Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick

In the last book of the series(for real this time the author says), the girls are headed to be councilors at summer camp before heading off to their colleges of choice. Camp Lovejoy has a long tradition of helping girls overcome their fears while having fun and making memories. The girls are each assigned cabins in the younger girls' section of camp. They are faced with homesick little girls, the obligatory "mean girls" and of course helping their campers have the best summer camp experience possible. Not only are each of the book club girls faced with taking care of their little charges, but they are also dealing with their own issues of finding themselves this summer before heading off to college. In an attempt to help some of the girls overcome homesickness the book club girls start a book club for their campers. Based on the same format they have used for years, the girls pick Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher to read to their little girls and discuss the book and learn about the author. Camp is filled with 6 weeks of continuous activity that keeps everyone busy and having fun!

I cannot tell you how much I love this series! I mean LOVE! I'm seriously going to miss Emma, Megan, Cassidy, Becca, and Jess. Each girl holds a place in my heart. The Mother-Daughter book club books prove that you can have a mid-grade book that is not filled with sexual content, foul language and gritty, angst-ridden characters, yet still manages to deal with real-life struggles of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, peer pressure, and the every day complications of growing up and making good choices. I enjoyed this last installment of the series. Each girl was true to character and each one grew during the summer. Whether it was in helping a difficult camper or dealing with an issue in their own life they handled themselves with maturity and FUN! I loved the camp setting and the rivalry between the girls' camp and the boys camp across the lake! The shenanigans that went on there were hilarious and had me laughing out loud and applauding their creativity! I could go on and on, but I would give too much of the story away. Trust me when I say that this is a series that I highly recommend when asked what a parent or friend can give to a young girl. I've given this series to a couple of young girls and I hope that they have enjoyed it as much as I have. Trust me too when I say that tears and laughter abounded in this last book and I was thoroughly satisfied when I finished.

Reviews of other books in the series:

The Mother-Daughter Book Club(read before I started blogging)
Much Ado About Anne(read before I started bloggin)
Dear Pen Pal
Pies & Prejudice
Home For The Holidays
Wish You Were Eyre

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Firewall by DiAnn Mills

Taryn is at the airport ready to go on her honeymoon with her new husband. When she ducks into the restroom before her flight a bomb explodes and Taryn's world is turned upside down. When Taryn wakes up in the hospital FBI agent Grayson and his partner are there to question Taryn. She and her new husband are suspected of bombing the airport. Taryn's husband is nowhere to be found though. Video footage shows him leaving the airport before the bomb even exploded.

Taryn is now helping the FBI find out who the terrorist is that bombed the airport. Taryn's trust in men is shattered and all she can worry about is finding her murdered best friends child who has been taken by the people that want Taryn for her computer hacker skills.

Who is behind the bombing, who has Zoey and will Taryn and Grayson be able to stop them before it's too late?

Firewall was so exciting! From the moment the bomb exploded I was hooked and had to find out who was behind all of the destruction and what was their motive. I loved Taryn's determination to make things right and to find her fake husband. The tentative relationship she had with Grayson was sweet, and he was definitely her perfect match. I also loved that Taryn wasn't a wilting violet, she had self-defense skills that were awesome and used perfectly on the right person! I'm definitely a fan of this author and will be reading more of her books!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

From the very first page FATAL MISTAKE had me in it's grip! From the moment Tara finds out that her life-long friend and neighbor is the Lone Wolf Bomber she is on the run from him. After all, she found all of his bomb-making equipment and he shot her AND threatened her while she was in the hospital. Tara had no choice but to run.

Special Agent Cal Riggins was the person who answered Tara's desperate 911 call and he has promised to protect her from Oren. But how can he protect her when Oren was able to get to her in the hospital? If Cal and his team can find Tara so easily then of course Oren will be able to. Once Tara realizes that Oren is targeting people she has come in contact with she agrees to help the FBI track him down before it is too late for another person.

Both Cal and Tara are attracted to each other but both are struggling with issues in their life and neither is in a right place with God to pursue a relationship. But the more danger that each of them is in the more they realize there is no fighting what the heart wants.

You know you are in for a great read when from the very first page you can't seem to put the book down. FATAL MISTAKE was just such a book! The author takes the reader on a roller coast ride that keeps the heart pounding and the fingers swiping or turning pages(whichever way you prefer to read your books nowadays). Not only was there suspense, but there was also romance. Two of my favorite things! While the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat the romance melted my heart. I loved Cal and Tara's characters. I also loved the spiritual aspect of the book. There isn't a lot of preaching in the story, but it shows both characters having natural struggles with their faith in God, and how those struggles formed their character and their relationship. This is the first book in the White Knights Series and I have to say that I am hooked and cannot wait for book two! Which by the way, there is a sneak peak of at the end of book one!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Final Vow by Amanda Flower

Kelsey is busy with all the wedding preparations for her ex-husband and his fiance'. The last thing she needs at this time is another murder on Barton Farm. But that is exactly what she gets! Krissie(the bride) is determined to make Kelsey's life a nightmare by getting her way for the wedding. Her wedding planner is just as determined. But when the wedding planner ends up dead Kelsey is once again plunged into saving the reputation of her beloved farm.

