Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

This is my first read by Melissa Lemon and I'm now a hooked fan!

Thank goodness she already has two other books out that I can read!

I love the idea of taking fairy tales and twisting them up. But, she takes it one step further by intertwining two of them together. The author mind reels at the intricacies, but the reader mind says: THAT ROCKS!

I felt deeply sorry for both Eglantine and Duncan. Both craved human contact and understanding but had a difficult time attaining such ends. I had sympathy for Henry, the beast, and also the witch. Poor creatures. Life isn't all fairy tale even in a fairy tale!

The characters are well developed, likable, and have distinctive voices. The descriptions give a great sense of location, clothing, and use of sensory perception without being verbose. Steady pacing moves the story along. Tidy ending. I loathe loose ends!

The cover intrigues and frightens me at the same time, but it's beautifully rendered and a great visual clue to the inner story.

No parental warnings. It's a clean read. I'd say probably 10+.

A fast enjoyable read for anyone wishing to be lost in an enchanting fairy tale.

Blurb: Trapped in a cursed sleep, the only experiences Princess Eglantine has are the ones in her dreams. There she meets Prince Henry of Fallund, a neighboring kingdom on the brink of war. Meanwhile, Prince Henry's brother Duncan discovers a vicious beast imprisoned for murder. Captivated by her, he works to free her from both the prison bars she's locked behind and the ones surrounding her heart and mind. Sleeping Beauty and the Beast reinvents and seamlessly intertwines the classic fairy tales Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.

Bio: Melissa Lemon is the author of two other fairy tale retellings: Cinder and Ella and Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem. She is also the author of a sweet romance called Blue Sky. Writing is just one of her passions. She also loves music, reading, baking and exercising. She is wife to a patient man, mother to three spunky girls, and warden to a tolerant cat named Matilda.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Adjustment Bureau

This one sat on the DVR for about 6 months before I got around to watching it. My storage on the DVR is now clear.

Not sure why it sat there so long. I thoroughly enjoy the work of the two main actors: Emily Blunt & Matt Damon. That usually is enough to sell me to watch a film.

The concept is pretty original. It's a take on God and how he either directs our path or allows us to make our own choices and direct the path ourselves. The Adjustment Bureau are immortals/angels who keep us on the Chairman's predetermined path. The issue comes when things don't go according to plan or a long term pre-planned life gets a major directional change but the foundation is already set for the first path and the subconscious keeps trying to direct us back to the original.

The thinking behind this film, along with the script, are applaudable. That's not really a word, but I couldn't quiet find the right one. It gets your brain wondering about the concept of life, our control over it, the idea of agency and how it affects our path.

The actors portrayal of the characters really drives the film. I had no idea Emily Blunt was a professional dancer, but she doesn't use a double and the choreography involved takes a pro level dancer. Really impressive. It added to my admiration for her and her craft.

PG-13 for steam, it is a romance after all. A few words of language. A few well aimed punches round out the violence factor.

Worth a view? Yes. I think this satisfies the romance angle for the girl while engaging the guy with the suspense and action.

Worth a buy? Not sure this is one I would watch over and over again. Catch it through a cheap option.

Do you think our lives are 'adjusted' as the movie suggests?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Elemental Hunger

About Elemental Rush: Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes. 

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.

ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER, which is also available now.

Find this novella on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, and Wattpad

About Elemental Hunger: The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.

Look for the third and final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE, an Elemental novella, coming on July 2, 2014.

Find this novel on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo

About Elana: Elana Johnson is the author of the Possession series, which includes full-length novels POSSESSION, SURRENDER, and ABANDON, and short stories REGRET (ebook only) and RESIST (free). She is also the author of ELEVATED, a young adult contemporary romance novel-in-verse.

Her novella, ELEMENTAL RUSH, began a new futuristic fantasy series. ELEMENTAL HUNGER, a full-length novel, is the second part of the story. The series will conclude with ELEMENTAL RELEASE, the final novella, which will release on July 2, 2014.

Elana wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult novels. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog, a regular contributor to The League of Extraordinary Writers, and a co-organizer of WriteOnCon.

Find her on FacebooktwittertumblrWattpad, or her blog.


So, I didn't realized in reading Elemental Hunger that I was coming into the series in book 2. Guess that means I'll have to go back and read Elemental Rush! And that I can now be excited about the third book in the series. Thank goodness, I'll only have to wait a few weeks!

Regardless, you can read this as a stand alone book. But if you're a fan of Ms. Johnson's Possession series, like me, you won't want to miss a word of this trilogy. 

I was impressed to find that this book has a decidedly different voice to it than her other series. That takes work for an author. And I liked it. I liked it a lot! There is also a new well-crafted world to explore. 

