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Mark of the Midnight ManzanillaThe Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla sounds like a campy fiction novel. It is, however, the 12th book by Lauren Willig in the Pink Carnation series (with the next to be the last as it finally tells the story of the actual Pink Carnation). While the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is a highly entertaining read that moves along quickly.

I have read (and reviewed) only the previous book, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, which follows the same format and includes many of the same characters. Much like when I picked up the last book, you don’t have to have read the entire series to follow the story. Willig does an excellent job of catching you up without making you feel like you reread entire books for those who are familiar with the series.

Read my full review of Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter to win your own copy.

Written by Michelle who thinks a sword parasol would be enormously fun. Since she doesn’t have one, she spends her time finding fun in other ways. See how on her blog Honest & Truly! and follow along with her on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.


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5 Things Nobody Told You about Turning Forty #Giveaway {Friday’s Five}

We are pleased to be hosting guest contributor humor author Jenna McCarthy who is sharing her valuable– and USEFUL — advice for women approaching the big 4-0 Put down your coffee, lest you spit it all over laptop. Remember when the words “middle age” conjured images of pot bellies and sensible shoes and floral-print blouses? Not anymore! Forty is the new thirty! Or is fifty the new forty? I’m pretty sure chard is the new kale. Anyway, whatever the saying is, ours is definitely not our mother’s midlife. (Imagine never having to envy your friends’ frozen foreheads or wonder if you’re too old to wear skinny jeans. We could just chain-smoke unfiltered Camels all day and watch soaps in our big old polyester Mrs. Roper dresses! How
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The Queen of the Tearling #Giveaway

Given the chance to start over, would humanity actually change or would our societies still be plagued by the same problems we face now–corruption, exploitation, violence, poverty and disease? Author Erika Johansen imagines a world in which humanity attempted to begin anew in a sort of utopia, only to find themselves within a few hundred years living in a sort of medieval world, with horses as transportation and swords and arrows for weapons, and feudalism and sex-trafficking and slavery all functioning as well. But the story opens with a bookish and isolated girl hiding in a tree, watching the horsemen come and knowing this is the day her life irrevocably changes. The Queen of the Tearling is a great read–just a really enjoyable story that’s
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Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Choose Your Path Book #Giveaway

Recently I received Greek Mythology’s Twelve Labors of Hercules: A Choose Your Path Book (Can You Survive?), which I read and reviewed over on 5 Minutes for Mom. The publisher was kind enough to send the rest of the set, and while deciding between “Dracula,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and “Sherlock Holmes,” pretty much everyone in my family said I should read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the next one to review. I’ve always been a fan of vampire stories, but have never read this classic novel, so it didn’t take much for me to agree. Like the other Choose Your Path books, “Dracula” starts out with you as the main character, beckoned by a classic book. You’re then suddenly in the story as the
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Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf #Giveaway

Little Mercies is the first book I’ve read by Heather Gudenkauf, though I’m familiar with her as an author. She seems to gain more fans after each book, and I’m sure that this one will be no different. Ellen Moore is a social worker, so she’s seen it all. She is an advocate for children who are abused and neglected, and it takes a toll on her. She’s so invested in the kids she serves, that she sometimes wonders if she doesn’t have enough left over for her own kids and her newly widowed mother. In the blink of an eye something happens that puts Ellen on the other side. She’s now being scrutinized for child endangerment. Will that change the way she looks at
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A Magnificent Crime: #Giveaway

Cat Montgomery is a woman who believes you should do what you enjoy and are good at. However, her own particular set of skills are somewhat unusual. Cat is, well, a jewel thief, a cat burglar (ha!), and she’s excellent at what she does. Several years ago, Cat stole something from Albert Faulkner III and he’s out for revenge. He grabs her off the street and offers her a choice–steal the Hope Diamond, on loan to the Louvre, or face the oldest punishment for thieves, the loss of her hands. A Magnificent Crime is the second in the series, and if anything, it’s even better than the first. I really enjoyed both books. I’m delighted to tell you that you can win a copy of
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Now I See You #Giveaway

People usually write memoirs for one of a couple of reasons — they are famous or they have a story to tell about some sort of obstacle overcome. In Now I See You Nicole Kear writes about her descent into blindness, after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 19 years of age. She was given about 10 years of sight during which time her vision would continue to worsen. This is her story of fighting to keep her identity and quality of life, as well as her life as a first generation daughter of immigrants, a New Yorker, and (Small Spoiler) yes – a new mother. Please click over to 5 Minutes for Mom to read my full review and to enter to win one
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Small Plates #Giveaway

On a recent weekend away with friends, I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t comfortable getting up to read, and turning on the light would wake my husband, so I decided to check the kindle app on my phone for something. I read Small Plates and I was absolutely delighted. Not only is it perfect for late night reading, but it held up well the next afternoon, when a downpour kept us inside and I spent an hour or two reading. Faith Fairchild is a pastor’s wife in New England who also runs a catering business (but uncozily, if that makes sense. I don’t like “cozy” mysteries). This addition to the series is a collection of short stories, hence the name. To read the rest of my
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Chasing the Sun #Giveaway

It’s been 4 months since Andres’s wife, Marabela, left him for a short period of time before returning to him and their 2 children. Now Marabela’s disappearance is not of her own volition — she’s been kidnapped. Peru in the early 1990′s was a time of political unrest and terrorism and was also plagued by kidnappings, and when Andres is strictly commanded by the kidnapper not to involve the authorities, Andres complies. Andres enlists the help of his estranged mother and hires a kidnapping consultant who helps him through the process of negotiating with the kidnappers so he can get his wife back. He tries to maintain a sense of normalcy but he’s not used to being home during the day and is awkward with the
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The Search for WondLa audiobooks read by Teri Hatcher #Giveaway #audiomonth

The Search for WondLa is a 3-book series by Tony DiTerlizzi (author of The Spiderwick Chronicles). A Hero for WondLa is the finale in the trilogy and has just been published and released on audiobook. I haven’t listened to more than just a sample of the audiobooks, but I actually have had a copy of the first book on my shelf since it first came out, so I finally started reading it aloud with my 10-year-old son. We’re almost finished, and we’re hooked! Click through to read more of my thoughts on this series at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter the giveaway for all 3 books on audio, sponsored by Simon & Schuster audio in honor of Audiobook Month.
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Moving Day {#Giveaway}

At 72, Stanley Peke’s memory isn’t what it used to be. So when the movers who will be relocating his possessions across the country show up a day early, he thinks he wrote down the wrong date, and is too embarrassed to question it. It’s not until the next morning when the doorbell rings that he discovers he and his wife, Rose, are the victims of a scam.  Being robbed of everything he owns brings back long-repressed memories of his childhood in Poland, hiding in barns and fields to avoid being discovered by the Nazis. Peke decides he wants his things back. It’s not the items themselves, which are, after all, just things. Having lost everything once before, and working hard for the life he has, he
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Tempting Fate #Giveaway

Jane Green has covered many issues that women can relate to, from mother-in-law problems to blended families, and in Tempting Fate, she tackles infidelity. But unlike most novels in that area, the main character is the one who is unfaithful, and the consequences are disastrous. For my full review of this thought-provoking novel, along with a chance to win a copy in hardcover, click over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
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