Friday, November 30, 2012

Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare

They are opposites and yet very much alike. Both are thought to be beneath the upper crust of English society. When they get together, theWolfishly Yours ton is in for a surprise.

This is a rough description of author Lydia Dare’s latest protagonists in WOLFISHLY YOURS. Once again Dare pairs an unusual couple for a tantalizing outcome.

Liviana Mayeux finds herself shipped off to England to live with Lord Holmesfield, a grandfather she barely knows. She’s fine running through the swamps of Louisiana with her two Lycan brothers. Now her father and her grandfather want to make a proper lady out of her.

Meanwhile, Grayson Hadley and his brother, Archer, are forced to endure Lady Sophia Cole’s lessons of proper etiquette. His half brother, Lord Eynsford, wants to make gentlemen out of them despite their Lycan ways.

Lord Holmesfield enlists the assistance of Grayson’s mother, Lady Radbourne, to help Liviana become a lady. However, he doesn’t want the Hadley ruffians around her.

Dare has created well-developed characters that are strong, but with quirks and flaws. You’ll quickly believe in the unbelievable. The story moves at a steady pace with a good mix of romance, humor, family, paranormal, and historical setting.

This is the ninth installment in the Westfield Werewolves series, but is a stand alone read. Returning fans will find familiar couples scattered throughout the story, but the references won’t leave new readers in the dark. In fact, new readers might be intrigued to learn the back stories of several of the characters involved with Grayson and Liviana’s adventure.

WOLFISHLY YOURS is a fun read that will draw you in and hold you spellbound till the end. The feisty spirit of Liviana and the sexy charm of Grayson makes for an enticing tale.

Author Lydia Dare’s website is
Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare, Westfield Wolves Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402263491, Paperback, 384 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
I’d like to say thanks to everyone for stopping by today. Who you enjoy stories where the paranormal seems normal?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Changing Places ..... Thunderstruck!

Have you ever wished you could be like someone else? Have their talent, their charm, their abilities?

Well that’s what happens in THUNDERSTRUCK starring NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Warner Bros. announces the release of THUNDERSTRUCK on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, December 4th, along with the Thunderstruck Blog App! 

Thanks to Warner Bros. and the good folks at PartnersHub, I have a THUNDERSTRUCK Combo Pack (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Download) to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines.

In THUNDERSTRUCK, NBA superstar Kevin Durant plays himself in this action-packed family film about a basketball star who switches talent with a klutzy 16-year-old fan.

When Brian (Taylor Gray) magically switches basketball skills with his hero, Kevin Durant, he becomes the star of his high school team... while Kevin Durant suddenly can’t make a shot to save his life! But with the playoffs approaching, Brian learns that being a true winner means working hard at your own game, and he tries to make things right in time to prevent a catastrophic end to his hero’s season. 

Check Out the THUNDERSTRUCK Blog App below and try your hand at the Free Throw Challenge Game. Make as many baskets as you can and unlock special clips along the way.

The app also includes 7 Thunder-ific Tips for Kids! If your youngsters dreams of going pro then use these awesome tips to help them sharpen their skills.

In addition, the app features a fun movie trailer. Click on the link and see the fun begin when Brian makes his wish.

As Kevin Durant says, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Find more fun about this action-packed family film tweeting using the hash tag #ThunderstruckBluRay.
Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win THUNDERSTRUCK.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the promoter nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway, provided by Warner Bros., for the THUNDERSTRUCK Combo Pack will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 8. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you could switches places or talents with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Author Karen Fisher-Alaniz: A Father/Daughter Journey

With each passing day a bit of history slowly vanishes as we lose the brave men and women who served in World War II. Many of those who lived through the events of that war have never spoken about it or only shared brief glimpses of what happened for various reasons. 

Author Karen Fisher-Alaniz recently came to understand much more about what her father did during the war and who he is. Karen joins us today as part of her WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour for her book, BREAKING THE CODE: A Father's Secret, A Daughter's Journey and the Question That Changed Everything.

On his 81st birthday, Karen’s father presented her with two weathered notebooks containing more than 400 pages of letters he’d written to his parents during World War II. He asked her to uncover a truth for him, was he involved in espionage during the war or not. He had been forbidden to keep any written records and it was so many years ago. Thus began Karen’s journey that lead to her incredible book which is a double memoir: the story of her father's memories of his World War II service and the story of Karen, searching through history for clues to her father's part in winning World War II.

Thanks to Karen and Jodi at WOW!, I have a copy of BREAKING THE CODE to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines and also an additional giveaway.
Here’s Karen to answer some questions about her journey to writing this book.

