Sunday, November 30, 2008

The McKaslin Clan series by Jillian Hart

I’ve had 2 requests (one from Kelly here, and one on my eharlequin blog) for more information about the Love Inspired series by Jillian Hart: The McKaslin Clan.

On Jillian Hart’s website at http://www.jillianhart.net/mckaslin.html you can see the complete series with book covers and blurbs but here’s a break down for you:

Series One - The original McKaslin sisters with the setting of Manhattan, Montana

1 – Jul 02 – His Hometown Girl – Karen
2 – Mar 04 – The Sweetest Gift – Kirby
3 – May 04 – Heart and Soul – Michelle
4 – Jul 04 – Almost heaven – Kendra
5 – Oct 04 – Holiday Homecoming – Kristin

I liked this series because although these sisters had their own lives and troubles, they put a high priority on family time and regularly got together for a girl’s only night out for a rousing game of Monopoly and catching up. Add that to the author’s ability to convey heart-wrenching emotion and I was eager to read the next series.
------------------------------

Series Two - Paternal cousins to the original sisters, also set in Manhattan, Montana where the family runs their own diner:

1 – Apr 05 – Sweet Blessings – Amy
2 – Sep 05 – Heaven’s Touch – Ben
3 – Dec 05 – Blessed Vows – Rachel
4 – Feb 06 – A Handful of Heaven – Paige

In this series, Sweet Blessings was hard to put down. I loved the loner hero who appeared out of the rain whenever the heroine needed assistance. Then, Books 2 and 3 had heroes in uniform with Heaven’s Touch having one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read. A Handful of Heaven was different - it was the first time I’d encountered a hero and heroine aged over 40.
------------------------------

Series Three – More cousins to the original McKaslin sisters, this series includes siblings Katherine, Ava, Aubrey, Lauren, Danielle, Rebecca, Spence and their honorary cousin Kelly. This family owns a Christian bookstore in Bozeman, Montana. A bonus book based on Kelly’s roommate is the last in this series.

1 - Oct 06 – A Soldier for Christmas LI 367 –- Kelly
2 – Feb 07 - Precious Blessings LI 383 – Katherine
3 – Mar 07 - Every Kind of Heaven LI 387 – Ava
4 – Jun 07 - Everyday Blessings LI 400 – Aubrey
5 – Jul 07 - A McKaslin Homecoming LI 403 – Lauren
6 – Jun 08 - Her Wedding Wish LI 447 – Danielle
7 – Aug 08 - Her Perfect Man – LI 455 – Rebecca
8 – Nov 08 - His Holiday Heart – LI 467 – Spencer
9 – Mar 09 – A Soldier for Keeps – LI 483 – Kelly’s roommate Lexie

I'm almost through this series although I couldn't find a copy of Everyday Blessings. I just finished reading Book 7 in this series and I can't wait to read Spencer's story in His Holiday Heart. Big brother Spencer is one of those guys who took care of his family when required and has grown into a morose loner. As I read through the sister's stories, I kept thinking it's just gotta be Spence's turn next but nope, not yet. Finally, it arrived in the mail this past week and I'm reading it next. I am so enjoying this series although I did find a bit of repetition in the way the girls fall in love, but it seems to be a 'thing' with this family.
-------------------------------

Series Four – More cousins to the original sisters: Brianna, Brandilyn, Colbie, Brooke, Luke and Hunter set in Bozeman, Montana and the small fictional town of Prospect.
No further info avail at this time.
-------------------------------

Jillian Hart is also the author of Historical Inspirational books based on the McKaslin clan:

Historical McKaslin Series One: Brothers Thad, Aiden and Finn set in Angel Falls, Montana Territory:

1 – Jan 08 – Homespun Bride – Thad see my review
2 – Jul 08 – High Country Bride – Aiden see my review
3 - ???

I loved High Country Bride and added it to my 2008 Top 10 list. I don’t know when Finn’s book will be out.

If you look at Jillian Hart’s website (top of page), you’ll see she has a couple anthologies coming out in 2009 which also include McKaslin clan stories.

