Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Extra Special Christmas Post

What a wonderful Christmas present! Glenda Bixler has created an extra-special Christmas post, with excerpts from Bethlehem's Baby, so beautifully presented, with wonderful music, artwork and more. Meet Bethlehem's Baby, Mary's father, the angel Gabriel, and an excited little shepherd boy... Enjoy!

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone.

And heartfelt apologies to anyone still awaiting long-promised book reviews.
 I will endeavor to get back on schedule soon, but today's timetable is filled with turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, and all those wonderful trimmings; followed by board games around the table with two sons and much delight; plus Enya playing in the background; followed by gluten-free mince pies, turkey butties, and possibly, if one of those sons smiles really sweetly, trifle. The tree will smell of pine. The wrapping paper will crackle and tear. Phone calls to England will elicit many smiles. And hugs, both real and virtual, will be shared.

I think that covers all five senses, for me anyway. May your Christmas Day be filled with delights for all your senses too. And I really will post those book reviews soon--honestly--just not today (and not on Boxing Day either).

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Kingdom of Vosh

Today I'm hosting one of the final posts in The Kingdom of Vosh blog tour with a book review for Christmas...  the only problem being, it's Christmas; the sons have arrived home; I've just learned to make edible gluten-free mince pies; my book, Nazareth Neighbors, just came out on kindle; someone needs a ride to the dentist; someone else wants me to help set up their laptop on our wireless network; and someone wants to steal my laptop to play games.... HELP!!!!

I have started reading though, and I am quite hooked, sufficiently so that my kindle is glued to my hand, picking up a layer of gluten-free flour as I bake, nestling next to the scissors as I wrap parcels, and... well, etc...

Why do I like it? Because that first scene is delightfully reminiscent of Dastardly and Muttley and their flying machines (a childhood favorite), well-crossed with Star Wars pod-racing. Then there's the Vork, which feels like an intriguing cross between a dragon and a Saint Bernard at the moment, but I'm sure I shall learn more. There's the writing, an enjoyably visual blend of first person narration, vivid description, and exciting third person action (especially racing through the skies). And the characters--back to the Vork again; I must learn more about him. There's a princess who's definitely more hapless than she imagines, and thoroughly spoiled. There's deep world-building, nicely told without slowing the story. There's a mysteriously evil bad guy, dark shadows in past a future, dialog that beautifully fits the part, a very special artifact, and a touch of magic...

A touch of magic, of course, is just what I need as I try to reproduce those edible gluten-free mince pies. They tasted so much better than the bricks I baked a few years ago. Life is good. And Merry Christmas! Meanwhile, if you're still waiting for a long-promised review from me, I will surely catch up, just as soon as I can.

Where's that kindle...

Where's that washing machine...

Where are the car keys...

JasonCConley About the Author: In 1999, Jason Conley drew a picture of a young woman’s face. It eventually became the cover of the book you now hold. When not consumed by writing or art, Jason canoes, fishes, and hikes the rolling hills of Tennessee with his family.

There are secrets to this world we live in. Some faintly whispered, others hidden in plain view. Some of those secrets have been carefully placed throughout this book. Truth and fiction, it is what we try to discern between every day, though I wonder is it even recognizable anymore?

Do we know the truth or are we simply told what to believe in and what is real? It is a journey we are all on. It will be up to you to decide which parts are which.

Break loose of those chains and look around you, because the truth… will set you free.  

About the Book: Secrets have been formed in the dark corners of the kingdom. Change is in the air and whispers of new ideas and technologies have swept the land. Unfortunately, the King is old and simple and his daughter is concerned only with worldly possessions. A man by the name of Buul, a man long forgotten, has returned to pay a visit to the King on the King’s birthday. He has not come empty handed and will be the King’s undoing.

 The King, in moments of panic and war, can trust no one with the protection of his daughter. He quickly decides to entrust her life with a creature most vile and uncommon and chains her to a Vork. He does not leave her empty handed though. His last gift to the Princess is an amulet with powers even he does not comprehend. The land’s only chance, the only one loyal to the King’s memory, is the daughter that cares nothing of the Kingdom of Vosh.

