Monday, June 26, 2017

Musing Monday - June 26


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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 is your favorite spot to read during the summer?

Happy Monday! I am feeling good because I made some decisions last week and made progress on real estate, writing, and blogging goals.

As far as real estate goes, I'm actually taking a vacation. I plan to be almost totally unplugged from work once we leave. I still have to check on a couple of things if there is an emergency, but no two weeks of working from the beach this year. Also, I've begun reaching out to the communities I am really interested in working, so hopefully once I return I'll have some new business to look forward to.

Last Monday, I reviewed my writing goals at TC&TBC--my kid's book blog. Happy at the progress this year and hope to do some writing from the beach.

As far as blogging goes, this is where it gets really exciting. I merged The Busy Mom's Daily and Cheryl's Christian Book Connection into An Imperfect Christian Mom. I'll give up the domain on BMD to save money and the new blog will give me a good spot to talk about Christian fiction and non-fiction in addition to family friendly products and movies and my motherly rambles. Here is my list of active blogs:

The Book Connection - you are here. :)
The Children's and Teens' Book Connection (picture book through YA)
Books Can Be Deadly (mystery, thriller, suspense, crime novels, and true crime)
An Imperfect Christian Mom
Busy REALTOR® Mom (going to change the name on this one and keep it just real estate)
Laura's Little Houses (Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder blog--not as active as I would like but some neat stuff there)

I also blog the first and third Fridays at Christian Children's Authors.

In other news, I'm currently reading....


Finally, the answer to this week's question is easy: my favorite summer reading spot is on the porch of the beach house--which I'll be seeing soon. 

That's it for now. Hope you'll share your musings.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Friday 56 - June 23

Hosted by Freda's Voice.


Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post on Linky at Freda's site. Add the post url, not your blog url.


It's been a while since I participated in this meme. Hopefully I can keep it going at least through the summer. My first choice is from one of my favorite authors of southern fiction. This is a continuation of her series set in Chattahoochee, Florida. I reviewed the first and second books. I own two other of the author's books set in the same place but they have different main characters.


Jake swung open the paneled door. A squat woman waited on the other side of the screened door. Genevieve Presley Alcott. No need to second guess the name. Her initials were monogrammed on her paisley red Vera Bradley handbag. First thought: she looks like someone's somewhat overdressed grandmother.  Second thought: Red Riding Hood had mistaken the big bad wolf for her kindly grandmother. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Musing Monday - June 19


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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 is your favorite Mark Twain novel?

It's Monday again. Expecting a very stormy day here. Maybe the bad weather will bring me good luck with the houses I'll show today.

Posted two reviews here last week and now I am reading Weddings at Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard.


Founded by the three Bender sisters, the Amish community of Promise Lodge is thriving—and growing. In fact, residents are thrilled to welcome a charismatic new arrival—one who may not just strengthen their faith, but put it to the test . . .

When Christine Bender meets widowed Bishop Monroe Burkholder, it’s love at first sight. But Preacher Amos finds him too good to be true, and is determined to find out what’s behind his sudden, unannounced arrival. Still, the colony needs a new bishop, and everyone is excited to have a younger, more progressive leader. As for Christine, Monroe returns her affection, but her bubble is soon burst with the arrival of a young woman half his age . . .

Leola Duff claims Monroe “ruined” her and she now intends to make an honest man of him. But throughout the process of discovering the truth, Christine never doubts that Monroe is the fine man she believes him to be—and never wavers in her faith that all will work out as it should. And when Monroe is forced to confess the truth before the entire congregation, he can only pray that open hearts and minds will prevail, allowing him a future at Promise Lodge—with Christine . . .

As for this week's question, I can't answer it. I've never read an entire novel by Mark Twain. Gasp! I know, I am so awful about reading classics. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would most likely be my first choice of reading material because of the time period in which it is set.

Hope you have a great week. It is going to be a busy one around here as I have closings and vacation preparations to continue. Just for the record, my husband comes home the day we are scheduled to leave, packs his bag, and then packs up the truck for our journey south. It certainly doesn't take him weeks to prepare the entire family to go. Just sayin.....

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson


Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

Series: Prince Edward Island Dreams (Book 3)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell (July 4, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800724518
ISBN-13: 978-0800724511

Order here

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman

If you like Amish mysteries, you need to grab a copy of What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman. This first book in a new series features a bishop with an extraordinary talent that could be the key to finding a murderer.

Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene of an out of control fire in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. He soon learns the fire was no accident and that Vernon Frey was killed. Considering Vernon's reputation in the Amish and Englisch communities there is no end to potential suspects.

When police suspect someone Henry knows is innocent, he must decide if he will use his mysterious, God-given gift to set the record straight.

When I heard Chapman was releasing a new series that blended two of my favorite genres--Amish fiction and mystery--there was no doubt I would read it. What the Bishop Saw hooked me right from the Prologue and didn't let go until the Epilogue was done. I'm already planning to beg to review the next book in the series when it comes out.

Her trademark of "Christian Fiction Full of Grace" is front and center throughout this exciting story, while the romance between Henry and Emma percolates slowly like a good cup of coffee. The ending is superb and I loved the Epilogue. The novel is filled with characters I hope we will see again in the next book.

I have enjoyed everything I've ever read by Vannetta Chapman, but What the Bishop Saw is my new favorite. I can't wait to see what happens next in The Amish Bishop Mysteries series.


Series: The Amish Bishop Mysteries (Book 1)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (May 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736966471
ISBN-13: 978-0736966474

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review: Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker

A story of faith, love and lifelong friendship is what you'll find in Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker.

In the second book of Baker's Hope Chest of Dreams series, Annie Mast and Levi Miller are reunited many years after a shunning forced him from her life. With their bond as strong as ever, the two separately imagine spending their lives together. But Levi is part of the English world and there is still a ton of bitterness over his family's shunning. With love on their side perhaps they will find an answer to their prayers.

Annie's Recipe is a sweet story that will tug at your heartstrings. Annie and Levi were the best of friends as children, but that ended abruptly when his father was shunned and the family moved away. When Levi returns to Arthur, Illinois for a wedding they reconnect and it opens up new possibilities for both of them.

What caught me off guard a bit with this story was how much focus was placed on simply these two characters. So much of the Amish fiction I read gives you an entire community feeling. Annie's Recipe was really about Annie and Levi and to some degree their families. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that at first because it was decidedly different from what I am used to. By the time I came to the end, however, I was grateful for it. This style truly allowed me to fully understand these characters and how they developed thought this touching story.

While I didn't read the first book in this series, I didn't miss anything as Annie's Recipe is a stand alone novel. I would, however, love to read Rebecca's Bouquet and Rachel's Dream because these three women are sisters and it would be interesting to learn all their stories. I'll definitely be on the look for more of Baker's work in the future.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, you need to add Lisa Jones Baker to your "to be read" list.


Series: Hope Chest of Dreams (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (February 28, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420141546
ISBN-13: 978-1420141542

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Musing Monday - June 12


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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:   Which would you rather live without? Books or chocolate.

Happy Monday! It's a sunny and hot one here today...about time the nice weather arrived.

I'll be posting a review of Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker this week and I just finished reading What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman. If you like Amish fiction you'll want to check out both of these.

We are getting ready for our annual vacation and I have packed up my reading material--five books are overdue reviews and two are upcoming reviews. The rest are Kindle freebies I might get into if I have time.

As for this week's question, without a doubt I could give up chocolate much easier than giving up books.

Hope you have a great week!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Spotlight: Sparks of Love by Mary L. Ball



Misjudged and accused, Lynette Cunningham walks away from God and everything she loves.
Ten years later, a phone call from father offers hope when he announces he may have a clue to the unsolved crime that forced her to run. She’s scared, but encouraged. Maybe this will clear her name from slander in her small North Carolina hometown.

Before Lynette returns tragedy strikes. A fire destroys her childhood home and kills her father. While she sorts through the ruins and hopes to find the clue, Lynette meets the new pastor, Price Fletcher. She must face the two things that scare her most. The past and a man of God.
The past wants to stay buried. Will Lynette stay alive long enough to prove her innocence and accept the love that is offered?

Praise for Sparks of Love

Great romance, Sparks of Love (Paperback) JoAnn S.

Sparks of Love is a terrific book. Suspense and romance are the two ingredients that I enjoy most in a book and this book offers both. I was pulled immediately into the plot and could not put the book down. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. Opinions stated are my own.

