Friday, February 28, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 167

Welcome to Week 167!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

Eighteen years after the infants Kai and Mahri DuBois were separated and taken from La ForĂȘt de ChĂȘnes for their own protection, they are called to return. Appointed as Paladins, they receive their first charges from the Elders. The twins must overcome the devastating act of treachery that tore their family apart, restore the integrity of the treasure they guard, and beat back the encroaching evil of La Famille DeMauvaise.

"I should have known what ye were up to when ye suggested the picnics." Shaun spat his antipathy for his sister-in-law, "'Twasn't like yer selfish self to think of anyone else."

You can find my review of the first chapter of this book at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Diary of a Busy Mom: The Accidental Survivalist

Is there such a thing as an “accidental survivalist?” If yes, I think I am one. Maybe it’s just the harsh winter, but it seems I’ve been stockpiling nonperishable foods for weeks now. My pantry and cabinets are so full I doubt I could slid a package of flour tortillas in there.

And don’t even get me started on what is in my freezer. Since installing the generator last year, I don’t worry about buying a few extras to have on hand. And I already have plans to expand our vegetable garden this year.

Perhaps I’ve been listening to Glenn Becktoo much. He’s often talking about being prepared for the collapse: buying gold and freeze-dried food.  We need to stockpile medicines, clothes, and seeds, then fence in the yard and protect what’s ours with guns and ammo.

Now, I can’t say this will never happen, but I sure hope I’m not alive to see it. 

This Day in History - Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" Wins First--and Last--Grammy Awarded for Best Disco Recording

It must be true--Disco will never die. Even now, some stations play Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." On February 27, 1980, this recording was awarded the first--and last--Grammy for Best Disco Recording.   Others nominated in this category were: Earth, Wind & Fire for "Boogie Wonderland;" Michael Jackson for "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough;" Rod Stewart for "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"; and Donna Summer for "Bad Girls." This category was eliminated from the awards the following year.

For more about this moment in history, visit

What was your favorite disco song?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CFBA: Dating, Dining, and Desperation by Melody Carlson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dating, Dining, and Desperation
B&H Books (March 1, 2014)
Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child -- whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dating, Dining, and Desperation, go HERE.

COVER: Love it. Not sure yet what the store front has to do with the story, but I'm sure I'll learn as I go along. The postage stamp icon on the front cover is also used to lead off each chapter.

FIRST CHAPTER: After her aunt's death, Daphne Ballinger moved into her Victorian house in Appleton and took over her aunt's advice column. Her dilemma: she can only inherit the home if she gets married within a certain time frame. She thought her relationship with Jake was advancing passed friendship, but when she receives some news, she's no longer sure.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Carlson has created an opening chapter that wraps humor around the protagonist's conflict. A young woman's future hinges on finding Mr. Right in the next ten months. Daphne is a likable character caught in a tough situation, but Carlson's light style keeps it from being a downer. Instead, the reader is encouraged to continue reading to see if Daphne can pull it off. I feel this is crucial based upon the serious issue of temporary childcare facing Daphne later on in the book. I look forward to reading more.

Series: A Dear Daphne Novel

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433679310
ISBN-13: 978-1433679315

I downloaded a sample of this book to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In the News: Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage battle brews again. Earlier this month, President Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour starting next year. The Congressional Budget Office released a report stating that this would result in the loss of 500,00 jobs by 2016. This after the CBO announced that Obamacare will shrink the economy by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers. Oh joy, just what the country needs--more people out of work. On the potential up side, the CBO also reported that a gradual increase to $10.10 an hour by July 2016 would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty.

Raising the minimum wage comes with mixed feelings from business owners. According to this Wall Street Journal article, David Bolotsky, chief executive at Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn online retailer, believes this will give consumers more money to spend. Erin Calvo-Bacci, owner of Bacci Chocolate Design, a small candy maker in Swampscott, Massachusetts, however, isn't looking to hire people with no experience at such a high cost.

The CBO report says the increased cost of labor would encourage employers to upgrade technology or hire, fewer, higher skilled workers; though that effect would partially be set off by higher earnings among low-wage workers who retained their jobs. Though the report predicts other positive effects for the economy, it also says the increase in the minimum wage could result in price increases and smaller profits, which would diminish some of the effect of increased spending.

The main problem, in my mind, is that politicians are so far removed from struggling to put food on the table that they have no idea what will help the average American or anyone living in poverty. A small town election cost me thousands of dollars during election season to run for a volunteer position. As long as politics remains a rich man's game, no real  change will happen in America.

Monday, February 24, 2014

PBS KIDS Celebrates Dr.Seuss' Birthday with "Dr. Seuss' Cat-ebration!"

