Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers


Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Making books by hand has never been cooler, with this inspiring guide to 30 top bookmakers working today, plus 21 tutorials for essential techniques to make your own books.

Crafters, artists, writers, and book lovers can't resist a beautifully hand-bound book. Packed with wonderfully eclectic examples, this book explores the intriguing creative possibilities of bookmaking as a modern art form, including a wide range of bindings, materials, and embellishments. Featured techniques include everything from Coptic to concertina binding, as well as experimental page treatments such as sumi-e ink marbling and wheat paste. In addition to page after page of inspiration from leading contemporary binderies, Little Book of Book Making includes a practical section of 21 easy-to-follow illustrated tutorials.


My Review

I love the art of book making and book binding. It was my favorite college class in my fine arts major. The majority of this book showcases a  handmade book from an individual artist or small press. The designs are creative and innovative and are accompanied by a few paragraphs from the artist describing the method used or thought behind the process. The photographs are small since the size of the book is about 7 inches square. The tutorials at the end of the book are brief and sometimes vague, with mediocre diagrams. This is a good book to pick up for those seeking inspiration for unique ideas, but not for instructional purposes on actual techniques.

(Thank you to Potter Craft and Blogging for Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Good Music Brighter Children by Sharlene Habermeyer

Good Music Brighter Children 

Good Music Brighter Children 
 Good Music Brighter Children is written for parents, educators or anyone who wants to build a bigger, better brain using music. Scientific studies indicate that children introduced to classical music at a young age read earlier and perform better on achievement tests. Adults can also revive tired brain cells using music. This book gives you a step-by-step program that any parent or individual can follow. You’ll discover how introducing your children to good music can accelerate language development, improve math and science skills, enhance physical coordination, strengthen memory and reading retention, and benefit children with learning disabilities. Discover how to choose an instrument and music teacher for your child; how to get your kids to practice and how character traits such as confidence, responsibility, creativity and teamwork are taught when learning a musical instrument. Learn how to introduce your child to the music community and how to appreciate all kinds of music. Last, if you want to advocate for music in your schools, this book gives the ammunition and data to do so. Also includes a 35-page Resource Section on the best music, books, and DVDs for kids. 

  Sharlene 
Author Sharlene Habermeyer
 Sharlene Habermeyer, MA has spent over twenty-five years researching the effects of music in the brain development of children. She is passionate about how people of all ages learn and how music is a catalyst for learning. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Art from Utah State University and a Masters degree in Education from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.   In 1999, she started the Palos Verdes Regional Orchestra (now the Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra). It currently boasts over one-hundred members.   Sharlene’s initial inspiration for Good Music Brighter Children came from the extensive work she did with her severely learning disabled son, and finding that music was his strongest catalyst for learning she began passionately researching the effects music had on the developing and mature brain. A college instructor, a popular speaker, and a consultant, she is the mother of five boys and lives with her husband in Torrance, California. She has spoken at parent conferences around the United States including the Parents as Teachers Conference (PAT) and the Crucial Years Conference in Missouri. In August 2014, she will be speaking at BYU Education Week.
   
Praise for the Book    
Largest Independent Book Reviewer in the U.S.: Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media, LLC “With a scientist’s eye and an artist’s voice, Habermeyer examines everything from the benefits of music for the developing brain to music’s ability to improve cultural awareness. This is an encyclopedic, invaluable resource for anyone who believes in music education. A magnum opus, fact-filled and inspiring on the benefits of music.” -Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media, LLC   National Music Organization: Music and the Brain “A great resource for both parents and teachers. Anyone interested in music or the overall well-being of children will not be able to put this book down.” -Lisha Papert Lercari, Director, Music and the Brain   University Professor: Dr. James Catterall Sharlene Habermeyer outlines why music is important to learning, and provides parents with excellent suggestions for launching and sustaining a musical influence in the lives of their children.” -James S. Catterall, professor of education and co-director of Imagination Project at UCLA Mother/Lawyer/Ballet Teacher: Shauna Bird Dunn “Carefully researched and highly readable, Good Music, Brighter Children is written for musicians and non musicians alike. It is filled with wisdom, insight and helpful tips to bring music into the home for all ages and stages of childhood.” -Shauna Bird Dunn, JD, MPA Utah Young Mother of the Year, 2010        

Blog Tour Giveaway 
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 10/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.    

