My Books!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saturday Sample

Today's sample is from an old manuscript that I'm working on right now. It needs lots of help, so if you see anything, let me know. In this excerpt, my heroine makes a bet that has long lasting repercussions. Susan is an English teacher, and Kurt is the football coach at the local high school.

“Oh, I don’t think that’s the problem at all.” Susan smiled her most serene smile at her irritating colleague.  “You just don’t know how to attract a man like Kurt.”
Robin’s eyebrows shot straight up.  “And you do?  If that’s true why haven’t you already gone out with him?  Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be interested in him.  He’s hot.”
“Until recently I was involved with someone else.  I wasn’t interested in seeing Kurt or any other man socially.”
“Well, I think you’re full of it,” Robin sniffed.  “If I couldn’t get him to notice me, I know you can’t.”
Around the faculty lounge a murmur of delightfully horrified voices broke out.
Susan finished her soft drink and tossed the can into a nearby recycling bin.  “I could make Kurt ask me out if I wanted to.”
“Yeah?  Prove it.  Get him to ask you out.  I’ll bet you fifty dollars you can’t do it,” Robin taunted.  “All he’s interested in is football.”
Melissa Taylor, Susan’s best friend cleared her throat.  “How long does she have to do it?”   

“Two weeks ought to be enough for an old pro like Susan.” Robin snickered as her gaze swept around the lounge.  “Would any of the rest of you like to get a piece of the action?”

Picture: By Patriarca12 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Book Review: Saving Raine

If you came for Fashionista Friday, scroll on down, but why not read my book review first?

Saving Raine (The Drone Wars: Book 1)
by Frederick Lee Brooke



Matt, Raine went to California because her parents thought it was safe. It’s not. You’ve got to get her out as soon as possible. She could die, Matt.

When 19-year-old Matt Carney gets a cryptic message from his father telling him to go to California and save his girlfriend, Raine, he doesn't hesitate—he grabs his AK-47, revs up his blue pickup, and gets ready to make the 2,300-mile roadtrip.

But cross-country travel in 2021 isn't easy—or, sometimes, even possible. The U.S. has become a near-military state: 17,000 checkpoints severely restrict interstate movement, Predator drones target innocent civilians without cause, and explosions rock cities daily. Matt and his stepbrother, Benjy, face deadly attacks from a corrupt government, ruthless local law enforcement, and bloodthirsty terrorist groups as they embark on their trek. They're about to find out that their trip is much more than a private journey, and their success could change the face of the country—forever.

Can Matt and Benjy outrun the drone missiles raining down on their heads? Can they avoid assassination by government officials hell-bent on taking over what little is left of the country? Can they outsmart the deadly schemes set in motion against them?

Break the rules.

Save the girl.

He only gets one chance before she's gone forever.


The GPS took them to an exit in suburban Salt Lake City. They followed smaller roads into a subdivision. All the houses were dark, not surprising at one in the morning. The house of their contact was a long, one-story ranch in the middle of the block. They sat with the engine off and the windows open, studying it.

All the windows were dark, just like every other house on the block. A quiet, residential neighborhood. The garage door was closed.

“I’m sending my Viper around back,” Benjy said. “Maybe we can see something through a window.”

They watched Benjy’s Jetlink as the quadcopter circled the house. From the deck in back, the camera gave a clear view through a sliding glass door. Benjy increased the setting for ambient light. Something by the couch on the floor looked like a body.

“Zoom in,” Matt said.

A very overweight man wearing briefs and an undershirt lay in a massive puddle of blood. The undershirt and briefs were stained.

“Someone got here first,” Matt said.

Benjy looked a little green.

Matt scanned the neighborhood for signs of a killer, but there were no people and no other vehicles. Still, this made him nervous. Some killer had been here, and he didn’t feel like waiting around. Maybe Pastor Peaches was even behind it.

“Get that Viper back in. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

My Review

Saving Raine is set in the year 2021. American democracy is almost dead, replaced with near-military rule. Technology has expanded and is used by both the military and civilians. Resistance groups dot the country, but with the futuristic technology, they have a hard time evading the  authorities. 

