Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Responding to your inner 'circle'

How can one have a circle that is deemed theirs to be concerned? Sure there are those who are selfish and narcissistic enough to live withing their own little circle that is “ME”, but mostly people are good, caring and benevolent souls. We all have encountered situations where we feel, and then act, responsible. There is just something in us, even men, that makes us respond because our hearts will allow us not to respond.
Years ago, I would admonish myself for always doing for others. Why, to make them like me or, in some cases, to quell the situation? Then, one day, I decided I did not need to justify what or how I did for others. It is in me and it makes me happy. So, on that day, I chose to make myself happy. I am a caretaker, like many of you are, and I am happy ironing the seam in my (now ex-) husband’s shirts and pants and I can iron his work clothes too.
Outside of my ‘circle’, I worked in the health care field. In the mornings, for first medication rounds, instead of walking into the patient’s hospital room and flipping on the lights, I would turn on the bathroom light so there was just enough to see. And I would then bring them a warm washcloth for their hands and face, and go get a coffee/tea for them. Little considerations that make one’s day start a little nicer.
In the nursing homes/extended care facilities, as many of you may know, the patient’s often get taken out of bed, put in a wheel chair and lined up around the halls, many are still in their thin hospital gowns. My mother attitude kicked in and I would go to the Salvation Army and buy sweaters and sweat shirts/pants and socks and haul them back to bed. Can you imagine being on several medications that make you drowsy and being stuck in a wheelchair in a flimsy nightgown, under flourscent lights.
I was happy doing what my instincts told me and I didn’t feel guilty about ‘doing too much for my husband’ or ‘kissing up to the hospital administration’…okay, that didn’t happen, actually I got in trouble for a nondescript reason. But, the moral to the story is to do what your heart tells you, what makes your soul happy. Be good to yourself and it will enhance your inner ‘circle’ relationships

Monday, December 2, 2013

Heart For Rent

By: Karla Brandenberg

Michelle is a ghostwriter who has spent most of her life supporting her selfish sister, Hope, since the day Col. “Uncle Ted” Stratton came to them, alone…no priest even, to tell them their father died in a military operation. Then, after the unrequited, thankless act of love for her barren sister, she finds herself recovering from complications, when she donated her eggs, in France. Her literary agent, Nancy, has arranged for an author to let her home and act as his blog/social media ghostwriter. Although her return is sooner than planned, she allows her tenant to remain so he may be close to his dying mother, in a nursing facility close by. He is quite appealing and, although he does not seem to appreciate her literary talent, she cannot turn him away. Michelle and Rose Schumaker have a cosmic relationship as she appears to Michelle, encouraging her to accept love.

Keith Schumaker, the on-the-tight-leash-deadline author is not happy with relinquishing his identity to a ghostwriter but it is necessary what with deadlines and going to be with his dying mother in the Extended Care Facility close by each day. He worries about his mother’s stories of visiting France. His landlady is enticing and they are drawn to one another, so why does she keep pushing him away?

Rose Schumaker, a young fifty-nine year old cancer victim does not seem confused by her cosmic travels to France, and her transatlantic airplane ride with Michelle. She thinks she will be perfect for her son. But she will make sure by getting to know her a little better. She makes periodic visits to Michelle.

So why should these two sisters be in danger? The dynamics of these stories comes to a crescendo as the charming characters fight through lies, meddling outsiders and relatives, misinterpretation and misrepresentation to save and love one another. This is a well written, exciting story. I read it twice consecutively, and it will be a book I read every year. You can always expect a great story from Karla.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Repurcussions (Ben Coverdale trilogy #2)

(Apologies to our author for not posting this earlier)
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't try to outfox the fox July 19, 2013
By: Glyn Smith-Wild
In Bk. Two of the Ben Coverdale series, the B&B, in the Loire Valley, France has been a success for Ben. He has had help from the resident nympho, Katie, who has attracted most of the men in Sainte-Justine. Ben rescued her from kidnappers in Germany, brought her to 'La Sanctuaire' to recover and she has been a great help to him. They get a visit from Georgina 'Grunge' who brings along a surprise, it is Mary. But the surprise is Alex, her infant son, whom she has brought to introduce to his father. Mary also brings danger in the form of Donald, the man she left Ben for. His sinister ways, that bloomed after she moved in, are scaring her more each day and he has no interest in Alex at all. Why does he want her to change her hairstyle and her way of dress, styles she would never be seen in? Who are these strange men associated with him? When Ben takes Mary to pick up her belongings, he is met with threats and a sword to his neck. They just get away but are followed through Paris, where Ben loses his tail.
So begins a cat and mouse game as Donald escapes to South Africa, where he takes on his true identity and we learn of his business dealings. But Donald will do anything to get Mary to complete his "plan". Ben questions who this Donald is and learns he has long arms, determination and connections. The pieces come together but not before an attempt is made on Mary's life and Ben is put in jail trying to question the assailant. But their new French friendships and old English are ready to support Ben, Mary and their precious son, Alex.
The story is not just of intrigue. There is a sweet story of friendships, romance and the fine living in France that is so pleasantly described.

