Sep 012014
 

sparrow readalong

Host by Trish @ Love, Laughter, And A Touch Of Insanity

The Details:
Begin: September 1st
Halfway: September 15th (through ch 19, pg 201 of my copy)
Finish: September 30th

Today starts The Sparrow Readalong and I’m so excited to read this “out of my comfort genre” book! I’ve heard so many people rave about this book, say they’ve re-read it, and even re-re-read it, so I’m eager to find out for myself just how amazing it is.

Here’s the blurb
In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

Aug 292014
 

 

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Travel The World In Books Readathon

Hosted by Mom’s Small VictoriesI’m Lost In BooksSavvy Working Girl

From The Hosts:
September 1-14, 2014. There is no requirement for how much to read, read as little or as much as you want during the two weeks. Just read!

Explore countries other than the one you live in. Read as much as you can of books set in a different country or by an author from a different country. Read for your own pleasure or learning, read with your kids or both. Travel the world from the comfort of your own home and learn about different cultures. Expand your horizons and show publishers that #WeNeedDiverseBooks to promote cultural understanding and diversity in our reading. Support diverse authors and books.

I’ll be tracking the books I read on this post.

There are also going to be mini challenges and giveaways, so that means lots of fun!

Sign-up here
Make a post with your goals and link them here
Here’s the Schedule

 My Goals:
Since I’m also doing the Travel The World In Books Reading Challenge, I’ll be starting with the same books:

1. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. It takes place partly in Haiti, which is also where the author was born.

2. The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar~ the author was born in Bombay, India

 

Aug 292014
 

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Travel The World In Books Reading Challenge

Hosted by Mom’s Small Victories, I’m Lost In Books, Savvy Working Girl

From The Hosts:
1. Determine length of time you will participate in the challenge ~ Just one month, An entire season, a year or 5 years?

2. Determine how many countries you would like to read about during your adventure ~ What criteria are you using to determine the number of countries you read about (ex. book setting, author background or both)?

3. How will you track the countries you visited in books? ~ You could create a map in Google Maps, track on your blog or on a Goodreads shelf.

4. Determine your book list or genre if you like ~ Will you be listing specific books you would like to read? Do you aim to read fiction, nonfiction or a mixture of both?

 

My Goals:
1. Length of time: I want to read at least 25 books in the next 5 Years

2. Countries and criteria:: I’m not sure how many countries I’ll read, but plan on choosing by both book setting and author background.

3. Tracking: On this post

4. Genres and list: I want to read: fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks or anything that catches my interest

 

I’m going to start with:
The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. It takes place partly in Haiti, which is also where the author was born.

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar~ the author was born in Bombay, India

Aug 292014
 

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Hosted @ Rose City Reader

Friday 56
Hosted by Freda @ Freda’s Voice

The other day I was looking through my books and this grabbed my attention. I’ve had it forever and though it was about time I read it. I don’t know why I waited so long…I’m loving it!!

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Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore
 

 Beginning
Until Miss Debbie, I’d never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions, maybe–it wasn’t really speakin. And to me, even that was mighty risky since the last time I was fool enough to open my mouth to a white woman, I wound up half-dead and nearly blind.

 

Page 56
“No sir,” I sad, shaking my head, “I’m not Poopsie. I’m Ron Hall.”
“no, you are not!” he scolded like a doting aunt insisting that a full child take a second helping of pie. “Your Poopsie! And you can call me Snookems!”

While he was saying this, I took in his glittering ensemble. Strapped around his head behind gold aviator sunglasses, Mr. Goldgerg wore a black patch over his left eye, and below that, a pearl-snap cowboy shirt and jeans, white-python- skin cockroach-killer boots with gold tips and heel ornaments, and a solid gold, buffalo-shaped belt buckle with rubies for the eyes and diamonds everywhere else.

 

 

 

Aug 272014
 

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Murder Strikes A Pose by Tracy Weber

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: Jan 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0738739687

Purchase Links:   

When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

Thoughts
I love cozies, I love yoga, and I love dogs. I knew before I opened this book that I would love it. And I did.

I hadn’t read a cozy in a while and I’m so glad I decided to read this. The story was interesting, the characters diverse, and reading it was just plain fun. Kate was full of emotions, spunky, definitely not perfect, and I really liked her. She was strong willed and very caring. Bella was a great dog, and it was sad to read about her health problems.

