Archives for May 2014

Spotlight: Because I Said So by Annie Oeth (giveaway)

Because I Said So book coverBecause I Said So
written by Annie Oeth
published by Sartoris Literary Group

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

About the book – from Goodreads: “But whyyyy?”

“Because I said so.”

It’s the answer that rolls off the tongues of mamas from all over. In Because I Said So: Life In The Mom Zone, veteran mama Annie Oeth tells of the worries, laughter and sheer terror of being a mother.

Trips to the emergency room, college graduations and the dangerous combination of teenagers and fireworks are all fair game in this romp through southern motherhood. Spilling the (jelly)beans on Easter egg hunts, Santa Claus and frogs in mailboxes, Annie Oeth writes of life, love and raising children while hanging on to her sense of humor.

From stories of laughter to tales of tears shed, she remembers her own growing-up years in small-town Mississippi, her parents’ 44-year romance and her own children’s travels on their way to adulthood, crafting stories that will touch hearts and funny bones.

Anyone who’s ever rocked a baby, worried over a teenager or seen family game night degenerate into a knock-down, drag-out can relate to these life lessons, straight from The Mom Zone.

Mamas are tender-hearted, but don’t mistake their kindness for an absence of backbone. In these stories, the love, strength, humor and super powers of mothers are hailed for the wonders that they are. Whether you’re a mama to sons who have an affection for reptiles and bottle rockets or a daughter who thinks you’re wrong just when you’ve figured out your own mother was right, you’ll love yourself, your kids and your life more after this read.


“Because I Said So.”

About the author: A lifelong Mississippian, Annie Oeth is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women. She currently works as a features editor for The Clarion-Ledger, the state’s largest daily newspaper. She writes about family and fun and The Mom Zone blog. Annie is the author of Because I Said So: Life in The Mom Zone, which was published April 2014. She is a solo mom to four, and currently resides in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Find Ms. Oeth here: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Boost It Tuesday!


Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.


What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away.


As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Every Free Chance Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!


Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!

Gin's Book Notes

Armchair BEA – Day 2: Author Interaction and More Than Just Words

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Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite author readings that you have attended. Or, you can feature your favorite author fan moment (i.e., an author sent you a tweet or commented on your blog). Maybe you even want to share how your interactions have changed since becoming a blogger or share your own tips that you have learned along the way when interacting with authors as a blogger. 

Melissa: The only authors I typically get to interact with are the self-published, especially those who avoid blog tours and seek out reviews themselves.  I’d like to say I’ve discovered some sort of pattern of communication, but for the most part authors don’t seem to be that interested in much more than superficial chat, at least in my opinion. Chrissy typically handles author interviews and the like, so I’m sure she has much more to say about this than I do, but I’ll tell you this: in the past two years, I’ve only had a handful of authors seek me out after I’ve posted their review. Most of them want to share a selection of their favorite insults, but a few – a rare few actually ask for constructive criticism. I appreciate both – it’s how I know I’m maintaining my integrity as a reviewer – but I’m especially fond of (proud of?) writers who understand that everything is always a work-in-progress, even if it’s the sixth edition.


Chrissy: Unfortunately, I have yet to be able to attend any signings or readings. I hope to do so soon! However, my book group has had the opportunity to meet with the author (Katie Schell) and main character (Ock Soon Lee) of Love Beyond Measure. That was an amazing experience. And we will be doing a Skype discussion with another author next month.

Since I started blogging, I have been following and interacting with authors on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog. Doing interviews has been a lot of fun. Just chatting with them online is awesome. I have a few that I call friends now. I love it when authors take the time to comment on my review or spotlight feature of their book. It shows that they appreciate all of the work, time, and effort that it took to prepare that post.



There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats? 

My sister “reads” almost exclusively via Audible, whereas I prefer either e-books or paper.  We typically aren’t in sync with the books we’re reading, but not long ago we were both neck-deep in The Mistborn Series at the same time.  I’m not a fan of audio books (I like to re-read bits and pieces, and I find it easier to flip a page than use a rewind button), but I’m all for nice long chats with people who are reading the same thing I am, and I don’t care a bit how they accomplish it.  Well, I didn’t *think* I cared . . .

