Thursday, March 29, 2012

Interview with Author Dana Delamar

Last week, I contacted an up and coming author, Dana Delamar; Dana wrote the novel 'Revenge (Blood and Honor)' which was the first book review I have done (and which created a monster, now you know who do blame, lol). Over the last few months, Dana and I have become friends, (I would like to think so anyways) and we continue to email, talk about things other than books and I will admit, I do become concerned when I don't hear from her every week. After reading Dana’s answers to my (some not so conventional) questions, I had a smile on my face and know that I made the right choice in taking a chance on Dana when she asked for reviewers for her new novel a few months ago. Please enjoy this glimpse into author, Dana Delamar.

*Please tell me about your first novel. What or who inspired you to write it?

 The first complete novel I ever wrote was a contemporary romance set in Italy, and it was based in part on something that had happened to me during a trip there. Like most first novels, it was a mess--I tossed in just about every idea I’d ever had for a romance novel, and I rambled on way too long. My beta reader liked a lot of it, but she suggested I rework the story so it wasn’t so episodic. That was her nice way of saying that I needed to plot first! She was right.

 I knew I wanted to keep the Italian setting, but everything else was up for reevaluation. I started asking myself “what if” questions about my hero and heroine. When I asked myself “What if the hero isn’t such a nice guy?” that led me to “What if my hero is in the Mafia?” and from there the characters and the plot of “Revenge” started taking shape. I ended up having so many ideas for “Revenge” that I realized I had enough stories for several books, which is how the “Blood and Honor” series was born.

 You could also blame this whole thing on my love of “The Godfather” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

 *Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?

 I’m always reading something, and I read just about everything--fiction, nonfiction, literary fiction, commercial fiction, YA, suspense, true crime, biography, memoir, and of course, romance.

In romance, my favorite authors are J. R. Ward and Larissa Ione. Love, love, love their books! Greg Iles, Cody McFadyen, Chelsea Cain, Harlen Coben, Jeff Lindsay, Stephen King, Jane Austen, Mary Doria Russell, and Anne Rice (especially her early vampire books) are other faves.

 I’m sure I’ve learned something from every one of them. For example, Anne Rice taught me about the importance of setting and sensory description--she can put you so firmly in a character’s shoes that you get lost to the world around you. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books dramatically illustrate the importance of voice--even though Dexter is the most “anti-“ of antiheroes (a serial killer of serial killers!), his clever, slyly humorous voice sucks you in and makes you empathize with him from the first sentence.

*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

 The first public review of “Revenge” was a two-star review; the reviewer hated the heroine of the book. That was hard to hear--I knew Kate wasn’t always the easiest heroine to like, but I didn’t think anyone would hate her!

However, enough other reviewers have been tepid or neutral toward Kate (though some have loved her) that I realized I could have done more to develop her character. I didn’t spend more time on her in part because I didn’t want the book to be overlong (in fact, I’d cut a lot of Kate’s back story and two subplots involving her family), but I should have compensated for that by giving her a well-defined character arc. I’d always thought of the book as belonging to Enrico, but that’s no excuse for letting my heroine languish.

 So, big lesson learned about making sure both my main characters are fully developed, and I’m glad that reviewer gave me the benefit of her unvarnished reaction to the book. She also suggested working a little more levity into the proceedings, and I’ve tried to do that in book 2 as well. Praise is great for gauging your strengths (and sometimes for keeping you going!), but honest constructive criticism can be much more valuable in terms of growth.

 Interestingly, that same reviewer thought the book was “extremely well written” and was curious about the rest of the series, which I took as a big compliment considering how much she disliked the heroine. I’ve been gratified to hear that most reviewers love my writing style and the pacing of the books; I always get a big smile when I hear that people couldn’t put the book down. And RT Book Reviews gave it four stars, so I must have done something right. J

*This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??

CHOCOLATE!!! (The perfect food substance, except for those pesky calories!)

