Review + Giveaway: Robin’s Reward

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Title: Robin’s Reward
Author: June McCrary Jacobs
Release Date: April 2015
Length: 290 pages
Series?: Bonita Creek Trilogy #1
Genre: Romance, Religion

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 

Bonita Creek’s librarian Robin Bennett is heartbroken after being abandoned by her husband, Thomas. The mysterious and handsome Jeff Clarke arrives unexpectedly and touches Robin’s life with his wit and warmth. Then, without warning, Jeff’s harsh words and abrasive actions scare her off, and Robin’s hope of finding true love withers again.

Just when it seems Robin and Jeff might have a future, Susan Stinson, whose cruel taunting has plagued Robin since they met as young teens, decides Jeff should be hers, not Robin’s. Susan’s anger and jealousy escalate dangerously. Her vindictiveness threatens the foundation of Jeff and Robin’s young relationship.

Robin’s journey through the peaks and valleys of her life meanders along the twists and turns of new challenges. Is a relationship which began with both parties harboring secrets destined to survive? Can they move past their troubles and the obstacles in their path to find love and happiness together? When their pasts rear their ugly heads, Jeff and Robin must use their faith to remain strong and true. But will it be enough for them to embrace a life of love, trials, and blessings . . . together?

***** Review *****

I’ve discussed before how I do not like religious, preachy reads. After a ways into the book, I thought that was were it was headed and I got a little frustrated. I liked this book, and I felt it was going to be ruined with the preacher soapbox.

Not quite. Yes, there are religious tones to this book and the two main characters. In dialogue they converse about their faith. It was not enough to put me off completely. I found some of these instances a little forced in terms of the writing, in an eyeroll kind of way.

In terms of plot, I thought the book was well planned and it flowed nicely. There weren’t any strange breaks or weird transitions. I know after reading the synopsis, it’s like, what? He was mean, and now they have a future together???

Robin Bennett has lived in Bonita Creek since she was a teen, after the untimely death of her mother. Her father just could not handle life without his wife, or raising a child. Robin was left in the care of her grandparents, and inherited from them. She now resides in their cottage and has put a lot of time and love into the gardens her grandfather loved.

Everything Robin touches flourishes. All of the gardens at the cottage produce food or flowers that she shares with the community and church. The town’s library is almost functioning fully on it’s on budget solely through fundraisers, donations and grants.

Bonita Creek is a located in the picturesque coastal mountains of Northern California, and is a small town. Walk everywhere. Everybody knows everybody kind of thing. Gossip through the grapevine. The church and barber shop are focal points. Community is highly promoted in this town. This novel spans an entire year in time, from start to finish.

March. Spring break. The library is closed for two weeks, so Robin is working hard in her yard and gardens. Cue newcomer Jeff Clarke. He’s handsome and mysterious. Anytime conversation takes a turn toward anything related to him, he steers it off and away. He does not want to reveal to anyone why he is in town, and he slowly becomes immersed in the life of Bonita Creek. After discovering Robin’s identity, he cranks up the asshole moves and leaves Robin baffled and hurt.

The barber shop. Oh, how I love barber shops and little old men gossiping. Let me tell you, there are some men (ahem, Dad!) who are so nosy and gossip more than a woman! The barber shop is where Jeff goes to gather vital information he needs for his work after  things just don’t add up right and he’s left with quite a few unanswered questions. There are only two scenes in the barbershop, and in both Robin was highly promoted and discussed. I thought this was a little unrealistic, but whatever. I loved the barber shop scenes anyway.

Nobody bothers to question Jeff or ask why he’s moved to town. They just make their own small town assumptions that he’s there in good faith, and for good reasons. Until he’s presented at a city council meeting meant to destroy one vital part of the town. Unfortunately, things do not go according to the city manager’s plans. Now Jeff is free to pursue Robin and see if she’s really the woman for him.

There are just two problems.

Robin has serious trust issues after the dissolution of her first marriage.

And there’s this crazy lady who is living in a warped reality. Susan Stinson. She is seriously whacko. After one date right after he move to town, and Jeff adamantly making it clear he did not want to go out with her ever again, she thinks they’re about to get engaged. A lot of bizaare things start happening to Robin, and they get progressively worse…especially the mysterious present that is delivered by courier for her wedding shower.

