Monday, April 29, 2013

One Summer in Arkansas by Marcia Kemp Sterling

     Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.  For no one can anticipate the time of disaster.  Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.
                                                           Ecclesiastes 9:11 

    It was 1990.  It had been years since Lee Addison returned home to see his family.  He had been in California going to law school and soaking up all that the west coast had to offer a back woods boy from Riverton, Arkansas.  During  the last few years he had opened his mind up to many of the practices of those around him.  His friends in California were health nuts.  They ran every day and ate healthy food.  As a result of the drilling and constant need to rationalize everything, God was not something seen as real to most of the law students.  It was hard to hang on to religion when you had to back everything up with facts as well when you're being grilled by the professors.  But coming home meant the closed minded and conservative attitude of the south.  Church was the center of most smaller towns and although desegregation had happened so long ago, there was still the under current of racial bias.  
   Destined to be a formidable lawyer, like his grandfather before him, Lee comes home to work at a local firm in his hometown for the summer.  None too soon either.  The firm is working on the case of the drowning of a black youth from a few years back.  The family is suing the town for negligence and Lee is brought in to help out on the case.  He soon finds out that he disagrees with how the case is being handled.  As if to add to the stress, his sister M.J., has had some difficulties for quite a while now getting through high school.   She doesn't fit in and had been hanging out with older guys who had become quite a bad influence on her.  Trouble flares up on every corner when Lee meets up with his old high school flame, Annie.  And she is still only being as civil as she can after he just dumped her years ago.  He hadn't wanted to be tied down when he started working towards his career goals.  Lee comes to learn that he is still  in love with Annie and she is still in love with him.  But he's only down for a few months and it's killing them both to think that he will have to leave soon.
   While Lee is down for the summer, M.J. gets drunk one evening and hits a 9-year-old girl with her car on the way home.  It is a shock to everyone in the family.  The girl doesn't live and it looks like M.J. is facing jail time.  For Frances, Lee and M.J.'s socialite mother, it is the worst possible scandal that could happen to their family.  She always tried to make M.J. fit in and be popular with the other kids.  She had tried to fit M.J. into a mold that the child could not fit in.  Image and social status was everything to Frances.  It was bad enough that their family had been shunned when her husband had run off with a much younger woman when the children were little.  Now their family was going to be shunned for good.  Their image and status was ruined.  M.J. was so tired of dealing with everything that she took some pills and ended up on suicide watch at the hospital.  Her mother starts realizing there are more important things in life than social status and image. For once, Lee cannot be in control of the situation.  He learns that sometimes others have to take over in situations we cannot control and he also learns a little about letting his heart take the reigns instead of his constantly rationalizing head.  
   In some ways the south has not changed that much.  As a resident of rural Arkansas, I can honestly say that there are still many communities that revolve around their churches in the area.  And where I am from, you can find a church every few blocks.  Religion is a big thing still.  And people still eat just as unhealthy as twenty years ago.  Who could say no to homemade biscuits and gravy, eggs, and sausage?  Or peas and cornbread?  While people are much more used to the mixing of all types of nationalities and races, there are still those that cling to the old ways.  They will probably never change.  
    Of all the characters, Frances and Etta Jones were the two most striking.  Two completely different women, and yet they were both stubborn and rooted in their community.  Etta Jones was a source of comfort to Lee and M.J. while going through all of their troubles that summer.  She was sort of a spiritual leader to them.  While Frances was a source of discord for both children, but mostly M.J.  There was a deep rooted bitterness within her because of her mother's treatment of her.  Frances had pushed too hard in areas that she should not have and had not been the supportive mother that she should have been.  Frances's husband leaving her with two young children had left her quite broken and a mess.  She had a problem with alcohol, and M.J. followed  right in her footsteps in that area.  
   Lee Addison is completely stuck between two very different worlds.  Although he dislikes the town of Riverton and what it stands for in so many ways, there are things that make him slow down and think about the bigger questions in life.  His neighbor Etta Jones causes him to really think on the morality of things, especially of the drowning case he had worked on.  Annie had awakened a part of him he did not know existed.  It was not just about lust anymore with her.  He was deeply in love with her.  Deep down he wanted a life with her.  But his life waiting for him in California threatened to tear that apart.  California called his name hard.  It was the other world that was taking him away from his hometown.  Back to the business of things so he could forget about having to deal head on with problems at home.  No more insane humidity and rural lawyers.
   Of all the negativity within the book, the end is absolutely the best.  Etta writes a letter to her little sister Lovey and it ties things up nicely about how everyone turned out.  In the words of Etta:

