Posts in category Fiction

Book Review: Real Santa by William Hazelgrove

Title:  Real Santa
William Hazelgrove
Publisher/Date:  Koehler Books/ August 1, 2014
Format: ARC Copy

Real Santa by William Hazelgrove

George Kronenfeldt is an unemployed engineer with one shot to keep his daughters belief in Santa intact. When Megan tells him the only way she will believe in Santa is if she can videotape him and then tells her fourth grade class she will prove the existence of Santa Claus by posting her video to YouTube.

George realizes he must become the Real Santa. He devises a plan to land nine reindeer on his roof and go down his chimney, hiring a broken down movie director who eventually has him funding a full scale production that bankrupts him and and threatens his marriage. When George goes to find the Real Santa to help him, the line between what is real and magic is crossed. Real Santa is a funny heartwarming story of parenthood gone wrong and illuminates what lengths parents will go to keep their children happy.”


I know that Christmas has come and gone, and I had planned to have this review up earlier, but the holidays were a little hectic.

I chose to read Real Santa because of the summary of the book.  It sounded like something that I would enjoy reading, and it was about Santa Clause.  Real Santa is the first book that I have read by William Hazelgrove.

There is two weeks til Christmas and George was just fired from his job building bridges.  Looking at the bright side of things, George looks at this as time he can spend with his daughter Megan.  After being fired George arrives home, and discovers Megan is upset because her teacher, Mrs Worthington, said that Santa is not real, and that could not survive the harsh conditions of the North Pole, and it was to cold for him to possibly build his workshop there.

Megan looks to her father for answers.  She asked him if Santa was real, and he of course says yes.  So Megan ask her farther permission to stay up Christmas Eve and record Santa, so she can put the video on YouTube and everyone will know once and for all that Santa Claus is real!  Her father agrees to let her stay up on Christmas Eve and record Santa.

George is bound and determined that his little girl with not have her hopes squashed.  When he was a boy his own father told him that Santa was not real, and George told his own son that Santa wasn’t real.  He was not going to make the same mistake with Megan.  So starts the plan to be Santa Clause for Megan.

George takes a $50,000 line of credit out on his house, he draws up plans for his roof and what needs to be done so it will support the weight of a sled, and 9 reindeer.  He hires a movie producer, rents 9 real reindeer, a sled, purchases a Santa suit, rents a smoke machine, a digital projector, and other equipment.  Before it’s over George ends up spending $80,000 on his quest to make the ‘Real Santa’.  Everyone tells George he is crazy, and his wife threatens to leave him, but he doesn’t stop.

Now, while I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I thought there would be more humor, and lightheartedness.  Instead it was mostly planning, family strife.  While believing in Santa Claus when I was little, and when my kids were little is a magical feeling.  Spending $80,000 on a rouse to make your child believe in Santa Claus is insane.  I found that part of the story to be unrealistic.  Who would actually do that? 

This story is also about George’s relationship with his children from his first wife.  It is not a good relationship, and they feel that George tossed them aside for his new wife and daughter.  I liked how their relationship played out.  I can see this book as a Lifetime Movie.  While I would not read this book again, I would watch the movie (if ever there is one).

Language Warning–  There is quite a bit of cursing sprinkled throughout this book, but nothing that is vulgar.

*I received an ARC for the author in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

About William Hazelgrove
William Hazelgrove is the bestselling author of eight novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways Rocket Man, The Pitcher, Real Santa, and forthcoming Jackpine and The Pitcher 2 in 2015. His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly and Booklist, Book of the Month Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards Junior Library Guild Selections and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications and has been featured on NPR All Things Considered. The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today have all covered his books with features. He runs a cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. He lives in Chicago.

Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly- Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway

Title:  Who R U Really?
Author:  Margo Kelly
Merit Press (Sept. 18, 2014)
Format:  Hardcover
Genre:  YA (Young Adult)

Thea’s overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

Margo Kelly has written a book that I think all parents and teenagers should read.  I am going to go so far to say, that I think this book should be required reading in school.  We are living in a world that is overloaded with electronic devices, that allow us free reign to a buffet of all kinds of information.  Some good, and some not so good.

