Monday, August 20, 2012

Today is the Day....

I could hardly sleep last night. I tossed, turned, and thought about my future as a college freshman.

You see, today is my first day of classes. I have enrolled, bought my books, have a brand new MacBook Pro laptop, and have brand new notebooks begging me to write in them. I am officially, at the age of 33, a full-time college student.

Four courses. 12 semester hours. Surely I am not crazy, right? And surely I can and will succeed. I am doing this for myself and more importantly? My daughters. I want to show them that it never is too late to pursue your dreams. That anything is possible when you ultimately make that decision to succeed.

I am pursuing my degree in elementary education. That is the one job that I have always wanted...for as long as I can remember that is the job that I have wanted.

Wish me luck...I am about to log in to my online courses for my first day. And for the record? I still have butterflies in my tummy just like I did when I went to school so many years earlier....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rum Punch Regrets by Anne Kemp

About the Book

In just a few short weeks, thirty something Abby George has endured the death of her mother, was dumped by her fiance, and got laid off from her job. Stunned and seeking a shoulder to cry on, she turns to her perfect older sister, Leigh. But instead of comfort, Abby receives a surprise: Leigh needs her in the Carribean to help with some mysterious personal business. While assisting in the sale and repair of a bed-and-breakfast, Abby discovers a few huge family secrets as she juggles and unexpected roommate, quirky locals, and nasty centipedes. Abby's world is further complicated when two potential suitors enter her life. Can Abby get beyond her own psycho drama long enough to open her heart to someone new? Or will she neurotically make her romantic life worse? Packing nothing but her suitcase and a sense of humor, Abby travels down an unfamiliar road, but it's all she can do to hang on for the ride...Or will she wake up with "Rum Punch Regrets"?

My Thoughts and Rating

This book was everything that I expected it to be--and more. Filled with visions of St. Kitts, beaches, local island bars, it made me feel as if I were there alongside Abby and her adventures. The only thing that I regret about this book is that I didn't read it on the actual beach! The characters were fun, Abby's adventures into self discovery made me cheer her on and will her in the direction that I wanted her to take. I am hoping that there will be a follow up to see what happens with Abby and her love life. Anne Kemp is a colorful author who I see going far with her novels. I am thankful to have discovered her and her spectacular talent!

Rum Punch Regrets definitely scores a 5 out of 5 stars. I may even have to give it an extra star for the delicious recipes (to include Rum Punch) in the back of the book. I think this is a spectacular book to read in the summer while lounging around. Anne Kemp will have you yearning for a beach getaway in no time.

Where to Buy

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Anne Kemp is the author behind the Abby George series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and her first novel, Rum Punch Regrets (available in print and ebook as seen above). She is also the columnist behind "Anne in Progress", which appears monthly in the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the DC-Metro area. As a blogger she was nominated for a 2012 Bloggers Choice Award for Best Humor Blog, and is known for penning "The Ultimate Late Bloomer".

Want to keep up with Anne Kemp? You can find her at any and/or all of the following: Twitter, Facebook, and her website

A portion of her proceeds are donated to Lupus LA.

I received a copy of the book to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was given. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Viewer Discretion Advised by Cindy Roesel

About the Book

LIVE FROM MIAMI! The sensationalism shown on television can only be topped by the drama that happens behind the camera. After being fired from her job in Los Angeles, Charlene "Charley" Thomas moves to sizzling Miami and begins working as news director at a local television station. While getting used to her new gig, Charley wakes up to the fact that her station manager, Jonathan Lefton, is the boss from hell who will do anything for a story no matter who gets hurt in the process. 
When nude pictures of noon anchor, Miranda Andrews, are discovered in the men's room of a Key West bar, all hell breaks loose. They end up on Lefton's desk and he promotes her over the main anchor, sparking off a firestorm. Miranda's quickly thrown into the mix and assigned special reports. Charley finds herself overseeing an investigation that could shine light on the guilt of a dirty cop. Real life begins to mimic the drama of broadcast news when station personalities face life and death all for rating and Emmys! Viewer Discretion Advised is a modern day "Sex and the City" meets "Broadcast News".

