Monday, September 29, 2014

Summertime - First Chapter / First Paragraph / Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesday

In Summertime, author Christina Cole takes a successful actress from 1914 San Francisco and returns her to her hometown in rural Kansas. At first, heroine Linn ("Linnie Mae") Sparks is not a likable character - much too full of herself. However, as the story progresses, her attitude and motives begin to make sense and she also changes her outlook. This book is a romance so there's an expected happy ending, but Ms. Cole kept me wondering - would the story end with Linn and Ed living happily ever after or merely happy for now?    

Brookfield, Kansas 1914
Three days. Not a moment longer. She would attend to business first thing Monday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon she would be on her way back home to San Francisco.
Back home where she belonged.

Teaser (at 80% on my Kindle):
"I figured out that it's not what's gone before that matters. It's what comes after that makes a difference in our lives."

Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 284 Pages
Amazon Link: Summertime
Other Books by This Author: Christina Cole's Amazon Author Page

Synopsis from Amazon:
      Linn Sparks wanted all life had to offer. Fame, fortune, glamour and excitement. She found it as a star of the stage at the Crown Theater in San Francisco.
      For Ed Ferguson, life was far less complicated. All he wanted was Linnie Mae, but she’d left him standing alone at the altar seven years before when she’d run off to pursue her dreams.
      Now, Linn Sparks has come home to Brookfield, Kansas.
      But coming back means facing a lot of unpleasant realities: a strained relationship with a father who never wanted her, a mother whose grasp on sanity is slipping away, and the feelings she still has for the love she left behind.
      Ed still wants Linnie Mae, but he knows she won’t stay. How can he spend the summer being near her and not get his heart broken again?
      Between them, passions flare in the heat of SUMMERTIME.

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Culinary Cravings

Sweet Cravings Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing have started a new weekly feature on their blog -- CULINARY CRAVINGS! Today's recipe is Caitlyn's Peach Cobbler. Stop by and take a virtual taste of this delicious dessert. It will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings! 

Here's the link:
Culinary Cravings: Peach Cobbler

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sweet & Historical Romance Blog Hop

Here's a chance to meet some great authors and take a look at their books. A group of writers from Sweet Cravings Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing have joined together for a giveaway today and tomorrow, featuring historical romances and sweet romances. Be sure to visit every blog along the way for excerpts and a chance at some great giveaways (including a $25 gift card!)

Here's a scene from BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY*, followed by details of how to win a free ebook copy. FYI: Reader's Favorite says, "This was a well written romantic comedy with a hint of mystery and enough kooky characters to keep you interested right from the beginning."

After lunch, Derek drove them to the home improvement store to buy locks and hinges, then to a nearby supermarket before taking Elly home. When he stopped under the carport and turned to her, he leaned forward as if to give her a goodbye kiss. She shook her head and pointed to the trailer. Sure enough, the blinds were parted with Granny’s face visible inside.
To Elly’s surprise, Derek put the truck into reverse and backed out of the driveway. She turned and asked, “Where are we going?”
“Not far.” He drove back through the neighborhood’s gate, took a left, and stopped by a roadside park. With only birds and squirrels as witnesses, he turned to Elly and pulled her into his arms. She lifted her hands to his neck and ran her fingers through the dark hair above his collar. When his lips touched hers, a wave of heat surged from her lips all the way to her toes.
Leaning back, Derek smiled and brushed Elly’s curls from her cheek. “I’ve been wanting to do that ever since I picked you up, and there’s no way Mrs. M was going to stop me.”
A blush warmed Elly’s cheeks. She leaned forward and they kissed until she could barely breathe. When his tongue explored her mouth, she leaned even closer, tilting her head, savoring his taste. Derek’s lips moved from her mouth along the curve of her jaw to a sweet spot right beneath her earlobe. She caught her breath when goosebumps traveled along her arms.
When they stopped to catch their breath, Derek looked around as if expecting someone to tap on his window and ask them to move along. Then he chuckled, and the low rumble of his laughter warmed Elly even more. “I feel like a teenager, making out in the car, don’t you? I guess I’d better get you home.”
Elly nodded and moved back to her side of the truck.

