Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: The Christmas Cradle by Charlotte Hubbard (Giveaway)

Welcome back to Willow Ridge with the latest book in Charlotte Hubbard's Seasons of the Heart series, The Christmas Cradle.

Lena Esh and her boyfriend Josiah Witmer get lost in a storm while on their way to Higher Ground. When they arrive at Ben and Miriam Hooley's doorstep they are welcomed with open arms. Not a surprise considering the faithful and friendly Hooleys, who are awaiting the birth of their first child together.

As they rally the town together to help the young couple, Ben's mind is also on the instructions given to him by the bishop that Miriam give up her Sweet Seasons Cafe and stay at home. And of course, former bishop, Hiriam Knepp keeps poking around to keep things lively.

What a wonderful series this is. I've loved it since the beginning; and with each new addition I enjoy it more and more. The complexity and growth of the characters--or lack of growth as sometimes happens; the talent of the author who has masterfully crafted an entire community of people who seem as real to me as my own family; the delicious recipes and the fabulous themes that run throughout each book all captivate me completely.

If there were one author I could highly recommend this year, Charlotte Hubbard would definitely be the one. You simply must read her books to appreciate them.

Series: Seasons of the Heart (Book 6)
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra (September 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 142013311X
ISBN-13: 978-1420133110

Charlotte will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host. Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I read this book for the following challenge:

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Musing Mondays - October 26

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 read any horror, or something scary, in honor of Halloween? Why, or why not?

What a fun question for this week. Can't say I've read a lot of horror lately. When I was younger I read Stephen King occasionally, but I prefer less gore these days.

My favorite book of all time remains The Stand by Stephen King, so maybe some horror is in my future. I didn't think I would ever read dystopian fiction after high school, but The Hunger Games, changed all that.

Do you read scary stories this time of year?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Musing Mondays - Oct 19

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 fictional character would you enjoy meeting? Why?

My answer to this week's question is an easy one: Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I've always seen a bit of myself in this curious, imaginative orphan who had an imaginary friend to make up for the lack of any real friends.

Watching Anne blossom from girl to young woman always tugged at my heart. She got into more than her fair share of scrapes thanks to her impulsive behavior and loose tongue. We definitely share that in common.

What fictional character would you like to meet?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kindle Bargain: If Wishes Were Husbands by Lucy Shea

Inventing the perfect husband goes hilariously wrong for Rachel in this funny, light-hearted novel with a twist of fantasy and a smidgen of romance.
When the single life gets her down, Rachel invents a story about Darren, the perfect husband she keeps hidden away at home. He cooks! He cleans! He’s great in bed! But her fanciful stories take on a life of their own when Darren appears on her sofa.

Suddenly living with a man she only dreamed about, Rachel faces a dilemma: should she leave him or should she love him?

Lucy Shea’s humorous style takes a funny and thought-provoking journey into an unexpected relationship, reflecting every woman’s search for the right man.

Previously published under the author names, Jane Killick and Elizabeth Kyne.

File Size: 580 KB
Print Length: 292 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Elly Books (September 15, 2015)
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Purchase here for only 99 cents!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book Spotlight: Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful Rome for the next two months.

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia's boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble.

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she's always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?

With her sensory descriptions of the beautiful sites, decadent food, and high fashion of Rome, Hughes draws readers into this fast-paced and superbly written novel. Rome in Love will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

Read an excerpt!

chapter one

Amelia stood on the balcony of the Hassler Hotel and gazed at the twinkling lights of the Spanish Steps. She could see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica and the dim outline of the Vatican. She took a deep breath, inhaling exhaust fumes from the endless stream of yellow taxis, and tried to remind herself she was in Rome.

Amelia smoothed the folds of her pink satin Balenciaga evening gown and checked that the borrowed Harry Winston diamond clip still held back her hair. She stroked the white silk gloves and fingered the diamond and sapphire choker around her neck. It was all a fairy tale: the ivory Bentley that picked her up from Rome Airport, the elegant suite at the Hassler with its black-and-white marble floors, the Spanish Steps at her feet and all the places she read about in guidebooks: the Sistine Chapel with its intricate frescoes, the Via Condotti with its string of elegant boutiques, the Colosseum and the Pantheon and the museums with long, flowery names.

Amelia tried to recapture the thrill when the concierge welcomed her with a bouquet of two dozen yellow roses and her own personal butler. She tried to remember the first glimpse of her suite: the silver ice bucket, the gold tray of chocolate truffles and petit fours, the mahogany four-poster bed. But her legs were shaky from jet lag, her head throbbed from too much champagne and not enough food, and her mouth was frozen in a permanent smile.

