Friday, April 29, 2011

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:





Amazing how time flies. We're already at the end of the April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge. I hope you've enjoyed reading my posts. I have saved the best for last.


If you have children, you might be familiar with Noggin. It is a cable television station for preschoolers. They are now Nick Jr., as in the Nickelodeon channel for younger kids.  Both my girls watched Noggin growing up.

The picture above is of Zee, a silent bird who is the sidekick of Moose A. Moose. Zee only communicates by blinking her eyes and flapping her wings, yet Moose A. Moose seems to understand everything she's saying.


Zee is also the title of a book for preschoolers by Michael Gay. This book was released in 2003. In 2004, the book, Zee is Not Scared was released. Who knew you could have a book character named after the last letter of the alphabet?

Now, I would like you to meet my Zee. This is one of the earliest photos taken with a digital camera that we have of our beautiful daughter that I often refer to as the Lil Diva. She's probably close to a year there.



My husband has managed to nickname all the children and name most of our cats. He named our Maine Coon, Killer because the cat can't hurt a flea and he thought it would  be funny. We have a Pixie-Bob that he named Stubby because of her short tail. And though the Lil Diva has grown from what you see above to what you see below, the nickname he gave her the day she was born has stuck.


Her middle name is Zoe, and he christened her Zee. She'll probably be Zee to us when she's 50. At least she didn't have my nickname growing up. That was embarrassing.

What was your nickname as a child? Have you nicknamed any of your kids?

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:



If you have a copy of Dr. Seuss's ABC Book, you'll read:

"BIG Y
little y

A yawning yellow yak.
Young Yolanda Yorgenson
is yelling on his back."

I read this book as a kid, and those lines stuck with me all these years. How delightful it was to read them again when my son started his Dr. Seuss collection, which is now my daughters' book collection. This book was my favorite. The copy I have now actually belonged to my husband when he was a kid.

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Do you remember any lines out of it?

New Releases from MuseItUp Publishing!

The sexiest woman in the world finds love really begins to count...on the edge of death.
Just when she seizes her second chance for happiness, Fate steps in to up the ante.

Author: Hugh Fox
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: April 2011
Pages: 241
ISBN: 978-1-926931-65-4
E-book price: $5.95

Warning: ADULT CONTENT: Explicit language and sexual scenes.

Read an excerpt:

One marvelous thing about him was his sense of humor, even when it came to himself, or maybe especially when it came to himself. Very healthy. Distancing. Being able to stand outside your own life and circumstances, take a long, hard look, and laugh at it.

On the other hand, it also trivialized everything. And did, in a sense, sprinkle meaninglessness over everything. If nothing was serious, nothing really counted, and life was a big wisecrack.

The waitress came back with the cake, rich, gooey, sinful.

“Your cake,” she said in English.

“Thanks,” said Richard.

“So you know English?” asked Eve.

“A little,” she said “I have some CD’s.”

“It’s a good idea to learn English,” he said. “There must be a lot of English and Americans here in the summer.”
“I’m not going to be here forever,” she said, bending down and whispering, “estoy enamorada de un inglés. He’s here studying art. My parents are against the idea of marrying him, but...”
“Do you want a little advice?” asked Richard.
“Always,” she answered, her English a little awkward, but not a bad flow. “I always want advice.”

“Go where your heart takes you,” he answered, and when she looked a little puzzled, he tried it again in Spanish, “Anda a donde tu corazón te lleva. Es lo que yo no hizo. I didn’t do it. I’m doing it now, but it’s a little late. The dance of the ghosts—El baile de los fantasmas...”

A tragic expression on his face that he tried to hide, but it came anyway. A tear in his eye. It was happening too much nowadays, unwanted, unexpected little trickles of sentimentalism. Not that his life was a desert. More like a used car lot. Or not used, but wrecked. A rusted out, banged up, abandoned old car dump. And he was a 1955 Buick Super, the one with three holes in the side, not the Roadmaster with four holes, the one his father wanted to buy, but never had. Just one little hole away from what he wanted. The story of his own life, too...until now.

The waitress, as full of feeling as Richard, put down the pieces of cake, leaning over and almost giving Richard a kiss on the head or cheek, some strange, half-fulfilled, embarassed, emotion-filled gesture, reddening up for a moment, smiling, “Thanks, many thanks for the...” Richard filling in the blank with “advice,” her repeating, “Thanks, many thanks for the advice,” disappearing back into the bar.


Megan Bradley and the rest of the witches were rounded up by a religious crusade and forced onto a spaceship for a 190-year multi-generation trip to another star. They soon discovered the ship had problems and would run out of air long before they reached their destination. They were forced to use magic to get to their destination faster, before they suffocated.
But then, of course, they had a whole new world to cope with ...

Author: James Hartley
Genre: Sci-fi Fantasy
Release: May 2011
Pages: 122
ISBN: 978-1-926931-42-5
Price: $5.50

Read an excerpt:

Nobody but Kendra could see into the large cauldron, but soon the watchers noticed its contents were casting a strange green light on the ceiling. When she finally decided things were ready, Kendra opened the valve on the large pipe, and called to the tech at the control panel, "Start the ship's engines." He threw the switch, and after a moment there was a low rumble, similar to that during the first year of the voyage. Nothing else seemed to be happening.

Then someone who was facing the viewplate cried "Look!"

