Posted in contest, Giveaway, nonfiction, self help on September 29, 2010

Susan Bulkeley Butler is an accomplished business woman who shaped her own future at a time when women were not taken seriously as business profesionals.  She joined Arthur Andersen & Co. as its first professional female employee in 1965, and 14 years later, was named the first female partner of its consulting organization, Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture.  In 2001, Upside magazine named her to its list of “The 50 Most Remarkable Women in Technology” who have moved the industry “beyond the glass-ceiling cliché.”

Synopsis (taken from SBBinstitute.org)

As the 100-year anniversary of women winning the right to vote approaches on August 26, 2020, the “Decade for Women” ahead will re-assess how far we’ve come—and how far we still have to go.

To become “women who count,” women must think of themselves, think of others, and think big, contends author Susan Bulkeley Butler. Before and since breaking barriers to become the first woman partner at Accenture, Butler has passionately championed the cause of equality for women in education, in the workforce and in society.

In Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World, she shows how the world can become a better place in myriad ways with more involvement from women. Today’s world—with its wars, corporate ethics violations, economic meltdowns and societal strife—needs the unique strengths and attributes of women more than ever, Butler contends.

Women make up about half of the country’s population and half its work-force, yet account for only a small percentage of the leadership roles in government, business and beyond. Butler brings her experiences and insights directly to readers by showing how they can collectively use their strengths to improve the world.

Together, women must envision equality, build teams, take action, and help one another through mentoring, philanthropy, education and public service, according to Butler.

Then, and only then, she asserts, can women truly change the world and become “women who count.”

My Review:

As a sidenote, this is a very short book, about 130 pages.

I have to say that I loved this book!  While a compact book, there is so much information contained in these pages that made me realize how fortunate I am for women in history that have shaped the world as I know it today.  This book also made me take a look at my own life and wondering how I am contributing to the world for future generations.  What could I do in my life that might make a change that in 20+ years will be noted by others?

I enjoyed reading little bits about various historical women that paved the way for me and more than just those in the Women’s Suffrage movement.  Did you know the cotton gin idea was created by a woman, Catherine Littlefield Greene?  Knowing that she would never receive a patent for it that she shared that information with Eli Whitney who did patent the machine.  This is just one example that Susan notes in her book.

I’d say that this book could be read by anyone of any age.  There are some parts that might impact a woman that is older (18+) but there are many parts that younger women could take and work into their lives.

The Giveaway:

Leave a comment on my blog for a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of this book.  The contest is open until Friday October 8th and is open to all US and Canadian residents.

Posted in mystery on September 27, 2010

Phyllis Smallman is the first receipient of the Arthur Ellis Award for Unhanged Arthur from Crime Writers of Canada in June 2007. She was short listed for the Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers of the UK, and nominated for the Malice Domestic Award in the U.S.  Margarita Nights was published in 2008 by McArthur and Co Publishers. It has just been short listed for the Best first Novel of 2008 by the Crime Writers of Canada. 

 The sequels in the Sherri Travis series, Sex in a Sidecar andA Brewski for the Old Man, were published in 2009 and 2010 respectively.Champagne for Buzzards will be published in the spring of 2011.  There are two other books that will follow: Highball Exit and Last Call.

Synopsis:

In a small Florida beach town, Sherri Travis is a bartender with attitude and a woman with an inconveniently murdered husband who turns out to be as much trouble to her dead as he was alive.

Sifting through the debris of Jimmy’s life, Sherri finds more than a few people who wanted her lying, scheming, scam artist husband gone — but which one actually did the deed?

My Review:

This is the first book that I have read by Phyllis Smallman.  I do love a good cozy and this one did not disappoint.  While Sherri did a few things that I wouldn’t have done (like left a video tape with evidence in her VCR), if she hadn’t it wouldn’t have been a cozy!  You expect those sort of things from someone investigating a crime without the proper training or experience.  Sherri also has an interesting relationship with her mother, but then who doesn’t?

I also liked how it was set in Florida and the descriptive text used throughout the book.  I was able to picture the scenery in my mind and the various locales depicted within the novel.

Overall I give the book 4 stars and can’t wait to read the next two in the series.  So be sure and check back for those reviews!