Book Review: Precious Blessings


Precious Blessings (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 383 - Feb 07

This author has such a fantastic imagination for her characters and this great book certainly didn’t disappoint me. Yes, we’ve all heard and read the other McKaslin Clan books and this is another branch of the family in another Montana town, but that’s where the similarities end. I really like the way the author used Jack and Katherine’s pseudo perfect lives to get to the heart of the matter – ‘perfection is in the eye of the beholder’.

State Trooper Jack Munroe works hard to provide a stable home environment for his teenage daughter. That’s why he’s ticked when Katherine McKaslin runs after his SUV and accuses his daughter of shoplifting. Obviously, the woman’s got the wrong kid. But soon, Jack must face the fact it was indeed his daughter who stole from the Christian bookstore owned by Katherine’s family.

Once Jack acknowledges his daughter’s wayward behavior, he’s then ticked at himself for being attracted to Katherine whom he considers too perfect with a hoity-toity attitude. It doesn’t help matters when he keeps doing things like falling over himself in front of her.

Of course, Katherine isn’t perfect – she has a secret - but, she dresses real nice and keeps herself trim and neat. She’s attracted to the clean-cut straight-backed lawman, too but that’s the problem because she’s already had one bad relationship with a ‘perfect’ man and he dumped her when he found out she didn’t fit his ideal of the perfect woman.

To top it all off, Jack’s teenager can’t stand Katherine and undermines her at every turn which puts Jack in the unenviable position of choosing to keep his daughter happy, or date Katherine and live with an irate teenager.

Heat Level: Affectionate
My Rating: Great 4 stars

The McKaslin Clan Series 3:

Book 1 - A Soldier for Christmas LI 367 – Oct 06 - Kelly
Book 2 – Precious Blessings LI 383 – Feb 07 - Katherine
Book 3 – Every Kind of Heaven LI 387 – Mar 07 - Ava
Book 4 – Everyday Blessings LI 400 – Jun 07 - Aubrey
Book 5 – A McKaslin Homecoming LI 403 – Jul 07 - Lauren
Book 6 – Her Wedding Wish LI 447 – Jun 08 - Danielle
Book 7 – Her Perfect Man – LI 455 – Aug 08 - Rebecca
Book 8 – His Holiday Heart – LI 467 – Nov 08 - Spencer

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 105 books read

-

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Review: The Borrowed Bride


The Borrowed Bride by Elizabeth Lane Harlequin Historical #920 Nov 08

This is a great book and I really enjoyed reading it. I like being near people of integrity because they make me want to rise above myself and the two main characters in this book oozed with honor as well as tension.

I wanted to read the next page...the next chapter...to find out if Quint, the younger brother, was going to come back and the emotional explosion it would entail.

Hannah Gustavson grew up alongside Judd Seavers’ younger brother, Quint. Being a decade older, Hannah didn’t really know Judd and in fact, ran from his forbidding countenance. Hannah had always loved Quint, but Quint had wanderlust. He just wasn’t ready to settle down yet.

Hannah had kept Quint’s ‘roving hands’ under control but somehow, the day before he left to satisfy his wanderlust, she gave in to his male urge. It was a decision she regretted immediately after – before she even realized the full implication of the deed But Quint left the next day when Judd, injured from the war, came home to take over the ranch.

Hannah went back to her parent’s farm and started a weekly letter writing campaign to Quint. Two and a half months later however, Hannah realized she carried Quint’s child. She tried to keep it a secret but her mother found out and went to Quint’s mother. Judd was there and understood the stigma that would be attached to Hannah and her baby. He was the uncle of Hannah’s baby. He had to protect them - the child and its mother. He offered to marry Hannah and give them a home and the baby the Seavers name. The marriage would be platonic for convenience only. Judd would have divorce papers drawn and ready to be signed the minute Quint came back.

It was the perfect plan. Hannah and Judd married and settled down to wait for Quint to come back home. Of course they developed feelings for one another but they wouldn’t act upon it because any day now, Quint would come back to claim Hannah and his child...wouldn’t he? And if he didn’t, how long could Hannah and Judd hold out because they were both determined to do the right thing for the brother who wandered away.

Heat Level: Yummy

My Rating: Great (4 stars)

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 104 books read
-

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Still Short Inspy Entries

The Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest is short inspirational entries.

