Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Reading Radar

Lip Reading: A NovelI think this one sounds interesting because of the title. I keep thinking the lady doctor has maybe found a cure for deafness. Regardless, it sounds good. I spotted it on NG: Lip Reading by Harry Kraus.

She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself She just needs a little longer. She’s really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she’s tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it’s not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.


la zorra ciegaA friend on Goodreads shared this title with me. I plan to read it when she is done. You all know I love the idea of lady Zorro, and this one is a blind one, even more interesting. La Zorra Ciega by David Gerald King.

WARNING: This book contains adult themes, derogatory language, and violent imagery. If you are sensitive to such elements, please be forewarned.

Doing what is right is often a reckless decision.

Nina Moreira is a talented fencer, daughter of a doting father and a dearly departed mother, an avid fan of "Zorro," and a blind woman. She is about to set out on the next step of her life by beginning college. But the life she will encounter there is vastly different from what she has known until now. She will be enter into a place not nearly as open or as safe as the home she has known. She will be faced with harsh and cruel realities of a world under the influence of profit, power, and bigotry. She will make a decision to follow her ideals, at the risk of herself and others, or to quietly act the part she is given to keep them safe.


Doctors Beyond BordersThis one looks very good. Spotted on NG, Doctors Beyond Borders by Georgie TylerShe's about to find out that nothing is fair when it comes to war, except, the healing power of love. 

When Ariadne Tate takes a deployment to Sudan with a medical aid organisation, romance is the last thing on her mind…but Dr Ford Gosden puts a glitch in her plans. Too damn attractive for his own good and a thoroughly nice guy, Ford slowly seeps under Ariadne's skin.

But Sudan is not a stable place to form a relationship, and as political tension escalates in the region, Ariadne has no choice but to focus on her job and her safety. Under the protection of a UN convoy, she heads out into the war-torn countryside — and the unthinkable happens. Captured and held hostage by a renegade with no chance of escape, Ariadne's hope for a new life with the man she loves begins to fade and the fight for her life begins.


A Bird with the Heart of a MountainA Bird with the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda was on the Vine list and I feel it's like a sign as my first flamenco lesson is today!!! So naturally, I scooped this one up.

I throw back my tumble of black hair, roll one bare shoulder forward. The stack of bangles on each wrist shimmies and slides as my hands rise like birds in flight. Drina knows the men who love to watch her dance also believe Gypsies are no better than stray dogs ? but when she dances, Drina doesn't think. She forgets who she is. She forgets what seems to be her legacy: I am nothing. I belong nowhere. The daughter of a Gypsy woman and a well-to-do Spaniard who abandoned them, Drina wants only to dance. Why then does her mother forbid it? Set during the chaos of the Spanish Civil War in the fascinating world of Gypsy campgrounds, the vineyard estate of the family she has never known and the dance halls of Seville where flamenco reigns, Drina fights to discover who she is and where she belongs. Can her passion ? her duende ? save her from the perils of the civil war? From a father lost, then found? And will she come to understand what it means to be a bird with the heart of a mountain?


Studs and StilettosStuds and Stilettos by Bev Pettersen made the wishlist because I've enjoyed all her books to date. I've been eagerly watching for a new one from her. I love that she has TV in this one.

She craves the bright lights. He shuns them.

Emily Murphy isn’t afraid to swap her fancy wardrobe for a borrowed pair of barn boots. Working on the set of a Kentucky movie might be just the ticket to landing a real acting job and proving to her sister she can accomplish something worthwhile.

Dan Barrett knows a lot about hard work and even more about horses. And while he’s drawn by Emily’s beauty and pluck, he wants a stay-at-home ranch girl. But fighting their attraction is difficult, and soon they both realize that what they thought they wanted isn’t what they really need.


Rancher at Risk by Barbara White Daille made the list as well. I love reading about deaf heroines and came across this upcoming release on Amazon. 

Rancher at RiskAfter the loss of his family in a tragic accident, Ryan Malloy has been given one last chance to change his life. His boss sends him to Flagman's Folly, New Mexico, to run his ranch, but unfortunately, Ryan's troubled attitude lands him in hot water with the locals, especially the ranch's manager, Lianne Ward.

Deaf since birth, Lianne has never let her disability define who she is. But, she's yet to meet a man who treats her as an equal. Ryan seems different; that is, when they're not butting heads over the ranch's new school for disadvantaged boys.