Gabby is a strong girl, with likable vulnerabilities, that I can get behind. I like the way she thinks and responds to the world around her. And it is a crazy elemental world she has to navigate. 

The rest of the characters are just as developed. The writing on par with the high standard at which Ms. Johnson consistently works. 

No swear words, unless you count BLAZES!, which I don't. It's one of my fave sayings of Gabby's.
A few intense kisses, but no nudity or sex. A word of caution, there are rape references, not an actual rape though. I would keep this one to 16+ and read it first to be sure your young adult would be comfortable in that regard only.  

This was the first book I've read by Ms. Johnson that I didn't want to throw against the wall when I finished. This one for me had the best closure of her books. 

While Ms. Johnson tends to stick to writing YA, her works are for everyone who enjoys good writing and adventure.

Where will her imagination take us next? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


The real story behind Sleeping Beauty is not what you'd expect and I enjoyed every minute of it!

There are all the elements of the beloved Disney classic but seen from a very different view point.

The sets/CG work are outstanding. But, then I didn't expect anything less.

The costumes are beautiful.

I'm not the biggest Jolie fan, but I don't dislike her either. This film could change my mind, about becoming a fan. She was the perfect Maleficent. Don't be distracted by the cheek implants. Personally, I wondered if they hurt at all, but of course they are exterior prosthetics. I was totally impressed at the way she moved, talked and laughed. She had to be a likable villain. Not the easiest of tasks and she did it with style.

Fave side characters, the three fairies, esp. the pink one, and the crow.

The king gets seriously paranoid. He should. I wouldn't be dumb enough to cross Maleficent.

Worth a view? Yes. But I would say for the 8+ crowd. I didn't take my 6 year old to see it. Too intense. But my 9 year old thoroughly enjoyed it.

Worth a buy? Yes. We'll watch this one many times.

So, which version is the truth?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Star Spangled Summer Adventure!

This summer marks the anniversaries of some profound American history. The sesquicentennial of the Civil War continues this summer, and August and September mark the 200th of anniversary of significant historical events from the War of 1812.

August 14th will mark the 200th anniversary of the British burning of America's capital, Washington D.C., including the torching of the White House, known then as The President's House, and the Capitol, which then housed the original Library of Congress. Along with these American architectural treasures, thousands of irreplaceable volumes were lost from our nation's library.

September 12-13 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, the birth of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the moment America began its love affair with the red, white, and blue,.

Sadly, economic issues and budget cuts have forced the cancellation of many public celebrations planned to mark these poignant events.

So families, it’s time to hit the road and create your own Star-Spangled Summer Adventure!

Laurie L.C. Lewis, author of the “Freemen and Dreamers” series, which covers this period of history, and some of her author friends are hosting this Star-Spangled Summer Celebration to encourage families to rediscover America and her history. You visit local, state, or federal landmarks with your family, and we’ll provide some added incentive.

Here’s how you enter:

          1.       Visit five American historical landmarks, (even your local landmarks count), between Flag Day, June 14th, and Defender’s Day, September 12th.

          2.       Email photos of your family standing in front of a sign or building indicating where you went. Use this email address:

That’s it!

Additional entries will be awarded for those who promote the SSSA by posting the official badge and link on their blog, and link to it via their Facebook page, or on Twitter.  Just send an email with the corresponding link to

Additional entries can also be earned by submitting a brief, (250 words or less), testimonial recounting your experience on a leg of your “Star-Spangled Adventure.” These will be posted on my blog over the summer.

One family will be selected to win the prize package on September 13th. Visit the official Star-Spangled Summer Adventure page at

Prizes are still coming in, but the package now includes a Vivitar Digital Video Recorder; a $50 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond; a commemorative set of the Charters of Freedom, suitable for framing; and a family-worthy collection of autographed books from authors in a variety of genres.

So hit the road, and let us see what great American history you find!

Laurie L. C. Lewis
Lisa Swinton

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Totally interesting concept. What if love is the reason for all our problems? What if that area of the brain could be corrected? What happens when all who resist the procedure are put to death for refusing? If we take away the part of the brain that processes emotion, then do we every really live a fulfilled life?

Love the characters. Lena is strong and sure of what she wants. She can't wait until her 18th birthday to get Cured and no longer be at risk of infection from the ever fatal poison of love.

Until she meets Alex and her world is shaken, shattered to it's core.

Love takes hold and she discovers, she'd rather die, than ever let it go.

Strong characters driven by motivation. Well crafted, great description of emotion, great supporting cast of characters.

As a parent, I'd recommend the reader be 16 or older. There are a few swear words and intense kisses. No sex though.

