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Thursday, April 30, 2015

BOOK TOUR & REVIEW-- All this time by Tiffani Burnett-Velez

Title: All This Time
Author: Tiffani Burnett-Velez
Publication Date: April 3 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Book Links: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

Syrian-American, Lydia Fadoul, has spent a year waiting for her fiancé to return from war in Iraq, only to discover that he is broken by trauma and the devastating effects of PTSD.

Just when he finally agrees to seek help, he takes his own life and leaves behind a story of murder, betrayal, and mystery.

In her second, contemporary fiction novel since Budapest, Tiffani Burnett-Velez weaves a fast-paced literary tale about the rumors we believe and the prejudices we create in order to protect our hearts from the truth.  

Author Bio

4580300Tiffani Burnett-Velez has been a freelance since 1996. Her non - fiction work has appeared in magazines and newspapers in the US and Europe, including Pennsylvania Magazine, Country Discoveries, St . Anthony Messenger, Health.com, Yahoo! News, and many more online and in print publications.
Her first novel, Budapest, was featured in the New York Book Festival and the 4 2nd Annual Conference of Jewish Librarians and it's re-release became a 2014 Amazon Bestseller in Literary and Inspirational Fiction.

Her second contemporary novel, All This Time, will be released by Booktrope in 2015, and the second, A Berlin Story, in her bestselling WWII novella series, Embers of War, is an Amazon Historical German Fiction Bestseller.

She has studied English Literature at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania and holds a BA in Cognitive Science from Ashford University. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing.

Author Links Website || Twitter || Goodreads

I received this book from Netgalley in return for my honest review.

Syrian-American Lydia Fadoul has spent a year waiting for her fiance’ to return from war in Iraq, only to discover that he is broken by trauma and the devastating effects of PTSD. Just when he finally agrees to seek help, he takes his own life and leaves behind a story of murder, betrayal, and mystery. In her second, contemporary fiction novel since Budapest, Tiffani Burnett-Velez weaves a fast-paced literary tale about the rumors we believe and the prejudices we create in order to protect our hearts from the truth~ Amazon

I don't know where to begin. This book had a great premise, and an exciting story that kept me guessing the whole time.   Lydia's fiance served two tours of duty in Iraq and came home suffering from PSTD. Having known several people who suffered with PTSD, I automatically felt a kinship with her. She truly loved Tom and wanted to help him but eventually gave him the ultimatum, if you want to be with me, you must get help. Just when he consents to getting help, he commits suicide.  Rumors start to come out of the woodwork about Tom and the "incident" in Iraq.  Who should she believe? The man she knew and loved or the military? 

 I loved Lydia and her family. I grew to care about them and could almost feel the love they had for each other. Even during the really hard times when her parents didn't approve of her decisions, they still loved her.  Their family dynamic was one of the parts that made this book so good to me. Marcus, a former Marine and now a journalist, says he wants to help her find the truth.  Lydia wants to trust him but what if he's just another typical journalist just out for a good story!?  The storyline of them working together to find the truth was exciting and made it hard for me to put the book down.

The ending  seemed rushed nut, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's because it's a 
cliffhanger and we'll find out more because there will be more books in the series. 
If I hear there is going to be another, I'll be sure to let you all know! 4.5/5


This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Guest Blogger- Tiffani Burnett-Velez: Top Ten Books That Helped Shape My Writing

Top Ten Books That Helped Shape My Writing
By Tiffani Burnett-Velez

Every great writer has an arsenal of great books that inform their writing style, that teach them how to shape and polish their prose. Yes, there are craft books, but I’m talking about literature, about fiction, that helps the writer discover what they love reading, as much as what they love writing. There is no better writing instructor than a good book. Here are my top 10.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

In his tale about the stalking and, ultimate, abuse of a young girl, Nabokov taught me to write the scary stuff, to not be afraid to create something that can be as repulsive as it can be beautiful. His prose is perfect. His storyline makes me sick, and this is precisely the reaction sane people are supposed to have when reading this work. At first, I forced myself to read it. By the end, I had lost whole sections of time as I became completely lost in this important, and consuming plot. I trust less people now that I’ve read this tale, but I learned something from this quirky Russian – write bravely. Good people need to read such stories, because bad people exist.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I have an equally profound love for both Latin American and Russian literature. The fight is endless, and I can never decide which I love more. Marquez swiftly settles this argument for me, however, whenever I pick up one of his books. Cholera, taught me once, and re-teaches me every time, how to write with a delicate mixture of humor and seriousness. Marquez intertwines love and loss in this beautiful rendering of Latin American writing.

