Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writing, Journaling, Chronicling

They used to tell me all writers keep journals, but I never succeeded. We're supposed to write every day they say, filling diaries with tales of events that make up our lives, but I'd rather just live them. We chronicle dreams in our notebooks, record every passing idea, and write stories on napkins during dinner... But that was never me. The stories whisper in my head, or spill into drabbles, or bubble through words to the surface when my fingers tap the keys. So many stories, so little time to write them. Must send that next entry in... And meanwhile I read...

More words, more dreams, more stories, more food for the journals I'll never keep. More coffee too. Here are some more book reviews...

I really enjoyed E.G. Lewis's religious novels, but Promises by E.G. Lewis, while just as enjoyable, is a different sort of tale, reminding me of Barbara Taylor Bradford's Woman of Substance. A young girl from the coal-towns of the Appalachian hills goes to New York and retains her honesty, her dignity, and her power. Wide in scope, fascinating in detail, and an enjoyable romantic drama, this is one to enjoy with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Spanning America and Australia,  Dean Mayes' The Hambledown Dream is another romantic tale with hints of mystery, redemption and reincarnation. Dark and brooding in its portrayal of Chicago's drug-dealing misery, it's also a beautiful story of music and hope, best enjoyed with another well-balanced 3-star coffee.

Section 132, by Helga Zeiner, is set in Canada and vividly depicts the misery of a child bride in a polygamous community ruled by a man who almost believes he's God. Meanwhile a man who thinks he can control everything in the world of business finds his match. Women used and abused step forwards in this realistic tale, dark and sad, but eventually hopeful. It's a long slow read, sometimes disjointed, but it comes together well. Best enjoyed with a 5-star intense coffee for its intensely heartbreaking scenes.

Finally, Erin Berry's Chronicles of Idiot is set mostly in the States, with occasional forays into wartime Germany and beyond. There's a fascinating premise of a government organization distracting its citizens, and this novel is enjoyably satirical in its view of modern media, but the humor's a bit labored at times. Enjoy a few cups of lively 2-star coffee as the story progresses.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dividing by Zero while my infinite to-read list slowly shrinks

I'm celebrating Divide by Zero's release by re-releasing my Inspired by Faith and Science books on Amazon. So now I've got an author page that makes me look amazingly prolific--if only I had a sales page to justify it! Still, at least being published in print has persuaded me I'll have to confess...
I am an author! 
A dream fulfilled!

I'm also a reader and reviewer of course, so here are some more book reviews as I work on slowly shrinking that to-read list...

Starting in the past with Reid Lance Rosenthal's Threads West: Maps of Fate, this one's a surprisingly enjoyable tale of America's pioneers and does a great job of bringing a wagon train to life. Ever wondered how to cross a river with wagons? Or how to jerk beef? Enjoy this book with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Moving forward to a slightly paranormal version of the present, I just finished reading the final two parts of the Vampire Hunter's Daughter by  Jennifer Malone Wright. The episodic tale comes to a satisfying conclusion in part six with plenty of story-lines resolved while new adventures beckon. And the daughter in question has grown quite pleasingly into her skills and feelings. If you like vampires and teen fiction, this is a series to enjoy with 2-star lively cups of coffee and the odd 5-star brew for when the tale gets darker.

And stepping into the future,  The Mediator, by Michael Abayomi creates a fascinating future city and avoids the miserable pitfalls of trying to detail a complete history. The plot's fast and furious, the writing sometimes slow, and the ending's a little too easy. But it's a fascinating tale and a world well worth revisiting in future volumes. Enjoy this short novel with a 2-star easy-drinking coffee.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Perception coming soon

Lee Strauss's YA novel Perception is due for release on September 12th. It's the first in what sounds like a really intriguing series, set in the not-too-distant future in a world of extreme climate, natural disaster and impending war. The book blurb promises the novel will explore the clash between faith and science, and how differences can separate us as enemies or ally us together, adding "in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there's room to fall in love." Sounds good to me.

I was lucky enough to be able to interview the author, so grab some coffee, sit back and see what we "talked" about.