Overall, I thought Robin’s Reward was a great start to this trilogy. Gee, I wonder who the next two books could be about. 😉 The setting is wonderful, and filled with enough description and focus that it’s not overbearing or underdone. There is a fairly large cast of characters and they all serve a purpose. I enjoyed the book and the characters, and even the inspirational religious portion, but at certain times (particularly toward the end) I felt that there were some things that were a little contrived, especially in the dialogue between characters. I felt there were sometimes unnecessary things said to aid the reader, when it wasn’t needed at all.

I liked Robin’s character the best, besides perhaps Pastor White. The world needs more Pastor Whites. I felt multiple connections to Robin’s character. I could identify how she felt about keeping a connection to her grandparents, and keeping the gardens up. I also fully understand the vulnerability and insecurities that Robin still carries with her after her first marriage, and how all of that went down. Been there, experienced that, except without the being married part. Reading Robin’s character as a woman, this is spot-on. Jacobs did an exceptional job developing Robin’s character and creating the internal dialogue Robin has with herself.

However, there was one major thing that really rankled me about this book. Susan Stinson. Susan’s everything is just way over the top. We’re talking requires serious medical mental health attention. First, if she was such a bully all through high school to three people in particular in the town (Robin and her two best friends), how come it didn’t arise to anyone’s attention? Especially the attention of those within the church? Second, how could she go on this long – nearly ten years after high school ended – doing things to this degree to others (in a small town!) and nothing happened before? Nobody noticed her behavior, nobody pressed charges, nobody interfered? Third, Susan’s confessions to her crimes was just too easy. If she was as crazy as her antics suggest, there’s no way she would have confessed, from a mental stand point. These particular things about Susan’s character and place in Bonita Creek really did not jive well with me. It’s obvious she is the villain and the antagonist, but there were a few areas where she was underdeveloped.

***** About the Author *****

June McCrary Jacobs

Award-winning author, June McCrary Jacobs, was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’. ‘Robin’s Reward’ is her first full-length novel, and is set in her favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the ‘Bonita Creek Trilogy’.

June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and blogs in the past few years. When she’s not writing, reading, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, and visiting art and history museums. She also enjoys touring historic homes and gardens and strolling around the many historic Gold Rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In the summertime you can find June at a variety of county fairs and the California State Fair admiring the sewing projects, quilts, and handiwork other inspired seamstresses, quilters, craftspeople, and artists have created.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

*****GIVEAWAY*****

TWO signed copies of ‘Robin’s Reward’

Contest ends May 31. US only.

Click here to enter!

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WWW Wednesdays (April 29)

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This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading. To join in, click on the image above, and answer these three questions: 

What are you currently reading? 

 

I started reading Friends for Life, about bulldog Bo and Chihuahua Rico, who are both kidnapped from the petshop and spend their days on the streets. It’s a very interesting read, and shows the complexities of their emotions.

What did you just finish reading?

18375962I DNFed The Rescue Team. The writing was too…pretentious, I guess is the best word. As readers, we don’t need every single little thing broken down for us. It got boring really quickly.

What do you think you’ll read next?

 Isn’t it pretty?

Her (not very) Serene Highness Princess Tiana tries her best not to think about the dark lords ravaging her country or how the magic in her bloodline makes her family go mad. The descendant of a legendary hero, she prefers bringing the myths of old to life on the theater stage, not on the battlefield.

Then a rash of suspicious deaths strikes the Regents —trusted advisors, friends, and guides to her troubled royal family —and the Noble’s Council tries to cover it all up. Tiana is determined to get to the bottom of the murders and the conspiracy, even if that means making a dangerous pact with a telepathic demon trapped in a magical sword. But he may just be the edge she needs to save the people she loves.

 

How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog OR the link to your WWW Wednesdays post. Happy Reading! 🙂

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: The Tale of Willaby Creek

I’m excited to share the cover reveal of The Tale of Willaby Creek by Victoria Lindstrom! This is a middle grade adventure fantasy that releases in June 2015.

