12/7/16

Christmas Kisses & Wishes - Sharon Kleve


4.5 Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
After her husband divorced her, Finn Dubose packed up her dog Scorch, gathered what was left of her dignity and set out on a twelve month adventure to find happiness.
All Finn wants is to go back to Charleston, South Carolina and spend the holidays with her grandmother after nine months of traveling from Florida, to Colorado, and then to Maine. But reluctantly, Finn promises Gran she’ll spend the last three months of the year in Seattle, Washington.
The spectacular vineyards in Eastern Washington entice Finn to drive from Seattle to the small town of Vine Grove. What she finds is a place full of kind, generous people, including, Keaton Vanhorn, a single, attractive, veterinarian. Even better, he loves animals as much as Finn.
Sometimes, a bottle of wine and The Love List is all you need to find love. Stop by the small town of Vine Grove and maybe you’ll be lucky in love too.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

Sharon is a multi-published author of contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other's arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is pick up a new book and sink into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.

Blog: http://authorsharonkleve.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharonrkleve
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKleve
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/srkleve/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5399389.Sharon_Kleve
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sharon-kleve/56/ab/691/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Kleve/e/B006JAH14S

MY THOUGHTS -
Now this is what a Christmas romance is all about! Cute, cute, cute!

First - I loved this page from page one! I am totally convinced that you can tell if you're going to love a book or not after reading the first page. Every single book that leaves me giddy after page one I have ended up loving!
Second - this takes place in Washington state, that is one of the places I have always wanted to visit!
"When she made up her mind that I needed a clean break from South Carolina, because of my divorce from William, she came up with a crazy plan for me to pick four different locations in the United States and stay in each one for three months. I agreed because I had nothing better to do."
Third - Wine, need I say more?
Forth - Keaton Vanhorn! Yummy! 
"He was spectacular looking. Dark hair, blue eyes beneath slashing dark brows, high cheekbones, and a beautifully shaped sensual mouth. He was dressed in a sweatshirt and dark, slim-cut jeans that revealed lots of lean muscle.
I noticed his hair was tied in a short queue at the back of his wide neck with a piece of fine leather. He reminded me of a pirate with his mischievous eyes."
Fifth - a bit of romance and a bit of adventure, a stalker! 
And sixth - a great ending!

A very nice, clean romantic Christmas story (and a very cute cover too!). I would definitely love to read more by this author.
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I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book from the author, Sharon Kleve. Thank you!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


12/5/16

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis


3 Stars

ABOUT THE BOOK -
Willa Davis is a pet shop owner with a heart of gold. Beautiful but unlucky in love, Willa devotes her time and attention to her friends and the animals that visit her store for supplies. When a frustrated Keane Winters approaches Willa's store in hopes of finding a pet sitter for his great-aunt's Feline from Hell, he's immediately taken with the owner...and has no idea why she reacts to him with such distaste. 

The last thing Willa wants during the busy holiday season is a run-in with the boy who left her heartbroken after a dance in high school--not to mention Keane doesn't even remember her. But Keane's cat needs her...and who can resist helping an innocent animal? As Willa and Keane's lives slowly become entangled, Willa sees that Keane is different than he was in high school...but has he changed enough for Willa to take another chance on him? Only time and well-placed mistletoe will tell!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
www.facebook.com/jillshalvis
www.twitter.com/jillshalvis
www.instagram.com/jillshalvis
http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/
or email her at contact@jillshalvis.com 

MY THOUGHTS -
Well the good news is - I didn't hate it! It was OK as far as romances go. I would call this a true romance. So if that is your thing - this is for you! I just don't think it was "my thing". Personally, I like a little more other stuff going on in my romances. This was mostly all about the romance - how attracted they were to each other, how hot they thought each other was, how they wanted each other but was afraid to commit... all this with a little bit of Christmas thrown in.