Review: Good Music Brighter Children by Sharlene Habermeyer


Good Music Brighter Children

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Synopsis

Did you know that music has the power to increase your child's intelligence? Scientific studies at some of the most respected universities in the world indicate that children introduced to classical music at a young age read earlier and perform better on achievement tests. Inside, respected educator, Sharlene Habermeyer gives you a simple, step-by-step program that any parent can follow. You'll discover how introducing your children to good music can: accelerate language development, improve math and science skills, increase memory and concentration, improve reading comprehension and retention, enhance physical coordination and benefit children with learning disabilities and more. This book is a powerful guideline for any parent who wants to help their child develop into a bright, well-rounded and confident adult.

My Review

This book reads like a textbook in the format and detail specific to each topic covered. I'm still studying it and have already been enlightened and encouraged in our choice to provide piano lessons for our daughter. We don't have experience with learning disabilities, but our daughter is beginning to understand the correlation between practice, perseverance, and success. I look forward to incorporating the strategies I learn from this author!

(Thank you to Book Blasts & Blog Tours for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Chapter Excerpts
 
**Chapter One: Overture: The Power of Music (page 5)

“In February 1985, as many as three thousand beluga whales were trapped under ice in the Senyavina Strait of Siberia, a narrow body of water across the Bering Strait from Alaska. There were only a few breathing holes in the ice, and the whales had to take turns surfacing for air. Food was running out, the whales were becoming exhausted, and some were even dying. When all seemed hopeless, a Soviet icebreaker, the Moskva, came to the rescue. The ship broke through the ice, making an escape path for the whales, but they wouldn’t budge. Knowing that whales like music, they tried pop and jazz, but still the whales remained motionless. Finally, the crew tried classical music. It was then that the whales followed the music to the open sea and to freedom.”

**Chapter Six: Noteworthy: Learning Values Through Music (pages 121-122)

Gaining Perseverance and Determination

We live in an age of instants: instant photocopies, instant food, instant photos, instant communications of all sorts, and more. Although many of these instants make our lives easier, they can also give our children a distorted view of life and how goals are achieved. Many children grow up expecting instant results in life, never learning to work for or wait for a reward. When things don’t come easily or immediately, they give up. For this reason, studying a musical instrument becomes a priceless lesson. As a child begins to learn to play the flute, for example, she soon realizes that this is not going to be done in an “instant.” It will take time, patience, perseverance, determination, and the ability to stick to the task, day after day, year after year, to play the flute with any degree of proficiency. Learning to read notes, to develop hand-eye coordination, to listen, and to count rhythms is a process involving perseverance. As she works through the difficulties and challenges of learning an instrument, she soon learns that determination and perseverance equal success. Likewise, the perseverance a child learns by practicing her instrument can be, as the experience of many demonstrate, transferred to other areas of her life. For instance, when subjects in school are difficult, she will continue to try her best until the assignment is completed, confident that eventually she will be successful. When life throws her a curve she will not give up, but will work harder with even greater diligence and perseverance until she reaches her goal.

Although most of the great composers suffered personal adversity, they persevered and went on to write beautiful sonatas, symphonies, and operas. Beethoven, despite his progressive deafness at an early age, wrote perhaps his greatest music after going completely deaf. Bach suffered blindness and diabetes, yet continued to compose music. George Frideric Handel suffered a debilitating stroke that put him in a rest home. The world felt that a great life had come to a close. With dogged persistence, he shuffled his way to the organ each night after everyone had gone to bed, forcing his fingers to slowly play each key on the organ. The nuns who heard him were amazed at his unfailing courage and determination. Eventually, he made a complete recovery and went on to write many great pieces of music.

