Archives for August 2015

Blog Tour: Striking Out by Scarlet Bennett (Chrissy’s review, giveaway)


Striking OutStriking Out (Sharon Jackson, #1)
written by Scarlet Bennett
published by Firefield Press, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, 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: 
Once I got to about the halfway mark, I was invested in the story and I wanted to see how it ended. So, yes, I did enjoy Striking Out.

As I said, it took about half the book to get into the story. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it during the first half. However, Sharon (Shazza) really grew on me, and I was rooting for her as the book progressed. Sharon hasn’t had it easy, and she fights for what she needs. She has a chip on her shoulder but for good reason. She is full of surprises, spunk, and drive. I really liked her by the middle of the story, and I wanted her to have a happy ending.

The other characters were secondary. I can’t say any of them held a spotlight. They each brought something different to the story and to Sharon. My favorites were Todd, Roderick, and Kevin. Des, Jillian, and Simon added to the story as well.

Keep in mind that this book is written by an Australian author and set in Australia. There are quite a few Australian sayings that may not be familiar to American readers. Personally, I loved reading it and being immersed in Australian dialect.


Would I recommend it: Sure. It was a fairly quick read that will leave you happy. And I will read the next book in the Sharon Jackson series.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Forced out of her home in regional Australia with her singing career in ruins, Sharon Jackson hits the city in search of stardom. But the macho world of rock-n’-roll is hard to crack, and Shazza finds herself in trouble. Her career is going nowhere, her past won’t stay buried, and everything she’s worked for is on the line.

With a sleazy agent who wants more than his fair share , how is she ever going to make it to the top? Shazza has a decision to make, and with her past following her at every turn, time is running out.

When she finds herself torn between the brooding guitarist with the dragon tattoo and the whip-smart fighter with demons of his own, Shazza’s life is about to get even more complicated…



ScarletBennett-201x300About the author: Scarlet Bennett spent her formative years in regional Western Australia, and it shows. Years  of city living have softened her broad accent, but the slang she’s stuck with. After earning a Masters degree in Psychology, the colourful characters of her childhood – and that irrepressible Aussie spirit – found their way onto the page. She is a graduate of Allaboutwriting’s mentoring program, and lives in Canberra with her husband, kids, and far more animals than can reasonably fit on a suburban plot.

Find Ms. Bennett here: web, Facebook, Goodreads


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Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).  



Remember all those conversations we’ve been having about independent and dependent clauses? It turns out I actually had a reason for filling your head with all that stuff, and here it is: YOU’RE WRITING TOO MANY SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. Stop it, okay?

FRAGMENTS are incomplete sentences, that is, sentences that are missing either a subject, verb, or complete thought. Fix sentence fragments with a bit of clever punctuation, a few more words, or even another sentence. Let’s look at some examples:

Donna wants to remember. But can’t.  The fragment is obvious, right? Check out this easy fix: Donna wants to remember but can’t. Problem solved! 

The Doctor likes food. For example, jammy dodgers and fish fingers with custard. Can you fix this one? Try this: The Doctor likes food, especially jammy dodgers and fish fingers with custard.



Listen, guys. I know fragments can be cool sometimes. They’re especially awesome in scenes with a lot of dialogue, especially if your character stammers or has a stutter. PLEASE BE CAREFUL, though. There’s a fine line between intentional fragment use and thinking you don’t need to use the rules of grammar because you’re just a naturally talented writer. You can’t compose a symphony without learning to play the instruments, you can’t be a chess master without first learning how each piece moves, and you can’t be the next Shakespeare unless you know the basic rules of grammar. So. Use fragments in moderation (mainly in dialogue), and don’t ever, EVER use them in formal or technical writing. Please? For me?



noun frag·ment \ˈfrag-mənt\
: a broken part or piece of something

: an incomplete part

Full Definition of FRAGMENT

:  a part broken off, detached, or incomplete


Resources/Further Reading: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: with EFC Writer in the subject line.




Story Time with Sara: Eat Dirt Balls by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar


Eat Dirt BallsThe Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric: Eat Dirt Balls
written by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar
published by CreateSpace, 2015

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

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
This is the third book in this series that my children and I have read. Eat Dirt Balls is much better than the first book in the series, Amazing Apples. Both my son and I enjoyed how Celia and Cedric were having fun outside “making” food like Dirt Balls for their snack shop. As a matter of fact, my little monster tried to convince me to let him dig up the back yard and make his own dirt balls . . . I said no . . . I know I’m a terrible mother . . .