A Sweet Love Story! Kindle Edition By Linda Weaver Clarke

Sparks of Love is a sweet love story that takes place in a small town in North Carolina. In this inspirational romance, Lynette learns to trust the Lord and realizes the importance of coming back to the fold once again with the help of Price Fletcher. When she realizes that she is attracted to Price, she never dreamed that she would fall in love with such a handsome Pastor. She soon finds out that he is just like any other man and has the same feelings and desires in life. And his kisses? They really are “sparks of Love.” First and foremost, this is a love story, surrounding this couple. Secondly, it is a mystery that slowly unravels as time slowly passes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Couldn't put it down! By Ann E. Kindle Edition

I love this author's books and she didn't disappoint with this one. The book is a wonderful combination of interesting characters, romance and faith combined with some suspense that pulled me in from the first pages and kept me reading to see what was going to happen next. The story line certainly kept me guessing until the final pages. This is definitely one I recommend to the reader who enjoys a good Christian mystery and romance story. I received an advance copy of this book for free, and a favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

A page turner By Victoria Pitts Caine Kindle Edition|

After her father’s death at the hands of an arsonist, Lynette finds her way back Freedom and to the faith that once comforted her. A relationship grows between her and Price, the minister of her father’s church, but Lynette can’t let go of the injustice of the town’s gossips that hold a grudge against her for a wrong she didn’t commit.

Ms. Ball once again delivers an exciting novel full of mystery, murder, and moving prose. The novel is one that’s hard to put down full of page turning twists and turns.

Purchase links:



Mary L. Ball is a multi-published Christian author, a member of ACFW and a gospel singer. She resides in the heart of North Carolina. Some of her novels include Escape to Big Fork Lake, Redemption in Big Fork Lake, Sparks of Love and Moment’s with God’s word.

Readers can connect with her on her web page, Face Book or Twitter.



Visit Mary’s singing ministry site: http://heirsofsalvation2.webs.com

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Spotlight: Hometown Hero's Redemption by Jill Kemerer



When he becomes guardian to his friend’s troubled ten-year-old boy, firefighter Drew Gannon knows he needs help. But before he can get former social worker Lauren Pierce to agree, he’s got to prove he’s changed from the sports jock who gave her a hard time back in high school. Returning home, Lauren wants no part of her old profession. She only wants to forget the unspeakable tragedy she left behind. She can’t take responsibility for another child. Or a reunion with Drew—no matter how generous he’s become. But a desperate boy and his handsome guardian may be more than Lauren can resist…

Read an excerpt here!

Purchase at:

Christianbook.com
Harlequin
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

and more!


Jill Kemerer writes contemporary inspirational romance novels with love, humor and faith. Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund and keeping up with her busy kids, Jill enjoys magazines, M&Ms, fluffy animals and nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website, www.jillkemerer.com.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Book Blast & Giveaway: Where It All Began by Lorana Hoopes


Sandra Baker thought her life was going in the right direction until she ended up pregnant. Not ready for a baby, her boyfriend pushes her to have an abortion. After the procedure, Sandra spirals into depression losing her relationship and turning to alcohol. Then she meets Henry, a strong Christian man, who shows her God's love. Will she accept God's forgiveness and more importantly, will she forgive herself?

EXCERPT

I pulled four festively colored mugs down from the cabinet and filled them each with the creamy liquid. Handing two to Raquel, I picked up the other two, and we returned to the living room where we chatted idly as Christmas music played in the background.

When I could contain my joy and curiosity no longer, I clapped my hands and surveyed my friends. “Okay, who’s ready for gifts?”

They smiled, laughing at my exuberance, and I handed out a gift for each person. The little red box from Henry I picked for myself, holding it like a cherished toy. “Open yours first,” I nudged him.

He smiled and unwrapped the gift I had gotten for him. As he pulled out the book he had wanted, his smile deepened. “You remembered.”

“Of course I remembered.” I swatted him playfully on the arm. “You didn’t already buy it for yourself, did you?”

“No, I was hoping my very attentive girlfriend would cover that base.” He laughed and kissed my nose. “Okay, now you.” He stared at me as I began to unwrap the little box.

Beneath the red paper was a small black jewelry box. A lump formed in my throat, and I raised silent eyes on him.

“Go ahead,” he teased. “Open it.”

