March 28, 2017

The Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini - Guest Post

Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini

Book Details:
Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini
Publisher: Mill City Press (Nov 17, 2015) 
Category: Historical Fiction, Romance, Pioneer Woman, Strong Female Character, Western 
Tour date Mar/Apr, 2017 
ISBN: 978-1634138291 
Available in Print & ebook, 560 pages
 

Description of Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini
IN THIS EPIC TALE of love, loss, and redemption, the year is 1861, a time when women are expected to be married by a certain age. At 26, spinster Emily Wainwright has no reason to believe her sheltered life will ever change—until the charming Samuel Todd unexpectedly crosses her path. Samuel yearns to homestead and start a family in Oregon, but he first needs to find a wife. Blinded by Samuel’s good looks, and grasping at her final chance to have a husband and children, Emily accepts his marriage proposal. However, Samuel is not the man she thought he was, and her marriage becomes a cold, cruel prison, offering her no solace amidst the hardships of farm life. When Samuel dies and a second chance at love and happiness arrives in the form of farmhand Cole Walker, Emily must overcome her bitter past—or risk losing Cole and the life she has always dreamed of having.

Guest Post:
SECOND CHANCES: The Power of What if? 

Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us – Paul Theroux, novelist

Readers of historical fiction are lucky. The books we read are time machines: they transport us to other places and eras. Historical fiction allows us access to other lives and loves, triumphs and hardships, all from the comfort and safety of our favorite easy chair. In a sense, historical fiction, though remaining true to the era, creates an opportunity to change the past, to create an alternate or parallel past.

Writers of historical fiction are also lucky. When we create a character living in the past, we get to step into that person’s shoes and experience their life for big chunks of time. We get to see the world through their eyes, imagine what it's like to be alive during a certain time, with all the restrictions and challenges that entails. And we have the opportunity to change our own history through the telling of a fictional character's story.

Which is why I'm a big fan of What if?

Whenever I’m in a new place, it’s not long before I’m asking myself: What if I lived here? A trip to London might get me thinking: What if every morning I looked out on Kensington from one of these fancy white row houses? What would that be like? And What if I were living here fifty years ago? A hundred? Two hundred? What would I be wearing? Eating? Saying? What would I be doing? Who would my friends be? My enemies? My family? And most important, who would I be? How different or similar would I be, or be allowed to be?

From such questions fiction is born.

Writers play What if? all the time. We set up What if? situations in order to explore different eras and historical events. We invent What if? circumstances to challenge our characters and test their mettle. We create What if? antagonists to force our heroes and heroines to act. I'm constantly testing What if? scenarios in my head, trying to think several steps ahead in the story. What if the character did this? What would those actions mean? How would the other characters react? Where would it take the story?

Since I'm almost never where I want to be, What if? is a perfect game for me. When I was a kid, trying to cope with my highly dysfunctional family, I created alternate lives for myself to escape the chaos and free-floating rage in our house. But I also did it as a way to problem-solve my way out of those difficult situations. If I could imagine a stronger me, might I possibly find that strength inside me, just waiting for me to use it? I used my imagination to create a second chance. This is the power of What if? – learning through stories who we are, and what we’re made of.

I no longer need to tell myself stories to escape my life, except for the sheer pleasure of reading and writing, but I still do my share of daydreaming: What if I'd gone to Harvard? What if I were a six-foot tall, blonde, blue-eyed Swede? What if I were a cat or a dog? You may not want to change a thing about your life – I don't any more – but as readers or writers of historical fiction, we can try on other lives as easily as trying on a new pair of shoes, with no consequences. Well, there may be one consequence: if we're not careful we're likely to learn something we didn't know before.

Fiction, especially historical fiction, is a doorway to someone else’s world. The more we understand other lives, as seen through the lens of another time, the more we begin to understand our own. We then build empathy for others as we embrace our messy, wonderful, human lives – our own personal collection of What ifs and imagined second chances – right in the here and now.

