Thursday, January 31, 2013

Partners in Crime: "Pandora's Temple" by Jon Land Book Promo

If you have been following me in recent times, you will know that I had a string of family emergencies including having our dog stolen, getting a new dog and then having a chocolate emergency, and my mom facing issues from a used-to-be family friend (that I thought I would marry one day, but that's another story). Anyway, I am trying to get back on track, and I am currently reading this book--honestly!  But I am also reading a book I was supposed to review in early December, and the list goes on.  The review will be up as soon as possible.  

Book Details
Genre: Thriller
Published by: Open Road Integrated Media
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
Number of Pages: 390
Purchase Links: Amazon 
What if Pandora's box was real. That's the question facing Former Special Forces commando and rogue agent Blaine McCracken who returns from a 15-year absence from the page in his tenth adventure.

McCracken has never been shy about answering the call, and this time it comes in the aftermath of deepwater oilrig disaster that claims the life of a one-time mem-ber of his commando unit. The remnants of the rig and its missing crew lead him to the inescapable conclusion that one of the most mysterious and deadly forces in the Universe is to blame—dark matter, both a limitless source of potential energy and a weapon with unimaginable destructive capabilities.

Joining forces again with his trusty sidekick Johnny Wareagle, McCracken races to stop both an all-powerful energy magnate and the leader of a Japanese dooms-day cult from finding the dark matter they seek for entirely different, yet equally dangerous, reasons. Ultimately, that race will take him not only across the world, but also across time and history to the birth of an ancient legend that may not have been a legend at all. The truth lies 4,000 years in the past and the construction of the greatest structure known to man at the time:

Pandora’s Temple, built to safeguard the most powerful weapon man would ever know.

Now, with that very weapon having resurfaced, McCracken’s only hope to save the world is to find the temple, the very existence of which is shrouded in mystery and long lost to myth. Along the way, he and Johnny Wareagle find themselves up against Mexican drug gangs, killer robots, an army of professional assassins, and a legendary sea monster before reaching a mountaintop fortress where the fi-nal battle to preserve mankind will be fought.

The hero of nine previous bestselling thrillers, McCracken is used to the odds be-ing stacked against him, but this time the stakes have never been higher.

AMAZON link    
Barnes & Noble link
GoodReads link

Author Bio:

Jon Land is the critically acclaimed author of 32 books, including the bestselling series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong that includes STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, STRONG JUSTICE, STRONG AT THE BREAK, STRONG VENGEANCE (July 2012) and STRONG RAIN FALLING (August 2013). He has more recently brought his long-time series hero Blaine McCracken back to the page in PANDORA’S TEMPLE (November 2012). He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Websites & Links:

  Read an excerpt
The Mediterranean Sea, 2008

“It would help, sir, if I knew what we were looking for,” Captain John J. Hightower of the Aurora said to the stranger he’d picked up on the island of Crete.

The stranger remained poised by the research ship’s deck rail, gazing out into the turbulent seas beyond. His long gray hair, dangling well past his shoulders in tangles and ringlets, was damp with sea spray, left to the whims of the wind.

“Sir?” Hightower prodded again.

The stranger finally turned, chuckling. “You called me sir. That’s funny.”

“I was told you were a captain,” said Hightower

“In name only, my friend.”

“If I’m your friend,” Hightower said, “you should be able to tell me what’s so important that our current mission was scrapped to pick you up.”

Beyond them, the residue of a storm from the previous night kept the seas choppy with occasional frothy swells that rocked the Aurora even as she battled the stiff winds to keep her speed steady. Gray-black clouds swept across the sky, colored silver at the tips where the sun pushed itself forward enough to break through the thinner patches. Before long, Hightower could tell, those rays would win the battle to leave the day clear and bright with the seas growing calm. But that was hardly the case now.

“I like your name,” came the stranger’s airy response. Beneath the orange life jacket, he wore a Grateful Dead tie dye t-shirt and old leather vest that was fraying at the edges and missing all three of its buttons. So faded that the sun made it look gray in some patches and white in others. His eyes, a bit sleepy and almost drunken, had a playful glint about them. “I like anything with the word ‘high.’ You should rethink your policy about no smoking aboard the ship, if it’s for medicinal purposes only.”

