Friday, September 30, 2011

ONCE UPON A GROOM by Karen Rose Smith

Need something to restore your belief in happy forever and evers?

Award-winning author Karen Rose Smith has just the thing with her118795760 latest release, ONCE UPON A GROOM. This is the second installment in her Reunion Brides series from Harlequin Special Edition, but is a stand alone book.

High school sweethearts Zack Decker and Jenny Farber discovered that even though they were in love, they wanted completely different lifestyles. Zack left for California to pursue a career as a movie director. Jenny stayed in Arizona training horses on the Decker ranch.

Zack returns to the ranch 15 years later when his father becomes sick. Forced to work with Jenny, he realizes his feelings for her haven’t changed despite the years. 

Jenny loves the life she leads, but can’t help but wonder what it would have been like with Zack. Their love has survived 15 years but is it strong enough to pull their two worlds together as one?

Author Karen Rose Smith has developed characters that tug on the heart strings and remind us love matters most of all. Her protagonists are fun-loving, caring and loyal with bits of stubborn mingled in their personalities.

ONCE UPON A GROOM is a delightful and easy read that will warm your heart while bringing a smile to your face.

Author Karen Rose Smith’s website is

Once Upon A Groom by Karen Rose Smith, Reunion Brides Series, Harlequin Special Edition, @2011, ISBN: 978-0373656288, Paperback, 224 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual blog and it was sent to me in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thanks And An Explanation

I want to take today to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has stopped by lately and an extra THANKS to those who comment.

I’ve been lagging in my responses to your comments recently and I’ve neglected visiting your blogs. I’m sorry for this and hope to get back on track next week. I should be reviewing books here today, but just couldn’t get into. It’s not the authors’ fault. The books are good and I’ll share them with you later.

Gum Drop
Gum Drop
Today I also wanted to say a heart-felt THANKS to everyone for their kind words, prayers and virtual hugs regarding my cat, Gum Drop, and her illness. She passed away in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 28, after a 2-month battle with cancer (her third go around). She was 13 years old.

Between helping care for my in-laws at their home and running back to my home when I could to spend sometime with Gum Drop, I haven’t been around blogdom very much. Her last couple of weeks have been the roughest.

I know to some this care, concern, and upset over the loss of a pet may100_0983 seem a bit over the top. But you have to remember, I don’t have children and my furry four-legged friends are my children. I baby them as if they were children. No, I don’t dress them up and such, but I have been known to read to them though. I just give them lots and lots of attention and love. Add to that the length of time we’ve had Gum Drop and it’s just been hard letting go even though I’ve know since the vet visit on July 25 that nothing else could be done and her time wasn’t long.

While I was trying to care for Gum Drop and make sure her last days were as comfortable and as normal as possible, I’ve also been spending 100_1129time with Little One (my avatar) to make sure she’s okay during this time as well. She and Gum Drop have been together since Gum Drop was a little kitten and Little One was less than a year old. 

The photos you see here are of Gum Drop in late August and early September. She was an indoor cat, but the last 6 months or so she enjoyed going outside to sit and just look around. It became a routine after I fixed their breakfast every morning, both cats would sit at the door waiting to go outside. When I was blogging from home Gum Drop is the one that would stretch out in front of the laptop, lay her head on my right hand and hold my wrist with both her paws. Now that makes for a challenge when trying to type. My little sweetheart did make lifeeyes interesting.

Enough for now. Just wanted you to know why I have been absent. Again, thank you for your understanding and continued support. I hope to have some reviews for you tomorrow and get back to visiting with you very soon.

Y’all are the best!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Three Very Diverse Reviews

Those who visit here know I read a wide array of genres. It keeps life interesting. 

Today I have 3 very diverse reviews to share with you. The main reason for the diversity is I have a good many reviews to share and only a few openings in which to post them. Hope you find something to explore further.

First, I’d like to share a whimsical children’s book about a serious issue - losing hair during chemotherapy. Next, we’ll take a look at a charming light-hearted cozy mystery set in England. Last, we’ll finish up with an intriguing thriller set for release next month.

