Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Spotlight: Catch Me by Jennifer Probst

I am delighted to be working with Marissa over at Sizzling PR to spotlight this book today - a romance to break up the heavier reading :)

Be forewarned, this post contains some adult materials...

About the Author:

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons, one 4 and one 6, keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.


Her first contemporary romance, Heart of Steel, was re-launched in e-book form. Her publications with Red Sage include “Masquerade” Secrets Volume 11,  The Tantric Principle, and her February 1st release, Sex, Lies and Contracts. She has also written a children's book, Buffy and the Carrot, co-written with her twelve year old niece, along with a short story, "A Life Worth Living." Her newest series include Catch Me, the first in The Steele Brothers series with Decadent, and The Marriage Bargain, her new Marriage to a Billionaire series with Entangled. All of her books are available at her website or Amazon.


About the Book:

Release: February 17, 2012 from Decadent Publishing 

Rick Steele has avoided women since he caught his fiancée cheating, but when he’s talked into spending a one night stand through Madame Eve, he’s not prepared for his emotional and physical reaction to his date. For the first time, he wants more than one night..but he needs to catch her first...

Tara Denton escaped a brutal past and needs one night with a stranger to break down her sexual and emotional limitations. On the brink of recovering her strength and independence, she wants nothing to do with a relationship. But Rick Steele does more than rock her body...he rocks her heart. Tara has to make a choice, and she’s not ready to get caught...
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Innocent Affair: Author Guest Post

The post is a bit heavy today here on the blog - I am joined by Edward Mrkvicka, author of No Innocent Affair who is here to talk about the effects of adultery on children.  Check out his book, it is well worth the read!


About the Author:

Edward Mrkvicka is a lay minister and counselor, and life-long Bible student. His religious writings have been awarded Best Christian Book of the Year, Best Christian Study of the Year, named a National Best Book Awards finalist, and a winner in the Christian Choice Book Awards. He has also been awarded the prestigious Faith Writers Seal of Approval.

His efforts on behalf of families, understanding adultery, and the devastating effect of divorce on children have earned him a United States Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition “in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community.”

You can visit Edward’s web site at www.EdwardFMrkvickaJr.com and find him at Facebook here.

About the Book:

An avid student of the Word, Edward Mrkvicka addresses the fact that adultery is one of the main contributors to the destruction of the American family. Mrkvicka posits that few who engage in adulterous relationships realize the enormity of the cost of infidelity, both to themselves and innocent people in their lives.

Beginning by comparing God’s view of adultery to society’s view, No Innocent Affair explains in frank yet loving terms that unrepentant adultery is more than just an innocent affair. It is choosing Satan over Jesus and death over life.

Most important, No Innocent Affair takes you on a step-by-step biblical progression that leads to the sin of adultery being forgiven and salvation reclaimed.

Author Guest Post:

Adultery Is Child Abuse

The Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect says child abuse is "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

This is what happens to children when a parent’s adultery leads to divorce -- which it almost always does.

   The children are:
   * ten times more likely to be abused physically and/or sexually.
   * four times more likely to become alcoholic.
   * six times more likely to abuse drugs.
   * three times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
   * two times more likely to drop out of school.
   * twelve times more likely to end up in prison.
   * three times more likely to become an unwed parent.
   * five times more likely to live in poverty.
   * three times more likely to commit suicide. (No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery)

When a person commits adultery, they seldom give thought to the ultimate damage that will be caused by their selfish act. And the few adulterers who do give thought to the consequences that will be visited on others they profess to love (like their children), will rationalize their actions in order to justify what they know in their heart is not justifiable.

Clearly, if the above statistics were the result of the actions of others, you would rightfully believe your child had been abused. But because it’s a result of our own self-centered worldly desires, we do what we want, because “we’re entitled.” We can have it all -- or so we’ve been told. Besides, the kids will be okay.

The truth is, as the statistics and my counseling experience proves, they won’t be okay. They will suffer the rest of their lives.

For the most part I have tried to maintain a secular view of this epidemic of “unintentional” child abuse by a parent, as that is how most view the world -- we cannot see beyond the end of our noses, so long-term ramifications when we’ve found our latest “soul mate” are normally of little concern. We want what we want when we want it.

But for those of us who claim His name, we must consider how God sees this issue.

There are a thousand reasons not to cheat on our spouse, but none more important than what we’re about to do to our innocent children who believe in us -- who love us -- who trust us.


Friday, February 24, 2012

The Canker Death by James Bottino


While I have not read the book I am featuring today I am excited to share it with you because I think it has a most beautiful cover and as many of you know, I completely judge a book by its cover!  the description is interesting and while it is outside the norm of what I usually review and feature I think for the right people this book is a winner!

About the Book:


When the reclusive, cynical systems administrator, Petor Fidelistro, discovers that one of his own servers has been cracked late one night, he makes it his personal business to track down the perpetrator. What his search uncovers thrusts him, unaware, into a mad shifting between worlds, time and alien minds.

Fighting to keep his grip on reality, and forcing him to cope with his past, Petor finds himself uncontrollably transitioning between sentient minds that range from semi-conscious to dominant, from beings whose bodies and identities he can control, to those who control him so fully as to be unaware of his presence.

As the story unfolds, Petor gathers clues in a twisting mystery that sends him shifting between the mourning child Nanzicwital; the golem giant Faskin; the lascivious, female ambassador Desidia; and Nokinis, an insane prisoner with whom Petor battles for mastery of his own memories. As he struggles to make sense of what is happening to him, Petor finds himself embroiled in the tumultuous upheaval of a ubiquitous society that transcends life, itself.

