Click Date Repeat Again, Personal Tidbits

What have I been up to lately?

It’s been about a month since my last post, so it’s time for some updates . . .

Click Date Repeat Again

CDR #2 is the main reason for my scarcity here and on other social media lately. My plan for June was to buckle down, finish it up, and send it off to my editor on the 24th. Things were moving along nicely until my keyboard conked out, no longer allowing me to type several letters! After hours of troubleshooting, I ordered a new one. Then I took a few days off because it’s extremely difficult to write without the letter A! Thanks to Amazon Prime, I had my new keyboard within 48 hours. However, the day after it arrived, I went to the Scripted Social Author Event in Des Moines, Iowa. Even though I was not a signing author at the event, I had the privilege of being a volunteer. And guess who I got to help with her line…KIM HOLDEN! AHHHH! It was such an AMAZING weekend! When I returned from Iowa, I had a few days to work, and then we welcomed house guests who stayed with us for a several days. Long story short, I ended up sending only about 75% of the book off to my editor on the 24th. But now that the 4th of July weekend is over and the guests are gone, I’ll be wrapping the book up this week.

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This is the first 75% of CDR. I printed it out to reread/edit while I waited for my new keyboard.

Despite my week-long setback, I’m still planning to publish CDR #2 at the end of August. Obviously this could change, but I’m going to do my best to make sure it doesn’t! The cover is being designed this month, so watch for the reveal near the end of July or beginning of August.

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This is what the final 25% looked like before I started working on finishing it up a couple of days ago. I’m making steady progress once again . . .

Click HERE to add Click Date Repeat Again to your to-read list on Goodreads!

New Family Members

As some of you know, we said goodbye to our 17-year-old cat (Hal) a few months ago. Hal was also known as Hugh in Click Date Repeat. 🙂 My husband asked immediately after Hal was gone if I wanted to get a new cat but I just wasn’t ready. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when my kids and I went to the local pet store to purchase a sponge for the hermit crabs. To our surprise, they recently added a new area for cats from local humane societies and shelters. One thing led to another, and . . . we ended up adopting two kittens! Eric (black and white) is 1 year old, and Sebastian is 7 weeks.

Holiday Fun with Family and Friends

It was so much fun spending time with my sister and her kids over the 4th of July weekend! We saw a movie, went to the local 4th of July parade and carnival, celebrated my niece’s birthday, spent some time enjoying a local lake (kayaking, paddle boarding and pedal boating), attended a party, and viewed an awesome fireworks display. Talk about a jam-packed weekend . . .

Book Reviews & Ask KJ

In light of my push to complete Click Date Repeat Again, I’ve had to sacrifice more than just a consistent social media presence. I’m now eight books behind schedule for 2016, and I only expect that number to grow. I do plan to spend a couple of weeks in August getting caught up, but I’m not sure that I’ll have time to write the reviews right away. I will eventually get back to posting at least two reviews a month though. I just can’t promise when.

As for Ask KJ, for which I planned to write a monthly post, that too will return. I’m just not sure when…

Until next time, friends! 🙂

Book Reviews

Time for Books 2016 Review Team

2016 Review Team Badge

One of my favorite things about being a writer is that reading a good book is considered research. That’s one reason why I spend just as much time reading as I do writing. 😉

Last year, I vowed to read and review 21-40 books as a member of Jo Michaels’ 2015 Review Team. Mission accomplished! I read 60 books, and contributed reviews for 43 of them to help the team achieve a grand total of 540 reviews. Holy cow! That’s a lot of reviews!

This year, I have pledged to read and review 41-60 books, which means you can expect four to five reviews from me per month. As always, if you have a book recommendation, please let me know. I am open to any genre, and I especially love books that make me cringe, cry and/or laugh out loud.

I am so excited to be a part of this review team again and look forward to spreading the word about some great reads in 2016!

If you are interested in being part of the Time for Books 2016 Review Team, visit Jo’s blog for details.

Book Reviews

Book Review – Mine: A Love Story by Scott Prussing

I purchased Mine: A Love Story without knowing anything about it because the cover appealed to me. I had recently finished reading You by Caroline Kepnes, so for some reason, I thought this book might be similar. (Deranged person obsesses over someone after one date–something like that.) Turns out, this book is a young adult novel about a young woman and the new relationships she develops during her first year in college. She makes some nice, reliable girlfriends, but runs into some trouble when it comes to the guys (one in particular, rather). As I read this book, I constantly felt like I was waiting for something to happen, and for the most part, nothing I thought was going to happen happened. And nothing particularly dramatic occurred either, which isn’t a bad thing, but I tend to enjoy over-the-top scandal and gut-wrenching heartache.

Memorable Quote:

“A girl’s figure is the one place where B’s or C’s are way better than A’s.”

