Friday, October 31, 2014

To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood - Review

To Love and to Cherish
(Cactus Creek Cowboys #2)
by Leigh Greenwood
Expected publication: November 4, 2014
by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Torn Between a Desire to be Free...
When Laurie Spencer said "I do", she never realized she'd be trading one pair of shackles for another-until her husband's unexpected death leaves her with an opportunity to escape her controlling family for good. Determined to be independent, Laurie approaches sexy rancher Jared Smith with an offer she hopes he can't refuse...

And a Longing to be His...
Jared's determined to make it, but with the local banker turned against him, it looks like his dream may be slipping through his fingers. When unconsciously sensual Laurie offers a partnership, his luck may be changing...but when she throws herself in as part of the deal, Jared's not sure he'll be able to respect the terms of their agreement and keep his eyes-and his hands-to himself. 

There's something about Laurie that awakens every protective instinct Jared has...and when all hell breaks loose, there's nothing and no one who'll be able to keep this cowboy from her side.

My review:
Laurie was forced to marry a controlling man she didn't love, but now that he has recently passed away, she believes that his money and property will now belong to her and she will have the means to be in charge of her own life. However, her deceased husband intended to control her even from the grave, and his brother is determined to see it through. Buying a partnership in Jared's ranch may be just what Laurie needs to be independent, but when she doesn't have enough money for the partnership, she agrees to become his housekeeper. But Laurie's former brother-in-law, the town's banker, doesn't like this idea and certainly doesn't like when he doesn't have control of something, and he is adamant that Laurie and Jared will do what he wants.

First, I am going to admit that I had a preconceived notion that men can't write romance novels as well as women (even though I know I'm going to get some backlash from that revelation), so when I found out that Leigh Greenwood is a man, I was skeptical that I was going to like this book. I'm glad I gave it a chance because To Love and to Cherish is an amazing historical romance novel with a great plot and full of interesting characters, vivid setting, and spicy romance. 

Laurie is sweet and sassy, resigned to do what's expected of her but in her own way. She's determined that she will never marry again, even though she is only 21 when she becomes a widow. Jared is proud and arrogant but also honorable and caring, with a strong need to turn a profit on his new ranch and find his long-lost brothers. Norman (Laurie's former brother-in-law and the banker) is the perfect villain that you love to hate, and there are several well described secondary characters that add richness to this story. Just based on what I read of Naomi and Colby, I want to read the first book in this series to learn more about their story. And let me just say, a freak snowstorm in the desert never seemed quite so hot before.

I got so caught up in these characters and this story that at one point I wanted to slap Jared and remind him that he knew she was a virgin. (Because yes, she really was, even though she had been married for four years. You will have to read to find out why.) If you like romance, I am most definitely recommending this book. (In fact, I think my only complaint about this book is that the copy I won was not signed.)

I won a copy through Goodreads. I was not required to write a review. 

About the author:
Leigh Greenwood is the author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboy, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, NC. He never intended to be a writer, but found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write.

Find out more at  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato - "Throwback Thursday" Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato. Gemma graciously sent me a copy of this early this year with no expectation for it to be reviewed. I read it shortly after receiving and intended to write a review, but you know what they say about best laid plans...
Cooking Up Love
(Five Senses #1)
by Gemma Brocato

Mix a chef and her contractor, stir in a mystery, and cook up a romance. Jemima George leads a charmed life as a personal chef and assistant to reality television's latest darling. But that changes in a New York minute when her Aunt Caro dies under odd circumstances, bequeathing her a small restaurant. Jem plans to sell the cafe and continue her life in NYC, until a dramatic phone call from her cheating boyfriend convinces her to experiment with the ingredients for happiness and accept her Aunt's legacy. Throwing herself into remodeling the restaurant with the help of the town's delicious contractor, Jem revamps the menu and renews her faith in herself. 

Jack Kerrigan considered Caro a surrogate mother and hates the idea that the cafe could be sold. He doesn't need the remodeling project, but if it means Caro's beautiful, fascinating niece will stay to run the restaurant, he's all in. He wouldn't mind being savory to Jem's sweet. Jack's brassy ex-wife is cooking up a scheme of her own, where Jack tosses Jem like a salad and comes back to her. Fold in a creepy attorney hiding secrets of environmental mayhem, add Jem's claustrophobia, half-pint niece and nephew twins, one mysterious lockbox, and bring to a boil-a recipe for romance. 

