Sunday Salon: Buried in books

Renoir - Les Deux Soeurs

It's been one of those weeks with James being sick all week and running back and forth to the doctor.  On top of everything else, he seems to have come down with a bladder infection.  We're waiting to hear back from the doctor on the culture results and what course of action to take next.  The last round of antibiotics didn't agree with him too well, but he's been holding down fluids for the past couple days.  He's at that point where he needs to eat but doesn't want to, but I managed to get him to eat some toast today.  With all the down time and waiting around the doctor's office I've managed to get a lot of reading in.    I immersed myself in the world of the Drake Sisters by Christine Feehan and basically read the whole series.  It is a paranormal romance series based on 7 sisters who control the elements. The series starts with the oldest sister's story - Sarah Drake in Magic in the Wind. It is a short novel which I wish was really longer but it is a good introduction to the series and the sisters, but the rest are full length novels.  

The books in the series are:

1  Magic in the Wind  (Sarah)
2  Twilight before Christmas  (Kate)
3  Oceans of Fire  (Abigail)
4  Dangerous Tides  (Libby)
5  Safe Harbor  (Hannah)
6  Turbulent Seas  (Joley)
7  Hidden Currents   (Elle)

Wonderful series, great characters and interesting story line.   Kept me riveted all week long.  And now, there is the next series set in the same town of Sea Haven involving 6 women called Sisters of the Heart Series.  The women aren't related but all meet in grief counseling and live together on a farm.  I just started the first book in the series Water Bound which just came out in July.  The lead female character is highly functional autistic with sensory issues and magically controls water.  She's an interesting character.  As you can tell I love series books. 

Speaking of series, I had 3 giveaways over the past couple weeks and am ready to announce the winners.   Sorry it took me so long, have been rather preoccupied.  :) 

The winner of Diana Gabaldon's Echo in the Bone Tour is:  Susan

The winner of the BBAW Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series is:  Natalie of This Purple Crayon

The winner of the BBAW Mystery/Suspense package is Stacy at A Novel Source

Congratulations to you all.  Please email me with your address and I'll get your books shipped out to you within a week or so.

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.   Louisa May Alcott

Happy Sunday!

The Sunday

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

A Hope Undaunted 


Julie Lessman 

Back Cover:  The 1920's are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman-smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law.  Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand.  But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice.  Will she follow her well laid plans to marry Jack? or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

A Hope Undaunted is book one in a wonderful christian romance fiction series Winds of Change which continues the story of the O'Connor children from the Daughters of Boston series.    The Daughters of Boston followed Faith, Charity and Lizzie. The Winds of Change follows their younger sister Katie in A Hope Undaunted, older brothers Sean in A Heart Revealed (unknown release date) and Steven in A Soul Restored. (unknown release date)  Got that?  I had no idea when Amy asked me if I wanted to read A Hope Undaunted, it was part of the Daughters of Boston series which I hadn't read yet.  Now I want to read them and look forward to the two brothers stories as well.  I love series.

Katie is 18 years old and very headstrong, keeps breaking curfew staying out late with her boyfriend Jack and her father has decided to do something about it.  She will spend the summer, grounded and working as a volunteer for the Boston Children's Aid Society.  She wouldn't mind it so much but there's one problem.  The poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks, she used to fight with so much growing up, Luke "Cluny" McGee is one of the law partners running the society.   They clash big time.  They are both attracted to each other but Luke simply doesn't fit into Katie's plan for her future.  The sparks fly and things get difficult for both Katie and Luke when extenuating circumstances threaten to keep them apart.  I thoroughly enjoyed A Hope Undaunted which also continued following the lives of Katie's parents and siblings marriages and love lives.  I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Amy (My Friend Amy) of Winsome Media Communications for asking me to be a part of the blog tour, Revell publishing for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book and Julie Lessman for writing such a wonderful cast of characters.   She's gained a new fan.  

Pages:  505
Publisher: Reveal
Released:  September 1, 2010
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction 

Other Thoughts:
"Characters were not portrayed as do-gooders with no faults. Lessman painted realistic people with problems that are prevalent in contemporary times."

"It amazes me how one person can create a 500+ page novel that has all the twists and turns of your favorite roller coaster! Julie had me laughing, crying, and at one point mad enough to want me to throw the book across the room."

"The title A Hope Undaunted speaks for many individuals in this story. The peripheral characters get careful consideration in the scope of the tale, presenting the unique family components and how they mesh into each other’s lives."