PBS Kids is celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss with a special one-hour "Dr. Seuss' Cat-ebration!"  The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! special premiers on  Monday, March 3, 2014.

“Step This Way”: The kids are playing dress-up, with Sally wearing her mom’s shoes and Nick wearing his dad’s shoes. They're having trouble walking, and the Cat thinks it’s because their feet are the wrong shape. But doesn’t everyone have the same shaped feet? Not at all! The Cat takes them to the Jungle of Bingle-Bungle Boo to meet his friends Emily the Teal, Mikey the Lemur and Greg the Gecko. They see that animals have differently shaped feet to help them do different things! You need the right feet for the right job!
Educational Objective: Creatures have different feet for different uses.

“Anything You Can Do”: Nick and Sally are pretending to be the Cat in the Hat. But there’s only one Cat, no doubt about that! Pretending to be other people is hard. The Cat takes Nick and Sally to meet his good friend Mimi the Mimic Octopus to learn some tips on how to pretend to be someone else. They learn how to observe, pick out something special about the person and then copy it. Mimi does it to protect herself, but now Nick and Sally can pretend to be the one and only Cat!
Educational Objective: The mimic octopus has a remarkable ability to imitate other sea creatures.

“Name That Sound”: Sally and Nick are trying to stump each other by guessing the animal sounds they’re making. The Cat stumps them both when he tries to make the sound of a cricket! But that didn't sound like a cricket. They all try but just can’t figure out how a cricket makes its noise. Well, Cat's friend Clarence the Cricket can surely show them! Off to the Grassy-Grove-Dell to meet him! He shows him his wings, one that is comb-like, the other a scraper; when he rubs them together, he makes his wonderful cricket noise. Back at home, Nick and Sally find things around the house they can use to mimic Clarence — a deck of cards and a comb!
Educational Objective: Male crickets make a chirping sound by scraping one pegged wing against the other wing, which is ridged. This is done so fast one doesn’t hear the individual clicks, rather a trilling chirp, which is why it is hard for us to copy. The sound is used to get the attention of other crickets, either as a warning or for mating.

“Fabulous Feathers”: Sally is playing dress-up, but her favorite hat no longer has any feathers on it. Where can they find more? The Cat’s good friend Puranjay might be able to help! He’s a peacock who lives in Feathery Flats; he has plenty of feathers! Sally collects the feathers that have fallen out of Puranjay and discovers that each one has its own distinct job. But it’s his tail feathers that are just jazzy and snazzy enough for her hat! They are the most fabulous feathers!
Educational Objective: Feathers serve a variety of functions, including flight, heat conservation, waterproofing, camouflage and display.

New Episode: “Balancing Act/Marvelous Marbles” – Premieres Tuesday, March 4, 2014
“Balancing Act”: Sally and Nick are trying to walk across a beam in their backyard, but are having trouble staying on it! Can the Cat help? Why of course! His friend Zappa the Snow Leopard is an amazing balancer! He uses his big wide feet and his long tail to help him keep his balance. Nick and Sally don't have tails, but they see how Zappa moves carefully to keep his weight balanced. Now they know what to do at home. Using broomsticks to help them stay balanced, Nick and Sally are able to cross the balance beam. And just in time to have some yummy bran berry muffins!
Educational Objective: Sally and Nick learn how a snow leopard balances.

“Marvelous Marbles”: The kids are playing with glass marbles, until one of them rolls away! It was Nick’s “extra luck never miss marble.” Now what is he going to do? Cat will take the kids to a sandy beach that’s full of marbles! But when they get there, all they see is sand. Cat’s friend Sharky McGee explains that sand makes glass. He shows them how sand is turned into glass and all the wonderful things you can make with it — including marbles!
Educational Objective: Glass is made from tiny particles of sand, then formed into all sorts of useful items.

New Episode: “Take a Walk/Cotton Patch” – Premieres Wednesday, March 5, 2014
“Take a Walk”: Sally and Nick are practicing to be in a three-legged race, but walking on three legs is hard! Well, if anyone knows about walking, its Cat’s friends Sid the Centipede, Spinny the Spider and Bugsy the Beetle! They all teach the kids how they walk on many legs by keeping a steady pace and walking in a rhythm and a beat. Back at home, Nick and Sally practice what they learned by using their own special rhythm!
Educational Objective: Nick and Sally discover how creatures with more than two legs (centipedes, spiders and beetles) walk.