On the viewplate the stars were moving. Soon they were racing across the plate, faster and faster, as the ship gained speed, and after a while it was impossible to distinguish points of light, just streaks. One of the techs stared at the viewplate and said, "I don't believe this is happening, it violates every law of physics! But seeing those stars, we must be moving at several hundred times the speed of light." People started cheering.

To purchase these and other MuseItUp Publishing titles, please visit them online at http://museituppublishing.com/!

MuseItUp Publishing Special--Mysteries 20% Thru May 5, 2011!

I was just checking in at the MuseItUp Publishing's Readers Group and noticed that thru May 5, 2011 they are running a 20% off special on their mysteries. How cool is that!


I've read Grounds for Murder by John Russo and Resurrection Garden by Frank Scully. Next I'll be reading Murder is a Family Business by Heather Haven. This is the first book in her Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series. The second book, A Wedding to Die For, just came out. It's also on sale for 20% off!

 In case you missed it, Heather Haven is going on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! in May to promote Murder is a Family Business. You'll find her tour schedule at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/03/25/murder-is-a-family-business-virtual-book-tour-may-2011/ Follow along starting on May 2nd to learn more about this talented author and her books.

To learn more about MuseItUp Publishing, please visit them online at http://museituppublishing.com/!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why God Matters Receives Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award!

I'm thrilled to pass along the following information that I received today from Nicole Langan, owner of Tribute Books:




ARCHBALD, PENNSYLVANIA – Tribute Books is proud to announce that our title Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life has received the 2011 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award in the Nonfiction/Christian Living category.

All readers of Christian books and all retailers selling Christian products were invited to vote for the Book of the Year. Over 3,600 votes were received for 72 books nominated by 48 publishers. The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

Readers and retailers were invited to vote for one book in each category online at www.ChristianBookAward.com. The award is offered in eight categories: Fiction, Biography, Christian Living, Relationships/Family, Bible Study/Theology, Children's Book (4-8 years), Children's Book (8-12 years), and Young Adult (12+ years). The winners of this award are determined solely by Christian retailers and readers' votes.

This is the fourth year the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award has been presented. This year the award has a new website at www.ChristianBookAward.com.
About Christian Small Publishers Association:

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). CSPA was established to represent and promote small publishers in the Christian marketplace. CSPA is a supplier member of CBA. Christian Small Publishers Association can be found online at www.ChristianPublishers.net.

About Why God Matters:

Many times one sees Roman Catholicism explained using either closely reasoned theology or an appeal to ancient writers of the Church. While both are legitimate approaches, the average reader looking to explore the faith is often left cold. In their collaboration, Why God Matters, Deacon Steven Lumbert and his daughter, Karina Lumbert Fabian, delineate the Catholic Faith as experienced by a pair of average, everyday people like the great majority who make up the 24 percent of Americans who share this religion.

In the stories of this pair, one see both ways people come to Catholicism, by birth (“cradle Catholics”) and by conversion. Their descriptions of their separate paths thankfully lack the religiosity of the all too common "and then a miracle takes place" school of religious experience. Rather than blasts of light, fiery swords, spiritual fistfights, and angelic choirs, theirs is the long religious slog of the everyday. The effort that one must put out each day in the long trek to Heaven.

What is Catholicism really like? One would be hard-put to find a better verbal painting of the faith so many call their own.

Visit the book’s web site at: www.WhyGodMatters.com.

$15.95, hardcover

$2.99-$4.99 eBook

ISBN: 9780982256534

5.5" x 8.5"

114 pp

2010

About Karina Lumbert Fabian

Karina Lumbert Fabian was born into the Catholic faith, but truly grew to love it as an adult. As a busy mother of four, she finds some of her strongest encounters with God's love happen in the ordinary events of the day-to-day. Karina started her writing career with diocesan newspapers but has settled into writing fun-filled fantasy and science fiction that nonetheless incorporates the principles of faith-filled living. Visit Karina’s web site at www.FabianSpace.com.

About Deacon Steven Lumbert

Deacon Steven Lumbert officially converted to Catholicism in 1988, but had been a "practicing" Catholic long before that. He met his lovely and loving wife, Socorro, while serving in Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Puerto Rico, in 1966. They raised their daughters, Karina and Regina, in the faith. Steve spent 30 years as a Colorado State Trooper, but retired when God called him to the diaconate. Currently, he serves the Diocese of Pueblo as the Associate Director of Deacon Formation.

Published by Tribute Books: http://www.tribute-books.com/. Please contact Tribute Books for author interviews, review copies, book artwork and any other requests at info@tribute-books.com.

To order 10 or more copies at a 40% discount, contact Tribute Books at info@tribute-books.com or phone (570) 876-2416.

We congratulate the authors and Tribute Books for winning this award. To read my review of the book, please visit http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-god-matters-by-karina-lumbert.html

April A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:
I guess we could talk about X-axis or X-rays today. If it were fall we could probably discuss xanthophyll. Xavier isn't a name you hear too often these days. Maybe we could wonder what a Xenosaurus looks like.

Instead, I want to talk about just the letter "X", because if you're a pirate, "X" marks the spot. I can't say I've ever come across a big "X" marked in the sand, but it seems to happen in cartoons and can be worked into film titles quite nicely.

In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (yes, you knew I was going there), SpongeBob and Patrick are recruited by Mr. Krabs to become pirates and search for the Flying Dutchman's treasure. After running the boat aground--which is a strange thing to happen underwater--Patrick reads the compass wrong and sends the group about 10,000 paces in the opposite direction. After they are about to give up the ghost, they stumble upon the "X" that marks the spot and begin digging.

