Archives for December 2013

A Bookish Christmas

A Bookish Christmas

 

When I saw the sign up for A Bookish Christmas at Oh, Chrys, I jumped at the chance to be a part of this awesome event. I couldn’t wait to “meet” my exchange partner and shop for that person. It was so exciting!

 

I was paired up with Jayne at  Fiction TheNewReality. Be sure to check out her blog! I won’t tell you what I sent her way, but I will share what she sent to me.

 

Here is my Bookish Christmas gift! Doesn't it look pretty?

Here is my Bookish Christmas gift! Doesn’t it look pretty?

And of course, I could not wait until Christmas to open my gift. I was lucky I waited long enough to take a picture of it all wrapped and looking pretty!

And of course, I could not wait until Christmas to open my gift. I was lucky I waited long enough to take a picture of it all wrapped and looking pretty!

WOO-HOO!!! Jayne sent me While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax. I love Downton Abbey and I can’t wait to read this book!!

 

Thank you so much, Jayne! Merry Christmas! And I’m counting down to next year’s A Bookish Christmas event!

efchappy

Blog Tour: The Wanderers by Paul Stutzman (spotlight, excerpt)

The Wanderers banner 7

The Wanderers 7The Wanderers
written by Paul Stutzman
published by Carlisle Printing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: An Amish Love Story About Hope and Finding Home

Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.

His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.

Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.
Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.

But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.

Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.efcexcerpt

First Chapter

I was ten when I had my first taste of beer. A late start, to be sure, but I was never bothered much by peer pressure. My friends had all sampled the stuff two or three years before, but I had felt no desire or need. There was only one reason I drank on that hot August day. I was thirsty.

Finished with my morning chores, I started across the hayfield with an armful of boards ripped from the old washhouse. Previous generations had scrubbed and soaked and steamed in the one-room shack in front of our farmhouse; my parents, though, had upgraded to a new kerosene washer, and now the women worked in the coolness under the long front porch. An old kettle still hung above the brick fire pit, but the washhouse sagged like a tired old work horse.

My dad had assigned me the task of dismantling the washhouse. That was fine with me; I had plans for that scrap lumber. I wanted to enlarge the deer stand at the edge of the distant woods. The stand was my hideout, where I spent countless hours contemplating life. It was a haven for my wondering mind, and I called it my institution of higher learning.

Eight years of school at Milford Elementary, in the little village several miles east of our farm, were not enough for me. While most Amish children were happy to be finished with formal education, I wept when I could not attend the local high school.

The English students sometimes mocked us Amish as backwards farmers, but I enjoyed school, excelled in sports, and had the gift of gab. Although I was known as something of a “charmer,” I never liked the word. It’s true, I could talk myself into or out of anything. You do have to make the most of whatever talents God’s given you.

The school of higher education that I did attend was built in a stately oak that stood sentinel at the edge of our woods. Two gnarled branches cradled my hideout, ten feet off the ground, overlooking the fields that my family had owned for generations. Years ago, my grandfather had secured several boards across the limbs and nailed short slabs up the oak’s trunk, a ladder ascending to the platform. Over time, the trunk swallowed up most of the rungs, but edges still protruded far enough for deer hunters to clamber up and lie in wait for the quarry.

My first hunt with my dad and my brother was also my last. Finally, I was deemed old enough to go hunting with the men. I climbed the ladder and settled into waiting, tense with excitement. Very soon, a doe came through the woods, paused at the spring to drink, then walked slowly down the side of the ravine. One shot echoed through the quiet morning. We scampered down the ladder rungs and approached the deer, lying bleeding on the hillside. It struggled to its feet, took another tumble, and lay still.

My excitement vanished. I felt only sadness and pangs of remorse. The doe’s brown eye was open, staring at me, asking, “Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

Dad had a knife in his hands; I knew what must come next. Backtracking, I was violently sick behind a bush. I was not meant to be a hunter, and no one would ever shoot another deer from that stand if I had any say at all.

I did have my say. Well, my mom did. Although Dad was the authority and power in our house, Mom often held the reins. With tears streaming down my face, I unloaded my sad description of the dying deer. “We can’t shoot them anymore. We just can’t.”

Soon the NO HUNTING signs were posted, and the woods, deer stand, and all of God’s nature on our 120 acres were mine.

Well, perhaps not quite everything fell under my protection. Every year, we butchered a pig, a horrible sacrifice for the betterment of our family. My dad and brother would select the offering. I always wondered how the selection was made, but I never asked. They’d grab the unlucky swine by the hind legs, lift it over the fence, and carry it away as it squealed in terror. As the surviving porkers looked on in great relief, I’d run to the house, up the stairs, and cover my head with my pillow. I’d hear the shot anyway.

While my family processed the departed, I’d venture to the pig pen. I knew each hog by distinguishing marks; and, in dread, I checked to see who was missing. Spotty had survived. Curly was still here. Snort made the cut. We would be eating Limpy. A wild dog or coyote had wriggled through the board fence one night and taken a bite out of Limpy. Our German shepherd, Biff, had heard the commotion and chased the intruder away before he could get a second bite. On the day of Limpy’s demise, I reminded myself that I must take caution; I must never injure myself in any way that might cause my own lameness.

***

My usual route from the washhouse to the deer stand followed the cow path leading from the barn to the pasture field and traveled twice a day by our herd. On this day, the hay field between the house and the woods had been mowed and I took advantage of this shorter route. I might have chosen the hay field even if the route were longer; as a ten-year-old, I drank in the sensory gifts of summer: the aroma of new mown hay, the sweetness of warm strawberries, the smell of an August rain on dusty ground.

“Johnny, go get us some Stroh’s!” my older brother Jonas called. He and his friend Jacob were in the field, making hay. Jacob had been recruited to help my brother today because Dad was on a lumber buying trip, and the clouds warned there would be rain by tomorrow. I dropped my boards reluctantly and retraced my steps back to the farmhouse.

My great-grandparents had built this house over a spring, and the cool waters flowed through the basement, filling a concrete trough where my mom stored crocks of butter, fresh milk and cream, eggs, watermelon, and any kind of dish she was preparing for the next meal. Those amber bottles of Stroh’s were chilling in a corner of the trough just inside the door. I grabbed two by the necks and rushed back outside, leaving a wet trail of spring water.

The Stroh’s stash belonged to Jonas. Dad was bishop of our Amish church, and I had never seen him drink beer. As a church leader, he was very much aware that anything misused, misread, or mistaken could affect his reputation and influence in the community.