Friday, October 11, 2013

After Rafaela w/guest reviewer T.Atashkar

Review of: After Rafaela
by Jo Chumas
Again, submitted by my friend and fellow reviewing enthusiast, Theresa Atashkar

This is a novel about four girls that were teens in the 90’s and the best of friends. They went to school
together, studied together, shared their most secret thoughts with each other, or so they thought. Lenox, or Leni; Sara, who changed her name to India; and Becca all came from unhappy homes where they were either unwanted or discarded; and then there was Rafaela, or Rafi who’s parents truly loved her and gave love and at times a home to the other girls. Leni and Rafi were the closest and were more like sisters than just friends.

Rafaela’s mother had also inherited a Villa in Italy from her family called the Villa San Antonio where the family went every summer to get away from the dreary weather of London. The summer that Rafaela was to turn 18 all the girls were allowed to go with the family for the summer and spend their summer breaks at the Villa to celebrate Rafaela’s birthday. They were tended to by Valentina, an older Italian woman that lived at the Villa and loved the girls as much as Rafi’s parents. The summer was wonderful for the girls! They shopped, partied, swam and became closer. Everything was great until the day of Rafaela’s 18th

Twenty-two years later Leni returns to Villa San Antonio to find her just as dead as Rafi and the rest of the girls had become. “Villa San Antonio looked sad, unloved, grief stricken, as though it were stuck in some sort of ‘after Rafaela’ paralysis. Leni could smell the sadness, musty, closed up, repressed aching.” I could relate to how she felt
having recently lost my mother to Alzheimer’s and found it very hard returning home again with only memories of my mother there.

This novel, written by Jo Chumas is so poignant and heartfelt. Her ability to draw me into the story of what was left of life after Rafaela and keep me up all night to finish grieving with everyone touched by Rafi’s death was amazing. I felt lighter when I was finished, but unable to sleep and lay there thinking about my own grief for the rest of the night. Everything was so wonderfully described; every crack, every garden, every piece of furniture so
deeply described, I felt like I had been there and lived through it all, even the weather! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.” I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.”  I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood!

Nothing I say can do justice to this novel and the story that the author has told. It is a story that I will read again and enjoy as much or more than the first time I read it. I loved it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I Do For Love

The Writer's Journey  Roadmap
Laura Davis
“Use what talents you have; the woods would have little music if no birds sang their song except those who sang best.”
— Reverend Oliver G. Wilson

Tell me about something you love to do, but aren’t necessarily good at. Tell me about this activity in detail so I can love it as much as you do.

I always strived to be the very best wife and homemaker possible. I made superior efforts by ironing everything, giving my husband a choice of meals each night, I cooked all weekend to prepare for the week. But I feel kids are not educated on how to be a wife or husband, when it comes to the technical aspects of marriage like finances, childrearing, distribution of duties and learning how to compromise. I didn’t know how to be a good girlfriend in that I was a victim of that time between the white picket fence era and women burning their bras and breaking through the glass ceiling. I expected the boyfriend to (want to) be with me all the time. From high school I was on the marriage gravy train. I have actually sent my high school sweetheart an apology for putting such pressure on him and guilt if he was not when he was not with me.
I loved my profession in medicine. I prided myself on treating my patient’s with as much knowledge as I could hold, and I was proud of how I treated them as people. That is my badge of honor. So how did I fail? Simply, with each moment someone suffered and every life lost, I failed. Certainly, there are the maladies we cannot control but, nonetheless, I always wanted to be better.

Laura Davis

Hi Nancy, I love the juxtaposition of your love of homemaking with the pressures and intensity of medical practice. Do most doctors feel they fail when someone dies? Isn’t death the natural end of life for all of us?

Nancy Qualls

Hi Laura,
No, most doctors/medical professionals do not feel they have failed when someone dies. There is so much education we have to take, and the technology available is amazing. We don’t actually fail our patients, I over-dramatized our feelings of disappointment…but it is not disappointment…and it isn’t really failure…it is a feeling so hard to describe. We walk away from death with sadness for the family and that we could not save the patient, although in many cases the death can be a God-send for something we mortals cannot save.
One thing I wanted to describe was the difficulty women of my era, 1960′s/70′s, have. Our mother’s bring us up to believe we will have the house and family, and our husband’s will take care of us (so we really don’t need to get a degree) versus society expecting us to get a degree, have a career AND successfully run our home and children. We were sitting right on top of the white picket fence

Lee Xanthippe

Wow, very interesting–the way this piece went through the different eras in a way–the different roles for women and how the roles impact men in that first section–enjoyed the openness of the detail of wanting the man or boyfriend to be there all the time.
I felt the trying in this piece, the succeeding–the badge of honor, and also the pain of not being able to do more while trying to do more or do better.
Thank you for posting this piece!