In the first season of Josie and the Pussycats, they meet Professor Isaac Belfour, a scientist who invented an invisibility formula. They take him along for their gig in Puddletown, England, to protect him from Mr. X, a former laboratory assistant who stole the formula. Now doesn't that show my age.





X Marks the Spot was also the title of a 1942 movie starring Damian O'Flynn as Eddie Delaney. Here's the IMDB synopsis:

Delaney is a second lieutenant in the army, but also a private detective. Eddy swings into action, when his father, police-sergeant Timothy J. Delaney, is gunned down by rubber racketeers. With the help of his brave friend and radio disc jockey Linda Ward and police-lieutenant William 'Bill' Decker, Eddy goes after the racketeers. Eddie, Linda and Bill have during their search to deal with various criminals, like Marty Clark and the unscrupulous businessman and owner of the nightclub 'The Spot', John J. Underwood.

See, I told you the letter "X" comes in handy.

Can you think of any shows or films where the letter X is involved? There's a famous one about a couple of FBI agents that comes to mind.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Spotlight: One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart

Bella and Britt love living by the beach. When they find oil washing to shore from a gulf spill, they want to help but are told there is nothing for kids to do. But when their old friend, the pelican, becomes covered with oil, they help save his life by their quick thinking and action.



Read an excerpt!

As days passed, the girls waited and watched while adults tried to fix the problem. That is, until they saw the old pelican leave his perch and plunge into a patch of sticky sea.

Britt gasped. “Will he come back up?”

“If he does, how can he live? Bella questioned.

But he did come to the surface, covered in heavy, tacky oil. He looked at them, and they looked at him. And the girls took action.

“Help! Help us help the pelican!” both girls screamed.

A young man who, on such a hot, summer day, would be renting colorful umbrellas to beachgoers, sat alone on the sand.

“What’s the trouble?” he shouted, running toward the girls.

“The old pelican! The old pelican! We have to save him!” Bella sobbed.

“Come on. No time to lose!” The young man sprinted down the beach to the clean-up crews.

“Ah, I know that old bird,” nodded the crew chief. “Let’s go get him.”



Read the reviews!

"This book will help your youngster learn how he/she can help wildlife when faced with the disasters of an oil spill; it also stresses the dangers and need for proper handling of the oil.  The illustrations are like a water color, very nicely done.  Good book for opening up discussions on what can be done and how."

--4 the Love of Books

"One Pelican at a Time is a touching story of how the Gulf Oil spill has impacted the wildlife in the area. It encourages kids to be green in their actions and encourages parents to make sure that something like this never happens again. Additional resources are listed in the back of the book for your children in case you want to include this in a unit study about oil spills or our environment. Definitely a great way to explain the oil spill to children and to encourage them to do their part for our environment."

--Confessions of an Overworked Mom

"I love the message that this book sends and the encouragement it provides to kids who want to get involved and take action.  It is written in easy to understand language without sounding too childish.  It is a complicated topic for kids to grasp but I think the author does a good job at explaining it."

--Turning the Clock Back

"If you are a concerned parent or teacher in search of a good book that will help children learn about caring for the planet, I highly recommend One Pelican at a Time."

--Melange of Cultures's Blog

PURCHASE A COPY OF ONE PELICAN AT A TIME FROM:

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING

AMAZON

BARNESANDNOBLE.COM

INDIEBOUND.ORG

One Pelican at a Time is a Gloabl eBook Awards nominee.



After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy Stewart now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge.


Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.


Nancy is the author of One Pelican at a Time and two other Bella books: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer. All three are published by Guardian Angel Publishers.


She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida.


You can visit Nancy online at http://www.nancystewartbooks.com/ or at her blog http://www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com/



April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:


Let's talk about water today. Every year we visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We spend one - two weeks at our friend's house in Kill Devil Hills, hang out at the beach, fish on the sound, and visit the local attractions.

None of this probably sounds amazing, except you have to realize I am petrified of water. Have been since I was a kid. If the water is moving--like the ocean--I won't venture out past my ankles. I don't want water anywhere near my face, even in the shower. I hate to be splashed and wet clothes against my body has to be one of the worst feelings.

So, why do we go?

The first reason is that it's so peaceful down there. While it has grown tremendously since we first started our annual visits nearly 20 years ago, the pace is still much slower than here in New England.

Another great thing about the Outer Banks is that I don't suffer from any allergies down there. The heat and the salt water mean that not a lot of green stuff is growing. I'm also away from our cats, so I'm not sneezing all the time. I could even forget to take my Advair one day without risking an asthma attack.

History abounds. The residents are very proud of their history. From the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, to pirates, to Civil War battles, this area offers a lot for the history lover in me. I could get lost for hours in some of the used book shops.

The Lil Diva and the Lil Princess at the top of the Cape Hatteras Light


Lighthouses are another big attraction. We've only visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, but we've seen others from the road. My girls and their father climbed the Cape Hatteras Light in 2009. During our first visit to the area, the lighthouse was closed. In 1999, they moved it from its original location to protect it from the encroaching waters of the Atlantic. Open to the public from mid-April to early October, the Cape Hatteras Light is the tallest in America.

My dream is to retire to the Outer Banks and live in a house that looks out over the Atlantic. Not close enough to get totally wiped out by a hurricane, but I definitely want an ocean view. It makes no sense considering my phobia, but I never claimed to be sensible.