Jonas, on the other hand, had no such reputation to protect. Sixteen, he had recently concluded his formal education and he knew exactly where his future lay. He was not yet a member of the church, but he would join in a few years, get married, and settle down right here in our valley. He had big plans to take over the sawmill that my dad ran as a part-time operation. I was the younger of Dad’s sons; my father’s hope was that I would be farming the Miller family land someday.

“You thirsty?” Jonas handed his half-empty bottle to me. I was thirsty. But that first taste was not good.

Still, that swallow in the hay field meant that now I was one of the men. I may have been a Miller boy, but now I was a Stroh’s man.

Yes, I admit, many bottles of Stroh’s beer would find their way to the deer stand in the years to come. For a while, it was not only my thinking stand, it was my drinking stand. More of a beer stand than a deer stand. Stroh’s beer would get me into so much trouble; but it would also lead to meeting Annie. And then, for a short time, I had it all. I was an Amish man living the dream.

Until it was all taken from me.

About the author: Paul Stutzman was born in Holmes County, Ohio in an Amish family. His family left the Amish lifestyle soon after Paul was born. They joined a strict Conservative Mennonite Church where Paul was raised to fear God and obey all the rules the church demanded. Paul continued to live among and mingle with his Amish friends and relatives his entire life. Paul married a Mennonite girl and remained in the Amish community working and raising a family. After Paul lost his wife to cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart- the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. With a mixture of dread and determination, Paul left his job, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the 2,176 mile Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life-and can change yours too. After completing his trek Stutzman wrote Hiking Through—a book about this life changing journey.

In the summer of 2010 Stutzman again heeded the call for adventure and pedaled his bicycle 5,000 miles across America. He began his ride at the Northwest corner of Washington State and pedaled to Key West, Florida.  On his journey across America he encounters people in all circumstances, from homelessness to rich abundance. The people he meets touch his life profoundly. Stutzman writes about these encounters in his book Biking Across America.

Recently Stutzman released his first novel entitled The Wanderers. The Wanderers is a story about Johnny, a young Amish boy growing up in a culture he is not sure he wants to embrace. A young Amish girl named Annie wins his heart and life is great for a time. Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

In addition to writing, he speaks to groups about his hiking and biking experiences and the lessons learned during these adventures. Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at www.hikingthrough.com or www.paulstutzman.com.

Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at www.hikingthrough.com or www.paulstutzman.com

 

efchappy

 

Review: An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao

An Incurable Insanity Book CoverAn Incurable Insanity
written by Simi K. Rao
published by Tate Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publicist to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I couldn’t really enjoy it because I was pretty much confused by it. But I’ll discuss the book to the best of my ability.

The bright spots:  First, the cover art is lovely. Second, she starts the novel with a quote from Ambrose Bierce, “Love: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.” Then she follows this quote by saying, “This tale is an attempt to prove the reverse or at least give it a chance.”

Awww. How could I resist? It just seemed so promising.

But then I started reading. The story goes something like this: An Indian woman is being heavily courted by many suitors for an arranged marriage. After seeing a picture of one fetching suitor, she decides,”OH, yeah baby, he da ONE!!!,” or something like that . . . the Indian equivalent of love at first sight. On her wedding night, Mr. Super Hot tells her he’s not interested in well, you know because he’s already got some serious hanky-panky going on with his boss’s wife.

HUH? So why did he agree to the arranged marriage? Apparently, he didn’t want to disappoint his dying grandfather.  But no worries; he’s got it all worked out. He’ll just return her in two months and say it didn’t work out. Grandpa would be so proud!

From there, the couple fights for several chapters before falling hopelessly in love.

Maybe I’m just a jaded American who doesn’t appreciate the romantic virtues of arranged marriages, infidelity, and lies. Or maybe this story just doesn’t make sense.

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Would I recommend it: Gosh, maybe I’ll recommend it just so someone can explain it to me.

Will I read it again: No.

belindasigAbout the book: Shaan is a recent 27 year old aerospace masters grad, who lands the perfect job in a leading aeronautics and space exploration company in Los Angeles. At the urging of his parents’ he goes down the traditional arranged marriage route, leaving behind a lover and a complicated relationship in Los Angeles. As a result, Shaan and Ruhi’s marriage has an awkward and uncomfortable start. The begrudging spouses make a pact: Ruhi will stay with Shaan in the United States only long enough to avoid embarrassment from their family and peers. Ruhi, remaining optimistic thinks that she can use this time to try and win Shaan’s heart, but to no avail. Follow Ruhi and Shaan on a roller coaster ride as they attempt to be “friends without benefits” and expose their true selves to each other in search of love and happiness.

While An Incurable Insanity provides fascinating glimpses into traditional Indian culture, it is an intriguing love story with universal appeal.

About the author: Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. The inspiration for An Incurable Insanity came from what she has seen transpire among and within the immigrant community. Some of the experiences included are her own; some have been garnered from friends and casual conversations with acquaintances.

Find Ms. Rao here: web, Twitter, Goodreads

efchappy

Book Blitz: Pentimento by Cameron Jace (spotlight, excerpt, interview, giveaway)

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Pentimento 1Pentimento
written by Cameron Jace
published by Cameron Jace

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: The day Iris Beaumont turns seventeen, she is threatened to be taken by the Beasts, the rulers of the new America. After the destruction of the world, the Beasts provide citizens with whatever they need in exchange for the one teenage girl they enslave every week. They call them the Brides, and they never comes back. Iris isn’t the worrying type though; she’s been defying the system since she was ten and never cared for the Beast’s rules.

Then she meets Colton Ray, who is not like any other boy she’s ever seen. His confidence and dominance are otherworldly she can’t rationalize the attraction she feels for him. Colton had one slight problem though. It’s rumored he is one of the Beast, and Iris could be the next on the Beast’s list.efcexcerpt

The girls watched Eva Washington plod to her death. She shuffled barefoot on the red carpet, hardly breathing against the fear inhabiting her lungs. The tensed muscles in her face wrinkled the features of her adolescent beauty. Iris watched the sticky tears in Eva’s eyes thicken, and probably blur her destination to the Beasts’ glowing spaceship.

Although the sun showed no empathy, still splaying its bright rays upon the scene, the Beasts’ spaceship shone an even brighter light toward her. It had always been this way. Iris thought it was ironic how the Beasts hid behind the glaring light. Instead of wearing metal armors or using the latest hologram technologies, they hid behind a light brighter than the sun.

