Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Books Giveaway Hop (Dec 1 - 7)


Christmas Books Giveaway Hop is being hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer and Laurie, Here.  Everybody on this hop will be giving away a Christmas Book!  I have two that I am giving away to one winner - 



















The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson - Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all. 

The queen of the Christmas novel, Melody Carlson pens another magical tale of expectation and excitement as one little girl dreams big and the impossible becomes possible.


Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot -  Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .

There are over 100 blogs participating in this hop - so get hoppin!


Cover Reveal: The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller




The Summer I Became a Nerd
by Leah Rae Miller

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.
Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Links:





Leah Rae Miller
 Born and raised in northern Louisiana, Leah Rae Miller still lives there on a windy hill with her husband and kids. She loves comic books, lava lamps, fuzzy socks, and Cherry Coke. She spends most of her days reading things she likes and writing things she hopes other people will like.




Entangled Teen/Entangled Publishing will be hosting a Marked-to-Read contest on Goodreads in the weeks leading up to THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD's release on May 7, 2013. Watch Leah’s site, http://leahraemillerblog.blogspot.com/, for details on how to submit/enter to win. Spread the word!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Blast: Crossroads by Mary Ting (w/$100 Giveaway)

Crossroads by Mary Ting:

Claudia Emerson has a good friend who shares the same first name and last name. That friend unfortunately dies in a tragic accident during homecoming dance. Claudia is distraught at the loss of her friend, but is even more disturbed by her dreams, which seem to take her to another place called Crossroads. Unknown to her, Crossroads is like a second heaven, a place between heaven and earth. It is where the souls of humans in comas or near death experiences may wander.

There, Claudia meets Michael, a nephilim, a half angel, half human, whom she often meets in her dreams. It turns out that this isn't her first visit to Crossroads, which is an enigma for no human can ever travel there until Claudia. Now the fallen and demons are after her, suspecting she must be special and it is up to Michael and the other nephilims to protect her.

Can Michael fight his growing feelings for Claudia and protect her as a guardian angel should? The answer awaits you! Follow the exciting path to Crossroads!


Praise for Crossroads:

“Crossroads by Mary Ting has it all: danger, romance, suspense, incredible characters and an original plot that is sure to thrill. The action never stops as good and evil battle to the death. This well written and fascinating love story will keep readers entranced.”

~ReadersFavorite.com

"Love is in question. Trust is debatable. No one is safe. Between by Mary Ting is an enchanting, nail-biter that will leave you breathless from the exquisite cover to the thrilling end."

~Gabby, Nashville Young Adult Fiction Examiner/What’s Beyond Forks

"Crossroads is an exciting debut book with a rich paranormal mythology, unique angel-lore, forbidden romance, action, suspense and plot twists. With her detailed writing and a plot that flow wells, Mary created a world I enjoyed visiting, and a story that was hard to put down."

~Katie with Mundie Moms

“Beyond is an extraordinary story with unforgettable characters, passionately written by an author who clearly understands the true identity of love.  Compelling and exciting; this is a must-read for all hardcore fans of the paranormal romance genre.”

~Angie Edwards @ Books4Tomorrow

“Reading the Crossroads Saga has always put me in a very ethereal place while turning its pages. In BEYOND, Mary Ting takes it to another level and I embrace the new darkness with open wings just like Michael would with his heart-shaped wings”

~Yara, Once Upon A Twilight



Purchase:
Crossroads is FREE on Amazon






Crossroads Excerpt:


He held me gently with both of his arms and wings this time.  All I needed was his touch, for him to hold me that way; it made all the difference in the world.  I was safe again.  Without thought, I turned toward him.  The look in his eyes was so tempting, telling me that he wanted me too.  I knew it was impossible for him to want and need me the same way, but his eyes told me something else. The depth of my yearning and what I wanted to do at this very moment was undeniable.

