REVIEW: Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson

28 Feb

Under a Georgia Moon Book Cover Under a Georgia Moon

Chick Lit
266

Addie Heywood thought she was doing okay after her fiancé dumped her just weeks before their wedding, claiming he’d found someone else more compatible with his health food tastes. But when he marries the other woman three months later, Addie needs to get away. Leaving her home in Idaho, she escapes to Mitchel Creek, Georgia to visit her Aunt Janie. She just wants to spend the next two weeks enjoying her aunt’s southern cooking, not dodging the guys her aunt is determined to set her up with.

Chase Nichols isn’t looking for love. His dream is to trade his computer mouse for his guitar and make it big in the country music world. If he can land a job in Nashville, he might have a shot at getting discovered. His plans get derailed when he does his neighbor a favor and picks up her niece, Addie, at the airport. Things get even more complicated when his ex-girlfriend comes back into the picture. That’s when he hatches a new plan. Since Addie wants to avoid her aunt’s matchmaking schemes, and he wants to avoid his ex-girlfriend, they’ll fool the world by pretending to date. What neither of them counts on is actually falling in love.

This book was a charming ‘clean’* Southern romance, and I really enjoyed it. The story was simple, and somewhat predictable, but it was a great afternoon chick lit read! Main character Addie was sweet and spunky – I was rooting for her. It was also interesting to read the story from Chase’s perspective as we went along; I suppose it’s not often that you read about Southern courtship from the perspective of a restrained Christian male.

Although it was fairly obvious that Addie and Chase were going to become an ‘item’, that didn’t bother me at all. Let’s be honest, most Chick Lit has an easy-to-spot romance appear in the first chapter or so! When you pick one up, you’re hardly expecting to be surprised by it. Really, it’s all about how the romance UNRAVELS! And this romance is particularly sweet, which seems to be the Southern way.

I liked all of the characters, particularly Aunt Janie and her baked goodies, although there wasn’t a huge focus on anyone other than Addie and Chase. I also liked how gentlemanly Chase was – he was kind-hearted, thoughtful AND cute! It was a nice change of pace from an arrogant or rude male lead, who needs to be ‘changed’. Chase was great as he was, and the focus stayed on their struggle to fit relationships in with their career dreams.

Both Addie and Chase were reluctant to give up their dreams to pursue a romance, and it was interesting to see how they worked through their priorities. I felt it was a realistic dilemma (even if their solution may have  been an uncommon one!).

Overall, for a quick, feel-good romance, I’d definitely recommend this book. It may not have been ground-breaking, but when I put it down I was more than satisfied, and it stuck in my head for several days. There was even a little mystery and danger thrown in! What more could I ask for?!

Amazon

* Stay tuned for my thoughts on ‘clean’ romances, and why I’m using inverted commas, later this week.

I received a copy of Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson from Kathy at Book Blasts and Blog Tours in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

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REVIEW: The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

19 Feb

The Swimmer Book Cover The Swimmer

Thriller
432

Klara Walldeen, orphaned as a child and brought up by her grandparents on a remote Swedish archipelago, is now a political aide in Brussels. And she has just seen something she shouldn’t: something people will kill to keep hidden.

On the other side of the world, an old spy hides from his past. Once, he was a man of action: so dedicated to the cause that he abandoned his baby daughter to keep his cover. Now the only thing he lives for is swimming in the local pool.

Then, on Christmas eve, Klara is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe. Only the Swimmer can save her. But time is running out...

If I could sum up The Swimmer by Joakim Zander in a single word, it would be ‘intriguing’. For starters, the book was fast paced and dramatic, with mysterious phone calls and bodies piling up, but it wasn’t until three quarters of the way through the book that the reader really knows what the bad guys so desperately want. Then, there was a protagonist who’s name is never revealed, who is nothing if not mysterious. Plus, with several main characters, the book is written as though one is going to be the central character, only for there to be a sudden about-face midway through the novel.

While such a slow reveal of crucial details can be incredibly frustrating in a book, in this instance it worked. Zander’s narrative was so well written that it didn’t matter. In fact, it added to the story. The characters themselves had no idea what they had stumbled into, and rather than the reader having all of the facts while the characters struggled to catch up, I felt like I was uncovering the information with them, and was very invested in the journey.

I also appreciated the ‘real-life’ aspects of the story, that tied into the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the role of government organisations like the CIA. With a portion of the book written from the perspective of a disillusioned career spy, the insights offered into the ‘grey areas’ of espionage were rather fascinating. The unusual setting, in Sweden and Brussels, was an additional bonus – the Swedish archipelagos were a unique and fascinating backdrop.

This book was an interesting look at how the actions of one person can create ripples that span not only distance, but time. One split second can change everything. Zander did a great job of describing the effects of those ripples and tying together the strands of the characters’ lives. I’d definitely recommend this book to lovers of political thrillers.

I received a copy of The Swimmer by Joakim Zander from the lovely Trish at TLC Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

AmazonBook Depository

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REVIEW: The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

12 Feb

The Tea Chest Book Cover The Tea Chest

Chick Lit
368

Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she'd be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family's future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down.

Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to start again.

When the three women's paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate's magical vision for London's branch of The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other.

With the very real possibility that The Tea Chest will fail, Kate, Leila and Elizabeth must decide what's important to each of them. Are they willing to walk away or can they learn to believe in themselves?

An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it's a world you won't want to leave.

I absolutely devoured The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon. Of all the chick lit in the world, I love the stories where people build something out of nothing (think following a cupcake dream, opening a vintage store, creating a dream…). This book was just right!

First, the characters were great. Particularly Kate, completely out of her depth while taking over the business after the death of her partner, was well-written. I really felt her dilemma; she was used to being the artist, not a boss, and everything was a little overwhelming! With Kate as the Leading Lady, I felt like the other ladies were a perfect complement to her personality – Leila was business like and optimistic, while Elizabeth was no-nonsense and ready for a change. Together, they counter-balanced Kate’s dreaminess and her fears of failure.

This book wasn’t about romance (of course, there was a teeny bit included for good measure), instead focusing more on these women’s business journey and their personal development throughout. Kate, Leila and Elizabeth grew in confidence and it was a very uplifting read.

I also loved all of the tea-talk. As a tea lover myself, I loved the descriptions about how Kate created and blended new flavours of tea, and sourced the products for her new store. It was really interesting, and beautifully written.