About the Author:



James R. Bottino’s life-long interests mix esoteric and disparate fields of study. By day, his foremost influences have been the study of literature and the art of writing. Following these pursuits led him to read anything he could in these areas and to complete every under-graduate and graduate course available to him in the field of creative writing. Following this line, he taught high school English throughout the 1990’s, focusing on the teaching of writing.

By night, when no one was looking, he studied computer systems / networks, computer languages, and operating systems, learning anything he could in these areas, first as a hobby, and, finally, as a career. This mixture of literature and technology served as the inspiration for the The Canker Death’s protagonist, Petor.
James currently lives in a suburb of Chicago, with his wife, daughter, two Australian cattle dogs and far, far too many books and abstruse computers.

You can visit his website at TheCankerDeath.com.


Reviews:


5 out of 5 stars Cliffhanger after cliffhanger! I couldn’t put it down!, September 3, 2011

This review is from: The Canker Death (Kindle Edition)

The Canker Death by James R. Bottino is a mystery, a spiritual awakening, a suspenseful and funny book with complex characters and worlds. This book reminds me a bit of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series and also reminds me that good ideas are still out there amidst the plethora of over-worked, tired concepts prevalent in our world today.

How did the author slip in symbolism and deep themes all the while entertaining us with the “full monty” of sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll and stuff that explodes? I’m not sure, but by the time I’d finished The Canker Death, it made me laugh, cry, hang on by the seat of my pants, and shout “SEQUEL!!!” (although the book does stand well on its own.)

Also, while reading, I found the Vitruvian Man map full of symbols, character names and concepts to be a provocative and neat little extra feature. I highly recommend this original tome!

Click HERE for the entire tour schedule :)

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Summer of Secrets by Charlotte Hubbard

I have been anxiously awaiting the chance to share this book with you - it is right up my alley and I really think you will enjoy it :)


About the Novel:

SUMMER OF SECRETS introduces Miriam Lantz, Amish owner of the Sweet Seasons bakery café, along with her twin daughters Rachel and Rhoda—but wait! When a tattooed, spiky-haired Goth girl turns out to be their long-lost sister, Plain lives get changed in a hurry.

Miriam explains the way Rebecca—now known as Tiffany—got washed away in the flood of 1993 and why the bishop at that time insisted Miriam and her husband keep it quiet. Now a widow, Miriam is realizing her dream—her mission—of feeding people, yet the current bishop, Hiram Knepp, insists she sell her bakery…and marry him. As more secrets surface the Lantz triplets and their mother stand united as a family “fer gut and forever” as Rachel plans her wedding (for Book 2, AUTUMN WINDS, due out in September, 2012).

About the Author:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

To find out more about Charlotte or her work please visit http://www.CharlotteHubbardAuthor.com
 
Book Excerpt:
 
Seasons of the Heart
Book 1
 
“And what shall I bring for your dinner, Micah?” Rachel Lantz grinned at the broad-shouldered blonde seated at the back table of the Good Seasons Bakery Café. “We’ve got an order or two of Naomi’s meat loaf left, and Mamma’s chicken and noodles—and jah, those stuffed peppers ya like so well.”

Although he knew their daily menu by heart, he pretended to study the specials she’d written on the dry-erase board this morning. His hair showed a slight ridge from his straw hat, now hung on the nearby wall peg, and she felt the heat of his sturdy body after his morning of building cabinets with the other Brenneman boys in their shop. It was his steadfast strength that appealed to her, even if he took his sweet time deliberating over decisions. “I’m thinkin’ I had the hash browns Tuesday at lunch and Thursday for breakfast . . . hmmmm . . . kinda warm for those heavy slabs of meatloaf . . .”
Rachel stood as close to him as she dared, watching her twin sister Rhoda set two plates of the meat loaf in front of Bram and Nate Kanagy at a table across the way. “The stuffed peppers, then? Leah picked us a basket of red ones, fresh this morning. They look mighty gut, smothered in all that cheese.”
 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory Kaufman

I am ecstatic to be a part of this tour AGAIN!  I was lucky enough to be able to feature Kaufman's other novel, The Lens and the Looker earlier this month.

About the Author:

“I write Post-Dystopian fiction. After society’s collapse, which is imagined in so many great dystopian stories, humans will either fade into history, with the dinosaurs, or, if it learns the right lessons, society will go on to construct a civilization to last tens of thousands of years. History Camp stories are the exciting adventures of young people doing the latter.” -Lory Kaufman
On the artistic side of Lory’s career, he’s written, acted and directed children’s theatre and musical theatre. He enjoys art, especially sculpture. He loves science fiction and historical fiction and he has been deeply involved in the green movement all across North America. All this shows through when you read his work. Lory has three grown children and works and lives in Kingston, Canada.

To find out more about Lory visit www.history-camp.com.

About the Novel:

Author: Lory S. Kaufman
Series: The Verona Trilogy #2
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Published: April 29th 2011


What could go wrong in the 14th-century for three time-traveling teens?   How about – EVERYTHING!

Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention of the rich and powerful.

But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.

Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disastrous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.

Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.

Do they have a future in this past?

My Thoughts:

I really like this series...it is fun, engaging, edge-of-your-seat novel that is out of the norm.  I love the references to history of the world that you don't typically find in young adult literature.

There are depths to this novel (and series) that young adults desperately need - it is refreshing to see something a little outside of the typical contemporary fiction that includes vampires and werewolves.    The characters are believable, and you are vested in their adventure. 

