Friday, February 28, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Tulips

I'm so ready for springtime! So, in an attempt to banish my late winter blahs, I'm posting a few photos from last year's Skagit Tulip Festival near Mt. Vernon and LaConner, Washington. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.) These photos were taken April 17, 2013. More info about the festival HERE. 






I couldn't resist including a photo of my daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate, post a photo on your blog that you (or a friend or family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky on today's West Metro Mommy Reads blog post. Then check out all the beautiful photos posted by everyone! Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Here's the link: SATURDAY SNAPSHOT

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wild - Book Beginnings on Friday and Friday56

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I just featured WILD - From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail on my Teaser Tuesday post (here), but I thought the book deserved more than two sentences so I'm posting about it again today. This story really impressed me. It's the nonfiction tale of a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert of California to the Oregon-Washington border. What a feat!

Here's the book's beginning (prologue):
The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California. Moments before, I'd removed my hiking boots and the left one had fallen into those trees, first catapulting into the air when my enormous backpack toppled onto it, then skittering across the gravelly trail and flying over the edge. It bounced off of a rocky outcropping several feet beneath me before disappearing into the forest canopy below, impossible to retrieve.

And here are a few sentences from 56% on my Kindle:
I ate the Slim Jim first, washing it down with the last of my Budweiser, and then the butterscotch candies, all six of them, one after the other, and then--still hungry, always hungry--turned my attention to the can of baked beans. I pried it open in tiny increments with the impossible can-opening device on my Swiss army knife, and then, too lazy to rummage through my pack for my spoon, I scooped them out with the knife itself and ate them--hobo-style--from the blade.

Genre: Nonfiction / Women's Adventure
Length: 338 Pages
Amazon Link: Wild

If you're curious about the Pacific Crest Trail or would like more info, here's a link to a beautiful video: Tell It On The Mountain

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Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 
                           

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wild - Teaser Tuesday

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Maybe it's because I walked almost halfway across Spain on El Camino de Santiago. Or maybe it's simply because I appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. But for whatever reason, I'm enthralled by Cheryl Strayed's nonfiction story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. In Wild - From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, not only does the author tell of her trek from the Mojave Desert of California to the Oregon-Washington border, but she also reveals the story of her life.

Strayed's account of the adventure isn't a tale of Wonder Woman defeating Mother Nature. In fact, she was ill-prepared for the challenges she faced and many of her problems could have been avoided by doing more research. But that doesn't lessen the significance of her accomplishment. Her journey makes for a heck of a good story (and I don't usually read nonfiction).

Teaser (from 26% on my Kindle):
Without some kind of ice ax training, there wasn't any question that I was far more likely to impale myself with it than I was to use it to prevent myself from sliding off the side of a mountain. On my trailside breaks that day, in the hundred-plus-degree heat, I flipped through the pages of my guidebook to see if it said anything about how to use an ice ax. It did not.

Genre: Nonfiction / Women's Adventure
Length: 338 Pages
Amazon Link: Wild

If you're curious about the Pacific Crest Trail or would like more info, here's a link to a beautiful video. 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away -- you don't want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
  • Leave a comment on MizB's Teaser Tuesday post (HERE) and include your link so everyone can find your post.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - "Mended Hearts"

I'm a romance author, but I'm also a quilter. Today's photos are of my latest sewing creation: a Mended Hearts quilt. 

To get technical: The lap-size throw is made from 100% cotton homespun fabric. The hearts are ragged-edged appliqued, and I hand quilted it using long stitches (a new technique for me). 

I like the soft, comfy feel and scrappy look of the quilt and will be enjoying it for a long time to come.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online. 

Here's the link: West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cake - Book Beginnings & Friday 56

Cake
I've just barely started reading CAKE, but since I've enjoyed other books by Elise Marion and since I like her sense of humor, I know this will be a good one too. So far, I like it a lot, especially the main character who says: "After years of battling my own self-consciousness, I'd settled on a curvaceous size fourteen and decided I looked just fine."

