A Book Review And A Bit of This and That

Well…March has entered like a lion in my neck of the woods with our area getting between 20 and 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) of snow. I know we’re not supposed to go on and on about the weather, because how boring, but holey moley that was a lot of shovelling. More so for Jack than me, if I’m being honest, which I almost always am. Also, a huge thank you to our snow blowing neighbours, of which we have three. Each of them took to heart the help a neighbour shovel out campaign and made runs up and down our sidewalks and driveway.

Also, of special interest to me as I’m the parent of a child with special needs, is the fact that March 7th marks the annual R-word: Spread The Word To End The Word campaign. We can all agree the R-word needs retiring, like other hurtful words that mock and malign have been in the last few years.

Spread The Word To End The Word

A Book Review

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

Bellewether is my favourite kind of book and reading it gave me so much joy. I didn’t want it to end. Very well written in Susanna Kearsley’s usual clever style, I fell in love with the characters and I also felt like I was given a glimpse into the every day life of the times. The book is set Long Island, New York, in both present day and during the last year of the Seven Years War . It also had a Canadian connection, which I very much appreciated.

The heroines of each time have both had their lives upended, both having suffered tragic personal loses. Charley Van Hoek is settling into her new job as curator of the Wilde House Museum when she learns of the long ago doomed romance between a French Canadian lieutenant, Jean-Phillipe de Sabran and Lydia Wilde. She is determined to include their history in the museum’s tribute to Benjamin Wilde, Lydia’s famous brother. Not everyone on the museum board agrees with her, but luckily the Wilde house is happy to help her figure it out.

Romance, war, historical intrigue, Bellewether has it all. And I didn’t guess the twist until the end!

*I received this ARC courtesy of Netgalley

* Book Available April 24, 2018

A bit about the Seven Years’ War

The Seven Years War (1756–63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea. In North America, imperial rivals Britain and France struggled for supremacy. Early in the war, the French (aided by Canadian militia and Aboriginal allies) defeated several British attacks and captured a number of British forts. In 1758, the tide turned when the British captured Louisbourg, followed by Québec City in 1759 and Montréal in 1760. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France formally ceded Canada to the British. The Seven Years’ War therefore laid the bicultural foundations of modern Canada.

Interesting Links!

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

Reading List: Aspergers?Autism Romance

Reading List: Asperger’s/Autism Romance

Have you heard of or read other books by Susanna Kearsley? If you like time slip novels, check her out! Also, please share your recommendation of other books who feature characters who differently abled!

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Cocktail Suggestions And a Review Or Two!

Sexy Suspense

NBTMR_TourBanner_OffTheGrid

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February is nearly over. I have to confess it’s not one of my favourite months. I suffer from what I call my February Funk. Luckily there are birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day in there to help it speed by.

Yesterday I indulged in a little retail therapy. Tonight I think I’ll give myself a manicure. I have Dying Embers by B.E. Sanderson to read. I’m already getting chills! I might also sip a cocktail or two.

I’ve pinned some great ideas on my Cocktail Hour pinterest board. What’s your favourite beverage to curl up with in front of the fire? Or to sip while reading or watching a movie?

I’ve tried this one and I loved it: Dark and Stormy. Candied ginger, ginger beer and rum. Yum!

dark-n-stormy

 

Two lovely reviews for OFF THE GRID you can find on Goodreads! If you head on over to either of these two lovely review sites you can enter to win a $25 gift certificate!

Sassy Moms Say Read Romance

Huge secrets, drama, mystery, betrayal, cover ups, murder, romance, twists and turns on every corner kept me on the edge of my seat. Off the Grid sure satisfied my craving for that mystery I have been craving.

Sophie had to be my favorite characters in the book. She has a huge heart of gold wanting to help every patient in need. However, Sophie puts her own life on the line to help out a very pregnant Kellie. I loved the fact that they had scenes at a medical clinic in Vancouver.

Off the Grid’s book cover does not do the book justice.

4 out of 5 kisses

Undercover Book Reviews

HOT DANG!!!!  Yes, I’m trying to make my review as nicely worded as possible!  Folks this book will have you on edge!  The suspense it brings, the romance it gives, the balance it has of the characters  and story plot show the remarkable skill of the author!  The twist you don’t see coming… Yep, enough to expose enough truth, but why is it held back…  If you haven’t read Off the Grid yet, you are missing out!  I believe this will be a hot book for 2015!