The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff.

I used to scoff at Romance writing. I believed all the lies that said smart girls don’t read Romance novels. Well, I’m here to tell you that Pam (a lawyer and professor at the University of Pennsylvania) indeed writes Romance for smart girls. She taught me the value of a writing from a unique viewpoint (in her case, first person present, and it was the first time I had ever read any such prose) and how important a continuously moving plot is. Whenever I begin a new story, I have The Diplomat’s Wife in the back of my mind as litmus test. The memory of reading this WWII era novel of romantic suspense taught me to always ask the question, “Is my plot moving along at a decent speed, or am I boring the reader?” I think it’s probably impossible for Pam to bore a reader.

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.

Because Stephen King recommended it in his book, On Writing, I had to read it, and I promise you, I put it down only once in a two day period. Greene taught me the power of weaving sharp, clipped dialogue with constant action. In between, he told a multilayered story of murder and confession. I get chills whenever I think of it.

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

Greene takes the number six place here as well, and for much of the same reason as he does in Brighton Rock. But this story is about an alcoholic priest who is running for his life in mountains of central Mexico while communist revolutionaries hunt him down in hopes of hanging him. This book leaves the reader breathless, and it taught me that it’s perfectly acceptable to write about faith without being cheesy or losing sight of real life experiences. There’s a tendency, in American religious fiction, to be always sunny and always hopeful. This book is none of that, but there is salvation in the end and in the unlikeliest of places. I wouldn’t have written Budapest, A Berlin Story, or All This Time without having, first, read The Power and the Glory.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

I read this book years ago, when I was still an exhausted young mother of two energetic boys under the age of 3. Oprah recommended the book in her book club, and the title seemed appropriate for my life at the time. However, the title had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the story of a young girl who grows up under the deep scars left by a harrowing abuse. I loved this book, because it broke my heart, and I know that sounds nuts. But this book was the second one to teach me about writing deeply with another woman’s pain in mind, and how important that really is. Also, he brings hope with every sentence, and this highly appealed to my own life rules. I probably will never read it again, but it was a valuable writing lesson at the time. I know it informed A Berlin Story.

Beloved by Toni Morrison.

So, if Wally Lamb was the second book to teach me how to write empathy into my prose, Beloved was the first. I can still remember being a college sophomore, taking a basic English comp class at Immaculata University in Malvern, PA and settling into the oversized comfy couches at the Chester County Library with this highly recommended book. It was 1994, and I was almost 20 years old, and I had never read such an intimate detail of slavery before. It terrified me. Morrison’s work is so open and expressive, that I can still feel the pain of the tree of scars left behind by whippings on Paul D.’s back. Morrison taught me more than empathy, however, she taught me how to write beautifully terrifying prose. She is pure genius. She makes me proud to be an American writer.

Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok.
I sometimes describe myself as being “half Jewish”, because my father’s mother is Jewish and I have Jewish family and grew up with a strong affinity for my Jewish ancestry. However, some rabbis would argue that there are no half Jews, and especially, ones who go to Mass every Sunday. Fair enough. But I’m still claiming Chaim Potok for myself. He is one of the greatest writers of all time; not just in America, but in the world. I have read this book three times, and from it, I learned the true are of delicate prose. I learned how to write freely and get the words in motion, before I went back and cleaned it all up. Potok writes so perfectly in this book, that I hear every sound, taste every cream soda, feel the warm sand of southern France on my feet, and my knees ache after reading about high climbs into the Spanish Pyrenees during the Civil War. I would have never believed in myself if I had not read Potok and claimed him for myself, no matter the popularity of such an action. On a side note, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at my husband’s college graduation from West Chester University in 1997, and I screamed out from the crowd (like a huge nerd) that I wanted to hear him quote something from Davita’s Harp. I’m sure he didn’t hear me, but he ended the benediction with the admonition to, “Be discontented with the world, but be respectful,” one of the first lines of the book. (Potok).

