Sunday, July 31, 2011

Freebie Flops: The Tog & The Froad... and ... The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents A Magical Christmas Menu

I love to read, but I don't always love the stuff I read, especially if it was a freebie. That was the case with two of the books I read this last week: The Tog & The Froad by Christina Ayckbourn and The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents: A Magical Christmas Menu by Dinah Bucholz.

The Tog & The Froad was written in verse, but didn't seem to follow any sort of rhyming structure or verse structure that I could recognize. That made it choppy to read, and forced me to re-read some lines here and there as they didn't seem to fit properly. The story wasn't anything fantastic, and I don't think it would hold a child's attention since it wasn't holding mine as an adult. I also didn't think there was any particular lesson to walk away with. The only good thing about it was that it was short so I didn't have to suffer long... and the illustrations were kinda cute.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents: A Magical Christmas Menu was very disappointing. There wasn't a single recipe in there that I didn't already know of (except I knew the American version as opposed to the British), and there just wasn't much to it that tied it to Harry Potter. The only redeeming quality was the little bits of history thrown in here and there in front of some of the recipes.

I have read plenty of free books that were wonderful, but these two were flops. I rated them at one and two stars respectively on Goodreads.

Recommended Read - Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson

Normally, I don't read romances, but this wasn't your typical romance! When Italian meets Texas, food and fun abounds! Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson is a wonderful romantic comedy that mixes spirituality, family, and food to create a recipe for a great book. I got this book for FREE on my Nook through Barnes & Noble - it was a great introduction to the series, and I'm sure I'll be buying the rest of the series when I can! ;)

The story revolves around a twenty-something Italian girl who has been given the family wedding planning business. She decides to change it into a theme wedding business, and her first wedding booked is supposed to be a Western theme, something she knows nothing about!

This is an excellent read, filled with delectable food and family situations that will make you laugh out loud. You don't have to be Italian or Texan to understand that humor, as the families could be any other family. They even reminded me of my own German family - obsessed with food, and filled with our own little pieces of history and drama!

One word of advice, though - make sure you aren't reading this book on an empty stomach! I was reading it at work, and I was STARVING by the time I got to go home and eat! ;) I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Work yesterday was a little slow... so I managed to get four books read! Well, actually I finished reading one that I had already started, then read three shorter ones. :) Haven't had time yet to add them to Goodreads and review them. I have an even longer workday today, but it might be a little more busy since it's Friday... we'll see!!

Work also gives me a little time to think about story ideas. Sadly, I often don't write them down, then have to try to remember them later and usually can't! I'll have to teach myself to start writing down good ideas.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recommended Read - Fable: The Balverine Order

As a recent member of Goodreads, I stumbled upon a fun challenge that I thought I would take part in, even though the year is already half over. It's the "111 books in 2011" challenge, where I try to read 111 books or more this year.

I'm at a slight disadvantage, since I often don't keep track of books that I've read, but now that I'm on Goodreads, I'm giving it a try. I'm hoping I haven't missed adding any of the books I've read (or re-read, as the case is with a lot of my favorite books) so far this year. You can see how far I've come by checking the box on the left of this blog. I'm a little behind, but I'm sure I can catch up!

Another feature of Goodreads is being able to rate and review books read. While I rated other books that I entered, I didn't want to go back and review all of them, so I'm going to start my reviews now, having just started the challenge yesterday.

Yesterday I also finished a great paperback book that I picked up at the Borders Going Out of Business sale (sigh, still so sad!! I wish Borders wasn't leaving!!), titled Fable: The Balverine Order by Peter David.

I was attracted to the book because my husband, over the course of our 6 year marriage, has introduced me to the xBox and the world of gaming. Granted, I'm still not a true "gamer" in any sense of the word, but there have been a few games that I have enjoyed. Three of those have been the Fable series. I loved how the worlds were really well crafted and the storyline (I mean, game-line) was interesting. So when I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it!

I checked on my Droid to see if I could get it in eBook form first, but it was only available on the Kindle (which is one of those devices that doesn't have a format you can download onto the Nook - I wish Amazon would realize the much larger eBook market of producing eBooks in more than one form!!!) so I went ahead and bought the paperback (much to the dismay of my husband, who believes our bookcase to be overflowing as it is).

It didn't take me long to read through it, as the story was well-written and captured my attention!!

The book is a fantastic journey into the realm of Albion, the game world of the popular xBox game series Fable. I was worried that since it was geared towards "gamers" that it would be in a juvenile form, but I was happily mistaken! The language was adult, and the storyline was captivating for readers from teen to adult.

Here's some of my favorite quotes:
"Living is not a pastime for the faint of heart," he says. "And the commonality of the human experience is that no one gets out alive."

