Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blog Tour - Excerpt and Giveaway: Hidden Deep by Amy Patrick!

Title: Hidden Deep

Series: Hidden Trilogy #1

Author: Amy Patrick

Release date: 03/23/15

Publisher: Oxford South Press

Length: 319 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Give in to the Glamour…

Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into the guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she'd be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She's a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he's not supposed to exist.

After her father's affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn't mind a first date that didn't suck, but she's determined not to end up like her mom: vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann's recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Mississippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.

She's still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He's still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous, too. And the more she's with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann's strict policy-- never want someone more than he wants you.

Seventeen-year-old Lad knows the law of his people all too well: Don't get careless and Don't get caught. It's allowed his race to live undetected in this world for thousands of years, mentioned only in flawed and fading folklore…

Lad's never been able to forget about Ryann since that night ten years ago. When he sees her again, his fascination re-ignites and becomes a growing desire that tempts him to break all the rules. He's not even supposed to talk to a human, much less fall in love with one.

And the timing is atrocious. The Assemblage is coming, the rift between the Light and Dark is widening, and mysterious celebrity fan pods are becoming more and more widespread and influential. Lad may have to trade his own chance at happiness to keep the humans, especially Ryann, blissfully unaware and safe.


Lad crawled slowly toward me. My breath caught in my throat as he stopped inches
away. He reached out, but he didn’t actually touch me. His palm ran lightly over the side of my
head, barely skimming the outer layer of my hair, the heat from his hand radiating to my scalp.
He took the end of one straight damp lock and softly rubbed it between his thumb and fingers as
if he were fabric shopping and had found a swath of fine silk to be touched and tested.
Lad wrapped my hair once around his finger and then again, reeling me in. Heart
pounding, I studied his face, trying to understand the fascination I saw there and trying to decide
if he was about to do what I thought he was about to do.
Somewhere in my brain an alarm went off. It sounded a lot like my mother’s voice.
Never want anyone more than he wants you. You can have a man in your life, Ryann, but never
need someone. Just let him be icing on the cake.

I was at that moment in serious danger of violating every word of the manifesto I’d had
drilled into me for the past year, since my parents had separated. I’d never felt so much wanting
of anything in my whole life. I teetered on the edge. I could sense how good it would feel to
close that last inch between us and give myself over to the pull I’d felt toward these woods and
my shaky memory of Lad these past ten years. Instead, I popped the pretty bubble.
“It doesn’t make sense,” I blurted out.
“What?” he asked softly, drawing back a few inches.
“If your mom and dad don’t want you to read, how do you do home schooling?”
Lad’s face contracted in a grimace. He jumped up, stalked to the edge of the nest, and
stopped, facing away from me. “I don’t want to talk about that anymore.”
Well then. Not only had I ruined a very interesting moment, my question had struck some
kind of nerve.

Buy it here: Amazon

About the Author:

Amy is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014). She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She's been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.

Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Review: Serbian Cooking by Danijela Kracun & Charles McFadden!

Title: Serbian Cooking: Popular Recipes from the Balkan Region
Author: Danijela Kracun & Charles McFadden
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 28th 2015
Source: Schiffer Publishing

Book Description via Goodreads:

Fifty-three recipes make up this Eastern European cookbook. Inside, find all types of traditional Serbian fare, including potato salad, lentil soup, and an assortment of pita dishes, as well as sauces and a multitude of delectable desserts, such as cr me puffs, baklava, and crepes. Most Serbian cooking traditions are intertwined with the cultures of its neighboring countries. So, don't be surprised if some of these dishes seem similar to some of your own family's traditional recipes. Also, be prepared for some differences. In Serbia, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, while dinner happens to be the lightest, typically focusing on merely cold cuts and bread. Throw in an afternoon snack of a baked pastry and coffee and consider yourself a convert!



I'm quite disappointed in this cookbook. I got it because I'm always looking for new recipes to try, plus I have a few Serbian relatives who always bring over really delicious dishes over the Christmas holidays. I was hoping to find some of those recipes in here, but unfortunately that was not the case.

A lot of the recipes are really simple, and I don't mean that in a good way. There are recipes in here for french toast (which gives no instructions as to what kind of bread), coffee (with no special steps), and a cold cut tray that actually says as the instructions just to add meats and the like, without offering any tips or recommendations as for what meats could be found in a traditional Serbian home. Some of the recipes that I was more interested in, such as peach pie and creme puffs, use pre-made brands/ingredients like pre-prepared pie crust. I was expecting more from-scratch recipes for things that I hadn't tried.