There were a few parts that touched on important issues like homelessness and Bella’s struggle with pancreatic disease, but the author did a great job of working them into the story with just the right amount of awareness without making it too heavy.

This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read the books that follow. If you like fun cozies with a twist, check out this book.

Read An Excerpt

I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.

Metaphorically, that is.

Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.

Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.

I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.

Paradise. Simply paradise.

I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—

A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.

What the heck?

When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?

A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.

“Control your dog!”

“Get that vicious beast out of here!”

And even a simple, “What the hell?”

I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.

Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.

It wasn’t working.

Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.

I’d obviously have to shift tactics.

I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.

An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid. I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion. But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.

Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.

“What in the world’s going on out here?”

The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”

“Kate Davidson, but—”

“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”

The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.

“Bella, say hello!”

Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.

“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”

I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”

I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.

I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?” Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.

Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them. My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.

“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”

George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”

Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.

Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.

“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.

Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.

I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”

George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”

“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”

George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”

I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”

George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.

“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.

Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice. “Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”

George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”

The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.

“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”

“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.” He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.

“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

 
Author Bio
Murder-Strikes-Pose-Tracy-Weber-auth2My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.
I’m a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.

Author Links

Giveaway
Giveaway: Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

Aug 262014
 

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Hosted by Aarti @ Booklust

I participated in the Diverse Challenge in 2012 by reading  A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot, but somehow missed it last year. Since I  enjoyed it so much, I decided to do it again this year. Aarti changed the challenge a bit this year, which I think makes it even better.

 

This year, Aarti says:

  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th – 27th) 

It’s so hard to choose which book to read, but I finally decided on one:

31116 The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. Edwidge Danticat’ s brilliant exploration of the ” dew breaker” –or torturer–s an unforgettable story of love, remorse, and hope; of personal and political rebellions; and of the compromises we make to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. It firmly establishes her as one of America’ s most essential writers.

Aug 252014
 

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The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 22, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477822798
ISBN-13: 978-1477822791

From the award-winning author of A Watershed Year comes a heartrending story of unlikely bonds made under dire straits. Holly is a young widow with two kids living in a ramshackle house in the same small town where she grew up wealthy. Now barely able to make ends meet editing the town’s struggling newspaper, she manages to stay afloat with help from her family. Then her mother suffers a stroke, and Holly’s world begins to completely fall apart.

Vivian has lived an extraordinary life, despite the fact that she has been confined to an iron lung since contracting polio as a child. Her condition means she requires constant monitoring, and the close-knit community joins together to give her care and help keep her alive. As their town buckles under the weight of the Great Recession, Holly and Vivian, two very different women both touched by pain, forge an unlikely alliance that may just offer each an unexpected salvation.

 

Thoughts
This is a very inspirational book. I loved Vivian! So strong and courageous! Even though her life was a struggle, she never gave up and was a beacon of hope to others. Holly was also a very interesting character who was such a caring person even in her darkest times. The relationship between Vivian and Holly was everything a relationship between friends should be. I was so glad they found each other.

I liked the authors writting style, the words flowed easily and I could see in my head what I was reading. I loved the town and people of Bertram Corners. They had compassion for each other, and especially for Vivian. I’d love to live in a town like that.

Besides being a good read, you will probably learn a thing or two about polio. I never knew anyone with polio, but have read about it and know what a horrific thing it was. I knew what an iron lung was, but didn’t know someone could survive so many years with one.

The ending was a mix of emotions. I went from being sad to happy in just a few paragraphs.

This was a very good book and I would hightly recommend it. It’s not very long, only 242 pages, but leaves a big impact on you.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read, but I loved it so much that now I want to read her first novel, A Watershed Year.

 

f84fb48448010ac1d188a0.L._V174929624_ Susan Schoenberger, of West Hartford, CT, is a writer, editor and copy editor with a long history of working for news organizations, including The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, and Patch.com. She is now Director of Communications for Hartford Seminary. “A Watershed Year,” her debut novel, won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in 2006 under the title “Intercession.” Susan’s short stories have been published in Inkwell, Village Rambler and on www.BartlebySnopes.com. Susan’s second novel, “The Virtues of Oxygen,” will be published by Lake Union Publishing in July 2014.