“Someone should help her,” Iris mumbled, Zoe still standing next to her. “Eva’s crying so hard, she can’t see.”

“My mother says that it’s better to die before staring in the eyes of the Beast.” Zoe commented, not taking her eyes off Eva.

None of the girls were allowed to talk in the Ceremony of the Beast. They stood on both sides of the red carpet leading to the ship, silently witnessing one of their own being sacrificed. The ceremony was a reminder for other girls, a torturing memory. Iris always wondered how the Beasts selected their Brides. Was it some kind of lottery? Did they follow a list with names? A prophecy maybe? Or did they choose the most beautiful? Iris was sure it wasn’t the latter option. Last time, the girl wasn’t as beautiful as Eva. Not even close. But who knew what beauty looked like in the eyes of the Beast?

Eva was still walking toward the Beasts’ ship. She wasn’t permitted a stop of any kind. Every reluctant step Eva took closer, the girls on both sides did their best to silence their screams. Some of them wiped the trickling teardrops from their ripe cheeks. The punishment of sympathizing with the Bride was as horrible as Eva’s inevitable fate. To the Beasts, this was a happy day, which led many to think the Beasts actually married the Brides. A disturbing suggestion, Iris had always thought.

A sudden cloud blocked the grinning sunlight, shading Eva’s wedding dress with a gray stain. The chosen girls had to wear expensive, designer wedding dresses to meet the majestic Beasts. Like any normal wedding, each girl wore their best make up and had their hair styled.  It was a painful process, being groomed while knowing one’s horrible fate. No one could protest. It was the Law of the Beasts.

All girls were given a beautiful bouquet of roses, which were either synthetic or polyester, but smelled like real roses. For some reason, most things in The Second were artificial. The roses, as well as the grass in the local park, were as dead as the high metallic skyscrapers.

Eva wiped the tears from her eyes and began throwing random gazes toward the girls on both sides. This was the same girl who was probably going to be the Prom Queen, the same girl that everyone envied in school, Colton’s girlfriend. Now her gaze was shattered, like splintered glass across the girls faces. She’d meet your eyes, but you’d think she wasn’t even there. She became hollow, a fading portrait, soon to disappear in the Beasts’ light. And it wasn’t funny. Even though Eva hadn’t been kind to the average girls like Iris and Zoe, none of the girls loved to see her as a Bride. Any of them could be in her shoes next week.

For a moment, Iris thought Eva was looking for Colton. Boys weren’t supposed to stand in the front rows. Only the second and third. The ceremony was a girls’ thing. There was nothing for the human boys to do here.

But each Bride had a father, a brother, or a boyfriend whose heart burned for her. But not even the strongest men in The Second defied the Beasts.

Empowered by wishful thinking, Eva stole a last glance into her phone, which she had been holding with shivering hands. She looked like she wished it hadn’t been her ID showing on the screen. It was clearly hers.

“How could you be so cruel to me?” she snapped, talking to the ship’s blinding light, still walking forward. “I was about to go to college next year. I was going to be engaged to Colton Ray next month!”

A number of girls let out short sighs. This was news to everyone. So their relationship was serious. Iris could feel Zoe’s blaming eyes on her skin.

“What?” Iris fisted an angry hand. She wasn’t going to hit Zoe.  She wanted to hit herself, for saying such a thing. The mere thought of her wish coming true was puzzling. “It’s not like I’m a witch or something,” she grumbled.

“We planned to get married while in college,” Eva continued, shouting at the light. That silent light that told her what to do, but never talked back to her. “We’ve been planning to have two children; a boy named Jeremiah, and a girl named Flower.”

Iris held a tear from being born in her eyes. No girl had talked to the Beasts this way before. Most of them sank to their knees, and pleaded that someone would help them and confront the Beasts. Some cried and fainted halfway through, until elders had to carry them as close as possible to the ship. And some prayed like in a chapel, brainwashed that this was their fate, and that they died as a sacrifice for the other girls to live–Iris wanted to kick-box those into the light.

But none of them had spoken in such an emotional way like Eva did.  Her words reminded everyone that someone’s life and dreams were being killed today. The problem was that most elders thought of the Call of the Beasts like natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and plane crashes. Stuff like that happened all the time. And the Beasts, who ruled their world, must have a wisdom behind it.

Iris, unusually vulnerable, pulled out Zoe’s phone and took another peek. The screen didn’t show Eva’s name. The Beasts didn’t believe in human names. It read: Beauty 57135LL; Eva’s citizenship identification number in the United States of The Second.

The horn roared again, buzzing into each girl’s bones. Instead of an answer to her question, the unseen Beasts were urging Eva to step closer toward her death. The silliest thought crossed Iris’s mind. What if she just ran into the ship and at least peeked in, to see what they looked like? If they had the right to take one of them, didn’t they have the right to know who they were?

Before disappearing into the light, Eva took one last glance at the girls. She waved a weakened goodbye as the girls lowered their chins to their chest and laced their hands together. It was as if Eva, the school’s queen bee, had turned into a contagious epidemic they preferred to avoid. Many girls were teary-eyed though. But most of them were glad they hadn’t been the one walking the red carpet.

Out of respect, Iris didn’t lower her eyes. It was the least she could do. She was still fisting her hand, mad at herself for not standing up for Eva. It wasn’t just the guilt moving her, but the fact that she could simply be next. Why wasn’t anyone doing anything about it?

In an unexpected moment, Eva caught Iris’s eyes, and nodded back, as if they had been lifelong friends and were now girl-coding each other. Iris glanced behind her for a second, not sure Eva meant her. Everyone else had their heads bowed to their chest. It was Iris Eva meant. Not only that. Eva mouthed something to Iris, something that gave her goosebumps on her skin, as Eva disappeared behind the light of the ship. Her darkest hour.

A second later, Iris caught sight of Colton standing second row on the other side. His blue eyes had turned into puddles of blurry tears. In front of him, girls raised their heads, most of them glad this was over. The ship’s drone was deafening as it howled back up toward the sky.

Iris couldn’t take her eyes off Colton, wondering if she should tell him what Eva mouthed to her. Who’d have thought that the queen bee, who treated her like shit, would ask this of her?

efcinterview

What inspired you to write another Beauty and the Beast retelling when there are a Beauty and a Beast in your Grimm Diaries series? Well, first of all, it’s a totally different Beauty and the Beast. It’s a dystopian story that came to me after learning what about the art of Pentimento.

