Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seasonal Titles: The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Bestselling author Sheila Roberts brings us a humorous, heartwarming Christmas novel about a matchmaking cat who brings a couple together just in time for the holidays. When a guy is in trouble, he starts making deals with his Creator…and Ambrose the cat is no exception. In danger of losing his ninth and final life, Ambrose makes a desperate plea. He’ll do anything—anything!—if he can just survive and enjoy a nice long, final life. His prayer is answered when a stranger comes along and saves him, and now it looks like he has to hold up his end of the bargain.

The stranger turns out to be a fire fighter named Zach, the quintessential commitment- phobe who’s in need of some serious romantic help. If Ambrose can just bring Zach together with Merilee, the nice lady who works at Pet Palace, it’s bound to earn him a healthy ninth life. Unfortunately for Ambrose, his mission is a lot harder than he ever anticipated. Now it’s going to take all his feline wiles—and a healthy dose of Christmas magic—to bring them alltogether in time for the holidays.

Read an excerpt!

When a guy is in trouble he starts making deals with his Creator, and Ambrose was dealing like crazy. Vicious teeth snapped at him and his whole life (actually, all nine of them) flashed before his eyes. If this dog got him it was all over.

Becoming dog food looked like a distinct possibility since the tree Ambrose had chosen was small and the particular branch he was perched on was a flimsy twig barely capable of holding a kitten let alone a mature cat. And the big, black beast below seemed to have springs on his paws.

I’ll do anything, Ambrose yowled. Anything! Please, let me live a little longer.

This was life number nine. He knew he wouldn’t get any more but he’d settle for a longer one where he could finish his days in comfort. Under the circumstances, it would be a miracle if he survived to see that happen. But he’d seen people stringing up colored lights on their houses just the other day, which meant Christmas season was about to begin, and wasn’t Christmas supposed to be a season of miracles? Not that Christmas had ever been good to Ambrose. That was when he usually managed to meet his end.

So he wasn’t surprised at what was happening to him now. That didn’t mean he had to like it though. What a horrible way to go! Pulled from a tree and brutally murdered by a bloodthirsty mongrel. All these houses and there was not a single human around to help him on this cold, gray morning. No surprise, really. Humans bought houses and then rarely stayed in them … until they got old, and by then, like Ambrose, their days were numbered.

Below him the dog showed his fangs and growled. Needing a miracle here. Soon!

Not that he deserved one. He thought of little Robbie, who he’d scratched many a time in his seventh life, and poor Snoopy the beagle that he had tortured in his eighth life. He shouldn’t have made the dog’s life so miserable but he’d been getting bitter by then. How he had enjoyed driving old Snoopy crazy by jumping on him and riding him around the house with his claws dug into the dog’s back. Hee-hee. That had been…

Bad, very bad. He would never do anything like that again.

Why, oh, why hadn’t he picked a tall, sturdy tree to climb instead of this immature maple? What had he been thinking? The answer to that was easy enough. He’d been thinking, Run!

It started to rain, fat, freezing pellets that dug under his fur, and an angry winter wind pushed the tree, making its branches sway. Nooo. Ambrose dug his claws deeper into the bark. I’ll be a good cat and earn my keep here on Earth. Just send me some help and I’ll prove it.

Now the dog was on his hind legs, pushing against the tree and reaching for Ambrose like he was some kind of doggy chew toy. Determined not to go down without a fight, Ambrose hissed at him and took a swipe with claws unsheathed. That only made the beast more berserk.

Where was a dogcatcher when you needed one? Help! Is anybody listening?

Out of nowhere, appearing as suddenly as the rain had come, Ambrose saw a man wearing what humans called jogging clothes. He ran up to the dog and yelled, “Go on, get out of here.”

Between the man’s aggressive clap and that big dog growl of his, he not only scared away the dog he almost gave Ambrose a heart attack.

The beast loped off down the street and the man said, “Okay, guy, looks like you’re safe.”

Safe, the best word in the world. Ambrose peered down at his rescuer. The fur on top of the man’s head was what humans called blond – not as handsome as Ambrose’s orange coat, but a shade that humans admired greatly and his eyes were as blue as a Siamese kitten’s. He was large, which meant he probably had a spacious, comfy lap. The friendly smile he wore showed the man was a kind person. Something about the face looked familiar. Where had he seen this man before?

“You’re on your own now,” he said to Ambrose, who was still clinging to his branch. “I know you can get down anyway. You aren’t going to want to stay out in this any longer than me,” he added, and then jogged off down the street.

Ambrose could hardly believe he was safe. Wet and uncomfortable and hungry, but safe. The freezing rain was letting up now and the angry clouds began to drift away, ashamed of all the misery they’d caused. It was going to be a good day after all. He settled down to give his racing heart a chance to calm.

One last gust of wind woodshed past him with a whisper. Remember what you promised.

Of course Ambrose remembered. And he would be a better cat. When the opportunity presented itself. There was no hurry, really.

He made his way down the tree and was halfway across the lawn when he caught sight of the same dog loitering on the corner. The dog saw him, too.

Yikes! Time to scat. Ambrose darted into the street.

A screech of brakes, a spray of water and an angry honk of a horn made all of his lives flash before his eyes once again as Ambrose barely dodged the huge metal monster. Once more the wind whispered. This time it said, Last chance.

Okay, okay, he got it. The time to atone for his wicked past was now. But how, exactly, was he supposed to do that? Where to start, and with whom? The storm had pretty much scrubbed the street of living creatures. Except for the murderous dog and that big man.

Helping the dog with anything was out of the question. That left the man, which made sense. A life for a life.

He set off at a run. His rescuer had a head start but Ambrose had four legs, which evened things considerably. He caught up with the man in time to see him enter a house on a quiet street. It was a large house, much the same as Ambrose’s old home, freshly painted and blue as a robin’s egg, and it had a chimney. That meant a warm fire on a cold day. Not a bad place to land.

It took patient camping under the bushes by the porch but finally Ambrose was rewarded and the door opened to reveal the same man, this time wearing different clothes. He stepped out of the door and Ambrose rushed in. Oh, delicious warmth.

“Whoa,” said the man, “what’s this?”

What? He couldn’t tell? Ambrose refused to dignify such a silly question with a response. Instead he began to prowl the front hall of his new home. Interesting. Wood floors, a stairway on one side, and off to the other an arch opening onto what humans referred to as a living room. The house felt old and hummed with memories, like the one his last owner, Adelaide had lived in.

That had been such a cozy home. Her horrible offspring hadn’t cared about the memories though. All they’d cared about was putting the place up for sale.

Put it up for sale, indeed! Just where had they thought Ambrose would live if they sold the house? Of course, he’d soon found out and that was why he’d run away.

“Whoa there, Tom,” said the man, scooping Ambrose off his feet.

Tom? What an insult! Did he look like a common cat? His name had never been Tom. Never! He was Cupcake-Tiger-Morris-Muffin-Macavity-Blackie-Toby-Claus-Ambrose, Ambrose, of course, being his latest moniker.

“This isn’t a hotel for cats,” the man informed Ambrose as he opened the door. He stepped back outside and shut the door behind him, then plopped Ambrose on the porch. Back out in the cold. Of all the nerve!