There was good character development - I just didn't really love either one! The one character I did love was - Petunia, the cat! AKA - PITA, as Keane called her. But then again I am a cat person. I loved all the trouble this certain cat was causing. She was adorable and I just wanted to hug her! 

For those of you who are Romance junkies (and don't mind some sex and a little swearing) you would probably love this for your Christmas reading!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book from Sullivan and Partners, LLC. Thank you!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE

12/2/16

A Royal Christmas to Remember - By Jeanna Young and Jacqueline Johnson


4 Stars

ABOUT THE BOOK -
With the arrival of the most spectacular winter in years and Christmas only a night away, Princesses Joy, Grace, Faith, Charity, and Hope find themselves in the midst of a scene right out of a holiday fairytale in this newest adventure in the Princess Parables series A Royal Christmas to Remember. But then the threat of bandits in the village lead the king away from the castle on Christmas Eve! Suddenly, the bandits come crashing into the castle. Praying to God for courage and safety, the princesses are soon rescued by five brave knights and then do some rescuing themselves. The next day, the princesses go to the village to see how they can be of help to the people, discovering that the true meaning of Christmas is honoring and giving glory for the greatest gift of all.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS-
Jeanna Stolle Young is a daughter of the king that lives in Southern California with her dashing husband, Bruce, her two sweet princesses, Danika and Emmalynn, and two daring princes, Christian and Kenton. God gave her the vision for this series that has caused her faith to grow through watching Him work. She has a passion for moms of princesses and knights training up the next generation for Christ.  She is a speaker and blogger at www.theprincessparables.com

Jacqueline Kinney Johnson is a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians located on the Colombian border in Central America. The vision for The Princess Parable Series was born in these jungles. She is the wife of Pastor Ralph Johnson and the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three princesses, Catherine, Alexandra Grace, and Megan Joy and four young knights, Zack, Payton, Maverick, and Christopher. She delights in stirring young hearts and imaginations with Godly character and the certainty of becoming a child of the King for eternity. Her passion is mentoring and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. She lives in a castle perched high on a hill above the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

MY THOUGHTS -
Really nice story with a great Christian message and a little adventure in there as well! Beautiful hard cover book with sparkles on the cover! I love sparkles! And so do kids LOL. There is very bright colorful pictures.
I liked that this was very original and not the typical Christmas story for children. I really think young girls will love it. I mean what young girl doesn't love Princesses, right?

The one thing I didn't like is that there were some really big "grown-up" words in here that young children wouldn't understand, like splendor, Christmas finery, anticipated, marauders and frivolous. If you have to keep stopping to explain the words (and that's what I do) you kind of loose the story. So that is unfortunate.
But other than that one thing it is a really great book, very nice for Christmas!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book from Book Look Bloggers. Thank you!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE 

12/1/16

Christmas Bells - Linda Joyce - Spotlight

Title: Christmas Bells
Author: Linda Joyce
Genre: Sweet Romance
Cover Designer: EJR Digital Art
Editor: Cheryl Walz
Publisher: Word Works Press
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: After grieving the loss of her husband and son, TV host Morgan Marshall is ready to embrace life again. But she won’t risk a relationship with the father of her favorite cooking student, Avery, since the girl’s happiness is more important than her own. 
Advertising executive Alex Blake never thought another woman could pique his interest after losing his wife to pneumonia, a complication of her cancer. Yet every time he’s in Morgan’s presence, she brings sunlight into the room. Plus, she’s a role model for his daughter, always assuring Avery that dyslexia can’t hold her back. But if he asks Morgan for a date and then she refuses a second one, the person he loves the most, Avery, could get hurt the worst because she adores Morgan.
When Alex is injured in a fall, Morgan insists on caring for him and Avery. As they share holiday fun, Avery topples Morgan’s beloved crystal bell collection, shattering it to pieces. Through it all, they discover love of one another is more priceless than any object money can buy. Love rings in the air at Christmastime.
Linda Joyce is an Amazon Best Selling author and 4-time RONE Award Finalist who writes about assertive females and the men who can’t resist them. She has three series: Fleur de Lis, Fleur de Lis Brides, and the Sunflower series. She’s penned two novellas, Behind the Mask and Christmas Bells, which will be released in December.
Linda’s a big fan of jazz and blues. She attributes her love of those musical genres to her southern roots, which run deep in Louisiana. If you walk-through several New Orleans cemeteries you’ll find many of her people buried there. She’s lived coast to coast curtesy of her father’s Air Force career. She penned her first manuscript while living in Japan, the country where her mother was born and raised. Now she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and General Beauregard, their four-legged boy.