1.   From the description of Perception it's clear you have an interest in faith and science. Could you tell me first about your scientific background? 
Well, I took science classes in high school, does that count? :) My daughter is a science major in university so she's helpful to have around. However, I'm very interested in science where it intersects with technology, and we live in a rapidly moving technological age and so this kind of science effects us all.
2.   And what about your faith background?
I believe in God. I'll leave it at that for now.
3.   People in the States often imagine faith and science as being natural enemies. Where would you stand in that debate?
I believe science and faith are more intertwined than we like to think. Of course, my main character in Perception doesn't think so! :)
4.   The world of Perception involves genetically altered people, class divisions, climate extremes and war--all very immediate large-scale issues, but you explore them from the point of view of individuals. Do you think that's important in writing for young adults? Do you think it's more or less important for other groups of readers?
Most people are only really aware of the world immediately around them and everything else going on globally is vague. This is especially true for teenagers just trying to navigate high school and their own social circles. This is where we feel safe to stay unless something dramatic happens to push us out of our comfort zones and we're forced to take a look at the bigger picture. My main character Zoe is genetically altered and privileged but she doesn't think about it that much. She certainly doesn't think about what's going on in the world outside her gates until her brother goes missing.
5.   Did you have a message in mind as you started writing this novel? If so, how do you balance conveying a message with entertaining readers?
I don't have certain message in mind, except maybe to look wider and deeper at life and the future.
6.   Do you think it's more important to make people think or to give them good answers?
I definitely want to make people think. I know I don't have all the answers. :)
7.   I love how your book blurb ends--in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there's room to fall in love. What about in the midst of writing? To what extent did you fall in love with your characters in this novel?
We always fall in love with our own characters, don't we? I'm especially fond of Noah who wrestles with his faith and his attraction to a girl who doesn't share it. 
8.   And finally, what didn't I ask that you'd really like readers to know?
Perception is the first book in a series and though I took special care to tie up major lose ends at the end (no cliffs!) I didn't attempt to answer every question it raised. There will be more questions and answers in books 2 and 3.

Here's a bit more information about the book.


Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.

Her brother Liam is missing.

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn.  She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

and here's where you can find the author online  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLeeStrauss

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Divide by Zero has arrived on kindle !!!!!

I just typed my name into Amazon and found Divide by Zero is there, on kindle, with my name on its gorgeous cover and a "look inside" feature that tells the story I wrote. Wow! There's something really scary, really thrilling, really amazing about that. I think I need lots of coffee and chocolate to celebrate. Thank you Stonegarden !!!!!

While I drink that coffee, I suppose I really should write something too. So I'll add some book reviews and coffee recommendations to my blog. Here are books I've read recently written by other people, but don't forget, Divide by Zero's by me, and if you read it I'd love to hear from you !!!!!

I'll start with two contemporary mysteries. An Altar by the River, by Christine Husom, is another authentic police drama in her Winnebago Mystery series. It's darker than the previous two novels, scary and sad as it deals with the wounds of children at the hands of a cult, and the evil threads that grow to intertwine through society. Drink some 5-star dark intense coffee with this enthralling mystery.

Jean Henry Mead's Gray Wolf Mountain centers on those feisty "older" women, Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, as their love of animals brings them face to face with terror while an unseen stranger shoots at people and wolves. A fine cup of 3-star balanced coffee will go well with the nice balance of humor, danger and mystery in this one.

Now for a tale of military adventure. Stephen England's Pandora's Grave has plenty of mystery too but it's heavier on the action as a CIA team attempts to find missing persons, save the world from a deadly virus, find the mole, and keep the peace in the Middle East. The lack of swearing is quite pleasing, and the writing nicely avoids political or religious messages, even while maintaining a Christian viewpoint. Enjoy a 5-star intense cup of coffee with this intense thriller.

And finally a contemporary paranormal novella with scares aplenty: R.J. Sullivan's Haunting Obsession. Imagine what might happen if human devotion could empower ghosts. Just how empowered would someone like Marilyn Munroe become? The premise leads to a fascinating combination of ghost story, love story and paranormal thriller, all in a quick exciting read. Enjoy a 5-star bold intense coffee with this intense tale.








Wednesday, August 15, 2012

With thanks to Amazon

I finally released three of my Inspired by Faith and Science books on Amazon Kindle, dreaming they'd automatically link the the Createspace versions in the Amazon listings and all would be well. I can now report all is indeed well, thanks to the excellent customer service at Amazon's Author Central. The books didn't link but I clicked on those little blue "contact us" words as I viewed one in Author Central. I chose "other" as my question type, selected "I want to link different editions of my book" from the dropdown, gave them the ASIN of the kindle version and the ISBN of the paperback, and... within just a few hours the link was made!

