Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sleepypod Air Giveaway (ends 10/31) U.S.

Sleepypod Air Giveaway

Sponsored by Sleepypod. Hosted by Sumner Six.

Co-hosted by Aunt Maggie Rocks, Capri’s Coupons, Corgi Coupons, Sweet Pea Savings.

Now, how many of us have pets that we want to pamper?  And how many of your animals willingly go into their animal carriers?  I know mine don't!  This is a way to keep your animal safe at home and on the go.  You can keep them warm and cozy and cool when needed.  And wouldn't you rather have them in their own place than on ten different chairs, beds, and more?  Yes, I speak from experience.  This sounds awesome!

This giveaway will end on Halloween. It runs the entire month of October and you can tweet about it daily for the most entries! Be sure to like, follow, vote, or visit everything on our co-hosts' pages to get a lot more entries. Good luck!

CBLS Promotionals Presents "Love's Debt" by Rachel Brimble Book Review/Giveaway (Ends 10/8) WW

Love's Debt
by Rachel Brimble
Published by The Wild Rose Press
Historical Romance

Available at:
The Wild Rose Press

To keep herself from the depths of poverty, Milly Shepherd needs to be appointed manager of the Red Lion Tavern. The elderly owner is in failing health and has promised her the job permanently if no one more suitable applies. Milly will fight with her entire being to make the job her own.

Joseph Jacobs needs to supplement his income to pay off his father’s creditors and save him from debtor’s prison. Though the job as manager of the local tavern looks promising, Milly is favored by both the owner and customers. Instead, Joseph swallows his pride and agrees to tend bar.

As they work together, their attraction grows, their goals cross, and both Millie and Joseph find they must face their fears …the question is whether they face them alone or together?


Joseph Jacobs closed the tavern door behind him and paused a moment to take in his surroundings. As a man used to looking over his shoulder and sensing trouble, experience taught him to be aware of others before they became aware of you. He narrowed his gaze. The meager number of patrons at the tables surprised him at an hour when he expected the bar to be fairly busy. He glanced at the clock; maybe it wasn’t time for the workers yet.

He shifted his gaze to the woman standing beneath the clock and his heart kicked. Her green-gold eyes held him where he stood. She stared and Joseph swallowed, willing some words to come forth from his frozen tongue or at least a smile to curve his paralyzed lips.

She lifted her eyebrows and slowly pulled a cloth from her shoulders. Her hair was a mass of fire-tipped curls around her oval face, her skin creamy-white and her parted lips, a soft delicate pink. Joseph cleared his throat and belatedly removed his hat.“Good evening, miss.”

Her smile slipped easily into place. “Good evening to you, sir.” Her voice was smooth, clear and full of confidence. “Are you looking to quench your thirst or just planning on soaking up the atmosphere?”

Joseph inhaled a long breath through flared nostrils as if trying to smell her. Something told him she’d smell of lavender…or maybe musk. Something to throw a man off guard, to lower his defenses.

He stepped forward. “Neither. I am looking for the landlord. Would you happen to know if he’s available?”

Her gaze lingered on his a moment longer before she looked to the four glasses at the table beside her. She grasped them expertly between her fingers and carried them behind the bar without answering his question.

Joseph couldn’t take his gaze from the natural sway of her hips beneath the deep burgundy dress she wore, the bustle a little too prominent for the current fashion showing her lack of money to afford better. Why else would a woman with the features of an artist’s model be working in a tavern unless necessity demanded it?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a nice short and sweet historical romance, and it's a nice way to spend a cozy, fall evening.  The characters, story, and setting are sweet, and I loved almost everything about ths book.  I could have done without the brief profanity and sex scene, but thankfully both were short!  I love strong women, and Milly is definitely that.  And Joseph is the typical Victorian gentleman who is down on his luck.  Although the story was short and developed faster than I might have liked, it was nice. I would love to read more from ths author.

I always find Victorian England a nice escape in ths day and age.  While I know that illicit actions were still a part of the culture, they were veiled.  And morals were still alive back then.  In fact, I loved Milly's response as things blossomed between Milly and Joseph.  And I'm glad to know that marriage is expected--much nicer than just living together!  While the end is expected (no spoilers, but I bet you can guess the ending), it is still nice!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK.  She started writing short stories about eight years ago but once her children were at school, she embarked on her first novel. It was published in 2007. Since then, she’s had several books published with small presses as well as securing her first contract with Harlequin Superromance in May 2012.

Represented by US agent Dawn Dowdle, of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.  Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England. And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…

Contact Rachel at:
Twitter - or @rachelbrimble
Facebook -

For the duration of the tour (which can be followed here), ten e-copies of Love's Debt will be given away, and the giveaway is open worldwide.  Just enter below!

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Rocktoberfest Giveaway Hop (Ends 10/15) U.S.

 Welcome to ROCKtoberfest hosted by Cheap Is The *New* Classy! Many bloggers have come together to bring you this awesome music themed giveaway hop! This event runs until 10/15 to give you plenty of time to enter on everyone's blog for more chances to win fabulous prizes! All of the prizes are music related and worth at least $25! The GRAND PRIZE for this event is an autographed prize pack sponsored by Grammy Award winning southern rock and country group - Kentucky Headhunters! After you are entering on this blog, please come and enter for this fabulous Kentucky Headhunters prize pack at Cheap Is The *New* Classy which is open to US/CAN!