Here’s the thing: audiobooks come with character voices and (usually) author-approved pronunciations.   I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say it’s pretty easy to figure out who the unnamed narrator is when he’s using the same voice as one of the other characters . . .  So, half-way through the series when I tried to have a fun discussion about who we thought the elusive narrator was and why, my dear sister ruined everything with a simple, “Oh, you mean ________?”  <sigh>  We may also have had a heated (and I mean HEATED) discussion about the correct pronunciation of “feruchemy.”   According to the audio book, we’re supposed to place the emphasis on the “chemy” part, but I vehemently disagree.  feruCHEMY?  Really?  Why, audio book, WHY?!? (Chrissy here: I can attest to the fact that it was a VERY HEATED conversation. Funny, to me. Not so much to them. LOL)





DNF: The Accidental Socialite by Stephanie Wahlstrom

the accidental socialiteThe Accidental Socialite
written by Stephanie Wahlstrom
published by Swoon Romance

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

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by YA Bound(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Where I stopped reading: Page 50 of 244 on my Nook.

Why I stopped reading: I didn’t find it quirky, or clumsy, or even funny. The main character, Paige, was either too naive or just playing dumb. I mean, she was smart enough to get a Visa, find housing, get a flight, and make it to London. But other times she just seemed dumb. Some parts were rather raunchy, especially the scene with Holly Wood. And the paparazzi are hounding her after one picture? I don’t think so. The story as a whole just wasn’t believable or enjoyable for me.

What others have rated this book: (as of 4/21/14) According to Goodreads, the average rating for The Accidental Socialite is 3.75. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 4 stars. There were 2 3- and 4-star reviews on Amazon. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you won’t.

About the book – from Goodreads: Quirky and clumsy twenty-two-year-old Paige Crawford arrives in London on a cold Saturday in January. Just when Paige starts to think that moving thousands of miles away from home with no real plan was a bad idea, Jason Frost appears. Confident and classy, Jason is the complete opposite of Paige and just what she needs in her life, or so she thinks.

But before their romance has time to blossom, Paige trips and falls into the arms of a mysterious man on a drunken night out. She’s snapped by paparazzi, and newspaper headlines the next day suggest that she’s having an affair with a married footballer.

Paige finds herself instantly elevated to tabloid celebrity status which isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly when trying to juggle her new job at Fashionista magazine, a catalog of dating disasters and a nagging doubt that she maybe she can’t conquer London after all.



Spotlight: Manroot by Anne Steinberg (excerpt, giveaway)

Manroot Manroot
written by Anne Steinberg
published by Headline Review

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

About the book: In the spring of 1939, Katherine Sheahan and her father, Jesse, are looking for work in the isolated tourist town of Castlewood. Jesse gets a job as handyman and Katherine as a maid at a small hotel. Jesse drinks and neglects his work and eventually disappears, abandoning his daughter. Frieda Broom, the hotel Manager, takes Katherine under her wing, and teaches her about ginseng, the manroot, and other secrets of the foothills. Katherine discovers that she is a natural healer and has the ability to communicate with spirits, a gift she inherited from her Navajo Indian mother.

Among the hotels regular clientele is Judge William Reardon. Escaping his sterile marriage, he becomes captivated by Katherine. As the pair bond over astrology and gardening, Katherine becomes convinced they belong together, despite him being much older than her and married. As they begin to fall in love, the violence of dark magic threatens to annihilate all Katherine knows and holds dear. Can their love survive?

Manroot is a potent tale of destiny, spiritualism and love, written in Anne Steinberg’s signature compelling style.  efcexcerpt

Working alone in the kitchen, Katherine scrubbed it clean. Looking up at the calendar, she knew tomorrow was Friday. The Judge was one of the few people who stopped here regularly, even now, in late autumn. Perhaps it was telling Sally that had started it all, for now her thoughts of the Judge were like a fever that stayed with her. Last Friday when she took him his bourbon and spring water, she noticed it for the first time, the birthmark. It was on his right hand, so clear and vivid that she had almost dropped the tray. He had smiled at her nervousness, called her ‘my dear,’ and given her a silver dollar for a tip.