Author Links: 
Facebook page:

Tour Schedule and Activities: 

November 20 Watch Play Read Review  
November 20 Beagle Book Space Contest  
November 21 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Guest Post November 22 Jess Resides Here Guest Post November 23 Lost Inside the Covers Review
 November 24 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post  
November 25 The Official Writing Blog of Dee Dee Davies Guest Post  
November 26 Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews Guest Post  
November 27 Spellbindings Review  
November 28 Workaday Reads Guest Post
 November 29 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review  
November 30 Azure Dwarf Review  
December 1 Vampires, Witches, & Me, Oh My! Guest Post  
December 3 Little Red Reviewer Interview  

December 4 Myriad Musings Guest Post/Interview  
December 6 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post  
December 7 Breath of Life Review  
December 9 Book in the Bag Review  
December 11 Angela Meadon Blog Review  
December 13 Deal Sharing Aunt Review  
December 15 SpecMusicMuse Review/Interview  
December 16 Word to Dreams Review  
December 18 A Haunted Head Interview  
December 19 Bookishly Me Review  
December 20 The Dan Brien Project Guest Post  
December 23 Sheila Deeth Blog Review

Amazon Links for The Kingdom of Vosh  
Print Version Kindle Version

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Are you getting books for Christmas?

Christmas is fast approaching. My Mum brought it on the plane with her luggage from England. Then we unpacked. And now we've unpacked our ornaments for the Christmas tree as well. It's definitely coming.

Meanwhile there's shopping, writing, reading, editing, and shopping some more to be done. We didn't just find Christmas puddings on today's expedition; we found brandy butter to put on them too, so our son will enjoy his just desert. And we found beef and potato pasties, frozen, ready to heat and serve for dinner (well, ready for dinner for the gluten-eaters among us, which is everyone except me--never mind; I found a wonderful gluten-free french country loaf yesterday and I'm very very happy!).

We found Mr. Kipling bakewell tarts, and viennese swirls. Sons, are you reading this? And we found Vimto! Vimto is a wonderful English drink! But coffee's the drink to go with books, and here are some book reviews to go with that coffee...

I'll start with the very seasonal set of short stories called Christmas Lites III. A great blend of genres, voices, ideas and styles, bound together by Christmas, very nicely collected and edited, they'll go well with multiple cups of different coffee genres. If you're just taking one cup though, make it a bold, dark 5-star cup.

Dan O'Brien's B-Sides tales, Hobbes Family, and Water, will go well with some more dark 5-star coffee. Dark dystopian short stories that nicely draw down global themes into the lives of ordinary people, they're both of them haunting and sad.

So now you need cheering up? The Culling, by Robert Johnson, will not cheer you but it's a great book; a truly intelligent, powerful, and exciting tale of dystopia in the making, with lots of real science, real scientists behaving like real people, plenty to think about, and moral dilemmas as scary as the plot. Enjoy this with another dark 5-star cup of coffee.

The Geronimo Breach, by Russell Blake, takes itself pretty seriously too, but requires a greater leap of faith in the reader. More message-driven than informative, it offers a darkly exciting glimpse of American global politics through the eyes of jaded operatives in Panama. Conspiracy theories abound, with explanation that sometimes overloads the storyline. But the novel is exciting, should definitely appeal to those of suitably jaded politics, and would go well with another dark 5-star coffee

Joseph M. Rinaldo's A Spy at Home takes the theme of spies in a totally different direction. Told in the laconic voice of an ex-spy, now living at home with his wife and adopted Downs syndrome son, it blends telling details of the son's life and nature with the gritty dilemmas of secret wars, turning a flawed, sometimes self-centered narrator slowly into a friend. Different, intriguing, and absorbing, this one will go well with a 4-star elegant complex coffee.

Finally, here's a mystery story equally filled with genuine characters and an honest sense of place. Murder at Eastern Columbia, by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson is almost two mysteries in one, set in Depression era Los Angeles. It's beautifully evocative, with pitch-perfect dialog, nicely contrasting and humanly informative viewpoints, and a blend of plots and clues that's very satisfyingly different; a thoroughly enjoyable novel to accompany a 4-star complex cup of coffee.

