Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quilt Trip: A Southern Quilting Mystery - Book Beginnings on Friday and Friday 56

What happens when a group of women (all quilters) are trapped for days inside a creaky old home during an ice storm? No electricity, ghosts, a pantry with limited food, and... murder?

I enjoyed this sweet cozy mystery - maybe because I'm a quilter and Southern, or maybe because it was a fun escape.

Book Beginning:
     Beatrice Coleman looked in horror at her neighbor Meadow Downey. "You mean we're not even invited? We're gate-crashing?"
     They were in Meadow's aging green van and Meadow was speedily driving them to a home just slightly outside their town of Dappled Hills, North Carolina.

Friday 56 (at 56% on my Kindle):
Sometime in the middle of the night, they were all awakened by a piercing scream from upstairs. The fire had burned out and the library was completely dark.

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Number of Pages: 305 Pages
Amazon Link: Quilt Trip

Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Picturing Perfect - Book Beginnings and Friday 56

I've done it again - read the final book in a series first. But although  PICTURING PERFECT is book #3 in the Love of My Life series, it stands alone. The other two books in the series are BOUQUET TOSS and CHAMPAGNE TOAST.

This is a sweet romance with this tagline: "Life may not turn out like we planned, but sometimes that’s what makes it perfect…" 

Book Beginning:
     I had a plan.
     I knew exactly how my future would be. I wanted to marry my boyfriend Tucker, to have a nice long engagement as we planned the perfect wedding ceremony. My father would walk me down the aisle as my white dress dragged gently against the tile of our church floor, knocking the pews like a silent bell as I strolled down the aisle. 

Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
     "You've got this," Jason said from across the stage. I was starting to think he could read my mind. His green eyes were shining underneath the bright stage lights. His smile was subtle and comforting. We each took a deep breath.

Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction / Romance
Number of Pages:  325
Amazon Link:  Picturing Perfect

Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Reflections of Mamie - Teaser Tuesday

Today's Teaser Tuesday post features a memoir: Reflections of Mamie.  Written in a casual conversational style, as if talking with a friend, Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins relates her story of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her mother. Though much of the book is hard to read, it offers hope for those who have experienced this same mistreatment.

My Teaser:
It became blatantly clear to me that escaping was the only answer; otherwise, I would never live to see my next birthday. Now, more than ever, I knew that it was time to make some viable, elaborate plans.
(Page 114)

Genre: Memoir / Nonfiction
Number of Pages: 298
Mamie's Website: Link Here

REFLECTIONS OF MAMIE was named Book of the Month for January by Goodread's "Modern Good Reads" group. Congratulations, Mamie!

Synopsis from Amazon:
The story begins in the early 1950's suburbs of Houston, Texas. Mamie is a young child of four who was unwanted, afraid, abused and with nowhere to turn, learned that she had to stand alone. Her only friends were her older brother, an abused child himself, and her nanny, who begged their mother to stop beating them. The father, though he loved his children, remained passive to the end. A victim himself, the only protection he offered was a warning to stay out of their mother's reach. 

This story shares Mamie's heroic battle to keep her dreams alive and hold on to her spirit. How she finds her way out of fifty-four years of abuse is yours to discover in her fascinating memoirs. 

Mamie reminds you throughout every step of her journey that she is a survivor. Indeed, it was her consummate ability to hope, plan and dream that kept her going from four to fifty-four when the abuse finally ended. The saying that, ‘you can beat the tar out of the girl but you will never break her spirit without her permission’ explains her secret to survival. But did her story end there? What other surprises does Mamie have in store for you? Does her journey end with another dream?

Mamie has a special love of animals so she has elected to support two charities with donations from the sales of her book: Dreamcatchers for Abused Children (Link Here) and Kitsap Rescue Humane Society (Link Here).

Mamie and her book carry the same message-NEVER GIVE UP!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away -- you don't want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers
  • Leave a comment on MizB's Teaser Tuesday post (HERE) and include your link so everyone can find your post.

Writing Process Blog Hop

By invitation from Gilli Allan (author of Fly or FallLife Class, and Torn) today I'm participating in the MY WRITING PROCESS Blog Hop. The only requirements are to answer four questions, and then tag more authors* at the end of the post to keep the hop ... well, hopping. So here goes!

