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Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler gives a taste of a mix of emotions

There’s those appetizer sampler platters at restaurants, then there’s a book of samples from various books. I just finished a book, Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler, that has a couple chapters of nine different books. These books took me through a variety of emotions and scenarios. Let me share a little of each, hopefully enough to entice you to check out one or two, or more.

The Dressmaker’s War: A Novel by Mary Chamberlain

Ada Vaughan is a young dressmaker disguising herself as a mannequin for Mr Stanislaus von Lieben, originally from Germany. This story takes place in the 1930s when Ada is a young woman, from a poor family with a big family in a small space. She works very hard to get to where she is as a dressmaker. A fast learner, Ada adapts quickly and soaks in all the information she can learn about various fabrics and takes in the new French and German language that gets thrown her way. Her parents worry about her getting into mischief with Mr von Leiben, but she doesn’t worry one bit and carries on with caution. Descriptions of the naïveté of Ada and her innocence is explicitly shared and it makes me as the reader wonder what type of trouble she could possibly get herself into.

Is Stanislaus von Lieben hiding something? What is his motive? What steps will he take to get to his end goal and once he’s there, what’s next?

This a very intriguing sample and I am encouraged to read the full story someday.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Little Jinhua, about 7, is the daughter of a concubine, who died during childbirth. Her father, Baba, loves to tell stories with Jinhua and is often required to leave their home by orders of the Emporer. One day, Baba suffers from the sharp blade that beheads him. Baba’s First Wife, Timu, is aware of this event and does not want to care for Jinhua, instead plans to sell her. Jinhua is unaware of what will happen next and her entire world is changed in a matter of moments.

I am immediately drawn into this story with the vast detail. It is comforting that a father would spend such precious time with his daughter. I’m curious what will happen to Jinhua. What is she feeling? What will she endure? How will these events affect her future?

The death of a parent is not easy to cope with, especially one as sudden as Baba’s. My heart aches for Jinhua.

The Survivors by Robert Palmer

Three brothers, Ron, Alan, and Davie along with a neighbor boy, Scottie, are playing upstairs of their home. It’s windy and there’s a bang that the boys assume is the sound of the door slamming. While playing Hide & Seek, Davie sees his mother, who’s outside and she shoots herself in the head. Fast forward a few decades and Davie is a psychologist. Scottie uses a different name and goes to Davie’s office.

Why did Scottie seek out Davie? What was in his heavy backpack? And why did he run off?What happened to Ron and Alan?

At first the story doesn’t seem like something I would normally read, yet I was drawn into it with curiosity. I want to continue reading just to learn more about what Scottie’s motives are.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

“Improbability of Love” is the title of a painting that was once worth millions and many gathered to an auction to purchase it. Part of the story is told from the perspective of the painting itself. New owner, Annie lived much less lavishly than the painting has ever witnessed. It expresses her movements while cooking for the man she was dating. The man never shows and she cries all night

I wonder where else this painting has been? What will happen to Annie now that she’s been stood up? Will she ever learn the history of this painting?

If I were to read this book in its entirety, it would be to learn the history of this once sought for painting. What has it been through and how did it end up in a shop collecting dust?

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack

Secret messages in various languages between Herbert and a dear friend, Anna “The Rat”, who was little, hunch backed and had whiskers coming from a mole near her nose. They loved playing chess and even did so through letters with coordinated positions. One day when they are older, Anna finds Herbert and he keeps her safe. The story goes back in time to a time when Herbert arranged for his family to immigrate to New York from Austria during WWII, it cost him everything he owned, including his young son.

Not a typical story I would read even with the captivating descriptions which make the reader feel a part of the story. But it’s still not likely something I would read or enjoy reading. However, it could be a genre someone else might enjoy thoroughly.

Another Woman’s Daughter by Fiona Sussman

Celia is apparently a slave to the Steiner family, who lives in the south, possibly Florida area. She has a 6 year old daughter, Miriam. The Steiners ask to adopt Miriam and they are relocating to England, where Miriam can go to school an have more opportunity.

