Monday, May 20, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - May 19

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 certainly moves swiftly. We are back to Monday again. I hope you had a nice weekend. I worked part of Saturday and took most of Sunday off. The weather was beautiful both days, so it was nice not to be driving all over the place. Today it is supposed to be stormy, but warm. Perfect tornado weather is what my kids say.

Over the weekend, I reviewed two children's books at my kid's book blog.

I am almost done with Jon Land's latest Caitlin Strong novel. Look for my review tomorrow. 

Then the rest of my list looks like same.

How many books are in your TBR pile? I think mine must be close to 1,000 if I include all my Kindle freebies. Yikes! What have you been reading lately? What is a book you really enjoyed?

Monday, May 13, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - May 13

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.

Happy Monday! I hope all the moms (in their various ways) had a lovely Mother's Day. Our family got together, so we had three generations spending the day enjoying one another's company. I promised myself that I wouldn't work, so I left the phone on the nightstand except when we went out to dinner--had to take photos.

In my reading world, I reviewed this book last week. 

I started this one last night because there's a review due on May 21. 

Then the rest of my list looks like same.

I treated myself to these two books, so hopefully I can squeeze these in soon.

(Since I pre-ordered this one, I saved a few pennies when the price went down.)

(Found this one on sale at our local Walmart.)

How is your reading going? Have you found something you're really excited about? Did you hit a dud? Hope you'll share some from your list. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Author Interview and Giveaway: Smoke in Her Eyes by Anna Blefrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  She has recently released Smoke in Her Eyes, the second in a new series, The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Amazon page,

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in South America which has left me trilingual and with a permanent fondness for spicy food and salsa rhythms.

When did you begin writing?

I have always written. Deep down in one of my various boxes I have kept the notebooks in which I wrote my first stories. From madly paced adventure stories featuring lady knights (me) to a very melodramatic love story set in the 17th century (I was sixteen…) they will never, ever see the light of the day. But I can’t throw them away, and some of the various plot lines have popped up in my recent books, albeit severely revamped.

What is this book about?

Undying love. I sort of like writing about that…Of course, I make things complicated: Smoke in Her Eyes is about two people who first met and loved 3 000 years ago. Things didn’t end well that time round, mainly due to a powerful prince who wanted the girl for himself. Since then, they have fallen through time, Jason desperately trying to find his Helle in one fruitless life after the other. And then, finally, thet end up in the same time frame. Unfortunately, that ancient prince is here as well, just as determined to ensure they never get to the Happily Ever After…

What inspired you to write it?

Not sure, really. I’ve always had a fascination with the fall of Troy, and Jason’s and Helle’s first life plays out when the fall of Troy is as yet a memory, not a legend. I also love Greek myths, hence Jason being named Jason after that most famous of Argonauts, and Helle named after the princess who fell off the golden ram just over the Hellespont, because she was so entranced by the song of the mermaids below. 

Greek myths are usually very much about fate, about the futility of attempting to avoid your destiny. I think Jason recognizes himself in that, what with all those lives he has spent looking for Helle.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It’s available on Amazon, both in pb and as an e-book.
The paperback version is also available through other channels and can also be ordered from my publisher, Troubador.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

One piece of advice? Ha! I have a whole booklet… But right at the top of my list are three things:
1: Write the book you want to read, not the book you think the market wants.
2: Invest in a professional edit. To not do so is to short-change all your future readers/buyers and it is a MYTH that you can edit your own work, no matter how good you are at spelling and grammar
3: Invest in a professional cover. It doesn’t cost that much, but makes a lot of difference when it comes to making your book visible to potential readers.
Obviously, 2 and 3 above are mainly directed at Indie writers 😊

What is up next for you?

Well, the final instalment in my series about Jason and Helle is due out this autumn, so I need to do a final polish. I am also working on a new series set in 13th century Wales and Spain as well as like five other WIPs. I like multi-tasking, I guess 😊


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away two copies of Smoke In Her Eyes by Anna Belfrage! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Smoke in Her Eyes

Monday, May 6, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - May 6

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.

Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed the first weekend in May. The Lil' Princess had a dance show all weekend, plus I had work and church, so we had some things going on. Not as hectic as it has been, which is fine by me.

Had a chance to review this book on Friday.

I recently started this one.

Then here is the rest on my list. 

After that, I might dabble in some of the leadership books I bought recently.

What's on your list this week? Anything you're excited about reading?

Interview with Geoff Armstrong, Author of Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo

Geoff Armstrong began his teaching career in 1965 after receiving a teaching diploma from McGill University’s Macdonald College. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montreal’s Concordia University in 1967 where his major field of study was history. Armstrong credits writers such as Bruce Catton, and Thomas B. Costain, as well as the encouragement of his father who had little formal education, but a deep love of reading and of history, as the inspiration for his own life-long interest.

