Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Congrats! 5 more winners here at PPP!

The contest for One Scream Away is now closed. Congrats to the winners and a big thank you to all the entrants. Also a big thank you to Hachette for their generosity in supplying the books .

Random.org picked the following numbers : #104, #107, #66, #49 and #32. The five winners have all been notified by e mail. The winners with those numbers are :

Anna
Julie
Carol
Leslie
Scarpetta Junkie

A special thank you to Karen at Bookin' with Bingo for the new penguin image.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mailbox Monday



Mailbox Monday is kindly hosted each week by Marcia at the Printed Page. Anyone can play along. Just leave a link to your MM at Marcia's blog and visit listed links to see what others received in the mail. It's always fun to see what books are making the rounds of mailboxes around the world. Caveat: reading MM can cause your TBR/wish list to grow exponentially. I think I could cover the great wall of China with my list! Here's what's new:
Monday
  1. North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson from Multnomah for blog tour Aug. 11th
  2. The Lie by Fredrica Wagman from FSB for review
  3. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood from SA

  1. Tuesday:
    1. The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo for Waterbrook/RH blog tour 08/24/09
    2. The Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner for same tour
    3. The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo for same tour

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Tour and Guest post by Elle Newmark, author of The Book of Unholy Mischief


Today, I am privileged to introduce Elle Newmark, author of The Book of Unholy Mischief. Be sure to visit her blog and watch the video of Walking Tour of Venice. It's fascinating ! The direct link is here. You can also find a book trailer here. So, without further ado, here's what Elle had to say.



Read The Book Not The Back Story by Elle Newmark


" This blog reviews good books so it seems a perfect opportunity to get something off my chest. Ever since my novel, The Book of Unholy Mischief was published last December, people have been talking about the unusual publishing story behind it. Even the New York Times began its review with " The Story of this book's publication is the stuff of fiction itself."

What?

Eventually the reviewer got around to saying nice things about the book, but you had to wade through the publishing story to get to the actual review. Since when do reviewers talk more about how a book came to be published than the book itself?

Today, I would like to pointedly ignore the story of how this book got published. Anyone who wants to know the publishing story can read the blog on my website, Better Late Than Early at http://www.ellenewmark.com/

But why would you? You're looking for good books to read, no? Well, if you would like to spend some time in the doge's kitchen in Renaissance Venice, you should skip the back-story and go straight to the book. If you l ike the idea of food as metaphor (as in Like Water for Chocolate)forget about the publisher's auction and read The Book of Unholy Mischief. If you like a mystery surrounding a chef and his apprentice (as in the mentor/student relationship in The Name of the Rose) read The Book of Unholy Mischief. Let's face it: there wouldn't be such a freaking big publishing story if there weren't a pretty decent book to back it up.

If this sounds like a shameless promotion, that's because it is. Isn't that the whole point of a blog tour? I'm sick of talking about the back-story and I want to talk about the book that took me three years to write. Wouldn't you?

If you are heavily into the ins and outs of the mad, mad world of publishing, go ahead and read the back-story. But if you like novels, if you like the Renaissance Venice, or a culinary motif, or historical mystery, or rags-to-riches story of redemption, read The Book of Unholy Mischief. Please. "

Those are certainly some compelling reasons to read The Book of Unholy Mischief. Thank you Elle for the gift of your time to visit with us today.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (December 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416590544
ISBN-13: 978-1416590545
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches


A big thank you to Tracee of Pump up Your Book Promotion for Elle's guest post.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Tour: Summer House by Nancy Thayer



From the inside cover: "After years of wandering from whim to whim, thirty year old Charlotte Wheelwright seems to have at last found her niche. The free spirit enjoys running an organic gardening business on the island of Nantucket, thanks in large part to her spry grandmother Nona, who donated a portion of land on the family's seaside compound to get Charlotte started. Though Charlotte's skill with plants is bringing her success, cultivating something deeper with people -particularly her handsome neighbor Coop- might be more of a challenge.

