Monday, November 18, 2013

Mailbox Monday and the Book Blogger's Dilemma

What's the best way to photograph books?  You want to be fair to the authors, book cover artists and designers, but you also want a decent, eye-catching photo.

 This is a snazzy picture of my new books, but it only shows the top book cover!

This shows most of each of the book covers--but does the photo draw you in?

Here's a classic way to highlight books for Mailbox Monday.  However, it shows only the top cover, and the book spine poetry aspect of this particular stack is definitely lacking.

When you have only a couple of new books to showcase, it's fairly easy to show the covers, but you need to be more creative with a larger stack.  What's your approach to this dilemma?  ;)


These are the books pictured above, which I received in the mail from agents and authors:

Freedom Fries and Café Crème by Jocelyne Rapinac
Almost Always by Bobbi Reed
House of Miracles by Ulrica Hume (featured in my last MM post, but I've included it again because it happened to be "hanging out" with my newest books)

Please stay tuned for my reviews of these books.

Created by Marcia from To Be Continued, Mailbox Monday is a fun, social meme that's been "on tour" for the past few years.  This weekly meme needs a new home; if you're interested, please contact Marcia.  November’s host is Crystal from I totally paused!

What new books have you added to your shelves recently?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Winner of Unravelled, and The Friday 56

And the winner is. . .

Anna from Diary of an Eccentric!

Congratulations, Anna!  You've won an ebook edition of Unravelled by M.K. Tod.  To whet your appetite, here's a snippet from the novel, from page 56:

"Stark flashes of red lit the clouds as he rounded another corner and saw stretcher-bearers coming towards him followed by a stumbling line of German prsisoners, one of them dressed in pyjamas.  On the stretcher lay a gray-faced soldier bleeding from wounds in the arm and leg.  Edward squeezed past the smells of blood and fear."
~Unravelled, M.K. Tod

The Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda's Voice.  If you want to play along, the rules are simple:
  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find a sentence, or a few, to share in a post. 
  • Add your post's link to the linky.

Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway.  Please remember to take a look at the other giveaways listed on the right side of my blog.  As a courtesy to my readers, I'm often updating and adding to the list.

As always, I welcome your comments.  Thank you for reading!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What I Came to Tell You: A Guest Review

Move to the South, become a writer?  Lately I've been wondering if there's a unique inspiration in the South that leads to the pen.  I've noticed a new wave of authors in the southern states, including the Carolinas, although perhaps it's only my awareness of them which is new.  At any rate, one of "my" southern authors, Steve Cushman, the author of Heart With Joy, wrote a review of another southerner's book, Tommy Hay's book, published in 2013, What I Came to Tell You.  I enjoyed the review, and decided to share it with my readers.  I've also linked it to Kid Konnection, as the book is geared toward children in middle school.  I like that this book features a prominent, southern literary figure. You'll have to read the review to find out who I'm talking about!


What I Came to Tell You by Tommy Hays:
A Guest Review by Steve Cushman

Asheville author Tommy Hays’ first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You is sure to touch the hearts of readers young and old alike.  The novel follows Grover Johnston, a 12-year-old Asheville boy, as he tries to come to terms with the loss of his mother 6 months earlier.  

After her death, Grover retreats into the bamboo forest near his house and creates beautiful weavings, or tapestries, out of bamboo and leaves and branches and anything else he can find.  While Grover retreats into the woods, his father spends more and more time at work, managing the failing Thomas Wolfe house and essentially leaving Grover and his 10-year-old sister, Sudie, to fend for themselves.

If things weren’t difficult enough for the Johnstons, it looks as though one local man’s greed may take away the very things that are keeping them going--the bamboo forest and the Thomas Wolfe house.  But over the course of a few months, the Asheville community along with new neighbors, the Roundtrees, who are recovering from their own loss, help put Grover and his family on the path to healing and loving each other again.  

The novel is set in Asheville, and Hays does a fine job of pulling in the local feel of the town with its bookstores and coffee shops.  The town’s most famous literary figure, Thomas Wolfe, is also omnipresent throughout.  The cemetery where Grover’s mother is buried also contains Wolfe’s family.  And Grover and his sister are named after characters in Wolfe’s most famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel.  

Hays is the Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and teaches at UNC Asheville.  His previous novel, The Pleasure was Mine, was a wonderful story of loss and connection and the importance of family, and was selected for several community-wide reading programs in various cities and counties, including Greenville, SC, and Greensboro, NC.

While What I Came To Tell You is aimed at younger readers, it certainly will catch and keep the interest of readers of all ages.  Anyone who believes in the healing power of art, and family and love, will find something here that will touch them and make them glad they’d taken the time read this new gem of a novel by one of North Carolina’s best writers, Tommy Hays.


Thank you for this terrific review, Steve!  Kid Konnection is hosted each Saturday by Booking Mama.  Your comments are welcomed, as always. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unravelled: Review and Giveaway

Published in 2013, Unravelled by M.K. Tod is a historical novel that focuses on Edward Jamieson, a signaller who fought in Vimy Ridge, and his wife, Ann.  Although Edward is haunted by the horrors he experienced in WWI, he and his wife travel from their home in Toronto to France in 1936 for the Vimy memorial dedication ceremony.  At the ceremony, Edward spots his former love, Helene Noisette, whom he met before meeting his wife; the attraction between Edward and Helene is still strong.  (Oh, oh!)  The story is set in the 1930s and 1940s (chapters are dated), and begins with this trip to France.  Later in the book, at the onset of  WWII, Edward joins a group training espionage agents, and often travels, while Ann stays at home to take care of the house and the children, Emily and Alex, and also volunteers to counsel grieving women.  Leading separate lives due to the nature of their work (and other factors) during WWII, the couple grows apart, and their marriage begins to unravel.