Forced to work together, Lianne and Ryan discover an unexpected attraction beneath their quarreling. But will Ryan's painful past drive them apart permanently?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Strong is Sexy Heroine of the Week: Eve

Book: Brave Girl
Author: Kate Baum
Heroine: Eve

I loved writing about Eve. Her story is book two of my series. The series is about four best friends. How is Eve strong? Well, she is nicknamed the "Brave" girl of the group. Eve likes her tough girl image but she has a heart of gold. Unfortunately, she also has an Irish temper. She doesn't tolerate bullying and will always stick up for the underdog. She is full of adventure. She'll try anything. Rock climbing, parachuting, etc. She loves to test herself with her courage and bravery. That's why she doesn't handle it well when she finds she is falling in love. 

Eve is beautiful both inside and out. She has the mane of red hair from her Irish ancestry and vivid green eyes. However, just like it was described above, she is a fiercely loyal friend and, at one part of the book, even put herself in danger to protect a friend. She speaks her mind and regrets it later. She's a school librarian and her passion is getting children to love books. She's a wonderful role model and heroine.

Brave Girl (Girl Series #2)Blurb:
Eve is beyond excitement for her new adventure. Only a truly brave girl could move thousands of miles from home to begin a five year commitment teaching on an American Indian Reservation. As soon as she arrives, she finds that many of the tribe’s people are not very welcoming. They are suspicious of the college students that work and live on the reservation in exchange for free graduate tuition. After a misunderstanding, Eve decides she absolutely despises a certain tribal police officer. Circumstances cause her to keep running into him. 

Lou regrets the awkward situation where he first met Eve. He had been openly distrustful of the college girls who have come to live on the reservation. In the past, some of the girls were disrespectful of the tribe’s culture. There is something different about Eve. He can’t get her out of his head. The more he tries to get to know her, the more she pulls away. What will it take for Lou to convince Eve that their attraction for each other cannot be denied?

Eve has given up on men. She has had unsatisfying sex in the past and decided that men are just not worth the trouble. She’s a modern young woman and decides that using a handy tool is all she needs to relieve her sexual frustration. The problem is……there’s a gorgeous sexy police officer that stirs her blood like no man has ever done before. Eve is tough and strong and brave. She doesn’t like the fact that her legs shake and her voice trembles whenever she crosses paths with him. Maybe if she keeps running from him, she won’t have to face what her body…..or her heart is telling her.

****Warning – for adults only. Contains graphic sex including a group sex scene and a m/m sexual situation.*

Are you an author with a strong heroine in your book? Want to see her featured? Find out how here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dark Oil by Nora James

Dark OilFirst of all, I love that this is a REAL story. It's not a simple, boring case of man and woman meet, skirt around each other, and finally fall into bed together. I especially loved that the heroine is a lawyer who knows her own mind and isn't afraid to speak it.

"Judging me on my personal appearance, that's solid grounds for a discrimination case."
Alan deserved honestly and somehow, unlike many employees who simply grovelled to the head of the company, she had the strength to tell it like it was--even if it meant she wouldn't be the CEO's favourite person. It was her duty, it was the right thing to do, and that was something she definitely understood.

I like this chick, very much. I was intrigued with the whole situation, the strange, oppressed country with corrupt officials, the oil contract and all the drama. I've never really thought about it what it means to travel to third-world countries and all of this--the women who cannot vote, the salads once cannot eat without fear of getting ill from the water that cleaned them, the camel slaughtering--made me appreciate all that I have.

I even felt my heart pound faster as Lara tried to make a plane out of there, felt fear when they took her passport for holding. I chuckled once or twice. I'll this again: I love that it's a real story with so much going on besides just romance, 'cause in a normal woman's life, there really IS more going on than "Does he love me? Does he want me? Do I look good?" Seriously, people. LOL

Anyway, that being said, infidelity and cheating is a sad fact in many a woman's life. I don't believe in wearing blinders and pretending these things do not happen, thus I appreciate that the author tackled the cheating issue. That takes guts nowadays, and I am not the least put off by that sideline. As I said, it happens. However, I must say I wish it had been kept a secret from us. Some suspense would have been nice. Instead, I felt as though I was being hit over and over with a 2 x 4 that said, "OMG, he's with another woman right now. He's cheating."

To be honest, I think the heroine came to the conclusion too quick. I mean, if my husband was in a business job and his secretary told me he was working from home, my first thought would NOT be, "He's cheating on me!" I'd have to find him in a compromising position or a lie. So this was weird to me and as I said above, we were constantly reminded that he was messing around, before he was even really caught. I'd have preferred more basis for this conclusion and more surprise, less pounding me over the head with it. And then it went from constant reminders of his possible infidelity to constant reminders that she could never trust men again and that Jack may just be like her ex. It was CONSTANT, sometimes only a paragraph between them.

