Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

About the book:

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

My thoughts:

Although I have heard of Sarah Jio, I had yet to lose myself in one of her books. I decided on Blackberry Winter--and boy, am I glad that I did. I was immediately sucked into the story of Vera Ray and Claire Aldridge. This novel had me on an emotional roller-coaster, and the twists and turns were very surprising. I adored this book, everything about it. The writing was phenomenal, I immediately shared a connection with Vera and Claire, and the ending was spectacular. I give this book five out of five stars--and I am eager to read Ms. Jio's other novels.

Interested in Purchasing?

Barnes & Noble

I received an ebook in order to facilitate this review. Thank you to NetGalley for providing this opportunity! No other compensation was given, and all opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Meant to Be by Karen Stivali

About the book:

Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

My Thoughts:

I am a sucker for any book with friends that are meant to be lovers. Karen Stivali's writing style was so lifelike, so real. I have read books where I never connect with a single character; this is the total opposite for Meant to Be. The characters are lovable, relatable, and I found myself sucked into this novel while unable to put it down. This novel definitely deserves a 5 out of 5 stars--it's a great book and I encourage all of my readers to pick it up!

Where to Buy: 


About the Author:

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details.  

Karen has published three erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave: Marry Me (June 2012), Long-Distance Lovers (co-written with Karen Booth, March 2012) and Always You (Passionate Plume First Place Novella Winner, RWA 2012).

Karen’s first full-length novel, Meant To Be, released from Turquoise Morning Press on August 26, 2012. Its sequel, Holding On, released on November 26, 2012. A prequel to these novels, the short story All I Need, appears in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (Turquoise Morning Press, August 2012).

Coming in 2013 Karen will have several contemporary romances releasing from Samhain Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press. The first of these, Then, Again will be release from Samhain on May 23, 2013.

Want to connect with Karen? You can find her at any/all of the sites listed below:
Publisher's Site: Turquoise Morning Press

A huge thank you to Chick Lit Plus and Karen Stivali for the opportunity to read this book. I received one ebook in order to facilitate this review; no other compensation was given.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Thought You Were Gone.

Last Tuesday evening (Isabella's 5th birthday) I had a scare.

The worst pregnancy scare a momma could have.

I was rushed to the ER where the doctor told me my hcg levels were very low.

Where they told me this could be the beginning of a miscarriage.

My heart and earth shattered. I cried. I sobbed. I tucked myself into a dark hole.

Another miscarriage? Why?

I got my hcg levels checked on Friday. A little over 48 hours since my last draw.

I waited patiently, knowing that the results would be not what I prayed for.

I answered the phone on the first ring.

The doctor asked me how I was doing. I told her okay. Just okay.

She surprised me.

"Your levels have more than doubled since the ER visit."

What? How is this possible?

She explained to me that some women bleed in pregnancy. No explanations, they just did.

I had my ultrasound yesterday.

5 weeks 4 days.

Still pregnant.

Gestational sac? Check. Yolk sac? Check.

I am still pregnant. Very, very scared. But very, very pregnant.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just When I Thought Life Couldn't Be Any Crazier...

I have an announcement.

A big one.


As in 5+1=6

Do you get it?



I will update more next week...

Until then?

Happy guessing, friends! xoxo

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Hyde

About the Book:

Former Broadway dancer and current agoraphobic Billy Shine has not set foot outside his apartment in almost a decade. He has glimpsed his neighbors—beautiful manicurist Rayleen, lonely old Ms. Hinman, bigoted and angry Mr. Lafferty, kind-hearted Felipe, and 9-year-old Grace and her former addict mother Eileen.

But most of them have never seen Billy. Not until Grace begins to sit outside on the building’s front stoop for hours every day, inches from Billy’s patio. Troubled by this change in the natural order, Billy makes it far enough out onto his porch to ask Grace why she doesn’t sit inside where it’s safe. Her answer: “If I sit inside, then nobody will know I’m in trouble. And then nobody will help me.”
Her answer changes everything.

By the bestselling author of When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, and Pay it Forward, Don't Let Me Go is the heart-breaking, funny, and life-affirming story of a building full of loners and misfits who come together to help a little girl survive—and thrive—against all odds.