"Disconnected sentences gradually gave way to a flood of words as Ann disclosed her fears that Edward would never return, that her marriage was over, that life would never be the same, that she would not have the strength to go on.  When she finally stopped, they sat in silence again for several minutes.  A calm, comforting silence."
~Unravelled, M.K. Tod

Unravelled is a page turner and then some.  Passionate, exciting, and intense, this book depicts the profound effects of both wars on people and focuses on the marriage and family life of the Jamiesons.  I was moved to tears a few times.  The novel gives us the private, innermost thoughts of both protagonists, Edward and Ann.  We're privy to their secrets, and they earn our compassion. We feel their anguish and joy and everything in-between; we witness their struggles to keep their marriage--and themselves--intact.  (I'm married, and I enjoy reading about married people; so many books focus on singles searching for love.)  The themes in the book are serious--war, death, survival, love, marriage, sex (including adultery)--so this book is best suited for adults.  Because Edward and Ann spend a lot of time apart, they experience loneliness and uncertainty, and their marriage becomes noticeably strained during wartime.  They make mistakes which threaten to destroy their marriage and family.  (I wanted to admonish them at times, but of course, characters in a book do not listen to readers!)

The battles and campaigns mentioned in the book are based on actual events, and the entire feel of the book is authentic.  Although I'm not an expert on WWI or WWII, the book is well researched (sources are cited by the author in the Afterword), and M.K.Tod brings them to life in a riveting fashion.  This novel will appeal to those who relish novels about WWI and WWII, as well as stories about love, marriage, and family.  As for me, I could not put this book down!  I think it would make a great historical movie (although I haven't decided yet who I'd cast as the male or female leads).  I'm currently sleep deprived, as Unravelled has kept me up late the past few nights.  But it was definitely worth it.

Wonderful news!  France Book Tours is offering an international giveaway for an ebook edition of Unravelled.

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Thursday, November 14.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, November 15.

Thanks to Emma from France Book Tours for sending me a copy of this novel.  For additional reviews of this book, please visit the other stops on the book tour for Unravelled.  Although this is not an epistolary novel, it features several letters and telegrams which contribute substantially to the story, so I've linked my review to the Postal Reading Challenge on Melwyk's blog, The Indextrious Reader

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Really Random Tuesday #74: Dealing with Bedside Books (again!), a Giveaway Winner, and Toasted Pecans

Geez!  Why do books congregate at the sides of the bed?  I finally put some of my stacks of books in an oversized tote bag and moved them out of the bedroom, because the small bookcase by my bed was looking extremely cluttered.  My stacks of books looked about ready to topple over!  I didn't want to get rid of any books, I just wanted the area cleaned up.  It's much, much better than it was.  Next, I need to tackle the books by my husband's side of the bed (photo below).  A box or two should do the trick.  I wish we had room for more bookcases.  That would solve the challenge of having so many books! 

Hubby's bedside needs help!


As promised, I have a book winner to announce.  Jaclyn from Jaclyn at the Thrift has won a copy of Commune of Women by Suzan Still.  Congratulations, Jaclyn!  I haven't read this book, but I read and enjoyed  Fiesta of Smoke, a historical novel by the same author.

If you didn't win this time, why not take a look at the other giveaways listed on the right side of my blog?  Later this week, I'll have a new, international giveaway for an ebook edition of Unravelled by M.K. Tod, the book I'm currently reading, so please return here to enter that giveaway if you're interested.


As the days become cooler and shorter, I enjoy being indoors, warm and toasty in my home.  My cat and dog mostly "hang out" in the core of my home--the den and kitchen--so I try to spend more time with them in the evenings, reading on the couch, or working in the kitchen.  Every once in a while, I get inspired to try a new, healthy recipe while I'm in this part of my home.

Recently I've noticed recipes for toasting pecans on Joy Bauer's Food Cures, and other wonderful food websites.  Raw pecans can be toasted in an oven (or toaster oven) at 350° for about 5 -10 minutes, or in a pan on the stove top, on low to medium heat.  I've tried making them both ways, and they're simply scrumptious either way.  Lately, I've been more partial to cooking them on the stove top--so I don't have to wait for the oven to preheat.  To toast pecans in a pan, I usually add a smidgen of coconut oil to the pan, then a liberal sprinkle or two of cinnamon, and a bit of pink Hawaiian salt.  You can add whatever spices you wish to the nuts--sometimes I add cayenne.  Last time I made these--yesterday evening--I added a squeeze of raw, organic honey as well.  The toasted pecans taste rich and buttery--they are quite a treat!  I use as many organic ingredients as I possibly can, although organic pecans can be rather expensive (I wish Trader Joe's carried them!). 

Toasting pecans in a pan is very easy

Toasted pecans, ready to be enjoyed


Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  I often announce book winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, then add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page

Your comments are welcomed! 

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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