Book Beginning:
     I have always been afraid of the dark.
     There are two things I could never grow used to: the dark and the cold. Lying there on a lumpy mattress, wrapped in a blanket that smelled like cigarette smoke, with a creaky metal frame to top it all off, I shivered. Even though my mother rarely paid the light or gas bills, forcing me endure frigid temperatures and terrifying darkness frequently, I always shivered and I was always afraid.

Friday 56 (at 56% on my Kindle):
     "What's a Geisha Cocktail?" 
     He leaned in to be heard above the dull buzzing of other conversations. His lips grazed my ear as his arm rested on the back of my chair." A blend of white rum with orange and pineapple juice," he said, his breath tickling the side of my neck. At this rate I wasn't going to need a Geisha Cocktail; I would be drunk on him in no time.

NOTE: This book is R-rated.
Genre: Contemporary Romance / African American
Number of Pages: 116 Pages
Amazon Link: CAKE
Elise Marion's Website: HERE

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
     Wedding planner Taylor Vaughn specializes in magical moments. So when her best friend asks her to plan his wedding, the task should have come as simply to her as all the others. There’s only one problem……she is desperately in love with the groom. 
     Caleb has always been Taylor’s best friend as well as her deepest and most secret desire. Her hopes that he will someday come to love her back are dashed on the day he brings his new fiancé into their lives. While the misery of losing the man she loves to another woman looms over her, she doesn’t expect to find her head turned by the most unlikely of strangers.
     Ethan Young, cake decorator, is everything a woman could want in a man: handsome, charismatic, and has a way with icing! When she finds herself feeling more than simple attraction for the sexy baker, her heart is torn in two between the man she’s always loved and the man who’s slowly stealing her heart.

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Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 
* Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
       (sponsored by Rose City Reader)
   * Find other Friday 56 bloggers here (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 
                           

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sinful Folk - Teaser Tuesday

Sinful Folk
Ever since studying Canterbury Tales in school, I've been curious about life in the Middle Ages. In Sinful Folk, the author gives us a glimpse into that era through the eyes of a woman. Although at first I wasn't sure whether or not I would enjoy the book, I soon became caught up in the plot and couldn't put it down. It's a quest and a mystery, as well as a story about a mother's love. I'm not quite finished, but I can tell you that the scenes describing that bitterly cold winter have renewed my appreciation for Gore-Tex and thermal underwear!

Teaser (from 8% on my Kindle):
There is a stab of pain in my side. My limbs are weak as water, for I have not been able to eat much this winter with no food in the larders or the mill. And now my feet and toes feel each lump of frozen mud.

Genre: Mystery / Historical
Number of Pages: 362 Pages
Amazon Link: Sinful Folk

Synopsis from Amazon:
A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.
In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children's deaths.
 
Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.
 
The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author / illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away -- you don't want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
  • Leave a comment on MizB's Teaser Tuesday post (HERE) and include your link so everyone can find your post.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Mount Rainier


This is my first time participating in Snapshot Saturday, so I thought I'd post a picture of a feature that dominates the area where I live. Mount Rainier. I've only lived in the Pacific Northwest about ten years, but friends who've been here all their lives say the same thing: they are awed by The Mountain and seeing it never gets old. I'll be driving down the road, turn a corner, and there it is in the distance, filling the horizon. This time I was near Sumner, Washington, visiting a local quilt shop. I just had to pull over and take one more photo to add to my Mount Rainier collection. 

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online. 

Here's the link:West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stronger Than The Rest - Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

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Another exciting book in Shirleen Davies's "MacLarens of Fire Mountain" series. As the story opens, Drew MacLaren is confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from a gunshot and convinced that he is not the man Tess needs. But as long as there's hope that he'll walk again, he'll keep working toward that goal. When an unscrupulous criminal sends thugs to intimidate ranchers into selling their property, will Drew and his brothers be able to set things right? As in the other books in this series, the story focuses not only on romance but also on friendship and family. The compelling plot builds to an exciting and satisfying climax. 

