Monday, December 29, 2014

In Too Deep - First Paragraph / First Chapter and Teaser Tuesday

In Too Deep, Book 1 of 4 in the Due South Series, takes place in a small town on New Zealand's Stewart Island. After her father's drowning death, Piper Harland fled to NZ's South Island and trained to become a member of the elite Police National Dive Squad. But more than sadness over her father's death had driven her away from her family and friends. When she returns to Stewart Island temporarily to help save her brother from financial ruin, she is confronted by all the conflict she thought she'd escaped, including Ryan "West" Westlake, a man who was once her best friend and lover. Can Piper come to terms with her guilt and the uncertainty of her relationship with West? She's a strong woman, but there are good reasons why she left and why she might choose to run away again. 

First Paragraphs:
      When death revealed a pale hand to Piper Harland she didn't turn away, but kicked toward it and grabbed hold.
      Sixty-five feet below Lake Tikitapu's crystal blue water, she found the seventeen-year-old water-skier who'd disappeared yesterday evening. Now that they had pinpointed his location, Piper would return the boy to his grief-stricken family, huddled above on the shore of one of New Zealand's most picturesque lakes.

Teaser from 77% on my Kindle:
      She'd know him blind, deaf, or in a straitjacket. West was part of her DNA. It took extraordinary willpower to keep her arms tucked under his jacket, when she wanted to rip off his fancy shirt so she could taste him from stomach to sternum.

FYI: The ebook version of In Too Deep is FREE on Amazon right now. Although it's part of a series, it stands alone.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length:  316 Pages
Amazon Link: In Too Deep
Other Books by This Author: Tracey Alvarez Website

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Upcycling - Saturday Snapshots

As I'm sure you know, upcycling is the process of giving old items new purpose. I like to do that with clothing. Here are some upcycled outfits I've made for my granddaughter (and one project for my grand-dog). I think it's a fun challenge to see what I can transform into something useful.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
When Corrina decided to dress as a doctor for Halloween,
I made her lab coat costume out of an old dress shirt

of my husband's.
I've made several blouses using this pattern from Etsy. 
The top one was originally an old dress shirt. The cuffs
were frayed but the back and sleeves were perfect.
The one with rickrack was made from
surgical scrubs given to me by a friend.
A pair of my son's jeans became a dress.
Scraps can always be made into a quilt. This dog mat is
constructed from flannel left over from another project.
That's my dog Rufus trying it out.
Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

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To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) 
have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky on the host blogsite. 
Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate 
for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. 
Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

The book's tagline says: Kick up your heels for the first Happy Hoofers Mystery! If you like cozies, then you'll enjoy this one. Five middle-aged tap-dancing women are hired as the entertainment on a Russian Volga River cruise. But the boat is definitely not a luxury liner. Since this is a cozy, there's a murder or two involved, of course. The book also includes several recipes (Beef Strogonoff - yum!) as well as travel tips. But best of all, the main characters are likable, believable, and just plain fun! 

Book Beginning:

"Keeping On Our Toes"
      It all started when Mary Louise decided we needed to exercise. We are five close friends, who've all managed to stay fit over the years. Still, when we moved into our fifties, we knew we had to watch what we ate and become more active. 
      We considered all the ways there are to exercise. What we really loved was dancing, especially tap dancing, so we took a class and worked out some routines. Before long, we were asked to perform at a local senior center ... and then at a community service luncheon... and one gig led to another.

The Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
     The inspector wrote three pages of notes. They were in Russian, of course, so I couldn't even read them upside down. I was getting nervous.

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 304 Pages
Amazon Link: Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses

Coming in February 2015 is the next book in the Happy Hoofers Mystery Series: Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities
Link for Pre-Order: Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities


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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in Seattle - Saturday Snapshots

My daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and I had a great time this past Thursday in downtown Seattle. We visited a Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Hotel (benefiting juvenile diabetes research) and then rode the monorail to a model railroad village at Seattle Center (near the Space Needle.) Here are a few of the photos I took on our fun expedition. Click on photos to enlarge.

Here's the Seattle skyline, done in candy. The artist included the Space Needle, Great Wheel, our cool downtown library, a car ferry, and lots of other landmarks.