And now it's time to write, before all those other books on my Christmas list tempt me!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Illuminating Gracie

illuminating gracie tour

My blog guest today is Lisa C. Temple, author of Illuminating Gracie, where an angel offers an elderly woman one last chance to change the life she lived. Think Twilight, Hunger Games, the age-old battle between good and evil, and the spiritual journeys that make us truly human...

Learn more about the book and author below, and don't forget there's a great rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post.But first, here's an excerpt to give you a flavor of the book:

       Because he was an angel, Lochedus carried the power of life and death in his touch. With the wave of his hand, he could calm an angry sea or rain down terrible destruction on the heads of the guilty. He could grant peace to the troubled and visit devastating disease on the deserving. But no matter how hard he tried he could not, that night, pull himself from the depression that threatened to tear him apart. It had taken the touch of a small boy to do what a mighty angel could not and the far- reaching fallout from the child’s selfless act would echo throughout eternity.
       Through the years, Lochedus had checked in on the boy, quietly keeping vigil – never speaking, only watching. Not one time did the boy acknowledge his existence or seem to see him again. Not even in his darkest hours did he call out for help. That is, until tonight. The boy, now an old man, didn’t beg for his own soul, but for the soul of another – the one he loved most in the world. And now, the angel would move Heaven and Earth – and Hell if he had to – to help the one to whom he owed so much.

More about Illuminating Gracie:

As an old woman’s lifeless body lies on a cold stone floor, her soul stands before an angel who offers her a miraculous opportunity: the chance to do it all again. But that is easier said than done. In order to change the path her life has taken, she must put aside years of self-loathing and pain, so she can help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been.
At 17 years old, Grace Bennett is a bitter young woman. Though blessed with a loving family, looks and brains to spare, she hides her light under a bushel, spending most of her time in the darkness of her mind with little more than sarcasm and self-pity to keep her company.
But things are about to change for Grace. While delivering food for her family’s bed and breakfast, she turns onto a desolate dirt road and drives straight into her destiny.
It’s on this isolated country lane that the damaged girl meets a strangely familiar old couple and two mysterious young men. Together the group fights the demons that surround Grace, and they teach her what it means to let her light shine.
“Illuminating Gracie” is, at once, a metaphorical tale of the fight between good and evil and a spiritual saga of one girl’s journey from darkness into the light. If you liked “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games,” you will love the story of Gracie.

amazon blog Barnes and Noble Book Depository blog
  And now for another excerpt:

 As if able to read my thoughts, he leaned in even closer, afford- ing me full access to his aroma, and in a husky, almost whisper beseeched, “Please . . . tell me your name.”
I have no logical explanation for my body’s reaction to his hushed entreaty. My pulse flew matching my heart rate, while every pore and fiber of my skin went on high alert, going hot and cold virtually simultaneously. For once, I was grateful for the dark and the cover it provided my blushing face.
       The worst part of the whole thing was that I had the distinct feeling Merc not only knew what embarrassing reactions his close proximity caused in my traitorous body, but he intended on eliciting just those responses. Whether it was my sapped energy from the drama of the night or my own sad lack of experience in the area of male/female relations, I had no resources available to me to mount a proper defense against him. In all honesty, I couldn’t imagine why I should. After all, I knew plenty of girls that would have been on this guy like “white on rice.” Why should I get bogged down with details and unanswered questions like: Who was he really? Why was he being so nice to me? Why hadn’t Mrs. B. and Willem mentioned him?
       Why should I look a gift horse in the mouth? If this “uber- hot” boy wanted to be my “knight in shining armor,” why shouldn’t I let him be just that? I had never been anyone’s “damsel in distress,” and it certainly wasn’t because I had some feminist axe to grind. No, that wasn’t it at all. It was because no one had ever applied for the position. So now I was going to ignore the warning bells, silence my fears and pack away my paranoia. For once, I was going to be the one with the romantic story to tell at the lunch table on Monday, instead of the one listening on the far fringes and replying with the obligatory “oohs” and “ahs” to the stories told by all the braver, more beautiful, more fortunate girls.
       Having solved my inner conflicts, I answered him with a breath- less and what I hoped was sexy voice, “Grace, my name is Grace.”
       I wanted him to say something like my name was beautiful. That would play well with the lunchtime listeners. But, to my surprise, he seemed almost irritated.
       “Ha . . . ha ha,” he barked a short laugh. “Yeah, that’s about right. Well, come on, Grace – let’s get you home.”
       I was a little disconcerted by his reaction. Huh . . . weird. What should my name have been? Veronica . . . Candy . . . Jinx?
       Never one to keep my mouth shut, I opened it, ready to ask him if he preferred stripper names, but before I could get a word out Merc’s whole body stiffened and he jerked his head sharply to the right. I strained to see what he saw or heard to create such a reaction in him. The only thing visible was the dim outline of the tremendous back portion of the mansion that was softly lit by land- scape lighting buried deep in the bushes.
       I looked at Merc, wanting an explanation for his behavior. “What’s the problem? Did you hear something . . . somebody?” I whispered. If he had heard something, then he had better ears than I. Of course, I was hyper-focused on the visual treat that was standing next to me. A hurricane could have blown through, and I might not have noticed.