My giveaway is only open to the U.S., and it has two parts.  First of all, the winner will be able to pick a CD or DVD of choice $15 or under.  I will order that directly from amazon for the winner.  The second part is a little different.  I have two "stores" online where I sell my used items--books, CD's, DVD's.  I will pull at least $10 worth of CD's and DVD's (I even have VHS--I will ask the winner's preference on that one) and pack a "grab box" for the winner.  This will be shipped from me.

So all you need to do is enter the rafflecopter form below by 9 P.M. Pacific time on October 15, and you are in to win!  Then you want to be sure to hop on to the other blogs to enter to win even more giveaways!

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Howling at the Moon Halloween Giveaway Bash (Ends 10/15) U.S.

Welcome to the

Howling at the Moon Halloween Giveaway Bash!

Howling at the Moon Halloween Giveaway Bash is open October 1st to October 15th.
Hop around to all the blogs participating on the linky below and enter each of their giveaways for a chance to win some fun prizes!
Participating bloggers will have Fall related and Halloween related giveaways on their blogs with a minimum $25 value.

I know, I know--why would I be giving away sunglasses?  I'm sure you know sunglasses aren't just for the summer!  And both of these are high quality and fit over your perscription glasses.  I particularly like the overcast one.  Hidden underneath of these is an art kit for your kids.  It includes all the normal things you would expect in a good-sized kid's art kit.

My giveaway is sponsored by me, and you can see it is simple but still good--at least in my opinion.  So if you wish to enter, please enter the rafflecopter below by 9 P.M. Pacific time on October 15, and then hop on to the other blogs so you have even more chances to win!  

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Disclosure: Mom Caboodle, Long Wait For Isabella and all participating blogs of the Howling at the Moon Halloween Giveaway Bash are not responsible for shipping prizes to the winners (unless otherwise stated). Each blog participating is responsible for contacting the sponsor of their giveaway to report the winner's information. Prizes are delivered to the winner by the sponsor usually six to eight weeks after the contest ends.

Harvest Halloween Blog Tour (Ends 10/15) U.S.

 Welcome to my Harvest Halloween Blog Hop organized by Holly at Savey Spender. 

I have a fantastic prize package for my wonderful U.S. readers!  This is completely self-sponsored--I have found some wonderful prizes for you--my wonderful readers!

See this prize pack?  One person will win all of this!

This is a cute little wall hanging that says "We got together like cream & sugar."

These are two very special placemats made of some kind of beads.  On the left, you will see a set of fish napkin rings, and on the right, you will see mini potholders (perfect for putting on those cast iron pans whose handles get too hot).

See that black thing in plastic?  It is a brand new Ipad case!  And then you can see the Lady and the Tramp picture frame.  And then there are two sets of coasters.

The beauty of this pack is that it is perfect for fall and still works throughout the entire year!  Wow!  

All you need to do is enter the rafflecopter below by 9 P.M. Pacific time on October 15.  And then hop on to the other blogs for the chance to win even more prizes!

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CM Book Tour: "The Spy Lover" by Kiana Davenport Review

Kiana Davenport’s latest novel is a powerful epic about the American Civil War, which extends this beloved writer’s vision to an entirely new level. Based on her family history, it is at once an historical novel, a haunting love story, and a brilliant expose on the treatment of minorities during the Civil War.  Meticulously researched, it is finally a story of human sacrifice and personal redemption.  A magnificent novel that crosses all genres, THE SPY LOVER (Thomas & Mercer; August 28; $14.95) is a work of astonishing beauty that promises to become a classic.      

Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant, and his beautiful Creek Indian wife, and daughter, Era, live in Shisan, a Chinese settlement along the Mississippi River. Their life is simple and idyllic, until Confederate soldiers invade the town, kidnap the men and force them into service, fighting for the South and slavery. At the first opportunity, many Chinese soldiers defect to the Union Army. In revenge, the Confederates return to Shisan to rape and torture their wives and daughters. Defiled and half-mad, Era sets out to find her father and is plunged into the full savagery and horror of the War.  Lured by Union officials to pose as a nurse while spying on the Confederate army, she falls in love with a wounded Confederate cavalryman, and her loyalties become divided between her beloved father in the North, and the gallant soldier who sustains her in the South.

THE SPY LOVER is ostensibly a novel about the abiding love between a man and a woman, between a father and daughter, and the love of a man for his country. Ultimately, it is a meditation on the ethical choice, on honoring one’s moral obligation.  

