Author: cvegnad

Melding Spirits

There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley—It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.

About Melding Spirits

Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.

Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.

Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.

It seems the perfect summer is underway—but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.

My Thoughts

Melding Spirits is an excellent, well written, captivating novel from the start. It has an excellent plot, well developed characters that you just can’t help hold close to your heart and suspense that makes you never want to put the novel down.

We are introduced to Evan, a young man who is wise and mature beyond his age. His mother is trying everything to make ends meet as a single Mother, which forces Evan to be both a child and caregiver himself. When he finds the chance to spend the summer with his beloved Grandmother, there could be no turning back. Could you really blame him? He deserves a bit of his childhood back.

This is the summer that would change Evan. He meets and forms a bond with a young girl that would forever change his life, Katie. We follow their magical summer with the pair and Evan’s friends – it is refreshing to see their innocence and love of life. But under this are tones of something not being quite right in their small, beautiful town. Is something evil brewing or is it just normal teen angst?

You are left on the edge of your seat, unwilling to put the book down to the last second as you have to know what happens to Evan, Katie and the characters in this town. I loved every moment of this well written novel, a definite must read for young adults and adults alike.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.

In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.

He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.

Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.

The Giveaway!

Enter to win a copy of Melding Spirits and a $20 Amazon Gift Card by entering here. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Duke I Once Knew

When two childhood sweethearts find themselves together after years apart, does their romance have a chance to be rekindled now that he’s a duke and she’s a governess?

About The Duke I Once Knew

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again.

Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him. . .even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?

My Thoughts

Abby is a special young woman. She is the youngest child in her family – they were not expecting her birth but that did not make her less special in her parents eyes. When her parents fall ill and her siblings out of the house already, it is Abby that cares for her elderly parents. She sacrifices her season, her chance of finding a husband and her own family, in order to care for her parents. While this sounds so odd with her young age, in this time period she would have been viewed as off the shelf!

After the death of her parents, Abby yearns for more. She is tired of being the person her family relies on to care for everyone else, the children, care for their homes – she is sometimes treated more like a cherished staff member than a younger sibling at times! She loves her family and deals with this despite her obvious dislike of the treatment in order to prevent fighting. Against the wishes of her family, she takes the position of governess for the sister of her one true love.

Abby had fallen in love with Max in their teen years and both made promises of marriage and ever lasting love. When he is sent away, they make promises that this departure will not affect their relationship but unfortunately it did. Neither Abby nor Max receive correspondence from each other and this turns their hearts cold to any future love or relationship. Max becomes a non-believer in love and vows to not settle down in any complicated relationship.

When they meet up again, there is years of anger, hurt and disappointment. They argue, lash out and are stubborn to listen to the others side of the story. While you want them to work out their differences, you can also understand why they would be so full of hurt. Their story is one of betrayal, lies and deceit by the people who should have loved them the most.

This is a beautiful story of hope and forgiveness, you keep rooting for Abby and Max throughout the story. You want these two individuals who have hurt long enough, to find happiness and peace (and hopefully together!). A great historical romance read from start to finish.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Olivia Drake is the author of the Cinderella Sisterhood series (Seducing the Heiress, NeverTrust a Rogue, Scandal of the Year, If the Slipper Fits, Stroke of Midnight, Abducted by thePrince, Bella and the Beast, His Wicked Wish, and The Scandalous Flirt). She has been amember of Romance Writers of America since 1981, and her novels have won the GoldenHeart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense and Best Regency Historical from RomanticTimes. She has also won the prestigious RITA award. She currently resides in Houston, Texas.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Golden Empire Book Review

Don’t miss this stunning conclusing to the Dragon Artifacts; a magical tale of dragons, wizards, good vs. evil, greed, and friendship.

About The Golden Empire

With the Dragon King on the brink of death and Alli and the other dragon riders falling by the way, Roland Trye tries to unify the kingdoms against the threat coming from the east. Both arrogant and charming, Roland’s thirst for power has no limit. But will it be enough?

The power to win the war may fall on Gabby, a young wizard with a mission to find the mythical Phoenix. With its power she hopes to save the Dragon King and put up a united front against the aggressors.

But in the end the magic needed to win may require the ultimate sacrifice. Who will take up the cause and give up all they have to save the people?

Will the Dragon King survive? Will Alli and the other riders rejoin their dragons, and will Roland Tyre become what he has always wanted to be—the most powerful wizard alive?