More about the author: 

On thirty-nine Senior scrolls, the Headmaster of author, Lisa C. Temple’s, small, private school wrote “Good Luck and best wishes for a prosperous future!” On the fortieth and final scroll, which was Temple’s, the Headmaster penned the words, “Lisa, I can’t wait to see to what use you put your unusual talents!” Temple spent the next 30 years trying to assuage her former leader’s curiosity – and her own.
She sold BMWs in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and hillbillies (as a booking agent) in Nashville, Tennessee. In an effort to escape the enforced servitude of the Junior League, she even attended and was graduated from law school and passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 2002. Through it all, she battled problems and illnesses, many of her own making. But, it wasn’t until her father – her hero – was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), that Temple found her true calling – the “talent” that she finds joy in putting to use.
“Illuminating Gracie,” is loosely autobiographical and born from a desire to, if only, metaphorically right the wrongs of Temple’s own past. It tells the story of a miserable old woman who is given the opportunity – by an angel – to go back in time and help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been. “Illuminating Gracie,” is the first book in a four-book series. The second book, “Instigating Gracie,” is due for release in December 2013.
Temple laughs when saying she has a loving and complicated husband she deserves, and a wonderful son and two loving stepchildren that she does not. She also shares her life with her beloved pets: Pomeranian, Phebe; Bordernese, Flash; and Tabby cat, MInx.

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Want to read more?

       “Yes, Grace?” he answered. His kind, caring blue eyes gazed into mine with transparent concern.
       “Where did Merc go?” I demanded. I had to know. This time, I had no intention of pretending I hadn’t heard the conversation. If my life was in jeopardy, I needed to know why and from whom.
       I’d always envied damsels in distress, thinking how wonderful their lot in life must be to have some strong knight to love them and fight all their battles for them. But in the cold light of reality, I realized I just wasn’t cut out for the part. I couldn’t just stand by helplessly watching others take risks for me while I sat in my ivory tower (or French Chateau) drinking tea and filing my fingernails completely oblivious to the peril.
       Locke hadn’t answered me, so I repeated the question more firmly. “Where did Merc go, Locke? I need to know where he is and I need to know what is going on.” I suddenly felt brave – strong – like Joan of Arc ready to take on whatever ominous enemy lay in wait for me. I wished I had a horse.
       And there it was again: the blank look, the deer-in-headlights, innocent-as-a-newborn-babe look Locke had perfected. “What are you talking about, Grace? Merc hasn’t been here. You must have hallucinated when you were passed out.” He was lying. I was sure of it. That is, until the strangest thing happened.

Praise for the book:

"A well-paced fantasy story of redemption and self-improvement." ~Kirkus Review (Sept. 1, 2013 Magazine)

"Just the right amount of love story to the action packed plot line left this book a perfectly balanced read." ~Maryann (Amazon “Top 1000” Reviewers)

"The story also contains little mysteries that keep you turning the pages, as gems of insight turn up along the way. It is a story of hope and redemption, and a beautiful request of each of us to let our light shine brightly."  ~Kimberly Raadt Higgins (Amazon Review)

"On a personal level, I can relate to Grace in so many ways. As I read, a lot of memories and feelings from my teenage and young adult years have come flooding back, some a little painful, others fun and exciting, even hopeful. Yet it also has me contemplating where I am today as a middle-aged adult; am I who I thought I would be, who I want to be?" ~N.J. Collar (Amazon Review)

