Friday, November 29, 2013

Review for Love Bats Last by Pamela Aares

Alex Tavonesi is a famous baseball player and heir to a vineyard in northern California. When he bumps into Jackie Brandon snooping around his vineyard he’s instantly attracted to her. Jackie works as a veterinarian at the California Marine Mammal Center. She must get to the bottom of why seals and sea lions are mysteriously dying.  She discovers a poisons substance being dumped into the water close by the vineyards. Alex volunteers at the marine center to get closer to Jackie but the last thing she’s looking for is a relationship, especially with a jock. As their attraction grows, Alex is having a hard time staying focused on his big hitting season and Jackie is distracted from uncovering the truth.

The best way to describe this gripping romance story is “hot.” Alex is surprisingly a level headed sweetheart for being so rich and famous. Jackie is career minded and I enjoyed learning more about saving marine animals.  My favorite reads are spin-off series by authors like Nora Roberts and I’m happy to find another author I love reading as much. Love Bats Last is the first in a series about hot baseball players and the women they fall in love with. The love story will wrap you up in the steamy hot attraction between Alex and Jackie. The danger threatening their lives will keep you on edge.

 I’m looking forward to reading all of the In the Heart of the Game Series.

Stay in contact with Pamela Aares:

This book will be released Feb. 2014. For a chance to win a free copy go to

I was giving this ARC for my honest review. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gone to Vegas

Here's my  trip collage:

Jason and I stayed at Paris our first couple days

Oct 31st 2013 Eiffel Tower

Halloween in Vegas really isn't any different than any other day. People are always dressed crazy but this trip we found some of our favorite characters on the strip.
Jason with the Duck Dynasty Dudes

Jason with Wilfred

We always like to visit the Bellagio gardens 

This trip we redeemed our myVegas rewards for 2 free buffets at Bellagio. So delicious. 

We also redeemed myVegas 2 free tickets to Mirage's Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin habitat:
(This is my 2nd visit here and so worth it. It's peaceful and you almost forget your in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas strip.)

The lions and tigers were really cool to watch.

Sleeping Lions

yikes!We woke the lion

He found a perch on the tree

His friend joined him and groomed him and he even roared.

"I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion"

Me & the sleeping Leopard

The unhappy leopard doesn't want to be bothered

Happy leopard finds the perfect "spot"

"Here Kitty, Kitty."
Tiger in the tree

He's bored.
 "Human do something interesting."

White tiger

"What do tigers dream of when they take their little tiger snooze?" 

Jason almost eaten by a tiger 

Jason fighting the lion 

My Favorite part of the secret garden is the dolphin habitat. You get up close and personal with the dolphins:

Me kissing a dolphin (hehe)

There are two huge pools and one small pool where the dolphins swim around and are always putting on a show. 

The next part of the trip we stayed at Luxor.We redeemed more myVegas rewards for lots of free stuff; like 2 all day buffets and a free show at Jabbawockeez.

Stacy and I at the Jabbawockeez show

We got massages and pedicures. Look at my Chicago Bears polish. It helped the Bears beat the Packers! 

Highlight of the trip was watching the football game with everyone. BEAR DOWN! (or more like Rodgers Down. hehehe!) 

"battle of the backups."

AND THANK to MYVEGAS a free game on Facebook FOR LOTS OF FREE STUFF to do in Vegas!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why are we so obsessed with Jane Austen?

I read an article in Entertainment Weekly called “Will Jane Austen ever rest in peace?” I’m one of those fans that loves to read all these new additions to Jane Austen’s classic stories. But why? Why are we so obsessed with anything Jane Austen?

I’m part of a group where I can find many great books to read at The Jane Austen Book Club   A friendly meeting place to read and discuss anything Austen...

I love the classics by Jane Austen. I have two copies of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Northanger Abbey,” At least one copy of “Persuasion,” “Emma,” and “Sense and Sensibility.” I need to pick up a copy of “Mansfield Park” and my collection will be complete.

