Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Christmas in Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts



Title: CHRISTMAS IN ICICLE FALLS
Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Pages: 368
Genre: Women’s Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She's thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it's a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there's a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who's loved her for years. Except, she's not the only one seeing Arnie's potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel's ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she's adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the "ugly trees" in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.

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Book Excerpt:
Chapter One
“This is the time of year to give thanks for all the wonderful people in our lives.”
- A Guide to Happy Holidays by Muriel Sterling
-      
Thanksgiving, a day to spend with family, to give thanks for all your blessings, to … have a close encounter with your cranky neighbor’s shrubbery. Oh, yes, this was how Sienna Marks wanted to start her day.
Why, oh, why, had she ventured out in her car on an icy street to go to the grocery store for more milk when she could have asked her cousin Rita Reyes to bring it? Rita’s husband Tito worked at the Safeway meat department. He could have picked up a gallon.
But oh, no. She had to go out on her cheap no-weather tires. She should have stretched her budget a little further and gotten those snow tires like Rita had told her to do. “Here in the mountains you want snow tires,” Rita had said.
Yes, she did, especially now as she was skidding toward Mr. Cratchett’s front yard.
“We’re gonna die!” her nine – year old son Leo cried and clapped his hands over his eyes as they slid up and over Mr. Cratchett’s juniper bush. Sienna could hear the branches crunching under them, the bush equivalent of breaking bones. Madre de Dios!
The good news was, the bush brought her to a stop. The bad news was she was stopped right in front of Mr. Cratchett’s house.
Maybe she hadn’t damaged the bush too much. “It’s okay, honey. We’re fine,” she assured her son, and got out of the car on shaky legs. She probably couldn’t say the same for Mr. Cratchett’s landscaping.
She was barely out of her car before her neighbor stormed down the walk, an ancient navy pea coat thrown on over pajama bottoms stuffed into boots, a knitted cap pulled over his sparse gray hair. He was scowling. Great.
“What have you done to my juniper bush?” he demanded.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Cratchett. “I hit a slippery spot.”
“You shouldn’t be out if you don’t know how to drive in the snow,” Cratchett growled.
She wasn’t sure how she’d learn to drive in the snow if she didn’t get out in it but she decided this wasn’t the time for that observation.
He leaned over the bush like a detective examining a corpse. “This thing will never come back. You’ve damaged it beyond repair.”
“I’ll buy you a new one come spring,” Sienna promised.
“You certainly will,” he snapped. “If you don’t, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer. You’re becoming a real nuisance.”
“So are you,” she muttered as she got back into her car.
“He’s mad,” Leo observed.
There was an understatement. “It’s okay,” she said as much to herself as her son. She put the car into gear, held her breath and inched toward their driveway. The car swayed as they turned in. Ooooh.
“I want to get out,” Leo said.
“Stay put. We’re fine.” She bit her lip as she braked – oh, so gently – and the car fishtailed to a stop right before she hit the garage door.
She let out her breath. There. Something to be thankful for.
She could see Cratchett standing on his front walk, glaring at her. “You shouldn’t be driving,” he called.
Yeah, well, neither should he. She’d seen him behind the wheel and he was scary even when there wasn’t snow. Honestly, what had she ever done to deserve inheriting him?
“Just lucky, I guess,” teased her cousin Rita later as Sienna recounted her day’s adventures to her family over their evening Thanksgiving feast.
There were plenty of people present to enjoy it – Rita, her husband Tito and their toddler Linda were present along with Sienna’s tia, Mami Lucy and Tito’s sister and brother-in-law and their two small children. It was Sienna’s first holiday celebration in her new house and she loved being able to fill it with company.
Especially on Thanksgiving, which was her favorite holiday. The food – turkey and pork, tamales, Mami’s arroz con gandules, coquito and flan for dessert, the music – salsa, merengue, and bachata, and, of course, time with family. With her parents and two brothers still in L.A. it was a comfort to be able to have her aunt and cousin living in the same town. It was also nice to have them right here to complain to.
No, wait. No complaining on Thanksgiving. She was simply venting. Justifiably venting. “I mean it’s not like I meant to run over Mr. Cratchett’s juniper bush.”
“You didn’t exactly get practice driving in snow down in L.A.” Rita said consolingly.
“That man.” She shook her head in disgust as she helped herself to more fruit salad. “Neighbors should come with a warning label.”
“This one should have,” Sienna said. “He shouldn’t be allowed to have neighbors. He should be hermit. Actually, he’s already close to one. He hardly ever comes out of that big, overgrown house of his except to yell at me.” Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration.
Or not.
“Mr. Cratchett’s mean to me, too, Mommy,” put in Leo.
Tito shook his head. “Threatening to call the cops over a baseball through the window.”
“I didn’t do that,” Leo declared hotly. “It was Tommie Haskell. Tommy said it was me.”
Poor Leo had taken the fall and Sienna had bought Mr. Cratchett a new window.
“Culo,” muttered Tito. “I should have come over and taken a baseball to the old dude’s head.”
Tito’s sister pointed her fork at him. “Then he really would have called the cops.”
“He’s been there, done that,” Sienna said. “Remember?”
“Yes, making such a stink when we had your housewarming party,” Rita said in disgust. “Too loud my ass. It was barely nine.”
“Maybe that’s what got us started on the wrong foot,” Sienna mused.
Tito frowned and shook his head. “No. The dude’s a cabrĂ³n.”
“Oh, well. Let’s not think about him anymore,” Sienna said. There were plenty of nice people in town to make up for her un-neighborly neighbor. She liked Rita’s boss, Charley Masters, who owned Zelda’s restaurant, and Bailey Black, who owned a teashop, was quickly becoming a good friend. Pat York, her boss at Mountain Escape Books was great, and Pat’s friends had all taken her under their wings.
“Good idea,” agreed Rita. “Pass the tamales.”
Venting finished, Sienna went back to concentrating on counting her blessings. So she didn’t have husband. (Who wanted a creep who walked away when the going got tough, anyway?) She had her family, new friends, a wonderful job and a pretty house. It wasn’t as big as Cratchett’s corner lot mansion – nobody’s was – but it had three bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchen with lots of cupboard space, and it was all hers. Or it would be in thirty years. And she had the sweetest son a woman could ask for. Her life was good, so more complaining, er, venting.