 
Praise for Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini
“All of Righettini’s characters are well-rounded, in particular Emily herself, whose personal growth throughout the novel is richly detailed and memorable.”-Historical Novel Society 

“This novel is about second chances and the courage needed to take them. The most compelling aspects of The Blue Hour are not the vivid, expansive descriptions of life on the vast (and seemingly never-ending) Oregon Trail or the well-drawn characters who dance (and often trudge) between hardship and hope. Instead, the brightest lights burst forth from nuanced moments tucked throughout the story. Read this book if you want to immerse yourself in the wilds of western America in the 1860s or get lost in the even denser wilderness of love and loss. Maybe this recommendation needs to be simplified even further – read this book. It’s exhilarating to root for a character who is trying to navigate uncharted territory and make the greatest discovery of all.”-Underground Book Reviews 

“The Blue Hour is one of the finest historical novels I've ever read. You will love the author's writing and the detailed historical references. The characters are vividly portrayed, and I felt as if I knew them well. Long after I'd finished reading, I still thought about the story. It's part adventure, part love story, and part survival. Highly recommended.”-Ann Creel, Author

About Vicki Righettini
Vicki Righettini is an award-winning, nationally produced playwright, and her recently-published historical novel, The Blue Hour, was a badge winner and Pitch Perfect Pick at Underground Books. Originally from Los Angeles, Vicki lived in Oregon for over twenty years, where she developed an abiding love of the land and the Oregon way of life. Before turning to full-time writing, she worked for forty years as a singer/actress and performing arts instructor. Her blog, Between a Book and a Hard Place, focuses on the ups and downs of the creative process (http://www.vickirighettini.com). Vicki lives in San Diego with her software-developer, Jeopardy!-champion husband, and the world's shyest cat. Facebook: http://bit.ly/2h2UZGy Twitter: https://twitter.com/VRighettini

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Second Book to the Right Mar 7 Excerpt 

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What U Talking Bout Willis? Apr 21 Review 

Lisa's Writopia Apr 24 Review & Interview 

Celticlady's Reviews Apr 26 Excerpt & Giveaway 

A Room without Books is Empty Apr 27 Review 

Turning the Pages Apr 28 Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway   

March 27, 2017

When The Grist Hit The Fan by Maddie Day - Review

I received this book free from the publisher

Book Details:
Series: A Country Store Mystery (Book 3)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (March 28, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1617739293

About the book:
Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?

Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

About the author:
Maddie Day is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-nominated author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau and three cats in Massachusetts.

As Edith Maxwell, she write the Local Foods Mysteries (Kensington Publishing) and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries (Midnight Ink).

You can find all Maddie's/Edith's identities at www.edithmaxwell.com. She blogs every week day with the other Wicked Cozy Authors at wickedcozyauthors.com. Look for her as Edith M. Maxwell and Maddie Day on Facebook and @edithmaxwell and @maddiedayauthor on Twitter.

My thoughts:
It was fun to visit the Pans 'N Pancakes cafe and all our friends again. Of course what is more fun then visiting a quaint little country town. Oh wait we had a murder so that adds a little tension. The author gives us plenty of suspects but in the end it is only one who was guilty. I was kept guessing until the end of the book and I hope you are too. I liked the added plot line of Robbie tearing down walls to add rooms for a B&B. She even finds a few surprises while doing the remolding. You may get a little hungry while reading this book as there is some mention of food and you are in luck because some of the recipes are in the back of the book. I am looking forward to the next book to see what is going to happen with Robbie next. 

March 25, 2017

Thank you God, for Grandpa and Thank you God, for Grandma by Amy Parker - Review


I received these books from the publisher for free

Book Details:
Published: March 21, 2017
Number of pages: 20
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Synopsis:
Thank you God for Grandpa
No matter what you call him, there is nothing like the love between a grandpa and his grandchild! With whimsical rhymes and charming illustrations, Thank You, God, for Grandpa encourages little ones to treasure God’s special gift of grandfathers.

Thank you God for Grandma
No matter what you call her, there is nothing like the love between a grandma and her grandchild! With sweet, rhyming text and adorable illustrations, Thank You, God, for Grandma encourages little ones to treasure God’s special gift of grandmothers.

About the author:
Amy Parker has written more than twenty books for children, teens, and adults, including the best-selling A Night Night Prayer , Thank You, God, for Mommy, and Thank You, God, for Daddy. She has also collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times bestsellers to her very own son. Most importantly, she is a wife to Daniel and a mom to their amazing sons, Michael and Ethan.

My thoughts:
Both of these books are fun little books to enjoy with your young ones. The illustrations were beautifully done. It is nice that it is a board book so that way little hands can turn the pages with ease. In the grandma book we have the cutest bear and bear cubs with fun little poems to tell you how much they liked grandma. In the grandpa book we have two little gorillas with grandpa gorilla. They as well have poems to tell us why they love their grandpa. I am looking forward to sharing these books with my little niece. 