Santa's elves were hard at work on this edible tree. The "12" on the crane is in support of Seattle's football team, the Seahawks. You see 12 banners all over town.

Then we took the monorail over to The Armory at Seattle Center to see the miniature railroad village. That's my granddaughter and daughter-in-law looking through the glass. The display was charming with amazing attention to detail.

One of the biggest thrills for my granddaughter was the ride on the Monorail. She and her mom sat in the front seat by the driver. I think the expression on her face says it all!

What a great day!

Here's wishing all of you a joyous holiday with family and friends. 

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vidal's Honor - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

If you like historical romance (Regency), you'll definitely enjoy VIDAL'S HONOR. But this novel by Sherry Gloag is more than a simple love story. It's also filled with mystery, adventure, and intrigue with a strong female character. I had fun reading this engrossing, beautifully written tale.

Book Beginning:
Salamanca - 22 July 1812
      "We've endured some bad storms, have we not Dev, but I misremember one as severe as this."
      Lady Beaumont snuggled up to her lord, her head on his shoulder. They'd celebrate three blissful, if unusual, years of marriage in a month's time. Hopefully this time they'd be back in England and she'd throw a party like none before.

The Friday 56 (from Pg 56):
      Looking back at the woods they'd left behind, Honor tried to marshal her thoughts. Was it her imagination, or were they being followed? She'd seen and heard nothing, and yet, somewhere deep inside her, a place that Dev told her to listen to churned with unease.

Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 233 Pages
Amazon Link: Vidal's Honor
Other Books by This Author: Sherry Gloag Website

      When plunged into a world of spies, agents and espionage during the Peninsula wars, Honor, Lady Beaumont, flees for her life when the French capture her husband at Salamanca, and relies on his batman to arrange her safe passage back to England. 
      Viscount Charles Vidal is ordered by Robert Dumas, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to travel to Spain and escort the only woman he’s ever loved, Lord Devlin Beaumont’s widow back home before the French discover her whereabouts. 
      Their journey is fraught by danger, least of all knowing whether they are surrounded by friends or foe. Will they survive long enough to explore the possibility of a future together or will whispers of treason be enough to see Honor dispatched to Tyburn first?


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Fat Chance - Teaser Tuesday and First Paragraph, First Chapter

      Who hasn't tried a crazy diet or embarked on an overly ambitious exercise program? Maybe because I could stand to lose a few pounds myself, FAT CHANCE appealed to me. Through the diaries of Zoe and Greg Milton, we experience the couple's attempts to lose enough weight to take home the money in a radio station's weight-loss contest. 
      The author did a great job of poking fun at fad diets and weight loss programs, as well as at radio and TV stations' attempts to boost their ratings with crazy contests. I enjoyed Fat Chance and laughed out loud more than once. Yes, I could relate.

First Paragraph:
Posted January 3rd
Are you a couple?
Are you a FAT couple?
Would you like to win £50,000?
WE want to hear from You!

Stream FM is looking for six overweight couples between the ages of 25 and 65 to take part in our fabulous new competition: 'FAT CHANCE'

Over a six-month period, we'll find out which couple can lose the most weight, and the winners will receive £50,000 

Teaser (from 73% on my Kindle):
     IKEA is master of the impulse buy. You may just go in for something boring, cheap, and necessary, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you won't make it out the other end without having purchased something large, expensive, and blessed with a silly product name.

Genre: Humor / Satire
Length: 289 Pages
Amazon Link: Fat Chance
Author's Website: Spalding's Racket

Synopsis from Amazon:
    Meet Zoe and Greg Milton, a married couple who have let themselves go a bit.
    Zoe was a stunner in her college days, but the intervening decades have added five stone, and removed most of her self-esteem. Greg's rugby-playing days are well and truly behind him, thanks to countless pints of beer and chicken curry.
    When Elise, a radio DJ and Zoe's best friend, tells them about a new competition, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn their lives around. Fat Chance will pit six hefty couples against one another to see who can collectively lose the most weight and walk away with a £50,000 prize.
     So begins six months of abject misery, tears, and frustration—that just might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them—in another laugh-out-loud look at the way we live now from bestselling author Nick Spalding.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

$3.00 Off Paperbacks

Thinking of buying BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY in paperback? Now's a good time! Sweet Cravings Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing are giving a $3.00 discount off paperback books. 