Olivia Wallace’s feet hurt. So did her back. For that matter, so did her head. Serving Thanksgiving dinner to all her guests at the Icicle Creek Lodge was an exhausting undertaking, even with help.
Thank God she’d had help. Although one particular ‘helper,” her new daughter-in-law, had been about as helpful as a road block.
“I was a waitress at the Full Table Buffet,” Meadow had bragged. “No problemo.”
She’d showed off her experience by setting the tables wrong, spilling gravy in a customer’s lap and then swearing at him when he got upset with her. She’d capped the day off by leaving halfway through serving the main course.
“Meadow doesn’t feel good,” Olivia’s son Brandon had explained.
Meadow didn’t feel good? Olivia hadn’t felt so good herself. She’d been nursing a headache for days. (Perhaps it had something to do with the arrival of her new daughter-law?) But running an inn was not much different than show business. The show must go on.
And so it had, but Olivia was still feeling more than a little cranky about the performance of one particular player. “Whatever did he see in her?” she complained to her husband as James rubbed her tired feet. Besides the obvious. The girl was pretty – in a brassy, exotic way. Brandon had always dated good-looking women.
James wisely didn’t answer.
Olivia had been longing to see her baby boy married for years, but she hadn’t expected him to sneak off to Vegas to do it. She certainly hadn’t expected him to commit so quickly, before anyone hardly had a chance to get to know her. Before he hardly even had a chance to get to know her!
Brandon had met Meadow when he was skiing. She’d been hanging out at the ski lodge at Crystal Mountain after her first ski lesson and there was poor, unsuspecting Brandon. They’d wound up having dinner together and then spent the night partying. That had been the beginning of private ski lessons followed by private parties for two. And then it was, “Oops, I’m pregnant.” And that was followed by, “Surprise, we’re married.” Of course, all this had taken place quite clandestinely. He’d only known this girl a few months. Months! And never said anything about her. Now, suddenly, here they were married. And, well, here they were.
Not that Olivia wasn’t happy to have her wandering boy home again, ready to help run the family business. It was just that the woman he’d brought with him was taking some getting used to. Actually, a lot of getting used to.
The couple had started out living in Seattle and Brandon had settled down and gotten a job working for large company that was slowly taking over the city. The benefits were great, but the hours were long, and Meadow had complained. So he’d called Mom and suggested coming back. The lodge would be passed on to him and Eric anyway, so of course, she’d gotten a little suite ready for them, one similar to what her older son Eric and his wife had, making them all one big, happy family.
With a cuckoo in the nest.
“She tricked him into marrying her, I’m sure,” Olivia muttered.
Olivia’s second son had always been a bit of a ladies’ man, but she’d never known Brandon to be irresponsible. The idea that he’d gotten someone pregnant – someone he barely knew and who so clearly was not his type – didn’t make sense to her at all. It was just so unlike him, In fact, the more she thought about it after hearing the news the more she couldn’t help the sneaking suspicion that the whole pregnancy thing had been a ploy to pin Brandon down. Olivia’s suspicion only grew when, a few weeks after they were married they told her the pregnancy had ended. It was a terrible thing to think, and yet Olivia couldn’t shake the feeling that there probably hadn’t even been a baby – only a trashy girl looking to snag a good-looking man and some financial security. How had she been able to afford ski lessons, anyway?
Okay, she had to admit that Brandon did seem smitten with Meadow. So there had to be something hiding behind the trashy clothes, the lack of manners, the self-centeredness, and haze of smoke from her E-cigarettes. Such a filthy habit, smoking, and so bad for your health.
“I’d rather smoke than be fat,” Meadow had said to Olivia when she had – politely – brought up the subject.
Olivia was a little on the pudgy side. Was that a slur?
Not only did Meadow appear to disapprove of Olivia’s looks, she obviously disapproved of her decorating skills. The first thing out of her mouth when she’d seen the lodge had been, “Whoa, look at these granny carpets.”
Granny carpets indeed! Those rose patterned carpets were classic, and they’d cost Olivia a small fortune when she first put them in. Plus, they complemented the many antiques Olivia had in the lobby and the guest rooms. Well, all right. So the girl had different tastes. (Obviously she wouldn’t know an antique if she tripped over one.) But did she have to be so … vocal?
She’d hardly raved over the small apartment that Olivia had given her and Brandon. She’d walked into the bedroom and frowned. “Where’s the closet?”
Olivia had pointed to the German antique pine armoire and said, “This is it. It’s a Shrank.”
“A what?”
“For your clothes.”
“I’m supposed to fit all my clothes in there?”
Taking in Meadow’s skimpy skirt and midriff-bearing top, Olivia had doubted that her clothes would take up much room. “I’m sure Brandon can remodel for you,” Olivia had said stiffly.
“I hope so.” Meadow had drifted over to the window and looked out. “Wow, that’s some view.”
At least she’d appreciated the view.
“It’s gonna be really cool living here,” she’d said, and Olivia almost warmed to her until she added, “Once we fix this place up.”
“So what do you think of Meadow?” Brandon had asked after the first he brought her home to meet Mom.
By then they were already married. It had been too late to say what she really thought. “Wasn’t this a little fast? I always thought we’d have a wedding.” I always thought you’d pick someone we wanted you to marry.
That was when he’d blushed and confessed that they were pregnant. They’d wanted to get married anyway, so what the hell.
What the hell indeed.
“Dear, this isn’t like you,” James said, bringing Olivia out of her unpleasant reverie. “You’re normally so kind-hearted and welcoming.”
