Book Review: A Rant of Ravens by Christine Goff

Shortly after Rachel Stanhope moves onto her aunt's Colorado ranch, she goes on an expedition with the local birdwatching society -- and finds a snooping journalist's dead body.

Release Date: October 1, 2000
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

A Rant of Ravens was a fun, light read.  I really enjoyed it!

I was drawn to this book after I read about the setting: the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  My family vacationed there every summer growing up, and reading A Rant of Ravens was like being back in the mountains again.  I loved that aspect of the story---the beautiful imagery was one of my favorite things about this book.

I love a good stand-alone read and A Rant of Ravens is the perfect example of why stand-alone novels are so satisfying.  The story is complete!  No cliffhangers, no waiting to see what happens.  The action happened, the mystery got solved, and the characters moved on with their lives.  

A Rant of Ravens is a murder mystery, and it was written in a way that made it feel almost light hearted.  I love it when authors don't take their books too seriously, and Goff hit just the right note with this story.  

I was surprised by the ending and I loved that.  I also liked that this is a clean adult fiction novel.  A Rant of Ravens is a fast, fun read, and I'd definitely read Christine Goff again.

Book Review: Ugly People Beautiful Hearts by Marlen Komar

Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is a poetry book with over 70 poems that explores loneliness, quiet sadness, bursts of happiness, and contentment over the fact that everything you have, will eventually go away. But that's sort of beautiful in its own right.

It has verses moving between the feelings of loving someone, feeling loss, trusting the night sky, losing your light, resolving that hurt is beautiful, and finding compassion in a stranger's smile.

Release Date: March 13, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli


I have recently started reading poetry, and Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is a great example of why everyone needs to read poetry.  This book was achingly beautiful.  The poems resonated with me, Marlen's words touching me deeply.  There were several poems that had me tearing up, and others that had me nodding my head as I read.  

Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is about love, loss, and living through it all.  As I read I felt a sort of ringing truth to Marlen's words, deep inside.  I am going to share my favorite poem from the book here for you to enjoy.  If you like this poem, you'll love the book.

"In Here, I'll Wait

Everyone always talks about love.
But I, I like loss the best.

There you are perfect, just a carbon copy of all my best memories.  In my grief you are all the 3 ams, all the whispers caught in the nets of bedsheets, all the cold morning light breaking against two still asleep.  All the mittened hands entwined, all the kisses stolen at red lights, laughs rung out in alley ways.  In my suffering you are all the spoken meters in market place flowers, all the promises pressed into the backs of wrists.  All the blue skies caught in blue eyes.

I much prefer loss.  Because in loss, I'll keep you forever.

And in love, you'll always take back what was once given so freely."

Isn't that just beautiful?  I loved this book and highly recommend it.

Book Review: If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it's okay to ask for help.
If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.

Release Date: May 26, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

I love this book!  When I read the title of If You Feel Too Much, I knew that this book would be one for me.  I live my life feeling as if I DO feel too much, and I was hoping for words of encouragement and wisdom within these pages.

If You Feel Too Much read like poetry.  The book is comprised of essays: a writing style that I really enjoy.  The format keeps the book from getting repetitive and also each chapter is like a little book in and of itself.  I liked reading one or two chapters at a time, then sitting back and thinking about what I'd just read.

The essays are soulful and beautiful.  Jamie's writing is lyrical, and the book reads almost like a song.  It was definitely a song to my heart.  I found myself crying and feeling as though my heart were being filled up with hope, peace and love as I read.

My favorite thing about If You Feel Too Much is the way I felt when I finished reading it.  This book gave me hope for our generation, knowing that there are people in the world like Jamie made me feel like we just might be okay after all.  He has devoted his life to helping others, and bringing love and light to those who are suffering.  I believe that there is no higher calling, and this world is a better place because of Jamie's work.

I highly recommend this beautiful book to anyone and everyone. 

Book Review: The Heir (The Selection #4) by Kiera Cass

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

Release Date: May 2015 
Age Group: YA
Source: e-book, purchased
Reviewed By: Nat 

I was chomping at the bit waiting for this new era in the world Cass has created. I did my usual ritual of planning out how I would neglect all my duties (#momprobs) and devour this book. It started out with me eagerly reading, wanting to know what had become of Maxon and America. 

It was a slow start and immediately I knew that their daughter Eadlyn was nothing like either of them. The best way I can describe her is that she has the personality of Maxon's father with the looks of Maxon's Mother and has a hint of unconditional love (for her family, none for her country) from her mother.

I got all the way to the last 30% and stopped reading.

Why? Because I freaking felt a #roth AND #mockingjay headed in my direction! Can you flipping imagine anything worse than a beloved series have the crap-tastic tragedy of those two books? Your total fairy tale love affair crumbling combined with the heroine (America) being a completely different (weak and submissive) woman! 

