Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Spotlight ~ The Heartbeat Thief by @AJKrafton #NewAdult #DarkFantasy

Now available in Paperback!
Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.
In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. 
But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.
So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…
When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.
It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…
How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?

Genre: New Adult Dark Fantasy
150887915X (ISBN13: 9781508879152)

329 pages
Paperback: published September 18th 2015
Kindle: published June 12th 2015 
For more info & to Purchase:

Monday, September 21, 2015

#BookReview ~ World War II Love Stories by Gill Paul #nonfiction #romance

World War II Love Stories by Gill Paul

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

September 1939 saw Adolf Hitler drive the world into one of the greatest conflicts the world has ever known. The atrocities unleashed by the Nazi regime were unprecedented; families were torn apart, millions were murdered, and a cloud of fear cast over the world. But somewhere, love and hope remained ignited.

World War II Love Stories tells the unforgettable stories of those couples brought together by war. They are enduring tales of great love, intense passion, and often tragedy, but most of all they are tales that celebrate the human spirit at its time of greatest trial.

Hardcover, 191 pages

Published 2014 by Prospero Books

My Review: 

I admit, I almost put this book back on the shelf. Not for lack of interest, but I have so many books at home to read. I really should read some of those before I buy more, but as I'm an avid reader this inner debate usually ends badly for my bank account. Yes, I bought this one, too. I found this particular hardcover at the local B&N in the bargain section so the price was just right. The cover with the large bold words WORLD WAR II caught my eye first. I'm usually on the lookout for WWII books for my husband, but the smaller LOVE STORIES beneath called to me in particular. And I'm so glad that I read this book!

There are 14 chapters within these 191 pages each featuring a couple who discovered love and romance during the time of World War II. It was compelling reading. I enjoyed each story, even those that ended sadly. I'm all about the happily-ever-after, that's why I typically read romance, but tragically not all true-life stories end happily. Still, there was enough love to overshadow most of the sadness. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about some interesting true-life romances, and also to those who would like to learn more about this time period in history. As well as learning about the love these people shared, I also learned about the war and how these men and women lived and survived during that tragic time. It was an informative book written in a very fast-paced style that kept me turning the pages.

Here are the couples you'll read about:

Coco Chanel & Hans von Dinklage
William & Kathleen Anderson
Bill & Norma Kay Moore
Desmond Paul & Louisa Henry
Etienne & Violette Szabo
Charley & Jean Paul
Dwight D. Eisenhower & Kay Summersby
Roger & Rosemarie Williams
Allen Dulles & Mary Bancroft
Hudson & Betty Turner
Bob & Rosie Norwalk
Raymond & Lucie Aubrac
Hedley & Dorrit Nash
Roy Sather & Pill Denham

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How I Find Time to Write

Writing while the kids are home is akin to torture. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love writing, but the two never seem to mesh well together. I've been struggling with finding a balance between motherhood and writing for 9 years and 4 babies. I have a 9 year-old son, a 7 year-old son, a 4 year-old daughter and a 4 month son. I never knew how lucky I had it when I could write for hours on end or even during a 30 minute lunch break when I was working. Since my job closed down and I became a stay-at-home mom, I've encountered new challenges. Some were not so easy to overcome.

The Challenge

Finding time to write with a busy family is one of those challenges.

Especially when my husband is often gone for long periods of time and when he is home, he's more interested in relaxing than watching our kids so I can find some peace of my own. He works hard, but I still find it frustrating. And he does, too. I know he'd prefer to stay home instead of working a job he really doesn't like. 

So without help from my spouse, I needed to find my own way of getting in some writing time.

On My Own

Before I became a mother I was a night-time writer. After having my boys, by the time 8pm rolled around, I was exhausted from the day and often fell asleep with my forehead resting on the keyboard of my laptop. 

Yeah, not comfortable.