                                        Everybody have they own kind of heartache.

Some things never change, but then again, some do.  But I won't be telling you about that.  You'll have to read the book!

                         For more information on Marcia Kemp Sterling and her book check out:

*images courtesy of Marcia Kemp Sterling
*quotes courtesy of The Bible, Marcia Kemp Sterling (One Summer in Arkansas)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

So I love Dracula.  It is a classic for all of those who love reading vampire stories.  Cannot get better than the classic Dracula.  Yeah Interview with a Vampire was just kind of corny.  And by that I mean someone saying "I'll give you the choice I never got" because either you're going to die by a vampire or be one is not the best movie ever.  Funny.  But not the best.  But Brahm Stoker's Dracula was great!  And check out what I found on Etsy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A little bit on the strange side, but sweet to eat!  Another great party idea!

                            Broken Glass Cupcakes

 Ingredients 1 Can white frosting 1 Box Red Velvet Cake Mix Sugar Glass: 2 cups water 1 cup light corn syrup 3 1/2 cups white sugar 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar Edible Blood: 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/4 cup water, or more as needed 15 drops red food coloring 3 drops blue food coloring Directions Prepare Red Velvet Cake Mix According to box, line cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners. Divide cake batter between lined cupcake tins. Bake according to box instructions. Let cool and frost cupcakes with white frosting. Make the sugar glass. Mix 2 cups water, 1 cup corn syrup, white sugar, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and boil sugar syrup until temperature reaches 300 degrees (hard ball), stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken as water evaporates. When sugar reaches 300 degrees, quickly pour onto a metal baking pan. Cool until completely hardened. Break into "shards"   (image and recipe via Kinnedy Durham- Pinterest)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Otherworld Trilogy by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

   "I sometimes tried to convince myself that it was my awkward height and scattering of freckles that made people turn away from me, but I knew deep down that it was my eyes.  They were the windows to the soul, so the saying went.  If that was the case then there must be something dreadfully wrong with my soul if people couldn't even bring themselves to look me in the eye.  I had trouble doing so myself."

   Meghan was a troubled teen that had no idea who her real parents were.  She had been found walking down the streets on Halloween night completely naked.  She had been two years old.

  "I had the dream again; the one that always comes to me this time of year.  The fog wasn't as thick as usual in my dreamscape, but I could feel the grit and cold of the blacktop beneath my bare feet.  I looked down.  Of course I was naked, but at least I was a toddler in the dream."

