Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Books: Sweet Thursday (Penguin Classics) by John Steinbeck

In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Row--the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears-from Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (July 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143039474
ISBN-13: 978-0143039471

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WSJ Wednesday - Changes in Higher Education

I found a fascinating article in the Friday, January 25, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal. My one big regret is never getting my college degree. Though a book I read on the current job market said experience trumps college degrees any day (unless you're talking Ivy League), during my job search, I've discovered even clerical and administrative jobs have a college degree listed as a preference or requirement.

According to "College Degree, No Class Time Required" by Caroline Porter, the University of  Wisconsin is offering a Bachelor's to students who take online competency tests about what they know. Like the man featured in Porter's article, I have several credits toward my degree. But as my family and responsibilities grew, time to dedicate to my education dwindled. After more than 20 years in business, it wouldn't surprise me if I could pass some of these competency tests and make obtaining my degree easier, and perhaps, cheaper.

The University of Wisconsin plans to launch the program this fall. Prices haven't been set for their Flexible Option program, but university officials say it should be "significantly less expensive." The goal of the program is to strengthen the state's workforce; it's not to dumb down education and just make it easy to get your degree.

If a program like this came to Massachusetts, I would sign up right away. I'm tired of not having my degree. I don't want it holding me back. It would even be helpful to me in my writing, so there's really no reason not to do it, unless it was cost prohibitive, which doesn't seem to be the case.

What do you think of this idea? Would you try to earn your degree this way if it was available in your state?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Christmas Kindness Giveaway Winner

Congratulations goes out to Dorothy T. She won a copy of A Christmas Kindness by C. C. Gevry. Thanks to all who participated. Look for a new giveaway coming on Friday.

Dark Days Ahead at Downton Abbey

I've watched Sunday night's episode of Downton Abbey three times and I still can't make it through without crying. Tragedy has befallen the Crawleys, and I daresay, it will be a long healing process for the entire household--upstairs and downstairs.

Without giving too much away, I must admit the direction they are taking Lord Grantham's character isn't appealing to me. His pig-headed ways have endangered the future of Downton and played a role in the most recent tragedy. He is trying to hold onto a world that is slowing slipping away, but he won't admit it. He is the master of the house and he expects the women to obey him and support his decisions.

Now, that's not a problem for Lady Mary. Playing a typical oldest daughter to perfection, her father has no faults in her eyes. She is entirely against her husband Matthew's interference in running the estate, despite the fact that she encouraged him to become familiar with the business and his money is what saved their home. When she overhears him talking to the lawyer about the mismanagement he has discovered, she takes him to task. Lady Mary, like her father, wishes to maintain the traditions and hierarchy that are becoming a thing of the past. I fear, like her father, she is going to have a hard time adjusting to a post-World War I world.

Edith gets some good news, but her father still thinks he knows better than she does. And unknowingly, Lord Grantham pokes a stake in Matthew's tender heart when he tells him he'll understand when he's a father, not realizing Matthew desperately wants to have children and is afraid the injuries he sustained in the war might have affected his fertility.

Finally, we see a total clashing of the social classes as Dr. Clarkson and Sir Philip Tapsell, the obstetrician hired by Lord Grantham, argue over what is best for Lady Sybil during childbirth. One can understand why Lord Grantham is unsure of Dr. Clarkson based upon past experiences, but how he could ignore the common sense pleadings of his wife Cora when she says that Dr. Clarkson has known Sybil all her life? And that Sir Philip, in the end, isn't even willing to admit he made a mistake is unconscionable.

Rougher days are ahead for the people of Downton Abbey. Tom wants his daughter christened as a Catholic, which will cause more turbulence in the house. The only bright spot is that Bates and Anna might have finally found a way to free him.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Catch Me Tonight on Talk Radio Network - VBTs

TODAY on TALK RADIO NETWORK! Special Guest, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, has been coordinating virtual book tours since 2007. In “Coordinating A Virtual Book Tour,” she shares her years of experience in how to reach out to bloggers to host your tour, provides ideas for guest posts (300-500 word articles), teaches how to write a press release, shares tips on how to stay organized and ways to promote your virtual book tour.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos has been coordinating virtual book tours through Pump Up Your Book since September 2007. She is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. A member of the SCBWI, she is also a book reviewer and blogger.

To listen TODAY at 6:30est – click:

You've Got Mail Monday

Last week was a great one. I typed "The End" on my first picture book of the year. I cleaned up my Facebook account, unliking pages that I don't even visit that were clogging up my feed. And I got some nifty stuff in the mail.

Two copies of The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias arrived. This is the first book in her new series. I'll be giving away a copy of this book here next month during her virtual book tour. I saw the trailer for this series, and I can't wait for the Christmas one to come out. The Doctor's Christmas Quilt depicts the life of America's first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell. It is a contemporary story about a woman doctor and it will be interesting to see how Blackwell fits into the storyline.

I also received two books from the Harlequin Book Club. I'm not a huge romance reader, though I do enjoy them. Romantic suspense and inspirational romance are my most preferred genres, but expanding beyond that is fine too. The two free books that arrived were Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts and Already Home by Susan Mallery. I'm familiar with Roberts's work, having reviewed two of her books. Not sure when I'll get a chance to read these, but I'll see how I like getting books on a regular basis. There's no commitment, so I can cancel anytime.

The Cableyoyo™ arrived. It's a product I'm reviewing here. It's supposed to keep your wires looking neat. Finally, my new jeans from Old Navy showed up. Thank God! I have been wearing the same two pairs of jeans for about a year now. I rarely spend money on myself, but I'm at the point where if I don't get some new clothes, I'll scream. These are great jeans. Very comfortable and they fit perfect.