Mason - Why did your father believe he had been involved in espionage all those years ago and why his long wait to find out the truth? 

Karen - He believed he was, because he was. Before being sent to Iwo Jima an28d Okinawa to copy the top secret code based in the Japanese, Katakana, there were classes that his team was required to take. There were five in the team. They were told that if they revealed anything about what they did during the war, that they would be put in solitary for the remainder of the war. If anything they revealed got into enemy hands, they would be shot, without court martial. I think that fear, coupled with the great loss he experienced, locked the memories up. He was able to come home from the war, get married to my mother, have three daughters and work for the railroad for many years. I believe his mind protected him from the things he experienced – the things he saw. 9/11/2001 seems to have been a trigger for him – after that, he was quite down, and eventually nightmares and flashbacks were so common that he was afraid to even take a nap in the afternoon. He changed dramatically.

Mason - How does one even begin to uncover such secrets? Was it a difficult path to follow?
Karen - It was a long and very slow process. I would read some letters and then have a list of questions. Sometimes he’d answer the questions and often he wouldn’t, or couldn’t. My only goal at the time was to find a way to help him. I struggled many times with whether I was helping him or hurting him. I felt guilty when a memory came to the surface that was painful. But at the same time, I had a sense that in the long term, it would help him. 

Mason - What was one of the most surprising things yo
u discovered in your journey either about your father's activities, your father himself, your father/daughter relationship, or about yourself?
Karen - Well, I was sitting across from my father every week at a local diner. My father was now in his 80’s, walked with a cane, and his body was slowing down. His mind remains sharp as a tack. His memory is better than mine. But I’m sitting across from him, and trying to reconcile what I’m seeing with the young man he had been. 

My father had transferred from ship to submarine, to raft, to ship again, in the middle of the ocean. He’d scaled the side of a ship with radio equipment strapped to his back. He had copied a top secret code while Kamikazes filled the sky and comrades were dying around him. Before this, my father had just been Daddy. He was the one who taught me to ride a bike and who made campfires and roasted marshmallows. Seeing my father with new eyes was the most amazing experience of my life.

Mason - Before the request to uncover the truth, did your father talk much about the war and his part in it?
Karen - When I was little, my father had a handful of stories that he told over and over. But those stories made the war sound like Boy Scout camp. They were fun or interesting stories. There was nothing intriguing or dangerous sounding. When anyone asked him if he was in the war he would answer with an emphatic “no!” He believed that designation was reserved for those who were in hand-to-hand combat. 

My father often said that he had simply worked behind a desk during the war. That’s why, when he began having symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, at the age of 81, I was so baffled. If he was so safe during the war, then what could have happened to bring on nightmares and flashbacks?

Mason - How long did your journey to discover the truth take you?
Karen - Dad started having flashbacks and nightmares at the age of 81, shortly after tragedy struck our nation on 9/11. I knew something was terribly wrong, but couldn’t figure out just what. So, we started having breakfast together once a week. Eventually, he gave me 400 pages of letters he wrote during the war. Those letters became the foundation for the story and the focus of our weekly conversations. I started asking him questions. I had a feeling that I would uncover something, and hopefully that would enable me to help him through this. I just never could have dreamed that my father was a top secret code breaker!

Mason - What advice would you give to others who would like to research their own families' involvement in the war?
Karen - Many of us have heard bits and pieces about our parent’s or grandparent’s wartime experiences. Or we’ve seen the proverbial wall come up when we ask about it. I think the important thing to do is to keep asking. Your loved one has a story to tell. Maybe they weren’t ready to tell it 30-years ago, or three weeks ago, but today could be the day. Give your loved one (and yourself) the gift of time. 

My father and I began having breakfast together once a week. That’s just one hour, every week, for ten years now. It adds up. Be willing to build a new relationship, one
that is different than when you were a child, or a teen, or young adult. I didn’t have time for my father’s stories during that time. It pains me to admit that. But it’s true. We all think we have more time; sadly, time runs out for some. And those stories are lost forever. I’m very thankful that Dad finally shared his stories with me.

Mason - Does your father have a favorite memory of the war.
Karen - He was stationed on Oahu, so he often went exploring by himself or with comrades. There was a little hole-in-the-wall steakhouse that he went to with his best friend, Mal. It was called, Mary’s Steakhouse. He got to be a regular, so one day, Mary asked him if there was something special she could make them that would remind them of home. Dad didn’t even have to think about it. Strawberry Shortcake. The next time he went in, Mary had made them homemade strawberry shortcake. He says it was the best he’s ever had. It’s a bittersweet memory because his comrade and friend didn’t survive the war much longer. But a beautiful memory none-the-less.

