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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blog Tour Book Review Plus Giveaway: The Brass Giant: A Chroniker City Story by Brooke Johnson

This story has wonderful steampunk elements.
The Brass Giant: A Chroniker City Story
by Brooke Johnson
  • File Size: 1155 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (May 5, 2015)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ASIN: B00M719Z06
Genre: Steampunk, YA
My Rating:  3.75 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Sometimes, even the most unlikely person can change the world

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up, tinkering with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss--handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild--needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she's been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate would await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council ... and their automaton is just the beginning.

Petra is an orphan who works as a shop girl in a poorer section of Chroniker City. The good thing about her work is that she gets to help fix clock mechanisms under the guidance of a kind expert. Petra has always dreamed of entering the Guild University to study and become a certified engineer. She tries to sneak in disguised as a boy but is rejected because she has no background school and no money for tuition.

Some of the young students are passing the shop and one of the young men has an automaton following him. Petra is fascinated but challenges the mechanism. Emmerich, who created the remote controls, recognizes the look of awe and intensity in Petra’s eyes. He pursues her and asks her to help him build a special project for the Guild. Not only is the project highly secret but if it is discovered that Emmerich allowed Petra to work on it they would both be in danger of charges of treason leading to execution. Although reluctant and fearful, Petra cannot resist the opportunity to truly work in the Guild.

Their first prototype is well received by the council leaders who move up the deadline for the final project. Petra and Emmerich grow closer as they work late at night to build the clockwork giant until Petra tries to walk away when she realizes the danger her involvement poses to Emmerich.

An attack by Luddites, who hate the machines, brings a fire to the University causing Petra to rush to Emmerich. The incident brings back memories of the night her parents died in a similar fire. Now Petra has even more reason to fight to be a part of the Guild. She returns to help Emmerich finish the project only to discover that the purpose of the machine has been twisted by a conspiracy of leaders seeking their own agenda. Petra is caught and accused of treason and she feels completely betrayed by Emmerich.

The story is set in 1881 and the steampunk world is wonderfully developed. I really enjoyed the rich descriptions of sights, smells and sounds. The steampunk world had much in common with other steampunk stories I have read. Still, I found the focus on the mechanics engaging and the development of the young friendship enjoyable for about two thirds of the book. Then the young adult angst and the gushing romance became too much. Plus Petra repeatedly made stupid, childish decisions that put her in danger. I suppose the effusive romance and the impetuous, rash behaviors are consistent for young adult but these issues broke my engagement with the otherwise good story.  The scenes to wrap up this book seemed a bit forced and the story ends intentionally with problems remaining to be addressed in the next book.

I liked the steampunk aspects of the book enough to still give this a pretty positive rating. I do think this book would be enjoyed by young adults and those who like steampunk as long as they are prepared for YA romance too.

I received this through Edelweiss for Pump Up Your Book Blog Tour.

To Purchase The Brass Giant
Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Brooke is a stay-at-home mom, amateur seamstress, RPG enthusiast, and art hobbyist, in addition to all that book writing. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she adventures through life with her fiercely-bearded paladin of a husband, their daughter the sticky-fingered rogue, and their cowardly wizard of a dog, with only a sleep spell in his spellbook.
They currently reside in Northwest Arkansas, but once they earn enough loot and experience, they’ll build a proper castle somewhere and defend against all manner of dragons and goblins, and whatever else dares take them on.
Visit Brooke at her website

Visit her at the following locations
Brooke and Harper Voyage Impulse are giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins April 27 and ends on May 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 17.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review and Giveaways: Sinfully Yours (The Hellions of High Street) by Cara Elliott

Another sister gets a romantic adventure in book two of this fun series.
Sinfully Yours (The Hellions of High Street)
by Cara Elliott
  • File Size: 667 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • ASIN: B00D19E05I
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Proper young ladies of the ton-especially ones who have very small dowries-are not encouraged to have an interest in intellectual pursuits. Indeed, the only things they are encouraged to pursue are eligible bachelors. So, the headstrong Sloane sisters must keep their passions a secret. Ah, but secret passions are wont to lead a lady into trouble . . .
After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.
Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .

Anna has always presented a kind, lovely and proper presence in society. Although she is the middle daughter, she is the one who was expected to marry well to save the family. Now that her older sister has succeeded in marrying a wealthy Earl, the pressure has been lifted from Anna. Only her sisters know that Anna publishes adventure novels under a male pseudonym. If the ton were to discover her secret she would be ruined. Like any writer, sometimes she struggles with new adventures for her characters but she never really expects to experience the excitement of mystery and danger in her own life. The extent of her brush with danger is sharing sharp tongued wit with the Marquess of Davenport, aka the Devil. He ruffles her calm composure as he brings out her daring, and perhaps wicked, thoughts.