That's it from my neck of the woods. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Free for All Friday: Gary's Gray World Giveaway

When Gary's father is too busy to play, a scary moment at the baseball field brings his dad rushing to the park to rescue him. But instead the two discover that making time for each other is the most important thing in a father and son relationship.

Read an excerpt:

What are your plans for today, Son?” asked Dad, putting on his coat and hat.

“Today’s the annual father and son baseball game.” Gary brightened. “Don’t you remember?”

His father abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned to look at Gary with an apologetic expression on his face.

“I’m sorry, I can’t be there. I’ve got too much work to do at the office. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

“Sure. That’ll be fine,” said Gary, trying not to sound too disappointed.

Read the reviews:

"This is a lovely book to teach the importance of dad's in the lives of their children. ..Very easy read with a wonderful message."

--4 the Love of Books

"This delightful story touches the heart with its gentle reminder of the importance of family."

--The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

"This cute book can be read aloud or beginning readers can tackle the text with a little encouragement."

--Writing and Other Ways into the Heart

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1972, Ryan J. Cunningham discovered his passion for writing poetry and children’s stories at an early age. Throughout his high school and college years, he took writing courses to enhance his writing abilities. Ryan became a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) He published two inspirational books of poems titled “Angels Near and Far” and “Hearts, Hopes, and Halos.” His poetry and stories have been published in anthologies and magazines. Ryan presently resides in Coos Bay, Oregon where he spends his time hiking the trails, spending quality time with family, and working on his personal web site, ( to share his poems and stories with the world.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. Good luck!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Books: The Eyre Affair (A Thursday Next Novel) by Jasper Fforde

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (February 25, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142001805
ISBN-13: 978-0142001806

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lady Edith Comes Back Swinging

It seems you can't keep a Crawley down long. After her most recent setback, Lady Edith, the middle and often forgotten daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham has listened to her grandmother Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, and stopped whining and done something.

That something (stop reading here if you haven't seen the third episode from this season) is write a letter to the editor of the paper to tout her support of woman's suffrage. Who knew she could be such a force to be reckoned with? Well, her older sister Lady Mary knew, but Lady Mary can give as good as she gets, so Lady Edith has painfully discovered more than once.

Lady Edith

Actually, as I think about the series, creator and writer Julian Fellowes, has managed to create three sisters who act according to their birth order so well. Lady Mary is the traditionalist, her father's pet. She will do anything to save Downton Abbey. Lady Sybil, the youngest, is the wild one. She ran off and eloped with the chauffeur who is a revolutionary seeking a free Ireland. Then there is Lady Edith, the middle child. Jealous of her oldest sister and all the attention paid to her as the first child of the family. Barely tolerating her younger sister, Lady Sybil, and all her antics. In fact, if she had to say a kind word about either of her sisters, I think her face would disintegrate. Lady Edith does spend much of her time whining about how forgotten she is. How nothing in the house is ever about her. Well, until the second episode of this season, and we know that didn't turn out as planned.

The sisters' relationships is one of the most fascinating aspects of the show for me; though I could add many items to that list.

WSJ Wednesday - Better Ways to Discipline Your Kids

Toward the end of the year, I caught this interesting article in the December 26, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal. "Smarter Ways to Discipline Kids" by Andrea Petersen states that research suggests which strategies work best. These are techniques used by psychologists to manage/cope/encourage (whatever verb you wish to use) their most difficult children, including those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

According to the article, parents should not focus on what happens when the child acts out, but instead decide what behaviors they want to see in their kids and praise them when they see them. I find this tough, and I doubt I'm alone. Not that the child shouldn't be reprimanded when he does wrong, but that a "mild negative consequence" without shouting (very hard for me) plus praise for positive behavior goes a long way.

What doesn't work? Trying to reason with your child and overly harsh punishments (guilty as charged). Here's something I wouldn't have thought of. Psychologists at the Yale Parenting Center have found that getting kids to "practice" temper tantrums can lessen their frequency and intensity. Hmm. Who would have thought that?

What techniques have been most successful for you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Proud Bargain Hunting

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm not a great bargain shopper. I have my favorite brands; and as long as the quality is consistent, I'm willing to pay for it. I'll buy clothes for myself off-season to save cash, but you'll never see me scouring ads to find the best deal on a product. If it isn't where I normally shop, I don't need it that badly.

Do I sound like a snob?

So, I had to share how proud I am of myself for the great deal I got on a dress from Land's End yesterday. Since my post-40 body has changed shapes in the middle, not many of my old clothes fit. That's what I get for wearing snug-fitting pants and skirts (I truly hate loose clothes). Anticipating a return to the workforce (outside my home), I've slowly been updating my wardrobe. I honestly only have one skirt set and no dresses in  my closet.

Land's End sent me an email with a promo code for 30% off one item, so I decided to see what they have. I found this beautiful dress that was originally $89.99 on sale for $29.99. So, I scooped it up in the wineberry color. The 30% off brought my cost down to $20.99. But I still had to pay $5.95 shipping, so we're at $26.94. Still not bad.

Over Christmas, I turned some of my credit card rewards into gift cards for Land's End. Even though I spent hundreds of dollars, my gift cards covered 98% of it, and I still got to accrue Land's End membership rewards. My total Land's End rewards came to $19.08, which I used toward the purchase of this dress.