But I was persistent. If I could no longer write at night, then I'd go to sleep early and wake up before everyone else in the morning. That would've worked great, except for my early bird firstborn who wakes at 6am (sometimes earlier!) every day. And yes, before you say it, I did set my alarm for an hour earlier, but guess what? He still woke up 10 minutes after me. He's got some sort of psychic sense that will alert him instantly if I'm awake. And if I'm asleep, he'll wake up at 6am on his own. It's not his fault. He's been doing it ever since he was born. Seriously, he's been on a schedule since he was a baby. It's built in.

So, not one to give up my dream of becoming an author who stayed at home to write her bestselling novels, I had to change my routine yet again.

Try, Try Again

Adaptability! My saving grace!

Since I couldn't write at night and couldn't write in the wee hours of the morning, I'd have to find time during the day. So for the first few years of my children's lives, I had my laptop propped on the end table in the living room, open to the word document file of my story at all times during the day. This was to cut down on time - having to restart the laptop, open the file, wait while it loaded, only to have to stop what I was doing because one of the boys spilled something. Keeping my laptop open and ready saved time. 

When I got a chance to sit down for a moment or two, I'd write a few lines. When I saw my boys were happily playing on the floor, I'd write a few lines. When they were both conked out on the sofa after watching an hour of Sesame Street prior to nap time, I'd write a few lines more (that's if I wasn't conked out on the sofa next to them!). 

This is how I wrote several of my stories including The Witch and the Vampire

Write a Little Everyday

My point is, that I wrote in small segments (incredibly small) until that novel was complete. It was not easy. It was rather tortuous. But it was the only method that worked while taking care of my kids.

I will mention here, however, that keeping my laptop open to my word document wasn't always a perfect way to go. The laptop was also a piece of shininess that my little crows found irresistible. I'd have to chase them away at times with a stern, "Do not touch Mommy's computer!"

This wasn't always effective. There was that time my editor at The Wild Rose Press found a bunch of jumbled letter's and my son's name printed in the manuscript that I sent her when he first learned to write. Thankfully, she has a great sense of humor and found it amusing!

I suppose I didn’t do enough spellchecking back then!

Times Change

This method was only temporary. As they grew older, they were able to understand that they were to play together with their toys and come to mommy while she was writing only when someone was bleeding. Most often, I hear the yelling and screaming and I'm able to prevent things from progressing to bodily injury.

Of course now, I'm back to square one again with my newborn baby boy. It's actually easier this time around because I have my older kids to keep him occupied on the floor while I sit on the sofa and type away. When they get tired of playing with him, or he gets tired of being played with as my 4 y/o daughter still thinks he's a doll, then they hand him to me and I put my laptop back on the table by the sofa. I keep it open, ready for the inevitable moment I'll find them all distracted and they won't know that Mommy has escaped into her fantasyland for a few minutes.

There will come a day when all of my children will be in school and I'll think back fondly to these days when I struggled to find time to write without interruptions.

At least, that's what other writing mom's tell me.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review ~ Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella #shortstory #humor

Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The new Mr and Mrs Brandon are on honeymoon, and Becky has big plans! They’ve got a whole year to explore Venice, learn yoga in India, sleep in little wooden huts in South America… maybe even see penguins in the Arctic. And of course they’ll need to buy just a few essential souvenirs along the way (everyone needs a set of Murano glass goblets, after all).

They’re not just tourists, they’re travellers. Becky is sure it is just the thing that Luke needs – time to unwind. He’ll come back a changed man… with all the good bits still intact of course.

But it soon becomes clear that Luke has different plans entirely. Can Becky help him let go, or will this little disagreement threaten their whole honeymoon?

ebook, 28 pages

Published December 10th 2014 by Transworld Digital

My Review:

This is a short story that's set after Book #3: Shopaholic Ties the Knot. It was just a quick taste of the Shopaholic series. Here we got to see a tidbit of Becky and Luke on their honeymoon. Becky intends to travel all over the world in a year, convince Luke needs some time off of work. He's been stressed (but who wouldn't be after that wedding?) and she's sure that traveling the world is just the thing that Luke needs. But Luke isn't sure that taking so much time off of work is such a good thing. He has a business to run. Becky and Luke must come to a decision about their honeymoon, and maybe even their relationship.