She thought of Tim, of how much she'd wanted to believe in her marriage and look where that had got her. Well, she wasn't going down that track again...and just a few paragraphs later...Yes, she thought of Tim, her husband of ten years, the only man to whom she had ever truly given herself. Tim, the husband who'd cheated and lied, made her feel worthless. She sighed. She'd definitely steer clear of relationships for a long, long time...and then...She wasn't going to fall for his magnetism, though, wasn't going to find herself in a trap again, with another womaniser.

That was only an eighth of the 2 x 4s. You get the picture. Over and over. How many more times does the same thing need to be said?

It irritated me enough to hurt my enjoyment, but it was a decent read, more of a suspense than a romance, and that's just fine with me. I really liked all the law stuff and I liked that this heroine, in situations that could totally break a woman, she bucked up and made the most of it.

I received this via Netgalley.

The Julius Romeros Extravaganza, Part 2 by Hayley Lawson-Smith Now Available!

I thoroughly enjoyed book one and reviewed it here. Prior to that, Ms. Lawson-Smith provided an intriguing guest post in which she talks about the mysterious ancestor on her family tree, with no arms or legs, who inspired this series... If you haven't already read it, I encourage you to do so now, then visit the book's Amazon or Goodreads page and see if it's something you'd enjoy reading.

For those of you eagerly awaiting the second installment of this series, I'm pleased to announce....

It's HERE!!!!

First, the blurb:
Abigail the Bearded Girl is all grown up and enjoying her life as a member of The Julius Romeros Extravaganza. But with new joys come new challenges, and the revelation that show business is not always fun and magic. When Abigail and her talented family of Freaks and artists meet the self-proclaimed ‘Professor’ Argoyle Curr, their lives are set on a course of adventure and danger, which sees them revisiting old friends and making new ones.

And I have the trailer to share.

Keep watching the blog for my review of book two.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tasty Spotlight: Love Waltzes In by Alana Albertson

To her millions of fans, ballroom champion Selena Marcil seems to have the perfect life: a great dance partner, a hit reality show, and celebrity perks. But underneath the glamorous ball gowns, Selena longs to find someone to share her life with when the stage lights dim.
Selena’s childhood sweetheart, Bret Lord, hung up his dance shoes after winning two national titles with her as a teenager, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He never saw his former fiancĂ©e again, except on television and on the cover of men’s magazines. Ten years and three deployments later, Bret gets an offer to audition for Selena’s dance show. When the Marine Corps gives him temporary leave to appear on the series, Bret can’t refuse the quick cash that will enable him to provide financially for the widow of his buddy, even if it does mean coming face to face with his past.

When Bret shows up at her national championship, Selena is shocked. For years she searched for him to no avail. After spending time with Bret, Selena realizes despite their past romance, they have no future. He has no desire to live under a spotlight and she has no desire to leave it. Can Selena and Bret recognize when Love Waltzes In? 


Staff Sergeant Bret Lord sat on the dirty floor of his tent, going through the day’s mail: the latest Men’s Fitness magazine from his sister, a care package from his mom. He ripped open the package—socks, lip balm, sunflower seeds, and a thin letter that contained an old magazine clipping.

Dear Bret,

I miss you very much. Benny asked me to send you this article. I really wish you would consider his offer. Please stay safe.

Love, Mom

He swallowed hard. A neon sticky pressed on the wrinkled page had a note scrawled on it from his former master dance coach.

Bret, m’boy,

We’ll make it worth your time.

Cheers, Benny.

Thumbing the edge of the article, Bret stared at the sixteen-year-old boy in the picture and could barely recognize himself. His shoulder length, wavy blond hair was slicked back, not shorn in a “high and tight” like his current haircut. No signs of the tattoos or muscles that currently defined his body. Golden skin stained from a bottle, not the harsh sun of Iraq. His arms were wrapped around a gorgeous, curvy young girl with long jet-black hair. The jade Latin gown she wore matched the color of her almond-shaped eyes.

Bret tossed the article aside and removed his nine-mil pistol from his holster to clean it.
Lance Corporal Hernandez walked by Bret and snatched the article off his cot. After staring at it, Hernandez’s face brightened.

“Hey, Staff Sergeant, this you?”

“No, it’s my clone who’s also named Bret Lord.” Bret slid the rail back on his weapon and began disassembling it.

“Staff Sergeant, you know Selena Marcil? Did you hit that?”

“Shut up, Hernandez, or the one getting hit will be you—with the butt stock of my rifle.” Bret grabbed the paper out of Hernandez’s hands, and smacked him on the side of the head. The kid didn’t flinch.
“Staff Sergeant Twinkle Toes. Hey—can you hook me up with Selena? I’ll be her boy toy. I love her. Man, she’s smoking. Has the nicest ass. Not like all those skinny, Russian chicks on that show.” He nodded to himself with an eyebrow dancing. “Selena’s on my list. She’s Latina, too. We’d be perfect together. What was she doing with a gringo like you?”