Each night his dreams begin with rice, the taste and texture of each grain aligned to parallel his hunger. But some nights his dreams are seized by Laughter and by Rain, two women so merged in his past they run together like mercury. In his sleep, he calls out to them in words that make no sense in English. At first light, he sits up and rests his weary head against his arm’s hard cradle. Dawn lends a greenish cast to his sallow face, and in the cold his lips look mauve. Around him, wounded soldiers call out to their mothers; others lie still, so frail the weight of the air can scarcely be borne.
With stiffened fingers, Johnny scratches at the earth, lifts a small mound of dirt to his lips, and swallows, remembering how Raindance loved eating ashes from the fire. Thoughtfully, he pulls up blades of grass, arranging them to spell out the names of his wives. Laughter. Raindance. He presses each blade to his lips and thinks of his daughter, lost somewhere in the madness. If she survives, will her half-Chinese womb be fruitful? Will she give me immortality?
Wolves howl across the fogged Virginia mountains as a camp guard approaches, his face raw from the Piedmont cold. He kicks at a Federal prisoner who has been horribly shot up, then turns his attention to Johnny.
“Say something.” He nudges him with his rifle butt. “G’wan! Say somethin’…I wanna hear what one o’ you sounds like.”
            Johnny hesitates, then speaks in careful English. “You will…live…long fruitful…life…”
            The man guffaws and shouts to his friends. “Hear that, boys? Hear what the pigtail said?” He unbuttons his filthy pants and aims at Johnny’s foot, pissing a steaming arc that instantly draws flies.
            Johnny whispers after him. “Dog’s vomit! Wild pigs will gorge on your liver.”
            Breathing in the acrid smell of sewage, he shudders, as throughout the stockade typhus spreads. There is no food, no fresh water for prisoners. Corpses lie unburied, slowly becoming their own moist graves. Men who try to bury them are shot. He crawls inside his ragged tent and pulls a cricket from his breast pocket, and chirps softly. The cricket chirps back. Its carapace is lovely, the color of chrysanthemum tea whose steam is blue. Its ferocious little face is shaped like a hatchet and the beady eyes shift like a gangster, making Johnny smile. The cricket has given him hours of pleasure and soon he will let it go. He is less kind to lice, snapping them between his teeth with a popping sound, swallowing them for nourishment.
            He lies back, thinking how in his homeland great famines had spared him. Monsoons had clamored over him, bringing floods that washed whole villages away. Why I was spared to end like this? He wonders. No one to mourn my death, no one to wail. No one to offer meats and fruits, or burn paper money at Ching Ming time so I not starve in the Afterlife.
            He rolls over, striking the earth softly with his forehead, his long queue bouncing down his back. Be brave! Remember was born in Year of the Boar. He thinks back on all that has befallen him and—always pleased to be amazed—feels almost grateful for this war, for having cured him of his childhood.
            Is no worse than drought, which then brought clouds of locusts burying the land. He remembers how they swarmed to three feet deep, devouring crops, then harnesses on oxen, handles on farm tools. How they layered the walls of houses until each house collapsed, then crawled down the throats of humans and laid their eggs, smothering them to death in the tens, then hundreds, of thousands.
            He remembers how the aftermath of locusts brought famine. Which then brought madness, people eating their elders, their dead children, while Emperor smoked opium in jade-lined rooms. It had been rumored by the Emperor’s enemies that when his eunuchs told him of the famine, millions dead, he dreamily replied, “Jan Yeh, Jan Yeh.” So it is. His eunuchs had smiled indulgently, and resumed decoding the secret life of chopsticks.
            And war is no worse than bandits, armies of them growing in famine’s wake.
From one catastrophe to the next, one generation to the next, his people had grown to hold their lives as worthless. That part of China deep in the province of Shensi became so destitute and ravaged it robbed their lives of all meaning. Johnny’s village, a collection of weed-and-mud huts in the backwater swamps of the great Yellow River, no longer attracted rain and so their fields did not come to fruition. Water became so rare, a mere bucketful was traded for precious flint and iron with which men had created flames. Without water or fire, their village began to die.
            When there was no dead flesh left to consume, people ate dirt. Johnny’s mother grew dreadfully thin and yet her stomach swelled. One day, his father put his fingers down her throat and pulled out a worm, twisting and twisting until the ball of the thing was as big as a fist. Fascinated, Johnny and younger brother, Ah Fat, watched as their mother deflated and the ball of worm grew big as a melon, until finally their father pulled out the head, wide as his thumb with eyes and a mouth. While their mother expired, villagers stretched the worm from end to end of the village, then hacked it in sections to be shared.
            Their father looked down at the swelling stomachs of his sons and whispered,
“Run! So you not become worm-dumplings.”
            The brothers had fled. After months of foraging and thieving their way through squalid villages, they came upon a parklike town called Po Lin, Precious Lotus, outside the great city of Chiangnan, where scholars and merchants had built summer homes. In Po Lin, the two boys had squatted in the shadows, watching people languidly repose, eat sugared lotus seeds, and bathe in scented waters. Even the lowliest citizens spoke in the scholarly tongue of Mandarin, and even the thieves comported themselves with dignity.
            It was such a wondrously civilized town that Imperial Censors and District Magistrates from Chiangnan stopped their palanquins outside the town gates while retainers trimmed their ear hairs and nose hairs, clipped their toenails and fingernails and scented their sleeves before they entered. Though they were swiftly run out of town as famine refugees, it was Po Lin that taught the brothers to dream, to imagine that one day they could become prosperous and admired. Looking back, Johnny sees that though his life has been eventful, he never quite achieved these goals.       Yet, I am prisoner of war. Is that not honorable thing to be?
He looks round the filthy stockade at prisoners huddled together, their expressions those of old children waiting to die. The Battle at Kernstown, in Jackson’s Valley Campaign, had been disastrous for Union forces. Ashamed of their defeat and capture, a boy gone mad has hanged himself.
            But we will soon win, Johnny thinks. In Christian God’s eyes, Union Army is right, Confederates wrong. He wonders if in fact this Christian God has eyes. Does he have a generous American nose? He cannot imagine such a being; in China one worshipped only the Emperor. But now Johnny is here, fighting for the Union, and he has been told that when the Union wins, he will become an American citizen.
            His comrades tell him that to achieve citizenship it is important to know the Christian Bible that so many soldiers quote from and sleep with, and carry into battle. Hoping to barter for such a book, with a sharpened stone he whittles away at branches, bird skulls and rat skulls, fashioning little brooches and whatnots. Focused on his carvings, he is not fully aware of how his comrades regard him—some with lazy curiosity, others with outright hostility. A slender but wiry little man with smooth yellow skin, a shaven foreskull, and long black pigtail, he looks alternately playful and threatening.