“I’ve welcomed her,” Olivia insisted. She’d given the girl a home here at the inn with the rest of the family. That was pretty welcoming.
But you haven’t exactly taken her in with open arms.
The thought gave her conscience a sharp poke and she squirmed on the sofa. Her cat Muffin, who had been happily encamped on her lap, meowed in protest.
“If only she was more like Brooke,” Olivia said as if that excused her attitude. “At least Eric got it right.” Brooke was refined and well educated and loved the lodge. Not only did she truly want to be helpful, she actually was. She and Olivia were on the same wave length.
James couldn’t help smiling at the mention of his daughter. It had been Brooke who was responsible for James and Olivia meeting. “No one’s like Brooke,” he said proudly.
“She is one of a kind, just like her daddy.”
James, who had spent most of his life playing Santa Claus, was as close to the real deal as a man could come. With his snowy white hair and beard, husky build and caring smile, he embodied the very spirit of Christmas.
“Thank you, my dear,” he said, and gave her poor, tired foot a pat. “But, getting back to the subject of Meadow, I’m sure she has many redeeming qualities. All you have to do is look for them.”
“With a magnifying glass.”
“Olivia,” he gently chided.
“You’re right. I’m just having such a hard time warming to the girl.”
“I know. But this is the woman Brandon has chosen.”
Olivia sighed. “Yes, and I need to make more of an effort for his sake.”
And she would. Tomorrow was another day.
Another busy day. They’d be decorating the lodge for the holidays. Meadow had been excited over the prospect and assured Olivia she loved to decorate. Hopefully, she’d be better at that than she was at helping serve food.
The next morning, Eric was knocking on the door of Olivia’s little apartment in the lodge. “We ready to do this?” he asked James.
“Yep. Let’s start hauling up the holidays.”
There was plenty to haul up from the huge basement storeroom where Olivia kept the holiday decorations – ornaments to go on the eight-foot noble fir they’d purchased for one corner of the lobby as well as ones for the tree in the dining room, snow globes and red ribbons for the fireplace mantel and, of course, the antique sleigh which would sit right in the center of the lobby. It was a favorite with their guests and people were constantly taking pictures of it. There were stuffed Teddy bears and antique dolls to ride in the sleigh, mistletoe to hang in the hallways, and silk poinsettias to be placed on the reception desk. Decorating the inn was an all hands on deck day.
“Where’s your brother?” Olivia asked as he set down the box of toys for the sleigh.
“He’s coming. Meadow’s just now getting up. They closed down The Man Cave last night and she’s pooped.”
So, she’d recovered from her earlier illness. How convenient. “Maybe she’s too tired to help,” Olivia said hopefully. Playing pool all night could be exhausting.
No such luck. Fifteen minutes later Olivia and Brooke were sorting through the first bin of decorations when Meadow dragged herself into the lobby accompanied by Brandon. She was wearing tight, ripped jeans, complimented with a sheer blouse hanging loose over a low cut red camisole which perfectly matched the patch of hair she’d died red. The rest was a color of blonde that made Olivia think of lightbulbs. Olivia could just see the tip of the wings on the butterfly Meadow had tattooed over her right breast peeking over the top of the camisole. She made a shocking contrast to Brooke with her soft brown hair and tasteful clothes. Now almost eight months pregnant, she was wearing a long, gray sweater accented with a blue silk scarf over her black maternity leggings and gray ankle boots. Meadow even looked like a total mismatch with Brandon, who was in jeans and a casual, button down black plaid shirt.
“I feel like shit,” she confessed. “I think those fish tacos were off.” She shook her head. “Now I know what they mean when they say toss your tacos.”
The queen of refinement this girl was not. To think Brandon could have had sweet little Bailey Black for a daughter-in-law if only he’d gotten with the program. Bailey had carried a torch for him for years. Too late now. She was happily married. And Brandon was … trapped. So were the rest of them.
You’re going to have to make the best of it, Olivia reminded herself. Her son loved his new wife. He’d obviously seen something in her. She probably would too. If she looked harder.
James and Eric arrived in the lobby bearing more decorations. “You’re just in time,” Eric told his brother. “You can help me haul in the sleigh.”
Brandon nodded and followed the men back out.
Olivia pasted a smile on her face. “Well, girls, let’s get started.”
“All right. This is going to be fun,” Meadow said eagerly, and opened a bin.
Eager and excited to help, that was commendable.
Meadow pulled out a pink ribbon ball holding a sprig of silk mistletoe and made a face. “What the hell is this?”
“It’s mistletoe,” Olivia explained.
“Mistletoe.” Meadow said it like it was a foreign language.
“You’ve heard of mistletoe, right?” Brooke prompted and Meadow shook her head.
Both Olivia and Brooke stared at her in amazement.
“So, what is it?”
“You hang it up and then when you catch someone under it you kiss him,” Brooke explained.
Meadow shook her head. “Why do you need a plant for that? If you want to kiss a guy just kiss him!”
Good Lord. The child was a complete Philistine.
Brooke smiled. “It’s a fun, little tradition people enjoy.”
“Whatever,” Meadow said, unimpressed.
She was impressed with the sleigh though. “Wow, that’s epic.” The minute the men had set it down she climbed into it and tossed Brandon her cell phone. “Take my picture, babe,” she commanded and struck a rapper girl pose, complete with the weird finger thing and the pout.
An older couple was walking through the lobby, and the husband stopped to enjoy the moment. “Now there’s my kind of Christmas present,” he joked.
His wife, not seeing the humor, grabbed his arm and got him moving again. “Tacky,” she hissed.
Meadow flipped her off and Olivia’s cheeks heated.
Dear Santa, please bring me an extra dose of patience. I’m going to need it.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Her Final Watch by Marguerite Ashton