“Cotton Patch”: Oh no! Nick has torn his favorite shirt! He needs a perfect patch of cotton to fix it. Good thing Cat’s friend Dr. Twiggles knows all about cotton! Off to Fluff’n Stuff Fields to see him! Once there, the kids are astonished to learn that you can make clothes from plants! Dr. Twiggles shows them how to pick the cotton, clean and dry it, comb it and spin it into thread. Finally, he demonstrates how the thread comes together to make a patch by using his loom. They even learn how to dye the cotton by using berry juice. Nick’s favorite shirt is as good as new!
Educational Objective: Nick and Sally discover how the cotton fibers of the cotton plant can be cleaned, carded, spun and woven to make clothes.

“Name That Sound/Fabulous Feathers” – Repeats as a half-hour episode, Thursday, March 6, 2014
“Step This Way/Anything You Can Do” – Repeats as a half-hour episode, Friday, March 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday - February 24

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

What a busy week it was. The kids were on vacation last week. Actually, thanks to a snowstorm on February 13 and 14, they had two extra days of vacation. I think all of us were ready to get back to our schedules today. I didn't get a lot of reading done, but I did get a few surprises in my mailbox. The following three books came unsolicited from Chronicle Books:

When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper—even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix their measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance at the Classic? A hilarious romp, filled with fun facts seamlessly integrated into the story, Fish Finelli informs as much as it entertains for perfect middle-grade reading.

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it’s been! During this period she’s Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder of Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year Maggie has to pull up her bootstraps (the family motto) and finally learn why her cool-dude dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern, herself the daughter of a dad with multiple sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and assured prose of a new literary star.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

I also added to my free books list because these seemed too good to pass up. My daughter will probably want to read the first one.

Millions have already died, and thousands more are perishing daily. As a last ditch effort to preserve the human race, the government implements Project ELE. With the earth heating at rapid speeds, all remaining survivors are forced to turn to F.E.M.A. shelters to wait out ELE's wrath.

Fifteen-year-old Willow Mosby's life, as she knows it, ends the moment she walks through the shelter's door. Willow has to quickly adapt to the new challenges that shelter life demands, the least of which includes making new friends and working a full time job.

Soon after making an interesting discovery, Willow and her friends start exhibiting strange abilities. Seeking answers, they embark on a mission to find out what these new abilities mean and whether they are a gift or a curse.

This new adventure can send her world crashing down around her. The question is: Can Willow survive the fall?

From the authors of Night Marchers comes a new apocalyptic series with a paranormal twist.

The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. From California, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton was winning Olympic gold, to Cape Cod, where explorer Barry Clifford was discovering pirate gold, the nation seemed obsessed with the precious metal. But for 15-year old Al, that obsession hits a little too close to home when he finds a code-filled notebook belonging to his missing father that may contain the ancient formula for turning lead to gold. Convinced that his father's sudden disappearance is connected to his secret experiments in alchemy, Al sets out to find the truth. He enlists the help of Cammie, a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist father tracks a wayward manatee, and together they begin unraveling the mystery. But the closer they get to an answer, the closer they grow to each other, and as the end of summer draws nearer, Al wonders if they can break the code without breaking his heart.

Mike Wood is from Massachusetts, which influenced my decision to download this one. It's important to support local authors.

The popularity of homeschooling combined with concerns over the development of curriculum in public schools has encouraged me to find out more.

This book aims to provide parents and teachers a good resource to start when considering homeschooling. It outlines the benefits and downsides of homeschooling and it can be helpful for anyone who wants to learn the whole process of homeschooling from early childhood years through tertiary level. In addition to sample homeschooling curriculum, this book laid out essential learning processes and teaching methods that parents and teachers need to practice and observe when homeschooling.

A murder mystery that happens in a library. Talk about blending two of my favorite things.

A man is found murdered in the locked library in his home. Surveillance cameras show that no one other than the deceased entered the library. The deceased left a clue for the police, only they cannot figure out what the clue means.

What did you receive in your mailbox?

CFBA: The Ether: Vero Rising by Laurice E. Molinari

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Ether: Vero Rising
Zonderkidz (February 4, 2014)
Laurice E. Molinari


Laurice Elehwany Molinari, a veteran film and TV writer in Hollywood for over two decades, has penned over thirty scripts for various studios and networks. Her very first feature script, written while a fellow at the American Film Institute, became Columbia Picture’s critically acclaimed children’s classic, My Girl. She went on to pen The Brady Bunch Movie and The Amazing Panda Adventure. Laurice lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where her lifelong love for our heavenly guardians inspired her to write a book about them in the ETHER series.