Nona's generosity to Charlotte, secretly her favorite grandchild, doesn't sit well with the rest of the Wheelwright clan, however, as they worry that Charlotte may be positioning herself to inherit the entire estate. With summer upon them, everyone is making their annual pilgrimage to the homestead-some with hopes of thwarting Charlotte's dreams, others in anticipation of Nona's latest pronouncements at the annual family meeting and still others with surprising news of their own. Charlotte's mother, Helen, a Wheelwright by marriage brings a heavy heart. She once set aside her own ambitions fo fit in with the Wheelwrights, but now she must confront a betrayal that threatens both her sense of place and her sense of self.

As summer progresses, these three women-Charlotte, Nona and Helen- come to terms with the decisions they have made. Revisiting the lives and loves that have crossed their paths and the possibilities of the roads not taken, they may just discover that what they've always sought was right in front of them all along."

My thoughts:

The publisher's synopsis does not include the male characters and they are very important too, particularly Nona's son Worth. He is married to Helen and is Charlotte, Oliver and Teddy's father. Although his family loves him dearly, he provides a lot of the tension in the family dynamics. What Worth wants for his children is not necessarily the path they want to take and that's a big part of the plot.Teddy is one of the characters I really rooted for. He and Worth are like oil and water. I really wanted to see him shake off his personal demons and work it out with his father. Through flashbacks to the 1940's, Nona reveals piece by piece her place in the Wheelwright clan and finally discloses a bombshell secret that will shake Worth to the core.

I sighed as I turned the last page, wishing the book could go on and on. Stories about families, their interactions with each other and hidden secrets always fascinate me. Reading a well written story with true to life characters in a delightful setting, well, I am just as happy as a clam at high tide! Thayer really knows how to pull the reader in and be immersed in a fictional world that seems very real. This wonderful book will definitely be on my list of 10 best books read this year. Summer House is another book that would make a fantastic book club selection. There are so many possible discussions about families that could be explored. Highly, highly recommended. 5*****

About the author: Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Moon Shell Beach, The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holiday, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out and Between Husbands and Friends. She lives on Nantucket. Nancy Thayer's website can be found here.

A big thank you to Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book Tours for a copy of such a wonderful book.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Linda..tsk, tsk, tsk.You shocking home wrecker, you!

Scandal abounds at the San Francisco zoo when recently widowed, Linda, a Magellanic penguin, decided she did not like the single life. And who did lonely, lovelorn Linda turn to but Harry, supposedly a gay penguin who had been sharing a nest with also male Pepper for the last six years. Pepper was initially so despondent and angry at Harry's betrayal, he had to be removed from the enclosure. Maybe he successfully completed anger management 101 because he has now been let back into the same pen as Harry and Linda. I think Harry and Linda need to watch their backs. You never know when the lovesick Pepper will fly off the handle and try to get his man back.

And yet, sadly enough, there are no reality shows with penguin households. I'm telling you, TV is missing a golden opportunity here. With this type of shocking love triangle goings-on, such a show would be a big hit!

Okay, I am taking my tongue out of my cheek now. Just thought y'all might get a chuckle over this news "item."

You tube pulled the video. Sorry!

New Award


Vicki of Reading at the Beach just honored me with this neat award. I love it! Thanks so much, Vicki. I'm supposed to name 7 of my favorite things and pass the award onto 7 people.

  1. The sound of my daughters' and grandchildrens' voices on the phone.
  2. Seeing their beautiful faces and getting to hug them in person when we go north once a year.
  3. Watching my hubby reading in the recliner. He was always a TV person and hated to read. Now he reads all the time.
  4. Feeling that first cool breeze in the fall after Florida's horrendous summer heat.
  5. The first cup of tea in the morning
  6. Finding a new book as good as Galway Bay, The Forgotten Garden or Summer House.
  7. The Boston Aquarium's penguin pit. I could watch them for hours. They make me laugh. I defy anyone to look at a penguin and not smile.

Instead of naming seven people, I am leaving it open to anyone who wants to take it. Come on, you know you want to. Let us all know more about YOU !