In ‘Who R U Really’ we get to see that things and people are not always as they appear to be online.  Thea’s parents are strict, and they want to protect her.  She has to leave the door to her bedroom open when she is on her computer online, and her mother is constantly reading the text messages on her phone.  Like most teenagers these days Thea thinks her parents are out to ruin her life.  

I could relate to that, and remember feeling much of the same way when I was a teenager.  When I was a teenager the world was different.  We didn’t have computers, cell phones or the internet.  If we had, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have been allowed to have a computer in my room, much less a cell phone of my own!  I don’t feel that Thea’s mother was to strict at all.

Thea starts playing a role playing game online, and it is in a chat room that she meets Kit.  The more they chat, the more Thea comes to believe that he ‘really’ gets her.   Before long Thea is telling lies to her parents just to be able to play the online game, and chat with Kit.  Kit even tells Thea what to say to her mother, and how to hide the conversations they are having online.

Thea is excited by Kit’s attention, and understanding.  He plays on her sensitive side, and has her believing that he can not live without her.  He makes her think that he is the only one that really cares, and even her best friend can not be trusted.  

Who R U Really is based on true events in the authors own life.  This book is written well, and I felt like that Mrs Kelly captured the voice of a teenage girl.  The events in the book are believable and all to real in the world we live in today.  I had a feeling early own in the book who ‘Kit’ was, but then I would change my mind and think it was another character.  I was guessing right up to the very end.

I recommend this book to parents and teenagers everywhere.  Who R U Really, should be mandatory reading for all teenagers in school.  It is a big eye opener!


When Tim’s eyes, bluer than an Idaho sky, met mine, my mind turned to mush. He towered above everyone else at the bus stop, and on this cold January morning he looked cuter than ever with his bomber hat and rosy cheeks. 
He shoved his sidekick, Josh, jokingly, and a cloud of white air escaped Tim’s mouth.
My best friend, Janie, whacked me on the hip. “Omigosh, Thea. Here they come. Smile.”
Her words bounced in rhythm with her black ringlets. She adjusted her new fluffy snow white parka, and even though it had a hood, she would never smash her perfect curls simply to stay warm. The crisp air made the tip of her nose red, but the rest of her face remained alabaster white.  We’d been best friends for years, and at fourteen, having a friend made the ninth grade bearable.
Janie hoped Josh and Tim would ask us to the Winter Solstice dance, but I just hoped to speak to Tim without sounding like a complete idiot. 
Tim walked in our direction with Josh right on his heels. They stopped in front of us, and everyone else hovered to watch the show.
“Thea,” Tim said.  I wanted to reply, but no words came.
Josh approached Janie, and I fidgeted with my favorite fuzzy pink scarf.

Praise For the Book 
“Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Suspenseful novel that’s guaranteed to give readers goosebumps–particularly as events heat up toward the end. A good choice for families to read together.” —School Library Journal

“Who R U Really? is a fantastically creepy book that is surprisingly realistic and totally engrossing…. Once I opened it, I couldn’t close it. Who R U Really is a satisfyingly unique YA thriller that left me guessing up until almost the very last page…. This book is very realistic and I really enjoyed the writing style.” —Tempest Books

“Based on actual events, the story should be required reading for all teens.” —VOYA Magazine

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Learn more about Margo Kelly

Enter giveaway below for 1 print copy of Who Are U Really?

Open to US only

Ends 1/12/15

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

Title:  Sweet Salt Air
Author:  Barbara Delinsky
Release Date:  June 10, 2014
Format:  Print/ Hard Cover

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.

My Review

Sweet Salt Air is the second book I have ever read by Barbara Delinsky.  I enjoyed this book for many reasons, but what made me want to read it to start with was the cover.  The cover of this book is simple, but beautiful and tranquil.  Then the blurb for the book grabbed me. 

Charlotte and Nicole had very different set of parents.  Their home lives growing up were very different.  Were Nicole had love and support growing up, Charlotte had the opposite.  Despite all their differences, they became best friends.  Charlotte spent every Summer of her childhood with Nicole and her family on Quinnipeague Island.

All grown up and living different lives, Charlotte and Nicole haven’t seen each other for 10 years (since Nicole’s wedding).  They have kept in touch through email, but haven’t been close in a while.  Nicole has her marriage, a home and a blog that is doing very well.  Charlotte is a journalist and travels the world, and goes and comes as she pleases.

