Steena Holmes's Blog, page 3

December 1, 2016

2016 was a great year for books – don’t you agree?

I thought I would share my 12 favorite reads from this past year. I’ll be posting these over on my Facebook Page throughout the month but in case you’d like to fill up your e-readers or want to buy some gifts for those reader friends of yours…I thought I’d not only list them here for you but also tell you why. If you’re wanting to read reviews or the blurb there is also a link to Amazon.  Now…in no particular order…

FIVE DAYS LEFT by Julie Lawson Timmer. This is my absolute favorite book ever. If you are looking for a book that will speak to your heart, make you rethink alot of misconceptions you have about life and death – this is it. I bawled like a baby and questioned what I would do as a mother, how I would react as a spouse and as a daughter. I love this book so much that I’ve gifted copies to readers and if you haven’t read it yet…buy it now!
The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. I’ve yet to read a novel by Kimberly Belle that I have not loved and this one is no different. Everyone has secrets and from the first sentence of this book to the last one, I was on the edge of my seat – in fact, I stayed up all night reading it!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I read this story on my flight to Paris and it’s one that I know I’ll re-read throughout the years. In fact, I loved it so much, I also bought a paper copy and downloaded the audio to listen to. Why do I love it so much? Ove. He’s everything you’d expect in a grumpy old man and yet he steals your heart and won’t let go. Be prepared to fall in love with him.
Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris. This psychological thriller about the perfect marriage had me guessing all the way and the ending was absolutely perfect. I don’t want to say any more in case you haven’t read it…and if you haven’t, you want to.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. I will admit to fan-girling over Mary when I met her at BEA this past year. Like Kimberly Belle, I love each novel Mary has written but The Good Girl is one of my favorites. I curled up in my chair one afternoon and read the novel from start to finish – I think I even ordered pizza that night for the family to eat. I’m sure many of you have read it – but if you haven’t…you should!
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. This one surprised me. There is a scene in this novel that I still think about, one that haunts me for one reason – I was so lost in the story that I felt like I was one of the characters. I won’t tell you which scene – but if you’ve read this book (or will read it) I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Trust me – if you like psychological suspense/thrillers – then this is one to add to your book list!
The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff. I love books set during WWII and dealing with the Holocaust. I read Pam’s book and loved where she took the storyline, but I recently shared about her book on my FB page after finding out she’d been attacked online about misconceptions regarding her novel. Pam handles the tragedy of the Holocaust with care and no matter what, I will now buy all of her books as a means of support.
Edge of Obsession by Megan Crane. Viking Dystopian Romance. You need to try it – trust me on this. I love Megan Crane – she’s an amazing woman and amazing author. This is the first in a series that I literally devoured – this and each book in the series. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Even if you think you’re not into viking romances, once you read even a sample of this novel, you’ll be hooked. TRUST ME.
The Progeny by Tosca Lee. Do you remember my review here? Do you remember the story of me emailing Tosca where I went crazy and begged her to let me write something with her and in this world? Yeah, I did that. I really did. One day I’m going to meet her and give her a big box of chocolates. She deserves it for putting up with me because I’m still fan-girling over here. Is that enough to get you to look at her novel at least? Go check it out…if you are a fan of anything to do with Elizabeth Bathory then you’ll really enjoy this novel.
Feverborn by Karen Marie Moning. I’m adding this to my list because I am a HUGE Fever series fan and this is book 8 in the series. If you haven’t started this series, then you’ll want to start with book 1 – Darkfever. Not only do I own all of these books in ebooks (because I wanted them on my kindle for easy reading no matter where I am) but I also own all the hard copies and paper copies. The paper copies I loan out to friends. The hard copies I keep for my own reading.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. By now most people have read this story. I did. I then bawled on the plane as I watched the movie. Twice. Yes, twice – I watched it on my own and then on the return flight the person ahead of me/across the aisle was watching it and of course I bawled again. BAWLED. As in ugly cry, stewardess had to bring me kleenex type bawling.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’d heard so much about this book and I tend to be the type that will wait to read a ‘hyped’ book because I’m stubborn but I’m glad I didn’t wait for this one. The paper copy and e-copy are literally the same price, so you can’t go wrong either way. I love dual storyline type books and I was hooked  – which shouldn’t surprise you since I’ve already said I love holocaust books. Set in France and even with scenes in Paris, there’s a fondness for this story that I won’t let go any time soon.