It hurts my heart to think a mother would allow a child to make such an adult choice. As the mother of a 6 year old boy, I would never allow anyone to take him from me as what happens to the child when living with someone else in a faraway country I could never get to? How would I know he’s safe and loved and cared for?

This type of story is too harsh and real for my heart. It adds a burden to my soul, especially knowing it could have happened to any mother and young child in that day. As it might be enjoyed by other readers, it is just not for me.

The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

Flora is a teenager living in an area where many have deserted for bigger and better things. She’s been dating an older boy, who’s leaving the area as well for college. The two spot a father and daughter who are moving into Dog Cottage, which has been abandoned as long as they can remember. Flora lives with her Mum, her new husband Ronny, their young son James, and have many visitors.

This is a genre I would likely read. I am curious who these new residents of Dog Cottage are and where they came from, what’s their story.

Whatever happened to the men who have gone missing? What Flo make friends with the new residents? Will she ever get her chance to leave the area?

The Longest Night by Andrea Williams

Paul in Idaho Falls 1961 works in the military, stationed to live among civilians and work at a reactor. Married with two little girls, Paul finds sirens rushing towards the reactor before he realizes it’s where they were headed. Rewind two years, the family took a road trip to arrive in Idaho. His wife, Nat, is an adventurous risk-taker type. Something opposite of Paul’s personality & upbringing. Paul’s parents were both uncontrollable drunks, causing Paul to desire people who can control their thoughts and actions, but soon realize that people are just as dysfunctional as his parents. Interesting personalities in this main character, Paul, creates curiosity to read this story.

What happens when Paul gets home after his Master Sargeant leaves him stranded at the reactor 50 miles from home? How does he explain this delay in getting home to his wife and kids? What happened with the sirens?

This book seems like something I might enjoy, yet at the same time, I am unsure. If it falls on my list of books to review in the future I may consider it.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Charlotte recently lost her little boy Keegen. He had a brain aneurism and she didn’t make it to see him before he passed away. Keegen’s father had an affair a couple years before his passing. Charlotte spends time with her grandmother, who lives a few blocks away. Charlottes friend Rae comes by to help make life easier for Charlotte, and she has a little girl Zoe, who is in a recital and breaks her ankle. Charlotte has dreams that come true, this starts off to be a strange realization for her. She dreams about a little girl, Hannah, who has been missing since school let out. She sees Hannah in her dream and studies the environment.

What does Charlotte do when she awakes from her dream about Hannah? Where are these dreams coming from? What’s causing it? Did she have one of these dreams before Keegen’s passing?

With the death of her child, it places me at a defense. Reading only the couple chapters from the sampler, it made it difficult to sleep that night and caused me to spend more time loving my child. Typically I shy away from books that start off like this. But, being able to see the strength in character that Charlotte has gives me hope that she will get through this a lot better than I would. I would consider reading this one.

In summary, this is a long review, but I wanted to give you an idea about each book that is sampled. This Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler was provided complimentary for an honest review by

 NetGalley Challenge Advocate

The Huggabears Flowers of the Meadow is enlightening

An unexpected package arrived in my mailbox one day. The return address was Angelique La Fon-Cox, author of The Huggabear series as well as the Intercessors series. Angelique quickly became a friend whom I admire. Never did I expect to receive not only The Intercessors (a book I hope to review someday), but hidden at the bottom of the box was The Huggabears Flowers of the Meadow.

This children’s tale is about the Huggabear children, Kooshla, Saboo, and Tanuuk going to play in the flowers of the meadow with their parents. The cubs loved playing in the meadow. On this particular day, the Huggabear cubs see a great big, brightly colored fish flying through the air. It’s a kite!