I leaned toward him and tenderly placed a kiss on his supple lips to thank him.  It was an innocent kiss.  What was the harm in just one small kiss?  I was extremely surprised that he didn’t push me away.  I was even more surprised at myself.  I was never the type to make the first move.

“Thank you for saving me,” I whispered, looking straight into his soulful eyes, as something came over me.  Uncontrollable heat ran through my body.  He was right.  It was dangerous, but it was me who couldn’t control myself.  His eyes gave me permission to continue, so I gave him another kiss, but slower and longer this time.  He kissed me back, but with much hesitation.  His lips were warm and sweet like honeysuckle, just how I imagined they would be.  The warmth spread all over my body like a blazing fire.

Still holding me, he pulled me away with a sudden jerk, his eyes piercing into mine with anger.  His left hand was tightly wrung around my hair and the other gripping my shirt so I could feel the tightness from it.  Panting, wanting more of him, I forgot how to breathe, and so did he.  His eyes, still fierce with anger, gripped me even tighter as he slightly pushed and pulled me, fighting and uncertain of what he wanted to do.  Feeling petrified, I had to prepare myself for the consequence of my actions, for I knew I had crossed the line.






Book Trailer:








Also part of the Series:



 Between: 



As the alkins head back to Crossroads, Claudia leads her normal life; but not for long. Having a special soul, Claudia attracts danger, and she soon finds out who Gamma asked to watch over her. The Twelve, known as Divine Elders on Earth, are very much involved when they find out that Aliah, one of the God's first angels, escaped from the Abyss when the gates were opened by Aden. Needing Claudia's soul to escape the only place Aliah can reside-a place between Heaven and Earth-he sends his demons in search of all Claudia Emersons on Earth. Taking her soul will enable him to be released from Between and cross over to Crossroads, which would give him immense power. As more secrets are revealed Claudia learns about the venators--nephilim, demon hunters. Now two opposing forces must work together in order to save Claudia and humanity from the most dangerous angel ever created. But along the way, trust becomes a big issue. Will love be enough to keep Claudia and Michael together? Who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Who will betray them all?









Beyond:



Torn between the past she can't remember and a future she isn’t ready for, Claudia feels at a loss. With unanswered questions, she is certain there is more to her past than just being a venator. Finding the missing pieces in her life won’t be easy because duty calls. When mysterious dark shadows get released, an apocalypse sets in motion. The venators and the alkins must work together once again. Knowing Claudia would be the key to destroying the demons that were released, a familiar stranger appears to protect her. Drawn to the beautiful angel, Claudia finds she must unravel the mysteries of her past in order to help save the world. Who is the angel assisting her and why does she feel a strong connection to him? Time is running out. Will she discover all the secrets before it’s too late?




Author Mary Ting:

Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing Crossroads was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother. It was inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl.






Links







Book Blast Giveaway:



$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/6/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it for the first person you follow and leave the others blank.



Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dreaming of Summer Giveaway Hop (Nov 27 - Dec 2)



Baby it's cold outside!  So what's more fun than a Dreaming of Summer Giveaway!  It is being hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer and Me, My Shelf and I.  I will be giving away a copy of Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire.



When all you hold dear is taken away. . .

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong's home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity.  A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start.  And nothing, especially not a hot, younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

A second chance is the only thing you have left.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything.  And if he's going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong's architect.  What's not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty.  Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself.  Will Clay's designs on Lacey's heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever. 



Book Blast: Wisteria by Bisi Leyton (w/giveaway!)



Title: Wisteria
Author: Bisi Leyton
Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication:  Aug 2012
Number of pages: 275
Cover Artist: Olivia Smith


Wisteria by Bisi Leyton:

Sixteen year old Wisteria Kuti has two
options—track the infected around the Isle of Smythe or leave the only known
safe haven and face a world infested with flesh eating biters. But even with
well-armed trackers, things go wrong and Wisteria ends up alone facing certain
death, until she is rescued by the mysterious Bach. Uninfected, Bach is able to
survive among the hordes of living dead.

