Monday, March 31, 2014

Mailbox Monday - March 31

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

The last day of March is going out like a lion. Three days of rain has left us with flood warnings in many counties. Today, just as I was waking up, the rain turned to snow. Big, fat wet flakes that stuck to the ground quickly. Just as I was getting the feeling that I might see all of my grass pretty soon, Mother Nature showed me she has different plans. Sigh. Good thing it is supposed to be warm the rest of the week. The Red Sox should have decent weather for opening day on Friday.

Two books were delivered by the mailman last week.


Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

I've not had the chance to read any of MacColl's books, but they come highly recommended and I have promised myself I will read her soon. She is known for her fictional portrayals of historical women in their youth. From Beryl Markham to Emily Dickinson to the Brontë sisters, Publishers Weekly says, "MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for."

I'm offering this book as a giveaway at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection on April 10th.


The Do's and Don'ts is a whimsical lesson book aimed at teaching young readers the difference between good and bad behavior/etiquette. In the book Zack and Chloe go from being manner monsters to well-behaved children as they provide samples of typical scenarios that not only young children encounter but can relate to. For example, Zack becomes a Manner Monster when he loses a game, kicking and pouting like a poor sport. In contract, good behavior is then modeled depicting Zack congratulating the winning team. Unlike other etiquette books for children that tell a story or just communicate positive behavior, The Do's and Don'ts compares and contrasts between good and bad behavior. Simply, yet colorfully displayed, are examples of inappropriate behavior and decisions young children may display followed by behavior and decisions that are more socially accepted. Each compare and contrast anecdote is set in the same scene so that young readers can instantly see the differences between good and poor behavior.

This is a cute book. I read it the first day it arrived. After enjoying Rose's Fifo "50 States" book, I made sure to get in on this book tour right away. This book on manners is creative and fun. I'll be reviewing it at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection on April 15th.

That's it from my end. Hope you had some great books in our mailbox this week. Remember that the Blogging from A to Z Challenge starts tomorrow, so hope you'll look for our posts.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 171


Welcome to Week 171!

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.





I sat on the swing, flicking paint chips, and watched Khayla and Kheelin try to keep up with Georgie and Sealy while they all ran around like fools, chasing leaves that were blowing off the trees. The whole while, I was thinking that this was turning into the worst birthday ever. Didn't anyone understand the importance of what day it was?

This is a middle grade novel that came to me unsolicited.

Movie Review: The Monuments Men (2014)



If you enjoy World War II movies, then The Monuments Men will provide a unique and exciting departure from your typical wartime movie.

The Monuments Men is the story of an unlikely World War II platoon tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from the Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners. As The Third Reich falls and orders are given to destroy everything, the Monuments Men are in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture. Can this group of seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, succeed in protecting and defending mankind's greatest achievements?

Based on a true story documented in Robert M. Edsels' book of the same title, The Monuments Men is unlike any World War II movie I've ever seen before. While there is definitely action and thrills as the Monuments Men race to find the treasures before they are destroyed by the Nazis or stolen by the Russians seeking to plunder their enemy's spoils, for the most part the story of this unlikely platoon unfolds methodically, taking place in numerous locations at the same time.

George Clooney wrote the screenplay and also directed and starred in the movie. If you're expecting Ocean's Eleven type of action, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a complex story of intrigue and adventure dashed with action, this is the perfect choice. Other stars include Bill Murray, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), and Bob Balaban (The West Wing, Seinfeld). Cate Blanchett plays Claire Simone, a volunteer at the Jeu de Paume museum who is instrumental in helping the Monuments Men discovering the looted works of art.

My husband and I went to see this movie in the theater on March 14, 2014. We had divided feelings on The Monuments Men. I loved it so much that I ordered Edsel's book the next day. My husband, however, was looking for more action from a wartime movie. Why I believe this is such a superb movie--besides the excellent acting by this powerhouse of stars--is that these were ordinary men and a woman making a difference during the war for something they were passionate about. These men did not have military experience. This woman secretly spied on the Nazis once they occupied her country and was vital to so many of the missing pieces being rescued. That's an amazing feat. And I feel all the actors and the screenplay captured their accomplishments and their passion well. I particularly thought the opening scene with Frank Stokes (George Clooney) and the ending scene that takes place years after the war is over, display what these men and this woman set out to accomplish and honors them for it.