Kelsey not only has the wedding to deal with, but she also has her growing feelings for Chase to deal with. Is she ready to open herself up to another man or has her ex ruined that for her?

My Thoughts:

In a way I can totally relate to Kelsey in that I am a fixer. Kelsey is the one that everyone goes to with their problems and she's expected to have answers. The only person she doesn't seem to take care of is herself. I did find that I got frustrated with her for letting some people walk all over her. She was determined to stand on her own and be strong, but yet it seemed that she allowed Krissie and her(Kelsey's) ex to take advantage of her too easily even when they threatened custody of her son.  The mystery of who the killer was kept me turning the pages. I really liked Chase's character, but definitely wasn't a fan of his ex-girlfriend! I have to admit I wasn't expecting the person who was the killer even though there were hints. All in all The Final Vow was a good cozy mystery to sit by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!

Friday, May 5, 2017

An Interview With Holly Schindler

I've enjoyed Holly Schindler's books for several years now. She writes for multi-generational audiences so I thought I would pick a few of my favorites and ask Holly a few questions about each one.

MFPT:Your latest release is HOW BIG IS A HEART? Why did you decide to write a picture book? Where did the idea come from?

HS: I’ve had the text for a long time. Years, actually. I nearly sold it to a publisher at the very beginning of my career, but the deal ultimately fell through, even though the publisher felt that the writing was strong…so much so, they held onto the manuscript for a considerable amount of time.

Recently, indie publishing has allowed me to branch out in new ways. I’ve done quite a bit of cover art and even illustrative work for younger readers. I’ve always loved this story, and felt it could really be of help to expanding families. I used Rebelle, a great digital watercolor program, to create the textured hearts throughout (the idea with the art was to highlight the text, not overshadow it).

I’m really pleased with the final results, and I’m so glad to finally get this book into the hands of readers!

MFPT: I loved the book and think it is the perfect read for children who will be getting a new brother or sister in the family! And I loved the artwork!

MFPT: THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY is an MG that focuses on a young girls’
journey toward becoming a folk artist. Why did you pick that subject matter for young readers?

HS: I’ve always really loved reinvented objects. My parents bought and sold antiques, so I was always going to auctions with them. You can usually find some of those repurposed items at farm auctions—the Coke crate that’s now a stool, the old burlap sack that’s been embroidered with wildflowers, that sort of thing. I love seeing people’s creative minds at work—love seeing how they’ve taken something that really should be headed for the trash and given it a new life. (As a side-note, that’s a big part of why I chose to include so many metaphors and similes throughout the book. Auggie’s always making comparisons in her mind, seeing, for example, how a rusted pipe really is “like” a flower stem. That language shows what kind of artistic eye she has.)

I also love checking out folk art environments. If you Google them, you can find a ton of just incredible places: The Watts Towers in LA, the Orange Show in Texas, the Whirligig Park in North Carolina, even Bishop Castle in Colorado. What’s great about these environments is that they’re pieces of art you can actually go (or live!) inside, unlike paintings that simply hang on the wall.

MFPT: I absolutely loved this book! Auggie and her Grandfather were so talented and I loved their creativity and their relationship. Such a wonderful story with so many lessons in it, accepting others and being your own person to name a couple.

MFPT: FERAL is a fantastic YA psychological thriller. Your previous YAs had been realistic. Why the switch?

HS: At its core, FERAL is about what it takes to recover from a violent act. (Claire, the MC, survives a brutal retaliatory gang beating at the beginning of the book.) The psychological thriller is a genre that strives to keep people constantly on-edge—which is how it must feel to suffer from PTSD. In researching the condition, I learned that in extreme cases, those suffering from PTSD can occasionally suffer from hallucinations as well. Finding that out was a big part of weaving the story threads together for FERAL.

Even though FERAL incorporates many elements of the thriller, it also does introduce many aspects or issues you’d expect to find in realistic YA fiction. Specifically, it focuses on issues related to friendship. Claire’s beating occurs after she stands up for her best friend. As she recovers, her friend’s life continues on as before, while Claire is scarred (physically and emotionally). We all brag we’d do anything for our friends—even give up our lives for them. But FERAL addresses the aftermath and asks, “Would you really not have any resentments? Especially at such a young age? How could your friendship continue on?” It’s a smaller thread, but a truly important part of the book.

MFPT: FERAL was haunting! But also there were so many different layers to it. I think it is a fantastic YA book!

MFPT: FOREVER FINLEY is my absolute favorite. You wrote it as a monthly serial. Did you know where you were going at the beginning? Or did it come as a surprise to you?