Katherine slept restlessly; she dreamed of the Oh mu and heard its moan of agony echoing in her sleep. She dreamed of Papa floating in the muddy river, caught and held under by a treacherous branch, his eyes vacant pools staring upward through the water. It was so real that in the morning when the siren from the firehouse once again split the air, she rushed into the kitchen where Frieda was telling Bruce, “You be careful…another one’s gone and gave herself to the river. It was a suicide, a painted woman from the Eagle’s nest…” Frieda shivered as she told the story the way that she had heard it from the postman. The woman in the night had cut her wrists, but the dying was too slow, so she ran from the clubhouse, perched only for a moment on the railing, then jumped headlong into the cold water.

Katherine moved slowly this morning. Frieda fussed at her, but knowing the girl had never been lazy, she thought the drowning must have upset her or maybe she was coming down with something.

The guests were all gone. They only expected one tonight – Judge Reardon. They’d have time to go into the woods today, hunting for herbs and the manroot. But Frieda went alone as the girl looked a bit too peaked.

Alone, Katherine cleaned the rooms again; it took no time, for they were already clean. She lingered in Number 8, The Judge’s room.

She knew a lot about him now, and she felt a very real presence that he left in the room. She knew intimate things about him – like the size of his shirts, the smell of his aftershave, which side of the bed he slept on, how he preferred his coffee, the brand of cigarettes that he smoked…numerous details about him that she had collected bit by bit, saving them in her mind and in her dreams, like pennies to be spent at a later date.

He knew nothing of her dusting his dresser, straightening the bed after he had risen. He was not aware that while he was out, she pressed his shirts to her lips, inhaling his aroma, and sat on the bed in the same crevices his body had made over the years that he had slept here. Now she knew with the wisdom and instinct of centuries, she knew that what would be, would be.

Last week for the first time she had seen it, the birthmark, on his right hand. It was paler than the surrounding skin, crescent-shaped like a slice of the moon, and within its outline, unmistakable, a perfect five-pointed star. She knew its shape by heart, as just above her right breast she had its identical replica.

The Navajo blood flowed strongly in her veins, with all its beliefs in the signs, even though her father had tried vainly to smother these strange alien traits. Since her childhood she had believed that she could speak to animals, and she could find herbs hiding under any rock and knew exactly what they would cure.

She stayed dreaming in the Judge’s room until she heard Frieda calling her. The woman had returned from the woods, carrying a full burlap sack.

“You should have come today…I found it…the time is ripe, and you’re much quicker than I. You would have climbed the higher spots where it grows.”

Placing the sack on the table, she pulled out one root. “It’s perfect…it’s prime, probably ten or fifteen years old.” She held the root up to the light. Its torso similar but lighter in color than a carrot, with no hint of orange, just tannish-brown, the root seemed to have two arms, two legs, and a fine network of tendrils. It appeared to be a miniature figure of a headless man.

“What is it?” Katherine questioned as she stared at the unusual root.

“It’s a manroot!”

“The manroot,” Katherine repeated, liking the sound of the word and feeling it described the plant perfectly. “It seems as if it could contain magic?” she said, as she gingerly touched it with a timid finger.

“Oh, they say it does. It works wonders. The Orientals prize its properties – to them it is also the love root. It does many things, cures most anything that ails you. For me it lines my pockets – Bailey’s general store pays about four dollars a pound.” Emptying the sack on the counter, Frieda explained, “You can’t let it get damp – it ruins the root.” She began taking them out, examining and inspecting and drying each root with a clean dish-towel.

“They’re not all like this one, that’s special. Some don’t come with the likeness of arms and legs, some just look like a pale carrot…but the old ones, the very special ones do. Here, Katherine – take it, it’s yours.”

They sat at the table and by habit Katherine helped her.

“If you weren’t such a lazy girl, you could have come with me today. When these are dry, I’m sure Bailey’s will be paying twenty dollars or so for the batch.”

“Twenty dollars?”

“Yes, ma’am!” She knew the girl wasn’t lazy; it was her way of trying to shake her out of the listlessness. “Put on the kettle, Katherine. I’ll slip a little of the root in it. That will perk you up.”