**Chapter Eight: Music’s Impact on Cognitive Delays and Physical Disabilities (pages 205-208)

For the past thirty years, I have had a particular interest in music’s impact on children with learning disabilities because of personal experience. In 1982 our third son, Brandon, was born. It was a traumatic birth. Born six weeks early, Brandon was too high in the birth canal, and as a result he was literally dragged out by forceps. He was an unhappy baby and cried all the time. He had constant ear infections that included a build-up of fluid in his ears, and despite being on daily doses of low-grade antibiotics, the infections persisted. Over time, this constant fluid buildup affected his hearing at a critical time in his development and caused him to experience sounds and language as if he was in a vacuum. I was reading to him daily, playing music for him, and taking him to “mommy and me” classes, yet his language and communication skills remained poor. After having him tested by a professional, we determined Brandon needed speech and language intervention. I naively thought once his language problem was fixed, everything would be fine. I was wrong—this was just the beginning.

When Brandon was six, his kindergarten teacher expressed concerned about his ability to learn. He was not able to do the classroom work and seemed frustrated and distant. We had him tested both at our public school and privately by a child psychologist. The results were grim. Brandon was diagnosed with auditory processing, visual motor, visual perception, sensory motor, and attention deficit disorder. The difference between his oral IQ and written IQ was thirty-eight points, indicating severe learning disabilities.

This team of experts told us that school would be very difficult for him. We were told that he may not graduate from high school, that college was out of the question, and that a trade school would be more appropriate. They said Brandon was “high risk,” meaning that as he got older, he could be a candidate for dropping out of school, experimenting with drugs, or worse. Why? Because kids need a measure of academic success. He needed to experience some kind of school success to increase his confidence level. But how do you help a child achieve academic success when he can’t read, write or spell? When he does not understand even the simplest of math concepts? When he has difficulty paying attention and following directions, and sports confuse and frustrate him?

It was a daunting challenge, and in the beginning I was overwhelmed. I did not know the first thing about learning disabilities, but I was determined to find out and to help him because I wanted Brandon to love learning—not just for success in school, but for a rich and meaningful life….

Review: Rewind to You by Laura Johnston


Rewind to You by Laura Johnston

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

One last summer before college on beautiful Tybee Island is supposed to help Sienna forget. But how can she? This is where her family spent every summer before everything changed, before the world as she knew it was ripped away.

But the past isn’t easily left behind. Especially when Sienna keeps having episodes that take her back to the night she wants to forget. Even when she meets the mysterious Austin Dobbs, the guy with the intense blue eyes, athlete’s body, and weakness for pralines who scooped her out of trouble when she blacked out on River Street.

When she’s with Austin, Sienna feels a whole new world opening up to her. Austin has secrets, and she has history. But caught between the past and the future, Sienna can still choose what happens now…


My Review

Any book where the main character is grieving the loss of a father instantly grabs my heart. Sienna is struggling with guilt over the death of her father and pressure from her mother to be a success- but on her terms. It was a pleasure to read the developing friendship and romance between Austin and Sienna, with the first person point of view switching between the two characters. In fact, I'd say the story equally focuses on Austin and his struggles as well- feeling like he's from the wrong side of the tracks, falling in love with a girl who won't break up with her boyfriend back home, and holding on to anger towards his own father. It was easy to experience the emotions, the ups and downs of Austin and Sierra, even though I wish they would be smarter and make things easier on themselves! This is a clean young adult romance (despite what the cover infers) and the only thing I didn't like is the fact that Sienna is essentially cheating on her boyfriend with Austin and leading Austin on, yet doesn't see anything wrong with it. The writing is excellent and the story only deepens as the summer draws to a close, leaving the characters with resolution and the reader with a satisfying ending.

(Thank you to Book Blasts & Blog Tours and Kensington Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clash of the Titles!




Clash of the Titles presents four brand new inspirational novels. One’s set in a Bible camp for tweens or the tweens in your lives. Hopes and dreams are threatened in another. In the third, a town’s in need of a miracle. Two people work to cure a deadly disease in the fourth. Which one will you read first? Browse the books, then, using the voting box below, let us know the title you’ll put at the top of your to-be-read list.


