Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: Counterfeit Courtship by Christina Miller


Counterfeit Courtship

by Christina Miller

Kindle, paperback

288 pages

Harlequin® Love Inspired® Historical

July 1, 2016

When Colonel Graham Talbot returned home after the Civil War, he discovered five young ladies awaiting his arrival. A shortage of men because of the war made him the most eligible bachelor in Natchez. But he didn’t want a wife, didn’t need a wife, in fact, President Andrew Jackson had stripped him of his citizenship and his land. He had nothing. A wife was the last thing he needed. Trapped in an awkward situation, his childhood friend and once a woman he wanted to marry, Elizabeth Anderson (Ellie for short) decided to help him out and gave the young ladies the impression that she and Graham were engaged to be married.

Graham felt her scheme was a lie, but Ellie was in the same predicament as Graham. She didn’t want a husband, didn’t need a husband, she only wanted her land and security. But men were coming home from the war to nothing, and she would be the perfect woman to seek out and court. But she’d have none of that. The relationship scheme she had fabricated for Graham could benefit her, too.   

Graham was hesitant to go along with Ellie's charade, but what choice did he have? When his stepmother Noreen found out that her only son Stuart was killed and his wife Francine had succumbed to pneumonia, Noreen took their baby, Elizabeth (Betsy they called her), to care for. Since Graham's father had not returned from the war yet, Noreen and Betsy depended on him.         

Ellie was convincing. And besides who else was going to help her fend off that weasel Leonard Fitzwald who claimed he had a lean on Magnolia for a thirty-thousand-dollar loan.

It is an adorable, Post-Civil War romance that showed in spite of adversity and the aftermath of war, love can find a way.   

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sweet Romance

Mail Order Mix-Up
by Christine Johnson
(Boom Town Brides Series)
Kindle, paperback
288 pages
April 1, 2016

Pearl Lawson saw an ad for a mail-order bride in a newspaper. Oh, not for herself, but for her friend Amanda. They set out for Singapore, Michigan, where Pearl had already signed a contract to be Singapore’s school teacher, which stated she could not marry and remain the teacher in Singapore. But that was no problem because Pearl did not plan on marrying but was determined to dedicate herself to teaching and to helping children. Pearl and Amanda grew up together and this was there opportunity to stay close friends in the same town and both achieve their dream.
           But Amanda is not the only woman seeking Mr. Decker’s heart and position as his wife; there are two other women, Louise and Fiona, on the same steamship with that very same goal in mind. The women all think the Roland Decker on the steamship is the Mr. Decker that submitted the ad, but when they ask the handsome Roland, they found out it was his widowed brother Garrett. Four single women and two handsome men make for the start of a wonderful novel.  
          The story is a page-turner with twist after twist in the historical Michigan setting of sand dunes and the log milling town of Singapore. I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot because it is adorable. I loved the book and couldn’t put it down wondering who would marry and who would not.
          Christine Johnson, an accomplished author, has done a wonderful job of portraying a sweet romance in a nineteenth century Michigan setting.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

 5 Reasons for a Writer to take Time to Celebrate

Happy St. Patrick's Day
             As writers, we are dedicated to our craft. Day and night, when an inspiration hits, we’ll stop eating, climb out of bed, or excuse ourselves from friends to jot something down. We write for hours and days on end to meet a deadline and finish a novel.

We have to write; it’s what we do. And if we aren’t writing, we are thinking about writing, or researching, or outlining, or plotting.
But don’t forget to take timeout for you. Even just a short break can give those creative juices time to refresh, replenish, and rev up the imagination for the next long stint at writing. Just like rest and recovery after exercise is important, breaks after writing is important to the writer.
            And here’s the reason why . . .
1)   It helps you maintain a better mental balance.

2)   Short breaks give you time for short bursts of exercise. Studies show that 15-20 minutes of exercise help you burn fat, stay healthy, and increase endorphins.

3)   That means it can reduce stress and tension, re-energize your thinking, and add to mental alertness.

4)   Short bursts of exercise can give you an ‘endorphin rush’ and is the reason why it makes you feel good. If writing has you uptight, take a break and go for a walk, run, exercise, or just talking with a friend can give you an endorphin rush. And what does that do? Endorphins can enhance pleasure and rev up the thinking and creativity process.

5)   The bottom-line: take enough time away from writing to re-energize body, mind, and writing.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine’s Day—A short history