The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I told you I love the Russians, right? Well, this 50lb volume of narrative was one that I could not put down. The Russians teach a few things. One, is that you must stick with the story without worrying about the page length. Two, that details matter, and are not remotely cumbersome if they are done right. I read The First Circle during the hot Pennsylvania summer of 2009, when my family was losing our house. I read about the main character’s hell in a Gulag for Soviet intellectuals, and it did more than just make me feel better about my own lot in life. From it, I learned the craft of great writing and the value of dedication, because it took dedication to pick up the heavy book each day. However, Solzhenitsyn’s words sucked me right in. I’m not sure if there are any other authors in history who can write with such profound detail, and yet, never bore you for one moment. Many can do it in few words, but Solzhenitsyn does it in MANY, and, yet, it’s just as thrilling as a short John LeCarre’ novel. How did he do this? I’m not sure. That will take a lifetime of study. Thankfully, all, but one, of his books are this long, so I have a lifetime to read them.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
If you read nothing else in life, read this book. Period. That is all. It is simply the best book ever written, and I want my battered, dog-eared copy to be buried with me when I die. It’s something from God to write like this. I’ll work my whole life towards it. And it ends the list, because it encompasses, literally, every benefit of all the other nine books listed above.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waltz in Time by Eugenia Riley

She waltzes across time as a matchmaker, only to fall in love with the groom . . .

Stephanie Sergeant has returned to Natchez to live with her sister Sam in the splendid antebellum mansion both inherited from Great-aunt Magnolia. But there is no peace at Harmony House. The grand estate is haunted not only by an ever-fretful Magnolia, but also by a gaggle of ghosts from the late-nineteenth century, including the spirits of a lovelorn former governess and her five rambunctious charges.

Stephanie learns that the governess, “Miss Ebbie,” died of a broken heart after falling for the children’s widowed father. Determined to save Ebbie’s life and restore peace in the household, Stephanie soon embarks on an amazing waltz across time, straight into the arms of a dashing Southern rogue!

Stephanie is astounded to find herself transported to the year 1878, where she meets Ebbie and the children. But she is even more flabbergasted to find herself the instant romantic quarry of her devastating host, Andre Goddard. Stephanie knows she’s been sent across time on a mission, to save Ebbie’s life by matching her up with Andre. Can she transform the shy spinster into a bold and alluring creature who can capture Andre’s eye, while keeping him at bay in the meantime?

But Stephanie finds that the more she tries to pair up Ebbie with Andre, the more the sexy scamp and his five adorable children gravitate toward her. In the battle to save Ebbie’s life, will Stephanie lose her own heart instead?~ Amazon

I received this book from The Books Machine in return for my honest review.

When I was in my 20s, I loved time travel romances, that was basically all I read. As I got older, I drifted more to mysteries. I rarely read romances anymore but something about this one just drew me in.  I am a sucker for haunted houses and ghosts. I am a born and bred southern belle who loves anything and everything about the south. Of course, I had to read it. I am so glad it did. I had the hardest time putting it down. I found myself slowing down and actually savoring a book for a change.  

The way Stephanie bonded with the children was so sweet and actually pretty realistic.  She went into the past to save another's future and really did try her best. Was it really her fault that the father of the family would be so perfect? The problem is, he's perfect for Stephanie, not Miss Ebbie, the ghost who's heart she's supposed to heal! Will she give up her happiness for someone elses?  The whole book was romantic and touching...the ending actually made me cry (first time in a long time that a book made me cry that didn't involve a dog dying!). I really loved this book. (Even though it's really hard for me to admit to loving a romance novel!)5/5


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Truth or Dare by Joe McKinney, Edited by Max Booth III and Lori Michelle

I received this book from Netgalley in return for my honest review.

Halloween night. The freaks are out and having the time of their lives. The kids of Greene Point High School have organized a massive bonfire out in the woods. One drunken teen suggests playing a game, a game called Truth or Dare. That’s always a fun game. Always good for a laugh. By the end of this night, nobody will be laughing. Alcohol, sex, deadly secrets, and oceans of blood await them. 

Do you dare to play? 

Truth or Dare is a shared-world horror anthology featuring the morbid writings of many prominent authors in the field today, as well as quite a few new kids on the block you’re gonna want to keep an eye on. ~ Amazon

Anyone who know me will tell you, I am a horror story aficionado.   Horror has always been one of my favorite genres.  As a long time reader of horror story anthologies, I know it's all but impossible to find one where every story is great. This book came pretty darn close.  While some of them are more morbid and gory than strict horror (A lot of the time I felt like they were just trying to out-weird each other) , many of them did an incredible job of making my arms and the back of my neck break out in goose bumps.  There wasn't a lot of sex, there was a good bit of blood and gore but for the most part, I would recommend it for older teenagers or Young Adults that are into horror. 3/5


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Count On Me (Count On Me series book 1) by Melyssa Winchester
I received this book from The Books Machine in return for my honest review
4 out of 5 stars

Count On Me is about a girl named Isabelle who is autistic and has a hard time talking to people. What doesn't help is that Kayden, a mamever of the football team and an old friend, bullies her with his friends. That was until they went too far and he stepped in.