My review:
When Jem inherits a cafe after her aunt dies, she intends to sell the property in Granite Pointe because her life, her job, and the man she hopes is her soon-to-be-finance are in New York. Jem soon realizes she may be better off staying and running her aunt's cafe because not only does a late night phone reveal her boyfriend is a sleaze but she also has some hot chemistry with the sexy contractor, Jack. From the beginning, Jem feels there is something not quite right about the way her aunt passed away, but the mystery deepens as time goes on.

Cooking Up Love has a whole lot of steamy romance with a bunch of mystery mixed in. The twist was hinted at from the beginning of the book, but, call me slow or whatever, I was still surprised when everything was finally revealed. Jem is smart, sassy, and independent, while also being vulnerable. Jack is tough and determined, while also having a soft heart that's too big for his own good. The characters were great, the setting was good, and the writing style is easy to read. I got hooked early on with the chemistry in the pantry scene, and I kept reading because of the attraction between Jem and Jack and because of the suspense of finding out what really happened to the aunt. I enjoyed reading this and would recommend to anyone who likes contemporary romance or romantic suspense.

A copy was provided by the author, but I was not required to write a review.

About the author:
Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a fortune from a fortune cookie that said she was a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. She always knew that eventually she'd get around to writing the novel trapped in her mind. It took a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to 'Dear Author', were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Find out more at

Sunday, October 26, 2014

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Jessica Scott - iPad Mini Giveaway

Title: All I Want For Christmas Is You
Author: Jessica Scott
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Novella (108 pages)

Goodreads * Amazon 

All Major Patrick MacLean wanted was Christmas with the woman and child who were his family in everything but name. But Captain Samantha Egan has come back from the war a different woman than the one who left - and she doesn't know if she can love him anymore.

But neither of them counted on the determination of a little girl they both call daughter and if Natalie has her wish, her parents may have no idea what's coming for them. It's going to take Christmas miracle to bring these two wounded warriors back from the edge of a broken heart. 


It was not a gentle kiss. It was not tame or timid or questioning.

It burned her down to the root of Sam's soul. It touched something deep and dark and hidden.

Something she'd thought was long since dead and buried and gone.

Patrick’s tongue slid against hers, stroking to life the very sensations she thought she'd never feel again.

It was electric, the feel of his mouth against hers. The scrape of stubble against her chin, the taste of him. The smell of his skin.

He nipped her. Pinched her bottom lip between his teeth and sucked it. And she sighed at the pleasure, at the raw ache his taste and touch aroused in her, pushing aside the darkness that haunted her.

Sam felt him. Felt everything. The heat of his skin. The warmth that drew her closer. That made her want to crawl into his lap and unzip his pants and push up that damned flannel shirt until they were skin to skin and there was nothing between them but sweat and heat.

One hand slid down her side. Tugged at her fleece and...

"Dear lord how many layers of clothing do you have on under this thing," he muttered against her lips.

She smiled. "You weren't wondering why I wasn't cold?"

"Well you'd be a champ at strip poker right about now," he murmured.

Then his fingers found her skin and she was no longer thinking.

About the author:

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas.

She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time  and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

Find out more at

The novella ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU is also included in November 11th release HOME FOR CHRISTMAS with Joann Ross.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Forget You by Jennifer Snyder - Review

Forget You
(A Coldcreek Novel #4)
by Jennifer Snyder
Published: September 2014

(Fourth novel in the Coldcreek Companion Series.Can be read as a standalone.)

Eva Bennett might be known for her candid approach and sharp tongue, but on the inside she’s still a vulnerable twenty-four year old who’s sick of kissing toads and being habitually single.

Full of comical one-liners and wielding a charming smile, Sawyer Keeton is more than meets the eye. After the news of his brother’s tragic death, however, Sawyer is pulled into a place filled with crippling emotions and pain—a place no one can seem to reach him…until the moment Eva steps into his life.

A twist of fate will bring them together and then tear them apart, forcing the two to learn there are people in life whom you cherish and pray will never forget you.