NOWHERE HAIR by Sue Glader

Cancer and all the elements that goes with it are hard enough toNowhere Hair cover understand as an adult. But what if you’re a child and someone you love has it?

NOWHERE HAIR is a wonderful book to help adults explain to youngsters what happens to a person during chemotherapy. The book is geared toward youngsters ages 3 to 10.

The focus of the book is a young girl trying to understand why her mother has lost her hair. The messages are positive. It also points out the child has done nothing to cause the loss. This is a delightful book about a very serious condition.

The illustrations by Edith Buenen are vibrant and impressive, bringing the characters to life.

Author Sue Glader points out the book ends with two universal rules that I also feel are important and well demonstrated in the book. The rules are: 1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and 2) What’s on the inside counts far more than how we look on the outside.

I wish there was no need for this book, but unfortunately a cure for cancer has not yet been found and millions must go through chemotherapy each year. This is a admirable book to pass along to anyone you may know that’s having to explain to a youngster why they no longer have hair.

Author Sue Glader’s website is

Here's a book video of NOWHERE HAIR.

Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader, Illustrated by Edith Buenen, Thousand Words Press, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-984-3591-0, Hardcover, 32 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book 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.

Remarkable_Website_CoverBrighter-330-expLooking for a read with a hint of nostalgia but with modern twists.

Author C.A. Belmond’s latest release, A RATHER REMARKABLE HOMECOMING, will fit the bill.

Belmond has created lovable characters with wit and charm. Her protagonists have been referred to as ‘a modern-day Nick and Nora’ and this assertion suits them perfectly.

American heiress Penny Nichols and her English hero husband Jeremy Laidley return home from their honeymoon to find clients waiting for them. Harriet Fieldworthy and her son, Colin, have been sent by Prince Charles to request the help of Nichols & Laidley Ltd.

It seems a property developer is trying to revamp the seaside landscape in a charming village in Cornwell. The only thing standing in his way is the home of Penny’s late grandmother, Beryl. It’s also the place she and Jeremy met as children.

The pair take on the case and must solve a historical mystery to save the village. They encounter Celtic lore, tales of smugglers and Shakespeare, and mix with a whimsical group of Cornish locals.

Belmond’s writing is reminiscent of quainter times but with modern villains, sprinkles of humor, romance, vivid descriptions of fascinating landscapes, and bits of historical gems. This is the fourth installment in the Rather series, but is a stand along book.

Grab a cup of tea and relax as Penny and Jeremy delight you with their latest adventure.

Author C.A. Blemond’s website is

A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond, NAL Trade, @2011, ISBN: 978-0-451-23461-2, Paperback, 368 pages

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

THE COVENANT by Dean Crawford

In this novel, author Dean Crawford comes out of the gate with51ql0F67efL._SL500_AA300_ an action-packed adventure sure to keep you riveted to your seat till the end.

Archaeologist Lucy Morgan unearths a 7,000-year-old tomb on a dig in a remote part of Israel. It contains non-human remains. Realizing she’s discovered something that could change history as we know it, Lucy disappears before she can do anything about it.

Back in the states, Ethan Warner wants a quiet, normal life as he tries to piece his world back together. But when he’s asked by Lucy’s family to help find her, he can’t refuse.

In another part of the US, a possible homicide has detectives Nicola Lopez and Lucas Tyrell shaking their heads. The bodies show signs of hypothermia despite the scorching heat of August.

As the plot continues, all those involved learn who and what is behind not only Lucy’s disappearance, but the strange homicides. They also realize there is much more at stake than anyone could image.

Crawford keeps the story flowing smoothly back and forth from various location such as Israel, the US, and Jerusalem. He keeps the suspense high as he adds action and sprinkles in fragments of science and religion. THE COVENANT is a roller coaster ride until the end and even then he starts the next ride. Think Indiana Jones meets the X-Files with a bit of James Bond thrown in for good measure.

Author Dean Crawford’s website is

The Covenant by Dean Crawford, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4516-2853-1, Hardcover, 384 pages

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

Sorry for the extra long post today, but hopefully you’ve discovered a new book or 2 or 3 to add to your TBR stack. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NEVER BEEN BIT by Lydia Dare

To get completely lost in a story, feel as though you know theelements - neverbeenbit characters, and want to be a part of their world to me says the writer has done a wonderful job.