Thank you Amazon Author Central!

If you want to see how it turned out, I now have a sensible link to my author central page too--likewise created in just a few hours! Just click on


and you'll see my twitter feed, my blog, my bio and my books. If you wait a few days you may even see more books as I continue celebrating the upcoming release of Divide by Zero by re-releasing  What IFS books on Createspace and Kindle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Feeling eFestive





The eFestival of Words opens on Friday and there's a great schedule of events, chats and workshops.


Click here to download a digital pdf guide, including all schedule information, the complete list of finalists for awards, guest bios, and more...

No new registrations after 1200PM EST on August 17th, so go to the Welcome Center and get your (free) registration now (click on Register, in the middle, just under the banner). Don't forget to sign up for the Drabble Workshop too, Friday August 17th at 2.00pm EST--just go to your User Control Panel (under the banner) after registering, click on Usergroups (Left Hand Side), then select and join whichever groups you're interested in. I'll look forward to seeing you there!

Show don’t tell. Make every word count. Select your
scenes. And be unique. Drabbles provide a way to
practice all these, kind of like warming up before
writing that marathon novel. A drabble is a story, with
beginning, middle and end, told in precisely 100
words—no hesitation, deviation or repetition allowed.
We’ll edit for word-count, choose where to use those
evocative descriptions, lose the space-fillers and cover
the cutting room floor in this drabble workshop.
Drabble your poems and essays too, dribble in 50
words, or drip 25, then watch your writing grow
healthy, lean and strong.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Free books, ebooks and book reviews

Free books:

Gentle Wind's Caress, by Ann Brear, is free on Amazon Kindle today--just click on the link to find it, or click here for Ann Brear's guest post on history, travel and research. This one's definitely on my reading list.

ebooks:

I'm just wondering... I bought an ebook from Amazon a while ago and when I finally opened it, my copy turned into different book by the same author--one I'd already read. I tried reading online and redownloading from Amazon, but the book didn't change so I contacted the publisher who was kind enough to send me a new copy. So now I'm wondering, how often do ebooks break, and why?

Of course, the worst thing about ebooks for me is the fact that my kindle keeps freezing--is my kindle breaking--does it think I read too much? Sometimes I have to go make another coffee while I wait to turn the page. Still, coffee's good...

So, finally, book reviews--with coffee:

Starting with Dead Anyway, by Chris Knopf. The publisher's still looking for an overall title to this new series--a main character who's lost his identity but is slowly regaining all his investigating skills. Arthur Cathcart wants to know who killed his wife and why, and he'll stop at nothing to find out. Meanwhile he learns that broken people do strange things, and true identity's more than the label we wear. A thinking reader's mystery and an investigator's action adventure, this one's genuinely got something for everyone and a great protagonist and plot as well. Enjoy with a 4-star elegant complex coffee.

The Man in the Mountain, by Doug Lucas, is another modern mystery, but has more of a made-for-TV Castle flavor, humorously self-referential and doggedly ironic. Filled with books and readers, from wannabe-novelist druglord to wanna-read FBI-agent, this is one to swallow in quick chunks over 1-star light crisp coffees.

Warren Adler's The War of the Roses inspired a movie many years ago, or so I'm told. I never saw the movie, but the book has a good old-fashioned movie feel to it, with huge sets, huge staircases, glorious chandeliers, and larger than life characters. The dissolution of an apparently perfect marriage is oddly absorbing, pulling the reader in as it drives the characters deeper into the path of an oncoming train wreck. You'll want a 5-star bold dark intense cup of coffee with this fine intense tale.

J. Conrad Guest's the Cobb Legacy is a sport-inspired contemporary novel, linking the death of the famous Ty Cobb's father with a middle-aged man's broken marriage and longing for order in his world. Misunderstandings between men and women, parent and child, and friend and advisor abound, but there's a common thread of forgiveness and love that really ties this together making the pages fly by. Enjoy a well-balanced 3-star coffee with this beautifully balanced novel.

