Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Blitz: A Killer Retreat

Sorry, just found this on my drafts section.  I meant it to go up last night.






Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel. The third book in her series, Karma's a Killer, will released January, 2016 by Midnight Ink.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 

Yogi Kate must clear her name of murder in this charming yoga mystery
When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes to wedding guests at the
Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center's two caretakers.


Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate's problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort's hot tub, shortly after a loud, public
(and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she's forced to team up with boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they'll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime--behind bars."

Official Facebook Event page:
Book Buy Links:
Audible:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/A-Killer-Retreat-A-Downward-Dog-Mystery-2-Audiobook/B071FV8D8S

Author Social Media Links:
Subscribe to my newsletter and be entered to win a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug!  http://tracyweberauthor.com/newsletter.html

Top Ten List
o   Top 10 vacation spots

§  Cannon Beach, OR—site of my 5th book!
§  Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA –site of my 2nd book!
§  Whidbey Island, WA
§  Paia, Maui —Where I took yoga training
§  Cancun, Mexico
§  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Do you see the beach theme?)
§  Assisi, Italy
§  San Diego, CA – my honeymoon spot!
§  Africa (someday!)
§  Home on the couch with my pup and a Margarita

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: I LEFT MY HEART ON MACKINAC ISLAND


Series: My Heart Belongs
Genre: Adult, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Romance
Publisher: Barbour
Publication date: July 1

Journey now to Mackinac Island where... A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds. Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. 
Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel. While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story. But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?
GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARBOUR | B&N | CBD | BOOK DEPOSITORY | TARGET

Review:

There are some books that I pick up because I like the cover or the title or something in the blurb.  It's hard to tell what will catch my eye when I go browsing on certain days.

This book I chose because friends speak so fondly of the setting.  I have a magnet from the island and while I never have been, I know it to be a special place.

Let me put the review into further context with a TV show.  Gran Hotel is set in Spain and I started watching it because I wanted to get a sense of not just the sites where it took place, but of the people who walked the streets of those towns and the footpaths through those valleys.

This book invites me into the setting in the same way that Gran Hotel does.  I wanted to look up many of the locations, but felt like it would take me out of the story to focus on the topography of the book.

Instead, I found myself finding a rich ensemble cast.  Maude and Ben, who have secrets to keep and very individual reasons for those deceptions, are almost tangential love interests.  Their actions towards each other are period-appropriate and feel natural.  Around them, some of the characters seem to be trying too hard--everyone has a kind word to say about Maude, who might as well be a Disney princess for her notoriety, but is more down-to-earth--but I was charmed by Jack, the aspiring Olympian cum trickster.  I found comedies of errors in mistaken impressions of Maude's extended family.

Overall, the plot had good pacing and enough turns and intrigues for me to enjoy it.


ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.


Ten of my Fave authors are:Tamera Alexander, who gave me this beautiful endorsement:
Julie Lessman – amazing historical romance with strong family ties
Susie/Susanne Dietze – a rising star in CBA fiction!
Tracie Peterson – I love her audiobooks in particular!
Julie Klassen – especially her early books
Michelle Griep -- her Regencies are amazing!
Serena Miller – a lovely lady with equally lovely books – some set in Michigan
Debbie Lynne Costello – check out her medieval stories!
Rachel Hauck’s dual-time audiobooks are lovely
Suzanne Woods Fisher who gave me this wonderful endorsement:
1. We stayed at the Grand Hotel for me to conduct some of my research.
2. We also stayed at the Windermere, which is the inspiration for my heroine’s inn.
3. The owner of the Windermere is Margaret Doud, Mackinac Island’s mayor and I’d wager we could rightly call her Mackinac Island’s “First Lady.”
4. The Round Island Lighthouse was being built in 1895, as indicated in the story, but on my cover there are two lighthouses, which there weren’t then – but it’s still a gorgeous cover, isn’t it?
5. This is my “Problem Child” manuscript and I knew I wanted this story to matter so I called in the “big guns” to help me. Julee Schwarzburg, a top editor in Christian fiction, came in and consulted on the overall proposal and theme and some of the editing. Sue Brower, who had been at Zondervan for decades, helped edit the first three chapters for the Maggie Unpublished awards, which this story finaled in. Julie Gwinn, a wonderful editor who had switched to agenting but took my story as a freelance job, came in and did a great job of directing me in which way I should go – but she didn’t molly coddle me, and I needed for her to treat me like that – as if I could fix it, and I did, PTL!
6. Maude was originally a much more “neurotic” type of character in that she had some OCD stuff that her maternal grandmother had instilled in her. One of my consultants, not mentioned above, said she was too “crazy” and I should tone her down. So I did.
7. I went to Arch Rock a number of different ways and on different days, to get a feel for the special scene I have toward the end. On one of these, the transportation almost left without me!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Blog Tour: Mary Ann Johnson's BECOMING A PRESENT PARENT

A number of years ago, my mother received her Master's Degree.  Before that, she had to write her thesis on teaching children the interpretation of music.  I was the proof-reader and captive audience and was therefore subject to her advisor's recommendations.

