Saturday, January 26, 2013

TWW's Book Review: Dawn of the Morningstar by Penelope King

You know how you wait and wait for a book to be released, especially if it is the last book in a series. You build up in your mind what's going to happen and how it will end. You're just so excited you're about to burst. Then when the book finally comes out and you read it and then...nothing. Nada...You're like "That's it!" Complete disappointment. Well, that's exactly how I felt with this book. 

Dawn of the Morningstar by Penelope King was not the same caliber as the first two books in the series. At all! The first part of the book was all about Calista and Nicholas hanging out in their cabin in the woods after she has fled the scene so to speak. When Nicholas finally convinces her to go back home, she agrees. However, when she gets there it all falls flat.

There is simply no nothing. Justin comes back. Calista's visions return. Her empath powers become stronger. She searches and finds her mom, who rejects her. She stands up to her grandmother and then goes back to confront her mom for a second time and get the answers.What did it for me as the fact that Calista convinces her mom to go back to the family and then it's like all is well. There should have been a big confrontation scene between Calista's mom and grandmother and their wasn't.

The book just ended with everyone going to Druantia and the final ring ceremony. Not exciting. I was completely disappointed. This book was clearly not as good as the other two. There was little conflict. And the only excitement for me was when Calista's empathic powers surged just shortly after returning home and she speaks to her grandmother. Even when she confronts her mother for the first time, which you would expect to be the climax, was a let down.

I think I am going to stop reading trilogies because this was the second one that I read that fell short in the end. Rating:

Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

TWW's Book Review: A Different Witch by Debora Geary

Beth Landler was doing very well on her own. She had her own coven in her own little corner of the world. Everything was just fine. That is until Lauren and Jamie crash her place, and her life has not been the same since.

Beth is different...and not just a different witch but different altogether. Now she needs to learn how to be "A Different Witch" and feel good about it. So with the support of her partner, she's off to California to find out more.Unfortunately, once she gets there, she doesn't fit in all to well. Nell can't relate to her. Beth feels uncomfortable around everyone except for Aervyn and no one can figure out how to talk to her without saying something wrong. Forget about teaching her.

Beyond this, I will say no more about the story.

I'd venture to say that this is probably not my most favorite book of the series, just okay. There wasn't a whole lot of build up into this one. I suppose it's because it touched on a subject I am not very familiar with - Asperger's. It just didn't have the excitement to sweep me away as in the other books.

I commend Ms. Geary for incorporating a topic that is rarely discussed if at all, and put into a fictional story no less. I give her points for doing that. Unfortunately, for me, A Different Witch was in a word...boring. Rating:


Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TWW's Book Review: Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon

In the final book of the Perfect Trilogy, Amy must get over her fear traveling by herself and getting lost. So to complete the bet made between Maddy, Christine and herself, she takes a job through her own nanny agency and gets on a boat as a traveling nanny for three children who are on vacation with their grandparents. What could possibly go wrong?


To not give away too much of the story, let's just say she gets stranded on an island with little money, no passport or clothes. Luckily she gathers herself together long enough to make it to the local travel agency that helps her with some of her issues. And she finds a sign for a live-in housekeeper. Well, that should solve her problems for cash.

And then the cliches begin. Girl goes to island mansion (in this case it's a castle), girl meets guy (in this case the assistant to the guy) and gets job. Assistant to the guy is actually someone famous in disguise, and ultimately she falls in love with the guy. Blah, blah, blah.

