Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Labor Day everyone!  It seems like it is still the weekend, but it's like today is a freebie! :)

I didn't get around to reading all of my book choices that week, so I'll carry some of them over for this week, as well as adding three more that I've been looking forward to reading.

So here goes ...

What I'm Reading Now:

What I Plan To Read:

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme sponsored by Sheila at BookJourney (  Check out what other bloggers are reading!

Hope you have a great Labor Day and here's to lots of happy reading ahead!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Hotter N' Hell Bike Race/Ride

Every August my hometown of Wichita Falls is the location for one of the largest century-rides for bike enthusiasts in the country. The race got it's name from the fact that our temperatures are usually hovering in the 100-degree or above range!  This is not a race for the faint-hearted! (I think it was around 104 degrees this year)

 This year nearly 11,000 riders participated and that number included my son Clayton.  This is Clayton's fifth year riding in this race and this year, his buddy Steven was along.  They had a great ride and already planning on next year's ride.


Clayton and Steven - sunscreen boys, sunscreen!

Ready to go!

Clayton, Steven and a few thousand of their bike-riding friends!

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme sponsored by West Metro Mommy (  See what other bloggers are sharing today!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Reviews - The River Road Mystery Series by Susan McBride

I am so pleased to tell you about a wonderful new series of charming mysteries by a fabulous author! 

To Helen Back by Susan McBride

Susan McBride, the USA Today best-selling author of "The Truth About Love and Lightening," "Little Black Dress," and "The Cougar Club," has written a lively and fast-paced series that highlights Helen Evans, a delightful little old lady endowed with the curiosity of a cat and a concern for her family and friends, and the crimes she helps solves in a small town outside of St. Louis.

I love how Susan takes her readers right into the heart of River Bend, Illinois, a little town that seems to attract the most interesting crimes. Helen Evans is a lifelong resident there, so naturally it worries her when things go wrong - and she just can't seem to help getting involved, much to Sheriff Biddle's chagrin! The characters that populate Susan's stories are engaging and personable with my favorite being Helen herself, a character that Susan based in part on her beloved grandmother, Helen.

The River Road Mystery series is a fresh and fun series that are just thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable.  Now that summer is nearly over and life slows down a bit, do yourself a favor and grab these books to savor with a nice cup of tea!

Here is a little more about the books:

To Helen Back
Ebook / Mass Market Paperback, HarperCollins Witness Impulse
May 27, 2014 (Ebook) / July 8, 2014 (Paperback)

Buy the Ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iTunes | Google Play | Books-a-Million | Scribd | Kobo
Buy the paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound
Top 50 Nook Bestseller
Kobo #1 Cozy Mystery

About The Book: 

When Milton Grone turns up dead in tiny River Bend, Illinois, nearly all the would-be suspects have the perfect alibi: attending Thursday night's town meeting. And as Milton was hardly beloved, plenty of folks had a reason to do him in ...

Grone's next-door neighbor was furious about a fence that encroached on her property, among other wicked deeds. A pair of zealous tree huggers wanted Grone's hide for selling a parcel of pristine land to a water park. Grone's current and ex-wife both wanted a cut of the profits, which Grone seemed unwilling to share. Even the town preacher knew Grone's soul was beyond saving.
Though most of River Bend would rather reward the killer than hang him, Sheriff Biddle's not about to let this one go … and neither is Helen Evans. With a penchant for puzzles and an ear for innuendo, Helen quickly fingers the culprit before Biddle puts the wrong suspect in jail.

Mad as Helen
Ebook / Mass Market Paperback, HarperCollins Witness Impulse
HarperCollins Witness Impulse Imprint
July 29, 2014 (Ebook) / September 2, 2014 (Paperback)

Buy the Ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iTunes | Kobo

About The Book:

In the second River Road Mystery from USA Today bestselling author Susan McBride, Helen Evans must find a killer before her granddaughter is arrested for murder!