Nancy- I love how you hold up your medical career and your career as a homemaker next to each other. It’s hard to do that without judging one or the other but you managed it. It was sweet how you ironed everything and gave your husband a choice. Very romantic. Ilana


Thank you for sharing this beautiful comparison of time and career. You did an amazing job of it. I believe that as true humans we always want to do and be better.
Mary Carlson
Ah, my heart pings a little reading this. I hear a striving for perfection in both paragraphs: perfection in homemaking, and perfection in medicine. That common thread comes through clearly…
And the tragic aspect of this is that your striving to be the best feels very marred by inevitable “failures.” Being a good wife meant you weren’t the “good girlfriend.” A patient’s suffering or death becomes a sign of failure.
I would love to see you expand this, and really examine the cost of perfection. Ok, I feel a lot of projection on my part happening here….and I apologize. But, wow, can I identify!
Nancy Qualls

Thank you, I am humbled by all the responses I am receiving here.
I will write a more detailed piece. I have always wanted to write more about the era I grew up. Our grandmother’s and mother’s were homemaker’s. They lived within the ‘white picket fence’. Then we had Women’s Lib and suddenly we were expected to have a degree, a career and a home. The first half of my life was within the ‘white picket fence’ and then I was caught sitting on it.
Adrienne Drake
As a physician myself I could identify with much of what you say here in terms of being caught between two worlds as women emerged from homebodies to professionals very quickly. I too was caught on that cusp and did not mange to balance things nearly as successfully as you seem to have. However, I can not relate to your feeling that you failed with each moment someone suffered or lost their life. You are taking on way too much responsibility for that. You clearly did your best and I hope you don’t let those feelings tarnish in any way how you look back on your career, which was otherwise you badge of honor. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story.
  • Dr. Drake,
    Happily, I was not tarnished by, what I described as, an obsessive tendency to worry about everyone’s pain. When I was at work, I definitely was focused on all my patients, all of the time. And, like you I am sure, I wanted to take care of all the pains and maladies. But I did feel bad when I was not successful.
    When I retired, I left knowing that I did the best I knew how…that I educated myself ad-nauseum. When I left work…I left work. Well…okay…there were the times I would call the ICU in the middle of the night to check someone’s blood gas results…I couldn’t help it, I had to know so I could go back to sleep.
    Now days I am happily retired, beta-reading and working on my first book.

Nancy, this felt like this could be a book. There was so much information and feeling in these paragraphs. I wanted to know more. Thank you.

  • Judy
    Nancy, interesting piece that show the difficulty of ‘walking between the worlds’ of homemaker, devoted wife/mother and demanding career of medicine. Thank you for sharing.


    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    Havana Queen

    By: James Bruno

    It is evident that our author, Mr. Bruno, put all his experiences, his theories and knowledge into the Havana Queen, as far as the government would allow him.
    I enjoyed the continuous action. Reading this book was like driving down a road, coming to a fork in the road and thinking you would continue straight on but, instead, you are taken to the left. Not only did the storyline continually surprise me, but the characters thinking also.
    We see the FBI inter-agency conflicts, and we see how prevalent it is. It is the same with MI-5/MI-6, the FSB.  And we see the conflicts between the USA and Cuba. These dances go on all over the world, and we learn an agent must learn the steps, and when to side-step.
    He shows understanding of the tenacity of the Cuban government. He gives us food for thought as the future draws nearer to the point when the Castro brothers will no longer be in power.  What will happen to these people, and what affect will North Korea have in the future of Cuba.
    My final thought: In mentioning Carlos the Jackal, why did he never assassinate the Cuban leader?  Are there understandings that certain individuals are untouchable? Are there considerations that the alternative to this fascist may be worse, or that chaos would ensue and the door would be opened for the North Korean's?

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    The Regency Rakes Triology

    An Affair of Honor
    Book Three
    by: Candice Hern

    On the Thornhill equestrian/stud farm in Suffolk, Meg Ashburton finds the wreckage of a curricle belonging to Colin Herriot, Viscount Sedgewick.  She danced with him some six years prior and fell in love with his beauty and charm. He was the only one who would dance with the six foot, gangly redhead, and she never forgot him.