They drank the tea, and Frieda continued drying the root. She did a rare thing: she hummed as she dried the fine tendrils.

“It takes time for the manroot to grow. You shouldn’t harvest a root less than seven years old, and you must always plant the seed when you harvest – each red berry has two seeds – not deep, just under the leaves. It’s a sin…to harvest and not plant the seed,” she said solemnly.

Katherine watched the clock. “I better put on my uniform. The Judge…”

“No need to. When I was coming in, he was headed for the Eagle’s Nest. He told me he wouldn’t be wanting any supper.”

Katherine’s face fell with disappointment.

In previous gossip from Frieda, Katherine had learned that the Judge lived twenty miles up the road with a wife who was said to be fragile since the births of her two stillborn sons. There was not much in these parts that the Judge did not own; he was rich, well-liked, respected, and known to be a fair man. Remarkably young to be a judge, no one faulted him for his tendencies to card-playing, drinking whiskey, and relieving himself with the local women. A lesser man with these leanings would be called no account, but he was, after all, the Judge, and this title brought with it a tendency to look at vices as virtues.

It was just another Friday. Destiny waited for her; she felt it close, closer than it had ever been.

The hotel was quiet. There were no guests and the only person staying was the Judge, who would be out late.

Katherine played the radio softly, dancing about the room, pretending she was at Castlewood waltzing under the lanterns with him. She put the perfect manroot in the Valentine box with her other things. After midnight when he rang, Katherine shook the sleep from herself when she realized the bell from Room 8 was ringing.

She owned no robe, and the persistent ringing threatened to wake Mr. Taylor. She flew up to the Judge’s room and knocked timidly, aware that her hair was down, and she was in her nightgown. It was plain enough – white cotton, sturdy and sensible.

He opened the door to her. He seemed surprised.

“I’m sorry, sir, everyone is asleep,” she said, not really knowing how to apologize for her attire.

He blinked at her, his hair ruffled, his shirt-tail out; she had never seen him like this.

“You’re new?”

“No, sir I’m Katherine. It was late; I didn’t have time to put on the uniform.”

He nodded and leaned forward studying her face. “Come in.” She did so, but left the door open.

“Sit down,” he said. She could tell he was very drunk. She sat timidly in the vanity chair. He paced the floor unsteadily, running his fingers through his hair. “It’s my head… I have a headache that won’t stop. I thought maybe you had something in the kitchen.”

He kept pacing. “I went out tonight, trying to forget. I’ve drunk a lot…it doesn’t stop…my head hurts so.”

“Sir, I could go look, or…” She wondered if she should chance it – maybe he would laugh. “My grandmother had a remedy that always worked.”

He stopped pacing. “Yes? What is it?”

“Well,” she said, “if you rub your thumbs vigorously for a few minutes, it has something to do with the blood flow…if that didn’t work, then a leaf of boiled cabbage on the forehead never failed.”

He smiled and stopped. “Well, try it.” He pulled up a chair in front of her and held out his thumbs.

She blushed. She hadn’t meant that she should rub his thumbs, but he was there across from her, waiting.

She reached forward, and with a firm grip clasped his thumbs and rubbed vigorously, while he leaned back and shut his eyes. She alternated between each thumb. It seemed natural to her to be touching him.

“Do you know what it’s like to play God?” he asked abruptly.

Startled, she didn’t know if he was really talking to her, but she replied, “No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, I do, and it’s not pleasant, not pleasant at all… Today I’ve sent a man to the gas chamber – well, not me personally, but the jury.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said quietly.

“Stop saying ‘sir’ – my name’s William. The Judge…sir…that’s somebody else. I don’t feel like a judge right now. I never wanted to be a judge.” He opened his eyes and she drew back.

“Do you know what it feels like to judge other people?”

“No, si–” She stopped herself. “No, I don’t.”

He looked down at her hands. “Don’t stop. By god, I think it helps!” He closed his eyes once more and held out his thumbs to her. The house was quiet. Somewhere a nightbird called; the ticking of the clock in the hall kept time in its steady rhythm, and Katherine felt the sound of their breathing in tune.


