Nov 13, 2011

Book Review: No Holly for Christmas

Author:  Julie N. Ford
Author's Website: 
Genre:  Romantic Suspense

About the book:
As Brian McAlister struggles to move past being jilted not once, but twice by the only woman he's ever loved, he's all but given up on relationships. Then, on special assignment for the DA's office, he crosses paths with ex-socialite turned social worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter-and romance blossoms. Widowed, practically penniless, and reduced to shopping at WalMart, Holly is dreading the approaching Holiday Season. However, her angst isn't due to her husband's untimely death the previous December 25th, but because of a secret that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid the coming Christmas. Love at first sight quickly turns frigid for Brian and Holly when Holly gets pulled into a manhunt for an accused murderer who now has his sights set on her. His case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe while bringing an assassin and the powerful man who hired him to justice. A heart-warming story of suspense, healing, giving and receiving, No Holly for Christmas is the perfect addition to everyone's holiday reading list.

My Review:
No Holly for Christmas is not your traditional feel good Christmas story, but it's definitely an engaging read.  In my opinion, characterization is the strongest element of the story.  The two main characters each had unique personality quirks that made them authentic and appealing.  I enjoyed seeing their growth throughout the book.  The supporting characters were also well-portrayed and a valuable addition.  The romantic elements were well-developed, including obstacles to be overcome, and some heart-racing sexual tension between the characters.

I thought the pacing of the story could have been somewhat improved.  I was over 100 pages into the story before I felt like I couldn't put it down and wanted to read more.   But, overall, I would definitely recommend the book, and look forward to reading more by Julie N. Ford.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website and blog.  No Holly for Christmas can be purchased on Amazon.

Nov 5, 2011

Book Review: Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans

Author:  Amy Cotta 
Author's Website: 
Publication Date:  December 2011 
Publisher:  Rodale

About the Book:
We all have a pair: those frumpy, roomy, "fat jeans" we reach for when a few (or more than a few) extra pounds have banished our favorite "skinny jeans" to the back of the closet. Well, get ready to toss those fat jeans, because personal trainer and fitness expert Amy Cotta is here to help you tone up, slim down, and stay motivated until you can shimmy back into those sexy skinny jeans for good. Cotta believes that the key to skinny jeans success is threefold: diet, exercise, and attitude. Her 6-week eating plan trims fast-burning carbohydrates for the first 3 weeks, ignites weight loss, then reintroduces and manages those carbs for the second half of the plan. Her graduated fitness plan offers three styles of cardio and strength-training exercises that get progressively more challenging to keep you from getting bored or hitting a plateau while you sculpt those curves. Both plans are simple to follow in your own home--no gym, fancy equipment, or expensive food deliveries required--and there are calendars, food logs, and meal plans to help you stay upbeat and organized. Packed with dynamic, down-to-earth strategies, Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans will inspire you to take control of your lifestyle and feel younger, sexier, and fitter than ever before.
My review:

I love reading books about fitness and nutrition.  I really enjoyed Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans.  It is full of helpful information and inspiring real-life stories.  Amy Cotta starts out with her own personal story which gives her credibility.  Cotta's three tier-philosophy to fitness includes diet, exercise, and attitude (DEA).  She argues that with only one or two of these elements you can make a small change temporarily, but that all three are required for long-term success.

The book is set up to read week-by-week.  Each week includes elements from Cotta's DEA philosophy, as well as a detailed action plan, workout schedule, and checklist to complete at the end of the week to track your progress. Perhaps the most unique thing about the Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans plan are the workouts.  First, they are designed to be completed at home, so anyone can do it.  All you need is a pair or dumbbells or a resistance band.  Three workouts are included: blast, firm, and burn.  The book includes photos of each exercise, and suggestions are given to make them easier or harder based on your own fitness level.  There is also a stretching routine Cotta calls The Daily Lube to help prevent muscle soreness and to thank your body for all of its hard work.

I've read a lot of fitness books and was pleasantly surprised with all the new information presented in Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans.  It's definitely worth adding to your fitness library.  The book promises that you'll drop two pant sizes in six weeks by following the plan.  Unfortunately, for me, two pant sizes still doesn't equate to "skinny jeans."  But progress, not perfection, right?

Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans will be released December 20, 2011.  It is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  Learn more about the book and register to win a copy by visiting Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans on facebook.  You can also join the Amy Cotta Challenge.

For more health and fitness information, visit my new blog at
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