Title: HER FINAL WATCH
Author: Marguerite Ashton
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: 296
Genre: Crime

BOOK BLURB: 

Speaking second-hand truths can be deadly …

Detective Lily Blanchette will stop at nothing to solve a murder. Her current case involves the killing of an undercover cop working to bring down the mob for prostitution and drugs.

But Lily's usual laser-like focus on the case has been disrupted.

Two weeks earlier, she learned she was pregnant by her murderous husband whom she'd killed in self-defense. Unsure whether to keep her baby or place the child of this cruel man up for adoption, Lily keeps the pregnancy a secret from her colleagues.

Under mounting pressure to solve the case, Lily arranges a sit-down with a local mob boss only to find out her suspect is also wanted by them. But before Lily can warn her team, she and her new partner, Jeremiah, are shot at, and another body is found.

When she discovers Jeremiah has a connection with the underworld, she is pulled into a conflict that swirls around the boss's son who's hell-bent on revenge.

To add to the complexity of the situation, Lily learns that her victim might still be alive if it wasn't for opportunistic Assistant District Attorney, Ibee Walters, who has a twisted vision of justice.

As Lily gets closer to finding the killer, she unravels ugly secrets that point to Ibee and Jeremiah - placing Lily's life and her unborn child in danger.

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Book Excerpt:

Detective Ariel Weeks stabbed at the small block of ice until it split into several pieces across the counter. She tossed the jagged cubes into the glass and made her client a drink.

In less than twenty-four hours, Ariel would no longer have to use the name Jasmine and keep men company to protect her cover. All she needed to do was make it through this last night and she’d be allowed to be who she was; a mom just doing her job.

After gathering evidence and recording all the data she had, it would be hard to detach. Towards the end, she’d learned things she wished weren’t true, leaving her stomach in tattered knots.

Back at home, there were two reasons Ariel would never take on another undercover assignment.

Click.

Ariel ground her teeth as the door to Cabin D opened and closed. She could feel Mikey Surace, the mob boss’s son, staring at the backless white dress she wore at his request.