Buy Links: 
Alex turned when someone from behind tapped his shoulder. “Yes?”
“You two are the cutest couple. So you have a daughter in the program tonight?” a silver-haired lady, draped in strands of pearls, asked. “I’ll bet she’s beautiful, looking at the two of you.”
“We—” Morgan began.
“Thank you.” Alex interrupted, cutting her off. “Avery Blake is her name. She has a solo. It’s listed in the program.” He smiled brightly at the lady and then turned his gaze back to Morgan. She appeared surprised but didn’t contradict him.
He figured the lady didn’t need to know the intimate details of their life. It was enough that she considered them a couple. If others could see it, would it be possible for Morgan to see it, too? It wasn’t until that moment he understood how much he truly missed being a family of three and having a wife, after being forced to let go of the woman he loved. It proved tougher than he imagined. Now eighteen months later, he looked forward to a new chapter of his life. Maybe one with Morgan Marshall playing a major role.

11/29/16

A Life for a Life - Lynda McDaniel - GIVEAWAY!

A Life for a Life Tour BannerA

A Life for a Life

A Mystery Novel

by Lynda McDaniel

on Tour October 15 - December 15, 2016


A Life for a Life by Lynda McDanielABOUT THE BOOK -
When a young woman is found dead in the North Carolina mountains, the county sheriff says suicide. Della Kincaid disagrees. A former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to hunt down the real story. But she's now living in Laurel Falls, N.C., creating a new life for herself. Without her usual sources, she turns to an unlikely cast of characters—friends, customers, ex-husband, and forger. With their help, she uncovers how unbridled greed has spawned a series of crimes and sorrows. Along the way, Kincaid discovers what the Appalachian landscape and people mean to her.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Lynda McDaniel Books
Publication Date: 09/2016
Number of Pages: 337
ISBN: 978-0-9977808-0-2
Series: This is the 1st Book in a new series.
Purchase Links: Amazon or Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE
SEPTEMBER 2004
My life was saved by a murder. At the time, of course, I didn’t understand that. I just knew I was having the best year of my life. Given all the terrible things that happened, I should be ashamed to say it, but that year was a blessing for me.
I’d just turned fifteen when Della Kincaid bought Daddy’s store. At first nothing much changed. Daddy was still round a lot, getting odd jobs as a handyman and farming enough to sell what Mama couldn’t put by. And we still lived in the house next door, though Mama banned me from going inside the store. She said she didn’t want me to be a nuisance, but I think she was jealous of “that woman from Washington, D.C.”
So I just sat out front like I always did when Daddy owned it, killing time, chatting with a few friendly customers or other bench-sitters like me. I never wanted to go inside while Daddy had the store, not because he might have asked me to help, but because he thought I couldn’t help. Oh sure, I’d go in for a Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper, but, for the most part, I just sat there, reared back with my chair resting against the outside wall, my legs dangling. Just like my life.
I’ve never forgotten how crazy it all played out. I had forgotten about the two diaries I’d kept that year. I discovered them while cleaning out our home after Mama died in April. (Daddy had passed two year earlier, to the day.) They weren’t like a girl’s diary (at least that’s what I told myself, when I worried about such things). They were notes I’d imagined a reporter like Della or her ex-husband would make, capturing the times.
I’d already cleaned out most of the house, saving my room for last. I boxed up my hubcaps, picking out my favorites from the ones still hanging on my bedroom walls. (We’d long ago sold the collection in the barn.) I tackled the shelves with all my odd keepsakes: a deer jaw, two dusty geodes, other rocks I’d found that caught my eye, like the heart-shaped reddish one—too good not to keep. When I gathered a shelf-full of books in my arms, I saw the battered shoebox where I’d stashed those diaries tucked behind the books. I sat on my old bed, the plaid spread dusty and faded, untouched in a couple of decades, and started to read. The pages had yellowed, but they stirred up fresh memories, all the same. That’s when I called Della (I still looked for any excuse to talk with her), and we arranged a couple of afternoons to go over the diaries together.