The Wild Rose Press  *  Amazon  *  Kobo  *  All Romance Ebooks (ARe)  *  BookStrand * iBooks *

Available Now

Available Now

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Food, Family and Holidays

One of my favorite things about holidays is all the good eats. I enjoy food. A little too much, but whatever. This past week in hot and sunny Arizona was no different. We partook in our share of wonderful meals while we were gone, home cooked and restaurant style.

It was so nice to sit on the patio at my in-laws winter home after a record-breaking cold winter back in Canada. They went all out for us, as usual. We ate lots of wonderful meals outside, during the day with the hummingbirds, or in the warm evening air. We were thoroughly spoiled. I didn’t lift a finger. I almost feel guilty about that…

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I was lucky enough to tag along with my mother-in-law on her community group’s spring fling lunch at the Arizona Culinary Institute. (See, totally spoiled.) The company was delightful and the food was delicious. Lovely setting and the food was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. From the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer to the sea bass main course to the out-of-this-world chocolate cake.

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Grandpa and Grandma spent an evening with their granddaughter dining on her favorite food of cheeseburgers and hotdogs and Jack and I treated ourselves to an evening out at SOL Mexican Cocina restaurant. A little bit of Baja California served in the desert. Oh sweet mercy, it was delicious. Bonus, I enjoyed with the best margarita EVER. If you love tequila this is the place for you! 60 artisan tequilas. No wonderful my margarita was extra yummy. Definitely recommend this one!

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We also ate at a place called Wally’s American Pub and Grill which was served great food. Also, recommend. And a fabulous pizza place that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me. But when I get it I’ll add it in!

Food and family make for a wonderful combination. Especially when someone else is doing the cooking. Now it’s time to detox. Have a favorite meal you’ve eaten lately? Any restaurant recommends?

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Hots Drinks and Book Review

tea timeIt’s December and that can mean chilly nights. In fact, today there is a Winter Storm Warning for my small part of the Canadian prairies. Nothing warms a cold winter day or night more than a book, BUT while your reading you might choose to sip a warm beverage. I’m a fan of several hot drinks.

I love the peppermint tea from David’s Tea. My husband and I drink this in the evening some nights and the scent is so fresh and addicting. I also love hot chocolate, see below. Who can forget about hot apple cider this time of year? I love making a big batch for guests in my crock pot. Chai tea lattes! And it’s always fun to add a snip of Bailey’s, Kahlua, or Peppermint Schnapps to the various mixes.

Now for the book part. My book club the Sanity Seekers read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain for our November selection. I picked it. Since it was my pick I figured I should review it.

The Paris Wife Nov 2013I’m always intrigued by books of fiction based on real people, events, and well fact. Hadley Richardson was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. The story is told in Hadley’s point of view which peaked my interest as much has been made of Hemingway’s women. Their time together was short but huge at the same time. There were parts of this book that fascinated me. I thoroughly enjoyed McLain’s style and her writing. I’ve read other fiction based on fact but none that read as smoothing or believably as this. I loved the setting of Paris in the 1920’s. Loved the parts that talked of writing. But reading about their relationship and how they lived their lives was hard work at times particularly towards the end. And parts of the book dragged along. There was no temptation to stay up late and read all the way through, but the necessity of having to put it aside for a while and think about what you’d read. There is no happy ending for these two although I like to think Hadley found hers with her second husband, I wonder if Hemingway ever truly did. If he came close I’m betting it was with Hadley. But that’s probably the romantic in me.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Now about that hot chocolate. Although I haven’t been much for experimenting in the past, I’m trying to eat less of certain foods and cut others out altogether. Like cow milk and refined sugar. Which creates challenges when craving hot chocolate. It’s actually easy enough to replace the milk with coconut milk or almond mild, but the hot chocolate mix is another story. Until I found the following recipe in our local paper:

Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 6 to 7 medjool dates
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups hot water

Method: Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Adjust quantities to suit taste. Serves 2 Adapted from Ashley Clark: www.naturallyashley.com

I used hot almond milk instead of hot chocolate. It was wonderously thick and frothy but very sweet. If I were to make it again I think I’d use less dates and more cacao powder. Also, from using the medjool dates in my smoothies as a natural sweetner, I put them in the blender first with a little liquid and puree as I find they don’t blend up well and the end result is chunky.