My review:
Eva is seeing all of her friends find good relationships and is ready for one too, but she has had more than her share of cocky, arrogant men. After a chance encounter with Sawyer, she automatically pegs him as another cocky man, especially when she later runs into him at a party. However, there is something there that makes her keep thinking about him, so when he gets her number from her friend and texts her the next day, she agrees to go on a date with him. Sawyer takes her on what she considers a "juvenile" date, and she is surprised to find she has a great time. Eva finds there is more to Sawyer than meets the eye with his unexpected date choices combined with his comical one-liners and the grief he is still experiencing over the mysterious circumstances surrounding his brother's death. They both soon realize they are falling hard for each other, but then they are torn apart.

When the big twist happens, we know something immediately that Eva doesn't know. I think it would have made the whole story more dramatic and suspenseful if the author had left readers in the dark just a little longer. Other than that, this is a really sweet love story and a great read. My heart ached for Eva when she thought she wouldn't see Sawyer again, and then it ached some more for Sawyer when he found out what really happened the night his brother died. I adored Eva and Sawyer, and I absolutely loved the relationship that Eva had with all of her friends. Forget You can be read as a stand-alone, but I would enjoy reading the other novels just to get to know these other characters better because I liked them so much. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys sweet, emotional love stories. (*Note that "sweet love story" does not mean no sex in this case, but it isn't overly explicit either.)

I won a signed copy on Goodreads. I was not required to write a review.

About the author:
Jennifer Snyder lives in North Carolina were she spends most of her time writing New Adult and Young Adult Fiction, reading, and struggling to stay on top of housework. She is a tea lover with an obsession for Post-it notes and smooth writing pens. Jennifer lives with her husband and two children, who endure listening to songs that spur inspiration on repeat and tolerate her love for all paranormal, teenage-targeted TV shows.

Find out more at   

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock - "Throwback Thursday" Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock. This is another one from my long list of ones I read back in 2012 right before it came out but then, for some reason, never wrote a review for it. 

What Happened to My Sister
by Elizabeth Flock
Published: August 2012
by Ballantine Books

From the author of Me & Emma comes a dazzling novel of two unforgettable families bound together by their deepest secrets and haunted pasts—perfect for fans of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and The Book of Bright Ideas.

Nine-year-old Carrie Parker and her mother, Libby, are making a fresh start in the small town of Hartsville, North Carolina, ready to put their turbulent past behind them. Violence has shattered their family and left Libby nearly unable to cope. And while Carrie once took comfort in her beloved sister, Emma, her mother has now forbidden even the mention of her name.

When Carrie meets Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin, these three generations of warmhearted women seem to have the loving home Carrie has always dreamed of. But as Carrie and Cricket become fast friends, neither can escape the pull of their families’ secrets—and uncovering the truth will transform the Chaplins and the Parkers forever.

My review:
Get the box of Kleenex for this emotional read. Carrie and her mother are relocating in order to have a better life. Only things really don't seem to be any better, and it doesn't look like they will improve anytime soon. Carrie has memories of a sister but doesn't remember what happened to her, but her mother tells Carrie that she is imagining things and forbids her to talk about it. Carrie and her mother end up living in a run-down, seedy motel, and Carrie is usually left alone in the room. They have very little money, and Carrie does without a lot, even food. It is absolutely heartbreaking to read about this little girl eating things like dirt and clay pots just to ease the hunger pangs.

What Happened to My Sister is very touching. The characters were great, and the story was engaging. Carrie is one of those characters that grab a hold of your heart and burrow their way in. I first read this story 2 years ago (I don't know why I didn't write a review back then), but I have found myself suddenly thinking of it over the years. The Chaplin family is quirky and loveable. Perhaps they didn't see the obvious abuse that was right in front of them at first, but very few people really do. What really did happen to Carrie's sister? You will be left guessing until the end. I would without a doubt recommend this book to anyone. 

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Former print journalist Elizabeth Flock reported for TIME and PEOPLE magazines before becoming an on-air correspondent for CBS News. Her acclaimed debut novel, BUT INSIDE I'M SCREAMING, chronically the psychological struggles of a young television reporter in New York, was released in 2003. Her second novel, ME & EMMA, became a New York Times bestseller and was an Indiebound (formerly Booksense) Notable Book of 2005. EVERYTHING MUST GO, Elizabeth's third novel, loosely based on a clothing store in Connecticut, was published in 2007. Elizabeth's books have been translated into seven languages and published in twelve countries. 