We sat at her kitchen table, where she’d placed a pot of tea and a plate of homemade cookies, and talked. And talked. After a time or two recollecting over the diaries, I told Della I wanted to write a book about that year. She agreed. We were both a little surprised that, even after all these years, we didn’t have any trouble recalling that spring.
APRIL 1985
CHAPTER 1 ABIT
Four cop cars blocked our driveway.
I thought I might’ve dreamed it, since I’d fallen asleep on the couch, watching TV. But after I rubbed my eyes, all four cars were still there. Seeing four black-and-whites in a town with only one could throw you.
All I could think was what did I do wrong? I ran through my day real quick-like, and I couldn’t come up with anything that would get me more than a backhand from Daddy.
I watched a cop walking in front of the store next door, which we shared a driveway with. As long as I could remember, that store hadn’t never had four cars out front at the same time, let alone four cop cars. I stepped outside, quietly closing our front door. The sun was getting low, and I hoped Mama wadnt about to call me to supper.
I headed down our stone steps to see for myself. Our house sat on a hill above the store, which made it close enough that Daddy, when he still owned the store, could run down the steps (twenty of ‘em, mossy and slick after a rain) if, say, a customer drove up while he was home having his midday dinner. But of an evening, those same steps seemed to keep people from pestering him to open up, as Daddy put it, “to sell some fool thing they could live without ‘til the next morning.”
I was just about halfway down when the cop looked my way. “Don’t trouble yourself over this, Abit. Nothing to see here.” That was Lonnie Parker, the county’s deputy sheriff.
“What do you mean nothing to see here? I ain’t seen four cop cars all in one place in my whole life.”
“You don’t need to worry about this.”
“I’m not worried,” I said. “I’m curious.”
“You’re curious all right.” He turned and spat something dark onto the dirt drive, a mix of tobacco and hate.
That’s how it always went. People talked to me like I was an idiot. Okay, I knew that I wadnt as smart as others. Something happened when Mama had me (she was pretty old by then), and I had trouble making my words just right sometimes. But inside, I worked better than most people thought. I used to go to school, but I had trouble keeping up, and that made Daddy feel bad. I wadnt sure if he felt bad for me or him. Anyway, they took me out of school when I was twelve, which meant I spent my days watching TV and hanging out. And being bored. I could read, but it took me a while. The bookmobile swung by every few weeks, and I’d get a new book each time. And I watched the news and stuff like that to try to learn.
I was named after Daddy – Vester Bradshaw Jr. – but everyone called me Abit. I heard the name Abbott mentioned on the TV and asked Mama if that was the same as mine. She said it were different but pronounced about the same. She wouldn’t call me that, but Daddy was fine with it. A few year ago, I overheard him explaining how I got that name.
“I didn’t want him called the same as me,” Daddy told a group of men killing time outside the store. He was a good storyteller, and he was enjoying the attention. “He’s a retard. When he come home from the hospital, and people asked how he was doing, I’d tell ‘em,‘he’s a bit slow.’ I wanted to just say it outright to cut out all the gossip. I told that story enough that someone started calling him Abit, and it stuck.”
Some jerk then asked if my middle name were “Slow,” and everybody laughed. That hurt me at the time, but with the choice between Abit and Vester, I reckoned my name weren’t so bad, after all. Daddy could have his stupid name.
Anyway, I wadnt going to have Lonnie Parker run me off my own property (or near abouts my property), so I folded my arms and leaned against the rock wall.
I grabbed a long blade of grass and chewed. While I waited, I checked out the hubcaps on the cars—nothing exciting, just the routine sort of government caps. Too bad, ‘cause a black-and-white would’ve looked really cool with Mercury chrome hubcaps. I had one in my collection in the barn back of the house, so I knew what I was talking about.
