Friday, January 31, 2014

REVIEW: Big Honey Dog Mystery: The Curse of the Scarab by H.Y. Hanna

This review is in conjunction with a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of Curse of the Scarab to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY) Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Honey the Great Dane enjoyed a pretty peaceful life: walking her human, checking Peemail at the park… until the arrival of a puppy named Bean turns her life upside down. But when Bean goes missing – together with other neighbourhood pups – Honey sets out on a dangerous quest to find them. Joined by her canine friends, Honey tackles mysterious paw prints and sinister hieroglyphics as clues lead them to a deserted cemetery. But an ancient Egyptian curse has awakened and time is running out. Can Honey solve a cryptic riddle in time to save the puppies? And should she trust Max, a Pit Bull with a murky past, who is hiding secrets of his own?

Middle-grade readers and young teens will love this thrilling tale filled with suspense and humour - and adult dog lovers are sure to enjoy it to. An exciting new mystery series full of action and adventure, for dog lovers of all ages!

My review:

It's a dog's life...and you see it from the dog's eye. Welcome to a series told completely from the dog's point of view--from Honey the Great Dane's point of view. She has life pretty good until her human goes away and leaves her with a dog sitter--who has her own puppy, Bean. Life is swiftly turned a lot more exciting--and there's a mystery to solve.

I really enjoyed this short book...for an adult, it's a short read. But, it's good for all ages--and not only is there a mystery, there are some lessons to be learned as well, but the author does a great job of slipping them in seamlessly.

The book reminded me a bit of Lady and the Tramp (without the spaghetti dinner) and, since the author uses recognizable breeds it was easy to picture the action in my brain. Good job, Ms. Hanna. I'm looking forward to future books in the series. My rating? 5 stars.

And, there's exciting news about the series. Not only is Book 1 available, but Ms. Hanna released a Christmas novella featuring the same cast and it's FREE right now, so you can try out the series to see if you like it.:

Big Honey Dog Mysteries: Message in a Bauble
Christmas intrigue. Daring rescue. Serious slobber.

When Honey the Great Dane finds a hidden note inside a strange Christmas bauble, the festive season takes a sinister turn. Was the note from a trapped child? Join Honey and her canine friends as they set off on a Search & Rescue–from snowy playgrounds to eerie libraries–while they race to solve the mystery of the message in the bauble. Kids and adults alike will love this action-packed Christmas mystery filled with suspense and humour – not to mention candy canes, gingerbread cookies and lots of mince pies!

This short novella is part of the Big Honey Dog Mysteries – a fun, action-packed, mystery adventure series for kids and dogs lovers of all ages. So if you’re looking for a little mystery and adventure this holiday season and some fun & laughs with a cast of adorable canines (and maybe even a feline or two! ;-) ) – then don’t miss this heart-warming Christmas “tail”.

You can grab your copy at Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.
About the Author:
H.Y. Hanna is Taiwanese by birth, British by education, pseudo-American by accent and currently Australian by residence! After graduating from Oxford University, she tried a variety of jobs, from advertising in London to English Language teaching in Sydney, before returning to her first love: writing. Always fascinated by dogs, she specialised as a pet writer for magazines in the UK, Australia and NZ, and has been heavily involved in training, behaviour, dog sports and photography. When she's not working on her next novel, she's usually found watching repeats of her favourite TV show, Fringe or wiping Dane slobber off the walls.

You can find out more about her (and the 'real-life Honey' who inspired the series) at:, where you'll also find book discussion questions and other parent/teacher resources, plus fun activity sheets and interactive puzzles.

If you'd like to be notified when the next book is released and get sneak previews, please visit to sign up for the Big Honey Dog Mysteries newsletter. Your email address will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP (or go to website)

Buy the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Sony.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Recipe by Maisy Dee - Review and Giveaway

This review is posted as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maisy will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Recipe by Maisy Dee
Young Adult Romance
212 pages
4 Stars

Craig has pined for Emily since the fourth grade. Imagine his surprise when, when at the start of his junior year, he discovers that she has finally noticed him. When Emily returns to school the fall of her junior year, she finds that her old friend Craig has transformed from a gangly, brace-faced adolescent into a blue-eyed babe who is making her insides tingle.