The Fiercest of Warriors? Vero Leland always suspected he was different from others his own age, ever since his childhood attempts to fly. But he never could have predicted the truth---or how much his life was about to change. Soon after his twelfth birthday, Vero learns he is a guardian angel and is abruptly transported to the Ether, the spiritual realm that surrounds the earth. Yet before he can be counted among these fierce warriors, Vero must learn to master his growing powers, competing with other angels-in- training and battling demonic creatures known as maltures as well as mythical creatures such as the leviathan. Until his instruction is complete, Vero needs to alternate between the Ether and his regular life. If he survives training and accepts his destiny---a destiny he did not choose---he must leave everything behind, including his family and the life he loves. Meanwhile, an evil is growing---the maltures are rising, and Vero appears to be their target.

Enjoy the book trailer:

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ether: Vero Rising, go HERE.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Guest Blogger: Tips for Stress Free Cleaning by Ken Myers

Sometimes the mess in my home can be a little overwhelming. Something happens, like an unexpected illness, and your cleaning schedule gets all thrown off. By the time things get back to normal your home is in disarray and everything needs to be cleaned. However, if you are anything like me you don’t have days on end to devote solely to cleaning. Instead of getting worried and stressed out, try these tips:

  1. Clean for Looks – The first thing I do when I start to get overwhelmed is to think practically. What rooms in my home are strangers going to see? The living room and kitchen are big points for me. I make sure I pick up those areas first. You don’t have to do a deep clean. Just think about what you would do if you knew company was coming in an hour. Pick up the clutter, wipe off the dust and fluff the pillows. Once you clear it up a little it makes you feel much better.
  2. Quick Clean – Another thing I try to do is quick clean. Instead of taking a night away from my life to scrub floors I take thirty minutes. I set a timer and do whatever project is on my mind for that long. When the timer goes off I am done, no questions asked. That way you can get on with the rest of your life but still accomplish something.
  3. Task Clean – Sometimes you are just in the mood to do one kind of work. Maybe it is dusting or sweeping or mopping. If that is the case, then don’t fight it. Do that one task all over your home. Mop the kitchen, vacuum the living room, and get all the junk off your bedroom floor. By focusing on just one task you can accomplish a lot.
  4. Location Clean – You can also focus on just one room or even a corner of the room. The kitchen is hard for me to do, so it is the first thing I tackle. I get it cleaned from floor to ceiling and then I see the results of my work. Wow, it feels good to have at least one perfect room! By focusing on one room or area you can see the results of your work and have a place to retreat to when you start to get stressed.
These are just a few ideas to help your stress levels when the junk starts to pile up. Do not get overwhelmed or give up. Instead, take it one day at a time and do what you can.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

The Friday 56 - Week 166

Welcome to Week 166!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

This is a book sent to me by a publisher. Christopher Hoare is one of my former virtual book tour clients. I've never read anything steampunk before, but I love Regency so I wanted to give it a try.

Welcome to the Steampunk World of Regency…

…where the power of steam has already passed from the age of unsatisfactory experiments to the first country-spanning railways and ships that no longer sail at the whims of weather. Roberta Stephenson is the daughter of the ‘Father of Railways’…a girl almost raised in the engine works and through her experience, and education in the most advanced halls of Miss Mather’s Academy for Girls, is fit to become manager and designer at her father’s steamship yard on the Clyde.

And Britain needs Roberta’s expertise, for fate in this world has dealt more kindly with Napoleon, allowing him to extricate most of his army from Moscow in 1812, and granting him at least a draw at Leipzig in 1813. With developments of the steamships begun in France in 1783 he is ready to take one more gamble to rid himself of the interference of Perfidious Albion, and the island’s safety may depend on the steam powered rams Roberta is offering to their lordships of the Admiralty.

Complicating Roberta’s professional life are her romantic suitors: Lord Julian Bond, man about town and Admiralty spy; the enigmatic Symington Holmes; and Engineer Lieutenant Alfred Worthington RN. It seems that Roberta is destined to choose one of these gentlemen, but will she choose wisely?

Location 250-258 on my Kindle: Bond glanced up at the ensign flying at the top of the mast to judge the wind. If he ordered a turn away they would be running closer to the wind and their fore-and-aft rig would lose some advantage and speed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kindle Freebie: HOMESCHOOLING - An Essential Guide for Parents and Teachers by Wells Emery

This book aims to provide parents and teachers a good resource to start when considering homeschooling. It outlines the benefits and downsides of homeschooling and it can be helpful for anyone who wants to learn the whole process of homeschooling from early childhood years through tertiary level. In addition to sample homeschooling curriculum, this book laid out essential learning processes and teaching methods that parents and teachers need to practice and observe when homeschooling.