One e-mail stands out in my mind.  The advisor wanted to infuse this academic achievement of writing with some more pathos, so she recommended something along the lines of "I cherish the moments when a beloved student turns to me and says humbly, 'Mrs. Olsen, when you encourage me to achieve my very best...'"  You get the idea.  Even now, Mom and I can be reduced to giggles by the words, "I cherish the moments."

It is a style that I think of as General Conference story-telling.  If you're not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the leaders of the church come together every six months to instruct and enlighten the members and the stories they tell in the course of their discourses are always memorable.  But the stories all tend to feature a "sweet, young mother of six" or "beloved husband of fifty-three years."  General Conference stories are like click-bait headlines about "Spunky four-year-old puts hardened Democrat Congressmen in their place!!!!  I'm crying."  But because they always tie this into my faith, I forgive them for the hyperbole.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, for one simple reason.  Mary Ann's book is not General Conference story-telling.  It's true that she tells story about her experience raising her children in all of its highs and lows, but it is a remarkably relatable medium.  

I have no kids.  I have six nephews, two nieces, a step-nephew and a dozen or so kids who treat me like a family member, but I absolutely loved reading this.  It taught me things about my relationships with children, but also with my friends and even my roommates.  When she talked about a moment when her daughter was venting about a schoolday problem and she tried to trouble-shoot the situation, I remembered that I had similarly once asked my best friend to stop fixing my feelings and let me just feel them.  

She also uses a variety of academic and unofficial sources, such as the Highlights magazine survey about parental interactions and articles by learned professionals.  She names scenarios that give you a foundation for understanding her principles that provoke thoughts about your own daily habits.

In short, the appeal of this book is that it approaches parenting with both realism and compassion and isn't afraid to admit to the author's own insecurities.  It was a self-help book that made it clear how much these techniques had already been of help to Mary Ann herself.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Nikki Trionfo's SHATTER

Sorry I've been a bit absent.  I've been getting ready for a 4-country, 12ish day trip to Europe and had to get through a variety of events and writing ordeals in the last few weeks.  But I'm back and have a plan for resuming the 100 books review thing.  I also hope to have my normal site back up very soon, but have had issues with hosting and with domain.  So here I am for the meanwhile, with a debut novel.

Now, to give you a bit of background, Nikki first ran into me at Life, the Universe and Everything Symposium.  I'd been on some Facebook writing support groups and she kept saying that if we saw her, we should take a picture with her.  So on the first night of the symposium, I was standing at the elevators when I saw a blonde person cosplaying the cover of It Came From the Great Salt Lake.  I immediately turned to her and said, "You're Nikki and I'm supposed to take a picture with you and your anthology."  We did just that and ran into each other a few times over the next days.  In other contexts, she's the person who throws a dance party for LDStorymaker's Conference (This year's theme was the Never-Ending Story...maker's Party).  She's having a dance-off and carnival for her book launch this Friday and I wish I were able to go.

So, here's her murder mystery!  Salem Jefferson is the survivor of a sister who died in a gas explosion and is also the daughter of a grower in orchard country of California.  She's on her mock trial team, runs cross-country and is, it seems, the only person who doesn't believe that Carrie's death was accidental.  This is complicated further when a Hispanic worker is found buried on her family property with a gang symbol carved into his shoe and hard evidence of foul play.

The various threads of this book are the best thing about it.  I cared passionately about the murder mystery as much as the outcome of the mock trial competition.  The entire mystery hinged around a union strike that was hitting its crisis point and I think it's the only YA book I've seen that has dealt fairly with both sides of a tough issue without asking the reader to pick one of those sides.  I did find a typo in Spanish in the book, but that's just my preternatural ability to nitpick any translations.

The characters were dynamic as well, though some of the minor characters felt like they should have been consolidated into one because they were indistinguishable from each other.  While Cordero was the most prominent secondary character, I was dying for more information on Slate and his sister Anna.  A character named Envy (what was WRONG with her parents?  Were they Puritans?) played an important role, but I felt that she hadn't been given sufficient development for it to have the right impact.

Nevertheless, the story was interesting.  The dynamics were credible.  It made me very homesick for my own section of California, where we had ghettos instead of orchards, but I knew people who resembled every character in the book.