            His command of spoken English is fair, but when confused or tense he drops his articles, barks out made-up words that sound like hat tricks. Most irksome to the prison guards is how relentlessly he smiles, especially when sad or frightened or embarrassed. Just now he thinks of his wife and daughter, wondering if they have survived. He whittles at a branch and smiles.
            At first, his comrades had interpreted Johnny’s smile as craftiness; he had defected from the Other Side, perhaps a spy. Then they saw how ferocious he was in skirmishes with the enemy. And he was sly, with the movements of a cat. Sometimes he moved so fast he appeared to be there, and not there. They had seen him drive a sharpened branch straight through a Rebel’s eardrums, after which he dangled the corpse by the branch like something hanging from a clothesline. They had watched him strangulate a man, leap from behind and slash his jugular so swiftly he went down with a sigh. He once showed them how to render a man a eunuch with their teeth, a practice swiftly banned by the company commander.
            Still, seasoned troopers are wary of him, his broken English, his sallow skin, the way he slides his glances along without moving his head. But they are prisoners and desperate, and younger men begin to look to him, sharing meals of grilled rat he has trapped. And when there is only grass to chew, they sit close and listen to Johnny’s stories that sometimes resemble Scriptures from the Bible. He is generous with his memories, knowing it will be the talking and listening that saves them.
            “Busy tongue,” he tells them, “keeps fear in shadows, hope alive.”
            But often he sits alone. Because of his modest grasp of English, he cannot join in discussions with men who speak a slangy shorthand; he cannot joke with them like brothers. After years in America, he has begun to feel nowhere and half-where, a man who still speaks English like a child, and speaks his Mother Tongue with half a tongue. In his desire to become American, he has begun to squeeze Chinese from his brain.
            One day he strikes a bargain. In return for his stories, a boy will loan him his Bible for an hour every day. And so each day at the appointed time, Johnny hunches over the Good Book and follows words discreetly with his finger. Leviticus. Deuteronomy. Words that threaten to deform his jaw. When he attempts to pronounce them aloud, his mouth feels as if it will fall off in his hands. Still, he perseveres.
            Later, he gathers boys hungry to the point of death and recounts earlier times of hunger in his life: two brothers in rag-shoes, foraging for food while winds harvested their icicled brows. He and Ah Fat had finally arrived in Yangchow on the Yangtze River, but so had millions of beggars, and bamboo yokes nearly broke their slender shoulders as they carried gourds and roots, begging folks to buy. When no one bought, they stalked old men, knocking them down for rice-balls.
            “One day, we see public execution of man who sell his queue. Bald heads against Emperor’s edict. So! Ax flies, man’s head roll between my legs. Then family of executed man rush forward waving thread and needles, join head and body back together so his spirit be whole in Afterlife, so he not wander in little pieces. Even execution have happy ending.”
            Their lives vacillating between starvation and the executioner’s ax, one day the two boys had stood on the docks of Yangchow, gaping at big American ships and their well-fed crews. Cautiously, they approached a ship where long-nosed men with ruddy faces signed on a crew. They walked up the gangway to beckoning sailors, but before they could ask about wages, canvas sacks were thrown over them and they were rolled down to the galleys with a thousand other kidnapped Chinese.
            While Johnny “talks story.” he adds little asides and footnotes, believing that they give bones and gristle to a tale.
            “Only Chinese tongsee…sugarmasterstreated well as part of crew. Old experts in sugar refining, they badly needed all over world wherever was sugar plantations.”
            Thus, he and his brother, Ah Fat, had arrived in the Hawaiian Isles far across the Pacific Ocean.
            “After many months at sea, ho! First gulp of island air so clean, flowers so perfume it make us sick for days.”
            And it was here at Honolulu Immigrations that his name had been changed to Johnny. “My real name Zhong Yi, Needle Master, for my fingers shaped like such masters who cure illness by pushing needles into flesh. My poor mama dream one day I become such revered needle man.”
            He holds out his hands, showing long, slender fingers, so incongruous to his wiry, cunning body.
            “Immigration man cannot make tongue say ‘Zhong Yi,’ so change name to Johnny!”
            A boy with gangrened feet leans forward. “What happened next? Did you meet cannibals in those islands?”
            “No cannibals. We taken to outer island so large was called Moku Nui, Big Island. Here I meet brown-shouldered girl, Mahealani Hanohano. Her name so ha-full I give up! I call her Laughter.”
            His eyes close, he drifts, hearing her laughter like temple bells, while he recalls how he and mobs of Chinese were trucked to sugar plantations as forced labor, and how in time he and the girl had found each other. Still, Johnny grew to detest the crippling work of cutting cane—machete wounds, infections, food that left them a hair’s breadth from starvation—and white plantation owners with their vicious luna foremen.
            They had been forced to sign labor contracts for three years, or be returned to China where they would be swiftly executed. No matter that they had been kidnapped; the Emperor had not granted them exit favors.
            “No choice but work like slaves or die. In first year, eighteen men hang themselves.”
            Still, when Johnny lay with Laughter the lion of contentment stretched its paw across his chest. But then the girl broke his heart and disappeared. He began to hear rumors of California, how streets were paved with gold. He began looking toward the sea. One day, Laughter’s father hacked his way through the cane fields, threatening to cut off Johnny’s testicles for giving his daughter a “yellow monkey” baby.
            Fearing for his manhood, he gambled his wages for passage on a ship and sailed for San Francisco. The day he departed, Laughter appeared at the dock, holding their child, and as she frantically waved her uplifted arm, so slender and defenseless, it touched his heart. He pleaded with the captain to drop anchor, allow him to rescue his wife and child, and take them with him. The captain laughed. The ship sailed on.
            A boy with a helmet of head lice moves closer, gums gone black, his teeth a rich, rice-paddy green. “What happened next, Johnny? Did you get to San Francisco?”
            He nods his head, exhausted. “A tale for tomorrow’s ears.”
            Dark now, and cold. Prisoners, pressed together for warmth, snore fitfully. He wanders to his tent, but it is someone else’s hour in the tent. He lies down and hunches up, pulls his long queue over his shoulder, and thinks of Second Wife, Raindance. He has been gone almost a year, his letters not answered. Perhaps she thinks he deserted her. Perhaps she thinks he is dead.
            Pencils have no purpose here. Paper has become a source of food; men are eating their Bibles. As boys, he and Ah Fat had grown their pinky fingernails to long, sharp points, ideal for snapping lice in half and for digging insects out of ears. Lately, he had adopted a more urgent application for his extended fingernail—penning letters to Raindance on the palm of his hand.
            Each day he “writes in his journal,” pressing down hard with his pointed nail so that the letter of each word is briefly visible on his palm. A process slow and laborious, so the words have come to feel engraved like scars. In this way, he memorizes each word he writes: each rice-ball belly of a C, each listing chopstick of an M, imprinted upon his brain. Thus he is able to read his letters over and over in his head.