The author writes: Can Drew overcome the barriers that stand between him, the safety of his friends and family, and a life with the woman he loves? To do it all, he has to be strong. Stronger than the rest.

Book Beginning:
"Get up, MacLaren," a tall, burly man sneered before yanking him out of his wheelchair, kicking the contraption against a wall, and breaking a wheel. "I knew you could make it up -- one way or another," his attacker smirked and turned to the others at the table.

Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
Tess melted into his arms. She was totally unprepared for the warmth that swam over her body. She could smell the mixture of pine soap and fresh sweat and couldn't stop herself from running her fingers along his cheek bones, and wrapping her hands around his neck to draw him closer. She never wanted the kiss to stop.

Genre: Women's Fiction / Romance / Western
Number of Pages:  152
Amazon Link:  Stronger Than The Rest

*********
Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 
                           

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

USA Today Features Bluebonnets for Elly


I'm delighted to announce that USA TODAY is featuring BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY in its "Happily Ever After - New Releases" column today. 

Here's the link: New Releases


Scroll down the page to see the brief synopsis.



I'm thrilled beyond belief!


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Calico Heart - Teaser Tuesday

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THE CALICO HEART by co-authors Patricia Kiyono and Stephanie Michels tells the story of a long-term marriage facing major changes.

I enjoyed this book because it explores:
- Differing expectations in an otherwise happy marriage 
- The challenges of retirement
- Quilting

Although the story revolves around an older couple, it will appeal to anyone who has faced the stress that change can bring to a relationship.

This is the first book in a new series - 
"A Stitching Post Romance" - so we'll have more to look forward to from Patricia and Stephanie. Book Two - THE FRIENDSHIP STAR QUILT - is scheduled for release this spring by Astraea Press. 

TEASER: 
She'd always wanted to travel but had never been farther from Grand Rapids than a few camping weekends on the shore of nearby Lake Michigan. Still, she had no regrets. She and Dave would have the time to travel once they both took their early retirements. 
(From 1% on my Kindle - Yes, I stretched my excerpt to three sentences this time, but one of them is really short!)

Genre: Women's Fiction / Sweet Romance
Number of Pages: 178
Amazon Link: THE CALICO HEART
More Books by These Authors: 
Patricia Kiyoto 
Stephanie Michels

SYNOPSIS FROM GOODREADS:
On the surface, Sylvia Miller has a perfect life. She’s married to her college sweetheart, has three great kids, a rewarding career, and wonderful friends. But beneath the appearances, Sylvia is restless. She loves her husband, but wants to see more of the world than their peaceful Michigan town. For years, she’s dreamed of the interesting places she wants to visit. Now, their youngest child is grown, and Sylvia is ready for adventure. 

Left a penniless orphan, David Miller promised himself his family would never know the same humiliation. For twenty-six years, he and Sylvia have lived frugally, saving for the future. Now, Dave is on the brink of a promotion that will ensure their financial security, but Sylvia wants him to retire and travel with her. 

When Dave refuses, Sylvia decides to go alone. But it’s a decision that could cost them much more than money.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away -- you don't want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
  • Leave a comment on MizB's Teaser Tuesday post (HERE) and include your link so everyone can find your post.

Ice Dancing Deja Vu

Last night while watching the Olympic ice dancing competition, I realized that I'd seen the U.S. champions two years ago! In October 2012, my friend (and co-author of I.O.U. SEX) Sandra Allen visited me here in the Pacific Northwest, and we attended an ice skating event. Here's a look back at my blog from that time. Pretty cool, isn't it?

October 20, 2012 - Today the two of us attended a double session of the 2012 Skate America competition at the new Showare Center in Kent, Washington. 

Do you like "Dancing With the Stars?" Then you would have loved the ice dancing competition. Based on different aspects of dance, including rhythm, interpretation of the music, and precise steps, it was beautiful to watch.  Meryl Davis and Charlie White of Team USA were at the top of the leader board after today's competition.