Elana Johnson's Great Blogging Experiment

Today is Elana Johnson's Great Blogging Experiment in which she has gathered writers from all over the blogosphere who will be posting about How to Write Compelling Characters.   I signed on to join in on experiment a couple weeks ago not knowing what life was going to throw in my path.   James has been quite sick, got terribly dehydrated and we've been running back and forth to the doctor for the past three days.   Fortunately he's feeling much better, hasn't thrown up today (yeah!) and is keeping fluids down - lots of pedialyte.   We're heading back out to the doctor this afternoon for a recheck.   I came online for a few minutes ago while eating my lunch,  blipped on my statcounter,  saw a bunch of folks dropping by from Elana's blog and said "what the heck?"    Honestly, I completely forgot about it.    Thanks for dropping by and when things have calmed down a bit, I'll be dropping by to check out your posts. 

Meanwhile, if you didn't know about the Great Blogging Experiment, head on over to Elana's and join in. 

Almost forgot, I'll be announcing the winners of the Outlander, Sookie Stackhouse and Mystery book bundle giveaways.  And I also was supposed to review A Hope Undaunted for the Julie Lessman blog tour running from September 19-25th.   So probably... keep your fingers crossed... God willing and the creek don't rise... hopefully Saturday, if not Sunday.  

Sunday Salon: Mind Voyages - Journey's End!

Canyon Bend - Courtesy

Journey's End

I'm coming in for a landing, having reached the end of my Mind Voyages journey.  I've run out of gas, food and energy.   Was I successful, let's see
  1. The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester (Hugo 1953) 
  2. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Hugo 1954)
  3. Dune - Frank Herbert  (Hugo 1966) 
  4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein  (Hugo 1967)
  5. Spin - Robert Charles Wilson (Hugo 2006)
  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller  - 1961 Hugo  Started and couldn't finish
  7. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer  1972 Hugo Started & couldn't finish
  8. The Mists of Avalon - Marian Zimmer Bradley
  9. The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan 
  10. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Robert Heinlein
  11. www.wake - Robert J. Sawyer
I successfully completed the moon voyage by reading 6 Hugo winners and the Mercury Voyage by reading two Robert Heinlein books.   It seems I did go to Pluto and back, kind of meandering about through the stars on my way. I read a number of paranormal and fantasy books which I haven't listed.   I discovered a few things along the way - that I can't read all of one genre without getting bored, I need a variety.  That books which entertained and engaged me back in my 20's, no longer engage me in my 50's.   That I've gotten rather picky about what I do read and if I'm not enjoying it, stop reading, put the book down and go on to something else.   That I don't like time limits and too many choices overwhelm me.    

So, my journey has come to an end.  We started out with 26 voyagers joining me and all have crash landed except for maybe 3 people: Eric, Heather and Miss Mouse.  I'm going to let the challenge blog go static for the rest of the year because honestly, I simply don't have the energy to maintain it.  Life is set to get a bit more busy in the coming months with the start of my next class, Short Stories and Nanowrimo in November, plus other writing projects I want to work on.  Thank you to all who have been participating, following and lurking.  

"Nanoo Nanoo!"-  Mork

The Sunday

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible


Barbara Kingsolver

Back cover:  The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.  They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it--from garden seeds to Scripture--is calamitously transformed on African soil.  What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

The Poisonwood Bible is an amazing story that makes you think.  Nathan Price, knowing nothing about the Congo or its people, is determined to start a church and save all the natives.  The story is told from the perspective of Orleana Price and her four daughters. The chapters alternate mainly between the four daughters. Rachel, a teenager who vain and self absorbed; twins Leah and Adah, both extremely intelligent, but physically different.  Adah disabled from birth, chooses not to speak.  Leah adores her father whereas Adah views him and the world more realistically. And Ruth who narrates her world through her five year old eyes.   While Nathan insists on the natives conforming to his view of the world, Orleana and her daughters do their best to survive, learning about the world they now are forced to reside it. 

The story is full of African history and culture.  Due to there being different meanings to the same word, whether you place the emphasis on one part or another, lead to many miscommunication between the Prices and the villagers.   Nathan wanted to baptize villagers in the river and he couldn't understand why they kept refusing.   It took six months before any one managed to tell him that one of their children had been eaten by a crocodile in the river and that's why they didn't want to.   

Another interesting aspect was how the villagers used the government's general elections to their advantage.  Once they learned about elections they decided to have an election of their own.    During the middle of one of Nathan's church services, the village chief interrupted his sermon to announce it was time for them to have an election, A vote to decide whether the villagers would choose Jesus or their religion, which totally floored Nathan.  