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Posted in romance, Texas on September 20, 2010

Lori Wilde is the author of over forty-five books for three major New York publishers. Recently, she received a two-book contract from Warner Books based solely on a 25 word ‘high concept’ pitch. When the sale—along with the pitch—was announced on Publisher’s Marketplace, she was approached by eight film production companies interested in optioning her completed novel for a movie. She has been nominated for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and is a four time nominee of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Summary:

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny.”

The towns folk of Twilight, Texas, believe the legend, but not Sarah Collier—not since she was a pudgy teenager, running down the church aisle on Christmas Day in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop Travis Walker from marrying someone else. She may be grown up, slimmed down, bestselling children’s book author “Sadie Cool” now, but Sarah will never forget that day. And she’ll never fall foolishly in love again!

But when a letter from a sick fan brings Sarah back to Twilight, she’s shocked to discover that Travis is the little girl’s father—unattached and hotter than ever. His movie-star smile still makes her melt, but Sarah knows that ship has sailed. Travis, however, might have different ideas.

And just because you don’t believe in fairy tales doesn’t mean they won’t come true…

My Review:

This is the second book by Lori Wilde I have read.  The first was Addicted to Love which I also reviewed.  Since I live in Texas I always enjoy books that are set in this state since I tend to recognize characteristics of the towns or state as truly Texas.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that Lori lives here too.

Sarah was embarrassed as a child…but then who wasn’t when they were a teenager?  However she told Travis that she was his destiny…at his wedding…in front of the whole town.  I don’t think it can get any worse than that.

Fast forward about 10 years.  Sarah’s publicist sets her up on a goodwill tour with the clincher being a letter from a little girl in the town of Twilight who is deathly ill but Sarah’s biggest fan.  How can she disappoint this little girl? Of course the kicker is that she doesn’t know that the little girl is Travis’ daughter until it is too late and she is thrown directly into Travis’ path and the memory of what she did at his wedding.  Of course Travis hasn’t remained unscathed over the last 10 years and will his love for his daughter prevent him from finding his true love?

I really enjoyed this book.  It was very lighthearted with a few serious moments and it was nice to see where the male lead had issues he was dealing with in life that were of a serious nature.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that he is sexy and the descriptions Lori uses allow you to conjure him up in your mind.

Definitely check out this book if you like romance set in Texas…or just romance period!  It is a fairly quick read and I had a hard time putting the book down.

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2010

Congrats to these lucky winners:

Here are your random numbers:

9  Mary I
7  Susan H
6  Kathy P

Timestamp: 2010-09-19 21:22:10 UTC

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Posted in Winners on September 13, 2010

Congratuations to Chantel, she was the winner by being lucky #6 which was picked by Random.org

I have another giveaway on my blog and have a few more coming up in the near future.  So stay tuned!

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Posted in Australia, contest, fiction, Giveaway, mystery on September 7, 2010

John Howard Reid is a prize winning author and writing contests judge.  He has also worked as a publisher, editor, critic and bookseller.  As a fiction writer, Reid first achieved fame in England and Australia for a series of detective novels, all featuring a Miami police sergeant named Merryll Manning, who made his debut in “Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island” set in the Florida Keys.

John was once again kind enough to send me copies of this book to read and giveaway here on my blog.  Thank you John!

He also agreed to a mini interview.  John has quite the background so I wanted to know more about that part of his life.

SBR:  You seem to have done a myriad of jobs within the publishing world, was there any one that stood out (good or bad)?

JR: The lower you are on the publishing ladder, the more frustrating your job. You recommend manuscripts, you go to bat for authors, but all your recommendations seem to fall on deaf ears. So the higher your position, the more influence you have. Readers are on the bottom rung. Editors have more say. But when all’s said and done, the Publisher has the final word.

SBR: You have written a variety of books, is any one type your favorite?

JR: At heart, I’m a film buff. I like to write thrillers, but I enjoy watching movies more!

SBR: What made you choose Australia for the scene of this novel since Meryl is from Florida?

JR:  I started to write the Merryll Manning thrillers 30 years ago. At first the setting was one of my own invention. Under the influence of a certain TV show, I changed the locale to Miami. Yet still no-one showed any interest. Then I had a lucky break. I was working for an Australian company. They had signed a well-known British author for a series of thrillers. At the last moment, however, the author’s agent switched to a rival publisher. I told the Board, I would fill the breach myself. They accepted my offer, but insisted I change the setting. I couldn’t do it for the first novel, but I could make the change to Australia for “The Health Farm Murders”. In fact, it would be a big advantage, particularly if I researched the area thoroughly. So that’s what I did.