Amazon reviews:

“Manroot is an undeniably good read; it’s well-written with a compelling plot and memorable characters. Recommended to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction imbued with fantasy, including Native American themes and the supernatural.”

“Words to describe this book are: romantic, thrilling, memorable, spiritual, magical, and well written in a breath taking way that will keep you enthralled well after it is over. I wish it would have lasted longer and was saddened when it came to an end. 5 stars and cannot wait to see what Anne Steinberg comes up with next!”


Anne SteinbergAbout the author: While living in England, Anne Steinberg’s first novel, Manroot was published by Headline Review in London. Manroot was heralded as an important first novel in 1994 and included in the Headline Review’s prestigious “Fiction without Frontiers,” a new wave of contemporary fiction that knows no limits. Eight modern storytellers were featured: Anne Steinberg, Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, William Gibson, Peter Hoeg, Roddy Doyle, and E. Annie Proulx. It was an auspicious beginning to a long and varied career for Anne Steinberg, who went on to write several acclaimed novels, Every Town Needs A Russian Tea Room, the story of a wealthy socialite who falls in love with a penniless young Russian immigrant who is haunted by a bizarre shameful secret, The Cuckoos Gift, First Hands, and An Eye For An Ear. She is also coauthor of The Fence, written with her grandson Nicholas Reuel Tolkien, the great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Nicholas is a filmmaker, director, and published poet. The Fence is a chilling story of a magnificent Gothic fence forged by a despicable blacksmith and infused with evil.

Anne was a partner in the world famous vintage clothing store, Steinberg & Tolkien, on Kings Road in Chelsea. After a successful run for over 20 years, the shop closed, and she returned to the US. Approaching her eighty-second birthday, she now writes, reads, and studies antiques, American Indian history, animal welfare, mythology, and folklore legends.

Anne recently re-released Manroot in kindle format.

Find Ms. Steinberg here:  Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith (review, excerpt, giveaway)

Immersed tourImmersed NewImmersed (The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series #6)
written by Jennifer Griffith
published by HEA Publishing

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

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did enjoy this book, but more so at the end than at the beginning. At the beginning, this was my least favorite of the six books in this series. However, the end made up for it.

The part that turned me off was the whole mom-contract-dictating a 27-year-old’s life thing. I didn’t get it, and it rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t think that story line was really needed for this book.

With that said, Immersed was a sweet read. Romantic. An unexpected ending. It was good and I’m glad I read it. I’m glad I read the entire series. I’d love to read the series again, back to back.


Would I recommend it: Sure! Read the entire series. They are short, fun reads.


About the book: Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until . . . Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she’d never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.



Erik Gunnarson was unbelievable. Her mouth went dry when she saw him. Lisette hadn’t seen anything this good in months. Years. Maybe ever. At least not in person. Sure, in movies, when men were all filter-lit and filmed from just the right angle, they might have looked this good, but not in person.

Suddenly the room was far too hot for this stupid fuzzy pumpkin sweater with the shoulder pads. And this wig? She felt like a blooming fool in it.

“Hello. I’m Lisette Pannebaker.” She extended her hand, but immediately saw it tremble. His olive skin. Those dark brown waves in his thick hair. She could feel her voice quavering. Tiny beads of perspiration formed on her upper lip, and she touched the side of her eye, then her neck.

He looked up at her, looked puzzled a moment, and then gave her a crooked smile before standing to shake her hand. When he touched it, the trembling went into high gear, like she’d received an electric shock. Did he feel it too?

“Ah, you are speak the English now. I see.” His voice was like…butter. He cleared his throat and said, “I am please to meet you. My name is Erik Gunnarson.”

The accent came heavy, and the lilt was definitely Scandinavian. She’d lived in Norway, traveled all the Scandinavian countries. Was he Danish? He looked Danish. Lots of Danes she’d met had darker hair. Like Erik’s.

With effort she remembered to speak to him. “Where do you come from, Mr. Gunnarson?”

He squinted and shook his head, a sign she’d seen a thousand times before in these meetings, so she asked it more slowly.

“I come from Reykjavik. No.” He puzzled a moment and then continued. “A village…near…Reykjavik.”

Oh, Iceland. She wanted to ask him all about his life there, his upbringing, his family, his plans for a family of his own, and could she please be the mother of his children?