What the heck went wrong when they were raising their children? I'm a mom and I have that fiery personality of the America who was in The Selection but you know what motherhood did to me? For one, I did learn to hone it in and not be as brash BUT I became a Tiger Mom when it came to my off-spring. My kids know I will just about eat anyone who treats them wrong. #nailsforbreakfast

America got a little huffy, puffy and Maxon flared a little daddy hate-fire but all in all, they were just freaking broken down {but still in love}. #mockingjay

I did finish the book. I read the last 30% and held out hope. I mean I stalk Kiera Cass on instagram, read all the teasers and have talked this book up to anyone that would listen. Surely she was going to pull the rabbit out of the hat in the end... she did all right but it was a stinky skunk that popped out of that hat!

The cliffhanger is something I suspected might happen but thought there was no way she was going to #roth me. No way, no how. WRONG.

Now, Eadlyn had a sliver of character growth towards the end and a little hope was redeemed. I am attached to the other Shreave children. They all seemed how I imagined they should be, with very different personalities and strengths. I guess the saying my great-aunts always said about kids is true. "Kids are like pancakes. You screw up the first one but then you get better and the rest turn out all right." 

It all boils down to the last book. Where is it headed? I still think things can turn around and this still be the epic conclusion we all envisioned.

Here's what I want: 
  • For Eadlyn's bubble life to bust!
  • To see that fiery return of America Singer and Maxon Shreave. A good fight is in order, show those kids what passion is all about.
  • Eadlyn to learn all about her parents selection. And for her to know why her mother isn't crazy about Camille's mother. She needs to know what kind of lengths her mother went to on the wings of jealousy.
  • Explanation how the Shreave kids love and adore their mother's closest friends but have no clue to all the tragedies they suffered and what drew their families together.
  • A novella of May. She is the resurrected Celeste. I think she would be a blast to read about.
  • I want these boys to be narrowed down and more memorable. Some of them that were mentioned I couldn't even remember and had to go back and find where their name was mentioned at the actual selection.
  •  I just want more. Like a 500 page conclusion.
Until the next installment... 
May the odds be ever in MY favor.

Audio Book Spotlight: Hostage (Bodyguard #1) by Chris Bradford

Today we're featuring a clip of Chris Bradford's release: Hostage (Bodyguard #1).  This book sounds really exciting!



In a dangerous world, everyone needs protection.

No one suspects that a teenager could protect someone – but Connor Reeves is no ordinary 14 year old. He’s a professional bodyguard trained in surveillance, anti-ambush techniques, hostage survival and unarmed combat. When he’s summoned to protect the President’s daughter, his protection skills face the ultimate test.

Alicia doesn’t want to be guarded. She just wants to have fun. With no clue that Connor is her bodyguard, she tries to escape the Secret Service and lead him astray. But unknown to her and Connor, a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated.

Its mission: to take the President’s daughter HOSTAGE.

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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Release Date: May 19, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

Oh, oh, oh, was this book good!  I loved Uprooted from the first words to the last.  I didn't want this book to end!  I was completely entrapped by the story, Novik's captivating world, and her lyrical prose.

From the very first page, I knew I was going to love Uprooted.  There is an intrinsic quality to good writing, one I can't even name.  When an author has it, they have it.  Naomi Novik has it and it shows.  Her writing drew me in from the very first words, and I was almost spell-bound as I read.  I simply couldn't put this book down.

In my experience, long books like Uprooted often get draggy in the middle.  That was not the case with this story.  Novik kept a great pace, and the action didn't stop for the entire book.  It was very intense for being such a long read. 

I love it when stories move through a long period of time because it allows for so much action and character development.  Uprooted spanned many months, maybe even a year, and there was just so much going on.  I loved the plot twists, surprises along the way, and the way the story came full circle.

I loved so many things about Uprooted but my favorite thing of all was Agnieszka herself.  She is not your typical heroine.  She's plain, always gets dirty (no matter how hard she tries not to!) and very practical.  Agnieszka loves being outside and especially being in the forest.  If this was a contemporary story, she would have been living on a farm, growing all of her own food.  Agnieszka was that kind of girl.  Novik drew away from the norm with her choice of heroine and I love her for that. 

Agnieszka is a strong young woman, full of self-assurance and determination.  She is true to herself and her calling.  She doesn't need or want saving from a man and I loved that about her.  Agnieszka is true to her calling and accepts it, even though it's not what she expected or desired, with grace and dignity.  The ending of the story was so perfect and true to Agnieszka as a character.  I loved it. 