Now, I am really starting to enjoy the theme that this series is based upon. I like the characters and I enjoy how the children’s imaginative play then translates to some related “healthy” recipe. However, I would argue that the recipe for Dirt Balls, while fun to make and delicious to eat, is not really all that healthy. They seem more of a delicious sweet snack. One of the reasons that I really enjoyed Little Green Dragon is because it used fantasy and imagination to introduce a very healthy and generally hard to sell food, leafy greens, to small children. While I think that Dirt Balls are wonderful and fun . . . anything with chocolate doesn’t really need that hard of a sell in my house. I would really like the authors to tackle some more toughies like mushrooms, asparagus, or even okra. Who knows, the possibilities are endless.

Would I recommend it: Yes, despite that fact that I might disagree about whether or not Dirt Balls are “healthy,” Eat Dirt Balls is still a fun little book. It gave my child ideas for imaginative play and also fostered his continued interest in learning how to cook foods, so I’m going to call it a win! Pick this one up and read it for yourself!


About the book – from Goodreads: After a rainy night Celia had a fun idea as usual. Who knew that what started out as mud and grass clippings would turn out to be the most delicious, delectable snack they or anyone else had tasted…yes, even Celia’s teenage brother, Jake. This is the second book of “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric” series. Other books in the series are: “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric: Amazing Apples!” “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric: Little Green Dragon”



Gina’s Review: Another Summer by Georgia Bockoven


Another SummerAnother Summer (The Beach House #2)
written by Georgia Bockoven
published by HarperTorch, 2001

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
This book series is like Pringles: 0nce I pop, I can’t stop. I love the characters because I would be friends with them. I’d love to sip margaritas on the beach with them. Bockoven has a way of making each storyline flow and feel real. You root for the characters and want them to find their happy ending. My favorite storyline had to do with the pair that met at their school reunion. I know it’s been done before in many books, but this one just made me smile. Summer beach reads should have that feeling. You want that balance of realism and the smell of the ocean. And since I love a good romance, it is perfection.


“If the destination was a broken heart, at least she would always have the memory of the journey.”



Would I recommend it: Absolutely. It is one of my favorite summer reads. This whole series so far has been summer reading perfection.


About the book – from Goodreads: If you’re lost and lonely…come in.The quaint little beach house perched on the Pacific’s edge is a haven for those seeking refuge from life’s tempests. This season the tenants renting the secluded cottage by the sea are different — yet each is searching for something. A young mother wracked with guilt and despair over a tragic death; a beautiful, successful lawyer denying the passion she’s never known…and always desired: a little boy with no laughter in his life; a man and a woman parted for twenty year, who never stopped loving each other, This is where they bring their pain, their broken hearts, their courage, and their dreams. And in this magical summer, this is where their dreams will come true.



Blog Tour: The Singularity series by Susan Kaye Quinn (Melissa’s reviews, giveaway)

Singularity 2


Legacy Human CoverThe Legacy Human (Singularity #1)
written by Susan Kaye Quinn
published by Susan Kaye Quinn, 2014

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

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
I’m already impatient for the next installment!

You know how you’re making the same old chili recipe you always make (which you LOVE), but then on a whim you add a dash of cinnamon instead of cumin and end up with something that’s definitely still chili and definitely still tasty, but in a new and interesting way? Welcome to The Legacy Human.

So picture a sort of Divergent-y world, but instead of personality types everyone’s grouped by artistic talent, then swap out a Hunger Games-type ruling class for some gorgeous yet morally challenged robots and you’ve got the general idea. Add a pinch of “we’re all going to die,” a few sides of the ever-popular love triangle, and a generous spoonful of philosophical truth, stir, and expect to be up way past bedtime finishing this book. Delicious.


Would I recommend it: Yes. Just . . . just try really hard not to notice the grammatical error in the very first sentence. <sigh>

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Spiritual successor to the bestselling Mindjack trilogy…

When transcending humanity is the prize, winning the Game is all that matters.

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in a new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.


Duality BridgeThe Duality Bridge (Singularity #2)
written by Susan Kaye Quinn
published August 17, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
I devoured it. I’m hungry for more. The first book in the series, The Legacy Human, is good, but this book is great. I love Eli, I love the strands of religion and technology all woven together, and I love Leopold most of all. I know, I know: he’s a minor character, but he still kicks a**!

I’m not sure I can wait until spring for the third installment . . .



“‘What are you, Eli?’ he asks in a hushed voice. This is the real question he’s been wanting to ask all along. ‘Nobody special,’ I say with a smirk.”



Would I recommend it: Absolutely.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever.

Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies.

Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all.

The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.

SusanAbout the author: Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

Find Ms. Quinn here: Website * Facebook * Twitter


legacy human

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$25 Blog Tour giveaway


Ends September 6, 2015 – Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an eGift Card or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.