 

About the Book:

A magical tale of amazing sacrifice…When a violent windstorm strikes an enchanted rain forest many of the woodland creatures of Willaby Creek are stranded, injured, or lost forever to the frenzied force of the tempest. Basil, a black bear full of doubt and fear, becomes the unlikely leader to head the woodland creatures’ rescue. He is joined by Daphne, a spunky blue dryad; Oliver, a wise horned owl; Elbert, a noble elk; and a host of other creatures that inhabit the enchanted rain forest.Dangerous twists and turns in this animal adventure fantasy cause Basil to discover a courage, and a conviction, he never knew he had. The answers to the ancient mysteries in this magical tale emerge in an extraordinary finale under the tall timbers of the hidden hinterland.

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About the Author:

VICTORIA LINDSTROM is a full-time writer, a voracious reader, and the author of the children’s picture book, The Scandinavian Santa. She loves to wander through the woods, capture the beauty of Nature in photographs, and visit museums and fine art galleries. She and her husband, Michael, live near the shore of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. You may visit Victoria at: www.victorialindstrom.com

 

Giveaway:One hardcover copy of The Tale of Willaby Creek (US) and an ebook of The Tale of Willaby Creek (INT)

(Books will be delivered upon release, or shortly before.)

Ends May 19, 2015

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: Bing & Nero

Title: Bing & Nero: Boy+Robot=Fun
Author: I.L. Williams
Publisher: Northern Phoenix
Release Date: March 2014
Length: 36 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s lit

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

The perfect story for every child who has ever wanted their own robot.” Share a day with an inventive young boy in a story that celebrates creativity, friendship and fun! Bing wants a dog. But his mother says a dog is out of the question. Whats a young boy in need of a friend to play with on a boring Saturday morning to do? Why, make his own friend! And what a friend his new creation is! The product of Bings rich imagination and household junk from the basement, Nero is a metallic wonder. From the moment he is switched on, the house is filled with fun! And when they take to the sky for a late afternoon flight, boy and robot are in for a joyous ride that celebrates their friendship.

***** Review *****

Bing is the cutest little nerd ever.

He’s one lonely little guy and wants a friend. He knows his hopes of getting a dog are not going to happen, so he decides on the next best thing. A robot!

In a flurry of creativity and ingenuity, he builds Nero, who brings so much fun to Bing’s life.

The illustrations are what really make this book and the story of Bing and Nero come to life.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Featuring Characters Who Have Moxie

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists. For the list of past topics and future schedule, click here.

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Top Ten Books Featuring Characters Who Have Moxie

In high school, my theatre teacher required our class to read the play and then watch the film adaptation of Lost in Yonkers. It was a story that stuck with me. So, what’s moxie? Well, I’ll let Uncle Louie explain it.

The characters I selected today are characters who have moxie. They’re spunky. The kids that typically don’t quite fit the mold. They’re a square trying to be forced into a circle cut-out. It just won’t work. They are who they are and they don’t apologize for it.

Punky Brewster

I would be remiss if I did not include the first character I ever thought to have moxie (of course, after I learned what moxie was). Punky Brewster is one of those characters who is definitely an outside-of-the-box type of person. She’s fun. And funny. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with her?

 

Pippi Longstocking

Right behind, or perhaps hand-in-hand with Punky, is none other than the red-headed freckle face of Pippi Longstocking. She lives in Villa Villekulla with no one around telling her what to do. She is an independent spirit with enthusiasm for the outrageous. She has a horse that lives on her porch and a monkey named Mr. Nilsson.

 

 Huckleberry Finn 

Huck Finn is one of those characters that never leaves my mind. He often had to use his wits in a resourceful way to get out of scrapes. The moral growth he undergoes by being Jim’s friend and how he stands by him is moxie. He says “screw you, white men, this man is good, and he is my friend” in a time when it was sacrilegious to say something so bold. You’re a good boy, Huck Finn.

 Amelia Becket

Lady Lockwood does not care for her marriage. She does not care so much that her husband has died an ocean away. She’s never met the man. Married by proxy at the hand of her father, she is content to live the secluded life of a widow on her Jamaican plantation and continue life without being bothered. Until Captain William Drake, her brother-in-law, shows up demanding she travel to England to settle the lawsuit he has brought against her father, a prominent figure in the British Navy. Right from the start he is cold and rude. Instead of turning tail and hiding, Amelia immerses herself into ship life. She helps out everywhere she can. You can read more from my review here.

