Monday, December 14, 2015

FELICITY and the Featherless Two-Foot

Felicity 2Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot by Loralee Evans Felicity hasn’t had an adventure in months, and the little sparrow thinks that dangerous quests are behind her for good. Which is just fine with her! She would rather hang out with her friends the fairies, and read her books safe at home than go on scary adventures! But Felicity didn’t count on one group of strangers showing up that cause more trouble than she ever imagined they could! A strange, troublesome bunch that the fairies call… people.

It is always a delight to come across a children’s book that I find so enthralling that I want to share with my adult audience.  Felicity is a well written story that captures the heart and mind of the reader, no matter the age.  I found myself drawn into the story as the young sparrow fought to protect, not only the fairies she dearly loved, but also the young “two-foot” who had suddenly put himself in mortal danger. 
I lived in a meadow of sparrows and robins for the past few years, and watched the interactions of the families of the birds in the trees at my deck and scattered around our four acres.  Ms. Evan’s writing was so visual, that I could easily see the story through the eyes of Felicity and laughed as she hopped around on the computer keyboard typing messages to Mr. Yellow Horse.  Her mis-pronunciation and "mis-wording" of common words like “parking- lot” kept this reader in chuckles. 
The co-conspirator in adventure, Cairn, a male city sparrow who knew math as well as Felicity knew how to read English was a delight.  Their batting back and forth, as they worked together continued to entertain and gave the reader clues into the world of the birds and the intellect that resides in a population that we think can only sing. 
Not only is this story one that entertains the soul, but it is one that teaches young children about kindness and love.  I would highly recommend this story for parents to read to their three years old and older.  I would also recommend it for children to read for third through sixth grade, boys and girls.  And yes, as an adult, it is a delight and a worthy read.

I would give FELICITY and the Featherless Two-Foot a FIVE STAR rating for children’s literature.  I would also recommend reading FELICITY, the first book in this series.

barnes and nobleamazon

Praise for the Book “Dreams, imagination, and different worlds intersect in a positive and simple story that kids will find whimsical and delightfully fun.” –D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review “Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot will touch the hearts of children both young and old. It’s a tale that connects friendship and nature in a magical, memorable way.” --Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper Chronicles and The Stone of Valhalla. goodreads LoraleeAuthor Loralee Evans Loralee Evans is the author of five novels, The Birthright, The King's Heir, The Shores of Bountiful, Felicity~ A Sparrow's Tale, and her latest release, Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot. When she's not writing, she enjoys teaching, running, being with her family, and reading all sorts of good books, including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J. Scott Savage, Rachel Ann Nunes, and James Dashner.

$25 Blog Tour giveaway
$25 Blog Tour Giveaway Giveaway Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/30/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Lisa Ann Verge

For the last few years we have been delighted by the mesmerizing works of Lisa Verge Higgins and her works in the Women’s Fiction genre.  Her stories have been poignant, hitting close to home and heart of the women who read her novels.  Little did many of us know of a lighter and bawdier side of Lisa. 
During her college years she started writing historical novels that would curl the toes of the staunchest church goer.  But the novels were not devoted to heavy breathing, they were living works to a time before ours.  She wrote novels that believed the women were not chattel, that they were capable of having a voice and controlling their destiny.
Another sexy, adventurous romance from the RITA-nominated author of seventeen novels, Lisa Ann Verge 

"A rousing swashbucker . . . a wonderful read!" --RT Book Reviews 

"Sweaty, gritty, and suspenseful. Don't miss it!" --Rendezvous 

"Verge is a tale-teller whose writing is stunningly real." --Affaire de Coeur 

WINNER Best Swashbuckler of the Year -- RT Book Reviews 

When the ravages of war destroy her world, newly-orphaned Adriana Joubert binds her chest and slips into the disguise of a sailor boy. With nothing left to lose, she’s determined to sign on to the boldest pirate ship in Saint Malo Bay. She figures she’ll help the captain capture a few rich prizes, and a lifetime of security will surely follow. 

But the notorious Captain Wolfe has better things to do than hunt English ships and Spanish galleons. He launches his motley crew clear across the world in pursuit of a man who owes him blood. He soon unmasks the smart-mouthed, dirty-faced ship’s-boy and, for her protection, confines her to his own cabin. But as mutiny brews and his enemy comes into sight, Captain Wolfe realizes that his greatest battle will be to win Adriana’s heart. 

Her Pirate Heart is a new work, but stays true to her earlier style of writing.  The only differences show in Lisa’s growth and maturity as an author.  This can be seen in the depth of development of her core characters as the live, breath and walk across the pages of the novel.  The storyline and plots of the book are full of twists that don’t allow the reader time to take a breath before sending them off on another hair-raising turn. 
Lisa’s ability to raise the temperature in the room has not disappeared with time, either.  While ramping up the temp and the hormones, she manages to accomplish it without embarrassing and tipping the scale to the more genteel side of the bedroom scene. (For once, maybe I didn’t quite skip over the “good” parts… lol.)
I love that Lisa chose to write about a lesser known time and area of early American, English, and French history as a historical novel.  The Carolinas and early settlement, including stories about early settlement of the Huguenots is not front shelf material at the library.  I love it, because it is part of my family history, at least the Huguenot portion of it.  Except my family immigrated straight to New Orleans instead of the Carolinas during that time.  Life if interesting.
Lisa, I hope to see more of your historical novels, along with your contemporary women’s fiction works in the future.  The each command and fill a much needed void in the shelves of today’s literature.  I think that you have proven, that a good story-teller transcends genre.  It would be interesting to see where your lively and lovely imagination might take us next.
You can acquire your own copy of Her Pirate Heart  at Amazon

Lisa Ann Verge is the critically acclaimed RITA-nominated author of seventeen novels that have been published worldwide and translated into as many languages. She started her career writing emotionally intense romances about hot men and dangerous women, and now she also writes life-affirming women's fiction under the name Lisa Verge Higgins. A finalist for Romantic Times' book awards five times over, Lisa has won the Golden Leaf and the Bean Pot, and twice she has cracked Barnes & Noble's General Fiction Forum's top twenty books of the year. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three daughters, who never fail to make life interesting.