Karen, thank you for joining us today and sharing this insight information with us. You are so right saying we believe we have time to find out information from our loved ones, but we don’t. 

Karen was born and raised in Washington state. She taught special education for fourteen years before embarking on a new path as a writer. Although she'd been writing for fun since first grade, she'd never considered writing a book until her father handed her his collection of letters. Since then, she's toured bookstores and other events signing her book, inspired audiences with her public speaking, and was even interviewed by NPR's Audie Cornish for the Weekend Edition. 

Currently Karen has two new books in the works. The first is a humorous look at raising a child who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The second and longer term book is a narrative nonfiction about another veteran's story. It is about Michael G. Reagan, an extremely talented portrait artist who gave up his career and has dedicated his life to drawing the portraits of fallen soldiers of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other wars. He donates the portraits, framed and free of charge, to the families. For more information about the Fallen Heroes Project, visit

Karen lives in Walla Walla, WA. For more on Karen and her writing, visit her website at and find her on Twitter at @karenlalaniz.

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win BREAKING THE CODE.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of BREAKING THE CODE is be 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Dec. 6.

You can also try your luck for one of three books Karen is giving away on Dec. 7. For more information and to enter, visit

For those on Twitter, the hash tag for this tour is #BreakingTheCode.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Have you taken the time to listen to a family member’s wartime experience?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Author Irving H. Podolsky: Writing A Trilogy

I’ve always said one of the fun things about blogdom is getting to know new authors and discovering the fascinating books they have to share. Well, I recently had the pleasure of meeting a ‘new-to-me’ author in the form of Irving H. Podolsky.

Irving is a bit different as he resides in the mind of an intriguing writer and within that writer’s trilogy, IRV’S ODYSSEY. As the storyteller, Irving likes to share the adventure with the reader’s younger SELF, that which seeks fun, romance and a wild ride into the Unknown.

Irving joins us today and has graciously answered some Lost Coverquestions about his writing. But first, let me give you a brief synopsis of each book in IRV’S ODYSSEY:

Irving Podolsky is a nice Jewish boy looking for a nice Jewish girl and a job out of college which would, you know, make the world a better place. But when our hero’s food supply dwindles down to a slab of Velveeta and a jar of pickles, our lad takes his only job offer: directing porn movies. This leads to the night shift in a mental hospital, only to be replaced by the lowest rung in  food service, which drives Irv so bonkers his mind ejects out of his body to the Other Side. IRV’S ODYSSEY is a humorous quest for truth, love and meaning while lost in alternate life styles, a psychedelic drug culture and the free-love of the seventies. LOST IN A LOOKING GLASS starts the journey.

Book Two - TO THE LIGHT AND BEYOND Irv's still employed at the mental hospital, a place where all the people who don’t “fit in” get jobs behind locked doors. It’s a crazy circus and Irv’s life is far from settling down. A free-loading porn stud and con man moves into our lad’s apartment, and the jerk won’t leave! It gets worse. Irv discovers the place where humanity hides it’s most shameful secret. And it’s not in the Buckhead Steak ‘n Brew where Irv becomes a salad boy/dishwasher. And it’s not at the Cloisters Restaurant where Irv get pushed into bussing tables while tripping on acid. And it’s not in Europe where he meets three people who change his life in ways he only read about in Sci-Fi novels and mystical books. Actually that “shameful secret” is no secret at all, yet only Irv wants to know it. Will our friend ever find his way back to Normal? Not yet.

Book Three - SEEKING THE WAY HOME Food service and Irving Podolsky are NOT friends. Still, Irv rises to the level of waiter in the Fairmont Hotel. What about his film career, making the world a better place and finding a nice Jewish chick? Well, instead, Irv meets an exotic older girl from Germany. Could she be the one, Irv’s forever, but not-Jewish-at-all soul mate? Ben suggests she is. Ben is a drawling spirit voice channeled through a Puerto Rican pothead. And Ben knows all about Irv’s recent nocturnal fly-outs: those uncontrollable out-of-body trips that bring him to the Other Side where he encounters creepy crawlers in attack mode and goes back and forth in time and into his own future. These bizarre events are not dreams or fantasies. They are real. For as Irv finds out, magic and miracles do exist. And so does true love, if he can just convince his parents, it’s okay to marry a shiksa.

Now here’s Irving.

Mason - Have you always wanted to write or did something happen to put you on this path?

Irving - Actually, Mason, growing up, I wasn’t interested in writing at all but I always wanted to share feelings and go deep in that way. I know, sounds like sex. But really, it was about communicating IDEAS and I did that through my music and paintings. I was a fine arts major until I transferred to USC’s School of Cinema Arts.