Nicole invites Charlotte to come to Quinnipeague for the Summer to help her with a cookbook she is writing.  Charlotte accepts the invitation, because she misses her friend and the island on which she spent so many happy Summers.  Charlotte has been keeping a secret from Nicole for 10 long years, but Nicole is also keeping a secret from Charlotte.  

Sweet Salt Air held my attention from beginning to end!  These two women have been best friends for a very long time, despite their different lives and not seeing each other for a long time.  I can relate to that.  Any woman who has a best friend, could relate to that. 

I liked both Charlotte and Nicole.  They are both very strong characters.  Where Charlotte is blunt and to the point, Nicole is more reserved and talks a lot before her point is made.  These two women over come something in the story that I am sure most friendships would not survive.  It is both encouraging and hopeful the way these two women come together to be there for one another when necessary.

While reading Sweet Salt Air, I could smell and hear the ocean and taste the food!  Mrs Delinsky did a beautiful job of showing, and not just telling.  I did a quick search for Quinnipeague Island, but I couldn’t find anything.  Whether it is a real place or not, Mrs Delinsky made me want to go there.  I would love to talk to the locals, and sample all of their wonderful food.   

I don’t want to give any of the story away, so I am not going to say much more.  This novel has it all!  There is friendship, romance, love, passion, food, community, secrets and the ocean.  If you enjoy all of those things, you will enjoy Charlotte & Nicole’s story all the more.


*I received a copy of this book from, as part of their Chatterbox program in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

The Pitcher by William Hazelgrove- Book Blast & Giveaway

The Pitcher

“I never knew I had an arm until this guy called out, “Hey you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?” I was only nine, but mom said, “come on, let’s play.” This Carney guy with no teeth and a fuming cigarette hands me five blue rubber balls and says if I throw three in the hole we win a prize. He’s grinning, because he took mom’s five bucks and figures a sucker is born every minute. That really got me, because we didn’t have any money after Fernando took off, and he only comes back to beat up mom and steal our money. So I really wanted to get mom back something, you know, for her five bucks.”

A boy with a golden arm but no money for lessons. A mother who wants to give her son his dream before she dies. A broken down World Series pitcher who cannot go on after the death of his wife. These are the elements of The Pitcher. A story of a man at the end of his dream and a boy whose dream is to make his high school baseball team. In the tradition of The Natural and The Field of Dreams, this is a mythic story about how a man and a boy meet in the crossroads of their life and find a way to go on. You will laugh and you will cry as The Pitcher and Ricky prepare for the ultimate try out of life.

Author William Hazelgrove

William Hazelgrove is the best selling author of five novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways and Rocket Man and The Pitcher His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly, Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. His latest novel Rocket Man due out May 1, 2013 was chosen Book of the Year by Books and He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. A forthcoming novel, The Pitcher will be out Sept 1, 2013. He lives in Chicago.

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 9/30/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Way Back To You, Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway

a way back to you tour

Tour Schedule


a way back

A Way Back to You

What would you do if you were given a second chance?

Annabelle, whom nearly everyone calls Anne, has been stuck in the past for two years. Numbed by grief over her husband’s unexpected death and overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising their three young children alone, Anne agrees to let a friend take the kids for the weekend while she tries to get some much-needed rest at her parent’s home.

But when Anne wakes up the next morning, she is suddenly sixteen again. And it just happens to be the worst day she spent as a teenager.

High school the second time around brings unforeseen changes and frustrations, but remembering that her future husband, Mitch, has just returned from a mission and is living on the other side of town gives Anne hope. Getting Mitch’s attention (for the second time) is more complicated than she could have imagined, but Anne discovers she is stronger than she believed possible—and there just might be a future for her after all.

Amazon ~ Deseret Book

Book Excerpt
Shelley Inger accosted me in the school parking lot as I was zipping up Mallory’s jacket and handing her and Jenna their lunches. She walked toward me with a hip-swinging step that caused her high-heeled boots to click loudly on the asphalt. Her skinny jeans left little to the imagination, and her vividly highlighted hair wisped in the cold wind as she called out my name.


“Anne. There you are darlin’. I was beginning to wonder if you weren’t sleeping in this morning.”