I liked this cute little peek into the world of Becky Brandon. She's always one to entertain and although this is her shortest adventure by far, it was still an enjoyable read. 

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Chapter One ~ The Witch and the Wolf by Tricia Schneider #werewolf #paranormalromance

"I was not born a werewolf. I was not bitten, at least, not that I can remember. I am cursed. There, I've said it. You may now run to fetch the masses. You cannot allow such a creature to exist among women and children and innocent men. Stock up those silver bullets and do your worst." North finished with a flourish, waving one hand in the air while the other held loosely onto the decanter of brandy he attempted to empty. Unfortunately, more of the amber liquid splashed onto the glossy wood of the table than into the glass he had been aiming to fill. He grunted, paused then re-aimed the decanter.

"Begging your pardon, my lord," Amery replied, with a bored expression etched upon his weathered face. "But, we don't know if silver bullets work. We haven't tried that, yet."

"Through the heart should do, I think. Quick and clean, as may be."

"Silver or lead, what difference does it make if there's a hole in your heart? Any bullet through the heart might do. We haven't tried any manner of heart piercing."

"The night is still young, my good man." North gave a shout of triumph as he raised his sticky glass of brandy into the air.

Amery sighed. "Perhaps it's best to get a good night's rest, my lord. You'll need it for tomorrow." He made to stand, ready to help his errant lord find his way to his bedchamber.

North made a gesture to stop him. He took a gulp of brandy then set it down on the table next to the decanter. He turned back to his comrade, his friend, and leveled a serious stare in his direction.

"You must kill me, Amery. That is why I told you my secret all those years ago. You were hired to kill the evil creature that lives within me."

"Aye, but not the good man who stands before me now," Amery returned. They'd been through this scenario many a time before the night of a full moon. Amery knew this night would be no different from the many before. "I couldn't murder you no matter much ye paid me."

"A thousand pounds," North offered.



"Can not, my lord."

"Can not or will not?"



"You haven't got ten thousand pounds!"

"No, but my brother does. He will pay you amply."

"For murdering 'is younger brother? I'm sure 'e will, sir," Amery rolled his eyes and sighed. This bargaining was new.

"Explain to him that you put a poor man out of his misery and saved the lives of many potential victims in the near future. Or create any excuse as you like, you excel at that." North frowned, seeing he was not getting his point across.

"I apologize, my lord."

"Amery," North said a note of sorrow in his voice. "You're sacked. In the morning, I shall find someone else to murder me properly. Someone who can do the job without any silly remorse." He picked up his glass and swallowed the remainder of the liquid in one gulp. "And I'll be damned sure not to allow him to become accustomed to me the way you have obviously become." He gave a disgusted sneer toward his companion before turning back to pour more brandy. 

"You're foxed, my lord. I doubt you'll remember this conversation in the morning." Amery stood, walked to the table and tried to take the glass away from his employer. North had consumed nearly the entire bottle. He'd have the devil of a headache come morning.

"Oh," North said, sorrowfully, "I will most definitely remember. I remember everything." He paused. He leaned heavily on the table, his head down, his eyes glazed over in that lost look he wore so many times. "Everything except-"

"Now's not the time to be goin' over such things. It's past time to get some much needed rest. Come now, my lord, I'll help ye to yer bed." Amery moved the bottle away and took one of Noth's arms in his hands, hoping he would move willingly. Amery didn't much approve of his lordship's getting foxed, but he understood the source.