Weeping Willows by B.J. Robinson is a scary short story set in a beautiful old Louisiana home filled with memories and ghosts. Which modern couple will last the longest and win the vacation of a lifetime? You'll have to read it to find out--enjoy a bold dark 5-star coffee as you read.

And finally, on a lighter note, Rae of Hope by W. J. May is the first in a new young adult series that combines elements from Harry Potter, House of Night, Heroes and X-Men, with a secret boarding school in England, mysteriously tatued teenagers (as opposed to merely tattooed), curious powers and "the girl who survived the fire." Is a daughter condemned to repeat the sins of the father, or might she just be able to have a say in her own destiny--as well as choosing her boyfriend? Enjoy a 2-star lively coffee with this lively tale.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are you going to the Fair?

I'm honing my drabbling skills and digging out my notes as I get ready for the 2012 eFestival of Words Virtual Book Fair. There's only one week to go before kickoff, and it's free to join, so...

Are you going to the Fair?

You'll find book awards, panel discussions, workshops, and even a swag bag of goodies to compete for when you register. Plus, on Friday 17th at 2pm Eastern time I'll be leading a DRABBLE WORKSHOP! I'd love to meet you there.

Want to know what a drabble is?

Show don’t tell. Make every word count.Select your scenes. And be unique. Drabbles provide a way to practice all these, kind of like warming up before writing that marathon novel. A drabble is a story, with beginning, middle and end, told in precisely 100 words—no hesitation, deviation or repetition allowed. We’ll edit for word-count, choose whereto use those evocative descriptions, lose the space-fillers and cover the cutting room floor in this drabble workshop. Drabble your poems and essays too,dribble in 50 words, or drip 25, then watch your writing grow healthy, lean and strong.



Go to https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SheilaDeeth to find some seasonal drabble gift books and even "look inside." Or look at my Dribs'n Drabs blog to find some drabble tales shrunk down to drips.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A book designer steps into her author's shoes

I reviewed Michelle DeFilippo's Publish Like the Pros earlier this week--a fascinating and informative book that delves into all those "other" issues about getting your book in front of an audience who hopefully won't just ignore it. (Click on the link for my review.)

Today I'm delighted to welcome the author to my blog. Find out how someone who knows what's going on experienced the process of publishing a book, and learn some tips to help you on the way.

Over to you Michelle...


Stepping Into My Clients’ Shoes

You’ve heard about the cobbler’s children who go without shoes? I own 1106 Design, which helps authors move their books from dream to reality through self-publishing. Over the years, through my experience as a graphic designer and typesetter and now business owner, I have personally assisted close to a thousand authors in bringing their publications to life. But I didn’t have a book to call my own.

Like many people, I felt that I had a book in me but it took a redesign of our 1106 Design website before I grabbed the chance. We decided the website should include an eBook for visitors to download for free. Originally we planned something much shorter to whet a visitor’s appetite for more information. We started off with a quickie “Hints for Successful Self-publishing” guide, but I realized that I was missing an opportunity to impart some valuable information to authors about self-publishing, answering once and for all the questions that I am constantly asked by beginner self-publishers and debunking some myths that frustrate me as a professional in the publishing industry.

Thus, what started off as a 10-page guide soon grew into an 88-page book: Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing (and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry). Throughout the process of writing and self-publishing the book, I found it interesting to step into my clients’ shoes as a self-publisher, and while I found myself getting a number of things “right,” I also found myself narrowly avoiding some of the pitfalls that I warn clients about all the time.

Prospective authors often ask about getting started on the road to self-publishing. I tell them that before embarking upon this journey, one should examine the goals for the book, and based on these goals, choose an approach. Is it a hobby book or is this a book that will be sold as a product? If the latter is true, then the author must take a “CEO approach” and treat publishing as a business with their book as a product. And as a CEO, one must research the need for the book, plan demand, create a budget and assemble a team.

Well… I did, more or less. Because of the way the book came about—as a giveaway on our new website—initially I didn’t think about creating a book to sell. I didn’t plan demand. I hadn’t set any goals for it beyond “attract people to our new website.” However, I instinctively knew that a book on the ins and outs of self-publishing was very much needed. I also realized that a book could accomplish much more than a short freebie guide: thoroughly educate authors about self-publishing, share an “insider’s” perspective with authors about hiring professional services from companies such as 1106 Design, and help shape 1106 Design’s corporate identity. So when I planned my budget (I did create a budget!), I took into account these “soft” benefits that may eventually show up in my bottom line, even if expenses initially exceed revenue.