What is your favorite place to vacation? Would you rather see the East or West coast? Have you visited any of America's lighthouses?

Author's note: If you visit this link - http://www.avalonpier.com/piercam.html - you'll get a view of the Avalon Pier on the sound side. This pier isn't too far from the house we stay in (though it's on the opposite side of the main highway). Notice that it's 78 degrees there today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Freda's Voice: Giveaway: The Guardian - Margaret Mallory

Enter to win one of 3 available copies of The Guardian by Margaret Mallory at Freda's Voice blog.

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

PASSION IGNITED

After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he's long resisted.

As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas - and he won't take no for an answer.

Visit the link below for your chance to enter and win!

Freda's Voice: Giveaway: The Guardian - Margaret Mallory

Historical Fiction Feature: Noble Cause by Jessica James

Winner of numerous national awards and an Amazon bestselling author, Jessica James has received critical acclaim for this page-turning story of honor, self-sacrifice, and enduring love. Praised by both historians and romance readers since its original release in 2008, the award-winning historical fiction novel Shades of Gray now has a new ending in this special 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Commemorative Edition entitled Noble Cause. James uniquely blends elements of romantic and historical fiction in this deeply personal and poignant tale that, according to one reviewer, “transcends the pages to settle in the very marrow of the reader’s bones.” This is the tale of Colonel Alexander Hunter, a dauntless and daring Confederate cavalry officer, who, with his band of intrepid outcasts, becomes a legend in the rolling hills of northern Virginia. Inspired by love of country and guided by a sense of duty and honor, Hunter must make a desperate choice when he discovers the woman he promised his dying brother he would protect is the Union spy he vowed to his men he would destroy. Readers will discover the fine line between friends and enemies when the paths of these two tenacious foes cross by the fates of war and their destinies become entwined forever.

According to the author's website, this book came about as a result of numerous romance readers requesting a more "happily ever after" ending for their beloved characters in Shades of Gray. Having read the first book, I know what they mean. I loved the story, but I must have cried a river of tears over it.

Jessica James is holding book signings in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for this book's release. You can find out more at http://www.jessicajamesbooks.com/.

Tiny bit of personal trivia: I used to hate Civil War period romances. I guess reading tastes really do change. :)

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:

V is for vanilla, as in vanilla ice cream. Vanilla has always been my favorite flavors of ice cream, but I like other flavors too: chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, cookies and cream, black raspberry, and butter pecan to name a few. My son's father, however, is a vanilla guy. Only vanilla.

When our son was just a toddler, we lived in an apartment with our friend Stephanie. We would sit down at night to watch TV after supper and have ice cream for dessert. Usually one of us would get up and serve the rest of us, so when Stephanie asked my son's father what he wanted, he would always say vanilla. She would respond, "Boring." Soon our son started asking for "warink," and we had no idea what the heck he was talking about. Then one day, his father walked in with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and our little one screamed, "Warink!" We got it then. "Boring" vanilla ice cream was "warink."



Our son got married last year, so he's far removed from his "warink" days. When we saw him at Easter dinner this past Sunday, we had apple pie for dessert. We said it was too bad there was no "warink" to go with it.

Do you remember some of the words you or your children used to say? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Linda Weaver Clarke: Interview with Author Jennifer Walker and Giveaway

Book Give-Away April 25 – May 2 at Linda Weaver Clarke's blog: Bubba to the Rescue by Jennifer Walker. Follow the link to leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail address so she can contact you if you win. Linda Weaver Clarke: Interview with Author Jennifer Walker.

Historical Fiction Feature: Shades of Gray by Jessica James

"Winner of two Best Regional Fiction awards since its release in January 2008, Shades of Gray chronicles the clash of a Confederate cavalry commander with a Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country, and their honor. The Historical Novel Society called Shades of Gray a sympathetic, loving portrait, while Civil War author Virginia Morton describes it as an incredible achievement and a treasure. Shades of Gray is an epic love story that illuminates the fine line between friends and enemies at a time when traditions and principles were worth defending at all costs. This debut novel by Jessica James continues to receive critical acclaim from Civil War authors and historians, as well as lovers of romance and historical fiction."


Read an excerpt from Shades of Gray at the Patriots Press blog.


Awards won by Shades of Gray:


Indie Awards:

Gold Medal
Best Regional Fiction

Indie Awards:

Finalist
Historical Fiction

IPPY Awards:

Silver Medal
Best Regional Fiction

Foreword Magazine:

2008 BOOK OF THE YEAR Finalist
Fiction - Romance

Virginia Romance Writers:

2009 Top 5 Finalist
Best Southern Theme

The Book Connection:

2008 FAVORITE BOOK
All Genres

Bookworm's Dinner:


2008 FAVORITE BOOK
All Genres


Here is a blurb from my review:

Shades of Gray is without a doubt the finest historical fiction has to offer. Complex characters, an engaging plot, and historical accuracy, come together to make this novel a must read for any fan of historical and Civil War fiction.

You can read the full review by clicking here.

PURCHASE A COPY OF SHADES OF GRAY FROM AMAZON! ALSO AVAILABLE IN A KINDLE EDITION!

Jessica James is the author of the award-winning novel Shades of Gray. She holds a bachelor's degree in public relations/journalism and a master's degree in communications. Visit her online at http://www.jessicajamesbooks.com/ and her blog at http://www.jessicajamesblog.com/.