Eighteen year old Bach, from a race known as The
Family, has no interest in human affairs. He was sent here to complete his
Great Walk and return home as a man—as a Sen Son. The Family regard humans as
Dirt People, but Bach is drawn to this Terran girl, whom he has never seen
before, but somehow knows.

Hunted by flesh eaters, cannibals, and the mysterious
blood thirsty group called Red Phoenix, Wisteria and Bach make their way back
to the Isle of Smythe, a community built on secrets and lies.


Praise for Wisteria:

“I love the buildup of this story, getting to know
the characters and watching their connection grow. I had no idea which way the
story was headed and I was kept in suspense right up to the very end! It has
plenty of action and a fascinating plot and I can’t wait to see what Bisi
Leyton has for us next!!” 

“There are a lot of great things in this book, so
much more than zombies and a struggle for survival. At it’s base core it is
about star-crossed lovers, literally and the supporting characters roles… Ms.
Leyton brings to Wisteria a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, dystopic world
with a twist to the paranormal romance angle!”

“The book was full of nonstop action from the
beginning until the end, and I did not put it down until I had finished it. I
loved the book.” 



Purchase:


Excerpt:
As she walked back to the ridge of the roof, Bach’s heart went with her. Someone
had tried to hurt her. Tried to damage what belonged to him, and who he
belonged to.
He started to feel dizzy from the volumes of strangle weed planted in the front of
her house.
“Thank you so much for coming and for the guitar. It’s perfect.” She gave it back to
him.
“No, it is yours, Wisteria.” He refused to take it. “Do you not like it?”
“No, I love it. It’s so beautiful.”
“Then keep it.” He kissed her neck. Knowing—hoping—his touch would soothe her pain,
but he hadn’t come here to comfort her.
“Bach.”
She used her instrument as a shield as she moved away from him. “It’s a bad idea. You won’t understand.”
“You are right. I do not get why you would refuse something you apparently love,” he
whispered while rubbing her forearms and taking in her scent.
“If I accept your kindness, then I’ll have to face the consequences. I don’t know
if I can face those.”
“You cannot face accepting my kindness, or is it accepting me that you cannot face?”
“Um…?”
“Tell me that you do not feel the same,” he whispered. “That the moment you first saw me that I did not get inside your head. Tell me that you do not think about me all of the time when we are not together?”
The dark-eyed girl did not answer.
Wishing he could will her to speak, he pressed her against his chest. Briefly, he noticed a black spot at the base of her neck, where he had kissed her, and then it was gone. “Okay, Wisteria. Then tell me that you want me to leave, and that you do not care if you never ever see me again.” He felt like someone else was speaking for him, once again. The questions became pointless as he found himself still planting kisses along her neck and the sides of her face.
“I can’t tell you that, Bach,” she replied softly, her voice breaking. “Because it’s not true.” She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly.
Desperately wanting to kiss her luscious-looking lips, he leaned into her.
Wisteria reached up to him, tugging his head down as she stood on the very tips of her
toes, seemingly just as eager to taste his lips.
“Wisteria, I cannot.” He broke away before it happened. “I do not want this.”
* * * * *
Wrapping her arms around herself, she moved away from him. Once again, humiliated and
feeling foolish. “Goodnight, Bach!” She strode angrily to the side of the roof in order to climb down.
He grabbed her and held her back
The guy came here just to tease her, yet again! Didn’t he know he was hurting her? Didn’t he care? “I’m tired of all this nonsense. I’m actually tired and need some sleep. I’m done with this. All of this!” She should’ve left the roof when she saw him appear.
“Let go, so I can go.”
“Wisteria, it is not that.” Exhaling heavily, he released her. “My people could kill you if they knew I wanted you.”
This wasn’t at all what she’d expected him to say. “What?”
“I am in love with you. I do not know why, but I am. And it is selfish, because I just want you for myself.” Sadness filled his eyes as he spoke.
“Why would they do that to me?”
“Because you are human and because we see humans as Terran, or dirt people.”
“And you believe that too? So why are you here, living among us, if we’re so disgusting?”
“You are not disgusting. You are beautiful.” Rubbing his temples, he seemed troubled and bewildered. “I came to Terra as a rite of passage. To be considered a man, to take a journey and  experience the wild.”
“The wild?”
“I chose Terra, or Earth, because I came here as a child. Your people treated me so badly in the past. When I learned about the Nero disease, I wanted to see your world.” He paused. “You were right when you said there was something wrong with me.”
“Bach, it cannot be that bad.” Stepping up to him, she stroked her fingers along his biceps.
The sweet motion made him smile at her, but he still looked distressed.
“Like about Garfield, you let him live with you. And now you’re here with me.”
“You are not like the rest.”
“Neither are you. You’re not so cold and cruel like Enric or patronizing like Felip. They think they’re better than us. You just hate people because you’re a jerk, Bach.”
“Ha.” Bach laughed. “A jerk?”
“You’re a big jerk.” As the final word rolled from her lips, he kissed her.
She was stunned for a second. His lips tasted like a strange, tantalizing spice.
He squeezed her against his larger frame and rested his right hand on the small of her back.
She fidgeted, unsure about what to do with her hands. She tried to kiss him back, but she struggled because she was so short.

