Friday, December 9, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving




Inside the Book

Title: MACARONI AND CHEESE FOR THANKSGIVING
Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 16
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Ten-year-old Macy is waiting for her grandparents to arrive on Thanksgiving. When the front door swings open, Grandma and Grandpa are covered with hugs and kisses. Crash! Everyone rushes in to find the dog gnawing a meaty turkey leg. Can Macy’s quick thinking save dinner?


My Review

I found this book to be a quick but charming read. Macy is a very innovative girl, who is also a quick thinker. I really enjoyed that this story had a good message...it is ok to not have the "traditional" Thanksgiving. In addition, there are more important things then the food, like family. Again, it was great how Macy took what she learned in school about the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the Indians and turned her family Thanksgiving disaster into something positive.


Book Excerpt:

Moments later, the front door swung open. In walked Macy’s dad and grandparents. The family raced to the door to hug them.

Crash!

 “Oh no!” cried Mom. “What was that?”


buying-links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

cheryl-malandrinos-2
Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.
visit

WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

 
 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Colorado Dream



We're happy to host Charlene Whitman's COLORADO DREAM book blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!


Title: COLORADO DREAM
Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 450
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance

Yearning to become a concert musician, a young woman from New York travels to Colorado to purchase a violin, but when she meets a wild, untamable cowboy, her dream is threatened and her heart torn ...
In New York in 1877, Angela Bellini longs to become a concert violinist and get away from her abusive father. When her dream takes her to Greeley, Colorado, to purchase a violin from a master instrument maker, she learns she must wait three weeks until her violin is ready before she can head home.
Angela is determined not to let anything or anyone waylay her dream, but when she meets rough-and-tumble cowboy Brett Hendricks, her heart is torn. He is her opposite in every way—uncouth, cocky, and reckless. But she is hopelessly drawn to him, like a moth to flame.
Brett Hendricks is on the run—not just from an angry rancher who is tracking him down for shooting his son but from a dark and troubled past plaguing him with guilt and shame. A wild, untamable cowboy, Brett can break any horse with a soft touch and soothing word, but nothing in the world can bring him peace. He fears he will never stop running, never see his dreams of ranching realized.
But then, one evening, he hears sweet violin music that seeps deep into his soul--music that floods him with peace. He falls hard for Angela but knows she plans to leave Colorado. All his attempts to win her heart fail disastrously, and though he buries himself in the cattle roundup, when he helps thwart a rustling outfit, his enemies multiply.
Somehow he must find a way to gain Angela's heart and trust. And somehow Angela must break past her distrust of men to discover the love awaiting her with open arms.
Pick up your copy at:

Amazon



Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1

September 9, 1877
New York City, New York

The slap on Angela Bellini’s cheek burned, but not as fiercely as the hurt in her heart. The pain and disappointment smoldering there sizzled like hot embers, threatening to reduce her to a pile of ash. She glared at her father’s back as he stomped out of the room.
Why couldn’t her papá understand? She would not marry Pietro, no matter how wealthy his family was, no matter how many years her papá and his had planned such an arrangement. “It is our way, Angela,” he had told her again, his face hard and eyes dark and menacing, leaving no room for debate. “And you will marry him. You are twenty years of age—you are lucky he is still willing. You’ve made him wait long enough.”
When she forced her objections past the rock lodged in her aching throat, she knew what would follow. What always followed. Her papá’s rage erupted in a torrent of Italian curses that ended with a slap that knocked her nearly senseless against the foyer wall before he stormed out the apartment.
As she slid down in a heap by the front door, she had caught a glimpse of her mamá in the kitchen, her back turned to her in unspoken submission. Angela huffed. I will never marry and become like you, Mamá—squashed under the thumb of some man who wants only subservience and a crowded apartment full of squalling babies.
 She swallowed back tears. She would not cry—not today. Today she would take the first steps—real steps—toward her dream. And no one, not even the powerful and prominent Giusepe Bellini could stop her.
Their tiny stuffy apartment rumbled—as it always did six times a day and twice each night—from the Third Avenue El Train fifty feet away. The noise of the wheels clacking and the platform rattling mingled with the loud voices of her downstairs neighbors arguing—Mr. Paolino’s tenor to his wife’s shrill soprano. Outside her window, carriages clattered on cobblestones in sharp staccato, and shoppers and merchants carried on in boisterous conversation, sounding no more pacifying than an orchestra tuning their instruments.
On most days Angela could drown out the suffocating symphony of Mulberry Bend by rehearsing violin caprices in her head, imagining her fingers flying over the fingerboard, her right hand bowing the strings, eliciting the sweet and sonorous timbre of her instrument.
But on this stifling, humid September afternoon, the many pieces she’d memorized—no, absorbed into her very soul, as if food that nourished her—flitted away, out of reach, as she pulled down the heavy carpetbag from the hall closet—a bag that she’d found months ago stuffed behind a stack of wool blankets.
She stopped and listened. Her mama was humming in the back room as she folded laundry. Her two younger siblings were off playing with neighborhood children—in the street, no doubt, as the sweltering heat was worse indoors.
Angela’s hands shook as she dabbed her perspiring forehead and neck with a handkerchief and went through her mental list of all she would need on her trip. Not much—she’d only be gone ten, perhaps, twelve days, if all went as planned. She pushed from her thoughts her papá’s impending fury at her insolence and the resulting punishments that would await her upon her return. But she had made her decision, and there was no turning back.
Hurry, she told herself. Her papá had gone downstairs to the corner market, and while he often spent an hour or more on Sunday afternoons smoking cigars with the men of the neighborhood, discussing the politics of her close-knit Italian community and their various business ventures—and arranging their daughters’ marriages, she thought bitterly—he could return at any time.
In her bedroom, she gathered the neat stack of clothes she had put in her bottom dresser drawer, then stuffed them into the traveling bag along with her few womanly items, her prayer book, some sheets of music, and a spare pair of shoes. She checked her reticule and found the roll of bills—the money she’d earned over the last two years from babysitting and teaching music lessons through Signore Bianchi’s instrument shop on Second Avenue. She hoped it would be enough for the quality of violin she planned to buy.
Mr. Fisk hadn’t answered her inquiry regarding pricing in his letter. He merely assured her he would provide her with an exceptional instrument and that they would work out the financial details once she arrived in Greeley, Colorado.
Would her meager savings be enough? It had to be, for she couldn’t return to New York and face the audition committee without a proper instrument.
The director’s words still stung. “You’re a talented musician, Miss Bellini. But you bring shame to your craft by playing on such an inferior violin. Come back when you have an appropriate instrument.” The three committee members had politely frowned when she flustered an apology and hurried to the exit of the symphony hall, pressing down her humiliation and frustration as tears welled in her eyes.
Her papá could well afford to buy her a violin of exceptional quality, and every year at Christmas she begged him to indulge her love of playing with the purchase of a new one, but he only laughed in cool disdain and waved her away. “Give up your foolish dreams, Angela. Your place is in the home, with a husband and children. Not on the stage.” Her papá regarded music appropriate only at holidays and festivals and family gatherings, and only traditional song and instrumentation. He didn’t—couldn’t—understand this dream she nursed. The dream to play in the New York Philharmonic, to play on stage before an audience, to be a part of the creation of ethereal music that filled a great performance hall and moved listeners to tears.
To make matters worse, her older brother, Bartolomeo, sided with their papá, constantly nagging her to “get married already and stop being a burden on the family.” Although he was but two years older, he and Dora had three children. And Dora—and most of Angela’s other girlfriends from her school days, who were also married—gave her constant looks of pity, as if Angela was missing out on life’s greatest joy. But they just didn’t understand.
She had to fan the tiny spark of her dream to keep it alive, to prevent it from being snuffed out by her papá’s stern expectations and society’s demands. And it had nearly been extinguished a month ago, upon her papá’s brash public announcement of her engagement to Pietro—an arrogant youngest son of a successful wine merchant who had no love for music—none whatsoever. She harbored no hope that he would ever understand her passionate need to play the violin, and no doubt he’d forbid her pursuit of her dream.
And then she’d read an article in the Times about one George Fisk, a master violin maker in a newly founded town in the West—a place called Greeley. On a whim she’d written him. Why? She didn’t know. She could purchase a violin in Manhattan—one of sufficient quality. But there was something about the description of this man, Fisk. The way he spoke about the instruments he made. The care and time and love he put into each one. He built his instruments with a passion and love for beauty and music that resonated with her. For, she wanted more than a good violin. She wanted one that spoke to her soul, one made just for her. George Fisk promised he could provide just that. But she had to travel halfway across the continent. Was she willing? he’d asked her.
Yes, she wrote him. Yes, more than willing. Although, she’d never traveled outside of the city, and the thought of venturing into wild country, alone, made her stomach twist. But Fisk had told her not to worry. He would see to her accommodations and show her around his “wonderful little Western town.” And she had to admit—she was ready for an adventure.
She looked around her cramped tiny bedroom situated in a crowded apartment in a busy, noisy city. I’m more than ready for peace and quiet, and to get away from Papá’s mean spirit and violent temper.
What must it be like to stand under a wide-open sky spattered with stars, with no neighbors quarreling or trains rattling or horses’ hooves clacking on stones? Her heart yearned for such open space, for such silence. Silence that longed to be filled with beautiful music. She imagined nature itself performing a symphony of birdsong and coyote howls and water cascading over rocks. Those were some of the images her mind drifted to as she played, and she longed to merge her own musical voice to that of creation, if even just for a day or two.