I didn't care for the way that the steps were presented. They somehow managed to be both simple and complicated. They were simple in that they were very blunt, like add all these things, serve. But that's not always a good thing. There's no step by step break down, it's written in paragraph form, with little advice on what the textures or techniques should be for each step of the process. This complication was added in the fact that the recipe titles that weren't in English, such as tulumbe had no explanation. I can tell you how to make it and what's in it, but just by looking at the title I have no idea what it is.

The pictures in this book weren't the best of quality (they didn't look professional), but they did give the book a family, home-cooking kind of vibe to the book that I can appreciate. What helps to round this book up (star wise) is the fact that there was a picture accompaniment for each and every recipe. Pictures are hugely important to me while picking a cookbook, and I really did appreciate having a reference for each recipe.

Another plus to this cookbook is that it appeals to both vegetarians and meat eaters. There are recipes that instruct on how to omit or add meat, depending on your personal preference. I'm a meat-eater myself, but I can appreciate the vegetarian options that were provided.

There are a few recipes from this collection that I would like to try, including Plum Dumplings, Chicken Paprikash, and Chestnut Cake.

All in all this is a very, very basic cookbook. The recipes are lacking a bit, but it makes up for it with its abundance of color pictures that pair with each and every recipe in this collection.

Thanks to Schiffer Publishing who provided me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Swoon Romance YA Wednesdays: Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny Book Blitz with Giveaway #ReadSwoonRepeat


Welcome to this week’s

Swoon Romance YA Wednesdays!

This week features

Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Popular party girl and high school senior Jessica Scott has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a big one; a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ. But she lost the braces, put on some contacts, and applied all her academic genius to studying and imitating the social elite. Now she rules the school from the upper echelon of the high school realm. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for Spring Break. That is, until her teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing Biology — and her only chance to make up the grade is to throw away the culminating trip of her hard-earned popularity and join the Conservation Club in Panama to save the Golden Frog.

Unable to let go of her faded college dreams, Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, and one handsome face that stands out as a blast from the past, threatening to ruin her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving Jess’ lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three dates. While Jess does battle with spiders, snakes, wildfires and smart mean girls, she desperately tries to hang on to the last vestiges of her popular existence like the Golden Frog from its webbed toe. But as she starts to care about something more than tanning and texting – a species on the verge of disappearing forever – she may realize the worth of her inner nerd, and the one frog in particular that could be her prince in disguise.

Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, this modern fairytale re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” is toe-curling contemporary romance with an environmentalist heartbeat, in the tradition of Stephanie Perkins.

add to goodreadsKissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny
Publication Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance

Available for Purchase:
amazon B&N


Alisha Sevigny

Alisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman!

Title: Nightbird
Author: Alice Hoffman
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 10th 2015
Source: Wendy Lamb Books

Book Description via Goodreads:

“I love the way Alice Hoffman creates the most ordinary people and then turns their lives magical. . . . [Nightbird] is like reentering a wonderful dream that you vaguely remember.” —Lois Lowry, two-time Newbery Medal–winning author of The Giver

In her first novel for middle-grade readers , bestselling author Alice Hoffman tells a bewitching story of love and friendship that is truly magical.

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

What Other Authors Are Saying
"I loved Nightbird. Such a clever mix of fantasy and reality; the fantasy is so persuasively meshed with the story that the reader accepts everything. Alice Hoffman enters brilliantly into the twelve-year-old mind and winds her account of a disordered family into the twists and turns of an elegantly crafted narrative in which past and present unite to solve a magically intriguing problem of witches, feathers and owls." —Penelope Lively, winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Booker Prize



Wow. I don't know what I was expecting entirely, but I know that this book blew me away.

What I perhaps liked best of all was the tone with which this story was told. It's slow and dreamy like the summer days that Twig spends in the orchards. It's slow without being boring, the space is filled with absolutely beautiful prose. Hoffman describes everything in the scene from the clothes the characters wear, to the delicious pink apple pie that they eat, to the look of the sky at the present moment with precision and fluidity. It's easy to be swept up into the scenes, as I found myself to be.