Davenport perpetuates his reputation as a rake, staying at the fringe of society while hiding his own secrets. He agrees to investigate a possible murder plot in Scotland not only for the pay, but also hoping it will allow him distraction from his attraction to the intriguing and puzzling Anna Sloane. He is surprised when Anna turns out to be a house guest attending the country party.

Disturbing events cause Anna to question Davenport’s actions. While she checks up on him, he is investigating her odd behavior. When they uncover each others secrets they decide the best thing they can do is work together. In addition to adding exploits for her novels Anna realizes that Davenport can teach her a thing or two to help the love scenes.

Anna is a lovely character with hidden abilities taught by her father who thought his daughters should be prepared to protect themselves. I like Davenport’s character and his secret talents too. The dialogue is amusing and, as in the first book, the author has fun playing with alliteration. The plot is lively and fast paced. There is mystery, danger, conflict and a reluctantly building romance which is sensual without being vulgar.

This is a fun series and I look forward to book three which tells Caro's adventures in love. I believe her obstinate beau has been introduced in this novel and I look forward to their fireworks. I highly recommend this series and this author to those who enjoy engaging historical romance.

I received this book through NetGalley for an honest review as part of Hachette/Forever Book tour. It counts towards NetGalley Challenge.
Buy Links:

About the author:

Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.
Social Media Links:

     A high note of the aria died on his lips as a frown strangled all further sound.
     He stared for a long moment at the front of Manton’s shop, trying to quell the erratic quickening of his pulse as he suddenly recognized the figure standing there. Shaking off the physical response to the person in question, Devlin made himself concentrate on the practical question her presence raised. What was she doing there? Ladies did not usually linger in front of a gunsmith’s display window.
     Lightening his footsteps, Devlin approached in silence. “Planning on murdering someone, Miss Sloane?”
     Anna started, nearly dropping the small notebook in her hands, and then whirled around.
“Some men,” she snapped, “deserve to be shot.”
     “More than a few,” he agreed, angling his head to try to catch a glimpse of what she had been writing.
     The covers quickly snapped shut.
     “If you like,” he went on, “I could draw up a list of the most offensive characters.”
     Chuffing a rude sound, Anna darted one more look at the pistols on display before shoving her pencil and notebook into her reticule. “Come along, Nettie,” she called to the young maid hovering near the corner of the storefront. “Let us be on our way.”
     Devlin shifted his stance just enough to block her path. “It’s unusual for a lady to have an interest in firearms. I confess, I am curious as to why.”
     “There is an old adage about curiosity killing the cat,” she shot back.
     He smiled, which appeared to annoy her even more.
     “Then it is lucky that I am an imp of Satan.”
     “Why is it that I have a feeling Luck has nothing to do with your choice of habits?”
     Because your wit and your tongue are lethally sharp.
     Keeping such thoughts to himself, he merely said, “An interesting question. But you haven’t yet answered mine, and I asked first.”
     A glare, which he countered by stretching his smile into a grin.
Her nostrils flared as she drew in a sharp breath. “Not that it is any of your business, but I—I am looking to find a special gift for Wrexham.”
     A reasonable reply. So why did he have the feeling that she was lying? “Manton’s pistols are frightfully expensive,” responded Devlin, carefully watching her face. “Dare I assume that the poor-as-churchmice Sloane family is now no longer under the hatches, thanks to the generosity of your older sister’s new husband?”
     A light breeze ruffled the ribbons of her bonnet, and for the space of a heartbeat a flutter of a shadow seemed to hang on her gold-tipped lashes.
     “Indeed, knowing the earl’s noble nature, I would imagine that you and Miss Caro are now in possession of a very generous dowry.”
     Her cheeks darkened to an angry shade of red. “You are not only impertinent, you are offensive, Lord Davenport. Kindly step aside.”
     “But of course.” He slowly shifted, deliberately dragging his boots over the paving stones to make a loud rasping sound. It was ungentlemanly to goad her into a temper, but the fire in her eyes was mesmerizing to watch. Heat blazed in a burnt-gold swirl of sparks, turning their deep green hue into a pool of molten jade.
    “Allow me to make amends for my churlish manners by offering a recommendation on which of Manton’s models the earl might like.”
     “On second thought, I have decided to look elsewhere for a gift,” replied Anna tightly.
     “A simple but elegant watch fob, perhaps? A bejeweled cravat stickpin would not be at all in keeping with the earl’s sense of style.”
     “I can’t help but wonder something, sir,” she said in reply.
     “Which is?”
     “Why you take such fiendish delight in tormenting me.”
     “Perhaps because you react with such delightfully explosive ire.” Devlin waggled a brow. “Most young ladies are afraid to stand up for themselves. But not you.”
     She brushed past him without comment.
     Devlin watched her stalk away. Miss Anna Sloane was known for her effortless grace, and yet there was no other word than “stalk” for her stiff-legged gait. Which in itself spoke volumes about her state of inner agitation.
     Again, he wondered why.
     Turning, he moved to where she had been standing and made a careful study of the display window.
     He frowned. It was conceivably the sort of firearm a lady might tuck in her reticule . . .
     Assuming she had reason to fear for her safety.
     Anna Sloane in danger? For an instant, his hands fisted, but he quickly dismissed the idea as absurd.
     “I have been reading too many adventure novels.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ONE PRINT COPY (US/Canada only).
Graciously provided by the publisher:

(Don't forget to fill in the form for entry!
I have noticed a few commenters who forgot to enter through the Form.)
For 2 Extra Bonus entries (a) comment on the review,
(b) visit THE AUTHOR'S WEBSITE and tell me something you like/learned there
For 3 Extra Bonus entries:
 Tell us in the comment what secret you think a rake might try to hide.

* This contest is open to US/CANADA only for Print Copy.
* This contest will close 5 PM (Central) May 8, 2015.
Winners will have 72 hours to respond on the winners form linked in the announcement or by email.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Plus Mailbox Monday April 27, 2015

This meme starts at Book Journey! My prayers continue for Sheila's family.

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I had a good week at work - busy but not stressful. Thursday symptoms of a cold hit and I have spent the weekend doing small projects around the house so I can take naps when my head becomes too groggy. Hopefully I will be much better in the morning to start the week.    

I enjoyed my reading which has moved along well. I finished three eBooks and am well into another. I only finished one audio and have downloaded several trying to decide on the next listen. I posted three reviews (one with a giveaway) so I am still up to date. I also posted the usual memes. :-)

I am glad again that I visited blogs early in the week as I had two nights later of almost no internet.
Thanks as always to all the nice people who visit me.

These were last week's posts:
  • Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig; Fantasy, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic; my rating 4.0.
Finished Reading:
1. eBook/Kindle

The Fire Sermon
by Francesca Haig
I enjoyed this dystopian.
The review is linked above.
Click on book title for full description.

2. eBook/Kindle

Fringe Benefits (The Ladies Who Lunch)
by Sandy James
This is a small town romance that I had some issues with but might please other readers.
My review with giveaway is linked above.
Click on book title for full description.

3. Audible

Trident's First Gleaming:
A Special Operations Group Thriller
Written by: Stephen Templin

Narrated by: Brian Troxell
There is lots of action in this story which
I received through AudioBook Jukebox.

I will post a review this week.
Click on book title for full description.

4. eBook/Kindle

Sinfully Yours (The Hellions of High Street)
by Cara Elliott
This is another delightful romp. I hope to get book 3!
Book Review and Giveaway will post 4/28.
Click on book title for full description.

Currently reading:
1. Audible

The Snow Queen
Written by: Hans Christian Andersen
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
I am listening to this quick Audible while I decide on the next. This was from my Audible library.
Publisher's Summary
Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.
Public Domain (P)2014 Audible Inc.

2. eBook/Kindle

The Brass Giant: A Chroniker City Story
by Brooke Johnson
I am 40% into this and enjoying the characters and story. I anticipate the coming conflict. 
I received this through Edelweiss for Pump Up Your Book Blog Tour - to post 4/30.
Book Description
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Sometimes, even the most unlikely person can change the world

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up, tinkering with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss--handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild--needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she's been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate would await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council ... and their automaton is just the beginning.

3. eBook/Kindle

Cassidy (Big Sky Dreams Book 1)
by Lori Wick
This is our Ladies Book Club read for May 2.
Book Description
Publication Date: July 1, 2007
Following the success of her recent stand–alone novel, White Chocolate Moments, bestselling author Lori Wick returns to delight readers with a new series set in the vast open places of Montana.

Token Creek, Montana Territory, 1880—Cassidy Norton is a fine seamstress who makes her living sewing for others. Amid the bustle of a busy frontier town, her life is rich. What time her business doesn’t take, her friends and church family fill. But Cassidy hasn’t always lived in Token Creek, and few people know her full story. So she struggles with a nagging unsettledness in her heart.

Cassidy’s friend Meg is married to a rancher and has a baby, something Cassidy wants for herself. But that would mean revealing the details of her life. Will Cassidy find the strength to take that risk?

Book 1 in the Big Sky Dreams series.

4. Audible/MP4
I have downloaded five books because I can't decide which I want to listen to. Maybe I will add it later or just list it next week. :-)

I am reading The One Year Bible again along with my husband and others from our church. I am also listening to the companion commentary online. -- Really enjoying my Bible reading. It seems my eyes are open to more details and meaning. To go a step beyond the Bible reading I am also reading Jesus Daily 365 Interactive Devotions.