Connect with her at:

Twitter: @lisaannverge

Friday, November 27, 2015

Roman Holiday - A Book Blast

  Roman's holiday cover Roman's Holiday by Susan Aylworth
Four years after Roman Kincaid was catapulted into stardom as a country-western singer and A-list movie star, he is burned out: exhausted by a grueling schedule, drained by the ceaseless demands of producers and managers, weary of meeting the needs of others at the expense of his own. Leaving a sold-out show in Phoenix, he rents a car and drives north and east, landing in the Painted Desert town of Rainbow Rock.
Nearly three years after leaving her old life behind, Lottie Beale is feeding people and baking pies, managing the Kachina Café and tending secrets of her own. When circumstances conspire to give two attractive people some time alone together amid the world-class vistas of the Four Corners, they discover more than either had bargained for.
  Excerpt “Ro-man! Ro-man!” A capacity crowd in the Ak-Chin Pavilion chanted his name under the starry desert sky, but Roman Kincaid barely heard it. He stood in the stage wings, gearing up for an encore and wondering when his dream had become a nightmare. “Okay, guys,” he said to his back-up band via their ear buds. “One encore only. Let’s do ‘Gamble.’ Start with the chorus.” He took two steps toward the stage entrance, swinging his guitar into playing position. Sam, his manager, caught his elbow. “Are you sure about this? That crowd adores you. You could probably play three encores, sell more CDs—” “No.” Roman left no room for argument. “One and done. And no backstage stuff, either. I’m outta here.” He took a deep breath, pasted on the same fake, crowd-pleasing smile he’d used in the last half-dozen shows, and jogged back onto the stage to the roar of twenty thousand excited voices. He strummed the intro and launched into the chorus of his first number-one hit: “Love is such a gamble. You break a new deck every time. Sometimes you’re dealt the aces; Others you draw to nines. But when I met you, I knew it was true. A winning hand you seemed. Now I have the rush of a royal flush. You are the gamble of my dreams.” The crowd cheered wildly as he played his way through the music he now sang in his sleep. In fact, he realized as he watched fans taking up the beat and clapping along, that was pretty much what he was doing now. He struggled to suppress a yawn during the guitar interlude as he turned to acknowledge his band. I spent my early life dreaming of a crowd like this. When did performing start to feel like a chore? He put the thought away. Lately he’d been thinking of times when he’d heard of some celebrity being hospitalized for exhaustion and assumed it was a euphemism for drug rehab. Now he wondered. When was the last time I felt truly rested? The question was an imponderable. Months, at least. He hit the last chord and took a deep bow, then shouted, “Thank you, Phoenix!” and dashed off-stage. add to goodreads   Susan AAuthor Susan Aylworth
Susan Aylworth started her first book when she was nine. "It was called Buff, The Proud Stallion. I wrote eight whole pages." For her fifth grade career day, she stated her ambition to become "a rich and famous author." Decades later, she is pleased to have achieved the 'author' part of that goal. A former university professor, she enjoys researching backgrounds and careers for her novels. "It's one way to live many lives at once." She lives in northern California with her husband of 45 years and two spoiled cats.
  50_Amazon_Paypal   Book Blast Giveaway - $50 Amazon Gift Card or $50 in Paypal Cash Ends 12/11/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 9, 2015

Papoose hi resAny native West Virginian knows every word of John Denver’s legendary hit and can sing the lyrics from the time they can follow the tune and form the words (or near sounds).  “Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong.  West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.” Driving down the back lanes of the winding mountain roads you can almost hear the strains of the banjos and guitars blowing with the wind through your hair as it whistles through open windows of your vehicle. 
There is a sense of having arrived and wanting to belong, a sense of finding home every time you visit, or come back home.  I should know, I lived in one of the most remote areas of the state, not too far from the settings of these three novels, for almost five years.  Just like the scenes and places in the great Louis L’Amour’s novels, even though the names of the locales and business were fictionalized, I have walked the streets of similar towns in the area and am well acquainted with the personalities of many of the small locales.  Nancy nailed the spirit of the small, isolated town in rural West Virginia.  She was able to verbalize the spirit and genuineness of the people.  In these three novels Nancy singlehandedly dispelled the longstanding aura of “dueling banjos” that has so haunted the area and villainized the souls of people who lived there.  No wonder outsiders who wander through or seek a place of solace, find themselves putting down roots and settling in this little piece of heaven on earth.
 The central focus the three novels revolved around was a horse stable run by a former Olympic medalist.  The name of the stable was Healing Springs Stable.   Sharon, the owner of the stable, took in horses nobody wanted anymore or were old or ill.  She also believed that every person had a Whisper Horse.  Whisper Horse?  No, not a horse whisperer, but a whisper horse.  “A horse you can tell all your troubles to.”  Horse owners have a special connection with their animals.  Horses will run themselves to the ground for their owners, they respond to body language, to voice nuances.  They are highly intelligent.  Sharon’s idea of a whisper horse is not a bad idea.  Horses need to be needed as much as humans need someone.   Nancy recently quoted on her FB page about the friendship between man and his horse.
"When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours, and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your know you are loved." --John Lyons
This energy and joy was evident throughout her novels.  Until you have known the joy of a horse’s love, you have not known the joy of unconditional love.
The stories, though each is a stand-alone, grow and build upon the one before it.  The characters have active full lives that are not narrow in scope.  They care about each other, their neighbors, and their community.  They are close knit, and beware he/she who threatens one within their community.  In fact, “community” is very much a sub-plot through the entire series.  Community is very much a way of life in the mountains of West Virginia.