"That's the problem with smart, well-read people like you, Thomas. You're always thinking, thinking, thinking about the road you already walked and trying to wonder whether it would have been better if you'd taken the right fork instead of the left fork or the left fork instead of the right fork. Well...fork that."

"You know why tales of adventure and heroism are printed in black ink on white paper, Thomas? It's because it's only there, in such fables, that the world is black-and-white. In the real world, it's all about shades of gray."

"Perhaps," I allow, "it was an unwise thing for Thomas to do. But youth is the time for men to make mistakes, and be driven by their passions. Knowledge may be gained from books, but wisdom can only be gained by experience, and mistakes are the greatest granters of wisdom. If one is afraid to make mistakes, then how will one stretch the bounds of one's world? One should not simply walk gently into walls; one should run into them at full speed."

Overall, this book as an excellent read for all those who enjoy a good fantasy novel! I think I might have to check out some of Peter David's other works. I see that he has plans to release another Fable book in October... I'll probably buy it! :) On Goodreads, I gave this book 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Books I'm Working On

Even though I'm working on my Masters degree and have a job, I still have several more books I am working on that I hope to get published in eBook format within the next year. One is simply a revision of a hard-copy book that I put out a while ago, titled Treats N' Eats: An Etsy Community Cookbook. I originally published through Lulu, but I don't like how they do their pricing, as it makes the book basically unaffordable. Smashwords is MUCH more reasonable about pricing!! Smashwords will be black and white, but if you want a color version of the eBook you can go here.

Another is a book of my poetry - before I really wrote much in terms of prose, I wrote poetry. A LOT of poetry. My mom is a teacher, and she bought me one of those Poem-Starters calendars that had a different idea each day... and I did a lot of them! I was going to do a full color, fully illustrated book... but I had a really hard time getting enough art submissions, and honestly some of the ones I did get looked terrible! So, I'll probably just make it an unillustrated version. The hardest part about getting that book ready for publishing is 1) finding all my various poems hidden all over the place in my journals, school notebooks, emails, etc. and 2) getting it formatted in a way that works for eBooks. My poetry tends to have weird formatting, and I'm just not sure how it will transfer into eBook form.

Although my husband and I have FINALLY found a great church to join, for the first 5 years of our marriage we were "church hoppers", and that is another one of the books I want to get done. I only wrote a very short part of it so far, but I think it would be a good one for many church leaders to read so they can see if they are driving people away rather than gathering them in to their churches.

Since I love vampire/mythical creature/ fantasy/ sci-fi books (ok, I actually like all types of books, but those are probably my favorite!!), I have started writing a vampire book of sorts. It's only a few paragraphs of ideas right now, but I'm hoping the characters will start forming and the plot will come to me.

Finally, I'm writing the first of what I hope will be a series about a teen girl who is the only ordinary girl in a world full of super heroes! :) This character is one I truly love, and I've been writing here and there different adventures I want her to embark on. I will possibly put up a "sneak peak" of that book here sometime in the next couple of months!!

For my author followers, what types of books are you working on right now? For my readers, which of these books sounds most interesting to you?

Now Available in the iBook Store!!

Just found out the good news today that my eBook, Twin Rivers, has been accepted into the iBook store for Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone! :) I also found out that my eBook will be available in most other major eBook retailers (Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc) in the next two weeks!!

That kind of news just makes me want to write another book... or maybe just read another one... ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

eBook of the Week

In case you haven't noticed, on the left side of my page is a little blurb about an eBook of the week. :) I'm a reader as well as a writer, so I love sharing books of all kinds with my readers.

If you get a chance, stop by and check them out! The books will change weekly, and I will try to include a variety. For example, last week the book of the week was a nonfiction book about Christianity in America. This week, I chose a really great young adult action/adventure novel that's "...two measures of Indiana Jones and one of National treasure... a portion of Famous Five with a small dash of The Goonies...".


Incredible Blog Review!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ebooks or Printed Books?

I'm a huge book addict. Lately, there have been a lot of commercials touting the Kindle and its many advantages over regular printed books. Having owned both eBooks (though I use the Nook rather than the Kindle) and regular printed books, I'd like to weigh in on the argument with my own feedback.

First of all, there are a lot of great things about eBook readers and eBooks. I love that you can carry literally thousands of books with you in smaller, lighter device - it means I don't run out of books while at work!! You can also download TONS of free eBooks from all sorts of places without ever having to step foot in a library or bookstore. Buying eBooks is fast and simple, and often as affordable as (or cheaper than) purchasing a regular printed book. Most eBooks have functions that allow you to flip to certain chapters at the push of a button, and they all provide a way to bookmark. My Nook also allows me to highlight and add notes to anything I'm reading. The readers work great in any light, as long as you choose one with eInk technology (not the backlit ones like Nook Color). It really looks like the page right out of a printed book!!