Her fourth novel, SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT, came out in 2009, and was chosen as an Indie Next List (formerly Booksense) title.

Find out more at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Truth About Love by Sheila Athens - Review

The Truth About Love
by Sheila Athens
Published: October 14, 2014
Montlake Romance

Strong Convictions
After her testimony sent an innocent man to prison, law student Gina Blanchard vowed to spend her life righting that wrong. She passed up more prestigious opportunities to intern at a Tallahassee nonprofit dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions. But when she catches the eye of sexy green-eyed hunk Landon Vista, she realizes there’s room in her hardworking life for a little fun. Then she learns her newest case involves the man accused of murdering Landon’s mother…and possibly setting him free.

Stronger Passions
The people of Tallahassee still see Landon Vista as their golden boy and football hero…and as the man who tragically lost his mother. Yet Landon hides his emotional scars behind his handsome smile. While working for a senator who’s tough on crime, he finds himself keeping an eye on gorgeous redheaded Gina in more ways than one. But as their passion simmers, their secrets build…until Gina’s latest case collides with Landon’s heartbreaking past, threatening to tear them apart forever.

My review:
After Gina and Landon meet by chance and have an instant attraction, they realize that they are on opposite sides of a very important issue. Gina is convinced that the man in prison for killing Landon's mother is innocent, and she is working to free him. Landon is sure the right man is behind bars because his eyewitness testimony when he was 9 years old is what sent him there. Landon is, of course, very upset when he finds out Gina is trying to get the man released, but he decides to stay in touch with her in case he can get to the information she has about his mother's murder. As the relationship and the investigation progress, Landon starts to have doubts about what he really saw that day.

I chose to read this book because of the plot of someone working to overturn a wrongful conviction. For the most part, I thought this was done very well in this book. Throughout the entire book, you are wondering if he did it or not and if they will be successful in getting answers. Trying to not give any spoilers, I have to say that the wheels of justice never turn so quickly in any case but especially not when the person has already been convicted. But I understand this was necessary for this story, and it didn't hurt my enjoyment of this book. Speaking of things that bothered me, I am going to point out that Key Biscayne is not part of "the Keys." No big deal, but it irked me.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I really liked how Gina and Landon's relationship progressed. As Landon started having doubts about what really happened with his mother's murder, Gina was there for him. She understood what he was going through because she had testified against someone and then found out she was wrong. I liked both characters and thought they were well developed. Gina was determined to help others wrongly convicted because of her mistake even though she hated going into the prisons. Landon was still just a little boy inside, feeling all alone even though he was a celebrity to most of the town, and still looking for love from his father. This story was well-written and had a great mix of romance and mystery. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet falling-in-love story with a lot of suspense thrown in.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
SHEILA ATHENS writes contemporary romance set inside modern day dilemmas (think Jodi Picoult, but with a central love story, lots of sexual tension and a happily ever after). After a fair amount of success in regional writing contests, Sheila finaled in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award in 2013. That entry, retitled THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE, sold to Montlake Romance for publication in the fall of 2014. She hopes you enjoy her stories, which explore the complications of modern-day life, illustrate the quiet dignity of mankind and celebrate the power of love.

Sheila grew up in the Ozarks, vacillating between climbing trees, reading books and neurotically working toward straight A’s. Many years later—after marriage, a couple of careers, and a Master’s Degree—she discovered her first romance novel in the gift shop of a hotel when she was supposed to be networking with fellow conventioneers. Now, some years later, she’s got a bright red study filled with romance novels, though the testosterone from her all-male household often encroaches upon her little feminine enclave. She’s a creative lefty who loves quiet spaces and eccentric people. She uses solitude to refill her writing well. Though she’s lived in the coastal south for more than twenty-five years, she looks forward to one day moving to the serene mountaintop cabin she and her husband have built at the edge of a national forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Find out more at     

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rip Tide Bikini (A Pleasure Island Romance) by Lyla Dune - Review

Rip Tide Bikini
(A Pleasure Island Romance #2)
by Lyla Dune
Published: March 2014
by Composesum Publishing

Hot and Hilarious with Heart!