The Book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/HeartbeatsWIAB
Barnes and Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/where-it-all-began-lorana-l-hoopes/1124598788
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31944027-where-it-all-began?from_search=true
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/where-it-all-began-2



Lorana Hoopes is currently an English teacher in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing, she can be seen kickboxing in her local gym, singing at her church, or performing on stage. The Heartbeats series is her first full length novel series. She has also just released the first book in her early reader chapter book, The Wishing Stone.

You can follow her blog at https://twoheartbeats.org

Twitter: www.twitter.com/loranahoopes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/loranalhoopes

Get a free novella or audio reading of The Wishing Stone by filling out the contact form at http://authorloranahoopes.site123.me/

Lorana will be awarding a Medieval Renaissance Handmade Leather Diary Journal Thought Book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY).




a Rafflecopter giveaway




Monday, June 5, 2017

Musing Monday - June 5


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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:   Have you ever read a book where you needed more answers to the story? Where maybe the ending was just way to open ended and you wanted to yell at the author about it? What book was it?

It's Monday again--a rainy one here in Western Mass. Thankfully we have a bit of a break in the wet weather and the landscaper was able to come cut the grass. Our mower is in the shop and our yard was beginning to look like one of those through which you walk toward an abandoned house in a horror movie.

I've been reading What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman. It's a new Amish mystery series. I'm loving it so far and I might have figured out who the culprit it...though I am often wrong.


This elementary age graphic novel was shipped to me directly from the publisher. Didn't request it, but it's too cute not to talk about.


As for this week's question, I'm sure there are more instances but I can clearly recall two where the open ending of a book really ticked me off; granted they were both books in a series. I truly prefer series novels where you could read it as a stand alone if you wanted. One was a young adult fantasy novel and the other was a murder mystery. Both were excellent books regardless of their endings.

What is going on in your reading world this week? Hope you have some sun and happiness where you are.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Interview with Frank Cavallo, Author of Eye of the Storm


Horror and dark fantasy author Frank Cavallo's work has appeared in magazines such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction, Lost Souls and the Warhammer e-zine Hammer and Bolter. 

His latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was released in August 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.

“In Eye of the Storm, I try to bring back some of the elements that I like from old time pulp fiction,” says Frank. “It is a throwback to old school adventure stories, combining the pacing and the feel of those classic tales with some newer elements that are not all that common to typical fantasy fiction.”

Frank’s previously published works include
The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out in February 2017.

Frank was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has been a criminal defense attorney for fifteen years. 

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in New Jersey, just outside of New York City.

When did you begin writing?

The first time I can remember writing on my own, was in the third grade. I wrote a bunch of monster stories around Halloween that year and discovered that I really enjoyed it.

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

I used to write in the middle of the night, and I still think that’s the ideal time for it. There’s something about the late night hours, when almost everyone else is asleep, that is just perfect. However, because of my work schedule I mostly end up writing during the day now. I miss those solitary late night writing days though.

What is Eye of the Storm about?

It’s the story of two people from Earth, an ex-Navy SEAL turned reality TV star and an intrepid scientist who are thrown into a parallel dimension, where they land in a kind of lost world. There they have to fight to survive in a land dominated by prehistoric beasts, warring kingdoms and dark wizards.

What inspired you to write it?


It was mostly inspired by my love for things like “The Land of the Lost” and for old-fashioned Sword & Planet tales. No one is writing much of that stuff anymore and I wanted to do my small part to bring it back.

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

I had a bit of a hard time finding a home for this one. Any book that doesn’t fit neatly into a category can be hard to sell, because publishers want to be able to “place” a book in a slot where they can market it to a well-defined audience. I tried a few fantasy publishers who weren’t sure they could market a book that is a blend of sci-fi and horror in a fantasy setting. I also tried a horror publisher who came at it from the other direction, he didn’t think his core readers would respond to a book in a fantasy setting despite the sci-fi & horror elements. Eventually I found Ravenswood Publishing, which is a small independent outfit, and they were willing to extend a chance to a book that crosses multiple genre boundaries.

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

Yes, I would have made it longer. I know that’s maybe the opposite of what every editor wants to hear, but in this case I think it’s apt. I made a concerted effort to write one stand-alone novel. But in order to do that I had to compress things that maybe should have been allowed more room “to breathe.” If I were writing it again, as cliché as this might be, I would be let it expand into a trilogy or a small series. One of the most frequent critiques I’ve heard about it is that there isn’t a ton of character development, and that’s true. It was never intended as a “character study” – it’s an old-fashioned pulp fiction adventure story. The setting and the action are the real focus, not the characters. But I take that kind of assessment to heart, because most of my work is character-oriented. As it stands though, at 400-plus pages, there just isn’t any room for more angst and “internal monologue.” If I were to do it again, I would “go bigger” and write it long enough to allow for everything: deeper characterizations along with the fantasy action-adventure elements. Live and learn, right?