The man who smiled at the sight of blood was standing behind her, breathing heavily.

Nadya's War by C.S. Taylor



Title: NADYA’S WAR
Author: C.S. Taylor
Publisher: Tiny Fox Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Fiction

BOOK BLURB: 

Nadezdah "Little Boar" Buzina, a young pilot with the Red Army's 586th all-female fighter regiment, dreams of becoming an ace. Those dreams shatter when a dogfight leaves her severely burned and the sole survivor from her flight.

For the latter half of 1942, she struggles against crack Luftwaffe pilots, a vengeful political commissar, and a new addiction to morphine, all the while questioning her worth and purpose in a world beyond her control. It's not until the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad that she finds her unlikely answers, and they only come after she's saved the life of her mortal enemy and fallen in love with the one who nearly kills her.

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Amazon


Book Excerpt:

Seven of us zipped through the overcast sky, a dozen meters beneath the cloud layer. Gridnev flew lead and a girl named Tania from First Squadron flew on his wing. Alexandra and I cruised next to them about thirty meters away. I pictured myself as a modern version of my ancestors who rode into battle on horseback, courageous and strong. If only they could see me now, sailing through the air to drive off the invaders. I wondered if they’d be proud or jealous. Maybe both.
The four of us escorted a flight of three Pe-2s from the 150th High-Speed Bomber Regiment across the snowy landscape. That unit was led by Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Polbin who I’d heard was quite the commander. I’d also heard he enjoyed music and sang well, like me, which made me think we’d get along—even if he was a die-hard communist and loyal to Stalin.
The twin-engine Peshkas flew nearly as fast as our fighters, something I was grateful for. I’m certain the three crew members inside each bomber were thankful as well, since unlike the German Heinkels and Stukas, these planes were tough to catch for any aircraft. That being said, I was glad I was in my Yak-1. I wouldn’t have wanted to fly one of those bombers at all, no matter how prestigious they were. They were still big targets, and far less nimble than the fighter I had. I prayed we’d keep them safe.
All the Pe-2s, however, did have fresh, winter paint jobs. Their off-white and tan colors hid them well in the surroundings, and if I wasn’t paying close attention, I’d even lose sight of them from time to time. Their target was a rail depot the Germans were using to bring in supplies and troops headed to Stalingrad. Obliterating it would disrupt logistics and force the Luftwaffe to keep it safe once rebuilt.
With luck, the Germans wouldn’t spot the Peshkas until the bombs were already dropping and they were headed home. I fantasized about how easy of a mission this could be as we went deeper into enemy lines. Those thoughts almost turned into dreams as the drone from my fighter’s engine combined with the dreary sky nearly put me to sleep, despite the digging pain in my arm.
“Tighten up, Little Boar,” Gridnev called out over the radio.
My eyes snapped to the formation. I’d drifted away from the bombers by a good fifty meters sideways and at least that in altitude. I glanced over my shoulder to see Alexandra off to my right. She’d stayed with me even as I wandered. “Reforming now. Thought I saw something below and wanted a better view.”


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Nature of Entangled Hearts by Emma Hartley



Title: THE NATURE OF ENTANGLED HEARTS
Author: Emma Hartley
Publisher: Satin Romance
Pages: 277
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal Romance/Thriller/Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction

BOOK BLURB: 

The Nature of Entangled Hearts is a fast-paced, edgy, romantic thriller, with a subtly supernatural twist.  Enter the story of Elwyn and James, two strangers entangled by their past-life experiences, who are mired in an unquantifiable present.  Throughout the novel they work to understand the bonds that hold them together, just as an unforeseen danger threatens to tear them apart. 
                                                   
Elwyn “Derrin” Derringer is a ceramic artist and a professor at the local college of art in Portland, Maine.  She has always felt insecure and disconnected, unsure of how or why she fits into the world, seeking through her art to fill in the missing pieces of herself.  When Elwyn’s eyes lock on those of a stranger across the market, everything she has taken for granted as reality is thrown into question.  Understanding blooms in fits and starts, interrupted by her fears of attachment and eventually by the unwanted attentions of an obsessed and disturbed art student.

Throughout the novel, Elwyn discovers reservoirs of strength and independence as she faces these challenges, endearing the reader with her feisty nature and her fierce desires to create authentically, to love intensely and to transcend the destructive links to her past.  “The Nature of Entangled Hearts” takes us on a thrilling ride through past and present, through love and dread, through loss and reclamation, leaving us thankful that we don’t understand all the mysteries of the universe just yet, and reminding us never to take our lives - or our loves - for granted.