Here are some links for you to check out:
AmazonGoodreads , Author’s websiteFacebookTwitter

 

Giveaway
Thanks to Lisa @ TLC Book Tours and the author, I have one copy of this book to giveaway

Open to U.S. & Canada
To enter, leave a comment with your email
Ends September 15

 

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Aug 252014
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

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

Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

 

I’ve only had 2 books in my mailbox the last few weeks:

18693945Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…

Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

 

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson 20483038
Someone Else’s Love Story is beloved and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson’s funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be.

Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

Aug 202014
 

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Good grief, I’m a day late on this, but that’s ok!

Well, the hubs and I went back to the flea market Monday to get a bottle of the PK4, and the man wasn’t there. He told us last week that he would be there, but maybe he had a family emergency or something. His booth is permanently set up, so hopefully he’ll be back next week.

I’m a member of SparkPeople (are you?) and decided to leave one of the book clubs I’m in because they haven’t posted a monthly reads for a few months. While I was checking out the site I ran across a Weekly Challenge team and decided to join it. This week’s goal is to “eat the rainbow”. They also have a monthly fitness minuets goal challenge and I joined for 400 min. for the rest of the month. I’ll be posting my progress every Tuesday.

The Good:
I met my weekly workout goals
I did deep breathing every day
I got enough sleep, more than I have for a long time

The Bad:
I didn’t drink as much water as I should have
I didn’t track my workouts or food (why is this so hard for me?)

I’m linking to Readers’ Workout

Aug 202014
 

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Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Go here to check out my post “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kaira Rouda”

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda’s characters “sparkle with humor and heart,” and the stories are “told with honest insight and humor” (Booklist). “Inspirational and engaging” (ForeWord), these are the novels you’ll turn to for strong female characters and an “engaging read” (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life – head on.

But while she’s busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

 

Thoughts
This book was an emotional read for me because I lost my mother and oldest sister to cancer. Even if I hadn’t had that conection, the book would still be very emotional. Especially since Jennifer is so young and a mother. That being said, it was also full of happiness and love.

The characters go through a wide range of emotions. They are happy, sad, emotional, scared, loving and there is the usual family fueds and even a betrayal that ultimately turned into something good.

This was the first book I’ve tried by this author, but I now want to read her other books. She wrote about a very tough subject with compassion and lots of care. It shows the different emotions that everyone has when someone you love has cancer and shows how the person diagnosed wants to be seen.

The characters and situations were believable and made me want to keep reading to see how things would end. But, the ending was left to the readers imagination, which I know some people will like more than others. I usually like things neatly wrapped up, but in this case I liked deciding how I wanted the book to end. It let me have control over what happened to Jennifer, and I don’t have to read that it ended different than I’d like.

 

About The Author
58aa823cd7530ad8976f34.L._V168615618_SX200_Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women EntrepreneursHere, Home, HopeAll the Difference;In the Mirror; and the short story,A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

Her latest novel is the women’s fiction, In the Mirror.

Book Tour Highlights at PUYB Virtual Book Club

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Aug 192014
 

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Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; In the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

 Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to check out my review of her latest novel, a women’s fiction titled In the Mirror.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kaira Rouda

· I moved around a lot when I was young. My parents are both from Northern California, but I never lived there. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, where my dad got his PhD at Northwestern; my sister came along next, when my dad was a professor at University of Southern California. When my dad became a professor at University of Texas, Austin, my brother was born. We moved on from there to Boston when my dad became a professor at Harvard. The final stop was Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. That’s where I went to middle school and high school. I raised my kids in the same suburb until the first one went off to college at Chapman University in Southern California. We all followed him.

· My first book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was one of the first business books for women. It was based on my experience working with my husband to build the first national residential real estate brand acknowledging that women are the key decision makers in all real estate purchases – influencing of making 91 percent of all home purchases. Until Real Living Real Estate was launched, all advertising was directed toward men. Not kidding. I’m proud of that accomplishment – and the fact we stayed married after working together closely for seven years!

· My husband and I went to the same high school in Upper Arlington, Ohio, but didn’t meet until I was a reporter for Business First , a business newspaper, and he was an attorney at a law firm in town. I have three boys and one girl, and she is number 2. Coffee: black. I love lavender and I make a killer Kale salad! I’m vegetarian and gluten free.

· I was the society columnist for Columbus, Ohio, for more than 10 years.

· When I laugh, I honk. Yes, like a goose at times. I laugh a lot with friends. Friends mean the world to me.

· I’m almost always smiling. I feel very blessed to be living the life of my dreams.

· I don’t like math, or budgets. Ick. I love painting, and photography.