My Thoughts & Rating

I have to admit that when I began to read this book I was a little worried it would be strictly about working for a news station--which I know nothing about. My fears were quickly snuffed out when I got a few pages in. There was a romance where I cheered Charley on, a dirty cop who I just knew would be up to no good, and a boss who reminded me of plenty of bosses from my own past. Cindy Roesel is a talented, entertaining, and imaginative author. I loved this book and am crossing my fingers that she will come out with a sequel!
I rate this book a five out of five stars! A quick read that will grab your attention and make you secretly wish you were in the television station business. I cannot wait to read more of Cindy's books!

Where to Buy

Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt 

“Did you just see the promo for that bitch? She even looks good.” Lefton screamed.

“Especially since she looked punched out a couple days ago,” she answered calmly.

“And?” he screamed, ready to implode.

“And what?” she said.

“I’ve already called our lawyers. That bitch will not be on the air tonight, or ever.”

Charley had a crazy idea. He’s either going to love it, or fire my ass. “Jonathan, I have a wild idea. Here me out before you scream anything.”

“Don’t play *** games with me right now.”

“I’m not,” she took a deep breath. “What if we do nothing?”

“Nothing!” He screamed into the phone. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Charley took the plunge. “Jonathan, you’re predictable. They expect you to react this way. They hope to get tons of publicity from you throwing a fit. How about we sit it out? Let them play their game.” The silence was deafening. “Are you there? What do you think, Jonathan?”

“I’ll call you back.” And he hung up.

John barged in. “So, what happened?”

“I told him to ignore it,” she said leaning back in her chair. A big smile broke out across her face until she spilled soda on her blouse. “Damn.”

“You did what?” John yelled, passing her a tissue. “You still have that vodka in here?”

“We don’t need it John. I could tell he loves the idea. He’s just trying to figure out the best way to make it his idea.”


“Absolutely,” she smiled confidently.

“I hope you’re right.” His voice tone was unsure.

“I am,” she said. She pulled the noon rundown. “Noon looks like a good show.”


At five o'clock, Nancy Dennison premiered on channel-three news.

Normally, all eyes in the WCAR newsroom were on all six station monitors. Tonight there was special attention focused on channel three. The reporters, who weren’t out doing live shots, pulled up their chairs. Even the editors who never stopped editing found time for a break. When the five o’clock newscast ended, Charley’s phone started buzzing.

“She looked good, Thomas. You better be right.” And he hung up.

We’ll see in the overnight numbers, she reached into her refrigerator for the bottle of vodka.

“Their numbers will reflect a sampling,” John said reading her mind. “Miranda’s strip club stories better kick some ass. Set me up!”

“No problem.” She filled two glasses with Citron.

“Hey Charley,” he said reaching for his drink. “Would you like to go out and get a bite?”

“Like dinner?” she asked, pausing to look at him.

“Yeah,” he said. Charley saw his cheeks starting to turn red. A guy that blushes, she thought. How sweet. “You do eat, don’t you?”

“Uh.” She regained her composure. “Yeah, that would be nice.”

He tossed back his drink and stood up. “I’ll find you after the six, okay? We’ll go to the News CafĂ©. Find out what everyone thought about Nancy.”

Her eyes followed John as he walked back to the desk. Maybe he’d like to go to Gotham Steak at the Fontainebleau Friday night?

About the Author

Cindy Roesel is an Emmy Award winning television broadcast journalist. After working for twenty years in newsrooms filled with ambitious backbiting adrenalin junkies, she is turning her experiences into novels. Cindy lives in Miami with her shih tzu, Sassy.