Connect HERE and use Code BV5JK96G
$3.00 discount will be applied at checkout
December 14 & 15 only

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

     I wasn't sure if The Tiger Queens would be my kind of story. Genghis Khan? Mongol hordes? But the author immediately captured my imagination. Life on the Mongolian grasslands, the customs of the different clans, and the roles women played in their civilization--all are revealed through the eyes of women. There's plenty of intrigue, danger, and family drama. The author's descriptions are beautifully written and bring the book to life. She must have done an amazing amount of research.
     The saga begins with a prologue, then Part One, Chapter One: 1171 CE, Year of The Iron Hare. You can read the entire prologue and the beginning of Chapter One on the author's website. 

Book Beginning (Prologue):
Our names have long been lost to time, scattered like ashes into the wind. No one remembers our ability to read the secrets of the oracle bones or the wars fought in our names. The words we wrote have faded from their parchments; the sacrifices we made are no longer recounted in the glittering courts of those we conquered. The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur.

The Friday 56 (from Page 56 in my trade paperback copy):
We faced each other and clasped hands while our mothers wound a single piece of blue yarn around our shoulders, a reminder that we were now bound together. Together, we dropped to our knees nine times to honor the Golden Light of the Sun, the Eternal Blue Sky, the rivers that were the lifeblood of the Earth Mother and the revered mountain Burkhan Khaldun, the khan of all mountains.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon Link: The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan
Length (Trade Paperback): 454 Pages
Author Website: Stephanie Thornton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
      In the late twelfth century, across the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, brilliant, charismatic Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself the Great, or Genghis, Khan. But it is the women who stand beside him who ensure his triumph....
      After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, gifted Borte becomes an outsider within her clan. When she seeks comfort in the arms of aristocratic traveler Jamuka, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man who agreed to marry her and then abandoned her long before they could wed.
      Temujin will return and make Borte his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new kingdom. Their daughter, the fierce Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, will transform her desire for revenge into an unbreakable loyalty. And Sorkhokhtani, a demure widow, will position her sons to inherit the empire when it begins to fracture from within.
      In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, the tiger queens of Genghis Khan come to depend on one another as they fight and love, scheme and sacrifice, all for the good of their family...and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls.


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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Yankee Club - Teaser Tuesday and First Paragraph / First Chapter

Hang onto your fedora! Author Michael Murphy takes readers on a wild ride through Prohibition-era New York City in this stylish, well-written mystery. From the Broadway stage to the speakeasies of the Bronx, mystery writer (and ex-detective) Jake Donovan rubs shoulders with Cole Porter, Dashiell Hammett, Babe Ruth, and a host of other famous New Yorkers, all while trying to save the United States government and the love of his life from a sinister plot. Does Jake get the girl? Will the bad guys succeed?? You'll keep guessing until the exciting ending. 

First Paragraph:
Chapter 1 - The Return of Blackie Doyle
     As my train drew closer to New York City, the dining car's rhythmic sway offered no comfort to the painful memories I left behind two years earlier. I ignored the blank sheet of paper in front of me. Rain spattered against the window, and lightning streaked above the countryside. The train didn't slow as we headed into a torrential storm.

Teaser Tuesday (from 17% on my Kindle):
     My experience as a detective and mystery writer let me develop insight into the criminal mind, but I'd learned next to nothing about women. However, one thing I knew for certain. When a dish called me darling, she wanted something.

Genre: Mystery / Private Investigators
Book Length: 264 Pages
Amazon link: The Yankee Club

  • Download The Yankee Club now for just 99 cents
  • All That Glitters, the next Jake & Laura Mystery, is scheduled for release in January. It's available for pre-order now at $2.99.
  • Michael Murphy also wrote Goodbye Emily - a novel about Woodstock and one of my favorite books.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Make a Yo-Yo (Quilt, That Is) - Saturday Snapshots

When I inherited a yo-yo quilt from my mom, I knew it needed repair; but I had no idea it was in such bad shape! It's a bigger project than I realized. So lately I've been spending random moments working on fixing it. This project has given me a new appreciation for just how much time my mom devoted to the quilt's construction. Out of curiosity, I decided to create just one individual yo-yo from scratch to get an idea of what was involved and document the steps. Here they are. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

I used a DVD as my template. It's about inches in diameter. The resulting yo-yo has a 2-inch diameter (approximately).