Plus, the fact that the book was split between Australia (woo for home!) and London (who doesn’t love London!?) was an added bonus. Not only do I love a glimpse of home when I’m reading, but the contrast between laid-back Brisbane and high-street London made for a great story.

I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of The Tea Chest. Perhaps save it for a rainy day, brew a cup of fragrant tea, and put aside an afternoon – I guarantee you won’t want to put this one down!

Book Depository

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Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

5 Feb

The Great Zoo of China Book Cover The Great Zoo of China

Action
515

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE.

As a pretty die-hard Matthew Reilly fan, I was pretty keen to read his latest action novel. I loved his earlier work, like Ice Station and Contest, and have been to see him speak and have him sign my books – I was impressed! However, I’ll admit that his more recent work has leant a little more towards gratuitous action and violence than actual plot or character development. Perhaps due to upheaval in his personal life (which I won’t go into detail about), he seems to have been off form for a few years. So, I was a little apprehensive picking up Great Zoo.

Things got off to a great start; I loved Reilly’s concept. To sum things up, the Chinese have come up with a grand scheme to put them on par with the cultural titan that is America. They’ve invited politicians, environmentalists, and journalists to have a sneak peak of their pride and joy, and are determined that reviews will be positive, no matter what. However, Jurassic Park style, the best laid plans are destined to end in disaster when you put ancient, intelligent creatures in a zoo and expect them to behave. The main character, CJ was a woman (a first for Reilly), which was a nice change of pace, and her partner in crime is her brother, which rules out any lame love-at-first-sight-amongst-carnage rubbish. I thought that the reasoning behind the existence of the animals was plausible (and believable!), and I liked the political spin on the project – though I’m not sure Chinese readers would be so keen to hear about their amazing working capabilities but lack of imagination…

As the story rapidly developed, I was hooked. I raced through the book alongside the characters as they fought to escape the hellhole they’d landed themselves in. The action was intense, the animals interesting, the mythology fascinating – I couldn’t put it down, and am keen for a sequel (here that Matthew? I’ve already figured out how it could work, call me!).

Has Reilly returned to form? Yes and no. This was an epic action book, definitely in the vein of Jurassic Park (which I also love). I was hooked, and I liked the premise a lot. I felt the book had a little more soul than, for example, the last Jack West book, which was more action for the sake of action than anything else. However, there could have been more development as far as characters and creatures go, and there was probably still some gratuitous violence that I could have done without (although I appreciate the imagination behind someone’s lungs being sucked out of their body…).

Let’s be frank. This book was never written to be a literary masterpiece. Reilly also never claims that it was meant to be! He likes to write books that read like action movies, and he achieved exactly that. I struggled to ‘rate’ this book. If you’re looking for a book that immerses you in the action and as you hooked, then this is great. However, if you’re looking for great character development, then this probably isn’t the book for you. It’s fast paced and explosive, with no time for soliloquies to get to know people. Really, if you know Reilly at all, you know the kind of book you’re getting into – and if you’ve loved his early work, then you’ll probably love Great Zoo. Definitely worth a read, as far as I’m concerned! I’ll remain a loyal fan, and keep hoping that his books only get better from here.

Amazon | Book Depository

I received a copy of The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly from Netgalley in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

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That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris

31 Jan

That's Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris Book Cover That's Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris

Travel
218

If you've ever traveled to Paris, lived in the City of Light or dreamed of setting foot on its cobblestoned streets, you'll enjoy escaping into this collection of short stories about France's famed capital.

From culinary treats (and catastrophes) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heartbreaking mishaps), this anthology takes you on a journey through one of the most famous cities in the world.

View this cosmopolitan metropolis through the chic eyes of Parisians, francophiles and travellers who fell in love with the city and haven't quite gotten around to leaving yet...

I received a copy of That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm from the lovely Vicki Lesage. You might remember her name from a review I wrote last year, of her book Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

That’s Paris is a collection of tales, both fictional and biographical, that beautifully describe the details of a city that everyone thinks they know. Diving deeper than the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, baguettes and snooty women, each story is very short, a mere soundbite really, and shines a light on a new aspect of the city.

The stories cover all sorts – from the advertising in the metro stations, to the recovery of a widow; from the musings of a mother missing her expat daughter, to the dark side of the love locks adorning Parisian bridges. Some of the authors call the city home, others have never even read a book about the place. But each contributed to painting a detailed picture of a city that holds so many secrets that one could never hope to discover them all. Even the foreword, by notable author Stephen Clarke (himself an expat living in Paris), was a love letter to the city.

I really enjoyed each glimpse into the city, from such varied perspectives. One of my favourite stories was early on in the book, and described the five tests that Parisians like to put foreigners through when it comes to their particular brand of fine dining. I think I’ve personally made it to level 3, but plan on working my way up to the harder ones!

My only qualms with the book were how very short some of the stories were – I wanted more to sink my teeth into! Also, I sometimes felt a tad discombobulated by the switch between fiction and non-fiction – I might have preferred either one or the other. That said, I did love the diversity of the stories. Lesage herself contributed several, and her mother also wrote one (which was oh so sweet).

For anyone who thinks they know Paris well, or wants to know her a little better, I would definitely recommend picking up That’s Paris. It’s a delightful, easy read that transported me back to a place that I love to explore, and I’m certain that it could do the same for any one of you.

Amazon

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Valentine’s Day MASSIVE Giveaway

26 Jan

LOGO final

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and what better Valentine than a free book? Or 40 of them?! Hilary Grossman (remember her, she wrote Dangled Carat’, a book I reviewed and gave 5 stars last year) has  rounded up a whole selection of books for a massive giveaway. Why? Why not?! Below are the books and their descriptions, as well as rafflecopters to enter and win them for yourselves. Check it out!

DANGLED CARAT by Hilary Grossman

Dangled-Carat-Hilary-Grossman FINAL
For every girl who wondered if she should love him or dump him…..

 For every girl who listened to her heart instead of her friends advice….

 For every girl who l wondered if she was wasting her time dating that guy….

 meet Hilary….

She had gotten used to dating the commitment-phobic Marc, thirteen years her senior. They had a great relationship–why rush into things? She saw no need to pressure him for marriage, believing that when the time was right, he would propose. But after they had been together for four years, their friends decided to take matters into their own hands, pushing Marc to propose and making Hilary realize how much she really did want to marry the man that she loved.