I heard some loud voices coming from upstairs, the apartment above the store, where Della lived with Jake, some kind of mixed hound who came to live with her when she lived in Washington, D.C. I couldn’t imagine what Della had done wrong. She was about the nicest person I’d ever met. I loved Mama, but Della was easier to be round. She just let me be.
Ever since Daddy sold the store, Mama wouldn’t let me go inside it anymore. I knew she was jealous of Della. To be honest, I thought a lot of people were jealous a lot of the time and that was why they did so many stupid things. I saw it all the time. Sitting out front of the store most days, I’d hear them gossiping or even making stuff up about people. I bet they said things about me, too, when I wadnt there, off having my dinner or taking a nap.
But lately, something else was going on with Mama. Oncet I turned fifteen year old, she started snooping and worrying. I’d seen something about that on TV, so I knew it was true: People thought that any guy who was kinda slow was a sex maniac. They figured since we weren’t one-hundred percent “normal,” we walked round with boners all the time and couldn’t control ourselves. I couldn’t speak for others, but that just weren’t true for me. I remembered the first one I got, and it sure surprised me. But I’d done my experimenting, and I knew it wouldn’t lead to no harm. Mama had nothin’ to worry about, but still, she kept a close eye on me.
Of course, it was true that Della was real nice looking—tall and not skinny or fat. She had a way about her—smart but not stuck up. And her hair was real pretty—kinda curly and reddish gold, cut just below her ears. But she coulda been my mother, for heaven’s sake.
After a while, Gregg and the sheriff, along with some other cops, started making their way down Della’s steps to their cars.
“Abit, you get on home, son.” Sheriff Brower said. “Don’t go bothering Ms. Kincaid right now.”
“Go to hell, Brower. I don’t need your stupid advice.” Okay, that was just what I wanted to say; what I really said was, “I don’t plan on bothering Della.” I used her first name to piss him off; young people were supposed to use grownups’ last names. Besides, she’d asked me to call her Della. Then I added, “And I don’t bother her. She likes me.”
But he was already churning dust in the driveway, speeding onto the road.
CHAPTER 2 DELLA
I heard Jake whimpering as I sank into the couch. I’d closed him in the bedroom while the sheriff and his gang of four were here. Jake kept bringing toys over for them to throw, and I could see how irritated they were getting. I didn’t want to give them reason to be more unpleasant than they already were.
“Hi there, boy,” I said as I opened the door. “Sorry about that, buddy.” He sprang from the room and grabbed his stuffed rabbit. I scratched his ears and threw the toy, then reclaimed the couch. “Why didn’t we stay in today, like I wanted?”
Earlier, I’d thought about skipping our usual hike. It was my only day off, and I wanted to read last Sunday’s Washington Post. (I was always a week behind since I had to have the papers mailed to me.) But Jake sat by the door and whined softly, and I sensed how cooped up he’d been with all the early spring rains.
Besides, those walks did me more good than Jake. When I first moved to Laurel Falls, the natural world frightened me. Growing up in Washington, D.C., hadn’t prepared me for that kind of wild. But gradually, I got more comfortable and started to recognize some of the birds and trees and especially the wildflowers. Something about their delicate beauty made the woods more welcoming. Trilliums, pink lady’s slippers, and fringed phacelia beckoned me to, encouraging me to venture deeper.
Of course, it didn’t help that my neighbors and customers carried on about the perils of taking long hikes by myself. “You could be murdered,” they cried. “At the very least you could be raped,” warned Abit’s mother, Mildred Bradshaw, normally a quiet, prim woman. “And what about perverts?” she’d add, exasperated that I wasn’t listening to her.