Things I Liked:
1. The characters are well-drawn. They aren't flat, and I don't think they were stereotypical.
2. There's a lot of action and suspense which is also well done and keeps you reading.
3. The plot works well, and has some nice twists and turns to surprise you.

Things I Didn't Like:
1. Personally, I didn't care for so much futuristic technology, but it was woven into the plot, and this is a personal thing on my part. Most people won't mind. 
2. Again, a personal thing, I thought some of the scenes were too violent, but I know most people will disagree with me here as well.

All in all, I liked the book and enjoyed reading it. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and following with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets. The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013.

Saving Raine, the first book in Fred’s entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December 2013. Inferno, the action-packed follow-up to Saving Raine, is releasing in June 2014.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.










Frederick will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card (international) and an autographed copy of Saving Raine (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Use the link below to enter.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fashionista Friday: Cocktail Party

Party Style

Valentino high heel shoes

Valentino purse

White gold jewellery

Engraved jewelry

14k jewelry

The Button Legacy: Emily's Inheritance

The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance
by Ginger Marcinkowski



Based on the true story of one family’s spiritual saga revealed through buttons that have been secreted away in an antique box, and that ultimately hold the key to each generation’s salvation.

Ginger Marcinkowski’s first novel, Run, River Currents featured Emily Evans, who as a girl shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk. Despite the scars of her father's abuse John taught her to look to the future in faith, promising Emily God's grace can be seen even in the simplest thing—a button.

Years after her grandfather John's death, the unexpected delivery of a decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons is delivered to Emily. The reappearance of the family buttons unlocks joyous memories and guides Emily to realize a secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of that worn button box; the healing power of prayer. In The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance each button connects one generation to the next as their interrelated stories unfold across the timeless landscape of their spiritual journey.


“Grampy!” The girl’s thin figure stood in the living room doorway, her hands placed firmly on her hips. Her face was stern, crinkled, as though she were about to give the old man a scolding. “Look!” she said, uncapping her hand to reveal a white button that looked like it came from the blouse she was wearing. “Someone nailed my windows shut! I tore the button off my blouse trying to open them. Look!”

She walked toward John, hand open. He plucked the small, pink, pearl-like button from her palm, rose from the chair, and moved toward the oak hutch. Retrieving the button box, he opened the tin container and dropped the button inside.

“Then I guess we won’t have to worry about you going to the Legion anymore, will we?” John watched his granddaughter’s face as it soured. But in seconds, her eyes began to smile and her head tilted back. A laugh unlike any he had heard come from her in years warmed the air around him. The wrinkles in his face turned upward, and he, too, began to laugh.

“That will be a good story someday, Grampy!” Emily said between her giggles. He opened his arms and enveloped her, closing his eyes tightly. He praised God in a whisper for moments like these. He had held his own daughter this way many years before she’d left home and married. He often prayed that Maureen would finally humble herself and give the remainder of her days to the Lord. He knew he might never see that day arrive, but holding his granddaughter, he prayed that she might someday remember this moment and realize that God had been there with her all along.

Ginger Marcinkowski was born as one of eight siblings in northern Maine along the Canadian border, a setting that plays a prominent role in her novels, Run, River Currents and The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance.

Her debut novel, Run, River Currents, was published in August 2012, was a 2012 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards and a 2013 Kindle Book Award Finalist. The Button Legacy-Emily's Inheritance, will be released in July 2014. An interesting fact about Ginger is that she is a million-mile flier with United Airlines and had been a multi-million dollar travel agent in the past. Her travel experience will be the catalyst for a new series of mysteries whose main characters are travel agents.