Unfortunately, Marc still wasn’t ready–and their friends’ meddling in the form of a faux engagement party led to a disastrous New Year’s Eve that brought their relationship to an inevitable turning point.

“Dangled Carat sparkles with humor and shines with wisdom. It is a gem of a book.” – Christina Baker Kline – New York Times & USA Today Best Selling Author of Orphan Train.

Available: AMAZON Print $11.53 eBook $2.99 Barnes & Noble

OUT TO LUNCH by Stacey Ballis

Out_to_LunchA touching and hilarious novel from the fabulous Stacey Ballis about best friends, true love, and the joy of food—for fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin…

Jenna has lost her best friend.

With Aimee gone so tragically young, Jenna barely knows where to turn. Aimee was the one who always knew what to do—not to mention what to wear. The two built a catering company together and had so much in common—well, except their taste in men. Jenna never understood what the successful, sophisticated Aimee saw in Wayne, with his Star Wars obsession and harebrained business schemes.

And gained her best friend’s husband…

But Aimee has left a shocking last request: Jenna now has financial custody of the not-so-merry widower. True, Wayne needs someone sensible around to keep him under control, but what was her dear departed friend thinking?

The thing is, as she gets to know Wayne better, his latest moneymaking idea actually starts to intrigue her. Her attractive new lawyer boyfriend doesn’t approve of it—but then, Wayne doesn’t approve of her attractive new lawyer boyfriend. Now Jenna has to figure out what direction her life is going to take next. And she can’t help asking herself: What would Aimee do?

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble Print $9.70, eBook $9.22

MY BIG DELICIOUS LIFE by Stacey Ballis

Big_Delicious_Life150 simple and scrumptious recipes from Stacy Ballis’s hit novels Out to Lunch, Off the Menu, Good Enough to Eat, and Recipe for Disaster, as well as 40 new, never-before-seen recipes!

Stacey Ballis is not a professional chef. She is, however, a foodie novelist, meal innovator, family cook, memory maker, and Brussels sprout advocate who believes that delicious meals can be simple, fun, and creative. Her love of all things culinary has made her “foodie fiction” irresistible. Now, all of the best recipes featured in her novels are available in one mouthwatering cookbook, including 40 “lost” recipes that were not included in the original printings.

With dishes for every occasion, designed to appeal to both experienced cooks and kitchen newbies, this easily-transportable digital collection will make every meal a happy moment and a special memory.

Includes a preview of Stacey’s delectable novel, Recipe for Disaster

“Deeply satisfying.”—Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of The Tao of Martha

Available: Amazon eBook $3.79

BLOGGER GIRL – by Meredith Schorr

blogger girlWhat happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out. A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm. While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads—and pages—across the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox—for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

Available Amazon eBook $1.99

HOW DO YOU KNOW - by Meredith Schorr

how do you knowWhat if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99, print $14.64

BROKEN PIECES – by Rachel Thompson

Broken-Pieces-paperback

Not easy subjects — love, loss, sexual abuse, date rape, grief — but real ones, told in pieces (thus the title). Broken Pieces is a work of non-fiction.

Poetry, prose, and essays to let you into one woman’s life — a searingly raw examination of topics most people avoid.

Already a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse, this book is recommended for mature audiences only.

Available Amazon $0.99 eBook, $7.10 print

BROKEN PLACES – by Rachel Thompson

broken places

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Available Amazon

LIVING BY EAR - by Mary Rowen

living by earWhat happens when the world you love doesn’t press pause when you do? Singer-songwriter Christine Daley hit the streets of Boston and became a minor celebrity—with a local radio hit—in the 90s, but a “short” career break to marry and have kids changed everything. Now, sixteen years later, she’s a frustrated suburban housewife, struggling to find her place in life.

After filing for divorce, she learns that her attempts to reestablish her own rhythms—both in music and in love—are more complicated than she’d anticipated. Her two teenagers are desperate for their mom, and her soon-to-be-ex-husband is throwing every obstacle he can in her way. Adding to the stress is the progress in technology, which has not only changed the music industry, but also the dating world. Is there room in the mix for Chris?

Available Amazon eBook $3.99, print $13.59

LEAVING THE BEACH - by Mary Rowen

leaving the beach

Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison. She loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen is there to comfort her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she actually meets a rock star? Leaving the Beach is a gritty story about illusion, reality, and the odd ways that music can blur the lines between the two.

Written with heart and keen observation about the day-to-day struggles of a “functioning bulimic,” Leaving the Beach explores the power of fantasy, then shoves it up against harsh reality until something has to give in this women’s novel set on the sandy beaches of Winthrop, Massachusetts.

Available Amazon eBook $3.99, print $13.59

STARTING FROM LOST – by SK Wills

Starting from LostHannah Rogers is lost: cynical, insecure, and withdrawn. Skeletons forged through a bad breakup that should have been a marriage proposal. Now four years later, Hannah follows her dead-end job to the big city where her only hope is to survive the next eight months as her flirtatious boss’s personal assistant. The last thing her predictable life needs is to collide with the boy responsible for breaking her heart, or the twist of fate that sends a sexy new neighbor to awaken feelings she’s long since put to bed.

Alex Sorrento doesn’t have any room in his life for another pet project. He’s already put aside his career and his personal dreams to follow his half-sister Mackenzie to the big city. Lost in the guilt over the events that nearly took her life, he feels he owes her that much. When Mackenzie befriends the new girl on the third floor, Alex finds himself defenseless against the sizzling chemistry between them and the sadness in her eyes. Can he protect Hannah from her ex without losing his heart?

In this turbulent journey about self-discovery, forgiveness, and love, some second chances aren’t worth taking, but others have their own rewards.

Available Amazon eBook $3.99

MY FAIR LILY by Meara Platt

My Fair Lily CoverEwan Cameron, estranged grandson of the Duke of Lotheil, is in London because of a deathbed promise made to his father and has no intention of staying beyond his three month obligation. Nothing can tempt him to remain, not even Lily, the beautiful bluestocking determined not only to restore relations between him and his grandfather, but to turn Ewan into a proper gentleman. Ewan, proud of his Scottish heritage, refuses to admit that Lily, a blue-eyed, English girl, has claimed his heart. It doesn’t matter that his big lump of a sheepdog is madly in love with her. Nor is it significant that Ewan can always tell Lily apart from her identical twin sister. Always.