In the end, I paid $7.86 total. I had to rush over and tell my mother-in-law, the queen of bargain hunting all about it.

What's the best deal you've ever taken advantage of?

Teaser Tuesdays - January 22nd

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!

"As we fall upward through the in-between, I realize the light of the sun orbits around us. Bright on bright, it stands out against the galactic tapioca smear of stars behind."

~ page 159, Untimed by Andy Gavin

Monday, January 21, 2013

Is Poor Customer Service Sinking Sears?

If you look like this after a customer service experience, that's never good. After my most recent experience with Sears®, I'm beginning to wonder if poor customer service is partially to blame for their financial woes.

My mother-in-law (MIL) visited our local Sears at the beginning of January to order a Kenmore bread machine like the one I received for Christmas. They didn't have one in stock, but the salesperson offered to order one for her. According to my MIL, they were having technology issues and the order couldn't be placed then, so she left. The reason she went to Sears in the first place was because she had a $40 gift card. This gift card was an attempt on Sears's part to make up for the total screw up on their hot water heater. Sears has a next day delivery guarantee. It took them eight days to deliver and install my in-laws' hot water heater.

At any rate, a few days later, my MIL asked me to order her bread machine online. When I went to do that, however, the gift card now had a zero balance. I checked her email, and she had a message from Sears that said, "Thank you for your purchase." We figured, the salesperson at Sears was able to get the order put through and in a week or so a bread machine would arrive at her home.

Well, when I was at their house Thursday and they still had no bread machine, I called our local Sears store. They were totally useless. They couldn't even find her order in the system. So, I then had to call After a lengthy, frustrating conversation, I discovered the order had been placed, but cancelled because they were out of stock of the unit. Now, you have to realize, both on the day I originally tried to order the unit online and the day I had this conversation with their website claimed the unit could be delivered within a few days.

So, what about the balance of my MIL's gift card? I was told she would receive a new one within 3 to 5 days from the date of the cancelled order. We're still waiting on it.

I could give you other examples of our unfavorable customer service experiences with Sears, but instead, I'll offer this link to Consumer Affairs that lists numerous other complaints from people around the country: 

Poor holiday sales and news that CIT Group halted loans to Sears's suppliers seem to be signs of more tough times for this retailer. Hopefully, they can work on improving customer service and gain back some of their customers. My family shopped at Sears when I was growing up, and it pains me to think one more piece of my childhood will be eliminated.

You've Got Mail Monday

Looking for a job has to be the most depressing task. I feel like I'm trying to get votes for Homecoming Queen and failing miserably. Sent more applications out over the weekend. We'll see what happens.

On a fun note, my All You and Traditional Home magazines arrived last week. I found some recipes in the first one that I would like to try. The latter has an article titled, "10 Pretty and Practical Ideas to Refresh a Tired Kitchen." I'll definitely look at that one, but right around now I'm thinking I need practical ideas to refresh a tired house. After 13 years of looking at a lot of the same stuff, I'm ready for a change.

I was excited to find Untimed by Andy Gavin. I'll be reviewing that one in March at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

That's it for this week's You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a blessed week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free for All Friday: A Christmas Kindness by C.C. Gevry

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Inspiration Behind A Christmas Kindness

How is it that children have the ability to reach out and help others in ways adults don't always think to do?

One year, our oldest daughter--then only eight--went door-to-door in our neighborhood collecting money for Toys for Tots. Coordinated by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, this program collects new, unwrapped toys each year and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in our communities. This summer, my girls ran a lemonade stand so they could bring money to a local animal shelter.

Why don't I think of doing such things? I guess it's easier to write a check and send it in the mail. But what effort is involved in that? My children make it personal, and much more meaningful, by giving something of themselves.

With A Christmas Kindness, I hope to capture the generosity of a child's heart--the way they look at the world as a place of endless opportunities to make a difference.

Use the Rafflecopter form to enter for your chance to win a copy of A Christmas Kindness.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Diary of a Busy Mom

In case you’re wondering what it’s like to be the mother of a strong-willed child, let me give you a glimpse into the Lil Diva’s brain. Right before Christmas, she decided she would like to write a newsletter to share with her friends. Her first attempt was a sweet one that talked about how awesome her Christmases are and how she hoped they had an awesome Christmas, too.

Now that the holidays are over, I guess it is time to get down to brass tacks and share what’s on her mind. In the spirit of the television show Ned’s Declassified, the Lil Diva has come up with some tips to share with her friends. Here are the first three.

No More Chores for Kids

Nobody wants to do chores. So just say no to parents. It is a parent’s job to do the house work, NOT kids. So no more chores for kids, only adults.

Parents can’t tell you what to do

Parents are ALWAYS telling you what to do. Example: “Go get me that!” Or, “You have to go to what I am going to!” And, “Don’t eat that chocolate!” So, say no when parents tell you to do stuff.

Parents can’t take your stuff

Parents say, “If you don’t do this, I will confiscate this.” That is just STUPID. Just hide it. It is yours, not theirs.

Is it any wonder I started going gray after the Lil Diva was born?

Thursday Books: Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Thursdays have always been kind of hard to fill around here. I've tried recipes, but I have to depend upon the hubby to download photos off the camera for me to post--he's got some complicated procedure going that you have to have a Master's Degree to figure out--so I don't tend to write about cooking/baking as much as I would like.

On a whim, I decided to see what kinds of books I could find on Amazon that had Thursday in the title. I'll feature some of them here and see what develops.