The kite flier looked different, spoke different, and was from a different place. Jing, a panda cub, politely shared about where he s from and why  hhe’s in the meadow. Jing, a panda cub, shares his kite with Tanuuk, who goes on a brief adventure with the kite. Eventually, they go their separate ways at lunchtime. But Jing invited the Huggabears to his family home for a meal the following week, where the Huggabear cubs had a chance to eat Chinese food for the first time.

 This tale shares how important it is to accept others who are different. Everyone has their own differences and it’s important that we look past the differences and share from the love in our heart.

Thank you, Angelique La Fon-Cox for sending this precious book to us. My son loves the Huggabear books, especially when he has a chance to look for the Huggabear paw hidden in throughout the books.

Ms Angelique La Fon-Cox, her husband, and their beautiful children operate a small profit out of the Phoenix, Arizona area called The Huggabear Children’s Project. They send teddy bears to children off deployed service members as well as children who have been affected by natural disasters. They perform at churches and fairs as well. Check out their non-profit website by clicking here.

When A New Life Begins, it is adored and loved

Whenever a baby mammal is born, it’s mother instinctively watches over him. Parents share their love and affection for the baby and it is common for babies to enjoy the company of other babies. This is no different with Zealy and Whubba in The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba: A New Life Begins by Roe De Pinto.  


Zealy is the new seal pup born one winter to loving parents. Zealy is carefully watched over by her parents. One day a young orca whale, Whubba, splashes by and quickly becomes friends with Zealy and immediately finds himself protecting the pup from whatever might harm her. 

Typically, a seal pup is on the food chain for several creatures. There is no indication of the dangers that are present for Zealy. But with Whubba, Zealy is safe. 

Adorable and loved book that my son and I read together. I especially love the images of Zealy and Whubba. Zealy’s parents are a bit on the dark side, but their soft eyes make them live able, too. A New Life Begins is a brief story that can be enjoyed by many young children. My son wished it continued on as he’s been reading longer stories lately and gets disappointed with shorter stories, especially when he enjoys the characters. 

A complimentary hard copy of Zealy and Whubba in The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba: A New Life Begins by Roe De Pinto was sent to me by the author for an honest review. As this is Book 1 Series 1, I hope to catch the next adventure. 

The Great Carp Escape is wonderful

A young girl, Beth, and her younger brother, Paul, live near a huge lake where they loved to play on the sandy beach. There was an area nearby where there were swampy reeds with carp swimming in the water. Beth and Paul are curious children who find interest in nature around them.

Sometimes, they would walk along the shore and find a dead carp that they thought was ugly. Their father reminded Beth and Paul that God thinks the fish is wonderful, just like them. Summer’s were great for swimming and looking for clams. But in spring, when the snow melted, everything seemed underwater. At least until the water started to dry up. This is when Beth and Paul find several carp trapped without a way to get back out to the lake and the little pond they were in was starting to dry up. What will happen to the carp? Will Beth and Paul be able to save the carp?

The Great Carp Escape by Irish Beth Maddock pulls young readers in with its detail and realistic activities. Trying to save the trapped carp is only natural for a young curious child. Finding a way to help the carp escape comes naturally to children. It’s quite interesting to ask a child how they would help the carp before getting to the answers given in the book.

The situation in this story reminds me of a similar situation in an episode of Curious George. But, the answers in the book didn’t jog my Curious George memory until I began writing this review.

This is a great book for youngsters who are looking for a small adventure. It is also a wonderful message that even ugly carp are wonderful to God. A beautiful message for anyone who doubts their own beauty, especially for impressionable children.

The Great Carp Escape was sent to me complimentary for an honest review by Bostick Communications and Irish Beth Maddock. It was a pleasure to read this wonderful book and admire the gorgeous images. My family will treasure this book for many years to come.

Weeks TWO and THREE of book studies

Week two was last week. I’ll be honest, I had difficulty keeping up on just the Proverbs study with Good Morning Girls and the Psalm 119 study with Love God Greatly. The other two studies (with Proverbs 31 Ministries and Faith Gateway) I didn’t even start yet.