Are you an aspiring, unpubbed or pre-pubbed writer?

Do you want to see if you have what it takes to get published?

Entering the contests is an excellent way to receive constructive criticism from industry professionals.

Check here for more info: http://www.southernmagic.org/lindahowardcontest.html

They've extended the deadline twice now so this is it.

New deadline is Nov 29th.
-

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Revisions are a New Creative Process

I was reading Kelly Marstad’s blog the other day and I had an epiphany of sorts.

Her blog post http://kellymarstad.blogspot.com/2008/11/fatten-up-your-baby.html is about having to add to your manuscript after you’ve decided it’s complete.

I don’t like revisions. And I could never figure out why. But, somewhere during her post, I realized something:

I don’t like making sewing alterations, either.

So what has that got to do with it, eh?

Well, when I sew, I take a length of fabric, a pattern, and all the trimmings and I create something new.

Same as with my writing. I love to start a manuscript, get my creative juices flowing, and work until it’s done to my satisfaction. Then, I send my ms, one chapter at a time, to my CP’s and see what they say. When their critiques come back, it’s time for revisions.

In sewing, you take the completed article and change it either to fit someone or to repair it – like a broken zipper.

But, I don’t like doing sewing alterations. It’s not creative enough.

Ah – but writing revisions can be as creative as you want to make the process. You layer your ms by adding details, descriptions and dialogue. You dig deeper into the conflict. And, you strengthen your story.

I just have to look at it as a new creative process and not an alteration of an old one.

Does this make sense to you?

-

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gotta Get Those Priorities Straight

My NaNo meter hasn’t moved for the past 2 ½ wks because I tried to do too many writing projects at the same time. I had to postpone my NaNo project because it was low on my priority list. I really miss NaNo, though.

Before I get to start a new project, I need to complete my current ones. I need to write this across my desk in big letters.

At the ACFW conference, I rec’d 2 requests for partials for different manuscripts. I’ve since mailed them out but need to work on revising the rest of the ms with what I’ve learned at the conference, just in case the respective editors request to see the full. This is my main priority.

I’d like to say it’s my 1st priority but I have the church blog to update and a local newsletter to get out. At the moment, being the editor of the newsletter is the only job where I get paid to use my writing skills.

I’m also working on a contest entry. The contest needs inspirational entries, so I wanted to enter something. We want to keep the inspy categories in the contests but if no one enters, they’ll drop it the next time around. And of course, contests have deadlines.

And then, someone said I shouldn’t do book reviews because it takes time away from my writing. They’re right. However, I usually do the book reviews when I need a break from my writing. I find it hard to do revisions which is the stage I’m in now. Writing a book review on someone else’s writing is cathartic. It’s usually the last thing I do before shutting down for the night. Then, in the morning, I check it for accuracy and post it. It’s the way I like to start my writing day.

So, I have to keep to my priorities straight, stop procrastinating and do it. I'll forget NaNo for this year. After all, there's always Book in a Week in January.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I’ve Been Tagged - Again!

So about 10 days ago, Margaret Daley http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com/ tagged me – again. But with a twist this time, so I guess it’s allowed.

First I have to post the rules. Here:

Now I get to tell you 7 random things about me and books:

1. I love books. I love way they feel. I love the way they smell. I love the way you can enter an entirely different world when you open the cover.

2. I have written 5 books. None of which have been published. Yet.

3. My all time favourite book is a Little Golden Book called The Pokey Little Puppy.

4. I used to gauge how much I liked a book by how fast I read it. Until I read A Soldier’s Family by Cheryl Wyatt. I took days to read it because I wanted the story to go on forever.

5. I find inspiration in the Bible – not only for as encouragement for also for story ideas. Have you read some of them? Ai-yi-yi!

6. I’ve read 107 books since Jan 08 (I’m 4 reviews behind). These books count towards the Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge for Literacy.

7. I started reviewing books just for the Harlequin challenge. Then, I decided to cut and paste my reviews onto my personal blog as well because I like supporting my author friends. One of those authors liked my review so much she asked me to add it to Amazon and Christianbook.com, so I did. Then I added Shelfari shelves on my blog to give more exposure to the authors and their books that I was reading/reviewing. I noticed that many people are on Shelfari but not all books are reviewed. Again, it was just a matter to cut and paste. So, for just a couple mins more, my reviews are added to a min 4 sites. Because of this, I am now an official Book Review Blogger for Thomas Nelson Publishers and receive nice free books from them to review. Wow.

