Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 30

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Time to try and get back in the swing of things. I've sold four houses over the last twelve days--I think that's a new personal record--and it has left little time for anything else. Thank goodness I have a bit of time off this morning.

I reviewed these two books at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

Finally getting a chance to really dive into this one. I loved the first book in this series and the third one is already in my TBR pile. Stayed up last night reading.

Hot Mess is coming up for review, so I need to finish this one too. 

After this one, I don't have any more on the review schedule for book tours. I just need a break and want to read whatever tickles my fancy. I'm thinking it might be one of these.

I'm also pruning my book shelves this week since the annual library book sale starts Tuesday. That should help with some space around here. 

What are you reading? What do you think is on the horizon? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Guest Post: Bembridge House, A well-preserved Queen Anne Victorian by Janet Elizabeth Lynn, Co-Author of Slick Deal

On the eve of the New Year, 1956, oil tycoon, Oliver Wright dies suspiciously at a swanky Hollywood New Years Eve party. Some think it was suicide.

His death is soon followed by threats against the rest of his family.

Private Investigator Skylar Drake and his partner Casey Dolan are hired by an L.A. gangster to protect the family and solve Oliver’s mysterious death.

Clues lead them to Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island, a Hollywood movie star playground.

A high profile scandal, mysterious women, treason and more deaths complicate matters, putting Drake and his partner in danger.

Twenty-three miles may not seem far away but false identity and corruption on this island could squash their efforts to answer the question—How in the world can a dead man commit suicide?

Bembridge House,
A well-preserved Queen Anne Victorian

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, SLICK DEAL, begins News Year's Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

It was vital that we find the right house for the Wright Family, a long time resident of Long Beach, and Pasadena with a summer house in Avalon. Their wealth affords them mansion type homes in the three cities. The Wright "summer cottage" as they call it, is a three story mansion situated in the heart of Avalon. Since their house rivals the Wrigley Manor on the hills overlooking Avalon, we had to find something to go by. We searched for Victorian mansions and found the perfect place, Bembridge House in Long Beach. While researching the house, we discovered the last owner and last of the family line was murdered on the property. How apropos!

We took a tour of the house during the holiday season. The house had a parlor, sitting room, formal dining room, morning room and a music room. Perfect for various scenes in the book. And...a carriage house, perfect for intrigue.

The house was built in 1906 by Stephen and Josephine Green. He was one of the founders of City National Bank, a wealthy businessman who came to Long Beach from Seattle. Green planted exotic shrubs and flowers around the house, he also built an aviary for his collection of foreign birds and a barn where he kept Shetland ponies.

Thomas Rankin purchased the house in 1918 following Green's death. The house remained in the Rankin family for more than 80 years. After the death of Thomas Rankin, the house was inherited by his children, Dorothy Bembridge and Neil Rankin.

Dorothy Bembridge was a musician and a Long Beach school teacher until her retirement in 1968.
Bembridge lived in the house starting in 1918. In 1969, the house was threatened with demolition when the City of Long Beach sought to expand the adjacent Drake Park. Historical preservationists lobbied to save the structure, and eventually won. The Long Beach Cultural Heritage Committee designated Bembridge House as a Long Beach Historic Landmark in 1981.

In 1999, at age 89, Bembridge was strangled at the house. Her body was found in the backyard. Daniel William Borunda, a 51-year-old man who had done odd jobs for Bembridge and had spent time in prison for burglarizing her home in 1990. He was convicted of Bembridge's murder and sentenced to 60-years-to-life in prison. Borunda was released from prison in October 1999, a few weeks before the murder. Police asserted that the motive was burglary and revenge.

We of course used our literary license and moved the Bembridge House to Catalina Island for the story.

Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Website: Will Zeilinger

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The next Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, SLICK DEAL will be available April 16, 2018 and yes...we are still married!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Spotlight: Prayer, Marriage and the Leadership Roles of the Husband and Wife by Bishop Ken and Pastor Sheila Giles

This book communicates how God has created, through the covenant relationship of marriage, leadership roles that are established in spiritual unity.

Marriage is an institution established by God. God ordains a man and a woman to be husband and wife to fulfill his purpose of expanding His likeness and kingdom through their rule and dominion over His creation. Within the institution of marriage, the man is responsible for carrying out and communicating God’s vision. The woman enables, strengthens and encourages her husband to carry out God's vision for himself, the marriage and family. The husband and wife become one flesh. No other human relationship, including that of parents and children, is to have priority or greater importance than that of the husband and wife to one another. The Leadership roles of the husband and wife are paramount to God's plan of blessings in the marriage, family, generations and broader society. Therefore, obedience to God and His word establishes God's order and facilitates the proper working and functioning of the marriage and family. Thus, establishing the peace, joy and increase the Lord has purposed in and through the marriage and family.

