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New Reads for the New Year


By Gini Rainey

The beginning of the new year is a great time to set reading goals for yourself if you haven’t already done so. Looking for something to read? Pick up one or more of the top ten best-selling books in 2017 and enjoy!
• Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 – J. K. Rowling
• When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
• The Whistler – John Grisham
• The Last Mile – David Baldacci
• Killing the Rising Sun – Bill O’Reilly
• Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J. D. Vance
• Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarity
• Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel – Lee Child
• The Black Widow – Daniel Silva
• The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down – Gregg Hefley
Whether you choose one of these or one that I review, just read…it will open up so many worlds for you!

“Passages” by Anne Hamre
Based on journal writings made by Hamre’s ancestors, Passages follows the adventures of Anne Roberts and Frank Evans from the time they meet and fall in love in Wales until they ultimately make a home for themselves in British Columbia. Following Frank’s quest to raise cattle on his own land, the couple experiences the highs and lows of life faced by people living in the early 20th century.

With great character development, a grasp of Welsh idiosyncratic phrases, and an ability to describe living conditions of the early 20th century, it doesn’t take long to become completely immersed in the adventures of the young couple. From the boggy land of North Wales, to the piercing sun of Australia, and ultimately arriving to the cool, lush land of Frank’s dreams, Hamre weaves a tale of sacrifice, hardships, and the love and determination of two people building a life together.

Filled with historical reference, romance, and adventure, Passages is definitely a book that holds appeal for a broad spectrum of readers and is well worth the read.
5 of 5 – Copyright 2016 – FriesenPress


“Allie and Bea” by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Having read some of Hyde’s books, I might have set my expectations a bit too high for this book. While it is an interesting tale of the coming together of two completely different people, parts of it were difficult for me to swallow. Bea, a reclusive and angry old woman who finds herself evicted from her trailer and is living in her van with her cat, befriends teenager Allie whose parents have been arrested for tax fraud. When Allie is placed in a group home and has her life threatened by another resident, she runs away and life gets even worse, until Bea picks her up from the side of the road and their adventure begins.

Following the Pacific coastline on Highway One, Allie and Bea begin to form a unique relationship built on trust and caring, while not being totally sappy and unbelievable. Because of Allie’s encouragement, Bea found that she had an adventuresome soul, and because of Bea’s ultimate acceptance of her, Allie discovered that forgiving her parents was possible, if not necessarily easy.

While definitely not a heavy read, this book was an enjoyable escape from reality and does have some excellent encouragement for people who find themselves in situations beyond their control.
4 of 5 – Copyright 2017 – Lake Union Publishing


Book Lovers Events: Hot Summer Signings & More


From book signings to Meet & Greet’s, Tyler  offers every Book Lover a lot of fun things to do. Check out these events:

For more events, check out ‘s entire

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Reading the Kids Back to School

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By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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A Good Pounding!


By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here:  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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