Night Watch - Linda Hall

4.5 Stars

Desolate Maine shores... Murder... And peace slipping away on the outgoing tide... For yacht delivery captain Em Ridge, having the Coast Guard in her face after a billionaire's daughter goes missing is not the best way to start the boat delivery of a lifetime. Will Em's career go overboard? Will the investigating detective help her or hurt her? Any why does the best boat delivery captain on the east coast pull at her heart strings? The oft foggy coast of Maine holds secrets it does not want to give up. And a lot of bodies can be hidden in The Pine Tree State's largest city. 

Linda Hall spent the early years of her writing career as a journalist and freelance writer. She also worked in the field of adult literacy and wrote curriculum materials for adults reading at basic reading levels. In 1990 Linda decided to do something she'd always dreamed of doing, she began working on her first novel. The book she wrote, The Josiah Files was published in 1992. Since that time she's written eighteen more mystery and suspense novels. Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. Linda grew up in New Jersey where her love of the ocean was born. When she was a little girl Linda remembers sitting on the shore and watching the waves and contemplating what was beyond. She could do that for hours. Linda has roots in two countries. In 1971, she married a Canadian who loves the water just as much as she does. They moved to Canada and have lived there ever since. One of the things they enjoy is sailing. In the summer they basically move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named - Mystery. Both Linda's husband Rik and Linda have achieved the rank of Senior Navigator, the highest rank possible in CPS. The U.S. sister organization is the U.S.P.S. Linda's Senior Navigator diploma hangs proudly on her office wall. What this all means is that she knows how to use a sextant and can 'theoretically' find her way home by looking at the stars. Rik and Linda have two grown children and seven wonderful grandchildren. 

Visit her website - HERE

Great mystery! Got my attention right away and kept it. This was one of those books that had a spiderwebby plot that went in different directions and had you guessing all the way through. I kept trying to figure it out and kept getting little clues only to find out that I was wrong again. There was one character though, I won't ruin it for you, but I knew they had something to do with it - I knew they were bad and I was right! Although I never did have the whole thing figured out.

I am not a boat person, but I do love the beach, I love Maine, I love islands and so I loved all the settings in this book. Linda did a wonderful job taking us there and making us feel right at home on the island and on the boats.

Excellent character development. It took me the whole book to really fall in love with Em. In the beginning, I liked her and then towards the middle I wasn't really sure I liked her that much but then the last half I loved her! LOL And to be honest - I really liked the fact that she wasn't a pushover and didn't win my heart right away. She held her self back a little and was more complex so it was a growing relationship and those kinds of relationships are the ones that last. I'm glad it took me a while to love her.

I have to talk about how I came into this book and "The Bitter End" (which I will be reviewing Thurs. 5/26). I am a fan of Linda's from Waaaaay back, yes, that far back! LOL
I think the first book I read of hers was in the late 1990's and early 2000's, I have read about 8 books by her now, including these latest two! and have loved all of them!
Sooo... one day about a month ago I was checking my email and received an email from a Linda Hall asking me to review her latest book - The Bitter End. I did a double take. "Linda Hall? Linda Hall? Why do I know that name?... Wait a minute!!!" 
I emailed her back, that is what I said -
"Wait a minute!!! I know you! Well not personally… But I have read a few of your books before. You wrote Island of Refuge correct? It was about a church that they were using as a shelter or something like that? That is one of my all-time favorite books.
Sooo of course I will read this one! But I can't do it till May, I will squeeze it in sooner if I am able.
I Will read and review any books you want, I love your books."
Amazing! Right? That one of my favorite Authors of one of my favorite books emails me out of the blue! Crazy!
So come back on Thurs. May 26 for my review of The Bitter End! Also, Linda is giving my one copy of The Bitter End to give away - so you will want to come sign up for that!

And while you are at it, you can read any of her books - you won't be disappointed!

PS & BTW - I love the covers on these books! I will have to find out from Linda the back story on the covers for you.

Thank you so much Linda for sending me an e-copy of your book for my honest review! It was great connecting with you!

Get your copy of Night Watch - HERE
and get your copy of The Bitter End - HERE


My Toddler Bible - Juliet David & Chris Embleton-Hall

5 Stars!

Fans of Chris Embleton-Hall's cheerfully distinctive artwork will be eager to see this new Bible! Twenty stories―nine from the Old Testament and eleven from the New―are retold in a concise and friendly manner in a rounded, easy-to-read font. Very, very bright, and very, very fun!

Juliet David has written many children’s stories and Bible activity books. Her other interests include painting, music, and travel to Israel and other Bible lands. This experienced author lives in London with her family.