So what is a Pentimento? Pentimento is a painter’s term. It’s when you discover that an older painting had been originally drawn underneath the one you see right now. It’s a very interesting concept, and it’s true. The painter decides to change his painting midways, and then paints the new one above it. It happened a lot with great artists like Picasso and others in the past, mainly because they didn’t have enough money to buy a new canvas. Interesting enough, usually the new painting peel off and thins with age, and older one surfaces back. It has a great significance in the book.

Does that mean it’s a complicated book? Not at all. It’s a simple story about a girl named Iris Beaumont falling in love with a very interesting boy at seventeen. They live in a dystopian society ruled by an alien nation that demands a ‘bride’ each week in exchange for the services they provide for humans. It’s an easy read, a romance, only with Beauty and the Beast layers underneath.

Can you give us an example of a real Pentimento Case in life? Of course. Fragonard’s painting The Fountain of Love. Which is featured in the story. Here is a Youtube link to a video that explains the whole concept. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r4NXfZs5qA

Why dystopian? I have been pondering the idea of dystopian fairy tales for a long time. After the Grimm Diaries has been successful for connecting fairy tales with real world characters and events, I thought why not try a dystopian fairy tale. I didn’t know how to do it until Pentimento’s idea came to me.

The cover for Pentimento looks sexy. What do you rate the book? Fairly PG. It’s a family friendly and it’s geared toward young adults, although many non-young-adults beta read it and loved it.

Who are the Beasts in the book, really? And why do they take the girls? Can’t say. Lol. You have to read it. And don’t forget to tell me what you thought of it. I am always open to suggestions and feedback.

Anything you want to add? I wish everyone and awesome Christmas and a Fantabulous new yearJ

 

CameronAbout the author: Wonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV – it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales. I live in San Fransisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles.

Find Mr. Jace here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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efchappy

 

Review: Sugar Spun Sister by Anna Garner

sugar spunSugar Spun Sister (Sweet Dreams #1)
written by Anna Garner
published by Anna Garner

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review this book. I said yes, of course, because Ms. Garner is a must-read author of mine. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy Sugar Spun Sister. It was a fun read that had me glued to my Nook, reading every free chance I had.

Cricket is a young woman with big dreams but not quite enough courage to take a step toward realizing those dreams. She is in a job that she knows how to do; unfortunately, her boss has no faith in her abilities whatsoever. What does Cricket dream about doing? Owning her own ice cream shop. She is rather talented when it comes to creating fabulous ice cream flavors. I enjoyed reading all of the ingredients in each flavor at the beginning of each chapter. I wish I could try that ice cream. If I knew how to make ice cream, I would definitely try some of those combinations!

Anyway . . . back to the story. Cricket has her two best friends who are always there for her whenever she needs them. They support her and have been encouraging her to open her own ice cream shop. Encouraging isn’t quite the word I’m looking for. Pressuring (but in a good way) is a better word choice. Her friends keep pushing her to take on this adventure, and they shoot down any reasons Cricket comes up with to not move forward. They soon join forces and all sorts of fun, adventure, and drama ensues.

I loved that her parents weren’t on board with Cricket’s plans. Not for reasons you would expect. That was kind of comical to me. Cricket’s brother was there to help out, which was sweet. Her hook up was on hand for most of her needs and a few embarrassing moments. One moment had me chuckling throughout the rest of the book when it was alluded to.

All-in-all, Sugar Spun Sister was another great read from Ms. Garner. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Sweet Dreams series.

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Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book to any chick lit fan.

Will I read it again: I may read this again in the future.

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About the book – from Goodreads:
Life isn’t exactly sweet for Cricket Whittier. Her boss hates her, her work is soul-destroying, and the sexy guy she’s hooking up with doesn’t want to date her. But this girl is far from hopeless. When Cricket’s in the kitchen with her ice cream maker and a few choice ingredients, her troubles slip away as she becomes a delectable dessert-designing powerhouse. She loves it so much, she dreams of opening her own ice cream shop one day.

As it turns out, “one day” just might be closer than she thinks. Propelled by the help and encouragement of her best friends, Lindsay and Nora, Cricket starts making plans to set up shop. Which is easier said than done what with the internal squabbling, the sky-high costs, her parents forecasting failure and her increasingly complicated love life. Despite all these hurdles, will Cricket be able to make her sweet dreams come true?

efchappy

 

Blog Tour: Saving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald (spotlight, excerpt)

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Saving Jackie K 7Saving Jackie K
written by L.D.C. Fitzgerald
published by Ursa Minor Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

About the book: The First Lady in Danger?

Jump into the past to save her!

Enter an upside-down world where Soviet henchmen botched their mission to eliminate John F. Kennedy fifty years ago, slaying his wife Jackie instead. The unthinkable crime incites Americans and triggers an unending war with Russia.

In present day, as the two superpowers teeter on the brink of mutual destruction, a team of outlaws discovers a way to jump through time. The wisecracking felons decide to take matters into their own hands by traveling back to 1963 to save Jackie K. To fix the future, they must right the wrongs of the past.

But, their mission may go awry . . .efcexcerpt

Chapter Twenty-Three

Monday, September 23, 2013

1:00 pm – PDT

After lunch, Dee corralled the team around the diorama on the workbench. “First, some background for context. Let’s travel to the past to November 1963. President Kennedy has embarked on a tour of five Texas cities, including San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin. Tragically, he’ll never make it to his final destination. The tour’s objective is to garner support for his ’64 reelection campaign, which is already heating up. Although JFK won the Lone Star State in 1960, his popularity as a Democrat in the South is waning. Thus, various speeches, appearances, and motorcades are planned in each location to give the incumbent maximum exposure to the population. No one could fathom the tragic outcome in Dallas.”

Dee gestured to the foam board. “Here is our rendition of Dealey Plaza. Perhaps surprisingly, the park has not changed much in the past fifty years. If we visited in present day, we’d be hard pressed to notice the minor differences such as signs and lampposts. The map is oriented with north pointing up. Main Street runs east-west along the bottom, while Houston is on the right-hand edge going north-south. Houston is lined on the east by the Dallas County Criminal Courts Building and the Dallas County Records Building.” She touched the tissue boxes representing the structures. “At the top right, Elm Street intersects Houston. The Texas School Book Depository Building with its fabled Hertz billboard and clock on the roof sits on their northwest corner. Elm bisects the plaza in a southwesterly arc to the left, forming a triangular expanse between Main and Elm known as the infield.” Dee swiped her hand across the green area.

