Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2012

just a few days left to sign up for the Spare Change giveaway and the Last to Die giveaway.

Open to US residents (but I have one coming that will be open to residents of Canada)

Posted in chick lit, teaser, Tuesday on September 25, 2012

This week’s teaser comes from author Ariella Papa who has written several books including On the Verge and Bundle of Joy.  Well this will be a little more than the usual teaser, but perhaps it will pique your curiousity!

Excerpt:

Prologue – Mo’ Money Mo Problems

I like to think of money in terms of the rock shrimp tempura at Nobu Next Door. When I take a cab I think, that’s about a third of a plate of tempura. So I prefer the subway. Sometimes, I don’t buy clothes because, that’s two to four plates worth. I try not to think about my rent in those terms. That might make a girl lose her appetite.

The city is filled with food. Everything from the beef cheek ravioli at Babbo to the pumpkin pomegranate soup at Mesa Grill. Don’t even get me started on the loads of possibilities opening up to me every week in the Dining In/Dining Out of the New York Times. It’s almost too overwhelming for this foodie to bear.

So every two weeks I invite a friend out for rock shrimp tempura, always with the spicy creamy sauce. It just sort of keeps things in perspective. In a city full of savory tempting substances, there’s got to be one thing that’s familiar.

I was your typical working girl struggling to make ends meet and pay off my credit card and student loans. Next thing I knew ON THE VERGE magazine named the character I had created and animated a feminist icon for the tween generation.

Esme’s Enlightments was just a bunch of short interstitials, which are like short film commercials, I worked on between animating title sequences and doing promo graphics for Explore Family! They were an upstart channel trying to make their way in the tough world of kids TV. Unfortunately they had no animated series but as soon as Esme got on the radar, (and who would think any one even read that magazine?) Hackett the head of programming called me into his office and set unbelievable deadlines for me to get an actual episode produced. He wanted me to turn my sixty second shorts into an actual TV show!

I loved my character, Esme. She may have been a bespectacled smart-aleck thirteen year old, who was a glorified imaginary friend, but she was my baby. She was comfortable with herself and her smarts. Everything I hadn’t been at thirteen, everything I still wished that I was now. I couldn’t believe people liked Esme so much. Overnight, I got a staff, a promotion, a fat raise and a hair cut. I busted my ass to get the first 22 minute episode of Esme’s Enlightments ready for the Upfront, where all the advertisers would lay their money down for the following season.

It was a huge success. The licensing department worked up all these plush Esme dolls and created an Esme’s board game and the advertisers spent their money if there was no tomorrow. Hackett gave an inspiring speech about how Esme was going to help shape the future of the network and even though she was a girl, she had tested well with boys who thought she was a techhead. I felt tears coming to my contacts when he talked about how Esme had tons of possibilities and it was all thanks to one young woman who believed. Me.

I stood up and got a huge round of applause. If my life were the movie I often wish it was, the credits could have rolled right then. Okay maybe, Tommy my recently exed boyfriend who I still found time to have stress relieving fantastic sex with, would have come from the side of the stage and lifted me up into a freeze frame, just like in Dirty Dancing. Then the audience to my movie could have left with feel good smile that you always see in the commercials for blockbusters.

Like many people who work in TV, I’m obsessed with film.

But, he didn’t come and the credits didn’t roll and even though it was a really great feeling. I still had to produce 13 episodes in a matter of months and I barely had time to breathe, much less properly blow out my new haircut.

The first few episodes of Esme’s Enlightenments The Series got exceptional ratings and press, but my work wasn’t done. We are constantly rolling out new episodes and that meant late nights. And believe me, all the delivery food I have to order in to my office doesn’t satisfy this food addict’s jones.

But, I was an adult and these were adult responsibilities and I had to deal, right?

So, I was out for an every second week dinner at Nobu with my roommate, Lauryn. I barely saw Lauryn with the hours I kept. When I arrive, she has already ordered a mango martini for me. We kiss hello and I take a bite of the dried piece of mango that comes with the drink.

“You seem very happy.” I say. Since Lauryn realized her marriage to Jordan was really only a starter marriage and his ideas about commitment involved spending her money and sleeping with other women, she had become very bitter. It was nice to see her smile and not mention that I was twenty-five minutes late.

“Well, Rebecca, it’s finally over.”