Then there are the characters, who I also loved. Twig is a loner by force, because her mother insists that it is what is best for the family. Because of this, Twig is a bit shadowy and mysterious, but not nearly as much as her secret brother James that no one in town knows about. Because of a curse inflicted hundreds of years earlier, he is "cursed" with beautiful blue-black feathered wings. James was perhaps my favorite character. He's torn between wanting to be normal and fit in, and the love and need for freedom and the open sky. Things get more complicated when the long-abandoned house next door gets occupants- descendants of the witch who cursed them. James becomes smitten with the neighbor girl, Agate and their romance was beautiful to read about. It's sweet and forbidden and complex, but I couldn't help but to cheer them on. There's also a brilliant cast of side characters, including a friendly journalist, a sweet historian, and a kid almost forgotten from Twig's past.

This book is written with a very realistic sense of fantasy. That is, I could (at least while I was reading the book) completely believe that somewhere out in Massachusetts there exists this small, cozy town wherein lies a mysterious winged figure that no one can quite glimpse or understand. The places described, like the orchards behind Twigs house, the town's prized forest, and even the diner that helps to sell Twig's family's pies and treats, they all felt incredibly real.

This is a middle grade level book, but I definitely believe adults and teens can enjoy it too. After all, I'm in my 20s and I loved it. I recommend it to fans of books such as Matilda, or anyone who wants a little more magic in their reading list. This was my first reading experience by Hoffman (despite the fact that I know I own at least two other titles), but it definitely will not be my last.

Thank you to Wendy Lamb Books who provided me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Soul Keeper Series by L.A. Starkey!

Title: Deceived, Destroyed & Descent (Full Series)

Series: The Soul Keeper Series

Author: L.A. Starkey

Publication Date: March 16, 2015

They say a soul is the immaterial essence, the animating principle, the actuating cause of an individual life.
But what if you had to share yours with the one person you hated the most?
The soul mate principle states that for every one soul there is another that will recognize its match, hence creating the perfect union.
But what if you had two soul mates, which would you choose?

What if your choices had eternal ramification?

Buy No Button Amazon

Author Bio:

L.A. Starkey is the author of the upcoming Soul Keeper Series, a supernatural young adult series, and The Liarus Detective Series, a supernatural middle grade series.

She is a CPA by trade, a church planter and entrepreneur at heart; however, writing and reading are passions she just can't help but indulge in. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn't seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.

She writes under the following pen names:

L.A Starkey - YA/MG Paranormal

Kate Thomas - NA/Adult Paranormal

Isabella James - Sci-fi/Fantasy

Lauren Elizabeth - Adult Contemporary Romance

Author Links:


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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Book Blitz, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Bone Dry by Cady Vance!

Check out the promo event for the first book in Cady Vance's paranormal series. 

Series: Soul Shamans #1
Release date: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: Sagan Press

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Sometimes it isn’t as easy as choosing right or wrong.

Sixteen-year-old Holly Bennett is a comic book nerd, a con artist, and a shaman. Most days Holly wishes she could trade in her power of spirit communication for something more useful--like fireballs or Wolverine claws. She knows spirits aren't exactly Casper the Friendly Ghosts. They're dangerous beings from Lower World who snack on human life, and messing with the magic from their world is an express ticket to big trouble. But when a shaman sticks her mom's mind between their world and ours, Holly becomes the unexpected breadwinner in the family. She uses her burgeoning shaman powers to set up fake hauntings and "banish" the so-called ghosts from her wealthy classmates' bedrooms. For a fee, of course.

When actual spirits start manifesting, Holly discovers that other shamans have come to town, summoning life-sucking spirits for their own ends. And the newcomers may just hold the clue Holly's been looking for--the one that can release her mom's mind from its Lower World prison. With the help of both a cute web comic artist and her partner-in-con, Holly plots to take them down, throwing her into a whirlwind of speedboat getaways, breaking and entering, and astral projections into the spirit world. And as her mom's mind slips further away, Holly has to fight to save her, and the rest of the town, before they get sucked into Lower World permanently.


There are times when I listen to the moralistic words of the angel on my right shoulder rather than the wicked whispers of the demon on my left. With Kylie Wilkinson leaning across the cafeteria table, eager to hand over cash I so desperately needed, I couldn’t help but smack the halo off that perfect little angel.