This is a good, clean YA read with A LOT of references to Taylor Swift. In my opinion, it would be most appropriate for a high schooler.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: 8 Weeks (Time for Love #1) by Bethany Lopez

The opening chapter of this book sucked me in immediately. After a night of heavy drinking, Cal wakes up to find himself naked and in the company of an unfamiliar woman who is also naked. The woman makes her exit almost as soon as Cal realizes she’s there, and he is left wracking his brain, trying to figure out how the hell he let such a “thing” happen. Whether Cal (who has been married to his high school sweetheart Shelly for six years) actually had sex with this mystery woman is unclear at this point, so I was itching to learn all of the details surrounding his infidelity. I was also curious to see how Shelly would react.

I have to be honest, I was not satisfied when Shelly simply stormed off without asking Cal any questions. I certainly would have had questions, as would most women I know. Then to make matters worse, he doesn’t even go after her right away!? It drove me nuts, but not so much that I didn’t want to keep reading.

I loved Cal. (Yeah, I know, he cheated. But I still couldn’t help but have a soft spot for him.) He’s kind, caring, romantic and an all-around good guy. While this made me root for him, it also kept me wondering how a guy like him could have cheated on his wife. (This was bothersome to me throughout the story.) As for Shelly, I just couldn’t relate to the way she hastily decided she wanted a divorce. Who would just walk away after six years of marriage without analyzing the situation? She also does other things, while Cal is trying win her back, that just irritated me and made me feel for the guy even more. So why the 3 1/2 star rating? Because Lopez does a good job of developing these characters and keeping their thoughts and actions consistent. Even though I didn’t agree with the way Shelly handled the situation, I began to understand her.

My favorite thing about this book was the supporting characters. Each of Cal and Shelly’s friends reminded me of someone I know. The relationships between Cal and his friends (Scott and T. J.) and Shelly and her friends (Gaby and Sasha) were realistic, and the dialogue was quite funny at times. Oh, and the banter between T. J. and Sasha? Hilarious. I will be reading 21 Days (#2 in the series) to find out what happens with them.

If you enjoy romance novels laced with a few hot-n-heavy scenes and a bit of humor, then you should check out this book.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: Of Mice and Money by Winifred Morris

Of Mice and Money tells the story of Kiva, a woman in her late thirties who wants to make a clean break from her drug-smuggling husband. After a decade of putting up with his “scary business” and being told things on a “need-to-know” basis, she decides to give up a life of luxury for one that is simpler, quieter, and much safer—or so she thinks. When she finds a place that seems perfect for a fresh start, chaos (and humor) ensues as new and familiar faces begin showing up on her doorstep.

Much of the first half of the book, which was a tad slow but packed with the hilarious inner dialogue of Kiva, is spent setting up the plot and introducing key characters. However, if the author hadn’t done such a thorough job of introducing each character, I’m not sure the second half would have flowed as well as it does. As soon as Kiva’s hippie parents show up, the story really takes off. I finished the book in one sitting from that point on. There were no loose ends by the end, and I felt thoroughly satisfied with how everything shakes out.

I really enjoyed getting to know Kiva, who is funny and likeable despite the mistakes she has made in the past, especially in regards to her daughter. When Amy shows up after not seeing Kiva for four years, their rocky relationship adds a layer of drama that any mother or daughter can probably relate to.

This book sort of reminds me of the popular TV series Weeds. Despite the seriousness of some of the themes in the story (drug dealing, drug use, mother/daughter drama, deadbeat parenting), it is still humorous and quite entertaining. No, Kiva is not a drug dealer like Nancy Botwin in Weeds, but their personalities are quite similar. If you were a fan of Weeds, then this book is right up your alley.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 STARS

Amazon | Goodreads

Book Reviews

Book Review: There Are No Men by Carol Maloney Scott

Claire is a thirty-something divorcee who has ventured back into the dating world. Complications arise due to the fact that she is unable to have children, which she feels eliminates the prospect of finding love with a younger man or anyone who wants children. The first couple of dates she goes on are a result of online dating – these dates offer many laughs and end horribly! On top of meeting men via the Internet, Claire is encouraged by her friend/co-worker to attend Meetup events (which don’t pan out much better than the online dating). Throughout the story, she is torn about her feelings for a younger co-worker as well as a new (also younger) neighbor – both she finds attractive and both are interested in her.

The first half of the story is quite funny. I love Scott’s snappy humor. She also includes a lot great visual language. For example: “He looks like a cross between a little boy who is afraid of the headmistress at the orphanage and a puppy who wants a belly rub.”

A few funny quotes:

“Claire, you’re going out partying when Jesus was nailed to the cross?” – Claire’s mother on going out before Easter.

“Barbie actually looks like a hooker in her hot pink mini dress and stiletto glitter boots…” – Claire’s thoughts on a neighbor girl’s Fashionista Barbie

While I enjoyed all of the humor and getting to know Claire during the first half of the book (although she cries way too much), I felt like the story moved slowly at times. There were several occasions when I skimmed unnecessary details, such as the description of the furniture and bedding in her sister’s apartment and the fact that she picks up a glass of wine and slowly moves to the kitchen to sit down at a table. There was quite a lot of extraneous information like this in the first half. However, as soon as Nathan the “perfect” doctor (yikes!) showed up, I couldn’t stop reading because I really wanted to find out how things would pan out with him. He was so unlikeable that I loved reading about him. Claire blindly focused on his outward appearance while ignoring his MANY controlling and snobbish behaviors, which had me wanting to shake some sense into her. This kept me reading, as well–after all, she had to wise up sooner or later! The introduction of Nathan and Brandon’s character development made me really enjoy the second half.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Ready to Read in 2015

2015 Book Review Team

One of my favorite things about being a writer is that reading a good book can actually be considered research. ; ) This is why I spend just as much time reading as I do writing. As a result, I have written dozens of book reviews, mostly on Amazon up until I recently became a Goodreads member. Starting in 2015, I will also be posting reviews here as a member of Jo Michaels’ 2015 Review Team.