“My honorable and cherished Raindance,
            To continue with my story…We fought hard at Kernstown in Shenandoah Valley. Ah, but even so, they bested us. Speed of our defeat astounding, hundreds our soldiers turn and ran. Now prisoners, we are dead weary, dog hungry. Much death before and after dark.
            Still I slaughter many enemy, make many children orphans. For this my dreams are haunted. In battle I run over dead like logs. Run over many faces. White, red, even Russian, French. See many hundreds stomachs burst. Strange skins of many hues, but intestines all same color!…”
            Now and then, while Johnny writes, he pauses, searching for a word.
            “We die for clean water. Here is only sewage. So, are forced to drink our ruin. At first men turn away, disgusted. I tell them is old Chinese custom in famine and drought. They watch silent when I drink my ruin. When I not die, they drink their ruin too.
            Most uncomfortable news. Chinese boy from Kentucky in our brigade, caught as spy for Rebels. Soldiers pour gasoline down his throat, then light match and stick up nose. He explode, float down in little rags. Even so, I wonder, would they do such thing to Rebel spy with white skin?…”
            He stops writing and flexes his hand, softly repeating what he has written, trying to memorize each word. Then he begins the hard part—deleting in his mind what is not essential. He scribbles in his palm again, frowning with concentration.
            “How I will remember everything? Am living so many lives my brain become a stone sinking to forgetful depths. Will you believe such tales I write? Will our daughter? Is fitting for young girl to know such things?…”
            His daughter is sixteen now, or eighteen. The war has done strange things to his mind. Is she still beautiful? he wonders. Does she still have special love for books? And does she read to Raindance?
            He moans softly, recalling his wife’s scent, honeysuckle, wildcat hide, the glow of her copper-colored breasts. Then he returns to his writing, fingernail busy scratching at his palm, practicing words whose spelling gives him trouble. Urine. Ruin.
Captain Jenson from his regiment approaches, a young man so weary and gaunt his head seems too large for his frame. “How are you keeping, Private Tom?”
            Johnny jumps to his feet and salutes. “OK, sir! Everything OK.”
            “At ease, man. I want to commend you for keeping up morale, cheering the boys with your stories. And I don’t want you thinking on that Chinese boy, Elijah Low. He was a spy and got what he deserved.”
            He straightens up, tightening a filthy bandage made into an arm-sling. “I’ve watched you on the battlefield. You’re one of the bravest men in our regiment. I’m proud to have you serving under me.”
            Embarrassed, Johnny nods repeatedly and smiles.
            Jenson hesitates, then offers something hidden in his fist. “Take it. I’m tired of seeing you whittle with that hunk of stone.”
            Johnny stares at a small, bone-handled object with a button at one end. When he presses it, the blade snaps out like a small, slender fish caught in a sheaf of sunlight. He strokes the blade, remembering a similar knife he had given his daughter because it was delicate like her. He folds the blade and slips the knife into his shoe.
            For weeks, he spies on the captain while he forages for roots with other prisoners, and while he lectures them to keep their courage up. He spies on Jenson when he defecates, and squats beside him while he sleeps, feeling forever attached to this young man because he has given Johnny something infinitely more precious than a knife: the faint hope of acceptance, of acknowledgment that he is human and brave, and therefore significant.
            He has observed the confidence of Americans: that of accepting their lives completely, never wishing they were anyone else, or that they were born anywhere else, or raised in any other way. Just now, they may be wounded and starving, but they are secure in a way a Chinese could never be. Captain Jenson’s pride in Johnny fills him with confidence, the sense that he is becoming more like them, that he is becoming, incontrovertibly, one of them. And so his spirits lift.
            He presses on through months of near starvation, of whippings by prison guards, of gangrene and typhus that take more than half the prisoners. He presses on because he believes this time will pass. America is so large and generous it will never abandon or betray him. He has offered up his life for it, and one day it will reward him by welcoming him as a citizen. He moves through each day with burgeoning pride, almost with arrogance, as if his feet had turned to dragon claws.
            But on the day of his release, lined up with fellow prisoners awaiting the exchange, Johnny sees crows darting overhead in a floating and shifting calligraphy. Hearing their garrulous and raucous cries, he looks up again and sees they have formed the Chinese character for death.