My bookshelves are full of spin off stories like “Darcy’s Story” by Janet Aylmer, “Becoming Jane Austen” by Jon Spence, and

“Echoes of Pemberley” by Cynthis Ingram Hensley (My review

“Jane Austen and The Archangel” by Pamela Aares ( My review
"A well crafted novel by Pamela takes us into a new world and gives us the peace of mind that Jane truly knew love. "

The entire “The Jane Austen Diaries” series by Jenni James
NorthangerAlibicover.inddpride and popularityEmmaleecoverideas.indd???????????????????
(Pride and Popularity book review and Northanger Alibi book review-

“Austenland” and “Midnight in Austenland”by Shannon Hale are great reads:

The movie “Austenland” is spectacular. (Here's my movie review-
I won't even get started on all the movies out there that are Jane Austen inspired.

So the question is why? Why are we so obsessed? What calls to us and drives us to read more and more? I can’t speak for the millions of other obsessed fans, but for me I think there is a happily ever after feeling in all of Jane’s works.  Her characters I can relate to and even if the issues with family and acceptance are a little different than mine I can understand the dilemma that they face. But on the flip side I can envy the simple life of going on holidays and dances. I wish my biggest worry was what lace will look best on my dress for the next ball.  Of course Jane Austen’s stories have much more depth than that. I enjoy getting lost in another time and place and leave my rat-race world behind.  All these spin-off Jane Austen stories have kept her core values alive and given me a new Austen-like heroine to cheer for and a love story to enjoy.
Here's a great article on our Jane Austen obsessions. It speaks of another author/playwright who has Austen like popularity. Shakespeare of course.

“Austen isn't our most adapted writer, of course, not by a stretch. According to IMDB, Shakespeare’s been included in the ‘writer credits’ of films and TV shows an absurd 831 times, which is 511 more times than his closest competitor, Anton Chekhov.”

I do enjoy a good cry every once and awhile and read a Romeo & Juliet spin-off, but they lack the "happily ever after" affect Jane Austen has on me.

Tell me, what other authors have stood the test of time?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Here's your chance to win a copy of JoJo Moyes new book

Q&A with JoJo Moyes and free book giveaway of “The Girl You Left Behind”

 The girl you left behind

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, though a love story, features strong female relationships as well. What made you want to write about the connections that can form between women? If Liv and Sophie had lived in the same time, do you think they would have been friends?
My female friendships are so important to me; I honestly don’t know how women survive without them. I get very bored of reading manufactured narratives that pit women against women; the working mums vs. stay at homes, old vs. young, the ‘evil’ woman boss who is trying to keep younger women down—I don’t recognise these images—most women I know are actually pretty supportive of each other. So I liked having relationships in this book where women are supportive of each other, even if their relationships are often complex and changing. To me that reflects real life.
And yes, I think that Sophie and Liv might have been friends—I think through her sister’s grief, Sophie might have understood Liv’s own. And both knew what it was like to utterly adore your husband.
The reclamation of art taken during wartime is central to the plot. How did you first encounter this topic and what kind of research did you do to learn more about it?
I was briefly the arts correspondent for The Independent newspaper in London, so I knew a bit about the legal issues. But I read an amazing news story about a young woman reporter who had been asked to mind a huge collection of stolen Nazi artwork, and was given a very valuable stolen Cranach as a ‘thank you.’ Many decades later when it came up for auction it was recognised and became the subject of a claim.
It would seem the issue of returning stolen art is clear-cut, but Liv finds herself trying to keep a painting that may have been ill-gotten. Is there room for sympathy on both sides? 
Without wanting to diminish in any way the suffering of those who lost their precious belongings, I think there is. The more time that goes by, the more complicated the issue becomes, as people buy and sell in good faith, not knowing the painting’s tainted past. These things are also complicated when great legal industries spring up around them, as seems to have happened in the case of stolen artwork.
You create a vivid sense of French life under the German Occupation in WWI. Did you know much about this period prior to writing the novel?
No I didn’t, but the more research I did, the more fascinated I became by it. I knew about the terrible losses suffered in northern France during the first world war, but I knew little about life away from the Western Front, and the fact that in a great swathe of northern France Belgian and French people had their homes and belongings requisitioned in such a widespread and systematic way.
Sophie and Liv exist a century apart, but their lives are strongly connected, making the past feel very much alive in your story. Do you feel a strong link to the past or a particular historic figure?
That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure I do. I’m always amazed when people do past life regression and say they turned out to be Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale… I think I’d be the anonymous girl who ran the fruit stall near the river, or kept the accounts in the hat shop. But I do like to look at the lives of particularly brave women in history though, undercover women agents, in wartime or Amelia Earhart, say, and try to use their actions to make me braver in my everyday life, like standing up to a traffic warden….
What do you hope readers will take away from THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND?
I hope they’ll be transported into a time and place they didn’t know about. And I hope that they will put themselves in the place of Sophie and Liv, and ask: what would I do in their shoes? I love writing strong, resourceful female characters, and Sophie was one of my favourites, so I hope some women might be a little bit inspired too. Mostly I simply hope that they will feel glad they picked up the book and took the journey with me.
What a fun interview with author JoJo Moyes. Now you’ve gotten a taste of the book here’s your chance to win a copy of THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND.
I love JoJo’s thoughts on how in a past life she might have been an anonymous girl instead of  Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale but she takes brave women in history and tries to be like them in her normal life. In the comment field tell us what historical character you want to be brave like? Please also leave your email address so I can inform the winner.
This contest will run for one week until Saturday October 5th at midnight PST. I’ll email the winner and give them 48 hours to respond or pick a new winner. Good Luck! 
If you haven’t already, you need to read JoJo’s other book “Me Before You”
Other books from JoJo Moyes on my TBR list are: The Last LetterHoneymoon in Paris