Of the three books in the series, this one is my least favorite. While it sounds all romantic and all, it seemed to be a little stretch to make this happen. But, perhaps this is what Ms. Ortolon had intended for this last book...make it a real fantasy. It was just a little OTT for me. The only thing that I found to be interesting and the one thing that I could really make a connection with was Amy's realization that Grandma was secretly sabotaging her life in every way imaginable, and Amy was too blind to see it. Oh look! Something plausible and the saving grace in the entire story. Rating: 

Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TWW's Book Review: Just Perfect by Julie Ortolon

In the next book of the Perfect Trilogy, Christine Ashton has to get over her fear of heights. Actually she needs to get over her fear of heights and a whole lot more. She thinks that by conquering her fear of heights she will be able to go sking and finally beat her brother at something and gain her father's approval.
As part of the bet with her college suitemates, she goes to Colorado to get started on getting past this fear she has had for what seems like forever. Arriving about a week early, she hires an instructor to help her out. Enter Alec, the ski bum and he appears to be "perfect"...drat! Now she needs to refrain from the one thing Christine promised herself she wouldn't and fall in love with another loser guy with no prospects for a future. Christine has to keep Alec at bay all the while conquering her fear of heights, learn to ski really well so that she can beat her brother at something, and gain her father's respect.

By the way, did I mention that Christine is a doctor, just like her dad. But...well you know where this is going don't you? Well without giving away the rest of the story, Just Perfect by Julie Ortolon really examines the issues of the child/parent paradigm without getting too complicated in the process. Throw in a handsome guy who on the surface looks like a loser, but really isn't and it makes for a very interesting and entertaining read.

I really like the fact that Ms. Ortolon was not afraid to show Christine's strength as well as her vulnerabilities. She also slowly reveals Alec's character true identity as well as both of their families. Of the three books in the trilogy, I would have to say this one was my favorite. At the end, I was actually yelling, "You go girl!" As for the reasons why, well you are just going to have to read and find out! Rating:

Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

TWW's Book Review: Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon

College suite-mates gather together when one of them publishes a book on How to Have a Perfect Life. Maddy, Christine and Amy are thrilled that Jane has become successful. That is until they find out that Jane has used each of them as examples of what not to do in her book. Using the book as a impetus to do something about each of their lives, they collectively make a bet with each other to do something that they have been afraid of, and according to the book, holding them back from achieving the perfect life.

Maddy, the free spirited artist gave up the love of her life to pursue her dreams, yet didn't quite make it due to life. Now she has a chance to go back and try it again, but needs to face the love of her life again. Years older and wiser how will they react to each other. You must read the book to find out.

Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon is a nice escape into the art world. The fact that this story takes place in New Mexico was attractive to me because I have lived in the Southwest for over a decade. The art world is very fascinating and I think that Ms. Ortolon has done a really great job incorporating this into the storyline and drawing the reader in that world.

Sometimes with romance trilogies, the stories end up being a little cheeky, but book one of this series is anything but that. I love the fact that there was some antagonism between Maddy and her former flame Joe. Not only does she have to face him again but she has to turn to him in order to fulfill her end of the bet she made with Christine and Amy. Best of all, Joe and Maddy don't immediately fall back into it again. It takes a bit because Joe isn't...well Joe...well, read and find out!

The book is a "perfect" length to read in a weekend and naturally leads into the next book of the series. Rating:

Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Did It My Way

There is something that I have wanted for my entire life. I have waited so long for it that I thought it might never happen. It has been a dream of my since I was a little girl.

When a series of health issues became apparent, I thought that I would be able to overcome it, but alas, I was not that lucky.

Life also got in the way, time slipped by and before I knew it, I was too old to try it again the old fashioned way. But somewhere deep inside, I knew that I didn't want to give up. I had to come up with another way to make my dream a reality.

I found a way.

Today I have made my dream a reality. I may not have done it like everyone else. I didn't even choose the standard alternative. I went against the grain and did something completely different.

I did it my way.


SO...what have I done?

I became a mommy...a "sponsor mommy" a beautiful little seven (almost eight) year old girl named Liliana. She has the name that I was going to give my child, if I was ever able to have one, and I know that she and I are meant to be.

I will share Liliana's picture and story soon...but for right now, I just want to enjoy getting to know all about her.

I still have other ideas on how to feed my desire to be a "mom" to other needy children and am working on putting together a plan to make that happen.

In the meantime, it has been an extremely long week (details of that adventure coming soon!)

