Friday, February 27, 2015

New Book in the Sweet Briar series by Carol Heilman

Summer's steamy haze coats North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, but feisty Agnes Marie Hopper discovers the heat isn't the only thing causing her blood to boil. After a kitchen fire destroys her home, Agnes moves in with her daughter, Betty Jo. Three months later they come to an understanding: neither can tolerate living with the other. So on a sultry August morning, Betty Jo drives Agnes and her few belongings to Sweetbrier Manor, a local retirement home and former house of ill repute. 

With no intention of staying, Agnes devises a scheme to sneak out of the Manor and find another place to live. Before she can make her exit, she runs into her best friend from high school, along with some other quirky characters. With a nose for trouble, Agnes learns some of the residents are being robbed, over-medicated, and denied basic cable and Internet access. Armed with nothing more than seventy-one years of common sense and a knack for pushing people's buttons, Agnes sets out to expose the unscrupulous administrator, protect her new friends, and restore Sweetbriar Manor's reputation as a "rewarding and enriching lifestyle. But the real moment of truth comes when Agnes is forced to choose between her feisty self-reliance and the self-sacrifice that comes from caring for others.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review - Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Remember Me, by Lara Van Hulzen
October 2014
Book one in the Men of Honor series

Remember Me

ISBN: 1502450062

Ebook $3.99
Print: $9.99

Inspirational romantic suspense

From the Publisher: 
Detective Ben Russo is in trouble.
He just can’t remember why.

When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger. 

After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancĂ©, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own. 

Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love? 

My Review:
How long can love really last? If it’s real, love forgives all things…even when those things don’t make sense and potentially involve another woman.

Van Hulzen’s story of a man who wakes up with no memory and as the patient of the woman he left at the altar six months previously, is a sweetly dramatic tale of everything that can go wrong when priorities get tangled up.

Tess gets the shock of her life when she meets her new patient – Ben, her former fiancĂ© who’s supposed to be off finding himself in Europe after the tragic death of his parents, and the week before he commits himself to Tess.

All the man in the hospital bed knows is that he was in an accident and can’t seem to remember much about his life, not his name or residence. Strange puzzle pieces pop into his mind here and there, and odd abilities, like how to handle a gun, and a high level of peace when he’s with Tess, confuse him.

Tess decides not to tell him she knows him and let him regain his memory on his own. Both are troubled when his wallet is recovered, identifying him as a man neither of them feel comfortable about. But when the puzzle suddenly, terrifyingly, comes together, the picture reveals danger.

With the help of faith, family and friends, Ben and Tess remember that even though love is never a problem, but together they’re stronger when they trust each other.

I found myself eager to keep reading. Van Hulzen’s characters are likeable and the journey toward the conclusion enjoyable with some twists. Set in southern California, I enjoyed a nice trip away from Wisconsin, virtual surfing and sand between my toes. Told from Tess and Ben, and occasional secondary character, points of view, this story is a fun read for those who enjoy romantic suspense.

About the Author:

Lara Van Hulzen received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Point Loma Nazarene University. She lives with her husband and three children in Northern California.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How Checking E-mail Leads to House Fires

Distracted Cooking and Other Catastrophes 

I recently wrote a guest post on a day in the life of a writer. It was filled with really cool and important things I'd done that particularly attractive day for the romantic illusion of a working writer.

But having just experienced another one of those smoke-filled burning heavy-duty aluminum moments reminding me that I had been boiling water, I figured I'd tell blog readers about the other, less romantic side of working at home. What distracts you?

Top Ten Things Not to Do While Cooking

10. Cut hair - Am I the only one who would even think of this? It's really hard to give myself a bad haircut, so when I decided the night before to whack off a few inches, the next morning I got all ready, put the pot on the stove, skipped into the bathroom and starting snipping away. It might not be a bad haircut, but I always forget the floor is uneven, so one side is juuuuust a leeetle shorter...Maybe it's my ears that are crooked. I always forget.

9. Leave the Kitchen - But, but, but...It'll only take a second to go get that thing I was looking for.

8. Feed the birds - I mean, really, I can see the feeders out the window and it will only take a minute to fill them from the huge bag of sunflower seeds. Of course while I'm out there I might as well pull a couple of weeds, or shoo the neighbor's dog, or watch the turkey tracks in the snow...

7. Vacuum. Seriously, the kitchen and living room are not that big. It takes four minutes for water to boil. I don't actually have to get underneath the furniture this time. I'll just reach for that one dust  bunny under my desk. And flip a cushion or two.

6. Think of another blog post - Who'd a thought thinking could be so distracting?

5. Start the Laundry - Like, it's only the two of us left at home, how long could it take to empty pockets and check for stains to pre-treat?

4. Read One More Page - I can even stand there in front of the stove and finish the paragraph. The page. The chapter.

3. Get the Mail - Right now we have a short driveway. It's thirty steps. Past the floating piece of trash, a couple of weeds, the garage door, the empty bird feeders.