I have pledged to read and review 21-40 books, so you can expect at least two reviews per month. If you have any book recommendations, please let me know. I am open to any genre, and I especially love books that make me cringe, cry and/or laugh out loud. If you are interested in being part of the Time for Books 2015 Review Team, check out Jo’s blog for details.

I am so excited to be a part of this review team and look forward to spreading the word about some great reads in 2015!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Birdbrain by Virginia Arthur

Don’t let the cover of this book fool you. Not only does Birdbrain chronicle a young woman’s path to self-discovery, but it is also thought-provoking in regards to nature and the environment. Virginia Arthur took me on an emotional roller coaster. If you enjoy books that make you laugh, cry, analyze your beliefs, and reflect on relationships, then this one is for you.

The first half focuses a lot on Ellie leaving her husband of six years. She goes back and forth with her decision, driving her best friend Patty crazy. There were times when even I became annoyed with her, but then it occurred to me that I have been in her shoes. In fact, I don’t know many women who haven’t had their hearts broken by emotionally stunted men. The indecision Ellie suffers from is so relatable, and her discussions with Patty about her ex reminded me of so many discussions I have had with friends. I could see myself in both Ellie’s and Patty’s shoes. Despite Ellie’s lingering sadness over the divorce, she is still an extremely endearing character.

If reading about failed-relationship-induced heartache is not your cup of tea, don’t worry, there’s so much more to this book. Ellowyn’s inadvertent journey into the world of bird watching is another theme that will keep you entertained. It begins as something that helps her through the divorce and evolves into a fierce passion for nature. I loved reading about Ellie’s bird watching and about all the eco-related things in this book. In fact, it is doubtful that some of the ideas presented in this book will ever leave my mind or my heart.

Quotes from Birdbrain that I loved:

“if we would only plant a tree when someone dies instead of erecting dead stone monuments…”

“…is calculated freedom really freedom?”

“Materialism was the order of the day in the race to see who could become even more superficial.”

Note to readers: The author was kind enough to provide me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad to have read it. I may even take up bird watching.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

To Read or Not to Read?

When choosing books to read, I rely heavily on reviews. Sure, I also consider covers and blurbs, but in the end, it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Why do I read multiple reviews when choosing a book?

Reading a variety of reviews increases the odds of me choosing a book that I will enjoy. I can’t stand feeling ripped off after investing time in a book that didn’t impress me, even if I got it for free.

Another reason I read reviews is simply for enjoyment. To be honest, I’ve come across a lot of reviews that are more entertaining than some of the books I’ve read! (Check out the one- and two-star reviews for Fifty Shade of Grey to see for yourself.)

Review Snippet

What do I consider when looking at reviews?

Breakdown of Ratings – I understand that people like different things. As my stepmother always says, “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.” With that in mind, I never dismiss a book simply because it has one- and two-star reviews. However, if more than 50 percent of a book’s reviews are lower than three, I won’t read it unless a Goodreads friend with similar reading interests gave it a positive review.

Length – I ignore one-sentence reviews that give zero insight into why specific ratings were chosen. I at least need to understand why a person liked or disliked a book. Did it move too slowly? Was the dialogue realistic? Did it end with a cliffhanger?

Mention of Typos – If a reviewer mentions the need for more editing, I generally won’t read a book. I can handle a few errors, but if there are so many that a reviewer feels the need to mention them, I am likely to pass. I might make an exception if I notice that the author has responded (in a non-combative way) to the reviewer asking for help locating the typos or simply stating that the errors have been/will be rectified. I’ve even seen authors offer to provide a refund to reviewers who mentioned being distracted by typos. Seeing authors reach out in this way tells me that they are passionate about providing the best possible reading experience to customers.

Disclosures – If a reviewer mentions being provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I take the review seriously. The fact that someone is disclosing this in the first place tells me that the review is likely to be genuine.

Reviewer History – If a book doesn’t have very many reviews (or if a particular review strikes me as bogus), I investigate the histories of reviewers. On Amazon, this can be done by clicking on a reviewer’s name. In most cases, I can tell if someone’s review is genuine based on his review history. For example, if someone has only completed one book review (for the book I’m trying to decide on), then his opinion doesn’t mean much to me.

Is Amazon my only source for book reviews?

No, but it is the source I refer to most. If a book has very few reviews on Amazon, I also check to see what people have said on Goodreads and certain book blogs. I have seen books with only a few reviews on Amazon and dozens of reviews on Goodreads, and vice versa.

How important are book reviews to you when deciding what to read?