Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Blitz: One Small Chance by Lucinda Whitney

Hello again!  I'm coming up on a couple of reviews/blog tours, but got the chance to participate in some excitement for this book.  I'll give you a peek at the cover, a peek at what the book's about and a bonus bit.

Lucinda'sTop Ten List
- movie: Pride and Prejudice 2005
- book: can’t pick one
- actor: Tom Hanks
- TV show: ER
- singer: Josh Groban
- color: red
- food: fish
- season: Autumn
- hobby: knitting

- thing to do: read

Where you can find her online:


When Isabel Antunes is hit by a man on a bike, she doesn’t expect to see him again. But on Monday at work, she learns her boss just hired him. Despite the guy’s repeated assurances to the contrary, she feels he’s a threat to her position of director, and she won’t hand it over without a fight. As if that’s not enough, he’s a member of the same church she joined a few months ago and she can’t get away from him on the weekends either.

Simon Ackerley is in Lisbon, Portugal, as a consultant for an English-only private academy. He doesn’t speak any Portuguese but he’s enjoying the city and his new job, despite a co-worker who’s bent on treating him as the enemy.

But when he discovers a clue to her identity, Simon realizes there is so much more at stake than just a pleasant working environment. If only he could tell her the reason why he’s come, he’s sure Isabel would treat him differently. But he knows she’s not ready for the truth.

Amazon: Buy here
Goodreads: Find here
Amazon UK: Buy here
Amazon Canada: Buy here

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cover Reveal: Heart Strings

I'm excited to present (a little bit late due to e-mail issues) the cover for an upcoming romance that combines period drama and music, a couple of my favorite things.

Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.
Kit's attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love until she meets a mysterious gentleman with dangerous secrets. Working undercover, Grant’s only suspect for a murder conspiracy is the father of a lady who is getting increasingly hard to ignore. They must work together to find the assassins. England’s future hangs in the balance…and so does their love.

Enter the Giveaway Below!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Detour to Maturity: "Accidentally Me" blog tour

I got an e-mail a while back asking if I'd be interested in blogging about this book.  You can tell when I'm skeptical about a book because about halfway through the blurb, I'll squint like I've got pickle juice in my eye and sigh "eeeeeeeeeh."  It doesn't mean I'm uninterested, just that I'd have to be in the right mood to pick it up.  Nevertheless, the person with a skepticism-inducing summary seemed nice enough and in bookstores, I always read the blurb, first chapter and last chapter.  I asked if I could read an excerpt before making my decision.

Two chapters later, I was absolutely in love with the characters and signed up without any further hesitation.  That now brings us to Kim Karras' "Accidentally Me."

"WANTED: Pretend stalker. No experience required. Tall, dark, and quirky preferred. Sabrina is desperate to go to her dream college, but her parents want her to stay close to home. If she wants to maintain her perfect child image, Sabrina must break rules that even her rebel sister keeps . . ."

I've read enough YA novels over the years that I know the inevitable disaster that follows a pretend anything.  Either the person falls madly in love with their fake stalker/boyfriend or, if it's written by someone like Christopher Pike, they end up dead.  I wasn't rooting for either of those options, so I was curious to see what the middle ground would be.

With this search for a compromise, I guessed that the middle ground be one of Sabrina's own invention.  The person who appears under the name of the main character in the first few pages seems unlikely to attain that level of maturity.  She resents her older sister, a single mom who has invaded the house with two kids.  (I was hooked when one character was only referred to as The Noise, I have to admit.)  She strains against her parents' good intentions.  

What made me tell my friends that this is one of the best-written cast of characters in a YA that I've read in years is this:  Not a single person who has a principal role in this book is someone who is acted upon.  Sabrina wants to go to college in California, but she doesn't make her objections to a state college known and then just wait for her family to have a miraculous change of heart.  She independently prepares to succeed if they aren't moved by her impassioned pleas.  Her parents are appropriately reactionary when it comes to a threat to their daughter.  Her sister is constantly in search of what will help her fulfill her goals in life.

The ending was one that seemed foreseen from the beginning of the book because the characterization developed naturally.  Well done, Kim!