He’s right, of course. But, ooooh, he’s a good kisser.

*BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY falls into the sweet category. There's plenty of fooling around and sexual tension between Derek and Elly, but when they get down to the nitty gritty, the bedroom door is closed.


Leave a comment below (along with your EMAIL ADDRESS) for a chance to win an ebook copy of Bluebonnets for Elly.

Then hop to the next blog on the "Sweet and Historical Blog Hop Tour" for more great prizes. Here's the link:  BLOG HOP

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coulda Been a Cowboy - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

     When I started reading COULDA BEEN A COWBOY, I sort of expected the football super-star (Tyson Garnier) and the nanny (Dakota Brown) to take one look at each other and fall madly in love. But that’s not what happened at all. Dakota leads a grim life—living in poverty and committed to caring for her ailing father. Tyson has just obtained custody of his son, the result of a brief fling. He’s a good man who just wants to do what’s right. Since he's clueless about child care, he hires Dakota to be his son's nanny. 
     Author Brenda Novak has done a great job of creating interesting and believable characters, and she tells a good story. Of course, since this is a romance, you know there's a happily-ever-after or happy-for now ending. But I enjoyed the characters' journey to that happy finale.

BOOK BEGINNING - (FYI: Every chapter starts with a quote from Tyson's grandfather):
       Grandpa Garnier: If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
       She seemed ideal: slightly overweight, older than the typical groupie and definitely on the frumpy side. All of which would keep things as simple as Tyson Garnier needed them to be.

FRIDAY 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
       "Where were you?" he asked, shoving his seat forward so he could stow his bag behind it.
       She didn't want to tell him she'd spent two hours at Planned Parenthood and started on the pill, as he'd suggested. She was still in denial about maybe needing the protection. "Shopping for clothes for the party."

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 288 Pages
Amazon Link: Coulda Been a Cowboy (#8 Dundee, Idaho Series)
Other Books by Brenda Novak: Amazon Author Page

     Grandpa Garnier used to say, Love is like a bucking bronco. It takes guts and determination to hang on, but it's worth the ride.
     If only Grandpa was around now to help Tyson Garnier out of this mess. The famous pro football player is suddenly saddled with a very public scandal—and an illegitimate child. Tyson needs a good nanny now if he's going to salvage his career. And plain, no-nonsense Dakota Brown is the ideal candidate.
Dakota doesn't care for football—or for a man who doesn't seem to want his own son. But she needs this job, and that precious little baby needs her.
Dakota isn't Tyson's kind of woman. But the more he sees of her—and the more he sees of his son—the harder he wants to hang on.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The 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) 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review
Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite

Elly Macauley finds herself driving a “tricked out geriatric golf cart” in Shannon Ridge, Texas after her fiancĂ© leaves her. She flees her Dallas high rise in favor of a mobile retirement community to take care of her granny’s broken ankle while mending her own broken heart. In Bluebonnets for Elly, Sandra Nachlinger throws the handsome yet jaded Derek White into Elly’s path, a man who has his own relationship demons to battle. Returning to his hometown after the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Derek is determined to become part of the town again and get his life in order. What neither Elly nor Derek planned on was each other. The attraction is instant, despite the hesitancy of both to take it further; they can’t resist each other, despite a certain mystery lurking just beneath the surface.

Sandra Nachlinger has given us some great characters in Bluebonnets for Elly, especially in Granny Macauley. She dyes her hair, flirts shamelessly, and reads naughty romance novels with print too small for her aging eyes. The retirement village is filled with nosy neighbors and of course the ‘Geriatric Gestapo’ ruling the village with an iron fist. I loved that in this story both Elly and Derek were wary of another relationship and both had perfectly valid reasons, which just made it more delicious to scream at them to look at what they had! When the past rears its ugly head, Derek and Elly have to decide if what they have is worth it, and boy the ride was a fun one. This was a well written romantic comedy with a hint of mystery and enough kooky characters to keep you interested right from the beginning.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sunsets - Saturday Snapshots

I can't resist photos of sunsets. So since I haven't taken any memorable pictures lately, here are some sunsets I've captured in the past. These were all taken in my neighborhood--some from my own doorstep! 

