Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies Review

I have always loved to read. I was sick a lot as a kid and every time that I stayed home sick from school, I would curl up on the couch with a stack of my favorite books and just read one after the other, all day long. I discovered “chick lit” in college and like that genre, but I have always loved YA {Young Adult} novels. I particularly like YA Series, because once I connect with characters I always have a hard time saying goodbye! That’s why I was so excited to have the chance to review the first book in a brand new series- Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies.

Dark Hope- Book One of the Archangel Prophecies - Book Cover

About the book:

For years, Hope Carmichael, survivor of a shocking child abduction, has lived a sheltered existence under the protection of her fanatically religious father. Now, liberated by her mother, Hope prepares to start life over as a normal kid in an Atlanta, Georgia, high school.

Normal, that is, until Hope meets Michael, a gorgeous emancipated teen with a mysterious past and a strong interest in Hope. And soon, Hope’s life is filled with questions. What’s behind the angry looks Hope gets from Lucas, leader of a gang of students? Who’s responsible for sending Hope a strange valentine inscribed with Bible quotations? How does this relate to the sinister business of human trafficking that operates on the periphery of Hope’s suburban world? And is Michael really a protector, or something more sinister—and just why does he seem so familiar?

In an epic narrative that takes readers from the back streets of Atlanta to the height of Vegas penthouses and beyond, Dark Hope introduces readers to The Archangel Prophecies, a new young adult saga that blends the feeling of Twilight with a vast mythological scope and moral urgency, as well as to Hope Carmichael—a young woman instantly memorable for her endurance, heart, and determination—and Michael, Hope’s dangerous companion who’s fated either to save Hope—or to kill her.

So what did I think of the book? I couldn’t put it down! When I am picking up a new series, it typically takes me a few chapters to really get into it. This was not a typical book in that way- I was hooked from the very first page. It starts off with a horrific, gruesome scene that took place in the past, and then skips ahead to the present where Hope, the victim, is about to make a huge change in her life.

While the book is heavy with mythology, the character of Hope seems like your everyday teenager- in a very relatable way. I could see a bit of my teenage self in her- although maybe not quite so sheltered, and without the whole, child abduction thing.

It’s very fitting to me that the book’s summary makes a mention of Twilight, because that’s the best way to describe it. It really is like Twilight but with an Archangel instead of a vampire. That said, it’s not a rip-off, either- it stands on its own! {Fun fact about author Monica McGurk: She received the 2013 Twific Fandom “Undiscovered Gem” award for Morning Star, her alternate ending to the Twilight series, written before the release of Breaking Dawn.}

If you’re looking for a great book, be sure to check out Dark Hope! You can find it at a bookstore near you or on Amazon {it’s also available on Kindle}. The book is the first in a trilogy so keep an eye on the author’s Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more info on books 2 & 3!

Do you like YA novels?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Great Summer Reading: “All the Pieces” by Mary E. Kingsley

I love to read, and am always working on some book or another. I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like though, so sometimes I like to read shorter stories, or novellas. They’re longer than actual “short stories”, but not quite as long as a typical novel. I recently read Mary E. Kingsley’s novella “All the Pieces” and absolutely loved it!

All The Pieces A Novella by Mary E Kingsley

About the novella:

Sometimes there are stories floating around about things that happened a long time ago, which nobody can explain. When eight-year-old Anna Lee takes off running one day, fleeing a painful scene and seeking refuge from her family’s lingering grief, she unknowingly brings to the surface some questions that this small, southern Appalachian community had long ago buried.

Who was the stranger that appeared at the midwife’s door one distant winter’s night and disappeared again silently, leaving a mystery that had remained for over a generation? Who was the child that was born with eyes the color of a harvest moon, that only wanted to sing, and the boy that would grow to love her beyond himself? What was the reason for the brutal murder in the woods that left one man dead, another sentenced to life in prison and a young woman to die months later, without ever uttering another word? And who was the man that came face to face with Anna Lee in a place she was certain no one would find her, each of them in their hour of greatest need, each with their own pain and secrets to be revealed–and perhaps healed?

The desperate search for the runaway, Anna Lee, is paralled by the storyteller’s version of a mystery that most folks around have long forgotten. All the while Anna Lee struggles within a situation that holds danger beyond what she can imagine, and it is only in her innocence, even in the face of death, that she becomes the key to a revelation and the answer to a longing.

All the Pieces is not only a tale of birth, death and grief, but is also the story of profound love and a journey’s end.

