad.  I walked up the stairs and when I crossed the threshold of the plane, my mouth dropped open.  I looked around the beautiful space and figured if I were being sold into white slavery, at least I was going in style with a great dress. 

“Good afternoon Miss Townsend.  I’m Gil.”  Oh great another strange man.  Am I the only female working for this man?   

“Hello.” I shook the gentleman’s hand.

“Can I get you something while we wait for Mr. Marchant?”

Alcohol wasn’t an option, I needed to stay alert.  “A mineral water please.  Thank you.”

“Have a seat and I’ll be right back.”

I sat down and watched as Tony loaded the bags, then disappeared. I closed my eyes and said a little prayer, followed by a couple of deep breaths. Then I sent a text to my mother, “So far so good.” 

Gil returned.  “Here you are Miss.”  He looked out the window.  “Mr. Marchant has arrived.”

My heart leapt into my throat.  I took a long sip from my glass, popped a breath mint, and stood up.  I brushed the imaginary lint off my sleeve, rubbed my tongue across my teeth checking for lipstick, and folded my hands in front of me.  I looked out the window hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive Phillippe Marchant as he got out of the black Bentley, but Tony “The Wall,” was blocking my view.

I held my breath and aimed my eyes at the entrance, but all I saw was his back, followed by the voice from the phone. 

“Tony, make sure Marcos knows to go to my place and check on things.  Have him forward anything that looks important to the D.C. office, and I’ll see you on board.”

Now I was confused.  I thought Tony was the driver.  Who the crap is Marcos?  I’m surrounded by strange men.  I looked down briefly.  When I raised my head, my eyes landed on a very tall, young, hot man walking towards me.  My body reacted in a way I had never experienced.  I was trembling from head to toe, and a strange sensation settled in the lower half of my body. 

I’ve never seen an executive or man that looked like this.  Most of the executives at Morgan Grant were older and definitely not this fine.  This man’s skin looked like rich black coffee.  I wanted to touch his face to see if it felt as smooth as it looked.  He was wearing a light grey suit and a simple white shirt, with the first few buttons undone to reveal more of that beautiful dark skin.  He continued toward me and his spicy scent filled up the plane.  This couldn’t be…

“Phillippe, we finally meet.”  He extended his hand and I saw his guns.  My God, every muscle in his body was at attention and now he was giving me permission to touch him. 

“Hello.”  I shook his hand and a spark erupted.  No really, an electric shock. 

“Must be the carpet,” he joked.

“Sir,” Gil appeared. 

“Gil, thank you for taking care of Miss Townsend.  Once we get on our way, please serve lunch.  I haven’t eaten since this morning.  When Tony gets back, tell the pilot wheels up.  Thank you.”

“Yes sir.”  Gil disappeared to the rear of the plane.

“Gabriella,” he looked at me and the most salacious thought crossed my mind.  For a moment, I forgot I was a good girl excited about this amazing job God had blessed me with.  “Have a seat.  We have a lot to discuss before we land.”

I smiled, sat down, grabbed the necessary files, and buckled my seat belt.  I reached for my iPad and when I straightened up, Phillippe was sitting across from me.  He had taken his jacket off, revealing more of his incredible build.  He removed his cufflinks and began rolling up his shirt sleeves.  I was fascinated by the crisp white cotton bending at his will, releasing more of his demanding, intoxicating scent.  I tried to focus on my iPad, telling myself, Don’t look at him.  If you do, you might suffer the same fate as Lot’s wife and turn into a pillar of salt.  I lifted up my iPad and pretended to read.  All of a sudden the plane seemed dark.  I looked up and Tony was walking towards us. 

“I told the pilot we’re ready,” he said to Phillippe.

“Let Gil know, and ask him to bring me a glass of ice water.  Thank you.”  He looked at me and I was grateful to be sitting because every muscle in my body was numb.  “Turn your iPad off until after take off.”  He capped off his comment with a smile.  Dimples.  Are you kidding me?   

His looks are strong and commanding until he smiles and then he becomes a real life sex fantasy.  His eyes look like black diamonds, and those have got to be the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen. 

What is wrong with me?  He’s not even my type.  Like I have a type.  My last relationship was with Todd Elliot, my lab partner.  Even then, I think it was a pity thing on both our parts.  He was short, fair skinned, sweaty palms and every time he kissed me, it felt like I was being kissed by a fish. 