Gather the edges of the circle, turning the raw edge under about 1/4 inch as you go along. Bigger stitches are better. I think mine are too small. Use a heavy thread like quilting thread.

Pull the stitches tight, then take a couple of locking stitches and tie a knot to secure the thread. 

Once you've made about a million yo-yos, tack them together to form the quilt. (These stitches will be on the back side of the quilt and won't show, so they don't have to be perfect.) 

Here's my mom's yo-yo quilt.

I'll probably sew this quilt to a backing (gotta figure that out!) to make it more stable. By the way, there are lots of tutorial videos on YouTube showing people making yo-yos, in case you'd like to give this a try. 

I doubt if I'll ever make a yo-yo quilt from scratch, but I have a sentimental attachment to this one. Not only did my mom sew it by hand, my niece Kristin also contributed her stitches. Now I've become a part of it too.

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below. 

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hide in Plain Sight - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

     In Hide in Plain Sight a family emergency brings Andrea Hampton from Philadelphia to rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. But Andrea has no intention of staying around to help her grandmother and sister get their bed and breakfast running. Her life is back in the city.
      Cal Burke "just wanted to be alone with his anger and his guilt." He has become fond of Andrea's family and now rents their barn for his furniture building business, but why did he quit practicing law?
      This is a "Love Inspired" inspirational romance, but the author doesn't preach, which I appreciate. It is a well-written, entertaining story with likable characters and a good plot.

Book Beginning:
     She had to get to the hospital. Andrea Hampton's fingers tightened on the steering wheel as that call from the Pennsylvania State Police replayed in her mind in an endless loop. Her sister had been struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking along a dark country road--like this one. They didn't know how badly she was injured.

Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
     A quick jerk of his hand pulled her close to him, and he lowered his head to speak so no one could hear. "A few of the old-timers don't like the idea of another inn opening, increasing the tourist traffic in town."

Genre: Inspirational Fiction / Women's Fiction / Suspense
Book Length: 256 Pages
Amazon Link: Hide in Plain Sight (The Three Sisters Inn Book 1)
Author's Website: Marta Perry

      Available now! Twenty-two Love Inspired authors joined together to create A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE--a collection of recipes and original short stories donated by some of your favorite authors. Marta's story involves a young Amish wife who finds a way to renew her bond with her husband over her chicken pot pie--and Marta's recipe for pot pie is included! 
     A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE is available as both print and e-book, and all profits go to children's charities. 


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More From Sweet Cravings and Secret Cravings Publishing

Are you following the Secret Cravings Blog? Come join us and keep abreast of the latest releases, giveaways, "Culinary Cravings" recipes, author interviews and more from both Sweet Cravings and Secret Cravings authors.

You'll find everything HERE.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Trail Mix - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter / First Paragraph

If you enjoyed experiencing the Pacific Crest Trail in Cheryl Strayed's nonfiction book WILD, then you'll definitely have fun reading TRAIL MIX. In this fictional story two middle-aged suburban women tackle the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. Right now I'm about 60% of the way into the story, experiencing the Smoky Mountains through the characters' eyes and having a great time... all without aching muscles or blisters on my toes. 

First Chapter / First Paragraph / Tuesday Intro:
      Raindrops trickled down Jess' nose. Her sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
      "Why did I do this?" She threw her head back, her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off. The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled faster down the trail.

Teaser (from 21% on my Kindle):
      So much of her life she ran from point A to point B without noticing the journey in between. On this trip, as she traveled from Georgia to Maine, she vowed to live every moment. I will find awe, she promised herself.

Genre: Women's Fiction / Adventure (Fiction)
Book Length: 265 pages
Amazon Link: Trail Mix
Author's Website: Paulita Kincer

In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan. How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can't possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.

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