   While growing up, Meghan heard voices in the trees, and saw horrible creatures around her.  The family that adopted her were the first people to look at her like she was a normal human being.  They took her to therapists and specialists and eventually things seemed to get better for Meghan.  But deep down she just always felt different.  Besides the small circle of friends she had, the kids at school never accepted her either.  Meghan was not one of the popular crowd, ever.  It's hard enough to deal with a hostile school environment, but then she meets a mysterious and uber hot guy named Cade down in the swamp area behind her family's home.  As she is being attacked by some very nasty looking hellhounds, Cade appears out of nowhere to help save her with his spirit guide Fergus, a large white dog.  Cade has a different explanation for why she sees and hears what she does.  His suggestion?  She isn't actually human at all.  She is Faelorehn and Fomorian.  And the creatures that appear so hideous to her are from this other world that she is from.  There is a certain raven in particular that keeps following Meghan around.  This very creepy and huge black bird just happens to be the Morrigan.  The Morrigan is Cade's mother, and she is a very dangerous foe.  Her power is immense and she wants the large amount of power that Meghan has herself.  It doesn't matter to the Morrigan how she gets it either.  As Meghan finds out this terrible truth, it casts some shadow of doubt over her growing feelings for Cade.  There are so many secrets about him.
   As she starts to learn more about her  homeland, she finds out how deeply woven her roots are among old Celtic lore.  There are gods and goddesses where Meghan is from that cannot ever be killed.  They can be vanquished for hundreds or thousands of years, but never really killed.  It turns out that Meghan's own mother is the goddess Danua and a queen.  She cannot believe she is a princess.  And unfortunately the welcome she gets from Danua is not what she expected.  The queen is a somewhat harsh and cold woman that seems to be without much emotion.  Because of Meghan only being half Faelorehn, many of the people she meets at her mother's court do not readily accept her.  It was high school all over again.  The funny looks, the whispering and all.  But she is not alone.  Cade is always with her and he too is a "half breed" of sorts.  His father was Cuchulain.  A powerful warrior that left the Morrigan rather jaded.  Cade inherited a certain trait from his father that scares most every woman he ever met away.  Except Meghan.  She sees his transformation on the battlefield as they fight for their lives against the Morrigan's evil faelah, an assortment of half dead looking animals with no qualms about killing them while under her evil goddess's orders.  Cade turns into what looks like some kind of malformed demon.  And he fights like one too.  Through it all he stands by her to keep her protected.  He just can't help himself.
    The Otherworld Trilogy is written in Meghan's perspective.  This is one trilogy that I found it much easier to relate to.  For many high school is a very trying time in life.  We look around trying to find a place in the world and try to find out who we are.  Trying to fit in and yet be yourself, can be difficult and at times heart breaking.  The balance is not an easy one to achieve.  It is a journey of self discovery that we all must go through.  And Meghan's journey is especially difficult.  She was different from everyone around her from the very beginning.  As you find out later in the trilogy, Danua sent her away to protect her.  But it's hard for Meghan to accept and understand this for quite some time.  To mend the bond between them takes real effort.  And although she was so very in love with Cade, shhe had to learn to trust him as well.  The family Meghan grew up with always loved her for who she was no matter what that was.  And they were very understanding and accepting of who she really was when she told them she was not really human.  She and Cade had been outcasts to some degree.  But their willingness to help save the whole immortal realm opened the eyes of those that did not accept them so much.  Although Meghan did not grow up there, she loved the land of Eile where she was born.

   The Otherworld Trilogy contains three stories: Faelorehn, Dolmarehn, and Luathara.  You can purchase them separately or together on Amazon  and other various sites.  And as an extra bonus, the author has added The Birth of a Trilogy, which is about how her books came about, and a character interview with Cade and Meghan if you purchase all three together for the kindle.

For more about Jenna Elizabeth Johnson check out her blog:

*quotes credited via Jenna Elizabeth Johnson (The Otherworld Trilogy Book One: Faelorehn)
*image credited via Jenna Elizabeth Johnson (Amazon Books)

Since I started blogging about books, I have found that it is rather difficult at times to relate what goes on in the book to the things that go on in  the real world.  And I think it has something to do with the fact that if you are reading a book about vampires, werewolves, or immortal beings, how can you say what is weird or not accepted as the norm among us humans is the same for the characters in the books you are reading?  Is it weird that Edward Cullen won't let Bella out of his sight, has been basically stalking her, and wants to kill her and drink her blood like every day until she became a vampire?  For humans, that is beyond weird.  It's creepy and scary.  But for our mythical vampire friends who live forever and ever unless killed, life would be really boring without something to do.  And blood is their natural diet according to pretty much every novel I have ever read with vampires in it.  They drink blood.  They stalk their prey.  They're beautiful creatures that can lure anyone in.  In all reality, these guys are like sharks.  Beautiful but deadly.  Can smell blood a mile away.  The perfect  predator.  My thoughts?  They're freaky.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Refugee (The Captive Series Book 3) by Erica Stevens