I didn’t intend on writing an entire series. To begin with, I wrote a short story called “Come December.” I originally thought it’d be a stand-alone holiday short story. But I wound up moving a surprising number of copies; the story introduced me to a slew of new readers. I thought it’d be a shame not to expand on it.

Of course, the most obvious way to extend the story would be to pick up again with Natalie (the MC of “Come December”). But I was actually more intrigued by the setting. What kind of magical place would allow Natalie to meet George in “Come December”? I started brainstorming, and I discovered that I wanted the town of Finley to be the thread tying all the stories together.

Even then, the ending remained elusive. It was honestly the most “pantsing” I’ve ever done putting any large work together. I didn’t realize how integral the cemetery caretaker was until about halfway through. That character was the piece that helped me pull it all together at the end!

MFPT: Well the ending totally surprised me! I loved getting a new installment each month! I looked forward to finding out what piece of the puzzle was going to be next. This is a new cover for the whole compilation and I love it! It is perfect, and captures the whole essence of the story.

MFPT: MILES LEFT YET centers around the latter years of life. I LOVE IT! Did you do research? How did you capture the tone so well?

HS: I live in a multi-generational household. So that’s given me a bit of firsthand knowledge about issues or feelings that can pop up at that time of life. And to be honest, I’m hitting the age myself where I now also find myself drifting toward stories that feature slightly older main characters. I love going on a journey with a character who’s had significant life-altering experiences—it adds a different dimension, allows them to choose different paths than a younger character would take.

Even in juvenile lit, the age of your characters dictates the level of mobility or independence. A fourth grader can’t drive a car or have the same kind of access to money as a high school junior. The same is true with adult characters. Adults of different ages have different access to tools, contacts, funding, etc. They have different responsibilities and concerns (employment, marriage, children, health, among others). It can have a big impact on your protagonist’s journey.

MFPT: I too am getting to "that age" so MILES LEFT YET totally resonated with me! I loved that we got to meet up with Norma again in the town of Finley.

MFPT: What’s it like to write for so many age groups? Why have you chosen to be so varied in your work?

HS: When I took the headfirst plunge into full-time writing, I didn’t know where the first “yes” would come from, so I tried everything: romance, mystery, literary fiction. To pay my bills, I was teaching music lessons out of the house—my young students inspired me to start writing for younger readers. But I’ve continued writing for different ages, in different genres. I love looking at the world through the eyes of such different characters!

MFPT: These are my favorites of Holly's books. Each one spoke to me in a different way and caused me to contemplate the characters long after closing the final pages. Thanks so much Holly for writing such fantastic books! Each of the books I have featured have been reviewed here on my blog. If you want to know more about them you can check out those reviews by clicking on the Review tab. Holly has numerous other books out that you can check out on Amazon or hopefully your local library!

One last word from Holly:

GIVEAWAY: I’ve recently updated the cover of FOREVER FINLEY. To celebrate the release, I’m giving away a review copy (e-book or paperback). To enter, just shoot me an email: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.
You can also find all of my books at my Amazon page:
Or learn more at my author site:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

How Big Is A Heart? by Holly Schindler

Gavin really doesn't want a baby brother and the only one that seems to understand is his Memaw.

Memaw shows Gavin how big a heart is by telling him all that a heart can hold making Gavin feel better about his new brother.

HOW BIG IS A HEART gave me warm fuzzies while I read it! It is so sweet! I'm definitely a fan of tell-it-like-it-is Memaw! Gavin knows he can trust Memaw to be telling him the truth. Picture books, elementary books, mid-grade books, teen books and adult books, Holly Schindler can write it all, and write it all well!

Come back tomorrow for an interview with Holly Schindler and to find out which of her books are my favorites!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Firstborn: A Novel (Descendants of the House of Bathory) by Tosca Lee

Audra's memory has come back and now those that she loves the most are in danger. Audra tries to distance herself from the people that mean the most to her, but Luka refuses to let her fight this battle on her own. As long as the Historian is alive no Progeny is safe. Can Audra make a deal with the devil in order to save more Progeny lives from being lost? Can she protect the one thing that would give the Historian the most power? And what about Audra's own powers? As a Firstborn she has yet to tap into all that she is capable of, but as her desperation and desire to keep Luka safe increases so do her abilities. Can Audra somehow stop a centuries-old vendetta by exposing the powers-that-be?

Firstborn was fast-paced and intense. I had a bit of a hard time keeping up with the Progeny and Scion's etc. It might have helped if I had read The Progeny and then moved right into Firstborn, but it has been quite a while since I read The Progeny. I loved Luka and Audra's characters. Their love for each other and their desire to protect each other is romantic even when the situations that they find themselves in aren't romantic. There were some surprises throughout the story that had me saying, "Whoa!" There were also several secondary characters that were quite entertaining. I loved all of Audra's friends that helped her along the way, Jester, Piotrek and Claudia were a tight-knit group of friends that anyone would love to have. Lot's of emotions, lot's of killings, lot's of history and lot's of action round out this entertaining read.