“Note that we show only half of the park. A mirror image exists to the south, with Commerce Street forming the bottom of the triangle arc. The three thoroughfares—Elm, Main, and Commerce—converge to the west under a railroad trestle known as the Triple Underpass. North of Elm is a concrete structure called the Pergola, a round archway facing forward. The back wall and top are semi-enclosed, with large rectangular openings allowing sunlight to stream inside. In front are concrete columns and a few steps leading down the sloping hill known as the Grassy Knoll. A longer staircase on the left proceeds from the railroad parking lot in the northwest down to the sidewalk.” She pointed to the magic marker walkway near the flimsy construction paper half-moon.

“Now, let’s time travel to Friday, November 22, 1963. Picture a gorgeous day with sunny skies and mild temperatures. Air Force One touches down at Love Field Airport in Dallas at 11:40 am Central Standard Time. The President and First Lady exit the plane to the cheers of the waiting crowd, while city officials present Jacqueline with a bouquet of a dozen red roses. Mr. Kennedy’s charcoal gray suit is unmemorable. However, Mrs. Kennedy is wearing a custom-made, double-breasted pink Chanel suit with matching pillbox hat. Her dark navy silk blouse dramatically contrasts with the ensemble. It’s no exaggeration to claim that spectators were as excited to see Jackie as they were to see Jack. The couple walks along a chain-link fence greeting their well-wishers. To the dismay of his Secret Service agents, JFK stops on enumerable occasions to chat and shake hands. Ten minutes later, he finally boards his limousine for the parade through the heart of downtown, with the intention of heading to the Trade Mart for a luncheon speech.”

Dee began to place Lilliputian vehicles on Houston Street. “The motorcade consists of twenty-odd automobiles and an assortment of motorcycle police.”

“Wait.” Jay held up an index finger. “Your grandfather was in the motorcade, right?”

“Unfortunately, no. The detail primarily included city officers, and granddad’s beat was in the suburbs. He would have loved to be part of it, though. He had voted for Kennedy and admired him, at least up until then.” Dee gave a wry shrug before continuing.

“Okay, so a phalanx of Dallas motorcycle cops start the procession, followed by the pilot car and four more motorcycles. Their chief purpose is to keep spectators from spilling into the road. Next is the lead car carrying police and Secret Service tasked with scanning observers and buildings for anything suspicious. Here is the presidential limousine.” She placed a replica on the board. “Imagine American and presidential flags billowing from the front quarter panels. A specially designed 1961 Lincoln convertible, it has two collapsible jump seats between the front and back seats. A narrow foothold on the bumper and two inverted U-shaped bars on the trunk allow Secret Service members to climb aboard and hold on when necessary. In the rearmost bench seat, Kennedy rides on the passenger side with his wife beside him.”

“What the hell were they thinking?” Bick thumped his fist on the table, causing the models to quiver. “It’s inconceivable that the president was out in the open like a sitting duck. Today’s agents would never permit it.”

“I know. It’s not like presidents hadn’t been targeted before.” Dee shook her head at the senselessness. “Anyway, passengers in the jump seats are Texas Governor John Connally Jr. in front of JFK, and his wife Nellie in front of Jackie. Secret Service Agent William Greer drives, while his colleague Roy Kellerman rides shotgun. Two motorcycle cops flank the rear of the Commander-in-Chief’s limo. The follow-up car trails behind, overflowing with Secret Service, including two each on the side running boards. The vice president’s car comes next, carrying Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.”

“Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute.” Quin emphasized his drawl. “How does some fancy southern belle wind up with the name Lady Bird?”

“Nickname, to be exact. She was born Claudia Alta Taylor, after her Uncle Claud. When she was a baby, her nursemaid proclaimed her ‘purty as a ladybird’ and it stuck. No one seems to remember her birth name. Doubly unlucky for Mrs. Johnson, a ladybird is more commonly called a ladybug.”

“Sheesh. An insect.”

“Yeah.” Dee raised her eyebrows, proud of the depth of her knowledge. “The remainder of the caravan consists of various dignitaries, White House communications, reporters, photographers, police, and an official party bus for White House staff.”

“Official party bus?” Sera scoffed.

“Yes, believe it or not. I’m led to believe the designation was fairly accurate, too, with a lot of drinking and smoking going on.”

Dee motioned to the diorama. “Back to the lay of the land. Our home movie buff, dressmaker Abraham Zapruder, is perched on a concrete abutment in front of the left side of the Pergola, with his receptionist Marilyn Sitzman standing behind him.” She pointed to the tiny figures.

“Mr. Zapruder simply wanted to record a piece of history.” Jay scratched his head. “He had no idea his eight millimeter camera would capture the most sensational assassination of the century. We’re fortunate Dee owns a rare copy of the infamous reel.”

“Now, the KGB. There are three operatives: Ivan Grekovich, Dmitriy Sokolov, and Viktor Vladimirsky. They used American aliases for documents, of course, but we will use their proper Russian names for simplicity. I’ll provide you with their photos and dossiers later. Ivan is prowling in front of the Pergola to the right of Zapruder. Dmitriy and Viktor are skulking on the other side of Elm Street in the infield. They are spread out so Viktor will be the first that JFK will pass.” Dee put red soldiers on the board indicating their positions. “We used toy militia to differentiate them from ordinary citizens.” She blushed at the odd method of demarcation.

Frank hefted up the Dmitriy figure in his palm. “You mean they were standing out in the open in the middle of all those people? I thought KGB spies were supposed to be the best-trained covert assassins in the world. But these guys don’t sound too bright to me.”

“Frank, you make an excellent point.” Iggy held out her hand for Dmitriy. “From what I recall there was a lot of speculation as to why they blatantly tried to gun down the president in public. Many concluded the three spies were patsies who were meant to be caught. That way, the US would strike first in the war and the USSR could claim it responded in defense. But nobody will ever know the true story. It’s just a conspiracy theory.” She placed the character back in position.

“Let’s concentrate on the key cars involved.” Dee pushed the other vehicles aside. “It’s 12:29 in the afternoon when the entourage heads north on Houston and makes a sharp left onto Elm, passing the gathering crowds on both sides.” She started rolling the matchbox presidential limo on the diorama and butted the motorcycles up behind it. “Fewer onlookers show up in Dealey than elsewhere; they line the curb only one person deep. Perhaps that helps explain the KGB’s brazenness.” She glanced up, astonished to see the whole crew riveted to her narrative.