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challange

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:


When I was younger--much younger--I went through a fascination with unicorns. I had a blanket with a huge picture of a unicorn on it. I had glass plates bought at fairs with beautiful unicorns on them surrounded by striking backgrounds. When my son was born I put together a nursery filled with unicorns. Yes, it was an obsession.

Unicorn howling at the Moon



I sometimes wonder why this love of unicorns never expanded to fantasy books. Fantasy is not a genre I read often. While I enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia movies based upon the books by C.S. Lewis, I've never read the books. The books aren't even all that big--a personal pet peeve I have with fantasy novels since so many of them are  heavy enough to be used as doorstops.

One would think I would at least have read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Since the book first came out in 1968, it has been made into a stage play and a film. But no, I'm okay with having not explored this piece of my fascination with the one-horned mythical being.

There are a few fantasy novels I've enjoyed:

Magic, Mensa & Mayhem by Karina Fabian
Rast by Christopher Hoare
First Night and The Elf of Luxembourg by Tom Weston
The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Larkin

I have the next book by C.S. Larkin in my TBR pile. Other than that, though, I would much rather explore my favorite genres: historicals, mysteries, Christian fiction, and romantic suspense.

Did you ever have a fascination with unicorns? Do you enjoy fantasy novels? If you do, what is the best fantasy novel you've ever read?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Itty Bitty Bra Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Follow this link for your chance to enter and win a houndstooth bra from Itty Bitty Bra. Last day to enter in April 30, 2011!

Confessions of an Overworked Mom: Win a Bra from The Itty Bitty Bra Collection

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.


Today's post is for the letter:



Tea has been  my favorite drink since I was a kid. We weren't allowed a lot of soda, but I could have as much tea as I wanted. Since those early days, I've switched from caffeinated to decaffeinated tea. Luckily, many restaurants now carry it too. Years ago I would have to ask for a cup of hot water and carry decaffeinated tea bags in my purse.

I'm not much into herbal teas, but I enjoy English Breakfast for a change from Salada. I recently won a bunch of teas (loose leaves in a tin) and a new mug. I think it's time I invest in a tea ball and try something new. Maybe I'll discover there are some flavors I like.

Certain types of teas have healing properties. Native Americans used teas for healing purposes too. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is one of my favorite TV shows. It tells the story of Dr. Michaela Quinn, who lives and practices medicine alongside her father in his Boston practice. After his death, she finds that his patients are no longer willing to be treated by a woman doctor. Dr. Quinn answers an ad for a doctor in Colorado Springs, CO. Believing she is male (Michael A. Quinn), the town offers her the position. Imagine their surprise when she arrives and is very much a woman.

Dr. Quinn arrives in Colorado Springs during a time of high tensions between the white and the Native Americans. In addition to having to prove herself capable to the entire town, the delay in receiving medical supplies means she must introduce Native American medicine into her practice. Though she is hesitant at first, she soon comes around--as do the townsfolk in Colorado Springs. This is how I first heard of Willow Bark Tea. Dr. Quinn used this brew to reduce pain and fevers.

While I haven't personally explored the healing properties of anything other than Ginger Tea, I'm curious about them and would like to give begin adding natural medicine into our home.

Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Have you ever used herbs or teas for healing purposes?

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.


Today's post is for the letter:



S is for one of my all-time favorite cartoons, SpongeBob Squarepants. Who knew when they debuted the first cartoon about a childish sponge working as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab that he would be so popular?  There is a 14-year age difference between our son and our first daughter. Spongebob Squarepants is probably the only current cartoon both of them watched as kids.



SpongeBob lives in Bikini Bottom. His next door neighbor is Squidward Tentacles, a pessimistic squid who bemoans his meager existence as the cashier at the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob's best friend, Patrick Star, lives on the other side of Squidward. As childlike as his friend, together, Patrick and SpongeBob drive the mature, serious Squidward crazy with their antics.

SpongeBob has a pet snail named Gary, who doesn't like baths. In one of SpongeBob's dreams, he sees Gary as a highly intellectually being that tells him to be careful of invading other people's dreams.

SpongeBob and Squidward work for the notoriously cheap Mr. Krabs. As owner of the Krusty Krab, he is always trying to cut costs and increase his profits. He's not against taking money from unsuspecting children. His competitor is Plankton, owner of the Chum Bucket. Plankton is always trying to steal the secret Krabby Patty formula with the help of his computer wife, Karen.



Also living in Bikini Bottom is Sandy Cheeks. A squirrel who hibernates during the winter, Sandy lives in a tree covered by a glass dome that keeps out the water. When Patrick and SpongeBob go to visit her, they must put on helmets that contain water so they can breathe. Sandy wears a spacesuit and astronaut's helmet to protect her body from the water and to provide her with oxygen to breathe.

It's hard not to like SpongeBob. He's always happy and he loves his job. He's often trying to help miserable Squidward see things in a more positive way. He'll do anything for his friends and he loves Gary with all his heart.

They made a SpongeBob Squarepants movie in 2004. I'm hoping they'll do it again. The storylines are totally outside of what goes on with the regular series, so it would be fun to see a sequel.

Do you watch SpongeBob Squarepants? Who is your favorite character?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 2001 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.

Today's post is for the letter:



R is for Resurrection. During Holy Week, our minds turn to the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On this day, Jesus was crucified and died. With the Sabbath soon approaching, Jesus's body was turned over to Joseph of Arimathea, who had made such a request of Pontius Pilate.