Throughout a 25-year teaching career he taught history at several grade levels and learned quickly that to reach the hearts of his students, history had to be made immediately and deeply relevant and accessible: that some event that took place centuries before those students were born had a direct and profound influence on every aspect their lives. He also learned that talking down or writing down to his students was a recipe for defeat. It is this awareness, shaped by a quarter century of teaching and countless questions by thousands of intelligent young people that has informed and shaped his writing.

You can visit his website at

Where did you grow up?

I was Born in Liverpool, England, but grew up in the East End of Montreal, in Canada. The East End of Montreal was and probably still is a working class area where the belief was that if you wore a suit to work you were rich. My dad wore a truck driver’s uniform and was the most intelligent man I have ever known.

When did you begin writing?

I was fortunate to have a mother who read stories to me and my brother even before I could fully understand my own English language. She and my father also told us stories. With that example, by the time I was in first grade I began making up stories to tell my brother. My parents suggested that I write my stories down. Neither spelling nor grammar stood in my way. I suspect the stories were comprehensible only to me.

What is this book about?

Moments That Made America, as the name suggests is the story of the United States that tells that amazing story by focusing on those pivotal turning points or tipping points that have defined and shaped America. These are events that had they not happened or had the transpired differently, the United States would not exist or if it did manage to come in to being, would be unrecognizable. Too many Americans fail to understand that except for a extraordinary set of circumstances, some of them bordering on the miraculous, their nation shouldn’t exist at all: that in the entire five billion year history of this planet, their nation is unique. It is a lack of understanding and self-imposed ignorance that endangers the very survival of the United States.The first book in the series, Moments that Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo is available now, the second book, Moments that Made America: From Civil War to Superpower will be out in June this year. The final volume Moments that Made America: The American Century will be out in the new year.

What inspired you to write it?

For many years I have felt that too many Americans have little no understanding of the miracle of their country. Its entire existence was balanced on a knife edge of termination. Had any one of hundreds of events not transpired at all or not happened the way it did, America wouldn’t be here. I came to that realization many years ago. As I got older, I realized I had to try to explain. Therefore, I wrote what has turned out to be the first of three books on the subject. Book two is now on its way to the publisher with a June 2019 publication date planned.

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

There is no shortage of excellent books on American history. Some of the best focus on the American Civil War. Works by authors such as Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote and James McPherson are outstanding examples. It was my reading of books by such writers that inspired my interest in history. What makes my book different is that I have focused on and detailed those specific events that, for better or worse, have made America the nation it is today. One excellent book that comes closest to the concept of Moments That Made America is The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved. As the title suggests, Mr. Medved focuses on the role divine guidance and intervention played in the fortunes of the United States. He makes a strong case to support the theme noted by George Washington: "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency".

Moments That Made America covers some of the same events, of course, but where Medved goes into great detail in his successful search to reveal the workings of Divine Providence, I range farther afield and cover more history, not all of which reveals evidence of supernatural direction.

The idea that Divine Providence has a taken a personal and guiding interest in the unfolding of the American story is a popular and recurring theme. In Miracles of the American Revolution: Divine Intervention and the Birth of the Republic, author Larkin Spivey states categorically that the hand of God was indeed at work during that pivotal moment in American history. Spivey, a professor of military history and former Marine Corp officer presents evidence that supports the widely held belief that the success of the American revolution was the direct result of that Divine Intervention. Whether one believes Spivey or not, the book is compelling in its provocative account of the unusual events surrounding the Revolution and is well worth reading.

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

That every American has the responsibility to treasure their country and to learn about how it was created.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, any online book seller. I’m not sure about brick and mortar bookstores

What is up next for you?

Finishing book three: Moments That Made America: The American Century

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you buy the book, pass it on to someone who doesn’t appreciate this amazing, impossible country.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Book Review: Does Your Vision Need an Engineer? by Rufus Chambers III

Many of us have visions and dreams. We don't, however, always have a practical plan to follow and make them a reality.

In Does Your Vision Need an Engineer? author Rufus Chambers III helps teach readers how to attach a plan of action to their divinely inspired vision.

This resource uses the story of Nehemiah's vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, to inspire you to create a strategic plan to execute your vision. Listing a series of "vision characteristics," you learn about the need for accountability, how to realize your vision is bigger than you, that a vision requires resources and protection, and more traits that are important before moving forward.

After these vision characteristics, the author shares a series of steps to follow to advance your vision, like the importance of identifying resources, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, assembling your team and creating a timeline, followed by implementation, evaluation, and expansion and more.