   At this point in The Captive Series, Braith has decided that the only way to keep Aria safe is to take down his own father, the vampire king.  In order to do so, they must travel to a place called The Barrens.  It is a desolate and rather inhospitable place where there are rumors of vampires living there that had fought against the king in the war that tore the human world apart.  On the way there they encounter vampires that are starved and crazed, the most dangerous kind.  Aria is mortally wounded and if not for Braith giving her some of his blood, she would not have made it and there would be no need for a fourth book.  (If you would rather read the book than find out now what happens, please STOP reading.)  When they get to the barrens they find these rumored vampires.  And to Aria's surprise, vampires and humans live side by side, together in peace.  It gives Aria some hope until they decide they want Braith to rule when the war they are about to start is over and done with.  He will not rule without her.  And she would not be accepted as a queen since she is human, a mere mortal.  That is when she realizes she must distance herself from him if possible.  After the war is done she must leave and go far away.  Braith's brother, Jack, has agreed to help her.  They feel like this is best.  If she cannot keep him away so he can do his duty to their world, she has a much darker thought in mind to make sure he can never find her again.  It tears her heart out thinking of it all.  But he would be the natural choice as king, not to mention the best choice.  Under his reign things would change for everyone.  There would be no more blood slaves and auctioning humans off.  Life might start being close to what it was a hundred years before, a time she doesn't even understand or know much about. 
   There are a few questions when you're reading this book that come to mind.  Like, how far would Aria go to make sure Braith is crowned the king?  You do find out towards the end of the book, but it turns out an unexpected turn of events happens at the end.  And it's and ugly one.  Also, will Braith really give up doing what everyone else thinks is the right thing to do all for Aria?  He loves her and will go to any length to protect her.  But perhaps what he doesn't realize yet is that the best way for him to protect her is to make things change.  Make a world she can live in safely.  But do you sacrifice love for duty and safety?  And will they be able to stay together through the final book? So many questions!  Can't wait until the fourth book comes out in June!  To see teasers for Salvation, book four, see the link below!


                                     Kindle Edition: $2.99  (price for Refugee)

*image via Erica Stevens

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

  I really enjoyed watching The Hobbit!  Hate to say it but I thought it was better than The Lord of the Rings.  You can find the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in several places!  On Amazon it's $7.29 for Kindle and $9.26 for paperback.  And while you're at it, check out the link below about building a hobbit house.  Super creative!

                                                Walmart: from $6.75
                                                Barnes and Noble: from $6.32 (Nook Edition $7.50)
                                                Books A Million: from $8.09

   These are just a few of the places you can buy the book.  If you are ok with a used book, you can get it much cheaper!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Renegade (The Captive Series Book Two) by Erica Stevens

   Book two of The Captive Series begins with Aria now outside of the city and re-united with Max, her
friend who was captured, as well as the rest of her rebel family.  Although she is happy to be with her family again, she realizes how much she misses Braith.  After Max coming back so different from what he used to be, Aria's family has a hard time believing that Braith did not ever do anything to hurt her.  They don't understand anything about her being in love with him.  Meanwhile Braith goes nuts for a little while after Aria leaves, gorging himself on blood.  But it never satiates him.  He wants her back....
   This book goes in depth about the relationship between Braith and Aria.  Their relationship is not a normal one.  It would not have been normal if they were two humans or two immortal vampires.  Braith has lived for several hundred years without encountering what he has with Aria.  It's called a bloodlink.  They are so connected they feel like they must be together, must be near each other.  And it's driving Braith crazy because all he wants to do is protect her and keep her safe.  However, at first he wants her to pay for leaving him and causing him to feel this way.  But whenever Braith finds Aria again his mind is instantly changed.  It is only through his sister and another vampire that has a bloodlink with her that he even finds out what it is.  At the present time their bond has not been "completed", but the link is already so strong that if something happened to Aria it could drive Braith way over the edge of insanity.  And many people could get hurt or killed.  This bloodlink is a rare thing and never been heard of between a vampire and a human.  Until now.  And now Braith  must choose between Aria or the life he already had.  It will be difficult to get humans to trust a vampire.
   Although this book goes more into the developing relationship between Braith and Aria, Erica Stevens still continues to keep it interesting.  And though this is a new turn of the series for the reader and for the characters, it also has real life applications to it as well.  So many people wish to find that special someone to share their life with and to feel such a deep connection with as these two characters.  That is a part of the draw to this story.  People like to be wanted and needed.  However, the bloodlink is a rather unrealistic thing for the world we live in.  After all, we aren't vampires.  Braith does have to make a choice though.  The moment he decided to leave his lavish home to go find Aria he had subconsciously chosen her.  Instead of the cold hearted, uncaring vampire he could have decided to be, he chose love. It sounds a little chic flick like, but this level of love is much deeper and keeps your interest tied to the book.
   We get to choose who we are in life.  And the path is not always easy. 