What do you do if you've been married to a man for half your life and out of nowhere he leaves your bed – permanently? When this happens to Jeanie, she's furious and hurt, and determined to confront George, her husband of thirty years. Is he in love with someone else? What did she do wrong? He won't tell her.

The brightest day of her week is Thursday, the day Jeanie takes her granddaughter to the park. There, one day, she meets Ray and his grandson. Ray is kind, easy to talk to, and gorgeous – everything George isn't. She starts to live for Thursdays. But does she have the courage, in the teeth of opposition from all sides, to turn her life upside down for another shot at love?

File Size: 1958 KB
Print Length: 353 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 085738516X
Publisher: Quercus (August 4, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Black Shard Giveaway Winner

Congratulations goes out to Terri F. She won an e-copy of The Black Shard by Victoria Simcox.

Thanks to all who participated. Look for more giveaways coming soon!

WSJ Wednesday - The Opposite of Casual Friday

Why this article caught my eye, I don't know. Perhaps it was because Casual Friday was such a big deal when I was working outside the home. In Andy Jordan's article titled, "If You Really Want to Defy Conformity, Dress Up Today,"* he features San Francisco startup Pulse who holds "Formal Friday," where everyone dresses in their Sunday best instead of the casual business attire during the rest of the week. Jordan mentions Barbarian, a New York digital marketing and creative agency, as one of the early proponents of this tradition.

I love this idea. What do you think of it?

*This article appeared in the Friday, January 4, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reusing Tip: Packing Away Those Christmas Lights

For years, the picture below is what I would be working with when it came to put up the Christmas trees and garlands. It seemed no matter how carefully I packed up the lights at the end of the season, they would be a tangled mess when I took them out the following year.

I finally got smart. And I didn't have to spend any money to do it. I do most of my shopping online. Amazon is my best friend from November through December. When they package shipments, they often include a cardboard insert. Other vendors do this, too. When it's time to wrap up my Christmas lights, I wind them around these cardboard inserts. They are easy to pack away and stay neat all year long. I also use some of the sturdier food boxes from our groceries. Yes, I could buy those plastic cord winders, but why spend the money when this works just as well. This also makes it much easier to place the lights on the trees when it's time.

It's probably a little late now, but keep this helpful tip in mind for next season.

Teaser Tuesday - January 15th

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!

The soft footsteps on the carpet were getting nearer by the second. Marla's eyes grew large and frightened.

~ page 91, The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A. K. Arenz

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Tartan Shroud Blog Tour and Giveaway

A bulldozer unearths a young girl’s body on a golf course in Scotland but for some reason, Fergus Murray, the top crime officer in Tayside seems unwilling to pursue the case. Fergus contacts Willow Stone, his American cousin and pleads for help. Willow, Pinky’s favorite ex-wife, calls in all her chips and convinces Pinky, Bear, Flo, and Ettamae to go to the small Scottish town of Pitlochry to help her cousin find the killer. Along the way the American’s come across a forester with a wonky eye—haggis—the occasional bad weather spring day—various Scottish policeman all named McSomething—mutton pie—a near new, sixty-year-old Austin Taxi—a bathroom that could double for a freezer—the nearly indecipherable Scottish accent—many glasses of whiskey and beer—ancient records—a broadsword—and a real Duke! Ride with Bear, Flo, and Henry during their final mad dash across Scotland to try to stop the murderer before he kills again inside the hallowed halls of Blair Castle.

Prices/Formats: $14.95 paperback, $4.99 ebook
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780578113258
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
Release: October 1, 2012

Amazon paperback buy link ($14.95):

Barnes and Noble paperback buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($4.99):

More books in the Pinky and Bear series:

The Bloody Birthright (Book 1)

J. Pincus Delmont is the most successful, and ethically challenged attorney north of Las Vegas, and he's Richard Page's only hope to escape execution by lethal injection. Pinky quickly determines his client's tale of betrayal and murder leads to Southern California and demands investigative help from Bear Zarbarte who owes him a sizeable chunk of money. The Bear is as big as a tree, street wise, sort of trustworthy, and not averse to cracking the occasional head when the need arises. A grumbling Bear drives south where he discovers, and falls for Flo Sonderlund-a woman with a body to kill for, and a mouth as caustic as a bucket of lye. By hook and by crook, Pinky, the Bear, and Flo pry a solution to the murder from a string of chumps and patsies that stretches from the fertile hills of Tuscany, Italy to eastern wasteland of Nevada, the home of the Loneliest Road In America.

The Big Show Stopper (Book 2)

Brady Blackstone, America's richest and favorite concert performer, dies in a tragic accident while Bear and Flo, along with thousands of northern Nevada's music lovers, look on in horror. However, before Bear can maneuver Flo back to their apartment to complete her birthday celebration, they stumble across a clue that makes them question if Brady's death was an accident. In The Big Show Stopper, Pinky, a sleazy but sucessful defence attorney, and Bear, a street-wise ex bartender, mix madness with mayhem as you meet Brady's less than grieving widow-a trigger-happy Carson City Cop named Ice Conner-travel in first-class luxury with Pinky as he follows a questionable lead to an exotic location and suffer with Flo in Bear's old pick up while they drive to another of America's armpit locations where they discover Brady Blackstone's killer.

Death is a Cabernet (Book 3)

A humorous mystery that takes Pinky, Bear and Flo into the wine country of northern California to discover who turned a famous winemaker into a purple corpse.

Ken Dalton was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up with his parents, his older sister, Pat, and younger brother, Richard in Los Angeles. The year 1938 informs the quick reader that Ken’s older than a lot of people, but younger than some.