The Spy LoverThe Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I struggled to know how to rate this book. I will be up front--this is a very hard book to read. The writing style is fantastic. Kiana Davenport is a very descriptive writer, and you feel as though you are right there experiencing the action as it happens. But that is also what makes this a difficult read. Read on, and you may understand what I mean.

First of all, the story has very little profanity, and it does have some sex scenes (that are not graphic, thankfully). But these are not the disturbing items. The horrors of the Civil War are described in detail, and you may find yourself wanting to look away as though it were a scene in a film. I found myself experiencing cold shivers more than once. But I have to say that I am glad I read those parts. I don't think many of us have any idea of how horrific the Civil War was. And this author does her best to give us a glimpse (and be glad it is only a glimpse)of what it may have been like. And it is told from a perspective I have never considered--Chinese-American. Oh, and Chinese-Native American.

The story is tragic--I will warn you. It is not a feel-good romance that makes you feel all bubbly inside. This is a book full of reality, and you may long for the ending. But I believe I can say I am coming away from this book with a better understandig of the Civil War than I did. I would have liked some light-hearted moments, but it cccurs to me that this period of history was not light-hearted. It is a heavy topic. I found myself reliving some of the images from "Gone With the Wind" even though that movie couldn't do this time period true justice either.

So if you are ready for a history lesson in a chilling story, ths may be the book for you. Don't enter it lightly, but I believe you will come away from the book with a deeper understanding of a tumultuous time in American history.

I was sent a copy of ths book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

About the Author:

Kiana Davenport is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands who arrived almost two thousand years ago from Tahiti and the Tuamotu's. On her father's side, she traces her ancestry to John Davenport, the puritan clergyman who co-founded the American colony of New Haven, Connecticut in 1638.
Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, Shark Dialogues, Song Of The Exile, and House Of Many Gods. She is also the author of the collections, House Of Skin Prize-Winning Stories, and Cannibal Nights, Pacific Stories Volume II. Both have been Kindle bestsellers. She has just published her third collection, Opium Dreams, Pacific Stories, Volume III.
A graduate of the University of Hawaii, Kiana has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000. Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in New York City and Hawaii.

Follow the entire tour here.

This Day in History September 30, 2009

Expedition 21 Lifts Off

I was not aware of this piece of history even though it happened only a few years ago.  On this date in 2009,  
Guy Laliberte became the first clown in space.  He headed to the International Space Station, and he paid 35 million for his ticket!  He is known for being the creator of Cirque de Soleil, and his hope was to provide awareness for the need for clean water throughout the world.  He traveled with a Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut.  He took nine red clown noses into space with him, and the purpose of his mission was artistic as opposed to scientific.  

To see some video, check out the following the link:

For more information, check out:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Soda Stream Giveaway (ends 10/30) U.S.

Welcome to a fabulous SodaStream Giveaway!

I am so excited to be paritcipating in this fantastic giveaway!  I got to review this not so long ago.  Read my review here.

One Lucky Winner will receive a SodaStream Jet Fountain Starter Kit, which includes:
  • Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker
  • 1 60 liter Carbonator
  • 1 Carbonating Bottle
  • 3 SodaMix Flavors (you choose the flavors)
  • Sodamix Variety 6 Pack.
This is exactly what I got to review, so this is something you will want to win.  If you have not tried SodaStream, you are missing out!  Read on about how to enter!

Giveaway Details
  • Giveaway will run from Sept 30, 2012 until Oct 30, 2012
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • US residents only
  • Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This blog did not accept any money for promoting this giveaway, nor are we responsible for shipping prize to winner.