1. What am I working on?
Right now I have two projects battling for space in my brain: a short story that wants to grow up to be a novel and a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) book that's demanding a rewrite. The short story involves a bottle containing water from the Fountain of Youth; the NaNoWriMo novel takes a woman from a small town in Texas to the neon lights of Miami's South Beach. The Fountain of Youth story is the lead contender for my imagination.

But before I can fully concentrate on either one, my focus is on the release by Secret Cravings Publishing of Bluebonnets for Elly in just a few weeks. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I like to include strong older women in my stories, so not all of my characters are gorgeous twenty-somethings. Although the title character in Bluebonnets for Elly is in her mid-twenties, an important person in the story is Elly's grandmother, a woman in her seventies. I believe Granny adds warmth, wisdom, and humor to the love story, and I had a lot of fun writing about her and her senior-citizen friends. In my first novel, I.O.U. Sex, all three main characters are Baby Boomers. 

3.  Why do I write what I do?
I enjoy reading women's fiction and romance novels, and that's one reason I write that genre. It seems those are the kinds of stories that rattle around in my brain. Also, there's the whole "write what you know" thing. I like to set my stories in Texas because that's where I grew up and spent a huge portion of my life, and I go back to North Texas to visit friends and family often. The saying "once a Texan, always a Texan" is true in my case. Lots of interesting characters have been a part of my life so there's a wealth of personalities to draw on. 

4. How does your writing process work?
I'm not sure I have a "process." Basically, I'll get an idea and start thinking "what if." For example, I've seen lots of people around my town who seem to use mobility scooters as their main form of transportation - tooling down the sidewalk, braving traffic at pedestrian crosswalks, zipping around the outlet mall - and I started wondering, What if that's how I had to get around? What would that be like? And since I have a friend who lives in a mobile home community for senior citizens, I wondered what it would be like to live in such a place. Do some of those folks get around by scooter? Are there rules that apply to the residents? Those questions led to Bluebonnets for Elly. I changed the scooter to a tricked-out golf cart, and although there are golf carts and scooters in the story, they're not central to it. They're just what got me started! 
I actually saw a tricked-out golf cart that looked
almost identical to the one I'd imagined in Bluebonnets for Elly.
The plot for I.O.U. Sex was inspired by reading my high school diary with my lifelong friend and co-author Sandra Allen. We joked about hunting down our old boyfriends and one silly thing led to another. While writing the book, we would talk about our characters as if they were friends. No, June, Peggy, and Kiki are not based on actual people and certainly not on us! 

So, back to my process. Generally, an idea percolates for a while, and then I start writing. After I get into the story a little bit and get to know my characters better, I fill out an interview checklist for each one (physical appearance, flaws, beliefs, personality, background, goals, etc.) and also write down what I expect will happen in the story. Not a formal outline; more like a list. Of course, that isn't necessarily the way the plot works out! As I get deeper into my characters, they may take off in unexpected directions. This is probably the least efficient way to write a book, but it's the way  my brain operates. 
For more insight into the way writers work, on January 27 please follow the MY WRITING PROCESS blog hop over to posts by the following three authors and read how they answer the four questions:

Link to Delinda McCann at Delinda's Gardens, Books, & Advocacy 
      Delinda is the author of Lies That BindSomething About MaudyM'TK Sewer Rat - Birth of a Nation; and M'TK Sewer Rat - End of Empire. She is a Social Psychologist with many years of field work and an organic flower farmer. Delinda always has something interesting to say! You can find all of Delinda's books on her website: 
Delinda's Gardens, Books & Advocacy

     James Secor is the author of Det. Lupee: The Impossible Cases. A long time social activist, playwright/director and short story writer, James began work as a pin spotter in a bowling alley on the way to completing college--the only family member to do so. And he did it with a flourish. Or a florish. He lived and worked in Japan for five years, studying at the National Puppet Theatre; lived and worked in China for seven years teaching literature, writing and drama, staging plays regularly. Published in two languages. He's now retired from "working." James is at Linkedin and has an irregular blog at 

      Salvatore Buttaci was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U.S.A. Today, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Thinking Ten, Pen 10, and Six Sentences.
      Look for Sal's latest collection of short-short fiction in 200 Shorts; Flashing My Shorts, his collection of flash stories; and A Family of Sicilians, a collection of his poems, letters, and stories. 
     Sal lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia. You'll find his blog HERE.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Between Lonesome and Texas - Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

In this fifth book of the Lone Star Cowboys series, author Tori Scott continues her stories set in Morris Springs, Texas. This time she takes her readers on the rodeo circuit with bull rider Blake Kaufman, a star in the most dangerous rodeo event I've ever witnessed. But is the rodeo life what Blake wants? Will he give up his chance at a national championship for the woman he loves?