I highly recommend this one to upper middle and high school teachers, this is one to add to the classroom library!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Act of Grace by Karen Simpson

As I sit here contemplating how to write this review, I am still overcome with emotion from this book - what a tale! And more important, what amazing characters Simpson has managed to create in this novel. You are in for a real treat with this one...

Many thanks to Pump Up Your Books for allowing me to feature Karen Simpson and her novel for two days :)

Book Summary:

Why would Grace Johnson, a bright, African-American high school senior, save the life of a Ku Klux Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore?

That question hovers over Grace's hometown of Vigilant, Michigan, and few people, black or white, understand her actions-especially since rumor has it that many years ago, a member of the Gilmore family murdered several African-American residents. And if Grace had her way, she would not reveal the circumstances that led her to make what some deem to be a foolish sacrifice and an act of treason against her race.

About the Author:

Karen Simpson is passionate about the craft of writing fiction, the art of quilting, and the discipline of historical research. She received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry, M.A. in Foreign and International Trade and a M.S. in Historic Preservation. A historic preservationist trained in heritage interpretation and administration, the subjects and themes of her fiction are often taken from the stories she discovers while doing research for museum exhibits. In 2009 Simpson was awarded the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant. She is lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Act of Grace is her first novel.

You can visit Karen Simpson’s website at www.karensimpsonwrites, her blog at www.lafreya.blogspot.com or connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lafreya1

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Keeping the Travel Bug Alive by Kristin Wells

Spring is a wonderful time of the year. Flowers are blooming, wildlife is breaking hibernation and babies are being born in the wild. It seems that the world is renewed. The temptation to get away and see it all is nearly overwhelming, except for the fact that it will be months before any national holidays show up and make a three day weekend happen.

Instead of the family remaining in "winter- cabin- fever" condition until a three day weekend, make weekend vacations happen. Spending a lot of money is not necessary; many short trips/vacations are amazingly inexpensive, and some are free.

Sit down and start a family discussion on the subject. Make a list of what everyone would like to do on family weekend vacations. The rules are simple: the vacation should last only a weekend, it should be within so many miles (for travel) of home, and it should not cost beyond an agreed amount. When children are allowed to help in the decision making process, they will eagerly look forward to the trips. Also, make sure to take into account any health concerns of family members into consideration while planning. Some places may not be ideal for someone stricken with Pericardial Mesothelioma because of high altitude concerns.

Here are examples of weekend vacations:

Take a fishing/camping trip for a weekend. Hike, take pictures, fish, play games and relax. See who can find the most interesting looking rock/leaf/flower in the area as a fun little game. Don’t forget to bring food you can grill, if the campground will allow it, with smores as a dessert. Look for inexpensive campgrounds or do a local search for free campgrounds. Some of my fondest memories as a child were camping with family, while my dad told stories.

Take a "home vacation." Pretend your house is a hotel/vacation rental, and see the city you are living in as a tourist. Pack sandwiches, carry cameras, tour museums and do things tourists do in the area. If you need to travel to a nearby town for excitement, make that part of your "weekend trip." The whole family will see the area differently.

Splurge on at least one "weekender" by going to a hotel and seeing a nearby city. Plan the trip and activities around free events such as concerts, plays performed in public parks, or citywide festivals to help save money. Utilizing Trip Advisor is great because it will show you when festivals are based on other people’s reviews of that city. If the carnival or festival is small with few rides/attractions, tour the hosting town. Often times, there are things to see and do that you could not find in a "big city."

Of course, looking for businesses and hotels that offer military discounts should be part of the planning process. Saving money and having a good time are not mutually exclusive; they can walk hand in hand. One or two trips a month will have the children and the family looking forward to time spent together and strengthening your bonds.

Kristin Wells is a recent college graduate from The University of Georgia and an aspiring writer. She wants to make a difference in people's lives through her writing. Kristin also likes competitive cycling, running, and traveling as much as possible. She frequently blogs on Curious Mind Musings.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg

If you follow this blog at all you know that my favorite genres are history or historical fiction.  When a book comes along that fits this I am all over it, so I am delighted to share this book with you today - it is amazing!

About the Author:

As the leader of an established Chicago area Book Club, Deby Eisenberg challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss. With a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago, she is a former English teacher and journalist. Inspired by so many wonderful books and formidable authors, and drawing on her love of literary research, art, architecture, Jewish history, and travel in the United States and Europe, she tried to envision a multi-generational love story that would inform as well as entertain, that would broaden the mind and open the heart. Deby and her husband Michael, an obstetrician-gynecologist, live in Riverwoods, Illinois. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Her latest book is the historical fiction novel, Pictures of the Past.

You can visit her website at www.debyeisenberg.com.

About the Novel:


First-time novelist Deby Eisenberg hits the ground running with PICTURES OF THE PAST, an epic family and historical saga, sweeping through Chicago, Paris and Berlin, reliving events from pre-World War II Europe, but beginning in contemporary times.  An Impressionist painting, hanging for decades in the Art Institute of Chicago and donated by the charismatic philanthropist Taylor Woodmere, is challenged by an elderly woman as a Nazi theft.

Mary Lignor of Book Pleasures says, “This novel is one of the most intriguing and beautiful books that I have ever read.  The ending of this book will touch your heart… The writing is first class.”

Taylor’s story takes the reader to 1937.  Sent to Paris on family business, he reluctantly leaves his girlfriend, Emily, a spoiled debutante from Newport, Rhode Island.  But once in Europe, he immediately falls in love – first with an Henri Lebasque painting, and then with the enchanting Sarah Berger of Berlin.  After Taylor returns home, the Berger family becomes trapped in the Nazi web, and any attempts for the new lovers to be reunited are thwarted.