My Thoughts

This is the stunning and powerful conclusion of this amazing series. It blew me away, I don’t think I was quite ready for all of the adventure, sacrifice, forgiveness and love that I found in this book.

With so much packed into this novel and a breath taking conclusion, it was not rushed nor was any part looked over. In this book, the invaders from the East are getting closer and closer. Our Dragon King is still on death’s door and their dragons seem all but lost. The only thing holding their land together? Roland Tyre and the Golden Scepter. He has turned into quite the young man who will make you proud. While he seems at times to do things for his own glory, he truly acts in the best interest of ALL of his people.

You are left on the edge of your seat throughout this novel – I actually finished it in one night and then re-read the book the next day. It was just too moving and fast paced that you didn’t want to miss what was next. You had to know if Alli would be able to remember her past and remove the hold that was on her, would the dragon bonds return to the Dragon Riders, would the Dragon King die, would Roland be able to hold up against the pressure and would they all survive the attack from the invaders of the East. There are so many little plots intertwined in this story but all necessary to understand the ending.

The ending of this story made the series for me. It was not what I was expecting but it was the ending the story deserves. The sacrifice, love and forgiveness touches you deeply and right when you think it is over, we are once again surprised with another little twist (you have to read the book to understand – telling you would give it away!).

This is a definite must read novel and series, you will not be disappointed. It is perfect for pre-teens, teens and adults alike.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Mike is now on his fourth YA fantasy series. For information on his new releases, book reviews, and other relevant info, please join him at www.MichaelSheltonBooks.com.

Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn’t reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn’t put that great book down).

Other than reading, Mike enjoys the outdoors, disc golf, and spending time with his family. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career, publishing his first books in 2016. He has now published 15 YA fantasy books full of adventure, magic, and wizards!

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Ultimate Busy Family Snack: Slammers Superfood Snacks

We are constantly on the go in our house. Both my husband and I work full time  and our boys are both in competitive soccer. This means that we are up and on the move around seven in the morning and somedays not quite home until after nine at night.

While we have a very busy lifestyle, there are a few things that I will not compromise on and that is nutrition. My kids need good food choices in order to fuel their minds and bodies.

I was recently introduced to Slammers Snacks which are organic, no added sugar snacks that are easy to take on the go. They are peanut and gluten free and contain no artificial colours or flavours – a complete package for planning out school lunches and sport snacks!

Slammers Snacks come in six flavours with very unique names that your child will love:

  • Epic contains mangoes, bananas, carrots, orange, Greek yogurt and real vanilla.
  • Awesome contains bananas, blueberries, strawberries, beets, acai and amaranth.
  • Chill’N contains bananas, blueberries, butternut squash, Greek Yogurt and yumberry.
  • Amped contains apples, strawberries, cherries, chia and purple carrot.
  • Pomegranate Grape Crush (superfood smoothie) contains grape, pomegranate, coconut, apple, banana and purple carrot.
  • Watermelon Kiwi Burst (superfood smoothie) contains strawberry, kiwi, watermelon, apple, banana and beet.
The Ultimate Busy Family Snack: Slammers Superfood Snacks

We tried out the Awesome and Chill’N Slammers Snacks and fell in love with the rich taste, each to open lid and just the convenience in general of the packaging. The packaging allowed us to throw it in the side of our son’s soccer bag and run out the door or if we were running late in the morning, they were a perfect early morning snack to have on the way to before school care (both of my kids do not like breakfast so we try to get them to eat anything before they leave).

I loved the ingredient list – there is no way I can get my youngest to eat some of those listed vegetables (beets – no way!) and I love how this is snuck in there and it still tastes amazing. He has no idea he is eating vegetables – parent win!. There are four pouches to a box and make a fantastic addition to school lunches, after school activities and sports (we also brought some for his team mates as an after game snack and the kids loved it and bonus is they can’t make a mess in your car with it!).

The Ultimate Busy Family Snack: Slammers Superfood Snacks

Make sure to check out Slammers Snacks website – it is full of helpful information and recipes that your child will love (we can’t wait to try Slammers Muffins ). Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Magical Picture Books Perfect for the Holiday Season from Raincoast Books

Raincoast Books

Books have a magical quality about them, they take you on adventures to far off places, they encourage you to do use your imagination and foster a love of learning and education. Each book is special in its own manner.

Every holiday season, I ensure that I pick two books each for my nephews and niece, along with my own boys. I try to find a book that will capture their interest and spark a flame. Two new titles from Raincoast Books will make a perfect gift under the tree this year, Ara the Star Engineer and Mary Poppins, as they inspire, excite and encourage.