Lily Farthingale, the scholarly twin, dreams of becoming the first female member of the Royal Society. She grabs at the chance when the elderly Duke of Lotheil approaches her with a proposition – he’ll admit her into the Royal Society, if she helps him to establish a relation with his estranged grandson, Ewan Cameron, a very rough-around-the-edges Scotsman who hates everything English. Between shootings, explosions, and Lily’s abduction, Ewan ends up falling in love with Lily in this Pygmalion-inspired story.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99

A SHIFT IN THE WATER - by Patricia D. Eddy

shift_fullCade Bowman leads a small werewolf pack in Bellingham, Washington. Or he did, before a fire elemental intent on revenge traps him as his wolf. His pack gone, held prisoner by the elemental’s charms, he knows death is coming for him.

Mara Taylor is dying. A mysterious blood disorder is taking her life and her doctors can’t seem to stop it. Only her daily swims offer her any relief. Resigned to her fate, she heads to Orcas Island for one last swim.

When Cade’s wolf finds Mara, he knows instinctively that she’s the key to freeing him from the fire elemental’s charm. She’s more than that. She’s his.

Can Mara free Cade his wolf and save her own life in the process? And if she does, can they survive when they learn the identity of the fire elemental hunting them both?

Available Amazon eBook $3.99

32 GOING ON SPINSTER – by Becky Monson

Spinster Cover - Amazon

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

33 GOING ON GIRLFRIEND - by Becky Monson

Girlfriend Cover - AmazonJulia Dorning thought she would die a lonely spinster. That was until nine months ago, when her world was turned upside down. Now she’s got a dream career as a bakery owner, and a relationship with handsome Jared Moody—a life she never thought possible.

Just as she’s starting to feel comfortable in her new life, Julia is invited to battle it out on national television making cupcakes. An amazing opportunity, if she can muster up the confidence to do it, that is. Then, out of the blue, Jared goes and throws a rather large wrench in their relationship causing Julia to have to make some big decisions. With her two trusted confidants off in wedding la la land, Julia is on her own to figure everything out.

Left to her own devices, will Julia be able to work things out for herself? Or will she make a disaster of it all?

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $0.99 Spinster $2.99 Girlfriend

 

WHISKEY AND GUMDROPS – by Jean Oram Book TWO in the Blueberry Springs series — All STANDALONE novels from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jean Oram!

Whiskey303KOne woman. One case of self-denial. One hunky best friend who wants a lot more.

Mandy Mattson has always believed that what you want isn’t what you need. But never in her life has she been more wrong.

As a small town waitress, Mandy has never felt as though she deserves the love of her best friend Frankie. But when she sees an ex-lover marry her rival she realizes her life is adding up to a big fat nothing and she needs to make a change. With every path in her new life leading back to Frankie, will she finally be able to reconcile that the one thing she’s always wanted is the very thing she needs?

This best friend romance is a companion novel to Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick lit Contemporary Romance and can be read as a standalone–does contain spoilers for Champagne and Lemon Drops (free ebook).

Available Amazon Barnes & Noble Print $10.99 eBook $2.99

THERE ARE NO MEN – by Carol Maloney Scott

ThereAreNoMen-ebook coverDivorced thirty-something Claire doesn’t know who’s in her dating pool—but she’s doing her best to avoid shark infested waters.

Leaving her clueless and insensitive husband behind was a smart move after losing her fertility, but now she’s riding the wave of flying toupees and strange men in leather thongs.

After a long drought, men are flooding her shores and she’s drowning in choices. There’s the 25-year-old IT boy-genius with the GQ looks, the charming but mysterious doctor, and her hot new neighbor with the hard rock night gig.

To further rock her boat, Claire’s ‘stable’ career in publishing has been tossed about by her floundering company’s launch of a new line of trendy, salacious books. Cookbooks aren’t selling these days, but erotica is flying off the shelves—and challenging Claire’s attitude about sex, work…and her new, tempestuous life.

Available Amazon ebook $2.99

CHARLOTTE’S RESTRAINED, THE ACCIDENTAL STALKER - by Celia Kennedy

2 Charlotte's Restrained E-Book Cover

What could go wrong celebrating New Years in the swanky, celebrity-packed, French Alps? The answer is nothing, unless your name happens to be Charlotte Young.

Her four closest friends conspire to help Charlotte meet long-time celeb crush, Des Bannerman, a.k.a. King of Romantic Comedies. While she may not be able to dislodge his world-famous girlfriend, the evening is a dream come true. That is, until an innocent night of champagne, gambling and lighthearted banter turns into tabloid fodder and a restraining order.

An entertaining series of events allow Charlotte to hunt Des down, helping her restore her reputation and uncover a misunderstanding. Fifteen minutes of fame just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

VENUS RISING – by Celia Kennedy

Venus Rising E-Book Cover

Akshaya Bertrand, is a Professor of Art History at an Ivy League college in New England. Young and incomparably beautiful, she hides her traumatic childhood in India behind vibrant veils of secrecy.

Jared Harrison, a war correspondent in the Middle East accepts a position as guest lecturer. Upon meeting, the two find themselves drawn to one another, sensing the others deep wounds.

Thrown together on a voyage of discovery, the two travel through exotic India. Amongst beauty and poverty, sorrow and friendship, they both will finally face the past that has shaped them and the present that defines them.

Will the answers they find close the gap between them or push them further apart?

Available Amazon $2.99 eBook

I’M STILL HERE – by Kathryn Biel

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]It started out as an ordinary day for Esther Comely-Cox, if you consider simultaneously totaling your car, smashing a Ho Ho in your face and meeting a handsome doctor ordinary.

Estranged from her family over her sister’s mental illness and death, Esther can’t help but feel alone. And when Esther hears the voice of her twin sister who committed suicide seven years ago, she begins to question her own sanity, leading her to wonder if anything is what it seems. Searching for answers, Esther must confront her past while looking towards a new future—one in which she is finally accepted.

Through humor and heartbreak, Esther learns that blood does not mean family, that absence does not make the heart grow fonder and that silence can speak volumes.

Available Amazon Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99

 

CONFESSIONS FROM A COFFEE SHOP – by TB Markinson

Confessions CoverCori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

FRENCH TWIST – by Glynis Astie

french twistSydney Bennett had spent her life in pursuit of perfection. She planned, weighed her options and made careful choices based on calculated outcomes. Through all of her efforts, she had come pretty close to perfection, if she didn’t say so herself. She had fled the cold winters in New York for sunny California, found a job that she loved and lived in the same town as her sister, and best friend, Kate. The one area of perfection that had always eluded her was her love life. No matter how hard she tried, she always ended up with a broken heart. After a particularly traumatic breakup, Sydney vowed that she was done with love.