Check out these Topics Discussed in the Book:

What is Homeschooling?
Why Homeschool?
How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?
Things to Consider before Homeschooling Your Child
How to Homeschool Your Child
The Learning Process in Homeschooling
Teaching Methods/Techniques in Homeschooling
Homeschooling Curriculum
Transitioning your Child from Homeschooling to Schools
How to make Homeschooling Fun
Tips for Homeschooling Parents
Experts' Opinion About Homeschooling
and MORE!

File Size: 268 KB
Print Length: 116 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

This Day in History - Seinfeld's Kramer Adopts a Highway

Are there any Seinfeld fans out there? On this day in 1997, Kramer adopts the fictional 
Arthur Burghardt Expressway through the real-life Adopt-a-Highway program.

In an episode titled, "The Pothole," Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) is upset about failing highway infrastructure, so he adopts this one mile stretch of roadway. His clean up plans quickly go awry--no a surprise considering his character. "First, he repaints the highway, turning it from four lanes into two, which creates chaos among drivers. He then tries to change it back to two lanes and in the process spills paint thinner on the pavement. A mail truck driven by the character Newman (Wayne Knight) generates sparks that ignite with the paint thinner, causing his truck to catch fire."

For more information on this episode and the Adopt-a-Highway program, please visit

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

CFBA: A Sky without Stars by Linda S. Clare

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Sky Without Stars
Abingdon Press (February 18, 2014)
Linda S. Clare


Linda S. Clare is an award-winning author and coauthor of several books and has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications, including The
Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her most recent book is A Sky without Stars, the newest release in Abingdon’s Quilts of
Love line. Born in Arizona, Linda and her husband now make their home in Eugene, Oregon, where Linda has taught college-level creative writing classes, and writes, edits, and mentors other writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter, a church retreat leader, and mom to four grown children and five wayward cats.


Frankie Chasing Bear is caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she also thinks he will need to learn the white man’s ways to succeed. After the untimely death of her husband, Frankie joins the U.S. Government’s Relocation Program and moves to Arizona. There she begins sewing a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn, and prayed into it.

A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars, but neither the quilt—nor her new life—comes easily to Frankie. Nick Vandergriff, for instance, is the last man Frankie wants to trust. He’s half-Lakota but Christian, and Frankie can see no good coming from that faith after her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian school. Can Nick convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren’t all bad? And will Frankie learn that love is the most important ingredient—for her son’s quilt and life itself?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sky Without Stars, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In the News: Is Higher Education Worth the Cost?

As I've floundered over how to help my husband support our family, a desire to complete my degree has crept up on me again. I'm only nine classes away from my Associate's Degree. Now, partially I want to complete the program just to say it's done. At this point in my life, however, I wonder how valuable it will be.

After meeting with a college adviser, I discovered those nine classes--at a community college--would cost over $13,000. Can I justify that expenditure when we are only six years shy of having a child in college? In eight years, we'll have two girls in college. Though it was highly encouraged based upon my 4.0 that I seek out scholarship opportunities, how much of that money is going to be awarded to an over 40 mother looking to finish off her degree?

The Saturday/Sunday, January 4-5, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in its Review section titled, "Degrees of Value: Making College Pay Off." This article is an essay adopted from Glenn Harlan Reynolds' new book, The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself. Reynolds is a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A portion of that essay highlighted in the article states, "To remain viable, colleges and universities need to cut expenditures dramatically." Reynolds says that while there is no simple solution, changes are beginning to emerge.

Reynolds attacks the issue from both sides. He says that while schools must adjust to the new economic reality, wiser choices by families are an important piece of the puzzle. Carefully selecting a practical major or attending community college are suggestions mentioned in the essay. While Reynolds says some colleges and universities are offering hidden discounts in the form of increased financial aid, what's really needed is a major structural change, which goes back to the highlighted quote mentioned above.

Many schools are already using low-paid adjuncts to teach classes, but Reynolds says this could be extended to administrators so that these lower paid adjunct administrators managed routine functions. He also suggests budget transparency. Along with new instructional methods Reynolds discusses, perhaps this will help lower costs of higher education.

You can read the full article at

Book Spotlight: Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations by Vern L. Bengtson with Norella M. Putney and Susan Harris

I found a review of this book in the January 27, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Bengtson, Putney, and Harris are professors at the University of Southern California. For this book, they draw on a four-decade study of 350 families to "reveal the ways in which faith is, and is not, passed down from generation to generation."

Few things are more likely to cause heartache to devout parents than seeing their child leave the faith. And it seems, from media portrayals, that this is happening more and more frequently. But is religious change between generations common? How does religion get passed down from one generation to the next? How do some families succeed in passing on their faith while others do not? Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down across Generations seeks to answer these questions and many more.