Writing didn’t kick in until after I graduated film school. But I didn’t want to be an author. Like every USC graduate, (we all thought we were George Lucas II) I wanted to be a famous film director, and the fast track to fame was writing a script that caused a six-studio bidding war, and then get hired along with the words. That was pretty much the standard fantasy back then, and it still is, kept alive because it does happen once in a while.

Light CoverSo I started writing screenplays, which is really more an outline than a literary work. If you come up with concise but unusual description, snappy dialogue and a gripping structure, you just might have something Hollywood would buy. 

But scribing a hot page-turner script is harder to write than a novel. At least I think so. A script is bare bones action and words, told in three acts, in the third person, in present tense, in ninety to one hundred and twenty pages. So if you grab a Gate-Keeper’s attention and hold it with those kinds of restrictions, you’ve accomplished a big deal and a good shot at writing a riveting novel.

I’m a judge for the Motion Picture Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting competition. By the time the scripts get to me they’ve already been screened and selected by professional story analysts. Still many of them just don’t hold interest, or they’re not believable. Great writing it hard! There were over 7,000 submissions this years and only five writers won endowments. And they we sooooo happy, those winners! Now they’re on their way in serious conversations with producers.

So that’s how I started out, writing screenplays over a period of twelve years. Finally one was optioned and packaged by William Morris and the Tribune Company production wing. Sissy Spacek had the lead, but it didn’t make it to production. This happens a lot. Still, I was so frustrated about it, coming so close after so long, I stopped writing altogether. 

But by that time I had a full Hollywood career going so it didn’t feel like that huge of a loss. (I just lied. I was crushed.)

Mason - Why write this book? What made this story so compelling to you that you had to tell it?

Irving - It didn’t start out as anything compelling. It was about trying one last time to get a script sold in Hollywood. So a few years ago, while under the shower (my think tank), I indeed started thinking. Maybe I’ve got one more in me…one last shot at writing the greatest movie ever made. Humm… But about what?

And a germ of an idea started to grow. (Did I say that? How cliché! Forget germ growing!)

Anyway, I revisited my early twenties past, remembering my very first jobs out of film school in 1970 and how I stumbled into directing pornographic movies. I was so naive. I had never even SEEN an adult flick before that. I started maturing super fast that first day I called, “Action.”

So the idea came to me - all those models who were performing in front of the camera, most were my age at the time. What happened to them? What are they doing now? Do they have children, grand children, a “normal” neighborhood life somewhere? Their then-and-now story would be fascinating. Consequently I tried tracking down all the people I knew back then in that bizarre upside-down world. I couldn’t find a single one. Some had already died. Some had changed their names. The rest simply disappeared into the fabric of our diverse society. 

That left me with only one person I knew who had been there, done that and had drastically changed. That person was me. But although I traveled a strange and awesome journey for five years before I met my wife, I didn’t want to write my memoir. I wanted to write a screenplay. The result? Irving Podolsky was born, a character and storyteller somewhat like me but not me, discovering things based on my life but not exactly my life. 

What started out as a sixty page treatment for one screenplay ended upSeeking Cover as a three novel series, IRV’S ODYSSEY. And the only reason that happened, is because when I passed around the initial treatment for feedback, I was told that it read like a book, and that it should be a book. So I kept writing, handing out section after section for more reviews. The responses were so encouraging, they motivated me to finish the trilogy.

And while doing that, I learned how to be a novelist.

Mason - If you had to write the story again, would you do anything differently this time?

Irving - Well, the books were rewritten, edited, and polished many times, so I already knew it was all working when published. But as I said, I learned to write on-the-job. I found my author’s voice and I also found Irving Podolsky’s voice, my reoccurring character for my blog. And that’s still evolving and getting more fluid. So if I revisited “IRV’S ODYSSEY” one more time, I’d drop half the commas!

Mason - What is the best advice you’ve received concerning writing?

Irving - Actually I never received any general advise, only specific editing suggestions. But I do remember a line from the movie, “A River Runs Through It.” 

The Brad Pitt character is a young man learning to be a novelist and he offers his dad his first draft for review. The criticism comes back in one sentence: “Too many words.”

So the young man revises and revises and each time he gets the same response, “Too many words.” 

Finally, at the end of the movie, the young man finally achieves his father’s approval, having whittled down his entire book to just the title and “The End.”

(Just kidding. Brad still had some words left.)

That advice imprinted. Since then I’ve done my best to convey ideas with as few words as possible. 