North resisted Amery's urgings and stayed rooted to the floor. "How can you allow me to live, Amery? Knowing of such destruction. Of such death…"

"You did magnificently well in the war, my lord. I cannot want for a better comrade than a werewolf." Amery said, hoping to veer his lordship's mind from the path it had taken. Amery knew what North remembered. The images of those he had killed haunted him still. Even Amery was horrified to see what had been left of the bodies. But Amery knew the beast within North was not the man himself. He had no memory of what he had done as a wolf. They were two separate entities trapped within the same body.

"No man deserves to die such a death." North whispered staring into the space before him with such haunted eyes. "And no man deserves to live such a life as mine."

"Come, my lord." Amery pleaded not above begging. He would say anything to convince his employer, his friend, not to dwell on such thoughts, though knew it a hopeless attempt at distraction. North dwelt on these things all day, every day. And for every full moon he tried to gather the courage to end his life. But he always failed. He feared punishment in the afterlife. He dared not condemn his soul when his life was already damned.


Lillian Merriweather trudged through the snow-covered lane, pausing every few feet for a look around to catch her bearings. It did no good. She found herself well and truly lost. She had misplaced sight of the wheel tracks from the last carriage that had passed through. They had long since been covered with the falling snow. And as dusk had settled upon her, the light from the cloud-masked sun now dwindled to nothingness. It would not be long until she became encased in pitch black with nothing but the wetness on her cheeks to tell her if the precipitation had stopped or not.

She had long since retracted her aversion to finding shelter and determined she had great need of it. As Lillian brushed away the dusting of snow that had accumulated on her arms and shoulders, she wiggled her fingers, testing each one, and felt the barest amount of movement. She paused, did the same with her toes and in dismay discovered the same results. Though she had bundled herself exceedingly well, the cold still seeped into the layers of cloth. She suspected if she failed to find shelter soon, she would become an unintended addition to the surrounding landscape.

Lillian paused to reassess her position to what she thought might be the road. As she tilted her head, she was surprised to see a flicker of light up ahead. Narrowing her eyes to see through the onslaught of snowflakes confirmed her suspicions.

A house, up ahead!

She tilted her head back, closing her eyes and sighed in relief.

Glory be, she was saved!

Without any other thought, Lillian plodded through the knee-deep snow, keeping her eyes focused on that sliver of twinkling light. Above all, she feared since salvation had fallen upon her that she would lose sight of it and all hope of rescue would wash away. Flakes covered her eyelashes, and she squinted through them, afraid to even blink until the shape of the house became clearer.

A huge house-likely a manor home, not some villager's dwelling as she had hoped. It would have  been nice to cozy up to a cottage's warm fire with its quaint occupants. And no need for exceedingly imaginative explanations.

With a nobleman's house…

She prayed the owner of this estate would not inquire too deeply into her past or her reasons for being stranded on the roadside during what had turned into a blizzard. She had not fabricated a story in advance of such occurrences. But then, she had not prepared to be recognized at that last inn, either.

When she reached the dwelling, she debated briefly whether to seek the warmth and security of the stables. Surely, she could manage to find a dry bed in the hay used for the animals but after a moment's hesitation and the yearning for a warm fire to roast her frozen toes beside, she pulled at the knocker on the door, in hopes someone would hear the sound echo through the halls. She suspected, by this time, if the occupants kept country hours, all would be abed. After several moments of waiting and continued pounding on the door, she gnawed her bottom lip and glanced back at the stables, wondering if perhaps she would have a bed of hay tonight after all.

Closing her eyes, she felt herself sway with sudden exhaustion. Now that she had stopped moving, she felt the fatigue she'd held at bay for the last several hours. She debated whether to wait any longer at the door with hopes that someone would, at long last, answer her knock or if she should use the last vestiges of strength to drag herself to the safety of the stables.

Before she could formulate a decision, Lillian heard the sound of the doorknob turning, and she looked back, relief flooding her until her knees grew weak. The door swung open and the light from the candle shed a luminescent glow upon her causing her to blink at the sudden brightness.

"What the devil?" A rough male voice thundered in her ears.