Ambrose watched, tail twitching, as the man strode down his front walk, got in a shiny black car and drove away. If this inhospitable human is the key to keeping my ninth life I am in the doghouse.

He could almost hear Adelaide saying, “Be patient, Ambrose dear.” (Something she always told him when he was half starving and rubbing against her legs while she poked around opening his cat food can.) Good advice now though. He could be patient.

Read the reviews!

"The Nine Lives of Christmas is such a sweet, fun and engaging story that is sure to lighten any reader's heart. I fell in love with Ambrose immediately and found Zach and Merilee to be enduring. This is the perfect story to begin the holiday season and would make the perfect gift for anyone - including treating yourself! I adored The Nine Lives of Christmas and eagerly await the next work by the wonderfully talented and always delightful Sheila Roberts!"

--Cafe of Dreams

"It is safe to say cat lovers everywhere will love this novel, but I think there is so much more to it...This novel has plenty of charm, smooth writing and entertainment for book lovers everywhere. Full of romance and pets with personality, it's a book you won't want to miss this Christmas."

--A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews

"If you're looking for a delightful seasonal love story with tons of laughs, look no further than The Nine Lives of Christmas."

--The Book Connection


Writing since 1989, Sheila Roberts has had 26 books published, both fiction and nonfiction, under different names. Her books have been chosen for book clubs, Readers Digest Condensed books, and her popular novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network. Her novel ANGEL LANE was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Romances for 2009.

However, before she settled into her writing career, she did lots of other things, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. Writing and helping others to find ways to better themselves are her greatest passions and her popular newsletter SUPER YOU, is dedicated to helping women improve their lives.

When she’s not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate. Drop in for a visit at her website: or connect with her at Facebook at!/pages/Sheila-Roberts/76502579853?ref=ts and Twitter at!/_Sheila_Roberts.
Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s happily married and has three children.

Women's Fiction Month: The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

Mark your calendar. It's the Christmas Cookie Club! Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie's oldest daughter has a risky pregnancy. Will she find out tonight how that story might end? Jeannie's father is having an affair with her best friend. Who else knew about the betrayal, and how can that be forgiven or forgotten, even among old friends such as these? Rosie's husband doesn't want children, and she has to decide, very soon, whether or not that's a deal breaker for the marriage. Taylor's life is in financial freefall. Each woman, each friend has a story to tell, and they are all interwoven, just as their lives are.

On this evening, at least, they can feel as a group the impulses of sisterly love and conflict, the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the agony of losing a child, and above all, the love they have for one another. As Marnie says, the Christmas Cookie Club, if it's anything, is a reminder of delight.

The Christmas Cookie Club is about the paths Marnie and her friends have traveled, the absolute joy they take in life and love despite the decisions they've regretted, the hard choices and amends they've had to make, and the sacrifices along the way. Ultimately, The Christmas Cookie Club is every woman's story. As you read about Marnie and her friends, their struggles and triumphs, what makes them laugh and what has made them cry, you'll see yourself and some of the ingredients of your own story. Celebrating courage and joy in spite of hard times and honoring the importance of women's friendships as well as the embracing bonds of community, Ann Pearlman has written a novel that speaks to us all.

Read an excerpt at Amazon!

Read the reviews!

"This novel will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. Bonus: each chapter includes cookie recipes."

-USA Today

"Humorous and heartbreaking."

- Library Journal

"The story weaves compassion, friendship, hope and love throughout, bringing the reader into the folds of each woman's background story, as well as the importance of the annual cookie exchange they share together...The Christmas Cookie Club is a wonderful book that I recommend for anyone looking for a delightful, heartwarming and compassionate story of friendship and hope. Also the recipes and food facts add a great bonus!"

-Cafe of Dreams Book Review

PURCHASE THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CLUB AT AMAZON, BARNESANDNOBLE, AND INDIEBOUND.ORG!Ann Pearlman, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Nominee, is the author of Infidelity: A Memoir, Inside the Crips, The Christmas Cookie Club, The Christmas Cookie Cookbook, and A Gift For my Sister. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Visit Ann online at

Book Spotlight: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

Cut to Melbourne, Australia--the most glamorous city in the world. It also happens to be the only one left standing, but nevermind that, we're there now and I'd like you to meet your narrator, a certain Floyd Maquina, a likable chap with one hell of a story to share. See, the powers that be are knuckling down on the Deviant menace that plagues the city, and our boy Floyd's unknowingly got himself in the thick of it. Cue guns, intrigue, kidnappings, conspiracy and all sorts of general mayhem that make for cracking good headlines. Does Floyd stop the bad guys? Does he get the girl? Does he make Humphrey Bogart proud? Grab some popcorn and read on.

Read the reviews!

“A jam‐packed roller coaster that’s as affecting as it is exciting and gripping.”


“A cigar‐puffing, whiskey‐sipping, piano playing bar lout.”


"Andrez Bergen put science fiction, noir, Australia and Japan into a literary hadron collider and Tobacco‐Stained Mountain Goat came out."


“Flows effortlessly; smart, mesmerizingly dark and difficult to put down.”


"At the heart of Bergen’s novel is the love affair our author has with popular culture…bursting with nods and homages to everything from Humphrey Bogart to Mobile Suit Gundam."


"Innovative, quirky, at times hilarious... this is as challenging as it is a roller coaster ride."


"Such an engrossing and visual read—gorgeous, subtle moments in there as well."


“A Third Man/Matrix/Blade Runner/Dashiell Hammett melange that is engrossing, intriguing and surprising!”


“Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is an incredible novel, completely unexpected and with such a wonderfully rich and unique style that is simply mesmerizing, unmissable."







Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian journalist, musician, photographer, DJ, artist, some‐time filmmaker, writer, wayward graphic designer, and ad hoc beer and sake connoisseur who's been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan, for the past 10 years. Under the alias of Industrial Form, he dabbled with graf, then moved on to audio/visual art installations for
events put on by pioneering Melbourne experimental electronic music label IF? Records (which he now helms). He currently creates music under the pseudonyms Little Nobody and Funk Gadget.

Andrez has written for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in Japan, The Age newspaper, and VICE Magazine in Australia, American mags Anime Insider and Geek Monthly (ex‐Cinefantastique), Impact and Mixmag in the UK, and various other publications, on movies, music, anime, culture, travel, food, etc.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Women's Fiction Month: 1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmastree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.

But…someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she's determined to place in good homes. That's complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth's exhusband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a momanddad reunion dancing in their heads.

As always in life—and in Cedar Cove—there are surprises, too. More than one family's going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending!

Read an excerpt!


The front door slammed and Beth Morehouse hurried out of the kitchen. Three days before Christmas, and her daughters were home from college—at last! Her foreman, Jeff, had been kind enough to pick them up at the airport while Beth dealt with last-minute chores. She'd been looking forward to seeing them for weeks. Throwing her arms wide, she ran toward Bailey and Sophie. "Merry Christmas, girls."

Squealing with delight, they dropped their bags and rushed into her embrace.