Book Trailer:







Audiobook
Excerpt: 










Author Bisi Leyton:
Bisi Leyton was born in East London in 1978. She grew up in
London, Nigeria and the States, listening to the stories life and love from
aunts, cousins and big sisters.
She lives in London, but has worked around Europe
including France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has a
fondness for reading graphic novels.







Links





Kindle Fire Giveaway Details:
Bisi is currently running a Kindle Fire giveaway on her blog until November 30, 2012
To enter - Visit Bisi's Blog
















Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/5/12
*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it for the first person you follow and leave the others blank.

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot (Book Review)

Title: Christmas Roses
Author: Amanda Cabot
Publisher: Revell

About the Book: Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .


My thoughts:  This book was set in the 1880's and again, the main character was a strong woman who has been widowed and left with a small child.  Her marriage had been one that had been arranged by their parents, as was often done, and while her husband was a good provider, there wasn't a whole lotta love. Bertha Pearson, her best friend, is always reminding her that she needs a husband and that Emma needed a father.  Bertha has tried to tell her that there are a couple of men who would like nothing more to marry her, but Celia just doesn't buy that.  And besides, she wants more from her marriage than just convenience this time.

Mark comes to town looking for a father that left him and his mother when he was just a boy.  He has been tracking him for a couple of years and the latest information that he has, has led him -to this small town.  Needing a place to stay, he ends up at Celia's boarding house. He appears- --as an answer to her prayers, as not only does she need boarders, but he comes just as she is struggling with a sudden illness that has come upon her Emma.  He takes control of the situation and soon Emma is breathing easier.  This is just the first of many things that Mark does for Celia... just because.

I loved the way that the relationship developed between Celia and Mark, and how naturally they became friends.  They were able to give each other encouragement and support when they each needed it.   The story moves along naturally and sweetly and I really enjoyed it.  God's love and forgiveness is also incorporated into the story unobtrusively.  It was a very nice Christmas read and I have already recommended it to a friend.

Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my unbiased review.~

About the author: Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow's Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.

Publisher/Publication Date: Revell, Sept 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2004-9
172 pages


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Blast: Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher (w/ giveaway!)


Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher

After being forced to wear lederhosen for the annual holiday card picture, twelve-year-old Chris thinks that the least his parents can do is get him the Tony Hawk skateboard he wants for Christmas. But when he recovers the hand-carved Baby Jesus that everyone thought had been destroyed in a fire the year his Grandma died, Chris realizes that some gifts are even more important than skateboards.

When the author had to discontinue a cherished tradition of reading Christmas stories out loud with his family and holiday guests each week in December, he wrote Finding the Baby Jesus. He had been unable to locate enough meaningful stories that could be read in a single sitting with wiggly children.