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mailbox Monday



Mailbox Monday is kindly hosted each week by Marcia at the Printed Page. Anyone can play along. Just leave a link to your MM at Marcia's blog and visit listed links to see what others received in the mail. It's always fun to see what books are making the rounds of mailboxes around the world. Caveat: reading MM can cause your TBR/wish list to grow exponentially. I think I could cover the great wall of China with my list! Here's what's new:


It had to be you was sent to me by Stacybuckeye. Thanks Stacy, this one looks like a lot of fun. From the back cover:
"The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville-the trendy outrageous and curvacious New York knowckout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not prepared for the Stars' head coach Dan Calebro-an Alabama born former gridiron legend and blond barbarian.
Suddenly there's more than just a championship at stake. Because passion's the name of this game- and two stubborn people are playing for keeps! Sounds like somebody's going to butt heads !

Blue Heaven was sent to me just for taking a survey at Minotaur Press. This looks like a book my hubby might read. From the back cover:
"A twelve year old girl and her younger brother are on the run in the Idaho woods, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder- four men who know exactly who William and Annie are. And where there mother lives.

The Brutal Telling is from Minotaur through SA. From the publisher's insert:
" Chaos is coming to the lovely, seemingly tranquil town of Three Pines, just over the Canadian border. It begins to show its face one morning when a murdered man is found lying on the old pine floor of the beloved bistro and antiques store run by Olivier and his partner, Gabri. No one has ever seen the man before- or admits to having seen him-until a mysterious cabin, filled with priceless treasures, is uncovered deep in the woods. clearly the hermit must have lived there and died thee, and someone has been bringing him fresh groceries- in exchange for what? And just how did Olivier make such a spectacular success of his antiques business?
Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in, and much as they personally like the man who has hosted so many wonderful meals, they must ask the uncomfortable questions. Meanwhile, the cabin yields up extraordinary pieces of evidence-from signed first editions of Charlotte's Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word "WOE" woven in it- that will send Gamache to the remote Queen Charlotte Islands in search of the hermit's secrets, then back to Three Pines to confront the brutal truth."
I hope everyone has a good week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Winners, we have winners!

The contest for the book and goodies from J. B. Stanley is over. The winners have been notified by e mail. Notice the plural winners. Yes ! You did it. Enough people signed up to follow that I could pick a second winner for the two gently read books from J. B.'s collectible series. All those bonus entries paid off for the two winners as Random.org selected 195 and 131 in their sequence generator. # 195 is Tina and # 131 is Wrighty. So Congratulations to both of you. A big thank you to all the entrants and to the new followers. A huge thank you to J. B. Stanley for her ever so fun guest post and her very generous prizes.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who Loves ya', Baby!

It's about time, in fact it's past time to acknowledge some of the wonderful bloggers and their generosity in giving out awards. This new Humane award was given to me by Karen at Bookin' with Bingo and Julie at Julie's Jewels. Thank you both so much for the bloggy love. Here's what the award is all about:


"The Humane Award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it weren't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. This award is to thank them for their growing friendships through the blog world."

I want to pass this award onto:

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here
Staci at Life in the Thumb
Kathy at Bermuda Onion
Caspette at The Narrative Causality
Mary at Book-Fan Mary
Marie at The Burton Review

All these bloggers really light up my day with their comments and I just love to visit their blogs !

Missy at Missy's Book Nook also honored me with the Bookworms Award for Bookfriends. This is such a heartfelt, wonderful award. I am so touched. I like to think we are all friends with a common interest. I just love Missy's flashback feature. So many memories it always brings back. Thank you so much, Missy. I'd like to pass this one on to :

Karen at Bookin' with Bingo
Sandy at You've Gotta Read This
Vivienne at Serendipity
Marie at Daisy's Book Journal
Debbie at Wrighty's Reads
Lisa at Books and Cooks

Terra at Yankee Romance Reviewers and Suzanne at Chick with Books have added to my Lemonade Award and this one has been previously passed on. Thank you so much Terra and Suzanne. Hugs to both of you.