I looked at Phillippe’s lips and wondered how those, gorgeous full lips would feel pressed against mine.  I bet they’re soft.  He probably doesn’t kiss like a fish, but like a man who knows how to take charge.  His kisses are probably filled with a lot of passion.  I bit my lower lip, lost in my fantasy of kissing him.

phillippe

I tried not to stare at her, but I’m shocked at how beautiful she is.  Nowhere in Tony’s report did he mention how beautiful Gabriella is.  My last assistant was a pretty woman in her mid sixties.  Mrs. Reynolds was more like a mother.  However, this woman sitting across from me is a lustful distraction.  I’m not sure if this is going to work.

I tried to play off that spark thing, but it was real.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me, not even with Chantal.      

I’m trying not to stare at her, but those are the sexiest lips I’ve ever seen.  Full and juicy.  I could watch her talk all day.  I wonder how she kisses.  Did I just say that?  What is wrong with me?  She’s not even my type.   But her petite frame and those curves are doing something to me.  I wonder how her hair looks straight.  The curls framing her face make her look sweet and innocent, but those lips…maybe I should send her home and just communicate via the phone and a few video chats.  Who am I kidding? That wouldn’t help, because even talking to her on the phone, her face would be in my head and I’d be envisioning those lips. 

When I sat down across from her, I was glad she couldn’t see how my body was reacting to being so close to her.  How am I going to spend the next month or so on the road with her?

“Turn your iPad off until after take off.”   When she looked up at me with those big brown eyes, I was done.  I polished off that glass of ice water in one swallow and it didn’t seem like the air was working. 

I was exhausted and planned to sleep, but when I saw her, that plan instantly went up in flames.  I didn’t want to miss one moment being in her presence. 

What is that parfum she’s wearing?  It’s taken over the plane.  When I wiped my mouth with my napkin, her scent was there.  It’s like spicy vanilla and tobacco, unusual for a woman, but very seductive.  I’ve never been around a woman as mesmerizing as she is. 

“Were you able to reach your mother?” I asked.  Maybe hearing her talk about her mother will kill the lustful thoughts I’m having.    

“Yes.  I promised I’d call when we land.” 

No such luck.  The sweet sound of her voice traveled into my ear and danced around my head before journeying to my core, awakening something I assumed had become immune to sweet talk.  The funny thing is, she didn’t say anything seductive or enticing.  It’s just something about her.  I can’t quite put my hand on it, although I wouldn’t mind touching every inch of her.

After we reached cruising level, Gil served lunch.  I was starving.  I drank so much coffee in Seattle, I think if you cut me, I’ll bleed Sumatra roast coffee.

So far the only thing that matches up to the report Tony gave me, is that she’s very smart.  Considering the amount of time she had to gather the information I requested, she did very well.  I’m convinced she’ll be able to handle any task I assign her.

She caught me off guard with her question.  She’s a lot more perceptive than I anticipated, which is what she’ll need working with clients and the other executives.  However, I’ve got to be careful not to slip up and make her suspicious of me.  I need to keep the truth about her job and my position a secret as long as I can.  I want her to be fully trained and comfortable working with me and Tony, before telling her why I really hired her.  The longer she believes she was hired to be the Assistant to the new President, the better.  She needs to believe there’s someone I report to.

Only available at amazon.com

Tracy Reed

About Tracy Reed:

I am a single Christian woman who loves God, Fashion and Cute Guys. Not all women who write Christian fiction will admit to that.

The subjects I write about are considered taboo in Christian fiction. If you want to read about Christians dealing with unrequited love, apprehension to give love another chance, arranged marriages, physical attraction, divorce, annulment, controlling their urges, infidelity, abortion, dating younger men, being a single mother, slipping up and sleeping with your estranged ex, standing up for yourself, being honest about not liking your in-laws, still being attracted to your ex, battling postpartum depression, having challenges in your walk with Christ or if you aren’t too proud to admit you sometimes get angry and yell at God, then you’re in the right place.

The people that read my books have a thing for designer clothes and accessories and aren’t ashamed to admit it. To them a cute Christian guy on their arm is the finish to the perfect outfit.  Sort of like lipstick, you don’t have to have it, but it sure makes you feel prettier when you do.

Check out Tracy’s other books at her website: www.readtracyreed.com

Book Marks: The Bones Will Speak – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Cover image of the novel, The Bones Will SpeakThe Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

Goodreads Summary

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he’s been appointed God’s executioner.

