Archives for March 2015

Boost It Tuesday! – March 31, 2015

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free ChanceCandace’s Book Blog, & Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday!

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

Here are some tips for Boosting. A big thanks to Kate at If These Books Could Talk for the image!

Boost It Poster

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Every Free Chance Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


 
 

efchappy

Melissa’s Review: Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson

Return to Oakpine

Return to Oakpine
written by Ron Carlson
published by Viking, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I spent the first two hundred pages wondering if perhaps I’m not quite old enough to enjoy a book as notstalgic as Return to Oakpine. I didn’t notice I’d fallen in love until I’d nearly finished reading, and now I’m wishing I’d have read more slowly and enjoyed it a bit more (insert Yo Dawg meme here). The whole “everything is like high school” theme was a bit too blatant for my taste, and MILD SPOILER ALERT the timing of Jimmy’s death was just a touch too convenient to be believable. Ultimately, though, Carlson’s written a lovely book about human nature that I’m glad I read.

 

GOLDEN LINES

“‘You can get your innocence back?’ Kathleen said to him.

‘Oh yes, ma’am. I’ve read about it.'”

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Would I recommend it: You’ll love it if you’re in the mood for nostalgia.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
From a widely admired author, a poignant novel about homecoming, friendship, growing up, and growing old for fans of Richard Ford and Richard Russo

In this finely wrought portrait of western American life, Ron Carlson takes us to the small town of Oakpine, Wyoming, and into the lives of four men trying to make peace with who they are in the world.

In high school, these men were in a band. One of them, Jimmy, left Oakpine for New York City after the tragic death of his brother. A successful novelist, he has returned thirty years later, in 1999—because he is dying.

With Carlson’s characteristic grace, we learn what has become of these friends and the different directions of their lives. Craig and Frank never left; Mason, a top lawyer in Denver, is back in town to fix up and sell his parents’ house. Now that they are reunited, getting the band back together might be the most important thing they can do.

Return to Oakpine
is a generous, tender look at friendship, family, and the roads not taken, by a writer at the peak of his craft.

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Toys in Space by Mini Grey

storytime

Toys in Space

Toys in Space
written by Mini Grey
published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book:  This was a fun and imaginative book! Both my child and I had fun every time we read this book. Toys in Space follows seven toys who are left in the backyard overnight for the first time. What I love about the story is that rather than have the action happen to the toys, the toys are imagining (and telling) a story in which they are taken to space in order to pass the time until morning when their owner will come and take them back inside.

Each of the seven toys has their own personality, and my son and I had fun giving them different voices as we read! It’s interesting to hear the seven toys collectively tell a story and hear how each of them had ideas to add to the story to make it better. This is great example of group storytelling and shows young readers how a story is constructed.

The illustrations are wonderful and fit the mood and theme of the story perfectly. The layout is done in a way that keeps the storytelling toys separate from the story being told without making it confusing at all. Some of the storytelling layout reminded me a little of graphic novels or comic books–there are added side panels in which the toys discuss the story. The art and layouts perfectly complemented the story!

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Would I recommend it: Pick this book up and have some fun with it! This is a fun, silly tale that children (and adults) of all ages will love to read again and again (and I really recommend fun voices for the different characters)!

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About the book – from Goodreads: A very silly (not-too-scary) story about losing a beloved toy.

That summer night, the toys were left outside. . . . For the very first time, the Wonderdoll, the helpful wind-up robot, the thoughtful green dinosaur, and the rest of their plucky gang lie in the grass, gazing up at the stars. But one star seems brighter than the rest. As it grows bigger and bigger, the toys realize it may not be a star at all! Soon they’re venturing into the unknown, traveling by spaceship, where they meet a lonely alien in need of help, and some friends.

From ever-inventive, award-winning author-illustrator Mini Grey comes a hilarious and heartfelt new adventure: a motley group of toys left outside in the garden become true friends and brave heroes–in space!