Jesus's mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene, looked on as Joseph wrapped Jesus's body and laid it in a new tomb he had "hewn out of rock." A large stone was then placed in front of the tomb. Knowing that Jesus had told them that He would rise again, Pilate stationed guards outside the tomb, for they were afraid His followers would steal the body and claim He had risen.

That first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and some of the women brought spices to the tomb to bury Jesus properly. They found the stone rolled away and the angel tells them that Jesus is not there, but that He has risen. He instructs them to let the disciples know and that Jesus will meet them in Galilee.

Can you imagine having been there that morning?

As we celebrate Jesus's victory over the grave, let us draw closer to Him. Let us never forget that He suffered, died, and rose again to pay for our sins.

What Easter traditions do you and your family share?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Rast by Christopher Hoare

It is a dangerous time in the world of Rast. Rebelling magic forces are slowly killing the reigning Drogar. His son, Prince Egon, is set to take over as the new sorcerer-king, admitting the deadly magic to himself in such a way as to control it.

Jady, Guardian of the Silent Forest, is the last of her line. Her father and brothers have already been killed by the Deepning Pools. Though in love with Egon, she is sent away on his orders. No matter their feelings, she cannot bear him an heir that will become the next Drogar. Ignoring his orders, an angry Jady goes off to meet the Princess, whose marriage to Prince Egon has been arranged.

As if this trying time of the interregnum isn't enough, Offrangs arrive seeking to conquer Rast. Conflict is inevitable. But who will win?

I'm not a huge lover of fantasy novels, but I've read one of the books in Hoare's speculative fiction Iskander series and enjoyed his strong, female heroine. When he asked me to review Rast, what some have claimed is his best work, I decided to give it a shot.

Part of my issue with fantasy novels is I rarely see one that is less than the size of my Bible. Because you are dealing with made up worlds and beings, this requires the author to be especially clear when describing the setting and the book's characters. I have to hand it to Hoare because he managed to do that in only 269 pages. Not once did I feel lost or unable to figure out the setting or the characters; though a Rast Guidebook is available for free with each download of the e-Book.

An interesting aspect of this novel is that the magic is like a character in and of itself. I've seen this done with an island in Evenings on Dark Island by Rhett DeVane and Larry Rock. It's quite fascinating when an object, or in this case, a supernatural power is so much a part of the story that it takes on character-like qualities.

Rast contains many characters that will elicit emotions in the reader. She will feel sorry for Egon and Jady who are forced to deny their love because of their duties. She will be inspired by the devotion the dying Drogar has to his son and the kingdom of Rast. It's quite likely she will feel the need to throttle the Princess multiple times during the story.

A masterfully told high fantasy novel that will wow you with its explosive conclusion is what you'll find in Rast by Christopher Hoare.

Title: Rast
Author: Christopher Hoare
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
ISBN:  978-1-926931-43-2
SRP:  $5.95

Available in a Kindle edition!

Currently on sale from MuseItUp Publishing for only $4.76!

CONTEST! Christopher Hoare is giving away two e-Copies of Rast during his virtual book tour. You can find his entire tour schedule at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/03/02/rast-virtual-book-tour-april-2011/.  Leave a comment (including your email address) at any of his blog stops during the tour. He will select two winners from all comments received. The more blogs you visit and comment at, the greater your chances of winning a copy of the book.






The author paid me a fee to promote his book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book!  This fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions. I was not compensated in any way for expressing my views.

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:


Q is for quilt, a definite necessity in New England from the end of October until early April. I can't say that I've ever owned one. I'm more of an afghan person. My middle sister, Terry, however, had this beautiful handmade quilt when we were kids. Terry loved horses, and one side of the quilt had a huge picture of a horse. The other was the more standard patchwork kind of look. I was very jealous of her because it was such a lovely gift. I think one of our paternal aunts made it for her.

When I was pregnant for my son, our roommate sewed a quilt for him. I tucked it away after the girls were out of their cribs. I recently gave it to my daughter-in-law. Their godson comes to visit often and I thought they might have some use for it. Who knows, maybe my first grandchild (I'm hoping to hear that news some day) will use it too.

I've always wanted to try my hand at making a patchwork quilt, but I don't think I have the patience for it. What about you? Are you a quilter? Do you know someone who is? Are you a quilt person or an afghan person?

April 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It began April 1st, with the letter A and ends April 30th, with the letter Z. You can click here to see who else is participating in this challenge.




Today's post is for the letter:


As a writer, I am fond of my pencil. Until I became so busy that writing longhand was almost impossible, I used my pencil often. Now, I mostly use it when I am coordinating virtual book tours.

I found this website tonight that provides a history of the pencil.  The information is fascinating. Did you know that early American settlers depended upon England for their pencils until the war cut off imports? This led to a Concord, Massachusetts cabinet maker named William Monroe designing America's first wood pencils in 1812.

Have you ever gone into an office supply store and purchased a package of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils? Well, amazingly enough, The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company, which is now Dixon Ticonderoga, is responsible for the American pencil industry taking off. Their website says their origins date back to 1795!

I hadn't ever really considered the history of the pencil until I sat down to write this post, which is a shame because pencils and writers go hand in hand.

Do you write longhand? Were you familiar with pencil history?

Book Spotlight: The Face of God by Bill Myers

“THE TERRORIST has learned of supernatural stones used by the Old Testament High Priests to hear the audible voice of God. As the mastermind of a deadly plot that will soon kill millions, he has had a series of dreams instructing him to find the stones. Everything else is in place. The wrath of God is poised and ready to be unleashed. All that is stopping him is . . .