Author Lydia Dare has done that with her Regency Vampyre series and the latest installment, NEVER BEEN BIT, is a great example.

The storyline moves along smoothly, placing the reader in Kent in 1817. While the language may take a bit of getting use to for those new to the series, it is an essential element of the story adding flavor.

Young Sorcha Ferguson is the only member of her coven that remains unmarried. Since meeting her first Lycan, the incorrigible witch has been determined to have a werewolf for a husband. She heads to the Duchess of Hythe’s house party in hopes of finding her very own Lycan.

Alex McQuarrie had come close to dying once and been brought back among the living as an undead, a vampyre. Nothing really matters to Alex anymore, his heart had already been scattered when his true love, Caitrin MacLeod, married Dashiel Thorpe, one of those beastly Lycans. Alex is surprised to see Sorcha at the Duchess’ party. He becomes determined that he’ll not let his childhood friend get mixed up with the likes of Lycans no matter what she thinks she wants.

The journey the pair take from there is filled with laughter, frustration (for them), and sizzling sparks. As the emotions they feel begin to grow and change, the reader is drawn further and further into their world wanting to help the pair connect.
NEVER BEEN BIT is an enjoyable read filled with romance, humor and the understanding that love is what matters regardless of the circumstances. Author Lydia Dare has created a world where witches, vampyres, werewolves and humans all live together in a seemingly plausible reality.

This is the third installment in the Regency Vampyre series, but is a stand alone read. There is enough background for those new to the series not to be lost when references are made while at the same time reminding returning fans of the fun adventures prior to this one.

Author Lydia Dare’s website is

Never Been Bit by Lydia Dare, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN: 978-1402245138, Paperback, 384 pages

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

Do you enjoy books that sometimes takes you away from the norm and creates an intriguing world of make-believe?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Forever Texas Blog Tour And Giveaway

The Forever Texas Blog Tour is making a stop here today with authors Christie Craig and Jane Graves answering some questions about their writing and offering a giveaway of their books.  


Christie is the author of the 464- page paperback DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS (ISBN: 9780446582841). Here’s a brief synopsis: Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Jane is the author of the 448-page paperback HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS (ISBN: 9780446568487). Here’s a brief synopsis: HE'S THE MAN OF HER DREAMS . . . In a world full of frogs, Alison Carter is determined to find her prince. Maybe her dating past is more Titanic than Love Boat, but she's seen enough happy marriages to know that true love is possible. No matter what, she won't give up on happily-ever-after. If she can't find Mr. Right, she'll simply hire someone who can. ...   

Thanks to Brianne and the good folks at Grand Central Publishing, I can offer 3 sets (1 copy of each book) for giveaway to residents of the US and Canada as part of this tour. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

Now for interviews with Christie and Jane.
MASON - What is a normal writing day like for you?

CHRISTIE - Blood, sweat, and tears—and a lot of laughter. I get up around 6 a.m. and snag my first cup of coffee on the way to my office,9780446582841_1681X2544 which is attached to the house. I give my office kitty about three minutes of TLC and then check emails. He gets ticked when I stop petting him, and will tap with his paw, claws out, and that’s where the blood comes in. Depending on deadlines, I work around six to seven days a week, approximately 10 hours a day. I love to cook, but under tight deadlines, hubby takes over kitchen duty. I’m in my office putting out pages while I wait for the call, “Dinner’s ready.” It’s a lot of hours at the computer, but I love doing it, so I don’t whine too much. I walk an hour about four to six times a week, and try to plot while I speed through the neighborhood. This is where the sweat comes in. I can be persuaded by friends to do lunch about once every two weeks. The times I have to tell them no is where the tears come in. The laughter happens spontaneously when one of my characters sasses off some wisecracking comment. When I laugh at my own work, I know my readers will laugh, too. So, blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of laughter, that pretty much defines my day.