"I can't believe it's snowing. It's so beautiful," Bailey said, holding Beth in a tight hug. At twenty-one, she was the oldest by fourteen months. She resembled her father in so many ways. She was tall like Kent and had his dark brown hair, which she'd tucked under a knitted cap. Her eyes shone with a quiet joy. She was the thoughtful one and that, too, reminded Beth of her ex-husband. Three years after the divorce, she still missed him, although pride would never allow her to admit that. Even her budding relationship with Ted Reynolds, the local veterinarian, paled when she thought about her life with Kent and their history together.

"My turn." Displacing Bailey, Sophie snuggled into Beth's embrace. "The house looks fabulous, Mom. Really Christmassy." This child was more like Beth. A few inches shorter than her sister, Sophie had curly auburn hair and eyes so blue they seemed to reflect a summer sky. Releasing Beth, Sophie added, "And it smells wonderful."

Beth had done her best to make the house as festive and bright as possible for her daughters. She'd spent long hours draping fresh evergreen boughs on the staircase leading to the second-floor bedrooms. Two of the three Christmas trees were loaded with ornaments. The main tree in the family room was still bare, awaiting their arrival so they could decorate it together, which was a family tradition.

A trio of four-foot-tall snowmen stood guard in the hallway near the family room where the Nativity scene was displayed on the fireplace mantel. Decorating had helped take Beth's mind off the fact that her ex-husband would be joining them for Christmas. This would be the first time she'd seen him in three years. Oh, they'd spoken often enough, but every conversation had revolved around their daughters. Nothing else. No questions asked. No comments of a personal nature. Just the girls and only the girls. It'd been strictly business. Until now.

Until Christmas.

They both loved the holidays. It was Kent who'd first suggested they have several Christmas trees. Always fresh ones, which was one reason Beth had been attracted to the Christmas tree farm when she started her new life.
"I've got lunch ready," Beth said, trying to turn her attention away from her ex-husband. He still lived in California, as did the girls. He'd stayed in their hometown of Sacramento, while Bailey and Sophie both attended university in San Diego. According to their daughters, Kent had asked to come for Christmas. She'd known for almost two weeks that he'd made reservations at the Thyme and Tide B and B in Cedar Cove. The news that he'd be in town had initially come as a shock to Beth. He hadn't discussed it with her at all. Instead, he'd had their daughters do his talking for him. That made everything more awkward, because it wasn't as if she could refuse, not with Bailey and Sophie so excited about spending Christmas together as a family. But Kent's plans had left her with a host of unanswered questions. Was this his way of telling Beth he missed her? Was he looking for a reconciliation? Was she? The questions swarmed in her head, but the answers wouldn't be clear until he arrived. At least she'd be better able to judge his reasons. His intentions. And her own…

"Just like it used to be," Bailey finished. Beth had missed whatever she'd said before that, although it wasn't hard to guess.

Just like it used to be. These were magic words, but Beth had recognized long ago that the clock only moved forward. Yet the girls' eagerness, Kent's apparent insistence and her nostalgia for what they'd once shared swept aside her customary reserve.

"Mom?" Bailey said when she didn't respond. "We're talking…Where are you?"

Beth gave a quick shake of her head. "Woolgathering. Sorry. I haven't had much sleep lately." Exhausted as she was, managing the tree farm and getting ready for Christmas with her daughters—and Kent—she'd hardly slept. She couldn't. Every time she closed her eyes, Kent was there. Kent with his boyish smile and his eyes twinkling with mischief and fun. They'd been happy once and somehow they'd lost that and so much more. Beth had never been able to put her finger on what exactly had gone wrong; she only knew that it had. In the end they'd lived separate lives, going their own ways. Their daughters had kept them together—and then they were off at college, and suddenly it was just Kent and Beth. That was when they discovered they no longer had anything in common.

"You're not sleeping?" Bailey's eyes widened with concern.

Sophie elbowed her sister. "Bailey, think about it. This is the busiest time of year for a Christmas tree farm. Then there's all this decorating. And, if we're really lucky—"

"Mom made date candy?" Bailey cut in.

"And caramel corn?" Sophie asked hopefully, hands folded in prayer.

"Yes to you both. It wouldn't be Christmas without our special treats."

"You're the best mom in the world."

Beth smiled. She'd had less than three hours' sleep, thanks to all the Christmas preparations, her dogs and…her incessant memories of Kent. Traffic at the tree farm had thinned out now that Christmas was only three days away. But families were still stopping by and there was quite a bit to do, including cleanup. Her ten-man crew was down to four and they'd coped just fine without either her or Jeff this morning. While he drove out to the airport, she'd been getting ready for her daughters' arrival. However, as soon as lunch was over, she needed to head back outside.

Beth and the girls had booked a skiing trip between Christmas and New Year's, and after the hectic schedule of the past two months, she was counting on a few relaxing days with her daughters. Their reservations were made and she was eager to go. Ted Reynolds, good friend that he was, had offered to take care of her animals, which reminded her of the one hitch in her perfectly planned holiday escape.

"Before we sit down to eat, I need to tell you we have special guests this Christmas."

"You mean Dad, right?" Bailey led the way into the other room, where there was more greenery and a beautifully arranged table with three place settings.

"Well, yes, your father. But he's not the only one____"

"Mom." Bailey tensed as she spoke. "Don't tell me you have a boyfriend. It's that vet, isn't it?"

"Ten guests, actually," she said, ignoring the comment about Ted, "and they aren't all boys."

"Puppies?" Sophie guessed.

"Puppies," Beth confirmed, not surprised that her daughter had figured it out. "Ten of them."

"Ten?" Sophie cried, aghast.

Without asking, Bailey went straight to the laundry room off the kitchen. "Where did you get ten puppies?" The instant she opened the door, all ten black puppies scampered into the kitchen, scrambling about, skidding across the polished hardwood floor.

"They're adorable." Sharing Beth's love for animals, both girls were immediately down on the floor, scooping the puppies into their arms. Before long, each held at least two of the Lab-mix puppies, the little creatures intent on licking their faces.

Unable to resist, Beth joined her daughters and gathered the remaining puppies onto her lap. One curled into a tight ball. Another climbed onto her shoulder and began licking her ear. The others squirmed until one wriggled free and chased his tail with determined vigor, completely preoccupied. They really were adorable, which was good because in every other way they were a nuisance.

Sophie held a puppy to her cheek. "Where'd you get them, Mom?"

"They were a gift," she explained, turning her face away to avoid more wet, slurpy kisses.

"A gift?"

"But why'd you take all ten?" Bailey asked, astonished.

"I didn't have any choice. They showed up on my porch in a basket a week ago." Beth didn't say that discovering these puppies had been the proverbial last straw. They'd literally appeared on her doorstep the same day she'd learned Kent was coming here for Christmas. For an insane moment she'd considered running away, grabbing a plane to Fiji or Bora-Bora. Instead, she'd run over to the Hardings' and ended up spilling her heart out to Grace. Under normal conditions, Beth wasn't one to share her burdens with others. However, this was simply too much—an ex-husband's unexpected visit and the arrival of ten abandoned puppies, all during the busiest season of the year. The Hardings had given her tea and sympathy; Ted had been wonderful, too. Beth was grateful for his willingness to watch her animals but she refused to leave him with these ten additional dogs. So she'd made it her goal to find homes for all of them before Christmas. Which didn't give her a lot of time…

"How could someone just drop off ten puppies?" Bailey asked as she lifted one intrepid little guy off her shoulder and settled him in her lap.

