Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bitter Blessings...

A Novel by Christine Mehring

Publisher's Note: Megan has the perfect life, but when her mother dies in an accident, everything spins out of control. With the rest of her family falling apart, Megan must confront her past to uncover the truths that will keep everyone together. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, this book shows that even in times of trial, you can often find blessings.

My Review: Christine Mehring's debut novel is a beautifully written story of family, enduring love, hope and faith. Megan's life is completely turned upside down when her mother is suddenly killed in a car accident. Left in her grandmother's care, she must face the realities and heart ache of losing someone she loves. She is also faced with the dilemma of  making grown-up choices as she tries her best to help her grandmother take on the responsibilities for her two younger sisters. Megan is a very likable character with honest qualities. She makes mistakes just like any other person and your heart aches for her and her struggles. Mehring's writing is open and honest, and I thought this story touched on several important topics such as grief and the importance of coping skills. Megan is left with much of the responsibilities while one sister turns to alcoholism and the other hides in the past. I believe Mehring's portrayal of each individuals' grief is very real and there will be many readers who can easily relate. I liked the flow of the novel. It was a fast read and kept you turning the pages. It was a difficult book to put down. Mehring's characters were well-rounded and believable, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fast, touching read. Well done, Christine!

To learn more about Bitter Blessings please visit bitterblessings.com
To purchase a copy of Bitter Blessings visit Amazon Today!

Monday, November 28, 2011

White Chocolate Almond Divinity

This time of year my very favorite thing to cook is candy cAnDy candy! I lOvE making toffee, fudge, truffles, carmels, and especially divinity! This is one of my favorite recipes. I like to add this-and-thats to my candy to create new recipes. Last year this was a hUgE hit at the family party!


2 2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup slivered almonds
6 to 8 oz white chocolate chips

Cook sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2-quart pot over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. (On humid days, use 1 tablespoon less water.) Cook, without stirring, to 260 degrees on candy thermometer (or hard ball stage).
Beat egg whites in 1-1/2-quart bowl until stiff peaks form. Continue to beat while pouring hot syrup in a thin stream into egg whites. Add vanilla; beat until mixture holds its shape and becomes slightly dull. Fold in nuts and chocolate! 
Drop from buttered spoon onto waxed paper. Let stand at room temperature, turning candy over once, until outside of candy is firm--at least 12 hours. Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Geek Girl

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Review of GEEK GIRL by Cindy C. Bennett......

Publisher's Note: "Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, the goth girl finds herself sucked into his world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. To truly belong with him-and with her new foster family-she must first come to terms with her violent past. 

My Review: Beautifully written, Geek Girl is one of those stories you will fall in love with fast. Author Cindy C. Bennett weaves a fun, witty, and very enjoyable plot.  A typical goth girl makes a bet that she can win over  typical geek, Trevor. 17-year old Jen has had a rough life. Living with foster parents she resents and a past that has left her hard to reach, she soon finds herself immersed in a world very unlike her own.  But against all her better judgement, she can't help succumbing to the charms of Trevor's world. This story is a fun, quick read. Jen is a very likable character right from the first page. The author did a wonderful job engaging readers in Jen's story and psyche immediately. Each character is important and adds dimension to the plot. The author also tackles tough subjects such as child abuse and drug use in a very tactful way. This book is definitely thought provoking, but will leave readers smiling. I recommend Geek Girl for anyone looking for a  clean, really fun, and very well-written story.  I loved it! It will leave a grin on your face and I congratulate the author on a job well done! 

To learn more about Author Cindy C. Bennett( Heart on a Chain, Geek Girl) visit her blog today!
To purchase your copy of Geek Girl visit Cedar Fort Books. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Only Way to Paradise...

