Saturday, October 25, 2014

Something Deaf People Really Need...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via
FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I don't think anyone listens to me. I don't know if the "right" people will read this post, the people who can do something about the situation. But I figure the more people who know, mention it, talk about it, the more likely someone in the situation of doing it will be to hear it...my plea.

Last weekend I went to my first opera. I saw Madame Butterfly. It wasn't really my kind of story. I sat there thinking, "Boy, they sure take a long time to say what they want to say...and all this ado over a man? A douchebag man? Come on, Madame Butterfly, it's been three years. Ask for a hall pass. He's so not worth this."

But I'm going again in March. Despite the fact there were only four bathroom stalls for hundreds of women. Despite the fact the stories aren't really my thing.

Can you guess why?

They have captions!!! Right there above the stage! On a digital screen! So for once, I'm on the same level as everyone else. Nobody there understood Italian. They had to read the captions, same as me.

But it was so easy to caption this thing. The captioning screen was so visible yet at the same time discreet. You don't have to look at it if you don't want to.

So why can't they do this to musicals and plays? There are tons of plays and musicals I would LOVE to see and enjoy: Chicago, It's Good Work if You Can Get It, 9 to 5, Bluestockings. But I don't bother going 'cause it's just lovely sounding blah blah blah blah to me.

So here's my plea. If there's anyone out there who can make this happen, I know I'm not the only deaf person in the world who is missing out on lots of cool things due to lack of captioning. We finally have open-caption night at the movie theaters. Let's bring captions to the stages too. PLEASE. And don't even get me started on comedy clubs...

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can possibly get something started? Should I make a petition? Who would I send it to? Comments welcome.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Slow Hand by Victoria Vane - Review, giveaway, and spotlight

This was my first book by Victoria Vane and it won't be my last. The blog owner, Tara, actually recommended this author, and I'm glad she did. Mrs. Vane does a wonderful job telling a story. Lots of sizzle and sweet moments.

I enjoyed Nikki's character a lot. She was a tough woman and swore off dating cowboys again. And when she first meets Wade, she remembers why she dislikes cowboys. However, when the one walks into your life, it can never be that easy.

Wade is a smooth talker. He comes from a small town and he helps everyone he can, including Nikki.

I found the characters to be realistic and people I could relate to. The plot was real and not far-fetched. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a western romance, or even to the reader who's never read a cowboy book. This one would be a great one to start with.

Another aspect I enjoyed with this book as well, was the heroine being from Georgia. I live in Georgia, so it was fun to hear about places that are local, such as Babyland in Cleaveland, GA.

Now to wait for the next book by Victoria.


About The Book:

In rural Montana…

Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.

Even the lawyers wear boots…

Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds—until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can't resist a cowboy with a slow hand…

My Rating:




About the Author:
Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Social Media:

Website | Facebook | @AuthorVictoriaV | Goodreads | Pinterest

Buy Links:



Giveaway:

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Winter Fire #Giveaway

 photo 42f86dba-ca3e-4ff5-88a3-b7562de31c18.png

02_Winter Fire

When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

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***REVEW***
  

I am fascinated by stories of white women who had been adopted by a Native people when they were young and were now identified with that Native culture.  This shows that cultural identity is not genetically determined. The protagonist of Winter Fire, Zara Grey, had lived among the Seneca since she was six years old.   Mary Jemison is her historical equivalent.  She had lived among the Seneca since the age of twelve.  I have linked to the Wikipedia article dealing with her if you would like to learn more about Mary Jemison.

Characterization, suspenseful plotting and a feel of period authenticity carried me along through almost my entire reading journey.  The slow development of the romance between Zara and Ethan was very believable.  The barriers between them were completely understandable under the circumstances.  I really liked the emotional and dramatic intensity of their relationship.

 I did have trouble believing in the resolution of this novel.  It was way too fortuitous and seemed contrived.  Unfortunately,the author had created a situation where she had no alternative. There needed to be some sudden plot development to avoid what would have been a disaster. I might have enjoyed the fact that all the loose ends were tied, if it hadn’t seemed like the author was pulling HEA out of a hat like a magician.  I prefer a HEA that seems more like a natural progression that grows between the romance partners.  