Throughout the story, the villagers remain a constant.  They are the ones that end up teaching the Prices about life, individuality, liberty, and death.  Africa changes the Price family, for better and for worse, forever.    I didn't expect to enjoy this story as much as I did.  From Rachel's self absorbed rants to Adah's metamorphosis, the lives of the Prices and the story of Africa completely enfolds you.  I highly recommend it. 

Thank you to Trish of TLC tours for inviting me to be part of the Barbara Kingsolver Tour,  Harper Perennial for providing me with a copy of the book; and Barbara Kingsolver for writing such an intriguing story.  Barbara's latest book, The Lacuna has been released on paperback and is available at your local and online booksellers.

Excerpt: "Genesis - Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened.  First, picture the forest.  I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees.  The trees are columns of slick, brindled bark like muscular animals overgrown beyond all reason.  Every space is filled with life: delicate, poisonous frogs war-painted like skeletons, clutched in copulation, secreting their precious eggs onto dripping leaves.  Vines strangling their own kin in the everlasting wrestle for sunlight. The breathing of monkeys.  A glide of snake belly on a branch.  A single-file army of ants biting a mammoth tree into uniform grains and hauling it down to the dark for their ravenous queen.  And, in reply, a choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death.  This forest eats itself and lives forever.

Away down below now, single file on the path, comes a woman with four girls in tow, all of them in shirtwaist dresses.  Seen from above this way, they are pale, doomed blossoms, bound to appeal to your sympathies.  Be careful.  Later on you'll have to decide what sympathy they deserve.  The mother especially--watch how she leads them on, pale-eyed, deliberate.  Her dark hair is tied in a ragged lace handkerchief and her curved jawbone is lit with large, false-pearl earrings, as if these headlamps from another world might show the way.  The daughters march behind her, four girls compressed in bodies as tight as bowstrings, each one tensed to fire off a woman's heart on a different path to glory or damnation. Even now they resist affinity like cats in a bag: two blondes--the one short and fierce, the other tall and imperious--flanked by matched brunettes like bookends, the forward twin leading hungrily while the rear one sweeps the ground in a rhythmic limp.  But gamely enough they climb together over logs of rank decay that have fallen across the path.  The mother waves a graceful hand in front of her as she leads the way, parting curtain and curtain of spiders' webs.  She appears to be conducting a symphony.  Behind them the curtain closes.  The spiders return to their killing ways."

Alas and alack, I was not picked!

Alas and alack, I was not picked for the Notes from Underground contest.  Truthfully, I wasn't surprised since most of the folks who entered have been writing for years and years.   I think I entered more for the practice.  I remember years ago, going on job interviews for jobs that I really didn't want, and using them as practice.  The more you do something, the better you get.  I popped the safety bubble and entered.  The first times always the hardest is it not?  That first step.   The application was free form with no rules so here's my entry.  

Pick Me!

As I sit down to write this I’m reminded of elementary school.  We all have those moments which take us back in time. Those moments where you stand there, quiet and calm on the outside, nervous on the inside, trying not to squirm.  Your heart beating rapidly as the two team captains chosen by the coach, call out names.  You hope and pray you are not the one.  The last one.  The one neither team wants but one ends up having to take because the coach says so. 

That feeling really never goes away, even if you weren’t the last one picked.  Pick me. Pick me.  The mantra runs through your head.  Never did you know that you would experience it again and again growing up.  Those early experiences, sometimes humiliating, sometimes not preparing us for life.   Job interviews, school, parties.Did I know all those experience would prepare me for writing?   Life - experiencing it from the sidelines or in the center of things.  So many stories to tell from over the years.

My very first job was working at a deli in a mall in  Georgia.  One of the guys who worked in the shoe store came in daily.  I knew him as Steve until months later, someone walked by and called him Jerry.  I blinked and looked at him.  “Jerry?”  He nodded and I blushed crimson. 

“Why didn’t you tell me.”

“Because” he said, “I like how you said my name.”  

Conversations - drama and laughter and foolishness and love all overheard while behind the counter making sandwiches.  Some think you are invisible behind that counter.   Writers are invisible, hiding behind their words.  You sit, watch, notice and dream.  A thought, a comment makes a spark.

Little did I know each job, however different, were stepping stones filled with stories leading to this point.   Designing and painting billboards for my dad’s Senate race in Georgia or making sandwiches in a deli.   Substitute teaching junior high school kids and trying to corral their energy.   Working for our local PBS station, fund raising, supervising volunteers and working on live televised auctions.   Working for the county district attorney and leading groups  of domestic violence victims in filling out restraining order papers.  Underwriting and issuing  insurance policies for homeowners.   Owning an electronic repair business.   It’s amazing how open people are. How willing they are to share what is happening in their lives, tell their life stories.