I am tagging:

1. Missy Tippens http://lifewithmissy.blogspot.com/

2. Hope Chastain http://hopechastain.blogspot.com/

3. Gwen Stewart http://www.singer-scribe.blogspot.com/

4. Kelly Marstad http://kellymarstad.blogspot.com/

5. Lynette Eason http://www.suspensewithatwist.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: Falling for Mr. Dark & Dangerous


Falling for Mr. Dark & Dangerous by Donna Alward Harlequin Romance 4044 - Aug 08

I loved this book. I don't know if it was the ‘US marshal undercover cop' thing or the ‘I have a secret and I'm not telling' thing or the ‘we're out in the woods all alone and no one will ever know' thing, but I delved into this book with my heart and mind. It was a cathartic experience and I'm adding it to my 2008 Top 10 list.

If you've read my reviews on the first 2 related books, you know that I enjoy Ms Alward's writing. I believe this to be her best book so far. It reminded me of 2 people - aching to touch - their hands pressed together - with an invisible but solid wall of glass between them. There's actually nothing to stop either one from breaking the pane and surging forward...except the aftermath of heartache.

Single mother Maggie Taylor wants one thing in life - to give her daughter the best start in life she can. The girl's already had one tangle with the law. To circumvent another, Maggie sends her daughter to a boarding school in the city to finish her high school. It tore Maggie's heart to do it, but it was for the best.

Home for spring break, Maggie's daughter will soon return to school and leave Maggie more lonely and despondent than ever. With no guests, Maggie decides to vacation in Mexico while her B&B is closed for the season. But before she can make her reservations, she receives confirmation and fees for a 3 wk booking from the U.S. Marshal's Service for one of their employees. Apparently, Maggie's daughter took the reservation.

Nate Griffith is an undercover US marshal but he's not admitting that to Maggie. As far as she knows, he's just a cop who needs some R&R after a bad experience and her mountain B&B seems like the perfect spot to do it. She doesn't need to know who he's investigating or how it ties in with her and her daughter. Sure, he's attracted to Maggie. But once she finds out why he's really there she'll kick him out on his rear.

So, what happens when you meet someone and you recognize them as your soul mate? Nate and Maggie can't be soul mates, though. Nate's like 9 yrs younger than she is. He's from a different country. He's a cop. Maggie's husband was a cop and died in the line of duty. Nate will leave in 3 wks and Maggie will never hear from him again. He's just wrong for her!

But, he's wonderful and strong and it's been so long since Maggie has felt the caress of a man's love. Is it worth it to drop her shields if only for a little while?

This is a stand-alone book. However, it ties in with the characters from Windover Ranch:
Hired by the Cowboy - Harlequin Romance 3954 - May 07
Marriage at Circle M - Harlequin Romance 3978 - Sep 07

------------------------

Heat Level: Sensual

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (Top 10 list)
-----------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 103 Harlequin Imprint: 96 Others: 7
-

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Marriage at Circle M
by Donna Alward
Harlequin Romance 3978 - Sep 07

I really liked this book. I could feel the tension between Mike and Grace from the very first line. A great opener and I was hooked. And, I stayed hooked til the end.

It's actually a premise I've thought about many times: what would happen if the hero or heroine admitted they were attracted to someone while ‘under the influence'. And they didn't tell just anyone - they told the person they were attracted to. How would they feel the next day when they were feeling more like themself?

That's what happened to Grace Lundquist. She used to date this guy, Mike and had a real crush on him but one day he just left town. Walked away without a word. She was devastated to the point where she went and did something that negatively affected her whole life. Now, she's back in town with her secret and she's working like 3 jobs trying to make ends meet. She's too busy living to have a life.

And then one night, she goes out for some R&R, and ends up dancing with Mike who's also back in town. The only problem, she's had a little bit too much punch and says something to Mike she will regret not just the next day, but for months.