Caspette at The Narrative Causality has added to my Lit Blogger award and this too has been previously passed on. Thank you so much, my friend and a big hug to you also!
This is just a mere sliver of the blogosphere pie of deserving bloggers. You know who loves ya', baby. Me, that's who!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On this date ~ 220 years ago



July 14th, 1789 is a date recognizable around the world. In France, it is now a national holiday. That's right, I am talking about Bastille Day when angry mobs of Parisians stormed the Bastille and released the prisoners within. Did you know there were only 7 prisoners? This set off the French Revolution and would see the end of King Louis XVI's reign. I just thought it would be fun to post about a few books set during that time frame.


Abundance is a novel of Marie Antoinette. The exquisite cover on this one just caught my eye. Actually, there are numerous books on Marie Antoinette if you are inclined to read more about the lady.





Of course, you are all familiar with this next one by Charles Dickens. In fact, I would be willing to bet that you can quote the first two lines and name one of the main characters even if you haven't read the book in years.



The Scarlet Pimpernel is a book I have never read but it sounds interesting though.This is just a brief synopsis from Barnes & Noble if you haven't read it either.

"In 1792, during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, an English aristocrat known to be an ineffectual fop is actually a master of disguises who, with a small band of dedicated friends, undertakes dangerous missions to save members of the French nobility from the guillotine."

Review & Giveaway: One Scream Away by Kate Brady

"Killer Chevy Bankes is a master of disguise, and just paroled, he's coming after the woman who sent him to jail, the beautiful antiques expert Beth Denison. A set of antique dolls brings Beth into his sight, and inspire Chevy's disturbing crimes as he draws closer to Beth and her young daughter. Chevy sends the dolls to Beth one-by-one and she soon realizes that these antiques carry the same marks as his victims, signaling that the final piece in his collection will be for her. Neil Sheridan gave up his FBI shield five years ago, but his best friend Rick, a cop, pulls him in as a consultant on a case involving a serial killer who is eerily similar to a murderer Neil encountered in the past. The investigation leads Neil to Beth's doorstep, and he is certain she isn't telling him the truth. Neil is the only one who can get through Beth's defenses and, as they grow closer, discover the secrets that Beth is hiding about her fateful night with Chevy".

My Thoughts:

Wow, this is chilling suspense that is riveting from the very beginning. Brady is expert at making the characters come right off the page. I could just feel Beth's relief when she finally breaks down and tells Neil Sheridan what really happened the night she and Bankes crossed paths. Her secrets are now in the open but her terror is on the rise. The suspense builds and builds to a breath stopping crescendo. As the killer gets closer and closer, Beth's gut wrenching fear is almost palpable when diabolical Chevy Bankes places his next taunting phone call.

The story is not all horror and suspense as Brady manages to incorporate a romance between Beth and Neil. This is a somewhat predictable element but does not detract in any way from the entire book. The rest of the story is anything but predictable. There are so many psychological twists and turns to this story, I just could not put the book down until the end. And what an ending it is! The plotline with Chevy's sister, Jenny, had me guessing until the last page. For fans of romantic suspense or thrillers, this is one book you don't want to miss. For it's genre, it gets a rating of 5***** from me.

About Kate Brady:

My writing career began in the closet, where--thankfully--my first several novels remain. As a full-time choral conductor and assistant professor of music education, I didn't consider going public with my fiction. It was strictly clandestine and only a hobby.
Then the needs of small children convinced me to switch to part-time teaching. For the first couple of years as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, it was all I could do to complete the metamorphosis from domestically-challenged career woman to culinary-queen and housework goddess. (Okay...Some transitions are never fully realized.) But later, when the kids got old enough to be in school for six hours a day, the characters in my head found time to come out again. Murderers, cops, victims, lovers. I started writing down everything they did and said, then finally decided to see if anyone but me wanted to read about them.

Now, I lead a double life. Some days are spent in the university classroom or at the rehearsal podium; others spent chasing villains on my laptop.
So what do I do when I'm not creating music teachers or psycho murderers? (Two unrelated populations, I assure you.) With a husband, two children, and way too many furry, feathery, and scaly things, there isn't a lot of time left. It's enough to keep up with the house, the yard, and the family schedule, and hope no one on my laptop gets murdered when I'm not looking.

Authors website is here.

Now for the Giveaway: Hachette is allowing me to give away 5 copies of One Scream Away. This contest is open to USA and Canada only. No P.O boxes. Deadline to enter is July 28th at 5 PM. Good luck!