Next, the negatives about eBook readers and eBooks. While the battery life is fairly long (as long as you don't have it looking for a wifi network at all times), it's still a battery which means you sometimes run out of it and need to charge it. If you don't plan ahead, this could leave you bookless for a while. The format of eBooks take some getting used to, because of the customization you can do on your eReader. For example, I like reading at a medium-large font. The eBooks are usually originally in a small font, so when I'm reading I often come across blank pages due to formatting errors from me changing the font size. Also, in a Nook-specific complaint, my touch screen portion isn't as responsive as I would like, and it's frustrating waiting for it to load and move around (though it may be fixed in the newest version of the eInk Nook). Finally, it's a piece of technology, which means it can be cumbersome to learn. I've had my Nook for over three months, and still don't know how to do all of the things I'd like with it!!

I think what it comes down to is what works best for you, not whether one is better than the other. For me, I like having my Nook and my eBooks. But you might find that the technology is just too frustrating and prefer good old fashioned printed books.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Goodbye Borders :(

I received an official email yesterday that Borders is closing its doors forever at the end of July. It was tough news to swallow - as a lover of books, I get sad any time a bookstore is closing, let alone an entire chain of bookstores!

Borders was great for its ambiance, so much less pretentious than other competitors. If I had some extra money, I'd definitely be there this weekend taking advantage of their going out of business sale... then again, the whole reason my husband convinced me to purchase a Nook several months ago is so I would stop overcrowding our old bookcase!! I can't help it that I have a book addiction... ;)

So, farewell Borders. Know that you will be missed among most of the book-reading community!!

Who will buy?

I love the movie Oliver (if you haven't see it, I highly recommend it!)... there's a song in it where Oliver sings "Who will buy this wonderful morning?"

That's a question I am asking myself today! As of right now, I've only had one download of my book, and it was a freebie. I'm not sure how to get the word out there to get my book to sell! It's only $0.99, so it's not the price that is a deterrent... it could be my ugly eBook cover, but I'm hoping to get that remedied by Monday... I even paid for some extra exposure on Fiverr!

Well, we'll see. In the meantime, I have a busy day planned that includes going to a Wild West Festival (even though the heat index today is estimated to hit 115 degrees)!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I Use BigCrumbs (and Why You Should, Too!)

Some of you have probably already noticed that there is an ad on the bottom of my blog, advertising a site called Big Crumbs. Big Crumbs is basically a site that pays you money to shop!

I know it sounds like there is a catch, but I've been using it for over a year without any problems. In fact, I've actually enjoyed earning a little back on so many generally un-enjoyable purchases, such as textbooks (I can rent on through Big Crumbs) and pet supplies (I can go through either PetSmart or PetCo among others), not to mention feed my excessive need for eBooks (through Borders or Barnes and Noble).

These are things I already would have had to buy, but through Big Crumbs I at least get the satisfaction of getting a little money back!!

It does add one more step to your shopping, but it's an easy one - you just have to go to the Big Crumbs website, then click on your desired store link from there so they can track your referral (I'm assuming that the companies that they work with pay them for their customer referrals) and make sure you get your cash back.

Sometimes the cash back is tiny, like $0.04, or sometimes it's large - I previously bought two GoChicago cards for my husband and I to use on a vacation to Chicago to visit my sister, and earned almost $16 back on the $190 purchase!! It just depends on which vendors you are buying from. You can even earn cash back on eBay purchases, which surprised me and came in handy a couple of times already - like when I was finally able to purchase a handcycle!

I know not everyone is comfortable shopping online, and some of you may still be wary. That's totally ok. I just thought of recommending this today after purchasing my textbooks for the upcoming semester, knowing that I would at least see a little bit of a return on my investment. ;)

If you're interested and want to find out more, or if you've heard enough and want to sign up, please consider clicking the link on the side of my blog, or clicking here. It lists you as a referral of mine, which means I earn a few pennies every time you shop. :) It doesn't take away from the money you earn, either.

Happy shopping!!

Call for Reviews

I'd like to get some reviews out there on my book. I'm not asking for "fakey" reviews where you say nothing but positive things - I'm looking for honest reviews, with both the good and the bad. :)

If you'd like to review my eBook, Twin Rivers, please leave me a comment and let me know! All reviewers will receive a FREE copy of my book.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

REPOST from my previous blog: MagnaBlade

Just to show you that I'm not a newbie blogger, I thought I would share one of my more memorable blog posts from my previous blog (that I am phasing out of in order to move to this blog).

As a member of, I used to write reviews for businesses and new products. This was one product that TO THIS DAY still amazes me - my husband still uses it all the time!!