 

efchappy

Melissa’s Review: Recipes and Road Stories by Hannah and Caroline Melby

Recipes and Road Stories: Life on the Road with Sisters Hannah and Caroline Melby of the duo HanaLena

Recipes and Road Stories
written by Hannah and Caroline Melby
published by Smashwords, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I don’t know who these two pretty girls are, but not knowing the subject of a memoir has never stopped me from reading before, so I dug in. I shouldn’t have. If you’re a music star and the only publisher you can get for your book is Smashwords (no offense, Smashwords), then perhaps you should do a bit more editing. Or hire a ghost writer. Probably both.

The stories were poorly written, not that interesting, and completely missing the stuff that gets people to read memoirs–the juicy details. Yeah, it’s cool that you jumped on a trampoline once. I’ve done that too. The recipes weren’t that great either, unless you’re used to using ingredients like “hot dog buns” and “cake mix” in your cuisine.

HINT: Next time, try interspersing the recipes with the anecdotes, and oh, I don’t know, mention something about when you actually ATE the food instead of mumbling something about a drive-thru burger. Just a thought.

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Would I recommend it: If you’re a HanaLena fangirl, you probably want this in your collection, but I’m going to laugh at you if you buy it for the hot dog recipes.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
A Remarkable Coming of Age Story About Two Young Girls Growing Into Womanhood on the Bluegrass Circuit.

By the time Hannah was in the 11th grade and Caroline was in the 7th grade, the Melby sisters were touring the country in bluegrass bands, with Hannah on fiddle and Caroline on mandolin. Today the sisters are the front persons of a very popular Nashville-based country music touring band named HanaLena.

Do they ever have some great stories to tell about coming of age on the concert trail!

Recipes and Road Stories: Life on the Road with Sisters Hannah and Caroline Melby of the duo HanaLena blends touching and rollicking road stories with an assortment of tasty recipes, and then tops everything off with plenty of exciting photographs.

Also contributing recipes are friends they made on the road, including Rhonda Vincent, a 5-time Grammy nominee who has been called the “Queen of Bluegrass,” and Claire Lynch, who is the reigning Female Vocalist of the Year for the International Bluegrass Association.

The sisters, who grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, performed from an early age—Hannah is now 28, Caroline is 24—evolving from bluegrass to progressive country as they perfected their songwriting and performance skills out on the road. In 2008 they won the “Best New Act in Country Music” competition at the Colgate Country Showdown in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville—and took home a check for a cool $100,000 presented by country music star LeAnn Rimes.

On the road they have opened for stars such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and performed with Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin and the “King of Bluegrass” Jimmy Martin, who was a frequent performer on the Opry before his death in 2005.

 

efchappy

Blog Tour: Guardians of Terath: Seeking Sorrow by Zen DiPietro (Melissa’s review)

sorrowblast
Guardians of Terath: Seeking Sorrow (Book #1)

Guardians of Terath: Seeking Sorrow
written by Zen DiPietro
published by Soul Mate Publishing, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) AmazonGoodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did.

It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s solid. The characters are complex and interesting, and DiPietro’s done a stellar job with world building. My only complaint is about pace. I’m typically an “OMG skip to the important parts” sort of gal, but I found myself wishing DiPietro would slow down a bit and let me enjoy the important moments more. Seeking Sorrow is a tightly packed book, but I hope DiPietro leaves room for some meandering in the rest of the series.

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Would I recommend it: It’s definitely worth the investment.

melissasig
About the book – from Goodreads: 
An earth-like world of high-tech humans faces the reality that their world is not as safe as they thought it was. Five people are thrown together to quietly get to the bottom of an unfathomable mana event that must stay quiet. If the population of Terath becomes aware of the truth, it will spark a civil war. That war would pit the majority of the population against the powerful minority with the ability to harness and manipulate mana. The resulting cataclysm would decimate the population and tear apart the foundation of society.

The five people chosen for this must reconsider everything they thought they knew about mana, even as they learn to trust one another’s abilities. They must embrace everything they never wanted in order to prevent the devastation of their world. One of them will be forever changed. Love will be denied, badassery will be unleashed, and Terath will never be the same.

 

 

ZenDiPietroAbout the author: Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, a fantasy/sci-fi writer, a dancer, and a mom of two. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. Particular loves include badass heroines, Star Trek, British accents, baba ganoush, and the smell of Band-Aids. Writing reviews, author interviews, and fun stuff at www.womenofbadassery.com.