“What?”

“My D-I-V-O-R-C-E became final today,” she sang.

“Wow! That’s great,” I said. I’m not sure I really think so. I mean, we’re barely 27 and she is divorced, but I guess it’s cool because she is happy and Jordan is a dick. I hold up my martini glass and clink it into hers and a little bit of our drinks spills.

We order our meals, we each get shitake mushroom salads and she gets yellowtail sashimi with jalepeno. I approve, knowing I will be able to sneak a bite. I try not to associate with anyone who don’t believe in sharing foods.

We get more drinks. I’m exhausted, but kind of enjoying just listening to Lauryn chatter about her day after going to the lawyer. She is telling me about all the birds in Central Park and how she had always been a closet birder.

Suddenly, I realize that Lauryn is telling me something big.

“Wait a second! What?”

“I’m quitting my job and going up to a study the feeding habits of piping plovers on Martha’s Vineyard this summer. I’m also applying to get a Phd in Ecology in Boston.”

“But, what about our apartment? Your apartment?”

“You can have it, if you want. I just figured you’re never there and the lease is up in June and you’re probably moving back in with Tommy soon anyway.”

“Why? I’m not dating him anymore.”

“But, you’re still sleeping with him.”

“Three times!” I said holding up my fingers. “Three times in five months. And they were all after extremely stressful days.”

“This city is full of stress,” Lauryn said suddenly, strangely at complete peace with herself. “That’s why I’m moving out. Anyway, I think you’re forgetting a few drunk dials.”

“They were stressed out drunk dials.” She smiles at me. She has been more cheerful since starting therapy.

‘You can keep it if you want. I bet you can afford it now with your promotion.” The waitress sets my tempura down in front of me. For the first time ever, I wasn’t hungry for it. There was no way I could afford $2,100 a month and ever expect to see this plate in front of me again.

The next sip of my drink tasted more like vodka than mango and only one thought occurred to me: What if this was my last plate of rock shrimp tempura ever?

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Posted in Cozy, Monday, mystery, Texas on September 24, 2012

This week it is the 2nd in a series by Liz Lipperman called Beef Stolen-Off.  The first in the series was Liver Let Die which was really good!  The third in the series is due out in January 2013 and it is called Murder for the Halibut….Jordan is going on a cruise!

Synopsis:

Aspiring sportswriter Jordan McAllister never imagined she’d be a food critic. Yet here in Ranchero, Texas, that’s exactly what she is. And while she may not know a flank steak from a filet mignon, she certainly knows how to rustle up trouble…

As the food columnist for The Ranchero Globe, Jordan McAllister catches the eye of cattle baron Lucas Santana, who invites her to the Cattleman’s Ball, hoping a positive review for the ball might boost the county’s sagging beef sales.

To ensure Jordan enjoys herself, Santana sets her up with a prime cowboy companion for the event—Rusty Morales. Jordan’s delighted to go with him and two-step the night away. But instead, she winds up in the emergency room where her date is DOA.

When Rusty’s mother begs her for help, Jordan knows she needs to grab the bull by the horns and get to the bottom of this mystery before she corrals herself into trouble…

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Posted in e-books, fiction, Kindle, New York, Review on September 23, 2012

Earlier this year I reviewed an excellent historical fiction novel by Ed Brodow called Fixer.  If you haven’t picked that one up, definitely add it to your TBR (to be read) list.

Ed contacted me again and asked if I would like to review his new book, Women from Venus.  This book contains four short stories that have interesting twists at the end…

In the first novella, Women From Venus, psychologist Robert Elgar’s successful career as a debunker of alien kidnappings is sabotaged when a beautiful abductee charges him with rape.

The Man Who Could Not Make Up His Mind depicts the ordeal of Clifford Day Vanderwall as his career is destroyed by a predatory fortune hunter in this hilarious satire about love among New York’s upper crust.

Intent on revenge, ex-Marine Tommy Courten tracks his sister’s psychopathic killer to a remote South American
jungle only to be shocked by what he discovers about his own true nature in The Stamp.

In I’ll Take Manhattan, the Lenape Indians offer proof that their tribe is the rightful owner of Manhattan Island and they want it back.

Review:

Ed had a lot to live up to after I read Fixer and loved it!  He did not disappoint with with these four short stories.  In fact, I didn’t want the stories to end, I wanted them to continue!  The stories twist and turn in the end and what you think is going to happen or should happen, doesn’t.