I don't often read high fantasy, but books like Uprooted make me remember just how much I like this genre.  I loved that I didn't have to work to remember the rules of Agnieszka's world.  Sometimes high fantasy books can feel like work to read because I'm trying to keep all of the background information straight in my head as I read.  That wasn't the case here: I fell into the story and grudgingly crawled out as the book ended. 

I can't say enough good things about Uprooted.  I highly recommend it!

Giveaway and Guest Post: Why I Put My Cat In Space by Ava Louise

As part of WOW! Women On Writing's blog tour for author Ava Louise, we are pleased to host Ava today.  She's here to tell us why her main character, Maggie, brings her cat with her to space.  Could you/would you leave your animals behind for a new life?  I know I couldn't, and Ava can't either.  Enjoy this fun post, and see the bottom of the page for a giveaway!

Why I Put My Cat in Space
by Ava Louise

Back in 2013 I went on a reading binge. For me, this means I buy loads of books based on a central theme. At that time it was about mail order brides. I love books set in the Old West. History has always appealed to me and mail order brides were a part of our country’s history. A friend and I were talking about how scary it must have been for women back then.

It’s hard to imagine getting on a train or in a stagecoach and traveling across this vast country to meet a complete stranger and marry them. The women who chose that option were very brave, in my opinion.

As we talked, we started questioning different aspects of the mail order brides’ choice. Eventually the questions brought us back to modern times. Right away I noticed a “glitch” in this idea when I tried to think of it from my personal perspective. What about my cats? There is no way I could imagine leaving my cat behind to go off to another life.

Then the part of me that enjoys Science Fiction piped up. What if I were leaving Earth altogether, not just traveling across the country? Again, not going to happen! After a round of what-if questions, “Maggie’s Story” was born.

There is a very real part of me in the character of Maggie. Her love for her pet, and her unwillingness to set it aside for convenience, comes from my own heart and soul. So, naturally, when it came time to name Maggie’s cat, I chose to name her after my very own cat…Mamzell.

So, with “Maggie’s Story,” I sent my cat into space.

One fan asked me how I came up with her name. Originally, her name was supposed to be Mademoiselle. My husband, though, could neither pronounce nor spell it correctly. With a bit of tweaking, I came up with the name Mamzell, and it truly fits. She is a one-of-a-kind cat!

In “Maggie’s Story” there is a scene in which Mamzell runs away with Maggie’s crochet hook. The real-life Mamzell is known for carrying things around in her mouth, too. The entire scene was based upon real life…except for the part where the aliens enter the room and are trying to figure out what is going on with the human female stuck halfway under the bed and threatening the cat with dire punishments for stealing.

Try to imagine how that could be explained to a race of beings that don’t quite grasp the concept of keeping pets. Imagine how you would explain that you wouldn’t really shave the cat’s butt for stealing. Or that you wouldn’t truly tie a knot in the animal’s tail. And how to make them understand you are not mentally deficient because you are talking to the pet in the first place?  >smile<

What better animal than a small cat to introduce the pet concept to aliens? I refuse to believe I am the only person who would forego space travel if it meant leaving behind my pets. How about you? Would you be willing to leave Earth if you had to give up your pets?

The Intergalactic Matchmaking Services series begins with Maggie’s Story, Ava Louise’s debut novel. In the series, you’ll meet characters that play a role in all of the books of the series, but this cozy Sci-Fi with romance is easily read as a series, or each book as a standalone. The characters are full-fledged and lovable!

Book One 
Maggie’s Story -- Women Wanted: Must have a sense of adventure and be open to new experiences. Must also be willing to relocate. Please contact...Intergalactic Matchmaking Services.

Maggie Cline decides to investigate her romantic possibilities after she becomes a target when she identifies the shooter in a local murder.

Can she find a soul mate away from everything she knows and has worked hard for here on Earth? What about her loyal companion? Will she have to give up her cat, Mamzell, for a chance at love?
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (January 27, 2014)

Book Two
“Shirley’s Story” -- Just as Shirley decides to try opening herself up to a chance at love, a stalker from her past returns. How does she move forward when her past comes knocking? What's going on with her young student, Hannah? Will her dog, Oreo, be okay with Shirley looking for love?

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (March 4, 2014)


Book Three
“Penny’s Story” -- Penny was supposed to be dead. At least that is what Claire has believed for ten years. Find out what happens when Claire's sister comes out of the Witness Protection Program. Penny is fighting a losing battle with cancer and needs Claire to raise Sunny, Penny's newborn daughter, once the cancer takes its final toll. Why is Penny's ex-boyfriend, Jason, telling his cronies that Penny has money and information about their illegal dealings? How does the cartel find out she has even left the Witness Protection Program? 

Will Marko have to watch as another woman he cares for dies a horrible death? Will he lose his job as Medical Officer on the starship for bending the rules? Can Pacer finally have the peaceful retirement he desires? How will Claire deal with her quiet life being turned upside down? Catch up with Maggie and Daxon, along with Shirley and Mathenzo.