Wishing you moments of blissful happiness!
 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

GBE 2: My Wish

 As I gazed up to the sky,
I saw the twinkling lights by and by

I had so little that I wished for,
then I decided that I wanted more.

I gave and gave to everyone but me,
but realized that it was finally time to be free.

Storms outside started to brew,
sleep beckoned, it was time to say adieu.

The dream flew me through the winds of change,
where I landed on my bum at close range.

So near was I to the wishing star,
that I often gazed at from afar.

I closed my eyes and prayed with might,
to this star oh so bright.

I asked for something I wanted forever,
knowing that it would be a big endeavor.

But happily the star agreed,
and gave me just the thing I need.

To go to bed not feeling crappy,
and wake up feeling ever so happy!

Wishing you moments to wish upon a star,

 Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #85 and the topic is Decisions. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

TWW's Book Review: Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) by Angela England

It is with great pleasure that I present my first book review for 2013. I am so excited to review, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) by Angela England, as I have been working on my own little backyard farm, well...actually it is more like a front and backyard farm because I live in a condo and have even less than one acre to work with!

In her book, Angela England has provided a very comprehensive outline on sustainable living. From the initial chapter discussing "The Backyard Farm Adventure" to the final chapter outlining "Other Ways to Use Your Harvest" I don't think I have ever read a more detailed book on this topic.

Each chapter outlines, step-by-step, how to begin the process. Ms. England has taken all the guesswork out of figuring out how to create our "Backyard Farm", which is what I really like the most about this book. We are then free to take the parts that we want and use them however they work for us. So in my case, while I may not be able to have any animals, I can grow certain foods and herbs to benefit my family. In fact, I've already been doing this on a very small scale, and for the last several years have enjoyed the benefits of fresh tomatoes that taste so much better than store bought. Now that I have read this book, I have plans to expand. Thank goodness my neighbors are all on board as they have given me permission to use their front yards!

For those that have more land than I do, you will surely enjoy the illustrated layouts provided for a quarter-acre, half-acre and full-acre lots. The author asks us to "consider the illustrations as wish-lists for someday". In my mind this means use these ideas as a springboard to create our own dream farm, no matter how big or small. The goal is to have a "P.L.A.N.":

Precise - make the plans precise. Think about how many different crops to plant, and how much room you'll need. Do you plan on having just a garden or will you add livestock? Perhaps a bit of both? Precision is the key to plans.

Lasting - think of this adventure as a timeline. Nothing ever happens immediately, so realize that this is going to take a schedule that needs to be adhered to and plan accordingly. For example, in January, I will layout my garden and decide what I want to plant. In February I will purchase the seeds I need to grow my crops. In March, I get the idea. Decide what needs to happen each week and month and then stick to the schedule. Large scale farmers have been doing this for years. It's no different for this scale.

Arrival - means heading in a particular direction towards those goals. What are you going to do to make this happen? How will you adapt when something doesn't work?

Natural - doing what works for you. Just because what works for Angela doesn't mean it is going to work for Susan and vice versa. It has to make sense for you; the plan needs to work for you. Write out the plan and start working on what's important now.

The book also provides advice on how to plan plan the garden space and maximize it to its fullest potential; suggests keeping a journal and goes into great detail on the tools and skills needed for the backyard farmer. Also, for those that aren't as experienced with gardening, Angela provides the reader with a gentle reminder that's its not just about sticking the plant in the ground and letting it do it's thing (i.e. you have to amend the soil!) Novices will also appreciate the chapters on vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries as well as animals for a Backyard Farm.

Don't let the details of this book overwhelm you. In fact, take a moment to really read Part 4, "Enjoying the Bounty", and Part 5 "Crafting from the Backyard Farm" because it really gives the reader a great guide as to what to do with the harvest from that garden we've spent so much time and energy on. Remember that Ms. England has provided us with the tools to get started. Now we have to use them and make it happen. Take the parts that work for you and save the rest for when you're able to use them. And above all, share this book with everyone you know.