                                                            Kindle Edition: $2.99

*image via Erica Stevens
Our hearts go out to the families in Boston right now.  Such a tragedy...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Don't forget to go like my Facebook page too!!
Has anyone seen The Host yet?  I have been hesitant to see it due to the fact that even in the commercials it seems like there are some differences than the book.  Loved the book though!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Captured (The Captive Series Book 1) by Erica Stevens

I have seen so many vampire books since Twilight became a big hit, that sometimes it seems like you're reading the same thing over and over again.  Captured happens to be a breath of fresh air in the midst of all of these novels and stories.  This is not your standard human meets vampire, they fall in love, no one can know what they are, but they live happily ever after.  Same old Twilight story!  No this is much more in depth and not so hung up on pining away for a non human being.  The story is about vampires ruling the world.  In this world humans are caught and used as toys for blood and other purposes, then discarded or sold to someone else as a regular or one time (if they choose) meal.  Those that are not sold on the auction block are drained completely of their blood at one time to save for later.  The humans that are part of the resistance would rather die than be a blood slave to a vampire.  But once they're caught the decision is not their own.  The torture that the vampires can inflict is gruesome and horrific.
   Aria is a member of the resistance.  In fact, her father leads the resistance.  Braith is the vampire crown prince.  His father is a very harsh and horrible king.  He is the king who destroyed the humans.  Unfortunately Aria and her friend Max get caught by the vampires and are sold on the auction block.  Max is sold to a horrible female vampire who uses and abuses him.  Aria is bought by the crown prince.  This is his first blood slave.  And there is a surprise reason he buys her too!  But who wants to spoil that little tid bit? Aria and Braith do start having very deep feelings for each other and he treats her well.  He never does any harm to her, but Aria still feels trapped inside the huge city run by vampires.  Inside the city people and vampires alike have everything they need, while everyone outside of it are starving and constantly on the run.
   As I said before, this is a very different vampire tale where humans are the endangered.  There is no hiding for the vampires.  The world as we know it now no longer exists in this book.  Most everything has reverted to more of a stone age for most of the characters.  I could not wait to see what happens next in this book!  The end is what you expect (because it's hinted throughout the book), and yet, when you get there you still feel the full force of that loss and sadness.  But then again it's not the end!  There are three more books, one of which is still in the making!