Interwoven with this narrative is the story of Rachel Gold, a beautiful and bright Chicago girl caught up in the times of the late 1960’s.  Pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend Court Woodmere, Taylor’s son, she moves to New York to live with her aunt, a Holocaust survivor.  Years later, as the controversy surrounding the provenance of the painting becomes public, Rachel’s grown son is disturbed by his inexplicable familiarity with the work of art.  And it is only Taylor Woodmere who can unravel the complicated puzzle of their lives.

As a Book Club leader for the past sixteen years, Eisenberg came to understand the kinds of stories that grabbed her group and she challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss.

The result was PICTURES OF THE PAST.

My Thoughts:

Any novel about the time period of the Holocaust captures my heart - what a tremendously painful part of human history and any author willing to undertake the task of presenting that pain through a novel is heroic.

There are so many parts of this novel that just reduce readers to tears and you feel each and every emotion that the characters feel.  The presentation of their stories, their plight, and their experiences is just beautiful and you cannot help but feel like these characters are your own friends and family.

This book is reminiscent of another novel I have read recently, The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman which I loved.  I would offer that Pictures of the Past rates right up there with other novels about this time period. 

Another really neat aspect of this novel is how the author jumps back and forth between the decades through the characters.  We start in 2004, jump back, then forward, and so forth.  I like books that do that and are easy to follow and this one works.

I highly recommend this book - you won't be disappointed and you will in fact find a story that you will treasure!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coming Up for Air by T.D. Jones: Author Interview


I am delighted to share this author with you today, please make a point to check out her work!  Her new novel, Coming Up for Air looks like a fantastic read!

About the Author:

I’m a West Texas girl and wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to see the blue sky and all the open space. At night you can walk out and see stars for miles. There’s nothing like sitting on a porch and watching the Texas sky on a warm, summer night.

I’ve always dreamed of becoming a published writer and finally decided two years ago I was either going to make my dream come true or give it up. Luckily Melange-books decided I was worth giving a chance and published Hot Days. My dreams seem to becoming more of a reality since I will have my second story published in July 2011 and more to come out soon.

I love writing about characters who aren’t perfect. They have problems and have to figure out ways to make their life better. Humor is sprinkled throughout my stories. It always surprises me that I’m able to write humor because I don’t really find myself funny. I’m known to worry about things and stress out easy so maybe that’s why I love writing humor, at least my characters are having fun!

Writing feeds my soul and I want to do it forever. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I love writing them.

 
About the Novel:

Maggie Dawson was left at the altar at the young age of eighteen. Now years later Kevin Walker is back in town and Maggie’s life is turned upside down. She is determined not to fall in love with this guy for a second time. He broke her heart once, she is not letting him do it again or is she?
Kevin Walker comes back to Clover, Texas to sell the family ranch and never expects to run into Maggie, who is now the town doctor. He starts to fall in love with her again, but will she let him in?
Maggie always had a secret thought deep down in her heart that someday Kevin would come back to her. He would say he was sorry for leaving, and everything would be wonderful. They would live happily ever after like in the fairy tales. Never in the fairy tale did she dream that her prince would come back to town, and bring his pregnant fiancée with him.

Author Interview:
  
What inspired you to write your first book? 

 I was tired of dreaming of being a writer and not making it happen.

Do you have a specific writing style? 

I don’t outline or anything. I just write as it flows out of me.


How did you come up with the title? 

It’s kind of like when you are swimming and you go under water and everything looks and sounds funny. When you pop back up out of the water everything is clear. I felt like that with Maggie after being broken hearted all those years and falling back in love. She was seeing things clear.


How much of the book is realistic? 

I think a lot of it is. We’ve all been in love at one time and lost it and then years later found it again.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

No, but I have been in love and brokenhearted, but never left at the altar.


What books have most influenced your life most? 

I like any book that shows a strong woman that survives.


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Nora Roberts. I love her writing and her speed at doing it.


What book are you reading now? 

Anna James- To Trust Again

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

Anna James, Mysti Parker. I have so many that are great if someone wants to meet them all they can go to my facebook page TD Jones/Author and see them on there.


What are your current projects?   

I’m working on a wedding series and a mystery series. I have three books coming out soon. Salem’s World-Feb. 28th; Wrangled Hearts-March 28th and A Dangerous Game-no release date yet.

Thank you for having me. I love to hear from readers.

www.twitter.com/tdjones5


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Southern Girls Know Best: Author Guest Post

Today I am able to feature an author I have a lot in common with, I couldn't be happier to share her with you!  Liz Crowe is the author of the Realtor Series including Floor Time and Sweat Equity.  Welcome to Liz and thanks to Marissa over at Sizzling PR for allowing me to share her with you!

Now y'all get ready to learn a thing or two from us Southern girls!  

About the Novels:


Floor Time (Realtor's #1)

Jack Gordon is Ann Arbor's most delectable bachelor. At age thirty-five, he's made millions as a top-selling Ann Arbor real estate broker and has the right connections to close a deal by any means necessary. With his rugged good looks and compelling personality, he has a virtual black book most men would kill for and he uses it often, never settling for one woman for very long.
While his D/s past remains buried, exactly where he wants it, an undercurrent of boredom and dissatisfaction runs through his life now. A disastrous experience years earlier made him swear off the whole scene, but the more Jack suppresses his natural Dom, the more his frustration grows.