Praise for Finding the Baby Jesus:

“Tender and true, this warm Christmas tale brought tears to my eyes.”

–Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the much-beloved Mother-Daughter Book Club series and Oregon Book Award winner for The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed



“A touching story that speaks to the importance of family, giving, and the true spirit of Christmas.”
–Matthew Kirby, author of Icefall, winner of the Edgar Allen Poe and the Pen Center USA Literary Awards for Children’s Literature



“Deeply moving. Poignant.”
–Deborah Halverson, former editor at Harcourt Children’s Books and author of Honk If You Hate Me, a Gayle McCandliss Literary Award Winner



"The perfect little book to tuck away with your Christmas things and bring out year after year to read with family. As mother to three boys, I can't imagine a better protagonist than Chris. His typical teenage attitude followed by the softening of his heart towards a friend teaches a poignant and very relatable lesson on the true meaning of Christmas."

–Amazon review



"After I read this short story I felt like I had read a novel--every sentence is packed with action and imagery. I was emotionally connected to the characters, and the story is touching. I didn't see the plot twist at the end coming! A great story to read every Christmas."

–Amazon review





Purchase






Author Kimball Fisher

Kimball Fisher writes novels for young readers. He is also a best-selling business author, professional speaker, and management consultant. Some of his past jobs include: sailboat builder, ghost writer (not as scary as it sounds), illustrator, and factory manager (more scary than it sounds). For fun he builds furniture, stained-glass windows, and writing pens.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities (with minors in English, Asian Studies, and Japanese), and a Master of Organizational Behavior degree from Brigham Young University. He and his amazing wife Reenie live in Portland, Oregon, where they have seen pheasants, coyotes, and a bobcat in their own backyard.



Links






Blog Tour

November 23rd to December 21st
Tour Schedule

Blast Giveaway:
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/21/12





Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Blast: Imperfectly Beautiful by Diony George (w/Giveaway!)


Imperfectly Beautiful by Diony George

At 1:30 am, in New York City, Regan Wright is ripped out of a sound sleep with a jolt - her heart thuds in her ears and her face feels flushed. Straining to hear anything out of the ordinary, she fumbles to turn on the bedside lamp. Nothing seems out of place. Suddenly her stomach twists in knots - it's her identical twin, Rebecca. Something is terribly wrong...

Though twins, Rebecca and Regan couldn't be more different.

Independent and outspoken, Regan chose a high-profile career as a fashion designer in New York City. Despite her hard-earned success, Regan’s become disillusioned by the glamour and the glitz. She’s tired of coming home to a lonely penthouse apartment welcomed only by her cat and has all but given up on ever finding “Mr. Right.”

Steady and reliable, Rebecca chose to be a wife and stay-at-home mom. From the very first moment she met James Conrad—tall and muscular with eyes as blue as a cloudless sky—she was captivated. Married and four children later, Rebecca’s life is not what she expected. Her marriage has lost its shine and her sweet babies have become challenging and often unappreciative children.

Both Rebecca and Regan must discover, a higher power has the answers to what matters most, but when a serial killer strikes nearby, and his victims look eerily similar to the twins, will it be too late?



Praise for Imperfectly Beautiful

“5 Stars! Great Novel-Romance with Suspense. Captures your attention from the very beginning...then difficult to put down...A good solid read!”
-Booklover, amazon review

“This was a great book. I could relate to Rebecca and the trials she was going through with her marriage and her children. I feel this way at times too. I liked the suspense and it was enough to keep my hooked…” 
-K. Neilson, Utah

“I enjoyed the development of the characters. Lots of dialogue took me right into the everyday lives and struggles of each person. The underlying story of the unsolved murders of women who look like the twin sisters simmers through out the chapters until it finally boils over into an exciting ending! I recommend it!”
-J.T. Bolla, Washington

Purchase




Author Diony George

Diony George is a wife, full-time mom of seven, grandmother of two, and a published author of uplifting women’s fiction and inspiring nonfiction. She is also a regular contributing writer for Deseret Connect and FamilyHow. Originally from Alaska, she currently lives in Salt Lake City with her family. Besides writing she loves to read, especially romantic suspense, bake, sew and craft.