Writing fiction is not about impressing the world with intellectual turns-of-a-phrase. Writing a good yarn is making words disappear, leaving only clear information and feelings. I’ve learned if you’re drawing attention to technique as oppose to thoughts, you’ve distracted your reader. 

Same advice goes for typos, misspelling and bad grammar: All of that sloppy stuff nudges scanning eyes off the page. Once you’ve lost your reader’s trust, you’ve lost their interest too.

Mason - Okay, so are you still writing? Can we expect anything more from you?

Irving - Well, yes. There’s my weekly blog. But for novels, I won’t be writing anything in a popular genre. That might mean a harder sell.

I can’t tell you how many times I was told in pitch sessions, “What I want is a movie like (Blockbuster Title). But different. Not TOO different, but different enough.”

Many novels are written like that. YA and fantasy has flooded Amazon. And that’s fine but aiming for trends is not me. I can’t stop writing against convention. That’s just me. I’m always experimenting with ideas that challenge the mores and ethics of society. 

Who ARE we, really? That’s what I want to know, which means I write for myself first. That path has yet to let me down. Still, my next novel just might be a tad tricky to market. It’s a comedy about a transgender love affair.
Here’s the log line. (It just came to me.)

The spirit of a nice Jewish boy is imprisoned in a college girl’s body, and he falls in love with a middle-aged shiksha trapped in a Rabbi.

Now what genre would that be?

While you’re thinking, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to write something for your blog. You are truly a power-booster for independent writers!

Irving, thanks so much for visiting today and answering my questions. Thank you also for the kind words. Without wonderful writers like yourself and others, there would be nothing for us readers to enjoy.

For more on Irving and his writing, visit his blog at

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever written or contemplated writing a screenplay?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turtle Bay by Helga Stipa Madland On Tour

Author Helga Stipa Madland is on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book promoting her humorous mystery, TURTLE BAY.

Helga was born in Upper Silesia, now a part of southwest Poland. She, along with her mother and sister, became refugees in 1945 and her father, a forester, had been drafted. The family left their home, along with other family members, and relocated to West Germany.

Helga and her family came to the United States in 1954 by way of Canada. Graduating from Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, she also lived for a time in Idaho. She later married Bill ‘Spike’ Madland and they had three children. Helga went on to get her B.A. in German and English and a Ph.D. in German with a minor in Spanish, divorced, remarried and is now Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages at the University of Oklahoma.

Helga and her second husband, Richard Beck, reside with their two dogs - Questor, a long-haired dachshund, and Peter, a sort of schnauzer-terrier mix - and four domestic house cats - Tassos, a languid, yellowish feline; Gretel, his tortoise shell sister; Percy, a calico cat;, and Fritz, a very hairy cartoon cat. 

For more on Helga and her writing, visit her website at

TURTLE BAY by Helga Stipa Madland

Detective James Kahamala of the Honolulu Police Department is calledTurtle Bay_zpscd7eb0f3 in to investigate the robbery of several expensive paintings stolen from the lobby of Turtle Bay, the famous resort in Oahu (Hawaii). Normally one to investigate murders, Kahamala is dispatched to the scene of the robbery by direct request of his police chief.

Kahamala leaves his 12-year-old twin daughters, Myra and Maya, and their dachshund, Questor, in the capable hands of a family friend known affectionately as Aunt Beatrice. Since his wife’s death, the eccentric woman helped out from time to time with the children.

Meanwhile, Audubon University’s English Department is holding their annual Fall Retreat at Turtle Bay adding to the madness. A delay in his investigation results in Kahamala having his daughters, Aunt Beatrice and Questor join him at Turtle Bay.

When an English professor goes missing from the retreat, Kahamala finds he has two cases to solve. Before long the girls, Aunt Beatrice and Questor are also snooping around to help with the cases. English Department politics and family complications are just the tip of the iceberg as Questor puts his nose to solving the mysteries. 

The author has created a fanciful plot with engaging characters that will hold your attention from the first page until the end. TURTLE BAY moves at a steady pace with twists and turns. The witty dialogue will pull you in and have you smiling as you try to solve the mysteries before everyone else.

Great detail has been given to the setting by the author. Her vivid descriptions of the area place the reader in the midst of the scene. The addition of the twins and the dog involved in the solution makes for a delightful read. 

Turtle Bay, A Mystery by Helga Stipa Madland, Aventine Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-1593307400, Paperback, 238 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour and it was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thank you for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books that blend family life into the main character’s work?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Salon: Christmas Stories To Enjoy

Photo from morgueFile
Much has happened since we last visited for Sunday Salon. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the Christmas season is officially underway.