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's time to bring the Lights, Camera, Action to your writing.

Right now it feels like I'm spending all my time editing and rewriting. Here's an article I read at  We’ve all heard the dreaded "Show don't Tell" in writing. You can't always see these problems, especially in your own writing. This article will help you recognize the telling in your story and turn it into action. 

Showing vs. Telling in Your Writing: The Camera Test
I’ll give you a little tool here that could revolutionize your understanding of showing and telling in fiction. I may not be the first person to talk about it in these terms, but I know I’ve never heard it before I thought it up. So at least I’m its co-inventor.
Maybe you want to rid your fiction of telling but you simply can’t see it—not in other people’s fiction and certainly not in your own. So how can you delete something you can’t even see? There’s a question you can ask of any passage you feel may be telling. You ready? Get the passage in front of you and ask this of it: Can the camera see it?
There are exceptions, but Can the camera see it? is a terrific tool for helping you begin to see the telling in a manuscript. Let’s test it:
Urlandia was a peaceful realm. Peasants and nobles alike lived in harmony despite the occasional bout with famine or invaders from the neighboring kingdom of Dum. There were heroes and cads, pirates and tavern wenches, and in all, their lives were good.
Okay, aside from this being deadly dull, is it showing or telling? Let’s load up the testing gun and fire: Can the camera see it?
Your mind might have conjured up an image of a fantasy countryside with green meadows, vast forests, and castles with pennants flapping in the breeze, but how could you have seen “the occasional bouts with famine”? How could you see that their lives were good? You couldn’t. You weren’t shown any of this—you were simply told. And it probably left you feeling a little sleepy.
It would be quite possible to convert this telling to showing by depicting  things before the camera’s lens that suggest each of these elements. But right now it’s unconverted telling. I can’t tell you how many unpublished novels I’ve seen that start like this. And I’ve rejected every single one of them. You don’t want your book rejected, so don’t put telling anywhere in the first fifty pages.
One more:
Veronica shifted into park and got out of her VW bug. She shielded her eyes from the afternoon sun and stared at the house. It was smaller than she remembered. And had it always been this run-down, or had it fallen into disrepair only lately? It had once been white, but the siding slats desperately needed a new paint job.
Two giant antennae poked up from the roof like alien tentacles. They were held in place by cables, but the one on the right nevertheless tilted at a diagonal. Maybe it helped with reception. The porch was covered by an awning of flaking wood. Whether the walls beneath the wood were worse off than the rest or they just looked that way because they were shrouded in shadow, Veronica couldn’t tell.
She sighed. If this is where she came from, no wonder she’d turned out as she had.
Okay, load up the testing gun. Can the camera see this? Actually, yes. Aside from a violation of the rule not to start a novel with someone getting out of a car, it’s not terrible prose. It’s description. Some people would be inclined to cut it because nothing seems to be happening: It’s neither action nor dialogue, so it must be telling. But that would be a mistake, since a lack of description can get your book declined. Description isn’t telling because … the camera can see it. Without description, the reader can’t visualize the story—which means that your story can’t go forward without description. Don’t leave it out.
As I mentioned, there are exceptions. The camera can’t see sounds or smells or temperatures or tastes, though a description of those things would not be telling. Also, interior monologue—the viewpoint character’s thoughts and interpretations—can’t be seen by a camera and is therefore not (usually) telling. But on the whole, Can the camera see it? will help you immediately spot and eliminate telling.