(Mature/Explicit content alert - Readers should be 18 years of age or older)

Trent McAllister, ex Navy SEAL, is a bounty hunter in hot pursuit of Mazy Washington's twin brother and soon finds himself stranded on Pleasure Island with a flock of ostriches and some zany naughty naked seniors. He's immediately attracted to drummer girl/ mechanic, Mazy, and the feeling is mutual. But with this couple's opposing missions in regards to Mazy's brother, their relationship is off to a rocky start.

Will Mazy's brother and father drive a wedge between her and Trent, or will Trent manage to bring the family together in a way that includes him?  

My review:
Mazy's twin brother, Earl, is being chased by a bounty hunter for something he didn't do. Mazy is fiercely loyal to her brother because he is essentially the only family she has since her mother passed away and her father took off. Trent, the bounty hunter, has chased Earl to Pleasure Island. He then does damage to the island's ostrich farm following whom he thought was Earl but was really Mazy. Trent agrees to stay at the ostrich farm in lieu of facing charges for the damages. Trent's life is pretty stressful and really nothing more than being on the go all the time for the job, so Pleasure Island is a relaxing change of pace. Of course, the hot redhead, Mazy, is also a reason for him to stay. Mazy is conflicted about her attraction to Trent. She has the hots for him, but she is disappointed in herself because she feels like she is betraying her brother if she has anything to do with the bounty hunter that is chasing him.

Rip Tide Bikini is an entertaining read full of quirky characters, ostriches, and a pot belly pig named Rooster. A sexy massage, a provocative dance, and a sunburn down below will keep you both entertained and laughing. I really enjoy the mix of humor and heat that Lyla Dune weaves into her stories. Mazy and Trent are both well-developed characters, which makes it easy for readers to develop a connection with them. Myrtle and Louise, two of the "Naughty Naked Seniors," are hilarious and obviously care for Mazy very much. We also get to know Kendal quite a bit more in this book than we did in the first book of the series because her story is up next.

I will say this story could have used a little more proofreading. The name of the attack ostrich changed from Spike to Strike in a couple of places, and there were a few other things that were mainly typos. However, it did not detract from my enjoyment of this book. I recommend Rip Tide Bikini and this series to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance. If you are a fan of Jill Shalvis, Lyla Dune is right up your alley.

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Lyla Dune has taught and performed music for over twenty years. Like most band directors, she can play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a wide variety of instruments, including tuba. Her primary instruments are clarinet, saxophone, flute, and piano.

Songwriting has been in Lyla’s blood since she was a young girl. She still enjoys writing songs. Songwriting led her to poetry, and she has published over a hundred poems. She has also published many short stories and flash fiction pieces in a multitude of genres.

Writing can be creative and cathartic, which is why Lyla fell in love with it, but she learned that writing from that dark place inside her heart made for a lot of sad days. Even though publishers kept begging for more of that sticky dark stuff, she changed directions and decided to fill her days writing happily ever afters. Now, she smiles and sings and enjoys each moment spent with her characters and hopes her readers will find as much joy between the pages of her books as she’s experienced penning the words.

Find out more at  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner - Review

Waking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner
Expected publication: October 8, 2014
by Tule Publishing

Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…

When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-­‐meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.

Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright.

My review:    
Waking Up Joy is an interesting story. Joy has never gotten over her teenage love, so she has refused all offers of dates and is now in her forties with no children. She has a quirky, loving family and still lives in her childhood house with her mom who believes strongly in the power of charms. Right after her mother passes away, Joy climbs onto the roof to retrieve a charm she hid in the chimney (one among many). She has an unfortunate accident which puts her into a coma and causes her family to believe she tried to commit suicide. Joy can hear everything that is being said around her while in this coma, including her long-lost love whose wife passed several years before. After she comes out of the coma, Joy feels as if she has been reborn and is ready to make changes in her life.

I really liked Joy's quirky family, especially the glimpses we got to see of her deceased mother, and how much the family loved each other. I thought the twist was interesting because that was not the story I expected to be behind the charm Joy hid in the chimney. I also liked how this story was set in Northeast Oklahoma and there was a mention of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, because I don't read many books that choose this as the setting. (On a side note, I will say that if there is a JC Penney in Siloam Springs, I've never seen it. But of course, this doesn't detract from the story.) On the other hand, there was something about this book that made it a little hard to read, although I can't really figure out why, and it did seem to drag through the middle. However, I still enjoyed this story and especially the ending, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes women's fiction.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Tina Ann Forkner is a Women’s Fiction writer and the author of Rose House and Ruby Among Us. While she was born and raised in Oklahoma, lived in England, and attended college in California, Tina makes her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband, three teenagers, and two spoiled dogs. 

