A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) by Amber Stockton — Review

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

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A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) is a cute story. It’s short, less than 200 pages, so it’s ideal if you want a quick read for a rainy day. I liked the story, but the dialogue bothered me. The characters use language that is too stiff–almost formal–and it confuses the setting of the book. A Grand Design is a contemporary story, but the language makes it seem like a historical novel. The story was really predictable, but I can usually get over that. Unfortunately this story didn’t seem very realistic–for example, a conflict towards the end of the book was resolved way too easily. The dialogue is what kept me from really getting into the story, so if you can overlook that, you’ll probably enjoy this story. I loved the way the author described each setting, and it tied in well with the design theme of the book. Recommended for fans of Christian Fiction Novellas.

Info from the Publisher:

A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

Find our more and purchase a copy at the Quilts of Love website.

About Quilts of Love: 

Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the Author:

Amber Stockton is an award-winning author, a national speaker, and a direct-sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards.
Connect with Amber: website, Facebook, Twitter

Giveaway & Facebook Party

Quilts of Love A Grand Design Amber Stockton*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant — Review

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

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All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is so cute! I fell in love with the cover the first time I saw it. It took me awhile to get into the book, but I’m thinking that has more to do with the fact that I’ve been reading fast moving suspense novels than it has to do with this book. Once I got to chapter 6 or so, the story really seemed to pick up. It’s a classic “best friends love each other but are scared to admit it” situation. The story felt real, and that probably has to do with the slower pace as well. I thought the book was predictable, but then St. Amant threw a few surprises our way! I really liked the behind the scenes view of Cupcake Combat because I can easily see Cupcake Wars being handled that way. I definitely pictured Justin Willman as Sam! Overall, I enjoyed this story and was satisfied with the ending. Betsy St. Amant did a great job of not forcing the story but letting the plot develop naturally. I especially liked that she gave us both main characters’ point of view. Often in stories like this one we don’t get the male’s perspective, so that set this book apart. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is for fans of Cupcake Wars and Contemporary Christian Romance. Read it with a cupcake in hand on a relaxed day!

Info from the Publisher:

{MORE ABOUT ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND CUPCAKES}

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Learn more and purchase a copy on Betsy’s site.

Betsy St. Amant

{MORE ABOUT BETSY ST. AMANT}

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.

Find out more about Betsy at http://www.betsystamant.com/.

Betsy’s Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest

Betsy St. Amant is a woman of many hats shoes, but one who loves Jesus no matter where her feet are planted, whether that’s being a mother in running sneakers, a career-woman in tottering high heels, or a barefoot author. Betsy is celebrating her latest release, All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, with a Kindle giveaway and “Love and Cupcakes” Author Chat Facebook Party on September 18. Click here to learn more and enter.


What’s your go-to activity to get out of writer’s block?

Definitely a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks! Also, maybe a little Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show for a laugh, and a few hugs from my daughter. If I still need something else, I will go for a walk or jog or hit up my punching bag for some endorphins!

When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian—which is just really, really ironic now because I can’t handle gross smells or blood or anything like that, and while I do love dogs and horses, I typically just prefer to not have to mess with animals at all!

Favorite ice cream flavor:

Mint chocolate chip.

If you had an extra room in your house, what would you use it for?

A library! This is so needed!! I have full bookshelves and full under-the-bed boxes crammed with books. Sigh. One day . . . .

What is the farthest place from home you’ve ever been?

Mexico on a cruise.

What book are you currently reading?

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, and re-reading (because it’s that great!) Waking the Dead by John Eldredge.

If you were a given a gift card to any restaurant, where would you want to eat?

Cantina Laredo – it’s an amazing gourmet Mexican food restaurant with the best queso in the world!

What was the best birthday present you ever received?

A gift card to Cantina Laredo *wink* Just kidding. I’m not sure, every year I receive so many sweet and heartfelt gifts, it’s hard to decide or pick one. I am so blessed!

When do your best ideas come to you? Early morning or late at night?

In the shower. So whenever that is depending on my day!

What task do you dread doing each week?

Dusting. I. Hate. Dusting. Which is why my counters and furniture look the way they currently do ☺

Giveaway & Facebook Party

 Betsy St. Amant All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes

One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle
  • All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Enter today! The giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the Love & Cupcakes” Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a “sweet” book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

To learn about the story behind All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, go here.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling — Review

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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I don’t know if I’d call myself a Mindy Kaling super fan [but I totally am one]. I didn’t love Kelly Kapoor when I first watched The Office, but she grew on me. When Mindy launched her own show, The Mindy Project, I was SO FREAKING EXCITED. And Mindy has not disappointed me! So, as a Mindy Kaling [super] fan, I HAD to read this book.