Sara Thornton, a rookie in the real estate game, has fast-tracked herself to the top of the Ann Arbor market. Her life reflects a disciplined and focused routine, exactly the way she wants it. However, as her career takes off, the fulfillment she seeks remains inexplicably out of reach. The one thing she knows for sure, she will not join the Jack Gordon groupies in her company, no matter how tempting that might seem.

A chance encounter, then a difficult transaction, throw Jack and Sara together and the sparks fly high and hot and often. Forced to confront the compulsions that gain momentum with each sizzling encounter, their relationship seems to spiral out of control until Jack finally admits what he needs,
and shows Sara what she's been missing.

Sweat Equity (Realtor's #2)

Jack Gordon thought he’d finally made it. He had a wildly successful career, money in the bank and had returned to his life as Dom, putting an end to a string of unfulfilling sexual encounters. Now that he’s made the ultimate commitment to Sara Thornton, he believes all is right in the world. But a series of misunderstandings and a dose of self-fulfilling prophesy bring his perfectly crafted house of cards tumbling down around him, forcing him to confront lingering misgivings about marriage and trust. Could those be the only two things he can never achieve?

Sara struggles with her intense need for Jack and her desire for less volatility in her busy life, which appear to be mutually exclusive goals. Although willing to put in the time and emotional effort to make their relationship work, she finds it futile and frustrating, littered with clashes thanks to near-identical personalities and temperaments. Given Sara’s history, easing back into the comfortable status quo becomes easier than fighting a war with the one person who should be her safe haven. But will the easier choice satisfy her the way only Jack can? Is her “war” one that comes from without or within?

Buffeted by circumstance, temptation and distraction, Jack and Sara’s tenuous relationship crumbles, sparking a continuous quest for the ever-elusive: trust, love and acceptance. By the time they rebuild a foundation for renewal, fate has other plans. Which leaves them both reeling, once again questioning their destiny.

Author Guest Post: 

Southern Girls Know Best

Greetings and THANKS to Lindsay for hosting me as I make the rounds of the blogosphere for my new series, The Realtors, and more specifically, Floor Time, the first of the original trilogy.

I gotta jump in with both feet here and give my bona fides for my lovely host. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Lived in Mobile, Alabama for several years, and Tallahassee, Florida before my family settled in Southern Kentucky (Williamsburg, to be precise, about equi-distant between Knoxville, TN and Lexington, KY).  My parents are Southerners (Kentucky and Tennessee) and I married a fine boy born and raised in Louisville whom I met at college (the University of Louisville) where I received my degree in English and served as social chairman for 2 years for my sorority, Chi Omega.

I love bourbon (and craft beer, of course), horse racing, basketball (of the Louisville Cardinal variety mind you NOT the Wildcat kind), grits, collard greens with vinegar and consider The First Saturday in May a sacred holiday (look it up).

So let’s just all settle in for a chat about how we Southern Girls Know Best, shall we?

Some of my favorite writers are southerners, or write about some of my favorite locales, like South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. I myself am contemplating my first mainstream fiction WIP about a small town in Eastern Kentucky and the internal and external politics of it’s two main industries: coal mining and small college life. But I digress.

What I’ve always said about being a Southern Girl (and a PK to top it all off) is that we know how to be polite in ways I have never encountered in all the other places I’ve lived.  Now “polite” can also be deemed “hypocritical” if you watch movies like ‘The Help” (which has gotten me in more arguments than I care to cop to with my mid western friends for whom ‘having help’ is the most foreign arrangement they can imagine—we aren’t all mean, racist bitches. Just saying.) You might think that our sugary sweet ability to make small talk out of thin air, and grace you with a compliment about the most mundane thing is all fakery. 

It is most certainly not.

We (or at least I) were/was raised on the pure, burning principal of “say something nice” or keep your trap shut. Of course, we Southerners are a talkative bunch so that means lots of “nice” will come flowing out of us when we first meet you just to fill dead air. We mean it all. I was raised to write thank you notes for the smallest provocation, allow gentlemen to hold open doors for me and not get all bent out of shape over it and open doors myself, and to NEVER (and I mean never EVER) attend a party without bringing a “hostess gift.”

You can rest assured though if you prove yourself unworthy of our positive attention, we can cut you to ribbons with words so sweet and seemingly gentle you won’t know how injured you are until you get home and the water you drink starts leaking out all the little holes we poked in you.
That whole “Steel Magnolia” thing? Yeah. It’s real.

It takes a special kind of man to handle us. In my new release, Floor Time, The Realtors: Book One there is such a man. Craig Robinson is a soft-spoken, tall blonde Kentuckian who enters my heroine’s life at a crucial point—when she is attempting to process just how crazy things could get for her if she gives in to what seems to be an obvious fit. Her relationship with Jack Gordon starts hot and gets hotter. But when emotion creeps in for them both, it gets messy.

Enter Craig—the “new kid” in her high-powered, downtown real estate sales office. He’s charming, polite, with a sexy Southern lilt and falls head over heels for our Sara.  And he provides the perfect foil for the intense Mr. Gordon. The question is: What will Sara do about it?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Defending Jacob by William Landay


Well apparently this book is causing quite a stir among readers everywhere and I am happy to be able to feature it on my blog.  I must admit, our teacher book club read this book a while ago after we begged the publisher to let us preview it - they were nice enough to oblige and every person who read this loved it.

About the Author:

William Landay is the author of The Strangler, a Los Angeles Times Favorite Crime Book of the Year, and Mission Flats, winner of the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel and a Barry Award nominee. A former district attorney who holds degrees from Yale and Boston College Law School, Landay lives in Boston, where he is at work on his next novel of suspense. His latest release is Defending Jacob.