Find out more at    

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Skinny by Donna Cooner - Throwback Thursday Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is Skinny by Donna Cooner. I read this book back in 2012 right before it came out and really enjoyed, and I don't know why I didn't write a review then. Apparently, that part of 2012 was a bad time for me to actually get reviews written because it seems all of my "Throwback Thursday" reviews are coming from then.

Skinny by Donna Cooner
Published: September 2012

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

My review:
Skinny is the story of Ever, an overweight teenager who decides to have gastric bypass surgery. "Skinny" is the little voice in Ever's head that calls her names and tells her everyone is disgusted by her. Even as Ever loses weight, the voice of Skinny never goes away and keeps telling Ever she isn't good enough.

Skinny explores the hard issues of self-esteem, being happy with yourself, confidence, following your dreams, and what true friendship really means. This is an excellent story, and I would recommend it.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She's a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).

Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.

Find out more at

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Long Way Home by Kathleen O'Brien - Review

The Long Way Home
Montana Born Homecoming #4
Kathleen O'Brien
Published: October 1, 2014 
by Tule Publishing

At eighteen, Abby Foster had been the cutest little rich gal in Marietta, Montana. She could make boys do whatever she wanted—especially sweet, wild, penniless Joe Carlyle, who adored her. But a lot’s changed in the eight years since Abby broke Joe’s heart by marrying the rich guy her domineering father chose for her. Her father has died, and the “perfect” husband has bolted, taking all the money. More importantly, Abby’s grown up. She’s vowed to stop listening to other people and follow her own heart instead.

Right now, her heart tells her to return to Marietta. The wildfire she felt in Joe’s arms has haunted her, and, though she doesn’t expect forgiveness, she hopes maybe he, too, would enjoy a brief, no-strings affair. If they can share just the seventy-two hours of Homecoming weekend…well, maybe then they’ll both find it easier to forgive, forget, and move on.

But when she sees him, she realizes how naive that idea was. The years have changed Joe, too…and the passionate, powerful man he’s become isn’t someone she’ll ever forget. This time the heart she breaks may be her own.

My review:
The Long Way Home is a really sweet romance about a second chance with a first love. Abby and Joe were just teenagers, but they were in love. Abby was a seemingly rich girl who had everything. Joe was "from the wrong side of the tracks." Abby didn't care; she loved him anyway. She didn't want to marry the rich older man her father had picked out for her and even planned to call off the wedding the night before. Abby then finds out her father is dying and wants to leave her in the arms of someone that he thinks can take care of her financially, so Abby goes through with the wedding, breaking Joe's (and her) heart.

Eight years later, Abby's marriage is over, and she's returned to Marietta. She is on her way through for job interviews and wants to spend the weekend with Joe. It took Joe forever to get over Abby, and he knows that if he agrees to this weekend, he will fall for her again only to have to watch her leave again.

I really enjoyed this novella. It is a sweet little romance about two people reconnecting and a glimpse at what can happen when someone never really got over their first love. For such a short story, I think the author did a great job of giving us enough information to get to know Abby and Joe plus enough conflict and tension to make us wonder if they would get together for the weekend or not. Great little romance, and I would recommend it.

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Since the day Harlequin bought her first novel, Kathleen has published more than 40 titles with them--everything from hot, sexy contemporaries to dark, brooding suspense. Read in more than 30 countries and 29 languages, she's a five-time finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, a winner of the Maggie Award and the Holt Medallion, and a three-time finalist for Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice.

Kathleen comes from a family of writers, poets, and journalists- though she may be the one shameless romantic in the bunch. A true Cancer, she values home and family above everything and wouldn't dream of ditching a single friend, memory, gift, or love letter.

Consequently, her office is a mess, full of books, colored cut glass, photo albums, Madame Alexander dolls, and a cockatiel who whistles the theme from "The X Files." She's addicted to Mozart and the Beatles, Downton Abbey and The Mentalist, Dorothy Dunnett and Rex Stout novels, and honeycrisp apples. 

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