So that’s it. My 12 favorite books that I read in 2016. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are they on your top 12 lists? What did I miss you think should have been included?

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Published on December 01, 2016 04:57 • 17 views

November 29, 2016

Win 12 Women’s Fiction eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!

(12) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

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Published on November 29, 2016 08:10 • 28 views

November 13, 2016

Since coming home from my three week long book trip, my oldest daughter has been baking a lot of treats. As with baking, some things gets tossed in the trash (like burnt caramel popcorn) and some things are devoured before I remember to take a photo and tease everyone with the mouth-watering sweets I’ve been eating.

One thing I love about my daughter’s baking…she doesn’t always use recipes. She sees something online or has an idea in her head and the next thing I know, my kitchen is in disarray, my sink full of dirty pots and pans and laid out for me to taste-test are irresistible treats that you know I can’t pass up.

A few days ago on Facebook I shared a photo of caramel pretzels she’d made and since so many people asked for the recipe, I thought I’d share it with you all.

Print Caramel Pretzels Sweet and salty...yes please! Dip in chocolate afterwards or drizzle that goodness over the pretzels and dig in.... Ingredients 2 cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1 cup butter, cubed 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk 1 package (10 ounces) pretzels (minus a handful) Directions To Make Homemade Caramel: In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling, without stirring, at a moderate-steady rate for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in milk. Return to the heat. Reduce to medium-low; cook and stir firm. Keep warm. Now the Good Part... Pre-heat oven to 350. Place pretzels and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Poor caramel mixture over the pretzels. Take the handful of pretzels you'd set apart and cross them. Sprinkle these over the caramel covered pretzels. Place in oven until the caramel is bubbling (10 min or less). Take them out, let cool. Break into bits and enjoy! 3.4.3177
Word of warning…these are delicious. If you love sweet and salty snacks, this is gonna satisfy all those cravings in one. I do have one suggestion for the next time she makes these…drizzle chocolate on them, or dunk them in that melted cocoa goodness…(like seriously, she should know this by now, you’d think, right!)

If you end up making these…let me know how you enjoyed them…and especially let me know if you drizzled chocolate all over them…hmmm…I may need to get her to make me more now.

The post Caramel Covered Pretzels…Delicious! appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

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Published on November 13, 2016 12:28 • 20 views

November 5, 2016


I’m hard at work with a deadline only 25 days away, so if it wasn’t for Booksparks reminding me that it had been a year since the release of The Word Game, this special day would have passed me by!

This is such a special story for more reasons than one. Not only was it the 2015 USA Book News Winner for General Fiction but I’ve received so many emails from readers that this story has touched!

Have you read it yet? If you haven’t, I’ve got great news for you!

The Word GameIf you devour ebooks (raising my own hand!)…click here.

For my UK readers – it’s on SALE on Amazon! Click here!

If you’re a hardcover lover…you can grab it on Amazon.

If you’re a paper copy person…B&N, Amazon and even your local retailer.

If you love audio (and I’m slowly growing to love audio books)

you can grab it on Amazon for special pricing or here too.

For all those who have read The Word Game – thank you, thank you and thank you! If you’ve left a review, double thank you! I seriously wouldn’t be able to do what I love to do best without amazing readers like you!


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Published on November 05, 2016 20:10 • 8 views

October 5, 2016

book-word-game-usa logo final

Have you heard about the new Prime Reading program?

Today, Amazon rolled out a new program for it’s Prime Members in the US (not sure if it’s good for Canadians, this win the UK or AU…let me know in the comments if it is).

If you have Amazon Prime you can read free from a wide range of books, and The Word Game is featured in the launch of the program (so excited!).

You can check it out the new program HERE.

Or if you haven’t read The Word Game yet….click HERE and hit “Read for Free”.

PS…if you have read The Word Game…would love if you could leave a review and then pick up another book (or more) in the program to read for free!

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Published on October 05, 2016 10:30 • 21 views

September 24, 2016

Today is one of those perfect fall days where I could sip on a pumpkin spice latte and read a book while either sitting in front of my fireplace or curled up in my big comfy chair with a throw over my lap.  I’m about to start reading The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. I saw the movie and now can’t wait to read the book – I have a feeling it’ll be a good one to read (probably one of those I should have read first before watching the movie).