    With the help of her brother, Sir Terrence Ashburton, they brought him home and under the care of their herbalist grandmother, Mrs. Lattimer, together nursed him back to health.  He went in and out of a coma and, during his conscious periods, he swore there was a red haired angel looking over him. When he finally came to, Meg tendeded him and kept him company during the long hours of the day when he was stuck in bed with a broken leg. He was smitten with her beauty and the regal way she carried herself.

    Our hero began experiencing a series of 'accidents' starting with the wreckage of his curricle. Ashburton found the front axle cut almost through, but Sedge insisted it was an accident.  After he became fully conscious he was to drink an herbal tea made by Gram. Meg happened to recognize something about the drink did not smell right and prevented him from drinking, what turned out to be, a poisonous mixture. When he finally was able to walk about with crutches, he almost slipped on an oily mixture at the landing of the stairs. Again, Meg was assisting him and saw it before Sedge stepped in it, thus preventing a certain broken neck or death.

    At this point the ever present, ever helpful cousin, Albert, had a talk with Terrence, suggesting that Meg was getting too close to Sedge and would certainly get her heart broken.  On the way back to his London home he was stopped by some thieves. He shot one and the other two scattered.  Then at his home, his bedclothes caught fire.

    Through a series of miscommunications, Sedge's proposal of marriage did not come across as such, it sounded like he wanted her for his mistress. When Terrence learned of this, a dual ensued. Meg put on her breeches and went to stop it because she knew there was someone in common with these accidental occurrences. Another almost mishap shone a light on the betrayer.

    This is an exciting story of love, friendship and family. A well written first edition of the series, not serial. There is good dramatization  and character development. A perfect weekend read.

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    A Bull By the Back Door

    By:  Anne Loader

    It isn't that this is one of those typical 'we bought a run down farm in France and fixed it up' books. You know, the ones that make you feel inadequate because you will never have the money to do same.  
     It wasn't until after I retired that I fell in love with the UK and Europe. By that time I was too old and arthritic to venture across the ocean.  That being said, I now live vicariously through books and this is my first reading of a journal style genre. I thought it would be too clinical but this is a charming story of Anne and Jack's experiences. I especially liked the relationship Anne carried on with the previous and deceased mistress, Marguerite.  Ms. Loder gave her a personality and emotions. She is happy to share her aberration with us.
    There is a smorgasbord  of ex-pats in the town, that was once a busy farming community, and as this house is re-established so is the town and the familial friendships that will last over the years.
    This is a well written book and left me wanting to continue my voyeuristic visit to their home.

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    The FIrebird by Susanna Kearsley

    THE FIREBIRD, by Susanna Kearsley
    Dear Friends, Again my friend Theresa Atashkar has prepared a lovely review. I am beta-reading now and I am behind on my reading and reviewing so I want to thank her for reviewing Ms. Kearsley. I told her I am in awe of her writings and find it difficult to express my admiration, so “T” stepped in.

    “I nearly didn’t notice when his thoughts touched mine. It was a rare thing these days; rarer still that I would let him in, but my own thoughts were drifting and I knew that his were, too. In fact, from what I saw of where he was---the angle of the ceiling and the dimly shadowed walls---I guessed that he was likely still in bed, just waking up himself.”
    Nicola Marter worked for Sebastian at the Galerie St.-Croix, a Fine Russian Arefacts and Art gallery. As soon as she arrived for work that day Sebastian was waiting for her to meet a woman by the name of Margaret Ross. Margaret was plainly dressed and not one of their usual clients; however, she had a small treasure that she wanted appraised. She was hoping to sell it so she could go on vacation. She stated that this treasure was her inheritance passed down for over 300 years. It was given to one of her ancestors by Empress Catherine of Russia. It was a little hand-carved wooden bird; Margaret stated that she was told they called it a Firebird. There was no documentation to prove where it originated and both Sebastian and Nicola knew it was worthless without it. Sebastian handed the carving to Nicola to examine. “Instantly I felt a warmth that had nothing to do with the carving itself. I closed my eyes to try to stop the vision, but that only made it worse. I saw a slanting fall of light, with fine dust dancing through it. Two women, one aging but lovely, with heavy black eyebrows; the other respectfully bent, perhaps kneeling, her young face upturned in uncertainty. ‘My darling Anna,’ the first woman said to the other in elegant Russian, and smiled. ‘You were never a nobody.’”

    This much-loved book is a continuation of “The Winter Sea”, in which Anna, Margaret’s ancestor, is born to Sophia and John Moray and is hidden with another family to keep her safe. “The Shadowy Horses” is the second book in the series, which takes place further in history where Robby is introduced; he is a young boy that has the gift of Psychometry; he can touch an object and go back in time and learn all about the history of that particular object. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books; Susanna’s writing touched my heart and she brought everything full circle with “The Firebird.”