Sometimes Mildred’s chant “You’re so alone out there” nagged at me in a reactive loop as Jake and I walked in the woods. But that was one of the reasons I moved here. I wanted to be alone. I longed to get away from deadlines and noise and people. And memories. Besides, I argued with myself, hadn’t I lived safely in D.C. for years? I’d walked dark streets, sat face-to-face with felons, been robbed at gunpoint, but I still went out whenever I wanted, at least before midnight. You couldn’t live there and worry too much about crime, be it violent, white-collar, or political; that city would grind to a halt if people thought that way.
As Jake and I wound our way, the bright green tree buds and wildflowers soothed my dark thoughts. I breathed in that intoxicating smell of spring: not one thing in particular, but rather a mix of fragrances floating on soft breezes, signaling winter’s retreat. The birds were louder too, chittering and chattering in the warmer temperatures. I was lost in my reverie when Jake stopped so fast I almost tripped over him. He stood still, ears alert.
“What is it, boy?” He looked up at me, then resumed his exploration of rotten squirrels and decaying stumps.
I didn’t just love that dog, I admired him. He was unafraid of his surroundings, plowing through tall fields of hay or dense forests without any idea where he was headed, not the least bit perturbed by bugs flying into his eyes or seeds up his nose. He’d just sneeze and keep going.
We walked a while longer and came to a favorite lunch spot. I nestled against a broad beech tree, its smooth bark gentler against my back than the alligator bark of red oak or locust. Jake fixated on a line of ants carrying off remnants from a picnic earlier that day, rooting under leaves and exploring new smells since his last visit. But mostly he slept. In a sunspot, he made a nest thick with leaves, turning round and round until everything was just right.
Jake came to live with me a year and a half ago when a neighbor committed suicide, a few months before I moved south. We both struggled at first, but when we settled here, the past for him seemed forgotten. Sure, he still ran in circles when I brushed against his old leash hanging in the coat closet, but otherwise he was officially a mountain dog. I was the one still working on leaving the past behind.
I’d bought the store on a whim after a week’s stay in a log cabin in the Black Mountains. To prolong the trip, I took backroads home. As I drove through Laurel Falls, I spotted the boarded-up store sporting a For Sale sign. I stopped, jotted down the listed phone number, and called. Within a week, I owned it. The store was in shambles, both physically and financially, but something about its bones had appealed to me. And I could afford the extensive remodeling it needed because the asking price was so low.
Back in my D.C. condo, I realized how much I wanted a change in my life. I had no family to miss. I was an only child, and my parents had died in an alcoholic daze when their car wrapped around a tree, not long after I left for college. And all those editors and deadlines, big city hassles, and a failed marriage? I was eager to trade them in for a tiny town and a dilapidated store called Coburn’s General Store. (Nobody knew who Coburn was—that was just what it had always been called, though most of the time it was simply Coburn’s. Even if I’d renamed it, no one would have used the new name.)
In addition to the store, the deal included an apartment upstairs that, during its ninety-year history, had likely housed more critters than humans, plus a vintage 1950 Ford pickup truck with wraparound rear windows. And a bonus I didn’t know about when I signed the papers: a living, breathing griffon to guard me and the store—Abit.
I’d lived there almost a year, and I treasured my days away from the store, especially once it was spring again. Some folks complained that I wasn’t open Sundays (blue laws a distant memory, even though they were repealed only a few years earlier), but I couldn’t work every day, and I couldn’t afford to hire help, except now and again.
While Jake and I sat under that tree, the sun broke through the canopy and warmed my face and shoulders. I watched Jake’s muzzle twitch (he was already lost in a dream), and chuckled when he sprang to life at the first crinkle of wax paper. I shooed him away as I unwrapped my lunch. On his way back to his nest, he stopped and stared down the dell, his back hairs spiking into a Mohawk.