You can visit William Landay’s website at www.WilliamLanday.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook by visiting  www.Facebook.com/WilliamLanday.


About the Novel:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that I found this book a little difficult to get into, however, I must also admit that I am in the minority.  Everyone else I know who has read this has loved it from page one so maybe it was just me.

The story is gripping, the whole idea of having it all, a great family, life, and nothing major wrong and then in the next moment it all being shattered makes for a great story.  As a parent myself of boys, I really identified with the emotions of Andy as a parent but of course could not truly identify with his situation.  The author does a fantastic job of connecting readers on every level with this story.

I also appreciated the way that he wrote Jacob's character - he is so reminiscent of teens today and Landay does a great job creating him.  You know the novel is effective when you feel like the characters are truly real people and you feel like you know them inside and out when you're finished reading.

I highly recommend this novel, but so does Barnes and Noble as it has appeared on their lists for a few weeks now - you won't be disappointed and you will become a fan of this author...I am excited to see what he comes up with next!

V-Day by Anne Holly: Author Interview

Valentine's Day is a time for romance, love and that someone special...Anne Holly's new book, V-Day, is the perfect annectdote for anyone looking for a romantic read during this holiday.  I am happy to be able to share her with you and hope you'll check out my interview of her, she is just delightful!

About the Author:

Anne Holly is a Canadian author of erotica and contemporary romance, and has published both short works and a novel. She has been published through Wild Horse Press, Decadent Publishing, and Rebel Ink Press. This year, she is releasing a five-story series of holiday erotica with Rebel Ink. Born in rural Nova Scotia between the hills and the sea, Anne's work is intimately connected with the land, weather and the environment. Her stories focus on the positive aspects of love and life, and tend to feature unusual heroes. Anne has a graduate degree in cultural studies, and teaches at a university in Ontario, where she is also busy raising one young son. Anne has been publishing her fiction professionally since 2010, and is looking forward to continuing to entertain readers for years to come.
 
About the Novel:

It all started with a serenade…

A family like Daniel’s and the solitary pursuit of musical excellence is enough to make a young man crazy. No wonder all Daniel Vouks dreams of is getting away. He knows his violin will take him places in life, but the only place he really wants to be is next door. He’s been in love with his neighbor since he was fourteen, but can he ever make her see him as more than just a lovesick kid?

V-Day is the story of a Valentine's Day weekend Daniel fears he may regret, but will never, ever forget.

Author Interview:

Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here!

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.


My publishers, editors and my colleague authors have been wonderful. When I was first starting out, I had little knowledge to work with in terms of promoting and so forth, but other authors were all so generous with their time and advice, and my publishers were right there with handy instructions. The romance community is terrific.  I can’t imagine having stuck with it this long without that help.

Do you see writing as a career?


I do. I mean, I’m serious about it, and I approach it like “real work.” I hope to climb the ladder. However, I know a lot of “going full time” is in the hands of the readers, so I just keep working at it, and hope what I do catches on.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Probably. I always see things in my writing I could have done differently. But, that’s why one writes another book, so we can have lots of chances at doing things in various ways. My editors and readers liked it, and it’s been reviewed well, so I wouldn’t change it. I just try something completely different the next go-around.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve always been a storyteller. I think it’s because we didn’t have a TV when I was a kid, so telling stories, drawing, reading and writing just came about naturally in my quest for entertainment. My Mum was, and still is, a voracious reader, so books were always around. But I think I got serious about it in the eighth grade when my English teacher noticed some talent in me and encouraged me to stick with it. It’s a great feeling, getting praise and advice for your talent. It means the world to a kid.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?


Well, the thing I am writing right now is top secret, because it’s dealing with some sensitive issues. To be honest, I’m not sure it will see the light of day. If it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to, it will go to the trunk. I don’t really share my unedited work before it’s ready to publish and copyright protected, ever. There’s way too much plagiarism going on these days.

But, I can share with you the opening of V-Day, which introduces my geeky hero, Daniel – one my favourite characters yet.

What could one say about Daniel Vouks? He’d always felt he was a tiger trapped in a nerd’s body. But sadly, the tiger was very well hidden.

Tall and lean, having grown too much vertically before his wiry frame could fill out horizontally, he carried very little excess weight. What there was wasn’t bad. He'd often reassure himself by sneaking guilty peeks at himself in the tacky, white-framed, full length mirror nailed to the inside of the door in his childhood bedroom. Daniel was pleased to notice the weightlifting he was putting in, combined with the hours of violin rehearsal, were actually sprouting some newbie biceps and pecks, and he was starting to lose that chicken chest look. His one man Mr. Universe competition in front of the mirror took on a comedic air of ridiculousness with him in his white boxers and black socks against the backdrop of cowboy wallpaper that hadn’t changed since he was seven.

Daniel hoped he wasn’t hideous to females. Secretly, aside from his aspirations in school and with his music, his dream of being something less than offensive to the opposite sex was his main goal. He didn’t think he was bag-over-the-head homely, though he did worry about those ears that everyone always told him he’d grow into. And then there was that chin. He’d always wanted a lantern jaw but admitted in defeat his was more like a desk lamp jaw; something much less rugged and outdoorsy than a lantern, that’s for sure. Other than those two weak spots, Daniel thought he showed potential. His body’s leanness translated into artistic intensity in his face, along with his light olive skin tone and large, deep set, dark eyes with the heavy lashes and prominent brows. A thick, shaggy growth of wavy hair he was never able to tame and a timeless pair of wire framed reading glasses topped it all off. Forget about Redford. He looked more like an extra from a small town production of Fiddler on the Roof. Great teeth, though, he decided, ending on a positive note. And they should be with all the money his parents put into them.