Magical Picture Books Perfect for the Holiday Season from Raincoast Books

Ara the Star Engineer is a great gift for young girls who want to explore the world of technology or perhaps a parent who wants to encourage their child to think big!

Ara is a young girl who loves BIG numbers. She wants to count all the stars in the sky… but how? This is an upbeat adventure of Ara and her sidekick droid, DeeDee (“Beep!”). They use smarts and grit to solve a BIG problem and discover an amazing algorithm. A quest that takes them through a whirlwind of intriguing locations at Innovation Plex – Data Centre, Ideas Lab, Coding Pods, and X-Space. Along the way, they encounter real-life women tech trailblazers of diverse backgrounds, including a Tenacious Troubleshooter, an Intrepid Innovator, a Code Commander, and a Prolific Problem Solver. They tinker-and-tailor, build-and-fail, launch-and-iterate, and in the end discover an amazing algorithm of success – coding, courage, creativity and collaboration.

This is an incredible, must read book for all young girls. It breaks my heart just a little on how this book was developed – she was inspired to write this book when her daughter stated that ‘engineers are boys’. Too often young girls are told either verbally or through visuals and media that they are not meant to participate in STEM or that this is a male dominated field. That flame is extinguished before it is even given a chance to spark. Girls should be encouraged to participate in STEM activities, books and classes. This book follows Ara, a young and inquisitive young girl, as she tours the Innovation Plex Data Centre in order to solve her own tech problem of counting the stars. She meets with four incredible women who show her how to solve her problem and these women help to inspire young girls who have an interest in those fields. It is so important to show young girls that other women have and are succeeding in this field and that they should always aim for the stars. No challenge is too big for any young girl (or child) when they put their mind to it. This is a definite must have book item for all young children and to be read over and over again.

You can find more about Ara the Star Engineer on the Raincoast Books website. You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

About the Author

Komal Singh is a techie by day and a storyteller mom by night , one who loves coding and cupcakes, data crunching and day dreaming, pottery making and program planning. She was inspired to write this book when a hypothesis put forth by her four year old daughter stunned her: ‘Engineers are Boys’.

Singh is passionate about using technology as an enabler and an equalizer for all. She takes part in kids’ coding clubs, sits on hackathon judge panels, and volunteers with nonprofits on technology development.

Komal grew up in India and studied Computer Science at Delhi University and later moved to Canada to complete her Masters’ degree in C.S from Simon Fraser University. She has worked as a software engineer with tech consulting firms and is currently an Engineering Program Manager at Google. Komal lives in Waterloo, Canada, with her husband and two kids.

Magical Picture Books Perfect for the Holiday Season from Raincoast Books

Mary Poppins, the illustrated gift edition, is a full-color illustrated edition of the classic novel about the magical nanny who has delighted children and adults the world over for many years.

Experience the adventures of the magical nanny who inspired the classic film, stage show, and young imaginations around the world in a whole new way. This illustrated gift edition features silver foil on the cover and beautiful artwork by Julia Sarda that re-imagines Mary’s London in rich, full color. Ideal for the lifelong Mary Poppins fan or serious collector, this edition also makes for a lovely family read-aloud book.

I loved Mary Poppins as a child, it was by far one of my favourite movies of all time. She was such a special person and sparked your imagination. I am sure the minute you hear her name, you are transported to your childhood and can sing all of the songs all over again. I could not wait to get my hands on this book. It is such a treasure from its magical cover (honestly I kept running my hands all over it, it is so beautifully done) to each and every page – it can be both a collectors item and a soon to be cherished book for a child. I almost didn’t want to share it with my own kids, it felt so special!

I loved reading the stories out loud to my son, it was easy to follow along and even easier to make silly voices to keep him entertained. There was an excellent balance of images throughout the book to keep your child entertained visually (but the stories are so vivid, you could almost get away with none). This is honestly a truly special book that will make adults and children alike happy.

You can find out more about this book on the Raincoast Books website. You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

About the Author

P. L. Travers (1899-1996) was a drama critic, travel essayist, reviewer, lecturer, and the creator of Mary Poppins. Ms. Travers wrote several other books for adults and children, but it is for the character of Mary Poppins that she is best remembered.

About the Illustrator

Julia Sarda has illustrated everything from classic children’s books to concept art for merchandise and video games. She lives in Barcelona.

What do you look for in a book as a gift for a young child?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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