Back on December 14th [2010], I let you know about this new product called Magnablade that I was going to try out. Here is their website:

I was excited to see if this product could deliver on its claims to extend razor life, as my hubs goes through a lot of razors every month, or gets so tired of going through razors that he stops shaving and starts looking like a mountain man! ;)

The first thing we noticed is that it is a nice small size, and is eco-friendly because it doesn't require a power supply. We could easily fit it into our medicine cabinet, or place it on our bathroom counter without it taking up a lot of space.

We tried two types of disposable razors on it - a "cheapy" razor, which is one that can be thrown completely away after use; and a "good" razor, one where you only throw away the blade when it is dull but keep the handle.

The product instructions recommend starting with a brand new razor for the best results, but since we were limited on time I decided to go ahead and do a little test with a "cheapy" razor that was already at the end of its life. I wanted to see if we could get at least one more use out of it. I placed it on the Magnablade for one day, then pulled it off and had my husband use it. It was a success- we got one more use out of the razor!!!

Then my husband tried a new "good" razor on it. He found that not only did the Magnablade extend the life of the razor, but he had less skin irritation from it as well!! That was probably because the blade wasn't dulling so fast like it used to, and it was a really exciting moment for us because it made my husband less likely to give up shaving because his skin had too much irritation!!

We gave a second Magnablade to my brother, and he also had similar results.

Overall, this product is truthful in its claims, and I highly recommend it!! The best traits of the product in our opinion are that:
1) It is eco-friendly - it doesn't use up batteries or electricity, saving on environmental waste.
2) It is compact - you don't need a lot of space to store it.
3) It reduces skin irritation - no more painful breakouts after shaving!
4) It lives up to its claims and actually extends the life of your razors, whether they are "cheapy" ones or "good" ones!!

They have a money back guarantee listed on the website, so I say go out and try one for yourself if you are skeptical - I think you will love it as much as we do! :)

Can you make eBook covers?

It feels great having finally published a real book - except that I hate the cover! :) I'm not really a graphic artist, or even that skilled at making much of anything on the computer.

So, readers, can any of you make a great cover for my book? I'm willing to give you a FREE copy of Twin Rivers if you can create an awesome eBook cover that I can use on Smashwords!!

I can only use one, so I'll make this into a contest. From now until Monday, July 25th at 8AM CST, just submit your cover ideas to javajesspublishing at hotmail dot com (sorry guys, had to type it out the long way or the crazy spam bots would pick it up and start sending me horrible penis enlargement emails) . I will post them here for my readers to vote on, and the winner gets bragging rights as my cover artist PLUS a FREE copy of Twin Rivers!!

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Author Extraordinaire

Ok, maybe not Extraordinaire... but I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and haven't ever bothered to try to publish. But with the booming eBook market (and my own addiction to my Nook), I decided it's time to give publishing a try and finally sat down and finished one of my many stories.

After much work, today I finally published my first book!! Well, technically, my first eBook, as I have already published a cookbook (which you can purchase here) and a diet book (available here). This would be my first "real" book, as it didn't involve compiling recipes. This eBook is taken from a nightmare that I had many years ago, and one the I mused about until I turned it into a workable story. Personally, I don't actually watch many horror movies or read much in the horror genre, but I have a huge overactive paranoid imagination that lends itself well to writing scary stories.

I'm hoping to continue writing and actually finishing books in the future. But in the meantime, I hope you will consider downloading my book and then submitting a review!! Please be honest in your review - if you honestly think it sucks, you should say that, no matter how much you might like me personally.

Here's the link to my first published eBook - enjoy!! You can also check out my author page on Smashwords.

About Me

This is just an intro blog post about me. If you already know me, you probably don't need to read this. But if you don't, here's a brief overview of me:

I love to read, and that includes just about anything, including cereal box labels. I also love to write - poetry, fiction, nonfiction, instructions, item descriptions, etc.

I love animals, and currently own too many in the variety of cats, rabbits, and a very neurotic Border Collie dog. I'm pretty sure if there weren't limits on how many pets you could own here, I would probably have more.

I like the color blue, and riding my handcycle (which is like a bicycle but you propel with your arms and hands) when it's not too hot out. I also like to eat, but am working on learning to eat a little healthier so I can lean down.

When I'm not writing, I'm often working (my current job is working for a local Arena and Convention center in the box office selling event tickets) or doing homework because I'm working on my Master's degree after taking a 5 year hiatus from college. I previously ran my own t-shirt printing business, but decided it wasn't for me so I shut it down and sold the equipment and am now deciding what my next business venture will be.

If there's something I didn't cover here that you really want to know, please leave me a comment with your question and I will do my best to respond promptly!! :)