"Who could do that and not be seen?" Sophie added. "I mean, you have people working all over this place."

Beth had certainly asked around. "Jeff saw a woman with a huge basket at my door. He thought he recognized her from his church, but when he asked her, she denied it. Then later, Pete, one of the drivers, claimed he saw a man on my porch with a basket. I talked to five different people and got five different stories. All I know is that I've got to find homes for these puppies before we leave for Whistler." And preferably before Kent arrived, although that was highly unlikely.

"Have you found any yet? " Bailey asked.

"No.but I've put out the word."

"You'll do it, Mom," Sophie said confidently. "I know you will."

"How old are they?" Bailey stroked a soft, floppy ear.
"Ted thinks about two months. Between six and eight weeks, anyway."

"They're irresistible. You won't have trouble finding homes," Sophie said.

Read the reviews!

"This book is a great light read for the holiday season!"

--Living In My Rain Boots


With more than 140 million copies of her books in print, Debbie Macomber is one of today's most popular authors.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and observations, Debbie writes heartwarming tales about small-town life, home and family, enduring friendships and women who knit. Every book features the delightful sense of humor for which readers around the world clamor. Not bad for a woman who is dyslexic and didn't learn to read until she was in the fifth grade.

Being dyslexic did not deter the young mother of four from pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming published. She celebrated her first sale in 1982 when Silhouette Books acquired her manuscript, Heartsong. The book became the first category romance ever to be reviewed by Publishers Weekly. She was soon featured in Newsweek—and demand for her books quickly exceeded her wildest dreams. Now Debbie maintains a more than 140,000-name list of readers, with whom she regularly corresponds.

Debbie is a regular resident on the bestseller lists. Three of her novels have scored the #1 slot on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly lists the first week on sale. She is the first-ever recipient of the "readers' choice" Quill Award for Romance Fiction, for 44 Cranberry Point, the fourth book in her highly popular Cedar Cove series. Debbie has also been honored with a RITA® for her 2005 holiday hardcover, The Christmas Basket; an RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award and is a multiple winner of both the Holt Medallion and the B. Dalton Award. In July 2010, the Romance Writers of America presented Debbie with their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

For a more complete bio and a list of Debbie's books, please visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New York Times Releases List of 100 Notable Books of 2011

As part of their Holiday Gift Guide 2011, the New York Times released this year's list of notable books. You can find it at

I haven't read any of them, but Catherine the Great: A Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie and 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart sound like books I would love to read.

Have you read any of this year's notable titles? What did you think? If you had to choose one must read book of 2011, what would it be?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Women's Fiction Month: Stranded by Wendy Davy

When wildlife photographer Savannah Matthews takes an unexpected detour off of Belize’s scenic coast and becomes stranded on a lush, tropical island, she senses she’s about to encounter something wild and dangerous—something from a long ago, forgotten past.

What she does find, will change her life forever.

Scarred both physically and emotionally, Grant Duncan guards his privacy. Those who dare set foot on his private island come face-to-face with his fierce determination, and long-handled spear. But, when Savannah arrives, she challenges him like no other.

Will Savannah break through Grant’s barriers, and convince him God still has a plan for his life?

Read an excerpt!

Savannah Matthews hauled the heavy, wooden oar through the crystalline water as if her life depended on it—because it did. Had she known the unstable condition of the small rental boat’s motor, she never would’ve left the safety of Belize’s shoreline, and the Caribbean’s strong current wouldn’t be forcing her into open waters. Her muscles screamed as she exerted pressure against the long oar. The scorching sun threatened to melt her skin. Sweat dripped from her forehead and ran in rivulets down her back. But, no amount of effort kept the small boat from heading out to sea. She eyed the twenty-five horsepower motor, wishing she could fix the ornery thing, but, with little boating experience, she had no idea what to do with it. It could be out of gas for all she knew. The Sunnyside Marina was going to hear about this when she returned. If she returned.

“I never should’ve let that man talk me into this little boat.” She spoke into the balmy breeze as she paused to adjust her new wide-brimmed hat. The marina’s overly friendly owner had thrown in the touristy-looking accessory as an added bonus, claiming that without proper protection someone with such a fair complexion would turn to toast under the Caribbean’s summer rays. At the time, Savannah had guessed the short, rounded man was being thoughtful, now she was convinced he’d offered the hat out of guilt for sending her off in this clunker of a boat.

Savannah laid the oar across her lap and checked her cell phone’s signal for the third time since the motor sputtered and died. Nothing. No signs of a connection to civilization. So much for her investment in the newest of technology. She sighed. She should’ve saved the money and used it on a larger boat.

After depositing the phone into her bright pink beach bag, she thumbed through the tote’s contents. She withdrew a bottle and took a few gulps of tepid water, secured the cap and returned the bottle to her bag, pausing long enough to ensure her digital camera remained safe and sound inside. Nothing could happen to her camera—not if she wanted the paycheck to go along with this little adventure. She set aside the tote and it brushed over her feet. Pain radiated across her toes; they’d baked in the sun and turned into crisp little French fries. She wiggled them inside her flip-flops before slathering gobs of waterproof sun block on them. Finished, Savannah had nothing left to use as a distraction.

She took in her surroundings. Belize appeared smaller; the sea wider. No other boats cruised nearby, and she struggled to maintain calm while fear as swift as the waves rocked her. Anxiety squeezed her heart. Images of a terrifying death by dehydration or man-eating sharks spurred her to pick up the oar and continue her vain attempts. She slashed the oar deep, stroke after stroke, but the boat drifted where it wanted to go, as if it had a mind of its own.

Lord, I don’t want to die out here. Help?

God had never left her before. Surely, he wouldn’t abandon her now. Savannah waited, holding her breath, looking, listening for a sign the Almighty had some kind of plan to get her out of this mess she’d gotten herself into. But, the sea didn’t part. No clap of thunder came from above. The gentle breeze continued to whisper across the open water as the current sucked her boat toward oblivion.

Helpless, she set down the oar and raised her hands. “OK, Lord. I don’t know what Your plans are for me, but I trust You.”

The breeze suddenly shifted, turning into a stronger wind, and the boat changed direction. Savannah’s hopes rose. After all, who else but God can command the weather into obedience? She looked around, anxious to see what He had in mind. Before long, a small island appeared in the distance. It wasn’t her original destination, but she didn’t care. She wanted her feet on solid ground again.

“Thank you, Father.”

The boat approached the island, and Savannah made out more details. The rolling landscape and thick, lush greenery appeared untouched by mankind, making the place look frozen in time. Waves lapped the creamy white shoreline, stretching high up the sand as if reaching for a safe harbor, only to recede again.

The boat glided over coral limestone and abundant tropical fish, and Savannah took a moment to appreciate nature’s splendor. Maybe, she decided, it wasn’t so bad to get lost in paradise after all. As she neared the shore, Savannah hopped into the shallow water and the aqua-marine waves washed over her legs, cooling her overheated body. She dragged the craft onto the beach as the sounds of various creatures surrounded her. Although the island seemed friendly enough, she couldn’t help but feel as if she were about to encounter something wild and dangerous—something from a long ago, forgotten past.