Prayer will become the highest priority in the lives of those who read this book. Especially, to those considering marriage, currently married and responsible for children.

If more believers prayed about whether, or not, to get into marriage, there would be far fewer looking to get out of marriage. Furthermore, when the marriage is conceived in prayer; there is a greater likelihood that the marriage will continue in prayer and the blessings that go along with obedience to the Lord.

Bishop Ken Giles and his wife Pastor Sheila Giles have decades of combined experience in Ministry and Christian Counseling. They both did undergraduate work at Prairie View A&M University Texas and were active in evangelistic work. Pastor Sheila Giles has served in church leadership for over two decades. She has a Master of Divinity from Houston Graduate School of Theology.

Bishop Ken Giles began full-time ministry in 1993 as an inner-city Missions Leader in Dallas, Texas, while at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship under Dr. Tony Evans. He later served there as Assistant Executive Director of their nonprofit corporation. In 1998, he returned to his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, and served as Pastor of Outreach at Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church and Executive Director of their nonprofit corporation. In 2000, Lincoln Bible Church was planted in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area and is now located in the Greater Houston Texas area where Bishop Ken Giles and his wife, Pastor Sheila Giles provide servant leadership. Bishop Giles has a Master of Education Administration from Prairie View A&M University and a Master of Theology from Southeast Texas Theological Seminary.

Purchase here!

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 16

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

What have I been reading? The big goose egg! What a crazy week at work. I packed... my bag and never even got a chance to flip the cover.

I've also got to pull out my Kindle Fire so I can finish up...

Here's hoping your reading week was more successful than mine. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Beyond the Books - Moving

Beyond the Books is a weekly feature hosted by Kissin Blue Karen. Beyond the Books is a weekly writing prompt where she throws out a topic (mostly non-bookish) and others blog about it.

When I saw this topic come up, I had to wonder if Karen was reading my mind. I'm starting to clean out my in-laws' house so I can move my mother-in-law in with us. Frightened and happy all at the same time.

Frightened because...
  • I'm really busy with the spring market and now have to find time to clean out the house they have lived in for 40 years. 
  • What if I throw something sentimental away?
  • Where is all the other stuff going to go? My house is already filled floors to ceiling.
  • I don't know how it will be having her live with us. 
  • There's still some discussion of where we are going to put her since the only extra bedroom--which is right now my office--is on the second floor and stairs aren't easy for her.

Happy because...

  • I won't be managing two households. 
  • The girls will have their grandmother here.
  • I'll feel better when she isn't living on her own.
  • She won't need to drive as much.

I once moved three times in the span of 18 months, so I'm not looking forward to all that work; but it must be done. Hopefully it will go smoother than I think it will.

How about you? What do you think about moving? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Scared to Re-read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Books I’m Scared to Re-read

I read The Thorn Birds for the first time after the movie staring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward came out. I've read it several times since, usually skipping much of the narrative and getting right into the dialogue. I'm not sure I would be as enamored with it if I read it now.

It took me a while to actually read the Left Behind series. I rarely read anything popular when it first comes out. I finally gave it a chance after the third book had come out and I was hooked right away; blew through the entire series as each new book released. As one would expect in a book about the end times, there is a lot of death. I'm not sure I want to read that these days.

I began reading this series in high school and went right from one book to the next until I was done. I'm sure my mother never would have allowed it if she were alive. Some sexy scenes in these books. My fear in re-reading a series that came out so long ago is that the writing won't capture me the way it did when I first read it and that might be disappointing. I've never read anything else from this author either. 

This was probably one of the creepiest series I read when I was a teenager. Not sure I could handle the content now. It is so disturbing to me as a wife and mother. 

While I found the pace of this book to be very slow, I recall how eloquently written and intriguing it was. The mystical aspects of the book didn't do much for me, but it's woven deeply into the plot. This is a book I really enjoyed then, but would never feel the need to read again. It's pretty dark. 

Jerome Charyn's I Am Abraham is a riveting, intimate, and compassionate portrayal of Lincoln. I'm a huge fan of Charyn's work, but not sure I would ever dive into this one again. Some of the subject matter might turn me off.

This was an excellent book. Not my typical read and not your typical vampire story, which is what drew me to it in the first place. Loved it. Don't know how I would feel if I read it again.