Highly recommended!


Release Date: 7 February 2014 (USA)
Production Co: Columbia Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Smokehouse Pictures and more
Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Runtime: 118 min

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

Divergent is an action-packed futuristic thriller movie based upon the novel by Veronica Roth. After the war, people were divided into distinct factions based upon human traits: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), and Erudite (intelligent). This system is meant to maintain peace and order.

When an aptitude test shows that Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is Divergent, she is warned not to tell anyone. As Tris and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) prepare for Choosing Day (the day each young person of age gets to choose which faction they belong regardless of the faction they were born into), Tris battles with the knowledge of being Divergent and her duty to her family. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet), Tris must place her trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) for help in discovering what makes Divergents so dangerous.

It's no surprise that this movie took top spot at the box office opening weekend. Not only is the acting superb, the special effects are amazing. Combine that with the romantic element of Tris and Four, and you have a movie that will attract teens and young adults in droves. It's an angst-filled, emotional 139 minutes that includes tons of violence and action. The PG-13 rating is definitely earned for the violence that, while not overly gory, could scare younger children. The dream sequences in the Fear Landscape are intense, one character commits suicide, and more than one character takes horrible beatings. There is no sex in this movie, but there is some passionate kissing and viewers see Four's naked back when Tris asks to see his tattoo.

While I've done my best not to compare Divergent with The Hunger Games in my mind, I found that Divergent opened with a much slower pace and took its time setting the scene for all that was to transpire after it than The Hunger Games. This made Divergent seem like a longer movie, when the running time is a few minutes less. Once Tris chose the faction she wanted to belong to and left her family, the pace picked up quickly and it was pretty much an anxiety-filled, thrilling adventure through to the end.

The Lil' Diva (12) had read the books and was eager to see this movie. She's aching to see it again and impatiently awaits the next installments of this series--Insurgent (2015) and Allegiant (2016)--in theaters. She was a bit disappointed in characters that the movie left out from the first book and is suspicious of how the movie story line will move forward when those characters played roles in books 2 and 3.

Overall, if you like dystopian fiction and were a fan of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in theaters, you'll most likely enjoy Divergent.

Release Date: 21 March 2014 (USA)
Production Co: Summit Entertainment, Red Wagon Entertainment and more
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Runtime: 139 min

We saw this movie in the theater on March 20, 2014. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest Post: That’s Not What I Ordered: Trials of Online Purse Shopping by Rachael Cherry





You would think that purse shopping would be easy, but you would be wrong. I have had the same old boring purse for well over a year now and was looking for a change. Something a bit more fashionable and yet still practical. I perused the local stores to no avail, so I turned to online shopping. That is when things got tough.

First of all, I had to figure out what size purse I want. In the store I can pick them up, look at the zippers, try them on and see how they hang on my shoulder. I have no idea how many inches they are or how long of a strap I need.

The very first time I ordered a cute purse online, I judged it just its looks. It was pretty and had a good price. Why not? When I got it, over a month later I might add, it was cute. And tiny. A date purse, yes. A daily purse? No. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

I decided I needed to get some general size in mind, so I measured my current purse. Okay, now I could start. I kept the price down low and looked for a suitable color and style. I don’t know why, but an orange color appealed to me. It seemed trendy and yet long lasting.

Anyway, I found a purse that might work and ordered it. It came a week or two later, much better, but the box seemed a little large.

What did I find when I opened the box? The world’s ugliest purse. The size of a gym bag, dark red-purple and with rivets all over it. The empty purse weighed more than my full to exploding purse did! I joked that I could at least use it to defend myself if I was ever attacked by a sword wielding manic, but I was not happy.
After communicating with the seller, who offered to replace the purse at no charge, I was left with this thing in my possession. They did not even want it back. But what am I going to do with the monstrosity? All I can think of is that it will make a great white elephant gift… or maybe I’ll give it to someone with… dubious… taste.

Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: A Sandy Grave by Donna M. McDine


The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had--especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

EXCERPT:
The lifeguards had their arms extended and attempted to move the crowd back. The tallest lifeguard said, “People, please stay back. The authorities will arrive to examine the whale to determine the cause of death within the hour. The whale must have died at sea and washed ashore.”

PURCHASE AT:

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING: http://guardianangelpublishing.com/sandy-grave.htm

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sandy-Grave-Donna-M-McDine/dp/1616334541/

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sandy-grave-donna-m-mcdine/1118285403





Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two
Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com.




Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a
 $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.
Terms and Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
• This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
• Winner will be contacted via email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A SANDY GRAVE TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, March 3 
Book trailer reveal at If Books Could Talk 
Tuesday, March 4 
Interview at As the Pages Turn 
Wednesday, March 5 
Friday, March 7 
Monday, March 10 
Guest post at Literarily Speaking 
Tuesday, March 11 
Book featured at The Writer’s Life 
Wednesday, March 12 
Thursday, March 13 
Book review at Farm and Fru Fru 
Monday, March 17 
Book feature and giveaway at My Sister Is My Best Friend 
Wednesday, March 19 
Friday, March 21 
First chapter reveal at Read My First Chapter 
Monday, March 24 
Book feature at Between the Covers 
Tuesday, March 25 
Book feature at The Busy Mom’s Daily 
Wednesday, March 26
 Thursday, March 27
 Book review at My Devotional Thoughts
 Friday, March 28
 Interview and giveaway at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Tuesday, April 1
Guest post at Strands of Thought
Wednesday, April 2
Thursday, April 3
Character interview at Beyond the Books
Book trailer reveal at A Leisure Moment
Friday, April 4
Book review at A Leisure Moment
Monday, April 7
Book review at Blooming with Books
Tuesday, April 8
Interview at Blooming with Books
Wednesday, April 9
Book feature at 4 the Love of Books
Thursday, April 10
Friday, April 11
Monday, April 14
Book trailer reveal at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, April 16
Book feature and giveaway at Blooming with Books
Thursday, April 17
Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Friday, April 18
Book review at By the Book
Monday, April 21
Book feature at Plug Your Book!
Wednesday, April 23
Book review at 4 the Love of Books
Book review at Mymcbooks’s Blog
Thursday, April 24
Book review at WV Stitcher
Friday, April 25

Book tour highlights at The Book Rack


Monday, March 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday - March 24

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Thankfully, it was a slow mailbox week. My reading time wasn't much last week, so hopefully I can catch up this week.

The hubby and I went to see The Monuments Men two Fridays ago. Directed and written by George Clooney, this movie is based upon the book, The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. I ordered the book from Amazon and it came in Tuesday.






At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised.

In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Book Spotlight: Ghost of the Gods by Kevin Bohecz


Was it the accumulated wounds to the environment that had finally triggered the nanotech plague or was it simply one more step in a shrewdly crafted plan to replace us with humans 2.0? As I write this at least one pair of these transhumans breathe the same air as us, and there are likely many more. They may look like us, they may even be almost human, but they are also cybernetic and will live for an extraordinary length of time. Trust me, their goals are not the same as ours. It was not a natural plague that almost drove humankind to extinction but an attack from within, turning our own biology against us. Scientists discovered all too late an artificial entity, a sentient machine foolishly created in the image of god, had been studying us and genetically altering us for longer than we can imagine. Perhaps it is because of this god-machine that we evolved into creatures who can think and speak and know our own mortality? This silicon god is so different from us that we may never truly understand it, but what we do know is that it is terrifyingly intelligent and it hates us. What we do know is that it tried to eradicate us from the face of our planet and then stopped for no discernible reason. What we do know is that its work is not done.

Excerpt:

It had been a restless night for both of them. The old growth forest was dense with huge oak and hickory trees. The ground was damp, and the air had a mossy tang to it. Mark Freedman heard the snapping and popping of the campfire as he awoke very oddly from a dream. He no longer awoke as humans had since their beginnings. At some point the processing throughput of his nanotech augmented brain surged upward and his eyes simply opened. He was fully aware of the data streaming in from his senses and his wireless neurological interface to the god-machine. The machine was an artificial intelligence whose origin was murky. It was hosted redundantly within the world’s oceans in supercolonies of the same nanotech seeds that infected him. A single seed was a self-replicating nanotech machine about a quarter the size of an average bacterium, yet had the power of a personal computer. The technology was decades beyond anything humans could have created in a lab. Some thought the technology could be almost as old as life on earth while others had far different, more recent ideas.