Want to learn more about Cindy? You can connect with her at any and/or all of the following:


I received a copy of the book to read and write my review. All opinions expressed above are my own and no other compensation was given.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Year to Remember by Shelly Bell

About the Book

When her younger brother marries on her twenty-ninth birthday, food addict Sara Freidman drunkenly vows to three hundred wedding guests to find and marry her soul mate within the year. After her humiliating toast becomes a YouTube sensation, she permits a national morning show to chronicle her search. With the help of best friend, Missy, she plunges head first into the shallow end of the dating pool. Her journey leads her to question the true meaning of soul mates, as she decides between fulfilling her vow to marry before her thirtieth birthday and following her heart's desire. But before she can make the biggest decision of her life, Sara must begin to take her first steps toward recovery from her addiction to food.

My Thoughts

Author Shelly Bell drew me right into her book. Main character, Sara, was so lovable! Her determination to be married and find her soul mate in one year made me think back to a time when I was single and wanted nothing more than the happiness I witnessed at friends' weddings. Now during the age of YouTube I was dying imagining myself in poor Sara's shoes! 

Her struggle with food, her weight and reminding herself to put her needs first was easy to relate to. Sometimes the things that we look for the hardest have been right in front of us the entire time. How many times have you said that about something in your life? Shelly Bell made the characters fun and full of charm. I immediately felt connected to Sara and found myself rooting for her to fall in love with a certain character throughout the book.

I definitely recommend this fun read. It's perfect for a day out lounging around or for the evening when you may find a few hours of sanity to indulge in A Year to Remember.

My Rating

I give A Year to Remember 4 out of 5 stars. A fun, quirky, and humorous read, I think you will both enjoy this book and get a kick out of Sara with her dating journey. 

Where to Buy

Soul Mate Publishing
Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Shelly Bell started reading at three years old. In elementary school, the librarian gave her books to test out for the school library. As a teenager she spent her allowance each week on romance novels, enjoying both young adult and adult romance. Married to Jason in 2003 they have two children and reside in the metro-Detroit area, where she reads on her Kindle each night when her family falls asleep. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and writes both women's fiction and paranormal romance.

You can connect with Shelly Bell at any of the following:

Shelly Bell Books
Google Plus

I received a copy of the book to facilitate this book review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was given. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Happiness is Key...

Sister secrets...these two? Are almost always up to no good...but in the cutest way imaginable.

You could never tell that she was sick for two days prior. Love that I captured this moment!

Oh, Brynlie. She definitely has me wrapped around her tiny finger...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The One Where I Start Over.

Many years ago I found something called Google Reader. This was a wonderful new thing in my life. I no longer had to bookmark my favorite blogs. I could go to one site and BAM! Here they all were. All lined up in a row.

Then I discovered blog reviews and giveaways. Holy moly. You mean I can win swag from sites?! The first time that I won something I thought I would hyperventilate. I was stoked to say the least.

I started following and subscribing my little heart out.

Soon my beloved Google Reader became beloved no more. It was more of a hassle to weed through the weeds to get to my favorite blogs. I haven't checked my Reader in, oh, months.

That all changed.


I deleted ALL subscriptions in my Reader.

I am officially starting over on my Reader. My priorities. Where I want to spend my time. Time is so, so valuable to me...perhaps because I rarely have any to myself? Anyway, I am done with trying to win things from blogs. I want to read blogs for the reason that I wanted to in the beginning: inspiration.

So. Here I am. A Reader down to nothing. Here is where I want and need your help.

Who are your favorite bloggers? I want to fill my time with my favorite bloggers from my past, the ones I have read for years, and the ones who I am friends with on Facebook.

I heart you all, and cannot wait to tell you something exciting and adventurous that I am about to embark on (I am super nervous, excited, butterflies have invaded my stomach). So, my loyal readers, here is to new beginnings.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons by Denise Grover Swank {Book Review}

When I found out that Denise Grover Swank was writing a sequel to Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes I was ecstatic. I was even more thrilled when I found out that I would be getting to read, review, and ask Denise some fun questions! 
Denise's writing style is fun, down to earth and addicting. I will warn you, though: I found myself staying up through the night to keep reading. She is an amazing author and I find myself recommending her to my friends and family when they ask for a new book to read.