Tea--I have a zillion different kinds. One of my faves is Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I also love chai. Mmmm…

I love many, many movies, but lately, a lot of the very best screenwriting around is on TV--Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Southland, Hell on Wheels, Dexter, The Borgias, Game of Thrones, Deadwood, Rome, Boardwalk Empire. And for good plain fun every week--along with heaping buckets of angst-- one of my all-time faves: Supernatural. I love my Winchester boys! I also enjoy Castle and White Collar because I can’t resist Richard Castle and Neal Caffrey. I adore them both! (Yes, I know they’re not real.)

*When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?

I tend to write my first drafts on pen and paper. I worked as an editor for almost twenty years, so my first inclination when working on the computer is to start fiddling with my text because it’s so tempting to edit! The problem with editing too early is that it’s far too easy to get bogged down with perfection (or discouraged by the pursuit of it) and not finish the story. You’ve got to save perfection for the final polish.

Another big bonus: when I’m working in a notebook, there’s no alluring Internet to distract me. I’ll often go to Starbucks to make sure I don’t get tempted to “do a few minutes of research” on the computer when I should be writing.

*What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?

I usually have two or three books going at a time, so that’s the first thing I do. I also usually have a crammed DVR, so that’s another way I unwind.

*If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?

Hmm… considering my protagonist is a Mafia don, I don’t think we’d be hanging out. And he’d probably think I shouldn’t be writing about him and giving away his secrets! However, Enrico is well-educated, intelligent, and capable of forgiveness, so I’m sure we could find something to talk about. Perhaps our mutual love of Lake Como.

*What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

A juicy premise--danger, forbidden love, lots of sex!

*When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?

Starbucks should name a kid after me. And yes, they do know me by name and drink in at least four different Starbucks around town. In winter, I’m all about the chai. In summer, I switch between iced green tea and iced chai.

*What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

Favorite: Hearing from people who love my book and can’t wait for the next one. The first fan letter I got made me cry happy tears.
Least favorite: Trying to balance promotion and writing without both suffering.

*When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?

Paranormal romance, then suspense, then whatever else catches my eye. I’m a bit of a magpie--ooh, that cover looks pretty (or shiny or sexy or…).

*Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?

I quit my day job, which was very lucrative, but also very stressful. I had to write my first book (the one I didn’t release) between 1-3 AM most days because that was the only time I had open. I loved my job and my co-workers, but the stress was killing me.

When I turned forty, I became increasingly restless and dissatisfied. I had the completely unoriginal epiphany that I wasn’t going to live forever, and if I was going to follow my “someday” dream of being a writer, I had to get off my butt and do it now or risk never achieving it. So I quit that job shortly after I turned forty-one. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I knew if I didn’t do it, I’d always regret it.

Right now, writing is far from lucrative, but my health is much better and I’m much happier because I’m doing what I love.

*What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?

No one’s asked me anything too wacky. Mostly I keep getting asked if Antonio is getting his own book, and the answer is yes. But you’ll have to wait for book 3. I’m evil that way. J

*What is your favorite junk food vice?

Chocolate, especially Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (more chocolaty and not as frosting sweet as Nutella, so I feel slightly virtuous while eating it). Ooh, and those tiny little peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. And the chocolate-dipped Dunkers from Trader Joes. Obviously, I have to stay away from that store. And anything chocolate.

*Is there any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?

The movie adaptation of “L.A. Confidential” was masterful. The plot of that book is the very definition of labyrinthine--layer upon layer upon layer looping back on itself. If Curtis Hanson had filmed that story exactly as written by the brilliant James Ellroy, the movie would have lasted for weeks. Instead, he made perfect, judicious cuts. Casting the right actors (Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Kevin Spacey) also helped. I had a few quibbles with the very ending, but considering that I’d thought that book was downright unfilmable (and I didn’t want anyone to wreck it), I was blown away.

I thought the screen adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” series was better than the books. Purists may want to beat me with their homemade hobbit feet, but Peter Jackson trimmed a lot of less-than-exciting stuff and made the stories lean and mean without losing their heft.

The adaptation of“Silence of the Lambs” was also note-perfect. Again, spot-on casting and superb directing made the story shine.

*If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?

Nope! Being a Mafia don is too high stress. But being his wife would definitely have its fun moments. I think you can guess which ones. ;)

(Note: In my mind, Enrico looks suspiciously like David Gandy. You know, the guy in all those Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue ads. Go ahead, Google him. Ah, *now* you get it!)

*Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?

Yes. I took a writing degree in college, with an emphasis on creative writing. I wrote short stories and started several books during and after college but didn’t finish a single novel until I turned forty and finally got serious.

*What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?

Chocolate hazelnut gelato--truly food from the gods. While I was in Italy, I had to try it in every town I visited. Purely for research purposes, of course.

*We all have our little ‘things’ when it comes to reading or writing; is their anything that bugs you when you read a novel?

Poor editing (or no editing) bugs me enormously. Everyone makes errors, and I can certainly overlook the occasional typo, but when the errors are egregious enough to knock me out of the story, that’s when I get peeved, sometimes to the point of not finishing. Anytime I’m scratching my head because the text is garbled or laughing because of a hideously wrong word choice (such as “oozy” for “Uzi”--I am *not* making that up), that’s when I’ve been kicked out of the story.

 Part of being a good storyteller is making sure your readers forget they’re reading; great (or at least good) editing is a necessary component of giving readers a superb entertainment experience.

*Is there anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?

I hope you enjoy the twists and turns of “Revenge”! It’s only the beginning of my Mafia saga. I’ve got a lot more stashed up my sleeve, and I hope to keep you relentlessly entertained.

Thanks for having me on your blog (and letting me blather on), Stephanie! These were great questions and I had fun answering them. J

Links to Dana’s first novel, Revenge ~

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Author Interview

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a new author Kayden Lee; she offered to be my first Author Interview and a copy of her novel, 'Abandoned Angel' how could I pass that up. I have not had the pleasure to read her novel as of late, I am working my way to it though and I am excited to dive in. I hope you enjoy getting to know Kayden as much as I did through our interview and in exchanging emails with her.

*Please tell me about your first novel. What or who inspired you to write it?

 Abandoned Angel, a suspense novel dipped in romance, is about the journey a young mother must take in order to rescue her kidnapped son. After being left at the mercy of a biker gang, the frightened woman rides across country with the members of the club, hoping to find help.
Blaze, the biker with whom she rides, introduces the vulnerable woman into the threatening world in which he lives - endangering her life in the process. Angelina must discover an inner strength and determination if she wishes to survive the ride.
My husband and I spend as much time as we can on the open road enjoying the feeling of freedom motorcycling offers. Abandoned Angel was created during these rides. From the back of the motorcycle, I would jot down sentences and ideas for the book until I had enough of a concept to begin writing. My husband, who is not much of a reader, became caught up in the story, which inspired me to have it published.

*Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?

I imagine that everything I read, in one way or another, influences my writing. With that said, I don’t think I can pinpoint any one particular author as my inspiration. I love to read, and any author who is able to make me feel a wide range of emotion, inspires me to keep writing.
Some of my favorite authors include Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, James Patterson and Lisa Gardner. More recently, I have enjoyed books by Kenneth Hoss, Amanda Kyle Williams and Wendy Corsi Staub.
*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Toughest criticism, - I suppose that is probably still to come. LOL
Any compliment, or constructive criticism for that matter, is appreciated. Of course, the compliments are much easier to take than the criticism, but it is all part of being an author. I take what my readers have to say very seriously, and hope to learn from their comments.

The one criticism that comes to mind though has to do with the importance of having a book edited professionally. The editing process of Dead End Stranger, my second novel, has been different from the editing process of my debut novel, Abandoned Angel.
Any time a reader tells me they have enjoyed my book, is wonderful. My favorite compliment though, is when I am told that I need to write a sequel because they can’t get enough of the characters. Because of this compliment, there will most definitely be a sequel to Abandoned Angel.
*If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?
That my life is a lot easier, and less stressful than theirs.
*What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
I love being an author. It gives me a sense of pride like none I have known before, and the writing community is full of wonderful people. The marketing, on the other hand, is my least favorite part of the process. It is very time consuming, and to be frank, I’m not sure I am real good at it.