Find Ms. DiPietro here: web, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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efchappy

 

Guest Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

 

A Long Way DownA Long Way Down
written by Nick Hornby
published by Riverhead Books, 2005

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: There’s got to be at least one character in a book that I care about. I was slogging through a modern classic–I won’t name it here–with the least likable set of characters I’d ever encountered. I pushed through to the halfway mark, and then I said, “Why am I doing this? I’m going to find a novel whose people touch my heart.”

I was lucky enough to pick up Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. I really enjoyed the book.

The cover of my copy of A Long Way Down shows four pairs of shoes hovering over a blue sky. The wing tips are fallen talk show host Martin’s. The comfortable oxfords are 51-year-old Maureen’s. Teenaged smart-mouth Jess owns the black Keds (and the red socks), and the boots belong to rock star wannabe JJ. These four unlikely compatriots meet atop Topper’s Tower in London one New Year’s Eve. Each climbs to the roof alone, intending to jump and end a life that no longer has meaning.

They come down in a pack, on a mission to find Jess’s erstwhile boyfriend. Then, mission accomplished, they find they can neither break their connection nor complete their original mission.

The book is told in all four voices, so we get inside each of their heads–miserable screw-up Martin, who had it all and lost it via his own stupidity; self-effacing Maureen, whose life has been spent caring for a son so disabled he has no awareness; the jilted Jess, whose sister is missing–a probable suicide; and musician JJ, who lost his band, his love, and his will to live.

This band of misfits screws up regularly and sometimes spectacularly. They’re drifty and lunatic, self-centered and clueless, and yet–I care about each one.

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Would I recommend it: I recommend A Long Way Down if you want a funny book with likable characters that admits to hope. Don’t look for saccharine, though–true love doesn’t come waltzing through the door, nor do the foolish become wise with the flash of a Hogwarts’ wand. But people on the wrong course do manage, with determination and an odd kind of courage, to turn their baggage-heavy ships. They get by,–yes, they do,–with a little help from their odd cast of friends.

~ Pam, guest reviewer & EFC Short Story Contest Winner ~

 

About the book – from Goodreads: In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

What’s your jumping-off point?

Maureen
Why is it the biggest sin of all? All your life you’re told that you’ll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on. And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all. Oh, I can see that it’s a kind of queue-jumping. But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut. Or sometimes they say “Excuse me, I was here first.” They don’t say “You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity.” That would be a bit strong.

Martin
I’d spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: “He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.” And then you read the story about the poor bastard: His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he’d lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before . . . Hello, Mr. Coroner? I’m sorry, but there’s no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I’d say he got it just right.

Jess
I was at a party downstairs. It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space-out reggae. At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it-Happy New Year to you, too. You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you’d still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve. And I wasn’t the happiest person in London anyway. Obviously.

JJ
New Year’s Eve was a night for sentimental losers. It was my own stupid fault. Of course there’d be a low-rent crowd up there. I should have picked a classier date-like March 28, when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or November 25 (Nick Drake). If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like-minded souls, rather than hopeless f*ck-ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant.

 

efchappy

Boost It Tuesday! – March 24, 2015

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free ChanceCandace’s Book Blog, & Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

Here are some tips for Boosting. A big thanks to Kate at If These Books Could Talk for the image!

Boost It Poster

 

As an added bonus, Candace and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to Gin’s Book Notes Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!

 
 

efchappy

Book Club Recap: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

efcrecap

I love my book club. I always look forward to spending time with the lovely ladies and enjoying snacks, wine, and books. This book club we enjoyed some red wines, and one of them was a Fifty Shades wine (if you’re curious, it was delicious).

A.J. Fikry is probably one of the characters the girls and I love most so far in book club. We think his quirkiness makes him endearing and interesting, and we love how he Googles things about raising a child (because let’s face it – we do it too).

We talked about the type of legacy we want to leave with our children. I think there are a lot of us who thought about making a list of books we hope our children read. I said it would be a hard book list to make because there are so many books that have left an impression on me. The discussion on legacy even led us to a discussion on baby books we’ve yet to complete because our lives as mothers are crazy.