Her voice was a little too loud after the night I’d had, but I kissed Jenna and Mallory and sent them off before I turned to smile up at Shelley. She was at least four inches taller than I was, even without the heels. And the hair. So I had to look up quite a ways.
“What are you doin’ tonight? You got any big plans?” she asked.
I stifled a groan of exasperation. I had discovered quickly that living in a small town meant that everyone felt entitled to know everyone else’s business. I was the one and only widow under sixty in the neighborhood, so I had come to expect the constant stream of judgment, usually masked as sympathy sprinkled liberally by the more officious busybodies who tried to set me up with everyone male between the ages of twenty-one and seventy. Shelly was usually the prime perpetrator.
“Oh, yes. Big, big plans. I have a mountain of laundry waiting to be done,” I quipped, trying to keep things light. My efforts were wasted. Shelley pursed her pink-lined lips in a blend of sympathy and censure.
“Darlin’, you really got to get out of that house. I know what you need. Pete has a friend . . .” She stopped and frowned as I groaned out loud. “What? What is the matter with meeting someone? It’s been what, three years?”
“Two years and seven months.” I didn’t like the direction this was going.
“Okay, two and a half years. That’s long enough. Eventually you gotta find someone new. Pete’s friend is a great guy. He’s one of those intellectual types but good looking. And he’s only been married once—has a little girl close to Jenna’s age.” She delivered the description as if she were offering me a lottery jackpot.
“Well, that’s a relief. That last guy was on, what, his fifth divorce?”


“Sixth, but hey, at least he had money. This one’s not rich but he’s probably more your type.” She winked. I really couldn’t believe I was listening to this. It felt like high school all over again. Not something I was eager to relive.


I absolutely LOVED this book!  I am a big fan of time travel romances, but A Way Back To You was so much more than that.  This book is very well written, and it doesn’t include any of those confusing scenes where the author jumps back and forth between times and you can’t tell what is what.

Anne has been going through the motions of living every since her husband Mitch’s death.  She cares for her children and does everything like she is supposed to.  The one thing she hasn’t been doing is taking care of herself. 

While trying to take a much needed break and get some rest, Anne lays down in her bed at her mothers house and awakes the next morning in the same room, but things are different.  She is no longer a 38 woman, but a 16 years old teenager. 

I believe it is hard enough to be 16 years old once, and to have to relive it again would be a little hard to deal with.  Right?  Armed with the experience of a grown woman with children, Anne handles her family, friends and school with more maturity this time around.

Anne searches for Mitch, because they have not yet met when she was 16.  She seems to always miss him each time she looks for him.  To complicate things further, Sam, the boy that she loved for so long when she was a teenager, but who didn’t return her affection, now insist that he loves her.

She can’t figure out why, but events are changing this time around.  She is very worried that she might do something wrong, and change the future she had with Mitch and her children.  She is also torn between the feelings she has for Sam.

Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to ‘have a do over’? 

I am not going to say anything more because I don’t want to ruin the story or give anything away.  I was so glad that this story didn’t turn out to be all a dream that Anne was having.  (oops, that didn’t really give anything a way).  I am so glad that I was given the chance to read and review this book.  I enjoyed it so much, and I will be reading more from this author.  Wonderful job Mrs Clawson!


Author Emily Gray Clawson

Emily Gray Clawson describes herself as an author, mother, and youth mentor. Born and raised in Utah, she is passionate about her faith and great books and will share her love of both with anyone who will listen. Emily began writing at the age of seven, creating homemade picture books that she peddled from door to door. She self-published her first novel, Things Hope For, and is collaborating with Jennifer Graves on a book entitled A Sister’s Witness: The Powell Family Tragedy. With her husband, Richard, Emily founded two youth leadership programs, Handmaidens of Virtue and Mastering Knighthood. Trained in vocal performance in college, she has enjoyed including aspects of her training in this book. Emily and Richard are the parents of four children and live in Taylorsville, Utah.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Enter to win a $25 Amazon or Pay Pal Cash Below-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Me!

Image Map

Get Updates In Your Inbox!


Listening to...

Currently Reading!

Doing It Over
tagged: currently-reading and contempory-romance
A Moment to Dance
tagged: currently-reading and contempory-romance
Wishing For a Highlander
tagged: currently-reading, time-travel-romance, and scottish-historical-rom...