Craig and Emily stir up a sweet and sexy adventure, exploring new recipes both in and out of the kitchen. But when things heat up on New Year’s Eve, Craig is not sure he can stand it. Is he man enough for Emily? And what recipes have his closest friends Ryan and John been cooking up without telling him?

In alternating points of view, Emily and Craig search for the secret ingredients of friendship, love and intimacy. This isn’t really a book about cooking. Recipes, however, are included.

My Review:

This book starts off in a sweet way--I love best friends fall in love stories. And this one has a great mix between the romance developing between Emily and Craig and their relationships with the rest of the group. It reminded me a bit of the camaraderie in the old tween series The Babysitter's Club and the Sweet Valley High books. However, the camaraderie the friends enjoy is as far as the comparison goes.

This particular YA pushes the envelope in ways I've not seen before--and it deals with some issues that teens in relationships deal with.

The author does a great job in making me feel the emotions the characters are going through--even though I'm not going to admit how long it's been since I was a teenager! I really enjoyed the story and wondered how Emily and Craig were going to work out their issues. (I also wanted to take Craig and shake him a few times, but...what can I say? Sometimes teenage boys can be clueless.)

However, this book is not a book for younger teens. The characters in this book are seniors in high school---17 years old-- and deal with emotions and experiences that are more mature than the younger set, imho, should read (sexting, heavy petting, and more). But, it might be a good book for parents and teens to read and discuss.

Read an excerpt:

I heard their voices in my dream for the first few moments. The door open and shut, the sound of high-heeled shoes walking around below me. Then I opened my eyes to see Emily’s face next to mine: slack jawed with a little drool on her chin.

We had fallen asleep, and were now lying almost naked together on Emily’s bed, in Emily’s room, with the door open . . . and her parents were home. Kill me now.

“Emily!” I whispered, nudging her frantically, “Em . . . wake up, your parents are home!”

Her eyes opened and quickly registered panic. She sprang out of bed and closed the door. We both frantically got dressed.

“What should we do?” I whispered, urgently.

“We need to get you out of here!” she hissed.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

She went to the window, lifted the sash, and stuck her head out, looking for a way down. “Do you think it’s too far to jump?” She had a desperate look on her face.

“Uh, Emily . . .”

“No, that’s no good, you could break something. I know, you can just hang out in here until they go to bed, which will be soon, and . . .”

“Emily . . .”

“It’ll work, really it will. We’ll give them time to go to sleep, and then we can sneak you downstairs . . .”

“Emily!” I grabbed her wrists to get her attention, “Emily, my car is still parked in the driveway.”

About the Author:
It was Back to School Night, and my parents were headed to the High School. I looked up from my book long enough to describe all my teachers. For example: “My science teacher will be wearing black chinos pulled waaay too high and a short-sleeved button-down with pens in the pocket. He has Mr. McGoo glasses and a three-strand comb-over. He’s totally weird.”

My parents returned to tell me a) I was grounded until I brought my grades up, and b) I had an uncanny ability to describe people. The teenage me, stressed out from deciding who I was and what I was supposed to do, snapped, “Yeah? Well, what job does that get me?!”

My mother gazed at me calmly. “You could be a writer. But for now, you’re grounded.”

I have never forgotten that moment. I took creative writing classes in college and continued to read a lot, but it wasn’t until I had children of my own that the idea for “The Recipe” came to me. My girls are avid readers, and I spent a lot of time hanging out in the youth room at the public library. I read a ton of current YA novels, and reread books from my teenage years. I began to look for contemporary stories about early sexual experiences that were as honest and non-judgmental as Judy Blume’s Forever. I didn’t find any, but I did find a dangerous mixed message.