Which hot drink is your favorite? Read any good books lately?

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A Hitwoman Gets Lucky, Shoe Lust and Kobo News

My review of The Hitwoman Gets Lucky by JB Lynn. Bonus: it’s free!

I’m a fan of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series even though I stopped reading at Book Eight or so. For me that’s a long time to stick with a series since I’m more of a trilogy gal. So, when I found JB Lynn on a friend’s blog I couldn’t resist giving her books a try. I downloaded her free offering on Amazon and kind of started in the middle.

Maggie Lee is a hitwoman. Accompanied by God and Armani (it’s not what you’re thinking, trust me) she sets out for Atlantic City to do a favor for her murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan. Barry Manilow is involved, too. But she doesn’t have a thing for him like she does for Patrick. Who has way too many rules, one of them about getting lucky.

The Hitwoman Gets Lucky is a spunky novella with a cache of eccentric characters, including a lizard and a dog. Maggie is delightful. Patrick has an unusual code of ethics but he sticks to them. And it’s clear he cares very much for Maggie. It’s also clear Maggie wants to get lucky with Patrick. There’s great chemistry there. And lots of laughs.

This is the first free offering I’ve downloaded from Amazon. I know, I’m behind the times. I kind of viewed it as a trial run of the series. Would I continue reading? And paying for the rest of the series? Yes, I would. Without hesitation. Who can resist the adventures of a reluctant hitwoman with a heart of gold? Not this reader.

Also, total random love. Pink patent shoes. With bows.

Plus: Backlash is available on Kobo!

Do you like hitwomen stories? Pink shoes? Free books?

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The Good, The Bad, and The Fair Book Review

010I very seldom review books online. I share ratings. But I’m hesitate to write a review which is all kinds of crazy since I’ve been involved in a book club for a dozen years and shared my thoughts by word of mouth long before that. But I’ve won a couple of books, downloaded free ones and I know they come with the hopeful expectation that I review them. Eeeps.

But how to write a fair, honest and helpful review? So, I did a little research. I’ve found that it’s not so much about my great, big, heavy thoughts having read the book as what will be helpful information to share with other readers deciding on what to read next. So…

First goal. Decide on a format. Thoughts I’ve gathered on this. Should be short (very short) description of what the book is about. Avoid spoilers. Or use big bold capitals letters to announce your review contains them. Readers want a sense of plot more than your general opinion. The reader whats to know if the book will interest them based on your summary of the book.

Okay, I think I can handle this part. I’m not interested in becoming a bonafide book review blogger. I just want to post an intelligent review on Goodreads, Librarything, possibly bookseller sites, and here on my own personal blog. As a side note, summarizing books down to a couple of sentences has potential as an excellent writing exercise. Doing this with books I read will make it easier to sum up my own. So, win win.

Second goal. Be honest about who you are and what you like to read. Kind of easy, peasy. I guess. I’m a writer. I write romantic suspense. But I read a variety of books. A wide variety. Hum…need to work on this.

Third goal. Provide an honest review. And here’s where it gets sticky for me. I don’t like saying less than stellar things about books when the author is someone I know, never mind a friend, are published by the same publisher, a member of my writing group, or is someone I met online and have developed a platonic, book related relationship with. That kind of narrows it down. Because I’m a wimp. Especially those with few reviews and I know my mediocre review might influence readers choosing to check out their book. And the very idea of posting a negative review stresses me out.

So, how to proceed? 300 to 400 word reviews. For reviews posted here – basic info about the book and where to find it. How this book came to be in my possession. Summarize the book in a couple sentences. Use my own words. Talk about theme, characters, and plot. What I felt where the strengths. Major weaknesses, if any. Sum it up.

Fourth goal. Decide what my book review isn’t. I want to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read. I want to help out my fellow writers. I want to give readers an honest and consistent review. I don’t want it to be about my emotional response to the book. Or a synopsis. Or a critique. I’m not grading a paper. And I shall, at all costs, avoid platitudes. Saying you couldn’t put it down doesn’t tell potential readers anything useful.