*When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
Usually to the children’s section – though I have not been in a bookstore for a while. With the e-reader technology, most of what I read seems to be ordered online, and as my kids have gotten older, we seem to spend less and less time there. Of course, thinking about it now, makes me want to go to a bookstore and snuggle in a cushy couch to read.
*Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
I have not been able to quit my full time job yet, but I am hoping that will happen sometime in the near future. Whether it does or not though, I enjoy writing, and hope that it will always be fun.
*What is your favorite junk food vice?
Although I would rather have cheese and crackers over junk food, ice cream is one of my favorites.
*If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?

I hate to say it, as much as I love the characters in Abandoned Angel, I think I would rather be me. That way, I don’t have to recall the heartache and hurt experienced by the protagonist. The protagonist for Dead End Stranger, no way – but you will have to read it to understand why.

*Is their anything else you would like to share or say to those with those who will read this?

Being a part of the writing/reading community has been an absolute enjoyable experience. It is amazing how much help and advice the more experienced writers are willing to offer, and how wonderful the feedback offered by the readers is. For this, I am grateful.

Book Review "Decontamination' by Gail Seymour

**Disclaimer I received a copy of Decontamination in exchange for an honest review.

The opening of the book had me hooked. I was thrown into a world where you might be running for your life one moment and hiding from someone unknown the next. Once I got past the British vernacular, I enjoyed the novel for the most part.

 Some places were a bit long for my tastes, as their was not as much dialogue as I had hoped and those areas of the novel were not my favorites, yet I persevered. Some of the science was lost on me as were the locations. Perhaps if I had spent more time in the UK or in a science class, I would have been able to enjoy this novel a bit more.

 ‘Decontamination’ was a great read as far as the suspense factor and keeping the reader looking in several directions, namely over heir shoulder for the next murder or explosion.

Overall, I would give this novel 3 ½ stars.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Being Sick SUCKS!!!

It seems that I have taught my boys to share a bit to well.

Maybe I should have been a bit more specific when I told them to share, they decided to share their 'cooties' with mommy and as such, mom got sick. Still not up to par, but, I am vertical and moving around and here. I have some yummy recipes and pictures to share in the next few days; also, a book review and Author Interview on Tuesday, Plus an author interview with Dana Delamar the author of 'Revenge', currently I am doing a Beta read for the follow up novel 'Retribution'. I'll keep this post short so I can get back to taking care of a sick toddler and planting.

Pictures will be up on Wednesday for some recipes and of my gardening 'projects', aka what we did before the big rain on Sunday; I am a trooper, I still put in 5 hours outside despite the sun poisoning, but, our yard looks BEAUTIFUL, it still needs some work, yet it's coming along. I'm very proud of my hubby for working outside too even thought he wasn't 100% either. Can't say that us Californians aren't tough, heck us Central Valley residents have to be tough, 110+ in the summer, 0 visibility fog in the winter, I LOVE the valley.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend blog posts

I hope all my blog followers have had a wonderful and so safe weekend thus far. Pictures and recipes of my latest baking adventures will be up tomorrow. For the first time in forever I made cupcakes from scratch yesterday. Only a few left so I take that as a good sign, lol.
A couple side notes on this Sunday ~ I don't typically make blog posts on the weekends as that is family time. Second, book reviews and author interviews will be posted on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. I have been blessed to have a few authors seek me out to review their novels or offer to do interviews; so to keep the integrity of my blog, I will keep those to one or two days a week. In the near future I may start a separate blog fire those things, just not today.
Have a wonderful Sunday, I'm off to run a few erronds and put my kitchen back together after Saturday's baking and irish food cooking for my hubby.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Man in the Parking Lot.. Sent by God

I am a firm believer in angels. I believe that God sends people to you for a reason when you are least expecting them and they share something with you that you needed to hear, even if you didn't know that you needed to hear it.

Today, I met a man named John, while in the parking lot with my toddler. I just pulled into a parking spot one isle across from him and saw that he had a shopping cart, he only had a few bags left in it and I had my toddler on my hip. As I approached, I asked, "can I take that cart off your hands?" He looked at me, smiled, waved to munchkin and being neighborly said, "sure it's all yours."

John shook munchkin's hand and asked him if he was being a big helper for mommy and being good, I snickered and munchkin just smiled, hey, mommy was holding him and he wanted a treat so he was behaving for the moment, unlike less than 5 minutes before when he was having a fit.