Nancy Herkness has been recognized for her literary skills and abilities.  In 2014 Country Roads received the nomination for the coveted RITA award for Contemporary Romance Novel.  Then in 2015 The Place I Belong also received a RITA nomination.  It is a privilege and honor to be able to  takemehome_150
SYNOPSIS – When Claire Parker left Sanctuary, West Virginia, she thought it was for good. But now she’s back, reeling from an ugly divorce. Readjusting to small-town life is harder than Claire expected, so she’s surprised, and grateful, to find companionship in Willow, an abused Thoroughbred mare. Willow is Claire’s “whisper horse,” and they share a special, rare bond. Except Willow isn’t the only one helping Claire heal; Willow’s ruggedly handsome veterinarian, Dr. Tim Arbuckle, is sympathetic…and secretive. Devastated by his wife’s death, Tim thought he’d never find love again. The stoic, sexy doctor was sure he’d left his heart behind when he came to Sanctuary. But Claire stirs up emotions he thought he’d buried long ago. For the first time, the doctor tries to see past his grief. When Willow falls gravely ill, Tim and Claire must work together to save the horse’s life and to find a love so encompassing, so intense, their lives will never be the same again 
Review-  Nancy Herkness assaulted the senses with each turn of the page in the first of the Whisper Horse novels, Take Me Home.  I found myself sucking in deep breaths on more than one occasion as I felt Claire’s pain of desolation in the aftermath of her divorce.  She had been ground down and her spirit powdered to the point of becoming but dust-in-the-wind.  
Self confidence in her work, as a professional, and self-worth in who she was as a person was at nil.  There was little evidence left of who she formerly was. The story of a deep love and attachment between a woman in deep sorrow and a horse who reached back spoke to this reader’s heart.  
When the human love interest was introduced in the form of a huge crotchety bear of a man, who also happened to be the local country vet, it was like adding all your favorite spicy flavorings to the pot from the kitchen cabinet and giving the pot a good stir. The interactions between Clair and Doc Tim ignited in sparks and fire from the beginning.  
As we all know, where there are sparks and smoke, there is fire.  Fire did take hold and the pages and chapters burned with the flames of their burning passions as Claire and Tim worked through the issues that prevented them from fanning those embers and ultimately setting the sheets on fire. 
Pages could not turn fast enough as I followed this fast paced love affair and affair of the heart through to the end.  I was so thankful that book two of the series was sitting on the table waiting for me to pick up the next evening. Consistently, Nancy’s love stories leave me short of breath and longing for more.  
This story did not disappoint.  I gave this book a solid FIVE STAR review. 
Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble 
countryroads_150COUNTRY ROADS (2014 RITA AWARD NOMINEE)   SYNOPSIS – When sheltered artist Julia Castillo flees her hometown, she has one goal: to prove to her overbearing family she can make it on her own. She knows they only want the best for her, but when they question her artistic vision, it’s time to break free. 
Julia’s search for independence carries her to the small town of Sanctuary, West Virginia. There, her courage is tested as never before—by her love for a handsome country lawyer, her bond with a dangerous black stallion, and a secret she is desperate to keep… Paul Taggart abandoned his high-powered legal career to return to Sanctuary, giving up his own dreams to care for his troubled brother. Then Julia Castillo blows into town like a fresh mountain breeze, changing his staid, predictable life forever. 
Has Paul earned his second chance at happiness? Or does loving Julia mean having the strength to let her go? Review- Only someone who has had to run for their life, someone who has had to truly look over their shoulder in fear, could have expressed the fear and desperation that the young girl (Julia) was experiencing when she first arrived in Sanctuary, West Virginia.  
Nancy Herkness captured the essence of what it would be like to be suddenly on your own and alone.  But what was she really running from or was it something she was striving to run to?  The “White Knight” that comes to her rescue not only is the protector of her legal matters, but becomes the “Knight” who takes on the conquest of her heart. 
Once again Nancy pairs our heroine, Julia, up with an injured horse at the riding stable run by the former Olympic star, Sharon.  This time the stallion is one that has been abused and strikes out at any and all who reach out to him – until he meets the red-headed Julia.  An immediate spark between the two leaves the entire staff at the stables puzzled and awed as the two become inseparable. 
Nancy opened up in this telling of her story.  The depth of the development of each of her characters, from the young artistic Julia and her love of painting horses to the gallant Paul who was the “white knight” and lawyer who fell head-over-heels in love with Julia from the moment he laid eyes on her.  
The characters lived and breathed as they walked between the pages.  The back stories on some of the intricate details and focus points of the story gave it depth and weight that you would expect to “know” about everybody and everything in a small mountain town in the back woods of West Virginia. 
There were times I felt like I was walking along with the characters through the lanes and down the streets of Sanctuary.  I could feel the rip of the wind through my hair as we raced down country roads and felt my stomach flip and roll with the sharp corners.  I even felt the sting of the gravel on the country roads when riding the bike.  Oh and the smell of the pine and moldering leaves high in the mountains where there was no pollution and only the smells of nature to catch your attention as you set on that cool damp moss by the river.  
Yes, I lived and loved every word of this wonderful novel.  It is no wonder that it was nominated for the 2014 RITA Award!! A definite FIVE STAR review of my favorite novel by Nancy Herkness, to date!!!!
  Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble
placeibelong_150THE PLACE I BELONG (2015 RITA AWARD NOMINEE)   SYNOPSIS – Fleeing professional scandal and a broken engagement, veterinarian Hannah Linden abandons Chicago for the mountain town of Sanctuary, West Virginia, hoping to put her troubles with men and the media behind her. But when she encounters world-famous chef Adam Bosch, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the charming but darkly complex man and his troubled teenage son, Matt.  
Adam, a recovering alcoholic, fears he can never be a worthy father to the surly, distant boy he has just come to know, and enlists Hannah’s help in his struggle to connect with his son. Hoping to coax Matt out of his shell, Hannah introduces the boy to an ailing brown pony who has the power to change his view of the world. But can the determined little whisper horse prove to Hannah, Adam, and Matt that they were meant to be a family? Review- As Nancy has continued with the Whisper Horse Series, her writing perceptions and story-telling skills have been honed and each story has shown her growth as a writer.  
The Place I Belong, is the crowning jewel of her, work, to-date.  The complexity of the storylines, taking three separate stories and over-laying each one with the other, weaving them together like a work of art has created a masterpiece of the written word.  To add color and additional depth to this already intricate story, Nancy reached back into each of the two previous Whisper Horse books and utilized the back stories of the characters from those novels to broaden and fill-out the beauty of The Place I Belong.  
Weaving these characters and their continuing stories into the current novel brought additional life to the pages.  Suddenly, these were real, living people who interacted on a daily basis and lived as a community.  The feeling of community seems to come out the loudest and most keenly in this, the final novel. 
Like Country Roads, I think that The Place I Belong is some of Nancy Herkness’ best writing to-date.  This set showcases her storytelling gift at its best.  I loved this book because it was about finding family.  It was about community.  
Oh yes, there were her wonderful pages where she showed her great skills at storytelling and description and leaves us all swooning, but to me, the story, not to be missed is about the priority of finding family and the priority of family in your life.  
This, her third novel in the series, gets a standing ovation and FIVE STARS in my review of her novel The Place I Belong. 
Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble
countrychristmas_150 A Down Home Country Christmas   Synopsis - After escaping an abusive marriage, Holly builds a haven of security for herself and her two young daughters.  She’s helped along by police captain Robbie McGraw, who stood by her through the worst. 
Now he shows a different kind of interest, one that thrills Holly, even as she questions the wisdom of trusting another man so soon. But Robbie is on the brink of fulfilling a dream—one that will send him out of the mountain town of Sanctuary, West Virginia, and away from the allure of Holly’s warm spirit and tempting body. A wily little Christmas donkey and the magic of the holidays prove to Holly and Robbie that the courage to love can make dreams come true. 
nancy herknessABOUT NANCY HERKNESS – Nancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA® award. 
Her new series, Wager of Hearts, follows the romantic adventures of three very wealthy men who make a life-changing bet. 
A member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc., Nancy has received many honors for her work, including the Golden Leaf Award, the Maggie Award in Contemporary Romance, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. 
Nancy graduated from Princeton University where she majored in English. In addition to her academic work in literature, she was accepted into Princeton's creative writing program, and her senior thesis was a volume of original poetry. 
After graduating, Nancy had a varied career which included retail management and buying, COBOL programming, computer systems sales and marketing, and a brief stint as a receptionist at a dental office. Once her children were in school full-time, she sat down and wrote A Bridge to Love, her first romance novel to be published. 
Nancy finds nothing odd about writing in the genre she calls “the “Rodney Dangerfield of the literary world. It gets no respect.” She explains: “I was trained as a poet, but from the day my grandmother gave me my first Georgette Heyer novel I wanted to write romance. Romance is the genre of optimism, and that's why I like it.” 
A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband, two mismatched dogs, and an elderly cat. She cheers loudly for the New Jersey Devils hockey team.  
Papoose hi resA VISIT WITH NANCY – Karen: Where did the idea for a “whisper horse” come from?  Did you share all your troubles with your horse(s) when you were 
Nancy: The idea of a “whisper horse” came from my real pony Papoose (pictured above) who was my constant companion all through my younger years.  When I was upset or angsty, I would pour my problems into his ears.  If you know horses, you’ll know their ears are very eloquent, so I felt I had a sympathetic listener.  Not to mention that he would never share my secrets with anyone else. Horses are very discreet. 
Karen: Growing up in a location that has a love affair with the art scene is a gift for any child.  How did this affect you?  Did you ever dabble in art?  If so, what medium do you like to create in? 
Nancy: My little hometown had an amazing number of artists when I was young and has even more now.  Our school had an art contest every year, and I often won a ribbon with my crayon drawings. 
I think that started my interest in art. There was a local sculptor who offered lessons in clay sculpting which my parents enrolled me in. I still remember the horsehead I created; I was quite proud of it. 
I doodled pencil sketches of horses on all my class notes in school. The one medium I never could get comfortable with was stone; I was terrified that one chisel stroke would ruin the whole piece, so I was a very timid stonecutter. 
All of this made me a very visual writer: I see the scenes in my mind and then try to capture them as vividly as possible in words. 
Karen: Do you still get to ride often?  What breed of horse is your preference to ride?  What style of riding to you prefer to ride? 
Nancy: Living fifteen miles west of New York City is not conducive to my preferred kind of horseback riding. After galloping all over the hills, trails, and woods of West Virginia, trotting around a ring is just too tame for me. Whenever I’m on vacation, I try to find a great trail ride to go on. I grew up riding hunters and jumpers so I am most comfortable on an English saddle. Since my riding muscles have grown flabby from lack of use, I no longer ride over fences, but I sure miss the sensation of flying through the air! 
Karen: Knowing the inspiration that you grew up with from living in around that area of West Virginia, how do you decide on what to write next?  Will we see another Whisper Horse installment?  Maybe one for Sharon and her story? 
Nancy: Much as I loved returning to my roots in the mountains, there will not be any more Whisper Horse stories for now. While these books found many enthusiastic readers, there weren’t quite enough sales for my publisher to continue the series. So I had to bid farewell to my beloved Appalachian mountains and return to my current locale near the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I’ve now lived here longer than I lived in West Virginia, and my children are native New Jerseyans, so I’m quite comfortable setting stories in the NY metro area. 
I hope my readers will follow me into the Wager of Hearts series, in which three very wealthy men make a life-changing bet on finding love in the steel canyons of New York City. 
While the setting is different, the characters still wrestle with the timeless issues of family and obligation, as well as true love. The first book, The CEO Buys In, was released in July 2015. The next novel is The All-Star Antes Up, scheduled for May 2016. 
Karen: Congratulations on your nominations for the 2014 and 2015 RITA awards for Contemporary Romance novels.  It speaks to the quality of your writing, the spellbinding stories you have to tell, and the connection you make with your readers’ hearts. 
Nancy: Thank you so much! I’ve been hugely delighted and flattered by the honors my Whisper Horse novels have won. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got those RITA nomination calls. I sure wasn’t expecting my quirky West Virginia characters to soar so high. 
Karen: For fun…. Can you tell us one thing about yourself from growing up in WV that we don’t know?   Nancy: There is one secret about me that harks back to my youth in West Virginia: I am a Lady of the Golden Horseshoe.  When I was in eighth grade, I was knighted with an antique sword by the state’s governor for getting my county’s top test score in West Virginia history. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a tiara. Thank you so much for having me a guest on your wonderful blog! It was a pleasure to chat with you. 
Karen:  Nancy, it is always a joy to visit with you and I love delving into your books.  Thank you for taking the time to share with us and letting us see into why the Whisper Horse series is so special to you. You can purchase your own copies at major bookstores and at online retailers.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Discovering Treasures in the Stacks