“You’re on my island.”

Savannah’s heart slammed against her ribcage and she whirled around, looking for the owner of the gruff, deep voice. A tall man with too-long dark hair, a whiskered jaw, and imposing gait emerged from thick foliage. His bare, bronzed chest and arms contained thick muscles, honed with what could only be hours of hard physical labor. He held a long spear topped with an arrowhead in one large hand as he stalked straight toward her. He came within inches, piercing her with narrowed, sapphire eyes. “This is private property.”

Although his sheer size intimidated her, she held her ground. “My motor died. I had no choice but to pull ashore.”

“So, you’re telling me,”—he leaned closer, until his warm breath touched her skin—“you didn’t come to get a glimpse of the beast?”

Read the reviews!

"This is definitely a MUST READ...rnrnThis is a classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast - and very well done! What a powerful little story with the wonderful message of God's grace!"

--Donna Basinow


Wendy Davy is an award winning, inspirational romance author with several titles available. She uses her active imagination and love of adventure to create faith based stories of the heart. When not writing or chasing around her young children, she spends time reading, enjoying her real-life hero and watching movies.

She loves hearing from readers and can be contacted at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Women's Fiction Month: The Best Bad Date by Addison James

When is a bad date good? Susan Wells finds out when a bachelor auction leads to a date with handsome Doctor Roger Lane, and a night to remember. What could go wrong? Everything. Will love find a way through this comedy of errors? Absolutely.

Read an excerpt!

“It’s for a good cause.”

Dr. Roger Lane repeated this mantra over and over again as he was dragged onstage in front of several hundred screaming women.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Roger knew today was the day of the bachelor auction fundraiser for Saint Albans Hospital. Marge, the head of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, even sought him out specifically to participate--“Our own Doctor McDreamy” she was quoted saying).

Roger purposely arranged to be out of the hospital today, but there was an emergency surgery that required his attention. After the surgery Nurse Williams decided to show him a super secret shortcut back to the physician’s parking lot, which somehow managed to reroute him so that he ended up in the auditorium on the stage where hundreds of women were yelling, “Take it off! Take it off!”


Addison James spent her childhood with her nose in a book, ignoring the natural beauty of her native Vermont. She went to the right schools, got the right jobs, and spent her early adult years being responsible and stable. Then, her long repressed urge to write emerged and she has been feeding it ever since.

Visit Addison online at

Twitter: @addisonj_writer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Spotlight: Fundamentally Different by David Friedman

Is organizational culture just a New Age obsession that distracts us from the real work of business? What role do values play in organizational success? How can we create greater consistency between the values we say are important and the ones that actually show up in the routine behavior of our people? What’s the most important common denominator found in all dysfunctional organizations, and how can we avoid it?

In his new book, Fundamentally Different, David Friedman provides the answers to these questions and more. You’ll learn:

■The 8 keys steps the most successful companies use to institutionalize their values

■Why listening can actually have more impact than speaking

■What a “filter” is and how it affects everything we believe to be true

■The 5 components of good decisions

■The role of curiosity in increasing effectiveness

■Why “rebar” is the key to creating lasting change

With his compelling logic and easy-to-understand style, David shares the most important insights he learned during a 27-year business career in which he led one of the most unique and successful companies in his industry. Captured in his self-styled Fundamentals, this collection of wisdom is so simple, yet powerful, that you’ll wonder why the principles he describes aren’t more commonplace in every organization across America.

But David’s Fundamentals aren’t just about business. They’re a guidebook for life. And like so many other people who’ve already embraced them, you’ll no doubt find your life enriched by their practice.

Read an excerpt!


Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest.

Kindness begets more kindness. Trust begets more trust. We believe that most people genuinely want to do the right thing. Act out of this belief.

If I have a favorite Fundamental, this might just be it. I think it’s because this Fundamental always reminds me of the tremendous impact that our point of view has on how we treat other people and, in turn, how they react to us. A simple shift in our point of view has enormous potential to alter the outcome of events; and yet, so few people recognize this influence and, as a result, so many fail to seize the opportunity it presents to create success.
The Role of Filters

To fully appreciate the power of this Fundamental, we need to first take a closer look at the way in which “filters” influence our perceptions. When I use the word “filter,” I’m referring to a conceptual device that alters the way in which we receive sensory data. For example, when we put on a pair of eyeglasses, the lenses alter the way in which our eyes see objects, which then alters the way our brain processes the images and how we perceive the world around us. But this notion is not limited to just our vision.

We also have filters in how we listen. While our listening filters are created in our minds and may not be physical, they have the very same role in influencing our perceptions as does a pair of eyeglasses. Let me show you a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean.

Imagine that you attend a lecture on economics presented by the head of the Economics Department at Princeton University. In the introduction, you learn that he has a PhD from Harvard, has published nine books, has been an advisor to two Presidents, and has won a Nobel Prize for his work. What influence do you think the knowledge of his credentials has on how you hear his message? Undoubtedly, your perception of his credibility is likely to cause you to believe much of what he says.

But now let’s change the scenario just a bit. Suppose you see this very same man, shabbily dressed, standing on a milk crate in New York City’s Central Park with a megaphone in his hand, proclaiming his theories about what’s happening to our economy. The words that come from his mouth may be identical, but the way you process them and the validity you assign to them would be entirely different!

How about this one? Let’s suppose that your son is a good high school baseball player, wanting to improve. Your neighbor, who’s been coaching Little League for years, offers to give him some pointers about batting. How might your perception of his advice be different if you learned that he was a former major league ballplayer? Can you see the role that your filter plays in influencing how you perceive the very same information?

Here’s the key point I want you to see. Once we recognize that we all have filters and acknowledge the role these filters play, we can begin to see how what we believe to be true in a situation may not be the only way of seeing it. In fact, if we choose to use a different filter, we might actually see the entire situation in a different light.

Read the reviews!

“30 years of helping hundreds of entrepreneurs build successful companies has taught me that great cultures don’t just happen. They’re built, like cathedrals, block by block. This book is as good a blueprint as you’ll find anywhere. David Friedman has not only done it, but he has a unique gift for explaining just how you can do it as well.”
– Carter Schelling, Creator of “The Market Leader Strategy” seminar on DVD

“Fundamentally Different gives us the straightforward rules that guided Friedman’s company to extraordinary excellence and results. I am inspired by his ideas and methods and plan to adopt them at my company. Friedman belongs with Tom Peters and Stephen Covey as “must read” business authors.”

– J. Mark Baiada, Founder/President, Bayada Nurses

“Fundamentally Different is just that—different from the countless books I’ve read over a career in leadership spanning four decades. David Friedman manages to cut through the theoretical and deliver practical, easy to understand principles for building a winning team. Fundamentally Different should be required reading for all leaders.”

– Edward J. Damm, Chairman of the Board, ACCU Staffing Services

David Friedman, author of Fundamentally Different, is the former President of RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm in the Philadelphia area. He is a frequent guest speaker and seminar leader on organizational culture, leadership and values. A graduate of the College of William & Mary with a degree in Philosophy, Friedman currently lives in Moorestown, NJ with his wife and 2 college-age children.