Lillian wavered on her wobbly legs. She opened her mouth to beg for pity. To let her in. To let her warm herself by his fire, but her lips became immobile and the brightness began to fade.

She heard another muttered curse before the darkness and cold enveloped her. 

Want to read more? Here's the website for more information!

You can find The Witch and the Wolf available at:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Review ~ Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella #chicklit #humor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has stars in her eyes. She and her daughter, Minnie, have joined husband Luke in LA — city of herbal smoothies, multimillion-dollar yoga retreats, and the lure of celebrity. Luke is there to help manage the career of famous actress Sage Seymour — and Becky is convinced she is destined to be Sage's personal stylist, and go from there to every A-list celebrity in Hollywood! But things become complicated when Becky joins the team of Sage’s arch-rival. How will charming and supportive Luke deal with this conflict? Is it possible that what Becky wants most will end up hurting those she loves most? Shopaholic fans old and new will devour Sophie Kinsella's newest adventure!

Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Dial Press Trade Paperback

My Review:

This is book 7 in Ms. Kinsella's Shopaholic series and I've read each and every one. The first, Confessions of a Shopaholic, remains my favorite probably because it's the one in which I fell in love with her characters. I did enjoy Shopaholic to the Stars, but not as much as some of her other books in the series. It might be because I could only read it in desperate spurts of rare reading time as I was caring for my newborn son and the rest of my children home for summer vacation. I didn't get much free time this summer. Perhaps that's why I had trouble following Becky Brandon through her typically hilarious yet touching adventures. I didn't care much for the location change either. One of the reasons that drew me to Ms. Kinsella's books were because they were set in England, one of my favorite places and this one was set in California.

As for the writing, Ms. Kinsella does a wonderful job describing all the wonders of Hollywood that Becky experiences. She has a wonderful, easy-going way with words that makes her novels so much fun to read. I was happy to see a reunion of sorts with her characters as her best friend, Suze, followed Becky out to Hollywood with her husband Tarquin and kids. And Becky's father also followed along for different reasons. Becky becomes obsessed with her newest chosen career which leads to major complications with the ones she loves. I was happy to see that by the end of the book she had mostly all that sorted out. However, this book doesn't wrap up all the loose ends. Ms. Kinsella has left some very big threads still tangled which will probably see de-tangling in her next book, Shopaholic to the Rescue. I believe that book has a release date for October 2015. I've already pre-ordered it, so you can see that I'm committed to this series.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back to School = Back to Writing

I can't believe it's that time of year again. My kids are back in school. And not just 2 of them this year. My daughter joins the school age kids leaving me home with my 4 month-old son. Puddin' started school this week. Although she's super excited, I was reluctant to see her go. Even though my house becomes a Toy Story nightmare and my writing often suffers from constant interruptions, I like when my kids are home. Having the 3 of them at school left the house eerily quiet. Especially with the baby taking a nice long nap without having any screaming or fighting to wake him, which I'm sure he appreciated. It'll take some getting used to.

And now that school has begun, I'm hoping to get back into a writing routine. I didn't have much luck with a schedule of any kind this summer. Taking care of my family and a brand new baby took priority over everything else, so although I did scribble some words down every now and again I didn't get much accomplished on any of my major writing projects.

I did manage to get some reading done which was nice. I put a small dent into the massive TBR pile that I have awaiting me. You can see that list on Goodreads. I'll be posting some book reviews in the next few weeks. I'm doing my best to review the books that I read since I know how much authors rely on them to help sell their books. As a former bookseller, I believe I can offer some advice to readers in this area. Plus, I'm thinking about going through my boxes of favorites and writing some reviews for those books as well.

As for my future WIPs, I'm already putting together a few notes and ideas in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Is anyone else getting ready for NaNo? I skipped last year, but I think I might have a go this year. I have many story ideas in my idea folder, but it's always so tough to pick out which one I want to write next. They all seem to call to me at once!

Here on some links I found with interesting articles about writing schedules:

Do you have any tips on getting back into a writing routine?