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Please visit the link above 

The Only Way to Paradise:

By G.G. Vandagriff

Publisher's Note: What causes picture-perfect suburban Oakwood residents, MacKenzie, Roxie, Sara, and Georgia to desert their therapist fly off to Florence? Answer: A romantic Italian movie that prompts Roxie to ask: “If Italy is so healing and therapeoutic what are we doing in Ohio?” Even Sara, the most duty-bound of the group, finally joins the pact they dub “The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood,” and they all find themselves in Florence a week later. As they feel themselves embraced by the entire province of Tuscany, each woman falls and becomes entangled in experiences she could never have foretold. Not only do they find the fascinating Italian men that Georgia promised, but new sides to themselves and each other. Against the glittering background of Florence, their dramas play out: MacKenzie returns to her student days as an art historian, discarding her identity as the controlling Oakwood charity patron and society hostess. Renewing her acquaintance with the David, she vows to let herself be sculpted rather than trying to sculpt others. MacKenzie finds not only a new talent, but a new man who appreciates it, just as her husband decides to re-enter her life. Roxie, who has always approached life as a circus, is drawn unwillingly into a passionate romance with a gorgeous Italian professor, Stefano. Her physical response to Stefano taps into lost memories, causing her to literally run from him. Roxie, normally a colorful Cubana, senses danger in visions and smells that resurface of a rotting summerhouse behind her Florida home. With his nurturing and passionate love, Stefano helps her to face the “broken piece” inside her. Sara, a Xanax addict, unveils part of her that no one but her instructors knows. She is an extraordinarily talented concert violinist. Normally trapped in the demanding life of an ob-gyn (scripted for her by her Vietnamese immigrant parents), she is temporarily freed. She performs for others for the first time, and experiences unprecedented joy. She also falls in love unexpectedly with a man who is not only a famous Chinese actor, but has a mysterious side business. Her defense of him gives her the courage to loose the vice-like hold of her parents and step into her own script. Georgia, a grieving widow, processes her life without Ben and without her violin career that ended early because of arthritis. Looking for a new passion in life, she finds that satisfaction comes to her in “giving back” to those around her the lessons and knowledge she has learned through her successes and mistakes in La Dolce Vita. Just as her perspective is changing, she reunites with her first love, Arturo, and must make a decision about the direction of her future life. Though ages have passed since the rebirth called the Renaissance, Florence still inspires change by breathing out its creative mix of energy, beauty, and courage. Where Michelangelo “set free” the David by sculpting a block of marble, each “crazy lady” finds her exterior “Oakwood” self burnished away by new experiences, revealing a new self. This burnishing is not a gentle process, but exuberant Italians help them through it with their all-embracing agape, or unconditional love. Though they do not know it, each of them hungers for agape’s healing power. They discover in it a balm that binds them together and puts them on the road to recovery, the road that is “The Only Way to Paradise.” Enjoy this first of four novels of self-discovery and romance.

My Review: The Only Way to Paradise by G.G. Vandagriff is a memorable women's fiction.  The story line is complex  with interesting, dynamic characters. The four women who come together in a therapy group decide to holiday in Italy. Each woman must face their own individual challenges and you are drawn into their lives as they each express their dreams, hopes and fears. The book takes place in Florence and I can't imagine a more superb setting for such a heart-warming story. Vandagriff's vivid descriptions immerse readers in Italian culture and add depth to the emotional journey of Georgia, Sara, Roxie, and MacKenzie. The story is filled with romance and true-to-life scenarios. It's a story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I give The Only Way to Paradise 5 out of 5 stars. Well done! 

The Only Way to Paradise is available for purchase on Amazon Kindle for the amazing price of $3.99

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop

This Giveaway is now closed! Thanks to all those who entered!!!

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and All-Consuming Books!! Today on my blog you can win a signed copy of my new book The Alias !

All you have to do is follow my blog to enter and leave a comment letting me know how to contact you if you win!! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Check out The Alias today in paperback on or Amazon kindle for only $3.99

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Arthurian Omen...G.G. Vandagriff

Publisher's Note: Is the story of King Arthur history or myth? In this spellbinding novel, a Celtic scholar is murdered when she finds a clue to a priceless 13th century manuscript that will provide the true identity of King Arthur. The victim's sister takes up the quest to uncover the relic, but quickly realizes that someone close to her is the murderer. As pursuit of the manuscript winds through the ruined castles and monasteries of Wales, more than one reason emerges for keeping the manuscript and the legend buried in the past.