by Karen Laird
Recently I received an invitation from, one of the world’s premier online auction marketplace sites for valuable collections, art, and antiquities.  They wondered if I would be interested in perusing their literary stacks and possibly writing an article about the value of literature and the printed word, especially items of age.
After giving it some thought, I knew the possibility of pursuing this project appealed to me on several levels.  First and foremost, I come from a family of avid readers, a family where the printed word holds great value.  Books have been honored and passed down through our family from parent to child, from grandparent to grandchild and even from aunt to treasured niece or nephew over the years.  Some of my earliest memories are of the time spent with an elderly aunt, many an afternoon after school, curled up on the couch next to her, as she read to me from the books of her childhood that her mother had passed on to her.  My Great Aunt Genevieve and her mother were both high school teachers, with Aunt “Gen” having a special love of literature.  My mother’s mother was also a school teacher in a one-room school room during the early years of the 1900’s.  When we went to visit her, they didn’t have a TV, but we spent the evening sitting on the floor around her knee as she read short stories and poems to us from James Whitcomb Riley, and other writers popular during the early 1900’s.  We were mesmerized, the stories were so different than the “Dick and Jane” we were exposed to at school. Imagine my surprise and great joy when my father and mother presented me with the books from my Aunt Gen’s library and several of the books that had come down from my grandmother and that she had given to me over the years as a child.  Several of the older school books had teacher’s notes in them from my great-great aunt, there were titles I had not read since I was a child, as they were out of print. 
I took the time to go through’s stacks and look for some of these very titles and see if these treasures might be hidden amongst the many gems they have gathered at their site.  Listed below are a few of my finds, as well as a few finds that I think any reader who loves the older classic books of the 1800’s and early 1900’s would love to read and add to their personal library.