You see, it is quite difficult to read or even blog when I have a headache. And I don’t get your normal headaches that you know triggers like sinus, tension, or migraine. I get those, too. I have had a headache since April 13. It’s one long headache. My physician sent me to a neurologist, who ordered an MRI and eventually medicated me and I’ve even had a occipital nerve block, which seems to have worn off. This headache affects half my head and my eye feels tons of pressure, it’s called hemicranial continua. Anyway, it has hindered my ability to read and to blog.

I wanted to comment on something I’ve noticed thus far with the two studies I have been doing. With Good Morning Girls, Proverbs study, I got their study book. It is only a place to write a scripture study using S.O.A.K. method, which is Scripture, Observation, Application, and Keep in Prayer. This study book is just a blank space with no lines, which is challenging for me as my handwriting changes in size from page to page and tends to go up or downhill as i write. I also have the opportunity to choose which ever scripture in the chapter for the day that I want to use for my journal.

In the Love God Greatly study, there are blogs links emailed three times a week, none of which I’ve actually clicked on. I think i would be more likely to read it if it actually were emailed to me rather than give me a link to it. Another thing about Love God Greatly is that they give you a section of scripture to read and then a verse or two (sometimes three) to use for a S.O.A.P. journal. This is very similar to S.O.A.K. but P is for Prayer and everything else is the same. With this study, I was not provided a book so I used my own notebook. It feels much neater for me to write in a notebook with lines.

I am still very behind in my other book reading and book reviewing. Headaches and fatigue have been at the forefront of my life and it has been difficult to do anything other than the normal daily routines. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts on what I’ve been going through.

Please comment if you’ve ever been diagnosed with hemicranial continua and how you have dealt with it. I am really getting tired of being medicated myself. Hopefully, I can get some reading done this weekend! We shall see 😉

Kindergarten resource day to the library

Yesterday was resource day again for my son’s kindergarten class. Instead of the usual Pokémon books, he decided to pick a book about the Marines. His friend in his class often puts a bug in my son’s head about the military.  And since we live near three military bases, we have many neighbors who serve in the armed forces. 


My child actually showed me a picture from this book he borrowed that his friend in class says is his grandfather and uncles. This book in particular was published in 2009 and it has many images on the beach. As it is totally possible that pictures may have been used from a base nearby, the likelihood it’s his friend’s grandfather is a bit far-fetched. However, there is the potential it could be true. The person in question in this book has a dark shadow on his face, so realistically, it could be anyone. But how do you explain that to a 6 year old?

Even as a mother who knows very little about the military, just thinking about boot camp for 12 weeks sounds crazy. Yet there are hundreds and thousands who do so every year, I can imagine. It also gave me the thought to tell my 6 year old that if he ever joins the military, I want to live with him and help him care for his family. He didn’t seem to like that thought!

Surprising as it is, my kindergartener really can have interests in things other than Pokémon! Here’s to more learning about the world outside of Pokémon!

Book Review: Rungle in the Jungle by Robert Logan Rogers

Playful rhymes of creative creatures who together devise a plan for all in the jungle to race for a mile. As many of the creatures decide to join the race, the sly and deceitful snake does so as well. The snake also threatens the other creatures, bringing fear among them. But when the race actually starts, will the creatures overcome their fears?


For a debut, this is amazingly written and illustrated. The rhymes are easy to follow, except for my inability to anunciate properly while reading to my 6 year old. I happened to trip over words several times, using imaginary words, then realized I didn’t read the words right and the actual text sounds so much better!

My 6 year old son says he likes the book and wants to add it to his collection. His favorite illustration is the image of the snake who rolled down the path with its tail in its mouth, rolling as if it were a tire speeding down the road. The picture has lightning streaming out of the eyes of the snake. He thought that was the coolest part of the book.