My Thoughts:

From the moment that I read the first pages I was in love with Don't Let Me Go. Ms. Hyde's writing style is flawless and will have you there, in the pages with the characters, as if you were in her novel yourself. The characters are lovable, likable, and I felt myself giving compassion to them while rooting them on. Don't Let Me Go definitely did not let me down while reading. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars--and possibly 6 out of 5! A must-read book, treat yourself to it today.

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books.
Her newest releases are When You Were Older,  Don’t Let Me Go, Jumpstart the World , When I Found You, and Second Hand Heart. Forthcoming is Walk Me Home (Transworld UK, Spring 2012).

Other newer novels are Becoming Chloe, Love in the Present Tense, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, Chasing Windmills The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness. 
Both Becoming Chloe, and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List.  Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, received a third place Rainbow Award for Young Adult/Coming of Age Fiction and a tie for first place in Bisexual/Transgender Fiction. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart. 

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.  The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller.  It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize.  Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Want to connect with Catherine? You can find her at any/all of the sites listed below:

I received a copy of the novel in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was given, and all opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A few weeks ago I mentioned me starting a new adventure...or two.

The first being that I enrolled back into college, which I discussed previously.

The second was a secret. As in top secret, I am not telling anyone in case I chickenoutandgetscared.

You totally understand that feeling, right?


Here is my "secret".

I did my first photo shoot. As the "photographer".

Now, I use that term loosely for myself. I have studied and practiced and studied and read book upon book for over 4 years now. But in no way do I consider myself an expert.

Far from it.

If anything I am just learning more and more about a hobby that I love and adore.

Without further ado, here is my shoot that I did for a friend and her family. Enjoy!

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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Beach Life...

The girls and I recently took a trip to Dauphin Island with my family while Leo was TDY in Peru. Dauphin Island is off the coast of Alabama and is beyond gorgeous. Definitely a place to go for relaxing and being unconnected to the world ( in a good way ).

We had a great time laughing, walking on our own private dock to the beach, and just relaxing in general. While there we got to celebrate Madelyn's 3rd Birthday ( a post for another day ).

Here are a few of my favorite pictures...I need to edit many more, but here are my three favorites of the girls:

She basically cried unless she was in the water...

Enjoying a sunset on the deck...

Beach babe soaking up everything the beach offered...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


* The hot summer months, the summer evening storms, the lazy summer days. Summer may be my new favorite season...but, shhhh....don't tell fall that.

* Pretty Little Liars, Big Brother, and the start of Bachelor Pad. Love me some quality tv!

* That Brynlie walks around saying "Bay-beee". She loves her babies and it's her first word that has two different syllables.

* My new Whirley Pop. Seriously. It makes the best. popcorn. ever. Trust me on this one.

* Essie and their collection of new summer shades. Currently on my toes? Mojito Madness. It's fun and makes me feel young. Love.

* Drinking iced coffee in the mornings. I have been making batch after batch of the Pioneer Woman's iced coffee recipe and it is all sorts of amazing. I haven't used my coffee pot all summer!

* That even though Leo is out of the country we can still text thanks to Apple and their amazing capabilities. Thank you, Apple!

Kat Fight by Dina Silver {Book Review}

There are often times when I feel connected with an author. Whether by their writing style, the characters that they develop, or if it is a connection with the actual author herself, there are some out there that you can feel connected to. Enter Dina Silver, one of my favorite authors that I have had the pleasure of reading. I was introduced to Dina's literary world a few months ago and knew right when I read her first book, One Pink Line, that she would be an author that I could declare a favorite. I recently finished Kat Fight, her latest novel, and fell in love all over again. 

About the Book

Meet Kat Porter. Kat has finally had enough with her long term boyfriend, Marc. Together for four years she has finally had enough. Too many late nights of being alone, too many unanswered phone calls. When Kat gives him the ultimate ultimatum of staying with her, the only thing that Kat receives from Marc is silence. No phone calls, no attempts to contact her. 

Kat's best friend, Julie,  decides that it is time to set Kat up on a blind date. While her actual date didn't send her the chemistry that she desired, one person did: Ryan (aka Julie's date). Ryan is everything that Kat has ever wanted in a husband. The passion they feel is unbelievable, he honestly takes her breath away. But can Kat be with Ryan and not hurt Julie? Can Kat leave Ryan for the sake of her friendship with Julie?