· I’m only as happy as my saddest kid. I’m a great catch – but I cannot throw a ball to save my life. I am 1/8 Cherokee, a member of Daughter’s of the America Revolution. My ancestor, John Sturdivant landed in Jamestown in 1623. I love doing ancestry research.

· My dream, since as long as I could remember, was to be a novelist. It took awhile, so I tell people to never give up! My first novel, Here, Home, Hope was published in my 40s! Things happen for a reason, when they’re supposed to, as long as you keep believing in yourself.

· I almost always wear the “e” key off of my computers. I am confident I can win a hula hoop contest. I love to paddleboard as long as the waves are tiny and the sun is shining. I am finally living at the beach – a place I’ve dreamed of living since I was little.

 

For More Information:

Aug 152014
 

Friday 56
Hosted by Freda @ Freda’s Voice
 

 

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Spare Change by Bette L. Crosby

“You don’t have an account with us.”
Susanna laughed a nervous little twitter that sounded somewhat like a gasp. “Of course I do,” she said, “a joint account , with my husband Benjamin.”
“Oh, Benjamin Doyle’s account!”
Susanna breathed a sigh of relief.
“He closed that out, a week ago last Tuesday.”

Aug 122014
 

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I found a pain relieving spray at the flea market when we went to buy fruits and veggies. The guy selling it sprayed some on my knee, told me to  sit for 3 minutes, and when I got up and started walking my leg that had been hurting for 4 days didn’t hurt anymore. I was amazed! I didn’t buy any because were leaving when we found his booth, and I wanted to make sure it was going to work for a while before I got some. It was late that night before I felt just a little discomfort in my leg, so I plan on going back and getting a bottle.

Since I’ve had some inquiries about the spray I thought I’d add an update:
It’s made from 100% pure organic essential oils. The bottle says it offers relief from temporary or chronic pain from arthritis, rheumatism, shingles, stiff joints, and lower back pain, tendonitis, fibromyalgia and more! I think that the problem in my knee is arthritis, and it definitely worked on that.

It has no additives, is double distilled, and formatted for maximum strength & purity
It’s antiseptic, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulating, decongestant, neurotonic.

All I know is that it worked for me. It’s called PK4 Pain Reliever Spary.

I did see another brand that a different seller had. It’s called CPR (Continuous Pain Relief). I haven’t tried it, but it is a little cheaper.

Below is a chart showing what I plan on doing each week.

Plan Overview Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Endurance
Balance
Flexibility
Strength:
Upper Body
Strength:
Lower Body

 
Endurance: treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, walking trails, riding my bike
Balance: bosu ball, tai-chi, & chi-gong
Flexibility: yoga, stretching
Upper Body Strength: kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands
Lower Body Strength: resistance bands, lunges, squats, step

I’ve always been terrible of keeping track of what I do/eat, but I’m going to try to at least start tracking my workouts. I’ve heard a lot of people say it helped them, so I’ll give it a try.

I’m linking to Readers’ Workout

Aug 092014
 

 

Every stage actress wants fans, but what happens when one goes too far?

Emmy has the perfect life— a house on the beach, a successful career headlining the local theater, and love. But when a brutal murder brings unimaginable grief, Emmy’s world comes crashing down. As she tries to pick up the pieces, she can’t seem to avoid Josh, the new fireman in town.

Emmy does her best to fight the sizzle in her chest when Josh is near. But with the stalker still out there, terrorizing her and those she cares about, she can’t fall for anyone—especially Josh, a suspect in the murder investigation.

If Emmy allows a man to get close, it’s not just her heart she puts at risk, it’s her life.

“Cami Checketts can spin a tale like no other. Love, suspense, thrills, she has it all, and Shadows in the Curtain is no exception. What a thrill ride! I highly recommend this book. 10 stars!!”

Sherry Gammon, author of the Port Fare Series

“I’m a sucker for the exciting parts, and this book has scenes that had my eyes racing my heart to the end of each page!”

Amanda Tru, author of the Yesterday Series

Shadows in the Curtain – Only $2.99 at the following retailers:

Buy it in print here for only $8.63

Cami Checketts’ books Poison Me and The Colony are only $.99 for the length of the Shadows in the Curtain blog tour -August 4th – 9th.g8gh   Poison Me 

   Jake Merrill was raised by his grandmother, Ruby, and her hilarious friends.           After a suspicious death at the retirement home where Ruby lives, she enlists Jake and    Chanel, the beautiful activities director, to help her find the killer.