Get a hold of yourself, Lisette. She nearly slapped herself. This had to be professional. What a crying shame, too. He had such a nice crooked grin. And those upper arms. While most clients wore stinky sport coats over golf shirts or boring business suits and ties, Erik Gunnarson wore a plain grey Henley shirt—and looked like he’d just been at Henley itself, pulling the oars in the Thames. Those triceps. Who did he think he was? Thor?


Jennifer GriffithAbout the author: Jennifer Griffith studied French, German, Japanese, and a wee bit of Spanish in her school days. Her grandmother was Norwegian, and Jennifer grew up with lots of Scandinavian traditions floating around, including fabulous cardamom laced cookies called Krumkaker, made on a fancy waffle iron. However, she’d never dream of trying to teach someone any of those languages. And she might botch the cookies. Instead, she writes novels in English, drives her five kids a million places, and laughs with her husband, who came up with the plot for Immersed because he’s just a cool muse like that.

Find Ms. Griffith here: WebsiteTwitterFacebook, Goodreads


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends June 9, 2014 — Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Armchair BEA – Day 1: Introductions and Literature

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

Melissa here, blogging from Pittsburgh, PA!  I joined Every Free Chance almost two years ago — not long after I decided to take a break from my career as a Behavior Analyst  to stay home with my son.  Turns out that silly undergraduate degree in English actually *did* help me get a job as a writer (see, Dad?).

Chrissy here, also blogging from Pittsburgh! I started Every Free Chance in October 2011. I love to read and I wanted to do something other than practice family law. Now, almost three years later, EFC is growing and I formed EFC Services, LLC–a freelance proofreading and editing service.

What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ .

Melissa: I’m a sucker for dystopian stuff – I can’t get enough of it!  I’m also a big, big fan of fantasy.  Hmm . . . I wonder if Dystopian Fantasy is a thing . . .  “Big Brother is watching you cast that spell!”  Oh, man.  That would be awesome!

There are so many reasons I love reading:  I love the patterns in language, the grammar, the way writers can twist and bend words to make them say what they want.  I love to analyze how writers interpret language, to discover their particular quirks, and to let them lead me through their stories they way THEY want them to be told.  Books are tangible proof that we are fighting entropy and we are winning:  writing is a beautiful way to organize the world.

Chrissy: I read chick lit the most. I love happy endings, romance, humor. But that is not all that I read; I also read a lot of YA and general fiction, MG and fantasy.

I love to read because it is an escape. Reading allows me to enter a new world. It amazes me that a book can make you feel so many different emotions. I love it when I am reading a book, and I get so caught up in it that I forget where I am and what I’m doing. I also love it when a book makes me react out loud regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing.

What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like? (Pinterest encouraged!)

Melissa: No Pinterest necessary!  I love to snuggle into the corner of my couch with the wedding blanket my mom made, a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and my two-year-old snuggling next to me.  He isn’t much for sitting still, but I can’t help but take a break from my own book when he climbs into my lap and tosses a book at me: “Read it Momma, please please please?”

Chrissy: I’m with Melissa on this one, I love to read in my chair with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and have my kids snuggling with me. It’s a great way to enjoy a book and time with the kids. As for an ideal, awesome space, these would be pretty cool:

home libraryreading nook

Share your favorite book or reading related quote.

Melissa: “I like things to be story shaped.”  -Neil Gaiman

What book would you love to see as a movie?

Melissa: I just finished a book called Fury: The Cure #1 by Charlotte McConaghy that would translate well; it’s got enough action and passion to keep watchers interested, and there’s just the right amount of plot for a killer Summer Blockbuster.

Chrissy: I’m not sure, but I would love it if they would re-film the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort and make it exactly as it appears in the book. I think it would be so much more powerful.




 What do you think of when you think of literature? Classics, contemporary, genre, or something else entirely? We are leaving this one up to you to come up with and share the literature that you want to chat about the most. Feel free to share a list of your favorites, break down your favorite genre, feature your favorite authors, and be creative about all things literature in general. 