I have to admit, there were a couple of times when I totally teared up reading this book, like when I realized what truly went down all those years ago &what was sacrificed in the name of love. The story is set up where it goes back & forth in time, and identities aren’t revealed right away, so there came a moment when I stopped reading & literally said out loud, “Ohhhhh!” It wasn’t that I didn’t get the book, it was meant to be a lightbulb moment, and it definitely was!

Both of the central characters of the book have suffered tremendous loss & find a mutual ground between them, even though they hold seemingly opposite roles in their current situation. Anna Lee, being a kind soul, helps a man in need even when she doesn’t know of his intentions, and without giving anything away, she is somehow rewarded for it in the long run.

I read this book very quickly because I just couldn’t put it down! If you are looking for one more quick story to read on the beach {or anytime!} be sure to check it out- it’s only $2.99 on Amazon!

Giveaway: One winner is going to win their own copy, including a personalized note from the author! Just enter using the form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was compensated for my work on this campaign. All opinions are authentic & my own.

Hope Conquers All with CaringBridge!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for CaringBridge. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Have you ever had a friend or family member who had been through an accident or was fighting a long-term battle against illness? I think all of us have at some point or another. I know my family has been full of tragedy, as I’ve lost countless relatives to cancer & diabetes. Sometimes, we’re luckier, and the person we love is afflicted but survives, like in the case of my grandmother who fought breast cancer & lived almost two decades after her diagnosis & mastectomy, or my uncle who had a stroke a few years back.

But before we knew they would make it okay, we were all in a constant state of worry. If we’d known about CaringBridge, it could have eased our minds a bit. For over 15 years, the nonprofit CaringBridge has provided an outlet for those whose loved ones are suffering tragedies. I have used the site to memorialize some friends that I’ve lost, but you can also start a site for those who are fighting a battle & families can connect and find out more about their struggle.

hope conquers all caringbridge book

Over the years, CaringBridge has seen lots of stories have happy endings, from young children with cancer to adults awaiting transplants. Sona Mehring, founder of CaringBridge, just wrote a book called Hope Conquers All & shares a collection of these inspirational stories in first-person accounts. This is the perfect read for someone whose loved one is currently battling an illness or injury, or just as a means of inspiration. You can pick up the book online here- and all author proceeds will go to CaringBridge!

If you have a loved one who is fighting a battle right now, please know that my thoughts are with you & your loved ones.

Holiday Gift Guide: Over the Moon- The Broadway Lullaby Project

I’ve always loved musicals. Sound of Music, West Side Story, Wicked- you name it, I love it. That’s why I’m so excited about Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project.

Over the Moon is a project that is really a multimedia experience. The project includes a 2-CD set that includes 26 songs, an illustrated hardcover book that features 17 of those 26 songs, an e-book that includes all of the songs, and a documentary film & web series. It features many of today’s most loved composers & vocalists {and some amazing illustrators}, all of whom have donated their talent to a set of new lullabies, including some written just for this project.

The project raises funds for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition, which alone makes it worth the purchase to me. Even better, the music is beautiful & very well done, and the book is gorgeous to look at.

over the moon cd

Track List

Disc 1:

1. Little Sleepy Eyes -  Marva Hicks
Music & Lyrics by Nona Hendryx, Marva Hicks & Charles Randolph-Wright

2. Think of the Moon – Brian d’Arcy James
Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon

3. A Lullaby for Midnight – Vanessa Williams
Music & Lyrics by Rupert Holmes

4. Lucky – Donna Murphy
(from the opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon)
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

5. How Much Love -  Audra McDonald
Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa

6. Onesie – Michael Cerveris
Music by Wayne Barker; Lyrics by BD Wong

7. It’s Time, Little Man – Rebecca Luker
Music by Jenny Giering; Lyrics by Sean Barry

8. Lullaby to Mr. Waggles – Kelli O’Hara
Music & Lyrics by Dan Lipton & David Rossmer; Lyrics by Sandy Rustin

9. Look (A Rainbow) – Christiane Noll
Music & Lyrics by Scott Alan

10. Everything I Do You Do -  Sutton Foster & Stephanie Bast
Music by Timothy Huang; Lyrics by Timothy Huang & Sara Wordsworth

11. I Love You -  Laura Osnes
Music & Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez

12. Over the Moon – Caesar Samayoa
Music by Zina Goldrich; Lyrics by Marcy Heisler

13. A Father’s Lullaby – Marc Kudisch
Music & Lyrics by David Shire

Disc 2:

1. Jadelyn’s Song – Anika Noni Rose
Music & Lyrics by Christopher Jackson

2. Every Breath and Thought – Anastasia Barzee
Music by Henry Krieger; Lyrics by Bill Russell

3. I’ll Always Be There – Victoria Clark
Music & Lyrics by Jeff Blumenkrantz

4. This Little World -  Raul Esparza
Music & Lyrics by Michael Friedman

5. It Takes All Kinds – Dana Ivey & Walter Charles
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

6. Poppy, the Little Brown Bear – Janet Dacal
Music & Lyrics by Jeff Bowen

7. Riding a White Horse – Will Swenson
Music by Jill Santoriello; Lyrics by John Patrick Shanley

8. Yolanda – Judy Kuhn
(From an adaptation of St. Cecilia, or the Power of Music by Heinrich von Kleist)
Music by Ricky Ian Gordon; Lyrics by Tony Kushner

9. All New – Nikki M. James
Music by Marisa Michelson; Lyrics by Joshua H. Cohen

10. First Sonogram – Peter Sachon  & Kathleen Tagg
Music by Tom Kitt

11. Sweet Child – Kate Dawson & Jed Cohen
Music by Lucy Simon; Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead

12. Winding Down to Sleep (Lullaby With No Words) -  Luke Kolbe Mannikus
Music by Maury Yeston

13. The Man Who Invented Ice Cream – Tillie, Keegan & Zi Glucksman
Music by Charles Strouse; Lyrics by Sammy Cahn

Buy It: You can find the Album, Hardcover Book & eBook on the Over The Moon website {where you can also view the documentary!}

Note: I received the book & CD to include this Holiday Gift Guide feature. All opinions are my own.

Josie Brown’s Totlandia Book 1 Review {&Get Your Free Copy!}

We all have our favorite authors. Whether it’s because of their compelling characters, interesting plots, or all-around great stories, we all have a couple of authors who can do no wrong in our eyes. For me, one of those authors is Josie Brown, whose books not only have all of the qualities listed above but also show her voice in each one- and it’s a voice that I really connect with as a reader.

I’ve been a fan of Josie’s work for awhile, starting when I received Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives {which is soon going to be a TV show!} to review. After reading that book, I went back & bought all of the books she had previously written, and I’ve read every new book since, including her newest: Totlandia!

josie brown totlandia the onesies book 1 fall

About the book:

In "Totlandia," the salacious secrets of Desperate Housewives meet the aspirational lifestyles of Sex and the City in San Francisco’s most elite mommies group…

The Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club is the most exclusive children’s playgroup in all of San Francisco. For the city’s ultra-competitive elite, the club’s ten annual spots are the ultimate parenting prize.

But not everyone is PHM&TC material. The club’s founder, Bettina Connaught Cross, adheres to strict membership rules: Moms only. No single parents or working mothers allowed. Membership is an arduous commitment. And there’s no room in the club for scandal, bad behavior, or imperfection…from tots or their moms.

Four of the six candidates vying for the remaining four slots have a secret that would knock them out of the running. Jade is a former stripper and porn actress, who has been absent for most of her son’s life. Jillian’s husband cleaned out their joint accounts and left her for his pregnant assistant. Ally never even had a husband—just a sperm donor—and she’s hiding a high-ranking corporate job. And Lorna fears that her son may have special needs… just the excuse her sister-in-law, Bettina, needs to deny her entry to the club.

Can these hopeful moms keep up appearances long enough to outlast the competition? Or will their chances—and their private lives—go up in flames?

This book is a bit different- it’s being released in separate books. Not only is it the first book of a series, but that book itself is being released in segments. I’ve never read a book like that before & the only thing that I will say about the format is that it’s driving me crazy waiting for Book 2!

So far, I am loving this book. There have been so many times where I nodded my head & laughed because the moms in the book reminded me of some of the ones I encountered during Shane’s first year or two- the ones who have to brag about every milestone their child hits, who have to have every hot toy, and who look down on those with different parenting styles. While I now have a group of “mommy friends” who aren’t like that at all, I definitely met my fair share of “those moms” before meeting my friends!

I love books that follow different story lines at the same time rather than just one main character. It gives different perspectives for the overall storyline and makes it much more interesting. &In this book, everyone is so different that I can’t even pick a favorite- I feel bad for Jade, who really wants to have a real family but messed that all up, and for Jillian, whose husband messed it up for her. My heart goes out to Lorna because even though Shane doesn’t have special needs, I have friends & family members who have children with them & I can’t imagine how hard it must be. &Ally is such a powerful and strong woman who just wants the best for her child.

josie brown totlandia the onesies book 2 winter

I’ve been waiting {less than} patiently for Book 2 {Winter} and it came out YESTERDAY! &To celebrate, Josie Brown is giving away Book 1 for FREE- for two days only! You can download your free copy of Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 1 (Fall) here- but hurry, the offer is only valid today & tomorrow!

Note: I received a copy of Book 1 to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

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