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Book Excerpt:
“Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears -
To-morrow ? - Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.”
                        The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
                        Translated by Edward FitzGerald


Prologue

Insecurity nestled in my breast like a needy child. I grew restless as it sucked something essential from me, thriving on my offering just as I, in turn, withdrew. I didn’t wish anymore, it seemed so pointless. I didn’t wait for some great epiphany. I existed, and that was enough, I told myself, for in contrast with the suffering of the rest of the world, it seemed only right to be thankful for the quietude of Maine.
I created relative to this insecurity, allowing it to flow into my work like water moistening clay. Without water, clay is dust. I thought that without my flaws—insecurity the reigning tyrant of lesser beasts—that my work would crumble under the weight of its own mediocrity. So, I let it govern my forms, my choices, my superficial acceptance of appreciative art collectors. Insecurity was the excuse that allowed me to embrace inferiority. With hope all but lost of finding any true meaning besides beauty in the world about me, I crept catatonic through my life, eyes barely open, heart nearly closed.
I’d spent most of my adult life in the great state of Maine. Portland drew me in after grad school and never let me go. There was always some new allure: The skeletal remains of an ancient pier ascending bleached from the ravages of low tide, exposed like the ribcage of a long extinct behemoth; verdigris copper edging along a crumbling slate roof, tattered like the lace on an old prom dress; the punishing crash of waves against the ferry’s bough, speeding undaunted through winter waters, as I enjoyed my own private cruise. This place had almost everything I needed to thrive. Almost.
Might not love play a part, I wondered in weak moments, in this deceptive spring landscape? Like a lupine seed blown from afar, rooting along the roadside, might it flourish? Then, how could this fragile shoot grow strong enough, fast enough, to outpace the onslaught of winter, or can love thaw the very air around it, creating a protective shield against the elements? Would time then corrupt it? Erode it like tiny drops of water on stone, wearing away elasticity and alacrity, making barren what would have borne fruit?
I had felt winter’s claws dig in, pinning me down like prey, waiting to crush my spirit. I had felt the rebirth of sunshine and growth, spilling into crevices nearly abandoned, a resurgence of breath to revive the long dead. The lost, the lonely, the artistically bereft, we have found ourselves drawn to Maine for an age, it’s the mercurial edge between civilization and wilderness. We flock here yearning to flourish, as a tree may cling to a forbidding cliff, rooting desperate between chinks in granite, gaining purchase against elemental odds: we grow despite ourselves, our rugged forms belying the improbable tenacity of our hidden will to thrive, of our frozen desire for love.

Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Diabetes by Tony Hampton MD


Title: FIX YOUR DIET FIX YOUR DIABETES
Author: Tony Hampton, MD
Publisher: Windy City Publishers
Pages: 168
Genre: Self-Help

BOOK BLURB:
Want to fix your diabetes?  In this book, I share with my diabetic and borderline diabetic readers that they have the power to reverse or prevent diabetes simply by changing their diets.  It starts with how you think.  By removing old beliefs to new ones that better serve you, the path to recovery from diabetes can be that simple.  Once I provide the rationale for changing old beliefs to more productive ones, I then share with you ways to stay motivated as you journey to a new way of eating.  You are then given a deeper understanding of why so many people have diabetes.  This knowledge will allow you to remove thoughts you may have had where you blamed yourself for having diabetes.  You are then given tips on how to maintain the motivation needed to make a successful transition to a diabetic friendly diet.  Additional knowledge is given about the many complications which could occur when this condition is not well controlled.  Empowered with the understanding of why diabetes occurs and its many complications, you will be given a case for changing how diabetes is treated.  This is done by changing the focus of diabetes management away from the symptoms (elevated glucose), which is how we currently manage this condition, to treating the cause of the disease (insulin resistance).  You are then given the rationale for increasing healthy fats in your diets while reducing starchy carbohydrates and processed foods.  Once this is explained, examples of foods that should be considered for smoothies, snacks, and dinner are given so you will know how to choose foods which are best.   Finally, tips on how to avoid being fooled by marketing labels and claims of so-called healthy foods provide the framework by which great dietary choices can be made.  This new approach to reversing diabetes with diet will reverse diabetes in nearly anyone willing to make these simply lifestyle changes.

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Book Excerpt:

INSULIN RESISTANCE AND HOW TO REVERSE IT

Now that you understand that Type 2 diabetes is about insulin resistance, it’s time to rethink how you are approaching your treatment for this condition. Most doctors and their patients focus on reducing the blood glucose values and if they’re successful they feel they’re controlling diabetes. But I asked myself if we were fixing the core problem or simply treating the symptoms. After reflecting on the question, I realized the core problem may not be elevated blood glucose levels after all. High glucose values are simply a symptom of diabetes. So where should the focus be?

The answer is insulin resistance. By focusing on this, you could achieve much better results, since this is essential to fixing your diabetes. Let’s use an analogy to help think about this concept in a different way. If I see a patient who presents with a painful throat, red and swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and a fever, I know I likely have a patient who needs to be treated for strep throat. In order to solve his problem, I will need to give him an antibiotic to fight the bacteria that is causing his symptoms. If I gave this patient Tylenol, I would only be treating his symptoms, and would likely end up with a patient who feels better but isn’t really cured.