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

To the best of my knowledge it is available at every one of the major online book sites, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, you name it. Ironically, when I first started doing this, everyone wanted to know if a book was available at “brick and mortar” stores and the online sites were just a secondary option. These days, the reverse is true.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I do, thank you for asking. I have trailers for all four of my novels. They’re on youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0a2O6XQE7AygTiYiZeQGnA

and also on my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Author.FrankCavallo/videos/?ref=page_internal



What is up next for you?

I usually balk at answering this question, for fear of jinxing my next project. But since this is technically an interview based around Eye of the Storm I can safely report that my follow-up book, a Lovecraftian thriller called Rites of Azathoth has just come out, so that’s what I’ll be busy promoting for the next few months.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Musing Monday - May 29


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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:  None

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. While we usually talk about books today, I wanted to pause to reflect on the many men and women who have given their lives to protect freedom around the world. May God continue to look over our troops here and abroad.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Musing Monday - May 22


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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 is your favorite place to read in?

Happy Monday! It was a nice weekend around here. The weather allowed me to work out in the yard and it was a productive working Sunday in real estate. Other than that I've been trying to get back into a blogging schedule. I truly miss it.

Here are a few book reviews I've posted lately

Organizing for Your Lifestyle
Food Junkies
The Joyful Business Planner
Creating a Life Worth Living, Volume 1


I will also be posting my review of Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker this week.






Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true...

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside--to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality...

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart's truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer...

I just started reading...







Somewhere in the Embers Lies the Truth

A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. Someone intended to kill Vernon Frey. But who would want to kill Vernon? Well, practically everyone—Amish and Englisch alike.

When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he's tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. His close friend and neighbor, Emma, encourages Henry to follow God's leading.

Could the clue to solving the case be locked somewhere deep in his memory? Will Henry find the courage to move forward in faith and put the right person behind bars? Is his friendship with Emma becoming something more?

What the Bishop Saw is a story of extraordinary talents, the bonds of love and friendship, and the unfailing grace of God.

As a light rain takes over the morning I wish you a wonderful week. Hope you'll share what you're reading.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review: The Joyful Business Planner by Kate Martin

Where has this business planner been for the past three decades of my life? The Joyful Business Planner by Kate Martin is unlike anything you've probably seen before--which is why the author says she put it together.

Broken down into five sections--Business Overview, Marketing, Yearly Tracking, Calendars, and Wish Lists and Aspirations--this planner has the systems to get you organized and on track to meet your goals.

What I love about this book (everything really, but...):
  • It's less than 100 pages (perfect for busy small business owners like me);
  • It is short on narration and long on helpful templates to put the right systems in place;
  • There is one sheet that is a look at your current year at a glance that you can complete and hang in your office to stay focused;
  • One chapter focuses solely on social media marketing (including blogging);
I could go on and on about The Joyful Business Planner, but in the end all I need to say is this: if you are a small business owner, The Joyful Business Planner is an essential tool for success. 

Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 13, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1539141810
ISBN-13: 978-1539141815

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: Food Junkies by Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell and Read by Lisa Bunting


This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Food Junkies: The Truth about Food Addiction by Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell and Read by Lisa Bunting is an in-depth look into food addiction with accounts from struggling addicts, a look into the shame of the addiction, and offers practical advice for people struggling with problems of overeating, binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia.

As someone who has struggled to eat healthy, Food Junkies was an eye-opening read. Learning about a variety of addictions and also how our bodies interact with what we eat is certainly helpful. Even when you know the health concerns, it isn't always easy not to over-indulge. Imagine how much more difficult it must be to cope with a food addiction and the shame that can come with it. There are stories of addiction in this book that will be tough to read, but if they help someone it will be worth it.

Audible doesn't always work well with my device, so I purchased the Kindle version. I did, however, download the audio version on my PC and thought Bunting's tone and inflection good for this topic.

If you're dealing with food addiction or know someone who is, Food Junkies is definitely worth reading; though I think it's a fascinating read for anyone interested in food and your body.


Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Audible.com Release Date: July 7, 2016
Language: English

I received an audio version of this book from the authors through Goddess Fish Promotions. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 by Debbie N. Goldberg

If you're looking to start on the journey of self-discovery, Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 by Debbie N. Goldberg can be a resource for you. As a therapist for close to two decades, Goldberg helps others along their spiritual journey. In this first volume, she shares her own awakening and then provides the framework for the reader to begin their own journey.

The author shares insights on the importance of reflection and discovering for yourself your purpose in life--not what someone else has told you it is; the importance of spending quiet time and pulling away from the chaos of life; and how we truly are self-sufficient. She has a soothing, conversational style that is perfect for this type of book.

If New Age spirituality is of interest to you, Creating A Life Worth Living Volume 1 should be added to your reading list.


Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: BalboaPress (September 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1504358791
ISBN-13: 978-1504358798

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: Creating Stories by Hank Quense

My recently published Creating Stories has everything I’ve leaned about writing stories over the last twenty years.  Below is an extract on setting.




BOOK EXCERPT

Setting can do much more than describe the backdrop for the story.  It should convey and define the time period and customs of the characters.  It can set up the reader's expectations about the type of story he is about to read.  It can start the reader's image-building process.
Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage.  Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels.  The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn't have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.
As with the plot and other story development elements, the setting must dovetail with the overall story design.  As an example, a Medieval setting won't work if the bad guy uses an automatic pistol (unless the bad guy is also a time traveler).  Thus the setting places limits on what the author can do and can't do, so it's best if the author has the setting developed before the work gets too far along.
The setting used in your story has to be accurate.  Don't try to set a story in Manhattan's Central Park if you haven't been there.  Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn't be used by anyone who hasn't walked the narrow streets.
Here is an example of what can happen.  I've lived and worked all my life around New York City.  The Hudson River is over a mile wide here and the East River is nearly a half-mile wide.  If you haven't been to Dublin, you may assume the Liffey River, which runs through that city, would be of similar size.  It isn't.  The Liffey is rather small compared to the rivers around Manhattan.  Making the Liffey a wide river will destroy your credibility with those readers who have seen the Liffey. 
On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can make the city's river as wide as you want.  Similarly, if you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you'll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can't use St. Paul's Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England.  St Paul's wasn't built yet.
The setting of the story should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better.  Ideally, the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter.  Is it a mystery set in Victorian London?  Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq?  Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth?  The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible.  Don't disappoint the reader.  She may put the book down and never open it again.
An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters.  For the author, a space ship means he shouldn't have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras.
Your characters are also limited.  A character in the Old West can't have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he's a time-traveler.
If you write a story that uses weapons from a different era or knowledge not available at that time, you’d better have a good reason why it makes sense.  You don't have to convince yourself, you have to convince the reader.
~ ~ ~


Praise for Creating Stories by Hank Quense

Mary Blowers: author and blogger
Hank Quense has penned a masterpiece in Creating Stories.
~ ~ ~
Joylene Butler: Author of Matowak Women Who Cries:
This book is a true treasure and needs to be in the library of every writer worldwide.
~ ~ ~
Mark Cain, best-selling satirist, author of the CIRCLES IN HELL series
Developing a method for writing a successful story -- a system that can be understood and utilized by another writer -- is an intimidating challenge, yet Hank Quense has managed it. There are other ways to approach story writing, but none likely are better or more understandable than Quense's methodology. Creating Stories is highly recommended as a how-to guide for the novice writer and as a reminder of best practices for the experienced author.
~ ~ ~
Mark Henderson: British author of Cruel and Unusual Punnishments
Hank doesn't purport to tell reader how to produce creative ideas, but offers guidance on how to turn those ideas into readable fiction.
I recommend Creating Stories unreservedly to fiction writers everywhere.
~ ~ ~
Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite: 5 stars
For the wannabe writer who doesn't know where to start, this is the book for you.
A good story must be told with care and this requires consideration and planning on the part of the author. The whole point of writing a story is to capture the attention of readers. Hank helps novice and experienced writers perfect their writing and tell a good story.





Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 18 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a series of two humorous novels that take place in the Camelot era.

He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.

Social media links:

Hank's blog: http://hanquense.com/wp
Strange Worlds website: http://strangeworldspublishing.com/wp
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99
Facebook fan pages: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

Monday, May 15, 2017

Interview with Daniel A. Blum, Author of The Feet Say Run


Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.

Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


Where did you grow up?

I hail from the exotic hinterlands of Long Island, New York.

My father is a pscyhoanalyst and my mother is a psychologist. If that does not drive one to distraction, and a bit of reflection, I don’t know what would. I currently live outside Boston with my family.

When did you begin writing?

I tried writing in high school, but those efforts have thankfully been lost to the ravages of time.

My first passably decent piece of writing was actually letter I wrote to in college to a girl who I was interested in. It was a long, rambling, comic description of a train ride I was on, and it was something of an “aha” moment about how to inject life and wit into descriptions of the everyday world around you. Thinking back, it is not really surprising that my best early bit of prose was born of an effort to impress a girl. The good news is, the letter itself was definitely a success with its target audience. Unfortunately, the ensuing love affair was rather less successful. It lasted all of a month. Yet my love affair with the written word is still going strong.

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

I have no particular pattern. I am neither nocturnal nor diurnal. I’m an omnivorous reader and a restless scavenger as a writer.

What is this book about?

The Feet Say Run is not an easy book to describe or classify. It’s really the story of the twentieth century told through a single, long, extraordinary life. The narrator, Hans, is an eighty-five year old castaway, reflecting on his past.

Hans grows up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl. He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess. After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her, and keeps reliving his war experiences. There are many, many interwoven stories.

I think of it as a literary novel that is also a page-turner - full of comedy and tragedy and suspense.

What inspired you to write it?


I wanted to the kind of novel I most like reading. I read mostly literary fiction, but I often find the stories way too slow, lacking in passion and humor and life. I wanted to write something that was gripping and hard to put down, that hit the reader on an emotional level, but also had beautiful prose.

As a Jewish writer I also became interested in the German experience of the Nazi era, and how little that story had been told. The more I read, the more universal I felt the story was. We used to learn that caricature of Nazi Germany peopled by killer robots, people entirely unlike us. It was a comforting sort of myth, but a myth nonetheless. So I wanted to tell it in a way that made it real and human and understandable.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I have a number of regular readers and supporters, and have been through a few different agents. My wife is both an avid supporter and an exacting critic – but that has driven me to be a better writer. But for this book my biggest supporter has been my publisher, Gabriel’s Horn Press, who really fell in love with it and pushed to see it in print.

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

I am not. I have tried that experience and find giving and receiving criticism – the hidden competitiveness, the false-praise, even the the cliquish little subgroups within the group – to be extremely uncomfortable.

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

It was more a roller-coaster ride than a road.

This is actually my second novel. My first novel was Lisa33, which was published by Viking over a decade ago. I actually went from a long string of rejections to having publishers suddenly in a bidding war for my novel. That was quite surreal. In the end, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, the book was not promoted at all by the publisher. They took a financial bath on it, and I soon returned to obscurity. Ironically, my agent, who had assured me I would be famous, later came out with his own memoir and found fame with it.

For years after that experience I ceased writing fiction entirely and even reading it. Yet one day I found myself working again, crafting this new story, and before I knew it I was in deep and – as they say in a military campaign – the only way out was forward. When The Feet Say Run was completed, I had few connections left in the publishing world. But I had posted a few poems to a public website, and my publisher had read an admired them there. She emailed me and asked what else I wrote, and I sent her the manuscript.

In a way I feel I am one of the few writer to be “discovered” twice.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon and  Barnes and Noble. We may be getting it into bookstores but for now it is online.



Monday, May 8, 2017

Musing Monday - May 8


Musing Monday is hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme 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 like to read when you are feeling under the weather?

Happy Monday! It seems like forever since I was able to participate in this meme. Without going into too much detail, we were traveling through a valley for a period of time and blogging was the last thing on my mind. Thankfully, God has seen us through and we appear to be on the uphill climb.

I've been trying to sneak a bit of reading in. My review of A Mother's Love by Charlotte Hubbard appeared here on April 28. I have a couple more reviews to post as well. I'm now reading Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker.



Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

As for this week's random question: I tend not to get sick too often, but when I do it's usually so awful sleeping is all I can accomplish. When I am on the mend, but still not top notch, I'll definitely squeeze some reading in.