Mark could still see the spherical colonies in his mind. He had been dreaming of them again. Each was an undulating mass of hundreds of trillion of COBIC bacteria. Each bacterium was infected with a seed that covertly replaced most of the nucleus. It was all so stealthful, like a skilled hunter toying with its prey. Only in this case its prey was the world. Each colony was only a few feet in diameter, a size easily lost in the vast chasms of deep ocean water. Only a handful of these super- colonies were secreted around the world. He could hear echoes of the artificial intelligence thinking to itself. At times it could be maddening.

The god-machine, through its global wireless web, linked together all seeds that permeated everything on the planet. The result was an ancient living network of unimaginable scale and distributed comput- ing power. The seeds undetectably infected virtually every multi-celled creature, including humans.

Mark took a deep breath to clear the cobwebs of his dreams then took another deep breath. He heard a twig snap in the darkness, and his heart jumped. At the edge of the small clearing, beyond the reach of the campfire’s glow, lurked a deep gloom thick enough to conceal almost anything. The night was alive with droning and chirping creatures that should have been hibernating. Climate change had brought so many unforeseen consequences. In seconds his nanotech brain had cataloged the telltale sounds of several species of insects and other small creatures. Some would be extinct before long.

Mark thought how humankind had come so dangerously close to extinction itself. When the nanotech seeds had metastasized inside him two years ago, the technology had not only altered his brain, it had modified his flesh and even to some extent his DNA. While most of the seeds had taken root permanently inside the neurons in his brain, some remained unattached.

Using a mental command, Mark augmented his vision to include medical information about his body. The information was mentally projected as virtual reality. Looking at his arms and legs, he saw what resembled a colored fluoroscopic view. Orange blotches in the overlaid schematic symbolically indicated where the unattached mobile seeds were now massing. He knew these seeds were concealed inside harm- less COBIC bacteria, which they controlled and used both for disguise as well as mobility. These nanotech bacteria navigated his circulatory system like computerized antibodies. The microbes were sheathed in a chemical disguise, dialed-in to match its environment in the same way a chameleon changes its color. The result was complete invisibility to the immune system of its host. If his flesh was injured, this free-swimming nanotech could knit his tissues back together at the molecular level, healing the damage in days instead of weeks. These seeds, however, did far more than heal. Slowly, over time, they perfected through genetic fine tuning. He was the first of his kind. He had no idea how long he would survive, but he did know his lifespan would be extraordinary.

Mark turned off the medical projection. While he could examine his flesh, there was no command that could show him what was happening to his mind. Soon after the nanotech seeds had infected his brain, all his dreams had become conscious experiences and remained that way. In his conscious dreams he was able to solve problems, explore places, and just simply live. It was like an entire second existence had been opened to him. He knew his conscious dream life was mostly the result of photographic recall of everything, including dreams. Surveillance data from the god-machine proved most people had conscious dreams every night; they just failed to remember them and called them by a different name: lucid dreams.

Mark gazed up from the small clearing at a sky overcrowded with stars. He felt like the only being alive in this infinite, lonely place. A gibbous moon was just setting below the branches. Its pale blue light cast long shadows of tree limbs across the clearing. The shadows reminded him of ghostly talons reaching out for their prey. He checked for dream signs to make sure he was not experiencing a false awakening.

The temperature should have been frigid and the ground covered in deep snow, but it was not. More signs of a planet teetering on the brink of environmental collapse. The continent no longer had uniform seasons. Some places were experiencing a frozen winter while here in Missouri it was closer to early spring. It was chilly enough to be uncomfortable for an organic, but not for Mark and his companion. He simply dulled the temperature sensitive nerve endings in his skin. The campfire’s low flames had been reduced to orange coals. He could see the radiated warmth on his arms and legs but felt nothing. The glowing coals seemed almost alive as they writhed in their superheated world. Unable to feel the warmth, Mark was fascinated and reached out with his hand. A computer assist acted automatically in response to his state of mind. This assist, like the medial schematic, was a geo-projected virtual reality. The assist was warning him that the heart of the fire was 1,262 degrees Fahrenheit. It did this by displaying the temperature superimposed over the coals. Mark thought about the utter pointless- ness of that warning and how it showed the machine interface was still adapting to him and had far to go. He never had any intension of inserting his hand into the flames.

A soft breeze stirred dying leaves on the branches around him as a few more floated to earth. He watched one incinerated as it drifted down onto the hungry coals… as it dissolved, a terrible memory crept back into his awareness unbidden and his heart broke anew. Every day when he awoke the world was as it should be for a brief time, then the serpent of reality opened her eyes inside him and the horror of what he knew broke him again as he knew it would every morning of every day of his unimaginably long life. He spoke in an urgent whisper directed at both God and the god-machine.
“I want our lives back. I want our hope back. How could you hate us so much?”