Her current fiction WIP, Inside the Heart, is based around the kidnapping and disappearance of four-year-old Emma and is slated for release in Feb 2013. Her next nonfiction book, Heaven’s Just a Prayer Away will be released by Cedar Fort, Inc in July 2013.



Links


Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/29/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it for the first person you follow and leave the others blank.

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri (Book Review and Giveaway)


The Disappearance of Grace Blog Tour
by Vincent Zandri
Sponsored by Partners in Crime Tours




About the Book: Now you see her. Now you don’t...

Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.

A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.


My Thoughts:  When I first started reading this, I thought that the title referred to the actually physical disappearance of someone, but it was much more than that.  Nick, because of his PTSD blindness, suffers the disappearance of Grace, his fiancee, every time the blindness hits him.  I also thought that he was feeling her disappear a little whenever he thought about her infidelity or her frustration with him being temporarily blind. 

As he is struggling with his actions in Afghanistan and trying to come to grips psychologically with why he is suffering blindness, Grace begins to notice the same bearded, black-eyed man who seems to be stalking them.  Combined with some weird phone calls, her anxiety level is also increased - until she seemingly disappears one day while they are out to lunch.  Nick is in one of his blind spells, so doesn't realize at first that she is gone.  After involving the police, they seem to think she might have just walked away from him, not been abducted.  The longer she is gone, the more frustrated Nick becomes, both with his blindness and the apparent lack of police involvement.

This book definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.  From Nick's descriptions of what happened in Afghanistan to trying to piece together the clues to Grace's disappearance, I couldn't finish the book fast enough.  It was quick paced, as even during Nick's blind times when he needs to sleep, he has very active dreams that are shared with the readers.  These dreams are usually vivid recollections of the airstrike he ordered, but they also become interspersed with dreams of Grace and what might have happened to her. 

I would recommend this to anyone who would like a relatively quick read that enjoys psychological thrillers.

~I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Partners in Crime Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.~

About the author: Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, SCREAM CATCHER, BLUE MOONLIGHT and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as "...gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting," while the New York Post called it "Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!" Zandri's list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri's work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

AUTHOR SITES:


Please enjoy this excerpt from The Disappearance of Grace:

The wind picks up off the basin.
It seems to seep right through my leather coat into flesh, skin and bone. I try and hold my face up to the sun while the waiter takes our orders. Grace orders a single glass of vino russo and a pancetta and cheese panini. I forgo the Valpolicella and order a Moretti beer and a simple spaghetti pomadoro. The waiter thanks us and I listen to him leaving us for now.

We sit in the calm of the early afternoon, the sounds of the boat traffic coming and going on the basin filling my ears. People surround us on all sides. Tourists who have come to San Marco for the first time and who’ve become mesmerized by it all. I don’t have to physically see them to know how they feel. The stone square, the Cathedral, the bell tower, the many shops and high- end eateries that occupy the wide, square-shaped perimeter. The pigeons. The people. Always the throngs of people coming and going amidst a chorus of bells, bellowing voices, live music emerging from trumpets, violins, and guitars, and an energetic buzz that seems to radiate up from underneath all that stone and sea-soaked soil.

It’s early November.

Here’s what I know about Venice: In just a few week’s’ time, the rains will come and this square will be underwater. The ever sinking Venice floods easily now. The only way to walk the square will be over hastily constructed platforms made from cobbled narrow planks. Many of the tourists will stay away and the live music will be silenced. But somehow, that’s when Venice will come alive more than ever. When the stone is bathed in water.

The waiter brings our drinks and food.
With the aroma of the hot spaghetti filling my senses, I dig in and spoon up a mouthful. I wash the hot, tangy sauce-covered pasta down with a swallow of red wine.