“Get over it, boy. I don’t need you scaring me as bad as Mildred. Settle down now,” I gently scolded as I laid out a chunk of Gruyere I’d whittled the hard edges off, an almost-out-of-date salami, and a sourdough roll I’d rescued from the store. I’d been called a food snob, but these sad leftovers from a struggling store sure couldn’t support that claim. Besides, out here the food didn’t matter so much. It was all about the pileated woodpecker trumpeting its jungle call or the tiny golden-crowned kinglet flitting from branch to branch. And the falls in the distance, playing its soothing continuo, day and night. These walks kept me sane. The giant trees reminded me I was just a player in a much bigger game, a willing refugee from a crowded, over-planned life.
I crumpled the lunch wrappings, threw Jake a piece of roll, and found a better sunspot. I hadn’t closed my eyes for a minute when Jake gave another low growl. He was sitting upright, nose twitching, looking at me for advice.
“Sorry, pal; you started it. I don’t hear anything,” I told him. He gave another face-saving low growl and put his head back down.
“You crazy old hound.” I patted his warm, golden fur. Early on, I wondered what kind of mix he was—maybe some retriever and beagle, bringing his size down to medium. I’d asked the vet to hazard a guess. He wouldn’t. Or couldn’t. It didn’t matter.
I poured myself a cup of hot coffee, white with steamed milk, appreciating the magic of a thermos, even if the contents always tasted vaguely of vegetable soup. That aroma took me back to the woods of my childhood, just two vacant lots really, a few blocks from my home in D.C.’s Cleveland Park. I played there for hours, stocked with sandwiches and a thermos of hot chocolate. I guess that’s where I first thought of becoming a reporter; I sat in the cold and wrote up everything that passed by—from birds and salamanders to postmen and high schoolers sneaking out for a smoke.
A deeper growl from Jake pulled me back. As I turned to share his view, I saw a man running toward us. “Dammit, Mildred,” I swore, as though the intruder were her fault. The man looked angry, pushing branches out of his way as he came toward us. Jake barked furiously, but I grabbed his collar and held tight.
Even though the scene was unfolding just as my neighbor had warned, I wasn’t afraid. Maybe it was the Madras sport shirt, so out of place on a man with a bushy beard and long ponytail. For God’s sake, I thought, how could anyone set out in the morning dressed like that and plan to do harm? A hint of a tattoo—a Celtic cross?—peeked below his shirt sleeve, adding to his unlikely appearance.
As he neared, I could see his face wasn’t so much angry as pained, drained of color.
“There’s some … one,” his voice cracked. He put his hands on his thighs and tried to catch his breath. As he did, his graying ponytail fell across his chest.
“What? Who?”
“A body. Somebody over there,” he said, pointing toward the creek. “Not far, it’s …” he stopped again to breathe.
“Where?”
“I don’t know. Cross … creek.” He started to run.
“Wait! Don’t go!” I shouted, but all I could see was the back of his shirt as he ran away from us. “Hey! At least call for help. There’s an emergency call box down that road, at the car park. Call Gregg O’Donnell at the Forest Service. I’ll go see if there’s anything I can do.”
He shouted, “There nothing you can do,” as he ran away.
Jake led the way as we crashed through the forest, branches whipping our faces. I felt the creek’s icy chill, in defiance of the day’s warmth, as I missed the smaller stepping stones and soaked my feet. Why didn’t I ask the stranger more details, or have him show me where to find the person? And what did “across the creek” mean in an eleven thousand-acre wilderness area? When I stopped to get my bearings, I began to shiver, my feet numb. Jake stopped with me, sensing the seriousness of our romp in the woods; he even ignored a squirrel.
We were a pack of two, running together, the forest silent except for our heavy breathing and the rustle we made crossing the decaying carpet beneath our feet. Jake barked at something, startling me, but it was just the crack of a branch I’d broken to clear the way. We were both spooked.
I stopped to rest on a fallen tree as Jake ran ahead, then back and to the right. Confused, he stopped and looked at me.
“I don’t know which way either, boy.” We were just responding to a deep, instinctual urge to help. “You go on, Jake. You’ll find it before I will.”
And he did.