I think my favorite was I’ll Take Manhattan because the thought of a group of people lying claim to Manhattan which is nothing but an island…well that is crazy and can you imagine how much people would lose if all of a sudden ownership of the land reverted to a group of people?!  Crazy!

Gracie and April enjoyed the stories too and give them four paws

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, mystery, Review, suspense on September 21, 2012

Last to Die by author Tess Gerritsen is the latest (#10) in the Rizzoli & Isles series…you know, that show that is on TNT!  I will admit that I don’t watch the TV show and it has been a loooooong time since I read a book in this series, but that didn’t stop me from picking up this book!  But more on that in my review.

Interview with Tess Gerritsen:

What inspired the characters of Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli?  — Jane was modeled after female cops I’ve met through the years.  They were tough, smart women who have had to work hard to be accepted in what’s been traditionally a man’s profession. Jane’s very much my opposite — she’s brash, unafraid to speak her mind, and not above a little arm twisting if it’s necessary.  Maura is very much like me: introverted, logical, and something of a loner.  In fact, a lot of Maura’s biographical details come straight from my own life, from where she went to college and med school to what kind of car she drives.

What was it like writing about children as crime fighters, rather than victims, of crime? — It was a lot of fun, because it fulfilled my own childhood fantasy of being a crime fighter.  I think it’s a universal fantasy entertained by children, that they’re heroes, capable of feats that adults don’t give them credit for.  And the teenaged trio in LAST TO DIE was particularly fun to write about because they’re the outcasts, the self-described “weirdos” whom no one respects.  When they can do heroic things, it’s even more of an achievement.

How did you originally become interested in writing thrillers?  What from your childhood impacted this? — I’ve always loved the mystery genre, because of my childhood addiction to Nancy Drew novels.  Nancy was a role model for a whole generation of girls.  She was smart, spunky, and independent — and that’s what I imagined every girl detective must be.  But as I grew older, I gravitated toward darker mysteries. Murder, after all, is not a light-hearted subject. My medical training forced me to see death face to face, and those details naturally made it into the books.

How do you use your background as a doctor to enhance your books? — A great deal of my medical training shows up when I write from Maura’s point of view.  Doctors learn to approach puzzles in a logical way, eliminating the possibilities until they reach the one logical conclusion.  That’s the way of thinking that dictates how Maura approaches a problem.  Her memories of medical school and residency are oftentimes my own experiences.

What’s it like to watch the show on TNT? — It’s both fun and a little strange, since these are my characters — except they’re different.  They’re funnier, more glamorous, and way more attractive on TV.  And they’re a lot more girlfriend-y, which is why so many women have gravitated toward the show. The female-buddy-cop show is something we haven’t seen since Cagney and Lacey three decades ago.  It was about time for a new one!

You can read here Tess’ blog post about why she wrote this book.

 

Synopsis:

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

Review:

As I mentioned above it has been awhile since I have read a book by Tess Gerritsen.  I remember enjoying her books but not sure why I stopped reading in this particular series.  But that doesn’t matter because after reading this book I want to go back and figure out what books I have missed in the series and read them as well!  Last to Die grabbed me from from the first few chapters…who was this mystery woman that was saving the children?  Why were the foster families of these children being murdered?  It didn’t make any sense….until you get near the end!  The interaction between Maura and Jane keeps you hopping because while they may be friends and have the same goals, there is sometimes a little tension….but that may be because I’ve missed something in the books I’ve missed.  Anyway, there are many twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat and eyes glued to the pages wondering what could possibly happen next!

Gracie and April give this book 5 paws and if you have not read this series before, start at the beginning with The Surgeon because while you could read this book and not really miss out on anything, starting at the beginning of a series will introduce you to the two main characters and you will understand their relationship better!

 

The Giveaway:

This is open to all US residents.  Fill out the form below and a winner will be chosen on Sunday, September 30th.

Posted in contest, fiction, Giveaway on September 19, 2012

It has been awhile since I’ve done a giveaway but when author Bette Lee Crosby sent me her book, Spare Change, I just knew I needed to share this book with a lucky reader of my blog!  AND Bette told me that Spare Change will be available for free on Amazon on Thursday, September 20th and Friday, September 21st.  This book has never been offered for free before and may never be again, so if you have a Kindle, head over to Amazon to get the book for free…or sign up for my giveaway below for a copy of the book.