This was a fascinating book, but I don't know if I could tolerate the content anymore.

Here's another great book that I loved when I read it, but I fear I don't want to read about cyber bullying these days. I've watched my kids go through too many things. I don't want to read about them too. 

This is the book that changed my mind about dystopian fiction. Avoided the genre before this book. I'm really scared if I re-read The Hunger Games I won't like it as much as I did the first time.

That's it from me. What are some books you're scared to re-read?

Book Review: Welcome to Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts

Welcome to Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts is a story of second chances and not giving up.

Jenna Jones celebrates her fortieth birthday by getting divorced from her deadbeat artist husband Damien. Even better, the court awards him spousal support. What will she and her teenage daughter do?

When a letter arrives from Aunt Edie asking for Jenna to stay in Moonlight Harbor to help run the Driftwood Inn, it sounds like an answer to a prayer. That is until she and her daughter arrive and find the inn in need of major renovations there is no money to pay for. With determination and the help of friends, Jenna plans to give this second chance her best shot.

I've loved Roberts' books since I read On Strike for Christmas. With this new series, she continues her trademark of masterfully written dramatic women's fiction with a touch of humor and romance. Any wife or mother can relate to the issues Jenna is facing in this novel. This book pulls at the heartstrings, bringing with it moments of laughter and times of heartbreak as the reader witnesses Jenna's story unfold. Roberts also has a knack for great endings. This one was definitely worth reading every page.

I'm excited to see what the future holds in store for the residents of Moonlight Harbor.

Series: A Moonlight Harbor Novel (Book 1)

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: MIRA (April 17, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 077836805X
ISBN-13: 978-0778368052

About the Book:


Author: Sheila Roberts

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Once-happily married Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday – lucky her – she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman.

Still, Jenna is determined to follow her mother’s philosophy – every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great Aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna's financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembered, but that's nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.


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

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? & Musing Monday

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

It's Monday again...and boy does it feel like one. At least the sun is shining and it will get to about 45 degrees today.

In my reading world I am finishing up this one. Look for my review tomorrow.

Next up will be this one...good thing too, because my house needs some real organizational help lately.

I also need to finish this one because I started it in February while on vacation, but had to review other books first. I also received the next book in the series, so better get moving on this one.

These cute books are due for review this month over at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

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: Why did you become a reader? Series or stand alone which do you prefer?

I am so happy to see Musing Monday is back. I've missed it.

Last week on my blog were reviews for the poetry collection How I Love the Empty Air and the Amish novel A Mother's Gift

As for this week's question, right now I am into stand alone books simply because I have so little reading time. Whenever I discover a new book in a series, I know I'll want to read previous books or I won't want to review the latest book until I read the previous installments. I might try out a trilogy, but can't commit beyond that.

What is going on in your reading and blogging world this week?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a powerful and touching look into grief.

As Aptowicz grabs hold of the success she has worked so hard for, her world is rocked by the sudden death of her mother. In the year that follows, the author battles the overwhelming grief through her writing, sharing these intimate glimpses into her life with readers.

Having lost my mother when I was just a teenager, I was drawn to How to Love the Empty Air. While grief is a very personal thing, there is comfort in the understanding of someone else who has experienced the same tragedy. Apotowicz holds nothing back in this collection. She shares her joys, her sorrows, and her pain in all its rawness. You laugh. You cry. You want to hug her because she feels so close as she stumbles around searching for that new normal that may never feel normal at all. Then she reaches that major milestone--one year after the death of her mother. Not enough time has passed to eliminate the heaviness of the loss, but by the end we can see some joy, a glimmer of happiness and new beginnings.

This is definitely one of my favorite collections. It is the seventh by Aptowicz. I'll be searching out more. If you want deep, meaningful, poetry that tugs at your heartstrings, How to Love the Empty Air is a collection worth reading.

Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: Write Bloody Publishing (March 20, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1938912802
ISBN-13: 978-1938912801

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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Review & Giveaway: A Mother's Gift by Charlotte Hubbard

If there were ever a more wonderful story about motherhood than A Mother's Gift by Charlotte Hubbard, I have yet to find it.

Leah Otto has always admired Jude Shetler's good looks and talent as an auctioneer. When the widower asks her to marry him, it's like a dream come true. Despite the reservations of family and friends, the two enter their marriage with joy and optimism.