How about you? Do you read when you're under the weather? Speaking of weather, over the next seven days at least five of them will have rain up here. Hope your weather will be a bit sunnier. Enjoy the rest of the week.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Interview with George Finney, ESQ, Author of No More Magic Wands



GEORGE FINNEY, ESQ., has worked in Cybersecurity for over 15 years and is the author of No More Magic Wands: Transformative Cybersecurity Change for Everyone. He is currently the Chief Information Security Officer for Southern Methodist University where he has also taught on the subject of Corporate Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. Mr. Finney is an attorney and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional as well as a Certified Information Security Systems Professional and has spoken on Cybersecurity topics across the country.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the suburbs outside of Dallas. I always say Dallas since most people have heard of Dallas. I loved growing up in Texas, I feel like there is this mythical identity you develop as a Texan. You grow up watching rodeos, going to the Alamo, and watching football. And everybody knows that’s how you grew up, so when you meet new people you have this instant connection.

When did you begin writing?

When I was in the 5th grade, we had an assignment to write a story for Halloween. Most people took the whole hour to write one. I ended up writing over 20 different stories. That was the year I caught the bug to be a writer. Several of my classmates wrote a play in that same class that we put on in front of the class. We paired off into teams and wrote commercials and made those for the class. I wrote a science fiction story that was had to be longer than 5 pages. I remember it being one of my favorite times in school.

What is this book about?

No More Magic Wands is a kind of case study about a company that has been hacked. This company just happens to make magic wands. I wanted to explore the idea of how a company would respond if they could use magic to solve all their problems like we sometimes jokingly say at work. While there is some magic involved, ultimately the enchanted forest creatures have to work together to fix their company. Each chapter is a kind of fable focusing on a particular security concept.

What inspired you to write it?


I get a lot of my story ideas while I walk my dog at night. I remember seeing this tree that I thought looked like the one from the Keebler Elf picture, and I started wondering what they would do if they got hacked. What if instead of cookies, they made magic wands and were used to solving their problems with magic? How would they change?

How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

No More Magic Wands lays out some of the basic principles that security practitioners follow and how businesses can implement them. Rather than just tell you those things, what makes No More Magic Wands different is that it shows you how a fictional company might do through short stories or fables. There aren’t always clear answers when it comes to security in the real world, so I wanted my readers to be able to walk away and ask the right questions when they go back to their office.

What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

Security is a team sport. If something isn’t your job, you expect someone else to do it for you. But security is a part of everyone’s job and everyone has a role to play. To be successful, we need everyone to understand what role they play on the team.

What is up next for you?

My next project is a series of several choose your own adventure style stories for cybersecurity training. A lot of people learn through experience and it's too late to learn after you've been breached. Being able to play in a choose your own adventure style world will help people recognize the common ways that hackers are exploiting people without the consequences of learning the hard way.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I love hearing from my readers. Look up my blog and let me know what you think, www.strongestelement.com.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Interview with Laura Foley, Author of WTF


Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of six collections. She won the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: WTF, Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.

A certified Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to two granddaughters. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

Follow her on GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Manhattan, the Upper East Side of New York City.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing creatively only when I was 45.

What is this book about?

This book is about my relationship with my father. It reflects also on his experiences as a prisoner of war in China and Japan during World War Two.

What inspired you to write it?

I was inspired to write this book as a way to get to know and understand him, even though he has been gone for over twenty years; to reflect back on childhood memories and re-see them as an adult. I also began to understand who he was in the years before I was born.

How is it similar to other books in its genre?

Books of poetry often reflect back on a poet’s childhood.

How is it different?

This one is different because of its focus on one parent’s remarkable war experience, and remarkable service to his patients (he was a doctor); it is also different because of the consideration and tone of hard-won forgiveness around the father-daughter relationship.

Here is an excerpt from a recent review of WTF: “The poems reflect a father who might have been a more invested and attentive mentor, but their tone is sympathetic and demonstrates an inner strength in dealing with resentment. Even when the poems very directly describe abuses and coldness, they treat Foley’s father with kindness. They do not forgive, but they do attempt to understand.”
Sara Budzik, Clarion Foreword Book Review

What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

Readers can learn that they too can re-think their own relationships to people from their past, and find healing from that inner work. They also may find their own life experiences reflected back to them through these poems.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

It is available from my website and on Amazon.

What is up next for you?

I am working on a new full-length collection of poetry tentatively titled: Why I Never Finished My Dissertation.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for having WTF on your blog site!