About the Author


The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in 1876) includes Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, and Colorado Dream (release date 11/15/16) and Wild Horses, Wild Hearts (release date 1/1/17).

Join Charlene's mailing list to get free books, news, and sneak previews of upcoming books and covers:

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Sight Unseen Book Blast


We're happy to host Erin Leigh Crisp's SIGHT UNSEEN Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!


Title: Sight Unseen
Author: Erin Leigh Crisp
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 198
Genre: Christian Romance

Emilia Phillips is looking for a career and a way out of her day job. She is not looking for a man to rescue her heart.

Asher Mason wants his life back. He lost his sight and the hero-life he loved in a millisecond. He no longer trusts his instincts, especially about women. But the sweet-smelling waitress in his favorite café tempts him to trust. As Emilia helps Asher relearn everyday activities, the two find themselves falling faster than either expected.

Can a woman love a blind soldier? Will she want a man who doesn’t recognize himself anymore? As Asher’s shortcomings become more apparent to him, the wedge forced between he and Emilia widens. Can Asher trust the same God that took his sight to direct his future?

Purchase:

Amazon


Book Excerpt:
“How long has it been?” Emilia could have bitten off her own tongue. 
His eyes glanced over again, but they didn’t see her. He gave one huge breath and shrugged, like it wasn’t important. “Three months.”
Only three months? And he was walking around town and ordering coffee? No seeing-eye dog, no dark glasses? She wanted to compliment him, but she figured he wasn’t the type of man to take it for what it was. Instead, she eased her hand onto his shoulder for a split second and went for humor instead.
“I should have noticed when you didn’t wink back at me earlier.”
His head shot up, and his cheeks tinged the darkest pink.
Emilia covered her giggle and shook her head. “I swear I’m kidding. I wasn’t flirting with you, but I really should have noticed earlier. My brother was born blind. He’s seventeen.”
The man looked curious, but he was still blushing and she decided not to press him. “Anyway, if you need anything, my name is Emilia. I’ll be here all week.”
His lips turned up in the smallest smile. She reminded herself that she wasn’t looking for a man. She took three steps away before he called her name.
Her feet stopped. “Yeah?”
He swallowed hard, his fingers linking on the tabletop. His eyes searched for her face. “I’m Asher Mason. Thank you, again.”
“It was my pleasure.” She turned and walked away, but the damage was already done. Her heart thumped crazily. Her cheeks heated. Her teeth bit down to stop the smile that threatened. And I’m in a load of trouble, she thought.




About the Author

Erin was born and raised on the Florida/Alabama state line in a small farming community which has served as inspiration for her novels. She believes the heart of a happy ending is God and His plan for the lives of His people.

In 2014, Erin published her first novels for sale.  She currently has eight full-length novels and one novella for sale on Amazon. Erin makes her home in Northeast Georgia with her husband, four children and two fish. Erin has a bachelor degree in Christian Counseling and enjoys photography in her spare time.
Web & Social Networks:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK




 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dogs are People Too




Dogs Are People Too- The Practical Guide to Understanding and Training Your Dog (because you're more alike than you think!) is a comprehensive guide for novice to experienced owners on how to best understand and interact with their dogs for utmost success.

My Review

Author, Mary Jean Alsina provides great and thoughtful insight into a dog's behavior. After reading this book you can too become a "dog whisper". I have trained dogs before including a guide dog for the blind. With good solid training, any dog can be a good dog. I agree with the information that the author writes in this book. You don't need to raise your voice to discipline your dog. I agree that all it does is install fear and not establish a good relationship with your dog. All my life with all of the dogs I have owned, I felt like they were my children and not seen as "just" dogs. So, I actually talk to them like they are people and with my most recent 3 dogs, you can catch me carrying conversations with them. They do understand me. I may not always use the standard commands of: sit, stay, down, etc. but my downs know what I am saying my the tone of my voice and respond to it. Any dog owner should check out this book. You don't need to spend tons of money on a trainer when you can pick up a copy of this book and learn with your dog on how to have a loving and respectful relationship for a long time.