shakespeare Though not the same “scholar’s edition” that my aunts taught out of at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, every serious reader needs a complete collection of Shakespeare.  I started reading Shakespeare to my children early.  I took The Princess Bride seriously and found “the good parts” and we read those together.  What six or seven-year-old boy doesn’t like the sound of “double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.”?    By high school, they had heard and read enough Shakespeare not to be afraid of him.   We still enjoy a little Shakespeare, he’s good for the soul (and the ear).,-william.-the-chisw-338-c-5204285bdf 

MOBY DICK by Jim Melville
moby dick Okay, I never quite made it through this tomb, but it was in my Aunt’s stack.  At age fifty-eight, my dear husband, Fred, finally marked Moby Dick off his bucket list of books to read (once) before he dies.  Though a classic and full of much analogy and metaphor.  This story is a true gothic novel that gives War and Peace a run for it’s money in the fortitude it takes to read solo.,-65-c-f05413bb37

poe SELECTED TALES OF MYSTERY by Edgar Allan Poe Tales to read in the light of day.  Even though this is a more recent copy, the horror and terror that Poe manages to transmit to the written page transcends time.  This is a book that will never grow old with the reading.,-col-82-c-7694dbe82c 

collectionA Collection of Children’s Literature This collection of books from an estate library reminded me very much of the library that came packed in those china boxes many years ago.  They were a mismatched collection of authors and styles that would appeal to many boys and girls longings for a book to read.  This was especially true for those children who lived in an isolated area where books were not readily available, and libraries were those places you read about in cities and rich peoples’ homes.  My Aunt Gen’s library came out west with her in a box on the train from back east to New Mexico where she came to teach high school.  She was limited in what she could bring by what could fit in her box of books, so her choices were carefully made.  A selection, such as this would have fit in one or two boxes, much like she would have brought with her. Arabian Nights, Longfellow Poems, A Tale of Two Cities, Kidnapped, Black Beauty, and more 