                                                             

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About the Author

03_Kathy Fischer-BrownAs a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaways


To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Choice of Paperback: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, or Winter Fire


Choice of eBook: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, or Winter Fire


Kindle eBook Set: The Serpent's Tooth Trilogy 


Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 1st and notified via email.

Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Just Released & Only 99 Cents: Gideon Lee

Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Lark Singer only has two things going for her, her music and her best friend Bean. While entering a competition she hopes will launch their music career, Lark searches for answers that will make her whole. Her quest reveals some secrets that those around her would rather keep hidden. As the competition looms closer, Lark discovers not only who she really is, but also who her real friends are. Then tragedy threatens everything she has worked so hard to accomplish. Can she pick up the pieces and move on?


Excerpt:
Chapter One
I want to be like Gideon Lee. My lips move as I read the title of my essay. They twitch as I stifle a snicker. Looking around the room, I make sure no one has seen my facial tic. My eyes light upon the Presidents’ pictures lined up on the wall. They face me, each with a unique expression, and I wonder what they were thinking while they posed. They are above the clock so my gaze naturally falls on it. It’s almost time for lunch.

I settle back in my seat and my lips twitch again. A feeling of defiant exhilaration washes over me like a tidal wave.

Montgomery’s going to freak when he reads this.

Despite my best efforts, a giggle escapes and the boy in front of me turns around and gives me the evil eye. I return the glare. He is slumped over, and sweat beads on his upper lip. I think this is odd — it’s rather chilly in the room — but dismiss it before I turn back to my essay.

I bet old man Montgomery doesn’t even know who Gideon Lee is. This thought sends another giggle to the surface, but I quickly squash it by biting my lip.

I picture him searching Gideon Lee’s name on the Internet. I see his expression changing from confusion to disgust. I imagine him taking off his black, thick-rimmed glasses and shaking his head. I hear him mutter, “Lark Singer, what are you doing?” He rubs his face. I can actually hear the rough sandpapery sound as his hand finds his day old stubble. He sighs and puts his glasses back on. “What am I going to do with you?”

I remember when Mr. Montgomery first told us about the assignment. We were supposed to write an essay on someone we admire, someone who has contributed to society in some way. I know when he says this he wants us to write about an a historical figure. After all this is history class, but I raised my hand anyway.

“Lark,” he called out as he stood at his lectern.

“Do they have to be dead?”

He cocked his head as he studied me with his piercing blue eyes. Then he ran his hand over his military style crew cut, and I watched as his salt and pepper hair flattened then popped back into place as if each hair was standing at attention. I could tell he wasn’t sure where this was going. “Well… I guess not.” That’s when he froze, as if he realized he had just opened a door for me and he wasn’t going to like what was on the other side. He shifted his weight, and looked down at the floor before he backpedaled. “But they have to have made a positive contribution to society. It can’t be about a mobster or anything like that.” Pursing his lips, he stared at me, fiddling with those glasses. “This is one half of your semester grade, Lark. I wouldn’t pull any funny stuff.”

“Oh, I won’t. Scout’s honor,” I answered sweetly, placing my hand over my heart and giving him the scout salute, while inside I planned my rebellion.


I have him. I’m going to write about Gideon Lee, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Author Bio:
Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. Hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade, she even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first series, “The Super Spies,” has reached bestseller status.

  After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree, she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on a Coming of Age Young Adult series called The Starlight Chronicles. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview With Jassy De Jong


Drowning
Tara: Welcome. You’re here to promote Drowning, an erotic romance. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's the blurb real quick:

Sensuous but stifled New York City photographer Erin Mitchell thinks going to South Africa on assignment will be the perfect getaway.

But when a flash flood washes away Erin’s vehicle and she is stranded at a luxury safari lodge, Erin’s romantic working vacation takes an interesting turn. She awakens from her near-drowning and meets her rescuer, Nicholas―hot and brilliant, successful and caring―not at all like her abusive husband. At Leopard Rock in the steamy South African heat, Erin faces the toughest choices of her life.