For the last two hours she stood in the grand ballroom, her large brown eyes coated with thick mascara, her cheeks powdered, her lips painted with pink lipstick, and answered the journalists’ questions.

“How does it feel to go from being a complete unknown to being nominated for a Spirit Award for best supporting actress for your first role to starring in the remake of Roman Holiday? Warner Brothers invested a hundred million dollars in this picture, do you feel the pressure with your name above the title?”

Amelia had tilted her head and answered in the way Sheldon Rose, her producer, taught her.
“Why, Mr. Winters”—squinting so she could read the reporter’s name tag and then waiting so the journalists focused on her white shoulders and creamy skin instead of her words—“when you put the question like that, I don’t feel any pressure at all.”

The room erupted into polite laughter but the questions kept coming.

Variety quoted you as saying ‘Audrey Hepburn is my idol and I can’t imagine ever hearing my name in the same sentence.’ Are you nervous about playing the role that made her famous?”

“Is it true you were premed at USC and Spike Jonze discovered you when you drove a friend to an audition?”

“Are you and Whit breaking up? Does he really wish you’d give up acting and pursue a career in medicine?”

Amelia paused again, longer so that she didn’t say what she was thinking: it’s none of your business how Whit feels, I could never give up acting, we’re madly in love, he bought me these gorgeous teardrop earrings before I left for Rome. Instead, she touched her earrings gently, smoothed the folds of her gown and smiled.

“There’s a reason why they call it one’s ‘private life,’ Mr. Gould”—again reading his name tag, trying to look him in the eye so he wouldn’t fire off some scathing article that she refused to answer personal questions, and finally a slow genuine smile—“because it’s best to keep it private.”

Then more champagne plucked from the trays that floated past carrying crystal champagne flutes and silver goblets filled with plump prawns and slices of melon. She smelled tomato sauce and garlic and longed to sit down to a plate of steaming ravioli and thick bread dipped in olive oil. But her dress was so tight it was almost spray-painted to her hips, and it was impossible to answer questions with a mouth full of pasta, so she guzzled champagne and waited for Sheldon to say, “Thank you all for coming, Miss Tate cherishes each and every one of you, but if she doesn’t get her rest she’ll miss her six A.M. call.”

But Sheldon seemed to have disappeared and Macy Smith, editor of Vogue, came gunning down the Oriental runner. Amelia remembered her vicious critique of her choice in Oscar dresses and desperately needed some air. She ran out of the ballroom, down one flight of marble stairs and onto the balcony. Now she stood, wishing she had grabbed a puffed pastry or at least a stone wheat cracker, and gazed at the ancient, glittering city.

Amelia had always been fascinated by Rome: the elegant restaurants opposite cramped trattorias, the modern stores flanked by stone arches, the women wearing sleek dresses and smooth pageboys and large gold earrings. She had only been once, on a school chorus trip in the eighth grade, but she loved the creamy fettuccine and sweet gelato and the boys wearing leather jackets and driving Vespas. She remembered standing in the middle of the Via Appia and a boy with curly brown hair driving around her in circles and never wanting to leave.

Now Rome was her home for two glorious months. They were shooting the whole movie on location, at the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona and the Castel Sant’Angelo. Sheldon had given her the Villa Medici suite—the same hotel room where Audrey Hepburn stayed more than fifty years ago. Amelia remembered standing in front of the gilt mirror in the pink marble bathroom and picturing Audrey Hepburn brushing her hair and fixing her lipstick and slipping on a floral dress with a tiny waist and full flared skirt.

Amelia heard laughter on the street below and heels clicking on the sidewalk. She imagined late-night dinners of spaghetti and red wine and brisk morning walks to the Colosseum. Then she remembered everything she heard about Sheldon Rose: he arrived on the set when the sun came up and didn’t release anyone until nighttime. She thought of the paparazzi who would trail her after hours, hoping to catch her without makeup in sweats and sneakers. Suddenly she had a desperate desire to slip out of the borrowed Balenciaga gown, unstrap the jeweled Prada sandals, and disappear into the street.


ANITA HUGHES is the author of Lake Como, Market Street, and Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Want to Maintain Your Writing Career? Treat It Like One. By Karina Fabian, Author of I Left My Brains in San Francisco

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Want to Maintain Your Writing Career? 
Treat It Like One.
By Karina Fabian

Cheryl asked me to write about maintaining a writing career. I’ve been writing for over 20 years – freelance, fiction, sometimes (like now) as a regular job. However, I’m not so sure I have a career. What I seem to have is an obsessive hobby that pays occasionally. However, I do have friends who have writing careers, some of whom are very successful. I can tell you this: the key to having a writing career is to treat it like a career.

What does that mean?