Blog Tour: Family Magic by Patti Larsen (spotlight, guest post, giveaway


Family Magic by Patti Larsen is a young adult paranormal novel that won 1st place in World’s Best Story contest and is published by Premiere. The tour runs August 3-31 with mostly reviews as well as author interviews and guest posts. Check out the tour page for more information.

Family MagicFamily Magic (Hayle Coven Novels #1)
written by Patti Larsen
published by Premiere, 2015

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Her mom’s a witch, her dad’s a demon and she just wants to be ordinary. But, when an insidious evil comes after her family, Sydlynn Hayle has to choose to be the normal girl she craves or step up, embrace her magic and save her coven from disaster.


Top Five Odd Things About Living in a Family with Both a Witch and a Demon

Poor Sydlynn Hayle. I feel for her, I really do. Her life is complicated enough being a teenager just trying to fit in at a new high school. Hers isn’t an ordinary life even outside the struggles of hormones and grades and soccer. Her mom’s a witch, her dad’s a demon and she just wants to be ordinary.

The cool part about Syd is how she integrates her crazy, paranormal family into her attempt to be normal. But, there are still a number of things she struggles with:

1. She’s part demon, part witch. And the two parts of her don’t exactly get along or work together very well for some reason. That means, when she loses her temper or gets excited, her demon side can pop out and take over momentarily, often with embarrassing or hilarious results.

2. Her closest friend is a demon teenager trapped in the body of a silver Persian. And he’s not very happy about it. Sassafras might be much older and wiser than her, but she’s tired of his bossy attitude and the way he wants to run her life.

3. Her little sister looks like a demon. Meira has to hide her appearance from normals every day, unlike Syd who looks human.

4. Her mother is the epitome of a coven leader, down to her silk blouses, pentagram necklace and flowing skirts. Could she be more embarrassing?

5. Her dad doesn’t live with her, at least not full time. He can only cross over into a stone effigy that the family keeps in the basement. For the majority of the time, the demon lord Haralthazar (Harry) lives on his own plane of Demonicon.

Add to the above the fact her powerful grandmother is crazy, her uncle and his girlfriend are vampires who live in cupboards in her basement and she has to move to a new town on a regular basis so the family doesn’t get burned at the stake.

All in a day’s life for Sydlynn Hayle.


Patti-Larsen-200x300About the author: Patti is an award-winning author with a passion for the paranormal. Now with multiple series in happy publication, she lives in Canada with her patient husband and six demanding cats.

Find Ms. Larsen here: web, Twitter, Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Spotlight: Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn (recipe, giveaway)

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing GoodBurnt Toast Makes You Sing Good
written by Kathleen Flinn
published by Penguin, August 2015

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

About the book – from Goodreads: A delicious new memoir from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.

A family history peppered with recipes, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good offers a humorous and flavorful tale spanning three generations as Kathleen Flinn returns to the mix of food and memoir readers loved in herNew York Times bestseller, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Brimming with tasty anecdotes about Uncle Clarence’s divine cornflake-crusted fried chicken, Grandpa Charles’s spicy San Antonio chili, and Grandma Inez’s birthday-only cinnamon rolls, Flinn—think Ruth Reichl topped with a dollop of Julia Child—shows how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be communication. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good will inspire readers (and book clubs) to reminisce about their own childhoods—and spend time in their kitchens making new memories of their own.

burnt toast pic


“Craving a beach read with bite? Kathleen Flinn’s new memoir . . . chronicles her family’s culinary adventures . . . food is a blissful constant, even in the craziest of times.” —Redbook

“Flinn’s Michigan-based clan faced years of struggle with grit and humor . . . Flinn shares uplifting stories of the recipes that shaped her life.” —More Magazine

“Flinn recognizes the turning points in what others would see as ordinary lives and makes them shine, evoking a time and place and an old-fashioned appreciation for family and love.” —Seattle Times

“[A] heartfelt and comforting third memoir about how food, recipes and cooking can add meaning and shape lives. If you’ve ever wondered how the woman who signed up for Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu online (“The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry”) or stalked clueless women in supermarkets (“The Kitchen Counter Cooking School”) came by her sense of humor, her approachable wackiness and her recipe for homemade noodles, it’s here.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

chili recipe

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Boost It Tuesday! – August 25, 2015


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, & If These Books Could Talk 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, Kate, 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!

 if these books could talk


Chrissy’s Review: See You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin

See You Soon Broadway ebook coverSee You Soon Broadway
written by Melissa Baldwin
published by Melissa Baldwin, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, 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 did enjoy reading See You Soon Broadway. It was a fun read that kept me reading from beginning to end.

