Friday, October 31, 2014

Half Price!

All Romance eBooks is having a 50%-off sale, and that means Bluebonnets for Elly is just $3.00. This is a great opportunity to fill your Kindle, Nook, iPad or other reader for those rainy autumn and winter evenings. 

Here's the link:

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Bearwalker's Daughter - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros

I rarely read stories with a paranormal slant because of my skepticism of anything magical. 
But my attitude changed when I devoured The Bearwalker's Daughter. Maybe it was the Native American connection or the author's beautiful descriptions of the setting, or maybe it was the compelling story and characters, but this book captured my imagination and held my attention until the very end. I'm looking forward to reading Through the Fire, Book 2 in the Native American Warrior Series. 

First Paragraph:
Autumn, 1784, the Allegheny Mountains of Western Virginia, the Scots-Irish Gathering
     A change was coming as surely as the shifting seasons. Karin McNeal heard the urgent whispers in the wind. She stood on the porch oblivious to the vibrant music pouring from the room behind her and the rain-spattered bluster whipping her long skirts.

Teaser (from 9% on my Kindle):
     Howling wind gusted around the eaves of the house and through the tiniest chinks in the walls. Did Karin detect warning or invitation in the murmurs threaded through the gale? Both, she thought, shivering under the covers.

Read more on Beth Trissel's website: Longer Excerpt Here

Genre: Historical / Romance / Paranormal
Length: 224 Pages
Amazon Link: The Bearwalker's Daughter (Native American Warrior Book 1)
Beth Trissel's Website/Blog: One Writer's Way

Synopsis from Goodreads:
      A Handsome Frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance...The Bearwalker's Daughter
      Karin McNeal hasn't grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman who longs to learn more of her mother's death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.
      Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother's death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges--for her?
      (The Bearwalker's Daughter is a revised version of romance novel Daughter of the Wind)
Publisher's Weekly BHB Reader's Choice Best Books of 2009

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Saturday Snapshots - Color Versus Black & White

Recently, a group of fellow authors created a photo-sharing Facebook page. Participants post photos that they're willing to share with other writers for use in promotions, book cover creation, blog posts, etc. Here are two versions of a picture I contributed.

It's amazing how the mood of the photo changed when I converted it from color to black and white. What had been an inviting path through a grove of trees turned into a forbidding forest. Now I'm going to try removing the color from more photos to see what I get. Should be fun! 
(FYI: I took this picture several years ago on a visit to Cumberland Island, Georgia.) 

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

     Miss Julia is a straight-laced Southern lady (in her 60s?) with a strong sense of what's proper and what isn't, a pillar of her small town's First Presbyterian Church, and a recent widow. But it isn't long before her late husband's mistress and illegitimate son show up on her front porch. Told with humor and a Southern voice, this book is the story of how Miss Julia copes with this situation, as well as deals with a hypocritical minister, crooked televangelist, kidnapping, and other surprises that surface.   
     Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind is the first book in a series of fifteen. I've read six or seven of them and although each book stands alone, they're more enjoyable if read in sequence.

Book Beginning:
I'd just caught my breath after the shock of my husband's sudden passing when his last legacy showed up on my front porch. We'd buried Wesley Lloyd Springer some few months before that hot, still morning in August, and I hoped I was through signing forms and meeting with lawyers and shuffling through various and sundry legal papers. I declare, this business of dying has more legal aspects to it than you would think. The deceased never knows what you have to go through to get his affairs in order, and Wesley Lloyd's were in as much order as they could get. I thought.

The Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
[Miss Julia is describing Pastor Ledbetter's secretary.]
She liked to make out like she was so professional, but she was the biggest gossip I knew. That's why she liked her job, since every Presbyterian in trouble sooner or later ended up talking to the preacher. I'd warned Pastor Ledbetter about her talkative tendencies, but he'd just patted my shoulder and told me he'd take care of it. Ever since then she'd flounced herself around anytime I was in her office, not that anybody with all that weight ought to do any flouncing.

Genre: Women's Fiction / Humor
Length: 273 Pages (Trade Paperback)
Amazon Link: Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
Author's Website: Ann B. Ross

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
      Miss Julia, a recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow and unceremoniously announces that the child is the bastard son of Miss Julia's late husband. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small Southern community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal - and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence turns her life upside down.
      With razor-sharp wit and perfect "Steel Magnolia" poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed - about a robbery, a kidnapping, and the other disgraceful events precipitated by her husband's death. Fast-paced and charming, with a sure sense of comic drama, a cast of crazy characters, and a strong Southern cadence, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind will delight readers from first page to last.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The Friday 56.
Click HERE to connect to other Book Beginnings posts (sponsored by Rose City Reader)
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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Littlest Cowboy - Teaser Tuesday & First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros

Littlest Cowboy6
For once I actually read the first book in a series first! The Littlest Cowboy is Book #1 in the nine-book Texas Brands Series by Maggie Shayne. The story begins when a baby is left at the doorstep on Sheriff Garrett Brand's ranch. The plot develops to include an abusive father, a cattle stampede, and a mobster. Plenty of action and romance.