When I started this book, it made me think of A Walkt to Remember. Girl gets picked on and bullied. Then a boy who bullies her, comes to her rescure. I loved that part! I didn't blame her for not trusting Kayden and I felt so sorry for her.

Then it got worse. It hurt me to read what she went through. NO one should be picked on for something they scan't help. The thing I don't understand is why didn't any of the teachers do anything about this? My mom is a teacher and she asked the same thing when I told her what Isabelle went throught on a daily bases at school. this book had so upset that I'm surprised I still have a working kindle. So glad I couldn't reach in and hit these kids.

Even though some parts were hard to read, I really liked the way Isabelle had the strength to persevere. I wouldn't be able to do what she did.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fatal Liaison by Vicki Tyley

Fatal Liaison by Vicki Tyley
I received this audio book from The Books Machine in exchange for my honest review.
4 out of 5 stars

When Greg Jenkins' sister Sam goes missing, he signs up with the dating agency she was a member of to find out what happened to her. When a second person ends up missing and a dead body is found, Greg and Megan Brighton work together to find the missing women before it is too late.

I don't normally read mystery books but I'm glad I picked this up. 98% of the time I can guess the out come of a book but not this time. When I thought I knew who the killer and kidnapper was, something would make me double guess. In the end, I was right and wrong and I loved it! After being right ever time I read a book and wanting to just give up on the book I was reading, this book has opened me up to reading more mystery books. I give Fatal Liaison a thumbs up and I would read it again.


Kathryn Craft Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Far End of Happy is a powerful new novel based on author Kathryn Craft’s personal experience with a stand-off involving her husband.  Here Craft delivers “real, raw emotion” (Library Journal) exploring a marriage unraveled by mental illness; and one man’s spiral towards a violent conclusion that tests the courage, love, and hope of the three women he leaves behind.
When the emotionally troubled Jeff engages police in a deadly stand-off, his wife, mother-in-law, and mother struggle to understand why the man they love has turned his back on the life they have given him, the one they all believe is still worth living.
“Framing the novel within a 12-hour period keeps the pages turning (Library Journal).” Narrating from the alternating perspectives of three women, whose lives will be forever altered by Jeff Farnham, gives an intimate look at the steps a woman will take to get the help her husband so urgently needs while desperately trying to keep her children safe.
A former dance critic who wrote for The Morning Call daily newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for nineteen years. Craft wrote exclusively nonfiction until she was plunged in the kind of real-life drama that demands attention. In 1997, after fifteen years of marriage, her husband committed suicide in a police standoff, leaving her and their two young sons.
The Far End of Happy was born from Craft’s need to make sense of what her husband had done. Kathryn has been a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene for more than a decade and is also the author of The Art of Falling. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Website: www.kathryncraft.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

I received this book from Netgalley in return for my honest review.

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as "Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age." YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine-the adorkable girl living in a haunted house-a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine...- Goodreads

I don't read as much YA books as I used to but the paranormal aspect of this book really drew my attention. When I requested this book I had never heard of the YouTube channel by the same name.  After reading this book, you can bet there will be some binge watching of it over the weekend.  This is one of those books that stays with you.  When you're reading it, you don't want to put it down.  When you're not reading it, all you can thinking about it when can you get back to reading it.  I can't remember the last time I read a book that I enjoyed so much.  I even caught myself having dreams about the characters, I got so into the story.  Hands down, one of the best books I've read it a long time.  I absolutely loved it. 5/5

~ Laurie

Monday, April 20, 2015

Devil's Island by Mimi Sebastian

Devil's Island by Mimi Sebastian (Sea Rover's Passion book 1)
I received this book off of The Books Machine for my honest review.
4/5 stars

Sabin Tanner is on her own after her father is hanged for treason and being a pirate. But before he died he sent her on a mission to find an old ship that he hid that has treasure on it that would give her the life she needs once he's gone.

When the boat she was on with her father's second hand man is attacked by other pirates it is no other than Boone Wilder. the one guy she never wanted to see again after she lost her heart to him at the age of sixteen and after he stole one of her father's ships years ago. Now with his help, they hunt down the missing ship and clear her father's name.

I started this late in the afternoon and was up to midnight reading this book. I could not put it down! Of course she gets help from the one guy she hates and falls in love with, (but you knew that was going to happen). Where would all the excitement be otherwise? They butt heads but it gets them nowhere but into bed together.