Just as Sydney threw herself into her new plan to forget about men, a handsome Frenchman tossed all of her intentions out the window as he swept her off of her feet. Louis Durand had lived a life filled with excitement and adventure. He was impetuous, intelligent and incredibly charming. So naturally, he scared Sydney half to death. From the moment they met, Louis and Sydney’s romance progressed at warp speed. Sydney did her best not to run, but her deep rooted relationship anxiety threatened to provide an easy exit. When Louis mentioned marriage before Sydney even knew his favorite color, she was more than tempted to reach for her running shoes. Will she be able to put her fears aside to follow her heart? The one thing that Sydney will learn is that sometimes perfection comes with a twist…

Available Amazon eBook $0.99

FRENCH TOAST – by Glynis Astie

FRENCH TOAST!Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?

As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.

With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

HOME – By Rachel Smith

homeAfter twelve years on top of the charts, country music superstar Lily Rae has decided to hang up the microphone and move home. Becoming Lillian Raftzen again is harder than she anticipated and soon, it seems running home is not enough to escape from her manipulative ex-agent, who not only threatens to end her happiness, but her life.

When the girl of his dreams walks back into his life twelve years later, Justin DeLuca realizes as much as he loves her, she is no longer the girl he remembers. With everything they must overcome, can the two of them make their dreams come true? Lily’s dream to sing and Justin’s dream for a family are so very far from the same path. But by veering off course they find a new dream on a new path ending up right where it all began…..home.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $2.99

FIVE MINUTES LATE – by Rich Amooi

Five minutes late ebook coverCan an always-tardy garlic mogul and a punctual Silicon Valley librarian fall in love?

The world needs garlic and somebody’s got to sell that garlic. Cedric Johnson is that man. But even though he’s got just about everything he can wish for, Cedric is still missing one thing in his life: someone special. Fate may be on his side, but he encounters a few distractions along the way—like almost being killed by a UPS truck. Oh, and a little case of blackmail.

Ellie Fontaine is a walking Wikipedia with clear professional goals, but when it comes to landing Mr. Right, she doesn’t know jack squat. She even gives online dating a shot and ends up with an unappetizing buffet of unibrows and losers. What’s a girl to do?

After Ellie saves Cedric’s life, serendipity takes over as they continue to run into each other. Their connection grows stronger with each meeting, even though he embodies her number one pet peeve: he’s always late. But even if they can get past their issues and misunderstandings, Ellie’s ex-boyfriend, an unscrupulous cop, will do anything to keep them apart.

Five Minutes Late is a hilarious fast-paced romantic comedy, full of snappy dialogue and fun, quirky characters, guaranteed to warm your heart.

Available AmazoneBook $4.99 Print $12.99 Paperback

PLOTTING MR. PERFECT – by S.E. Babin

Plotting mr perfectThe closest Katie has come to romance lately is arguing with her lawn-care-obsessed, handsome neighbor, Will. After a drunken girls’ night out with her best friends involving a visualization exercise for the perfect man and an instance of breaking and entering, Katie wakes up thankfully in her own bed with a massive hangover and her neighbor standing on her porch with a peace offering.

But soon after, she gets another surprise in the form of a naked man in her driveway who proclaims he’s been created just for her. As antics and romantic gestures commence, Katie will begin to question herself about love and loyalty. How do you know when the perfect man is not really perfect? And when does Mr. Wrong begin to look like Mr. Right?

Available Amazon eBook $3.82

BATTER UP – by Robyn Neeley

BatterUp_FinalShe mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste…

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.

When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumor: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously skeptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.

But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

Available Amazon eBook $3.53

THIEF FOR HIRE – by Jillianne Hamilton

Theif for hireProfessional, experienced contract burglar.

It’s not exactly something you can put on a business card.

Molly Miranda has made a successful living from “acquiring” valuables and delivering them to clients who pay buckets of cash for her unique services.

So what if she has to lie about her lavish lifestyle in Manhattan and her frequent trips out of the country? Molly has everything under control.

Things go astray when she knocks boots with her charming roommate right before taking off to Scotland with an untrustworthy wildcard on a job assignment that doesn’t go quite as planned.

It doesn’t help that this new partner-in-crime is super annoying. And attractive…

Join Molly on her hilarious adventures as she dodges bullets, trespasses, wears disguises, and steals her way into trouble.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

SHE SINS AT MIDNIGHT – by Whitney Dineen

shesincover-copy

Lila Montgomery, thirty-two-year-old Hollywood assistant extraordinaire, has a secret. On the outside, she’s a hard-working dedicated employee, a good friend, and a loving daughter. But above all else, she’s been raised to be a lady, which of course is why she’s determined to conceal her secret life. If her straight-laced friends and family back home ever discover that she is really the smashing new author of a steamy romance novel, their disapproval would shame her forever! That’s why Lila has chosen to publish her sexy narrative under the nom de plume, Jasmine Sheath.

With her fifteenth high school class reunion on the horizon, Lila finds herself at a crossroads. More than anything she wants to go home and see her childhood friends but is embarrassed that she hasn’t accomplished the things she feels she should have by this time in her life; mainly marriage and children.

After another brutal run-in with Melinda Forrester, Oscar nominated actress and client of her boss, Josh Furber, Lila decides that fleeing Hollywood for a month is the best thing for her. Lila packs her bags for her childhood home of Bentley Hills, sure that her friends and family will be the touchstone of normalcy that she so desperately needs. What she doesn’t expect is that Melinda will follow her and a tabloid media circus will ensue!

Not only does Lila discover that her home is nothing like she remembers, but she meets and falls in love with the very man that inspired the hero in her novel.

She Sins at Midnight is full of laugh out loud hi-jinks that will make you never look at Hollywood the same way again!

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

SET ME FREE – by Jennifer Collin

Set me free coverDisastrous love life aside, Charlotte Evans is rather content with her life. Her quaint little art gallery is plodding along nicely, and her sister Emily’s artistic career is about to take off, thanks to her tireless promotion. She even gets to see her best friend every day and drink his delicious coffee in the café next door.