JANE - I wake up in the morning. Shove the cat out of the way so I can get out of bed. Stagger to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. Make that commute down the hall to my office, where I plan to leap right into my story where I left off the day before. But first…
First I have to check email for, oh, an hour or so. I must respond to friends and readers, right? And look! Travelzoo has all these cool travel deals. What if I miss a cheap trip to Costa Rica? That leads me to do an astonishing amount of Google-hopping. Then I get something for breakfast. Watch a little HGTV. Play with the cat. Head out into the neighborhood to walk a mile or two. Go back home. Take a shower. Return to my office, firm in my intention to get some writing done. But of course I have to check email again. Pretty soon it's time for lunch. And more HGTV. And more feline interaction time. The mail comes. Must check out ad circulars, magazines, and make a frowny face at bills. Back to my office--
Maybe you can see where this is going. 

But later, about 7:00 p.m. or so, I return to my office, where, miraculously, I actually start to focus on my story. I block out distractions and get words onto the page. And a couple of hours later, the book has progressed. I pat myself on the back, finally hopeful that I might actually make my deadline. Then the next morning, I hop right back on that hamster wheel and start all over again. 

No matter how much I try to be a morning or afternoon writer, it isn't until evening, when I'd rather be doing a hundred other things, that I can actually get words onto the page. It's a curse! 

MASON - If you could change places with one of your characters, which would it be and why?

CHRISTIE - Let’s see. Hmmm, I’m certain I wouldn’t want to be Nikki Hunt in DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS. And it’s not because136b51c88da0cf3ddd97d110.L._V192220299_ she finds her ex-husband dead in the trunk of her car. It’s not because she’s accused of killing him, or that she now has a killer after her. I wouldn’t want to be Nikki because she got food poisoning and upchucks in public, and all over the hero. I mean, seriously, how embarrassing would that be?  

People who learn that I’m a romance writer often tell me that they would love to be one of my characters. I just laugh because I know they’ve never read one of my books. Frankly, being a Christie Craig character is not an easy task. Basically, it’s hell. Nothing goes right for them in the beginning. They are either attacked, accused, get sent dead rats, or witness a murder. Sure, they always get their man in the end, but there’s going to be hurdles for them to jump, conflicts for them to overcome, and a black moment for them to survive. So, I think I’ll stick with being a writer, I’m way too evil to my characters to want to be one of them. LOL.

JANE - Any of my heroes. That would be cool. Just once, I'd love to live life from the point of view of a man. Scientific studies say their brains are way different from ours. I'd love to take one for a test drive and see that's  it's true. But I have a funny feeling that in no time at all, I'd be asking for my own brain back. 

MASON - What has been the worst advice you've received as a writer?

CHRISTIE - Two come to mind. 
1)  Murder isn’t funny.
2)  Never attempt to put two romances in the same story.  

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to them, because these two things are what make my books stand out.

JANE - "Romance? Really? When are you going to write a real book?"
A real book? Hmm. So what's this thing with all these pages between two covers that a publishing house paid me to write and other people review and yet other people spot in a bookstore, pick up, pay for, and take home to read? 

A word of warning to romance readers: Some very odd people out there think I'm not writing real books, and you're not reading them. Just so you know. 

MASON - Is research a chore for your work or is it something you enjoy?

CHRISTIE - Let me see, root canal or research? I’ll take a root canal, thank you very much. I’m not kidding. I love writing with a passion, but I really don’t like to spend endless time trying to find out if there is a bridge over a lake in Spring, Texas, and if the hero needs to turn left or right off of I-10 East when heading to the police station. This is why I write about fictional towns; no one can send me a nasty letter and tell me I got something wrong. Now I have what I call my cop-in-my-pocket who is a lieutenant at HPD. I call him with research questions, important stuff, like… “What size gun has a barrel about the same size as a medium, extra absorbent tampon?” “Or what would happen if you got to a crime scene and the possible suspect is puking her guts out and even pukes on some of the officers?”  

As you can imagine, he just loves it when he hears my voice on the phone. Oh, by the way…his answer for question #2 was: “If she puked on me, I’d shoot her. Well . . . maybe not if she’s really good looking. Nah, I’d still shoot her.” And this is why I still go to him for answers. He makes research fun.

Thank you so much for having me today. I hope your readers will enjoy DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS as much as I enjoyed writing it.