    This novel takes place in present day and Nicola is on her way to Russia on business so she decides to take the little wooden bird with her to see if she can find out if there is any history to back up what the old lady had said. Before she leaves she looks up an old friend, Robby or Rob as he is called now. She has the same gift as he does but Rob’s is much more refined and he’s not afraid to use it. Nicola asks for his help and he says he will go with her to Russia and help her.

    Their journey begins in St. Petersburg, searching in time for Anna as a little girl and what kind of life she had while her mother put her in hiding with another family. They follow her through her teenage years as she struggles to keep her true identity a secret from everyone; even watching her suffer as I suffered with her in silence as she finds out that her beloved Uncle had died before he could find her. They travel further through time together as she meets Empress Catherine for the first time and makes a very good impression on the Queen. Anna is escorted as a young single lady by Edmond, who is a relative of the family she is staying with. Nicola and Rob watch as they fall in love, all the time falling in love themselves. When both couples finally realize it, my heart sang with joy for all of them, but especially Anna because her whole life was so hard-fought. I loved this book and it deserves more than 5 stars! In fact, now that I am finished with this review, think I’ll read it again….

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Sacrafice of the Raven (The Union Series BK Four)

    By: Shawn Reilly

    I will begin my review by stating that I am one of the author's beta-reader's so I have 1)received the manuscript from the author free of charge for my services as a beta and 2)I have paid for a copy of this book (because my manuscript copy is marked up with my notes).  Some of us who review have recently been accused of writing false reviews as favors to the author (for what I cannot figure out). The accuser not considering that a beta-reader and some reviewers receive copies of the manuscript prior to submission to the editor/publication.  I feel honored that Shawn asked me to beta for her series, even though it is not my genre. She is a fellow Hoosier and so I agreed to read and review. I fell in love with her writing and the story. I have been so pleasantly surprised at the quality of her first publications.   I am so excited for the release of the fourth volume of The Union series.

    That being said, now I can speak to you lovers of prose as a reader/reviewer. Sacrifice Of The Raven (The Union Series BK4)is an exciting, romantic and very humorous bringing together of the characters. You will get to know them more intimately, know the functioning of the Union and Lake family. The love Asher has been trying to avoid, in order to save his life and prevent the calling of the Raven's curse, becomes a prominent focus for him as he falls more in love with Elle. He is at a crossroads, he can live and not love or he can have a short-lived love with Elle. There are unexpected surprises, titillating romance (without explicit sex). She gives her leading men playful, sexy humor even in the tense and dangerous moments. You will be entertained by the antics of Ari (brown Labrador Retriever in ani-shift form) as he guards the Keeper and maintains his status as the 'rogue' of the ani-shift world, Asher (black wolf in ani-shift) and, of course, the twins Casin and Cade (rodents in ani-shift) who, because of their size, can get into all sorts of situations that often lead the family into danger. Enjoy.

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    The Winter Sea BLG6-21-2013

    Guest Contributor: Theresa Atashkar
         with many thanks for writing what I have been unable to put into words. I have been
         in awe of Ms. Kearsey. I told Theresa and asked her to write the review.

    Carolyn McClelland was writing a historical novel based loosely on Nathaniel Hooke, an Irishman close to King Louis XIV at Saint-Germain in the late 1600/1700‘s. When King Charles II died and his brother James II took the throne he helped organize the Scottish Highlander Jacobites and taken up arms to defend King James. Carolyn had spent five months in France researching Nathaniel Hooke but was getting nowhere. 

    Carolyn decided to visit her agent, Jane, in Scotland and let her read what she had so far written in her book and get her opinion. Her research was not going well and thought she may find fresh information in Scotland. “So on that winter morning when it all began, when I first took my rental car and headed north from Aberdeen, it never once occurred to me that someone else’s hand was at the helm.”

    It is here at this place and time that Susanna Kearsley pulls you in and wraps you deep into the story of Carolyn’s very own ancestors. Carrie, her family calls her, loses her way and ends up strangely in front of an old castle that was in sad disrepair. The area around is totally deserted and she wants to go exploring but is afraid to wander into the castle alone, she is drawn to this castle and doesn’t want to leave; it is the Earl of Erroll’s castle, Slains. Carrie meets a man there and he explains to her where she is and how to get back to the main road to be on her way to Peterhead so see Jane.