When tiny River Bend, Illinois, is hit by a string of burglaries even Sheriff Frank Biddle can't solve, the clients of LaVyrle's Cut 'n' Curl can hardly talk of anything but. There are no signs of forced entry and no fingerprints, and valuables are missing from secret hiding places, as if the thief knew what he wanted and just where to look.
Helen Evans wonders what the world has come to if even their once-quiet town isn't safe anymore. Then Grace Simpson, a big-city psychotherapist who had opened up shop in River Bend, is found dead on her bedroom floor, and Helen's granddaughter is caught with the murder weapon in hand.
Sure of the girl's innocence, Helen embarks on a little investigation of her own and turns up plenty of folks who aren't grieving a bit now that Grace is dead …

And coming soon!

Not a Chance in Helen Digital First (Paperback to Follow)
HarperCollins Witness Impulse Imprint
September 30, 2014

Pre-order the Ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iTunes

About The Book:

In the third River Road Mystery from USA Today bestselling author Susan McBride, Helen Evans knows her friend is not guilty of murder … she just has to prove it!

When 80-year-old Eleanora Duncan is found dead on her kitchen floor, Sheriff Frank Biddle suspects it isn't from natural causes. Eleanora wasn't exactly your average senior citizen. She was a widow worth millions, although all her money couldn't buy her happiness—not after losing both her husband and son.
Eleanora's bitterness alienated those around her, but did that bitterness make her the victim of foul play? Soon Jean Duncan, Eleanora's daughter-in-law, becomes the prime suspect. But the sheriff gets more than he bargained for when Helen Evans comes to the aid of her friend.
Helen knows that Jean didn't murder Eleanora, despite the very bad blood between them. So she uses every means at her disposal in order to clear Jean's name and track down Eleanora's killer.

About The Author:

Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood, the first of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. The award-winning series includes The Good Girl's Guide to Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night of the Living Deb, and Too Pretty to Die. She's also the author of The Truth About Love and Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.

Be sure to check out her website at

I purchased these books for my personal library. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review - Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen

About The Book:

From the celebrated author of The Bird Sisters, a gorgeously rendered and emotionally charged novel that spans generations, telling the story of two siblings, raised apart, attempting to share a life.

It is 1938 when Eveline, a young bride, follows her husband into the wilderness of Minnesota. Though their cabin is rundown, they have a river full of fish, a garden out back, and a new baby boy named Hux.

But when Emil leaves to take care of his sick father, the unthinkable happens: a stranger arrives, and Eveline becomes pregnant. She gives the child away, and while Hux grows up hunting and fishing in the woods with his parents, his sister, Naamah, is raised an orphan.

 Years later, haunted by the knowledge of this forsaken girl, Hux decides to find his sister and bring her home to the cabin. But Naamah, even wilder than the wilderness that surrounds them, may make it impossible for Hux to ever tame her, to ever make up for all that she, and they, have lost.

Set before a backdrop of vanishing forest, this is a luminous novel of love, regret, and hope.

My Thoughts:

I was so thrilled to hear of Rebecca Rasmussen's second novel, and was privileged to receive a review copy.  I knew from her debut novel, "The Bird Sisters," that I enjoyed Rebecca's writing, but I wasn't prepared for the wonderful treat of reading "Evergreen."

Rebecca once again brings her skillful style of storytelling to a tale that includes a stirring romance, unforgettable and loyal friendships, and a tragedy full of secrets, lies, and regrets. Set in the early wilderness of Minnesota, this story captures the untamed countryside and the strong and resilient people who set out to tame it. Rebecca's cast of characters are intriguing and personable - I especially loved Lulu, the eccentric but loveable gal who everyone needs as a friend! And I so admired both Eveline and her daughter Naamah for their strength and bravery as they work so hard to find a flittering of happiness and joy in their lives. This is just a magnificent story.

If you are looking for a read that will stay with you long after you finished the book, then "Evergreen" is the one for you.  I'm absolutely putting this title in my top books of the year!

About The Author:

REBECCA RASMUSSEN is the author of the novel The Bird Sisters. Her stories have appeared in or won prizes from TriQuarterly, Narrative Magazine, Glimmer Train, The Mid-American Review, among other journals. She was born and raised in the Midwest. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and teaches English part-time at UCLA.

My thanks to Doubleday Publishing for the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Waiting on Wednesday!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jillian at Breaking The Spine (, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection that I can't wait for is:

About The Book:

A publishing event: #1 New York Times–bestselling author Jan Karon returns—and invites her millions of fans to join her again in Mitford.