JANE - I really like research. Actually, a little too much. I'm one of those excessively curious people who finds almost any subject potentially interesting, so I could start out researching matchmakers in Dallas, as I did for HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS, and end up Google-hopping to an article about goat herding in Tibet. As you can well imagine, that's quite a large time-suck. Unless, of course, I eventually write a story about goat herding in Tibet.
Ladies, thank you both for stopping by and answering my questions. I enjoy learning what a ‘typical’ day is like for authors.

Author Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. For more on Christie, check out her website at

Author Jane Graves is the author of 17 contemporary romance novels. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the industry's highest honor, and is the recipient of two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Booksellers' Best Award, and the Golden Quill, among others. Jane lives in the Dallas area with her husband of 28 years and a very sweet kitty who kindly keeps her lap warm while she writes. For more on Jane, visit her website at, or write to her at She'd love to hear from you! 

Now for the giveaway details. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( Your subject line should read, “Win Forever Texas Set.” 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. Grand Central Publishing advises winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy (set in this case) of the title in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along.) And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at 1 of the 3 sets from the FOREVER TEXAS TOUR is 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and visiting with these delightful authors.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Salon: Reviews To Share

The days are beginning to get shorter, temperatures are a bit cooler and1242485_procelain_cup_and_coffe_2 it’s once again time for Sunday Salon where we share our thoughts on books we’ve read.

This week I’d like to tell you about 3 audio books I listened to. I love print books, but audios are wonderful too. They allow you to ‘read’ a book while making your way through rush hour traffic or preparing a meal. Here’s some good reads to consider.

by Sophie Hannah

THE CRADLE IN THE GRAVE may be listed as a psychological Cradle coverthriller, but it could also be listed as a thought-provoking novel.

The heart of the story deals with the conviction and later release of 3 women wrongly accused of murdering their young children. The women are Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard, and Rachel Hines. They are dubbed the ‘crib-death mothers.’

TV producer Fliss Benson finds herself suddenly making a documentary about the 3 women after her boss, Laurie Nattrass, quits and hands everything over to her. Nattrass, however, intends to still run the project from the shadows. He is, after all, the one who championed to have the women released.

To add to Fliss’ confusion, she receives a card in the mail with 16 numbers on it - 4 rows, each with 4 numbers - and nothing else. Before she gets started on the documentary, Helen Yardley is found shot to death. A card like Fliss received is found in Helen’s pocket.
This story is filled with questions of are the women really innocent or really guilty. With a secret of her own, Fliss become determined to make the documentary her way no matter what.

Author Sophie Hannah has created a cast of characters that are intriguing, a bit zany at times, and complex. Narrator Elizabeth Sastre does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life and giving them depth with her lovely British accent.

This is the fifth mystery by Hannah to feature Det. Sgt. Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Zailer and Det. Constable Simon Waterhouse. While there are some references to prior events that aren’t explained, they don’t cause holes in the current storyline.

There are twists and turns at the end that may surprise you. THE CRADLE IN THE GRAVE is well worth the listen (or read). 

Author Sophie Hannah’s website is

The Cradle in the Grave by Sophie Hannah, Read by Elizabeth Sastre, Penguin Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-10-152356-8, Unabridged Digital Download, Listening Time: 12 Hours, 4 Minutes

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

WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty

How often have you wished you could go back in time and change a Alice coverpart of your life?

WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty shows that going back to re-live one’s history can be a mixed blessing. It can be even trickier when you don’t remember part of your past.

Waking from a fall at the gym, Alice Love is a happy, carefree 29-year-old woman. She’s in love with her fabulous husband, Nick, and they are expecting their first child - or so she thinks. In reality, Alice will soon celebrate her 40th birthday, has 3 children, and is in the midst of a divorce. In addition, she and her sister, Elisabeth, once very close are now no longer on good terms.

Alice has lost a decade of her life and can’t remember what has taken her to the path she’s on now. She has to re-connect with her sister, try to save her marriage, and get to know her children all over again. In addition, she has to find the women she once was.

Author Liane Moriarty has mingled fun and witty moments throughout the story while dealing with loss and regret. The narration by Tamara Lovatt-Smith adds charm to this story. WHAT ALICE FORGOT will make you stop and think, ‘What if?’