“At 12:30 pm, the open-top black sedan nears Viktor on the infield. He is supposed to shoot the driver to slow the vehicle. But he draws early and misses, the bullet lodging in Agent Greer’s door. Governor Connally hears the deafening crack, sees the shiny weapon, and cries, ‘My God, they’re gonna kill us all!’ In heroic fashion, this former Navy lieutenant commander—who won a Bronze Star for bravery in World War II—turns to the president, tackles him, and tries to wrestle him to the floor. Obviously, he assumes JFK is in danger. By the Pergola, Ivan concurrently aims at Kennedy, but by now Connally is in the direct line of fire. His shot goes through the governor’s neck and lodges in the president’s shoulder. Neither wound is fatal. The noise and chaos cause driver Greer to brake in confusion, giving the KGB more opportunity. Witnessing Connally’s actions, a terrified Jackie turns toward her husband as Dmitriy pulls the trigger from further down the infield. The bullet rips into Mrs. Kennedy’s back, shattering a lung.” Swallowing with a gulp, Dee paused.

Sam took advantage of the hesitation. “What a colossal screw-up. I can’t believe the ineptitude of the KGB. A single target and they missed? I’ll wager it shouldn’t be too hard to stop these clowns.”

“One step at a time, Sam.” Dee turned back to the model. “Secret Service members in the follow-up car react immediately. Clinton J. Hill races toward the Lincoln convertible and mounts the bumper footstep. George W. Hickey Jr. cocks his rifle from the rear seat, while the other agents simultaneously draw their weapons. Right after the third shot, Special Agent John D. Ready leaps off the passenger side running board, and gallops up to the Pergola, where Ivan aims back at him. Ready shoots the commie in the head, killing him instantly. Meanwhile, Greer accelerates out of Dealey through the Triple Underpass with Agent Hill lying across the top of the back seat as a shield. Bobby Hargis, a motorcycle cop who flanked the driver’s side of the president’s car, guns his bike and jumps the curb onto the infield, chasing Viktor as he sprints after Dmitriy. While steering one-handed, Hargis manages to pull his gun with his free hand and nails Viktor in the behind as he tries to escape.”

Quin exclaimed, “He shot him in the ass?”

“Yes.” Dee smiled shyly. “Although wounded, Viktor continues to lope ahead, so Hargis hops off the bike to give chase. He catches up and body slams Viktor. Dmitriy bolts to the getaway car they left on Main Street and peels away. As you can predict, pandemonium reigns in the plaza as citizens duck and cover or flee for their lives.” She pantomimed her fingers running up the staircase next to the Pergola toward the railway parking lot.

“With sirens wailing, the motorcade races to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where JFK and Connally are treated. With severe injuries, the governor needs six hours of surgery to repair the damage, while the president is patched up with minimal intervention. Sadly, the First Lady is pronounced dead on arrival.” Dee sniffed.

“A Roman Catholic, the slain mother is given a public viewing in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in DC on Sunday. On Monday, she is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. I’m sure you remember the disturbing photo of daughter Caroline placing her teddy bear on the casket at the gravesite.” Dee dabbed the corner of her eyes with a tissue.

Iggy patted her shoulder. “I watched the coverage live. Seven years old, I sat in front of the TV playing with my dolls, mesmerized and frightened. Every station broadcast the footage; you couldn’t escape it. I identified with Caroline, who was just shy of her sixth birthday. I worried that someone would hurt my mommy as well.”

Dee cleared her throat. “Afterwards, captive Viktor remains loyal to the homeland and never talks. It isn’t until his comrade Dmitriy is caught at the Russian embassy in Mexico City that we uncover the truth. Under duress, he sells out his superior, Leonid Novikov, who was the mastermind of the operation.”

Sam interjected, “And that’s when Kennedy makes his notorious speech threatening the Soviets with retaliation. He unashamedly cries for his loss and parades his motherless children before the media.”

Dee furrowed her forehead. “I guess you could look at it that way.” She switched on the old-fashioned projector they had purchased at the Hobby Hut. “Now, let me show you the Zapruder film.” She turned off the lights and the grainy, hand-held movie flickered on the wall. The reel thrummed its spinning cadence as they watched in silence.

No one spoke for a few moments.

Bick finally stated the obvious. “Okay. We know what happened. How do we prevent it?”

Dee sighed. “I’m working on it.”

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About the author: L.D.C. Fitzgerald is the author of Saving Jackie K, a thrilling adventure to rescue the First Lady. In writing a story with an unexpected twist on the Kennedy Conspiracy, Fitzgerald relentlessly researched the facts regarding the JFK assassination, and wove them into a fictional world.

The author name L.D.C. Fitzgerald is, in fact, a pseudonym representing the combined talents of two writers: Lisa D. and Dave C. Lisa is a recovering Marketing Executive, having spent two decades researching consumer insights. Dave, a self-educated computer geek, has been selling his soul to corporate America for over a quarter century.

Find L.D.C. Fitzgerald here: webFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Review: Hold Still by Cherry Smyth

hold stillHold Still
written by Cherry Smyth
published by Holland Park Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publisher Holland Park Press to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
Yes.

Scandalous and sizzling.

 I’m glad I read this book on my kindle because I’m afraid the pages of a paperback would have caught fire during some of those sex scenes.

Ok. I think I’ve cooled down enough to write my review. Shew!

Smyth’s writing is more poetry than prose. The story flows from the point of view of a young wanna be artist who models for the more established painters. Her artistic perception picks up every slight detail of behavior and expressions (think: Sherlock Holmes).

The character development in this novel is Shakespearean. Jo, especially, has depth and mystery. She explores all the emotional intricacies of love, experimental sex, economic realities, and cultural/gender expectations.

The story line is linear with each scene eloquently descriptive with multilayered imagery and themes.

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Would I recommend it: I would. Note: This book would definitely receive an R rating for sexual content.

Will I read it again: No.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Hold Still is set in 1860s London and Paris, and is a fictional account of a short period in the life of Joanna Hiffernan, the muse and model of both James Whistler and Gustave Courbet.

Cherry Smyth has created an enthralling picture of what must have been a remarkable woman. How did a young girl, just seventeen when she met Jim Whistler, admittedly with beautiful red hair, and a vivid personality, inspire talented painters to create wonderful paintings such as: Whistler’s Symphony in White, No.1: The White Girl and Courbet’s La Belle Irlandaise?

Hold Still tells the story from Jo’s point of view. Her father instills in her a sense of self and Jo grows up to be a free spirit, a suffragette avant la lettre. Jo draws you in on her journey and her growing sense of her own artistic identity.