About the author - Mary Jean Alsina, CPDT-KA, PCT-A, M.A., is a certified professional science-based dog trainer with over 10 years' experience. During this time, she has worked with hundreds and hundreds of dogs exhibiting issues ranging from typical puppy behavior to severe fear and aggression as adults. Alsina is a former New Jersey public school teacher who taught instrumental music (band and strings) for 20 years. She also has an extensive knowledge of the human and canine learning process. Alsina finds the similarities between humans and dogs fascinating and draws on them daily to help her clients in her belief that utilizing the knowledge people use to function and relate to others can easily translate to our relationships with dogs, leading to a more successful and understanding partnership.

News of the World

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.
  

My Review

Author, Paulette Jiles paints a wonderful view of this time period. Additionally, the author infuses life into Captain Kidd and Johanna. The relationship between the two of them was heartwarming. Although, Johanna was a girl of little words, she spoke volumes with the words she did speak. Captain Kidd may have been a little rough around the edges but when it came to Johanna he was a good fatherly figure.

It was not just the relationship between Johanna and Captain Kidd that made this book for me but also the scenery. I enjoyed the journey from Wichita Falls to San Antonio and the rich history of the past. Because I was so invested in the story and the characters, it made reading this book a joy.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Breedling and the City in the Garden + Giveaway


 
Book Description:

Absolute obedience, servitude, neutrality.
These were the laws that once governed Bartholomew, an immortal soulcatcher, until one ill-fated night when he was forced to make a choice: rebel against his masters or reveal an ancient, dangerous secret.

He chose defiance.

Imprisoned for centuries as punishment for his decision, Bartholomew wastes away—until he creates an opportunity to escape. By a stroke of chance, Bartholomew finds himself in the human world and soon learns that breaking his bonds does not come without a price. Cut off from the grace that once ruled him, he must discover a new magic in 1930s Chicago.

Armed with only a cryptic message to give him direction, Bartholomew desperately tries to resume the mission he had started so long ago. Relying on the unlikely guidance of the streetwise orphan Charlie Reese, Bartholomew must navigate the depressed streets of the City in the Garden. But in order to solve this riddle, he must first discover if choice and fate are one in the same.

My Review

I wanted to check this book out because it sounded like it was in the steampunk genre. A genre that I enjoy reading. When I saw the author's picture, I knew that she shared the same love. This book turned out better then I had hoped. Always, a bonus. In addition, it was surprising to read that this is the author's debut novel. This book reads like it comes from a seasoned professional.

Right from the beginning, I was along for the journey. From the time period to the characters, and the plot. Charlie and Bartholomew or Buck were great together. Buck's inquisitive mind was refreshing. I saw things as he saw them (in some cases for the first time). Charlie was so patient and a good friend to Buck. Buck's ability to communicate with animals was great. It was kind of like Harry Potter. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Buy the Book:


 
Author's Bio:

Kimberlee Ann Bastian has a unique love affair with American nostalgia, mythology, and endless possibilities. This melting pot of elements is what prompted the creation of her epic ELEMENT ODYSSEYS series, starting with the reboot of her debut novel now titled THE BREEDLING AND THE CITY IN THE GARDEN.

When she is not in her writer's room, working her current "day job", or consuming other literary worlds, she enjoys hiking and cycling around the bluffs of your Southeastern MN home and catching up on her favorite pop culture. ​

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~Pinterest  ~ Instagram




Which was the hardest character to write? Grocer Pawlak was by far one of the most challenging because it took a while to discover his true nature. In the end, the Disney classic Pinocchio provided the clarity I needed to see him right. The easiest? The Apothecary, hands down.

 

What advice would you give budding writers? Be prepared to live in two worlds. The “real” one and the one you are building. Be sure to find balance between them. Also, as Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures, are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? In the narrative, I don’t use contractions. I’m not sure why exactly, it has always been that way.

 

Do you snack while writing? Honestly, sometimes I put off eating, because I can’t eat and write at the same time, haha. However, when I’m editing, I do snack, because I’m reading more and don’t have to use my hands as much. Favorite snack? Currently its Avocado Oil BBQ Potato Chips.

 

If you could go back in time, where would you go? The Roarin’ 20s. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a “Great Gatsby” party

 

What is the last great book you’ve read? The Night Circus by Erin Mortenson


 
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Change of Heart



Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.  

My Review

I have read only a few books that center around Bollywood. This is one genre that needs more time in the spotlight. It is filled with lots of culture and intriguing characters. This book is no exception.
This story starts out after the death of Dr. Nic's wife. Yet, I thought what was really genius was her quotes and comments as snippets at the beginning of each chapter. This way it kept Dr. Jen's presence as a voice in the story. So, that as I was reading this book I felt that strong connection that Nic had with his wife and felt for him to find the truth. Jess was a complex character as was her relationship with Nic. By the end of the story I had not only bonded with these characters but I had a smile on my face for Nic. This is a recommended read! I look forward to reading more work by this author.