Author Liane Moriarty’s website is

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, Read by Tamara Lovatt-Smith, Penguin Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-10-155501-9, Unabridged Digital Download, Listening Time: 13 Hours, 32 Minutes

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

ABUSE OF POWER by Michael Savage

120804319ABUSE OF POWER, the debut novel by conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage, is an intriguing thriller that might just surprise you.

Jack Hatfield, a hardened war correspondent, has been fired from his job for controversial statements. He’s even banned from entering the UK. Jack takes a job in San Francisco as a freelance news producer.

A carjacking turns deadly one afternoon when military-grade explosives are found after the car wrecks. Jack, riding with the SFPD bomb squad, arrives at the scene. Within minutes the bomb explodes as his friend attempts to disarm it. Jack begins to question about the car’s owner and is told to stay out of it. When a quick arrest is made, Jack knows there’s much more to the story and begins to dig.

The story follows a mysterious trail through London, Tel Aviv, and Paris. Jack discovers there’s a terrorist group known as the Hand of Allah with a very real threat to the safety of the country.

This is an action-packed adventure that starts slow then explodes into suspense. Like most books of this type, ABUSE OF POWER is filled with political views.

The wonderful narration by Peter Larkin brings Jack’s emotions and concerns to the surface. This will keep you guessing and surprising you right up until the end.

Author Michael Savage’s website is

Abuse of Power by Michael Savage, Read by Peter Larkin, Macmilllan Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4272-1374-7, Unabridged, 9 Discs, Listening Time: 11 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.

What have you read or listened to this past week? What are you reading now? Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giveaway of FIVE CHIEFS, Memoir of Justice John Paul Stevens

Books can be fun, entertaining and educational. They can take us on9780316199803_388X586 adventures we never dreamed of. They tell us stories of people who have made history.

That’s the kind of book I have to share today. FIVE CHIEFS, the story of Justice John Paul Stevens who served on the Supreme Court from 1975 until 2010. Thanks to Anna and the good folks at Little, Brown and Company I have 3 copies of this memoir to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for giveaway details.

Stevens served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970 until 1975. President Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975. Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court on June 29, 2010.

How do you get to the Supreme Court? Lots and lots of law practice, and no one knows this better than retired Justice Stevens. In his intimate memoir, he takes readers through his life from his early beginnings as a law clerk to an esteemed member of the Supreme Court of the United States.   

When he resigned last June, Justice Stevens was the third longest serving Justice in American history (1975-2010). Only Justice William O. Douglas, whom Stevens succeeded, and Stephen Field have served on the Court for a longer time.

In FIVE CHIEFS, Justice Stevens captures the inner workings of the Supreme Court via his personal experiences with the five Chief Justices -- Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts -- that he interacted with. He reminisces of being a law clerk during Vinson's tenure; a practicing lawyer for Warren; a circuit judge and junior justice for Burger; a contemporary colleague of Rehnquist; and a colleague of current Chief Justice John Roberts. 

Along the way, Justice Stevens discusses his views of some the most significant cases that have been decided by the Court from Vinson, who became Chief Justice in 1946 when Truman was President, to Roberts, who became Chief Justice in 2005.

Packed with interesting anecdotes and stories about the Court, FIVE CHIEFS is an unprecedented and historically significant look at the highest court in the United States. 

lbcI have 3 copies of the hardcover, 304-page FIVE CHIEFS (ISBN:9780316199803) to giveaway. Here are the guidelines. The contest is only open to resident of the U.S. and Canada, and no P.O. Boxes can be accepted for addresses. Winners are subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if you win the same title in 2 or more contests, you will receive only 1 copy of the title in the mail. One new guideline Little, Brown and Company has added is that a phone number is required if you are a Canadian winner.

To enter the contest, send me an e-mail ( with ‘Win Five Chiefs’ in the subject line. In the body of the e-mail include your name and mailing address. Remember, if you’re Canadian be sure to include a phone number. Just so you know, I don’t share these e-mails with anyone or use the information from them for anything else. The deadline to enter this contest is 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Oct. 10.