My Review: The story of King Arthur has always been one filled with mystery and intrigue. Purported as folklore by some and history by others, King Arthur has developed as a character of international interest and I have to admit, I fall in with the crowd. I love stories that evolve around the mystical King Arthur, so when asked to review The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff, I happily jumped on board. The author weaves history, suspense, mystery and romance in a way that will leave readers turning the pages long into the night. Maren Southcott is a character who you can easily relate. She's vivacious, strong-willed, compassionate and makes mistakes like everyone else. Vandagriff does an excellent job capturing the essence and unique culture of the UK and her vivid descriptions will leave you yearning for a trip through Wales. I loved the images of the ancient ruins alongside green rolling hills and miniature streams. I thought the author did an excellent job keeping the suspense high until the very end. Throw in history, drug cartels, ancient manuscripts, and a kidnapping and I'm hooked. I give The Arthurian Omen 4.5 out of 5 stars.

To purchase a copy of The Arthurian Omen visit Amazon today.
To learn more about G.G. visit her new Blog.
Check back on Friday for my review of G.G.'s The Only Way to Paradise

Also today, I've been given the opportunity to feature a guest post from the author. I appreciate the time G.G. took to write a short post today!!

Meet G.G. Vandagriff.........

Question:  People say you should write about what you know. Do you have any personal experiences that helped you while writing your book?

G.G. Vandagriff: I definitely agree with that statement on many levels.  I started writing genealogical mystery novels, because i loved genealogy and I loved mysteries.  I solved my genealogical puzzles like mysteries.

But in the meantime I had a big novel in the background  that was waiting for me to have the experience of suffering and overcoming suffering.  I had been too young when I began my epic The Last Waltz.  It wasn't until I went through 25 years of suffering and an eventual healing of bi-polar disorder that I felt I could enter my heroines heart and define the feelings she had after World War One when she lost everything.  She rebuilt her life by acquiring knowledge and applying it in a determination that such a war would never take place again.  As WWII threatens, she doesn't give in. But you will find all about that in the sequel.

At that point, my novels became emotionally autobiographical.  I still wrote mysteries, but I also wrote Pieces of Paris about saving a marriage threatened by PTSD.  And my latest novel, The Only Way to Paradise gave me great scope!  Not only did it take place in my beloved Florence, but it had four crazy ladies in it each one saddled with one of my hangups.  They learn about the saving "agape" or selfless love that the Italians seem to be born with, and that paves the way for them to put their feet on "The Only Way to Paradise.

I never could have written any of these books without the emotional, intellectual, and travel experiences that I had. I wonder what awaits me in the future?  Do I really want to know?

GG Vandagriff

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

*****This Giveaway is now closed****

Welcome to the November Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and best-selling author Tristi Pinkston! Today on my blog you have the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Just follow the rules below for a chance to win.

Also, check out The Alias, available on Amazon Kindle for only $3.99 today or in paperback at a bookstore near you!

Follow this blog (mandatory)
Follow me on Facebook (+1)
Add The Alias on Goodreads (+2)

Then leave a comment below letting me know what steps you have completed. Also, don't forget to leave your email address or a way to contact you if you win! Thanks a bunch for entering and I hope you take a chance to visit all the other amazing participating blogs below.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finding Your Inspiration Through Life (Part 2)

Finding Your Inspiration Through Life (Part 1).....continued.....Everyone is unique. Each person has something amazing to offer the world. No one person is the same. I love to watch people. I stare…a lot… but I stare because I am so amazed by the different personalities that make up society. I love watching how other mothers interact with their children, how couples interrelate, and how we as strangers affect each other’s lives. I love to combine different characteristics to develop my characters... because just as we are all uniquely different, so too are the characters in books. Like Jacey, who is the main protagonist in The Alias and John, her ex-husband, the antagonist, these two characters are a conglomeration of me, my friends, my family members, people I see on the television or in movies, and strangers that I meet throughout life. My characters are a mix of everything that I love and hate, everything that I want to be, and everything that I hope I never am. Those around us-- our family, our friends and even other people’s stories-- can inspire new stories as well. Something as simple as watching the news can open endless possibilities for a new, suspenseful story. "There is nothing more inspiring than humanity."...Leo Babauta.

The next thing I'd like to highlight is finding your inspiration through objects....(Next post)