In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus found Ken.

At the end of World War ll, Ken’s family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a year where he learned how to live through snow blizzards, avoid walking through the large pile of coal in the basement, and how to survive life as an Army Officer’s brat on a base called Fort Warren.

By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces, Ken’s luck changed dramatically when he met the girl of his dreams at a party. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.

In 1966, Ken, who worked as a technician for Pacific Bell, and his family left Southern California for the green hills of Sonoma County where they bought a home in Sebastopol surrounded with apple trees. A few years later, Ken and Arlene built a new home on three and a half acres. They raised cows, pigs, and learned how to build outstanding fences. While their children grew, they hosted two exchange students, Eva Reimers from Sweden, and Tanja Wuttke from Germany, both of whom are still loved members of the Dalton clan. Also during those years, Ken was promoted to management at Pacific Bell. He eventually ended up responsible for all the central offices, sixty-three, in an area that covered five counties.

In 1977, Ken, Arlene, Bob Wiltermood, and his wife Norma, designed, built, and operated a 2000 case winery named Pommeraie Vineyards. They produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. However, after Bob died, the winery was sold. Ken and Arlene moved to a hilltop in Healdsburg.

With the winery gone, and time on their hands, Ken and Arlene started to perform with the Camp Rose Players. Twenty years and forty productions later, both are still acting and singing.

Life was good. All Ken had to do was learn some lines and bow when the audience applauded.

Then, ten years ago, Ken started to write. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated in August 1996. More golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens.

After a two-year stint on the County Grand Jury, Ken felt the need to begin his first novel.

Now, after a decade of struggle to learn the craft of writing, Ken has become the publishing world’s latest overnight sensation.

Ken Dalton's Web Site:

Ken Dalton's Facebook:

Ken Dalton's Goodreads:

The Tartan Shroud Goodreads:

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Free for All Friday - January 11th International Giveaway

It's another Free for All Friday. Today's giveaway comes to you from Tribute Books Virtual Book Tours and author G. Gordon Dean.

Whoever said 'white-collar crime doesn’t pay' never lived in Washington D.C. TierGroup is a business consultancy firm located in the heart of DC. Its Division Heads have a very cold and calculating unorthodox approach to conducting business. Protecting and serving their clients is the only thing that matters. Nevertheless, loyalty can swing both ways in this journey through greed, corruption, and absolute lack of accountability.

As a former Las Vegas Casino Surveillance Director, Michael Crayter, a straight shooter, becomes an unaware, almost, employee of TierGroup in mid-2001. His transformation takes many shapes from idea man to fraud guru. He embarks on a journey to Iraq, through Hurricane Katrina and eventually takes part in one of the biggest scams in the history of the United States - the TARP funding program. His boss, Charles “The Czar” Zarin, is the ultimate manipulation mentor. Michael Crayter’s experience will last for more than eight years and will make his old Vegas job seem like child’s play.

The investment opportunities the United States has to offer during this timeframe are seemingly endless and the public joins in on the greed. The whole country is riding high on the inflated value train with careless abandonment. There are no regulations followed or laws unbroken by the Mortgage Lenders, Stock Brokers, and Bankers. The bubble is getting bigger and the clock is ticking. It's every man for himself. Divide and conquer. Borrow and spend. No one sees the tsunami coming, except for Charles Zarin. Capitalism will be turned upside down and the money spigot will run dry.

By late 2007 the bubble bursts and our country’s economy is left in ruins. The Treasury is sent in to bail out the white-collar thieves. While losing most of its clients TierGroup and Michael Crayter are left to fend for themselves. Michael Crayter begins to tell his story, in this Four Part first-person narrative, during a 2005 interview at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

The Story Behind SCAM FACTORY
by G. Gordon Dean

SCAM FACTORY started out as a dream I had about a job interview with a high-end consulting firm. I initially thought that my dream would make a great movie, but I decided to write a book instead. As I began to develop the plot and storylines I realized I could tie it all in with, past and current, real life events in the U.S. from 2001-2009. It was also relatively easy to combine some of my business experience, and people I have run across over the years, into this story. I grew up in Las Vegas and lived there for about thirty-five years so knowing about Scams, or coming up with my own for this book, wasn’t so hard. The TRUE events that led to the U.S. financial crash, mass business failures, and declines in property values in late 2007 were nothing but ammunition for this novel.

SCAM FACTORY is not a story about the guy in the white cowboy hat saving the town and riding off into the sunset. It is fiction based on reality with a ‘true to life’ outcome. The characters in this story get away with White-Collar crimes just as the real life participants did. The characters are sadistic and have a knack of getting away with almost everything, just like the in real world. It is as simple as that. One of the messages I wanted to convey in writing this story was to show what kinds of professionals were out there exploiting our businesses and citizens without legal retribution. The characters are mostly cold, calculating, and narcissistic.

I figured that using a first person narrative was the best way to tell the story. There are many subjects involved in this story so I divided SCAM FACTORY into four parts to further make it easier to read and understand. Loyalties are lost and revenge is certainly in the plot, but figuring out how to write about it was the key to the story. There is no mention of any existing, or real life, companies-only industries and fictional business entities. Another challenge was making the fictional writing seem realistic. Several of the initial book reviewers were asking if some of the events in the story actually took place. The answer is probably yes, except that only a hand full of people knows how those events really took place.