SPEAK NO EVIL by Mary Hamilton
Having his younger sister at summer camp will be a pain, but Taylor Dixon, 15, never expects the pain to go so deep. When she falls for his snobbish cabin mate, a war of words and pranks escalates, threatening to land him in jail and destroying his dreams for the future—until a lesson learned from an old engine sets him free from the prison he built himself.






THE HESITANT HEIRESS by Dawn Crandall
With the rare ability to play the piano by ear, Amaryllis Brigham wants nothing more than to someday found a music school. However, someone keeps undermining her hopes and dreams, and
she's sure it's Bram Everstone--the father of the one man she's ever come close to falling for.






MIRACLE IN A DRY SEASON by Sarah Loudin Thomas
Perla Long wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter where her past can stay hidden, but she ends up in a town in desperate need of a miracle. Bachelor Casewell Phillips sees everything he wants in a woman in her, but can’t get past the sense she’s hiding something.






  
WITH EVERY BREATH by Elizabeth Camden
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a statistician is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and the only reason he seeks her out now is because of the one thing they share in common: the competitive drive to cure the world’s deadliest disease.




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Giveaway celebrating 1,000+ Facebook followers!


I'm so excited that over 1,000 Facebook fans "like" and follow Heidi Reads...! I think this calls for a book giveaway!!! Scroll to the bottom to enter to win a copy of A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears. Her novella Love by the Letter is a free e-book at Amazon and just won a Carol Award!


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Synopsis

Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She's further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business.
Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store.
Working together isn't what they'd expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school.
Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll


Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn’t help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.
Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer—still at large—silence her forever?


My Review

What a suspenseful book! It starts out with an intense scene and doesn't slow down. I admired the tenacity and grit of Sophia, who does her best to help with the investigation even though she's suffering from her injuries and grief. Her inability to speak and use of a lip-reading interpreter was a unique and interesting angle. Julian is a fabulous hero, and I loved the scenes with him and Sophia together. The grandmother brought forward information Sophia never knew about her mother's past, and it was sad that the desire for success and prestige over love tore apart relationships. I was biting my nails as the tension stays taut while the detectives hurry to solve the case before the killer strikes again. Woven throughout is Sophia's personal spiritual journey as she turns to God to help her find new purpose in her life.

(Thank you to Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review )

E-book sale: 99 cents for An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus


An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus

Download An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus for only 99 cents!

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Synopsis

Dr. Neal Stradbroke has a secret past that could destroy everything he’s worked since childhood to build. But when he falls in love with the daughter of one of his patients, he must choose between revealing his past and risk losing everything or keeping his secret and watching her marry another man.

Cadence “Caddy” Bainbridge has worked hard as a seamstress since her vicar father died, and for a while, things went well. But then her mother fell ill. Now, most of Caddy’s earnings go for doctors, medicines, and trips to the seaside trying to get her mother better. The last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement—but she finds herself torn between two men: Oliver Carmichael, whose wealth could give Caddy’s mother the life of ease she deserves; and Neal Stradbroke, for whom her heart yearns.

Oliver Carmichael has always drawn the eye of all the girls with no exertion on his part—all the girls, that is, except seamstress Caddy Bainbridge. So, even though he has plans to marry Edith Buchanan, he places a bet with his friends that he can make Caddy fall in love with him before the opening day of the Great Exhibition. Edith Buchanan has been disappointed in marriage prospects already, so she is not about to lose another suitor to a woman of lower social status—especially not her own dressmaker!—so she spreads rumors about Caddy that could not only ruin Caddy’s business but cause Caddy’s mother to have a fatal relapse.

Courtship . . . cunning . . . candor. Who has an honest heart?


(Be sure to double-check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)

Book Tour and Giveaway with prize packages including a $25 Amazon gift card!


To post this Grand Finale (we'll send you the HTML code) and add your Social Media to the Rafflecopter, email us at PrismBookTours(at)gmail.com with "The Better Man GF" in the subject line.
A Themed Tour through Prism Book Tours.