A few months later, Leah's twin step-daughters are acting out, her step-son keeps her at bay while mourning the loss of his mother, and Leah is struggling with running a household. Then a baby girl is abandoned on their doorstep and Leah must pull her family together, with Jude's support and God's will, to create a life filled with love, faith and unexpected blessings.

Every time I read a book by Charlotte Hubbard, I swear it's the best she could ever write. Then comes a new book and it's even better than the last one. This is an author who knows her genre well, but continues to keep it fresh every single time. Not every author can do that, so I admire Hubbard's ability to continually deliver top-notch stories that tug at the heartstrings and inspire a deeper more meaningful kind of love and faith.

In A Mother's Gift you have a woman who has never been at ease with housework. Leah is happiest tending to her goats and chickens. She's not prepared for all that goes into being a wife and mother. Jude doesn't care about that. He likes her non-traditional skills. That doesn't mean life will be easy for them. And it's not. This truly is a story where a husband and wife must stand strong in their faith as they deal with the challenges that being a new family entails...along with a few unexpected obstacles along the way.

A Mother's Gift is a story of love and faith. It is a story of one woman finding her place within her new family. It's a story of one man's dedication to the woman he loves. It's a story about blending families and having faith it will all work out. There really are so many elements to this story that you can't help but love it. Hubbard brings these characters to life in a special way and you'll be captivated by Leah and Jude's journey from the first page to the last. If you only read one book in this genre this year, it should be A Mother's Gift by Charlotte Hubbard.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington (March 27, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1496712188
ISBN-13: 978-1496712189

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.


As Lenore Otto sat on the bed with Leah, wistfully watching the dusk of late November fill her daughter’s room, her heart was torn. The two of them had shared this evening ritual of talking and praying since Lenore’s husband, Raymond, had died last year. It had always brought her a comforting sense of peace, along with the certainty that she and her daughter would move forward with the plans God had for them. After all the cleaning they’d done and the preparations they’d made to host Leah’s wedding festivities the next day, she was ready to relax—but she needed to speak the words that weighed so heavily on her heart.

Tomorrow, when Leah got married, their lives would follow separate paths. Lenore knew she would be fine remaining on the small farm alone, making and selling her specialty quilts. She supposed some of her qualms about her daughter’s marriage plagued every mother . . .

Lord, I wish I could believe my Leah’s reaching toward happiness rather than heartache.

Before God’s still, small voice could respond to Lenore, Leah let out an ecstatic sigh. “Oh, Mama, it’s a dream come true,” she murmured. “Starting tomorrow, when I marry Jude, my life will finally be the way I’ve always wanted it. My waiting is over!”

Not for the first time, Lenore sighed inwardly at her daughter’s fantasy. As she returned Leah’s hug, savoring these precious moments in the room where her little girl had matured into a woman of twenty-eight, she didn’t have it in her to shatter Leah’s dreams. No mother wanted her daughter to forever remain a maidel, yet during these final hours before the wedding, Lenore thought she should try once again to point out the realities of marrying Jude Shetler. Jude was a fine, upstanding man any parent would be pleased to welcome as a son-in-law, but as a widower he carried a certain amount of . . . baggage.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 2

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Hope everyone had a nice Easter. We get two again this year because my husband's family has always celebrated Greek Easter. I cooked a small dinner for us and then the rest of the family will be coming over on April 8.

No reading at all went on this week. Spring market is in full swing and I wasn't home much. That said, I'm almost done with...

I need to finish this next one by the weekend.

My plan was then to finish this awesome looking book...

Then I joined the launch team for a good friend of mine who wrote this lovely devotional. It arrived this week and I am eager to dive right in.

Perhaps the journey in the waiting is the goal, rather than the actual finish line.

Sometimes while waiting for situations to change, we discover that perhaps what God is waiting on is us. That’s exactly what Lynne set out to discover when she was in a journey of waiting, during a wilderness season of her own. She discovered that perhaps she needed to unbecome everything she had framed her life around because in the process of building a life in this world, we often become consumed with everything other than The Word.

Becoming Unconsumed is an invitation to open the door to the possibilities that exist for us as women when we let go of what the world thinks and build a better relationship with ourselves, each other and, ultimately, God. This book is written for all women. Women who might not know God at all, women who have known Him all their lives, and women who aren’t sure what to think. Organized through reflection and response, Lynne invites us to consider the relevancy of the Word in 2018 and beyond as our faith is energized and confidence is strengthened. It is possible for you to make space for your daily Grace and your daily relationship with God. Lynne is the first to admit she is just a regular woman who decided to listen to God and make it happen.

What are you reading?