When Mike Gardner left town all those years ago, he joined the rodeo circuit. But, a body can only take so much injury before it starts to affect hurt. So, Mike came back to town and is ready to settle down. He saw Grace around town but neither one seemed ready to pick up where they left off all those years ago.

And then one night, he goes out for some R&R and ends up dancing with Grace. And she says something that gets him wondering if maybe their spark didn't die, after all. But, can he get her to admit it when she's not ‘under the influence'.

This is the 2nd book with characters from Windover Ranch.

The 1st book was Hired by the Cowboy - Harlequin Romance 3954 - May 07
------------------------------------------

Heat level: Sensual

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)
------------------------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 102 Harlequin Imprint: 95 Others: 7
-

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: Hired by the Cowboy


Hired by the Cowboy by Donna Alward Harlequin Romance 3954 - May 07

This is the first book I've read from this author and it certainly won't be my last. Her characters could be my neighbors - real down-to-earth people who care for others as well as the land. People who try to live the life they're dealt while holding onto their dignity and self-respect. People who don't flash their money in your face just because they have it and you don't.

She uses Alberta, land of cowboys, mountains and wealth to weave a marriage of convenience story that starts with despair and ends in rapture. Ride along with me while I give the low-down on this poignant story:

Alexis Grayson is pregnant and alone. She's strong and penniless. She's a victim of circumstance, yet a survivor. She knows what she wants but isn't sure how to get it...
Until Connor Madsen walks into her life and asks her to share his.

Connor needs a temporary wife. Alexis needs a temporary home.

All they have to do is accept that true happiness comes when you give your heart into someone else's safekeeping. Strong is good. Together is better.

But, they'll have to dig deep and find the courage to take the chance.

This stand-alone book has characters from the Windover Ranch. Other Donna Alward books with related characters are:
- Marriage at Circle M - HR 3978 Sep 07
- Falling For Mr. Dark & Dangerous - HR 4044 Aug 08
------------------------------------

Heat level: Romantic

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)
------------------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 101 Harlequin Imprint: 94 Others: 7
-

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review: The Italian Count's Baby

The Italian Count's Baby by Amy Andrews
HP Extra: Mediterranean Doctors Oct 08

This book made me cry. Sure, it's a steamy romance, but it's so much more. The author didn't just have the characters move forward in their relationship, she gave them rich yet painful histories that impacted every step they took in their journey. It wasn't just emotional baggage. She compounded the problems in the heroine's past until I, as a reader, wondered how Katya could ever have turned out as well as she did. Oh wait--that explains why she...no, I'd better not say that...

What would you do if you got pregnant from a one-night stand yet had a past so disturbing you couldn't imagine bringing another child into it in case history repeated itself? And even though you love the life growing inside you more than you love living, you'd rather leave your baby with its father than bring it home and tempt fate.

What if your baby's father, Count Benedetto Medici, had wealth beyond your dreams? Your baby would never know the gnawing hunger and bitter cold that went along with poverty.

It seemed like the perfect solution except Katya can't stand Ben's life of decadence. She doesn't understand why he prefers to waste his surgery skills on something so fleeting as physical beauty. What kind of child grows up in an atmosphere like that? But, at least her baby would have his father's love...wouldn't he?

There's only one way to find out. Nurse Katya Petrov takes a job working alongside the Italian plastic surgeon to find out if he even wants a child. If he really is daddy material, she'll leave the baby behind and run as fast as she can.

Ben doesn't want a relationship and certainly not a baby, but something happened to him the night be made love to Katya. She irreversibly changed him. Now, she's back and pregnant with his child and he doesn't want to let her go.

I slid into this story, heart and mind...I weaved in my chair as we drove the treacherous Italian roads...I was pregnant again...I could feel the flutterings...feel the kicks...feel myself grow huge...feel his hand splayed across my belly...I'm pregnant again...what...I can't be pregnant again...I already have 4 kids...I'm too old...I...oh...hee hee...it's only Amy's book...whew!

Heat Level: Yummy

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)

------------------------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 100 Harlequin Imprint: 93 Others: 7

-

Monday, November 10, 2008

My 100th Book is Special

My next post will be my 100th book review. Wow. If someone had told me I could read 100 books in a year, I would have said, ‘No way!’ I mean, I know I read a lot of books, but I’ve never actually counted how many before and, 100 seems like this plateau up there, you know?