April Scheduled -
4/28/15 Sinfully Yours (The Hellions of High Street) by Cara Elliott - Blog Tour Blitz
4/30/15 The Brass Giant: A Chroniker City Story by Brooke Johnson - Blog Tour

I posted three reviews last week so I am still up to date. :-)
I will be reading NetGalley titles again as soon as this rash of tour books are done. I do want to get back to TBR titles too.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday.

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.  This Meme started with Marcia at A Girl and Her Books (fka The Printed Page) and after a tour of hosts has returned to its permanent home at Mailbox Monday. Thanks to the ladies sharing hosting duties: Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. 

I only have one new book for this week. .
Surprise! Not. I downloaded more free kindle titles to my library.
(Although I have gotten to a couple, I still have many author requests, old and new ones, to consider and reply to.)
Are your mailbox and TBR piles blooming?

Review Titles
I picked up this title for Ladies Book Club to read for 5/2:

Cassidy (Big Sky Dreams Book 1)
by Lori Wick
Cassidy’s friend Meg is married to a rancher and has a baby, something Cassidy wants for herself. But that would mean revealing the details of her life. Will Cassidy find the strength to take that risk?


I didn't make any purchases this week. :-)


Over the past week I added 54 free Kindle titles to my library. Titles found linked through Bookbub, Bookfun, Ereader News Today, Free Par-tay, Ignite Your Book, Inspired Reads, Pixel of Ink or Kindle ebooks.

Sunday Words of Encouragement April 26, 2015

I missed service this morning as I didn’t feel up to it and didn’t want to expose anyone else to my cold. I ended up sleeping in until 10:30 which is helping me feel better. I think I’ll be getting another nap soon and going to bed early.

A week or so ago I attended a board meeting and the chaplain shared a wonderful devotional. She noted that we are all getting older, day by day, but are we growing older? We don’t get much choice about getting older. We will get older and our bodies will age and sag -- even with external help and even with a lot of physical workout. However, we do have a choice about growing older. We grow older by growing in knowledge, wisdom, mercy, and fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Add gratitude for all our blessings and we might appreciate that we can grow old gracefully!

Here is a song that talks about the greatest grace which is the grace that God gives us - each day.
Your Grace Finds Me
Verses for Today:
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I pray, Lord, for restored health but more importantly I pray to grow gracefully each day.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sharing Beyond Books #200 Comment Giveaway April 25, 2015

Hello again on Saturday night and Welcome to Sharing Beyond Books, SBB! I announced last week that we would have a party tonight to celebrate SBB post #200. I suggested we each share a favorite reading quote this week. I'll pick a winner to get a book of choice (doesn't have to be on my lists) so please name the book you would like to win in your comment. (Value $12.00 for ebook or print.)

This was another semi-busy week at the office. I am working through some projects, adding one or two new suits while I close others. Today I spent doing light chores around the house while I fight a bit of a cold.

Thanks to everyone who commented last week.

Most of us (except one) had a pet peeve or two about reviews. The biggest choices were 'spoilers' and 'lack of details' which were both mentioned four times. Two people mentioned 'too long' or 'too much story'. Others mentioned 'excerpts', bad language, poor grammar, attacks on the author and reference to an event that makes the reader wait until the end.


The Winner from SBB #199 comments is: #9 MaryP who can make a GC choice if international or book choice from the Updated ARC/Review titles or (not yet updated) Love titles - all linked near the end of the post. I'm hoping to update the book choices this week. Please let me know your choice by completing the (new) WINNER FORM.

WEEK #200; (One Question.)

Q1. I'll give Ricki credit for this question: What is your favorite quote from a book, and why is this your favorite?? [Don't forget to name the book you would like to win in your comment.]
A: There are so many good quotes! Although this book may not be a literary classic, it has some wonderful quotes. I chose this one to celebrate SBB#200. It is a favorite because it presents my feelings about books.  
“Her curiosity was too much for her. She felt almost as if she could hear the books whispering on the other side of the half-open door. They were promising her a thousand unknown stories, a thousand doors into worlds she had never seen before.” INKHEART (CORNELIA FUNKE)
Image found at Pinterest - Inkheart.

                   Image found at Tumblr Inkheart

Thanks to those who are sending in Questions. DON'T BE SHY! Surely everyone has a Q or two you'd like to ask. Input suggestions in this Suggested Question Form. At the end of each month I draw from the suggestions I used during the month and that person will get a book choice or GC. I thank everyone for submitting questions. Thanks for sending in questions! We still have a supply of questions but from the same people so hopefully others will send more in -- even if they are duplicates I'll weed through or try to modify to use.
Comments for April were submitted by: Elizabeth, nrlymrtl, bn100 and Ricki. The Comment winner is: Elizabeth.

Your turn to share:

Q1. Ricki asks: What is your favorite quote from a book, and why is this your favorite??