On the one hand, overwhelming, irresistible (even paranormal) passion is presented as the ideal romantic experience. That unrealistic expectation, along with all the other unrealistic sexual images they find in books, movies, cable tv, and the internet, is bound to result disappointment in the real thing.

On the other hand, sexually active teen characters in books are invariably punished with pregnancy, violence, humiliation, heartbreak, or a sexually transmitted disease so virulent that it will not even let you die. Yes. If our teens give in to their normal, healthy impulses, they will surely become vampires.

So I decided to write a book about first love and “the first time” that would offer my daughters one story that is a little closer to the truth–things are bound to be less than perfect, and that’s not the end of the world (or the beginning of life after death, no matter what the French call it.) The process was difficult, rewarding, and a lot of fun, and there’s a good chance my daughters will never read it, because who wants to read a book about sex that your mother wrote. Gross.

I’m currently working on my second novel, and yeah, there will be more teens having sex in that one too.

Connect with Maisy:

Twitter: @MaisyDeeRecipe

Buy the book at Amazon.

Friday, January 17, 2014

REVIEW: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Fantasy (Middle Grade/YA)
597 pages
Rated:  5 stars

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

This is one of my favorite series. I really appreciate Riordan's sense of humor and his creative ways of writing. I always can connect to the characters easily, and it feels as if I can live alongside them, feeling and seeing their adventures as they travel across the sea.

I have to say I'VE BEEN WAITING WAY TOO LONG for this book to come out (a year is much too painful) and I read it in two days. I loved the ending (shh...) but I really am afraid for the last book... is Riordan going to kill off all my babies? I loved loved loved the whole book, and though The Mark of Athena is my favorite book in the series, this one is a close second. I enjoyed seeing the characters working together without Percy and Annabeth, keeping close eyes on the two as they struggled through Tartarus together.

Character mean, look at Frank now! Everyone has kind of grown up and learned how to live on as easily as they can right now, dealing with all the new problems hanging over their heads as they head for the Doors of Death. I really hope to see a good end to how they've struggled through both physical and emotional trauma.

I think this is great for middle grade readers, though I know many teens enjoy it as well. I know I do! It's a great fantasy book, and it teaches a lot about Greek and Roman myths and legends on top of how they function, such as celebrations/feasts, life, and fighting traits.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soul Slam by Allie Burton - Interview and Giveaway

Allie Burton is visiting with us today as part of her virtual book tour for her new book Soul Slam.

Allie will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card and three randomly chosen hosts will each receive a $25 Amazon/ gift card.

First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, The Hardy Boys series, and all of Judith McNaught’s romances.

If you could only eat one food the rest of your life, what would it be?


If you were a shifter, what animal would you like to be?

A turtle so I could travel on land and in the water.

Favorite season? Why?

Fall because of the beautiful colors, the crispness in the air, and the anticipation of the holidays.

Best movie ever made?

“Gone with the Wind” because it combines romance, history, and great characterization.

A sixteen-year-old on her first heist to steal an ancient Egyptian amulet inadvertently receives the soul of King Tut…and the deadly curse that comes with it.

And Olivia is not alone at the museum.

A member of a secret Society, Xander believes it is his place to inherit King Tut’s soul and justly rule. He knows nothing about the society’s evil plan to control the world or the curse. Now, he must deal with the female imposter who stole the amulet.

Xander convinces Olivia they must form a temporary partnership. The two teens develop a connection, and together they must figure out how to end the curse before it turns deadly. On the run, unable to touch because of the curse, and dealing with a male soul inside her female body, Olivia must learn to trust Xander.

As the mystery surrounding the amulet unfolds, Olivia and Xander start to fall for each other. But is love enough to save them and the world from destruction?
Enjoy an excerpt:

“Olivia.” I liked how he said my name. With a sophisticated accent, not a trashy lilt like the boys in the family. “Shouldn’t you look outside first?”

I firmed my lips and kept my pace heading straight for the door. “I trust my people.” I tossed my braid around and shot him a look. The dig was deliberate.

“So did I.” His response cut my bravado in two.