To most of us today in the U. S. and other countries, Valentine’s Day is a time to send cards, candy, flowers, and gifts to loved ones as an affectionate gesture. It is also a day known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, which is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14, and honoring one or more saints named Valentine or Valentinus.  
The history of Valentine’s Day is clouded in almost two thousand years of mystery and goes as far back as the Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The Catholic Church martyred three saints named Valentine or Valentinus. And according to legend, one of those was a priest who went against orders and secretly married young lovers, another story tells of a Valentine who may have been killed helping Christians escape Roman prisons. And yet another story tells of an imprisoned Valentine who just before his execution, sent the first valentine greeting to a young girl whom he loved and signed the letter “From your Valentine.”
The details behind the legends are sketchy, but it’s believed Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death which occurred around A.D. 270. Others, however, reason that it resides in February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a Roman festival in the middle of February which celebrated the beginning of their springtime. Eventually, the church turned the festival into a Christian celebration and dedicated it to the remembrance of St. Valentine.
As part of the celebration, it is thought that the single girls would place their name in a vessel of some sort, and a single boy would draw a name and become paired with the girl for the festival and throughout the year. In some cases, they ended up getting married. The festival became known as a time of romance, and by the seventeenth century, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated.
After receiving her first valentine in 1847, Esther Allen Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the United States. She ordered supplies of paper lace and floral decoration from England and began making the valentines to sell. Her valentines were in such demand; she employed friends to assist her. The business eventually grossed $100,000 annually, and in 1881, she sold the business to George C. Whitney Company.
No matter what the details, Valentine’s Day has become a time that romantics hail as the day to honor their sweetheart. Valentine’s Day has grown to the second largest card-giving holiday (Christmas is first) of the year with an estimated one billion Valentine’s sold each year, and probably many more being sent as homemade creations, or computer generated greetings.
A tradition almost as old as Christmas itself, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A book that will tickle your soul:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog: 101 Heartwarming Stories about Our Happy, Heroic & Hilarious Pets

By Amy Newmark

Paperback and Kindle

378 pages
February 9, 2016

From the back cover: From clever dogs that sneak food to heroic dogs that save lives—from mischievous dogs that chew shoes to intuitive dogs that repair families—from goofy dogs that crack us up to nurturing dogs that act like therapists—you’ll have a new appreciation for your own dog’s unique skills.

My review: Our little canine friends have their own personalities that show their characters. Some of the these stories will make you laugh, or cry, be inspired, or say “Ah.” Other stories will show how clever, protective, or hard working a dog can be. But one thing is for sure, the stories will touch your soul and inspire your heart in a very special way.

Disclosure: You’ll even see a story in there from me, Midnight Thief. So maybe I’m a little biased, but I think you’ll love the book.     

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let’s talk Thriller:

EVERY CROOKED PATH by Steven James is a prequel novel to the Bowers chess series.

by Steven James
Series: The Bowers Files

Paperback and Kindle

590 pages

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers investigates a murder, and simultaneously, investigates a suicide where the man’s clothing reveals an envelope which reads: Open only in the case of my death. The note inside says—he never did the things she claimed he did. Bowers also gets drawn into investigating the abduction of a small boy, and learns that NYPD Special Agent Tobin Cavanaugh’s, eight-year-old daughter was abducted and found dead eighteen months later. They compared that cold-case to the case of the missing boy to search for similarities.

But how do all these cases relate, or do they? The themes intertwine to reveal a path. The crooked path Patrick Bowers stumbles onto, which leads him deep into the dark world of child abduction/exploitation and human trafficking. He finds that the Web is involved and enlists the aid of an expert; Francis Edlemore, who is a wiz on the computer and software, and helps the agents go deep into the Dark Web and Tor. But that’s not deep enough. They must find someone else who actually knows how to maneuver the backstreets of Tor. And like any crooked road, the story has plenty of heart-pounding twists and curves. So hold on while James spins an eye-opening thriller.

The book does not show any graphic scenes but refers to the perpetrators of such crimes and how law enforcement in this story goes about finding them. In the first part of the book, the pacing was slower than the last half, but in doing so, the author is able to delve into the Dark Web, TOR, etc., that the offenders use and explain how the perpetrators work to lure children. That was interesting. Every Crooked Path enlightens the reader to how deep, dark, and dangerous the Web can be for young children. This is the type of cybercrime that could hit any unsuspecting family. 

I highly recommend Every Crooked Path to parents of schooled-aged children, but it is also an informative read, and a good thriller, for all adults. The book shows how the Web can actually help child abductors. James also did a brilliant job weaving the subplot through the story. 

Disclosure of Material Connection in accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255, which guides the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in hopes that I would read it and give an honest opinion/review, which I have done. All the above comments are my own and the way I view this book.

Monday, January 11, 2016


How to judge if a book has a Plot 2 Good 2 Forget
1)      You can’t put the book down.
2)      The donut in the kitchen is still there calling your name.
3)      You say to yourself, just one more chapter before a bathroom break.
4)      Six o’clock. “Honey, let’s go out and eat tonight, I didn’t have time to cook.
5)      You love to hate the antagonist.
6)      Can’t wait to see if the protagonist figures out what the antagonist has done.
7)      The hero and heroine get together after battling overwhelming obstacles.
8)      You wake up in the middle of the night and grab the book to read one more chapter.
9)      You mention the book in the PTA newsletter.
10)  The story haunts you while you’re at work; you pick up KFC on the way home.
11)  You don’t have a desire to check Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
12)  While your husband tells you about his day, your mind drifts back to storyworld.
13)  You discuss the plot at work, on your blog, and with friends.
14) You check Amazon to see if the author has a new book out before you finish this book