THE PASTOR. His wife has been murdered and his faith is crumbling before his very eyes. With his estranged son, he also searches for the stones in hopes they will rekindle his dying faith and love.

With the lives of millions hanging in the balance, these two men of opposing faiths collide in an unforgettable showdown. “The Face of God” is another thrilling and thought-provoking novel by a master of the heart and suspense, C.S. Lewis Honor Award winner, Bill Myers.”



Read the Excerpt!

Steeling his resolve, Daniel turned and entered the darkened room. His son, Tyler, and the owner followed. But when Helen tried to enter, Nayra remained in front of the woman, her small frame blocking Helen’s larger one.

“You must wait here.”

“What?”

“Your presence is not welcome.”

“What do you—”

“You are a Jew; you are not welcome.”

The tension between them was palpable. And for a moment it seemed uncertain whether Helen would back down or not. Then reluctantly she agreed. But she would not leave the doorway. Apparently, she was going to stand right there and wait. Just she and the two dozen pair of eyes stealing peeks at her.

Inside, an old man greeted them. He sat on a rug and appeared even less conscious of dental hygiene than did the restaurant’s owner. His mouth worked the end of a plastic tube that led to a hookah water pipe. The air was full of pungent, sweet smoke. Not far away two or three younger men stood, slouched in the shadows behind him.

He turned and spoke to Nayra. She nodded and translated. “Please, sit.” She motioned Daniel toward the cushions in front of him.

“Tell him we will stand,” Daniel said.

Nayra spoke to the old man in Arabic. He shrugged, then said something else.

“He would like you to come closer,” Nayra said. “His eyes are no longer good, and he would like to see your face.”

Daniel turned to Tyler, who nodded. He moved forward until he was directly under the light of a bare bulb that hung from the ceiling.

The man grinned broadly. “Shukran, shukran.” Then he spoke something else.

“He would like to see the stone,” Nayra said.

“Stone?”

“The Levi Stone.”

Daniel kept his eyes on the old man’s. Even in the shadows he could see the milky cataracts. “Tell him . . .”—he cleared his throat—“tell him it is in good hands.”

More Arabic was exchanged. “Your hands?” Nayra asked.

“Perhaps.”

The old man chuckled, then asked something else in Arabic. Nayra translated. “He wants to know if you have had any dreams?”

Daniel tried not to stiffen. “We all dream.”

The man grinned again, obviously enjoying the repartee. He answered and Nayra translated. “Yes, but how many of us dream of . . .”—she turned back to the old man to confirm what she’d heard, then returned to Daniel—“how many of us dream of the face of God?”

Daniel felt the blood drain from his cheeks. The old man saw it and cackled softly. Apparently, he had his answer. Turning to his companions, he gave a curt order. One of the young men obeyed, producing a small box of olive wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Holding it with great care, he approached the old man. It was only then that Daniel noticed the rifle dangling from the boy’s shoulder. As he stepped into the light, his two associates moved forward, making it clear that everything was being carefully observed and carefully protected.

The old man took the box into his knotted, arthritic hands. He spoke again and Nayra translated. “I too have had dreams, Pastor. The dream of a face. But unlike your dream, mine is the face of a—”

The explosion shook the room with such force that Daniel nearly lost his balance. He heard the old man cry out but his voice was lost in another explosion. And another.

“Rockets!” the owner’s voice shouted. “Helicopter gunships!”

Adrenaline surged through Daniel as another explosion pounded the room, knocking him to his knees. The light was gone but he could hear the plaster and concrete falling around him, felt smaller chunks bouncing off his shoulders and head. Dust filled the room, making it nearly impossible to breathe.

“Outside!” the owner shouted and coughed. A back door was suddenly kicked open and blinding light stabbed Daniel’s eyes. “Everybody outside!”

He staggered to his feet. To his left he saw the boy with the rifle helping the old man do the same. More explosions shattered the room. Pounding, deafening, throwing Daniel into Tyler. Somehow they kept their balance and stumbled toward the light. Coughing and gagging, they emerged into a narrow street, one end already blocked by smoke.

“This way!” one of the young men shouted, waving. “This way!”

Everyone turned and started to follow. Everyone but Daniel.

“Dad!” Tyler yelled over his shoulder. “Come on!”

“Where is he?” Daniel shouted, straining to see through the dust. “Where is the old man?”

“What?”

“The old man!”

Tyler spotted him at the door. “Right there, behind you!”

He spun around to see the old man emerge into the light, clutching the wooden box, leaning heavily upon his young assistant. Daniel heard the rocket coming but had no time to cover his face before the apartment next door exploded. The concussion threw him backward, pelting his skin with rock and concrete as he landed hard on the ground. But he only remained a moment. Even as the debris rained around him, he scrambled to his feet.

“Tyler!” he shouted. “Tyler!” He squinted through the billowing dust, choking, his throat on fire. “Tyler!”

“Here!” his son cried, coughing. “Over here!”

He turned to see Tyler staggering to his feet, helping Nayra to hers. The debris stopped falling and was replaced by the distant pop of automatic gunfire and panicked cries.

“He’s hurt!” Nayra shouted. She motioned to the old man, who lay under his young assistant. She raced toward them and Tyler followed. But it wasn’t the old man who was hurt. It was the aide. He did not move. And by the way his body was sprawled in the dirt, his neck grotesquely twisted, his eyes staring lifelessly, Daniel knew he would not move again.