First, treat it like a job. If you want to keep your job, you have to show up for it ready to work. That doesn’t have to mean a 9-5 schedule, but it does mean commitment. A thousand words a day; two hours on the weekend; write this scene before bed, even 9-5… Whatever works for you is fine, as long as you are there and willing to work.

When you have that writing time, write! Produce! How would you feel if your employees showed up just to sit around and eat out of your refrigerator? You are your employee. When it is time to work, do it. And writing can mean a lot of things – plotting, research, even daydreaming about the story. What it doesn’t mean is griping to your friends about how you’re blocked, or playing hours of Candy Crush. As my friend Michelle Buckman says, “Always write when inspired, but don’t wait to be inspired to write.”

Second, treat it like a vocation. If you want to move up in a company, you learn the job – not just yours but the next job you want. You seek opportunities, propose ideas, and keep showing yourself to be a worthwhile asset. You also seek out feedback, especially on your weaknesses.

The same goes for writing. We should keep striving to improve our writing skills, look to others who are in the position we want and learn how they got there, and seek out ways to show our skills to others.  We have to ask for and really consider constructive criticism.

Third, treat it like a business. Successful businesses have some things in common: They know their target buyers. They reach out to those buyers and draw them into the sale. They treat their money as an asset, tracking it and weighing expenses in terms of realistic ROI – return on investment.

Writers, especially fiction writers, aren’t always the best businesspeople. We want to tell our stories, but we don’t want to tell others why they are great – i.e., why they should buy them. In the past, there was a place for such writers. Now, we all have to market. We have to know who our readers are, where they hang out, and what they want to see that will inspire them to click to Amazon to buy our books. We also have to know where our money is going. We have to figure out the best investments, whether it’s in a new writing program, a trip to DragonCon, or a publicist.

I have 11 print books out, and I Left My Brains in San Francisco is my second audiobook. Even so, I cannot say I have a career. I’d like to change that in upcoming years, and am starting now to lay the groundwork for it. (My weak spot is the business/marketing side, but my current job at TopTenReviews is giving me some good training for it.)

How about you? Do you have a hobby or a career? If you want a career, where do you think you need to work? Share in the comments.

Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco at:

See the end of this post for news about the audio book.

We could tell you Karina Fabian is an award-winning author, that she writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and devotionals (15 books and counting.) It would all be true, but makes for a boring bio. If you really want to learn about her stuff, go to She has book trailer videos, excerpts from her books, and pictures of her dogs and her Mazda Miata, all of which are more fun to see.

However, if you’re interested…

Karina is a native Coloradoan who lives in Utah because she and her family like it better. With 270-degree view of the mountains and the Great Salt Lake, great neighbors, lots of geeky conventions (Salt Lake City Comic Con rocks!), what’s not to love? She works full-time at Top Ten Reviews, where she is a proud member of the business team (Business Badgers, unite!). Honestly, researching mortgage companies and the like is deadly dull, but her coworkers are nerdy and funny. It’s like what she imagined high school would be in a perfect world.

She’s married to Robert Fabian, a retired Colonel, project manager for BAE systems and VP of Propulsion for Rocket Crafters, Inc. She definitely married up! Her first words to him were “Live long and prosper,” and they have been ever since. They have four great kids who love to pun, watch anime, read fantasy and play D&D. Their bedtime stories were often her rough drafts, but no one’s gone to therapy for that yet.

Everyone likes to know about pets! They currently have two dogs: Toby and Marley. Toby, the coon shepherd, is beautiful and soft, and Marley, the lab-basset, is bassadorable. Toby’s favorite pastime is pulling 2x4s from under the porch and running across the yard with them, while Marley dreams of killing chickens. Again.

Oh! And the Miata. Bright red, hardtop convertible… She will drive it in 20-degree weather with the top down. After 21 years of minivans, it was time for a fun car, and it’s the most fun she’s ever had behind the wheel.

Karina is founder and active member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, and she teaches writing live and in monthly webinars. Check out the website above. She’s always glad to do guest appearances.

Find Karina at:

Becky Parker Geist is the founder and owner of Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally as a go-to place for exceptional voiceover for audiobooks, advertising and animation.

After receiving her M.F.A. in Acting in 1981, Becky began narrating Talking Books for the Blind through the Library of Congress, narrating over 70 titles in two years, and quickly became one of their most popular narrators. As a professional stage actress, she has toured internationally (England and U.S.) and on the east and west U.S. coasts. She performs a wide range of voiceover work, but has a particular love for creating audiobooks with sound effects – the more theatrical the better! Becky brings her broad range of theatre skills – acting, directing, producing, marketing – to bear in all her voiceover and production work.

Committed to leadership and building strong, long-term relationships, Becky serves as President of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) and is a member of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Assn), APA (Audio Publishers Assn), and TBA (Theatre Bay Area).