This faith-based resource challenges as of us to become Vision Engineers™. It's a unique way of looking at strat planning and accepting God's vision for your life. It's a quick read, but you'll want to refer back to it often.

File Size: 2736 KB
Print Length: 125 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1795624744
Publication Date: March 24, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 29

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.

Hard to believe that the end of April is here. We are heading into the busiest month of the year for us filled with two birthdays, three wedding anniversaries, a concert and a dance show, prom, graduation, and the end of school. Both my girls will be done with school by May 31. What the heck will they do with that extra month off?

As far as reading goes, it's been slow. I was sick and I've been working like a dog. I managed to finish these three books.

I've got several to review, including:

If I can control myself and not request any other books for review, I might even be able to choose what I want to read when we go on vacation. 

How is your TBR pile looking? Does vacation time mean catching up for you or do you bring books you want to read without the need to review them? What is a good book you've read lately? 

Book Review: Phoenix by Jessica Goody

A moving collection of transformation poems can be found in Phoenix by Jessica Goody.

The beautiful cover of Phoenix opens up to dozens of poems in a variety of styles that capture the resilience of the human spirit. Though a variety of subject matter is covered--nature, animals, emotions, special places and people--they are all connected by the theme of transformation.

What I most enjoyed about the Phoenix collection was the author's unique word choices. The writing is deep and emotional, and then you come across an unexpected use of a word that fits perfectly but you may not have thought of in that particular way before. It gives you a real moment to let the poem linger in your mind a while.

Goody is new to me, but I am sure I'll be wanting to read more from her soon.

Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: CW Books (March 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1625493061
ISBN-13: 978-1625493064

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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Company Files: The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Giveaway)

Whether it’s Hollywood or DC, life and death, success or failure hinge on saying a name.

The right name.

When Charlie Loew is found murdered in a seedy flophouse with a cryptic list inside the dead script-fixer’s handkerchief, Jack Marshall sends Walker undercover as a screenwriter at a major studio and Leslie as a secretary to Dr. Phillip Ernest, shrink to the stars. J. Edgar Hoover has his own list. Blacklisted writers and studio politics. Ruthless gangsters and Chief Parker’s LAPD. Paranoia, suspicions, and divided loyalties begin to blur when the House Un-American Activities Committee insists that everyone play the naming game.


He suggested drinks Friday night at the Cocoanut Grove, with dinner afterwards. The weekend wasn’t quite on the

horizon but the doctor’s voice insinuated he had intentions.

The Cocoanut Grove club was part of the Ambassador; and like most places in Los Angeles it took forever to get

from the curb to the front door of the hotel. Then there was the nightclub. The hotel, like a Henry James preamble,

sat at the far end of a very long cultivated sentence of twenty-four acres off Wilshire Boulevard. The logic was

deceptive but calculated, its geometric lawns and trained trees were way out in front like a mirage of color schemes,

the designs descended from gardeners who created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It was here Bacchantes of

another day and age descended from the Hollywood Hills or from elsewhere in the desert to have their Award

ceremonies, sexed-up affairs on hearths of Italian stone, their celebrity tantrums, complete with champagne glasses

dashed against tiled floors while the fountain’s water out front pulsed the rhythm of time’s cruel cadence.

The Cocoanut Grove was dedicated to nocturnal decadence. Palm trees were imported inside, stuffed monkeys sat

on top of them, their choreographed arms groping the leafy foliage and their glass eyes forever gazing at a ceiling

painted midnight blue with unmoving stars. Here the desert people came to dance and forget their troubles and

mingle with matinée royalty. Here they dined and here they listened to music beneath Moorish arches and tried to

forget the Crusades and the inconvenience of Christ on the cross. On a grand night they might see ghosts or the

gauzy image of Pola Negri walking her pet cheetah on a long leash through the garden.

7pm and early, Leslie saw Ernest at the bar in tailored silk pants and a patterned jacket, white shirt, and no tie. She

might’ve walked fast across the floor to surprise him, but she enjoyed every set of male eyes (and some female ones,

too) on her in a strapless cocktail dress made of plush black velvet and layers of cream tulle. Leslie didn’t believe in

makeup. Simple pink lipstick sufficed. In her small purse she carried cash and a .22 caliber pistol, a gift with a red

Croix de Lorraine on the white grip enamel. Neither the gun nor the caliber punched like a .45 automatic, but at

close range the .22 was feminine and lethal.

“You’re early, Dr. Ernest.”

“Please call me Phillip, or Phil. A drink?”

“What are you having?”