Black Lion Tours Presents "Family Ties" by Krista Kedrick Guest Post/Review/Giveaway

She’s all country…
He’s all city…
Grace Tucker thought she had her life put back together - with the help of her over-protective brothers.  She had a quiet, predictable life operating the family hardware store in her hometown and spending her free time with her friends, the Caldwell family.  That was… until a tragic accident took her two best friends and left their daughters orphaned.  If that wasn’t devastating enough - Dirk Caldwell, the egocentric, completely handsome brother no one’s met, blows into town.
Dirk Caldwell realized he wasn’t in California anymore when he stepped from the redneck, rattletrap airplane and was smacked in the face with a cold breeze laced with manure.  It was exactly what he’d expected from the backwater town his brother called home.  But going head to head with Grace Tucker was not.  The hot-headed, leggy cowgirl was almost more than he could handle.  But, oh how he’d like to give it a try.
When two worlds collide can they realize love, tame passion and form a bond strong enough to tie a family together?

Book Information

Release Date: May 18, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance ​
Formats: Paperback/Kindle/Nook
Publisher: Cowboy Capital Publications


“Push that tape down so it don’t stick to your butt.”
     Twelve hours ago Dirk Caldwell would’ve never imagined another man making reference to his butt.  Ever.  It just wasn’t done.  Then again, twelve hours ago he wouldn’t have pictured himself struggling to get inside a tiny, run-down, four-seater plane carrying his own luggage. 
     He would never have been anywhere near a man who’s idea of style was Wrangler jeans paired with scuffed cowboy boots, Nebraska Huskers t-shirt and a dusty camouflage baseball cap with the phrase “That’s Mr. Redneck to You” emblazoned on it.  He hadn’t realized people like that existed let alone were allowed to hold a pilot’s license.  Yet here he was bumping elbows, knees and any manner of body parts with him while juggling his way around the cockpit.
     “Just toss yer’ bag back over there.”
     Dirk looked in the direction the work-worn hand pointed and balked.  He was supposed to put his $4,000 Bottega Veneta on top of a pile of dirty rags, maintenance manuals and something that looked like it came straight out of the engine of this nineteen-seventy something Cessna?  Yeah right.
     He surveyed the tiny plane, finally resigning to set his bag on the floor beneath the mess.  The distinct sound of tape being pulled from its roll drew his attention back to the pilot in time to see him tear a strip free with his teeth.  At least they were clean and in the vicinity of white.
     The weathered hand held out the wide silver tape motioning towards the co-pilots seat populated by other such strips.  With a sneer, Dirk took it and laid it across the most obvious spot.
     “Good as new.”  The pilot smiled and tucked the roll back under his seat.
     Oh Christ!  They were going to end up dead in a fiery inferno in the middle of some cornfield.  Well, then he wouldn’t be any worse off than his brother.  His chest constricted the instant he thought that.  Danny.  Tears stung his eyes, he swallowed hard and they disappeared.
     Dirk loosened his tie.  Not his favorite.  He normally went for a flashier style, but it was a Christmas present from his brother and it just felt right to wear it for the occasion.  The tears threatened again, he blinked rapidly, but they welled further.  Thank God for his Ray-Bans.  He quickly swiped a finger beneath them while pretending to check his pockets with the other hand.
     “If you’ll get buckled up, the tower said we’re next for take-off.”
     Dirk was grateful for the distraction.  He wondered if the seat belt was also secured with Duct Tape.  He wouldn’t be surprised.  It was amazing this rattle-trap passed inspections, but then he wasn’t sure if privately chartered planes to nowhere had to go through inspections.  Probably not.
     The seatbelt seemed secure enough.  At least he would be strapped in when they crashed.  The pilot adjusted his headset and communicated with the tower.  Dirk was surprised he actually used professional pilot jargon.   Instead of   “Gee, y’all we’re ready to git the heck outta here now”.
     His estimation of a safe arrival notched up a fraction.  Even though, his full attention was on the runway and horizon until they were safely up and cruising.
     Dirk pulled his phone from his pocket with the intention of getting some work done, except it wasn’t working.  He poked at the screen anyway.  They hadn’t even left the state of Colorado and already he felt the constricting weakness of being disconnected from civilization.  It was like being naked in the wilderness.  He unbuttoned his top shirt button.
     “Sorry you won’t be able to use that for a while, probably not til you get home.”
Dirk twisted his head to the pilot.  “I’m sorry….”  He honestly couldn’t remember the guy’s name.
     “Clive.”  The pilot nodded.  “Name’s Clive.”  He returned attention to the sky.
     Of course it is.  “Clive.  I can’t go two hours without contacting my clients, let alone two days.” 
     Dirk didn’t like the assessing once-over he got from Clive.  What did he know anyway?  He probably communicated by smoke signal.  Dirk adjusted his cuff links glancing at his watch.
     “I’ll getcha there on time.”
     Dirk looked sideways at Clive, whose concentration was still on the horizon and his gauges.  If it weren’t for the sympathetic half smile on his face, Dirk wouldn’t have known the man said anything.  He was really tired of those smiles; he had seen them on his girlfriend’s face for twelve straight hours.  At least it looked genuine on Clive’s.
     “Did you know Danny?”
     “Of course.”  Clive smiled warmly, as if remembering better times.  “He was a good man.”
     Dirk waited for him to say more, wanted him to say more, but Clive fell silent again.  He seemed to be a man of few words, not something Dirk was used to.  In his line of work people never shut up.  They jabbered just to hear their own voice, thinking if they stopped they might disappear from the spotlight.
     It was that very thing that kept him busy twenty-four hours a day covering media, defusing situations and bailing clients out of trouble or jail.  So busy, in fact, he hadn’t seen his brother in more than a year.  He hadn’t even met his youngest niece and she was nearly five.  Not that Danny hadn’t asked him to visit; there just was never a right time.  Public relations never slept.
     When Dirk’s phone had rung two nights ago he thought that’s what Danny was calling about.  Another trip.  A vacation to Nebraska.  Nebraska.  Not exactly the ultimate dream destination.  Corn fields and feed lots.  Seemed like a place of misery to Dirk.
     He had ignored the first call.  He would listen to Danny’s lighthearted message and subtle plea later.  He was making progress with a smoking hot redhead at the club and didn’t need any distractions.  Of course in L.A. you never could tell what was fake and what was real, so smoking hot was all relative, but that was part of the fun.
     Dirk loved his life.  He was successful; at least it appeared that way.  His bank account wasn’t too awful to look at.  He worked and played with the rich and famous.  They liked having him around and it was nice to be needed by them.  He had been gifted with the amazing talent to twist anything into an advantage.  He was the ultimate bull-shit slinger and the people loved him for it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, I guess I am smitten with "Western" romances.  I never thought I would see the day, but I absolutely love them!  And this book is no exception.  Yes, there is some profanity and a mild sex scene I could have done without, but the book is a wonderfully sweet romance that I think most romance-lovers would enjoy.