Sarah stirred next to him. She was a nanotech hybrid like him. They were the only two known to exist in a world of one and half billion humans who had survived the nanotech plague. A plague caused by the god-machine and the seeds living inside his flesh. Mark regretted whispering and furtively wiped the dampness from his eyes. Sarah’s Rottweiler, Ralph, was staring at him. The dog’s eyes glowed with orange light from the fire. The huge animal was like a witch’s familiar.

Sarah could partially see and hear through the animal’s senses as they were radiated out as data across the god-machine’s n-web. Since all creatures were infected with some nanotech seeds, all creatures radiated some emanations, be it mental or emotional. Sarah propped herself up. Mark could see her shadowed expression in the wavering light. She looked so attractive and so frighteningly intelligent. He knew she was curious. He could feel her empathic awareness begin to suffuse him as her cybernetic brain fully awoke like a rising sun. Her spiritual caress was a hand returning to a familiar glove. While she shared and expe- rienced all his emotions, she must never discover the terrible truth. He concealed it deep inside himself and kept it from her so that she did not lose all hope. There was always hope.

Title: Ghost of the Gods
Genre: Techno-Thriller
Author: Kevin Bohacz
Publisher: Mazel & Sechel
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON


I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible.

Visit Kevin’s website at www.kbohacz.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kevinbohacz.



Friday, March 21, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 170


Welcome to Week 170!

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

Erinn Wolf needs to reinvent herself. A once celebrated playwright turned photographer, she's almost broke, a little lonely, and tired of her sister's constant worry. When a job on a reality TV show falls into her lap, she's thrilled to be making a paycheck--and when a hot Italian actor named Massimo rents her guesthouse, she's certain her life is getting a romantic subplot. But with the director, brash, gorgeous young Jude, dogging her every step, she can't help but look at herself through his lens--and wonder if she's been reading the wrong script all along. . .





The following blurb is from page 156:

"But...if I'm in Washington's point of view, don't I have to be on horseback, too?"

"Si...yes," Jude said. "You know how to ride, don't you?"

"Of course I do," Erinn said, although it had probably been twenty years since she'd been on a horse.

Guest Blogger: Aaron Paul Lazar, Author of Lady Blues: forget-me-not



In book 10 of the LeGarde Mystery series, Gus unravels twin mysteries of an abused Korean seamstress and a 1940s jazz ingénue whose pianist lover disappeared overseas on the same night Glen Miller’s plane was lost in English Channel. Gus helps an Alzheimer’s patient reclaim his identity, while dodging a drug company who will silence any witness to keep the truth of their breakthrough Alzheimer's treatment under wraps.


A Miracle Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease? by Aaron Paul Lazar

I can’t help myself.

I wrote about a fictitious cure for leukemia in Essentially Yours (Tall Pines Mysteries, book #2) because my cousin suffers from this dreaded disease and I wanted so badly for someone to find a cure. I can’t help but imagine the day when a real cure arrives, and somehow, I was compelled to write about it.

My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of ninety, in 1997. This woman was a powerhouse of personality. I based my character Maddy Coté in the LeGarde Mysteries on her flamboyant and gushing mannerisms in Gram’s honor.

Gram was a real rebel for her day. Imagine a “grandmother” DYING her hair BLOND in the fifties! Whoa, now that was a shocker. She always wore colorful outfits, loud chunky jewelry, gave loud smacking kisses, and smashed me to her bosom when she saw me. And worst and most shocking of all, my grandmother drank BEER. Yes, a green bottle of Narragansett accompanied every meal.

Indeed. She was one wild woman.

And I adored her.

I will never forget how the illness stole her away from us, and how I felt the first time she didn’t remember me. I also remember the intensely personal and amazing moment when I sang one of “our songs,” to her, and she came back to me for just a few minutes, calling me by name and saying “Isn’t it nice to be with family?” just before the curtain fell again and she disappeared forever.

Sigh. It still makes me very sad.

So, here I am seventeen years later, making up a miracle cure for the dreaded disease that has affected so many people. I just hope it’s prophetic.