SBB Comment Winners can choose a selection from the  Valentine and "Love" books or the February 2015 Newly Updated ARC/Review List. (My daughter pulled several of the Christmas titles to give with gift bags we made up for the nursing homes. I still have to go back and update that list with what is left and a few new titles to add.)

SBB Rules:
a) Must be a follower.
b) Share a comment on either of the two questions above.
Open internationally and an international winner may get a smaller book or a $5.00 GC if I decide the mailing is too much.
I will pick a Comment winner from all comments made through Saturday May 2, 2015 at 5 PM  central.

Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

This is an engaging and imaginative dystopian story.
by Francesca Haig
  • File Size: 3075 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 10, 2015)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

Cass lives in a society that is still recovering from nuclear destruction. Four hundred years after the fires there is a generation of twins, always male and female, who are separated into two distinct classes. The Alphas are without deformity and they get to remain with their parents, go to school and enter the ruling society. The Omegas, who have at least one defect are branded, separated from their family and sent to Omega working communities. The controlling Alphas would like to ignore their twins, but they cannot because if either twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare seer, dreaming or sensing future events around her. She was able to hide this ‘defect’ for years which caused anger and resentment to grow in her twin, Zach. The family suffered ostracism because they could not separate out the Omega. Zach tricked Cass into revealing her secret when they were 13 and she was finally sent away to an Omega farming community.

Cass spends six years working and dreaming of a world where people are given equal chance. Meanwhile Zach, known as the Reformer, has gained a powerful position on the Alpha Council creating enemies in both factions. Zach captures Cass and imprisons her in a secluded cell, presumably to protect her from his own enemies. But there is a devious conspirator working with the Alpha Council, another seer known as The Confessor. The Confessor relentlessly questions Cass regarding any visions of a rumored Island of refuge where Omega’s live without the oppressive restrictions and taxes imposed by the Alphas. Cass refuses to break under the hateful probing and one day she pushes back and sees awful sights in the mind of The Confessor.

Fearing what they will do to her next, Cass escapes and manages to release another prisoner before leaving the fortress. The young boy, who is missing an arm, has lost his memories of life before his imprisonment. Cass names him Kip and they manage, with the aid of Cass’s foresight, to elude pursuers as they travel in hope of finding The Island. They find bits of help along the way and even spend a few weeks in relative safety. But Cass knows that The Confessor is always probing her thoughts and wherever Cass and Kip go they expose friends to danger.

Cass and Kip find what appears to be an Omega safe place. At least it was safe until Cass arrived. Piper, the young leader, is not sure if he can believe Cass found their carefully hidden refuge without help. Some of the leaders want to kill her, especially when they discover the identity of her twin. Even if she isn’t a spy, chances are she brings danger. But Piper hopes he can use her abilities to help the rebellion forces. Cass tries to get Piper and other rebels to understand her desire to find a world of peace instead of a world where Omegas are cast aside and twins are killed for political advantage.

The story continues with the clever rebel Omegas battling the ruthless, manipulative Alphas. A new character is added rather late in the story giving aid and challenging Cass to stop running and take a stand. There is also a good twist, or two, as the book reaches its climax. It is clear that there is still a lot of story left for a sequel and it will be interesting to see where the author’s creative imagination takes this difficult society.

I enjoyed the easy writing style, the determined characters and the action. There were a few drawbacks where I questioned the lack of sense and caution but these actions could well fit young people who tend to be impetuous, reckless and don’t always recognize their own mortality. The story is entertaining and suitable for young adults. I think it could make an interesting movie.

I received this title through NetGalley for an honest review. It qualifies for NetGalley Challenge.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Martha's Bookshelf***Friday Pick Giveaway April 24, 2015

It is hard to believe April is almost over! Four months whizzed by. This has been another busy week...mostly productive. Just today (Thursday) I started to experience cold symptoms so I am planning on going to bed early in hopes to nip it in the bud.
I'll have to get a new set of books together for next week.

US Entrants: Leave a comment and tell me WHICH BOOK you would like to get from the Friday Pick lists.
INTERNATIONAL: Leave a comment indicating "Gift Card" (see further comments near the end of the post.)

CUT OFF TIME IS THURSDAY NIGHTS AT 9:00 PM CENTRAL so I do not have to stay up to late to do the winner post! I will randomly pick two winners to announce Friday mornings with the next Pick post. Automatic wins are those who requested the book four times without other people asking for that book during those weeks.

Thank you to all who entered the April 17 Pick. Two automatic wins this week.  (Automatic winners are those who requested the book four times and I did not note other people asking for that book during those weeks.) There were no titles blocked again.
LindaK gets Midwife Mommy 
SueF gets the Dick Francis Pair

to picked Winners from April 17 Pick:
(two lucky first week picks)
Janhvi gets a GC
Betty gets the Lisa Gardner Pair

All winners please fill in the Winner's Acceptance Form or email me to confirm your win, send your snail mail address information and let me know if you would like bookmarks - sensual, sexy or sweet bookmarks. {The form is new because Google changed their forms and the old one wasn't letting me print out the responses.}
Have you found a Best Book this month?
Image found at The Slanted.