This book does have a few minor twists and turns that added interest to the basic storyline.  Krista Kedrick's easy-to-read style is quite pleasing and humorous.  I review many books each week, and it is not often that I find a book that actually makes me laugh out loud, but this one certainly did.  There is not much better than seeing a city slicker trying to fit in with the country folk.  It does make for some humorous scenarios.

The thing I love about modern Western romances such as this is the "old-fashioned" charm.  Everyone knows everybody else.  Most people go to church and even profess a belief in God.  They know what hard work is, and they believe in family values.  This is something that most contemporary romances do not have, and it is refreshing to read a book like this.  I certainly plan to read more in this genre and by this author!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my hoenst review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Krista was born and raised in Nebraska.  Her first years were spent on a ranch near the Stinkin' Water Creek in Chase County with her family raising cattle, lambs and chickens and stirring up trouble.  After spending several childhood years in Colorado and Kansas her family returned to make Nebraska their home.
Her light-hearted take on the world splashes the pages of her novels creating a wonderful mix of seriousness and humor.  And living in small communities has given her the inside view of small town people -their wholesomeness, kindness and appreciation of the little things in life.  These one-of-a-kind people are the heart of her characters.
She stumbled into broadcasting when her friend interviewed her on his show and a love for the microphone bloomed into a weekly broadcast of news and humor as a co-host for the online show @Random.

Krista makes her home in Nebraska with her husband, two daughters and basset hound where she loves to work in her yard, which supports her vivid settings in her novels.
Her novels Under a Prairie Moon and Family Ties are available in both paperback and ebook on,, and for the nook at
Learn more about Krista at:

The Inspiration behind becoming a writer

By Krista Kedrick

Once upon a time there was a little girl with a wild imagination. She loved to crack jokes and make up crazy stories. She did this nearly every day. With whom did she share these stories? 

Her father.

An average and yet extraordinary and talented man.

He would smile and laugh and join in from time to time with details and variations of his own. He answered every question with patience and specifics that his little girl asked no matter how many back to back to back questions she would pepper him with.

And so the little girl’s imagination grew and her stories became a part of their relationship. The years passed and she continued to weave her worlds sometimes writing them down, but rarely did she ever share them with anyone but her father.
Theirs was a close bond continuing into adulthood.  She set forth from home, married and returned to live nearby.

Father and daughter worked and continued to laugh as they built their own tails of sarcastic heroes and quick-witted heroines together.  Life was shared, altered and intertwined.

But all this joy was not to last, the hard-working, regular dad began to grow weak and change. A devastating diagnosis broke a family. One year later the loving daughter accepted the journey her father must traverse never realizing his own dream. Life had hindered what he dreamed to become.

This impacted the path his daughter elected. Resolute to realize her dreams and have no regrets, she set out to become a successful published author. Had she known the winding road would lead to hills, obstructions and detours, she still would have taken it.

Six years have passed and she is still trudging the road today a little farther than when she began.


Our wonderful author will be awarding an e-copy of Family Ties to one of my readers--all you need to do is comment!  And if you want to follow the entire tour, click here.

Announcing "Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action" by Nick Vujicic

Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic (Chapter 1 Excerpt) Announcing the soon-to-be released book called Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic.  It will be released on October 2, and it sounds like quite a winner.  Read the excerpt above the description here.

Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic.  Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships.  Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

But how does that happen?  In Unstoppable Nick addresses adversity and difficult circumstances that many people face today, including:  

·         Personal crises 
·         Relationship issues
·         Career and job challenges
·         Health and disability concerns
·         Self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and addictions
·         Bullying, persecution, cruelty, and intolerance
·         Balance in body, mind, heart, and spirit  
·         Service to others

Through stories from his own life and the experiences of many others, Nick explains how anyone wanting a “ridiculously good life” can respond to these issues and more to become unstoppable. What’s standing in your way?  Are you ready to become unstoppable? (from amazon description)

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