We're blitzing the GRAND FINALE for
The Better Man by Amy Vastine!

The Better Man, which is the beginning of the new Chicago Sisters Series, is set in the busy city of Chicago, but is full of family, friendship, and love. It's also from the clean romance Heartwarming line of books from Harlequin.

Did you miss any of the tour? You still have time to go back and check out all the stops and enter the amazing giveaway!

Launch - Intro and Excerpt
The Better Man is the first book in the Chicago Sisters Series, which introduces us to the three Everhart sisters, Lucy, Kendall, and Emma. All three sisters live in the Lincoln Park area, and even though the story has a big city backdrop, the focus is still on family and community. These sisters always have one another’s backs, even though they couldn’t be any different...

Colorimetry - Guest Post
In The Better Man, the heroine of the story is an interior designer. This profession was born out of my love of all things HGTV, of course. I think I can lose whole days to that channel. I love all the shows about surprise makeovers and house flippings, but my favorite is Property Brothers...

The Written Adventure - Guest Post
Kendall Montgomery is the middle sister and the heroine of The Better Man. Her sisters are always there for her, even if they drive her a little crazy sometimes.... Despite their different views on life, Lucy and Emma never fail to support their sister through the toughest times of her life...

Kendall is facing reality now. She's a very talented and gifted designer and artist and is now able to use those abilities to make a living. Based off of her life experiences and relationships, she's a little gun-shy, with good reason. I loved watching her evolve. Being a mother isn't easy and doing what's best for your kids isn't always easy, either, but, as Kendall learns, the hard things are often the most rewarding.

Today I thought I would introduce you to Max, the hero. In my mind, Max always looked like and had similar personality traits as the character Ryan Gosling played in the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love. Easy on the eyes, charisma and charm, and let’s not forget great fashion sense. Max is always well put together and did I mention he often has a five o’clock shadow? I love a guy with a little scruff!..

This story is so sweet! I love the characters, and can't wait to read more books about Kendall's sisters. Amy has definitely become one of my new favorite authors!

The hero in The Better Man is new to Chicago. Max has recently moved there from Los Angeles. To help a guy out, I thought I would suggest a few romantic spots in the Windy City that he or anyone here for a visit might want to consider...

SBM Book Obsession - Excerpt
“Trevor’s been gone just over a year,” she said wearily. The anniversary of his death had led to Simon’s regression. It seemed every time Kendall thought they were making some good progress, something would set him back. She was not going to give her son another reason to worry. “Simon does not need to see me running around with men on dates. He needs me home. He needs to know I’m not ever going to leave him.”
His father had left. His father had left them both.

“Avoiding a date here and there isn’t going to make him better.”

Nana!” Simon burst into the foyer, his drawing clenched in his hand. You wont believe it! Youll never believe who we saw today!
Kendall gave her mother an apologetic grimace, but Nana was too startled by Simons verbosity to notice. Who? Who did you see?” she asked, crouching down to his level. He handed her the picture hed drawn.
My dad! We saw my dad right down the street!
Kelly P's Blog - Guest Post
In the story, a young widow and mother is hired to remodel a restaurant managed by a man who happens to look exactly like her dead husband. It’s a messy romance but one that I hope wins your hearts...

And the twist. Which I refuse to ruin for you. But let me just say, Amy. Well flipping done, my friend. Because you know I love stuff like this. And the way you wove this tale, and took me along for the ride, quite willingly, I might add . . . and revealed everything just the way it was supposed to be revealed, at the exact time it needed to be revealed . . . made me smile so big. I just love the way my heart was happy for (almost) everyone, in the end.

He mirrored her movement to keep her from escaping and put a hand on her arm when she tried once more to move around him. It was the first time he’d touched her since their disastrous introduction. Kendall couldn’t stop the déjà vu that it prompted. The last time she saw Trevor alive, she’d been storming away and he’d tried to stop her. The memory jolted through her like an electrical shock.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Max said firmly. “I will be here. Every day. Whether you want me here or not.”
The relationship between Max and Kendall grows slowly and as it does, we learn more back history about them both.  The unfolding process was well written.  Max and Kendall struggle separately and they struggle together.  Of course, my favorite bits are when they support each other.