Another week has past as we gather once more to participate in Sunday Salon. Today we talk about the books we’ve found and discuss new ones we’re eager to read. In the spirit of Christmas, I have three entertaining and intriguing books to share with you today. While each is unique in its own special way, they all share one standard theme throughout - the magic of Christmas.


coverAuthor Victoria Alexander beautifully blends romance, loyalty, humor, historical England, and mystery with a dash or two of Christmas magic for an engaging read. You always know her book is going to be filled with passion and lots of fun.

Narrator Elizabeth Wiley does a wonderful job bringing all the characters to life. She gives each their own distinct voice keeping the story flowing smoothly. Her accent transports listeners to an English country home for an unforgettable Christmas.

Camille, Lady Lydingham, thought she’d found her perfect prince. All she has to do is give Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky a perfect Dickensian Christmas like he wants and he will surely propose. There is just one problem - her family. There are out of town on holiday and are a bit unconventional to begin with.

Camille, a wealth widow, hires a troupe of down-and-out actors to play her family and staff. With the reluctant support of her twin sister, Beryl, and her husband Lionel, Lord Dunwell, Camille believes she can pull it off. She’ll explain everything to the Prince once they’re married and they’ll have a good laugh.

Camille never dreamed her plan would go up in smoke, but then she never planned on seeing Grayson Elliott again either. She had loved Grayson for years. He had declared his love for her 11 years ago on her wedding day and then disappeared.
Grayson returns to find Camille in the midst of a masquerade. He can’t help but say he’ll help her win her prince despite buried feelings that are beginning to surface and a distrust for the prince.

As Camille’s play continues, sparks begin to fly between her and Grayson. Just as she realizes she may have her prince, she’s not sure she wants him anymore.

The characters are well-developed and realistic. The author’s detail to the era and setting add another layer to the story. The eccentric characters and the perplexing plots will keep you in stitches. Filled with twists, surprises, romance, and loads of humor, WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS is a delightful story that reminds us to be careful of what we wish for.

Author Victoria Alexander’s website is
What Happens At Christmas by Victoria Alexander, Performed by Elizabeth Wiley, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1455800247, Unabridged, 10 Discs, Listening Time: 11 Hours 24 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

'Twas the Night After Christmas coverAuthor Sabrina Jeffries takes an intriguing look at how misunderstandings and pride cause a split between mother and son that only a Christmas miracle and a meddling companion can mend.

Narrator Michael Page does an excellent job giving each character their own unique sound. His vocalization of the emotions felt by the characters will bring you to tears, have you ready to slap someone, and laughing as he guides you through the story.

Pierce Waverly, Earl of Devonmont, has been an unabashed rogue most of his life. Basically abandonment by his parents and sent away to boarding school, he was raised by distant relatives. Since his father’s death, Pierce has taken on taken on the responsibilities of his title, but has never forgiven his parents - especially his mother.

An urgent message come from Mrs. Camilla Stuart, his mother’s new companion, saying she is seriously ill. Unable to stop himself, Pierce races to Montcliff only to learn it was a cruel trick by Mrs. Stuart hoping to get mother and son together.

Pierce also finds Camilla is nothing he imagined a vicar’s widow to be. Drawn to her, he finds himself staying longer at Montcliff. Meanwhile, he also discovers there may be more to his mother’s past than he knew. In addition, Camilla has secrets of her own that she tries to keep from Pierce.

The author has created characters with great depth as we see the kindness in Pierce coming to the surface and the longing in Camilla. There is also the brave face of Pierce’s mother and the innocence of young Jasper. The descriptions of the era, setting and customs places the listener (reader) in the middle of the scene bringing it all to life.

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS will tug on your heartstrings and then have you laughing out loud. This historical romance is mingled with surprises, loyalty and the magic of Christmas for a delightful story.

Author Sabrina Jeffries’ website is

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries, Performed by Michael Page, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1455861200, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Kissing Under the MistletoeAuthor Marina Adair has penned a charming story of loyalty, family, hardship, determination, and the miracle of love blended with the Christmas season.

Narrator Renee Raudman does a beautiful job giving unique voices to each of the characters, especially Holly. You can feel the pain and sadness, love and hope in her vocalizations. Her cadence draws you in for a tantalizing story.

When she was 19, Regan Martin made a terrible mistake that cost her everything and gave her a wonderful gift at the same time. She feel in love with a man she worked with only to discover he was already married. Just before losing everything, Regan learned she was pregnant.

Six years later her daughter is the center of her world as Regan tries to get on with her life. However, Gabe DeLuca, the brother-in-law of her ex-lover, has made it his mission to crush Regan’s career and life in the wine industry everywhere she turns.