Now for the semi-annoyed perspective.  As I said, this is a debut novel of someone who's been in anthologies.  I recently read one that Nikki was in called Under A New York Skyline.  I'll be reviewing that later, but I had a fundamental period of eye-rolling about the story that first came from the title, "Crosstrain My Heart and Hope to Die."  It's about a hip-hop teacher facing off with the hunky meathead of a crossfit instructor from next door and of course they have a love-hate romance.  Very '80s movie plot and one of those "Well, that's cute, but when does that actually happen?" examples that I often find when reading.  Going from that fluff to this gave me the same feeling that I experienced when, after having read every book in the Twilight series, I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  Or how Natalie Portman dragged me through Attack of the Clones before stunning me in V for Vendetta.

It's good to find a writer who can write multiple genres and Nikki definitely has a passion for each of her stories, but I wish the tones were more consistently gripping.  I'll be rereading Shatter a lot and have recommended it to friends and family already, but I won't say the same about the ode to hip-hop.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book blitz: Tarragon: Dragon Mage

I'm having issues posting pictures at the moment, but will tell you about this first and update later.  


After hundreds of years, the gates to Tarragon are open once more, fulfilling age-old prophecy. However, Anwen’s journey is far from over. The dragons still sleep and she has no clue how to wake them. Forced to retreat from the Mountain, she and her newfound friends must devise a new plan to wake the inhabitants of Tarragon.

Meanwhile, the Mage Circle, a group of dragon mages with a vendetta, is camped outside the Gates. Calling on allies of their own, they will stop at nothing to gain control of the Dragon City and all who dwell inside.

To complicate matters even more, Anwen’smother has joined the party. But even with the help of all her friends, can Anwen overcome the ordeals set before her or will this spell the end of the dragons and the world as we know it?

Character Casting
Anwen Porter – Daisy Ridley
Daphne Millard - Claire Holt
Courtney Willis - Teresa Palmer
Walter Watkins – LL Cool J
Margo Pack – Julianne Moore
Tyler Durand - Zac Effron
Callum Durand - Eric Winter
Josef Forster - David Lambert
Emi - Maggie Elizabeth Jones
Madame Matilda Millard - Melissa McArthy
Mathias Porter - Joshua Jackson
Kern Nurrim - Mark Harmon
James Porter – Dennis Quaid
Mr. Miller -  David Bradley

Snippets
Snippet 1:
Courtney stopped abruptly as the scatterings of a cave-in came into view. “Oh no,” she whispered, one hand to her mouth. Moving slowly, she noticed a body slumped in the hallway. “Please don't be dead,” she said over and over again as she moved closer. She couldn't help but wonder which of her friends lay there, and what had happened to the other.
The closer she came, the more detail came to light. She recognized Tyler Durand as he lay on his side. His light-colored hair lay limp against his head. His skin was unnaturally pale. At least she didn’t think he was dead. It took a lot to kill a dragon. But just beyond him, a little more out of the way, lay AnwenPorter. And she wasn’t moving.

URL Links
Official Facebook Event page:
Author Social Media Links:
Twitter @karliemlucas

Book Buy Links

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 3


I am a stay at home mom, who loves to read and write clean historical romance. I enjoy thinking back to a simpler time, a time when men and women were true heroes. I also believe that a good romance can be told without needing to know all of the details;)

All of my stories will tell of people who find true love, and who find their happy ever after. Sometimes the road might be rocky, but that makes it all worthwhile!

Cora left England for a new life in America as a mail order bride - only to find the man she’s come to marry has been killed in a gunfight. She has a sister in Kansas, but how can she get there? 

Jesse needs this job driving cattle to Kansas so he can marry the woman who’s given him an ultimatum - buy land and settle down, or she’ll marry someone who will.

But, his cook’s been killed in the same gunfight, leaving him without anyone to drive the chuckwagon. His right hand man, an old cowboy with a soft heart, has a solution for both Cora and Jesse - one he might not like.

Dressed as a boy, Cora heads off with a team of cowboys, led by a man who isn’t happy about her being there. Kansas is a long way away…and a lot can happen before they get there.
 Q&A With The Author:


1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

A mom, who loves nothing more than spending time with my family.  I prefer the quiet of living in a small town than being in a city.  I’ve always loved to read, and being at home with a good book is just as exciting to me as traveling the world.
2. What do you love most in the world?
I love my family.  I grew up around all of my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins.  And I have a sister and two brothers, who all still live in the same town with their families.  My girls get to grow up knowing everyone, and see the importance of family above anything else.  Being able to just do things on a regular basis with my family is truly the thing I love most in the world.
3. What do you fear most?
This is a tough one.  I have some fears, but I think the one that gets me the most is just that my kids won’t be happy.  All I hope for them is that they find happiness, and never have to face life with worry.  When I went through treatments for breast cancer, I felt so bad that they were having to deal with that at such a young age.  I wish I could take that fear away from them, and show them to grab life and just be happy, no matter what happens.
4. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
Well, it had always been to write a book, but since that’s been done, my largest unfulfilled dream now is to earn enough money for my husband to be able to give up truck driving.  I want the kids to have both parents home regularly, and he’s worked hard to allow me to be a stay at home mom when the kids were small.  I’d like to pay that back.
5. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was say goodbye to my grandparents.  I grew up with them all close to me, and they were a huge part of my life.  I was with each of them when they passed, and each time, having to let them go was the hardest thing for me to do.  But, after all they’d done for me over the years, I knew I had to be there when they needed me.
6. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?