You know what would make it extra perfect? Something sweet to eat.

With it being PSL season (Pumpkin Spice Latte season) I thought it might be fun to pair my favorite fall drink with some sweet treats! Perfect timing too since you’ll be able to find me over on a new Facebook Page for a new series I’m in called Love At The Chocolate Shop. (check it out, like the page and get ready for a new series out in October all about a chocolate shop in a little town called Marietta).

Personally I think a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf would go perfectly with either a mug of PSL or hot chocolate – don’t you?


Print Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf

Prep time:  15 mins

Cook time:  1 hour 15 mins

Total time:  1 hour 30 mins

A little bit of chocolate goodness combined with pumpkin to make a loaf perfect for any fall day! Add a cup of hot chocolate or pumpkin spice latte, a good book and a throw and you've got all the ingredients for a perfect day! Ingredients 4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon nutmeg 2 cups sugar ¾ cup butter 4 eggs ½ cup water 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (or do chocolate shavings) Directions Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of two 8x4-inch loaf pans with with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until mixed; set aside. In large bowl, beat 2 cups sugar and the butter until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well. Add water and pumpkin on low speed. Add flour mixture; beat until moistened (low speed). Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips (or do chocolate shavings or chopped chocolate...) Spread evenly in pans. Now for the topping...yum! Sprinkle tops with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (shavings etc) and 2 teaspoons sugar. You could even add a few tablespoons of pecans if you have them on hand. Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. When cool, slather with butter or be adventurous and use a chocolate spread. 3.4.3177
On a side note…the Word Game is on sale for only a few more days! Along with The Memory Child in the UK and Wo ist Emma in Germany…grab them while you can if you haven’t yet…and thank you for reading!

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Published on September 24, 2016 10:40 • 17 views

September 14, 2016

As fellow #bookaholics, we all like to get book recommendations, right? I love to share what I’m reading over on Instagram and if it’s a really good book…I like to share with you as well. For me – Progeny is a ‘really good book’.

I first discovered Tosca Lee when she co-wrote with Ted Dekker – one of my favorite authors and the reason why I started to believe that I could possibly write – and I’ve devoured all her books since.

Before I read Progeny, I would have said Demon: a memoir was my favorite of hers. It’s a book I still think about 6 years later…and I’ve given out numerous copies to friends (which also means I no longer have my own copy…(insert sad author face here…you understand, right?).

ACK! I can’t believe I’m about to admit this…

but…even though I’m an author and I’ve met so many wonderful and amazing fellow writers, I still get a little ‘fan-girly’ when it comes to those I’ve read for years and admired. I had one of those moments this week (yes, I’m blushing from embarrassment). I’m part of Tosca’s reader group on Facebook and I sent her a message gushing over how awesome I thought Progeny was and how much I am looking forward to the next book. She was kind enough to respond a few days later where I apologized for my uber-exhuberance (yes, uber is the right word…I’m a little embarrassed still. sigh…)

Back to Tosca and Progeny.

 It’s not your normal read. It’s also not a Christian read (in case you associate Tosca with inspirational fiction). It’s a story that captivated my mind. It took me in a direction I was not expecting and halfway through the book my creative brain literally exploded with possibilities for her world. It made me wish that I could beg Tosca to let me write with her or in her world (hint to part of my embarrassment here…) and I honestly can not wait for Book 2. I hope that she does more with this world, that she expands on it, releases short stories, doesn’t stop at book 2 or 3 or even 4…


“A fast-paced thriller for fans of Lee’s Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and BBC America’s hit series Orphan Black.” (I love Orphan Black btw!)

Bottom line…take a look at the book. Read the blurb, take a peak at the reviews and see why so many others have loved this story and then take a chance and buy a copy for yourself!  Once you’ve read it – comment below and let me know your thoughts! I’d love to talk about it, compare notes, fan-girl a little if we can…cause I promise you, if you don’t already love Tosca Lee, you soon will!

Purchase Progeny
Tosca Lee’s Amazon Author Page
Tosca’s Website


The post Steena Reads: Tosca Lee’s Progeny appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

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Published on September 14, 2016 12:10 • 10 views

August 24, 2016

Hey Moms. Listen up.