2. Make an errands/shopping list - Don't start looking in the refrigerator. Trying to remember how long stuff has been sitting around and whether you'll have enough time to cook and what you might need is thoroughly distracting.

1. Check E-mail - Truly the Number One reason I leave pots boiling over on the stove. I only want to look at the message list, but find myself opening some, and of course needing to respond. Until the smell of burned aluminum reminds me I left something on the stove. At least I caught it before the smoke alarm went off this time. Now, if only I could remember what I was cooking.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review: Uncharted Redemption by Keely Brooke Keith

Uncharted Redemption

book 2 of the Uncharted series
Keely Brooke Keith
Edenbrooke Press
Feb 24, 2015
Kindle $3.99
Religious fiction, near future

Available February 24. Buy on Amazon

From the Publisher:
Levi Colburn, resentful of his father, haunted by his mother’s tragic death, and pained by his love for the unattainable Mandy Foster, breaks from the Land’s tradition and begins to build a life of his own. When rebels tear through the village of Good Springs, Levi vows to deliver justice and restore the woman he loves. As tradition stands in the way of redemption and threats from the outside world begin to appear, Levi must learn his greatest battles cannot be fought with his fists. Romantic, suspenseful, and filled with adventure, Uncharted Redemption weaves dramatic new layers into life in the Land.

My review:
Keith’s dedication helps the reader understand the theme of book two in the Uncharted series- “For every girl who ever felt ruined.” Societal dictates aside, the people of the Land, descendants of a mysterious island settled by those desiring a peaceful civilization during the American Civil War, have created a near-Paradise generations later. Untroubled by the outside world, they work the land, practice the arts, have some pre-industrial manufacturing, and live a life of mostly tranquility. Naturally there must come evil in the form of a family who felt cheated and passed down this resentment from father to son on the Land, culminating in this episode.
While this book stands alone, readers new to the series may at first have some difficulty keeping the characters identified. A family tree would perhaps be beneficial. The novel focuses on one of several communities on this large island, Good Springs, where the settlers first came ashore. The village overseer, Samuel Colburn, also serves as the preacher and justice of the peace, in modern terms. His son, Levi, is expected to take his place, but chooses not to follow tradition and become a carpenter. Spurned years earlier by the neighbor girl he loves, Mandy, as well as long-held resentment from the death of his mother, Levi carries an enormous chip on his shoulder. When his sister Bethany, and Mandy, are attacked, and Mandy kidnapped, Levi must choose to grow past his resentment and take his place in society as a man. He finds Mandy, who has managed to slip away from her captors, and stays by her side during her recovery. But Mandy has kept a secret for many years that also defies Land traditions and keeps her locked in a cage of self-denial and bondage.
The story of their journey to personal freedom and united commitment makes for a joyous read.
The “meanwhile” part of the story flashes to a parallel event taking place in the outside world, one which will eventually challenge everything held dear.
Some readers may find the acts of violence in this book disturbing, though they show the depth of necessary action in this community that has virtually no experience with criminal disobedience.  
Readers of near future and paranormal fiction will enjoy this series. Occasionally sloggy sections are easily dismissed, in my opinion. This author, I’m sure, will continue to grow her obvious story-telling skill.

About the Author:
Keely Brooke Keith, author of the Uncharted series, is a bass guitarist and frequently performs and tours with her husband, singer/songwriter John Martin Keith. When she isn't writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores. Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and their daughter, Rachel.

Connect with Keely:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Special Valentine's Day giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Meander Scar by Lisa J. Lickel

Meander Scar

by Lisa J. Lickel

Giveaway ends February 20, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Not Bound By Time by Victoria Pitts-Caine

Introducing the Exciting New Novel by Victoria Pitts-Caine!

About the Book:

Time cannot imprison love nor hold it in place. At Balmoral, a two-hundred-year-old estate in old Northampton, love calls and only the heart can answer. 

When five-year-old Albert Farraday first sets foot on the grounds of Balmoral, he senses its magic. After he returns from the Korean War and is employed as the caretaker, Camille, the mysterious new wife of the owner of the estate, leads Albert to believe there is indeed a 
force drawing the love-worn to Balmoral. 

After Camille’s widowed niece visits the mansion, then disappears, he is certain his own sister Lydia traveled to meet her love and didn’t go mad as his mother had suggested. 

Over the years Balmoral welcomes brokenhearted travelers who find their way to the portal and into the arms of love, and Albert comes to the understanding he is not only the custodian of Balmoral 
but the keeper of its secrets. 

Buy the Book:

Watch the Trailer:

A brief Interview with the Author:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

There’s something magical when love finds a way. The reader will discover there is hope and a little fairy-tale enchantment when the characters, even though they are in an unusual situation, manage to travel through time to their true loves.

Who is one of your favorite characters in the book and why?
Camille Windham is my favorite. She’s the first traveler and I took a little bit of my own ancestral background to create her.

Why did you decide to do a time travel?
I read Love of My Heart by Bess McBride and was haunted by the story and the concept. The couple discovers they were in love before in another time. I decided it was a genre I wanted to try. The Time Traveler’s Wife was another favorite.