For almost four decades, Vern Bengtson and his colleagues have been conducting the largest-ever study of religion and family across generations. Through war and social upheaval, depression and technological revolution, they have followed more than 350 families composed of more than 3,500 individuals whose lives span more than a century--the oldest was born in 1881, the youngest in 1988--to find out how religion is, or is not, passed down from one generation to the next.

What they found may come as a surprise: despite enormous changes in American society, a child is actually more likely to remain within the fold than leave it, and even the nonreligious are more likely to follow their parents' example than to rebel. And while outside forces do play a role, the crucial factor in whether a child keeps the faith is the presence of a strong fatherly bond. Mixing unprecedented data with gripping interviews and sharp analysis, Families and Faith offers a fascinating exploration of what allows a family to pass on its most deeply-held tradition--its faith.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (November 6, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0199948658
ISBN-13: 978-0199948659

Teaser Tuesdays - February 18

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We haven't had one of these in a while, so I figured this week would be a great time to showcase one of the books I won in October.

"We're missing something. What is it?" She moved to the living room. 

Location 1009-17 from Coda to Murder by J.Q. Rose

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday - February 17

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

While I don't often enter book giveaways these days--I have way too many books in my office I haven't read yet--if there is something I am really interested in, I'll shoot for it. Dick Wolf, creator of Law & Order, has turned his attention to novels. I entered a giveaway to win the first two books in his Jeremy Fisk series and won them.

Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet over the Atlantic Ocean reminds everyone that vigilance is not a task to be taken lightly. But for iconoclastic New York Police detective Jeremy Fisk, it may also be a signal that there is much more to this case than the easy answer: that this is just the work of another lone terrorist.

Fisk—from the department’s Intelligence Division, a well-funded anti-terror unit modeled upon the CIA—suspects that the event might also be a warning sign that another, potentially more extraordinary scheme has been set in motion. Fluent in Arabic and the ways of his opponents, Fisk is a rule breaker who follows his gut—even if it means defying those above him in the department’s food chain. So when a passenger from the same plane, a Saudi Arabian national, disappears into the crowds of Manhattan, it’s up to Fisk and his partner Krina Gersten to find him before the celebrations begin.

Watching each new lead fizzle, chasing shadows to dead ends, Fisk and Gersten quickly realize that their opponents are smarter and more agile than any they have ever faced. Extremely clever and seemingly invisible, they are able to exploit any security weakness and anticipate Fisk’s every move. And time is running out.

NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk must make an uneasy ally - the disturbingly beautiful and assertive Mexican Intelligence Agency Detective Cecilia Garza. She recognizes the signature of assassin Chuparosa - a hummingbird carved on a corpse. After years of pursuit, she knows only that he is heading to Manhattan - with the rest of the world for UN Week.

Ten days after the Mexican presidential election, 23 bodies were found beheaded on the US border, each carved by Chuparosa. Near New York, Rockaway has a mass murder. There is more to this threat than meets the eye — and justice is not always blind.

I picked up the following free books for my Kindle:


In ROMANCE-ology 101, Award-winning "Passion Most Pure" expert Julie Lessman tackles the subject of romantic tension in today's inspirational/sweet markets with humor and heart. Offering tips for ramping up the WOW factor with romance that is both sweet and swoon-worthy, Lessman highlights tried-and-true methods with before-and-after examples to illustrate the following points:

-- Getting inside the Hero's Head with Internal Monologue
-- Maximizing Use of Beats in Dialogue
-- Effectively Using Dialogue to Escalate Tension
-- Utilizing Dual Point of View
-- Escalating Romantic Tension with Anger
-- Using All Five Senses for Heightened Effect
-- Cashing In on the Kid and Pet Factor
-- Enhancing Mood with Emotionally Charged Words/Verbs
-- Capitalizing on the Element of Surprise
-- Exposing Desire in an Unwilling Character
-- Immediate Hero/Heroine Confrontation
-- Making the Most of Touch and Response
-- Implementing the Concept of Forbidden Fruit
-- Words with a Hint of Taboo
-- Appropriate "Bleep" Words for Inspirational Romance
-- KISS-ology 101: The Many Faces of a Kiss

New Beautifully Illustrated Edition of a Well Loved Classic Tale of God's Love

"A charming book about a mysterious bear that shows up in the right place at just the right time. His comforting message and his cache of supplies always solve the problem at hand. The story is very reassuring on many levels, reiterating the old adage that all's well that ends well." - reader review

God Loves You. Chester Blue was originally written as a children's chapter book. However, since its launch it has become an inspirational story for all ages.