Visit David online at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Women's Fiction Month: Daffodils by Donna Snow

Margaret Ellington and Lukas North have a history to resolve. He's determined to reclaim the love he threw away ten years earlier. She’s afraid to let her heart be broken again.

When the past repeats itself, can there be a different outcome?

Read an excerpt!

At the pizza shop, Margaret found herself seated in a booth next to Lukas. Throughout the unloading, she managed to keep her distance, but her luck had run out.

The years dropped away as she watched him lick sauce from his lips and wash down his pizza with a swig of soda. The past ten years might never have been.

He grinned and nodded at her plate. “You gonna eat that one?”

She pushed it toward him and he lifted the piece of pizza from her plate.

He raised his eyebrows, grinned, and waved it toward her. “You sure?”

Margaret nodded and chuckled. “Some things never change.” Their eyes met and she went back in time. Her heartbeat picked up and she could feel the warmth in her cheeks. Light touches and soft kisses flooded her memory. It was a few moments before she could breathe again and turn away.

“Some things aren’t meant to,” he said softly before taking a large bite of the pizza, his gaze never leaving hers.

Margaret pretended not to hear him. Hands clutched in her lap, she smiled at the jokes swirling around her. Her cheeks felt frozen in a perpetual smile that would crack at any moment.

As they left the restaurant, everyone headed for their vehicles while Margaret smiled and waved her thanks.

Once again, Lukas stood at her side, his shoulder brushing against hers as he smiled and waved alongside her as if they had both moved.

She took a deep breath and turned to him, studying his face as the last of the vehicles pulled out onto the street. Soft brown hair fell into his eyes, reminding her of the boy she once loved.

Returning her look, Lukas took both her hands in his strong ones and lifted a knuckle to her cheekbone.

The gesture made her want to cry. His sympathy was ten years too late.

“I wish things could be different, could have been different a long time ago.”

Margaret shook her head, rushing in, their gazes colliding. “That’s ancient history…ten years under the bridge. Let’s not dredge it up now. We were just kids.” She couldn’t relive that pain, not now. She already felt as if she was ready to splinter into a million pieces. She turned away, blinking back tears. As much as she would like to know why he walked out of her life, she knew now was not the time to find out. Maybe it never would be. Better to just let go, not that she’d had much luck with that in the past ten years.

Read the reviews!

"I truly enjoyed this sweet short story. It moves quickly and I really enjoy second chance stories. Everyone deserves a second chance and since the main characters in this story are teachers, they need it even more so in my eyes. Can you tell I have a soft spot for them? Margaret's interaction with her students was very well written by the author and it added just another bit of sweetness to the story. I would highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a quick and very sweet story with a nice happy ending."

Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Periwinkle

"Ms. Snow wrote a beautiful book concerning second chances. This inspirational book is a realistic look at the emotional lives of two former friends. Snow's characters are expressive and they grab readers' attention and, in my case, leave a vivid impression. The willingness of Snow to show her spiritual side is another of her endearing qualities. She addresses the poignant relationship between her characters and God and makes a great impact. However, she doesn't do it in an offending way.

The ending of this book was exciting. It was, however, totally unexpected. The book has a certain pull others will be drawn to. I am proud to recommend this book to every age. It has a touching storyline which will remain with me after the last page is read."

Reviewer: Brenda Talley
4.5 Hearts
The Romance Studio

"This debut novel is an excellent showcase for the author’s talent. Daffodils is a sweet, touching story that makes the reader believe in love. Margaret’s heartbreak, sorrow, guilt—and cautiously re-emerging love—are expertly portrayed, tugging at the heart strings and tweaking the emotions. The pieces of the storyline come together, amidst a charming display of buds and blossoms, into a beautifully woven romance that won’t be easily forgotten."

Reviewed by Delia Latham
Author of The Solomon's Gate Series
Heaven's Touch in Earthly Tales...


Born and raised in New Hampshire, Donna Snow spent a year in California at and has seen a lot of the country, but wants to see more. "This world is really just a tiny place, but we're all so different. It's those differences that make life interesting."
Visit her online at .

Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet Giveaway at Hollywood Daze

Becky over at Hollywood Daze is running a giveaway for a FREE copy of Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet.

At high noon on a cold November day in 1974, sixty-seven-year-old John Wayne faced off with the staff of the Harvard Lampoon on the famous campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The students had issued their challenge by calling the beloved American icon a fraud. Wayne, who had his new movie McQ to promote, responded by saying he would be happy to show his film in the pseudo-intellectual swamps of Harvard Square. After the screening, without writers, the former USC footballer delivered a classic performance. When one smart young man asked where he got his phony toupee, Wayne insisted the hair was real. It wasn't his, but it was real. The appreciative underclassmen loved him and after the Q and A session, they all sat down to dinner. Later Wayne, who was suffering greatly from both gout and the after effects of lung cancer (sadly the Duke only had five years to live), said that day at Harvard was the best time he ever had.Just when you thought you've heard everything about Hollywood comes a totally original new book -- a special blend of biography, history and lore.

HollywoodStories is packed with wild, wonderful short tales about famous stars, movies, directors and many others who have been a part of the world's most fascinating, unpredictable industry!

What makes the book unique is that the reader can go to any page and find a completely engaging and illuminating yarn. Sometimes people won't realize that they are reading about The Three Stooges or Popeye the Sailor until they come to the end of the story. The Midwest Book Review says Hollywood Stories is, "packed from cover to cover with fascinating tales." A professional tour guide in Hollywood, Stephen Schochet has researched and told thousands of entertaining anecdotes for over twenty years. He is also the author and narrator of two audiobooks Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney. Tim Sika, host of the radio show Celluloid Dreams on KSJS in San Jose has called Stephen," The best storyteller about Hollywood we have ever heard."Full of funny moments and twist endings, Hollywood Stories features an amazing, all-star cast of legendary characters and icons and will keep you totally entertained!
Doesn't this sound like a must have book?
Visit Hollywood Daze at to find out how you can enter for your chance to win!

Women's Fiction Month: The Visionary by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

A visionary is someone who sees into the future Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society.  Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?  Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the power of God's love heals the most wounded of souls.

Read an excerpt!

Pam took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. “I love you, Trevor. Why won’t you talk to me? Tell me what’s wrong.”

“You have no idea what love is.” He hissed through teeth clenched as tightly as the fists by his side. “Most people have no inkling as to what true love is. True love is sticking together when your whole world is falling apart, trusting each other when you can’t depend on another living soul, and being willing to die or kill for each other.”

Read the reviews!

"Absolutely amazing writing! I can promise you this: The Visionary is not a book you’ll finish and forget. It will hold your attention while you hold it in your hands, and then haunt your mind long after you reach 'the end.' My hat’s off to Pamela S. Thibodeaux… way to write a book!"

~ Reviewed by Delia Latham – Award Winning Author of the Solomon’s Gate Series

"Seldom have I read such a gut-wrenching, yet completely faith-affirming and hopeful novel.
With a deft hand, Ms. Thibodeaux mixes angst, faith, love and hope into a novel I'll not soon forget."