New Book Group #56 March 20, 2015
(I'll try to get the rest linked another day.)
Dick Francis: A Jockey's Life and Proof (spine creases)
Catherine Lanigan: Tender Malice and Elusive Love (spine creases)
Parent Trap Anthology, Dallas Schulze, Lisa Jackson, Kasey Michaels
Madison Avenue Marriage (Silhouette Desire #129) by Cassandra Bishop
The Sweetheart Dance by Patti Ann Colt
Ain't Myth-Behaving by Kate MacAlister
Death at Play by Nancy Gotter Gates
Where is He Now? by Jennifer Greene
Raintree Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones (spine creases)
Aphrodite's Secret by Julie Kenner
Virtually His by Gennita Low
Dead Even by Brad Metzger
Mommy Midwife by Cassie Miles
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

New Book Group #55 February 5, 2015
(I'll try to get the rest linked another day.)

Virginia Henley: The Pirate and the Pagan (spine creases) and The Falcon and the Flower
James Patterson: London Bridges and Roses are Red (both spine creases)
Pale Kings and Princes by Robert Parker Audio Cassette Tapes
Hour Game by David Baldacci (spine creases)
If I Had You by Deborah Bedford
The Girl With the Golden Spurs by Ann Major
Can't Take My Eyes Off of You by Kasey Michaels
Dark Possession by Christine Feehan
Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel Gibson
The Man Who Ate the 747 by Ben Sherwood
Paradise Bay by James Michael Pratt
The Last Two Bachelors by Debbie Macomber
Exclusive Anthology by Fiona Hood-Stewart, Sharon Kendrick and Jackie Braun
Duets Romantic Comedy: Lady and the Scamp by Candy Halliday & The Doctor Dilemma by Dianne Drake

New Book Group #54 December 26, 2014

Lisa Gardner: Alone and Gone
Janet Evanovich: Eleven on Top and Twelve Sharp
Stuart Wood: L.A. Dead and Fresh Disasters
Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card - Tape Cassettes

BOX 4 2015 (reboxed from Boxes 47-53)

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Hidden Truth of Cytech's Randall Forty byVickie Kennedy
First to Fight Anthology
Jezebel by Katherine Sutcliff
The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin
Maybe This Time by Victoria Barrett
The Commander by Kate Bridges
The Cinderella Plan by Margaret Daley
The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook by Steve Doocy
A Garden of Friends by Penny Pierce Rose
Intrepid Encounter by Rebecca Ashley
A Stranger's Wife by Maggie Osborne
Richard Paul Evans PAIR: The Looking Glass and The Carousel
Duo Book: Yesterday's Memories by Tara Taylor Quinn and Amanda Stevens
At The Stroke of Madness by Alex Kava
Undateable by Ellen Rakieten & Anne Coyle
Catherine Anderson PAIR: Seventh Heaven and Always in My Heart
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
Sleeping with Ward Cleaver by Jenny Gardiner

BOX 3 2015 (reboxed from Boxes 39- 47)

Touched by Fire by Kathleen O'Reilly
Shetland Summer by Janet Lynnford
It All Began at Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler
Breakfast in Bed by Sandra Brown - Audio Cassette Tapes (link is for mass media version)
Mariah Stewart PAIR: Priceless and Brown-Eyed Girl
Cattle Rancher, Secret Son by Margaret Way
Whisper on the Wind by Joan Smith
Fulfillment by Barbara Delinsky
Trouble Becomes Her by Laura Van Wormer
Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark
Diana Palmer PAIR: Diamond Spur, Long Tall Texan
A Lady of Consequence by Mary Nichols
Sweet Talking Man by Betina Krain
Illegal Possession by Kay Hooper

BOX 2 2015 (reboxed from Boxes 24- 38)

Final Justice by Jasmine Cresswell
Thinner by Stephen King
Foundation (Foundation Novels) by Isaac Asimov
Mary Higgins Clark PAIR: Let Me Call You Sweetheart and Moonlight Becomes You (SC)
Magic: The Gathering Distant Planes, An Anthology
The Willful Widow by Valerie King (spine wear)
Dancing on Snowflakes by Jane Bonander
An Honorable Man by Rosemary Rogers (spine creases)
A Courtesans Guide to Getting Your Man by Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley -- NOTE This book has dog bite damage; it is missing half back cover and the edges of pages in the back third of the book... it does not effect the text but I will understand if no one wants this one
The Millionaire's Daughter by Sophie Weston
Tara Taylor Quinn: Father: Unknown and McGillus v.Wright
The Trailsman: Texas Lead Slingers by Jon Sharpe
Anthology: Something Borrowed, Something Blue - this book has spine creases and minor water damage...I thought I had read it and liked it but now I realize it was another anthology I read with Elaine Barbier.
Bride by Command by Linda Winstead Jones
Awaken the Senses by Nalini Singh