Out of habit I checked my phone, I thought I felt it vibrate like it does when I get a text message; I was waiting for a text or a call from my husband. John looked at me an I told him I was waiting to hear from my husband, he just smiled at me and said, "I lost my wife of 40 years this past week. Her memorial is this weekend." WOW. What do you say to that?! He told me I reminded him of his wife and he asked if my husband travels if that's why I was waiting to hear from him. I told him about Hubby traveling and that he has been gone all week. John told me that he owns a business in LA and he lives there 4 days a week and keeps a house here; he would always call his wife when he was on his way home to let her know, so she could go back into that 'mode' of when he was there.

We spoke a few more minutes about being married and then John told me, "I called her cell phone the other day to tell her I was on my way home to see her and that I loved her. It was such a habit, that I didn't think about it, until I was hanging up, then I realized what I had done. After 40 years of marriage, I still thought to tell her I was on my way home and that I loved her." It took every bit of effort for me NOT to cry.

My husband and I had a fight last night, one that we have had numerous times since we got together; I know in my heart how much I love him and how much he loves me. Listening to John touched me and made me realize how much I do love my husband, even when I want to strangle him sometimes. Like John said, "Anger and Passion are so closely related that they are almost the same emotion, remember that the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. When you see your husband, give him a big hug and kiss, tell him you love him and forget the negative stuff. 40 years is a long time to be married and we had our own ups and downs, in the end, we grew together. She made our house a home." 

God send John to share his story with me.; no doubt in my mind about that. Why else wouldn't their have been a shopping cart or two in the cart return or close by? I needed to hear John's story, and I am so glad I did. God Bless John and his wife who is waiting for him in Heaven. 

Book Review "Offbeat Love Stories and More" by Jennifer Lafferty

**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this novel in return for my review.

This collection of short stories was perfect for when I didn’t have much time, like being stuck behind a train or while waiting to pick to my son from school. Jennifer kept me wanting to read more after each one. This collection of romantic, comedy, lighthearted stories is sure to delight readers.

When you need a good laugh or still want to incorporate some romance into your day, pick up this novel and read a story to put a smile back on your face and get you going again, one of my favorites was 'Perwinkle 26'. It makes reading all those tabloid stories seem less believable, lol. I was able to read this one at a long light, just don't tell anyone.

Jennifer's take on 'love' is refreshing and had me laughing out loud as made my way through the novellas. This was the first novel or any sort I have read by Jennifer and it won't be the last.

Book Review "A Perect Husband" by Douglas Wickard

**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this novel in return for my review.

This mystery/suspense novel will get your attention in the first few pages and keep you riveted and to your seat long into the night like it did me. It did surprise me as a reader at how I fell into the world that Douglas created so quickly and completly. I was captivated me from the first chapter; the way that Douglas captured my attention kept me captivated page after page. The more I read the harder it was for me to put this down. I would say ‘One more chapter’ and that would lead to two or three more.

Reading ‘A Perfect Husband’ reminded me of another novel I read a few years ago, as it showed a not so perfect man who lived two completely different lives. I was drawn to Sami.  She is such a strong woman who refused to let herself be a victim; I fell in love with her and didn’t want the story to end. I would love to see more of Sami Saxton in the future.

I love being outside and in the pines or redwoods, after reading this, I may have to think twice about that or at least make sure that there is no basement or anything sinister going on if there is.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's a Wednesday....

Finished getting bills done for tomorrow (payday), got my oldest to school, had to go by the store to get milk and juice [love it when no one tells mom until we are walking out the door we need those things], going to finish hanging up pictures in the hallway, work on craft room for a bit and pull some weeds (possibly) I might just wait and see if it rains then pull them when it's easier, who knows. I am seriously thinking about getting some paint and starting on the toddler's bedroom this weekend, John Deere Green and Yellow, he keeps asking me, 'paint my room mommy?'; I also have to get the invites for his [3rd] birthday out by Monday, after Hubby an I agree on when (he won't care, I just don't want him to feel left out and to make sure he blocks off that Saturday, for NO WORK). Just your typical average Wednesday.