But secrets Ruby has kept for decades threaten her family and the man she’s always          loved but could never have. Chanel’s unstable ex-boyfriend, a presumably dead                  relative, and vicious criminals add to the confusion. Time is running out as Jake,                Chanel, and Ruby desperately search for clues to solve the murders and fight to save          those they love.

The Colony

To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property.

Lance, Brinlee’s attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion.

While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.

Excerpt from Shadows in the Curtain

Timothy stuck to her side while people surged passed with compliments, hand squeezes, and the occasional hug. Emmy searched every eye, but only saw excitement from a fun performance or weariness from sitting too long. If anyone had murder in mind, he was as good at putting on a fake face as she was.
No one piqued her curiosity. Until he came. She had no clue what his name was, but the past few weeks she’d seen him almost every morning at the gym. He was much too good-looking, with his rippling muscles and deep blue eyes. She always avoided looking directly at him, though she knew that was as obvious an indicator of her attraction as staring would be. She couldn’t avoid him now.
The wide entryway, which featured plush, faded carpet and wood-planked walls, shrank as he drew nearer. The babble of the crowd faded. He reached for her hand, staring deep into her eyes. Her hand fitted itself into his like he was a magnet. Her entire body leaned toward him.
“You were amazing. So passionate.” He smiled and the room swayed.
Emmy was quite sure the passion she experienced right now had nothing to do with singing or acting. She should draw away but couldn’t force herself to. “Thank you,” she managed, embarrassed by the huskiness of her voice as she tried to catch a breath.
The crowd pressed forward, and he was forced to release her hand and move to the side. His blonde date gushed over Emmy for a second, and then they were gone.
Emmy continued greeting other patrons but couldn’t forget the allure of his blue eyes. He didn’t seem like the creepy stalker type, but she had to wonder. Could he be the one sending the notes?

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 082014
 

I was recently contacted by Fulcrum Gallery and asked if I’d like to do a review of one of their Cultural Art pieces, and of course I said yes.

I was surprised when I went to their site because they have so many prints to chose from. There are many different prints in many different categories, and it took me a while to look the site over. Finally I decided on the one I wanted. I ended up choosing Cast Away Island with a finished size of 28 x 22.

Once you’ve decided on a print, you can either crop to image or leave the white border around the print. The next step is to either order it with or without a frame. Fulcrum Gallery has many colors and styles of frames to choose from and when you click on one you can see what the frame looks like on your print. I chose the Silver Box Frame.

Next you can choose from 0-3 different mats. I choose not to add one.

Finally, you can choose either Acrylic Plexiglass with Standard Acrylic or Non-Glare Acrylic, or Glass with either Standard Glass, Non-Glare Glass, or Museum Glass. I chose Non-Glare Acrylic.

The total process is very easy and each step lets you see what your choices look like on the print.

Now all that’s left to do is check out.

Depending on your specific choices, the print may take up to 5 business days to ship out, and then shipping time varies depending on where you are located.

My print arrived in about two weeks. The packaging protected the print very well, and the print arrived in perfect condition.

I love my new print. It’s beautiful, and very calming to look at. I’ve received a lot of compliments on this print and have had many people ask me for the name of the website so they can go check it out.

If you are looking for artwork, I highly recommend Fulcrum Gallery. They have a huge selection of prints in many categories,  and one that I loved the most was the Caribbean Island Art section. They have so many great beach and other island prints.

I’d like to thank Fulcrum Gallery for contacting me. I’m so happy with the look and quality of my new print.

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This photo doesn’t do the print justice.
In person this is absolutely beautiful.
I just couldn’t get the lighting right.

Disclosure:
I received one free of charge framed print for review purposes.
I was not monetarily compensated for this review.

Aug 072014
 

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Woman of Courage by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press; GLD edition (April 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616260831
ISBN-13: 978-1616260835

Take a three-thousand mile journey with Amanda Pearson as she leaves the disgrace of a broken engagement and enters the work of a Quaker mission in the western wilds. The trip is fraught with danger, and Amanda is near death before reaching her destination. Among those she meets are an Indian woman who becomes her first convert and a half-Indian trapper who seems to be her biggest critic. But love follows her into the wilderness and will determine the course of her future. You are sure to enjoy this historical romance adventure from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Thoughts
Amanda Pearson’s fiance decided he likes someone else more than he likes her, so she decides to go on a mission in the western wilderness. The journey is tough, and she barely makes it.