The old man was struggling to crawl out from under him, shouting orders.

Nayra nodded and yelled to Tyler, “Get his gun! Get his gun!”

But Tyler had frozen. All he could do was stare at the young man. As far as Daniel knew, his son had never seen death before— except in movies or video games.

The gunfire grew closer.

Again the old man shouted and again Nayra translated. “Get the rifle!”

But Tyler could not move. With some effort Nayra pushed the aide aside and pulled the rifle off his shoulder. The movement shamed Tyler back into action. He reached for the old man and helped him to his feet.

“We must leave here!” Nayra shouted.

Tyler nodded and, allowing the old man to lean on him, started off in the only clear direction.

Daniel had just moved to join them when a soldier suddenly came into view. Another youngster. Younger than Tyler. He shouted something in Hebrew, an obvious order for them to stop.

Daniel slowed but Tyler did not. Instead he turned and began hobbling in the opposite direction.

“Tyler!” Daniel yelled.

Again the soldier shouted.

“Tyler, stop!”

The soldier raised his rifle.

“Tyler!” Gripped with fear, Daniel started toward the soldier, trying to explain, trying to draw his attention.

But the soldier ignored him and took aim.

“No!” Daniel twirled to Tyler. “Tyler, no!” Then back to the soldier. “No!” He started running at him. “No! No!”

The soldier fired.

Daniel spun around just in time to see the old man go limp in Tyler’s arms. But Tyler did not stop. In fear and panic he dragged the man faster.

“Tyler!”

The soldier aimed again.

Seeing no alternative, Daniel leaped between them, waving his arms, as a second shot was fired. Only it did not hit Tyler. Nor did it hit Daniel. Instead it was the young soldier who crumbled to the ground.

Confused, Daniel turned. He spotted Nayra lowering her rifle. She stared at it as if it were some strange creature as she tried to fathom what it had just done, what she had just done.

Three armed soldiers rounded the corner. They spotted their comrade, then Nayra, and immediately shouted, demanding that she drop the rifle. She held it at arm’s length, like a poisonous snake, and released it. It clattered onto the road. The soldiers started toward her.

Suddenly a white Mercedes slid around the corner, accelerating, barreling down on them. Having no time to take aim, the soldiers realized it would be smarter to leap for their lives. They weren’t wrong. The driver missed them by inches. The car fishtailed, avoiding the fallen soldier, then skidded to a stop directly beside Nayra.

“Get in!” a voice shouted.

Nayra stood paralyzed, still in shock.

The driver reached over and opened the passenger door. The sun’s reflection off the windshield made it impossible to recognize the face, but Daniel knew the voice.

“Get in!”

Woodenly, Nayra obeyed. She had barely entered before the tires spun furiously. The car slid to another stop between Daniel and Tyler.

“Hurry!” Helen shouted. “Get in! Get in!”

Daniel turned to help Tyler, who had kneeled down with the man. But the dark, widening circle in the old-timer’s back, and the ashen look on Tyler’s face, made it clear that his son had just witnessed his second death in as many minutes.

The soldiers behind them were scrambling to their feet, shouting, raising their rifles.

“Get in!” Helen yelled.

Daniel obeyed. But not Tyler. Not before the boy spotted the box near the old man’s hand and tentatively reached for it.

“Get in!”

The first bullet sank into the Mercedes’ left rear fender with a sickening thud. The second missed the car, sending up a cloud of dust inches from Tyler’s feet. He did not have to be told again. He grabbed the box, leaped up, and raced to the car. More shots were fired as he tumbled into the backseat, as the Mercedes sped off, as he tried more than once to grab the back door until he finally slammed it shut.

PURCHASE THE FACE OF GOD AT AMAZON. ALSO AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE FOR ONLY $2.99!



Read the reviews!

“Strong writing, edgy, and made for movies sensibilities categorize this thriller from veteran author and film director, Myers. The story is replete with action and the book admirably avoids an implausibly neat ending. Myers’s popular reputation and the book’s link to current events will likely woo readers.”

– Publisher’s Weekly

“One of the most creative minds I know.”

– Jerry Jenkins author, Left Behind

“It’s no wonder that Myers is a bestselling author. His writing is tight and quick and we identify fully with the characters who could be our family members or friends. Maybe that is why his books touch the soul.”

– The Road to Romance



Writer/director Bill Myers’s first major success was as co-creator/writer/co-producer of Focus on the Family’s children’s video series, McGee and Me (40 awards, broadcast in 80 countries, 4.5 million books and videos sold). On its heels he wrote the My Life as… series (over 2.1 million books sold).


Other successes include his teen series, Forbidden Doors (winner of the C.S. Lewis Honor Award), and his best selling adult novels, Blood of Heaven, Fire of Heaven, Eli, Soul Tracker, The Face of God, and The Wager (also a motion picture staring Randy Travis). As a writer/director, his work has won over 60 national and international awards, and as an actor he was the voice of Jesus in the NIV Audio Bible and has made several guest appearances on Adventures in Odyssey. His books and videos have sold over 8 million copies.


He holds an honorary doctorate from The Nimes Theological Institute in France where he has taught. He enjoys traveling and lecturing as well as serving as lay college pastor for his church.


He lives with his wife and two daughters in Southern California.


You can visit his website at www.billmyers.com.