    After revisiting the castle with Jane and finding more history that she had thought she would, she decides to rent a cottage in Cruden Bay. The only cottage available was an old cottage on a headland jetting out above the sea and when she turned and saw the view of the castle ruin and knew she needed to stay there. She could already hear her characters speaking to her but it was not that of Nathaniel Hooke, it was a woman’s voice. “So, you see, my heart is held forever by this place,’ she said. ‘I cannot leave.”

    I imagine all writers have some kind of “trance” they go into or dream of what their characters want the writer to say about them. But Carrie’s dreams and trances took her to the Castle, Slains and she saw it as it was in the 1700’s and it was there that she met Sophie, the woman that was her ancestor who would tell her everything she craved to know and told her all about her own history. Carrie was deeply wrapped up in learning about who were the real traitors to King James; she watched as Sophie fell in love and married secretly. She watched and cried as I cried when Sophie gave birth to Anna alone and scared, and again when she found out her husband had been killed in battle. While Carrie was not writing she was also falling in love herself with a wonderful history professor and the small town of Cruden Bay.

    I’ve never read a historical romance novel that pulled me in and made me fall in love with the characters, the location and at the same time teach me so much about true history! This was an amazing story and one that I will read again and again. I would recommend this book to anyone and I look forward to reading her other works for me to read…and learn…and cry.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Legend of the Raven/Union Series Bk. Two

    By: Shawn Reilly

    As I said in my review of Call of the Raven/Union Series Bk. One, this is not my usual genre...far from it. But I loved the first so much that I look forward to all six novels. They are coming out on a timely basis so you don't have to go back to re-read. Shawn's first effort at writing is amazingly good.  She is a wonderful story teller with just the right levels of drama, humor and romance, but readers should know that this story is spread out over six novels so don't be disappointed when there is not a committal ending. She likes to leave you with a cliff hanger.

    In Book Two our heroine Elle is learning about the lives of the Lakes and of ani-shifters. She is getting accustomed to them and finds being at Lake Manor safer than the life she had with her abusive boyfriend. She is falling in love with the Lake men; Asher (Keeper), Ari assists and protects the Keeper and Nixon the young brother just learning the telesthesia he has with his brothers.  And she is now the caretaker of the twins and Mary, her upstairs neighbor who she saved in the fire of their home.

    Asher is in a war with himself as he begins to notice feelings he has for Elle and his family. Feelings he cannot have because love is the one definite end to his life, as stipulated by the Curse of his fore bearers. And there is an uprising against him as Keeper of the Union by unknown forces who are about to identify themselves. But Ari is back, after being kidnapped and Nixon is growing into a strong young man who is learning his strengths and accepting his responsibility to help protect the family.

    This book continues the twists and turns in the darkness with the appearance of some of the other ani-shifters. Asher is a wolf, Ari is a Labrador retriever and Nixon is a Fowler-specifically and mostly a Peregrine falcon. The twins are rats and dear Kennedy, a tiger and another of the Keeper's protege's.

    There is no doubt you will enjoy this, as I have. We can all look forward to Book Three and Four will be out in July.  I have joined The Union.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Sanctuary (Ben Coverdale)

    by: Ben Coverdale

    This is a charming story of a white knight. Ben is in love with Mary. They have been together for five years but he is unable to relate his true feelings or intentions. Frustrated at his non commitment, Mary meets Donald and falls in love with him. She finally decides to move in with Donald and have Ben sell the condo they purchased together. But she soon learns he is a boring controller. When she tells him she is carrying Ben's child he wanen, broken ts nothing to do with it...Mary is alone.

    Ben, broken hearted, is following his dream of living in France and soon finds a property with two cottages, in need of some tender loving care, in the Loire Valley. He gets a mysterious email from the lovely Katie, Mary's long time rival for Ben, and he is off to Germany to free her from human trafficers, who have kidnapped her to hold for ransom until they can find her husband, Dave.

    But what of the lovely Mary and her baby? People go through phases of growth and reconstruction whether it be to the heart, a baby or a B&B in France. Katie has gone to Ben's to recover from her ordeal and it so happens she helps Ben to discover his priorities and happiness. Georgina learns to grow up and Mary becomes the mother she wants to be.

    Sanctuary is a well written first novel for our author. I loved the development of the characters, they are charming. The quirky, best friend Georgina 'Grunge' and the implementation of Madam Delphine, owner of the only hotel in town who has a colorful past. The story line is concise and there are twists and turns that keep your attention. I found myself laughing or saying 'Oh no' out loud. This is a great weekend/rainy day/beach read and I cannot wait to read the sequel "Repercussions".

    The Whales of Summer

    by: Nancy Qualls-Collins

    This blog is far from my usual book reviews. But I was watching my favorite television station, Animal Planet, and became engrossed in their research of how the Navy's new, high powered sonar affects schools of whales.  That being said, I hope you will take a few minutes of your busy life to think of something that is so far fetched that it would never cross our minds. I am watching the examination of several whales that beached themselved in Washington state and Tasmania, AU. Being from Florida this is not an uncommon thing.  But in these cases the etiology of the beaching is what caught my attention.