What else about your book might grab the reader’s interest?

There are three separate but connected stories in Not Bound By Time and there’s a little bit for everyone from Western to World War II to protecting the Scottish regalia in the 1500’s.

About the Author:
Victoria Pitts Caine is a native Californian. Her varied interests include genealogy and exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into her novels. While her genre is inspirational, she has branched out into other areas such as her current release, Not Bound By Time and a YA mystery/suspense.  

The author has received recognition from: Enduring Romance Top 10 Picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine, HI Families Magazine and The Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel, Alvarado Gold, was published in 2007. To complete the trilogy which began with Alvarado Gold, Cairo was published in 2013 and The Tempering Agent in 2014.

She is the mother of two daughters. Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, church service and emergency radio communications.

Connect with Victoria:

Read an Excerpt:
The year was 1942, and Randolph Mitchell, along with several of his fellow soldiers, marched down a road pockmarked by shelling in London. He shuddered as a light mist fell around him. Late summer had gone.

A captain at twenty-two, Randolph’s first glimpses of war lay around him. Bile rose in his throat at the devastation. Is this what years of military boarding school has brought me to? He bent to retrieve a bit of paper. Printed roses danced on the edge, and with nowhere to discard it, he pocketed the small scrap of the life people there once lived.

When the men arrived in town earlier, Randolph spotted the young woman gazing into a merchant’s window. She carried herself with an air of importance. Ribbons and lace accented her oddly-layered clothes of multicolored fabrics. Such elaborate attire was ill-suited because people were starving and only making do. Randolph dismissed her unusual manner of dress. Who could she be? So out of place, yet so beautiful.

His troop moved up the street, and as he surveyed the area, he forced himself to forget the woman, but when he approached the shop, she turned, and their eyes met. Randolph Mitchell lost his heart in that split second, but it would take his head a while to figure it out. His eyes pursued her as she picked her way through the rubble of the bombed-out buildings.
“Hello,” he ventured.

As a delicate pink color rose from her neck, she turned her eyes toward the window. Randolph sauntered to stand beside her and glanced at their reflection. He stood a good foot taller than she. 
His wrinkled uniform caused a pang of self-consciousness, but his desire to speak to her quelled his embarrassment. “I’m Randolph Mitchell, US Army.” He smiled, studying her porcelain complexion and bright hazel eyes, hoping for a welcome response.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be talking to you,” the woman said.

“It’s safe. We’ve been sent here to protect you. Or err… your country.” Randolph took his cap off and grinned at her. “I, ah, we might make sure you get home. Do you live close by?”

The young woman’s face blanched as she shook her head. “I used to live here.” She sighed. Then she backed away, turned around, and started running.

Randolph clenched his fists. He had to find out.

“Wait! I didn’t mean any harm!” He called after her. “Your name? At least tell me your name!”

“Camille Windham,” came from her lips, and her name planted itself in Randolph’s heart.

She scampered down the walkway away from Randolph, leaving only her name.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: Legitimate Lies by Julie B Cosgrove

January, 2015
Prism Book Group
$3.99 ebook, $15.99 Paperback
Buy on Amazon

From the Publisher: Jen assumes she can escape her past after she testifies against Robert, her human trafficking mogul husband, and enters into witness protection under a new identity. That is until a baby shows up on the stoop of the library where she works, and another man from her past, Tom, appears in her living room. Now she must relocate again under yet another name and memorize a new set of legitimate lies to explain who she is. 

When Robert discovers her latest identity, he has other plans for her, such as enslaving her in a Tudor manor in Southern England. The scandalous family secrets she discovers may hold the key to her and the daughter of the manor’s freedom. But first she must tunnel through a myriad of lies, including the dark sin which has held her own heart captive. If the truth is revealed, will it hinder her one chance for happiness?

My Review: Cosgrove’s sequel to Hush in the Storm is filled with dizzying twists. Most of the time I had no idea who to trust, and changed my mind more than once about the identity of the real bad guys. And maybe that’s part of the author’s message. We are all short of the mark of trustworthiness at different times in our lives. Dreams, desires, goals and plans change as we develop and mature, and experience life.

Jen Westlaw is on the move again after her first sojourn in Witness Protection got her cover story blown. This time she’s been sent to Europe, and since her mother was British, it seems a plausible story. Plus, it’s a place she’s always wanted to visit.

Poor Jen can’t have anything go right, and the reader will just have to read the story to see how fiendish the people in her life have become. One lie builds on another...which are the lies necessary to save innocent lives, including her own? Which lies should she keep, and which must be told in order for her to redeem herself?

For those who read this book before Hush in the Storm, the beginning is a bit sloggy while the author catches us up, and readers could probably skim the details. After that, I dare readers to put the book down. Occasionally the story feels like it tumbles down a steep hill completely out of control, but as the truth is pulled back layer by layer, the reader will enjoy many “aha” moments.

Legitimate Lies is for those who like faith-based FBI-type thrillers featuring real-to-life people who struggle with living out their faith, want a virtual visit to England, and love good Happily Ever After endings.