“Ssssssssssexay!” he hissed with a self-depreciating grin and wink, having done as much as he could with his wayward pelt, and threw on his cords and a sweater. Somewhere between Franz Kafka and Harry Potter, he guessed he wasn’t likely to cause mass hysteria amongst the fairer sex, but there was always tomorrow.

Hunching down to avoid braining himself on the slanted ceiling, Daniel slipped on his shoes. Only with the peculiar logic of his family would the tallest member naturally occupy the attic room, making him live a good portion of his life slouched over.

Living at home during university had been a very wise financial move, but it came at the cost of other things, particularly his sanity and a social life. He’d survived nineteen years as an inmate in his mother’s funny farm so far. Only two and a half years left. By the end, he'd either be brilliantly eccentric or entirely crazy, able to eat his food with blunt utensils only. Either way, at least he wouldn’t have any student debt.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?


My books are all about the characters, so motivation is my biggest challenge. It’s a balancing act between making them multi-layered and leaving enough ambiguity to make them interesting, without leaving the reader baffled as to why they do what they do. Character-driven fiction, as opposed to action-driven, has its own pros and cons, and the major danger is that if the characters fail, the whole book crashes.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?


My favourite modern romance writer is LaVyrle Spencer. The thing I love most about her books is how she brings out the heroics of everyday people. Her heroes weren’t Greek millionaires, and her heroines weren’t supermodels or jet setting journalists, but just real people, many of them rural. I grew up on a farm, so her books were like settling in at home. A janitor can be as romantic as a tycoon if they’re written with as much warmth and heart as Ms Spencer was able to bring to them, and I admire that very much.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

No, not much at all, really. Most of my books are set in places I have been to or lived in, but only in retrospect did that occur. Looking back, I’ve been to some pretty marvelous places, and I go back to those settings for my books.

Who designed the covers?

My publishers generally control the covers. I personally have only commissioned one cover, for Strings Attached, which was painted by an American artist named Amanda Wood. The Rebel Ink covers are all done, I believe, by their wonderful cover designer Carl J. Franklyn, and my Decadent cover was done by Dara England. Covers, I admit, are the ray of sunshine in this writer’s life – nothing perks you up during or after editing like getting that first cover draft! I’m still not over the thrill of seeing my name on a cover!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

It depends on the book. Sometimes, it’s deciding which character the scene will be seen through, or which voice will be central. But with other books it has been knowing when it was done and ready to go. With the novel I have coming out this summer, Textbook Romance, it was the title, oddly enough, which I hardly ever have trouble with. It went by “Fall Project 2010” for over a year! Mostly, though, since I’m a mom and a teacher as well, it’s just finding time to actually write uninterrupted.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?


With V-Day, I learned how to write non-serious romance, which might not sound as difficult as it was for me. I grew up with a certain type of dramatic, heartwarming contemporary romance, so drama was what I knew. Although I had written humour for online magazines, I wasn’t sure how to write a book that could stay amusing through multiple reads, and over time. V-Day taught me how to do that.

Do you have any advice for other writers?


Spend more time writing than talking about being a writer, if you can. Edit like crazy, but know when to let go. And don’t be afraid to trunk a book if it’s not working; you can always go back to it later, even years down the road.

For more information about my Valentine’s Day erotic romantic comedy, V-Day, please see my holiday stories website: http://annehollyholiday.webs.com/valentinesdaytales.htm

Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance, as well as a mother and teacher. You may visit Anne at her blog or website, or find her on GoodReads, Facebook and Twitter  (@anneholly2010). Sign up for her newsletter here. Email: anneholly2010@gmail.com.

 
 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Hunger Games Read-Along: Chapter 8

I am THRILLED to have been asked to be a part of the blogging countdown to the release of The Hunger Games move coming out in March of this year.  Big thanks to The Howling Turtle and Obsession With Books for hosting and promoting this tour!

After signing up I realized that I gave my copy of The Hunger Games to a student and no longer have it on hand so I had to "borrow" a summary of the chapter to post here.  All credit goes to Schmoop.

WHAT HAPPENS IN CHAPTER 8? 
Here are the main points...

  • Katniss rushes back to her room and starts sobbing. She's really done it now. Will the Gamemakers punish her? Her family? She keeps beating herself up.
  • Katniss decides the Gamemakers will probably give her a low score so that she'll get no sponsors.
  • Defeated, she goes down to dinner. Everyone is there. Eventually Haymitch asks Katniss and Peeta just how bad they were today. Peeta says he got ignored. Katniss tells the company she shot an arrow at the Gamemakers. D'oh!
  • Katniss wants to know what will happen to her. Haymitch says that it wouldn't make sense to arrest her or punish her family. They'll probably just make her life hell in the arena. This cheers Katniss up a bit, and they all laugh and joke a bit at Katniss's description of the shocked Gamemakers.
  • Time to watch the announcement of the scores: the Career Tributes are in the eight-to-ten range, little Rue pulls a seven (whoa!), and Peeta gets an eight. Not bad!
  • And Katniss? Well. Katniss gets an ELEVEN. That's right. She's through the roof. Everyone is super-excited and kind of shocked. They must have liked her temper, Haymitch says.
  • The next day Katniss wakes with Gale on her mind. She relates the story of their first meeting in the woods. (That's right, everyone. It's flashback time again!)
  • Katniss was collecting tubers in the forest when she saw rabbits strung up in two snares: traps to catch more animals. Never having been able to make snares work herself, she moved closer to examine them.
  • That's when a boy appeared: he was fourteen years old and over six feet tall. He warned her that touching his snares would be dangerous, and that stealing is punishable by law.
  • The two bantered a bit and then Katniss showed him her bow. They talked hunting. Eventually they started swapping knowledge and, over time, they became hunting partners – and friends. And even something more than that.
  • Back in the present, Katniss feels pangs of longing and compares what she had with Gale to the fake friendship she now has with Peeta.
  • Breaking her reverie, Effie calls her down to breakfast.
  • Katniss enters the dining room and heaps her plate with delicious lamb and asks when they'll start prepping for the interviews. That's when Haymitch drops a bombshell: Peeta has asked to be coached separately.
========================================================
SO, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE PERFORMED IN FRONT OF THE JUDGES, OR WHAT WOULD YOUR TALENT HAVE BEEN?