Deal Sharing Aunt - Excerpt
The three of them got busy painting and embellishing the costume. Their collective laughter created a lightness Kendall hadn’t felt in a long time. Seeing Simon act like a normal six-year-old freed her from the year’s worth of guilt and worry she’d been carrying around. This wasn’t like having Trevor around. It was better.

There are a couple of things about the book that truly stand out as dynamic stylistic characteristics. For one thing, the author switched back and forth between the man’s and women’s perspective. Not all authors have the knack for doing that, but this author does. I also appreciate the fact that the author introduces a child who is grieving the death of his father in a unique way. I found that to be a realistic element that will connect with others who have been in that position.

Southern Chelle - Review
I love books like this that grip you and you don’t want to put them down! (This was a book that did that.) The Better Man seemed to have a different storyline than any other book that I have ever read. It was extremely refreshing to read totally new content.

First time ever reading from this author and was completely impressed. Her work is well written and easy to follow. This particular storyline is heart grabbing.

Bookworm Lisa - Review
I am enjoying this story.  Two separate people, each with a child with a need to be parented.
 
The hard obstacle to overcome is that Max look like Kendall's deceased  husband, It lends a unique situation to the story... 

Reader Girls - Excerpt
Winner!” Max jumped her last checker and threw his hands up in the air, victorious. Im pretty sure you cheated,” Kendall mumbled.
Dont be a sore loser.
Im not, but I was killing you. Your massive comeback is fishy, admit it.
Maxs mouth dropped open. That is a lie. There was nothing fishy about my comeback. You opened up that side for my guy to get through!”                                  
Are you going to give Max kisses because he won?” Simon asked, completely putting an end to their playful argument.

My Life, Loves and Passion - Review & Excerpt
“It’s better that you rip the Max Band-Aid off now rather than later,” Lucy said while they cooked. “Simon will get over it. So will you. It’s always better to be the one who walked away instead of the one left behind.”

“Which one were you again?” Kendall asked, recognizing that Lucy’s guard was down.

“Ha-ha. I’ve been both. At the same time,” she added. “Now, stop making this about me.”

I Am A Reader - Guest Post
At the heart of the story is Kendall and Simon, a mother and son who are both still grieving the loss of their husband/father. Kendall struggles with how to help ease her son’s anxiety after his father’s death. Feeling helpless is something to which all parents can relate. Kendall is sensitive to her son’s needs and has to find a way to balance what he wants with what he needs. It’s not always so easy to distinguish between the two...

Lola's Reviews - Review
I really enjoyed this story, it had some really sad and some really happy moments. The characters where what made this book shine, they all had a past, personality and motives, even the side characters. This book has a fun and quirky cast of characters and I enjoyed seeing them interact with each other.

Wishful Endings - Review
The Better Man was quite an original story and one I haven't read before in this genre. The leading man looks almost exactly like the heroine's dead husband and this causes all sort of issues because they have to work together. Sparks definitely fly, both good and bad, but the author kept a great balance between heavier issues (such as Kendall's son who has become mostly mute as a way to deal with his father's death), humor, and then those sweet romantic moments.

The Better Man (Chicago Sisters)The Better Man
by Amy Vastine
Adult Romance 
Harlequin Heartwarming
January 1st 2014

Kendall Montgomery's six-year-old son has barely spoken in the past year, locked in his world of silent grief. Then one day, he spots his dead father across a crowded street.

Max Jordan moved to Chicago to be closer to his own son and prove he can be a better father than his deadbeat dad. His striking resemblance to Kendall's husband and his track record with fatherhood make her determined to keep her distance…until Max helps her little boy come out of his shell. But can she trust him with their future? How can she be sure he won't take off just when they need him most?


Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read.

Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

Website - Goodreads - Facebook - Twitter

Tour-Wide Giveaway


- Gift Card Grand Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and a signed paperback (US) or ebook (INT) of The Better Man
- US Grand Prize: Signed paperback of The Better Man plus swag (shown above)
- 5 copies of The Better Man (paperback for US and ebooks for INT)
- Ends October 5th

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Prism Book Tours

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher


Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Bess Riehl is preparing Rose Hill Farm for her Christmas wedding, but her groom isn't who she thought it would be. Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge, his family, or Bess. And that suits Bess just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word, without any explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes to Amos Lapp, Billy's cousin and best friend. But as Bess and Amos's wedding day draws near, her emotions tangle into a tight knot. She loves Amos. Yet she can't forget Billy.

When a "lost" rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. Get in, identify the rose, and get out. That's his plan. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose, and he can't get those tropical blue eyes of Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy--and Amos, too--that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.


My Review

It was fascinating to learn about heirloom roses and their history- for once I was more interested in that than the romance! I loved that the mystery of the lost rose was revealed slowly throughout the book. Even though Bess's grandmother was passed away, she was very much a strong presence in the story through memories and flashbacks. I loved her quirky sayings and the way she mixed up words :) The author did a good job of making the reader feel Bess's desperation as her wedding loomed closer and her emotions didn't align with the choices she made. A close friend of Bess, Billy and Amos adds another dimension to the plot as she helps each of them sort out their true feelings.

(Thank you to Revell Publishing and Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg


Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Blake Hunziker has played nomad for five years and landed in his fair share of trouble too. But now he's finally returning to his hometown--the Lake Michigan tourist town of Whisper Shore. Counting on a not-so-warm welcome, he's surprised at not only a positive reception but also a job offer. Determined to settle down and prove himself responsible, he agrees to the catch that comes with the job offer--coordinating the annual Christmas festival--even though he has no idea how he'll pull it off.

Autumn Kingsley, inn owner and experienced organizer of the Christmas festival, has always dreamed of traveling the world. Now she has a job opportunity in Paris and a surprise potential investor coming to town who just might take on her family's inn and finally leave her free to go. The only problem is that she has just two weeks to whip the inn into shape.

Their families have a long history of not getting along, but when Blake comes to Autumn for help with the festival, she actually agrees...in exchange for his help with the repairs to her inn. They may have struck a simple deal, but complications are quick to pile on when the guy who's had enough of running away and the woman who can't wait to leave join forces.


My Review

Even though Blake is a character we are introduced to in the author's previous book, I feel like we learn so much more about him and his backstory in Here To Stay. He struggles with a tragedy in his past and it's only by returning home that he is able to reconcile himself with it and find a measure of peace. Autumn is a likeable character with her own struggles of following her dreams or staying loyal to her family and legacy. Secrets are revealed throughout the novel and it seems like these two will never be together... until finally everything falls into place :)

(Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

E-book sale: $1.99 for Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts


Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts

Download Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts for only $1.99! I rated this book 5 stars and you can read my review here.

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Synopsis

When World War II breaks out, Miriam’s fiancĂ©, Henry, is drafted and sent to a conscientious objector camp. But when Henry feels called to fight on the front lines, he goes against the Amish church to follow God’s will—forcing Miriam to choose between the rules of her religion and the leading of her heart.

It’s 1943 and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedding day when the unthinkable happens—Henry is drafted. However, since he is a part of the pacifist Amish tradition, Henry is sent to a conscientious objector Civilian Public Service camp. When he leaves for the work camp, his gaping absence turns Miriam’s life upside down. Little does she know that it’s only the beginning…

When Henry returns home, he brings news that shakes Miriam and their Amish community to the core. He tells Miriam he believes God has called him to enlist in the Army and fight for his country, leaving her to make an important decision. She soon must choose between loyalty to the peaceful life she’s always known and her love for Henry and her faith in their shared destiny.

Two worlds collide in this unforgettable debut novel, providing a fascinating and rare look into Amish culture during World War II. While Henry is battling enemies across the ocean, Miriam struggles between devotion to Henry and her love of the Amish way of life. One question is at the bottom of it all: will she follow her religion or her heart?