“Hernandez, you’re way out of line.” Bret reassembled his pistol.

“My bad, Staff Sergeant.”

Bret grabbed the article, his pack, and his rifle. It was impossible to get some privacy in the tent. His only option was to sit outside in a sandstorm but even that sounded like a welcome retreat from his immature men. He walked about five hundred feet, then plopped down in the hot sand.

The red sky hung above him, thick from smoke from the nearby town. Bret struggled to catch a glimpse of the distant mountains. Sand seemed to pelt down from the heavens, blinding him and settling into every crevice in his body. He closed his eyes against the sting of the sand, and turned his thoughts to Selena. Was she the diva the tabloids made her out to be? Even after ten years, he could almost smell her buttery-coconut scent. A welcome change from the overflowing shitters, toxic diesel, and stench of his fellow Marines who hadn’t bathed in three weeks. 

Buy Links

Follow Tour

Author Info
Alana Albertson is the former President of both Romance Writers of Americas’s Young Adult and  Chick Lit chapters and the founder of Academe Advantage, a college admissions & test preparation company. Alana Albertson holds a Masters of Education from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Stanford University. A recovering professional ballroom dancer, Alana currently writes contemporary romance and young adult fiction. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, two young sons, and four dogs. When she’s not spending her time needlepointing, dancing, or saving dogs from high kill shelters through  Pugs N Roses, the rescue she founded, she can be found watching episodes of House Hunters, Homeland, or Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.

Author Links

***GIVEAWAY!!!! $25 Amazon or B&N GC***
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A World Apart by Peter McAra

A World ApartI was hooked by this book at first. Though the story spans several years, I found it well done in that aspect; not too much data, not too little. I do like a story that can get to the point and not drag on for weeks.

It's a tale of England, of that dark, heavy line between gentry and "low class" and the beginnings of erasing it. He's the son of a viscount. She's an adopted daughter of a woman who works in the kitchen. She just happens to be very bright and pretty.

They fall in love and vow to marry when they are children. But naturally, a lot is going to stand in their way. His father. The law. A fiance. False accusations. Many  miles...

It's a tale of childhood sweethearts striving to be together at all costs, and I liked the heroine, who bravely realizes that turning the other cheek on wrongdoings is enabling, even supporting, it.

But I began to notice some odd things before I reach the halfway point, things a good editor should have questioned/pointed out. The viscount says there are no children around for miles to interact with his son, yet the book says later that the son's intended, Agatha, is only a mile away. The viscount tells Harry he's off to Oxford and in a few weeks, he'll be expected at her house for a party to begin their official courtship, yet three years later, he says the same thing. Was it weeks or years? The vicar is fresh out of school himself two years before he becomes involved with a lady who bears his daughter, and when the daughter is three, the book says he's fresh out of school again. 

Toward the middle of the story, the characters begin to lose something... When he finds out the woman he loves is in jail, Harry actually stops to debate whether or not to do his homework. What??? Really? Thus, the characters at times felt...without depth, off, and inconsistent. Agatha is at first rather shy, likable, then suddenly she's a blackmailing, ugly wench, no reason given for this change. What we were TOLD they felt, we weren't necessarily SHOWN. I also had a very hard time "falling in love" with Harry. I felt he was shallow and one-dimensional. He can't be with Agatha because she is ugly (plain). That really put me off. He actually thinks that. And then he claims he must marry the "ugly" girl to survive. HUGE dilemma there. Marry or be nothing. And did I mention he actually thought he'd need to down a lot of brandies to bed her? How much of a turd can you be?

I got a suggestion for you, Harry. How about you put that Oxford education to good use and GET A JOB?

TBH, I didn't want Harry and Eliza to hook up again. I felt she'd be better off without him.

I really enjoyed the ship part though, as the ladies head to Botany Bay. That was interesting. I was once again riveted by the story, but then everything just happened so easily whilst they were shipwrecked. The baby just happens to never cry. They just happen to find the perfect cave and a waterfall and food, and you get the picture.

And at 60%, a very unsavory twist was thrown in that really put me off. And that's all I'm saying. I think this story had tremendous potential and the heroine was terrific, but the supporting cast, so to speak, and some of the things thrown in, no, no, no.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Swimming is Good for the Soul: Julianne Chadwick Talks About Her MIL, Her New Book, and Cuba

Some seven years ago my mother-in-law Gloria Maria   – was left a widow after 64 years of marriage. The funeral of her husband the renowned sugar agronomic Alfonso Fors had taken place in Miami and on her way back to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she lived - (they always kept their doctors in Miami and went back and forth since moving to Mexico some thirty years before) she decided to come and visit her eldest son, my husband – Alfonso Fors jr, who for visa reasons could not attend his father’s funeral in the States.  

