Posted in contest, fiction, Giveaway, Kate White, mystery, suspense, women on July 31, 2011

Kate White is best known as the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and several bestselling career bibles including Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead…but Gutsy Girls Do and 9 Secrets of Women who Get Everything They Want. Then in 2002 she decided to try her hand at mystery novels and scored a hit with If Looks Could Kill featuring Bailey Weggins. There have been several follow up books in the series which have also hit the bestseller list and the books have been optioned by Lions Gate Pictures.  Then last year she wrote Hush which I reviewed and now she is back with The Sixes and it is another page turner!

From the back of the book:

Phoebe Hall’s Manhattan life is unexpectedly derailed off the fast track when her long-term boyfriend leaves her just as she is accused of plagiarizing her latest best-selling celebrity biography.  Looking for a quiet place to pick up the pieces, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus’s quiet cafes and looming maple trees lie evil happenings.  The body of a coed washes up from the nearby river, and soon hidden secrets begin to surface among the students:  rumors of past crimes and abuses wrought by a disturbing secret society known as The Sixes.

Determined to find answers and help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues – a quest that soon raises dark memories of her boarding school days.  Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she’s close to unmasking a killer.  But with truth comes a deeply terrifying revelation: the past can’t be outrun…and starting over can be a crime punishable by death.

My Review:

When I was asked to review this book I had this feeling that it would hook me from the first chapter and I wasn’t wrong.  I belong to a sorority but The Sixes are nothing like a sorority and don’t cross them because they won’t forget it and will seek retaliation even if it is subtle!  There are many characters thrown in to the mix and while you might think one person is involved in the happenings on campus and in town, you might be right and you might be wrong.  Kate brings to this story a mix of complex characters and entertwining their lives so that you don’t know who is a good guy and who isn’t.  I found myself going back and forth on various characters and who might be involved and I was right on a few but not all!  There is even some romance thrown in, but not without some suspicion on Phoebe’s part.

I definitely recommend this book and suggest you pick it up when it comes out on August 2nd.  Or you could win a copy here!

So here is the contest:

I have been given 2 copies of Hush and 1 copy of The Sixes to give away.  I will sweeten the pot and also offer my copy of The Sixes (ARC).  So that is 4 books that I’m giving away!  It is open to all residents of the US and Canada.  Just leave a comment so that you can be entered.

I will even offer a 2nd entry if you blog about it or post it on Facebook.  Just leave a second comment with your blog listing or your Facebook posting link.

The contest will close on Sunday, August 7th.

 

 

 

Posted in fiction, Giveaway, women on July 18, 2011

Kristin Elizabeth Marshall, a graduate of Boston University with a degree in Psychology, has burst into the literary world with her first book.

From the back of the book:

Set in the historic and familiar context of what is arguably the most iconic American Family, The Eternal Waltz of Jacqueline Kennedy portrays through elegant, lyrical prose a single ethereal day spent in eternity.  Jackie Kennedy, together with her husband and children for one final treasured day, takes us on a literary tour-de-force, a spiritual journey that unfolds as she reflects on her life.  She examines both her immeasureable joys and her personal tragedies, not only the loves and the losses that spring from the timeless universality of family, but those that arose from that turbulent, triumphant, and uniquely American era surrounding John F. Kennedy’s brief presidency.

I will admit that when I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure what to think or if I would even like it, but as I continued on through the author’s vivid imagery of the day, I was drawn into the story and almost felt like I was right there next to them as they played in the garden or sailed on the boat or ran through a rainstorm to seek shelter.  This book also provokes the reader to ponder things such as sand and how Jackie explains to Caroline that we are all crushers of rock and coral and we all create sand. 

We all know that if you read to children that it will encourage them to enjoy the written word from a young age.  As the author states in one chapter:  The children devour the words like edible sweets.  The books, nourishing food for their hungry young souls.  That is what books should be, food for their souls!

There is a chapter called The Famine and the Feast which relates a story of Caroline having a tea party with her dolls from various countries.  Although the dolls do not have names, they sit next to each other and do not complain about who they are sitting next to or that they are all fed from the same cup and spoon.

Take a break from reality and pick up this book and get swept away in a day with the Kennedys.  You will be glad that you did!

So now for the fun stuff – I am giving away the copy of this book that the author sent me to a lucky winner.  This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada.  Just leave a comment here on my blog and why you might like to read this book and on Friday, July 29th I will choose a lucky winner to experience the day caught on paper.

Posted in contest, England, France, Giveaway on June 16, 2011

Yes, it has been over 6 months since I wrote a review but life sometimes gets in the way.  That said, I have quite a few books and giveaways over the next month!

The first is The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton.  Rosy was kind enough to send me a book last fall that I read but was not able to post my review until now.  My apologies Rosy!

I think many will be able to relate to this storyline.  Catherine divorces her husband and needs a change of pace and decides to do it in a small town in the Cévennes mountains.  She is a talented seamstress and decides to offer custom items such as draperies and needlework but doesn’t realize the hoops she must jump through courtesy of the French government.  However, in her quest for her independence she befriends the townspeople especially her closest neighbors.  They become her surrogate family and watch out for each other and help each other in times of need, sorrow and happiness.  Much like you would come to expect from a small town where everyone knows each other and their business!  Catherine experiences joy, sadness, anger and even love throughout the book in the various situations, nothing different than what you or I might experience in our normal lives.