Here's the Book Beginning:
Mandy Wagner stretched out on the chaise lounge by the pool, coffee cup in hand, to watch dawn break over the horizon, as she did almost every morning. With Fall in full swing, the air was crisp and cool, making her wish she'd grabbed a blanket before coming outside.

Sounds like a good way to start the day, doesn't it?

And this Friday 56 excerpt is from 56% on my Kindle:
Beginning at her ankles, he massaged her legs all the way to the top of her thighs and down again. Muscles she didn't even know she had turned to mush.

Ooooh, that sounds heavenly!

Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Number of Pages:  145
Amazon Link: Between Lonesome and Texas
More Books by Tori Scott: Goodreads Author Page

Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Things We Set on Fire - Teaser Tuesday

Some books stay with you, and that's the case with THINGS WE SET ON FIRE by Deborah Reed. From the opening chapter the author made me wonder - If Vivvie loved her husband, why would she do such a horrible thing? I even started to wonder if maybe I'd misunderstood, and she really didn't do it. But then the effects of her action, both on herself and on her two daughters, are brought to light after Vivvie receives a late-night call from the police saying, "There's been an accident, ma'am."

This is not a light, easy read, but the author drew me in and kept me turning pages.  

My Teaser is from 1% on my Kindle. I stretched the excerpt to three sentences.
     Rifles cracked off shots in the distance. Deer hunters - any one of whom could have mistaken Jackson's camouflaged coloring for a buck.
     Vivvie raised the barrel, pressed the cold scope to her eye just as Jackson spit out the call, held his fist to his mouth, and clenched his eyes as if seized by pain or prayer.

Genre:  Fiction / Family Saga
Number of Pages: 258

Goodreads Synopsis:
From the best-selling author of Carry Yourself Back to Me comes another tightly plotted, emotionally complex novel about strangers who happen to be part of the same family.

A series of tragedies brings Vivvie’s young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed 30 years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.

This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other – and the healing that only they can provide – is filled with flinty, flawed and complex people stumbling towards some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Isiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's the link to join in: Teaser Tuesday

Sunday, January 5, 2014



Congratulations to Alicia Batista and J.C. Jones, the two lucky winners of IF I LOVED YOU by Jean C. Joachim. I'm sure you'll enjoy the story as much as I did.

Thank you to everyone for leaving comments on last week's Teaser Tuesday post.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A GOOD HOME - Book Beginnings on Friday and Friday 56

When I began reading A GOOD HOME, I knew nothing about the author. I've since discovered that Cynthia Reyes is an award-winning journalist in Canada. This memoir, however, doesn't focus on her achievements. Instead, it's the story of a woman who has overcome significant challenges in her life. With beautiful descriptions of settings in Jamaica and Canada, I enjoyed following Cynthia's journey and visiting her homes along the way.  

Book Beginning (Prologue):
     The fire glows brightly, the wood floors nearby reflecting its warmth. The burning logs smell of maple and apple wood. Embers spark. Wood ash sifts through the grate.
     It's a quiet evening in our old farmhouse northeast of Toronto.

Friday 56:
     If the mythical Don Quixote had ever fathered a daughter, I would have been that daughter, racing off on my horse, wielding a too-short lance, ready to fight Mandeville's high and mighty every time one of them openly disparaged or otherwise mistreated poor or uneducated people in my presence. 

Genre: Memoir
Number of Pages: 307
Amazon Link: A GOOD HOME

Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and Friday 56. 

   Click here to connect to other Book Beginnings posts  
   (sponsored by Rose City Reader.)

   Find other Friday 56 bloggers here 
   (sponsored by Freda's Voice)