Right now the ebook is FREE on Amazon.

Book Beginning:
Garrett Brand awoke in a cold sweat, some foreign kind of dread gnawing at his stomach. Heart pounding, he sat up fast and wide-eyed, his fists clenching defensively before he got hold of himself. Blinking the sleep haze from his eyes and taking a few deep breaths, he let his tense muscles relax and unclenched his fists. There was nothing wrong. There was no reason for that panicky feeling that had slipped through him like a ghost slipping through a wall. No reason at all.

Teaser (from 43% on my Kindle):
Somebody wanted Chelsea Brennan dead. The voice on the phone had identified that somebody as Vincent de Lorean, a man as evil as Satan himself.

Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Book Length:  190 Pages
Amazon Link: The Littlest Cowboy
Author Website: Maggie Shayne
Author Blog: Maggie's Bliss Blog


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Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you're reading. No spoilers, please! Here's the link: Should Be Reading

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cinque Terre, Italy - Saturday Snapshot

Here are the last few photos from the Cinque Terre, Italy (2001). Today I'm featuring pictures from Riomaggiori, the easternmost town of the group. 
Click on photos to enlarge.

Riomaggiori, as viewed from the water taxi. Online sources say the town dates from the 13th century.
A closer view. Instead of rows of parked cars, the main thoroughfare
in Riomaggiori is lined with fishing boats.
I included this photo to show the terraced grapevines above the Cinque Terre towns.
They're accessed by foot paths and tiny cable cars just big enough to hold one person. 
Thank you for allowing me to revisit the Cinque Terre over the past few weeks. 
Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not Yet - Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

NOT YET by Laura Ward is a touching coming-of-age romance in the New Adult genre. However, I believe the book will appeal to readers of all ages. (Warning: It does have steamy sex scenes and profanity.) The author's thoughtful portrayal of characters with Down Syndrome and other physical and emotional challenges sets this story apart from other romances. Each chapter includes a "Life Lesson" or "Lesson Learned"--some of them positive, some of them negative. Chapters are labeled "Lesson 1," etc., instead of "Chapter 1." 

First Paragraph:
Lesson 1
     Tightening the thin rubber strap that reached around the back of my head, I adjusted my goggles and stretched my arms, palms up and fingers interlocked, to the sky. I rolled my neck and shook my legs, one at a time, releasing the tension. Stepping to the edge of the pool, I curled my toes over the header and jumped, entering the water in a practiced, smooth glide.
     I was in my happy place.

Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):

     Many times during adolescent tiffs with friends, my mom would ask me, 'What would Evie say?' which always reminded me to get to the heart of the matter--what really is important. My big sister knew a lot. 

Genre: New Adult Romance
Length: 254 Pages
Amazon Link: Not Yet


Emma Harris is learning that life is just a series of lessons. 

Lesson #1: Nothing goes the way you plan. 
Lesson #2: You can’t trust men. Especially not the pretty ones. 
Lesson #3: Turns out, appearances are almost always deceiving. 

      Emma thinks she has life all figured out, and what she knows isn't good. For years, she’s put her big sister, who was born with Down syndrome, first. Now Emma’s ready to start her own life, but fate has other plans. To do the right thing for the sister she loves, Emma’s dreams will just have to wait. 
      She doesn't plan on meeting Landon — a rich, flirtatious jock, who never has to wait for anything. Not for attention, not for money, and certainly not for girls. Meeting Emma marks the first time in his life that he’s had to fight for something. And Landon doesn't know how to lose. 
      Emma has no interest in wasting her summer with a superficial guy like Landon. But very soon she realizes she is wrong about him. The question is, can she trust him? Or will he let her down like every other guy in her life? But most importantly, can Emma trust herself enough to live the life she's always dreamed of? 
      Life has a way of sneaking in the most important lessons when you aren't looking. And once the heart gets involved, that's when the real learning begins. 

*** This book is intended for mature audiences. 18 and over!


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The Friday 56.
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Throwback Thursday: "That Touch of Mink"

Have you watched any old movies lately? Last night I came across "That Touch of Mink" on TV (Cary Grant and Doris Day) and marveled at all the changes since 1962, when the movie was released. For example: 

  • The show featured a Univac computer that filled the whole room -- and used punch cards! 
  • The telephones have rotary dials.

