Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

What are you "waiting on" this week?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Musing Mondays - May 4

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What would you do if you wanted to buy a book for someone, but didn’t know what they like to read? Would you ask them? Would you choose something you, yourself, like? How would you go about buying them something?

What an awesome question for this week. I would definitely ask the person. Unless they are someone I know from a particular civic or religious group, which would give me some insight into their preferences, I want to make sure what I buy is something they are interested in. If it's for a child, I usually just buy something my kids have enjoyed.

How about you?

Book Blast: Getting It Right by A.M. Arthur

For a dramatic male/male read, look no further than Getting It Right by A.M. Arthur. This contemporary romance is full of heart-wrenching moments guaranteed to draw you in and leave you wanting more.

Detective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four--because he's too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as Tag, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn't sorry for the kisses that James can't remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

Book Excerpt:

He smoked his way through two more cigarettes before Nathan’s beat-up Ram pickup pulled alongside the curb. For a city cop, he was still adorably country. Nathan leaned across the console to shove open the passenger side door, and James gratefully slid inside. The simple, familiar presence of Nathan nearby made James’s nerves unfurl a little bit more. Nathan was the one thing in James’s life that had always made sense. Had always been easy.
Weariness settled into his bones, turning his drunken daze into extreme fatigue. He wanted to pass out and soon.
Nathan shoved a bottle of water at him, then eased the truck back into the street. He cracked both of the front windows, probably because James reeked of smoke. Nathan had never been shy about telling him how gross his habit was. Nathan was also smart enough not to engage in conversation until they were shuffling up the short sidewalk to Nathan’s half of a two-story duplex. Nathan slung an arm around James’s waist, and the heat of the other man’s body so close felt amazing. Real. Not like the fake closeness of dancing with strangers in a crowded bar.
He finally got a good look at his friend as Nathan crossed the narrow living room to the kitchen in the rear. Flannel pajama pants and a spring coat. James had woken him up.
Yeah, I’m a douche bag.
“You hungry?” Nathan shouted from the kitchen.
“No.” In the familiar, somewhat cluttered warmth of Nathan’s home, he had a safe place to wallow in the shame still burning in his gut.
Nathan’s place was the definition of a straight bachelor’s pad—which worked since Nathan was a straight bachelor. Dark leather furniture right out of a magazine’s page, decorated exactly the same because he couldn’t be bothered. A monster, sixty-inch flat screen mounted on the wall over an entertainment console boasted two gaming systems, alongside a Blu-ray player and hundreds of movies. Only a handful of photos hung on the wall, mostly of his rather large extended family that lived in southern Delaware.
James paused to stare at a familiar photo of himself with Nathan, taken right after Nathan had graduated from the police academy. They were both grinning, arms slung around each other’s shoulder. Nathan so handsome in his uniform, James in a gray suit that hadn’t been stylish in a decade. Because that’s how long it had been. Nathan had made detective last year, so he didn’t wear his uniform anymore. James sort of missed it.
Nathan came back into the living room sans coat, a white wifebeater showing off his muscled arms and flat stomach. He was one-eighth Nanticoke Indian on his mother’s side, which gave his skin a lovely golden hue. His short hair was shiny black, and was always soft on the rare occasion James had a reason to touch it. His dark brown eyes often seemed to be smiling at him, even when things were serious, like right now.
He was carrying a bamboo tray loaded down with two shot glasses, a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and a bag of barbecue potato chips. He settled the tray on his magazine-covered coffee table, then poured them each a shot.
James sank onto the couch next to Nathan and accepted the glass. After a silent toast, he threw it back. The harsh, smoky liquid burned its way into his stomach.

Nathan refilled both glasses. “Does your mom know?”
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

For More Information

Monday, April 27, 2015

Musing Mondays - April 27

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you prefer Hardcover, Trade Paperback, or Mass Market Paperback? Why?

I'm finally at a point where I am working toward catching up. Though my blogging hasn't been consistent and my time is limited, I am reading Dead Reckoning by Caitlin Rother. This was the second book from 2011 that an author had requested I review, but it never happened. Thankfully, my pile of overdue book reviews is not overwhelming, but there are still more books on it than I am comfortable with.

How many books are in your TBR pile? Are you behind on reviews?

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reveals shocking details in a compelling and authoritative account of the 2004 murders of Tom and Jackie Hawkes by former child star Skylar Deleon and accomplices. Original.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Spotlight: Silk by Chris Karlsen

London-Fall, 1888

The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum's beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.

Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they'd better be right and have proof.

As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case.

Purchase on Amazon

Book Excerpt:

He wrapped an end in each hand and pulled. His fingers crept up the silk and he tugged a bit harder still. The material pressed deeper into the flesh of her neck. Bright pink dotted her cheeks and radiated down to her jaw. The veins in her temples popped out and pulsed in time to her heartbeat. She moaned, pushed her hips upward and writhed against him. Her soft pubic hair tickled his testicles. Isabeau’s unsubtle way of letting him know she wanted him inside her. He obliged.

Her hands encircled his wrists. She tugged hard outward, harder than usual. A choked sigh escaped her. He paid no attention. This was standard. Isabeau always insisted he maintain pressure until she signaled for him to release his hold. In the past, when she reached the edge of consciousness, she’d beat along his upper arms. This time she thrashed her head back and forth, something he hadn’t seen before. Her eyes bulged in an unattractive way and she clawed at him. Her nails gouged the skin on his hands, drawing blood.

Read more at the author's website!

Chris is a Chicago native. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her late teens where she later studied at UCLA. She graduated with a Business Degree. Her father was a history professor and her mother a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books.