“Whoa, slow down, chief,” Grace giggles.

“Eating, smiling, making love to me. What’s next? Writing?”

“Don’t press your luck, Gracie,” I say. “The sea change can occur at any moment. Just don’t start asking me to identify engagement rings.”

She laughs genuinely and I listen to the sounds of her taking a bite out of her sandwich. But then she goes quiet again. Too quiet, as if she’s stopped breathing altogether.

“There’s someone staring at us,” she says under her breath.

“Man or woman?” I say, trying to position my gaze directly across the table at her, but making out nothing more than her black silhouette framed against the brightness of the sun. Later on, when the sun goes down, the image of her will be entirely black. Like the blackness of the Afghan Tajik country when the fires are put out and you lie very still inside your tent without the benefit of electronic night vision, and you feel the beating of your never- still heart and you pray for morning.

“Man,” she whispers.

“What’s he look like?”

“It’s him again. The man in the overcoat who was staring at us yesterday.”

A start in my heart. I put my fork down inside my bowl. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think. He’s wearing sunglasses this time. So,. I think it’s him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He’s a thin man. Not tall. Not short. He’s got a dark complexion.”

“Black?”

“No. More like Asian or Middle Eastern. He’s wearing sunglasses and that same brown overcoat and a scarf. His hair is black and cut close to his scalp. His beard is very trim and cropped close to his face.” She exhales. I hear her take a quick, nervous sip of her wine. “He keeps staring at us. At me. Just like yesterday, Nick.”

“How do you know he’s staring at you? It could be something behind you, Grace. We’re in Venice. Lots going on behind you. Lots to see.”

She’s stirring in her chair. Agitated.
“Because I can feel him. His eyes…I. Feel. His. Eyes.”

I wipe my mouth clean with the cloth napkin. I do something entirely silly. I turn around in my chair to get a look at the man. As if I have the ability to see him right now, which I most definitely do not.

“What are you doing?” Grace poses, the anxiety in her voice growing more intense with each passing second.

“Trying to get a look at him.”

“You’re joking, Nick.”

I turn back, try and focus on her.

“You think?”

We sit silent.
Once more I am helpless and impotent.

“I’m sorry,” she says after a time. “I’m not trying to insult you. This isn’t like yesterday with the ring. But this man is at the same café we’re at two days in a row? This is really starting to creep me out, babe.”

My pulse begins to pump inside my head. Not rapid, but just enough for me to notice. Two steady drum beats against my temples. I find myself wanting to swallow, but my mouth has gone dry. I take a sip of beer thinking it will help.

“He’s coming towards us, Nick. I don’t like it.”

Heart beat picks up. I feel it pounding inside my head and my chest.

“Are you sure he’s coming towards us, Grace?” I’m trying not to raise my voice, but it’s next to impossible.

“He’s looking right at me. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his overcoat. And he’s coming.”

I feel and hear Grace pulling away from the table. She’s standing. That’s when the smell of incense sweeps over me. A rich, organic, incense-like smell.

There comes the sound of Grace standing. Abruptly standing. I hear her metal chair push out. I hear the sound of her boot heels on the cobbles. I hear the chair legs scraping against the stone slate. I hear the sound of her wine glass spilling.

“Grace, for God’s sakes, be careful.”

But she doesn’t respond to me. Or is it possible her voice is drowned out by what sounds like a tour group passing by the table? A tour group of Japanese speaking people. But once they pass, there is nothing. No sound at all other than the boats on the basin and the constant murmur of the thousands of tourists that fill this ancient square.

“Grace,” I say. “Grace. Stop it. This isn’t funny. Grace.”

But there’s still no response.
The smell of incense is gone now.
I make out the gulls flying over the tables, the birds shooting in from the basin to pick up scraps of food and then, like thieves in the night, shooting back out over the water. I can hear and feel the sound-wave driven music that reverberates against the stone cathedral.