What if when you most needed help, a blue bear appeared with a note from God One night, Miss Millie of Blossom, Ohio turns her face to the stars and asks God for help. The next day, a package arrives on her doorstep containing a blue teddy bear and a very special note. God will meet us where we are... Over the course of a year, this remarkable blue bear travels across the country, showing up just when he's needed most. During his journey, Chester Blue helps a young girl trying to impress her big sisters; helps a man who has lost his job; saves a sailor caught in a terrible storm; reunites two constantly fighting brothers suffering from a terrible case of sibling rivalry; watches a cowboy become a rodeo clown; and helps a father and daughter after divorce.

Each chapter is short story demonstrating God's love for us in every situation. God is everywhere. His love can find us anywhere. Whether you are a child or an adult, God has a very important message for you, too... God Loves You. Chester Blue is an inspirational book for kids, adults, parents, families, in other words, everyone.

Eralee is a misfit among immortals. She is supposed to marry a philandering river Prince. She doesn't want him. She wants to save the human called Klaus. Klaus lives alone at the edge of the Everaude Forest, a dangerous forbidden place. He's convinced he will never know love until he meets Eralee. Unfortunately, she's immortal and he isn't sure how such a love could work. There is another immortal who wants him. She is Kamichen, the Winter Witch, known in legend for eating men's hearts. She has plans for Klaus and they don't include Eralee.

Growing up in an orphanage, Samantha Austin has never had a family. When her one and only true friend lay dying she begs Samantha to care for her child. Unable to refuse, Samantha vows to do anything to keep the child safe... anything. Struggling to survive she unwittingly becomes an unwilling accomplice in a series of bank robberies. Labeled the Masked Lady, Samantha, with the help of her friends concoct a foolproof plan to escape. Will it set her free; or will it put them all in mortal danger?

Rance Harding is a Texas Ranger, sworn to uphold the law. When he receives a telegram from his estranged brother he finds himself on the trail of the Masked Lady. Promising to bring her to his brother, Rance tracks her down. He quickly realizes that everything may not be as it seems. Is she a ruthless outlaw? Or is she just a beautiful woman caught in an impossible situation. Either way, Rance will see to it that justice prevails.

When Rance reveals everything he knows about her past, Samantha is stunned. What will she find at the end of the trail? Heartache? Or will Rance and Samantha both find the one thing they desire most.

That's it for me. What was in your mailbox?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Friday 56: Week 165

Welcome to Week 165!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

I am so excited about Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen. This is a very unique story that involves a tie in with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here's the official synopsis:

Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she’s evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an object from their mother’s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers’ lives as well as her own.

A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.

From page 56: I often wondered how my mother, with that proud lift of her chin, had been able to stand it. But she was pragmatic: If the money was good and the money was steady, what else mattered?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Day in History - Austrian Ski Racer Hermann Maier Crashes in 1998 Olympics

We were watching ice hockey during the Olympics tonight, which reminded me I hadn't posted this week's This Day in History column yet. Bad blogger.

On February 13, 1998, Austrian ski racer Hermann Maier was competing in the men's downhill at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan, when he lost control during the seventh and eighth turns. Maier catapulted 30 feet in the air, landed on his helmet and rammed through two safety fences at an estimated 80 miles per hour. He suffered only minor injuries and went on to win gold medals in the giant slalom and super-G events several days later.

Read more about Maier and this event at

Guest Blogger: Emilia Rutigliano, Author of the Layers of Veronica Series

They say that when a student is ready, a teacher appears.

What they don’t say is where to register, and how to matriculate in that teacher’s class.
That is a divine gift.

Veronica had it all: the looks; the brains; the personality; and the wardrobe. Not to mention a perfect husband, a fabulous career and two adorable children, until the perfect husband leaves her for another woman.

Thus begin the daily routines of a typical New York City immigrant with ambition whose teachers keep appearing, and for whom divine interventions keep affording new opportunities.

Though it starts like ordinary connections going through the tried and true, each relationship continues to delve into parts of her own universe that Veronica didn’t know existed. A universe that is suddenly open to her.

This is a different kind of heroine…

Welcome to the New American Dream, Dare to Dream…

Control Issues…
by Emilia Rutigliano

They are completely out of control! Not all of them, mind you… but most do whatever the hell they want! I’m talking about characters, of course. Those imaginary figments of YOUR imagination that you, as the author, brought to life, who categorically do and say what they want without your intent.

Specifically, my gripe is with KD Tarasovsky. His original purpose in the book series was to be a contrast to the other lovers that Veronica is enjoying, thus exploring the differences between the layers of life and love. Let me clarify that. That was MY original purpose for him. He didn’t get my memo. Or, if I learned anything about him, he did, and didn’t care.