riley James Whitcomb Riley was the folk poet and story-teller of the turn of the century.  His stories were much loved by Americans as they reflected their attitudes about life.  Many were wistful, but many were full of their love of God and Country.  
kiplingI came across a complete set of his works several years ago and was able to present it to my mother.  It was from his books, and prints in magazines that my grandmother would read us his stories and poems when we were growing up.  Our favorite reading was one about the great bear hunt, as told by two little boys.  The further along the story got, the bigger the bear and the story became.  Over the years, it became a family tradition that grandmother recite it at family gatherings.  I think that her telling became bigger and larger with the years, also, but we all loved to sit and listen to the yarn grow. 
RUDYARD KIPLING The first “story without pictures” that I read to my children was Rudyard Kipling’s Riki Tiki Tavi.  They had seen the cartoon video a few weeks before and when I opened the book, they laid back, closed their eyes, and watched the story on the backs of their eyelids while I read it to them.  It took two or three nights to read the whole story because they kept falling asleep.  After that, we read all the Just So Stories Kipling wrote for children and in later years tackled The Jungle Book.,-rudyard-1865-1936-.-the-pocket-kipling.-403-c-ac54c36802 

I love an old book.  There is nothing like the feel of the pages as they turn beneath my fingers.  There is nothing like the smell of the old, moldering pages wafting up and taking me to places unknown.  Books have always been my friends.  They have swept me across the continents and through the ages.  Under their spells, I have been a pauper and a princess.  I have felt the ecstasy of being anyone I dreamed I wanted to be.  They brought me my best dreams and left me fighting up out of my worst nightmares.  
Thousands and thousands of authors through the ages have spilled their heart’s blood on the pages of books in a hope that their dreams and tales would be read and shared for ages to come.  Thanks to the written word, we have the gift of being able to read and re-read those words of ages past and to share them on with future generations.  I am so thankful that my family has shared their love of the written word and passed this love down through our generations like a cherished jewel. In this day of electronic quick and easy, there is still nothing as long lasting as the written word.  
This fact was poignantly brought to a point by our daughter and her carrying on of the family tradition as she works on the final chapters of her Ph.D. in linguistics and psychology in Ancient Near-Mid-Eastern Languages.  She has had the privilege of studying and deciphering the puzzle of the written word from thousands of years ago.  Our most treasured discussions are about her work and the puzzling of languages through the ages.  Her greatest joy is handling and translating these ancient words from the sands of time. 
I know that has far more than these few treasure amongst their stacks.  After visiting with Ryan, one of their staff, I feel that there is always someone there that will assist me in locating what I am looking for.  I wish I had known about places like this when I was looking for that special book set for my mother or dad in years past.  Having a quality auction marketplace at your fingertips when looking for that special book would have made the looking easier and the hope of finding a quality piece at a reasonable price even better.  
Be it a new heirloom of a child’s story to be passed down with time, or a treasured book someone speaks of with a sigh, books are still our favorite gifts to give and receive.  A precious volume of great value to the gift giver and the recipient is one that will always find a special place on a library or bookcase shelf in any bookworm’s home.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: For The Love Of The Dame

For The Love Of The Dame For The Love Of The Dame by Miriam Allenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first published this review five months ago, back in May of this year. As always, I was excited to find a newly published author and was blown away by this, her first book. I am re-running my review to announce that FOR THE LOVE OF THE DAME and Miram Allenson have just been awarded the much coveted NJRW (New Jersey Romance Writers) Golden Leaf Award for The Best First Book! Way to knock it out of the park, Miriam! If you haven’t read it yet, now is the time to download a copy and sit back for a wonderful weekend read.

I saw the review for For The Love of the Dame by Miriam Allenson on a friend’s blogsite and thought, I HAVE GOT TO READ THAT BOOK!!! Come on now folks, here is a book about a young opera singer from a very protective home who finds herself footloose and fancy free on the streets of New York City, trying to land the lead role in Carmen by George Bizet. Wide-eyed, innocent beyond belief and with the voice of an angel. I laughed till my sides hurt, just at the thought, or should I say memories of another young girl I knew very much like that?
Having been offered the opportunity to read this potential jewel of a book, I set aside a rainy Friday and settled in for an afternoon of pure enjoyment.
Give me a story of a little, hot Italian singer and a great big super-hot baseball pro and this alone is the makings for a great romance novel. Jealous ex-wives, conniving mother-in-laws, and Opera Directors who just are the donkey’s pa-toot, keep the laughs rolling as Sofia works to get an audition for the part of Carmen. Her love of Italian cooking and pasta has her shoving her derriere into skirts too tight, and too long (for her height) while putting on four and five-inch heels to overcome her feelings of inadequacy. She would create scenes as she strutted down sidewalks and through buildings, with her dramatic Italian looks. Mama Mia!! I could see it all. LOL.
But then you add in all sort of delicious things like a little wide-eyed boy who seemed lost and alone and desperately in need of a caring parent, and-and this same little Italian who prefers cooking to singing, huh?, and the plot thickens.
But really beneath the fun of For The Love of the Dame, is another story. This story is about two people who have been hurt and pushed aside their entire lives. Two people who desperately want to love and be loved, who have been hurt time and again, and are afraid to let themselves discover what true love is. In the process, there is a very lost and scared little boy who is walking down the very path that they have walked before. Will they be able to find the resolution to their questions about life and love in time to help him find security and happiness in his life?
Even though written as a light romance novel, I found that the deeper second story was the true story of the novel. Of course, she is going to get the Opera part! It wouldn’t be the book without it. But there is a wonderful mystery written into the story that pops up and surprises everyone. OH! Well, that one, kept me from putting the book down and finishing it the next day. (Smile) The plot just kept getting thicker and thicker.
Yes, I was captivated with the storyline of the “lost” little boy needing love. I wanted to tell a few of the badly behaving adults a thing or two about their poorly chosen priorities. But, it was the third storyline that tripped me up and kept me turning the pages. The real mystery slowly started to reveal itself as Sofia’s story began to go back and unwind, revealing the life of this young opera protégé and her growing up years.
This third line added a depth to the story and added depth to the understanding of Sofia’s character. Miriam also took the time to create the backstory for “Car”, the male protagonist, adding good depth to him and his character, and answering a good many questions. She did the same for several of the main characters. By doing this, she created an intricate overlapping web of twenty years in the lives of the characters of the story.
By the time I reached the end of the book, I knew that this was one that would be going on my Re-Read Shelf. I knew that I would want to wallow through the fun, sorrow, laughter, and tears of this delightful story again and again.
I would give this novel a FIVE STAR rating.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 19, 2015