In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter.

The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood – and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race -not grace – provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.

My Thoughts on the Book

If you like watching Criminal Minds then you’ll probably love this book!  Seriously, it was like watching an episode of Criminal Minds, CSI, or something like that, except without any bad language or inappropriateness.

This is actually book 2, which I didn’t realize until after I started this book, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. It could have been a stand-alone and be equally as good.  I had a little trouble getting into the book at first, although I think it was just me and my overwhelmed mind at the time, but after the first few chapters I was hooked.

The Bones Will Speak is the first book that I have read by Carrie Stuart Parks.  I enjoyed her writing style, and the fact that she is actually a forensic artist shows.  Her knowledge of it makes the book even more believable.  I really hope Carrie Stuart Parks writes another book and continues the series.  I will definitely pick it up if she does and I highly recommend reading The Bones Will Speak!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from BookLookBloggers.com in exchange for my 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

Book Marks: The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

The Pilgrim book coverWhen I read that The Pilgrim was the story of Constantine’s mother, Helena, I was eager to read it. As I got to know Anthony and Cratus and some of the other characters, I enjoyed it even more. Add in a perilous journey through enemy territory being chased by a massive brute who is eager to kill – I’m in!

As always, Bunn’s book is well-written and draws you in from the beginning. But for all the action and adventure in the stories in the Bible, I rarely feel like I’m sitting on the edge of my seat biting my fingernails with historical Biblical fiction, so I don’t read a lot of it. Since this story isn’t actually from the Bible, I’d hoped it would be closer to the nail-biting end of the reading spectrum. (I figure some Biblical fiction is somewhat sanitized so as not to offend.) But there was only one (really good!) scene when I wondered who would live or die.

The other scenes where I expected more action and anxiety faded off into nothing bad happening to our protagonists. Not just that the enemy didn’t attack, but also without any clear indication that the people believed God intervened, that it was faith that made the difference. Why didn’t the enemy attack? Why did they think the enemy didn’t attack? If I was supposed to see their faith growing as they prayed for deliverance and were delivered, it was too subtle for me to gather from the text. Instead, I felt like I didn’t know what was going on, like I was missing something. (Yes, I saw their faith growing over the course of the book, but it didn’t seem to be very linked to being saved over and over.)

And the book ended like that for me – like I was missing something. I expected the vicarious thrill of victory over the enemy and the joyful glow of feeling God had delivered them as promised. I expected to hear even the briefest mention of how Helena and Anthony and Cratus saw a change in their lives. But instead, the end gave me an arm’s length description of how Helena’s work changed a nation.

That’s great, but that’s the history side. I wanted the more personal side of how Helena was changed, but I never got close enough to her. Almost like a friend who never really lets you in, and eventually you give up and realize this person will never be the close kind of friend. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I look for in fiction, so that’s the disappointing part of the story for me.

If you already like this genre of fiction and/or if you like Bunn’s other books, you’ll like this one. But for me…well, I felt like I tried to make a new friend and ended up knowing her as little in the end as I did in the beginning.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

3 1/2 stars

Book Marks: The Little Paris Bookshop – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Little Paris Bookshop coverThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Summary From Goodreads

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

My thoughts on the book

It took me absolutely forever to read this book.  I can’t remember the last time I took this long on one book.  I just couldn’t seem to get into it!  There were so many 5 star reviews so I was surprised that I just couldn’t get with it.  I’m really disappointed…I so wanted to love this book.

The description of this book is absolutely lovely.  The owner of the bookshop “prescribes” books like a doctor prescribes medicine.  As a book lover, I was so enchanted by the very thought.  When the book arrived at my house I was like a kid at Christmas.

The beginning of the book seemed wonderful and I thought that I would be in heaven but then the more I read, the more uninterested I became.  I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, the storyline about the books “healing” people had already faded away, and I found myself becoming bored and kind of annoyed.  It no longer felt like the book that I had read so much about.  So disappointing.

I kept on reading, even though I really wanted to quit this book.  I rarely quit a book before finishing, but man…I really wanted to!  I actually started counting down the pages just wanting to be done with it.  Once again, so disappointing.