I also assembled a team to help me. OK, so perhaps I have an advantage in this area, but even with my years of experience, I quickly came to realize the benefits of having a cover designer, a book interior page layout designer, an editor, a proofreader, a book title consultant, a marketing consultant and more. I couldn’t have done it without them. They took my words and turned them into a magical book of which I am very proud.

I know I got one other thing right. Originally I had planned an eBook only. However, I finally listened to my own advice (!) and decided to do a print version as well. eBooks are very popular but there are plenty of people who prefer to handle an actual book, and there is no sense in alienating these readers by only producing an eBook. Now the book is available as a paperback and as a Kindle book.

All-in-all, I have a new understanding of an author’s experience: creating the concept, getting the courage to type the first sentence, coming up with a title (and finally asking for some professional help with it), approving the book cover and page layout, and figuring out marketing and distribution. So many decisions! I’m happy to know that the advice I have been giving authors for years is sound, but I’ll do a better job in listening to myself in the future!

Michele DeFilippo owns 1106 Design, a Phoenix-based company that works with authors, publishers, business pros, coaches, consultants, speakers . . . anyone who wants a beautiful book, meticulously prepared to industry standards. 1106 Design offers top-quality cover design, beautifully designed and typeset interiors, manuscript editing, indexing, title consulting, and expert self-publishing advice. Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing (and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry,  is Michele’s first book.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Past present and future and books

I'm still trying to catch up on posting book reviews. I suspect the next few days may see me tied to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and all those other wonderful reviewing sites, trying to fulfil my commitments, but for now, here are a few more reviews of stories set in the world's past, present and future, read with cups of modern-day coffee. Once I've posted them I'll return to writing my own post-apocalyptic fantasy in hopes of beating the Seventh Star Press deadline. Or to reading some more...

For hunters of free reads, The Toadhouse Trilogy book one is free on kindle at the moment, so why not give it a try. http://www.amazon.com/The-Toadhouse-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B008ML9ONS/  A regular teen in 1930s Alabama finds she's been living in a book for the last five years and her only escape will be through the pages of more... Sounds good to me.

So, back to book reviews... Starting in the past, Jerrica Knight-Catania's More than a Governess combines historical romance with suspenseful mystery, adding a pair of delightful children to the mix and building a picture of London traffic james with stalled wagons and meandering barouches. Fun characters, nicely intriguing tale, and a very pleasant afternoon's read, this is one to enjoy with  2-star bright lively cup of coffee.

Moving forward to the present, Promise Me Eternity, by Ian Fox, is a dark drama with lots of warped characters driving each other to destruction. Set around a small hospital in Medford Oregon, and combining medical research, mob bosses, FBI investigators and cheating wives, it's a slow chilling tale best enjoyed with several cups of 5-star dark-colored coffee.

Similarly dark but faster flowing is a series of short novellettes, The Vampire Hunter's Daughter by Jennifer Malone Wright. I've read the first four episodes now, following Chloe from the traumatic murder of her mother to a new home with intriguing high school friends, an unexpected family, curious love interests and even more curious powers. Enjoy these tales (and look out for 5 and 6) with your teenaged readers and 5-star bold dark intense coffee.

Slipping into the future, The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter is more 2084 than 1984 but creates a similarly plausible modern dystopia to that in Orwell's classic tale. A post-government world is controlled by big business, buying and selling everything from air and water to children's futures, and Charles is either destined for greatness or doomed to fall. Bold, dark and intense, this  one's filled with thought-provoking political and social insights, best enjoyed enjoy with a 5-star bold dark intense coffee.

Ending on a lighter note, and further into the future, Cherie Reich's Defying Gravity is a fun sci-fi novella, sort of Romeo and Juliet with aliens and a curious hint of earth-bound apocalypse, plus Greek mythology. The story stands alone, creates lots of intriguing questions, and begs the reader to look for more. Enjoy with a 3-star well-balanced smooth coffee.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Essaying to catch up on reviews

I'm endeavoring, essaying, striving or trying to catch up on posting reviews, so here are a few brief reviews of books of essays--it seems appropriate. The coffee ratings are for caffeine to keep me awake (except it sends me to sleep) and the blue links are for longer reviews on gather--another place where I shall shortly essay to catch up.


