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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Uncovering Cobbogoth Hannah Clark *Review Blog Tour Stop*

Hello all :3! As you can see from the nifty banner above, I'm part of Hannah Clark's Uncovering Cobbogoth Blog Tour with Book Nerd Tours, and today I'll be sharing my thoughts on the novel. 

If you want to check out the other stops and/or check out the schedule, just click the banner :). (Told you it was nifty.)


Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister. 

When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own?

*I received a PDF copy from Cedar Fort in exchange for an honest and fair review.*

Uncovering Cobbogoth is a tale of delightful creativity, an immersion into a world where myths—particularly Icelandic myths—aren't actually myths, but reality. Its potential is truly staggering.

If you aren't familiar with Celtic/Icelandic mythology (or uh...any mythology...sort of like me...), don't shy away from giving Uncovering Cobbogoth a chance; it's a neat story, and you might enjoy it more than you thought you would.


The beginning was a little bumpy. The pacing was a bit slower than I wanted it to be, the 'suspense' and 'mystery' were often more aggravating than intriguing, and some scenes were just plain confusing. In fact, one of the greatest challenges Uncovering Cobbogoth largely failed to overcome was that of 'extraneous sceneage'. 

There were several scenes overrun with details that neared the entertainment level of uber boring and that had (seemingly) no significant connection to the plot. They could've been obliterated from the novel, and it would be just fine. Another thing I took issue with was the flashbacks.

The. Many. Flashbacks. -_-

As I hinted at above so eloquently, flashbacks were used too often for my taste. Worse, I felt that they weren't really worth reading half the time because they were extraneous and/or boring. When I first started getting into the novel I was interested in them—like maybe the first three or four. But I wasn't feeling it for the next ten or so.

By the time I reached the middle it got pretty good, though—the pacing evened out, the flashbacks dissipated almost entirely, and the plot was fairly gripping (if predictable in some parts if you were paying attention).

As for the characters, I generally enjoyed them and found them relateable. The one character I couldn't seem to get along with was, ironically, Norah. I really wanted to like this protagonist because she had so much to offer, but I ended up liking her potential character more than her actual character. 

...Yeah, it was kind of weird...

I think the author tried to make some of Norah's quirks and abilities come out in a kind of literary slow blossom (though only somewhat effectively), so I don't want to spoil by giving them away—part of the fun is in figuring them out as time progresses, right?—but I will say that Norah was given a strange combination of traits that made her unusually fascinating, and there was so much potential. So much.

But I quickly discovered Norah was not going to be a character that I could connect with deeply. Or like. (And thus the gap between potential and reality widened.)

I'll be frank: characters who land themselves in stupid situations because the author seemingly needs a next step and it needs to be somewhat plausible? Not flattering. I find it difficult to relate to and/or respect a character that has a brain but struggles to use it too often. Norah does have moments of brilliance, but given how people describe her (gifted, bright/smart), I expected her to act more in accordance with such descriptions than she did.

Overall, Uncovering Cobbogoth is a fun read, even if a bit melodramatic on occasion. I loved the ideas and the imagination behind the creation of this world; it's brilliant. Honestly. Although I was expecting more out of this work because of its vast potential, I'm still happy to have read it—both as a reader and as a writer—and I recommend it to those who particularly enjoy tales with mythological origins/flair.

Final Verdict:

About the Author:

Hannah L. Clark lives with her husband and their son in the Rocky Mountains. She has always known she would be a storyteller. In 2006 she graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in English, and immediately began writing Uncovering Cobbogoth.
Hannah loves running, mythology, laughing, soulful bluegrass music, and growing things. Like her heroine, Norah, she is slightly inclined to believe that trees have souls. 
To learn more about Hannah and the Cobbogoth series, visit

Pinterest | YouTube
| Website |

About the Illustrator:

Rebekah G. Shakespear lives with her husband and two sons in Texas. She received a double degree in Graphic-Web and Print Design from Henry Ford Community College in Michigan. 
Bekah loves being a mom, photography, illustrating, refinishing furniture, organizing and being related to the author, for whom she has held a long abiding love and admiration for since before Hannah was even born.  

1 Winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card+a pair of Woven Gemstone Ear Cuffs from Heather Jordan Jewelry.

Open Internationally. Must be 13+ to enter. 

**Apologies to BNT and Hannah Clark for failing to have the correct tour banner at the time of the original post and for not putting up the giveaway on the original post!**

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Art of Lainey Paula Stokes *Book Blast and Giveaway*

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work!  But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with, if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

About the Author
Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at or on Twitter as @pstokesbooks.

| Website |

2 Winners will receive a Copy of The Art of Lainey + Swag by Paula Stokes.

INTL Giveaway. Must be 13+ to enter.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thoughts on Barbara Ehrenreich's Spiritual Journey

A couple of weeks ago, I read a set of interview highlights for the promotion of Ehrenreich's newest work, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything, that caused me to consider her perspective at length. (You can read the first interview/set of highlights I read here.) 

First off, I want to say that no, I haven't changed my mind about Jesus. However, I did take the time to really ponder her statements beyond the surface. Many people, in their own way (and words), respond to a different set of beliefs by saying something like this: 'Oh, she/he doesn't believe what I believe? Well that's dumb and she/he's wrong and my belief is better!'

Rather than doing that, I've acknowledged her perspective, respected it, and responded to it by concluding that I disagree. So...why write a post about it?