I have never seen rays like this before (or since).

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. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Merry-Go-Round - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

The Merry-Go-Round was a fun contemporary romance and a quick read. The plot moved forward at a good pace, I liked the characters, and I chuckled at the author's sense of humor. The nicknames she came up with for the ... uh, disappointing lover were hilarious! The merry-go-round added a fun element to the plot.

Since I'm nitpicky, I'll admit I was bothered by quite a few missing words and a couple of problems with incorrect word usage. However, this may only be a problem in the ebook version. The characters and their story kept me entertained and engaged to the end.   

Book Beginning -  (Each chapter has a quote at the beginning):
Chapter 1 - You don't know a woman till you've met her in court. - Norman Mailer
     "It's a great day for a divorce." Lauren took a quick look around to see if anyone had heard her talking to herself before she hurried up the courthouse steps. If everything went according to plan, she would walk out of this building a free woman. She'd sleep a lot better and breathe a lot easier minus the hundred and eighty pounds of man meat she'd been lugging around for far too long.

The Friday56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
"...He lost everything. His business, his home, his marriage. Everything."

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Comedy
Length: 238 Pages
Amazon Link: The Merry-Go-Round
More Books by This Author: Donna Fasano's Amazon Author Page


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings and The Friday 56.
Click HERE to connect to other Book Beginnings posts (sponsored by Rose City Reader)
Click HERE to join other Friday 56 bloggers (sponsored by Freda's Voice)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tumbleweeds - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros

      I came across Tumbleweeds on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, attracted by the book's cover. When I discovered the book was set in Texas and written by a Texas author, I claimed it.  
      What a great story! I related easily to the attitudes of the characters (and the small town's obsession with high school football) and was drawn into the plot. The bond between three 11-year-olds who had lost their parents is the basis for everything that happens as the friends travel to adulthood. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me engaged until the final page.  
      By the way, there were no errors in this book, and that's a big deal to me. That's not surprising, though, since Ms. Meacham is a retired English teacher.

First Paragraph:
June 2008
     The call he'd been expecting for twenty-two years came at midnight when he was working late at his desk. He had a second's start, the kind of stab he'd experienced often in the first years when the telephone rang in the early hours, but with the passage of time the duties of his office had accustomed him to its ring in the middle of the night.

Teaser (from Page 53 - hardback edition):
They were as different from each other as bacon and eggs, but they went together as nicely. John was quiet and calm, patient and steady. He blended in. Trey was someone who stood out.

Genre: Women's Fiction / Coming of Age / Family
Length: 483 Pages
Other Books by This Author: Leila Meacham Goodreads Page
Link: Tumbleweeds (Hachette Books)
(Note: Normally I would post a link to Amazon, but with the controversy between Hachette and Amazon, a link to the book's publisher made more sense to me.)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Recently orphaned, eleven-year-old Cathy Benson feels she has been dropped into a cultural and intellectual wasteland when she is forced to move from her academically privileged life in California to the small town of Kersey in the Texas Panhandle where the sport of football reigns supreme. She is quickly taken under the unlikely wings of up-and-coming gridiron stars and classmates John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, orphans like herself, with whom she forms a friendship and eventual love triangle that will determine the course of the rest of their lives. Taking the three friends through their growing up years until their high school graduations when several tragic events uproot and break them apart, the novel expands to follow their careers and futures until they reunite in Kersey at forty years of age. Told with all of Meacham's signature drama, unforgettable characters, and plot twists, readers will be turning the pages, desperate to learn how it all plays out.

Share the first paragraph (or
a few) from a book you are
reading. Link up here:

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somewhere in a book you're
reading. No spoilers, please!
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Should Be Reading

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gig Harbor, WA - Saturday Snapshots

Taking advantage of our beautiful weather while it lasts, my friend Nan and I ventured to Gig Harbor, WA, today for lunch. It's about a half-hour drive from our neighborhood to the MarketPlace Grille, a small cafe with good food and a gorgeous view. Here are a few snapshots from our excursion. 
(Click on photos to enlarge.)