This is what we are doing with our diabetes treatment. This is also likely the reason we consider this a progressively worsening disease. By shifting your focus, you will find a path to the solution you’ve been searching for. Why focus on insulin resistance? Because when insulin levels are high due to resistance, lipolysis (fat breakdown) is inhibited, sensitive arteries throughout the body are exposed to damaging higher levels of glucose, muscle protein synthesis is reduced, and glycogen-filled cells are converted to fat for storage.

Monday, October 23, 2017

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'Dog Trouble' Galia Oz



Galia Oz was born in Kibbutz Hulda, Israel, in 1964. She studied film and Television in Tel Aviv University 1984-87.

Her award winning series of 5 books titled DOG TROUBLE was published in France, Spain and Brazil – and recently in the US by CROWN BOOKS Random House. The series is a steady seller in Israel for over 10 years (selling over 150,000 copies). 

Oz has directed several documentaries, all screened in international film festivals, and in Israeli leading television channels.

Over the years, Galia Oz has been meeting thousands of readers in Israeli elementary schools, and taught creative writing and classic children's literature to kids in public libraries.

Galia Oz is married and has two kids, a dog and a cat, and they all live in Ramat Hasharon, just outside Tel-Aviv.




About the Book:

Title: DOG TROUBLE!
Author: Galia Oz
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 144
Genre: Children's book for young readers, ages 8-12

BOOK BLURB: 

Readers who have graduated from Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean will fall head over heels for feisty Julie and her troublesome new dog.
 
Julie has only had her dog for two weeks, but she is already causing all sorts of problems. For starters, she is missing! Julie suspects the school bully Danny must be behind it. But it will take some detective work, the help of Julie’s friends, and maybe even her munchkin twin brothers to bring her new pet home.

Wonderfully sassy and endlessly entertaining, the escapades of Julie and her dog are just beginning!

Julie’s adventures have sold across the globe and been translated into five languages. Popular filmmaker and children’s author Galia Oz effortlessly captures the love of a girl and her dog.

"A funny exploration of schoolyard controversy and resolution.” –Kirkus Reviews 

"Will resonate with readers and have them waiting for more installments.” –Booklist  

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Welcome to PUYB Virtual Book Club, Galia! What do you believe prepared you for writing books for children?

I probably had no choice but to become a children's books writer. I can easily identify with children, and I can easily make them laugh. I tend to be impatient; therefore I stick to dynamic plots and short dialogues. I have an intense imagination. Sometimes it gets in my way when I try to relax, but it sure helps to identify with other human beings. I'm a pessimist – which comes in handy when I want to write a joke. But mostly, being a book warm since childhood has made me what I am.


The book describes the escapades of a group of children, all good friends (except for one unlucky bully who is not their friend), and the journey of one little dog. Can you tell us a little about the group of children?

Julie is a people's person, assertive but sensitive; Her cousin Effie is the fastest runner in her class, but suffers from low self-esteem and social anxiety; Brody is cynical and witty and reserved, but also a loyal friend; And Adam is actually a writer, even though he doesn’t know it yet. He invents the strangest tales, and sometimes other kids make fun of him for it. But they all listen to him, too.

I love children’s books that approach the subject of bullying. Do you feel that your book accomplishes that?

I hope I've accomplished one of my main goals – to avoid stereotypes. Danny is a lonely bully who annoys others just to get some attention. He can be mean and fragile at the same time. It's not a black-and-white reflection of reality.

Were you nervous writing this book because of the pressure of writing a book for children that they could relate to?

At first, I was. But the first DOG TROUBLE! (the series unclouded five books) received a warm welcome, both by critics and readers. I then felt more confident to go ahead and write the sequels. But I'm still uncertain about how I should approach my next book. And rightfully so: Having torturing doubts is a good thing for a writer… 

If you were to take a vacation with one of your characters, who would that be and where would you go?

I would choose Adam, and ask him to join me for a trip to the Kibbutz (the communal village) where I grew up in Israel. It would be a journey in time, too, back to my childhood. Adam is very much the portrayal of the kid I was: A day dreamer with limited social skills, a compulsive reader and writer who insisted on sharing imaginary tails with his surroundings, even at the cost of being mocked.
Would it be fun? Yes, because both of us would be able to appreciate the fact that taking the stand of the observer can be fun, too…

Can you tell us one thing about Dog Trouble that readers might not know?

All 5 DOG TROUBLE! books have been best sellers in Israel for the last 10 years.
Every year I meet with hundreds of readers across the country. Every now and then, kids knock on my door and I invite them in for a chat and hot chocolate. This is when I feel like a real writer…



Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Blast: A Tangled Web by Mike Martin @mike54martin #bookblast



 We're happy to bring you Mike Martin's A TANGLED WEB Book Blast! Please leave a comment for Mike to let him know you stopped by!