I have been working reading through ARR reads so I can do a Beta read for Dana next week, which I am thrilled to be doing, her last novel, 'Revenge', left me on the edge of my seat. My plan is to read it next week and get at least one author interview next week as well. I may even go out on a limb and email a few other authors I have been in contact with or are fans of and see if they will let me interview them for my blog here, never know they might accept.

It's been a crazy week so far with my oldest getting out of school early for parent teacher conferences, right in the middle of toddler nap time. The great news is that my son was asked to take the Advanced 7th Grade English class next year, which I guess is hard to get into; well, since he will be in a different school district that won't work, so I am going to contact the new school and see if they will accept him into their Advanced English Class. I am very proud of my kiddo, he earned ice cream yesterday; we still have some things to work on as far as turning in math homework and not acting up in class, he is all boy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review "Suddenly a Spy" by Heather Huffman

**Disclaimer** ARR review. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This novel starts at Victoria's wedding to the handsome Rick; the perfect wedding, the perfect dress, the perfect groom, the exgirlfriend who shows up and pisses off the bride at her own reception!!! Turns out that Victoria doesn't know as much about her new husband as she previously thought she did.

'Suddenly a Spy' has lots of twist and turns keeping the reader engaged as you follow Victoria and her spy husband. This novel comes after the one I previously reviewed of Heather's; it was nice to see a 'familiar face' even if only for a few pages when you meet up with Devon from 'Ring of Fire' on his plantation in Ecuador for what Victoria discovers is not only a month of training but putting her young marriage to a test. Like the last novel, this one tackles a growing problem, this time Heather addresses human trafficking; she doesn't go into a lot of detail with it, you do see the seedy side of it, but nothing that would make my stomach turn which was/is a relief.

As 'Suddenly a Spy' progresses you watch how a new marriage can be put to the test as Rick and Victoria battle again Marco and his evil cartel. You travel all over the world with Victoria and rick from the Carabean, to Europe to Central America and back to the US.

I found myself feeling for Victoria and wanting her to succeed as she was thown into a world where danger literally lurks all around her and she doesn't know who to trust and if her new marriage is where she wants to be.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review "Ring of Fire" by Heatherr Huffman

**DISCLAIMER** I received a copy of this in exhange for a review.

I gave 'Ring of Fire' 4 stars, the biggest reason is that the underliying theme of 'green energy' being good is in conflict to my personal views, other than that, I loved the book. Also, I expected more 'intimacy' than the book delivered.

This was the first novel I have read by Heather and her writing style and the way she kept the reader engaged in the story with little twists and turns kept me reading. I started to fall in love with the young Lani in this novel, her courage and the way that she went with the flow was a great addition to the novel. Daniel "Joey" and Alex make a great pair, they fight and they butt heads throughout the novel making for some great argument and political sceans.

While reading 'Ring of Fire' I was impressed by the way that Heather kept the story line progressing and and the growth that the supporting characters as well as the main characters showed as the novel went on.

My 12yr old son caught the name of the book and started to tell me all about 'The Ring of Fire' and asked me why I was reading a 'school book'; I had to laugh, I was waiting for him to ask about the Johnny Cash song. However, my son did sit down and read a few pages of the novel; he liked the 'explosive' beginning, so he may end up reading this in the near future.

All in all, the novel lived up to my expectations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review "The Goat and the Heathen" by Jessa Callaver

**Disclaimer** ARR review. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
In this erotic menage tale, you meet Aja, Olivia and Hayden. Two roommates who like to experiment and on this night, invite Hayden over for a night hot naughty mischief.

The tale begins as the girls are getting ready for their tryst with Hayden; everything is set, the 'outfits' the erotic food, all they need is Hayden to make things complete. As a gentleman, Hayden arrives early and surprises Aja who is still a bit hesitenat regarding the impending enounter.

As the tale goes on, the girls and Hayden explore eachother and their own sexuality. In the end, one of the girls leaves her girl friend to Hayden and indulge in her own wiles elsewhere.

This is a great hot read for a lunch break or while waiting behind a long train.