I had a very vivid imagination growing up and dabbled with writing stories here and there.  But never seriously until now.   With age, comes experience, wisdom and freedom.  Freedom to no longer worry about what other people will think.  The freedom to change, to experiment more.  The freedom to write without censure.  I’ve always wanted to write a wickedly hot romance or a super scary thriller,  perhaps a paranormal story.  The stories are in my brain, knocking at the door, waiting for me to open it.    What was it Forrest Gump said: “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.’"

Writing is life a box of chocolates. You never know what’s going to appear on that page until you start writing. 


She sat before me in her two-piece gray suit, hands clasped in her lap. She didn’t squirm or twitch as she waited for me to say something. A manuscript lay open on the desk between us, red pen marking up the page. I glanced up to be pierced by her blue eyes. A lifetime of living behind those eyes.

“Why did you want to see me?”

“I’ve been watching you.” she said.

I tried not to squirm, but couldn’t hold back several blinks at her words. I couldn’t fathom why her words were so discomforting.
“What did you see.”

With a slight lift of her shoulders, a quirky smile, she said “someone whose worked hard to this point.”
“This point?”

“Yes. You’ve gotten as far as you could. But now, you are stuck and you need me.”


“To go further.”

Her confidence, her calm impressed me. Her arrogance angered me.

“Why did you agree to see me.” she asked.


“You know what they say about curiosity.”

“Yes, well.” I eased back in my chair, tried to relax my tense shoulders. “That depends on who they is. Why do I need you. What can you provide that I can’t do for myself.”


I spread my arms wide and looked around the office at the plaques on the wall, the awards on the shelves.

“Did you deserve it.” she said.

“Hell, yes!”

“Is it your best? Or just good enough?”

“My best!"

She shook her head and I frowned."If it’s your best, then you are done. You have nothing to strive for." I sat there, my mouth open and she smiled, watching me. “You could do better.”

“And you think you are the one who can help me do that?”

“Certainly. I can provide you with a fresh perspective.”

I looked at her wrinkled face, the gray hair, and the ages spots on her hands.

“We can help each other you know. Your youth, my wisdom. A unique blend, don’t you think?”

“Perhaps.” I said with a shrug.

She drew a deep breath, leaned forward and tapped her fingers on the manuscript sitting between us. “Do you know what this is?” I shook my head no. “Your mother sent it to me.”

“What? Since when does mom….” I caught myself. Oh she didn’t, she couldn’t have, she wouldn’t. I’ll kill her. “You weren’t supposed to see it.”

She nodded. “I know, because you wanted to do it all by yourself without any help, like always.”

“Exactly.” I reached over and grabbed it off the desk. My manuscript, Red Lies. I flipped through the pages and saw there were red notes on almost every page. “I can’t believe…”

“It’s very good. Excellent as a matter of fact. I’m quite proud of you.”

“Then why all the red?”

“Like I said, I can provide you with a fresh perspective. Did you really think you could write a story about me and not get my side of it?

“Mom told me everything.”

“No, she didn’t,” She reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a thick file, handed it to me. Inside I found newspaper clippings, letters and a diary. “If you are going to write my story, you should know what really happened. Now go, I have work to do.” She said, waving her hand in dismissal and turned to work on her computer. I stood to go and took one last look around the office. My gaze fell on the shelf with all my school ribbons and trophies. She displayed them proudly in her office for everyone to see. Mom had never told me and I’d always thought she didn’t care. I started to slip out the door, then turned back. She glanced up to see me still standing there and raised an eyebrow, waiting.

“I never knew.”

“Well, now you do. Now shoo, child.”

“Yes ma’am and grandma, I love you too.”

Well, Tell me honestly what you think.  I had the image in my head of two woman, the older one sitting behind the desk, the younger in front of it. I wanted it to seem like the younger one was interviewing the older one. A twist, an impression, then suddenly the revelation that it was visa versa. but it may have gotten lost in the translation somewhere.   Critique anyone? What could I have done better?

BBAW Book Giveaway -- Mystery and Suspense package

BBAW Special Mystery and Suspense Package Giveaway

The contents of the Mystery and Suspense Package
Gently used paperbacks 

The Cold Room - J.T. Ellison
No One Left to Tell - Jordan Dane
Sudden Death - Allison Brennan
Kill Her Again - Robert Gregory Browne
The Sinner - Tess Gerritsen
Inside Out - John Ramsey Miller

Please leave your name and email address in the comments.  The contest is open to U.S. Residents only, will remain open for the week and ends at Midnight on September 17th. The winner will be picked via and notified via email.