I enjoyed the book and would give it 4 stars.  I felt the main character in the book overcame many obstacles in her quest for independence but also broadened her views on life and love.  She did have to dealwith some obstacles in her path in this quest for a better life, but these challenges only helped her become a better person.  I felt like the character continued to grow throughout the novel and encouraged me to think about my own life and would I make some of the same choices that Catherine made or would I have chosen a different path.

Now for the fun part – the giveaway!  Rosy kindly provided a copy of her book to me and I would like to share this with one of my lucky readers.  Since it is a thicker book, I do need to limit it to US residents only.  Leave a comment with your email address and why you would like to read this book.  If you post the giveaway on your blog, leave a second comment for another chance to win.

Contest will close on Sunday June 26th around 5pm CT, so get your entries in now!

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 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.

Posted in chick lit, Giveaway on August 17, 2010

Jennifer (aka Jenny) Crusie has been writing books since the early 90’s and has co-authored several books over the last 6 years.  This newest book, Maybe This Time! is her version of The Turn of the Screw a short novel written in 1898 by Henry James.

I was lucky enough to be ask Jennifer a few questions about the book and her writing:

SBR: Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

 They just show up.  Ideas are never a problem.  Writing them is the problem.

 SBR: When and why did you begin writing?

 I was researching my dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories, and I read 100 romance novels to study women’s narrative.  I fell in love with the genre, dropped my dissertation, and began to write romance.

 SBR: Are there any new authors that you predict will be successful?

 Lucy March has a paranormal romance coming out next year called A Little Night Magic.  Otherwise, I’m really out of the loop on new authors, although I’m sure there are many.  I must start reading up on that.

 SBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and what book are you reading now?

 Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lani Diane Rich (soon to be Lucy March), Anne Stuart, Patricia Gaffney, Barbara Samuel, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer, Michael Gilbert, Margery Allingham, Rex Stout, Dorothy Parker, P.G.Wodehouse . . . lots and lots of faves.

The book I’m reading now is mine because it’s three months past its due date so I am peddle to the metal 24/7.   

 SBR: Maybe This Time touches on the paranormal, did you go this direction because of the fascination with this genre?

 Maybe This Time is my version of The Turn of the Screw, so the paranormal came packaged with that, but yes, I love paranormal stories.   Ghost stories not as much as magic, but if you’re paying homage to one of the greatest ghost stories of all time, you better have ghosts. 

 SBR: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

 I feel strong that if you want to send a message, you should use e-mail.  Fiction has themes, but I don’t think it should have morals.  This book is about second chances, about letting go of what’s past and moving on, but it doesn’t say you should move on, it just says that these characters are faced with the choice of moving on, and how they make that choice determines their fates.  Your mileage may differ.

My Review:
I will say that I really enjoyed this book.  It grabbed me from the first chapter all the way to the end….and even with a twist at the end that I know I wasn’t expecting!  It starts with Andie visiting her ex-husband North at his law office to try and put him out of her life once and for all by returning the alimony checks that she has not cashed over the last 10 years.  Once there she notices that she still feels drawn to her ex and him to her…there is something to be said for chemistry!  North decides that he has nothing to lose and asks her for a favor, to watch over his wards until he could get them moved to his home.  Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) Andie agrees to do it for a month.

When Andie arrives it isn’t quite what she expected and she is appalled at the condition of the home and the state of the children and this makes her more determined than ever to make things right at whatever cost for the children.

This book has many funny sections that had me laughing out loud because I could picture the events as they were described.  And then of course you have the ghosts, who are never predictable, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers who thinks she runs the property because she has been there since she was a teenager.  Of course there is the jealous boyfriend, her kooky mother and a crazy news reporter that wants to expose more than just the story of the ghosts in the home.

Definitely pick up this book when it comes out 8/31, you won’t regret it!

Giveaway:

Leave a comment on my blog to win a chance for your own copy of Maybe This Time! 

I will give away 2 copies, one from the publisher and the ARC that they sent me to review.

Contest ends August 28th and is open to US and Canadian residents

Posted in Giveaway on April 29, 2010

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers is giving away 3 copies of I Has a Hotdog by Professor Happy Cat

If you like dogs you will like this one – here is the information from the blog:

Yes, my friends….we’ve not only gone to the dogs today, but to the humor side as well!  Professor Happy Cat, author of the infamous I Can Haz Cheezburger book, takes a walk on the “ruff” side of the tracks and exploits…I mean, explores the world of canines.  Pairing humorously cute photos with his own patented style of accented captioning (just try reading it without the accent…not nearly as funny nor does it make sense….with the accent, much better!), you get to take a look inside the minds of the pooches and see what they are REALLY thinking.  See Fido leaping through the air, a look of pure glee on his face….or is it?  Put your little pooch in a sweater when it’s cold outside and marvel at how cute and warm they look?  (Guilty!) The funny little smile they have may not be all cheery thankful thoughts…and ironically enough, my dog actually has the one sweater they show in the book.  (No lie….good thing they out grew it or I may have to second guess the smile they give me when they’re dressed in it…)

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