The ending is a total cliff hanger, so be prepared in that sense to throw the book across the room. But, the saving grace is it's the first in a trilogy.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest. I have high expectations.

Lauren Oliver's powerful New York Times bestselling novel Delirium—the first in a dystopian trilogy—presents a world as terrifying as George Orwell's 1984 and a romance as true as Romeo & Juliet.
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistakes.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation

My husband I can't recall if we ever saw the first film in this franchise. If we did, then apparently it wasn't memorable.

Not sure if this one is either.

Okay, so the story line isn't too hard to figure out. G.I. Joe team vs. Cobra. That whole concept is what built the franchise and made boys of the 1980s happy for endless hours.

Presumably they brought back the original cast for the sequel and it's a decent cast. There's a surprise role, by an ultimate action film actor, who I won't name or it will ruin it for you. But, what I totally couldn't fathom was the death of a main character a mere 15-20 minutes in. That means that character won't be back in any subsequent films. I'm not sure that was a good move for the franchise.

The ending is left open for another film. We'll see.

Worth a view? Sure.

Worth a buy? No. There are other action films more deserving of your money. Catch it on Redbox, etc.

Does anyone know if it lived up to the first G.I. Joe or if all the actors came back?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Hitler Dilemma

“We’re Nazis, Max. Everybody in Germany is Nazi—if they want to be safe.” Papa pulled up a chair and sat down, crumpling the newspaper in his hand. “We don’t have to think like them, son, but we’ve got to act like them—at least on the outside. Try to remember that. Okay?” Saarbr├╝cken, Germany—1938 Change is in the air in Max Adams’s small village: The censorship of classic literature, the elimination of math and science courses, the addition of extra physical education classes. Along with thousands of other young men, he is forced into the Hitler Youth and is being groomed to become the next generation of Nazi soldiers. But as a faithful Latter-day Saint, how can Max serve the villain who destroyed his younger brother in his effort to create a Master Race—a man who is bent on tearing apart not only a single nation, but also the entire world? From the horrors of battle and the sorrow of separation from family to the privations of a prisoner of war, Carolyn Twede Frank’s groundbreaking novel The Hitler Dilemma is a poignant chronicle of one remarkable young man’s struggle to reconcile his sense of duty with his staunch opposition to the evil tyrant destroying the country he loves.

What CAROLYN has to say: 
What does this book mean to you?
This is my debut novel in the world of traditional publishing. The fact that my publisher likes my writing enough to invest their resources into producing my book validates the last eight years I have spent learning and honing the craft of writing. This amazing story that I have been privileged to retell also has served to whet my appetite. I itch to discover more untold gems of history and write their stories as well.

What is the book about?
               There were many innocent victims of Hitler’s reign of terror. But one group is often overlooked: the children of Germany.
               When the Nazis take away Max’s handicapped brother to help him “get better,” and then his brother dies of “the flu” in the hospital, Max doubts the new government of Germany is really there “to help the people.” Misgivings grow to aversion as Max is forced to join the Hitler Youth, and he continually sees his beloved Germany being destroyed by its own Fuhrer. As the draft age drops from age eighteen to sixteen, and then down to fourteen, he knows it’s only a matter of time until he will be forced to fight for Hitler—and that’s something his conscience forbids him to do. But to refuse would endanger his parents.
              The Hitler Dilemma is a WWII novel based on true events from the life of Max Adam, a young boy who grew up in Nazi Germany faced with the dilemma of serving Hitler or serving his conscience, and how his faith got him through.

ABOUT Carolyn:
Carolyn is a fan of history, with its wealth of inspiring heroes and pernicious villains. Somehow, a touch or a ton of history seems to weave its way into each novel she writes. When a friend relayed to Carolyn how her father-in-law was a Hitler Youth against his will during WWII, Carolyn knew it was a story that needed to be told—and she wanted to write it.
When Carolyn is not working on a novel, she fills her spare time with grandchildren, gardening, and renovating houses. She currently lives in Kaysville, Utah where she runs a small business out of her home, which affords her the luxury of being an author.

She is currently working on the companion book to The Hitler DilemmaEscape From East Germany is based on the story of Karin Adam, Max’s wife. The novel deals with Karin’s struggles growing up in East Germany under Russian rule, and how she ultimately escapes.

You can find HER here: 

You can watch the BOOK TRAILER here:

You can BUY the book HERE: 
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Friday, June 6, 2014

Descendant & Birthright by Nichole Giles

Nichole Giles is my YA paranormal fantasy goddess. Her writing is divine.

This is one trilogy that won't disappoint. And we're only into book 2!

I hope she is madly writing and publishing the third one because I have high expectations based on the first two.