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 30, 2014)

All of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services books are available as e-books on Amazon. 

About the Author:

Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It's taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be "when she grows up," but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it's never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult. 

Ava Louise can be found online at:


One winner will receive the entire Intergalactic Matchmaking Series by Ava Louise in digital format. 
  • This giveaway is open internationally.
  • The giveaway runs from 5/19/15 - 6/1/15.
  • The winner will be notified via email and has 72 hours to respond and claim their prize.  If no response has been received within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
  • You do not have to follow our blog to enter this giveaway.

A Non-Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime. 

Age Group: YA 
Not Reviewed By: Nat

We have made references and even a post about how much we love this series and expressed our excitement when the series extension was announced but we have never reviewed the books. #moreselection post HERE.


Simply put, we were really late to the game. By the time I was introduced to this series (by our gushing teens Rocky and Maddie B) the third installment was being released, The One

There were so many great reviews floating around and a huge following behind the series that I didn't think I could add any more humph to the party. Bottom line, if you love dystopian and reality TV, this series is a no brainer.

So a huge #fistbump to Cass for such an amazing series! The verdict is still out on the extension to the series, beginning this month with The Heir. We will see if Cass continues to knock our socks off!

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Guest Post: Game of Thrones Season Five by Spencer Blohm

I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and my husband is as well.  We've been watching this series since it premiered.  Toby has read all of the books twice now, and loves to see how the show will differ from the books.  We have Spencer Blohm guest posting today about his predictions for Game of Thrones Season Five.  Welcome, Spencer!

What’s in the Cards for Game of Thrones Season Five?
by Spencer Blohm

The season five premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones drew a staggering eight million viewers back to the land of Westeros. The show's success isn't all that surprising, considering the popularity of fantasy-driven shows and novels. It also builds on the mainstream appeal for cinematic fantasy generated by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, and it brings a built-in fan base to the show: the readers of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, on which the show is based.

The differences between the book and the show so far this season are numerous, and they're not small changes but major reinventions of the story. Littlefinger, who smuggled Sansa Stark out of King's Landing last season and is now tutoring her in subterfuge, plans to marry her to Ramsay Bolton, who currently resides in Winterfell. In Martin's novel A Dance With Dragons, it is Tywin who arranges a marriage between Ramsay and Jeyne Poole, in an attempt to pass Jeyne off as Arya Stark. Both the book’s and show’s plot line concern Roose Bolton's attempt to control Winterfell through Ramsay by marrying him to a Stark. Theon Greyjoy is currently in Winterfell in the show as well, having been Ramsay's captive for some time now. He grew up there with Sansa, and it seems likely they will plot something together, since both of them have ample reason to hate the Boltons.

In addition to these differences in Winterfell, major changes have happened in and around King's Landing as well. Instead riding off to take Riverrun back from Brynden Tully as he did in the books, Jaime Lannister sails with Ser Bronn of the Blackwater to Dorne in the show. His mission is to sneak his illegitimate daughter Myrcella out of the Water Gardens, believing she is not safe there after Dornish prince Oberyn Martell was killed in King's Landing. In the fourth book in the series A Feast for Crows, it is Arianne Martell who tries to move Myrcella out of Dorne, in an attempt to crown her under Dornish law.

Arianne is nowhere to be found in the show. In fact, a great number of narrative threads from the novels have been excised altogether—Quentyn Martell and his trip to Essos, the reemergence of Rhaegar Targaryen's son Aegon, and anything going on in the Iron Islands, which dominated much of A Feast for Crows through two distinct characters.

Jaime and Bronn's visit to Dorne should prove highly entertaining. They are bound to viciously clash with the Sand Snakes, Oberyn's pugnacious bastard daughters, and Ellaria Sand, his vindictive paramour. The loss of Jaime's sword hand has lowered his skill, and he'll have to find other ways to be effective in battle.

Book readers know that Cersei Lannister's story will be at the forefront this season. The show writers have wisely chosen to add scenes developing her son King Tommen and his newly wed Queen Margery, who are not point-of-view characters in the books. This change gives more weight to their relationships and increases the emotional stakes of the politics being played in King's Landing.

While some purists decry these changes as unnecessary or even harmful to the show's integrity, they streamline the plotting, which contributes to better pacing—a key element in any successful television show. The fifth season of this highly anticipated series has already made fans yearning for more and racing to their television sets as new episodes premiere (check here for listings or here for the latest recaps). As Game of Thrones moves ahead of its source material, and the showrunners demonstrate their willingness to make radical changes, the element of surprise comes into play for readers and non-readers alike, resulting in a fresher, more exciting fantasy-driven experience.