I’m not saying that this was a horrible book.  It just wasn’t a good fit for me.  Obviously, with all of the 4 and 5 star reviews, some find this book to be wonderful.  I just couldn’t connect with it.  And that really makes me so sad!  I desperately wanted to love this book.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my 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

Book Marks: Go Away Home – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Go Away Home coverGo Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Summary from Goodreads

Liddie Treadway grew up on a family farm in Iowa where options for her future were marriage or teaching. Encouraged by suffragette rhetoric and her maiden aunt, Liddie is determined to avoid both and pursue a career.  Her goal is within her grasp when her older sister’s abrupt departure threatens to keep her on the farm forever.

Once she is able to experience the world she’s dreamed of, Liddie is enthralled with her independence, a new-found passion for photography, and the man who teaches her.  Yet, the family, friends, and life of her youth tug at her heart, and she must face the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices clear-cut, as she once imagined.

Go Away Home is a captivating coming-of-age novel that explores the enduring themes of family, friendship, and love, as well as death and grief.  This novel will resonate with anyone who’s confronted the conflict between dreams and reality and come to recognize that getting what you want can be a two-edged sword.

My thoughts on the book

I really enjoyed this book!  There were times that I laughed and felt butterflies in my stomach right along with Liddie.  Then there were times when I couldn’t believe what I was reading and I couldn’t stop crying as if I actually knew the people I was reading about!  Go Away Home was such a wonderful, beautifully written novel.  I couldn’t put it down!

In all honesty, Go Away Home could have been split up into at least three books and made into a series.  And, yes, I would have read all of them!  There is so much I want to say about this book but I am having trouble finding the words without giving spoilers.

Liddie Treadway is such a good character.  During her life, she makes a few poor decisions and some wonderful, smart decisions.  She goes through major hard times and still remains the strong person that you grow to love while reading this book.  Carol Bodensteiner created a lovely character in Liddie Treadway.  I recommend reading Go Away Home to anyone who enjoys reading historical novels.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for my 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

Book Marks: A New Monthly Book Review Column

Hi friends! I’m excited to introduce you to my new friend, Carrie Kurtz! We met when my romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, was free for five days in May. Carrie downloaded it, liked it, and reviewed it on her blog. Not only did she say wonderful things about the book – which of course made me like her immediately! – but I just loved the way she reviews books. I read several book reviews on her blog and then asked her if she’d like to be a regular guest here. And she said yes! Yay!

Juliette and the Monday ManDatesLet’s get to know Carrie a little better, and then get on to her first book review here, Juliette and the Monday ManDates. Carrie, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.

CK: My name is Carrie Kurtz and I’m 35 years old. I grew up in Ohio where I married my high school sweetheart and had two children. A few years ago I received a degree in Psychology while we were also in the process of moving. We now live in Tennessee and I’m definitely enjoying the weather much better!

KB: Haha! I understand about the weather. I’m originally from Michigan! (And I married my college sweetheart. 😉 ) So how did you become a book reviewer?

CK: I have been a book lover since I was a very little girl. I remember when I was probably just five years old and my father went to an auction and brought home several boxes of books. It was like opening a treasure box to me! Since I love to read, my husband bought a book/journal called Books I’ve Read for me several years ago. So, I started writing about all of the books I’ve read and I actually have had to purchase several more journals since I keep filling them all up. After a while, I just figured I would go ahead and start a blog and write reviews too!

KB: Awesome! I tried keeping a book journal when I lived in Sydney, but I had more time for reading then than I do now, and I kept finding myself several books behind in my journal so I quit. Like you, I find it easier to say whatever I want to say on my blog. 🙂  Welcome, Carrie! Let’s get on with your first book review!

Juliette and the Monday ManDates (Gustafson Girls #1) by Becky Doughty

Summary from Goodreads:
Juliette Gustafson is heart-broken after waiting nearly ten years for a proposal from her boyfriend that never came. Determining she isn’t “getting over Mike” quickly enough, her three younger sisters come up with The Monday ManDates; an intervention plan requiring Juliette to endure what turns out to be a series of remarkably disastrous blind dates. Between TheraPaul, Frisky Frank, TAZ the rock star, and the stoic Tim Larsen, the Monday ManDates are doomed from the start. Then there’s Victor Jarrett, the police officer with an affinity for pulling Juliette over when she’s at her very worst. But no one is more surprised than Juliette when she meets the one man who can right the wrongs in her past and change her future, if she will only let herself fall in love with him.