There will be times when you cry,k but that is mostly at the end, and times when you think "Oh my gosh, this better not be a cliffhanger!" but Mimi Sebastian wraps it all up real fast without making it sound boring or moving too fast. She did a great job with Devil's Island and I can't wait to read the other books in this series!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for my honest review.

A young New York City couple with a boy and a baby in tow, Ben and Caroline Tierney had it all,,,until Ben's second novel missed the mark, Caroline lost her lucrative baking job, and something went wrong with 8 year old Charlie.  when Ben inherits land way upstate from his grandmother, the two of them began to believe in second chances.  But upon arriving in Swannhaven, a town that seems to have been forgotten by time, they're beset by strange sights and disconcerting developments...and they begin to realize they might have made their worst mistake yet.  But what dark secret is buried in this odd place? And will Ben and Caroline figure it out soon enough to safe their young family?

The premise of this book is a familiar one.  Family from the city buys an old  house in the country. Weird things start happening and so on... Luckily, it doesn't stick to that old story.  Yes, there is a young family who buy a house in the country, but it's an old mansion with a lot of stories  and mysteries surrounding it. They buy the house in the hopes of renovating it and turning it into an inn. Their old son, an 8 year old becomes obsessed with the woods surrounding the house (The son's obsession with the woods is big part of the story). He begins seeing things in the woods and his father becomes obsessed with finding out everything he can about the family that once lived in their house. It started out kind of slow but as soon as they started trying to learn more about the house, things really picked up.  I liked that the story ended up covering multiple generations and kept me guessing until the end. 4/5


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Horns by Joe Hill

I know this book has been out a while. It's been sitting in my TBR pile for a long time, staring at me, making me feel guilty for neglecting it. So, after Amber gushed on and on about the movie, I picked it up and read it.

  I guess I really need to stop listening when people tell me about how good movies are because it really got ny hopes up. While it was a good book, I felt it dragged in some parts. Ig, the non-hero, had a wonderful girlfriend that everybody loved. Everything was going Ig's way when his girlfriend is found dead. Ig is of course, the main suspect. There are no leads and then one  morning he wakes up with horns growing out of his head. As if that's not bad enough, it seems that the horns make everyone want to tell Ig their deepest, darkest secrets.  Ig decides this is the perfect time to go search for the killer.

All of that is the really good part of the book. While it doesn't go downhill from there, it does go into some really weird territory. All in all, it was just ok. 3.5/5


New at this but not new to reading

Hi! Welcome to our new blog! We are a mother and daughter who love to read. We read so much and in so many different genres that we thought we might be able to help others by publicly reviewing books.  We're both already on Goodreads but wanted to do more.

I'm Laurie, The mom. No, make that THE MOM. I'm prone to mothering everybody I know and most of my kid's friends call me mom too. It doesn't matter if you are my age or older than me. I will mother you.  I teach Kindergarten so that does cut into my reading some but I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can any chance I get.  I'm not a book snob. I read real physical books just as often as I read e-books. If I can read it, I'm happy.

My main genres are:
Mystery, Thrillers, Paranormal (Fiction and Non-fiction),  Fiction (like best sellers, Novels and some chick lit (I hate that saying but you know what I mean), every once in a while a time travel romance, cookbooks (I love to cook and I read them like a normal book in bed), non-fiction (mostly memoirs, science and history) As you can I tell,  I read just about anything I can get my hands on. But, these are mainly the kinds of books I will be reviewing . I might even periodically add some book related recipes I come across.

I'm Amber. The daughter.The best daughter, My mother's favorite daughter. Ok, Actually, I'm the only daughter in a house full of boys (but I am my mom's favorite. At least that's what she says when I'm the only one with her...)  I may not look it and maybe not act like it but, I'm 21  When I'm not reading I'm writing short stories or catching up on my shows (Any other Destiel shippers out there!?).  I have a lot of friends on the internet but in real life, I'm very shy and have a hard time talking to strangers. If you give me a chance and get to know me, I never shut up but I'll be a loyal friend for life.

My main genres are: Romance, New Adult, Dark Romance,  Fiction (mostly comedies),  If it sounds good, I will read it. And I have to admit, I do sometimes choose a book by the cover.:)

We look forward to getting to know you all and sharing the books we read with you. Feel free to email us any questions you might have, check out our facebook page and check out Laurie's Pinterest page if you have some time you need to kill (you know you'll be there for hours.. What is it about Pinterest that sucks you in anyway!?!?)