~ Reviewed by Award Winning Author, Marianne Evans

"As a Reviewer for many of the major publishing Houses, and also for individual authors, I have come across many Inspirational novels that ---when they should have touched me ---only left me feeling a bit disappointed. I can honestly say that when I read a book by Pamela Thibodeaux I know that I will love it and then go on to highly recommend it to others. THE VISIONARY doesn't disappoint. Ms. Thibodeaux wrings every emotion possible out of the reader as you cheer Alex on, hope for peace and forgiveness for Taylor and Trevor, and speed towards a beautiful happy ending. Don't miss this one!"

~ Reviewed by Kari Thomas, Paranormal Romance Author, and Reviewer at: Kari's Korner Reviews


Barnes & Noble:  

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Website address:  


Bayou Writers Group:  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guest Blogger: Chandel L. White, Author of Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed

Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture Revealed is a ground-breaking Bible reading guide that teaches Christians how to delve far deeper into the King James Version of the New Testament, namely Romans to Jude, to gain an accurate, more complete and meaningful understanding of Biblical text.

Unlike anything ever presented in modern times, this book enlightens readers about Biblical allegory, symbols, terms and sentence structures that “unlock” the vernacular and foster a comprehensive and more vivid awareness of what the original gospel writers intended to share when they first inscribed the words millennia ago.

Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture Revealed challenges the entire Christian world to open their minds, lay aside doctrines and consider a fresh perspective on scripture’s intended messages. The book offers insightful, step-by-step “how to” strategies to help readers discern the text of the New Testament with greater accuracy for a more sound and sober application to their lives.

Understanding the Bible – Chandel L. White

Have you ever wanted to just one day sit down to read the Bible and actually “get” what it was saying? What if the most misunderstood book in the entire world unearthed its entire truth to you—how special would that be? Wouldn’t you want to share this fresh insight with the entire world?

Throughout history, primitive and modern cultures alike have all used levels of meaning to pass on knowledge. The Bible is one such body of knowledge that has been passed down to most of us on a literal level. However, in my quest for enlightenment, I realized that literal levels of meaning had far less to do with what the original gospel writers intended to share when they first inscribed the words millennia ago.

Myths, parables, and teaching stories were never meant to be taken literally nor were they supposed to hold any historical merit. Rather the literal levels were designed to hold a higher meaning, which could only be revealed to the initiated, or those who were able to think beyond the literal unto a higher psychological level.

Whether you’re a new seeker or a long-time reader of the Bible, my new book Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture will be the key to helping you finally graduate from the literal meaning of the New Testament unto a higher, esoteric knowledge of Biblical truth. The days of the Bible being the most understood book ever published have come to an end. Here is your chance to become a master of Christian literature and a bona fide steward of the mystery. The time has come for us all to finally see with clarity.

Chandel L. White, author of Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed, has been interested in humanity’s relationship with the universal and textual truth of God since early childhood. These curiosities have led him into 30 years of enlightened experiences with a variety of spiritual organizations, philosophies and teachings. With a holistic approach to religion, White has a passion for teaching fellow Christians how to delve deeper into the New Testament to discover the gospel truth just as the original writers intended. His book Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed is helping individuals world-wide accurately read, interpret and apply scripture to their lives on a more meaningful level on their path toward enlightenment. White holds an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Learn more about this title and the author online at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Women's Fiction Month: The Covering by Dana Pratola

What do a Christian woman and a heathen biker have in common? The devil, of course.

Tessa is called by God to stand in the gap for a man she's never met. When she does meet Gunnar, she learns he's arrogant, unsaved and hostile. But he's also HOT, lol. She can't understand why God would toss her together with a man like him, knowing she would be attracted, so she wonders if it's a trick of the enemy to make her stumble in her faith. Meanwhile, Gunnar is tormented by demonic visitations and looking for any way out. Killing himself might be the only way to end his miserable existence. But God has other plans.

Read an excerpt!

At the top of the stairs she heard a low groan and hurried to find Gunnar sitting up with her sheet pooled at his waist.

One large bicep flexed as he kneaded the back of his neck. He looked like a man stumbling out of a dream, and she watched his expressions change, knowing he was trying to piece together the past day’s events. After a few seconds, he glanced down, peeked under the sheet.

“Where are my clothes?”

“My aunt has them,” Tessa said, stopping inside the door.


“You were sweating. She wanted to keep you—oh.” Tessa quickly covered her eyes when Gunnar started to throw back the sheet.

He stopped. “Give me a break. I don’t have anything you haven’t seen before.”

Tessa let her hands fall to her sides, but her cheeks warmed.

Gunnar cocked a brow. “You’re kidding. You’ve never seen a naked man?”

Tessa tipped her chin. “Of course I have.” On TV.

He snickered. “When?”

When she didn’t answer right away she watched that magnificent face go through several more transformations before coming to the logical conclusion.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never—”

“I don’t sleep around.” Intellectually she comprehended there was no reason to be embarrassed.

Quite the opposite. Yet…

“Never?” He pulled the sheet tighter around him. “Ever?”

Tessa exhaled sharply. “Why does it matter?”

“Our patient is up?” Elaine asked, pushing past a grateful Tessa.

“Where are my clothes?” Gunnar asked her.

“In the wash. You’ll have them back soon enough.”

“I have other clothes in my room.”

Ignoring him, Elaine sat on the edge of the bed and gave him a pat on the cheek. “You had some nap. Do you feel any better?”

Gunnar moved his face away. “I don’t nap.”

“I suppose not. I’d say it was closer to a coma, since it’s Saturday,” she countered.

“Saturday?” Gunnar watched Tessa move to the window. “Saturday,” he repeated.

Elaine regarded him with cool eyes. “Tessa is convinced you have the flu, but I’m not. Are you into anything you shouldn’t be?”

“What are you asking me?” he demanded.

Unruffled, Elaine smoothed the sheets under her hand. “You’ve been basically unconscious for almost a full day. Don’t you find that odd?”

“It’s exhaustion,” he said.

“Tessa’s very worried. She watched over you all night.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” he told Tessa.

Elaine cocked a half smile at him. “Do you need anything?”

“Yeah, my clothes. I want to get up.”

She nodded and pursed her lips. “Well it’s a shame to hide all that, but suit yourself.” With an appreciative lift of brows she walked out, with Tessa following close behind.

Read the reviews!

"Ms. Dana Pratola has presented us with a book dissimilar to any other I've read. Her plot was solid. Her descriptions were graphically expressed and emotionally expressed. The powerful intensity of this book was almost unprecedented. The storyline was gripping. The in-depth look at someone facing life and death was fascinating to read. I haven't read anything to date that explored the act of praying God's care around another in quite this way.

Pratola's complimentary characters were well discussed. They made the storyline even more special. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has either a strong relationship with God or who wants one. Anyone curious about the Plan of Salvation would be especially blessed, in my opinion, by reading this outstanding book. Kudos, Ms. Pratola!

I recommend this book for everyone."

-- Reviewer: Brenda Talley, September 11, 2011

"I've read this book friends and let me tell you, as a reader I was just plain blown away. As an author, I'm impressed - very impressed - with this author's work."