Book Review "The Very Thought of Him" by Jessa Callaver

**Disclaimer** ARR review. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
This is a short erotic story; I found it hot and saucy, the perfect read for during lunch or when you want to let your mind wander to a naughty fantasy. 'Christine' shows up at a hotel dressed as a 'naughty school girl' to meet 'Kelly', a stranger who she has exchanged very little communication with for some no strings attached fun. 'Christine' is a minx when it comes to seducing and pleasuring 'Kelly', well, 'Kelly' gives as good as he gets. Jessa's writing is very descriptive and shows the passion between these two strangers. 

This erotic tale has a twist that keeps the reader guessing and asking for more. But, is it 'the end' or not?!

Book Review "Go No Sen" by Jacques Antioine

**Disclaimer** ARR review. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This novel is not what I expected. It had a slow start, but once you got past the first few chapters which set up the rest of the book, it went well. I am impressed with the author's attention to detail when talking about the various martial arts that our heroine, Emily Kane has been trained in.

Emily is not your typical high school senior; she is a tomboy, she is a master of Kung Fu, Shotokan and aikido; she also kicks some serious butt!!

Emily's father, George Kane, is a bodyguard/chauffeur. George taught Emily to be able to survive, not only in the mountains and that surround when they live in the Carolina's, but also in life.

As the story progresses Emily has to deal with the information that her father tells her after their narrow escape from a group of commandos; after escaping and losing her father, she is back to school the next week. How many teenagers would have the courage to do that, let alone adults when faced with incredible odds.

Emily grows through the novel, she learns to trust her instincts more and to lean on her friends all while thwarting the attempts on her life and putting a few egomaniacs in their place along the way.

This is just the first novel of a series. I enjoyed reading about Emily and watching her grow as a young lady who finds and makes her own way.

ARR Reads

In the coming weeks, I will be posting 'ARR' [Author(s) Requesting Reviews] reviews. As an avid [romance] reader, I am always looking for new athors or for authors who are not yet in the mainstream, as such, I am volunteering to do these reads; not all of my reviews will be this type, right now that's what I have [open] on my Kindle and Nook . Their will be more book reviews in the coming months, along with recipes, craft stuff, canning pictures/recipes and anything else that comes across my mind to blog about.

My hubby and I are taking off in a few days, so no posts while we enjoy Vegas; I will post once we get back.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2 New Recipes

I tried 2 new recipes this weekend; they both take 5 ingredients or less and are easy to feed a crowd. I only took a picture of the dessert and once I figure out how to get it on here, I will add it later. The first is a 'Double Chocolate Bread Pudding' that I modified from one I found and the other is '7UP Pork Roast' a little experimenting in the kitchen paid off.

~*~Double Chocolate Bread Pudding~*~
- 4 C french bread, cubes
- 3 1/2C cold milk
- 1 large (5oz) package of Cook and Serve, Chocolate Pudding
- 6oz (half a regular package) of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • Preheat Oven to 350; spray a 8x8, 9x9 or deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk milk and chocolate pudding for 2 minutes.
  • Add bread cubes and toss to coat.
  • Pout into prepared dish and sprinkle chocolate chips over.
  • Bake 35 to 45mins, until center is 'set' and all bubbly.
  • Cool 10 mins.
  • Serve warm, hot or cold.
  • Serves 6 to 8
My boys and a friend gobbled this up, I served it with a little bit of whipped cream on top.

~*~7UP Pork Roast~*~
- 7UP
- Boneless Pork Roast, thawed
- Tuscan Seasoning

  • Place pork roast in the bottom of crock pot.
  • Pour 7UP over the roast leaving enough to cover the bottom of the crock pot.
  • Sprinkle Tuscan Seasoning over the roast.
  • Put lid on, turn the crock pot to High, walk away for 3 to 5 hrs, depending on the size of roast.
I served ours warm over salad. It's that easy and turned out wonderful.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Hubby

It doesn't matter how many times my husband travels for work and then comes home, after a few days, I miss him almost to the point of tears when I finally have him back. During the growing season he is gone on a regular basis, so from February to the end of October he is gone an average of 15 to 20 days a month. With all that traveling, he makes time to call me several times during the day just to see how my day is going, how the kids are and just to connect, that's one of the reasons why I love that man. That song by Brad pasley 'I'm Still A Guy' is my husband to a T. I've seen him be very protective and I have seen him melt, like when he held our youngest after he was born, almost 3yrs ago.