 

Loralee Munroviel

She is a strong, creative, loving and resilient character. She is a problem-solver, even in the face of adversary. She is punished for falling in love. She has a sister that would just as soon stab her in the chest to get what she wants. She is banished to an island as the the Keeper of the dragons. She forgives when the very man at the root of her problems washes up to shore. You can read more of my review here.

Pru Anderson

I could still hear my father’s voice, cool and cutting. You won’t last a month in Los Angeles. Mark my words, you’ll be back in Oregon before you know it. Well, ha ha on him, I’d lasted two months now. And ha ha on me, because I didn’t know if I could last a third.

Pru is blessed to be invited into Ellen’s home after a devastating fire. It brings Pru out of her shell, out of her comfort zone, and in close contact and quarters with others. She’s starting to like people. Starting to really like Adam. And then her super crazy and domineering parents swoop in and seriously do some cray cray stuff. Pru has to stand up for what she believes in, and for herself, when everything around her is crumbling down and people turn their backs on her. Read more here.

 May Dodd 

Oh, the journals of May Dodd. May explains how she landed in an asylum – placed there at the hands of her own family. But one day two people show up to the asylum seeking volunteers to lend themselves to the U.S. government as brides for the Indians, in a back-door, hush-hush operation. She signs up and one-ups her snooty family. However, after the first shipment of wives are sent, the government turns their backs on the women. May is left as the wife of the Cheyenne chief, and teach them to survive after the buffalo have gone. You can read more of my review here.

 Alice Harrison

As a character, Alice has many dimensions and facets. She comes from an odd background, and she continues to pay for her father’s transgressions. The man can’t look in the mirror and see the evil that he is, the evil that he’s done – which Alice is a product of. Even in a large city, Alice is on the run from her father and his goonies. She drags Seth and his family and her sister along this path until there is nowhere to run any more. Alice must make a choice, and it could still cost her something even more precious than she’s already lost. My review is here.

 Molly Lee 

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her. She sets off in search of Huck Finn, who saved her and her family. What she gets is so much more. Molly Lee is a gritty woman who makes no qualms about who she is or what she does. She is not whimsical or romantic. She’s a realist and a hard woman.

 

 

 Harry Potter

Harry has some serious moxie. He never gives up. Not even in the face of death. While he is chasing down and unraveling secrets of the past he simultaneously has to evade or confront Voldemort. His life is nothing in the way of ease. One thing I realized after reading is that Harry pretty much tries to do the right (and moral, just) thing even in the face of adversary. The world needs more people like him.

Guest Post: Writing Historical Fantasy

Recently I reviewed Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy, which I enjoyed very much. Think vodoo in New Orleans in 1955 with one teenage girl who makes a few problems for herself. Or you can read my review here. 🙂 Anyway, author Karen Kincy is gracing us today with a guest post about writing historical fiction, pertaining to Deadly Delicious.

Writing Historical Fantasy

Karen Kincy

Historical fantasy is an amazing genre to read, like a sandwich layered with old worlds and imaginary ones, but also a really tough genre to write. How did I cook up my own recipe for historical fantasy? Some tricks I learned from Deadly Delicious:

Scour used bookstores for research

Deadly Delicious takes place in an alternate 1955 Missouri, since the real one never had magic or cake-eating zombies. When I did research, I discovered a goldmine in used bookstores: vintage cookbooks. Full of fantastic historical recipes. Deadly Delicious has recipes like:

PERFECT PICKLE LOAF

Useful for curing lovesickness of every kind, the Perfect Pickle Loaf is also a tidy way to fashion pork leftovers into a daintier confection. Green olives are a must, as they will add immensely to the handsomeness and flavor of this dish.

“Pickle loaf” is a nicer way of saying, “head cheese,” which is a nicer way of saying, “boiling a pig’s head and then mixing all the meaty bits with gelatin.” It’s not hard to look at a gross recipe in an old cookbook and think of how a witch might make it magic, like curing lovesickness.

Warning: collecting vintage cookbooks can make you ravenously hungry, especially if you find one on 1950’s desserts! (I did. I bought it.)