The novel offers a wonderful insight into the artistic process; the rivalry and at the same time the supportive camaraderie. At the heart of the story is love, which shapes Jo’s life: She loves him looking at her, feels as if she is made for his gaze, is made anew in it.

You get a fresh understanding of how women in Victorian society were supposed to behave. Jo tackles this head on, and it is this courage that enables her to progress from seemingly being used as an artist’s model, to turn this into the break she needs to make her way in life.

Read Hold Still for an interpretation of Courbet’s notorious The Origin of the World’s genesis, with a highly plausible explanation of the absent head and face of the model.

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Blog Tour: White Rogue by Dr. David R. Fett, Stephen Langford & Connie Malcolm (spotlight, first chapter)

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White Rogue 7White Rogue
written by Dr. David R. Fett, Stephen Langford & Connie Malcolm
published by CreateSpace

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Cold War era biological experiments are resurrected and after Boston experiences a seemingly inexplicable bio-terrorist attack, the Center for Disease Control’s Dr. Davie Richards and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paula Mushari once again join forces to uncover who is behind it. An obscure reference to a Dresden project found amid crash site evidence marks them both for execution. Paula and Dave are forced to leave Boston in the middle of the night and head to Washington, D.C.,where they soon find that anyone they contact also becomes the target of assassins. When the daughter of the CDC’s director is taken hostage, Dave and Paula come face to face with an evil that forces them to question the very nature of duty and service to country. With the help of one man, they learn the true meaning of dark operatives while they desperately try to stop another bio-attack from happening.efcexcerpt

First Chapter

There was a chill in the morning air.  A marine layer had moved into the Bay Area of San Francisco, creating a soft mist off in the distance as Anna looked up the street.  Anna Wheat was late to her job at one of the downtown branches of Bank of America.  She so wanted to be on time that she wished she could just jog the rest of the way, but her three-inch heels made that idea more comical than practical.  She had been a teller for the last two years and had been in line for a promotion, but like most things in the last few days, it had stalled.  Anna knew it wasn’t just her bosses were who preoccupied.  It seemed as though everyone in the country was distracted with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Coworkers chatted about the evening news instead of last weekend’s football games.  Married friends told her of their concerns for their kids. And she too felt on edge from the constant news bulletins that came across the radio and filled the morning and evening TV news reports.  Anna just wanted to concentrate on her work, start her new job, and be preoccupied with something positive.

She knew the bank’s human resources division in Los Angeles was waiting for the paperwork to expedite the change in her employee status from Grade 1 to Grade 3.  Anna had done an amazing job that she jumped a pay grade, something that barely had been achieved in the bank’s history and even more rarely by a woman.  The bank’s manager, John Kiley, often cited Annie’s accomplishments to other employees, saying that hard work made anything possible and they should all reach for the stars.  He was fascinated with the NASA astronauts, and the Space Race with the Soviet Union inspired his language.  He would remind any employee that would listen that Americans didn’t like settling for anything, and setting goals was the surest way to focus a nation’s, or a company’s, energies.  President John F. Kennedy had set a goal for the country back in 1961, he would remind his staffers, and soon after, on May 5th, Alan Shepherd became the first American in space.  The Soviets beat us there, but we were catching up, Mr. Kiley would say.

Mr. Kiley’s cheerleading and holding up Anna’s promotion as an example didn’t go over well with other employees, especially other women.  Anna was very young, attractive, and ambitious.  And while she liked the attention she earned for her work, she hated the unpleasant glances from the other young tellers and the ashen-haired head teller with the droopy eyelids.  Some of the young women would whisper despairingly behind her back, lewd suggestions on how she had moved up the corporate ladder. Anna tried to ignore them and do her job.  She wasn’t going to let them have the satisfaction of knowing they upset her.

That morning, as she walked along the street, Anna passed a newsstand that featured papers emblazoned with warnings about the Cuban Missile Crisis.  There was a palpable fear in the fear in the city and across the country that the missiles placed in Cuba by the Soviet Union and now aimed at the United States would lead to nuclear war, if not by intent, by some accident or miscommunication. Anna’s sister in Virginia was so panicked about it that she packed up her kids and drove across the country to Monterrey, California, in order to live with their mother and father until the crisis ended. Anna’s personality was the opposite of her sister’s. In fact, it was her cool demeanor that made her a perfect fit for the banking world. She always managed to stay calm no matter how upset a customer was.

She passed a TV store as she headed up to California: one of San Francisco’s steeply inclined streets. The brisk morning walks kept her quite fit, but this morning, she didn’t seem to have the same vigor she usually had.  It had been difficult to get out of bed, and she had to skip breakfast because she was running late.  No food, no coffee—that was the problem, Anna thought. She really wanted to push past the fatigue and be on time for work.  She believed punctuality was important, especially if she wanted the men she worked with to take her seriously.

Anna was determined to be the first woman to become bank manager at her branch. She wasn’t like all her high school friends, who also were working, but whose long-term goals were marriage, a house, and kids.  She wanted those things too, but she knew she wanted something more.

Anna looked in at an appliance store window as she passed by, and all the TV screens displayed news coverage of President Kennedy in a press conference. The president looked tired and unusually grim. She had been a Richard Nixon supporter and felt he would have been better at handling such a dangerous confrontation with the Soviet Union. Anna continued walking, reached the top of the street, and had to stop to catch her breath. That’s unusual, she thought, and then noticed her hands trembling. She remembered there was a donut shop near the bank, and she planned to stop in there and get a coffee and something to eat.

She stopped again.  There was something more ominous going on than low blood sugar.  She wiped her forehead. Her breathing was rapid and shallow. She was perspiring. She tried to catch her breath but started coughing up thick, bloody mucous. A passerby showed concern. She held up her hand to signal that she was fine.

Anna straightened up and made her way another half a block to her Bank of America branch.  She reached for the door, but severe vertigo prevented her from grasping the handle. Her legs became wobbly, and she fell in a heap in the doorway.

Mr. Kiley came running out to her. “Anna. Anna. Can you hear me?”

She didn’t answer.

Mr. Kiley asked the other employees who had gathered around to stay with Anna as he rushed back into the bank to phone for an ambulance. Anna just lay on the sidewalk, semiconscious, vision blurred.

 

About the Authors

David Fett 7DR. DAVID FETT, a board certified ophthalmologist, received his BS and Masters from MIT before earning his MD from Dartmouth Medical School. He now runs a private practice in Los Angeles and serves as an assistant clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Randi, and their four children.