My book club loved this book, and those who didn’t finish it before the meeting were told to do so at their earliest convenience because that’s how special The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is to all of us.

 

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The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
written by Gabrielle Zevin
published by Algonquin Books

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Be sure to check out Gina’s 5-star review here

About the book – from Goodreads: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elisa Broach

storytime

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything
written by Elise Broach
published by Simon and Schuster

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository

Did I enjoy this book: When Dinosaurs came with Everything is a really great book! It has a fun and silly story for the kids and enough humor to keep the adults reading the book happy as well.

Our favorite part was that the story made us believe that one day we might walk into our favorite grocery store and instead of getting a free cookie, we might get a dinosaur! In fact, this story prompted some science discussion with my three-year-old to ensure that he understood even though dinosaurs are real, they lived a very long time ago (and stores don’t give them away). “But Mum,” he argued, “we have a backyard too . . . they could live there!”

The illustrations are a perfect complement to this goofy story, and the dinosaurs are well-crafted (even though they are cartoony). The font placement and sizes added to the effect, making us understand the mother’s disdain for the giant reptiles that were following her home.

The ending is cute, and I like that the underlying lesson is that being part of a family means helping out, even if you are a dinosaur!

Golden Lines
“I hugged her leg. ‘Don’t worry, Mom. They can live in the backyard!'”
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Would I recommend it: This is a great book for a quick, silly read. It would be especially good for any children who REALLY like dinosaurs! I’d say go for it!

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About the book – from Barnes & Noble:

Get a WHAT!?
Free WHAT!?
DINOSAURS?

Just when a little boy thinks he’s going to die of boredom from running errands with his mom, the most remarkable, the most stupendous thing happens. He discovers that on this day, and this day only, stores everywhere are giving away a very special treat with any purchase. No, not the usual lollipop or sticker. Something bigger. Much, MUCH bigger. It’s a dream come true, except…what exactly do you do with these Jurassic treats? And how do you convince Mom to let you keep them?

 

efchappy

Chrissy’s Review: Wedding Haters by Melissa Baldwin

Wedding HatersWedding Haters
written by Melissa Baldwin
published by Melissa Baldwin

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I did some editing work on this title. After that work was completed, I was asked by the author to review the book. I received a copy of this book for review purposes. Although I was compensated for the editing work, it in no way affected the outcome of my review. My review is my honest opinion of the book.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really did. It was a fun read that anyone who has planned a wedding will find humorous! If you are currently planning your wedding, I would save it for your honeymoon! 😉

We join Madison and Cole as they plan their wedding with the help of Sienna. We pick up shortly after An Event to Remember . . . Or Forget leaves off. (You can see my review here.) Madison has an idea for her perfect day in mind, but as with most weddings, things don’t go exactly as she hoped. Her grandmother and cousins all have opinions about what should and should not happen with the wedding, including changing the plans Madison already made. I love Madison’s friends Sienna and Abby. Cole’s parents are such sweethearts. We also get an update on Ace and even Luke!!

I laughed out loud. I gasped out loud. There were a few times that I just stared at the book with my mouth hanging open in disbelief. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it!

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Would I recommend it: Absolutely! If you liked An Event to Remember . . . Or Forget, you will definitely like this one! And even if you haven’t read An Event, you will like this fun chick lit read.

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About the book – from Goodreads:
The exquisite dress, the dazzling menu, the family drama . . . It’s the day every girl dreams of, and Madison Wales is no exception. Her wedding plans seem to be going perfectly thanks to her very talented wedding planner, Sienna Harris. That is, until her grandmother and her two overachieving, bullying cousins suddenly want to become very involved in her big day. But . . . why?

Madison’s perfect wedding dreams are dashed as things slowly start to unravel. With family drama in her midst, she wonders if her cousins are behind each disaster or if she has truly become a paranoid bridezilla.

Will Madison be able to withstand all of the pressure and finally stand up for herself? The idea of eloping with her fiancé, Cole, is looking better everyday, even if it means leaving her dream wedding behind. Will she make the right choice?  

 

efchappy