Literature is writing that uses words as an art form – not just a means of communication.  It’s using alliteration and rhythm and hyperbole and semicolons and turning them into a seamless, cohesive text.  It’s the label we use for that thing people create when they combine imagination and know-how using words.




Blog Tour: The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli (spotlight, giveaway)

The Gondola Maker Book CoverThe Gondola Maker
written by Laura Morelli
published by Laura Morelli

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

About the book – from Goodreads: In 16th-century Venice, the heir to a family boatyard rejects his destiny but is drawn to restore an old gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.

Venice, 1581
Luca Vianello is the heir to the city’s most esteemed gondola-making family. But when an accidental tragedy strikes the boatyard, Luca believes his true calling lies elsewhere. Readers will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship along with a captivating tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world’s most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.

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Laura MorelliAbout the author: Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and other national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.

Find Ms. Morelli here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube

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Review: Beggars or Angels by Rosemary Tran Lauer with Scott Beller (giveaway)

beggars or angelsBeggars or Angels: How a Single Mother Triumphed Over War, Welfare and Cancer to Become a Successful Philanthropist
written by Rosemary Tran Lauer with Scott Beller
published by Oaklight Publishing

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

Why did I pick this book: The author asked me to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
For a few years after college I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with leaky faucets, mice in the walls, and a roommate who slept on a pull-out couch in the dining room every night.  I had two jobs, a mountain of debt, and a schedule of post-graduate classes piled on top.  I had exactly $20/month “mad money.”  So I guess, really (unless you add in the cheating husband, the war zone, the two small children, the dramatic immigration, and the inability to speak the native tongue), I sort of started off the same way Ms. Lauer did, right?

We’ve all had our share of difficulty, but I’ll tell you what – putting my list next to Ms. Lauer’s makes me feel like a spoiled little rich girl.  She’s lived her life the hard way from the start, yet she always manages to put others first.  She may have needed some extra years to develop her layer of grit, but as someone who instinctively refuses to trust, I’ll admit – I’m a bit jealous of her faith.

I would have liked a bit more realism – perhaps the grainy first copy rather than the retouched glossy version of her life – regardless, Rosemary Tran Lauer has written a wonderful book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Would I recommend it: It’s an interesting read.  Go for it.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Imagine waking up tomorrow in a foreign land with no home, no money, no grasp of the language, no formal education, no friends or family for support, and with two kids under age three depending on you. What would you do? Beggars or Angels: How a Single Mother Triumphed Over War, Welfare and Cancer to Become a Successful Philanthropist tells the inspirational story of Rosemary Tran Lauer, a mother who found the will and a way to survive when faced with this overwhelming scenario. Drawing on her strength, bold resourcefulness, and sense of humor, Rosemary was eventually able to give her family a wealth of opportunities they wouldn’t have dared dream about in the war-torn homeland they left behind. A courageous welfare-mother-turned-philanthropist, she was willing to sacrifice everything but her self-respect for the sake of her children’s futures . . . and for the futures of thousands of families around the world. Beggars or Angels is about one woman’s dare to care and her persistent search for a reason “why.” Once she discovered it, Rosemary transformed her years of struggle into an altruistic ambition and purpose-the child care advocacy nonprofit Devotion to Children



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Book Blitz: A Sweet Life Boxed Set (spotlight, giveaway, excerpt)


A Sweet Life Boxed Set (Fourteen Contemporary Romances by Bestselling Authors to Benefit Diabetes Research)

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


About the Set


Have your cake and eat it too–your purchase of A Sweet Life helps fight against diabetes!

Priced at only 2.99 (regular price 7.99), indulge in this stunning limited edition collection of fourteen contemporary romances by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors…

You can make a difference while you read! All proceeds from the sale of A Sweet Life will be donated to the Diabetes Research Institute via Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research.

Featuring a foreword by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber.

Get your copy today!

1500 pages/ 675 000 words

I Only Have Eyes For You by Bella Andre (The Sullivans)

The only woman wealthy Irish pub owner Jake McCann wants is the one he can’t have–Sophie Sullivan, his best friend’s off limits sister. But when the beautiful librarian appears on his doorstep as his every fantasy come to life, even though Jake knows loving Sophie isn’t the right thing to do…how can he possibly resist?