If your child is reading – leave them alone. Seriously.

If you know of a child who is reading…leave them alone. Leave that mom alone. Keep your opinions to yourself. Stop the judging. Please.

Do you remember when you first realized how awesome it was to get lost in a book? That first time when those words made sense? When you realized there was more to life than what you thought?

I do. I was in grade 5. I hated quiet reading time. HATED. IT. I struggled to understand what the words meant, it took me forever to read one page which often meant I forgot what the story was about. Until my teacher introduced me to a story with a dragon on the cover. I can’t remember the title of that book (I wish I could) but I lost myself in the story and I couldn’t get enough. Instead of shopping, I’d hang out in the library and bring home stack and stacks of books.

My daughters are all like me. My youngest, who is now 13 yrs old, has finally discovered books. FINALLY. All summer we’ve been visiting the bookstore so she could find ‘another book to read’. I’m ecstatic. Over the moon. Thrilled more than you can know. I’m so glad she loves to read. She’ll pop into my room and want to talk about her latest book and she’s been looking through my book shelves and boxes of books to find new things to read.

Lately I’ve had a few mom’s give me some unwanted advice on how I need to monitor what my daughter is reading, how I need to approve each book make sure she’s not filling her head with garbage.

Excuse me? Since when was reading filling your head with garbage?

Okay…before anyone says anything…I don’t want my daughter reading erotica. That’s a given. She doesn’t want to read that either. But I’m not going to monitor what she’s reading – I’m going to trust that she’s reading something she’s ready to read.

I don’t care if it’s fantasy. Suspense. YA. Romance. Horror (okay…that one might be pushing it because I don’t want her to get nightmares BUT she has to learn what she can handle just like I have to learn each time I read one and end up unable to sleep).

Our job as parents is to raise our children with awareness, right?

My mom didn’t monitor what I read. She didn’t like me reading Harlequin but I would sneak her romances from the shelves in her room and read them. I’d even get stacks of Harlequins from my other reader friends and would hide them in my closet because I knew my mom didn’t look in there (sorry mom…well, not really..haha).

I’m not going to limit my daughter on what she can read. How else will she know what she likes? Last week she was reading a fantasy. This week she’s reading my Elizabeth Mansfield novels. Next week…who knows? (Well, if she likes the Elizabeth Mansfield books then I know what she’s reading because I have A LOT of them).

If your child is reading…let them read. Encourage it. Let them explore and discover for themselves what they like to read rather than telling them. And the next time another well-being mother gets all judgemental and tells you what your child should be reading…hand them a glass of wine and tell them to relax.

The post Stop Judging What Your Child Is Reading appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

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Published on August 24, 2016 19:58 • 22 views

August 22, 2016

When I realized Saving Abby is on over 3000 shelves over on Goodreads…I almost couldn’t believe it! For a story that has been out only a few months…


Goodreads banner

To celebrate, I’ve got an amazing Prize Pack to hand out…5 Audio Books!

Yep – you read that right! The winner of this prize will receive the following audio books:

Finding Emma

Emma’s Secret

Memory Child

Stillwater Rising

Word Game
THE WINNER IS….Krys Maldonado!

Congratulations Krys! Please email me at this week with your mailing address so I can get it in the mail

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Published on August 22, 2016 09:55 • 13 views

August 2, 2016

I’ll admit that it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve last picked up a book from Oprah’s Book Club.

It’s not that I haven’t liked her picks or have issues with Oprah herself…but I have my own picks to read, my own TBR pile that doesn’t seem to dwindle, so I haven’t paid much mind.

Until today.

I’m not all that sure why this book caught my attention. It’s not the sort of cover I like, I’ve never heard of the reader…and while the title interests me, I’m not gripped.

So why did I pick it up? I think it has everything to do with this:

“This book has kept me up at night, had my heart in my throat, almost afraid to turn the next page…Get it.”

It’s been a while since a book has touched me like that. The last one I read that kept me up at night, that had my wondering what was going to happen was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve been on a book hangover ever since and I’m ready…I’m ready to get my heart ripped out again.

What about you? Will you read this? Will you join me in seeing if it’s worthy of another book hangover? I’m willing to try…

Check it out now!

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Published on August 02, 2016 16:53 • 36 views