Chris Embleton-Hall is an English-based artist specializing in children’s illustration who uses a mixture of digital styles, most recently incorporating pattern and texture. He spent hours of his spare time as a child drawing with his granddad, before studying for a degree in illustration. 

I really liked this book a lot!  It touches on all the big Bible stories. It tells them in such a way that very young children can easily understand. I like that there is not too many words on each page, but it gets to the main points of the story. You can fill in more on your own with your child if you want. I like that. It's like "food for thought". This book is a nice beginning.

I think with a Bible for young children - you can't include everything! The book would be too big! And they would get bored with it very quickly. So you have to keep it simple, to the point, just touching the basics of each story just to give them the beginning they need to get interested. And I think this one does it very nicely! Then as they get older move them on to a bible that explains more in depth. I really like the way this book does all that!

The pictures are gorgeous! They will definitely attract attention from little ones. 
It is a very nice hard cover book with glossy pages - 220 pages! So a real nice size!
I am a nanny for a family of four (my own daughter is grown and married) the 18mo. old I watch would love this! And I hope to be using it for my own grandchildren someday!

Thank you Kregel publications for sending me this beautiful book for my honest review!

Order yours from Amazon - HERE


Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures - Amily Shen

5 Star!

Follow the White Rabbit into this imaginative coloring book inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, featuring intricate pen-and-ink drawings by acclaimed artist Amily Shen. Meet the Cheshire Cat, attend the Mad Hatter's tea party, and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts in this evocative tale that invites you into a strange and beautiful new world of coloring.
AMILY SHEN is a renowned Taiwanese artist. She had worked as a custom and shoe designer and is now a full-time illustrator and art instructor. She has published three bestselling drawing books. WONDERLAND is her first adult coloring book. 

An absolutely gorgeous coloring book! When it's right - it's right... and this one is right! I love everything about it.
Thick pages with Very detailed pictures. I think this book could last you a year. Some of the pictures are so detailed they will take several days to finish - I like that!

There is also a bit of the story in here as well. But you wouldn't buy it for the story, it is mainly a coloring book, and an awesome one at that!

I have quite a few adult coloring books now and I think this is my favorite so far!

Thank you "Blogging for Books" for sending me this beautiful book for my honest review!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


Clean Break - Abby Vegas

5 Stars!!!

Lane Haviland can’t seem to catch a break. She’s dead broke, barely functioning as an adult, and completely alone in New York City. Her so-called “apartment” is a six-by-nine cell in a Brooklyn basement. And her new boss hasn’t ever met a personal or professional boundary she can’t bulldoze through.

Still, Lane’s determined to at least attempt to claw her way back to respectability. But she can’t seem to get her mysterious handyman, Viktor, out of her apartment – or her headspace. Maybe that’s a good thing: Viktor’s easy on the eyes, and that deep-voiced Russian accent is beyond sexy. But as he and Lane grow closer, he can no longer hide his connections with a dangerous criminal underworld – where secrets can be deadly.

Abby Vegas is a Connecticut-based writer who loves reading (and writing) romantic fiction featuring feisty, flawed heroines and dark and mysterious heroes. Her favorite authors include Susan Isaacs, Liane Moriarty, Georgette Heyer, Deborah Harkness, Robin Hobb, Bill Bryson, and David Sedaris.

Clean Break is Abby's first novel. 
Visit her on the web at AbbyVegasAuthor.com.  

Once in a while you run across a book and you just really connect to it. You feel like it was written just for you. Like the author knew exactly the kind of book you loved and hit it spot-on. This was one of those books for me. This was like a Chick-lit/Romance/Suspense all my favorites wrapped up in one book!

The descriptions were amazing. I loved the way she described the tiny apartment - I really felt like I was there - I could picture everything. My daughter's first apt. was like that. Where the kitchen, liv. and sleeping area were all the same room and it was about the same size as the bathroom LOL.

Right from the very beginning I felt connected to the characters. I loved Lane immediately. I loved her tough but guarded personality all snark and sass. But I also felt for her - I wanted to know what her story was. She was the "dark horse" unlikely heroine in this story. She had just enough guts, craziness and bravery to pull it off.

Viktor! You can't read this book and say his name without the exclamation point. I don't know how you can read a name on a page and just know he's sexy. But that's just what the author did. Viktor! LOL was the sexy, quiet, bad boy biker type (without the bike). I just knew right from the first time he walked into Lane's apartment that he was a shady character but still.... I fell in love with him! I knew there was more to him then he was letting on.
I know the author said she was picturing Richard Armitage -
But I was picturing Goran Visnjic (they're both a lot alike! Don't you think?)