BOX #1 2015 (reboxed from Boxes 1- 23)

Circle of Stars by Anna Lee Waldo
One Eye Closed by Karen Whiddon
The Darkroom by Minette Walters
Prey by Michael Crichton - Audio Tape
Alien Chronicles - The Crimson Claw by Deborah Chester
McNally's Puzzle by Lawrence Sanders
Ghost Writer (Shivers #3) by M.D. Spenser
Death Angel by Linda Howard

If you saw the pictures posted of my bookshelves and boxes you know I do have lots of books! And that doesn't include the other eight or so boxes at my office!! And more books as I find deals too good to pass up! I am sharing my book bounty by these Friday Pick Giveaways.

I started Friday Pick on November 27, 2009 and in five+ years I have posted 54 groups of 16 (864) books to find new homes! (as of February 6, 2015).

I am happy to say that so far about 806+ books have found new homes! YAY. I have to update my print out to check the exact number sent out - a few were never claimed. I periodically update the lists - deleting those won. You can still go to the Friday Pick list link to see older posts and the older lists book pictures if you want!

Note rules here regarding international entries.
Because postage to overseas can be prohibitive I am willing to give a $5.00 book certificate to international winners - Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, ARe, TWRP, ClassAct Books, eTreasures, Desert Breeze, tell me where and I'll set it up. So for my overseas visitors your comment may indicate a smaller book and I'll check postage or note your choice of gift card.

I learned that The Book Depository does not ship to everywhere. The postage for some of the books to far away places runs between $7.00 and $10.00 and up. Since I would award $5.00 for The Book Depository to an international winner, as an alternative you may choose a smaller book and we will hope the postage will not exceed $6.00. If the postage is more, or if you want to pick a larger book and you are willing to pay any extra postage beyond the $6.00 I will work with you on that. This may not make a difference to many but if it helps one or two of you to give one of my books a home that will make me happy too. :o)

Repeating this helpful blog tip: You can right click on a link and you will be given the choice to open the link in a new window or tab so you do not navigate away from the screen you are on!! I use this all the time!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Review and Giveaways: Fringe Benefits (The Ladies Who Lunch) by Sandy James

This is fine writing and a good romance but certain aspects don’t suit my tastes.
Fringe Benefits (The Ladies Who Lunch)
by Sandy James

  • File Size: 1246 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Forever Yours (April 21, 2015)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • ASIN: B00RTY0X7K
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small Town
My Rating: 3.75 of 5.0 (see review for specifics on rating)

Book Description
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Danielle Bradshaw deserves a happily ever after, and the Ladies Who Lunch are determined to deliver Mr. Right.
As the new head of the English department, Dani doesn't have much time for anything but lesson planning and literature. Romance-or even sex? Forget about it. But then the principal introduces her to last-minute hire Nate Ryan. Finding time to mentor a new teacher won't be easy, especially when his incredible body and equally disarming charisma are enough to make her heart skip a beat . . .
Nate may be fresh out of school, but he's confident in his teaching skills-and in his feelings for Dani. But while she's everything he's ever wanted, he knows his place on her staff-and his age-may be problematic for his sexy boss. How can he convince her to ignore the gossip mill currently in full swing in the teacher's lounge and surrender to what's meant to be?
"Sweet, endearing and delightful...Sometimes you just need that heartfelt, hometown romance and Fringe Benefits hit the spot." ~ Beth, Tome Tender, 5 stars

Danielle is the last of the Ladies Who Lunch to settle down with Mr. Right. She is a 32 year old school teacher who has achieved the head of the English Department through dedication and planning. Dani has a tendency towards control and she had her last day before school started all planned out until the new teacher arrived. Her principal calls her to the office, introduces her to the gorgeous hunk, Nate, and turns him over for Dani to prepare him for the next day.

Nate is excited to land his first teaching position and although he is confident in his skills he is flustered at having only one day to get his room and lessons prepared. He is very pleased that Dani is able to help him as he is smitten at first sight and glad to spend time getting to know her. Nate may be younger but he has his first love, broken-heart behind him and is ready to go for what he wants – which is Dani. He just has to figure out how to convince her to get over the age and ‘boss’ issues and gain her trust so she can loosen up her controls. Moving into her basement apartment gives him opportunities to woe her to his side.

Unfortunately Dani has other major concerns that will have to be addressed sooner or later. And
Nate’s ex-girlfriend makes an unexpected play to rekindle their relationship which adds one more obstacle to his relationship with Dani.