Buy now!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In the Steps: Blog Tour for Jessica Blackburn's "The Echoing"

Worth A Few Reads

I'm excited for the next two days.  I have back-to-back reviews of books that really captivated me.  Tomorrow, I'll be reviewing a very different type of book, but right now, I'd like to introduce you to this semi-morality-taleish novel that I got to read with a very interested heart.

Rylee is a teenager in Stevenson, OR.  One day, she meets a blind witch in a cottage and is given the power of balancing.  She now becomes something like walking karma.  A man changes her tire and wins the lottery the next day.  A bully spills his soda all over the principal.  This is a power that can be used for immense good and consequently immense evil.  When it turns out that someone is trying to manipulate her power for the latter, things get complicated.

There, that's as unspoilered as I can make it.  Like I said, it's semi-morality-taleish.  It becomes less semi- when you read the prologue and it starts by talking about the imbalance caused by Adam and Eve sinning against God and ends with a verse familiar to everyone who ever set foot in Early Morning Seminary:  "Adam fell that man night be and men are that they might have joy."

Even with that Sunday School lesson as a prologue, I don't have a problem with this being sent to a broader audience.  Having a working knowledge of holy writ would help at two points, but the author lays it out for those who might not be so inclined and I like that.

Where the book has some challenges for me involves the number of subplots.  It's 200 pages, 100 full pages shorter than my debut novel, and tells a lot more side stories than mine did.  There's a family illness, a burgeoning romance, a friend's struggles to finance her college education, a relationship with her younger brother...  And that's ancillary to "Holy crap.  I just got my friend a grant interview because she shared her french fries with me!"

Don't get me wrong.  I want to hear about all of those things.  But in more pages.  The strongest threads are the family-based ones, not the social ones.  This isn't just because of the morality tale element.  It's a function of how strong the story-telling is.  To put it more simply, the school antics never kicked me in the feels the way her closeness to her mother did.

Thanks for the chance to read this thought-provoking book, Jessica and Cedar Fort!

Caveat Lector  (You can skip this if you don't want my long-winded input on one single subject)

The characters are remarkably engaging with one exception.  With 2 Nephi 2:25 at the end of the prologue, I was prepared to give Jessica props for having an effective LDS main character.  (I've seen some horrendous examples in my many years of getting books from family.)  Instead, that's the sassy best friend Shyler and my only beef with characterization is that Shyler is a very token Mormon to this story.  Her faith isn't moving the plot forward and it doesn't play a role in Rylee's understanding of her gift, even when it's revealed that this is not a new kind of magic.  (It's almost Narniaesque.)  In Chapter 6, Shyler stays behind to argue about Mormons and polygamy with a teacher.  In Chapter 9, she refuses to like a boy because he says that Mormons aren't CHRISTIANS!  Late in the book, Rylee even wishes that Shyler were in on a conversation so she could explain everything using what she'd learned in early morning seminary.

I have no problem with Mormon characters.  I've written a few myself, most memorably when I wrote the missionaries meeting the Twilight vampires during tracting.  But if Shyler were a Jewish character, she'd be listed as campaigning for kosher options in the cafeteria and arguing with the history teacher about him referring to the Shoah as the Holocaust.  Rylee would refer to something she heard at Rylee's bat mitzvah.  With all the wonderful things this book does, everything leading up to Shyler yelling "REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE!  CHOOSE THE RIGHT!  PROTECT YOUR VIRTUE!" on page 124 is heavy-handed depiction that almost comes across as a caricature.  Going back to Shyler's alternate religious identity, she might as well have had her sign off her phone call with "Oy vey!  Next year in Jerusalem!"  There were other ways to accomplish the effect of a Mormon friend in this book.

Before you assume that I don't like outgoing Mormons, let me put this into context:

I was that kind of person in high school.  My US History teacher gave me a copy of the textbook that he would be using to discuss the Mormon church and I returned it to him with pages of notes on doctrinal inaccuracies.  When I was in my choir interview, I was asked my favorite verse of scripture and I quoted both Deuteronomy 4:29-31 and Doctrine and Covenants 78:18.  Friends came to me with questions about Mormon doctrine ranging from "How true is the story about Mormon cannibals in Sherlock Holmes?" to "Does your brother smell now that he can't change his holy underwear?"  When a person introduced his topic at Chapel as "How to deal with Satanists, cultists and Mormons," I took the time where we sang before his devotional to let him know there were Mormons in the audience (My sister and I) and we would be answering anything he said when people asked us about it.