And lastly, Lane's boss Cynthia, what a train wreck she was! In yesterday's post I said I would explain more about her. At first I thought "What a horrible person! I could never work for a person like that (and I am a nanny! and Lane was a PT nanny)". But I slowly began to understand Cynthia. All of her insecurities, struggles with her weight, fights with her trainer and food coach, feeling neglected by her husband, made her a very complicated and very misunderstood woman. I really started to connect with her and feel sorry for her. I have been in a weight loss program and lost 27 lbs since Sept. and have gone from a size 12 to a size 8! So I do know what she felt like to try so hard and sometimes fail. So I started out hating her and ended up loving her.

This is the kind of romance (yes, I said romance! of course there was romance!) book I love. There was no explicit sex, and yet I got goosebumps - I love when an author can do that! There was sex, just not in graphic detail - you didn't need any - she left it up to you (and I have enough imagination!) that made it so much more romantic and sexy!

You can't talk about this book without mentioning suspense. You creep out closer and closer to the edge of your seat as Lane goes deeper into the world of the Russian mob.

A few of my favorite quotes -
"I thought you were more of a Dunkin Donuts kind of guy. What's this sudden defection to Starbucks?"
"Very perceptive." He took another drink of coffee. "I'm actually a consistent fan of both establishments. As an officer of the law, I wouldn't want to be seen as playing favorites."

A text popped up from Cynthia:
OMG there is PEANUT BUTTER in the pantry!!!!!!
Dear God. Throw it away, I texted back. Stay strong.
A moment later, she texted me a series of pig emojis along with a photo attachment: a jar of peanut butter with a tablespoon stuck in it.  ~ been there, done that!

"Will you have coffee with me tomorrow?"
"Uh, what? Finally Detective Jarrett was speachless.
"Coffee," I repeated. "An elixir made from magical beans. It prevents more frequent workplace homicides."   ~ definitely can relate!

Thank you Abby Vegas for sending me an e-book copy for my honest review! Can't wait to read your next book. I'm hooked for life!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


"CLEAN BREAK" - Abby Vegas - Guest Post/Interview

Come meet Abby Vegas! -
I've always been a writer. I love telling stories! My favorite authors include Robin Hobb, Susan Isaacs, Georgette Heyer, Liane Moriarty, Jennifer Weiner, Bill Bryson, Dave Barry, and David Sedaris.

I grew up in New York City. At the moment, I live in Connecticut with my family.

Visit her website - HERE
Check her out on Twitter at @AwkwardCeleb.

Thanks for having me on your blog! I’m thrilled to be here.

How did you choose your characters? Did you model them after someone you knew?

I took bits and pieces of real people and fictional characters I’ve loved. Then I added my own special sauce and mashed it all up into an original character. There’s a bit of me – sometimes more than a bit – in every character in Clean Break. Then you’ve got personality traits, quirks, and speech patterns – these come from people I’ve known personally or professionally, or even random people I’ve come across in daily life. One of the best parts of being a writer is that all experiences, even negative ones, are a gold mine of inspiration.

For Lane, I was drawing a little bit on Emily Blunt’s performance in a movie called Sunshine Cleaning. She had the edgy look and the wounded attitude that I imagined for Lane, and also sort of a quiet yet fierce bravery. Even when she screwed up colossally in that movie (and she did), I found myself rooting for her.

Mrs. Pasternak was a minor character, but I had so much fun writing her dialogue. With her, it was all about Kate Mulgrew playing “Red” on Orange is the New Black – not so much looks-wise, but the accent and the attitude. For Viktor and Detective Jarrett, I was inspired by a few fictional characters, but to name them here would be very spoilery, so I’ll direct readers to my author website for further discussion – after they’ve read the book!

How did you decide if the characters were going to be good or bad?

That’s a great question! The most interesting characters tend to be both good and bad, and maybe that’s a cop-out – but I like it when good people make bad choices. Behind every action is a positive intention, even when you’re doing incredibly self-destructive things. In Clean Break I was focusing not just on Lane’s decisions – good and bad ones – but also the decisions of everyone around her. These characters were usually doing the best they could with what they had, but like all of us, they struggled – with demons, with blind spots. Inevitably their weakest, most vulnerable areas will get stressed, perhaps to the point of failure. And all of that becomes doubly interesting when the characters are forced to interact with each other.

I went from hating Cynthia in the beginning to loving her at the end, how did you do that? Did you plan that or did she just kind of developed as the story went along? - I will explain this more in my review tomorrow.

Cynthia was so much fun to write. She was one of the last characters to gel properly in my mind. When I first sketched her out, she was a lot more perfect, and far less interesting – sort of like a “spoiled rich lady” from Central Casting. I was actually having trouble writing her scenes because she was so one-dimensional. Then it occurred to me that no one is that perfect. And that was a light-bulb “Eureka!” moment, because Cynthia ends up being even needier than Lane in a non-financial capacity. Her situation is different, but just like Lane she’s reaching a crisis-point in her life…and because she’s forced to confront that, she’s finally seeing what she’s really made of.