So, then the question became: Which book should I give this distinction? Since it’s almost mid-Nov already, there’s no way I’ll reach 200 by the end of the year, so this will be a one-time opportunity to show favouritism to an author.

Who should it be?

I could pick one of the authors who sent me an advance copy of a book to review.

I could pick one of the books I won from leaving a comment on a blog post or for winning a writing contest.

And, of course, I could even pick a book I bought for myself or borrowed from the library.

But there’s one author whom I have a soft spot for because she sent me a book just because she heard I had never read a Harlequin Medical.

You see, last year on the http://www.eharlequin.com/ Open House, we were all jumping from forum to forum across the boards and just visiting the different book lines that Harlequin publishes. As you know, I usually hang out on The Write Stuff and the Steeple Hill forums although I have friends on other boards.

Because Harlequin Medicals aren’t sold in Cdn stores, I’d never read one and being curious, I hopped over to that board (or was it the chat hour?) and checked it out during the Open House. They welcomed me and I admitted I’d never read one before.

Well, Amy Andrews – an Aussie - immediately gave me her email address and said if I emailed her my snail mail address, she’d send me book to see what the Medicals are all about. Free. No strings attached. Wow.

Within 2 weeks (all the way from Australia), I received a copy of Amy’s book, Found: A Father For Her Child Harl Med 335. And, I really liked it.

Last week, I was surprised to find one of Amy’s books, The Italian Count’s Baby on the shelves in Walmart, SuperStore and the bookstores. It’s something new – Harlequin Presents Extra: Mediterranean Doctors.

So, to thank Amy for her generosity, I’m switching books around on my Shelfari shelves so that Amy’s book is my 100th book review.

Thanks, Amy, maybe I can return the favour one day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Book Review: The Journey Home


The Journey Home (Depression series) by Linda Ford - Love Inspired Historical #14 - Aug 08

This is a great book! I really enjoyed reading it. Now, the first thing someone might say is that the heroine wasn't strong--that she sat and waited instead of taking charge of her life--but I loved watching her blossom...to come to the realization that she could step out...that she could be assertive...that she could be and deserved to be happy in her own right.

You see, for her entire life, Charlotte Porter had been told to be quiet, unobtrusive, never complain and she'd have a nice, warm house to live in. The reason behind this reasoning was because when her mother died, she had to live with her older brother who really didn't want her. So, if she did what she was told and kept her mouth shut, at least she'd have sanctuary. But one day, her brother and his family just up and left her in an unfurnished house, on dry land (not even water in the well), in the middle of the dust bowl prairies. They said they'd send for her...

Kody Douglas is on his way to the wide-open spaces of Canada so he can be alone. He's a half-breed who doesn't feel comfortable in either the white or red man's world. Yes, he has white adopted parents who love him, but they're biased because he's their son. It's the rest of his hometown he doesn't want to contend with. He's done with the name-calling and being treated like a ‘second-class citizen'. He's leaving it all behind for the sake of anonymity.

He isn't more than 2 days from home however, when a dust storm blows up and he finds shelter in an abandoned house. Surprise! It's not abandoned. Charlotte's living in the derelict house where even the broken front door doesn't stop the dust from streaming into the living room. She has no food. No water. Why doesn't she just leave? Kody's never met someone as passive as her. But, his mama would never forgive him if she found out he'd left a woman in that condition.

I loved watching Charlotte and Kody fall in love. Their hesitant baby steps. Waiting for a negative reaction. Trying not to attract attention in case someone told them they didn't belong. They came from 2 totally different worlds and yet they weren't that dissimilar after all. They both felt unlovable - castoffs in a perfect world.

There's only one thing I didn't like about this book - the cover. I don't' understand why the art team at Harlequin couldn't portray Kody and his daughter more accurately. The little girl is supposed to have black hair. And the man...well, I guess he could pass for a half-breed but I doubt it. But, that's certainly not the author's fault. Her vivid descriptions almost had me tasting the dust.