BBAW New Treasure - Interview swap with Allison of Piling on the Books

New Treasure:   Allison of Piling on the Books

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Allison of Piling on the Books, a new to me blogger who I never meet before.  I had fun perusing her blog and coming up with questions to ask her and learn more about her.   

Your blog is 95% about books with enticing little tidbits here and there about your education in Library Science.  What made you decide to pursue being a librarian?

        I'm that girl, you know, the one who, when you ask her questions, is always like, "Hmm.  I don't know... let me look it up for you!"  I love answering questions, and I especially love it when those answers take some effort.  I thought it might be nice to make a career out of it!

Are you almost done with your classes?

        I am all done!  I got my degree about three weeks ago and am doing that looking-for-a-job thing that is so difficult these days.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Yeah!  Congratulations. What an awesome accomplishment.  What did you discover about yourself while pursuing your degree?

       I really like working with people.  At first, I thought I'd go into some obscure area of librarianship that involves living in a basement, but as I took different classes I realized that I love the challenge of dealing with the public -- the nice people, the mean people, even the really weird people.

We all have those dreams of the perfect job, the perfect place to live.  What would your dream library look like, where would it be located and how would you make it so enticing, everyone will only want to use your library?

       Oooh.  Okay, my dream library would be very much like the Cleveland Public Library or other old public research libraries, all marble and fancy staircases and giant windows.  It would be in a bustling downtown area, but not too big of one, like Portland, OR.  People would love my library because I'd stock it full of librarians who read zillions of books and are ready with a suggestion any time someone walks in, and who know the reference collection (print and electronic) well enough to make sure everyone can find the answers to their questions.  Now, if only I had a few million dollars or so to make that happen...

Do you keep a personal library of books or get all your books through the library.   If you do have a personal library, how many books do you have and what makes you decide to keep a book versus checking it out?

        I read almost all of my books through the library.  I generally only buy books that I've read and loved, though I am a sucker for a used book store or library book sale.  I just moved, too, so I had to really decide what books to keep -- I ended up getting rid of at least two-thirds of the books that were in my house.  My process for that is basically, "Will I read this again?  If not, will I want to have it to lend out to people?  If not, what is this doing on my bookshelf?"  It's a pretty solid system!

How old were you when you first started reading and do you remember the name of the first book you read?

        I'm not sure... I think I was probably about three years old when I started reading.  My mother has told me that when I started reading books out loud to them, they thought I had just memorized the stories they had told me, until one day they gave me a new book and I read it just fine!  I don't know what books those were, though.  The first book I can remember reading is probably a Baby-Sitter's Club book... I was obsessed with those from about kindergarten to fifth grade.

You seem to be a very eclectic reader like me.  What draws your attention to a book - word of mouth, the cover, book bloggers, favorite authors.

       These days, I generally end up reading books that I've seen on other blogs, or that have been recommended by friends, but only if they sound good -- which could mean a lot of things!  Covers and titles are attractive, too, but I have to see a good blurb.  What usually attracts me is a story that seems reasonable and straightforward, but has something a little different about it, whether it's a story about time-travelling and literary detectives (the Thursday Next series) or a story about being a teenager and growing up... with a grandmother obsessed with Buckminster Fuller (The House of Tomorrow).

Who are your favorite authors?  Those that you'll read their books no matter what they write.

       Jasper Fforde.  I love him.  He writes the aforementioned Thursday Next series, which has a new book coming out in March, and a series about detectives who investigate crimes based on nursery rhymes and who are nursery rhyme characters themselves, and a series about a world in which everyone's life is determined based on the colors they can see, and he's got a kids' book coming out in November and I don't even really know what it is but if it's in my library I will read it.  There are some other authors whose books I am always willing to give a chance, at some point, but Fforde's are the ones that I must absolutely read as soon as I can find them.

What made you decide to start blogging about books?

       Four years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to read all of Shakespeare's plays during my summer break from undergrad.  I'm not sure what odd part of my brain thought up this plan, but it did, and I set up a little hand-coded web page to track my progress.  I, um, started The First Part of King Henry VI, and that was it, but I did note that I read seven other books -- all from the children's section.  Shakespeare, I was not cut out for.  But I had fun keeping track, so I did it again in 2007, and 2008, and by then I had graduated and started a job (I miss having a job) and discovered book blogs and figured it wouldn't be a terrible idea to keep track of my reading year-round.  So I did.  Good story.  :)

Which book bloggers would you say have influenced you the most?

        All of them, really.  When I was keeping track of books on my hand-coded pages, I kept the reviews short and sweet, but with the real blog thing I wanted to be a little more... useful... but I wasn't sure how.  So I read lots of book blogs and I adapted some styles from them and I'm still doing that -- I am constantly looking for ways to improve my usefulness!