View from our table at the restaurant.

We walked a little ways along Harborview Drive and were
rewarded with a view of Mount Rainier, peeking over the 
trees on the horizon.

Since Nan and I share a fabric addiction, we stopped
at this delightful quilt shop. Beautiful fabrics.

Then back across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
headed for home (with views of Mount Rainier
along the way)

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. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thank You, Susan Santangelo!

Almost always when I'm drafting a post for Teaser Tuesday, First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros, Book Beginnings on Friday, or The Friday 56, I contact the book's author and let them know that one of their books will be featured. I offer them the opportunity to participate by responding to readers' comments on the post itself, as well as mentioning my post on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else they want. Some authors are interested; others aren't.

I understand. Maybe I've chosen to post about their book on a day when they have another commitment. Or maybe they have something in their real life that takes precedence. We all have to prioritize. I just think it's fun when an author shows up and answers questions and comments. Don't you?

So that's why I'm sending out a gigantic THANK YOU to Susan Santangelo. She accepted my invitation to participate in yesterday's post and graciously spent a lot of time responding to people who left comments. I enjoyed reading her comments and sincerely appreciate her involvement.

Best of luck for your upcoming release, Susan. Funerals Can Be Murder is Book 5 in the Carol and Jim Andrews Baby Boomer Mystery series and is scheduled for release on October 7; but it's available for pre-order on Amazon right now ($3.99 in ebook formats).

And by the way, many other authors have also contributed to posts in the past. A big thank you to all of them too!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Retirement Can Be Murder - Teaser Tuesday & First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros

Combine a cozy mystery with Baby Boomers and you've got a winning mix as far as I'm concerned! I just finished reading Retirement Can Be Murder, and I had a great time getting to know the main character and her friends. The author has a terrific sense of humor, poking fun at the concerns that everyone faces as retirement age nears. I can sure relate! 

First Paragraph(s):
"The hardest years of a marriage are the ones following the wedding."
      Here's an amazing weight-loss tip for all the women in America: an out-of-body experience makes you look thinner. Forget about vertical vs. horizontal stripes. I'm telling you, an out-of-body occurrence does the trick. Plus, it can be quite a pleasant sensation to look down and see a movie What's not to like?
      Of course, there's a down side to my weight-loss tip. Out-of-body experiences are triggered by a traumatic event, like the panicky phone call I'd just gotten from Jim, My Beloved Husband of 36 years, telling me he'd found his retirement coach, Davis Rhodes, dead at his kitchen table.

Teaser (from 5% on my Kindle):
I admit it's crazy to talk to my dogs all the time the way I do, but they're good listeners and I can trust them to keep a secret. They always agree with me, too.
(By the way, her English cocker spaniels are named Lucy and Ethel.) 

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 231 Pages
Amazon Link: Retirement Can Be Murder
Other Books by Susan Santangelo: Amazon Author Page

      Retirement Can Be Murder is the first in the Baby Boomer mystery series featuring Carol Andrews and Her Beloved Husband Jim as they navigate a rocky road toward their golden years.
      Carol dreads Jim's upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can't imagine anything worse than an at-home husband with time on his hands, and nothing to fill it, except interfering with the day-to-day activities of the household and driving her crazy. Until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.


Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you're reading. No spoilers, please! Here's the link: Should Be Reading

Friday, September 5, 2014

Point Defiance - Saturday Snapshots

When I suggested to my husband that we take advantage of our beautiful weather before the autumn rains set in, he readily agreed. So we headed off to Tacoma and Point Defiance Park and Gardens. It's about a 45-minute drive from our house, but once we're there, it feels like we're hundreds of miles from civilization. Here are some photos of our excursion. (Click to enlarge.)

The park is filled with gigantic trees like this one
in the Japanese Garden section.

Here's the dahlia garden with row after row of gorgeous
blooms. There are separate gardens for roses, fuschia,
iris, rhododendrons, and northwest natives. 
The colors and types of dahlias were endless.
I was delighted to catch a bee in one photo.
I'd love to visit the garden when this rose arbor is in bloom.
And this lovely setting is surrounded by Puget Sound.
That's Vashon Island across the water.