Here's the trailer from this classic movie. Let me know what other changes you notice. Would this plot draw many viewers today?

Monday, October 13, 2014

War Brides - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter/ First Paragraph/ Tuesday Intros

     Curious about life in the English countryside during World War II? Author Helen Bryan paints a vivid picture of this era in her novel War Brides. The novel follows the stories of five different young women--a debutante from the southern U.S., a vicar's daughter, a Jewish refugee, an evacuee from London's slums, and a privileged daughter of an Admiral in the British Navy. They all weather the war in rural Crowmarsh Priors.
     The author did a great job of showing the hardships endured by the English people. I came away with a new appreciation for their perseverance, and I couldn't help but wonder how we'd react to a similar situation today.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Length:  497 Pages
Amazon Link: War Brides
Author Website: Helen Bryan's Amazon Author Page

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros - I chose the opening to Chapter 1, rather than the Prologue for my post:
Crowmarsh Priors, Boxing Day, 1937
     At twenty-two, Alice Osbourne was the sort of girl people called a "brick," sensible and responsible, though they were inclined to add that she was pretty when she smiled. She was tall like her father, the late vicar of Crowmarsh Priors. Her features, brown hair, and air of bookish distraction were also his.

Teaser Tuesday (from 44% on my Kindle):
There had been no air raid warning, only the drone of an approaching airplane to alert them just as the village children went out to play after lunch on Saturday when a lone German Heinkel 111 suddenly roared low over Crowmarsh Priors. By the time anxious mothers had dropped the washing-up and rushed out in their aprons to drag their children to safety, the bomber was over the downs, twisting and rolling across the sky to escape the RAF Hurricanes now in pursuit.

Partial Synopsis from Amazon:

     With war threatening to spread from Europe to England, the sleepy village of Crowmarsh Priors settles into a new sort of normal: Evacuees from London are billeted in local homes. Nightly air raids become grimly mundane. The tightening vice of rationing curtails every comfort. Men leave to fight and die. And five women forge an unlikely bond of friendship that will change their lives forever.
      As the war and its relentless hardships intensify around them, the same struggles that threaten to rip apart their lives also bring the five closer together. They draw strength from one another to defeat formidable enemies—hunger, falling bombs, the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, and a traitor in their midst—and find remarkable strength within themselves to help their friends. Theirs is a war-forged loyalty that will outlast the fiercest battle and endure years and distance.
     When four of the women return to Crowmarsh Priors for a VE Day celebration fifty years later, television cameras focus on the heartwarming story of these old women as war brides of a bygone age, but miss the more newsworthy angle. The women’s mission is not to commemorate or remember—they’ve returned to settle a score and avenge one of their own.

Share the first paragraph (or
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reading. Link up here:

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Should Be Reading

Friday, October 10, 2014

More Cinque Terre - Saturday Snapshots

I had so much fun posting photos last week from our 2001 Cinque Terre trip that I decided to feature more for today's Saturday Snapshot post! These were taken with a film camera and they're not as sharp as you'd get with a digital, or maybe we just had a hazy day. I kind of like the soft look. 
(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Monterossa al Mare

The Cinque Terre is known for its lemons
and its limoncello (or limoncino) liqueur.

Vernazza harbor

The best way to get around the Cinque Terre is
via water taxi. This one is in the Vernazza harbor.

"Departures for the Cinque Terre"
There's train service between the five towns,
but figuring out the schedule was a challenge for us!

Postcard showing the Cinque Terre area
Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Beautiful Ruins - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

Why was I drawn to Beautiful Ruins? Because my husband and I visited the Cinque Terre (Italy) where the story is set. But the author's writing is what kept me reading. I'll admit that the many different characters, plots, and periods of time sometimes confused me, but the characters are interesting and so are their stories. I haven't quite finished the book yet, so I'm hoping they all come together in the end. (See my "Saturday Snapshot" photos from our Cinque Terre trip HERE, if you're curious.)

Book Beginning:
The Dying Actress
April 1962
Porto Vergogna, Italy
      The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly--in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier. She wavered a moment in the boat's stern, then extended a slender hand to grip the mahogany railing; with the other, she pressed a wide-brimmed hat against her head. All around her, shards of sunlight broke on the flickering waves. 

The Friday 56 (from Page 56 - trade paperback):
     "When I found out how bad it was ... I decided that from now on I was just going to say what I think, that I would stop worrying about being polite or imagining what people thought of me. That's a big deal for an actress, refusing to live in the eyes of others. It's nearly impossible."