When a dream job comes open in Napa Valley complete with a ‘forever’ home for them and a private school for Holly, Regan can’t believe her good luck. But the luck doesn’t last long when it’s discovered the job is with a DeLuca owned company. Regan is quickly out of a job, searching for a new place to live and trying to keep Holly in school. To add to her problems, Regan is also battling increasing good feelings toward the man who has made her life miserable for six years.

Meanwhile, Gabe only wants Regan out of his family’s business and away from where his sister might run into her. He also wants the attraction he feels for Regan to go away.

The author has created strong protagonist in Regan and Gabe. Giving each strengths, as well as flaws makes them more realistic. Loyalty and family is a driving force for both of them. The capricious supporting characters with their quirky ways adds another delightful layer to the mix, especially the meddling Christmas grandmas.

KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE will keep you laughing and tug at your heartstrings as Regan does her best to provide for her adorable daughter. The bickering and bantering between Regan and Gabe reminded me of old Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn scenes. This is a must-read for the holiday season.

Author Marina Adair’s website is

Kissing Under The Mistletoe by Marina Adair, A St. Helena Vineyard Novel, Performed by Renee Raudman, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1469236612, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you discovered any Christmas-themed stories you’d like to share?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hoo Hoo the Bear Series by Amanda Kleback

finished_hootbear_7Always on the lookout for entertaining and enlightening books for my young cousins, I was delighted to discover the Hoo Hoo the Bear series by author Amanda Kleback.

This charming series features five titles available in hardcover and made in the USA. The series takes youngsters and their parents on unique journeys while creating lasting memories with the help of an adorable little bear named Hoo Hoo. Who can resist a cuddly bear at Christmas? To enhance the learning experience, a plush Hoo Hoo the Bear is also available to accompany the series.

Hoo Hoo coverThe first book in the series is HOO HOO’S SONG. The main character, Hoo Hoo, is a cute, cuddly bear with a big heart. He hears a song coming from his heart and it leads him to a shelf in a store.

Before long the song leads Hoo Hoo to find Mrs. B, whose heart is singing the same song. Mrs. B. is a bit sad, but Hoo Hoo makes her giggle and they become best friends. She takes Hoo Hoo home and their family adventures begin.

Author Amanda Kleback tells a delightful story of friendship, love and caring. The story is beautifully illustrated by Kerry Mentzer and Sara Warfel. It includes an illustration of Hoo Hoo youngsters can color using their own imagination. There is also a maze puzzle in back for youngsters to enjoy.

Hoo Hoo’s Song by Amanda Kleback, Illustrated by Kerry Mentzer and Sara Warfel, The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, @2012, ISBN: 978-1936963041, Hardcover, 24 Pages 

1320520983494-1609354884The second book in the series, KNOCK, KNOCK! HOO HOO’S THERE!, takes youngsters on a magical journey back in time to a land where dragons roam and Sir Hoo Hoo lives. One day Sir Hoo Hoo encounters the Nusspickle monster who blocks his path home. Sir Hoo Hoo has to knock on wood to enlist the help of a fairy who leads him away from danger.

In this cute story, the author uses the old saying, ‘knock on wood’ to create Hoo Hoo’s adventure. The story is beautifully illustrated by Brian and Amanda Kleback with contributing art by Sara Warfel and Kerry Mentzer.

Knock, Knock! Hoo Hoo’s There! by Amanda Kleback, Illustrated by Brian and Amanda Kleback, Contributing Art by Sara Warfel and Kerry Mentzer, The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, @2012, ISBN: 978- 1936963058, Hardcover, 24 Pages 

1337912171014495894584Next in the series is HOO HOO!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS. In this adorable tale Hoo Hoo gets ready for his family’s annual Christmas Eve tradition - preparing food as it has been done for generations.

Just before midnight Hoo Hoo goes with his family as they carry a big pot of fruit soup to the barn to share with the animals. At the strike of midnight the barn becomes flooded with conversation as all the animals talk for one minute. Hoo Hoo learns sharing the food is a tradition of saying thanks for what the animals’ ancestors did the night Jesus was born.

The author creatively uses the Polish tradition of Wigilia (observed by her family) to relate the celebration of family, friends and especially the birth of Jesus. Hoo Hoo, his family and all the animals come to life through the amazing illustrations of the author and Jessica Lopez.

Hoo Hoo!!! Merry Christmas by Amanda Kleback, Illustrated by Amanda Kleback and Jessica Lopez, The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, @2012, ISBN: 978- 1936963065, Hardcover, 24 Pages 

1337912125289857297268The series continues with HOO IS FROM BALTIMORE, HON!. Hoo Hoo learns Mrs. B. grew up in a magical place called Baltimore. On a field trip to the area, Hoo Hoo and his family visit various famous and popular sites such as the Maryland Zoo, Fort McHenry, the Maryland Science Center, the Cylburn Arboretum, and much more.