Nicholas is ripped, he's smart and he's "no strings attached." To give in, or not to give in drowns Erin’s senses as she struggles with two impossible goals: ignore the exquisite physical charms of her host, and conceal every last detail whenever her controlling husband calls. On the other side, Nicholas faces impossible choices of his own, as the bon-vivant playboy may just possibly collide with feelings more powerful than lust.

Erotic. Exotic. Wild. Drowning sizzles in the African heat as one woman is stretched to the breaking point by the strength of her vows and the intensity of her seething primal desires.



Jassy: The inspiration was really thinking what would happen, in fictional terms, if an immovable object met an irresistible force. My heroine, Erin, is put into an impossible situation. Newly married and determined to make the relationship with her difficult husband work, she is beginning to realize the extent of his jealous and abusive tendencies. When a flooded river leaves her stranded on a gorgeous estate in the South African bushveld, she meets the estate owner, handsome rogue Nicholas de Lanoy, who is determined to seduce her. Until the bridge can be repaired, Erin sets herself two goals – to resist Nicholas’s charms, and to conceal her situation from her husband. Naturally, she fails at both…

Tara: We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong.

Jassy: My heroine discovers her inner strength when she becomes aware of the abusive situation she finds herself in, and summons up the courage to follow her heart and leave her husband.

Tara: Do you see any of yourself in her?

Jassy: Writing romances is an emotional journey for me, and I shared a lot of Erin’s emotions, from falling head-over-heels in lust and in love with a handsome stranger, to being afraid of the man I married, to striving to make the best decision about my future while in a very difficult place.

Tara: Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

Jassy: The beginning of Drowning was the hardest. I knew exactly what happened in the story but I actually started a chapter ahead, and left the very first chapter until last.

Tara: What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search?

Jassy: Luckily, living in South Africa, I had the opportunity to visit the Kruger Park and the beautiful Lowveld – an amazing trip, and all in the name of research. The wildness of the area, the incredible climate, the wealth of wildlife, the beauty of the surroundings all helped me to paint a picture for international readers who might never have a chance to visit the area.

Tara: What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

Jassy: The book presents the heroine, and the reader, with a moral dilemma. Do you remain faithful to marriage vows when they are leading you into a dark place of abuse? Or do you acknowledge you have made a mistake and turn your back on them? These difficult decisions are pivotal to the plot of Drowning.

Tara: That's a pretty unique and brave subject to tackle. I like it. 

Your book takes place in the South African bushveld. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this country?

Jassy: If you had a week to spend in South Africa, I would advise a couple of days in scenic Cape Town and the Cape Winelands, before abandoning the city for a game viewing safari in one of our wildlife reserves.
Tara: Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

Jassy: I’d love to go back to a time long past, and visit an early civilization such as the ancient Mayans, to see what their day to day life was really like, what their beliefs were, and how advanced they were.

Tara: That's the first time anyone has answered with that. That's actually an interesting I never contemplated.

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

Jassy: I don’t have one main goal, but lots of goals in many different directions – career, writing, sporting, personal... I think half the fun in life lies in the thrill of working towards, and achieving goals, so it is important to have many goals, some big, some smaller.


Tara: I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

Jassy: I have two cats, both adopted rescues, one of whom is permanently stationed on my desk during working hours.

Tara: He looks as though he's blogging for you!

Thanks, Jassy, for joining us today. Good luck with your book.

***

Jassy de Jong lives in the countryside outside Johannesburg, South Africa, and shares her life with her wonderful partner Dion, two horses and two cats, one of whom is permanently stationed on her writing desk during office hours. She enjoys traveling, cooking, cycling, and competes in dressage on her Thoroughbred, Msasa Magic. Jassy was thirty-five years old before she met her soul-mate, and while kissing a few frogs along the way (who stayed frogs), she learned a lot about life, love and relationships. She adores writing about the incredible experience of falling in love, and believes that everybody deserves a happy ending... especially her heroines.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Poet's Wife by Rebecca Stonehill Takes Us On a Journey Through Spain's Turbulent Times

The Poet's Wife"You are a human being and so is the peasant from the countryside and so is the monk from the monastery and so is the right-wing politician. We may not agree with certain people but nothing, nothing whatsoever, justifies harming them."