There! I’ve decided on a kind of format. So, what about you? Do you review books? Do you read reviews? Any tips on what you like to see in book reviews?

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Manic Monday

It’s the second last Monday of August. How did that happen? Harvest is in full swing here on the prairies. Wheat being one of our staple crops with the first attempts at planting dating back to 1753. Stats like that one always make me smile. When I was a little girl I remember thinking everyone’s grandparents had come from somewhere else. Mine were immigrants to this country by way of Poland, Norway and Sweden. It wasn’t until I started school and began learning about the long and rich history of our First Nations people and that of the first European settlers coming later at the beginning of the 18th century that I realized how new our roots were to Canada.

My romantic suspense novel, Backlash, takes places in the month of September. My fictional setting of Aspen Lake, being a resort town located at the foot of the scenic Moose Mountains, would still be surrounded by farmland. Frost is on the ground in the morning. Days are still warm. Nights are filled with stars.

I love to savor the approach of autumn. Warm enough to enjoy the beach during the day and cool enough for backyard fires in the evening. The air smells different. It’s heavy with dust of harvest, the scent of ripening fruit, and the bittersweet smell of brand new back-to-school supplies. We’re mixing the daytime summer fashions of shorts and flip-flops by adding jeans and light jackets to our evenings.

And let’s not forget the stars. So bright. A startling reminder of the vastness of the universe. With the sun setting earlier we have more time to enjoy them. I never fail to look up and wonder what others in past centuries have thought about as they gazed up at the same stars.

What is your favorite part about this time of the year?

I’ll sign off with this is a snippet from page 97 of Backlash. It’s early evening in the middle of September. Chase, Lily and Jason were involved in a incident earlier in the day. Lily is waiting for Chase to come by and let her know what’s happening.

Lily led Mike out onto her front steps and lifted her face up to catch the leftover heat from the setting sun. It didn’t help. The bone deep chill remained. She rubbed her arms, wishing for a sweater.

She wondered where Chase was and why he’d sent an emissary. “So, he’s with his aunt?”

 Here’s What Reviewers Are Saying About Backlash!

5 Stars

“Chase and Lily are made for each other; they complement each other so well.”

“The description of the enforcer was so vivid that it seemed that I could actually envision the soulless enforcer in front of me.”

CozyReader at The Romance Reviews

4 Stars

Ms. Good sure spins a tale of deceit and a trail of clues that lead right to a climax I never imagined.
Need some suspense to keep you up long into the night? Why not giveBacklash a chance. Immerse yourself in the strong sense of right and wrong, with a great cast of characters.

Sunflower at Long and Short Reviews

 A Rating

Add to that, this book is fabulous on the suspense side. Lots of high-stakes danger, really evil bad guys (super-creepy spider tattoo guy), and it kept me guessing how the author was going to resolve it all till the very end. Overall this was a fabulous book and definitely one that reminds me why I LOVE to read! Perfect entertainment and escape!

Christi Snow at Smitten With Reading

 5 Stars

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW… could i say WOW anymore? You bet! I don’t have time to write my full review now, BUT if you enjoy romantic suspense with killer sexual tension and a smokingly HOT yet tortured lead, then y’all need to read this!!

Sheryl on Goodreads

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Virtual Book Starts Today

 

I’m in two places at once today! Which could actually be true if I were a subatomic particle.  Ha, and you thought I knew nothing of quantum mechanics. Proof TV is educational. Thank you, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard!

First, I’m visiting Live to Read and talking about memorable characters.

Later today I’ll be at Curse of the Bibliophile giving an interview.

 

Almost, I’ve gotten my first review!

Smitten With Reading

 Add to that, this book is fabulous on the suspense side. Lots of high-stakes danger, really evil bad guys (super-creepy spider tattoo guy), and it kept me guessing how the author was going to resolve it all till the very end. Overall this was a fabulous book and definitely one that reminds me why I LOVE to read! Perfect entertainment and escape!

 

AND!

Backlash is now up on Goodreads! Go ahead and add it! Really, I’m not above begging. Obviously!

 

 

 

 

 

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