Becky is married to classical composer John Geist and has 3 adult daughters: Elise, Jes and Jerrilee. As of 2015, Becky can truly say she is bi-coastal, going back and forth between New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been having a blast working Off Broadway in NY for the past few years and has been a professional stage actor in the Bay Area since 1985.

Find Becky at:

 ***Talk about frustrating! Karina Fabian’s I Left My Brains in San Francisco would be up on Audible by now, but sometimes, there’s no rushing Amazon. To make up for the wait, she’s offering the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go to Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!***

Monday, October 5, 2015

Musing Mondays - October 5

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 make a seasonal reading list? How do you choose what goes on it?

Another fabulous question for this week. The only seasonal reading list I usually make is a Christmas one. I have so many books here to read that are set around the holidays that I never lack for material. Usually I like to go with what has been on my list the longest, but often new books come out that I want to read right away, like this one:

How do you handle seasonal reading?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Seasonal Reads for 99 Cents or Less

She may be fifty, English, and a professional crone, but Sophronia Sheridan is not one to turn down a chance to help others, even when it goes against her better judgment. When she is faced with young witches and vampires who have fallen under a head vampire's power, she allows herself to become beholden to him in order to help the youth gain their freedom. Along the way, she realizes there is much more to the story--rival factions in the local undead community are growing restless with the current climate. Caught in a struggle for power and territory, she has to determine who to trust and what is worth fighting for.

Purchase here!

Peel back our comfortable outer layer and we're all the same: raw and vulnerable.

All the Lawrence brothers wanted was to find a quiet, peaceful place to mourn the death of their father over the Christmas holiday. But when a blizzard downs a local power line in rural Askergan County, it quickly becomes apparent that their holiday is going to be anything but relaxing. Tensions rise as the temperature plummets, and their buried secrets slowly come bubbling to the surface: addiction, remorse, and depression.

As each of the three Lawrence brothers wrestle with their own personal demons, the snow and ice slowly close in around them. Trapped and isolated, they soon realize that their own flaws are not the only demons that they have to deal with; they’re not alone in the white. Something is out there. Something that calls to them—summons them—something that wants their skin…

Skin is the first book in the gritty horror-thriller series Insatiable. If you like emotionally flawed characters, crisp dialogue, and action-driven plot, then you will enjoy Logan’s psychological exploration of how guilt and remorse shape decisions in the face of unspeakable horror.

Join the Lawrence family as they try to overcome their own demons while banding together to battle an unspeakable evil that will not stop until the entire town is destroyed.

Purchase here!

The Inferno has Evolved… Lana Harvey is a reaper, and a lousy one at that. She resides in Limbo City, the modern capital of the collective afterlives, where she likes to stick it to the man (the legendary Grim Reaper himself) by harvesting the bare minimum of souls required of her. She’d much rather be hanging out with Gabriel, her favorite archangel, at Purgatory Lounge. But when a shocking promotion falls in her lap, Lana learns something that could unravel the very fabric of Eternity. If the job isn’t completed, there could be some real hell to pay.

Purchase here!

To live, they have to be apart. To live happily-ever-after, they have to murder people on order. To be together, one of them will die.

They are childhood sweethearts. She believes in karma. He believes in science and logic. If given the choice between killing and stealing, she'd choose to steal. Forced to choose between money and freedom, he'd choose freedom.

Their love is cursed. Their choice to love each other was taken away from them.

Computer hacker Lorcan can steal data from the most impossible of sources. High profile thief Orla specializes in acquiring valuable antiques. Their combined skill set twists their fate and leads them to incredible places across the multiverse.

This is the first installment in a romantic fantasy thriller series, filled with psychic romance suspense, paranormal, and science fiction twists and turns!

Purchase here!

Halloween LaVeau is descended from a long line of witches. Yes, her name is Halloween. The cosmic universe is definitely playing some kind of sick joke on her. She’s the ultimate witch cliché, complete with a black cat and spooky house. Thank heavens she’s missing the warts and flying broom.
From bestselling author, Rose Pressey, comes Forever Charmed, the first book in an all new series!

When Halloween inherits her great-aunt’s manor, she decides to put the house to good use as a bed-and-breakfast. Her first guest is the sinfully good-looking Nicolas Marcos, but he’s not here for the continental breakfast. Halloween discovers a ratty old book in the attic. It’s written in an unfamiliar language.

Halloween soon learns this is not an ordinary spellbook. The tome brings her a new talent, but her new skills come with a catch. When a rival witch comes after the book, Halloween doesn’t know who to trust–the sexy vampire who says he wants to save the day, or the warlock who says he can destroy the book once and for all.

Purchase here!