 -This article was written by author of The First 50 Pages Jeff Gerke.

I think author Jeff Gerke found the perfect way to focus in on the telling. Now it's time to go over my novel with my "showing vs telling" camera.

Bring on the Lights, Camera, Action!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review – “Brightest Hour” a historical fiction novel by Ashley King

Catherine Martin is feisty and very rebellious for a girl from 18th century Philadelphia. She’s from a rich family and they have high hopes for her to marry the son of another very rich and affluent family. Catherine doesn’t like who they have chosen. Vincent may be handsome but Catherine has always felt something is not right about him. When Catherine meets the blacksmith’s son Elijah she instantly falls in love. They become best friends and even though they both feel something more for each other, they know society would never allow them to be together. When Catherine turns eighteen her marriage with Vincent is being arranged but she can’t go through with it, not only because of her love for Elijah but Vincent has changed and there is something very evil about him.
If you are a fan of Shakespeare’s forbidden love in “Romeo & Juliet” or enjoy Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” with a good twist, you will like this story. I cherished Elijah and his deep love for Catherine. I couldn’t stop reading the story until I found out how it all turned out.
However, for me, someone who reads to escape reality and loves fairy-tales with happy endings I was left unsatisfied.

Ashley King                     Purchase this book on kindle of only $2.99 at:
Socialize with Ashley at :
Ashley King is a graduate of The University of Georgia with a degree in English Lit. She started writing in 2nd grade when a teacher praised her use of the word “retort,” which was said by a cow in her story, mind you. She teaches 7th grade English and lives in a small town in Georgia. She married her college sweetheart and is the mother of 2 unruly, but sweet cats, Emma and Keats. She has a sweet tea addiction and an obsession of all things Jane Austen.
A Dream to Dream by Ashley King
Ashley King has a new novel “A Dream to Dream”  now available on kindle.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Drum roll please....Free book giveaway for "Winter Solstice Winter" by E.J. Squires

and the winner is
Congratulations Joyce Dipastena! You win a copy of "Winter Solstice Winter" by E.J. Squires.  
(I will give your email address to Author E.J. Squires to coordinate giving you your prize.)
And now Joyce you are allowed to show your pleasure.
For those who didn't win you can still read this fabulous book which is available on kindle for only $3.99 on Amazon. Here is the link to purchase your copy today.  It's also available in paperback if you would like to have something more tangible to hold.
Check out my interview with E.J. Squires, especially see who the authors picks are for possible movie options and find out why she choose the self-publishing route. Here is the interview below:
Julie: Thank you E. J.  for taking time out of your busy writing schedule for this interview.

E. J. : Thank you Julie, for having taken the time to read my novel, and for writing such a positive review. I really appreciate you including me in an interview on your website.
Julie: What made you want to write a viking folklore fantasy book?