Brandy and crème de menthe. Upper-crust choice of either flyboys or college men. She motioned the bartender

over with her gloved hand. He ambled over, a big man in a tuxedo. He offered his clientele cool stoicism while he

made their drinks or dried glassware. He listened, or pretended to. His hand on the counter and the forward tilt at

the shoulders signaled he was eager to take her order.

“An Old Fashioned, please.”

The barkeep smiled when he set down her short tumbler not far from her date’s Stinger. He put in the sugar cube

and doused it with Angostura bitters, added water halfway up the sugar cube before he dropped ice cubes and added

a shot and half of rye whiskey. He hitched a maraschino cherry on the back of an orange wedge.

The jazz musicians in the background burned through a slow number of horns and muted drums. He moved near

her and she smiled. She could smell his cologne. Not bad. Not overpowering. She wore no perfume. Leslie learned

perfume always lingered in the air, or on fabric. It left a trace, a damning signature. Phillip pushed the cocktail to her

on a napkin

“Quite the drink you have there.”

“I can handle it.” Let him think I’m easy prey. “So, Phillip, what do you suggest for dinner?”

“Place up in the Hills, exotic and with a spectacular view of the city if you don’t mind Asian food.”

“I’ll give it a go. That’s what the weekend is for.”

“You’re full of surprises, Maggie. Didn’t figure you for the living type.”

He realized his awkward turn of phrase. She saved him from embarrassment. “As opposed to the alternative?” she

asked. “Don’t worry, I know what you meant. You don’t do so bad yourself.” Awe and flattery always chipped a man

down. “It can’t be easy listening to people’s problems all week. Shows character.”

“Nothing too challenging or anything I can’t handle.”

“You’re saying you don’t feel challenged?” she asked.

“Not at all. My patients are motivated, which is crucial to the therapeutic process, and I enjoy guiding them to

recovery so they can live meaningful, productive lives.”

“Say, ever had a client you couldn’t help? Someone you couldn’t fix.”

“I’ve had my share of difficult cases, but I try to persuade them to see the destructive consequences to their

choices,” he said, between sips of his minty drink.

Leslie drank a small sip of hers. “I never hear frustration in your notes. You’re always clinical, very professional. I

daresay you sound confident. Self-assured.”

“You haven’t seen all my cases, Maggie.”

“Really?” she asked, letting him see her take a hefty gulp drink from her glass, turned so he saw more flesh. He

responded with another sip of his toothpaste drink.

“I’ve had two, maybe three intractable cases. All men. One with inordinate guilt, the other one, a thief, and the last

one was a deviant. The thief and deviant I thought I could cure, but not the guilty one. All three men kept company

with people who exacerbated their conditions.”

The doctor explained all of this as he paced his drinking until he emptied his glass. Leslie left a wee bit of drink in

her glass. There was an uptick to the drums and the soft shudder of cymbals. A piano added light sprays of laughter

from the high keys. Smoke floated over the crowd.

“I’m no clinician, Phillip, but I’m clueless as to what constitutes deviant behavior. As for criminal urges, I’d suggest

an avoidance strategy. Not much I can say about regret. I’ve always thought guilt was a useless emotion.”

“I wish it were so simple, Maggie.”

“It is. The human mind confuses childhood with the responsibilities of adulthood.”

The perplexed expression on his face arrived on time. “That sounds familiar,” he said.

“It should, Phillip. I quoted you.”

Quoting him had worked. He smiled, his shoulders rounded and he leaned forward and intent, relaxed. She savored

that small victory more than the cherry clinging to the orange wedge on her glass.

“Shall we go eat?” she asked and deliberately misplaced her foot as she stepped off the metal chair. He caught her

arm in time. She released that little laugh all women practiced for embarrassing moments. He left a generous bill to

cover the drinks, as the drum kicked the air with a one-two beat and a crash of cymbals.

Ernest drove the roads above Hollywood Boulevard to the restaurant. High up in the hills and under a half moon,

The Mountain Palace rested on a hilltop like a shogun’s castle carved out of teak and cedar. There was a pagoda, too.

An architect plotted, a landscaper tilled the California hill into an enigmatic kōan with trees, shrubs, numerous

gardens, and waterfalls. Koi fish meandered through ponds. The only thing missing was the plucking sound of the

koto asking for rain.

Excerpt used with permission by author and publisher, Gabriel Valjan and Winter Goose Publishing (May, 2019)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Gabriel Valjan is the author of two series, The Roma Series and The Company Files, available from Winter Goose Publishing. His short stories have appeared in Level Best anthologies and other publications. Twice shortlisted for the Fish Prize in Ireland, once for the Bridport Prize in England, and an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest, he is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and an attendee of Bouchercon, Crime Bake, and Malice Domestic conferences.

Catch Up With Gabriel On:


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 22, 2019 and runs through June 24, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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