In Lady Blues: forget-me-not, my protagonist Gus LeGarde, befriends an elderly gentleman, Kip Sterling, in a new nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients.

Gus refers to himself as “a hopeless romantic, a Renaissance man caught in the twenty-first century.” No stranger to passion or heartache, Gus lavishes love on his family and dog as he mourns the loss of his lifetime soul mate, Elsbeth, in the first book of the series, Double Forté. He teaches music at Conaroga University, imparting the love of the classics to his young students. Gus is passionate about French Impressionist painters, gardening, and cooking lavish gourmet meals for his family and friends. His rambling, 1811 Greek Revival farm house lies among the rolling hills and bucolic splendor of the Genesee Valley. He plays Chopin etudes to clear his mind and feed his soul, and has an impeccable inner moral compass. By the time we get to Lady Blues, book ten in the series, he has fallen in love with and married Camille Coté, Maddy’s daughter.

Now, back to our story about the miracle.

When a new drug called Memorphyl starts working on Kip and memories start to bubble to the surface in this fascinating fellow, all kinds of trouble is stirred up. But one persistent memory keeps on bugging him, and he asks Gus for help.

Back in 1946, Kip lost the love of his life, Miss Arabella Mae Dubois, affectionately known as Bella, a lusty and talented blues singer he met in the Harlem clubs. Kip is obsessed with finding her, and Gus promises to help.

Now that I think about it, the Bella I created here actually has quite a bit in common with my grandmother, personality-wise. Hmm. Interesting parallels, I think. Bella and Kip, a biracial couple in a very intolerant age, were quite the rebels, themselves.

Wouldn't it be great if someday, somewhere, somehow, we really do get a cure for Alzheimer’s? What if all the memories came pouring back, and patients in nursing homes began to be released back to their families?

I love the idea. Hey, maybe if I write about it enough, it’ll come true someday!

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The award-winning and bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.

Aaron's articles on writing have appeared in Absolute Write, and his short essay, "Word Paintings" was included in the 2007 Bylines Writers' Desk Calendar. Visit his website at www.lazarbooks.com. He blogs at www.murderby4.blogspot.com and http://www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com. Aaron was the Saturday Writing Essential host on Gather.com 2007-2009 and keeps all of his reviews, essays, and writing articles at www.aplazar.gather.com.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

National Reading Month Giveaway!



In honor of National Reading Month in March, we are giving away a set of six children's picture books. These are all from Michael Neugebauer Publishing, ltd. with a total retail value of almost $160. Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Residents of the U.S. only. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Use the Checkout Aisle to Teach Your Children Healthy Habits by Ken Myers



Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rignes/3109466528/

One of the biggest dangers of taking kids with you to the grocery store is the checkout aisle. Full of candies, junk food, and trashy magazines, it can be hard to keep your kids from pleading for a candy bar or asking you why the ladies on the magazines have so few clothes on.

Help keep your kids distracted from these observations by including them in putting the groceries on the counter. You can have them grouped by refrigerated and non-refrigerated or boxes and canned goods. This can help keep their hands busy and eyes off the candy. Make sure they don’t get their fingers stuck in the conveyer belt, however.

Another way to help is to teach them that junk food is an occasional treat, not something to eat every time you come to the store, is to point out the value of fresh fruits and vegetables over candy and sweets. Talk to your kids about proper nutrition.

You can also help your kids to learn more about money. Have them watch the cashier ring up the purchases and watch the total go up. When you pay talk, to them about what change you will get or how credit cards work. This can be a great opportunity to interact with your kids instead of fighting with them over candy bars.

Although it can be hard at times, stay firm in saying no. One inopportune yes, like when you are tried or just want them to be quiet, can lead to weeks or months of whining about “last time” later. By staying firm, you can save yourself a lot of hassle down the line.

Kids need their parents to set firm boundaries and keep them, even in little things like eating too much junk food or buying impulsively. These boundaries can help them to set high standards for themselves as they grow up and lead healthier lives.

Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Written in Ruberah Winner



Congratulations to Sheila D. She won a digital copy of Written in Ruberah by P. Christina Greenaway.

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday - March 17

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Do you ever request a book for review and then forget you requested it? Yeah, I did that twice and ended up with two unexpected books in my mailbox last week. Whoops.