My story…well, I decided after I had cancer that I didn’t want that to be what defined me.  I didn’t want that to be what people thought when they saw me.  I get told all the time that people actually forgot I had it.  It was a horrible time of my life, but I’ve moved past it and now try to just stay positive.  It helped me to realize what was important, and that nothing is ever guaranteed in life.  So, I took a chance and started writing—the thing I’d always wanted to do but was too afraid to even try.  And, I’m not going to let myself say “someday I’ll do that” anymore.  If there’s a way to do it now, and it’s something I want, I’m going to do it.  And I want to teach my kids to do the same thing.  




Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 2



Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical romances. Robyn currently lives with her husband in California, USA, near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” 

She is a member of Women Writing the West, and American Night Writers Association. She enjoys any kind of history including family history. 


When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Running from hostile Indians attacking Salina, Kansas in 1862, feisty Kizzie Atwell, Grandma Mary’s oldest grandchild, runs into freighter Leander Jones traveling the Smoky Hill Trail. He is as interested in her as his stallion is in her mare. The two join forces to prevent the Fort Riley Army captain from requisitioning their beloved horses for the cavalry. Avoiding bushwhackers and fighting off a thieving bullwhacker binds their bargain.

In 1865, at the victory dance held at Fort Riley to celebrate the end of the Civil War, Kizzie is asked to participate in a fund-raiser to aid the Sanitary Commission helping injured and sick soldiers. It involves chaste sweetheart kisses in exchange for tickets purchased by officers and guests. As a contract freighter for the Army, Leander is invited. Much to Leander’s chagrin, before his chance to claim his kiss, Kizzie’s uncle steps in and puts an end to the kissing game.

Is Leander out of luck, or will the bargain Kizzie and Leander made three years earlier to save their horses lead to a more romantic bargain sealed with a kiss?

     10 top favorite things:


1.      I love my computer so I can use it to write stories
2.     I love my sewing machine so I can quilt when I need a break from writing
3.     I love paper and ink books that fill my bookcases
4.    I love my Kindle, Nook and Deseret Book apps because my bookcases are already full of paper and ink books
5.     I love my camera so I can take photographs
6.    I love my photo-editing program so I can tweak my photos so they look even better
7.     I love Yosemite National Park because it is so pretty in any season
8.    I love museums because of all the wonderful historical items they display
9.    I love Columbia State Park and Mono County because they capture the history of the California Gold Rush
10.                        I love my car because it comfortably takes me to all my favorite places


Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Kizzies-Kisses-Grandmas-Wedding-Quilts-ebook/dp/B01MT0UO6Q/

Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 1




Kate Cambridge is an emerging author of Sweet Historical Romance and Sweet Contemporary Romance. She is a hopeless romantic, strong supporter of women's rights, and loves to create stories that inspire, and characters who seem real long after "The End."

Visit KateCambridge.com for more information, or KateCambridge.com/Choice to join the Choice Readers group for special launch-day pricing, contest, and more. Be one of the first to know what happens next...

Kate loves to connect with readers!


 The greatest inspiration is often born of desperation.

One year ago Hannah Quinn scored her dream job, and now the fate of the museum she loves will rise or fall on her next exhibit. But wait... there's a problem. She doesn't have a clue what her next exhibit will be!

When a trunk with two quilts is donated to the museum, Hannah's boss thinks she's wasting her time chasing down the history of the quilts, regardless of their beauty; but Hannah persists. She knows there's something special about these quilts, and a story that demands to be told.

Little does Hannah know, her friend Callum, a researcher and consultant, plays an unexpected a role in her investigation that leads to questions and discoveries that threaten the foundation of all she holds most dear.

Will her desperation to discover the story of the quilts cause her to lose the very thing she loves the most - or will the secrets she uncover lead her to more than she ever dreamed?

 Snippet #3


“She hurried past the doctor before Dr. Wagstaff could see the tears forming in her eyes. Hannah knew it wasn’t just her mistake that upset her, it was the sensation of the quilt under her fingertips. It stirred something in her, something that she couldn’t explain.”