But when dastardly property developer Craig Carmichael comes along, threatening to demolish her gallery and take everything away, Charlotte has an unexpected fight on her hands. Not only is she battling to stop Craig’s development, she’s also struggling against the mysterious magnetic pull that has her on a collision course with Craig himself.

Craig Carmichael is fighting the Battle for Boundary Street on more than one front. The tenants of the building he wants to knock down are mounting a strong case against him and in a hot-headed moment he put his career on the line for a project that is threatening to fail. If the project doesn’t succeed he will lose everything, but for some reason he’s having trouble maintaining his focus.

As their worlds begin to unravel around them, anyone could win. It’s what they might lose that has Charlotte and Craig wondering what it is they really want.

Available Amazon eBook $0.99

What A Texas Girl Wants – by Kristina Knight

what a tx girl wantsKathleen Witte is a down-to-earth girl. She has to be, with the family ranch on the verge of success. After seven months of keeping it all together by swearing off men, however, Kathleen needs a bit of fun in the sun. Waking up with a husband she can’t remember isn’t how she planned to blow off steam.

The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl. He has four weeks of freedom in which to find his birth mother. He’s done well avoiding commitment until now, so when he wakes up on a Mexican beach with Kathleen his first reaction is curiosity. When he spies the matching wedding rings on their left hands curiosity turns to concern.

Neither Jackson nor Kathleen want to stay married, but when her family shows up, they have no choice. Once back in Texas, however, can they keep this all-business marriage from turning into an all-consuming love?

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.82

THE DAUGHTER HE WANTED – by Kristina Knight

the daughter he wantedSince the loss of his wife, Alex Ryan has been living a half-life. But with one phone call, Alex discovers he’s the biological father of a four-year-old girl…and everything changes. Single mom Paige Kenner preferred to have a family without the man. Now suddenly there’s Alex, who desperately wants to be a father to her little girl. A gorgeous, kind and committed father. Letting a stranger into their lives is far too dangerous—especially if his presence stirs a part of Paige that she longs to forget…

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $4.74

THE TROUBLE WITH DYING – by Maggie La Page

the trouble with dyingWhen Faith Carson wakes up on a hospital ceiling looking down on her body in a coma, it’s a bad start to the week. A very bad start. She has no idea who she is or how she got there or why, and the biggest mystery of all is why she married the schmuck who wants her ventilator switched off.

As if that’s not enough Faith has a dead gran haunting her, a young daughter missing her, and one devilishly delicious man making her wish she could have a second chance at life. And maybe she can, if she finds a way back into her body and wakes up by Friday. But if she doesn’t, this will be her last bad week–ever.

Nate Sutherland decided long ago he’d settle for friendship if he couldn’t have Faith’s heart. But now, as she nears death, he’s going to have to listen to his feelings in a whole new way–and act. Because if he doesn’t, this week will be the worst damn week of his life. He’ll lose everything he’s ever loved.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

MISS ADVENTURE - by Geralyn Corcillo

Miss Adventure Cover

Day-dreaming city girl Lisa Flyte decides to face her fears and get a backbone by going on daring outdoor adventures with the cynical adrenaline junkie Jack Hawkins. She survives all the treks, dives, and jumps (barely!), but can she use her new found moxie to become the alpha hero of her everyday life? Will she find the grit to go after a career she really wants or the nerve to stand up to her bulling family? And will she get gutsy enough to go after Jack? He’s a man who’s not afraid of anything…except falling for Lisa.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

CHEATING TO SURVIVE – by Christina Ardigo

Cheating_To_Survive_E-Book_CoverEdge-of-your-seat Drama, Steamy Romance & Hilarious Humor!

So many Women are trapped in Marriages & feel they have no options.

Is Cheating the Answer? Heather traveled down a forbidden Road. TWICE.

And she was Married.

Can Cheating on Your Husband Bring Unimaginable Pleasure or Completely Destroy Your World?

To her three daughters, Heather is a fun-loving, silly mom. Her co-workers at Norlyn Plains Hospital think she has it all, including a handsome lawyer husband.

But when a flirtatious new doctor chooses Heather to spend his down time with, he reminds her of the man she regrettably gave up so many years before. Each interaction breathes new life into her and she gives in to the doctor’s seductions, threatening her fifteen year marriage.

Her co-workers Victoria and Catherine, are stunned by her actions, but when they see the positive transformation in Heather, and question their own crumbling marriages, they wonder if she has the right idea.

Can cheating on their husbands bring the three of them happiness? Or will they be destroyed by the consequences?

Available Amazon $3.99 eBook $11.99 print

BLACKMAIL BRIDE – by Storm Chase

Small Blackmail Bride by Storm Chase

No swirling highlanders here! This is a modern Scottish novel (But the hero is a hunk and the heroine has brains!)

Stalked by her abusive ex-husband, Lucy Grant is desperate for a protector. Lucy aims for the one man who is tough enough for the job, ex-convict Jack Welsh. Found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Jack Welsh is convinced Lucy’s ex set him up. Jack will do anything to clear his name – even if it means marrying Lucy. A story of love and redemption with fully depicted love scenes.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $1.49 eBook

 

THE DEGAS GIRL – by AJ Adams

small The Degas Girl“He wore jeans and a turquoise T-shirt. The colour made his eyes look blue instead of green. I wasn’t fooled by his looks and his gentle ways. This man had a will of iron, and by the way he looked at me, I could see he was just as determined to control me as Angelo. He just used his tongue instead of his fists.

I’d go along with it, because anything that kept me out of the hole meant I had a chance to escape. I’d pretend to be docile, and as soon as he fell asleep or took his eye off me, I’d make a run for it.

He looked me over, frowning slightly. Suddenly I wondered if he was changing his mind. Maybe he wasn’t going to let me eat. Maybe it was a game. Maybe he’d show me the food, and then tie me up and leave me to starve while he stuffed his face. I was trembling at the thought. “

###

Serenity Bishop is a work of art. Her skin a canvas, decorated with the scars of her evil captor’s twisted abuse. But her tormentor, Angelo, is about to lose control.

Zachary Schiavelli is an art thief and forger. His handsome face is merely the mask that hides a cold, calculating man whose own childhood of abuse has honed him into a remorseless killing machine.

Zachary is about to take an intense disliking to Angelo.

Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire.

In a violent tale of mob rule where violence begets violence, an unlikely alliance between two forces of nature is about to change the face of organized crime. When Serenity and Zachary collide, it’s an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, and everyone around them is about to get caught in the crossfire.