Book Excerpt

There I was, all dressed in white, with a soft veil loosely brushing against the skin on my face, feeling blissful and resplendent. I wore a strapless satin sheath and in my hands was a bouquet of dark red roses. I started walking slowly towards my groom standing curiously far away from me at the end of the aisle. So far away, in fact, that I was having a difficult time focusing on his face. The more I walked the further he seemed. 

My Thoughts

It's no secret that I am already a huge fan of Dina Silver. She absolutely nailed Kat Fight and had me turning page after page. I felt as if I couldn't possibly read fast enough. I wanted to know that Kat would find true love, I wanted to know how the story ended. She captivated my attention with her flawless writing and characters that seemed to be friends of mine in my life. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story and that loves to root on the main character. 

My Rating

Kat Fight definitely receives 5 out of 5 stars. A fabulous book to read into the night and definitely worth the sleep deprivation you will surely have.

Where to Buy

Barnes & Noble 

About the Author

Dina Silver is a writer, red wine drinker, cheese fry lover, and future cat hoarder. She currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. Inspired by how she met her husband, Kat Fight is Dina's second novel. 

You can connect with Dina Silver on Facebook, Twitter, and/or her website

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pickin' Tomatoes

As the days of summer continue to go forward, I continue to read and relish great books. I have to admit that this summer I have been reading more than I have in years--and I love it. 

One book that piqued my interest this summer? Pickin' Tomatoes by J.W. Bull. A delightful read from start to finish I loved reading about the main character, Maggie Malone, and her journey towards singledom and independence.

About the Book

Meet Maggie Malone. Recently single new mother and 40 years old. With no job bringing in money to support her and her baby girl, Maggie decides to apply for a magazine columnist job at Cooking and Women. The requirements? You dish advice and serve it with a yummy recipe for the readers to try.The requirements are simple: you must be an experienced chef and single. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, maybe it would be easy if you could, you know, cook. Maggie is a disaster in the kitchen and technically she is still married. She applies anyway (what are a couple of little white lies?), dishes up an amazing article complete with cheeky advice and a recipe for homemade salsa. She compares finding "Mister Right" with picking out a perfect tomato for a great homemade salsa recipe. 

Maggie captures the heart and attention of the editor, wins the contest and is the new "Chef of Hearts" for Cooking and Women. Through her journey she learns a lot about not only cooking, but about herself in general. 

My Thoughts

I loved Pickin' Tomatoes. Not only was it a quick read, but it was also hilarious! J.W. Bull has a niche for writing and humor. I instantly connected with Maggie Malone and silently rooted for her throughout the book. I definitely recommend it to anyone in need of a light, quirky book to tide them over this summer.

My Rating

I give Pickin' Tomatoes 4 out of 5 stars. Loved J.W. Bull's writing style and look forward to reading what she comes out with next.

Where to Buy

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

J.W. Bull lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two sons. Although she has worked as a sous chef for Lavande Restaurant, she currently is a private violin teacher and a member of The Georgia Symphony. She is also finishing another novel, Musical Chairs, a mystery involving Maggie's cousin, Molly Malone, plucky part-time symphony player and full-time Irish fiddler. It's a hilarious spoof on symphonies, Irish fiddling, and mysteries that continues the Malone saga.  

You can connect with J.W. Bull on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Goodreads!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Lesson in Being Brave.

Back at the end of May a certain 4 year old chopped off her hair. She wanted short hair. Her reasoning? Less tangles. Tangles are an enemy here in our home. They hurt. They make someone cry. They had to be gone.

She was scared. She made Madelyn go first and Madelyn showed her that haircuts were fun. She couldn't let her baby sister be the brave one, so up in the chair she went. Inches of hair were gone in moments. I was choked up but tried to be the brave one. I succeeded. she succeeded, we made it through yet another haircut.

After haircuts Isabella announced she wanted earrings. I'm ready, Mommy. I want earrings.

So another choked up momma moment and we were sitting and waiting to get earrings. Pink, sparkly earrings. Prin-press earrings. When the moment came to have it done she didn't back out. She sat there bravely and didn't shed a tear. No screaming. No tears. Just a happy girl with two earrings and a lollipop.

It's funny how in a span of one day she grew up in more ways than one. She was certainly braver than I was. How is that even possible? 

So for now I think we have hit a few major milestones in the whole growing up area. I need a break from it...I need to sit back and enjoy every moment that comes our way....and hope that my girls will stay little for a long, long time...