“Two hundred bucks,” I said, holding my hand palm up. The eagerness on Kylie’s heart-shaped face fell into a scowl. She tucked a stray strand of glossy hair behind her polka-dotted headband and shifted in her seat.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Holly.”

I pulled back my hand, closed my fingers into a fist and pretended to be interested in my bologna sandwich. That move got them every time. The din of cafeteria chatter rose up around us as we sat in silence. Girls laughed, plates clattered and sneakers squeaked. Five seconds passed before Kylie cleared her throat.

“Okay, wait.” She reached into her Eddie Bauer backpack and pulled out her wallet. 

I kept my attention on my sandwich, nibbling away while she anxiously counted the cash. She had exactly four fifties which made me think she already knew what I charged and had been playing me to see if I’d go lower.

A guy walking by our table stopped to watch the transaction. I turned to raise my eyebrows at the tall, thin figure towering over us. Nathan Whitman, Kylie’s ex-boyfriend. He flashed a grin at me, his dark, wavy hair curling on his forehead, his high cheekbones carving a V on his otherwise boyish face. I smiled around my sandwich and hoped I didn’t have bits of meat stuck between my teeth.

“Is our friendly, neighborhood ghostbuster in action again?”

I’d taken a case for Nathan last year. He’d thought he was being haunted—they all did. Before that day, I’d considered Nathan just another bland guy navigating the Seaport High popular crowd. A preppy sailor only interested in country clubs and stock points. But after seeing the stacks of comic books in his room, I decided there might be an interesting guy hiding behind the polo shirts.

Not that I’d ever had the time to find out.


Cady Vance

Cady Vance is the author of YA and NA speculative fiction. After growing up in small-town Tennessee, she decided to embark on a grand adventure by packing up her bags and moving to NYC. Now, she studies for her PhD in the UK and dreams of seeing the world.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: The Authentic Amish Cookbook by Norman Miller

Title: The Authentic Amish Cookbook
Author: Norman Miller
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 1st 2015
Source: Harvest House Publishers

Book Description via Goodreads:

Now you can enjoy genuine Amish recipes from the Amish themselves. From the members of the Evart, Michigan, Amish community comes this collection of 450 family favorites, including... salads and dressings (24-Hour Potato Salad, Italian Macaroni Salad, Overnight Fruit Salad) meats and main dishes (Honey-Mustard Baked Chicken, No-Fuss Lasagna, Taco Quiche) desserts (Apple Cream Cheese Pie, Rhubarb Torte, Raspberry Swirl)

Several miscellaneous recipes (jerky, play dough, finger paint...) and large-quantity recipes (for wedding receptions and other large events) are followed by many healthy recipes for folks who are watching their diet. A generous collection of tips and hints provides extra help in making your duties in the kitchen and throughout your home flow smoothly.

With popular Amish hymns and inspirational thoughts sprinkled throughout, The Authentic Amish Cookbook provides everything you need to enjoy your meal preparation and to bless your family and friends with table times they'll never forget.



I love cooking and eating, especially of those cultures that are outside of my own. I picked this book out because I have been to "Amish country" quite often, as I live not too far from Shipshewana, Indiana. I've eaten some truly amazing things made by the Amish, and I hoped that by having this book, I would be able to replicate some of these things.

I was left really, really disappointed. I was expecting a collection of made-from-scratch home cooking, but that's not what this book includes. On the first page alone, there are ingredients like Velveeta cheese, frozen juice from concentrate, Cool Whip, and canned soup. There are so many store bought, processed foods in this book, from candies to food colorings. I was definitely not expecting so much dependency on store-bought ingredients. I assume this is due to a large volume of recipes mixed with the Amish belief system which limits technology, but I was also disappointed that there were no pictures in this book.

It reminded me of one of the spiral bound cookbooks from a girl scout troop or PTA or mother's club that you can pick up at a garage sale. It's not a bad collection per se, but for me the title is definitely a misleading one.

That being said, there are definitely still recipes in this cookbook that I would totally make. I also really like the weaving of blessings, kind thoughts, and religious songs that are tied into the recipes. It helped to remind me that it is in fact an Amish collection. A few of the recipes that I would like to try are Sadie Glick's Shoo-Fly Pie, Feathery Light Dumplings, Little Girl Pies, Pizza Meat Loaf, and Venison Bologna.

I think this is an okay cookbook, but not what I was anticipating based on the title and description. There's a lot of recipes here that are good for big families or parties.

Harvest House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.