Thank you so much Allison and it has been a pleasure getting to now a bit more about you.  Now we know who to come to with our research questions!  :)    Good luck with your job search - we'll all be keeping our fingers crossed. Be sure to drop by Allison's blog and say hello.

BBAW Book Giveaway -- Sookie Stackhouse Series package

Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series -  Charlaine Harris

When I was introduced to Sookie Stackhouse in Dead Until Dark, (Thanks to BethFishReads) I couldn't stop at the first book and devoured the whole series in a number of days.  Just giving away  Dead Until Dark would be such a tease, so for BBAW I am giving away the series, books 1 through 9.  You'll have to buy #10 Dead in the Family for yourself. I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback.  

The package giveaway includes the gently read, paperback editions of

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

Please leave your name and email address in the comments.  The contest is open to U.S. Residents only, will remain open for the week and ends at Midnight on September 17th. The winner will be picked via and notified via email.

BBAW: First Treasure - Literary Escapism

 Monday—First Treasure

We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year! Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.

Last year I discovered Jackie's blog, Literary Escapism, the site for paranormal and fantasy book reviews.  She's been around since 2007 just like me, but you know it's just one of those things.  You don't find somebody or a blog that you really enjoy until you actually need it.  Synchronicity.  I started getting more into paranormal romances and voila I found Jackie.  She has one of those sites that I better have another browser window set to Barnes and Noble ready to download books to my nook or add to my wish list.   Her monthly newsletters are full of links to new releases, author websites, reviews, interviews, contests and covers to die for.   She also hosts a New Author Challenge full of fun mini monthly challenges with unique prizes. 

On her website, you find links to authors websites, all the science fiction, fantasy and horror reviewers, master list of all new releases and more.  Be sure to check her out, you'll be glad you did. 

Sunday Salon: BBAW, books and baubles, baby!

It is going to be a busy week in the blogosphere with Book Bloggers Appreciation Week 2010 hosted by Amy of My Friend Amy and multiple blogger elves. Check out this interview with Amy on The Book Case on why she created BBAW.  BBAW is a huge blog party celebrating books, book bloggers, books, authors, books, writers, books, publishers, books, reading and ... Well you get it... Books!   And those who provide the books, review the books and read the books.  And they will be giving away books. Lots of them.  Even me.   I will be hosting two giveaways.  On Monday, the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series.   The entire series, books 1 through 9 will get given away as a package deal.  Once I read the first book, I just had to read them all, so couldn't just give away one.  It would be too much of a tease.    On Wednesday, I will be giving away a mystery and suspense package of 6 books, so stay tuned. 

There are daily blogging topics:

Monday—First Treasure
We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year!  If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered.  Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.

Tuesday—New Treasure—Interview Swap
Post the interview you did with your BBAW Interview Partner.  If you didn’t sign up in time, please email bookbloggerappreciationweekATgmailDOTcom because there is a waiting list.
Wednesday—Unexpected Treasure
We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger.  What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?
Thursday—Forgotten Treasure
Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction.  This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

Friday—Future Treasures
We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

For Tuesday's interview swap day, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Allison of Piling on the books.  Be sure to drop by and meet Allison and say hi!   

TLC Book Tours is celebrating the world of Barbara Kingsolver from September 7th through October 13th.  Her latest novel, The Lacuna, was released in paperback in July.  On Friday I'll be reviewing The Poisonwood Bible.

There are only 50 days left until NaNoWriMo 2010 begins.  I've decided to give it another go.  I laid awake half the night, last night with ideas running through my head.   So, for the next 50 days, besides working on editing WIP2 Winter Illusion, I'll be working on the characters and outline for WIP4. 

Be sure to scroll down or click here to check out Father's short story Assassin's Remorse.  He truly would love to hear what you think.

When we read a story, we inhabit it.  The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story.  And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.
~ John Berger  ~

The Sunday


What is Death?

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without affect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.
All is well.

~ Henry Scott Holland

Home Again by Mariah Stewart

Home Again


Back cover:  Dallas MacGregor is living the Hollywood dream.  At thirty something she's an award winning actress bound for even bigger success.  But when her soon to be ex husband, producer Emilio Baird, is caught in a sex scandal, Dallas's charmed life turns tabloid nightmare.  Determined to shield her young son, Cody, from the ugly uproar, Dallas seeks refuge in sleepy St. Dennis, Maryland--the Chesapeake Bay town where her happiest childhood days were spent.