Lynda McDanielABOUT THE AUTHOR -
My writing career began more than 30 years ago. Over the years, I've written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters, and dozens of blogs. I'm proudest of the 15 books I’ve written, including "A Life for a Life." The way I see it, books are to writers what pentathlons are to athletes: Endurance. And I've got it!
My other books include "Words at Work," which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) That same year, I wrote "Contemporary Hawai’i Woodworkers: the Wood, the Art, the Aloha," a coffee-table art book featuring 35 artists; it won several awards, too, and sold out quickly. Since then, I’ve written two Amazon Bestselling Books: "How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write" and "Write Your Book Now!" (with Virginia McCullough). In 2015, I wrote "Aloha Expressionism by Contemporary Hawai'i Artists" featuring 50 more artists living on those beautiful islands.
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I've lived all over this country—from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Sebastopol, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.
What's next? I'm busy with the sequel to "A Life for a Life" so I get to enjoy Abit's, er, I mean V.J.'s company again.

Catch Up with Lynda McDaniel on her 's Website, Twitter, or Facebook.


MY THOUGHTS -
Very nice little mystery! The whole story had a very authentic feel to it. The story flips back and forth between the point of view of Abit, a fifteen yr old who is a bit delayed, and Della, a woman who runs the local general store, former reporter. I really like books that do this. I have to say this is probably my favorite way for a book to be written. I like getting inside the mind of two different characters.

I loved the dialog and conversations. All the characters were so real feeling. I really liked both Abit and Della. They had a nice relationship - kind of sweet. She was so nice to him.

I have to admit that is was a little slow for me in spots but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. It actually felt like it was supposed to be that way - just lolly-gagging along just as you would imagine life would be in the Appalachian Mountains. Another review mentioned "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I was like "YEAH!" It does have that feel to it.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book from  Partners in Crime Book Tours. Thank you! 

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Candle Day by Day Walk with Jesus The Story of Jesus Retold in 40 Days By Juliet David & Jane Heyes


5 Stars!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
This beautiful gift book makes a wonderful addition to the award-winning Candle Day by Day collection. The story of Jesus's life is told over forty days, and presented in the elegant day-by-day styling with page borders and richly colored pictures. Includes an introductory note to suggest how the book could be used.

MY THOUGHTS -
I really liked this book. What a great way to tell the story of Jesus to children. 
* I like how they break it down to just a short story each day on one page.
* Beautiful color pictures on every page.
* A nice size book with a sturdy hard cover.
* A Bible reference on every page to go with each story.
* The stories simple enough, the words easiest enough for young children.

I think this would be a great bedtime book. Read one page with your child every night before bed. 

Here are a few pics -


I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book  from  Kregel. Thank you!
 Order your copy from Amazon - HERE

Candle Day by Day Bible In a Year By Juliet David & Jane Heyes

4 Stars

ABOUT THE BOOK -
The award-winning Candle Day by Day Bible is now available in a spiral-bound desk calendar format. All of a child's favorite stories and illustrations are easily accessible and on view all day long. One story per day.

MY THOUGHTS -
I love the idea for this! The thought of flipping a calendar like book and reading a "Bible-in-a-year" kind of thing is very exciting.
It is a very nice size made of very sturdy hard cardboard with glossy full color pages. It is very pretty. I loved the pictures.

My only two small problems with this is - the stories are very short. I wish the pictures (as nice as they are) were a little smaller and the stories were a little longer.
Also - no Bible references! I really thought this was strange. I actually kept flipping back and forth just to mach sure because I really thought there should be some.

So - A great idea. Very usable for kids! But have a Bible handy so you can look up the references yourself.

Here are some pics -



I voluntarily posted this review after receiving this book  from  Kregel. Thank you!
 Order your copy from Amazon - HERE