My family wouldn’t ditch me. Like the Marines, we didn’t leave a man behind as long as I brought Fitch what he wanted.

I pushed against the metal bar to open the door. Damp air hit my face. So did the stench of recently-smoked cigarettes. A black SUV was parked in front of the doorway with its lights off. The shiny car looked expensive and new.

Fitch didn’t own a vehicle like that.

Something hard and pointy shoved into my back. Clicked. Like an animal about to become lunch, I tensed.

“Don’t move,” a gruff voice said from behind.

Not Fitch’s voice. Or the old creepy guy Jeb. My brain analyzed the situation while my instincts wanted to scream. “Are you a security guard? Because some old guy is in there trying to steal—”

“Shut up. I got a rifle kissing your heart.” How long had the guy been rehearsing that corny line?

“Wh-what do you want?” My tongue tripped over the words.


First, the security guard. Then, Jeb and Xander. Now, this guy.

It sucks to be so popular.

About the Author:

Allie didn’t realize having so many jobs would become great research material for the stories she writes. She has been everything from a fitting room attendant to a bike police officer to a professional mascot escort. She has lived on three continents and in four states and has studied art, fashion design, marine biology, and advertising.

When her kids asked, “when are you going to write a story we can read?” she switched from adult novels to Young Adult and Middle Grade and hasn’t looked back.

Allie is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Romance Writers of America including the Young Adult, Dallas Area Romance Writers and Heart of the Rockies chapters. She is also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Currently, she lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.




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Friday, January 10, 2014

Cinderella Spinderella by Mark Binder - Interview and Giveaway

Mark Binder is visiting with us today as part of his virtual book tour for his new picture book Cinderella Spinderella. Mark will be awarding a signed eBook gift card (ePub, Mobi or MP3 audio book) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop and a Grand Prize of not only the ebook giftcard signed by Mark, but a limited edition cover poster autographed by both the author and the illustrator will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Mark. What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I loved everything Dr. Seuss wrote, especially the 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins. The drawings are distinctive and fun, and the language is crunchy. Bartholemew, especially is a complex character with real problems – which is rare in a book for young kids.

What’s your favorite sweet treat?

Almond Biscotti called quaresimale made at Scialo’s Bakery in Providence. They’re rock hard chunks of almond, sugar and flour that are amazing dipped in coffee. (They do ship!)

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

I’ve always wanted to have the power to blow people up like they did in the Roadrunner cartoons, with a big BOOM! And then they’re ok, except covered in black soot. Imagine someone cutting in front of you in the line at the grocery store and then BOOM! And a look of stunned surprise on their face!

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

Hogans Heroes. It’s a completely weird show that would be absolutely impossible to put on the air these days, but somehow was ok in the 1970s. It’s comedy about a wacky bunch of American Prisoners in a German POW camp. With absolutely no irony.

Favorite hot beverage. Why?

Coffee. If you have to ask why, then you’re not an addict like me! A few years ago I thought that coffee was making me too angry, so I stopped for a month. Found out I was still angry, but just less productive. So I started drinking again. I bought my wife a new coffee machine for Christmas. She bought me an Espresso machine. We’re ‘Feinds.

Favorite pizza toppings.

I make Pizza (see my audio recording, “The Little Boy Who Hated Pizza”), so I get to put whatever I want on the pizza. I do very creative ones with everything left in the refrigerator. My favorites? Pesto, artichoke heart, mozzarella, sliced mushrooms, feta cheese, fresh tomato, topped with freshly grated real parmigiano reggiano.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

I’d book a really nice summer and winter vacation with my family. Then I’d install an incredibly efficient heating system in the house. I’d get my car repaired. I’d donate $100,000 to the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence. And then I’d probably run for office with whatever’s left over.

Favorite class in high school. Why?

History. I had two amazing AP History teachers. They made the subject come alive by telling the stories.

Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?