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Ginger will be awarding a $10 Starbucks Card + eBook copy of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the link below to enter.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Curvies

Curve My Song
by Sarah Gai



Follow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls? This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. The first book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in. This novella has a lot of laughs and a little drama and introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment. These novellas will appeal to plus size or curvy women everywhere, especially those who enjoy books in the BBW (big, beautiful women), chicklit and women’s fiction genres. It’s just one of those reads that busy women of today can enjoy while they relate to the curvy ladies who aren’t super models but representative of your average everyday beauty.


“Chapter One ~ Bree

“Okay, okay,” I grumble, reaching my arm out, blindly trying to locate my phone, my head still nestled beneath the covers, with no intention of surfacing any time soon.

Whoever is trying to call me better have a damn good reason for doing so. I’m enjoying my sleep in, knowing I don’t have to start work until seven o’clock tonight. The phone ringing is beginning to drive me insane.

‘Ah ha!’ I finally find it hidden amongst last night’s clothes haphazardly thrown on the floor. Pulling my hand back under the covers, I answer the phone. “What?” I grumble.

“Bree, tell me you’re not still in bed?”

“Of course I’m still in bed, it’s still morning,” I snap at Elise. I’m not a morning person, never have been. It takes at least two cups of coffee to get me going and, of all people, Elise should know that. Especially if she wants me to be a little nicer right now.

“No, honey, it’s one o’clock, and would you like me to remind you that it’s Friday?”

“Of course I know it’s Friday, I’m singing at Skyla’s tonight. Now, let me get back to sleep.” She’s still on the other end of the phone, but there’s only silence, and I know she’s waiting for something. But what?

Then it hits me.”

Excerpt From: Sarah Gai. “Curve My Song.” iBooks. From: Sarah Gai. “Curve My Song.” iBooks.

Sarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you're in kind of fiction.




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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review Moccasin Trace

If you came for Beyond the Book, scroll on down, but why not take a look at this post too? I wrote a book review for this one.

Moccasin Trace
by Hawk MacKinney



… it was about the land…a tale of love and loss and hope…

“The most engaging and brilliantly crafted historical work since Margaret Mitchell’s great classic.”
Barbara Casey
Author, The Gospel According to Prissy

Hamilton Ingram looked out across the fertile Georgia bottomlands that were Moccasin Hollows, seeing holdings it had taken generations of Ingrams to build.  No drop of slave sweat ever shed in its creation.  It was about the land…his trust, his duty to preserve it for the generation of Ingrams to come…

It is July of 1859, a month of sweltering dog days and feverish emotional bombast.  Life is good for widower Rundell Ingram and his Hazel-eyed, roan-haired son, Hamilton.  Between the two of them, they take care of Moccasin Hollows, their rustic dogtrot ancestral home, a sprawling non-slave plantation in the rolling farming country outside Queensborough Towne in east Georgia.  Adjoining Ingram lands is Wisteria Bend, the vast slave-holding plantation of Andrew and Corinthia Greer, their daughter Sarah, and son Benjamin.

Both families share generations of long-accepted traditions, and childhood playmates are no longer children.  The rangy, even-tempered Norman-Scottish young Hamilton is smitten with Sarah, who has become an enticing capricious beauty—the young lovers more in love with each passing day, and only pleasant times ahead of them.

But a blood tide of war is sweeping across the South, a tide that might be impossible to stand before.