"The plot is masterfully drawn and keeps the reader guessing until the end. This book tells the story of the fight between good and evil in a young woman's life. It is brilliant in its use of humor and emotion to draw the reader into the characters." J. Pitts (Amazon and Goodreads)

 And to find out even more, follow the blog tour:

December  4th
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer – Guest Post
Bound 4 Escape – Review
Writer’s Alley – Guest Post & Post Tour Review
Books Are Sanity!!! – Guest Post
We Do Write – Interview
Once Upon a YA Book – Author Interview
Pieces of Whimsy - Tens List

December 5th
Simple Wyrdings – Review
Raizza’s Book Blogging Adventure – Review
Ali’s Books – Spotlight
Spellbindings – Spotlight
Victoria Simcox’s Blog – Spotlight

December 6th
Mythical Books – Interview
Bookmarks, Spoilers and Happily Ever After – Spotlight
Mel’s Shelves – Review
Flutters and Flails – Review
Scribbler’s Sojourn – Guest Post

December 7th
The Bearded Scribe – Review
Crazy Book Reviewer – Review
Seeking Him with all Yur Heart – Review
My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews – Review
Books Direct - Review & Interview
December 8th
Curling Up With A Good Book – Tens List
BrigitteWhoa The Book-A-Holic – Review
Cici’s Theories – Review
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – Spotlight
From the Bootheel Cotton Patch – Spotlight
Wicked Book Addict’s Reviews – Spotlight

December 9th
The college crawl – Guest Post
Book Readers – Spotlight
Shelf Full of Books – Review
Reviews By Karen – Spotlight
Indie Author How-to – Tens List

December 10th
Getting Your Read On – Review
Giveaway Breaking News for Indonesia – Spotlight
Novel Words by Jessica – Review

December 11th
Manic Mama of 2 – Review
Fairiechick’s Fantasy Book Reader – Spotlight
Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Character Interview
Gustosa Giveaways – Spotlight
deal sharing aunt – Tens List

December 12th
The World of ContestPatti – Spotlight
Word to Dreams – Guest Post
BookHounds YA – Interview

December 13th
Lori’s Reading Corner – Guest Post
Sheila Deeth – Guest Post
1 Book Lovers Opinion – Review
Amethyst Daydreams – Guest Post
MichaelSciFan – Interview
Howling Books and Design – Spotlight

And now for the giveaway

Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/31/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a final excerpt:

       Of all the sights I expected to see, a wet Merc being attended to by not one but two visiting airheads was about the last thing on my list. I would rather have been greeted by the sight of the entire bed & breakfast group floating through the air toward the Devil himself than my beautiful Romeo caught in the clutches of the Doublemint Twins. But there he was, smack dab in the mid- dle of the two blonde bimbos, their ample bosoms visibly heaving through soaked wet T-shirts. I wanted to throw up right on the spot but instead I stood on the deck of the inn – right next to the barbeque grill – and did a little heavy breathing of my own. I was seething with anger as I watched their every movement and though I didn’t join the group of folks now milling around the pier, I heard enough of their talk to get the gist of the story.
       The sleaze sisters had commandeered the inn’s fishing boat in order to row across the lake and meet up with two boys from town. Apparently, all went well on the first crossing but problems arose for the girls on the return trip. One or the other of them (they’re interchangeable) stood up to wave to her townie boyfriend and the small boat flipped, throwing both the girls into the dark lake. Since neither had the foresight nor intelligence to secure life vests for the voyage, they were in serious peril when they hit the water.
       At that moment, I was wishing they were still in the water. Not a particularly charitable or Christian thought – but a truthful one. More disturbing still was that as I stood steaming and staring into the melee, I couldn’t help noticing how perfect Merc looked sandwiched in between the two blondes. Weak and disheartened, I felt all my newfound confidence drain away even as I scolded myself for the lack of faith I had in Merc – and in me. Only minutes before I would have bet my life on Merchison’s devotion. Maybe I’d just been caught up in the powerful grip of first love, but in that bedroom with Merc by my side I felt as if we would be together forever. And now all those dreams were being washed away by a pair of mindless miscreants in tight, wet T-shirts.