In Descendant she builds the romantic relationship between Abby and Kye, which between normal teenagers is difficult enough. But they have the added challenges of having loved and lost each other over lifetimes, their Gifts, and the curse that dooms them to death for their love. Pretty much sucks to be them.

Despite all this, Abby never gives up hope of breaking the curse and being with Kye. And you root for them. You want them to over come the curse.

Oh, and did I mention there's an evil Lord trapped in another dimension who wants to destroy the world, demons trying to kill Abby, Kye, and all others Gifted, and mad chases across the U.S.? It's enough to make a person exhausted. Good thing they are teens.

Characters are well constructed, likable, and show incredible growth. The writing is solid and the story line well crafted. I was especially intrigued by the use of chakras, crystals, and herbs by Abby. That takes some research. I really liked the use of Abby seeing visions of her past life.

In Birthright, Abby faces a new set of problems. The more time she and Kye spend together, the faster they die, but being apart is physical agony. And you thought your love story was twisted! To save themselves, they must be apart. The cruel irony of it are. So, Abby gets shipped off to Mexico to recover, fight demons and trap them for eternity, and decide if loving Kye and breaking the curse are worth it.  Heavy stuff.

All that I said about the first is true of this one too. Abby is a girl you can get behind. And the supporting characters are just as rich in character and emotion as the main ones. That's good writing.

As far as rating/parental concerns: there is some violence (we have bad guys after all) consisting of a few punches and kicks. A few kisses. No language. And I applaud the stance the mom, Kye and Abby take on no sex. 13 and up I'd say.

Add these to your summer reading list.


Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted. 

Blessed—or cursed—with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he’s a missing piece of her own soul. 

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she’s not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it’s not just Abby’s life at stake.


Two months ago, Abigail Johnson saved the life of the boy she believes is her destiny and defeated an army of demons that have pursued her ancestors for centuries. Now, she and Kye should be taking their place as leaders of the new generation of Gifted. But the curse they thought was broken has returned, and every minute together brings them closer to death. 

When remaining shadow demons attack again, the Dragons send Abby to Mexico. Being apart from Kye is slowly killing her soul, and it turns out she isn’t any safer here than she was back home. The shadows have tracked her, the locals expect her to help with their own demon problems, and the more time she spends away from Kye, the more she doubts the destiny that ties them together. 

When the demons destroy her safe house, Abby has no choice but to take the fight to them. But the arrival of an old nemesis throws their careful plans into disarray, and Abby and her friends find themselves facing new adversaries in a battle that turns fatal. This time, not everyone will make it out alive.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Not even sure what genre to put this book into beyond YA.

We're post apocalyptic due to a virus that turns humans into flesh eating zombies called the Unconsecrated. Safe areas are connected by fenced in pathways marked by Roman numerals.

There's a major love triangle.

And nuns.

So, does that make it a YA, dystopian, paranormal romance with religious overtones?

The writing is solid. The inner and outer conflicts understandable. The world well created. So, I applaud the author for a well crafted novel.

I just didn't like it.

I got about a quarter to a third of the way through the book when I realized I didn't like the main character, Mary. Did I understand her and her motivation? Yes. But, that didn't make her likable for me. I just didn't get how someone could be so selfish and sacrifice everyone she loved, and who loved her, just to realize her dream of seeing the ocean.

It's the beginning of a trilogy. I won't be reading the rest.

However, for those of you who like this sort of thing, read the rest.

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Monuments Men

This is based on a true story. It took a little bit of courage for me to watch it. I gave up watching war movies nearly fifteen years ago. I just can't handle the emotional impact. I had grandfathers serve in WWII. Both of them lived with all limbs intact. But, I get torn up thinking of all those who died, families torn apart, loved ones never reunited, etc.

This one looked like mostly art but little war coverage. I'm grateful I was right. So if you're a lightweight, like me, when it comes to war films, you'll be okay.

It's an amazing cast used to tell the story of how about 6 men, mostly various types of art curators, prepared for war only by boot camp, make it their mission to recapture all the art stolen by the Nazis as they ravished Europe. The odds are against them and sadly not all of the men survive. But what they accomplish in preserving the culture of the human family is astonishing.

This movie, well set in Europe, is really held together by the cast. The men don't disappoint and hold their standard deliveries high. The one token female role is fulfilled by Cate Blanchett, who nearly steals the show.

Film is PG-13 for violence and language. Can't be surprised by that in a war film. But neither is excessive. I think there were half a dozen words I wouldn't use to be found in the script.

Worth a view? Yes.

Worth a buy? Only if you're a big war buff. I suggest Redbox or another inexpensive option. But of course, not pirated.