    During the course of everyday life we have little time to think of the effects of our technology on the wildlife of our world. But think of it, if you will, sonar technology is becoming more and more powerful. Imagine a school of whales all moving and comminicating using their God-given sonar. Suddenly, they are barraged with sonar from a Navy ship and their comminications are mixed up. It is feesible and now I know it has happened. It is felt the sonar scared the whales into shallow waters, that makes sense. But there was actual physical damage to the whale's tissues.

    Pathological autopsy results negated the obvious cause of death which would be the collapse and failure of body organs as the weight of the whale crushes the lungs and heart. They found blood coming from their ears, never heard of before.  Tissue samples showed signs of blunt force trauma, and unlikely malady for all the whales in both locations. How could they all suffer blunt force, there were no signs of shark attack or being hit by a ship. Yet the pieces of tissue I saw had multiple holes. A NOAA biologist called it a high frequency blast that caused damage to the tissue. He calls it a 'sonic blasts'.

    Not to worry dear friends, we are assured that the Navy, working with NOAA and the Jacques Cousteau Society, will study this and create a resolution to the problem. I certainly cannot blame the Navy for negligence because sonar has been used for decades. Personally, I would have thought the whales have their own frequencies and would not be disturbed by outsside interference. That is, if I were to have been aprised of the possibility and thought it through myself. I will now. As a matter of fact, being the OCD person that I am, now I wonder how fishermen's sonar affects fish, dolphins, squid, sharks. I love the show 'Deadliest Catch' so now I worry that the sonar of the crabbing vessels affects the crab.  I am always amazed at the little things we do not think of .


    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Mist On The Meadow

    By:  Karla Bradenburg

    Once again, Karla Brandenburg gives her readers an intriguing paranormal romance.
    She presents believable normal to paranormal experiences with informative history to make the reading flow smoothly.

    The story is not in excess of characters. Each one has a purpose whether active as the heroine, Marissa, and the hero, wolf: or emotional, preternatural as with Great Uncle Balk, the Secret Keeper.

    Marissa has a good life with a successful bakery and coffee shop.  While on her frigid trek to start the breads, donuts and her famous sticky buns, she has a moment, not the first 'quiet moment' as described by her mother and Uncle Balk. As she approaches a stop light, she notices a majestic five point buck standing in a misty meadow and time seems to stand still for a moment.  It is just the two of them, eye to eye...special...cosmic.  Reality returns as her new car is suddenly rear ended by the handsome Wolf Harper, heir and executor to the Harper Electronics, Inc. and Harper Estate. 

    Today, this her 25th birthday as a gift from her Great Uncle Blat, he passes on the family legacy.  She is a Kundigerin, a secret psychic power she possesses which, with but a touch, allows her to know things about the person.  But it is a 'by the seat of your pants' situation as her beloved Uncle dies before providing much tutelage.

    With the realization of her legacy and a budding romance with Wolf, the dangers that accompany her newly realized powers begin. First, with a break in at her apartment followed by attempts on her life. At  the same time, Wolf finds the monetary problems of Hangar Inc. are a result of inventory diversion and reabsorbtion.  With the aide of Marissa's insight and Wolf's bravery and love, they wage war on the unknown players set out to sabotage the manor and their livelihoods with some surprising assistance.

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    My book recommendation



    Hello all, I just want to share this new read with you. It is the first of a series and I am very excited to recommend it to you.

    This is a story about ani-shifts (aka: animal shifters). The Lake family is a charming group, the men are beautiful although socially challenged, there is a young girl that is destined to be a leader of The Union of shifters. She was saved from an abusive home by a pathetic, backward girl named Elle. The men have fallen in love with her but who should she love? The Lake's are always under attack by evil forces...or are they two faced friendly beings. Romance, intrigue, humor, paranormal fantasy...totally entertaining. You can't wait for the next volume (and, P.S. you won't have to wait a year for it.)  Could we have another J.K. Rawlings?  Congratulations Shawn!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Call of the Raven BLG2.12.2013


    by: Shawn Reilly

    This first book of the Union Series was a very pleasant surprise to me because this is not a genre I usually read, but I cannot wait for Volume Two.  I enjoyed the way Ms. Reilly writes and I am impressed this is her debut novel.  Bravo Shawn!

    Elle Ison is a (rather pathetic) lost soul.  Brought up by her Grandmother, she never learned her self worth.  She became entwined in an abusive, co-dependent relationship, she needed a home and security and he needed a maid and punching bag.  That all changed the day she saved a dirty little girl, named Mary, from a man trying to abduct her after Elle's group reading to children at the central library in a southern Indiana community.