There are many different characters in this book. Some I liked, some I didn’t, but all were interesting. I enjoyed reading about Amanda and Buck the most, but also loved following Jim and Mary’s story.

The book is a mix of subjects. There’s history, romance, tragedies, faith, courage and perserverance.

This is a very good book! I would recommend it to anyone. The Christian aspect is not overly done so even non Christians should enjoy this book.

Aug 072014
 

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A week or so ago I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline when I saw a status Sandy Newort had posted about doing a “Pay It Forward”.  I was one of the first 5 so now I need to Pay It Forward.

Here’s how it works:

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year-anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown, homemade, a postcard, the surprise—whether big or small, will surely lighten your day, and let you know you are valued. There will be no forewarning, it will happen when the mood comes over me as I come across something chosen just for you. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status (I opted to post on my blog instead). Once my first five have commented “I’m in”, I will send you this message to put as your status. (Don’t share it) so we can form a web connection of kindness. Let this allow focus on the happiness of those around us, and less upon ourselves.

 

Make sure to leave your email with your comment

Aug 062014
 

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True Blend by Joanne DeMaio

Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1494762099
ISBN-13: 978-1494762094

Vintage bridal shop owner Amy Trewist thinks she’ll never recover her quiet life at her beloved farmhouse on an old country road. Not after her two-year-old daughter Grace is kidnapped in an elaborate crime. On one clear morning, in mere minutes, Grace is gone and Amy’s world spins into a heartbreaking new place.

George Carbone often spends easy time with his brother. Whether at a ballgame or taking a day trip, it’s how they connect. Until one sunny day when the trip is to a bank parking lot and George is drawn into a crime he never sees coming. And into a stricken mother’s life he cannot ignore.

In a summer that simmers with the unsolved crime, George is haunted by a bankroll hidden behind kitchen tiles, by a brother who dragged him into this, and by a father who instilled in him a conscience. A conscience challenged when a young child and beautiful woman crossed paths with him and unexpectedly took hold of his heart.

Set among the red barns, lush cornfields and sparkling wishing fountain of Addison, Connecticut, True Blend is a captivating novel that steals your heart and does not let go. Because like the lace wedding gowns hanging on Amy’s clothesline, waltzing in the summer breeze, love and secrets twist and spin together in their own mesmerizing dance.

Thoughts
This is the authors fourth book, and I have enjoyed them all. The story was so interesting that I didn’t mind that it was longer than what I prefer. The author did a great job of keeping my attention.

True Blend is a mix of loss, a mother’s love, a brother’s betrayal, a kidnapping, suspense, fear, betrayal and romance. The book is a lot like her other stories, but it’s a lot different too. The characters are similar, but the plot is totally different.

The only fault I could find with the book was that there was some pretty bad language, especially GD, which makes me cringe. Other than that, the book was fine.

As I said before, I’ve read all of DeMaio’s books, and can’t wait to read the next one.

Aug 052014
 

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 The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062136593
ISBN-13: 978-0062136596

In The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani transports readers from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again while exploring the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman’s determination to have it all.

For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.

Thoughts
This is the third in the Valentine Trilogy, which includes Very Valentine (2009) and Brava, Valentine (2010). Even though this is the third in the series, there is enough info in the book so that it can be read as a stand-a-lone. I haven’t read the first two, but do have a copy of the second one and am eager to get the first so that I can read them too.

I didn’t connect with Valentine right away, but she grew on me and I did enjoy her for the rest of the book. The descriptions of the places and events brought the words to life, and the characters were very well written. The family relationships were like every family I know. Sometimes they didn’t agree or get along, but love was always present.

I loved every aspect of this book, even the shoe making. My late brother in law was in the shoe business, and I remember being fascinated with him and his job. He took me with him a few times and I loved going with him. This book brought back lots of memories of him and the shoes, which also endeared the book to me.

The book made me laugh, which is the best I can hope for in any book, but it also made me sad which I also love. To me, feeling emotional while reading a book makes it a winner!

About the author:
AdrianaTrigianiAdriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times bestseller The Shoemaker’s Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Adriana here: adrianatrigiani.com
Twitter: @adrianatrigiani
Facebook: facebook.com/adrianatrigiani

 


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