Return to The Shade Tree

The last few months have been an interesting journey at our house.  An eye issue forced me to set aside my growing stack of books and love for poring through the pages to bury myself in the stories that authors had written.  During this same time we have had broke bones, multiple funerals, new school experiences (good and bad), and working to get our new workspace completed before cold sets in.
Meanwhile, I have continued to chomp at the bit and anxiously awaited the okay from my eye doctor to start reading again.  Finally, this last week, he has given me clearance to go back to my love of reading, but not push it as hard as I had been.  So we will be more selective in our choices L and still work at providing authors and readers some true insights into the stories within the stories of some of the wonderful new literature coming out, and recently released.
One of the great antique and auction houses has requested that I write an article about the value of the written word and great works in the stacks, some of which we don’t see every day anymore.  I am looking forward to this collaboration and will be falling back to the “box of books” theme for the article.  I hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as I will digging through their stacks and discovering wonderful works of our earlier generations.
I also, before going black, had started working on setting up to write a series of reviews for a new series for a fantastic author that many of your read and enjoy.  I hope to be able to pick that process up and get that series going soon.
Intermingled with all of this, we will be looking at some holiday delights.  So hopefully will have a few of those to tantalise your senses for the coming seasons, along with a few interviews and favorite recipes to taste and try.
Thank you for your patience.  I am glad to be back and will be posting some goodies shortly.

Shade Tree Book Reviews and Blog

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Way of Sorrows - Jon Steele - A Book Review

The Way of Sorrows
Jon Steele

The earthly—and cosmic—adventures of Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper come to an electrifying, action-packed conclusion in The Way of Sorrows, the final installment of Jon Steele’s critically acclaimed Angelus Trilogy.
The earthly—and cosmic—adventures of Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper come to an electrifying, action-packed conclusion in The Way of Sorrows, the final installment of Jon Steele’s critically acclaimed Angelus Trilogy.

After the heart-stopping cliff-hanger that concluded Angel City, Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper return in this ultimate portrayal of good versus evil—Apocalypse-style. Will the remnants of the Nephilim—fallen angels from time immemorial—capture and destroy baby Max, Katherine’s half-mortal/half-heavenly child? Or will otherworldly Special Agent Harper be able to thwart these hideous plans and prevent the end of mankind? Spanning the globe—and the heavens—Jon Steele’s brilliant, rich, and imaginative book is a masterpiece of science, religion, and fantasy.

The Way of Sorrows was a unique read that required the full attention of this reader.  Maybe I wouldn't have been so distracted if I wasn't a student of prehistory of ancient Biblical history, but my brain kept working in overtime as I processed the complex story up against my own internal database of "ancients" knowledge.  I absolutely loved the added twist of the time dimensions and the way he inferred their beginnings.  What I am now dying to do is to go back and read books one and two.
I feel that Jon Steele has come the closest to verbalizing some of my personal concepts of pre-history and the war between good and evil than anyone else I have read and to do it in this fantastic sci-fi setting is totally awesome.  The Way of Sorrows is a classic example of a mash up of genre.  Even though it is definitely listed as Sci-fi, I would also not hesitate to place the book in historical fiction, or is it possible to create a new genre, Historical Sci-Fi Fiction?  I have actually read several books in the last few years that I could place in this category.  For students well versed in a certain historical period, i.e. ancient pre-history, they would identify the mash up quickly and easily.  They would see the parallels and draw history out of the Sci-fi setting.   Knowing this history, broadens the enjoyment and fills in and answers potential questions that might otherwise left me puzzled.
To say Jon’s characters were complex and deeply developed would be an understatement.  Each of the characters lived in multiple times and in multiple dimensions, with their earth and “other worldly” names.  Not having read books one and two yet (my bad, and soon to be remedied) this was at first confusing, but I caught up and was soon deeply immersed into the story.
His over-lay of the God family and the kidnapping was fantastic.  His understanding and being able to lay-out so clearly the concepts of inter-dimensional time and the layers and layers of time, as well as the creative way he had for moving between them was fabulous.  The conclusion was fabulous and gave you a sense of hope for tomorrow.    
Jon would be wonderful to sit down and visit with sometime.  His book is well worth the read for any true futuristic sci-fi addict, as well as anyone willing to take on a mental rollercoaster challenge.  I give this a full FIVE STAR for thrills and great reading.

