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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Musing Mondays - April 13

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: Who, in your life, are you best able to share your love of reading with?

What a great question for this week. We are all big readers here, so it's hard to choose. It also seems to change by what is going on in the girls' lives. For a while, I was able to share my love of reading most with my youngest daughter. Now, it's the older one who I chat with more about books. I think part of that is as she gets older, we read more of the same things.

How about you? Do you have a special person in your life that you share your love of reading with?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: Harvest of Blessings by Charlotte Hubbard

Welcome back to Willow Ridge with the latest Seasons of the Heart novel, Harvest of Blessings.

Nora Glick Landwehr returns to Willow Ridge after many years away. Once cast out by her strict father, she seeks forgiveness and a chance to make amends to the daughter she gave up.

Luke Hooley doesn't hide his interest in her, but she doesn't have time for his recklessness. Somehow, though, he's helping her find her own way in faith.

Can Nora hope for a chance at forgiveness and love?

What a wonderful addition this is to the Season of the Heart series by Charlotte Hubbard. I've loved this series from the start, and Harvest of Blessings reaffirms everything I enjoy about Hubbard's work. Faith, forgiveness, and love play roles in Harvest of Blessings. Hubbard has created an engaging cast of characters who depend upon their faith even when they remain unsure of the future. We see the joy of a mother at the return of her daughter. We see a strict father set in his ways. We see a daughter searching for herself in the place she once called home. We see family members divided on this woman who has lived as an Englisher. We see members of the community working toward the common good. And if you thought that the former bishop, Hiriam Knepp was out of the picture, think again.

While I would definitely recommend starting this series at the beginning to fully appreciate it, Harvest of Blessings stands on its own. I am eager to see what comes next for the community of Willow Ridge.

Seasons of the Heart, Book 5
Zebra (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098
Click on these links to buy this book now!
The Book Depository •• Amazon •• Barnes & Noble
B-A-M •• Chapters •• IndieBound •• Powell’s •• Kensington Books
Ebook: • Kensington Books •• Kindle •• Kobo •• iBooks

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.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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

Though I am scared of flying, I have long been fascinated by the work of the Wright Brothers. When we visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we stay about a mile away from the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. It has been years since I've visited the memorial, but there have been visible changes since then. I look forward to our annual trip in July. I am hoping I can convince my family into checking out the WBNM, since my girls have never been there.

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.

Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, and they never stopped reading.

When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places, never stopped them in their “mission” to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed.

In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers’ story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.

What are you "waiting on" this week?