And Viktor... Oh my word! Please tell us about him!

Well, Viktor is definitely a classic “bad boy” who’s all wrong on paper, but one look at him and you’re done. Common sense goes straight out the window. It’s a bit of a twist on the old reliable Beauty and the Beast trope, because Viktor starts out good-looking and stays that way.

I really wanted Viktor to play against type – it’s intriguing when the bad guy does a good turn. What’s his motivation? He’s a complex character, not just eye candy (in my head, he looks an awful lot like Richard Armitage.) Like everyone else in this story, Viktor’s got baggage – he’s fighting his way out of a dark place. There’s a mutual seduction between him and Lane that unfolds rather slowly by romance novel standards. I really enjoyed writing it.

This really did start out as a guest post but after reading the book (which I LOVED) I had so many questions about the characters. So this kind of ended up more of an interview.

I want to thank Abby for coming on my blog! What fun! After emailing back and forth a few times (well, more than a few) we found out we have a lot in common. Besides being a great writer - she is such a nice person! I love it when you connect with an author like that. I turns them in to a real person not just a name on a book. Now I will think of this interview and our emails when I read her future books.

Please some back tomorrow to read my 
5 star review of 
Clean Break!


Counting Blessings - Eileen Spinelli & Lee Holland

5 Stars!

Children count along from 1 to 10, following the sweet rhyming text by beloved author Eileen Spinelli and the cute and cuddly illustrations by Lee Holland. Along with counting, this padded cover board book teaches children to see the blessings in life. With whimsy and joy, Counting Blessings captures the attention of young children, filling their minds with numbers and their hearts with happiness.

Eileen Spinelli is a poet and picture book author with a talent for lovable stories that tug at the heart. She is the author of more than forty books for children, including Heat Wave, When You Are Happy, I Know It’s Autumn, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’, Sophie’s Masterpiece, and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. Ms. Spinelli lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

This is an absolutely adorable book! Eileen Spinelli had done it again - A perfect children's book.
With its easy reading and catchy text and beautiful pictures this will be a huge hit with the younger ones. It is a very nice quality board book with a padded cover and is also a nice size.

The story is short and very easy to understand. The pictures are cute and stunning but simple enough that a small child will not get lost in them. It is easy enough to count each item on the pages, which makes a fun game while reading the book. 

I think this will be a book that a child will want to read over and over and not get tired of. I have not "kid tested" it yet but plan to this week! I am sure the 18 mo. old I watch will love it!

I have to tell you though - when I got it in the mail, my husband picked it up and read the whole thing! He thought it was an adorable book! So it has his seal of approval LOL, and he doesn't ever care about the books I review!

Thank you Book Look Bloggers for sending me this book for my honest review!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


Busy, Busy! - Eileen Spinelli & Elina Ellis

5 Stars!

Busy, Busy!  is aimed at children aged 2 to 5 and features illustrations by Elina Ellis depicting busy animals that are all occupied with their various daily tasks. Lighthearted lyrics from author Eileen Spinelli, like those below, tell the story:

Frog is very busy leaping.
Beaver has no time to play.
Mama bird is busy teaching
little bird to fly away.

As many parents will be able to relate, the mom in Busy, Busy! is hard at work too, tending to her garden. The conclusion to the story, however, shows that she’s never too busy for a hug, gently reassuring children with the message that even during a busy day, their parents will always have time to share their love.

Eileen Spinelli is is the author of numerous children’s books, including Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, God’s Amazing World, and Two to Cuddle. Eileen lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Elina Ellis loves drawing pictures and imagining stories. For her, there is no greater reward than knowing that her creations make people smile. Elina works in both digital and traditional media creating her own books and illustrating for others. She lives and works in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Absolutely loved this book. It has all the elements that I love for a children's book.
~ Fun, catchy text.
~ Repetitive theme - busy!
~ Not too wordy on each page.
~ Easy for young minds to understand.
~ Brightly colored eye catching pictures.
~ Very sturdy board-book.

I read this to an 18 mo. old that I nanny for and she loved it! We read it 3 times in a row! She liked pointing to the different animals on each page for me to name. The second time I said the animal and she found them and pointed to them. By the third time she was pointing and naming half of them herself. She also loved saying busy over and over again. And she loved the Mama at the end. One of her favorite words is "hug" so we used that when looking at the mommy & child page "they're hugging!"

Great children's book that is fun, catchy, sweet, colorful, and very easy to read and understand.

Thank you so much "Worthy Publishing Group" for sending me this beautiful book for my honest review!

Buy your copy from Amazon - HERE