For your official entry leave a comment.

For 3 bonus entries become a (google friend connect) public follower~ already a follower? Thank you, that counts too.
For 2 bonus entries post link to contest on your blog, sidebar is great!
I don't twitter but if you do, tweet about the contest and give me the link, you'll get another bonus entry.
***Please leave all your comments in one box and be sure to include an e mail address. ***

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is kindly hosted each week by Marcia at the Printed Page. Anyone can play along. Just leave a link to your MM at Marcia's blog and visit listed links to see what others received in the mail. It's always fun to see what books are making the rounds of mailboxes around the world. Hope you had a good week. Here's what showed up at my house.


Tuesday: This book was a win from Karen at Bookin' With Bingo. Thanks, Karen. I read it immediately and it's a really scary thriller. I couldn't put it down. Hubby just finished it today and liked it too.





Friday
:
South of Broad by Pat Conroy is a book I have been anxious to read. Thanks to SA and Random House for an arc of this one.

So, what showed up at your house that got you excited?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: Only You by Deborah Grace Staley


From the publisher:

"A charming romance about the lives and loves of people in a small Tennessee town. In the tradition of Debbie Macomber. "Hey, ya'll. Dixie Ferguson here. I run Ferguson's Diner in Angel Ridge, Tennessee. Population three hundred forty-five. It's a picturesque town in the valley of the Little Tennessee River, established in 1785. In the early days, its first families--the McKays, the Wallaces, the Houstons, the Joneses, and, of course, the Craigs--staked their claims on hundreds of acres of the richest bottom land anyone had ever seen. After all the years I've spent behind the counter at Ferguson's, I could probably tell ya'll a story about near everyone in town. But we only have so much time, so I'll narrow it down to just two for now. This is a story about coming home. It's also a story about acceptin' folks for who they are. You could say it's a story about Josie Allen, a librarian, and Cole Craig, a handyman, but I say it's a story about finding love where you'd least expect to."

Product Details
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (May 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982175639
ISBN-13: 978-0982175637

Only You is book one in The Angel Ridge Series by Deborah Grace Staley. This is an old fashioned love story told in a heartwarming , down home manner. So, y'all just pull up a rocking chair, get yourself a nice glass of sweet tea and savor the telling. The story opens with Dixie Ferguson, owner of the local diner, welcoming the reader to the small town of Angel Ridge, Tennessee and telling what to expect from the book. Dixie is not just a storyteller, she's a matchmaker with a heart of gold.

There are so many wonderful characters in this delightful story; Josie, the hard working young librarian, Cole, the handsome as all-get-out local handyman, the overly bossy Mrs. McKay who is also head of the library committee and her obnoxious snob of a son, Martin. Martin thinks he's entitled to Josie's attention as does his mother just because their bank financed Josie's education and the fact that the McKays have lived in Angel Ridge for years. On the "right" side of town, mind you! Mrs. McKay seems to think this gives her the right to every minute of Josie's life. But Dixie and Josie's elderly neighbor, the slightly eccentric Miss Estelee think otherwise. And now y'all know Miss Estelee has seen a lot of goings on in Angel Ridge in all her years!

What might seem predictable at the beginning does hold a few surprises, not just for Josie, but the whole town. This is one sweet romance, almost nostalgic in a way you'll hate to see end. Only You is sheer escapism with a feel good story in a town you might wish you lived in. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. For the genre, I rate it a 4****.

You can visit the author at her website here.

A big thank you to Deb Smith at Belle Books for an advance copy of Only You.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Tour: Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand


"Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys,
Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed. Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life."

My Thoughts:

At the beginning, the cast of characters seemed almost overwhelming but I was quickly immersed into the lives of these four couples. At first, all seems idyllic with the friendships solid and loyal between these eight characters. But their intricate lives are not all as happy as they appear on the surface. From each character's personal viewpoint, the reader learns through flash backs and some present moments that there are underlying dark secrets within each one of them. They all have their own weaknesses and strengths as diverse individuals and as part of a relationship.