Well, we all search for something at one point or another, whether that something is truth or love or freedom, etc. We can all relate to Ehrenreich's struggle to comprehend herself, the universe around her, and her place in it. I'm sharing this, in part, because we all search, and we should all search. (Yes, let me repeat that: I am shamelessly declaring that you should search out Truth.)

I'm also posting this because I want to offer my own adolescent journey and conclusions as a contrast to Ehrenreich's journey and conclusions up to this point in both of our lives...and I desire that what I have to say will also be considered deeply.

Three major points about my journey: 1) My family did not offer me spiritual guidance; 2) I had an urge in my heart that couldn't be squelched, and questions that demanded answers, so I searched for Truth with claimed openness and willingness to change; 3) I found Truth (or, better phrased, Truth revealed 'Itself' to me and I accepted it as Truth).

Ehrenreich's journey (forgive the simplification): 1) She was a part of a generational 'legacy' that denounced Christ, though perhaps saying the legacy denounced Christianity as a valid way to live is more accurate; 2) She mused about reality and had questions that demanded answers, so she searched for Truth with claimed openness and willingness to change; 3) She did not find Truth (or, better phrased, she perhaps encountered Truth and denied it as Truth).

When I read the interview(s), I was confused about a number of things, but what really confused and grieved me was the fact that she said she searched for  decades  for Truth. I searched for 6 years. Legitimately—with dedicated pursuit and openness—for maybe 2-3. Again, my family did not offer me spiritual guidance. Before I became a Christian, I was an Atheist, too. Then an Agnostic. Then a near-Wiccan (I became a Believer just before heading onto that path).

So what happened with Ehrenreich? Why didn't she find what she was looking for?

Ah. But maybe, in a way, she did find what she was looking for.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There Will Come a Time Carrie Arcos *Review*

**I received an arc via On The Same Page--@galsonthesamepg--(formerly Literary Lushes) ARC Tours in exchange for an honest and fair review**

This is going to be a rave-tastic review because man, was this novel brilliant. 

My sentiments toward There Will Come a Time can be summed up in one sentence: I LOVED IT. Arcos delivers everything a reader is looking for in a novel: from the characters and plot to the theme, it's compelling, relatable, and believable (and funny...and heartwarming...).

I enjoyed virtually everything about this book. The plot is fascinating, following a somewhat dual storyline that switches off between The Accident and The Present. I loved the idea of the Top 5 list as a plot device to move Mark forward, and the dash of romantic interest was a nice touch. 

And the CHARACTERS! Gah. I love when you can stand in a virtual room with a cast of characters and actually meet them. Arcos shaped her characters so well that I can picture each of them as well as hear their voices—and this still holds true as I write this review (I read this novel about a month ago :/ and due to external circumstances didn't write the review until now). Connecting with them was easy.

That said, I particularly felt a kinship with Mark. His voice is so easy to resonate with. It's laid back with just a touch of seriousness and a somewhat reverent, heartfelt sense of honesty...and as someone who suffers from PTSD, I found Mark's experiences and viewpoints to be especially cathartic. Arcos really Got It—the fact that PTSD isn't logical (and yet, in many ways, is), that the people around those who suffer from it really struggle with and largely fail in understanding it, and that it's just as baffling to the one suffering from the ailment as everyone else around him/her.

I appreciated Arcos' ability and willingness to explore the subjects of grief, suffering, and loss with honesty and compassion. I'm a total sucker for redemptive themes in action :)!

The only thing I found slightly unrealistic/bothersome was the time frame of Mark's recovery. Of course I realize that he isn't “fully recovered” by the end of the novel; “full recovery” is an impossibility. It's wonderful that Mark comes to accept and properly grieve the loss of his twin sister by the end of the novel because this is what the synopsis hints at with the glimmer of promise. However, I thought the pacing of that recovery toward the second half of the book was a bit rushed. (It was still enjoyable, though!)

Bottom line: If you're looking for a phenomenal read that's refreshing, funny, evocative, poignant, piercing, and/or cathartic, I *highly* recommend 
There Will Come a Time.

Final Verdict: 

Goodreads |

About the Author

I live in Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, to be specific, though I can’t claim myself a native. Not many can. I’m from Albany, NY–which means I’m Italian and Irish on Dad’s side and English on Mom’s side. And most of the time this information may seem incidental, except that people tell me I feel more East coast than West. What they are trying to politely say is that I at times exhibit the New Yorker sass or attitude. This is fine by me.

I married a handsome Latino man, hence the last name. We have three children: boy, girl, boy. All have curly hair. All want to be artists someday.

I have worked as a sandwich designer, health food connoisseur, tutor, refugee resettler, citizenship instructor, and camp director. But the best job, other than writing, has been that of a teacher. I taught High School English and coached Cross Country and Track for a few years in primarily urban environments, and man, I miss those kids. Although it was always a little rough to get through early American literature because there was a piece we had to read with the word seaman in it. The boys lost it every time.

I ended up getting my masters in English and Creative Writing, which really was an excuse to write. But this eventually allowed me to teach college students. My husband was happy until he realized that there really isn’t any money in it, and I should go back to teaching high school, but not many schools will let you work part-time.

I love teaching college students. They’re kind of like high school students, but older.

I’m represented by the lovely Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency and am a member of SCWBI. I’m also a National Book Award finalist for young people’s literature, which is pretty awesome for my first book! 

You know when you’ve wanted something for a long time and then it happens? What do you do with that? Say thank you.

You can find out more about Carrie on...

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