We lived on the Pacific coast of Mexico in a landscape not unlike that of parts of Cuba and I wondered if I could help heal her with beach visits and coconut ice creams, maybe help her bring back some of the flavours from her youth. 

The day before picking her up at the airport it occurred to me also that Gloria was the same age as Castro and probably had some insights into him and life in Cuba at that time. Her story could be of historical interest to many of my friends - Gloria was very smart and still had a wonderful memory for her age.   I knew some of the family story from my husband, but mostly his take on events as a five-year-old and certainly not any of the important details.

We sat in my swimming pool the evening she arrived  – just the two of us sitting on the steps of the pool - our voices echoing around the walled gardens.  My first question was one I already had the answer to but asked it all the same

"Cuantos hermanos tenias, Gloria?"  (How many brothers and sisters did you have, Gloria?) 

"Twenty," she answered in English…. That was the only English word she ever spoke again during our week-long talks.

But it was the next sentence that threw me right against the walls we were echoing through that first night and the exact moment I knew I had to put pen to paper.

"My father left my mother when I was 6 and she was 60. He left her for another woman after she had given birth to 21 of his children.

 She was left rolling her cigars at the end of the long table of the finca - completely alone, looking out into the night - with me looking at her - from the other end. A six-year-old grieving at the sight of her mother’s face."

I didn’t need to ask Gloria Maria any more questions, the story flowed out of her like wine at a wedding – night after night after night.

We met - each evening after my university job finished, at the end of the day. Sunset - In the pool.  She would announce before I put my briefcase down on the porch; "Las patas al agua.” (ducks to the water).

  I was told she waited for my arrival with her swimsuit already on, two hours before I stepped in the door.

I realized instantly the poignancy that these memories were bringing to her on a personal level and the significance of them on her as a Cuban -- as a Cuban woman of her time - who had just lost her last link to the land of her memories – her Cuban man - who she loved so much for so long.

 I was left with a sense that I should record these memories for her children and for my father-in-law’s memory – a man I respected deeply.

I spent the next year doing just that - collaborating with her eldest daughter and eldest son.  

Upon finishing I bound 8 copies of the book with the help of the university - for each of her children, for Gloria (in Spanish) and one for myself.  I also recorded a CD of the book using my own voice – accompanied by Cuban and original music with Gloria singing acapella in the very last chapter –

She chose the song she would sing to my husband to put him to sleep as a young baby.

It is a song about the burning of the homeland set to rhythms that have your hips swinging.

"The dance is all in the hips," she would tell me.

"The telling is all in the twist," I would answer.

Gloria dancing the Salsa

Maria Elvira is a strong and courageous woman born in pre-revolutionary Cuba with a privileged background, living happily with her husband until they are forced to flee an oppressive regime.

‘To The Other Side’ is a chronicle of upheaval and mistrust—of youth and aging, of life and death, of danger and survival.

It is written in a seamless mix of prose and poetry that captures the essence of a Caribbean culture transplanted to another way of life while still true to itself.

‘To The Other Side’ is above all the story of Maria Elvira, life seen through her eyes. A portrait of a young woman caught up—on the outside—in the tumult of Cuba’s history whilst the effects of her own father’s absence at an early age runs deep.

Maria Elvira was never able to forgive or forget that first abandonment and watched for signs in all the men that met her life thereafter. Castro, himself, is one of the many in her line of fire.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sparks Fly by Cheryl Cooke Harrington

Sparks FlyI was drawn to this title because of the airplane on the cover. I know from following the author's blog that she actually took flight lessons before writing this book, so this is an author who pays attention to detail. I appreciate that and that knowledge made the book interesting to me.

In a nutshell: a schoolteacher goes back to her woodland home after being away ten years. She's not sure how her grandfather is going to welcome her, but hopes to stay for good and become involved in running the inn. When she arrives she meets a handsome, rugged, slightly arrogant pilot who it turns out is her new business partner. But some "flags" raise and he may not be all he seems. Can she withdraw her heart once it's out there though?

What I liked about this story was the look into the area. I'm not the least bit familiar with Canadian wildlife or living in that northern part of the continent. It sounds nice, frankly, except for the lack of Internet. I don't think they had that or cell phones. It's also obvious the author did her research on forest fires too. I forgot to mention there's a small but significant subplot about fires. OH--and mineral rights. I didn't know anything about that either.