Linda Ford's Depression Series:

Book 1: The Road to Love
Book 2: The Journey Home

-------------------------------

Heat Level: Affectionate (kissing and hand holding but nothing more)

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)

-------------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 99 Harlequin Imprint: 92 Others: 7
-

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's NaNoWriMo You Say?

So, are you wondering with the blue insignia is on the right? That’s what I’m spending this month doing.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The briefest way to explain it is – you type as fast as your little fingers can go and punch out a complete 50,000 word novel in a month.

Wow. Who can write that fast, right? Well, it’s not supposed to be perfect. In fact, you should shut off your internal editor for this month. “November is for writing. December is for editing.” I’ve heard that often in reference to NaNoWriMo.

That means, that even if you change your mind and decide not to use the last 3 pages of a scene – don’t delete it. You might change your mind later on and then wish you still had it. Some writers cut and paste it onto another document. I do when I’m not doing NaNo. I call it my ‘deleted lines’ document. During NaNo, however, I just put a box around it so it’ll still register in the daily word count. Because, after you’ve spent a couple hours writing a scene, you should get credit for it – during NaNoWriMo anyway.

On the official NaNo site at http://www.nanowrimo.org/ you don’t start a single word of your novel until Nov 1st. If you’ve completed your novel by Nov 30th, you receive a certificate and get to use the official NaNoWriMo logo. Last year, approx 79,000 adults participated.

There’s even a NaNoWriMo for kids at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ where over 15,000 youngsters participated last year. This year, my 10 yo son is trying it. He’s writing a novel entitled Island War: The Beginning. Should be interesting.

I don’t participate on the official site. I use a spinoff at http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/write-stuff/nanowrimo-2008 because all my eharlequin friends are there and some of them just need time to finish a novel or write a novella. At the end of the month, we don’t get anything for completing our own chosen goal except a pat on the back from Dee, our eharl host and the knowledge that we accomplished it. We still get the support and encouragement from our friends. And, we still have the accountability of reporting to our peers how much we typed/wrote during the day.

Charley’s Saint, a Contemporary Inspirational, was my 2007 NaNovel. It’s making the rounds now and has finaled in 2 contests.

This year, I’m attempting a Suspense for my NaNovel, entitled Translucent Trust. You can check my progress up on the top right. It's the counter under the NaNo logo. I would have more if I hadn’t lost the 2000 words I’d written on Day 2.

Yes, I said lost 2000 words. How? Because I thought I was doing a good job of multi-tasking and ended up deleting my progress because I assumed I’d saved it. Wrong!

The first rule of writing? Back up your work.

I was so excited to start my NaNovel, I forgot this important step. Then, I spent the whole of the next day looking for it and whining. So that was 2 lost days.

You can be sure I have my trusty little flash drive plugged in now. And, for the record, I actually like the part I rewrote better than the original. It was a blessing in disguise, after all.

So, if you’ve ever thought of writing, check out these 2 sites. It’s never too late to join us – you just might have to work harder depending on your goal.

I see that my lunch break is over, so it’s back to Hayley and Dylan running for their lives in Translucent Trust...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Book Review: River of Secrets


River of Secrets by Lynette Eason Love Inspired Suspense #114 - Aug 08


I enjoyed reading this book. I had my guesses who the ‘bad guy' was but the author threw enough red herrings to dilute my reasoning so I didn't positively identify him until the end when the truth was revealed. Based in the Amazon, the descriptions of local flora and fauna enhanced the reading. It felt like I was there in the story.

If I could say anything bothered me about the book, it'd be that Amy, the heroine, grew up with Micah, the hero, because his sister was her best friend. So, the fact she didn't recognize him until saw his birthmark was a bit hard to digest. However, she hadn't seen him in a few years, he was supposed to be dead, and I know grief has a way of blocking off those parts of our brain that could be detrimental to our health. And, in Amy's case, she always had this ‘thing' for Micah, so it is conceivable he triggered a memory but her consciousness pushed it away. So, having conceded that point, I read on and to a satisfying conclusion.

And in case you're wondering, Micah doesn't recognize Amy because he has amnesia from the same accident everyone thought he died in. He's frustrated by his inability to remember all the details that make up his identity. Like his name. Or his job. Or if he has a family. He does know one thing though, Amy Graham is someone he wants to get to know a lot better.