March 24, 2017

Smallin Civil War Cave by Wanetta Bright - Review


Published: 2013
Publisher: Ozark Caves & Caverns
Number of pages: 128
Genre: Non-Fiction

Synopsis:
Deep in the Ozarks hills there lies a mysterious, legendary cave. Know to people dating back to the ancient Native Americans, beautiful Smallin Cave is both a geological wonder and a historical treasure. As you read the story of Smallin Cave, you are reading a story as old as life itself. A story of creations, of brave explorers, of family and relationships, of strife, war and retribution, of courageous characters and cruel villains, of healing and new beginnings, all set in and around the beautiful, timelss sanctuary known as Smallin Cave. 

My thoughts:
I do not like to write bad reviews of books as I know a lot of hard work goes into writing them. That being said I was disappointed in this book. I was recently visiting Springfield, Missouri and heard about the Smallin Cave. Knowing I did not have the time to tour the cave I drove out to where it is located to visit their gift shop to see if they at least had a book about it. It intrigued me as it said it was a Civil War cave. I spoke with the person running the gift shop who also happened to be the author of the book. After speaking with her I was even more interested, so I bought the book. When I got home I started reading it and ended up being disappointed. For me the writing style was very dry. I was happy each of the chapters and stories were very short only a page or two so that made it go by a little faster. I wanted more stories about the cave and things that happened around the cave. This book had very little about the cave. It was more about the town of Ozark and the surrounding areas. We had the story of of how the cave was created geologically, the story of the Baldknobbers, and a few Civil War stories about Missouri but not in connection with the actual cave and the book ended with a scientific study of bugs and animals that live in the cave. I so wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. 

Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet - Guest Post and Giveaway


Book Details:
Ballantine Group; Alibi 
On Sale: March 21st, 2017
ISBN: 9780399179051 
300 Pages
Price: $4.99


About the book:
When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

About the author:
Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links
Webpage – http://melindamullet.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mulletmysteries/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

Purchase Links
Amazon B&N Google Play

Guest Post:
A Winter’s Tale becomes a Winter’s Tail

In the throws of a snowy winter a writers fancy turns to curling up in front of the fire with a pot of tea or a glass of wine and writing….and writing…and writing. Nirvana for the soul, deadly for the thighs. But by the time my Fit Bit buzzes me for the 5th hour in a row telling me I haven’t taken more steps than I need to stagger to the kitchen and back, the guilt sets in.

It used to be when I talked about the discipline of writing I meant the importance of selfishly setting aside time every day to write without guilt. Now, as I writing becomes a vocation and not an avocation, the discipline has become finding ways to incorporate exercise into my work day. To force myself to get up from the job at hand and move. This battle of the bulge is fought whether you work at home or in an office setting. As a chronic multi-tasker I like to try to find a way to keep on working while I excercise.

For you like minded souls here’s a couple of tricks I’ve found helpful.

Take advantage of immersing yourself mind and body in something else. I like yoga. I’ve been doing it for more than forty years and it still works. The key is to take a class and let someone else lead. Go in with a tricky plot point on your mind and then forget about it. Focus on your body. On breathing and moving. Stretch your body and let your mind fend for itself. Allow it to roam randomly through your head space without judgement, but always steer it back to its focus on the body. By the end of class I inevitably find that the solution to my conundrum pops into my head unbidden.

When the weather cooperates, walking is great for blowing the cobwebs out of your head and dispelling any lingering traces of writer’s block. The dog is always there to drag me out and I often talk through issues as we go. The dog is always singularly receptive to my discourse, not helpful mind you, but attentive without being judgmental. The perfect sounding board. I will run through conversations and character backstories. Making notes on a pad in my pocket when something occurs to me. The increased flow of blood to the brain usually ensures a better resolution than the bag of Cheetos I was staring down before I left.

If you have no particular issue on your mind create a soundtrack for your walk that you find evocative of your story line. Let it put you in the right head space so that when you come back to the keyboard your creativity blossoms. For my Whisky Business series soft Celtic music always brings to mind the soft mists and the heather covered hills.

If you are at a stage of final edits I find it helpful to run through my story as if it was a movie. Picturing the fade ins and outs, the flow between scenes and purpose of each scene. You’ll be surprised how often you will find awkward transitions and missing links.

On those brutal outdoor days I resort to the treadmill. If I need inspiration I’ll turn to one of the masters, and hour spent with Poirot, or Lynley or Holmes can jump start your creative engine. Get you looking at things in different ways. Watch the threads of evidence twist and unravel.

Most important, keep moving and keep on writing.