 

Stephen Langford 7STEPHEN LANGFORD is a veteran writer/producer of over 150 hours of primetime television. He has also ventured into screenwriting and fiction. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Sandy, and their two daughters.

 

 

Connie Malcolm 7CONNIE MALCOLM is a recovering journalist who worked on The Globe and Mail in Toronto. She has worked previously on ten books of nonfiction authored by her husband, Andrew. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and the youngest of their three sons.

 

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Book Blast: Not My Mother’s Son by R.K. Avery (spotlight, giveaway)

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Not My Mother's SonNot My Mother’s Son
written by R.K. Avery
published by Brighton Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonSmashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Devious.  Conniving.  Deceitful.  Insidious.  David Miller thought he knew his mother.  He thought kidnapping three children was the most appalling and horrendous thing any human being could do and she couldn’t possibly do anything more monstrous.  He thought there was nothing else she could do or say that would astound him.  How wrong he was.

After Beatrice Miller, David’s serial kidnapping mother, is sentenced to thirty years, David moves to Phoenix, Arizona; and with the help of a trust fund and an old friend, he starts the Never Give Up foundation, an organization dedicated to finding and returning exploited and missing children safely to their families.  With all the wicked things his mother had done, David feels it is his unspoken duty to do something worthwhile.

Hesitant at first but after reading his mother’s journal, David is determined to mend their dysfunctional relationship.  Every time David visits Bea in prison, she seems deranged insisting that people are trying to kill her.  She ends each brief encounter with a chilling statement, “Remember David, things aren’t always what they seem.”

As word about the foundation spreads, the services of Never Give Up are requested time-and-time-again to help where other agencies have failed.  That is, until the police come knocking on David’s door and arrest him, taking him back to Bunting Valley, North Dakota, for the murder of a newborn baby boy.

Forced to shut down Never Give Up, David is amazed at how quickly the entire world turns their backs on him.  The trial begins and his mother’s testimony is the only thing that can save him.  Telling the truth is as foreign to Beatrice Miller as giving up drugs is to an addict.  As everyone in the courtroom holds their breath, you will too.  Remember, things aren’t always what they seem.

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R.K. Avery 7About the author: As a recent graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, R. K. Avery has written numerous, unpublished, children’s picture books, but her true passion is writing adult fiction.

“Having the ability to make people laugh or cry, just by using the written language, is a gift so powerful and I hope, one day, my name will be among those who possess it.” ~ R.K. Avery

After Be Careful What You Wish For achieved near-instant e-book best-seller success even before its print release, Avery had re-signed with Brighton Publishing LLC for her second novel, Not My Mother’s Son. Sure to send chills down readers’ spines, Avery’s brilliant new thriller is now available for sale in both e-book and paperback wherever fine books are sold.

R. K. Avery lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, two kids, and four dogs.  She often jokes instead of sign that says, “Don’t let the dogs out,” she has a sign that says “Don’t let any more dogs in.”

Find Ms. Avery here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube

giveaway

Pump Up Your Book and R.K. Avery are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate and an autographed paperback copy of Not My Mother’s Son
  • This giveaway begins November 25 and ends December 20.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 23, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour: Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

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Tour Schedule

sparksSparks the Matchmaker
written by Russell Elkins
published by Inky’s Nest Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Ollie just wants one thing. The girl.

Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course. Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas.

Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself.

But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need.

Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?

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Ollie sat in his history class thinking about his future. His eyes darted from one pretty face to another, wondering which girl Sparks would be setting him up with. Sparks, who sat next to him, was smug. He had expected Sparks to have informed him by the time class started, but that didn’t happen. Of course. He’s maximizing his investment in my misery.

The professor began talking about Tiananmen Square. Ollie decided he couldn’t wait any longer. He put the back of his hand to his mouth and whispered out the side of it, “Tell me who.”

“What? I can’t hear you.”

A little louder, “Who’s the girl?”

“Huh? Speak up.”

Ollie pretended he was clearing his throat. “AH-Who?!” People heard him that time, and some turned to give him looks. He flushed crimson.

“I was just kidding,” Sparks said. “I heard you the first time.”

“Jerk.” Ollie said it much too loudly. Half the class, including the professor, stopped to look at him. “Sorry,” he said. “Those Chinese army guys were jerks. You know,” he gestured to the slideshow image of the student confronting the tank in Tiananmen Square.

Class went on.

Sparks leaned in. “That’s not going to help you catch the girl. She heard you loud and clear with that one.”

Ollie forgot about the history lesson and scanned the room again. She must be sitting somewhere close. He knew she would have to be attractive, or Sparks would never feel confident in what he was doing. In thirty seconds he narrowed his investigation down to two suspects.

He looked at Sparks and then pointed to a beautiful curly- haired brunette one row in front of him and 4 chairs to the right. He raised his eyebrows as if to ask, Is it her?

Sparks nodded, and Ollie felt a jolt of excitement run through him. He wasn’t sure whether or not Sparks would tell him who the girl was, even if he guessed right. He felt like something was going to happen in his favor for once. His future finally had a face. And it’s gorgeous! A smile spread itself luxuriantly across his face.

He spent the rest of his class time studying. But not history.

He carefully observed the way she chewed her bottom lip as she concentrated. He memorized every curl in her long brown hair. He took mental notes on every tiny detail.

Hearing other students start to rustle around, Ollie looked up at the clock and saw that the bell was soon to ring. Ollie didn’t move. There was only one person in the class who was still listening to the lecture and she was the only other person who hadn’t begun to pack up her books, waiting for the bell to ring. So he sat and studied her some more.

“You’re going to need to stall a little,” Sparks said after the bell finally rang. “She’s planning on sticking around after class to ask the professor something.”

“I’m going to meet her right now?” He was getting nervous.

Ollie waited just outside the classroom, trying to look nonchalant. He watched as students from other rooms and lecture halls began pouring into the hallway. He was tall enough to be able to monitor the many heads tightly packing in together as the stream of students gradually grew larger and larger, flowing toward the exits. From his vantage point he eventually saw a familiar curly brown head slip into the stream, so he bravely dove into the current that swept toward the doors where it opened up outside into an ocean of college students.

 

russell elkinsAbout the author: Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to Adoption.com. He also writes his own blog at russellelkins.com to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn’t want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn’t in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption.

Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown.

Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen.

After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.

Find Mr. Elkins here: Website, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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