Amy is drawn to Micah from the start. When she sees his birthmark and realizes who he is, she doesn't want to admit it to him. Why? Because he won't want anything to do with her once he finds out her own mother planned his death. Amy just wants to steal as much quality time with him as possible before the revelation of his identity ends their fledgling relationship.

Heat Level: Affectionate (kissing and hand holding but nothing more)

My Rating: Very Good - 4 stars (excellent one time read)
---------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 98 Harlequin Imprint: 91 Others: 7
-

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Book Review: Beach Dreams


Beach Dreams by Trish Perry - Harvest House 2008

This novel is a romantic comedy—enough humour to keep me laughing in between the poignant parts. Miss Perry introduces wonderfully real characters from the hero and heroine to the friends and family who surround them.

It’s the story of new believer, Tiffany LeBoueuf, who is trying to outrun her old reputation of a spoiled brat. She used to be a party girl but now, as she struggles to find herself on the narrow path, she hasn’t got a social life. Nothing. Zip. And then, she meets a good looking guy who buzzes her attraction meter. Too bad he already has a girlfriend. It shows how much she’s changed when she doesn’t go after Jeremy knowing he has a girlfriend – a fact that wouldn’t have stopped her before...

Jeremy is the kind of guy with staying power. He’s loyal. It doesn’t matter what happens with his girlfriend, he’s going to stick with her because he’s a loyal guy. When he meets Tiffany, he remembers her as a person who belittled a friend of his a year or so ago. To him, she’s a shallow, rude person and he doesn’t understand why his toes curl when she’s near him. But, he’s sticking with his girlfriend because that’s what he does.

The story takes us to a beach house in San Diego where Tiffany and her father go for a vacation. Due to a mix-up, Jeremy’s girlfriend is staying in the same house. Jeremy shows up. Is there anyone left to join them? Yes, the more the merrier. But, why is Jeremy’s girlfriend never home? That leaves him more time to get to know Tiffany.

The book is flooded with secrets, emotions and epiphanies.

It’s also a part of the Beach House series.
------------------------

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Very Good - 4 stars (excellent one time read)

------------------------

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 97 Harlequin Imprint: 90 Others: 7


-

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's Official - I'm a Book Review Blogger

Last night I was going through the blog list I have listed on the right side of this screen and Inspirational writer, Kelly Marstad’s blog Writing by Faith...One Book at a Time intrigued me.

Kelly’s post on Oct 30th talks about becoming a book reviewer for the publisher Thomas Nelson. Apparently, Thomas Nelson has realized the power of personal reviews and personal blogs. To this effect, they are inviting a limited number of readers to become Book Review Bloggers (BRB).

The benefits of becoming a BRB is that you receive free books to review and you get a link to your blog on the Thomas Nelson website.

The requirements are simple: Read the book, write a review and post the review on:
- Your personal blog
- The Thomas Nelson Book Review Blog
- Any commercial website (from Amazon to Walmart and others in between)

Report to Thomas Nelson when your review has been posted so they can update your account, and then pick another book to review.

Now this seemed too easy to me. I already write book reviews and post them here and on eharlequin.com. And I’ve just started posting them to Amazon.com and christianbook.com. It’s so easy with the copy and paste function. Plus, Thomas Nelson gives you all the product details like photo, blurbs, etc.

So after reading Kelly’s blog post and the Thomas Nelson program details, I applied to become a reviewer. I instantly received a response that someone would contact me within the next few days.

This morning, I received my acceptance email and was directed to a Thomas Nelson page of books from which I could choose one to review. From a variety of subjects, I chose the book Reflections of God's Holy Land, a biblical reference book with historical and architectural information, relevant scriptures and photos of Israel. As soon as I clicked that I wished to review that book, I received an email that it was on its way. As a writer of historical fiction, I am eagerly awaiting this book to review.

This differs from Kelly’s blog post where she said her email included 2 chapters to read while waiting to receive the book. I suppose the difference is because her book is text while mine has more pictures. :-)

If you wish to check out this opportunity, go to http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

Kelly – thank you. And, in return for bringing this to my attention, I’ll send you a free copy of my book...uh...once it’s published...er...after it’s been accepted for publication. Okay?