The consulting firm (TierGroup) in this story, that represents the seventeen major industries, is politically neutral. The idea is that if your money is green then TierGroup, and its clients, do not really care what your political affiliation is. This is also very relevant in the real world, but it seems to be changing for the worst. Although SCAM FACTORY contains many dark sides, it strongly reflects a ‘behind the closed door’ characterization of the reality we have faced over the last six years. The lessons we are still learning as a country are obvious and it may take many more years to recover. Control, perception, manipulation, and greed are still the number one driving forces in the business world today, but on the other hand, there are always two sides to a coin. Only time will tell.

Enjoy SCAM FACTORY and become a fan on Facebook.

Price/Format: $4.99 ebook
Pages: 263
Release: October 15, 2012

Kindle buy link ($4.99):

Nook buy link ($4.99):

G. Gordon Dean is a Real Estate agent and Business Consultant currently living in Arizona. He has been a media buff for over two decades. As a media buff he has kept himself well aware of past and current events in business, government, and politics. He lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for over 30 years. This is his first novel.

G. Gordon Dean's Facebook:

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Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a FREE e-copy of SCAM FACTORY!

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Looking for Blog Hosts: 'I Left My Prostate in San Francisco'

Press release information from WestBow Press:

New book reveals what prostate cancer patients need to know before choosing surgery

MODESTO, Calif. – At age 58, author Rick Redner went to a routine exam in order to obtain a prescription refill. His life was turned upside down when his urologist discovered a suspicious lump on his prostate. This was the beginning of his journey with prostate cancer. Rick chose Robotic Surgery to treat his cancer. “Prostate surgery permanently alters your identity, your sexuality, your relationship and outlook on life,” says Rick. “Since many of these issues are intensely private, most men and couples struggle alone.”

In order to help others on their journey from diagnosis to adjusting to their new life post surgery, Rick & Brenda made a very difficult decision to share their intimate emotional, relational, sexual, and spiritual struggles. Brenda writes, “As Rick lay next to me that night, I tried not to think about my husband in diapers. I realized nothing would be the same again.” Their willingness to share their journey, their mistakes, victories, insights, humor, and faith, will help other couples facing prostate cancer.

Anyone considering prostate surgery will find “I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours?” Coping with the Emotional, Relational, Sexual & Spiritual Aspects of Prostate Cancer” (published by WestBow Press) an incredibly valuable resource. Rick and Brenda provide their readers with vitally important information such as:

• Things you need to know before and after prostate surgery.
• How surgery will permanently change your sexuality.
• How a simple mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in out –of- pocket medical expenses.
• Tips on breaking the news to friends and family and what to expect when you do.
• How erectile dysfunction and losing urinary control will affect you and your partner.
• Why you could experience a severe depression after receiving the news you’ve been cured of cancer.
• How faith and prayer impacts the disruptive moments in life.
• What attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors will lift your spirit and repair broken relationships.

Rick & Brenda know how important it is to hear from other people further along the journey of adjusting to life without a prostate. They want to end the isolation couples experience before or after prostate surgery.
To accomplish their goal, they host a website at: where there is a pre-surgery and post -surgery forum. On these forums men and women can connect with Rick & Brenda as well as with others who join these forums to share information and provide on going support. Rick blogs at: His on-line diary at: has received more than 26000 hits.

About the Authors
After receiving his master’s in social work from Michigan State University, Rick Redner spent two years as a medical social worker. From there, he decided to become an entrepreneur, owning and operating two sandwich shops for the past 30 years.

Also a Michigan State University graduate, Brenda Redner obtained her RN/BSN and became an oncology nurse, psychiatric nurse and teacher. She went on to teach their four children at home.

If you would be interested in reviewing this book in February or March 2013 or in hosting a spotlight of the book (cover art, synopsis, short excerpt, links to purchase, authors' photos, and bios) please email Cheryl at ccmal(at)charter(dot)net. Deadline for inquiries is January 31st. 

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012)

Ever since the end of Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the Lil Diva (11) and the Lil Princess (9) have been bugging to make sure they get to see Breaking Dawn - Part 2.

I didn't get them involved in The Twilight Saga. Their brother and friends did. I haven't read a single book in the series, and this is the only movie out of all four that I've seen. The girls haven't read the books either, but they loved all the movies.

In this final Twilight movie, Bella (Kristen Stewart) awakens after the birth of Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). Now a vampire, she has skills and gifts she must learn to control and develop. When her daughter begins to grow at an accelerated rate, the Cullens feel they must find out more about her gifts.

Allegations about Renesmee reach the Volturi, forcing the Cullens to gather other vampire clans in order to protect the family.

Having not seen the events leading up to Breaking Dawn - Part 2, put me at a disadvantage. I didn't know these characters' history. I didn't immediately know how they were connected to certain people. I also had no idea who or what the Volturi are. That last one hasn't changed. All I know is they were the bad guys in this movie.

I have to admit, if I knew how violent this movie was, I never would have agreed to take the Lil Diva. The Lil Princess went with her brother around Christmas time. Now I know why she's been having nightmares for weeks. Not a ton of blood, but very disturbing violent images, especially during the final battle scene. The girls insist the other movies weren't like this.

That aside, the plot was great. The Volturi are afraid the Cullens have produced an immortal child that is a threat to all vampires' existence. The Cullens search far and wide for members to be a witness for Renesmee, showing she is no danger to anyone. They believe if the Volturi learn of the girl's true gifts, they will allow them to live in peace. Other than the violence, there are a lot of intense scenes and a few partially naked moments.

The movie didn't make me want to go back and watch the previous installments, but it did make me curious about the books. I don't think I'll read them soon, but I might add them to my extensive wish list.