I liked the naturalness of the primary characters, Dani and Nate. The chemistry is hot and the issues are real to life. Dani’s friends, the Ladies Who Lunch, and their husbands make a nice support system and Nate’s mother, stepfather and grandpa add some interference as good secondary characters. I enjoy Ms. James writing style which makes for smooth, easy and quick reading.

My disappointment with this book was two fold. The book, especially the beginning, is liberally peppered with unnecessary words that I consider swear words. I know they have grown increasingly acceptable but I don’t like them and it effects my reading pleasure. The other issue is that the sex scenes are fairly graphic. They are done in a loving situation but by the fourth or fifth one I just skipped those pages as I wasn’t interested in the details of their bed sport.

I have enjoyed several of Ms. James’ books in the past and I looked at my review of Sealing the Deal which did not note these concerns although I did say the encounters were "bold". If the author and her editors have decided that her books need more spice through swear words and graphic sex then I guess I will have to take her off my reading list which is too bad. I am sure many readers won’t be bothered by these issues and will really enjoy the otherwise warm (I wouldn't term this as "sweet") and well-written romance. The story and romance deserve a 4.0 or better but the 3.75 rating reflects my reaction of the language and detailed sex.

I received this title from Hachette/Forever for an honest review as part of blog tour blitz . This qualifies for NetGalley Challenge.

Buy Links:
About the author:

Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She's a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

Social Media Links:
     This will be a great story to tell the kids one day.     Why that ridiculous thought kept tumbling through Nate’s head was beyond him. But it did.
     Your mom and I got locked in a supply closet together. That’s when we decided to start dating.
     There was a stack of papers they’d used to play what seemed like a million games of tic-tac-toe, which had been followed by hangman. Over an hour had passed, and there was no sign of the custodian.
     Funny, but he no longer minded losing all that time to get things ready for the first day of school. Instead, he found himself drawn to his pretty, witty boss.
     He recognized her perfume. Angel. Once, he’d gone to the trouble of picking a perfume he thought was the perfect scent and bought his fiancée what the salesman called a “recruitment set.” The bundle of Angel products had everything from the perfume in a star-shaped bottle to body lotion.
     Kat had hated it.
     Obviously Dani liked it as much as he did. Everything about her appealed to him and—Jesus have mercy. She was his boss. So why did he keep forgetting that?
     “My legs are getting stiff.” She struggled to stand, groping for one of the shelves. A hiss fell from her lips. “S---.”
     The pain on her face hit Nate hard, and he grabbed her arm to help steady her. “What’s wrong?”
     “Cramp. Leg cramp.” She leaned heavily on him as she got to her feet and immediately stuck out her right leg, pointing and flexing her foot. “Damn, that smarts.”
     “Where?” He didn’t want to start pawing her leg, but he wanted to help.
     “Calf.” Dani’s face tightened into a grimace again.
     Nate eased down on one knee and started rubbing her leg.
     “Nice knot you’ve got there.”
     “I think I’m dehydrated.” As he kept working on the knot, she flexed and extended her foot. “Left my water in my room.”
     “Yeah, well, neither of us expected to be here so long.” The muscle relaxed under his kneading fingers. “Getting better?”
     So why couldn’t he stop touching her? When it dawned on him that he wanted to trail his fingers up her leg, to her slender thigh and beyond, he slowly stood. Her eyes were locked with his, and tension rose between them as he gently put his hands on her waist, easing her forward.
     Her head cocked just enough to show that she would allow him to kiss her. With a smile, he lowered his face to hers. With a loud rattle of the lock, the door suddenly swung open, and the sixty-something custodian stared at them wide-eyed.
     “What in the hell are you two doing?”

THE BOTTOM LINE by Sandy James (May 6, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; The Ladies Who Lunch Book #1)
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . . 

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED by Sandy James (July 1, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; The Ladies Who Lunch Book #2)
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Juliana Kelley tells the Ladies Who Lunch that her life needs an overhaul . . . and gets a whole lot more than she wished for.
Buy Links:

SEALING THE DEAL by Sandy James (November 4, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; The Ladies Who Lunch Book #3)
After losing her sister, Bethany Rogers needs a shoulder to lean on more than ever-though she never expects that shoulder to belong to her new boss . . . 
Buy Links:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition to the Rafflecopter giveaway I get to give One Winner at this blog
an ecopy of Fringe Benefits 
from the publisher through NetGalley.

(Don't forget to fill in the form for entry!
I have noticed a few commenters who forgot to enter through the Form.)
For 3 Extra Bonus entries comment on this review, OR
visit THE AUTHOR'S Website and tell me something you like/learned there.

* This contest is open Worldwide - whoever can receive ebook through NetGalley.
* This contest will close 5 PM (Central) May 2, 2015.
Winners are asked to respond, within 72 hours, by the winners form linked in the announcement.


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