There is nothing more confusing than Spain's civil war. Even the most interesting of novels chronicling it have left me feeling slightly bewildered. So I love how this author has managed to lay it out for us, simply, in a way in which the facts will always be in my mind. The story of Spain's hardships is told through three women. First, the poet's wife, Luisa. She shows us Spain before the war, when young girls spoke to potential suitors through gates and parents had a firm say in who their daughters married. While her time is strict, it's not as strict as it later becomes. With a chaperone, she's allowed to go to poetry readings. As a married women, she's allowed to walk the countryside and visit the gitanos. There is music and dancing. People are allowed to have opinions...and meet with those with like minds.

But then the war comes. Luisa continues her story and yet we also see the war through Isabel's--her daughter--eyes. Isabel is my favorite. She flourishes from a follower into a leader with a mind of her own. She's a nurse. She shuns traditions, yet stays in a strict, dictatorship country for her mother's sake. Later, despite the risks, she helps people to die, providing them comfort in their last moments. Through her eyes we see the Republic fall to Fascists and how people must adjust. Through both her and her mother's narratives, we experience the suffering of war: death, fear, secrets, helping others.

And then Paloma, Isabel's daughter, makes an appearance. Here is where I have a quibble. Paloma shows us the post-war Spain, a time when husbands and wives cannot even hold hands in public. When men sit on one side and women on the other. When the church and a dictator rule all. When music and dancing is forbidden.

But I didn't like her and she shows up so late in the story, I couldn't really know her anyway. I'd have preferred the story just stick to Isabel and Luisa.

But I love how this book not only shows us the history of Spain, but also how the women evolved and changed with it. And most of all I appreciate being reminded that we are all human.

The writing is very good, though the tense seems to change at times and it's jarring. There were also typos but this is a digital arc from Netgalley.

I would read this author again.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Island at War Shows What the British Channel Islands Endured During German Occupation

I went through a range of emotions whilst watching this 6-hour TV series on Netflix. Shame, sympathy, shock, elation. I shook my head, cheered, gasped, cursed people's stupidity, nodded...

The show follows 3 different families and a handful of German soldiers. Though a fictional island, it's based on the happenings during the real Channel Islands' invasion. Due to its low population, England has abandoned it, rid it of all military occupation, and left it for the German clutches. It's too close to France...

Normally I'm all about the women, be it a book or a movie, but this time I was taken more with the men in this show. Wilf, the police officer who finds himself tested repeatedly. He must protect his family, maintain his dignity when the Germans seem too eager to bring him down, and he visibly battles with what he feels is wrong and right. He toes the line very carefully between outright disobedience and doing as he's told. He does this in such a manner that I was cheering for him even when he was "taken down a few pegs".  He manages to do his job while at the same time, making it clear where he stands: with the island.


The Senator. At first I found him cowardly, but in the end, I loved how he tells the people, "We must must keep our humanity." I also loved how he fought for his wife. I didn't expect that.

And there's another man, he seems bad at first; he's playing both sides, but in the end it's not necessarily what goes in his pockets. Though fond of money, without his special "powers" he wouldn't be able to help the local spy. It becomes very clear where his real loyalties lie. Artfully done.

I did not like any of the women, and that's a big flaw. The producers/directors/whoever really did us wrong in this one. While I admired the Jew for hiding in plain sight, at the same time I disliked her socializing with a German soldier. While she kept spurning his advances, at the same time, why did she go out with him at all? And the two sisters, declaring these Germans were merely human too....singing and dancing and kissing them after they executed a man. I'm afraid I didn't care for the young pilot and his declaring "You're stupid." There's a mother whose staunch refusal to serve Germans in her store evaporated into a business requiring her to meet a German in his room and profiting off her own people...and more that I shan't mention. The only remotely admirable woman is Wilf's wife.

Regardless, I became very wrapped up in all their lives. There are plenty of touching moments of rebellion too, such as when the town stands in silence, facing German rifles, to honor the executed man. And of course, there's the story of war, a reminder that it's not glamorous, that it's brutal and cruel, and in the end, there are no true victors. I don't appreciate being left hanging as to the complete outcome of these people's lives though. The war wasn't over when the series ended. If you aren't going to make a second season, at least wrap everything up the first time. Grrrr!