"After a long hiatus, Karon  has returned with a novel that offers something for those who believe and those who do not. All the beloved quirky characters are here, the past is neatly summarized and the future, full of hope." Kirkus Reviews

After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.

While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.

His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.

All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?

Millions of fans will applaud the chance to spend time, once more, in the often comic and utterly human presence of Jan Karon’s characters. Indeed, they have never been more sympathetic, bighearted, and engaging.

Can't wait for this one! 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review - A Triple Knot by Emma Campion

A Triple Knot

About A Triple Knot
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 8, 2014)
The critically acclaimed author of The King’s Mistress brings another fascinating woman from history to life in an enthralling story of political intrigue, personal tragedy, and illicit love.
Joan of Kent, the renowned beauty and niece of King Edward III, seems blessed with a life of royal privilege until her father is executed for treason and she becomes a ward of the king, living amongst those who deem her the daughter of a traitor. Joan begins to understand the brutal constraints and dangers inherent in being of royal blood. There is one at court who loves her, but his love proves the greatest threat of all.

As an impetuous teenager, she escapes into a clandestine marriage in a bid for freedom, then must hide it for nearly a decade, as her guardians marry her off to another man. After her first husband’s death, Joan—now a mother of four—enters into another scandalous relationship, this time with the heir to the British throne, Prince Edward, hero of Crécy and Poitiers, who has loved her all along. But his devotion comes at a terrible price. Haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution and the ruthlessness of her royal kin, Joan must reconcile her passion for the crown prince with her own conscience.
“A colorful and historically detailed saga.” The Seattle Times
“A well-written, comprehensive view of the period in which women were marginalized, their glittery, gem-laden gowns reflecting the corruption of the times.” Historical Novels Review
 “A medieval lover’s dream novel.” RT Book Reviews
My Thoughts:
I am a big fan of "royal" themed books and was especially taken by this brilliantly written novel that takes a look at one of the lesser known royals, Joan of Kent. I loved how Emma Campion brings in the politics of the day and adds the dash of romance and pageantry that makes these stories so fascinating. 
Campion's storytelling is smooth and captures the reader from the first page and her characters are full-bodied and realistic - you can almost imagine yourself there along Joan as she grows up in the whirl of the royal world.
I highly recommend this novel for historical fiction fans.
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About Emma Campion

Emma Campion

Emma Campion is the author of The Kings Mistress and, writing as Candace Robb, author of the internationally acclaimed Owen Archer crime series. She lives in Seattle. Visit her blog HERE.
My Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion..

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review - The Convict and The Rose by Jan Sikes

About The Book:

In the sequel to Jan Sikes' debut novel, "Flowers and Stone," "The Convict and The Rose finds Luke and Darlina's love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.  

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger and rebelliousness. He's lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He's spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dancehalls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

"The Convict and the Rose" inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.

Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

My Thoughts:

Jan Sikes has poured her heart and soul into this fascinating novel and her passion for this story is evident in each word.

"The Convict and The Rose" follows the difficult journey for two people as they struggle to maintain a loving relationship despite all the odds the world throws at them. I found myself drawn into the emotional tale and became invested with the characters and in the outcome of the intriguing and mesmerizing story.

Jan Sikes proves herself a worthy storyteller with these two novels - "Flowers and Stone" and "The Convict and The Rose."  Her characters are memorable and well-defined; and the story itself flows well as it pulls the reader into the heart of the story and leaving an impression on them long after the last page is turned.

I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoy realistic and well-written fiction.

About The Author:

Jan Sikes started writing when she was a young girl, around the age of eight. Her first writing was a gospel song. She had an uncle whom she loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from their home. So, she wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is her first memory of feeling the passion deep down to her toes for writing.

The stories she writes (so far) are true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something that is worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits the stories that she shares through her writing.

She is passionate about her writing projects and is driven to tell a story with the hope that it might touch someone’s heart or life in a positive way.

She also releases a music cd of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, attends music festivals and has four incredible grandchildren.

Check out her website at for more information on her books and music.

My thanks to the author for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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