“I don’t like his name.” My girlfriend complained, reading the book in its infancy.

“Me neither.” I agreed. It wasn’t the sexy name that should have been chosen for a romantic hero.

“So what’s the problem? Change it!” She stated, suggesting 25 other names best suited for a character such as him.

“I can’t. He said his name is Arkadiy Tarasovsky, people call him KD.” I try to explain as she looks at me with disbelief.

“Ok, whatever. But just so you know, if she doesn’t end up with him, you could kiss our friendship goodbye.” She assures me.

“I have no control over him.” I remind her. 35 years of friendship, and she’s threatening to say goodbye because of KD.

It was supposed to be so simple. I set up the scene, the flirt, the drinks and the full moon over Miami Beach as they enjoy themselves at the Fontainbleu Hotel lounge. They each have a suite at the hotel, and though Veronica starts by playing hard to get, she is so into him by the end of the evening, she’s ready to do anything… and HE says no. Really, HE refuses to put out. Who had ever heard of that?

That was certainly not my intent. In fact, that completely diverted the story line!

What was the point of setting up that romantic hook-up place if all they were going to do was “talk” – after all of that warm-up and deliberation? But I had nothing to say about it. KD had his own agenda.

And after Napoleon got published, the Miami Fontainbleu opened a bar named Arkady – I had no control over that either. Sigh.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON


Veronica’s story continues.

Ever wonder why there is so much gore in the storybooks that we read to our children?  Is it because it is appropriate preparation for life?

Amidst the balls, and gowns and champagne … there are evil stepmothers and death and disease.  There are also valiant princes, and kindly matriarchs and enchanted lands.  There is no alternate reality though.  It is still modern day New York… and Paris, of course.

Still, Veronica needs to get up and go to work, and take the kids to school, and play nice with the ex’s new wife.  But each layer is enchanted with its own romance… and its own lover becomes a benevolent wizard.  There’s Ben… and Jeremy… and Edmonde.  And then there’s KD.  Why choose?

These are the games your mama never taught you.  These are men’s games played by a woman.  And a woman is only eligible to play when she is taught to see the world differently.  It isn’t just a matter of calculations… it is a matter of nobility.  What Jeremy taught in NAPOLEON, becomes a world of experience in FAIRTYATLES

They say you only love once… but that isn’t a fact for Veronica.   Each of her bedmates offers her and demands from her something different. 

What starts out as a parochial life, with known participants and variables, is unveiled with more and more opportunities.  Each comes with a privilege and an obligation – and Veronica has never shirked an obligation.  Not even in a fairytale.

It’s all connected… just on a higher layer.


Veronica’s story continues.

The prettiest of blooms commence with the nurturing of the seed?  In PETALS… Veronica’s life goes global, and she unites her family with the aristocracy around her, without self- betrayal. 

Physical recovery post trauma is not the difficult part.  How do you heal the other parts of you?   And what if you were stupid enough to throw out the healer in your life?

Every relationship takes work.  Every relationship is a lesson.  Each has a depth.

Where NAPOLEON and FAIRYTALES opened a magical kingdom dominated and ruled by men… PETALS reveals the same monarchy ruled by women.   There is a new perspective on the same world, and the same characters.  Relating to women, and taking your place among the nobility requires a lot… and not at all a marriage or blueblood.

But of course it wouldn’t be Veronica’s life…if there weren’t more lovers, more galas, more jewels and of course… more heartbreak…

It is a fun journey.    What it isn’t -- is a known destination.

Emilia I. Rutigliano scored fiftieth percentile on her SATs... and on her LSATs... and on her BAR...Sigh...

But she nevertheless survived, and seems to be doing OK. She practices Law read lore) in Brooklyn, New York (read Nu Yawk). She was born in the former Soviet Union, and emigrated in 1979. She is happily married to the same crazy Italian she's been with since college, who suffers from a severe addition to travel (still in acute form). Together they are doing a somewhat passable job with their three precious darlings (who are now teenagers, thus elaboration is not necessary).

Which is why Emilia writes about Veronica. Veronica, though... is interesting. And Emilia knows interesting.

So she weaved the tale about the interesting characters, places and events from her own life. It is remarkable how if you choose to view a subject objectively, it becomes downright artistically gorgeous. So Emilia views and shows Brooklyn Russians as gorgeous, and the Barese intricacies as gorgeous, and she even tolerates Paris, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia for the reader's interests.

Thank you, dear reader, for tolerating these scenes....

Visit Emilia Rutigliano’s website at