I really liked Maris. She seemed pretty down to earth and likable. I could “hear” her singing in her park. I could feel her anger toward Trevor. I could imagine her longing to be on Broadway. I went through her wants and desires with her. I really liked how she used her grandmother’s journal to help her find her true calling. Throughout the story, I found myself smiling, laughing, feeling giddy, anxious, upset, sad . . . you get the picture. Ms. Baldwin hits a lot of emotions with See You Soon Broadway. 

Other characters: I liked Maris’s boyfriend, Kyle. He is such a sweetheart and a near-perfect boyfriend. I really liked him. Did he have some flaws? Yes, but I liked him all the more. Georgie, Maris’s roommate, is fantastic. She is Maris’s best friend and I loved their interaction, especially how she included Maris in her group of doctors’ wives and girlfriends. Trevor is the other guy that Maris literally bumps into. They have chemistry, but there are some things that I didn’t like about him. However, his love and devotion to his grandmother, Beatrice is fabulous. I love Beatrice. She cracked me up. And I love how Maris comes to meet and gets to know Beatrice. Maris’s sister, Cassie, is a bit different. She is the classic older sister and she is always there for Maris. Her yoga, centering, peaceful ways fit her.



Would I recommend it: I would recommend See You Soon Broadway. It was a fun read!


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Maris Forrester has a wonderful life with an amazing boyfriend and a fulfilling job. She’s happy and content . . . or so she thinks. Maris has always had huge dreams of being on Broadway. Ever since her very first performance as a child, she has envisioned herself on the stage under the shining lights. Now she has to decide whether she should to give up her wonderful life to chase those dreams.

When her parents announce they are moving, she comes across a long-lost family treasure. She doesn’t realize that this treasure may hold the key to her future and to all her dreams coming true.

And if that wasn’t sign enough, a mysterious stranger throws another wrench in the mix at a dazzling rooftop party benefiting the Arts. These could be signs of things to come.

But will she remain content in her perfect world, or will she step into the unknown world she has always dreamed of?




The EFC Writer – Complex and Compound Sentences


Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).


TODAY’S TOPIC: Complex and Compound Sentences

We’ve already established that good writing utilizes more than just simple sentences (check out my post HERE to learn more). Now let’s chat a bit about how to polish your prose. First up, compound sentences:

COMPOUND SENTENCES are just two simple sentences stuck together. Use either a semicolon or a conjunction (and, or, nor, but, yet, for, so), and voila! Instant sentence upgrade! Let’s try it!

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.”  COMPOUND: “Clara is cool, but I like Rose better.” COMPOUND: “Clara is cool; I like Rose better.”  Still totally easy! Be careful, though—hooking too many simple sentences together will make your prose sound like it was written by a three-year-old.

COMPLEX SENTENCES hook a simple sentence (an independent clause) to at least one dependent clause (a dependent clause is a group of words that doesn’t form a sentence on its own). Use words like although, while, that, who, or because to link your clauses. Ready to give it a go?

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.” COMPLEX: “Although Clara is cool, I like Rose better.”

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.” COMPLEX: “I like Rose better because the Bad Wolf story arc is awesome.”

Can you identify the different clauses? In the first example, “I like Rose better” is the simple sentence and “although Clara is cool” is the dependent clause. The comma is just another added bonus to help you figure things out. Nice, right? In the second sentence the word “because” links the two clauses to form a complex sentence.

So. Take some deep breaths. You’ve probably been writing sentences like these forever . . . all I’ve done is given you some fancy grammar lingo so you can impress your friends at parties (because everybody’s impressed by grammar, right? RIGHT?!). Ahem. Anyway. Take a look at some of your own writing; see if you can level up your simple sentences!

FOR BONUS POINTS: Can you figure out how to write a compound/complex sentence?


According to Lara M. Robbins, “The most effective way to use a compound sentence is to juxtapose your thoughts to show contrast or to equate your thoughts to show balance.”

The words you’ll be using to hook those complex sentences together are either subordinate conjunctions (although, while, because) or relative pronouns (that, who), and officially you ought to be calling those dependent clauses “restrictive clauses.”

Complex sentences are awesome for showing which clause or idea is more important, so keep that in mind when you’re writing.



noun sen·tence \ˈsen-təns\

Definition of SENTENCE

1:  a group of words that makes a statement, asks a question, or expresses a command, wish, or exclamation

Full Definition of CLAUSE

1:  a group of words containing a subject and predicate and functioning as a member of a complex or compound sentence

Resources/Further reading: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: with EFC Writer in the subject line.