Erinn Wolf needs to reinvent herself. A once celebrated playwright turned photographer, she's almost broke, a little lonely, and tired of her sister's constant worry. When a job on a reality TV show falls into her lap, she's thrilled to be making a paycheck--and when a hot Italian actor named Massimo rents her guesthouse, she's certain her life is getting a romantic subplot. But with the director, brash, gorgeous young Jude, dogging her every step, she can't help but look at herself through his lens--and wonder if she's been reading the wrong script all along...


Anyone can publish a book and become an "author," but if you want to become a successful author with a profitable publishing career, you need a clear, step-by-step guide to help you develop book ideas that sell. In The Author Training Manual, expert editor and book coach Nina Amir reveals the exact process successful authors have used to create business plans and proposals for their books and teaches you how to view your ideas through the eyes of acquisitions editors and literary agents.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, plan to traditionally publish or self-publish, The Author Training Manual provides you with the tools you need to achieve your goals and become the author publishers want. Inside you'll find concrete steps, evaluations, sample business plans, in-depth training activities, editor and agent commentaries, and much more--all designed to help you stand out, from the slush pile to the shelf.

These are the Kindle freebies I couldn't resist downloading week:



Two climbed up. Two fell down.
One woke up.

Robin Saunders is a high school sophomore with an awesome best friend, a hard-working single mom, and a complicated relationship with a sweet guy named Reno. She's coasting along, trying to get through yet another tedious year of high school, when Em suggests something daring. They live in Florida-- tourist central--and Emily wants to sneak into a theme park after midnight and see what they're made of.

When things get out of control, Robin wakes up in a hospital bed and Emily doesn't wake up at all. Just getting dressed becomes an ordeal as Robin tries to heal and piece together the details of that terrible night. Racing to remember everything in the hopes of saving Emily, Robin writes a series of notes to herself to discover the truth.

Gr. 8-12. Adult language.





EVERYONE REMEMBERS THEIR FIRST LOVE...
BUT SOMETIMES IT'S THE SECOND LOVE THAT LASTS

"Evocative and heartfelt, The Guestbook is the profound story of one woman's journey toward hope, renewal and a second chance at love on a lush Pacific Northwest island. Curl up with your favorite cup of cocoa and enjoy."
~Anjali Banerjee - author of Imaginary Men and Haunting Jasmine said about this women's fiction romance

This book weaves together the heart of Nicholas Sparks, the romance of Nora Roberts, and the charm of Debbie Macomber.

Fleeing her picture-perfect marriage among the privileged set of Brentwood and the wreckage of a failed marriage, Lily Parkins decides to move to the only place that still holds happy memories, her grandmother’s old farmhouse. The lush and majestic setting of the Pacific Northwest calls to her and offers a place of refuge and perhaps renewal. Her grandmother has passed away, leaving the Madrona Island Bed & Breakfast Inn to Lily.

Left with only an old guestbook as her guide–a curious book full of letters, recipes, and glimpses into her family history–Lily is determined to embrace her newfound independence and recreate herself, one page at a time. With the help of the quirky island residents she has befriended, she slowly finds the strength to seek out happiness on her own terms. But as soon as she has sworn off men and is standing on her own two feet, Lily meets Ian, the alluring artist who lives next door, and her new life is suddenly thrown off course. The last thing she wants to do right now is to open her heart to another man.

Ultimately, Lily must decide if it’s worth giving up her soul for security or risking everything to follow her heart in this romantic love story.

The Guestbook is the first book in the Madrona Island Trilogy.

You can read my thoughts on the first chapter of this book here.


The American way of life pushes people to constantly strive for more--more money, more stuff, more clout. But how much is enough? And how do we know when we have too much of a good thing? In this provocative, paradigm-shifting book, Will Davis Jr. challenges readers to discover the peace that comes through contentment with what we have and compassion for those in need. Through surprising statistics, scriptural insight, and real-life stories, Davis gently leads readers to consider living with less in order to do more for the kingdom. Thought-provoking discussion questions and short chapters make this a perfect study for small groups.

No one will come away from this powerful book unchanged.

These are two books I borrowed from the library last week:





Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger.

As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.


At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother's death and placed in a boy's boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains. Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can't help being drawn to Early, who won't believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear. But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.

This last one ended up being an audio book, so I'm getting a chance to listen to it while I'm in my car. It's an excellent book.

My blogging might be a bit sporadic this week. I'm studying for my real estate exam on Wednesday. Hope you'll share your books today too.