Personally, I thought it was a long story at first, but I was very drowsy the first time I attempted to read it. As I read the story to my son this evening, he was actively engaged and curious what would happen next, especially after the cunning snake was introduced. At the end, he excitedly exclaimed, “I like this book!” 

Rungle in the Jungle by Robert Logan Rogers published with the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) on February 22, 2015. The author’s website offers t-shirts, posters, and copies of the book. Illustrated by Rachel McCoy, who is educated in arts and skills. You can find a copy of Rungle in the Jungle on CreateSpace for $16.95.

Reading two books at once…well, three…

Currently, I am reading 2 books simultaneously. No, wait, 3 books. It makes me wonder, though, would I finish a book quicker if I just read ONE at a time? As a child, I read two books at the same time and switched back and forth as if I were watching a television series, a chapter here and a chapter there for the different scenes. I loved being in two worlds at the same time.

However, right now, the books I am reading doesn’t really take me into different fiction worlds. The books I’ve been reading on my Kindle Paperwhite include: Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman, Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin, and My Hearth Stood Still by Lori Copeland. All three books are a bit intense and deep. But I love them nonetheless!

Each book that I am reading now are at various points of the book, so it’s highly likely that I will finish the books in a different order than I started them. But that works perfectly for me! Maybe I’ll even get started on more books as I finish each?

Keep it Shut I am reading as a study with a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. I’ve completed a couple studies with Proverbs 31 last year and enjoyed it. Sometimes you can even join a study group, if you’re signed up early enough! Regardless, even just reading along and checking out their videos and blogs keep the participant fairly engaged. I do feel a bit behind as I have not read for this week yet and it is likely I will finish reading a few weeks after the study is over, but it’s all good. I still can look back on my emails and track myself with their blog.

The other two books I received from NetGalley, where reviewers can get books before it’s even published. Both of the other books I am reading I received through NetGalley, one published already and the other will be publishing soon. Stay tuned for reviews for each of the books!

Kindle freebies

Nearly every day I get emails with free and discounted books. I’m on a budget, so free is good! I also check my Twitter, which often has links to even more free ebooks. I love it!

I’ve been offered to review books and it gets sent to me for free. And we have Amazon Prime, so I can borrow a book from the Kindle library once a month. It’s awesome, but rarely taken advantage of. I keep adding books to my collection but I can’t read them as quickly.

I want to speed read to read more, but I also want to catch every single word and descriptive word so I can better create my mental pictures during my reading. When I speed read, I seem to miss some of the details. Maybe I’m not doing it right?

Regardless, freebie books are wonderful! And it’s giving me the desire to get rid of all the actual books I have been collecting all these years! Want any? You pay the shipping!

Pre-reading “Before Amen” by Max Lucado

For several months, or maybe a year or so, I’ve desired to learn to pray. This desire resulted in my funding books about prayer, free as well as studies. But I’ve been struggling with getting past the first few days. I have seen several varieties of prayer to help guide me along the way, but none of them really helped me to understand prayer as a whole.

One day I came across a book with a title I found enticing, “Before Amen” by Max Lucado. Hmmm, what happens before I say, “Amen”? This book must be about prayer!

The best part was there was a pre-order with a discount and I could use my PayPal, which had about $20 available. So I used some of my PayPal to purchase this book and it arrived a few days after release. How convenient! A practically free book because I hardly ever use my PayPal.

Growing up, adults often said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So instead, in this day and age, we are exposed to reviews and comment s about different items we can buy. Unfortunately, there’s rarely a review for a book that has not yet released, so I was at a loss when I bought it. Instead, spend some time reviewing the back and inside cover of the book, the forwards, and any reviews from other great writers or authoritative figures in the industry. The book was released on September 30, 2014 and has since achieved 5 stars on Amazon reviews.

In my pre-reading experience, I found that this book sounds fascinating. Not because of it being written by a New York Times Best Selling Author, or the picture on the cover, but because it encourages me better understand prayer and what should be included in my prayers.

From the looks of it, I should start reading so I can get my prayer on…