JON STEELE is an award-winning journalist and author of The Watchers and Angel City. Born in Spokane, Washington, he traveled the world, working as a cameraman for Independent Television News. After a twenty-year career, Steele wrote the critically acclaimed War Junkie. In 2008, he co-wrote, codirected, and shot Baker Boys: Inside the Surge, a documentary about an American combat unit in Iraq. He lives in Switzerland.

·        File Size: 4376 KB
·        Print Length: 512 pages
·        Publisher: Blue Rider Press (August 4, 2015)
·        Publication Date: August 4, 2015
·        Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Altered to Kill - Ginna Moran - Book Reveal!!!!

Title: Altered to Kill (Finding Nate Book One)
Publisher: Sunny Palms Press
Page Count: 375
Release Date: Fall 2015


Seventeen-year-old Nate Burnham never thought killing would be easy, but when his girlfriend, Mira Everson, is attacked by an incubus disguised as a classmate, Nate discovers love is worth killing for. With the possibility of a grim future, Nate finds himself in the back of an unmarked van with a decision to make—spend life behind bars or enroll in the Special Abilities Task Force run by the Human Preservation Agency. In order to protect Mira, Nate joins the secret organization and is plunged into a world of monsters, murder, and secrecy.

Mira Everson’s life is turned upside down when she discovers Nate has been abducted by scientists who have the ability to rewrite lives. She flees her home to escape a deadly agent sent to kill her, and she must come to terms with the idea that any future contact with Nate could result in her death.

Thrust into a war between humans and creatures, Nate and Mira are fated to fight on opposing sides. Can they unravel the truth or will they face deadly consequences?

Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon



I’m going to need a lot more than this dish rag and paper towels to clean up the pool of blood seeping from Ryder’s stomach. The puddle smears when I rub it instead of being soaked up like it should be. “Stop bleeding already, man.” I drop the dish towel, splattering blood on my shoes. “Where the heck is the mop?” I don’t know why I even ask. No one will respond.

I wipe my hands on my jeans without thinking. “Oh, come on!” I’m starting to look like a murderer. Hate to break it to you, Nate, but your appearance is the least of your worries. I’m sweaty, have blood all over me, and I’m sure my eyes are wild.

Think, Nate. Think. Think. Think. I growl like a rabid dog. “Why can’t you just go away?” I kick Ryder’s leg. “You piece of crap lunatic!” I kick him again. “You should be the one going to jail. You attacked my girlfriend. You held a knife to her throat. I heard you tell her how she didn’t deserve to live. How you were going to make her feel the pain she made you feel. But guess what? You did that to yourself. You knew she was in love with me. Mira is my girlfriend. Not yours. And if anyone should deserve to live, it’s her.” I kick him so hard his body rolls over.

What the…? No way. Bodies don’t decompose this fast. Part of the skin on Ryder’s arm is blackening. It looks like it’s raw and melting away, yet Ryder has only been dead for just over an hour. I nudge his arm with the toe of my shoe and it deflates. I jerk back in surprise. It’s foul and intriguing. Does Hollywood keep this postmortem fact a secret? I never knew this about dead bodies. At least he doesn’t stink. Actually, he smells rather nice. Like cinnamon rolls. Man, I’m disgusting.

Morticians have a lot of work to make bodies look presentable. If they threw Ryder in a casket now, it’d have to be closed. He’s nasty looking. But dang, his warm pastry smell is overpowering and making me hungry.

I shake my head to regain focus, but I can’t. My stomach growls. Despite Ryder’s disgusting flesh, his scent is mouthwatering, and I almost want take a bite out of him. Almost. Now that’s one way to get rid of the body.

I yank my shirt over my nose. This body cleanup business is ludicrous. I need to put him in a trash bag and somehow manage to get him in the back of my Ford Ranger without anyone seeing me.

I kick the dishrag away. No point in trying to soak up the blood if Ryder isn’t going to stop bleeding and decomposing. The police would never believe this happened just over an hour ago. Maybe that would help my case. I can find an alibi for another day and time. I wonder if anyone would believe I just stumbled upon him. With the way he looks now, only a DNA test could determine who the body belongs to. He’s in your girlfriend’s kitchen. That still leaves her a suspect.

I stumble around the rotting corpse and yank a few black trash bags from under the sink. They’re impossible to unfold with my gooey fingers, and I shake them until they open. With one hand, I yank Ryder’s blood-matted hair until he’s is sitting up. I let go to adjust the bag when he slumps against my chest. The trash bag slips from my fingers, and my shirt yanks down with Ryder’s weight. The cinnamon roll smell smacks me in the face, and I breathe deeply.  “You’re making me so hungry.”

I lean closer and closer. I can’t help it. I can’t do anything to stop myself. I have to taste him. One little bite won’t hurt.

I grab his soft, slimy arm and bring it to my mouth. Don’t do it! This is disgusting. And crazy. And completely not something a normal person would do. Pull it together. Seriously, pull it together! My mind doesn’t want any part of this Ryder tasting, but my hands won’t drop his arm, and my mouth won’t stay shut. I’m really doing this. I’m going to take a bite out of a dead guy.

About The Author

Ginna Moran started writing poetry as a teenager in a spiral notebook that she still has tucked away on her desk today. Her love of writing grew after she graduated high school, and she completed her first unpublished manuscript at age eighteen.

When she realized her love of writing was her life’s passion, she studied literature at Mira Costa College in Northern San Diego. Besides writing young adult novels, she was senior editor, content manager, and image coordinator for Crescent House Publishing Inc. for four years.

Aside from Ginna’s professional life, she enjoys binge watching television shows, playing pretend with her daughter, and cuddling with her dogs. Some of her favorite things include chocolate, anything that glitters, cheesy jokes, and organizing her bookshelf.

Ginna is currently hard at work on her next novel.

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