The author weaves an adventure through the city and its attractions. She points out seeing magic in a place depends on how you look at it. The beautiful illustrations depicting the story are by the author.

Hoo Is From Baltimore, Hon! by Amanda Kleback, Illustrated by Amanda Kleback, The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, @2012, ISBN: 978- 1936963072, Hardcover, 24 Pages 

1337912098208-2094172970The last installment in the series is DON’T GET A BOO BOO, HOO HOO!. This is a well-written book explaining various safety tips for youngsters.

The author uses Hoo Hoo to explain how to respond to strangers, when and how to dial 911, and what to do when someone swallows poison. In addition, Hoo Hoo demonstrates what to do when lost, dealing with bullies, and in case of fire. The bright, vivid illustrations by the author will capture a youngster’s attention and hold it as the lesson is learned.

Don’t Get A Boo Boo, Hoo Hoo! by Amanda Kleback, Illustrated by Amanda Kleback, The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, @2012, ISBN: 978- 1936963133, Hardcover, 24 Pages 

This series doesn’t have to be read in order. In fact, I’m not sure I have the books listed in the correct order here. However, the complete set would make a wonderful gift for a child’s library providing delightful hours of entertainment and many life lessons to learn along the way. Additional learning activities, lesson plans, and games can also be found on Hoo Hoo’s website at

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested the first book in this series. The entire five book series and a couple of adorable plush Hoo Hoo the Bears were sent to me by the author in hopes I would review the books. However, receiving the complimentary copies and bears did not influence my reviews but were a wonderful surprise and treat.
Thanks so much for stopping in today. Do you enjoy searching for books to share with youngsters in your family? Have you found any books lately you’d like to tell us about?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pansy At The Palace by Cynthia Bardes

With the National Dog Show yesterday, sharing a delightful tale about an irresistible poodle seemed perfect for day.

Pansy At The Palace by Cynthia Bardes 

PansyAn adorable little girl named Avery adopts a cute chocolate brown poodle from a Los Angeles animal shelter. She names the dog Pansy and takes her to live with her and her family at the Palace Hotel. Pansy quickly makes friends with the guests, residents and staff of the hotel.

When jewelry is stolen from several guests, Pansy quickly picks up the trail of the thief. It’s up to this canine detective to locate the thief and save the hotel’s reputation. 

Author Cynthia Bardes has created a delightful story with an irresistible canine protagonist in PANSY AT THE PALACE. This is an entertaining tale of friendship and mystery. The story moves quickly and will capture youngsters’ imagination. In addition, the story highlights the importance of adopting pets from humane societies and animal shelters.

This charming story is brought to life through the vivid and beautiful illustrations by Kim Weissenborn. The bold and colorful illustrations will mesmerize young readers as they join Pansy on the search for the missing jewelry. The glossy pages are high quality and durable for many hours of enjoyment at the hands of youngsters.

PANSY AT THE PALACE would make a delightful addition to any child’s library and a perfect gift for the holiday season.
For more about Pansy, visit

Pansy At The Palace by Cynthia Bardes, A Beverly Hills Mystery, Illustrated by Kim Weissenborn, Octobre Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-0615692531, Hardcover, 32 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you discovered any new children’s books lately?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Or Thursday!

Happy Thanksgiving
Artwork from
Today throughout the country we take time to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It’s a time for family and friends, good food, friendship, football, and relaxing.

We should also remember, it’s a day to give thanks for what we have, where we are, and who we are.

Sometimes as chaos takes over our lives, we don’t think there is much to be thankful for -- but there is. We may not have all that we want and the economy may be bleak, but there is much to be thankful for even if it’s the simplest of things.

Being able to greet another day (sunny, cloudy, or rainy), should make you thankful. Being able to share food (an elegant meal or a sandwich) with family and friends, should make you thankful. Being able to pet your four-legged furry companions, should make you thankful. Having family and friends that you can visit with or talk to, most definitely should make you thankful.

With my life turned upside down daily, I’m still so thankful for all I have. I hope each and everyone who stops by here from time to time realizes just how thankful I am for your friendship and your support.

May you all have a wonderful day to enjoy as you wish. For those who are not celebrating this holiday, I am still grateful for your friendship and support. I wish for you a day to enjoy as you like as well. Let us not forget to include all of those touched by the recent storms in our prayers of thanks. Their lives are difficult right now, but I’m sure they would each say they are thankful for various things despite their circumstances.