But I must confess, the real conflict with the hero doesn't show up until very late, and until that point, it's just a romance. I was surprised by this. Maybe as there isn't the usual kissing/embracing/fornicating couple on the cover as has come to be the (ugh) norm for romance covers, I wasn't expecting it to be so romancey. My bad. There was a lot of the typical "aware of each others' bods" stuff and it was just slightly overdone, but it's a clean romance, which I appreciate. I just wish it had been a bit faster-paced throughout rather than just the last eighth. Another minor annoyance was the way the grandfather talked, but I realize the author was staying true to that area's dialect.

Does it feature a spunky heroine who doesn't take crap? It sure does. Does it have aviation? YES! Is it worth reading? Yes, it is. Is it enjoyable? Yep. Ms. Harrington has a promising writing career ahead of her.

I received a digital copy of this from the author.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Reading Radar 11/23/2013

What hit my reading and wishlist this week? Let's take a look:

The Pearl That Broke Its ShellThe Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. Spotted on Edelweiss, requested, declined. *sigh* The premise intrigues me. Imagine having to pass as a boy just to get an education.

Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?


The Boleyn Reckoning (The Boleyn Trilogy, #3)The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen. I really enjoyed books one and two. Can't wait for this one.

Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir! After presenting readers with an irresistible premise in The Boleyn King (what if Anne gave birth to a healthy royal boy who would grow up to rule England?) and returning to the dangerous world of the Tudor court in The Boleyn Deceit, Laura Andersen brings to a triumphant conclusion the enthralling tale of the Tudor king who never was.

Elizabeth Tudor is at a crossroads. After a disastrous winter, the Duke of Northumberland has been executed for treason while his son, Robert Dudley, claims from the Tower that the true traitor has not yet been caught. And though her brother, William, has survived smallpox, scars linger in the king's body and mind and his patience is at an end. As English ships and soldiers arm themselves against the threat of invasion, William marches to the drumbeat of his own desires rather than his country's welfare. Wary of this changed royal brother, Elizabeth assembles her own shadow court to protect England as best she can. But William, able to command armies and navies, cannot command hearts. Minuette and Dominic have married in secret, and after an ill-timed pregnancy, they take to flight. Faced with betrayal by the two he loved most, William's need for vengeance pushes England to the brink of civil war and in the end, Elizabeth must choose: her brother, or her country?


The January WishThe January Wish by Juliet Madison. I loved her Fast Forward and though I haven't enjoyed her follow-ups quite as much, I have high hopes for this women's fiction. This lady is talented.

From Escape's queen of ro-magic comedy comes a sweet, emotional contemporary romance about the pleasures of making a wish and seeing it come true.

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it's the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia's small coastal town with secrets that can't be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia's well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.


The Bitches of BrooklynBecause the premise makes me laugh and it sounds pretty fun/funny: The Bitches of Brooklyn by Rosemarry Harris. I spotted this one on NG.

Four friends from Brooklyn await the arrival of a fifth at a Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every summer. But this time the fifth woman doesn't show. Instead she sends a note that reads - "I've run off with one of your men."

Fast, funny and filled with Harris' trademark snappy dialog and quirky characters forced to reevaluate their friendships, their marriages and their memories.


Mistress of the WindBecause I'm a huge fan and have enjoyed most everything she's penned, I'm giving Michelle Diener's new fantasy, Mistress of the Wind, an attempt. She always writes strong heroines, Diener.

Bjorn needs to find a very special woman . . .

The fate of his people, and his own life, depends on it. But when he does find her, she is nothing like he imagined, and may just harbor more secrets than he does himself.

Astrid has never taken well to commands. No matter who issues them . . .

She's clashed her whole life with her father, and now her lover, the mysterious man who comes to her bedroom in darkness and disappears to guard his mountain by day as a bear, is finding it out the hard way. And when he's taken by his enemies, no one is prepared for Astrid's response.

It is never wise to anger the mistress of the wind . . .

This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.


Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring & Adventure
Spotted on a blog I follow and on my wishlist: Hometown Heroines by Betty Bolte. During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America left their unique mark on history. 

Milly Cooper galloped 9 miles through hostile Indian Territory to summon help when Fort Cooper was under attack. 

Belle Boyd risked her life spying for the Rebels during the Civil War.
Kate Shelly, when she was 15, crawled across a nearly washed-out railroad bridge during a ferocious thunderstorm to warn the next train. 

Lucille Mulhall, age 14, outperformed cowboys to become the World's First Famous Cowgirl. 