Genre: Fiction & Literature
Length: 337 Pages (Trade paperback)
Amazon Link: Beautiful Ruins
More Books by This Author: Jess Walter's Website

      The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
      And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
      What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. 
     Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The Friday 56. 
   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts (sponsored by Rose City Reader)
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Interview with Elly

This month's Cravings Magazine features an interview with the title character from BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY. I hope you'll stop by and meet Elly. She's on Page 6.
Here's the link: ELLY


Monday, October 6, 2014

Saving Shelby Summers - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros

Saving Shelby Summers
Saving Shelby Summers is a contemporary romance set in Australia, but Margaret Sutherland’s sweet story of family, friendship, and love is so much more than boy-meets-girl.

The first chapter propels you right into the story when Nathan Monroe saves Shelby and her horse from a sinkhole. Their paths cross again, but both have past traumas they must deal with before they can move forward.  As Shelby becomes involved in the lives of Nathan and his daughter, her healing begins. But is Nathan ready to get on with life?

Margaret Sutherland takes readers through all the doubts and emotions experienced by Shelby, Nathan, and Nathan’s daughter as they come to terms with past tragedies.  The story is touching without being maudlin, realistic without being overly dramatic, and totally believable (and it features dogs). I gave this book a five-star rating.

Book Beginning:
Nathan Monroe parked his mid-splattered Nissan Patrol on the cliff top overlooking the beach and sat, looking down at the turmoil of whitecaps and hissing surf. The wild, lonely vista matched his mood. The past came with you, no matter how far you traveled.

Teaser (from 21% on my Kindle):
The fading sky of an Australian winter reminded her of walking with Nathan yesterday. Such an ordinary thing to do. Just a man, a woman, and a dog. Not a lot to say, yet enough to make her feel complete, somehow.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 159 Pages
Secret Cravings Publishing Link
Amazon Link
More Books by Margaret Sutherland: Amazon Author Page

Share the first paragraph (or
a few) from a book you are
reading. Link up here:
Bibliophile By The Sea

Post two sentences from
somewhere in a book you're
reading. No spoilers, please!
Link up here:
Should Be Reading

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cinque Terre, Italy - Saturday Snapshots

     Lately, my husband and I have been talking about doing some traveling, and that led us to reminisce about places we've been. One of our favorites was the Cinque Terre ("Five Lands") area of Italy, which we visited in 2001. Hard to believe it was that long ago! 
     Then several days ago my daughter-in-law loaned me a book - Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter - and much of the story is set in the Cinque Terre! So I pulled out my photo album from our Italy trip, scanned the film-camera photos, and decided to feature a few of them on today's Saturday Snapshots. I'm focusing on the town of Manarola today, since that's where we stayed. Here's a map to get you oriented. 
(Click on photos to enlarge.)


Boats are hoisted up to the town from the sea

Manarola's "Main Street"
We walked from Manarola to Corniglia
along a hiking path overlooking the sea, but

we didn't take this stairway down to the water
Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, October 2, 2014

House Rules - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

House Rules - 2010
The main character in HOUSE RULES in an 18-year-old boy with Asperger's Syndrome, and if you read this book, you'll learn just about everything you ever wanted to know about this disorder (it's a form of autism). In the process you'll also get caught up in a well-written story. Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors and although I'll admit that House Rules isn't my favorite book of hers, I definitely enjoyed reading it and recommend it highly.

The author cites case studies of serial killers at intervals throughout the book (between some of the chapters) and the book starts with "Case 1: Sleep Tight." Here are the opening paragraphs from the story itself. 

Book Beginning:
Chapter 1 - Emma     
     Everywhere I look, there are signs of a struggle. The mail has been scattered all over the kitchen floor; the stools are overturned. The phone has been knocked off its pedestal, its battery pack hanging loose from an umbilicus of wires. There's one single faint footprint at the threshold of the living room, pointing toward the dead body of my son, Jacob.
     He is sprawled like a starfish in front of the fireplace. Blood covers his temple and his hands. For a moment, I can't move, can't breathe.
     Suddenly, he sits up. "Mom," Jacob says, "you're not even trying."

The Friday 56 (from Page 156 of my hardcover edition):
     When I was little, I remember wandering the cereal aisle (which surely is as American a phenomenon as fireworks on the Fourth of July) and picking my breakfast food based on what the reward was: a Frisbee with the Trix rabbit's face emblazoned on the front. Holographic stickers with the Lucky Charms leprechaun. A mystery decoder wheel. I could suffer through raisin bran for a month if it meant I got a magic ring at the end.

Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction
Length: 532 Pages (hardcover)
Amazon Link: House Rules
Other Books by this Author: Jodi Picoult's Website

     House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome. He's  hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject--in his case, forensic analysis.
     He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's - not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect - can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel -- and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. HOUSE RULES looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way - but lousy for those who don't.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The 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)