Bessie's head jerked around, "...them gun shots."
A stooped-over Sarah looked up, "What?"
"Gun shots..."  Bessie put down the box of jars and headed toward the cellar door.  "From the direction where the men be.  We gittin' upstairs, an' gittin' now."
Sarah's heart pounded as they came up out of the cellar and looked in the direction of more shots.
"Come on..."  Bessie hurried into the pantry where she reached down the powder horn from the top shelf, then the rifle and pistols. "Git 'em ready with all that shootin'.  Till we know different, we make sure two-legged low-downs don't sneak to the house."
Sarah rushed to the window and murmured, "Hamilton..."  She feared  for him, for their child, for all of them.  "Surely you don't suppose it's Federals?"
"Might be better if'n it is 'stead of what else be skulkin' in them woods.  Stay away from the winder, an' finish rammin' this powder."
Sarah poured the ball and powder firm, rammed it, pulled the rammer out, and whispered, "Bessie listen...birds stopped singing."
"Except that cawin' crow seein' somethin' what don't belong."
Sarah took another quick peek, "There's several horses, but I don't see any riders.  Mules are still hitched.  I don't see anyone at the plow, but there's men on among the trees."
"You watch the front door."  Bessie snugged the pistol in her apron pocket.  "I cover the back.  Anybody tries comin' through the dogtrot door or through the parlor, we back into here, keep 'em from circlin' us."
"What about Papa Rundell?"  Sarah's stomach was queasy.
"He keep his rifle ready.  Anyone bust in his room be dead 'fore they twitch a hair."
With a crash the kitchen door flew open.  Sarah brought her rifle up and fired, the shot splintering door and jamb.  The sound thundered through the house.  Bessie's rifle steadied dead-on.
The silhouetted head and shoulders ducked into a hunch and Hamilton yelled, "Sarah!"  His hand smeared at stinging blood-speckled splinters of wood along his cheek.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

Barbara Casey, President
Barbara Casey Literary Agency

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My Review:

Things I Liked:

I enjoyed a glimpse into everyday life in another century. We get to see the South both before and after the war. MacKinney carries readers to balls, masquerades, hunts, and other social events, even a honeymoon. We take a lot of things for granted today, but he showed how bad transportation was, and of course people couldn't listen to daily news to find out how the war was going. I was also interested in his description of the ladies' clothes. Making them by hand was much harder than going to the department store. 

Some things don't change, though. People still love their families, hold political opinions, and try to be true to their principles. 

I was interested in the characters' take on the war. They decided that slavery was not the real issue of the war, but it was a good excuse to rile people to action. 

And speaking of slavery, I'm not sure what to think about that. One of the slaves said she loved the white children of her masters as much as she did her own son, and when her son ran away, the master didn't put out any runaway slave notices. I'm just not sure that's realistic in most cases.

A couple of things irritated me. The dialect slowed the book down for me, and since presumably the rich plantation owners were educated people, I found their vocabulary to be somewhat lacking. I also don't know how closely young ladies of wealthy families were chaperoned, but these characters had the freedom to sneak off and share intimacy before marriage. 

Overall, though, I enjoyed this look into a vanished world and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. This little snippet is a good example of what I'm talking about.

In the muggy morning bright sun Hamilton made his
way through the fragrance of steamy horse manure,
leaky turpentine kegs, open bales of mildewed cotton,
and the rankness of where dockhands and vagrants had
relieved themselves. The docks were one milling multitude
of shirtless, cussin’ teamsters off-loading cargo from
wagons onto several steamers, while a company of uniforms

boarded through one forward gangway.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Marquesa's Necklace.

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding free ecopy of The Marquesa's Necklace and a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post during the tour. Please click on the banner to see the other stops on this tour.

Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.

Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers.

Because it might.

Now enjoy an excerpt:

The bus ride home seemed longer than the morning’s trip as I studied each person getting on for a potential threat. Was the little gray-haired lady with the oversize purse and shopping bag packing a handgun? Did the teenage boy wearing a long black coat keep ninja stars in his pockets? And the woman in her mid-twenties holding a little girl’s hand? Was the child was just a prop, borrowed for the afternoon, solely to throw off suspicion? In reality, was the woman a super spy waiting for a chance to drug me and cart me off to her remote hideaway?

Or not. Buying a new car became a priority. I toyed with the idea of a Harley. I envisioned it—me, dressed out in a black cat suit, wearing black boots with five-inch heels, striding into the biker bar across town. But it’s awfully hard to haul a laptop and scanner around on one of those things, let alone bring home the groceries. Maybe I would settle for a screaming red Corvette or Ferrari. My funds manager would think I‘d gone off my rocker.

P.J. MacLayne is a computer geek by day and a writer by night. She grew up among the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and uses that as the setting for many of her stories. She currently makes her home in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.



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