Reunited with her boisterous great-aunt, Dallas wants nothing more than to leave her Hollywood days behind.  And when she crosses paths with local veterinarian Grant Wyler, her high school summer love, she finds that the spark is still there.  But Dallas's promising new life takes a troubling turn when she finds herself living a mother's worst nightmare--and Emilio storms into St. Dennis amid much fanfare, determined to play the hero.  But in the end only Grant is willing to risk it all to save Dallas's son and win her heart.

The contemporary romance, Home Again is the 2nd book in The Chesapeake Diaries series by Mariah Stewart.  The series takes us back to St. Dennis, Maryland, the cozy little town from her murder mystery Last Words. (excellent story, part of the Lost series, and well worth reading as well.)  Dallas and her son moves in with her Aunt Berry in St. Dennis for the summer to get away from all the press after her husband's sex tape surfaces on the internet.  She rekindles her high school romance with Grant, (once her divorce is final) but he is a bit gun shy about committing to a relationship because she had left him to pursue her acting career after high school. It is a sweet story of love lost and finding it again.  It's well worth reading.    

The first book in the series is Coming Home and Mia and Beck from Last Words are getting married.  Mia's brother Grady comes back to St. Dennis for the wedding and discovers romance with Vanessa.  I love how she ties in characters and settings in The Chesapeake Diaries series from her suspense novels.  It makes for an interesting blend of stories and a change of pace from murder to romance.  I highly recommend all her stories.  

 Check out the excerpts for Home Again and excerpts for Coming Home. You'll be glad you did. Thank you to Lisa of TLC Tours, Ballatine Books for providing me with courtesy copies of the books and Mariah Stewart for her wonderful writing.   Check out the rest of the tour here.

Assassin's Remorse

Today I have a treat for you. Father was reading my Writer's Digest  magazine and the Your Story Writing prompt generated quite a few sparks with him. He came up with a short story which he has given me permission to share with you all.

The prompt: During your weekly housecleaning you find an unfamiliar cell phone in the cushions of your couch--but can't recall having any recent visitors. It rings.

Assassin's Remorse
Home at last. The dreaded red eye flight was three hours late. I haven’t slept in over 24 hours and something is wrong…very wrong. Where are my cats? They usually swarm at my feet, talking and trying to trip me as I head towards my bedroom.

A fleeting moment of relief comes as I find the little furry creatures hiding under the bed.  Then it hits me…Am I alone?  A quick check reveals nothing and then my cats greet me in their usual way.  All is normal.

The next morning is overcast and despite cleaning the house before my week long business trip, the overwhelming desire to clean it again over takes me.  Then I find it, under the couch cushion.   An intruder’s cell phone.  Sweat fills my palms as my stomach ties itself in knots. 

It rings….Beethoven’s 5th symphony.


“Look behind your refrigerator princess. Use extreme caution.  Don’t be followed. Remember life is precious.


What a mess!  It’s filthy back here. Dust, spider webs. Nothing.  Wait!  What’s this?
An envelope. Inside a key with a scrap of brown paper.  “Kalifornia regretfully” faintly scrawled on it.

Across the world, 42 years ago, a man walked in solitude along a wooded trail.  The early morning’s serenity was shattered when he exclaimed “What the…”  Followed by the delayed report from an assassins 30-06 rifle. Traveling faster than the speed of sound, its 174 grain match grade bullet barely hit its mark.   Entering his lower back, it burst his intestines out, like popping a water balloon.  Moments later came the deafening boom crack sound sending 100’s of birds into frenzied, panic driven flight. 

Mortally wounded the victim’s survival mode kicked in.  Get out!  Run!  Survive! Get cover!  Both natural instinct and years of training instantly called into action.  Despite the fact his body absorbed enough kinetic energy to lift a walrus in the air, some 2700 foot pounds, he is still able to run and think.  It is a hunter’s worst nightmare – Gut Shot!  Holding his innards, he runs 50 yards before he falls behind some bushes.    He thinks he must “keep himself together.”  Then thoughts turn to prayer and his daughter…  He must hold on. 

The assassin follows the trail to find the man clutching a photograph. 

“Please take care of my precious.” 

The silhouette standing over him nods in agreement.  Prayers answered, he resigns to the inevitable.  Another causality of the cold war.  The assassin reaches down and takes the victim’s watch, wallet and the photo.  A microdot is subsequently removed from the watch. Mission accomplished.  For reasons known only to him, Alex failed to place the wallet and photo into the incinerator as prescribed by protocol.

What is this key for?  A check into the mystery cell phone reveals only one phone number…to a bank!  California Gold bank, known as CGB.   Safe deposit box perhaps? “Do it now!   But do not be followed…  On my God.  G.P.S.!  Remove the batteries from the cell phone!”