Hilderbrand does a fabulous job of character development. With each new viewpoint, another character layer is revealed showing them all to be somewhat flawed and truly human. The complex group dynamics of the friendships was as interesting as each individual story and each marital relationship. I think that's why this book reads so authentically. The only character that did not ring true to me was Andrea, the Chief's wife. Her reaction and virtual withdrawal from life over Tess's death felt over the top melodramatic to me. One of the characters I really liked was Phoebe even though she had her own way of coping with pain and loss. She lived in a pharmaceutical and alcoholic haze for most of the book. But she did redeem herself and made the ending of the book so worthwhile.

I have read several of Hilderbrand's books prior to this one. In my opinion, The Castaways has a plot line and characters with a lot more depth and have a little more contemporary edge to them than some of her previous books. If you're looking for a really enticing escape read, you need look no further than The Castaways. For book clubs, this would be a wonderful selection. I can see plenty of discussion possibilities. Highly recommended. 4****
For other participating tours today, please visit:

http://www.myspace.com/darbyscloset
http://imbookingit.wordpress.com/
http://booksoulmates.blogspot.com/
http://www.morbid-romantic.net/
http://nisefunpages.blogspot.com/
http://tvandbookaddict.blogspot.com/
http://allisonsatticblog.blogspot.com/
http://wrightysreads.blogspot.com/
http://frugalplus.com/
http://www.mgpblog.com/




Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket. She is the author of ten novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

A big thank you to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for a copy of this delightful book and allowing me the privilege of taking part in the tour.



Visit Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guest post and giveaway extraordinaire: J.B. Stanley, author of the Supper Club and Collectible cozy series


Today, it is such an honor to welcome one of my absolute favorite authors in the cozy genre. You might remember I reviewed Stiffs and Swines and The Battered Body, which I also featured in a Tuesday Teaser . Just to refresh your memory or if you happened to be in outer space that day and missed it, (lol!) I've included links. So let's welcome J. B. Stanley and see what she has to say and giveaway.

Author, Eavesdropper, & Dialogue Thief by J.B. Stanley

A few weeks back, when I was well into the first draft of the sixth book in my supper club series, The Vulgar Vegetarian, I found myself in search of a villain. Literally. I wanted to drive around until I found someone who was perfectly deceitful, immoral, and malicious (or, at least I could envision them that way). Is there a shortage of bad guys/gals in the world? I think not. One just has to look for them, but at the moment I didn’t want to leave Barnes & Noble.
“Writer’s block?” One of the booksellers teased, noticing that I hadn’t typed a word since I’d sat down with my iced coffee.
“Not really.” I smiled. “Can I ask you an odd question?”
“Those are the best kind,” she replied (to my delight).
“Can you think back to high school or junior high and tell me if there was someone who was especially mean to you?” I plowed on. “A bully?”
Slightly suspicious, she nodded. “Yeah, I knew someone like that. Why do you want to know?”
“Well, I’ve already based characters on people who have wronged me, my immediate family, and even my cat. At the moment, I’m fresh out of villains. But if you knew someone who had an extra supply of cruelty, then I could add him into my book”
She nodded immediately. “In high school. His name was Russ.”
Russ? My antagonist had a first name. I’d make up his last name later. “What did he look like?”
“He was your average blue-eyed blond, but he was too mean to be cute. He only smiled when he thought he was hurting someone.” She paused in the middle of straightening a row of Seventeen magazines. “His face was always bunched up in a smirk. Like a little frog.”
I could picture him already, but as a grown man in his mid twenties. “What kind of things did he tease you about?”
The bookseller’s face clouded over. I could see that Russ’s words still haunted her and she was in her mid forties. “He told me that no one would ever ask me out. He said that I looked like a fat boy. He called me fat boy all the time. I hated him.” She gazed out the window and then turned back to me. “You know what? I still hate him.”
I moved closer to her, my heart already hardened against this brute. “How would you like a little payback?” I inquired. “I need a bad guy for my next book and I think Russ would make a terrific scoundrel.”
Her eyes lit up. “Are you going to kill him?”
I laughed nervously at her eagerness. “I don’t think so. But he’ll get his comeuppance.”
“Thanks,” she said, smiling shyly. “He was mean to lot of kids. He was really good at making people feel small.”
“For the record,” I told her before returning to my laptop, “You’re not fat, you don’t look like a boy, and I think you’re cool.”