Memories are Precious, by Fran Lewis, tells the story of her mother's alzheimer's journey, with stories, memories, verse, useful advice, and some fascinating insights into her mother's thought process--as the author says, her mother spoke for her when she was a child; now she speaks for her mother. The mix of family recollection, friendship tales, pleas for more research and lists of symptoms and warnings works quite well. An interesting book for anyone as this disease becomes more common, best read with a 1-star crisp light coffee.

Because we Care, by Fran Lewis, is a follow-up brochure giving tips for patients and their carers. Lists are nicely organized. Details are helpfully repeated making the important facts easy to find as you browse through the book, and some helpful essays at the back give a personal face to the problem. Read this short brochure with another 1-star crisp coffee.

Miss Hildreth wore Brown, by Olivia deBelle Byrd, is a wonderful collection of "Anecdotes of a Southern Belle," filled with gentle humor, delightful common sense, and the sort of honesty that calls a small latte filled with calories both expensive and fattening--in fact she ponders whether one can justify spending as much on coffee as on sending the kids to college... So you'd better enjoy some inexpensive home-brewed elegant complex 4-star coffee while reading this lovely book.

Finally, Publish like the Pros, by Michelle DeFilippo, is a book on self-publishing that's given me so many great insights, not just into things I need to learn, but also into understanding the process my professionally published novel is currently going through. Reading about typesetting while reading the galley for my novel was a real eye-opener. Highly recommended for all writers, this is one to enjoy with a 2-star lively, easy-drinking coffee.

Friday, August 3, 2012

No Appendix to this Tale

Things I planned to do on Wednesday:
  1. Post book reviews
  2. Read a couple of books on my computer
  3. Clean kitchen and bathrooms
  4. Mow dandelions
  5. Reread the galley for Divide by Zero and send my changes to the publisher.
Things I actually did on Wednesday:
  1. Took husband to the urgent care clinic for a stomach ache
  2. Took husband to the ER for suspected appendicitis
  3. Followed husband along many corridors as they prepped him for his op
  4. Collected overnight stuff for husband.
  5. Watched a glorious sunset from the window of his hospital room.
All is well. Husband is home, minus appendix, now and I'm playing catchup. So here are a few book reviews--I'll post more later. I might even clean the kitchen and bathrooms later, but the dandelions will just have to continue shining their gold on the clear summer air for a few more days.

Blue links, when I add them, will lead to full reviews on gather. And coffee will be much appreciated.

Donna Fletcher Crow's A Darkly Hidden Truth is the second in her Monastery Murders series, but it reads perfectly well as a standalone mystery with a delightfully English feel and fascinating ecclesiastical background--think Brother Cadfael meets Agatha Christie perhaps, and look for books one and three. Meanwhile, enjoy a 3-star full-flavored well-balanced coffee.


Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen comes second in the Maple Valley trilogy, romantic small-town dramas centering on three sisters. Again the stories can stand alone without trouble, and in this one the clock is ticking on a woman returning to the hometown where she was always teased for being overweight. But perhaps beauty's more than being just like your sister, and a perfect shape is love in a perfect place. Another book to enjoy with a 3-star well-balanced coffee.

Third in the trilogy is Merry-go-Round by Sherrie Hansen, where the perfect little sister learns not to keep so many secrets, and a perfect church is rocked by an imperfect marriage. Forgiveness and healing are never easy, but the author paints pictures of a very real place where real gossip hurts and real love heals. Perhaps a 4-star complex coffee would go well with this slightly darker tale.

Next comes Kat Richardson's Labyrinth, and this time you probably do need to have followed the series to fully appreciate the tale, though the author does a really good job of bringing forgetful readers back up to speed on past events. Dark and scary, surreal and intriguing, and beautifully set in the Pacific Northwest--in coffee country--this is one to enjoy with a 5-star bold dark intense cup of coffee.

I'll try to get these reviews on Amazon tomorrow, and maybe even post some more--all that reading time in the hospital waiting room but no computer to write on! But I'm grateful for doctors and nurses, for health and for healing, and for God's blessings on all of us.