The 15 minute drive downtown is uneventful except it seems everybody is following me.  “Paranoia will destroy ya…This song envelopes my mind. There is no switching it off.  Besides nobody in their right mind would follow me in that mustard yellow 70’s AMC pacer. Or would they?  Great! Pacer is gone.

I never felt like a spy until I entered the bank.  My father died when I was eight years old. He was MIA.  Thoughts of my father vanished when I saw my perfect signature on the bank forms. How is this possible?

The bank box contained priceless treasure.  A rust stained wallet and a photograph from when I was 8 years old. “I love you daddy.  Love your precious princess.” barely legible on its back.  The wallet must be dad’s!   The safe deposit box also contained a brownish oil soaked wax paper covered package.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall and KGB agent Alexander Krotov ceased to exist.  Switzerland acquired a new model citizen – Helmut Schmidt. Friends say Helmut’s spirits lifted greatly after his trip to the USA.  Six months later, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.  His five year battle with cancer finally over.

Viewing the contents of the safe deposit box brought immediate relief, so why all the fear?  My attention focused on the package. Peeling back the water proof wrapping, the musty smelling package revealed its inner contents.  Leaving me to ponder the life changing question:   What does one do with one cup of flawless investment grade diamonds?


So his story begs the question, what would you do with one cup of flawless diamonds

Sunday Salon - August Round Up / September doings

The Sunday

Readers may be divided into four classes: 

1) Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in
nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. 

2) Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get
through a book for the sake of getting through the time.

3) Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. 

4) Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by
what they read, and enable others to profit by it also. 

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

Wow! August just flew by.  It was a fairly lazy month in which we read much, played lots, thought hard, wrote oodles, fought a little and loved gobs.   I read twice as many books than I usually do, though I have to admit some were fairly short novels.  I discovered Lori Foster's Buckhorn Brothers and immersed myself in the paranormal world of the Riley Jensen Guardian Series by Keri Arthur.   I fell in love the characters Claire and Jaime from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.   And I traveled from the Space station, to the future and the past and all over the world from Alaska to Scotland.  *sigh*

  1. Charmed and Dangerous - Toni McGee Causey
  2. The Reincarnationist - M.J. Rose
  3. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffennegger
  4. Offworld - Robin Parrish 
  5. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon (Sept tlc tour)
  6. Coming Home - Mariah Stewart (Sept tlc tour)
  7. Home Again - Mariah Stewart (Sept tlc tour)
  8. Venon - Joan Brady (dnf) 
  9. The Night Before - Lisa Jackson
  10. Against All Odds - Irene Hannon
  11. Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick (review forthcoming)
  12. Tempest Rising - Nicole Peeler 
  13. Winter Study - Nevada Barr
  14. Darkest Kiss #6- Keri Arthur 
  15. Sawyer (Buckhorn brothers) - Lori Foster (ebook)
  16. Morgan (Buckhorn brothers) - Lori Foster (ebook)
  17. Gabe (Buckhorn brothers) - Lori Foster (ebook)
  18. Jordan (Buckhorn Brothers- Lori Foster (ebook)
  19. The Silent Gift - Michael Landon Jr.
  20. Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel (review forthcoming) 
  21. Deadly Desire # 7 - Keri Arthur
  22. Bound to Shadows # 8 - Keri Arthur
  23. Moon Sworn # 9 - Keri Arthur
  24. Running Scared - Lisa Jackson
  25. Casey (Buckhorn Brothers) - Lori Foster 

September promises to be an interesting month. I am currently hosting TLC tours Diana Gabaldon's Echo in the Bone tour and having a  giveaway of Echo in the Bone. You have a couple more days until September 7th to get your name in the hat.  Also hosting TLC tours of Mariah Stewart's Home Coming, (9/7) and Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible (9/17).  Plus Julie Lessman's A Hope Undaunted tour (9/20-25).   AND we have Book Bloggers Appreciation week coming up September 13 through the 17th.

I will be having a couple giveaways, plus doing an interview swap with Alison from Piling on the Books.  We've never meet IRL or virtually so this will be fun getting to know each other.  So stayed tune!  

Things in the blogosphere to check out.

Audiobook Jukebox put together by BethFishReads and Susan of Audiobook DJ.

Michelle Davidson Argyle's Cinder's Book Blog tour September 19th to the 25th.

All the latest reviews on the SF and Fantasy Masterworks Reading project.   Larry is a speed reader and leaving the rest of us in the dust.  I hope to have a review of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury posted sometime in the next couple weeks.

Plus a mini challenge on Read 52 Books in 52 weeks challenge blog.  You get a chance to decide which book I'll be reading in J is for Justice.

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  What are you reading this weekend?