A little bit about Bette:

Award-winning author Bette Lee Crosby is originally from New Jersey, but now makes her home in Southern Florida where she lives with her husband Richard and a feisty Bichon Frise named Katie.

In 1997 Bette abandoned the fast-paced world of advertising and embarked on a career as a novelist. Her books, frequently written in a Southern voice, cover a wide spectrum of locales and personalities as they tell tales of courageous women overcoming life’s obstacles. Her novels were first recognized in 2006, when she won the National League of American Pen Women Award for unpublished fiction with What Matters Most. In 2007 she won the National League of American Pen Women’s First Place Fiction Award for her novel Girl Child; and in 2009 her latest novel Cracks in the Sidewalk received the prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association; and in 2011 it won the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal. Bette has recently completed an biography of Lani Verner Deauville, the amazing woman who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest living quadriplegic. This book, scheduled for release in February 2012 is titled “Life in the Land of IS…the Amazing Story of Lani Deauville, the World’s Longest Living Quadriplegic.”

Interview with Bette:

Along with provided the book to me to read, Bette was kind enough to answer a few questions that I could share with my readers!

What inspired you to start writing?

My mom—although her education ended in the sixth grade, and she seldom wrote anything more than a letter, she was an absolutely mesmerizing storyteller. Supposedly, many of her tales were about long lost family members, but I seriously doubt that any family could produce all of the lovable and quirky characters she conjured up. Once she was gone, so were her stories and one loss was as great as the other. So, after years of writing for business, I turned to fiction and discovered that I had inherited my mom’s storytelling gene. Once I started down that road, there was no turning back. As it’s turned out, I am my mom…only with a computer.

 How long does it normally take you to write a book from start to finish?

From the initial creation of characters and story concept it takes about a year to finalize a book. It can be a few months longer or shorter based on the amount of research, but there is not a huge variance. Since many of my stories are set in the first half of the twentieth century, I find I can add authenticity to the story by including factual occurrences from that time period.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

It changes constantly. Since I write in a Southern voice, I do enjoy a number of Southern authors and I love discovering new authors with fresh new voices and ideas. I find that I have favorite books rather than favorite authors. I have classic favorites that include To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind, and I have new favorites that include Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus and Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells.

 What books are on your nightstand?

The Volunteer by Barbara Taylor Sissel and The Old Mermaid Inn by Kathleen Valentine. I have become addicted to reading on both my Kindle and iPad, so I cart around an armful of books and often jump from one to another depending on my mood. The only “real” book on my nightstand is the journal I use to sketch out story ideas that float through my head just as I’m about to fall asleep…or not. The Kindle became a necessity for me when the bookshelves in my office began to sag from the weight of books I can’t bear to part with.

 If this book were made into a movie, who do you think would play Olivia and Ethan Allen?

Olivia is easy- it would be Meryl Streep. She comes across as having the type of gullibility that led Olivia into the situations she encountered, and yet it’s easy to believe she is also the type of person who has a hidden strength that rises to the surface when it becomes necessary.  Ethan Allen is a bit more difficult – I would imagine it time for a casting call, but I’d be looking for a young Brad Renfro (the streetwise lad who played the boy in “The Client”)

Synopsis:

A Woman who is Superstitious to the Core…
A Boy who claims his Parents are Dead…
A Murderer who wants to Silence the Truth of What Happened.

Olivia Westerly knows what she knows—opals mean disaster, eleven is the unluckiest number on earth and children weigh a woman down like a pocketful of stones. That’s why she’s avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson.

With a foul mouth, dark secrets and heavily guarded emotions, Ethan Allen Doyle is not an easy child to like. He was counting on the grandpa he’d never met for a place to hide, but now that plan is shot to blazes because the grandpa’s dead too. He’s got seven dollars and twenty-six cents, his mama’s will for staying alive, and Dog. But none of those things are gonna help if Scooter Cobb finds him.