These are just a few of the inspiring true stories inside Hometown Heroines-American Girls who faced danger and adversity and made a difference in their world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Suddenly Royal (Suddenly #1) by Nichole Chase

Suddenly Royal (Suddenly, #1)You think the life of a royal is all hunky dory? Money and a title can fix everything, right? Not so... This book serves to remind us--in an entertaining, fun way--that even royals aren't immune to tragedy.

I expected this to be a piece of fluff, a Cinderella story. I didn't expect much of it, to be honest, but I was sucked in by the Audrey Hepburn-like cover. I'm so glad I gave this a chance. It made me laugh and cry and think deeply. This isn't your average romance.

It is a Cinderella story...girl struggling to put herself through college discovers she's a long-lost royal with an estate and millions to her name, and while it comes across as preposterous and somewhat cheesy at first, the story unfolds in a believable, realistic way. Samantha never loses sight of who she really is. That's something I think many people need to be reminded of--whether they're obtaining a supervisor position or just coming into some good fortune or whatever.

We have a heroine with a huge heart and an incredible inner strength. She also has a terrific sense of humor.

"Sorry, the Bentley is being detailed." (When she pulls up in an old falling-apart truck)

"And you can apologize when you get back with your tail between your legs." Operation Pissed was coming into play.

There wasn't a mystery or murder plot or anything major, but I found myself riveted just the same. There was never any doubt in my mind the hero and heroine would end up together either. This is simply a story about a spunky girl who discovers she's a duchess, travels to her "new" country, and while being overwhelmed and frightened, makes the most of it and tries her best to always do the right thing, even at a cost to herself.

Well done!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Strong is Sexy Heroine of the Week: Melissa Dehavilland

Book: Suited to be a Cowboy
Author: Lorraine Nelson
Heroine: Melissa Dehavilland

Melissa Dehavilland found out that money doesn’t guarantee happiness. When her marriage falls apart and she’s left with a young son to raise, she doesn’t allow it to get her down. Fate intervenes when she and her son inherit her Grandfather’s horse ranch, and she decides to move there. A new start…a better life, for herself and for her son.

Taking over the running of the ranch meant hard work and long hours, but she was determined to fulfill her grandfather’s trust. Melissa could ride and rope as good as any of her wranglers, but she had a lot to learn. She tackled it head-on, one project or chore at a time. During the process, she’s rebuilt her self-esteem and reinforced positive values for her son. Strong and determined, the only thing she refuses to tackle is paperwork. Give her the outdoors any day. She’d sooner muck out the horse barn than do accounting or try to balance her checkbook.

Sexy: (excerpt)
Not unexpectedly, she rode like the wind, at one with her horse, her golden tresses blowing out behind her, tempting him, as did her derriere. It bounced nicely up and down as she rode. Jimmy kept his horse at a slow trot as he followed in her wake, thinking that he’d love to cup those butt cheeks in his bare hands and make her body bounce on his. If they hadn’t been on horseback, he might’ve breached the employer/employee relationship back there. Her eyes had darkened with desire and those firm, full lips had begged to be kissed. Right or proper protocol had nothing to do with it. He’d wanted to hold her tight, mold her body against his.
When she dismounted and stood beside her son, the reddish haze of sunset provided the perfect backdrop to outline her enticing curves. He gave his head a shake and rode closer, ready to dismount, but a quick glimpse of the area beyond rooted him to his saddle.

Suited to be a CowboyInheriting a ranch on the heels of her husband walking out has Melissa Dehavilland struggling to learn the ropes. James McGovern, raised in foster care, has saved all his life toward a dream…that of owning a ranch. Such diverse backgrounds don’t always converge in harmony, especially when their first meeting turned sour, but working together means saving her ranch and restoring his dream. Respect is hard-earned and trust non-existent as they fight their attraction to each other. Melissa’s ex shows up, wanting a cut and causing trouble. The difficulties bind them closer together as they strive to guarantee a future…together.

Excerpt: (Strong)
Walt’s was the lead truck in their little convoy. Although he tended to flirt outrageously, Walt was good company and he soon realized that Melissa could give as good as she got. It all served to help pass the time and she found she enjoyed the ride to Kentucky…until they pulled onto the racetrack to find her ex-husband waiting with the potential buyers.
She thanked Walt and jumped down from the cab ready to send Marcus on his way while the men unloaded the stock. The sale of her horses had nothing to do with his running of Dehavilland Downs. If he hadn’t been the father of her only son, she would have sent him packing when the marriage ended.
Still fuming, she motioned him to one side and confronted him. “What are you doing here?”
“Why, darling, I’m overseeing the sale of our horses. Surely you wouldn’t expect me to leave something so important in your incapable hands.” Marcus wore an evil smirk that did nothing to cool her anger.
“How dare you! These are my horses.”
“Oh, I dare. I can fetch a much better price for them than you can. My share of the proceeds will compensate for the pittance I’m allowed for managing the track.”
“These are my buyers and my horses. You get paid handsomely for what you do and you’re not getting one red cent of my sale money. Now get off this track before I call security and have you removed for good.”
“Tut, tut, darling. Such a temper. What would Aaron say if you followed through on that threat?”
That thought gave her pause, but only for a moment. “Oh, I think he’d understand well enough, given the way you’ve kept in contact with him. Not! And don’t call me darling. You gave up that right when you walked out.”
She palmed her cell phone and began to dial.
“All right. You’ve won this round, but you’ll be sorry. Those buyers will strip you bare of the horses’ real worth, but you’re on your own. Know that I’ll be laughing from my position on the bleachers.”