Since there are so many options please just leave your personal response as a comment...what fun it will be to see everyone's answer!
 TIME TO COUNTDOWN TO THE MOVIE RELEASE!

 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I "Heart" New Books :)

My birthday was this week and as part of my present I had one whole hour to spend in Barnes and Noble - and a $25 giftcard to boot.  Now, this is by no means an easy task...asking someone who is obsessed with all things books to narrow it down to one hour and only $25 but I work well under pressure so I rocked it.  Fortunately for my kids I spent my entire time in the young adult/children's section so they were the ones to benefit from my time and money.  I am so stoked I wanted to share what I got :)

YAY for new books!





And while the young adult/children's section is amazing, my Barnes and Noble desperately needs to work on their history section - very disappointed.  Thank goodness I can order online!

Down the Mysterly River: A Review

It is books such as this that are dragging me slowly but sure into the realm of young adult fantasy.  If you are into this genre, have young kids, or teach kids this is a book you will want to add to your classroom library.  Our teacher book club read this as our young adult selection last month and there wasn't one of us who didn't adore it!

About the Novel:

Down the Mysterly River is the children’s book debut of Bill Willingham, the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series Fables. Complete with illustrations by Fables artist Mark Buckingham, it is a spirited, highly original tale of adventure, suspense, and everlasting friendship.

Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max.

Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…  

My Thoughts:

The first thing that struck me about this book was the cover - it is absolutely beautiful, and it clearly will catch readers' attention...it caught mine.

This book is fantasy to the max and I loved every minute of it.  Max was a top notch character and I loved following him throughout this book.  He would not have been half as entertaining without his two friends Walden and McTavish, who in my opinion add so much humor to this book that it is hard to put it down.  I found myself laughing out loud at their arguments and re-reading them for another laugh.

I loved the mystery of the Eggman and who he ended up being - I think the idea of his character was tremendously creative and well thought out. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the illustrations - they are absolutely amazing and stunning.  My boys ages 2 & 3 loved looking at them and this book was way above their level!  In fact, I think they are some of the best illustrations I have ever seen in a young adult novel.

This is a book that I will treasure and make sure my own kids read...it is a great find and I commend the author and illustrator.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Henry Wood Detective Agency Blog Tour: Bok Spotlight

Pump Up Your Books Virtual Tours is currently highlighting a really neat novel, one that I am excited to spotlight for you!

About the Author:

Brian D. Meeks found a love of writing through a random act of blogging. On Jan 2, 2010, he was overcome by boredom and found blogger.com. With little else to do before the football game kicked off, he wrote a piece about woodworking. Later that same day, while visiting a woodworking forum, he found a button labeled ‘blog’, so he cut and pasted the piece he had written and then went to watch football. The next day, out of curiosity, he checked back in on his blog piece. The one on forum had over 300 hits and 25 comments, many of them requesting more. This surprising dose of external validation prompted him to write a post on Jan 3. He has written every day since.

Brian writes his novels in serial form, posting one chapter per day on http://extremelyaverage.com. It was this method, which caught the attention of his publisher, Positive Imaging, LLC. Brian has completed the 2nd and 3rd books in the series and is nearing completion on the 4th. He has also compiled a collection of humorous guest blog posts, which will be available in the spring.

About the Novel:

A complex yet intriguing story. It’s full of danger, betrayal, and even love.

Henry Wood is an average detective, at best. His typical cases are boring, predictable, and safe, that is, until his new client walks through his door. It is Jan 1, 1955 and up until now his world has been one of black and white, right and wrong, but Luna Alexander’s case is going to change all of that and there will forever be shades of grey.

Henry will face the mob, question his own understanding of right and wrong, and need to make a decision that goes against everything he holds dear. A bit of a lone wolf, he finds that sometimes one needs help from their friends.

There are clues, like bread crumbs, being left by a mysterious benefactor who seems to have Henry’s best interest at heart, but will Henry put it all together in time?

What Reviewers Are Saying:

After a chapter or two I’m thinking, Well, this is fun enough to read. Artfully-unsophisticated, terse, old-fashioned style: like Dashiell Hammett, or Elmore Leonard. Fun enough characters — down-to-earth good guys and bad guys, broads you want to lay your coat across a puddle for. With some twilight zone thrown in just for fun. All a zany collection of cliches and stereotypes that kind of works, but will surely become boring in a couple more chapters. Except that it doesn’t, and I can’t put it down, and the characters emerge with dimension and depth, not so much through clever description, as without it. Through contexts skillfully constructed, and words avoided, allowing me to discover who they are rather than to be told. And so I find myself completely sucked in by a fine work of mellow jazz, full of powerful blue notes and silences. Can’t wait for the next one.

-Professor David Weiner