Do you enjoy memoirs of this type? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Car Bombing That Created An Author

When the St. Paul Pioneer Press refused to pay for her little redP1010074 convertible which was fire bombed while she covered a riot, Judith Yates Borger decided it was time to get a new gig. She began writing fiction and hasn't looked back.

Judith is the author of two books in the Skeeter Hughes Mystery series, WHERE’S BILLIE? and WHOSE HAND? She joins us today to explain, “How I took up writing fiction after my car was firebombed while I covered a riot.”

It was a hot August night in 2002 when I was a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press dispatched to Minneapolis because it looked like a riot was erupting. Police had tried to issue a warrant on a drug house when someone unleashed a pit bull on the officers. They shot at the dog, the bullet ricocheted off the sidewalk and hit a youngster in the arm. Word went out in the neighborhood that cops had shot a kid.

I normally covered the Minneapolis mayor’s office and city council. I’d never worked a police beat in my life and didn’t have a clue how to handle a simple burglary, let alone an explosive situation. Nonetheless, the paper wanted all west-of-the-Mississippi reporters on the scene. I got lost on the way, and by the time I arrived, the cops had pulled out, leaving a TV van with a damaged antenna dangling like a broken arm, some torn down yellow police tape and a lot of broken glass. People stood around in groups talking in low murmurs.
Where's Billie 
I pulled my red Honda Civic del Sol — a gem of a two-seater convertible — into the parking of a convenience store, which was lit up like a surgical suite. Wearing shorts, a T-shirt and my 15-year-old Birkenstock sandals, I got out of my car, locking my purse in the trunk. Several people standing around eyed me — the only white person in sight — with curiosity. I looked like a lost soccer mom, except for my reporter’s notebook, pen and cell phone. I seldom worked nights and my first thought was to wonder what time was deadline. Clearly I wasn’t going to have time to write a story, so I called the newsroom and started to dictate what I saw. I was in reporter mode and it didn’t occur to me to be frightened. 

I saw someone run away from a car and moments later a fire kindled inside. The crowd saw it too, and began to gather around while the fire grew. Soon the car was fully engulfed and I was afraid the branches of a huge maple tree the tree would catch fire, and then the house behind it. People watched like it was the Fourth of July as the car exploded. Fortunately, the fire burned out without touching the tree.

As I stood in the parking lot the manager of the convenience store walked up to me and asked, “Who are you?” Then he told me he had dragged a man who had been beaten into the store. Mohamed Somebody, the manager, had called 911 a couple of times to say the man needed medical attention, but no one was coming. We were standing under the bright lights of the parking lot when we heard gunshots. Bang, bang, bang. It sounded like they were feet away. That’s when I realized I was in danger. I looked at Mohamed, he looked at me, and we both hustled into the store, careful to stand away from the windows. I envisioned spending the night surrounded by Blue Bunny Ice Cream. 

Inside the store, I met, a Star Tribune reporter, a competitor who had taken a brick in the back of his head. He was incoherent, asking me over and over again, “Who are you?” He asked where he was, and how he had gotten there. I answered his questions and then he’d start them all over again.

After what seemed like a very long time, three or four police cars pulledwhose hand up in front of the store, blue and red lights flashing. Officers with shotguns and a big dog poured out like the cavalry coming to the rescue. One came to the door of convenience store, talked to the manager, looked at incoherent reporter, then asked me, “Who are you?” I was beginning to get used to the question.

She escorted the two of us to the back seat of the patrol car and shut the door. I looked out the window and saw my car parked next to the convenience store. I’d already seen one car firebombed that night and knew mine was next. When I knocked on the window to get the officer’s attention — you can’t get out of the back seat of a patrol car — she told me to forget about my car for the night. 

“Get it in the morning,” she said. I’ll just bet, I thought. 

The next morning, I got another reporter to drive me to the lot outside the convenience store to pick up my car. When I got there, the bricks on the side of the store were scorched, and a man with one tooth was outside with a broom and dustpan. I learned later that the fire department had already hauled away the husk of my car, including the charred remains of my purse, which had held $200 cash, a spare cell phone and all my credit cards.

“That was my car,” I said to the man who was sweeping up the last bits of metal.