Giveaway:


Tour Participants

March 20 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
March 20 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
March 21 – Community Bookstop – SPOTLIGHT Will review at a later date.
March 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
March 22 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
March 23 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW
March 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
March 24 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
March 24 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
March 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
March 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
March 27 – My Journey Back – REVIEW
March 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 28 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
March 28 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
March 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
March 30 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
March 31 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST 
April 1 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT
April 2 – Varietas – REVIEW
April 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

March 23, 2017

Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters and Wallflower Blooming by Amy Rivers - Review

I received this book free from the publisher

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing (January 13, 2017)
Cambria Trilogy - Volume 2

About the book:
A year after she is elected mayor of a prosperous Colorado city, Gwen’s career and life are fully on track, all according to plan. So why is she in such a slump emotionally and physically? New conflicts keep boiling over in city government, and her earlier allies no longer support her. She and her boyfriend have an ideal relationship, which she finds inexplicably dissatisfying. Without telling her, he decides to take a new job that has him traveling out of state every week. Suddenly unexpected developments turn everything topsy-turvy, and Gwen is forced to re-examine her carefully-planned life.

“Witty, warm, and compulsively readable. Rivers has deftly created lovably flawed and relatable characters you don’t want to miss.” –Amy Avanzino, author of Wake-Up Call and From the Sideline

About the author:
Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband, kids and cat. She has a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics, two topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels. Amy has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, ESME.com and Splice Today. 

Connect with Amy

My thoughts:
This was a new to me author. I was asked to read both books for this author. I thought the book was a fun quick read. Even though this was a sequel you can read it as a stand alone book just fine. Gwen was a believable character and could have been anyone's friend or sister. I liked that she was an important woman in her town but yet in her personal life she is a mess. Like most people.  All in all a pretty good chick lit type of book. 


Paperback: 186
Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing; 2 edition (August 15, 2016)
Cambria Trilogy - Volume 1

About the book:
Val Shakely is a list-maker. Daily routine. Check. Calm, quiet (but successful) business. Check. No drama. No excitement. Some might call it boring, but it’s precisely the way Val likes it. She loves her hometown of Cambria, nestled in the mountains of Colorado, and runs a fruitful PR firm. It's more than enough for Val. So what if she doesn’t have a social life? Then, her cousin Gwen decides to take on the local political bully, Mayor Roger Barton, in head-to-head combat for his position, and Val takes her company reluctantly, and against her better judgment, into the fray. The minute Val takes on Gwen’s campaign, the safe world she carefully constructed begins to unravel. She feels the pressure of the campaign and the personal attacks by Barton. And as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Val finds herself falling in love with local businessman John Hatfield, a man just as boring as her at first glance. Both charming and confrontational, Val is drawn to John in a way that cracks the simplicity of her life. In the end, Val’s desire to stay on the sidelines is put to the test and she’s forced to reexamine the life she’s built as she trudges toward a new and more exciting future.

My thoughts:
This was a nice book to read. I liked that is was a short book as you can read it in a weekend. I enjoyed getting to know Val. She was a fun character to follow along through the story. Val and her cousin are both strong women yet they are like your everyday friend who has some problems. I thought the author's writing style was easy to read as well. I am glad I got the chance to review this series.

TOUR STOPS:

Monday, February 20th: Book by Book
Thursday, February 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, February 27th: Run Wright
Wednesday, March 1st: Write Read Life
Thursday, March 2nd: Deborah Blanchard
Friday, March 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 6th: Stranded in Chaos
Wednesday, March 8th: Tina Says…
Thursday, March 9th: Sue Roberts
Thursday, March 9th: Girl Who Reads
Monday, March 13th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, March 15th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, March 16th: Chick Lit Central
Monday, March 20th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Wednesday, March 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, March 23rd: A Holland Reads

March 22, 2017

Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer - Review

I received this book for free from the publisher

Book Details:
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook (March 21, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-0307731418

About the book:
At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has aa chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.

But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

About the author:
Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, gramma, chocolate-lover, cat-petter, and--most importantly--a daughter of the King! With more than 1.5 million books in print in seven different languages, Kim enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Her "gentle stories of hope" are loved by readers and reviewers alike. Kim and her retired military husband, Don, reside on the plains of Kansas, the setting for many of her novels.

My thoughts:
This was a nice book about the story of a lady who just wants to live a happy life. The author did a good job of capturing the time and place setting in this book. As with previous books I have read of hers she did a good job in developing the characters. The romance is nice but it is not overpowering. There are also some other things you can learn from this book like forgiveness. As Grace learns. A good book that will keep you entertained.