File:Meryl Davis & Charlie White 2009 GPF FD.jpg

Click the arrow to watch a short video of several ice dancing couples warming up on Saturday afternoon. (Photos were not allowed during the actual competitions.)


video

We also watched the short program of the ladies figure skating competition. This sport is the most familiar and popular among fans. These young ladies effortlessly performed beautiful athletic spins, triple jumps, and spirals. At the end of the short program, Ashley Wagner, the current 2012 U.S. Champion, held the top spot.  

File:2012 WFSC 07d 1048 Ashley Wagner.JPG

The new Showare Center in Kent, Washington, was a great venue for these events. Located south of Seattle, it is easily accessible by car or public transportation. The Showare staff were friendly and helpful, and the best news of all is that they don't even charge for parking! Our tickets were only $15 for the 2 1/2 hour event, and our seats were great.
- Sandy & Sandra

For more information: Skate America
Photo Sources:
Ashley Wagner
Charlie White & Meryl Davis

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hank & Chloe - Book Beginnings on Friday and Friday 56

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I just started reading this book yesterday and I'm almost finished. I'm loving the characters. The book was originally published in 1993, but it's still a good story today.
Here's what I'm talking about:

Book Beginning:
Answer the door after midnight and you might as well set a place at the table for trouble - Chloe Morgan's first thoughts when the knock came. Hannah, her shepherd, let out an initial throaty growl from her nest of blankets, then thumped her tail in the dark for the all clear. Tugging the horse blanket from her bed, Chloe padded barefoot across the rough plywood floor.

Friday 56:
In number seventy-two, the dark bay thoroughbred shifted his weight from hoof to hoof, his muzzle grazing the top rail of his stall. She parked the truck on the angle of the hill so that if she had to, she could start it by popping the clutch. Only her rubber mucking boots saved her jeans from the muddy manure. She walked carefully between stalls to her horse.

Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction / Romance
Number of Pages:  310
Amazon Link:  Hank & Chloe
*********
Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 
                           

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cape Maybe - Teaser Tuesday

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A teacher friend of mine has said that girls in her classes often repeat the poor choices their mothers made. Marrying too young, having babies before they're ready,  dropping out of high school. That was on my mind as I read this book.

In CAPE MAYBE, author Carol Fragale Brill does an excellent job of showing the effects of a parent's alcoholism on her child and on the extended family. Speaking in first person viewpoint, Katie reveals her chaotic life with an alcoholic mother from age 11 to young adulthood. But will she follow in her mother's footsteps or break the cycle of addiction that has plagued her family?

TEASER (from 2% on my Kindle):
     Poppi always makes excuses for her and says she would be different if my father didn't die in Vietnam. I don't remember my father, but I miss him as if I do.
     If I can't have a different mother, I want to be someone else, but only if I can still keep Poppi. 

Genre: Women's Fiction
Number of Pages: 354
Amazon Link: CAPE MAYBE
My Review on Amazon: REVIEW
More Books by This Author: PEACE BY PIECE
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away -- you don't want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
  • Leave a comment on MizB's Teaser Tuesday post (HERE) and include your link so everyone can find your post.

NOW ON AMAZON: Bluebonnets for Elly


Effective today, Bluebonnets for Elly is available in ebook formats on Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Bookstrand, as well as the Sweet Cravings Publishing website. (Barnes & Noble coming soon.)

Sweet Cravings Publishing 
EPUB, HTML, LIT, MOBI, PDF

Amazon  
KINDLE, AS WELL AS APPS FOR SMART PHONES, TABLETS, COMPUTERS, AND KINDLE CLOUD READER (Link for Free App Downloads)

All Romance eBooks  
EPUB, HTML, MICROSOFT READER, MOBIPOCKET (.MOBI), ADOBE ACROBAT

Bookstrand
ADOBE ACROBAT, MICROSOFT READER, HTML, EPUB, MOBIPOCKET

Release of the book in paperback is scheduled for early summer.