Release Date: 16 November 2012 (USA)
Runtime: 115 min
Rated PG-13

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WSJ Wednesday: Print Books Are Here to Stay

I always love to read articles that challenge what we think we know. Ever since the advent of e-books, it's been feared digital books will become the norm and printed books will phase out. The closing of some independent bookstores and big chain stores, like Borders, seems to back that up.

Even though I'm still waiting for the paperless office to become a reality, I have to admit digital books--while fabulous--scare me because of their potential impact on the industry. In the Saturday/Sunday January 5 - 6, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Carr states, "...the death of the printed book may be exaggerated."

Carr says the future for traditional books is looking better. Hardcover sales are staying strong and e-book sales are slowing. His article even says that the purchases of e-readers is shrinking because consumers are focusing on multipurpose tablets. Those fickle consumers confuse us all.

Carr cites a Pew Research Center survey and reported statistics from the Association of American Publishers in this article. The AAP reported that the rate of growth for e-book sales dropped considerably in 2012. Carr also mentions a survey by Bowker Market Research that revealed only 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book and 59% say they have "no interest" in buying one. And here's the kicker, because consumers are now opting for multipurpose tablets, e-books find it hard to compete against games, videos, and Facebook on these devices.

Another point Carr makes deserves consideration. E-book purchases have been disproportionately fiction because they are often books we read quickly and have no desire to hang on to. Plus, e-readers have allowed people to read books they might be reluctant to carry around in paperback or hardcover form. But those enjoying literary fiction and narrative nonfiction still lean toward printed books.

What is the publishing industry supposed to do with this news? Every time it seems a trend is sticking, it turns out to be just a trend. And like most trends, they shift directions. Is it any wonder it's hard to get traditionally published these days.

As a reader, what do you think of this news? Do you think Carr is right? Does it change your thoughts on buying a multipurpose device like an iPad for a child you know?

Book Giveaway: The Black Shard by Victoria Simcox (3 winners)

Kristina's stay at summer horse camp is horrible to say the least, and it's all because Hester and Davina are there as well, making her life miserable. When Hester's cruel prank goes terribly wrong, it's actually what sends the three girls back to the magical land of Bernovem. In Bernovem, Kristina is very excited to see her former friend, Prince Werrien. When he invites her to sail with him on his ship to his homeland Tezerel, putting it simply, Kristina can't refuse.

Reunited with her gnome, dwarf, animal, fairy friends ... and best of all, Werrien, things seem like they couldn't get any better for Kristina. But when Werrien becomes fascinated with an unusual seeing stone, the ''Black Shard'', Kristina is haunted by a ghostlike old hag. Struggling against suspicion, guilt, illness, and ultimately the one who wants to possess her soul, Kristina will see it's in her weakest moment that she will encounter more strength than she has ever known.

"This is an imaginative read that I couldn't put down, I finished it in just one day and I can't wait to find out what happens next!"

--Me, My Books and I

"I highly recommend The Black Shard for all lovers of fantasy chapter books, which I feel that tween and teen girls will especially enjoy and relate to."

--The Freebie Fairy

"The Black Shard is a awesome sci-fi young adult book that is part of a series I am now hooked on."

--Cherise K (Mom and More)

"The Black Shard, Victoria Simcox's fast-paced, intricately woven sequel to The Magic Warble, takes Kristina Kingsly and her schoolmates back to Bernovem ... and into a thrilling, often dangerous adventure."

--Between the Lines

Three of our readers will win an electronic version of The Black Shard from author Victoria Simcox. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays- January 8th

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!

She shook her head. "Some days, there's a glimmer of hope. Other days"--her gaze was direct and intense--"it's hard. And I'm tired."

~page 161, Exiles on Main Street by Lisa Kleinholz

Monday, January 7, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Starts Off Strong

Downton Abbey started off strong in Season 3. I won't share spoilers in case you haven't had a chance to see it yet, but it's riveting. Familiar faces blend with new ones to create a thrilling season opener that captured 7.9 million viewers.

Here is a brief synopsis:

While the family plans for Lady Mary's upcoming nuptials to Matthew Crawley, Lord Grantham learns one of his investments has gone belly up, leaving the future of Downton Abbey uncertain. Lady Edith continues her pursuit of Sir Anthony Strallan, much to the disapproval of the Dowager Countess of Grantham. The arrival of Lady Grantham's mother, Martha Levinson, creates new drama for the entire house; as does the arrival of Lady Sybil and her husband, Branson, who is just as fired up as he was before they left for Ireland.

Downstairs, O'Brien convinces  Lady and Lord Grantham to hire her nephew as a footman, angering Thomas, who is sure to cause trouble. Anna continues to exhaust all avenues in her efforts to clear Bates of Vera's murder. Mrs. Hughes receives some disturbing news, and Daisy stages a protest when she doesn't receive her promotion.

The acting and writing for Downton Abbey remain superb, though I truly wish they would give Lady Edith a storyline that didn't involve her acting like a selfish, spoiled rotten brat. I want to feel sympathetic toward her plight as the forgotten middle child who has watched while the family dotes on the beautiful, older Lady Mary and whose good behavior is downplayed against her younger sister Sybil's antics, but Edith is like pouring vinegar into baking soda, exploding everything. She creates her own issues with her sour attitude. It will be interesting to see how her relationship with Sir Anthony moves forward and if it changes her any.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Season 3 of Downton Abbey Starts Sunday

I am so excited! The third season of Downton Abbey starts tomorrow night. And though I know one of my favorite characters will be eliminated in the Christmas episode, I can't wait to watch all the goings on upstairs and downstairs as Anna tries to prove her husband's innocence, Matthew and Mary plan their life together, and Robert deals with a financial catastrophe.