This is a true story, folks. I do oddball stuff like this all the time. Sure, many of the ideas appearing in my books come from my own experiences, but not all. I’ve overheard snippets of gossip in eateries that I knew could plump up the dialogue of one of my ongoing scenes, I’ve seen how rude people can be when talking on their cell phones and have planned on teaching one of my characters a lesson about etiquette as a result, and I’ve studied the quirks and mannerisms of people at work.

In short, I spy on people all the time and I borrow upon these real-time observations to color my narrative. Sometimes I’m just shopping for a physical description. If I cast my eyes around the bank or the grocery store or the gym, my gaze will alight on someone whose unique appearance will transfer into fiction in a few, succinct sentences. My job is the most rewarding form of people watching.

I’m also always on the lookout for exhibitions of warmth, generosity, courtesy, and pubic displays of affection. I revel in the pure happiness folks illustrate at bakeries or ice cream parlors. Have you ever seen a person sitting at a patio table shaded by a yellow and white striped umbrella, licking a chocolate-dipped soft serve cone? Do they look unhappy? Never! They look so content that you want to pull into the nearest parking space and get yourself some of what they’ve got!
So yes, I’m a spy and I eavesdrop, but it’s all for the sake of my writing. Promise!

J.B. Stanley’s Supper Club series was called ‘heavy on fun’ by Publisher’s Weekly. There are five book in the series: Carbs & Cadavers, Fit To Die, Chili Con Corpses, Stiffs & Swines, and The Battered Body. The first book in her new Hope Street Church series, Stirring Up Strife, will hit the shelves 12/29/09. For more information or to send an email visit http://www.jbstanley.com/
Find me on Twitter or Facebook under jbstanleyauthor or visit my regular blog with The Cozy Chicks at http://www.cozychicks.com/


Now for the first time published, here is the recipe that will appear in the next Supper Club Mystery to be available in 2010.

Dolly’s Blueberry Dream Pie

INGREDIENTS:

4 oz cream cheese, softened (Dolly prefers Philadelphia brand cream cheese)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream. Spread into pastry shell.
2. . In a large saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, water and lemon juice. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth and then stir in blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a sprig of mint (optional)

Now for the giveaway. Reader’s Choice Prize – I’d love to send you any one of my books (signed, of course) along with some coffee, a scented candle, a journal, and a whole slew of other goodies!

Thank you so much for spending some time with us. Wow, J.B., that is one super generous prize. Okay, kids, here are the rules:

Contest open to US and Canada only. No P.O. Boxes. Deadline to enter is July 18th at 5 P.M. Please put all info in ONE comment box and be sure to include an e mail address.

For official entry just comment you want to win
For 3 bonus entries~ become a follower through google connect (follow publicly)
For 2 bonus entries~ post about the contest and leave me the direct link
For 1 more bonus entry~ put a link in your sidebar
For 1 more bonus~ send a friend to enter, have them mention your name and you both get the extra entry.

To make it a little more interesting: if we get to 160 followers by the deadline, I will send 2 of J.B's books, A Killer Collection and Deadly Dealer to a second winner. These are gently read books from the Collectible series. Good Luck!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Book Tour: Tomorrow's Treasure by Linda Lee Chaikin & The Captain's Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren



From the back cover:

"Raised by her aunt and uncle at the rectory in the small English village of Grimston Way, lovely Evy Varley remembers little of her parents and nothing of South Africa, the land where she was orphaned during the Zulu war of 1878. But when Sir Roger Chantry, the arrogant and handsome son of the local squire, accuses Evy's mother of stealing the infamous Kimberly Black Diamond, Evy sets out to prove the rogue wrong and clear her mother's name.

Secrets abound, however, from the diamond mines of South Africa to the halls of her own beloved rectory. A stunned Evy finds her own aunt and uncle may have concealed disturbing truths about her family, and the rakish Sir Rogan has his own reasons to seek the Black Diamond. Now, faced with a dangerous past and an uncertain future, Evy must draw upon her wits and her faith to pursue Tomorrow's Treasure."