First off, I love the cover. Cute, understated, a little off, and a great title. The size of the book is not intimidating, which is always a plus. I found the stories to be incredibly funny and believable. I loved hearing about her interactions with other people of fame–BJ Novak, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wigg, and Will Arnett. I really enjoyed this book! I think it boils down to this–if you’re a fan of Mindy Kaling and her work, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like Mindy [what's wrong with you?], don’t read this because your sense of humor is lacking. My only regret is not buying the enhanced version. I should get on that.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Author Info:

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Thanks to Birchbox #Birchbloggers for my review copy!!

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares — Review

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

Review:

I chose to read The Here and Now for two reasons. First of all, I’m completely in love with the cover. Well done, design team! Secondly, I was interested to see what the Ann Brashares (of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame) would do with this type of book. Initially, I was very bored and disappointed. The early parts of the book seemed clichéd and unoriginal. I was afraid the book would be a generic dystopian novel with nothing to set it apart and no unique plot. Fortunately, I was wrong! The more I read, the more interested I became in The Here and Now. I was surprised and impressed by a few plot twists, and I began to really care about the main characters. This book is SMART in a way I wasn’t expecting. I felt like the environmental aspects of the book were exaggerated to prove a point. I assume the author is concerned about climate change, and this was an interesting way of getting that across. While I really enjoyed The Here and Now, I can’t give it four stars because of the dismal beginning. However, I’d give it a strong 3.5! If you’re a fan of YA Fiction, Dystopian books, Time Travel novels, or Sci-Fi, you’ll like this book!!

Author Info:

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*I received a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett — Review

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

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I liked SO many things about this book. I highlighted more than I EVER have in a book before—amazing quotes! Kate Bassett has an incredible gift. Words and Their Meanings is so well written—I can’t even get over it. This book has the potential to be a runaway bestseller in the YA Fiction market, and I’m sure it will have movie buzz in the future. Anna is a main character in every sense—she’s the star player and other lives revolve around her, but not in typical fashion. Anna is dark, emotional, unstable, honest, immature, and scared. She’s traumatized by the death of Joe (her best friend/bruncle) and believes she is to blame. As a result, she makes herself into a teenage Patti Smith and rebels against all things ‘normal.’ Anna is surrounded by an amazing best friend, a nervous younger sister, a grandpa, and her mom. All the supporting players in Anna’s story are constantly worried about her. The story takes us through Anna’s discovery of secrets—some from Joe, and some from other important characters in her story. Bassett has crafted a beautiful, heart-wrenching, honest tale of grief, love, and finding oneself. I highly recommend Words and Their Meanings to fans of YA Fiction, General Fiction, and stories of working through grief and self-blame. Bassett is an author to keep your eye on. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

Two of my favorite lines:

Art is an accurate statement of the time in which it is made.

 

In the long run, you need to understand that people—even the best people—are always more and less than we imagine.

Book Synopsis from Amazon:

Anna O’Mally is a born writer—gifted, perceptive, headed for the stars. Or she was, until the tragic death of her uncle Joe. He was barely older than Anna herself, and she worshipped the ground he walked on. Best of all, Anna got to live in the glow of knowing that she was the most important person in his world, too.

Anna has promised everyone—her shrink, her parents, her best friend—that Joe’s one-year “deadaversary” will be the end of her period of mourning. But when a strange note suggests that her saintly uncle had deep secrets, Anna stumbles into a chain of events that changes everything she thought she knew about the past, the possibilities of love . . . and origami.

Praise:

“With a compelling voice and evocative prose, Kate Bassett establishes herself as an author to watch.”—Sara Zarr, author of The Lucy Variations and National Book Award winning Story of a Girl

“Bassett’s debut novel scores a hat-trick of literary merit in a strongly crafted and complex plot, deeply drawn characters with palpable grief, and beautifully woven and rich prose.”
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

“A heartbreaking and fantastic debut.”—VOYA 

Book Synopsis from Goodreads:

Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning.

Author’s Info:

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Words and Their Meanings is set to release 9/8/2014. Consider getting it for the YA Fiction fan in your life!

*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Quilts of Love | A GRAND DESIGN – Kindle HDX Giveaway & “Fall into Fall” Facebook Party!

Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, A Grand Design by Amber Stockton. Who hasn’t struggled to let painful memories go and move into God’s healing? You’ll be sure to love this heartfelt and encouraging tale set on historic Mackinac Island.

Celebrate August’s release by entering to win a Kindle from Quilts of Love and RSVPing for the “Fall into Fall” Facebook author chat party.
Quilts of Love Kindle HDX Giveaway, Amber Stockton, A Grand Design

One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX

  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 16th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog. Plus make sure you RSVP to the October 7th author chat party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on October 7th!