    That evening, after an especially brutal beating because she bought a newly relaeased book about ani-shifts, she finds the dirty girl standing in her apartment.  The beatings become increasingly severe so she decides to leave.  Mary is, once again, in danger by intruders that set fire to her apartment.  Her mother has been gone for some time.  She cannot get over the unexplained disappearance of Mary's father, Grant, the love of her life, so she drinks. 

    Mary runs to Elle for protection and they begin a journey of discovery as they come under the protection of a band of animal shifters, the Lake's.  They are the spoiled tiger, Kennedy...the handsome young falcon, Nixon, brought to the estate from a horrific abusive father...and the brothers, handsome and strong, Ari the Labrador dog and guardian to his brother Asher, leader of the Union, the grey wolf, brave, confused and unable to love...until they met Elle.  Their mentor, Grant, comes from beyond as the grey wolf  gives Asher the strength to learn to love as they begin the fight of their life to save future leaders and the Union.

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Rough Harbor BLG1..24.2012

    By Andrea Stein

    This is a charming story of coming home.  Caitlyn Montgomery was smart enough to leave London when she found her controlling fiancee in bed with her friend.  She was offered a position at the brokerage firm her father and his, now deceased, friend Maxwell Randall founded. She did not need to work thanks to her wise business investments.  She was sure this company would be her legacy.  The only other candidates were the slimey #2 man, Sam Harris and Maxwell's son, and her first love, Noah Randall who was a software mogul in silicon valley.  She was sure he had no interest in his father's company since he had not spoken to him in ten years.  But at the company meeting she was surprised to see him introduced as the new President of Queensbay Capital Group.

    The attraction between Caitlyn and Noah was immediate and he did not try to hide his interest in her.  She did her best to keep him at arm's length but there was no way to hide her feelings...feelings she had repressed for ten years after she told him "NO" and he called her "a tease".  But Sam Harris has other plans to put this successful new accounts associate in her place, either play his way or leave.  But Caitlyn became suspicious when her accounts began to show deficits and with the help of an old family friend, she gathered information to save the company, while Noah fought her ex fiancee who would not let go.  Yes, you can go home again! 

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Embracing Ashberry BLG2.8.2013

    By: Serenity Everton

    In 1789,Baron Whitney brings his daughter, Ella,to London for her first Season. He usually comes alone, leaving his family in Cornwall, to satiate his need for "entertainment". This comes in the forms of gambling, and then there are the "women"...it used to be "woman" but one was not enough.

    In the early morning hours Ella Whitney goes into the garden for some fresh air. She is brutally attacked by knife. The following years she recovers slowly but the physical and emotional scars remain, even after a lengthy European tour with her doting family. None expectd her to ever marry. She was cheerful admidst her family but receeded within herself in the presence of others.

    Until the day Stephen Shane Trinity, Marquess of Ashberry met her and decided to make this unique beauty his. Sweetly and slowly he gained her trust. Her family questioned their relationship although unable to distinguish anything other than his admiration of her. The family dynamics rule each scenario until Ashberry gets his new wife to his main estate in Scotland. There he focuses all his efforts to making her comfortable in love...the passionate sex is the foundation of the reclamation of her life and her ability to trust and love.

    Ashberry set out on a crusade for bengence and recruits his brother in law, Edward, who is all to eager to assist. What follows is a escapade of surprizes that answer the questions Ella, her mother and brothers have lived with most of their lives.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Ramblings in Ireland BLG1.5.2013

    By: Kerry Dwyer

    This is not a typical travel journal.  It contains none of the blah-blah lists of B&B's, restaurants, sites and travel iteneraries, that also include blah-blah lists of B&B's, restaurants and sites. This book is the walking trip through Ireland of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (pardon, I do not know the equivalent comedy team in Europe) aka Kerry and Bertrand.  The book does include information on what clothes and shoes they needed, some first aide preparations, as well as rules for travelling with your partner without wanting to kill them...and a bit of what not's.

    We get to share in the dialogue of Kerry and her husband, Bertrand as they get in and out of situations. What a married couple in such situations would feel is the opposite of what you as a reader will feel. This book is full of humour.  I especially liked the statement "She is an American so can be forgiven for using the phrase '...didn't get to go'.   Also, there is witty reparte with her students trying to learn English in which she has to work one young Frenchman around "goed shopping".  The humour is very cleaver and entertaining.

    If you are considering a walking trip through Ireland, this is a well written book that should be read, and is a great weekend read.  My congratulations to Mrs. Dwyer.  You have a fan.