My thoughts: This story has a lot going for it: from adventures in Capetown to a rural village in the Victorian era, luxurious living at the squire's manse to penurious rectory life, family secrets and a black sheep, stolen diamonds and a captivating love story. Phew, what more could you want for a perfect literary escape! I really enjoyed this book and want to extend a thank you to Staci at Waterbrook Press for a copy. 4****

About the author: Linda Lee Chaiken has written numerous top-selling books and series, including The Silk House series and For Whom The Stars Shine, a finalist for the prestigious christy Award. Two of her novels have been awarded the Silver Angel Angel Award for excellence. Linda is a graduate of Multnamah Biblical Seminary and taught neighborhood Bible classes for many years. She and her husband live in California.

Captain's Bride


My Thoughts: The story opens in Bergen, Norway in 1880 as we are introduced to the main characters: Elsa Anders and her fiance Peder Ramstadt, Elsa's younger sister Tora and Peder's best friend Karl. Along with these characters are newlyweds Kaatje and Soren. Elsa's and Peder's wedding occurs in Norway and then they are off to build a new life in Camden-by-the-Sea, Maine. Several others from Bergen are to sail with them. Peder is the Captain of the ship and he and his friend Karl will be building a new shipyard in Maine but Karl is harboring a secret that could destroy their life long friendship.

After settling in their new home, Elsa becomes distraught that Peder does not want her to sail with him as he thinks it is too dangerous. This becomes a bone of contention in their marriage. You can just feel Elsa's frustration and Peder's obstinacy. Even though they have differences of opinons, their deep Christian beliefs keeps their love intact and helps them to overcome many problems. Bergren does such a wonderful job with these characters that they really come to life on the page. It is so easy to feel their anguish at leaving their families but also the excitement and sense of adventure in emigrating to America.

Some of the other Bergensers, including Kaatje and Soren travelled on to North Dakota to make a living out of farming. Unfortunately, Soren has an eye for other women. Despite his promises to Kaatje to be faithful only to her, Soren can not help dallying with others, even turning to the teenaged Tora while sailing to America. These actions are to have dire consequences to their young marriage.

Tora, despite her young age of 16, is a woman who knows what she wants and will use any means to get it. Aspiring to marriage and family is definitely not on her agenda. She has set her sights to high society and wealth. After finally leaving Camden-by-the-Sea, she moves to Duluth to begin a career and a search for the perfect man who will keep her in style. All of the characters start out with big dreams for a new life in a new country where the possibilities seem endless.

This book is the first in The Northern Lights trilogy. I got so engrossed in this wonderful saga that I finished it in two sittings. I had a really hard time coming out of the time frame and putting this one down. Bergren is a skilled writer who fleshes out her characters to perfection. Every nuance of the characters' emotions is clearly expressed leaving the reader to feel as if these characters are real. There are also plenty of adventures in this epic story. I liked the first one so much, I read the next two books in the series: Deep Harbor and Midnight Sun where the story continued. If you are a fan of romance, Christian fiction, adventure or family sagas, this is one story you will savor. Highly recommended. 4.5****

About the author: Lisa Tawn Bergren has authored more than thrity books, including Breathe and The Begotten. Visit her online here.

A huge thank you to Staci at Waterbrook/Random House for a copy of this riveting novel.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Did somebody say "Winners"?

Did somebody say "Winners" ? I think they did ! How exciting! Let's see who won The Night Gardener. First off, we have Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit who is the instant winner for guessing Pudgy's first name of Alphonse. The other four winners were chosen by Random.org and those winners are:

Life's too short

Staci

Allison

Ammie

Congrats to the 5 winners and a big thank you to all the entrants. Also a big thank you to Hachette for providing the books for the contest. All winners have been notified by e mail.

The next contest at Pudgy Penguin Perusals will start on July 7th and promises to be something special. Then on the 14th of July, there will be another contest for 5 copies of One Scream Away by Kate Brady, again through the incredible generosity of Hachette Book Group.