“Grace,” I repeat, voice louder now. “Grace. Grace…Grace!”

I’m getting no response.

It’s like she’s gone. Vanished. But how can she be gone? She was just sitting here with me. She was sitting directly across from me, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine. She was talking with me.
The waiter approaches.

“The signora is not liking her food?” he questions.

I reach out across the table. In the place where she was sitting. She is definitely not there.

“Is there a toilet close by?” I pose. “Did you see my fiancée leave the table and go to the toilet?”

The waiter pauses for a moment.

“I am sorry. But I did not. I was inside the café.”

“Then maybe somebody else saw her. Maybe you can ask them.”

“Signor, there are many tables in this café and they are all filled with people. And there are many people who walk amongst the tables who can block their view. I am looking at them. No one seems to be concerned about anything. Sometimes there are so many people here, it is easy to get lost. Perhaps she just went to the toilet like you just suggested, and she got lost amongst the people. I will come back in moment and make sure all is well.”

I listen to the waiter leaving, his footsteps fading against the slate.
Grace didn’t say anything about going to the toilet or anywhere else. Grace was frightened. She was frightened of a man who was staring at her. A man with sunglasses on and a cropped beard and a long brown overcoat. He was the man from yesterday. The man with black eyes. He was approaching us, this man. He came to our table and he smelled strongly of incense. He came to our table. There was a slight commotion, the spilling of a glass, the knocking over of a chair, and then Grace was gone.

I sit and stare at nothing. My heart is pounding so fast I think it will cease at any moment. What I have in the place of vision is a blank wall of blurry illumination no longer filled with the silhouette of my Grace.

I push out my chair. Stand. My legs knock into the table and my glass spills along with Grace’s.

I cup my hands around my mouth.

“Grace!” I shout. “Grace! Grace!”

The people who surround me all grow quiet as I scream over them.

The waiter comes running back over.

“Please, please,” he says to me, taking me by the arm. “Please come with me.”

He begins leading me through the throng of tables and people. He is what I have now in the place of Grace. He is my sight.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” I beg. “Did you check the toilets?”

“We checked the toilets. They are empty. I am sorry. I am sure there is an explanation.”

“Grace is gone!” I shout. “A man took her away. How could no one have seen it?”

“You’re frightening the patrons, signor. Please just come with me and we will try and find her.”

“She’s gone,” I repeat. “Don’t you understand me? My. Grace. Is. Gone.”


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson (Book Review)

Title: The Christmas Pony
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell

About the Book:  Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all. 

The queen of the Christmas novel, Melody Carlson pens another magical tale of expectation and excitement as one little girl dreams big and the impossible becomes possible.


My thoughts: This was a cute Christmas story and was just what I needed to start the season off with the right perspective.  (I was already starting to get cranky because of the increased traffic around the mall!)
  
Lucy's father died four years earlier and it has been tough for her and her mom and grandma. They have sold just about everything they can part with, including most of the livestock.  Her mom has been taking in laundry and borders for extra money, but times have still been hard.  

Lucy would really like to get Smokey for Christmas, the pony the neighbors are selling, but knows that it is unrealistic.  Even so, she prays for it, knowing it upsets her mother, but she also prays for boarders and the return of her mother's smile. She knows that God can do anything. 

Boarders do show up, but will it be the blessing in disguise that Lucy has been asking for?   

I really enjoy books set in this time period.  There is something about being reminded of the simple pleasures that makes me realize the stresses that we feel we are under these days really don't have to exist.  Many of them are self-imposed.  Living with Lucy and her family preceding the Christmas of 1937, and hearing how much joy Lucy has in making the gifts for her family, a picture frame for her mom, crocheted hot pads for her Grandma, gave a much needed lift to my spirit.  

~I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Pony from Revell Books in exchange for my unbiased review.~


Available Sept 2012  at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Other Melody Carlson Christmas books I have read and reviewed:



The Christmas Pony
Publisher/Publication Date: Revell, Sept 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1927-2
176 pages


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