He reached into the pile, pulled out the “H” hood ornament, wiped it off on his pants and offered it to me. 

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Knight Ridder, which then owned the Pioneer Press,  refused to replace my car, saying it paid reporters 36.5 cents a mile to cover gas and my insurance. Besides, I was told, if it paid for my car it would have to pay for every car that got firebombed. I wonder where else that happens. Miami?

The Pioneer Press paid for my deductible on my car and homeowners insurance – for the cash, cell phone and other stuff toasted in my purse  – and an airline ticket to Chicago, where I bought another cute little convertible identical to the one that was torched. Because the cause on the claim on my homeowners’ insurance was fire, I got a letter from our company telling me to be sure to check my home’s furnace.

Ten months later I resigned the paper, not because my car was firebombed, but because it was clear management did not have my back.

Like the fiction I write these days, this story has a satisfying conclusion. My protagonist is  … wait for it … a newspaper reporter whose car is firebombed. Superb detail in that passage, if I do say so myself. She has lots of adventures while juggling career, family and her passions for both. I love making this stuff up.

WHERE’S BILLIE? and WHOSE HAND?, both Skeeter Hughes Mysteries, are doing very well in trade paperback and ebooks, available at all bookstores, Kindle and Nook. I’m working on the third mystery right now, title to be determined. 

I’m deliriously happy and feeling safe in my work. Life is good. 

Judith, thanks so much for guest blogging today. You definitely had a most unusual and eye opening day on the police beat. Wishing you much success with the Skeeter Hughes series. Always love to see a female reporter as the protagonist.

Now, more about Judith. She draws on her 30 years experience as a journalist to chronicle the escapades of her protagonist Skeeter Hughes - wife, mom and reporter. In real life, Judith is passionate about her work, her children, her grandchildren, and her marriage. In her reporting days she would never have taken the risks that come naturally to protagonist Skeeter. She lives with her husband, John, and her dog, Honey, in downtown Minneapolis on the Mississippi River, where she rows crew with the Minneapolis Rowing Club. For more on Judith and her writing, visit her website at or find her on Facebook at

Here’s a brief synopsis and Publishers Weekly Review for WHERE’S BILLIE? -- Borger, a former reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, successfully taps into a parent's constant concern—how to protect children in an increasingly dangerous world—in her compelling debut, the first in a series to feature Marguerite Skeeter Hughes, a Minneapolis Citizen reporter. While researching a story on a missing 18-year-old girl, Billie Berry, Skeeter soon senses something complex developing, especially after Billie's sleazy ex-boyfriend tells her he's heard Billie might be turning tricks and doin' meth. Further research takes Skeeter to the Mall of America, where she spies a handsome middle-aged man buying Abercrombie & Fitch clothes for a cute teen he's just met. Skeeter is horrified after she discovers the wolf is a middle-school principal. More snooping leads to threats to Skeeter's life as well as her marriage to a fellow reporter. Readers will want to hear more of Skeeter's punchy, first-person voice.
Here’s a brief synopsis and Publishers Weekly Review for WHOSE HAND? -- In Borger's diverting second mystery featuring Minneapolis Citizen reporter Marguerite "Skeeter" Hughes (after 2009's Where's Billie?), editor Thom Savage successfully pitches for a missing persons beat, and Skeeter gets the assignment. When 70-year-old BJ Jones, an ice fisherman, tells Skeeter that he caught, then lost, a human hand in Lake Harriet the previous fall, Skeeter winnows the possible victims to three people: Amber Thomas, a young black woman who lived with her grandmother; Yuri Yudeshenka, an elderly furrier who emigrated from the former U.S.S.R.; and Pace Palmer, a research coordinator for a medical device company. While Skeeter chases leads that connect to exotic animal trafficking and whistleblowing, husband Michael Marks, a reporter for the rival St. Paul Post, walks out on her and their two daughters. Skeeter's dogged reporting sparks more than one violent response in a regional mystery with appeal to readers beyond the Twin Cities. 

If you’re a writer, have you ever given your protagonist some of your own experiences? If you’re a reader, do you enjoy protagonist that encounter situations you’ve had?