SBR: There are currently 3 Meryl Manning novels, do you have plans for more?

JR: Right now, I’m re-writing “Merryll Manning On the Rim of Heaven”. This is set in a small town called Tenterfield in the north of New South Wales. This will be followed by “Merryll Manning Has His Price”, set in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. Then we are back for good in the U.S.A. in “Merryll Manning’s Brush with Death”. There are actually 14 novels in the series, of which 13 were published in a wide variety of editions (hard cover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, Large Print) in England, Australia and other British Commonwealth countries. But not until now in the U.S.A. See this webpage for complete details.

SBR: What books are currently on your nightstand?  (or what are you currently reading?)

JR: My current nightstand books: “Leonard Maltin’s 2010 Movie Guide”, “Fat Ollie’s Book” by Ed McBain, “Biblia de Jerusalen Latinoamericana”, “El Sobrino del Mago” (The Magician’s Nephew) by C.S. Lewis, my own “Mystery, Suspense, Film Noir and Detective Movies on DVD”, and the latest issue of “Scarlet: The Film Magazine”.

SBR: You sponsor a writing contest, do you see a lot of potential in these writers and have any gone on and continued writing/publishing?

JR: Many of our contest winners have gone on to carve out significant literary careers. I’d particularly mention Susan Keith, Debbie Camelin, Helen Bar-Lev, Johnmichael Simon, Elaine Winer, Guy Kettelhack, Judith Goldhaber, Marie Delgado Travis, Noble Collins, Ned Condini, Fred McGavran, Laurie Gough. Many others!

Synopsis:

Merryll Manning has traveled to Australia for some R&R at a health farm in a small town.  There are only men there during this week and they start dropping like flies and only Merryll seems to be able to get to the bottom of the situation and reveal the murderer for who they really are before someone else loses their life.

The book review:

I had read the first Merryll Manning book so I knew that this one had to be similar, characters running around and many red herrings that led me down many wrong paths in trying to guess the killer.  Trust me when I say it was the last person I expected!  I am very glad to have the list of characters in the front because I couldn’t keep them straight…they were in and out of the storyline fairly quickly and the list is very helpful.

This was also interesting because the cast of characters was all men save the policeman’s daughter and the proprietress of the health farm.

While it is good to read the first Merryll Manning book, it isn’t necessary to enjoy this book and the twist and turns you will encounter.

The Giveaway:

I will be giving away 3 copies of this book.  To win, just leave a comment.  This is open to US & Canadian residents and the contest will end September 19th.

Posted in contest, fiction, Giveaway, romance on September 3, 2010

Teryl Cartwright is a relatively new author having written one other romance novel and two plays along with news articles and childrens curriculum.  Teryl states on her website that it is important for her to write about what she knows—relationships, family and faith.  This way even though the story and characters were fictional, many of the emotions and thoughts were not.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the author and will be giving it away here on my blog.  I also asked Teryl if she would answer a few questions and she was glad to oblige.

SBR:  When and Why did you begin writing?

TC: I’ve been writing on and off since third grade, but only got serious about writing novels in 2002.  A friend had convinced me to try the online National Novel Writing in a Month Contest and that book was the first completed novel I had ever done.  (It also turned out to be my first published novel, A Sensible Match, after many, many edits!)

I had written short stories, articles, plays and such before that, but there is such a difference to hold a complete book, imperfect as it was.   Over the years I had so many half done books sitting around and I found out that I needed to actually finish a book in order to go to the next steps of editing and sending it out.

I began writing to have some control over my life.  I mean, I always think of the perfect thing to say or do in real life after the fact, so for me, it’s great that in a story, the characters can do and say what I want, when I want.  It is such a wonderful outlet for my imagination too.  I get paid for daydreaming or making movies in my head.  Ironically when I write, sometimes the words and story come out so differently than when I started that I am the one surprised as if I’m the reader.  So the reason I started to write, to have more control, is actually not the end result.

SBR:  If you had to choose, what writer would you consider a mentor?