My thoughts on the book:
When I first found this book, it was labeled as women’s fiction or chick lit but I think I would label it more as Christian fiction, which is fine with me!  I enjoyed it and will recommend it to others, including my daughter.  It was a nice read; entertaining, funny, yet serious at times, leaving you with a message of love and forgiveness.  While reading this book there were times when I laughed, times when I got a little teary eyed, and times when I just had to sit and soak up the words.  There were sections of the book that were written so beautifully, like poetry, that touched my heart. The author used some metaphors that I had never heard before but they made so much sense to me and really spoke into different parts of my life.  I found myself even more thankful for my family and my relationship with God.

Juliette and the Monday ManDates is the first in a new four-book series (Gustafson Girls) by Becky Doughty.  This is also the only book by Becky Doughty that I have read so far.  I am curious about what the next books will be about so I will be looking for them.  I am pretty sure that the next book became available May 1st of this year.

All in all, I’m glad that I found this book.  It had a good mix of humor, seriousness, family love and frustrations, friendship, and clean romance.  There were a few things in the storyline that I would have liked to know more about.  For example, character backgrounds and different situations that were left open making me want to know what happens.  But hopefully they will all be told in the other books in this series.

Some of my favorite Juliette and the Monday ManDates quotes
“I need a dog,” she said. “One that will love me unconditionally. And eat my cold left- overs.”

“Let the words of our mouths be necessary, kind, and true. Let the secrets we share be kept safe amongst us few. Let the decisions that we make be brave, noble, and wise Oogie- boogie- doggy- loogie Wiggly- jiggly- fries! G- FOURce unite!”

“God wanted her to call Him Husband? The words were like a balm to her soul.”

“In a sunset’s glory, in the awakening of dawn, when I see Your handiwork displayed across the sky. I am amazed, I am in awe. I am in wonder of who You are, that You would love one such as I.”

“But his thoughts defied his words, and his heart kept whispering her name.”

“Her chest was so tight it almost hurt to breathe, but it was a wonderful pain, and she sighed, reveling in her suffering.”

“Every time I see her she’s either crying uncontrollably, laughing like a lunatic, or hissing like an alley cat!”

“But tonight, instead of more turmoil, the sight of her was like a cool drink of water to his thirsty heart.”

“Her cheek rested against his chest and she listened to the pounding of his heart, the sound of his love for her.”

“Forgiveness. It was like pulling slivers of steel from under the skin.”

Carrie Kurtz

I hope you enjoyed Carrie’s first book review here! She’ll be back the second Tuesday of each month. To read more of her book reviews, visit her blog at http://carrieksbookreviews.blogspot.com.

Book Marks: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Power of HabitMy friend Lauraine picked up The Power of Habit a couple weeks ago and liked it so much, she bought me and our friend Kathleen a copy before she’d even finished reading it. I started the prologue right away because I was curious – and procrastinating.

Before I got to the end of the prologue, I was hooked! This book is fascinating! By the time I was a third of the way through, I already understood both how habits worked and how to change them. Yay!

If you’re at all interested in habits, what happens in your head when you have a routine, and the neuroscience behind it all, you will love this book. And there is more information, including fun and easy to follow videos, on his web site.

At the very least, you’ll have a simple plan for adding or changing your habits. And changing for the better is worth it!

5 stars, Loved It

Book Marks: To Ruin the Duke by Debra Mullins

ruinthedukeOne of my favorite subgenres of romance is Regency romance. It’s almost always funny in one way or another, and that’s probably one of the reasons I love it so much. I was reading my friend Deb’s blog this month – such a fun blog! – and won a book when my comment was randomly chosen one day.

To Ruin the Duke is a smart bit of fun reading. The heroine, Miranda, is loyal and determined and smart, which makes her eminently likable. The hero, the Duke, is a strong hero without being one of those guys who you’re pretty sure you wouldn’t like in the real world. (You know the type, order everyone around, assume they’re always right. I don’t like that type, and this Duke isn’t that type. Yay!)

There’s even a baby involved, which usually makes me yawn or gag, but the baby had just the right amount of scene time so that we didn’t have to swim through melodrama. 🙂 The story was well-plotted, with characters doing unexpected things at just the right time. I have no idea if this is a series, but all the Duke’s friends are single, so it might be.

If you like Regency romances with sparkle and wit, you’ll like this book!

4 stars, Really Liked It