You'll find more information about Point Defiance Park here.

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. 

West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beach House Memories - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Two in THE BEACH HOUSE series
I'm halfway through Beach House Memories, and I'm enjoying it. The story takes place in 1974 on Isle of Palms in the Low Country of South Carolina. I'm completely immersed in the story of Lovie (married with two children) and the expectations placed on upper-class Southern women who grew up in the 1950s. And I'm also learning a lot about sea turtles! 

This book is the sequel to The Beach House (which is now on my to-read list). The book's beginning reads like a prologue.

Book Beginning:
Lovie Rutledge believed memories were like the tides. Sometimes they rushed in with a pounding roar to topple you over. At other times they gently washed over you, lulling you to complacency and then tugging you back to halcyon days that, with the passing of years, seemed ever sweeter.

Friday 56 (from Page 56 in my trade paperback):
Glancing at her watch, she realized it was not even ten o'clock and the children were asleep. Lowcountry summer days wore them plumb out. In one day's time their skin was as red as a lobster's from overcooking in the sun, and their lackluster expressions were replaced with the bright-eyed enthusiasm she always imagined Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn wore.

Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction / Environment
Length: 385 Pages
Amazon Link: Beach House Memories
More From This Author: Mary Alice Monroe's Website

Synopsis from Amazon:
      Autumn brings haunting beauty to the sun-soaked dunes on Isle of Palms, where Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge lives in her beloved Primrose Cottage. As the seasons change, Lovie remembers one special summer… 
      In 1974, America is changing, but Charleston remains eternally the same. When Lovie married aristocratic, well-connected businessman Stratton Rutledge, she turned over her fortune and fate to his control. But she refused to relinquish one thing: her family’s old seaside cottage. Precious summers with her children on the barrier island are Lovie’s refuge from social expectations and her overbearing husband’s philandering. Here, she is the “Turtle Lady,” tending the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs in the warm night sand and then slip back into the sea. 
      Then, in the summer of ’74, biologist Russell Bennett visits to research the loggerheads. Their shared interest brings them together, and soon it blooms into a passionate, profound love—forcing Lovie to face an agonizing decision. Stratton’s influence is far-reaching, and if she dares to dream beyond a summer affair, she risks losing her reputation, her wealth, even her children. 
      This emotional tale of a strong woman torn between duty and desire, between tradition and change, is an empowering journey through the seasons of self-discovery. Until this autumn, this time of winds and tides, of holding on and letting go…

Join every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

Grab a book and turn to Page 56 or 56% on your ereader
Find any sentence (or a few, just no spoilers) and grab them.
Post them and add your URL to the Linky.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Gods of Second Chances - Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros

     I enjoy books where the setting is a character, and in THE GODS OF SECOND CHANCES, Alaska plays a huge role. Ray Bancroft lives on remote Yatki Island and earns his living shrimping and crabbing. He's not only battling the harsh conditions of his livelihood, but he is also raising his granddaughter, worrying about his drug-addicted daughter (recently released from jail and heading home), and mourning the death of his wife. I found myself asking what catastrophe would happen next to this caring man! 
     The characters are often gritty with very real true-to-life problems and worries. I wanted them to succeed. The book enthralled me from the first page, and I truly could not put it down. This 5-star story will stay with me for a long time.

Opening Paragraph:
Mud and rain invaded my dreams after Donna's death. In southeast Alaska, where I've lived for half my life, we have precipitation 310 days out of the year. All those nights with the skittle-skattle of wet pelts against the windows, you'd think that rain would have formed the base molecules of my sleep a long time ago. And the mud. It's everywhere up here, omnipresent and brutal.

Teaser (from 39% on my Kindle): 
But who's going to walk through the door--a mature, grown-up daughter, who I haven't yet met, or the junkie I know? I push the letter to the back of the drawer and close it.

Genre: Literary/Adventure / Family Relationships
Length: 298 Pages
Amazon Link: The Gods of Second Chances
Author Website: Dan Berne


Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you're reading. No spoilers, please! Here's the link: Should Be Reading