My sister Ellen from “It Ate My Sister.” Because I don’t really have a sister, and I’d like to apologize for all the mean things I did to her. ;-)

About the Author:
Mark Binder is an award-winning author and story performer and a parent. Over the past twenty years he has shared his Bed Time Story Book series with tens of thousands of readers and listeners around the world live, in print and in audio recordings. His most recent book is Cinderella Spinderella. Read Mark's detailed bio at

Twitter: @barkminder

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

REVIEW: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments book one)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
YA Paranormal
528 pages
5 Stars

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.


I’ve loved the Mortal Instruments from the beginning; the characters, the plot, the descriptions that Cassandra Clare uses...It gives the reader the sense that they’ve entered a whole new world that’s very real.

The plot revolves around Clarissa Fray, nicknamed “Clary”. She lives a normal life in a normal world, or so it seems. She is soon to discover a whole new world, which is what I loved: How Ms. Clare introduces Clary to the shadow world, how she depicts the shadowhunters and demons that live among us every day, under the effects of the glamor that hides them from the mundane, or mortal, sight. It’s interesting watching Clary develop under these new circumstances, being thrown into a life that she’s never even heard of or even thought to have existed. Her actions in the time depict her heart and courage, and the strength of a lion that she possesses. Occasionally, she acts impulsively and ends up endangering her friends and family, but she learns quickly how to adapt to the rules.

Jace, on the other hand, is probably one of my favorite characters in the books. His combination of annoying sarcasm and loyalty is something that I admire. As much as he makes fun of his friends, he’d give up his life for any of them. They say that humor can hide the pain: That’s Jace’s ego talking. You can see a bit of his character in the quote below:

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?'

Jace said, "Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself."

..."At least," she said, "You don't have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland."

"Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”

Simon is the awkward best friend of Clary, who shows the more human side to the whole story. He’s nice, caring, and nerdy, but he’s got a big heart and does everything that he can for Clary, whether she notices his actions or not.

Simon looked like the sort of boy who'd come over to your house to pick you up for a date and be polite to your parents and nice to your pets. Jace, on the other hand, looked like the sort of boy who'd come over to your house and burn it down for kicks.”

Magnus Bane is my other favorite character, simply because he often provides comic relief to the storyline, even if he doesn’t notice. He can be dangerous, simply being the High Warlock of Brooklyn, but it wouldn’t be the same without him.

“Magnus, standing by the door, snapped his fingers impatiently.

‘Move it along, teenagers. The only person who gets to canoodle in my bedroom is my magnificent self.’

‘Canoodle?’ repeated Clary, never having heard the word before.

‘Magnificent?’ repeated Jace, who was just being nasty. Magnus growled. The growl sounded like ‘Get out.’”

Isabelle is strong, and sticks by her friends like glue. She’s caring and funny, but if any demon or evil downworlder tried to lay a finger on her close friends and family, she’d hunt it down and kill it. She has in her possession a gold whip that curls around her arm like a bracelet: Let me just say I’ve never wanted anything like that so badly before.

Alec, her brother, is the exact opposite. Where Isabelle likes to go out and socialize, Alec likes to stay hidden. He can come across as unfriendly and hostile, but he’s got a fierce devotion to Isabelle and Jace.

Because all of these amazing people are known as Nephilim: half angel, half human, they can use the angel’s marks (runes) on their skin to heal, to induce speed, strength, love, stamina, and others such as the wedlock rune, parabati rune, and angelic power rune, all using a simple tool known as a stele. (Ste-LAY)

Their sole purpose in life is to hunt and kill demons to keep the mundane world safe. Hidden under glamors most of the time, the shadowhunters bed in the Institute, their home, which houses many rooms, books, deadly weapons, and clothes, given to them by the Clave, the head of the shadow world.

Overall, it’s a great story. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves fiction, fantasy, action, and romance.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

WINNER of the Midwinter'​s Giveaway Hop 2013

Congratulations to SALENA H. winner of the $10 GC during the Midwinter'​s Giveaway Hop 2013 !!
An email is on its way to you. Thanks to everyone for your awesome book suggestions and happy New Year!