Few people know of his 'romantic' side, yet, those who have seen it or in some cases helped him pull things off know, he is not as tough as others think he is, especially when it comes to me or the children.

Now, if you ask him who I love more him or my books, he might not answer you, lol. I tell him, "I'm IN LOVE with you, but, I love the men in my books too." What girl doesn't love the 'hero', books give a few minutes break in an otherwise crazy world, schedule, life and they slow things down. Husband stopped asking me why I read or what I'm reading, as long as he can put his head in my lap while I read and he watches tv when he is home, that's all he cares about, ok, that and that I keep rubbing his head or I'm eating something, he zones out and relaxes.

Well, Hubby got home last night an I am off to try to primer the guest room before we have guests next week, I just have to convince Toddler that he really DOES want to take a nap.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review!!! "Revenge" by Dana Delamar

**DISCLAIMER** Dana sent me a free copy to review; I'm so glad she did. :-)

I'm not usually the kind of person who will seek out a book that talks about the Mafia - I'm not a fan of 'stuff in boxes', etc, however, in this case, I'm very glad I took the chance and read it. The amount of research that Dana did was impressive. The way she captured the language, the way that the Mafioso works in that area, the 'code' that some of the more 'respectable' Mafioso stick too and the visuals of the area are fantastic.

Quick breakdown of the novel ~

Kate, a fair skinned American beauty, is living in Italy; she married Vince Andretti after a whirlwind courtship and not knowing that much about his 'family'. Kate's gut has told her something is 'amiss' about her husband, little does she know that he is part of the ruthless Andretti family.

Enter Enrico Lucchesi, a handsome, widowed businessman who also happens to be the capo of the Lucchesi family; he is also Kate's boss at the orphanage where Vince has reluctantly let Kate work.

Enter the twists and turns of this compelling novel.

Dana weaves such a wonderful story of love, passion, treachery, 'old code' and lies that I stayed up til after midnight reading. The novel got a slow start, then once it got going you were drawn into this 'world' where people live by a different set of rules. A world where men have closed door meetings, where you might receive something in a box that belonged to someone you and love as a 'message'.

You watch the main characters grow, they fight, the love, they lie and they feel; they are well rounded and you can actually picture running into them in Italy and seeing the events unfold. The end of the book left me wanting to read the next novel.

Book Review!! "Because of You" by Jessica Scott

**Disclaimer** I won a free signed copy of 'Because of You' from Jessica Scott in a goodreads giveaway.

This book has to be on my top 20 books. The characters, Jen & Shane are not like any other characters I have ever encountered in all my years of reading. They are VERY realistic and they face challenges that many are facing today. I haven't read any other 'military' based novels before, yet, as I read this novel I was captivated by Jessica's writing and story telling.

Knowing that Jessica is/was in the military shines through as she tells this modern romance between two people who basically start out as strangers and end up helping each other heal. Shane and Jen both have scars, some physical and some deeper.

While reading this novel I was drawn into the realities of what military families have to endure as their loved ones go off to war for months or even years, then come back some times in pieces. 'Because of You' takes the reader on an emotional journey as you watch Shane and Jen grow together and face their own demons.

As I read this novel, I started to put myself in the character's shoes; Jen faces what so many other women have and are going through, just as Shane faces what many many men and women face everyday. Both characters are very likable and you cheer for them and feel for them as you get to know them.

Would I read it again, definitely. It's a MUST read for anyone who likes characters that are NOT perfect and are very realistic. You can picture this novel as a biography or a glimpse into the lives of two friends.


Welcome to my little piece of the blog world.  I'm a Conservative Domestic Goddess who decided I would try my hand at blogging and sharing with others what I do as a Domestic Goddess everything from political views (on occasion) to book reviews to recipes and canning pictures to just being a mother and wife.  As this is my first post, I will keep it short for now and as time goes on, I'm sure my posts will be a bit more in deapth and longer, so hold onto your smartphones and laptops its going to be an interesting ride.