Melissa breathed a sigh of relief as he stomped off. He could watch the proceedings or not. She really didn’t care.

At this time, Suited is available at Secret Cravings Publishing. This post will be updated with the Amazon link as soon as it is available on that site.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lizzie Borden by Elizabeth Engstrom

Lizzie borden.jpgFor those who may not know, Lizzie Borden was accused and acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in 1892. What happened that day in the Borden household to this day remains shrouded in mystery. Nursery rhymes have penned about it.

Lizzie Borden took an axe
gave her mother 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done
she gave her father 41...

In actuality, her father was struck 10 or 11 times and her stepmum 19. They were killed with a hatchet.

Was it Lizzie in some odd fugue-like state? Was it the maid? Was it...well, we'll never know. But we can sure have fun speculating...

Lizzie BordenThis novel portrays Lizzie as mentally unstable, a lesbian, a woman imprisoned by her family and her own weaknesses. Her sister Emma calls the shots and controls everything, mentally puts Lizzie down every chance she gets. The stepmother is insecure. There are binge-eating disorders, alcoholism. Lizzie seems to be having blackouts. The book chronicles the time period about a year? before the murders and ends with the deaths.

I found parts of it really boring. It tends to repeat and pontificate. I also would have appreciated more explanation about what was wrong with Lizzie and Emma. They are both crazy. I'm sure there's a medical term/reason/explanation, but the book didn't find a way to tell us. Emma seems to have a few screws loose. She leaves in fits of rage, goes and gets drunk and beaten up every few weeks...there's something really wrong with her. Rage, however, seems to run in the family.

There's a somewhat disgusting love triangle and except for possibly contributing to Lizzie's finally cracking, I fail to see why this story twist existed.

Why the  headaches? What did they have? Was it hereditary? I feel the book gave us just only so much idea and didn't explain itself well enough. It was interesting, but fell short. I was left asking more questions than when I first picked it up.

But those of you who have read or heard of her, what do you think?

I got this book on Paperback Swap.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

This story reminds me of the TV show Cold Case. It's not just a time slip chronicling two separate stories in two different eras. It's a mystery and as the modern-day heroine digs for answers, the past subtly unfolds, the overlap growing blurry. At times I could visualize the fifties' people standing there looking on, watching from the sidelines as their past was put together and the mystery solved.

As always, Ms. Jio impresses me with her writing skills. She's one of the best. Even when I don't care for the actions of some of her characters, I find myself utterly immersed, dying to know what happens  next.

In the fifities, a woman went missing from her houseboat one night, leaving behind an artist husband, a little neighbor boy who adored her, a boat-maker who wanted her, and a community of people intent on hiding the truth. Did she just sail away? Did someone kill her?

The modern-day heroine becomes obsessed with finding out as she resides on the missing woman's former houseboat, recovering from a great loss. The past story is about how you can't play games without others, and possibly yourself. The past heroine messes with people's hearts, can't make up her mind who she wants to be with. The modern-day heroine's story has a theme of moving on, of learning to live with grief.

I didn't like Penny, the past heroine. I saw a woman playing games, weak. I like strength in a woman and by strength, I totally realize it doesn't mean wielding a sword or whatever, but strength comes in many forms and this woman had next to none. Her actions were not strong, but selfish. She wanted to bounce man to man, to whomever it was convenient to be with at that moment. She lived in a shadow of another man, was a submissive wallflower. The conclusion in the end, even that was selfish. What she allows people to believe...someone will pay for that, just not her.

But I have to admit, despite my dislike of one of the heroine, I was very intrigued by the mystery. It takes a talented writer to keep me interested when I so blatantly dislike its heroine. Now, Ada, the modern-day woman, was strong. I appreciated the theme of overcoming grief without dishonoring the deceaseds' memories.

Once again, Jio delivers a great story.

I received this via LibraryThing.