Check words on the Google Ngram Viewer

A few times, I wasn’t sure how Josephine would say something back in 1955. She couldn’t really say “awesome!” or “whatever,” the same way we do, since those words didn’t have the same meaning they do today. Instead, I wanted to include some 1950’s slang.

Super Duper
Google Ngram Viewer of SUPER-DUPER

The Google Ngram Viewer is an online tool (https://books.google.com/ngrams) that graphs the popularity of phrases (one or more words long) from 1800 until 2000, searching through a giant collection of books that Google has scanned into a corpus of data.

Josephine could totally say “super-duper doughnuts.” The word super-duper was the most popular in 1944, but still pretty popular in 1955. While editing Delicious, I needed to check if out of this world was used back in the 50’s; that’s a tricky phrase, because originally out of this world was a nicer way to say somebody had kicked the bucket.

I double-checked at the Online Etymology Dictionary (www.etymonline.com), and the sense of out of this world as “surpassing, marvelous” was first recorded in 1928. And “out of this world!” with the exclamation mark was really popular during 1955, according to the Google Ngrams. That means Josephine’s mama cooks food that’s “out of this world.”

Anyway…

It’s probably pretty obvious why I love writing historical fantasy: the research, old books, and older words. I definitely got carried away sometimes while writing Deadly Delicious, but at least now I have a lot of great ideas for a sequel!


 

About the Author

Karen - author photo2 (1)Karen Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


 

About the Book

Title: Deadly Delicious
Author: K.L. Kincy
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 270 pages
Series?: no
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Twelve-year-old Josephine DeLune can’t take the heat this sweltering summer of 1955, and she was out of the kitchen long ago.

An awful cook, she ruins recipes left and right, and she certainly can’t compete with her family’s reputation for extraordinary food. Her daddy’s parents ran one of the best restaurants in all of Paris, but Josephine lives in Paris, Missouri. On her mama’s side, she’s up against a long tradition of sinfully delicious soul food. Rumor has it, her Creole ancestors cooked up some voodoo to make tasty even tastier. Josephine knows the secret ingredient: she comes from a long line of conjure witches with spellbinding culinary skills.

Disenchanted, Josephine works as a carhop at Carl and Earl’s Drive-In. Just plain old hamburgers, hot dogs, and curly fries, nothing magical about them. She’s got bigger fish to fry, though, when a grease fire erupts into a devilish creature who hisses her name with desire. Turns out he’s the Ravenous One, the granddaddy of all voodoo spirits, and he’s hungry for her soul. Josephine thinks he’s got the wrong girl-she’s no witch-but a gorgeous, dangerous night-skinned lady named Shaula sets her straight. Josephine is one of the most powerful witches alive, so overflowing with conjure that her out-of-control cooking simply catches fire.

Josephine would love to laugh this off, but Shaula warns her that she must learn to master her magic before the Ravenous One devours her soul. Spurred into action, Josephine breaks out her grandma’s old conjure cookbook and starts cooking. Nothing grand, just the usual recipes for undying friendship and revenge. But soon Josephine can’t escape the consequences of her conjure. When the people of Paris start turning into zombies with a strange fondness for cake, Josephine looks pretty responsible for their undead reawakening…

Sunday Post (April 26)

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AAAHH! State testing is now behind us! Hallelujah!

It is the week that teachers look like this:

 And yes, my students think this:

HAHA. They get a grade every day for the rest of the year. 7th Grade Boot Camp begins with book clubs and amped up writing projects. They think I’m lying when I tell them next year will be hard. Ahhh.

I’m already starting to plan for next year, rearranging some things and adding new things that we can now cover because someone somewhere finally got smart and moved our state testing to the end of May. I’m hoping next year is much more streamlined.

That thing I was excited to share with y’all a while back but couldn’t yet…well, it fell through.

 

~ Last Week on G1000W ~

 

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Guest Post ~ Writing Historical Fantasy by Karen Kincy
  • Top Ten Tuesday ~ Characters Who Have Moxie
  • Review ~ Bing & Nero
  • Cover Reveal + Giveaway ~ The Tale of Willaby Creek
  • WWW Wednesdays
  • Review + Giveaway ~ Robin’s Reward
  • Feature Follow Friday

 

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~