On A Night Like This by Barbara Freethy (Callways #1)

From #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy comes the first book about the Callaways, a big Irish family born to serve and protect, many as San Francisco firefighters.

May Day! By Heather Graham

Members of the Krewe of Hunters team plan a relaxing vacation to jolly old London for the English celebration–they never figured that a May Pole just might be murder.

Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent

When mystery shopper Shannon Jacoby meets billionaire Declan McCormick with her hand down a toilet in the men’s room of one of his stores, it’s love at first flush.

Built to Last by Susan Mallery

The tale of Aaron Cross, a man who doesn’t know he needs saving…until he meets Marissa Spencer, a heroine inspired by the real life founder of the Motheread/ Fatheread Literacy Program.

A Baby of Her Own by Brenda Novak

Delaney is tired of waiting for the right man–all she wants is a baby. After seducing a handsome stranger, she returns to Dundee to find that same man is actually taking up residence on a ranch just outside of town–where he will very likely realize she’s expecting.

Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

In relationships, Ian Dare offers the bare minimum–until one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor changes his perspective. Their affair heats up and love comes into play, but Riley’s secret past just might cost them everything.

Executive Seduction by Jennifer Probst

When Chandler Santell turns to Logan Grant, the most ruthless CEO in the finance industry to save her beloved Yoga and Arts Center, she never intended to have seduction as part of the plan…

In Too Deep by RaeAnne Thayne

Though fiercely drawn to the comfort of Andrea McPhee’s arms, Will Tanner isn’t sure he can find room for a woman like her in a life focused on vengeance–until he discovers she has secrets of her own.

Every Girl Does It by Rachel Van Dyken

Amanda gets a flash from the past when the nerdy kid she rejected in high school suddenly reappears in her life…dead sexy, he’s all man and he wants her.

Homecoming Season by Susan Wiggs

Miranda Sweeney and her family find hope and healing while spending an autumn at Willow Lake after Miranda survives breast cancer.




I have no memories of my paternal grandmother.  My best guess is that I was barely four years old when she died.  But, I like to think I inherited my love of knitting from her.  My older cousins tell the story of sitting in a semi-circle in front of her rocking chair and watching her crochet.  Her fingers moved at a frantic speed as she rocked back and forth.  The amazing part is that she was sound asleep and snoring!

My father, who was the youngest boy, was basically raised by his oldest sister, my aunt Betty, because my grandmother was diabetic.  She was often tired and sickly, spending the majority of her time in bed.

Another memory my cousins have shared with me is of our grandmother boiling her hypodermic needles because she was insulin dependent.  My father and three of my uncles were also diabetic and, by the end of their lives, insulin-dependent as well.  And now several of my cousins are affected by the disease.

Like my cousins, for the last twenty-five years I’ve been a Type 2 diet-controlled diabetic.

Diabetes is a life-changing disease.  It’s estimated that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States are diabetic.  That’s 8.3% of the population.  My guess is that we all know someone who is diabetic.

When Brenda Novak’s youngest son, Thad, was diagnosed, she went on a one-woman mission to do whatever was necessary to fund research for a cure to this horrible disease.  If you’ve ever met Brenda you know she is passionate about making a difference.  This is her tenth year holding an auction to raise money for this cause and to date her efforts have resulted in more than $2 million dollars toward research for a cure.

The book you’ve purchased will go toward making the dream of a world free of diabetes a reality.  Each one of the authors on this long list of contributors has given of their talent and themselves to aid in this mission.  You’re about to read some of the biggest names in the field of romance.

Three of these talented authors, Susan Wiggs, Barbara Freethy and Rachel Van Dyken, have scored #1 placements on the New York Times best seller lists.  Now that’s impressive.  The remaining eleven are all well established authors with booming careers.  In other words, you are in for a real treat.

And really, isn’t this the best of all worlds?  Not only is this an enjoyable read but at the same time your purchase is contributing to a worthy cause.  You can’t ask for a better win/win situation.

It’s been my honor to write the forward.  Keep at it, Brenda.  Not only are you one amazing author, you’re a woman with passion and heart.

Now enjoy.

With warmest wishes,

Debbie Macomber

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