A complete novel with no cliff-hangers.

A violent tale of mob rule and dark romance. Warning contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex. Adults only

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $3.99 eBook

A FAIR EXCHANE – by Monique McDonell

A_Fair_Exchange (2)Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?

What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out. What a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.

How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.

Available Amazon $2.99 eBook

THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP – by CeCe Osgood

Divorced Not Dead Workshop. Final.contrast ebookcover (2)Divorced five years ago and recently dumped by Theo, her Brit boyfriend, Dorsey brainstorms about a dating workshop for divorced men. Too bad she’s an idea person with zero follow-through.
That all changes when her feisty best friend opts to set up the workshop on a cruise ship. But do things ever really work out as planned. No. No, they don’t.

A startling mishap, rebellious workshop attendees and the arrival of handsome but wily Finn Woodall soon send things topsy-turvy for Dorsey. More trouble arises with the unexpected re-appearance of Theo. Will Dorsey and Theo rekindle their relationship? Or is she smitten with Finn who could possibly be a back-stabbing weasel? And has the workshop made a difference in what she desires in life … and love?

Available Amazon $2.99

THE UNICORN’S DAUGHTER – by Norma Beishir

unicornJaime Lynde would stop at nothing to find the truth….

As a child, she was told her father was dead, but one by one, the lies began to unravel. James Lynde was an operative for the OSS during World War II, and later for the CIA. In 1986, he was still alive and working undercover in Libya. As Jaime followed his trail, a traitor followed hers…and the US prepared to take military action….

“Beishir pens a winner with this gripping thriller…she confidently builds to a revelatory and spellbinding finale.”

– Publishers Weekly

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $2.99 eBook

WE’VE ALWAYS GOT NEW YORK – by Jill Knapp

Weve_always_got_new_york high resThe second book in Jill Knapp’s fabulous series about dating in New York picks up after Amalia Hastings returns to Manhattan from her trip to Brazil – and finds that life has indeed gone on without her.

Fresh off the plane, Amalia’s feeling anxious and unresolved; left alone to pick up the pieces and deal with the repercussions of choosing her own path over Michael.

Without an apartment, without a job, and starting to wonder if she’s even without a best friend, she finds herself holding on tightly to the one thing she is familiar with, New York City.

Sometimes you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be…

Available Amazon $4.74

 

TO ENTER TO #WIN THESE AMAZING BOOKS….

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Anti-Resolutions in 2015

26 Jan

Anti-Resolution

While resolution-setting took the blogosphere by storm, I sat quietly and let it pass me by. I didn’t set any resolutions this year.

So far, January has consisted of me going off my medication, so that I can to go onto another type. This will mark my sixth anti-depressant, and is pretty much the last one on the market that I haven’t tried (that is suitable for my particular situation). I have a fairly high drug tolerance, so was on the highest dose of medication when I began to go off it. Basically, that means that my January has been full of anxiety, exhaustion, negativity and emptiness. Not exactly the ‘fresh start’ that I had hoped the new year would be.

I didn’t set any resolutions this year, because I don’t need to set myself up for disappointment, for failure.

In 2015, I want to keep trying to make my life better; I want to be healthier, stronger, and more on track with my goals. That’s it – I’m not going to set any more specific parameters than that.

I know there are so many of us out there, who are struggling just to make it through each day. I wish I could say ‘it will all be ok!’, but I can’t. What I can say, is that the chances of life getting better are significantly smaller if we stop trying. That’s all we can really do – keep putting one foot in front of the other, and hope that one day things will be better.

I suppose that’s what it all comes down to. Hope.

I hope that 2015 is the year that things get better for all of us.

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Guest Post: Why You Should Add Aqua Aerobics to your Exercise Routine

12 Jan

Aqua Aerobics

Happy 2015! It’s a new year, and a fresh start! I’m looking forward to putting 2014 behind me, and striving for better in 2015. I know one thing I really should be doing is exercising more… but being the Queen of excuses (including the somewhat valid depression and chronic fatigue), I often find myself avoiding the treadmill in favour of coffee with a friend, or a good book. However, when the lovely Kaitlin Gardner, from An Apple per Day, asked whether I’d like her to tell you guys about her newly discovered exercise routine, I was keen – not only because it;s always nice to be inspired by someone’s new discoveries, but because I’ve actually tried this one myself and had a blast! So, without further ado, here’s Kaitlin!

There are times when I need a workout but the weather is too bad to go outside for a run. The treadmill at the gym is just too monotonous for me, so I look for a change of pace. That’s when aqua aerobics gives me a great workout, and an enjoyable experience at the same time.

The basics. Aqua aerobics doesn’t have to be complicated – if I am in the water doing something that raises my heart rate, that can qualify as a water workout. Part of the appeal is the simplicity – I don’t have to figure out that weight machine at the gym, I can just pop in the water and go aqua walking and I’ll get a great workout. There are a lot of benefits to water workouts and since I’m not much of a swimmer, it gives me a way to enjoy being in the pool. Here are some more resources with additional information:

The gentle part. The water provides a low impact option, which makes it appealing compared to being on a running trail. My legs don’t get as sore when I work out in the water, because my feet land so gently during an exercise. This is because of buoyancy – in the water my body only has to support a fraction of its own weight, so I feel lighter just being in the water. I injured my knee one time and had to take a break for running. I could still work out in the water while letting the injury heal.

The variety. Sometimes at the gym, I will fall into a rut, and go do that same workout over and over. The water provides a perfect way to get a break in my routine. If I’m stressed and need a calm down session, I can go to an aqua tai chi or yoga class. If I need a really vigorous workout, I will go for a kick boxing session. Trying to kick in the water really challenges me. If I’m feeling adventurous, I will go to an aqua Zumba class, where I can do all those sexy hip swinging moves. I’m too shy to try that on land, but in the pool, most of my body is underwater, and if I fall off balance and miss a step, no one can see. If I don’t want to think about what to do next, I just go to a group class and follow the instructor.

Aqua jogging. We all have favourite exercise routines, and for me, it’s hard to beat aqua jogging. I go to our community indoor pool when the lap lanes are open, jump in a lane and begin moving up and down with a good jogging posture. I can get a great cardio burn because of the resistance element of water. I wear some ratty old tennis shoes to protect my feet from the rough pool bottom, and put a water bottle at the end of the lane to stay hydrated. It’s hard to tell when you’re doing it, but you really do sweat in the water.