I found this book really helped to renew my enthusiasm for gardening and I can't wait to get started! Rating:

Wishing you moments of great reading!

 Susan's Blog Signature

Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Forward, Thinking Back

Goodbye 2012

2012...what a year it has been! I kept myself pretty busy. I had some grand designs (my husband would say illusions!) of things I wanted to do, and what I wanted to participate in. While life and the day job grew bigger than expected, all in all, I would say I ended up doing about 75% of what I hoped to accomplish this year. Not so bad if I do say so myself. Let's take a recap of what I had hoped to do:

1. Queen of Your Own Life: While I had great aspirations of sharing things from these great ladies, I didn't quite get there. I had hoped to share some daily inspirational thoughts, etc. both here and on my other sites, to be honest, I just could not squeeze it in with everything else that I was doing. A great idea, but the follow through was not there. I read a lot of really wonderful things on their website and through Facebook, and tried to use it for my own daily inspiration. I highly recommend that you do as well.

2. New Year, New You: To be honest, this was a dismal failure. I spent most of the year in physical rehab because my back went completely south and did some other issues. I have been slowly on the mend and have now, finally, been cleared to start working out again. Yoga here I come.

3. 52 Weeks, 52 Books: Lucky for me, I was able to sit down over the weekend, and in two days finished all of my reviews for the year. While I was not able to post them individually, they are all listed on the 2012 Book Club Page. They will be there thru the end of January, 2013 and then archived onto the Book Club - Archived Page, where all my book reviews are located. Go checked them out! :-)

4. Reading Romances Challenge: Sadly, I just could not finish the challenge. While I kept up for most of the year, the 4th quarter really kicked my "you know what" and I finally just had to give up.

5. Photos, photos and more photos: Well I did manage to post some additional photos this year, but not as much as I wanted to. I took a lot of photos, but reviewing and editing takes time and that is just a work in progress.

6. Writing for and Yahoo! Voices: Yes, this is one area I really excelled in. Actually, I really excelled in adding 3 additional columns at and only wrote one column at Yahoo! Voices. So I would say that this is the area that I really worked on the most this year. I need to work on the page links here so that you all can see what I have been working on for the past year!

7. Miscellaneous craft projects on I didn't do anything for this. A grand dream...just no time to execute it.

8. My novel: I didn't do diddly squat on it this year. A great disappointment, but life is life and I ran out of time.

9. How did I live up to this item that I posted earlier this year: "My husband has a great philosophy about work..."You need to work to earn enough money in order to take the next vacation." I'll take that one step further..."I need to work to pay off my debts, put money away for retirement and to take that next great vacation." " Well let's just say that I am a little closer. I worked a lot, paid some toward the debt, put money away for retirement and took a kick-a$$ vacation!

10. Podcast: That is still in the plans...just need to figure it all out.

The biggest thing I am doing right now as I end this year is to figure out how I am going to manage all of my writing for the coming year. I actually made a bit of money this year. Go figure! Not a lot, but more than previous years. I need to re-organize how everything is laid out and how it is promoted. I have a lot of maintenance to perform on my various websites and my Facebook Fan Page, but I know that I cannot get it done overnight. I will work on it slowly throughout the year and see where it lands at the end of 2013.

Upon reflection, I would say that I did what I wanted, thought a lot about what I could change, and put aside the items that I could not execute to the best of my abilities until such a time I am able to do so.

I had a great year overall. I am more happy than I have been in years. I don't want my writing to become a competition with the other writers that I work with, I just want to get better at my craft and share my thoughts with the world. While ultimately, I want to make some money at it, I don't want to make so much that it consumes me.

I have much to look forward to in 2013. I am going to keep these items on my list for the coming year. I might add a few as I go along...then again, I might not, or decide to remove a few things! Whatever the case may be, come this time next year...we'll see how I did with all of the above again and evaluate how it all went down for the year.

Wishing you moments of great reflection.

 Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 61: Looking Forward, Thinking Back. My friend Darlene is the host today. Check out her blog here. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!


Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!