Her parents were also passionate about traveling and passed their passion onto Chris. Once bitten with the travel bug, Chris spent most of her adult life visiting the places she'd read about and that fascinated her. She's had the good fortune to travel Europe extensively, the Near East, and North Africa, in addition to most of the United States.

After college, Chris spent the next twenty-five years in law enforcement with two agencies. Harboring a strong desire to write since her teens, upon retiring from police work, Chris decided to pursue her writing career. She currently writes three different series. Her historical romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters, and he latest book, Silk, is book one in her mystery/suspense series, The Bloodstone series.

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Release: Earthly Needs by Marty Damon

Here's information on a new Kindle release from a talented writer in my local writers group.

Like too many other days, Lila Wallace’s begins with a kitchen duel with her cat Winston, who is convinced that what she needs is a live squirrel. What she really wants is some clarity in her life, professionally and romantically. At 43, Lila Wallace thought she had left small town living behind, but after the death of her parents, here she is, living in the house where she grew up. She has a history of unsuccessful romances but rediscovers handsome long-time neighbor Sam Fielding. She also can’t seem to avoid the mysterious but tempting newcomer, Niko Athanasopoulos. A high school English teacher, Lila finds herself caught up in suburban land schemes and inner-city school intrigue.

She worries about Sam; he’s been a bit confused lately – could his strict vegan diet be the reason? Will his new neighbor Niko, who seems too interested in Sam’s land, take advantage of him? At school, life is no simpler. A pathologically ambitious assistant principal uses a bullied student as a scapegoat, and even attempts murder to eliminate a colleague whom he sees as an obstacle to his success.

File Size: 708 KB
Print Length: 168 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Purchase here!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Interview with Elisabeth Amaral, Author of Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup

A native New Yorker, I have lived in the city for much of my life. My first jobs after graduating from NYU were jewelry design and case worker for the Departments of Welfare of New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was followed by co-ownership of a children’s boutique (Czar Nicholas and the Toad) and a restaurant (Duck Soup) in Cambridge near Harvard Square. I then worked as an industrial purchasing agent in New Jersey, and for the last 25 years have been a real estate broker in Manhattan, accumulating stories of the wonder and madness that is this city. I published a book of short stories (When Any Kind of Love Will Do), wrote two children’s books and a memoir (Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup), and am currently working on a novel.

For More Information

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Woodmere, on Long Island, when I was five. We moved to New Jersey when I was twelve.  

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Reading Nancy Drew books and walking with my father to Moishe’s to get a walk-away. Chocolate ice cream with cold chocolate syrup smothered with chocolate sprinkles, served with a small wooden spoon and a tall paper cup.
When did you begin writing?

I began writing in college. I was having amazing, Technicolor dreams and began to fill small black and white composition notebooks with them. I began to carry paper and pen with me at all times, and to have them within reach when I went to sleep. 

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write during the day, and the most productive hours are from the time I wake up until eleven or twelve. If that doesn’t work out, I try for mid-afternoon until suppertime.  

What is this book about?

Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup is a memoir of my mostly spontaneous life as a young wife and mother in the mid 60s to mid 70s. I eventually realized that my husband was gay, in a era where homosexuality was barely understood or discussed. Our situation caused my self-esteem to plummet, which set me on a sometimes risky search for fulfillment. Yet on every other level, the relationship with my husband flourished. We shared child-rearing, designed jewelry, owned a children’s boutique and a restaurant in Harvard Square, and together enjoyed that thrilling era. At its heart, my story is one of friendship, love, and family.

What inspired you to write it?

I was in line at a Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City, waiting to pitch a mystery novel I was working on when it dawned on me that I couldn’t pitch it after all. It was giving me too much trouble. With minutes to go before it was my turn, I realized that what I could pitch, what I suddenly and fervently wanted to pitch, was my life during the sex, drugs and rock and roll era. The agent loved the idea and I sent him chapters as I wrote them, but ultimately I self-published.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My husband is not only my biggest supporter, he’s also my in-house tech guy.  

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I joined a critique group the week after Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup was published. My memoir took almost three years to complete, and during that time both my first and current husbands provided feedback. My first husband also provided many memories, as the first half of this story is really our story. He also provided the photograph that became the cover, and he brought me back into contact with people who had shared those years working for us in Duck Soup, our Harvard Square restaurant. And as I renewed those contacts, the enthusiastic contributions of those old friends and colleagues were an enormous source of feedback for me.

Who is your favorite author?

Oh, that’s a question I’ll never be able to answer. I’ve had so many favorites, including Erik Larson, Hans Fallada, Jim Thompson, Lily Tuck and Alexandra Fuller. My favorite genre is true adventure and natural and unnatural disasters; books like Annapurna, Into Thin Air, Tracks, The Boston Molasses Disaster, Isaac’s Storm, The Children’s Storm.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I don’t have an agent. I had sent Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup to an agent who called it a “little gem” but said it wasn’t for her. Another agent said I’d have to make too many changes. It took almost three years to finish the book and I wanted it my way, with all the photographs, recipes and contributions from friends of long ago. They are all here. But the deciding point for me was when I had a heart attack near the completion of the book. Self-publishing was certainly the quickest way I would see my book in print. The process was painless, and it took about five months.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

It was smooth. I went with iUniverse, because they had done an excellent job with a short story collection of mine, When Any Kind of Love Will Do. With my memoir they offered excellent editorial advice. Each step of the process went smoothly and more quickly than anticipated.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

As far as the book is concerned, there is nothing I would have done differently. I had a great time writing it when I wasn’t pulling my hair out, and I truly am proud of the result.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Readers can purchase my book at,, and in either paperback or eBook format.

What is up next for you?

I am working on a mystery novel that takes place in lower Manhattan.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to share a bit of the book with you and your readers.