TC: I haven’t met too many other writers yet, so my mentoring has come through the words in other authors’ books.  I should also explain that mentors to me are the cheerleaders of our lives.  They don’t criticize, coach or edit, they just get you excited to keep working on your stuff.  If I had to choose, my mentor then is a nonfiction writer named Roger Von Oech.  He writes about how to be creative.  If I need to get a different perspective on my writing, if I have writer’s block or if I have a sudden lack of confidence, I dive into his books, A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants.  The titles say more than I can!  Don’t get me wrong, I need critics, coaches and editors too, but I get inspired by those writers and their books after I have a first draft done, not before.

SBR: What book(s) are on your nightstand?

TC: M.C. Beaton’s Death of A Witch, Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion and Talisman Ring and Scottish Customs by Margaret Bennett are all currently stacked on the nightstand.

SBR: Do you have a favorite author?

TC: Georgette Heyer and Louis L’Amour are my favorite historical fiction writers.  They pay attention to the time period and make it a character of the story without overshadowing it.  I just can’t read authors that put every single research detail into their books because I want to get to the story. And these two also really know story and pacing–and have a sense of humor.

I’ll just share an inside joke in Courting Constance—two characters’ names are tributes to my favorite authors—Harriet Guyer (the quiet girl) is named after the more wordy Georgette Heyer while man hungry Marianne Beaton is a fun accolade to M.C. Beaton, who always has several of those desperate women chasing after her hero, Hamish MacBeth, in her books.

SBR:  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Courting Constance?

TC: I wish I could have also added another “flashback” to the beginning of the courtship and I might have added a scene with Edwin (Abby’s husband) and Geoffrey talking about the sisters they love, Abby and Constance respectively.  I also think it would have been fun to have Constance try one or two more things—but I felt it would be padding the story and bog it down.  I call Courting Constance my “kitchen sink” book because I threw in about everything but the kitchen sink.  You might not think that a writer can read a story she’s written and feel surprised, but I can still leaf through pages and have something jump out at me that I forgot I put in or find something new to laugh at.  Basically, I’m pretty happy with the book though and even the small changes the editor wanted are starting to grow on me.

SBR:  What are you working on for your next novel?

TC:  I would love to do a Scottish novel set in the same time frame (early 1800s) as Courting Constance and A Sensible Match.  There was so much happening in Scotland then in terms of advancements (culturally and technologically) and in light of events such as the Highland Clearances.  The problem is that research resources seem much more limited than those for Regency England.  I understand now why Highland romances are generally set in Medieval times, because it’s so much harder to find references for the time I want to research. Until I can find what I need, I am working on books in other genres such as western and sci-fi.  But I will write a Scottish romance soon–even if the first one can’t be the one I want to do right now.

Thank you so much for letting me share some thoughts and time together with you!  Teryl Cartwright

Book Synopsis & Review:

Courting Constance is a historical romance novel.  Constance was engaged to Geoffrey but he called off the engagement after seeing her flirt with another man just weeks before the wedding.  Constance decides that she wants him back and follows him to Bath in order to court him secretly.  She isn’t going to do it with flowers and candy as most men would do to court women, instead she decides to use music and food.  What follows can be described as a comedy of errors or as the author shared the tagline with me – If you had to win a guy in 10 days in Regency England, how would you do it?

I will admit that I’m not usually a huge historical romance fan but Courting Constance had me chuckling from the first chapter.  Between her antics in trying to court Geoffrey and Geoffrey trying to get revenge on Constance for the flirting had me in stitches.  Constance is definitely a “modern” woman for her time and isn’t afraid to go for what she wants in life.  And what makes the story more comical is when society thinks that she is courting Geoffrey’s best friend (and next door neighbor) Lord Robert Fenway…who wants to help Geoffrey but has also taken a liking to Harriet.

Oh what a tangled web Constance weaves in the name of love!   But along the way she realizes that sometimes you have to let love go so that others can be happy.  However, even this realization causes problems for headstrong Constance.  In the end she learns to open her ears and close her mouth and listen.

I definitely recommend this book and give it 4 stars.  Next time you are in the mood for a little historical romance, pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed.

Giveaway:

I am giving away the copy of this book that Teryl sent me.  The contest is open to all US and Canadian residents.  Just leave a comment and I will draw a name on September 11th.