The health part. In the water, I get a benefit that I can’t get on land. My heart rate will be around 13 percent lower – on average, that’s 17 fewer beats per minute. This is thought to happen because of the lessened impact of gravity and the lower water temperature. This means that I can work just as hard as I would in the gym, and put less stress on my heart. I like that advantage.

When I walk away from a water workout, it’s usually with a smile on my face, because I’ve gotten a solid workout, and enjoyed myself doing it.

An Apple per Day

 

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolours. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

When I gave Aqua Zumba a shot, a friend and I essentially flailed about in the pool for an hour. I’m a true water baby, and a million times better at water sports then I am on land, but even I struggled to keep my feet beneath me – but it was so much fun! I don’t know if you can break a sweat in the water, but you can definitely get out of breath. Aqua Zumba was a fun way to exercise without it really feeling like exercising! That, to me, is the best way to get your heart rate up and that number on the scale down. Now, if only I can follow Kaitlin’s own advice for a healthier 2015! Head on over and check out her blog – it’s full of great, and realistic, tips for a healthier life. 

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Review: The Kill List by Nichole Christoff

10 Jan

The Kill List Book Cover The Kill List
A Jamie Sinclair Novel

Mystery/Thriller
247

As a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.

Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.

I received a copy of The Kill List by Nichole Christoff from the lovely Lisa at TLC Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

This book wasted no time cutting to the chase. With a crazed stalker setting his sights on security specialist Jamie Sinclair in the first few pages, Christoff quickly added an ex-husband with a missing child, and threw in another few mysteries for good measure. At breakneck speed, the clues unravel and the mysteries cross paths as they slowly unravel themselves.

This was the kind of mystery that was detailed but not dry, leaving me reading until 2am to find out what happened. I found the dynamic between Jamie and her ex-husband an interesting dynamic, which really impacted how the case unravelled. I also liked the military aspect of the story; Jamie had a military background that strongly influenced her character development, and I enjoyed her perspective on how the army base and it’s own investigations proceeded.

I thought Christoff wrote Jamie’s character to be a good balance of tough-woman-in-a-man’s-game, and vulnerable. It can be easy to skew too far in either direction, but I thought Christoff achieved a happy medium. Jamie’s character development also lent itself well to the romantic plot line in the book – instead of being included for the sake of it, the character of Adam Barrett helped develop the plot and the main character herself. I also appreciated the fact that, even though Jamie travelled between the army base, Washington, New Jersey and Philadelphia, the book didn’t make the reader waste time in transit. Nor did it detract from the story at all. Sometimes extensive travel in a book is frustrating, because the characters are stuck in a car or a plane instead of being on the ground furthering the story, but this was definitely not the case here.

With the second book in the series due out in March (The Kill Shot), I don’t have long to wait before I can get my hands on the next instalment in the series. I’m looking forward seeing how the characters introduced in the first book are incorporated into the second! This is definitely a great mystery/thriller for someone looking for something that isn’t too heavy, but is definitely riveting!

Amazon

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Review: The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley

8 Jan

The Divorce Diet Book Cover The Divorce Diet

Chick Lit
241

Abigail loves her baby Rosie, her husband Thad, and food. She takes great joy and comfort in concocting culinary delights to show the depth of her love and commitment to her family. Imagine her surprise when Thad announces, this whole marriage thing just doesn't work for me. Abigail can't believe he really means what he's said, but he does. Abigail and Rosie move back in to her parents' house, where she regresses into her adolescent self. She diets, finds work, and begins to discover the life she really wants, and a man who really wants her.

I received a copy of The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley from the lovely Lisa at TLC Book Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

Abigail is on a diet. And then her life falls apart. Coincidence? I think not! Diets never end well…

Ok, perhaps it wasn’t the diet that caused all of her problems… Abigail’s asshole husband, Thad (her words, not mine!), played a large part in the demise of her upper-middle-class dream world, when he decided that marriage wasn’t for him. It would seem that he preferred the carefree flings of a single man, above the responsibilities of a husband and a new father. So, Abigail finds herself living with her parents and lying on job applications to hide her serious lack of any job experience. A lover of food, caught in the struggle between enjoying her passion and living the ‘natural’ diet life that her weight loss book insists will change her life, Abigail fights the good fight – but ends up where most of us do, sneaking chocolate cake out of the laundry hamper.

This book follows Abigail as she tries to rebuild her life, and discover who she really is and wants to be. At the beginning of the book, all she really knows is that her beautiful daughter Rosie is the centre of her universe. Throughout, she talks to the guru from her diet book, who insists that her life will be perfect if only she can follow the books advice.

As someone who has been on a perpetual diet since age seventeen, coupled with appetite suppressants, gym regimens and metabolism boosters (thanks PCOS, you’re not making it easy for me!), I know all too well the voice of the diet guru. It’s the voice in my head that tells me that I shouldn’t be buttering my bread – or eating bread at all. It’s the voice that says I don’t need a sugar in my bitter coffee, and reminds me not to eat grapes, because they used to fatten up my great-grandmother every summer. It’s also a voice that I regularly ignore, against my better judgement, which comes with a sharp reprimand from the guru and a side of guilt. Every time Abigail laments the use of fake butter, questions the validity of refried beans, and scoffs at the notion of a healthy ‘beanadilla’ for lunch, I understood her perfectly.

As well as empathising with her battle with the diet guru (and inevitable realisation that she’s better off loving herself for who she is), I was rooting for Abigail to overcome her lack of confidence and figure out how to turn her talents and passions into a career. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for, really?

It took a little while to get used to the somewhat fragmented style of writing, as Abigail banters with the voice in her head, but it was so relatable that I overcame the initial clunkiness to realise that the writing style closely resembled my own thinking – and that of women all over the world, I’m sure. It was the overall message of the book that really appealed to me. That diets (even when lauded as a ‘lifestyle’, not a diet) aren’t sustainable – or fun, that women need to love themselves as they are, that everyone else should love them as they are too – and that if they don’t, they’re not worth having around. This is the eternal struggle of my life. I liked the kinship I felt for Abigail, and it positively impacted how I saw the book. Perhaps if you’ve never felt the need to diet, or never dated/married a scumbag, you may not enjoy it as much as I did, but I definitely recommend it!

Amazon | Book Depository

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