                                                          Kindle Edition: Free

*image via Erica Stevens

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Steele Wolf by Chanda Hahn

   The Steele Wolf is the next book in The Iron Butterfly Series.  Thalia is going back home with her father
and things are much different than when she was in Calandry.  Her father is the clan leader and the clan hates the Denai.  They are not allowed to live on the clan's lands and are not welcome there.  Before she even reaches her home, an attack upon them shows some of her family as well as a man named Fenri (her almost "intended" before she was captured by the Septori) that she has powers like the Denai.  But she is not supposed to use them or even hint that she has these powers when they return home.  And to keep the other clan members from questioning why Thalia has changed so much, her father decides to announce she will be marrying Fenri.  She is not happy about getting married to anyone right then so they decide to hold a tournament.  As all of this is unfolding Thalia finds out that there are those within the clan that would like to take hold of its leadership whatever way they can.  And the kicker is that she is related to them!  During the tournament Kael shows up again disguised as a member of another distant clan.  And at the end of the tournament Thalia is kidnapped again to be drug back to the Septori.  After she is rescued by a few unlikely heroes, she finds out Joss's sister is missing and they decide to go after the Septori.
   There is so much going on in the second book you would have to read The Iron Butterfly to be able to understand what is going on.  As in the book before, she has love interests, but now we have thrown in a third.  While she is still torn between Kael and Joss, Fenri shows up into the picture as her possible intended.    It really is almost too much having so many love interests in the story.  But Chanda Hahn works around it somehow.  While there are still so many questions looming in your mind when you finish this book, you do get to find out who Thalia's mother is and what happened to her.  Her story is extremely vague and could have done with a more detail.  Perhaps in the next book we will find out more about that.  Not to mention Thalia's now full fledged feelings for Kael are showing, but Joss is being very forward as well.  (SPOILER ALERT:  They never get to the Septori at the end of the book.  In fact, they are back on their way to Calandry with a member of the Septori who had been a member of Joss's own household.)  So, so much not answered.  And yet you still want more with this series.  Who can help but wonder who exactly will Thalia end up with and will they succeed in destroying the Septori?  (one more SPOILER ALERT:  It has been hinted that one of the Denai are actually the ring leader of the Septori.)

                                                         Kindle Edition: $2.99

*image via Chanda Hahn

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Iron Butterfly by Chanda Hahn

Waking up in a dark, dank prison cell is disturbing enough.  But to do it for months on end while being tortured on a daily basis is more than most people can stand.  But Thalia is different than most.  She has a strong will to live, and a dark hidden power she knows nothing about.  But even after she escapes the dark prison of a group called the Septori, her months in captivity follow her.  Her providential escape came about by a man named Kael, a dark and mysterious warrior who has no choice but to follow her wherever she might be headed, which happens to be a place called Calandry, where many Denai with different gifts live.  Because of the drugs she was given she no longer remembers who she is or where she is from.  Along the way she meets a handsome young Denai with the power to heal, named Joss, who also saves her life.  He and Kael seem to spend a lot of time saving her life while she tries to find answers about her past.  And to make matters worse, she develops feelings for them both.  One she is more willing to have feelings for than the other, who seems to hate her more than like her.  As the book progresses she finds out about the power she has rather unwillingly came into all of the sudden.  It is when Joss tries to help heal her that she almost kills him by accident and finds out some of the power she has is very dangerous.  Although she needs someone to guard her constantly from the feared Septori who are after her, more than anything she needs to be saved from herself.
    The title The Iron Butterfly comes from the machine Thalia was strapped to while being experimented on and tortured, which was in the shape of a butterfly.  While the character of Joss was rather carefree and not very deep, Kael was just the opposite.  There is a lot going on with that guy that slowly reveals itself.  He is dark and scary, so it seems.  But there is more there.  The idea that someone had found a way to bring about unnatural powers through experimentation and torture may seem shocking and barbaric, but it serves its purpose well in this story.  There is also many things suggested in the first book that are not carried out in this first book.  Like how it is suggested that someone close to Thalia was the one to kidnap her because she went missing so easily.  It helps to round out the story, but it can also leave the reader frustrated to a degree.  But that is probably because I am one of those readers that like all the ends tied up neat and tidy.  This is not one of those books.  The ending was quite a surprise to me.  You do find out where she belongs and who her family is!  But it's a shocker!   And the book seems to end rather abruptly, making way for another in the series.  For those that love to read fantasy, this book is a pretty good read!

                                          Kindle Edition: Free
                                          Paperback (Amazon)- $11.99

*image via Chanda Hahn

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Is it just me or does it seem like some of the books that have been converted for kindle use have some rather annoying grammatical errors?  Several of the books I have downloaded from Amazon seem to be that way.  They need to edit them closer!
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