Why did I do all of that?  Because I was the second Mormon to graduate from my school in its history.  Because I went to Lexington Christian Academy knowing that this was a place for me to do recitation of the Gospel of John for my monologues class.  Because my first role in a play at that school was as Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist and Liza, an anti-abortion protester.  Because I knew that people would misunderstand my Christianity as the school taught it.  With a few exceptions, they treated me very well for my actual and obvious faith.

I know someone who, after reading lots of internet stories about cons, expressed her eagerness for some fat loser at Salt Lake City Comic Con to tell her she's not a REAL fan and for her to prove that she is because she knows much more about ___________ fandom than they do.  She's not the only one who talks like this.  The thing is, nothing happens the way it sounds on the internet.  In all my years as a fangirl, I've been mistreated once and it was because I told Sir Patrick Stewart that I was a domestic violence survivor who wanted to thank him for his charitable work.  I feel like Shyler was written as a "This must be how every Mormon is treated for DARING to have faith!" while in most high schools, religious differences really don't come up on this kind of level.

There is a time and a place for that kind of character and it wasn't as a background character.  She took up more space in the energy of the book than the main character and that balance is what threw me.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book blitz for A Chaotic Courtship

For as long as she can remember, Bethany Swafford has loved reading books. That love of words extended to writing as she grew older and when it became more difficult to find a ‘clean’ book, she determined to write her own. Among her favoriteauthors is Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer.

When she doesn’t have pen to paper (or fingertips to laptop keyboard), she can generally be found with a book in hand. In her spare time, Bethany reviews books for a book site called More Than A Review.

Connect with the Author here: 

Twenty year old Diana Forester, a country bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties has driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.

Find all of the Authors books on:
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon UK ~ 

Top Ten List:

Top Ten Favorite Books

1.      Persuasion by Jane Austen
2.      The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (technically this is more than one book BUT I’m counting it as one)
3.      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4.      The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer (again, this is six books but I’m counting it as one because they are all so good)
5.      Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
6.      Frederica by Georgette Heyer
7.      Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
8.      A Spy In the House by Y.S. Lee
9.      My Particular Friend by Jennifer Petkus
10.  The Occasional Diamond Thief by J A McLachlan

Official Facebook Event page:
Book Buy Links:

Author Social Media Links:

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Blog Tour: 31 Ghost Stories to Read Before You Die

Today, I'm pleased to present some information about 31 Ghost Stories to Read Before You Die.  The title is something that I would pick up immediately in a library or book store, so it's fun to participate in this tour.  

10 Things About Me (Deb Atwood)
1.  I like spiders, but I'm afraid of yellow jackets (the insect, not the garment).
2.  My hair is purple.
3.  I love to wander around old cemeteries.
4.  I have traveled throughout the Korean countryside (and treasured every minute).
5.  My heart goes pitter patter for big dogs and fat cats.
6.  If I had to choose one mode of travel, I would choose the train.
7.  I suffer from math phobia.
8.  One time in London I inadvertently spent a night in a homeless hotel, and it changed me.
9.  I'm a scaredy cat passenger in a car (as my husband will attest).
10. I'm passionate about ghost fiction and ghost movies.

And now, an excerpt!

So, here's the question: Was my insomnia the result of an inability to abandon Bag of Bones until the final sentence?
All I know is the night I started Stephen King’s novel, 2:53 AM found me munching cheddar cheese rice crackers and ploughing through page after page of Bag of Bones.
I was in love with this story from the first, empathizing with writer Mike Noonan as he struggles to come to terms with his wife's untimely death. I could not help but root for widow Mattie, her precocious daughter Kyra, and Mike who falls in love with both of them and joins their battle against a heartless and powerful grandfather.
I have to say that two thirds of the way through the book, the narrative veered into dark territory, and I experienced reader shock. My mistake. This is, after all, Stephen King. What began as a sweet damsel in distress love story (I don't mean that in a pejorative sense as Mattie possesses plenty of spunk and courage and strength) of the good guy vs. bad guy variety morphed into GOOD vs. EVIL on a magnified scale. (I’m thinking of the Richter scale here, and yes, I was quaking.)