Title: A TANGLED WEB
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB: 

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

Find out more about when this book will be released at

Mike’s Facebook Page


Book Excerpt:


“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment. Life was very good indeed.
He had good friends, including Lady, who was amongst the best of them. And he had a child on the way. His wife, Sheila Hillier, was pregnant and at the clinic for her three-month checkup. He was waiting to hear how both Sheila and the baby were doing. His Auntie Marie had told him the baby was a girl, and if anyone knew about these things, it was his Auntie. She was a dream weaver, an interpreter of not just dreams but of messages from the spirit world. Windflower had recently spent a week with her and his Uncle Frank, another dream weaver, to learn more about the dream world.
Interpreting dreams was part of his family’s tradition. But it was an imperfect tool that gave information, not always answers. Perhaps the most important thing he learned was that dreams do not predict the future. Instead, as his Auntie told him, “Dreams tell us about our past, what has already happened. They also point to actions we should take if we want to get the right result in the future and to the signs all around us that we need to follow.”
Windflower was contemplating that piece of wisdom when he noticed a very distraught woman get out of her car outside the RCMP detachment in Grand Bank. She ran towards the front door. He walked out to meet her, but the administrative assistant, Betsy Molloy, beat him to it.
“There, there now, Molly. What’s goin’ on?” asked Betsy as she put her arms around the other woman and guided her to a seat in the reception area.
“It’s Sarah, she’s gone,” said the other woman between sobs. “I told her to stay close by the house where I could see her. I went out back to put the wash on the line. When I came in, she was gone.”
“Okay, Mrs. Quinlan,” said Windflower as he knelt down beside the two women. “How old is Sarah?” He didn’t really need to know how old the girl was. He wanted to help the mother calm down so she could give them as much information as possible.
“She’s going to be six next month,” said Molly Quinlan. “She’s growing up so fast. But she’s still such a little girl. And now I’ve lost her. Brent is going to kill me.” She started sobbing again.
“What was she wearing so that we can help find her?” asked Windflower, trying to get information but also trying to help Molly Quinlan feel useful.
The woman stopped crying and said her daughter was wearing jeans and a favourite t-shirt. “It was pink and had sparkles. She said it made her feel like she was a princess. And she had her light blue jacket on with a hood.”
Windflower smiled. “I’m sure she’ll show up soon. But let’s go over to where you last saw her, and we’ll start looking. She can’t have gone far. Leave your car here, and come with me. I’ll drive you over.” The woman smiled weakly at Windflower through her tears and allowed him to take her arm and guide her to his Jeep outside the door.
He returned inside to give directions to Betsy. “Get Constable Smithson in here. I’ll call Frost and get him to come in from his rounds.”
Betsy nodded her agreement, and Windflower went outside to drive Molly Quinlan home.
Meanwhile, it turns out, Sarah Quinlan was fine, perfectly fine. She had wandered a little way from home in the centre of town. She was going to go down to the nearby brook to feed the ducks. She knew better than to go into the water, but she couldn’t see any reason why she couldn’t just look. She’d done it before, and nobody seemed to mind. As long as she didn’t stay away too long, everything was okay.
Sarah had that great fearless attitude of a child who grew up in a small and very safe community. She knew most of her neighbours, and they all watched out for her. She also had the natural curiosity of little children, especially when she saw something new. The truck parked on the roadway above the brook was new, so Sarah went to take a closer look. Even better, the back door of the truck was open, and there was a ramp leading inside. This was certainly worth a closer inspection.
Sarah Quinlan was having fun exploring the back of the large truck when she heard a loud, rumbling noise. She didn’t know it, but the driver had started the engine. It was so loud, and Sarah was so frightened by it, she froze. The next thing she remembered was everything going almost completely black and the back door of the truck slamming shut. She cried out, but by then it was too late. Seconds later she, the truck and the unsuspecting driver were barrelling out of town and onto the highway.
Windflower drove Molly Quinlan to her house and got her to show him where Sarah had been playing. Together they walked through the house to see if the little girl had come home and hidden there. But no such luck. While they were searching the house, they were joined by two of Quinlan’s neighbours who took over Molly’s care and made her a cup of tea. Soon afterwards Constable Harry Frost arrived from his highway patrol.
Windflower gave him a quick update and directed him to go to one end of town to start the search. He would begin the house-to-house search through the neighbourhood when Smithson showed up.
He first checked out back and looked in the storage shed, a favourite hiding place of every little kid and probably where Windflower himself would have taken refuge. But Sarah was not there. As he went to the front of the house, Constable Rick Smithson showed up.
“Afternoon, Boss,” said Smithson. “Any sign of her yet?”
Windflower shook his head. “Frost is doing the big circle search. You and I will start the door-to-door. Ask them if they saw the girl this afternoon. I’ll start from here. You go down to the brook, and work your way up.”
Smithson returned to his cruiser and sped off. Windflower wasn’t worried. Yet. But he knew that the first few hours were crucial in finding a missing child. If they didn’t, then it was almost always something more serious. Not time to panic, but no time to waste. He walked up to the first door and knocked.




About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.

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