If you visit the PBS website at you can watch a group cast interview with fans asking questions that took place in New York. There's also a preview of the first 10 minutes of the third season there.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Greeks of Beaubien Street Virtual Book Publicity Tour and Giveaway

Nestled below the skyline of Detroit you’ll find Greektown, a few short blocks of colorful bliss, warm people and Greek food. In spite of growing up immersed in the safety of her family and their rich culture, Jill Zannos doesn’t fit in. A Detroit homicide detective, she manages to keep one foot planted firmly in the traditions started by her grandparents, while the other navigates the most devastated neighborhoods in the city she can’t help but love. She is a no nonsense workaholic with no girlfriends, an odd boyfriend who refuses to grow up, and an uncanny intuition, inherited from her mystic grandmother, that acts as her secret weapon to crime solving success. Her story winds around tales of her family and their secret laden history, while she investigates the most despicable murder of her career.

The Greeks of Beaubien Street is a modern tale of a family grounded in old world, sometimes archaic, tradition, as they seek acceptance in American society. They could be any nationality, but they are Greek.



Barnes and Noble

Suzanne Jenkins is the author of the Pam of Babylon Series. The Greeks of Beaubien Street is a new series about a Greek homicide detective who grew up above the family grocery store in Greektown, Detroit. Jenkins has fond memories of growing up in a Greek American household in the suburbs of Detroit. She currently lives in the west Michigan lakeshore area with her husband, two dogs and two sheep.

Visit her website at
Visit her blog at


Pump Up Your Book and Suzanne Jenkins are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour or visit the book's tour page.

This promotion will run from January 2 – March 29. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on March 30.

Each blogger who participates in The Greeks of Beaubien Street virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.

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The Greeks of Beaubien Street Tour Page:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Purrs of Wisdom Book Blast – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card & Free e-Books!

About the Author:

Ingrid King is a former veterinary hospital manager turned award winning writer. Her popular blog, The Conscious Cat, a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health, and happiness for cats and their humans, has won multiple awards, including DogTime Media’s 2012 Pettie for Best Cat Blog, 2011 Pettie for Best Overall Pet Blog, and’s 2012 Readers Choice Award for Best Website About Cats. Ingrid is the publisher of the online magazine News for You and Your Pet, which goes out to subscribers around the world. Her articles have been published in Cat Fancy, Animal Wellness Magazine, Urban Animal, NOVADog, and on miscellaneous websites. Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cats Allegra and Ruby.

Her latest book is Purrs of Wisdom: Conscious Living Feline Style.

Visit her website at

About the Book:

Purrs of Wisdom is a collection of essays featuring lessons in conscious living, inspired by the cats who have shared the author’s life.

From help with every day challenges to inspiration on living a joyful life, this compilation provides encouragement, guidance, and enlightenment, feline style.

Whether it’s creating balance, navigating turbulent times, or finding the magic in life’s ordinary moments, there’s something for everyone in this book.

Chapters include:
• The Healing Power of the Purr
• Making Time for Contemplation
• Routine as the Key to Happiness
• Purging Can Make You Purr
• Healthy Cats, Healthy Human

The stories may remind readers of lessons their own cats have taught them, provide “aha” moments, or simply bring a smile.

The book is best enjoyed with a cat curled up on your lap.

PRAISE FOR Purrs of Wisdom

“Purrs of Wisdom, by Ingrid King, is a treat for anyone who is enchanted by all things feline! The book is an exploration of lessons on living a joyful and inspired life, learned from the many magical cats who have shared the author’s journey.

I found gifts on every page, but the section titled Lessons from a Maple Tree especially touched my heart. The author talks about taking time out of her busy day to soak up the tree’s magnificent colors when the leaves change in the fall. “Doing nothing without feeling guilty” is a lesson she learned from her cats. Ingrid’s words were a gentle reminder to this fast-paced former New Yorker to look to my own kitties for guidance when my world seems to be spinning a bit too quickly.

Purrs of Wisdom is sure to be a treasured addition to any cat lover’s library!”
- Christine Davis, Author of For Every Cat An Angel and Forever Paws
“Reading this collection of feline-inspired essays and life lessons gave me several AHA! moments. Purrs of Wisdom is a refreshing read that packs a deceptively powerful punch and provides helpful recipes for finding your bliss. Ingrid King writes with compassion for those who struggle along as “life happens.” The gifted writer offers nearly poetic insight how to manage the angst, as well as to recognize the “why” behind such things. You’ll want to savor each individual chapter and purr-haps bookmark and revisit those that strike a personal chord. And of course, read aloud to your favorite feline companion!”
- Amy Shojai, bestselling author of more than two-dozen pet books
“Purrs of Wisdom is the perfect book for anyone who loves cats – and has an interest in living life to the fullest, with a positive and peaceful outlook – just like a cat does! It spoke to me on several levels and is sure to become a well-thumbed volume as I continue on my life’s journey.”
- Ann Brightman, Managing Editor, Animal Wellness Magazine
“In this guide to living spiritually and creatively in a world that isn’t always quite comfortable with either quality, King, a keenly intuitive writer, draws upon the lessons she has learned from her beloved feline friends, weaving them deftly together with her own experiences. ”
- T.J. Banks, Author of Sketch People: Stories Along the Way and Catsong


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Purrs of Wisdom: Conscious Living Feline Style Tour Page:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013