Review:

This is one powerful story and it will tug at your heartstrings!  It starts off giving the background of Olivia in the 1930’s and her life and then flips over to Ethan Allen and his life as a child and how he took charge of his destiny.  I love the interaction between Olivia and Ethan Allen and it just goes to show you that you are never too old to change your life or your way of thinking.  And Ethan Allen learned that you can trust adults, that they are not all bad.  I think there are some great life lessons that can be learned from this story.    Overall, Gracie & April give it 5 paws up.

Win a copy of this book!

Bette kindly sent me a copy of this book to read for my review and I want to share it with you!  Enter your information below and a winner will be chosen using random.org on Saturday, September 29th.  Open to US residents only

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Posted in romance, teaser, Tuesday on September 18, 2012

I won Ocean Beach by author Wendy Wax from Book Hounds many month ago…I still haven’t read it yet but thought I would highlight the book because it does sound good!

 

Synopsis:

Madeline, Avery and Nicole, the unlikely friends from Ten Beach Road, have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. A lot hinges on the success of the DIY program. For Nikki, it would mean getting back on her feet financially. For Avery, it’s a chance to restart her ruined career. And Maddie hopes it will give her a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan—until they realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, but having their personal lives play out on TV is another story entirely. Soon they’re struggling to hold themselves and the renovation together, even as a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—loom on the horizon, threatening not only the project but everything that’s brought them together.

 

Teaser:

This is from page 169

Next she unwrapped a sterling-silver dresser set.  “Oh my gosh,” Maddie said as she held up the hairbrush, comb, and mirror.  “These are beautiful.  I feel like I’ve been let loose in a treasure chest.”

 

 

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Posted in California, e-books, romance on September 17, 2012

Not too long ago I read and reviewed Not the Marrying Kind by Nicola Marsh.  She loved my 5 paw review and asked me to read and review Crazy Love as well.  This is her first Indie-published book and it should be released on September 18th on Amazon.

 

Synopsis:

All’s fair in love…and matchmaking!

Sierra Kent doesn’t do love.  While she embraces the quaintness of her home town Love and delights in matchmaking her clients through her Internet dating agency Love Byte, she doesn’t trust her intuition when it comes to the one emotion that has repeatedly let her down. 

City-slick Marc Fairley, CEO of LA’s premier acquisition company, doesn’t have time for Love.  From the minute he enters the kitschy town he can’t wait to hotfoot back to LA with his deranged mother in tow.  Instead, he gets roped into the town’s Love Fest hoopla, investigates the shady farmer his mom is engaged to, berates his butler for a mad crush on a brash Aussie waitress, and finds himself falling for the brazen red-head who continually baits him. His life couldn’t get any crazier. Until he discovers in exacting revenge on his father and achieving his lifelong goals, he may lose the one thing he values most…

Can Sierra and Marc create enough sparks to send Love up in flames?  And prove that winning isn’t everything in the love stakes, it’s how you play the game.

Review:

I think Nicola has another hit on her hand.  I love the interaction between Sierra and Marc, how they are both strong characters and butt heads quite a bit.  Flo (the brash Australian waitress) is a nice addition in the cast of characters and her insecurity that someone could love her despite her age and her quirks.  I will admit I am not quite done (can you say busy weekend) but am nearly there and can’t wait to see how it ends and if Sierra and Marc learn to give in a little bit.  I have my suspicions about a few things but don’t want to let out any spoilers!

This story also gets a 5 paw review from Gracie & April!

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Posted in baking, Cozy, Monday, mystery on September 17, 2012

It has been a mystical cozy type of month!  This week’s mystery highlight is Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates (aka Cricket McRae)

Synopsis:

Katie Lightfoot’s tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah’s quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy’s cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren’t just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben’s name and find the real killer

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Posted in China, Historical, teaser, Tuesday on September 11, 2012

My book club is reading this book for our gathering this weekend where we will also watch the movie.  I will have to say that the tradition of binding feet is a little disturbing but I know it was what was done at that time.

Lisa See is the author of this novel.

Synopsis:

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime.  The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she has written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.  As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.  They both endure the agony of footbinding and together reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood.  The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive.  But when a misunderstanding arises, their depe friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Teaser:

page 103

Wife Wang knew she was doomed for sleeping with her husband, but when he tested her knowledge of the Diamond Sutra and found that she could recite it without flaw, he gave her a room of her own so she could remain celibate for the rest of their married life.

ok, I haven’t gotten this far and have no clue what this is about but I am intrigued!

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