About the Book

When Rose Gardner shows up at the Fenton County jail she thinks that she will be getting a morning off from her job at the DMV and the court would never choose her to actually sit on the jury. Instead, despite a disastrous run in with the Assistant DA, she low and behold gets chosen as a member of the jury for an upcoming murder trial.
As the trial continues Rose suddenly realizes that the vision she had in the male's restroom of the courthouse the morning of jury selection was actually a vision that has to do with the very case that she is sitting on. The kicker? Her vision will prove that the defendant is innocent and not the murderer that the prosecutor and police have made him out to be. 
As if that weren't bad enough, Rose's sister, Violet, is suddenly going through a midlife crisis. Violet begins to insist that Rose stop seeing her police detective boyfriend, Joe, and see a new man instead. Rose is sick and tired of always having someone boss her around in her life, but at the same time she is not sure if she can commit to Joe being that he lives in Little Rock.
Will Rose be able to find out the truth in the murder case? And will she allow Joe, the best thing in her life, to slip away from her? 

My Thoughts & Rating

I loved it! I found myself reading with a southern accent throughout the entire book. I loved the introduction to the new characters and watching Rose's life evolve since her last novel. Rose is one of those characters that you have to love and laugh at. She has a generous heart, visions that are somewhat disruptive to her daily life, and her comeback lines are definitely ones to remember.
Denise Grover Swank manages to combine many elements in one book: mystery, humor, and romance. Her characters are lovable, easy to relate to, and full of wit. I highly recommend the Rose Gardner mystery series--you will not finish the books disappointed. If you are anything like me you will be finding yourself eagerly awaiting the next Rose novel (which releases in Winter 2013).
Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons is definitely a 5 out of 5 stars! I enjoyed the book from start to finish and it is definitely a fun summer read.

Where to Buy

Barnes & Noble

Q & A

1) I know you are a very, very busy mom these days. Where do you find your inspiration for your novels? Is there a genre that is more difficult than the other to write?
I get inspiration from everything and everywhere. The idea for Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons came from getting a summons for jury duty. But Chosen came from my three-year-old son touching my son's girlfriend's fingers to count. Here came from my thirteen-year-old daughter asking me to write a YA. 

2) What made you take the plunge into writing and publishing your first novel?
Writing was a do-or-die decision. I'd talked about it for years and had even attempted it a few times, never finishing. I heard about NaNoWriMo and decided this was it. I either wrote and completed my first book or I gave it up for good. I started November 1 and had no written 69,000 words by midnight, November 30. I finished the book on December 10 and realized I'd finally found a job I LOVED. 

Publishing was a different story. I'd endured two years of rejection with three different manuscripts. No one was even remotely interested in Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. At least my other two books (Chosen and Here) were getting requests and some near signings with agents. Last spring, self-publishing didn't carry the pariah stigma it had a year earlier, so I decided to try it and see what happened. I'm so glad I did! No regrets at all.

3) Have you always wanted to write? Did you ever find it intimidating to begin?
I've written since I can first remember. I loved creating stories in my head and giving them life on a page. But even now, I find it intimidating. Especially when I'm starting a new book and I'm on page one with nothing but a Chapter One at the top and a flashing curser. I always wonder how I'll come up with enough words to make a book, yet I always do.  I'm about to finish my eighth book.

4) What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
 Practice, practice, practice.  Which translates into: write, write, write. EVERY DAY. Even if it's just a journal entry. Then get critiqued. I know how hard it is. Trust me, I know. But getting other writer's insights is invaluable. I'm amazed by the number of writers who query agents or decide to self-publish before their work has been critiqued or beta read.  *I* wouldn't dream of releasing even a short story without my critique partner reading it. 

5) Totally random, but what is your favorite drink from Starbucks? 
My love notorious love of Starbucks has followed me here. LOL  My favorite drink is a Grande non-fat, no whip mocha. Hot. If it's iced, I get a Venti.  

6) Name three of your favorite material things.
My laptop
My iPhone
My Keurig. 
After reviewing that list, I think I have issues. ;) 

About Denise Grover Swank

Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning. 
You can find more out about Denise and her other books at or you can email her at Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and/or her Rose Gardner site.