E. J. : There were many factors that played a role in me writing this Viking folklore fantasy book. I was born and raised for a significant part of my life in Norway. Both my parents are Norwegian, and I still have family living there. Before I started writing the novel, I owned a ballet studio, and I was in the process of setting up a ballet production that I had choreographed called "In Search of the Christmas Star." It was based on a Norwegian folktale (plus I added some things to make it a better adaptation for ballet.) When I wrote the synopsis for the ballet, which was to go in the program for the show, my husband suggested that I write a book about the story. I wrote the book, which was very simple and sold a few copies. While writing that book, I started doing some research on the Vikings, and was so inspired and intrigued by their culture (and my crazy ancestors) that I wanted to write something more substantial that tied in all aspects of their culture, from their mythology to their lifestyle to the beautiful dramatic nature that is in the Scandinavian countries. Before the ballet was finished, (crazy me, putting on a ballet, preparing for Christmas and raising three kids under the age of eight), I started writing the story, and it evolved to become "Winter Solstice Winter."
Julie: What is your favorite book or website to research for your book?

E. J. : I used many websites, but the two I used the most 
were and I also used Wikipedia.
Julie: Do you outline or do you write out-of-order?

E. J. : Well, during my first book, I just started writing without an outline at all. My first draft was over 500 pages long (123 K words!), and had a very long intro, which included more of Queen Maud and King Olav's relationship. I cut out like 100 pages, and then added more about Ailia, the leading character. In my second book in this series, called Summer Solstice Summer, I did an outline, but I keep everything very flexible. If the characters want to go somewhere else, I re-write the outline. I think writing from an outline is much easier.
Julie: What inspired you to independently publish?

E. J. : I had sent quite a few query letters out, but no agent wanted to represent my book. One agent would say the intro is too long, and then I'd cut some. And then I'd get another agent who said that I needed more of an intro, so I decided to do what I wanted and thought fit the story best. Later I read an article on Amanda Hawking, and did some research on authors who had self-published, and I was pleasantly surprised that many well-know authors started out self-publishing. I am the type of person who likes to be in charge of my own career, so the decision to self-publish was an easy one. I will continue to query some agents with some of my other novels, but just because I get rejected by them, doesn't mean I'm going to sit and wait on my laurels!
Julie: What made you want to become a writer?

E. J. : I enjoy expressing myself, and am a little more of an introvert. It gives me the freedom to say what I want, to develop a story the way I want and to hopefully, touch people's lives in a positive way. I love reading, and have always admired great writers who can take these simple words and create an experience for others.So with that in mind, I set out on my own writing journey.
Julie: If you could cast your book into an epic movie and have, let’s say, Peter Jackson produce and direct it; who would you want to cast for Soren? Lucia? Ailia? There are so many great parts we could go on and on.

E. J. : This is a great question, because one of the first things I did was cast this for a movie! So, here are the nominees:
Viggo Mortensen as SorenSoren: Viggo Mortensen
amanda-seyfried-mamma-miaLucia: Amanda Seyfried
Jennifer-Lawrence-4Ailia: Jennifer Lawrence
I also had King Olav cast, Queen Maud, Unni... well, pretty much everyone. I think it would make an awesome movie one day.
Julie: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what was on your play list to get you in the writing mood? Or is music to distracting?

E. J. : I haven't so far, but that's a great suggestion. I'll have to try it some time. (I think if I did listen to it while writing Winter Solstice winter it would be the Braveheart soundtrack or The Gladiator soundtrack.)
Julie: What’s your next book you are working on?

E. J. : I have one more chapter left of my next novel "The 13th Huldra." It is also based in Norse Folklore, but is a contemporary Paranormal Romance in the YA genre (Edgier and lighter than Winter Solstice Winter)
.The 13th Huldra cover
I am also working on a memoir called "Thunderthigh Ballerina" and on "Summer Solstice Summer", the next book after Winter Solstice Winter

summer solstic summer
(No multi-tasking going on here...)

Stay connected with E. J. via Facebook and Twitter:

Evelyn Squires

Evelyn J. Squires was born in the land of the Midnight Sun. When she  moved to the USA with her family in 1992, she completed High School and studied Comparative Literature at Brigham Young University. She married in 2003, and now resides in Florida with her husband and three children.