-- Pamela S Thibodeaux, "Inspirational with an Edge!" (tm)

"Just finished The Covering and was blown away. Couldn't put it down. This story has some of the most well-handled sexual tension I've ever read in a Christian novel. The characters are realistic and you feel their emotions as they struggle through their journey. I can't wait to read Dana's next book."

-- WRP Author, Robin Bayne


Dana Pratola is a 47 yr. old mother of 3, married 25 yrs. The Lord is her Savior, writing is her passion and publishing inspirational books that show the grace of God is her ministry.

Visit Dana online at

Gift Basket Giveaway at 4 the Love of Books!

My friend Abi over at 4 the Love of Books is running a wonderful giveaway right now from Elaine Marie Cooper, author of The Promise of Deer Run.

America’s war for freedom from England has been over for seven years, but the wounds of that conflict still haunt the minds and hearts of the residents of Deer Run. Young American veteran Nathaniel Stearns has withdrawn to a life of isolation as he awaits his father who never returned from the war.
A near-tragedy in the woods brings Nathaniel face-to-face with nineteen-year-old Sarah Thomsen, someone he had long admired but he assumed had eyes for another. This chance encounter opens a crack into the door of his heart as mutual affection quickly blooms.

But slander and lies soon mar the budding romance, rendering both Sarah and Nathaniel wounded and untrusting as their faith in both their God and each other is shattered. Set in 1790, this book continues the story of the Thomsen and Lowe families as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the war that birthed the United States.

 The value of this gift basket is $297.38. This Grand Prize contains:


•$25 Starbucks gift card

•Spode Christmas teapot

•Spode Christmas mugs

•Yankee candle

•Hardbound copy The Road to Deer Run

•Hardbound copy The Promise of Deer Run

•Bath and Body Paris Amour scent

Visit 4 the Love of Books at for details.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chronicle Books 2nd Annual Happy Haul-idays Giveaway at TC&TBC

Visit my children's and teens' book blog, The Children's and Teens' Book Connection for details on how you, a lucky commenter, and your favorite charity can win up to $500 worth of FREE books from Chronicle Books in their 2nd Annual Happy Haul-idays event.

You can find my post at

Good luck to all who enter!

Women's Fiction Month: Feisty Family Values by B.D. Tharp

When Annabelle Hubbard appears on her cousin Regina’s doorstep covered in bruises, the chaos begins. Within an idyllic neighborhood of stolid, family values and century-old houses, the cousins come to grips with family secrets, the ghosts of painful memories, unruly grandchildren, a life-threatening illness, and sexual temptation. Riding through the storm in their lives, the two cousins find that faith, family, and friends are really all that matters.

Read an excerpt!

The grinding of the brakes jolted her back to the present and the smell of dirty socks and stale cigarette smoke.

“Is this the place, ma’am?” the driver asked.

She looked at the three-story house; pristine white paint glowed in the sun. “Yes,” she said.

“That’ll be five seventy-five,” he said and hung his open palm over his shoulder into the back seat. His knuckles bulged, and his fingers were crooked, and the skin cracked.

“I’m sorry, how much?” She held her breath for a moment, hoping she had enough for the fare.

“Five seventy-five,” he flipped the meter handle down and put the car in park. Turning, he looked over the seat with his grizzled chin and rheumy eyes. “You okay?”

“Yes, fine . . . sorry . . .” Annabelle stuffed her handkerchief back up the sleeve of her cardigan and opened her cracked vinyl pocketbook. She pulled out four crumpled ones, two quarters, and an assortment of dimes and pennies from her coin purse. She dropped the wadded bills in his palm and proceeded to count the coins. “Ninety, ninety-one, ninety-two . . .”

“It’s five seventy-five, lady,” he said. The radio squawked, but he didn’t answer.

“That makes five, forty-two,” she said. “Just a minute, I always have coins in the bottom of my bag. They fall out sometimes . . .” She found another thirty cents in change and dropped it in his palm. The money she’d placed there had already disappeared into his pocket.

“You’re three cents short,” he said, and she jumped at the growl in his voice. “Why’d you call a cab if you didn’t have the money? Geez, short and no tip besides . . .”

“I’m sorry, I’ll go up to the house and see if my cousin has some change.” Her eyes filled with tears and her throat constricted.

He snorted, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. The microphone squawked, so he picked it up and spoke. “I got that one. I’m in Riverside now.”

He had no idea how hard it had been to come here. She didn’t mean to cheat him, but it was all she had. A lone tear escaped down her wrinkled cheek. Annabelle lowered her head and pulled the threadbare hankie from her sleeve.

As she dabbed her eye she noticed two pennies on the floorboard. Reaching down she picked up the coins. “Here you go,” she said, a stiff smile on her face. “I found two more.”

“Good enough, I got to go, lady,” he said. “Got another fare a couple blocks from here.”

“Oh, okay. Well, thank you. If you’ll give me your name, I’ll send you the tip and the penny.” She opened the door. The sidewalk appeared a mile long to the porch.

“Forget it,” he said and revved the engine. “I suppose you want help with your bag now, too,” he spoke to the rear view mirror.

“No, I can . . . manage,” she said. She scooted the battered Pullman across the seat and stepped onto the walk. Bracing her hand on the rim of the door she pulled it onto the curb with a thud, then dragged it upright.

He leaned over the back of the seat, eager to close the door, but she beat him to it.

“Thanks,” she said, coughing from the exhaust fumes. She watched him zip around the corner, feeling her courage go with him.

Straightening her shoulders she faced the house and an uncertain welcome. It didn’t appear to have changed a bit since she’d last seen it. But she had. Oh, how Annabelle Hubbard had changed.

Read the reviews!

"Thank you for the autographed copy of your book [Feisty Family Values]! I started reading it last night and am HOOKED! I can’t wait to pick it up again tonight!"

– Sierra P. Scott, TV Host, “It’s ALL Good!”, KSCW Ch. 5 Sun. Nights at 7:30pm

“I just finished your book (Feisty Family Values) about a month ago. I loved it so much I’m getting ready to read it again. I also have that little “Feisty” button you gave me, clipped to the inside of my makeup case. Thanks so much!”

-Felicia, Wichita, KS

“Feisty Family Values” is quite a gripping story. Not too long to read in a weekend, and captivating enough you don’t want to put it down. Realistic people in realistic situations.”

-Kathy P., Pratt, KS


A lifetime resident of the Midwest, B.D. Tharp graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, Women/Minority Studies and Fine Arts.  Her award winning women’s fiction novel, Feisty Family Values, is available in bookstores, and Feisty Family Values was chosen one of the 150 Kansas Best Books, a finalist for the USA News Best Books of 2010, and winner of the J. Coffin Memorial Book Award for 2011. Additional publishing credits include magazine articles, essays, and short stories for the following publications: Women’s Focus Magazine, Active Aging, the Wichita Register Magazine, East Wichita News, Sheridan Edwards Review, A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind Anthology, National Association of Women Writers Weekly and the Kansas Writers Association Newsletter. Accomplishments include: local, state, and national award winner for short stories, children’s stories, articles, playwriting, novels and prose. 

Visit B.D. Tharp online at