“I will, if you explain what we’re looking for out here.”

“Out here” was the Mediterranean Sea where it looped around Greece’s ancient, rocky southern coastline. For four straight days now, the Aurora had been mapping the sea floor in detailed grids in search of something of unknown size, composition and origin; or, at least, known only by the man Hightower had mistakenly thought was a captain by rank. Hightower’s ship was a hydrographic survey vessel. At nearly thirty meters in length with a top speed of just under twenty-five knots, the Aurora had been commissioned just the previous year to fashion nautical charts to ensure safe navigation by military and civilian shipping, tasked with conducting seismic surveys of the seabed and underlying geology. A few times since her commission, the Aurora and her eight-person crew had been re-tasked for other forms of oceanographic research, but her high tech air cannons, capable of generating high-pressure shock waves to map the strata of the seabed, made her much more fit for more traditional assignments.

“How about I give you a hint?” the stranger said to Hightower. “It’s big.”

“How about I venture a guess?”

“Take your best shot, dude.”

“I know a military mission when I see one. I think you’re looking for a weapon.”


“Something stuck in a ship or submarine. Maybe even a sunken wreck from years, even centuries ago.”

“Cold,” the man Hightower knew only as “Captain” told him. “Well, except for the centuries ago part. That’s blazing hot.”

Hightower pursed his lips, frustration getting the better of him. “So are we looking for a weapon or not?”

“Another hint, Captain High: only the most powerful ever known to man,” the stranger said with a wink. “A game changer of epic proportions for whoever finds it. Gotta make sure the bad guys don’t manage that before we do. Hey, did you know marijuana’s been approved to treat motion sickness?”

Hightower could only shake his head. “Look, I might not know exactly you’re looking for, but whatever it is, it’s not here. You’ve got us retracing our own steps, running hydrographs in areas we’ve already covered. Nothing ‘big,’ as you describe it, is down there.”

“I beg to differ, el Capitan.”

“Our depth sounders have picked up nothing, the underwater cameras we launched have picked up nothing, the ROVS have picked up nothing.”

“It’s there,” the stranger said with strange assurance, holding his thumb and index finger together against his lips as if smoking an imaginary joint.


“We’re missing something, el Capitan. When I figure out what it is, I’ll let you know.”

Before Hightower could respond, the seas shook violently. On deck it felt as if something had tried to suck the ship underwater, only to spit it up again. Then a rumbling continued, thrashing the Aurora from side to side like a toy boat in a bathtub. Hightower finally recovered his breath just as the rumbling ceased, leaving an eerie calm over the sea suddenly devoid of waves and wind for the first time that morning.

“This can’t be good,” said the stranger, tightening the straps on his life vest.

* * *

The ship’s pilot, a young, thick-haired Greek named Papadopoulos, looked up from the nest of LED readouts and computer-operated controls on the panel before him, as Hightower entered the bridge.

“Captain,” he said wide-eyed, his voice high and almost screeching, “seismic centers in Ankara, Cairo and Athens are all reporting a sub-sea earthquake measuring just over six on the scale.”

“What’s the epi?”

“Forty miles northeast of Crete and thirty from our current position,” Papadopoulos said anxiously, a patch of hair dropping over his forehead.

“J--s C--t,” muttered Hightower.

“Tsunami warning is high,” Papadopoulos continued, even as Hightower formed the thought himself.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, we are in for the ride of our lives!” blared the stranger, pulling on the tabs that inflated his life vest with a soft popping sound. “If I sound excited it’s ‘cause I’m terrified, dudes!”

“Bring us about,” the captain ordered. “Hard back to the Port of Piraeus at all the speed you can muster.”

“Yes, sir!”

Suddenly the bank of screens depicting the seafloor in a quarter mile radius directly beneath them sprang to life. Readings flew across accompanying monitors, orientations and graphic depictions of whatever the Aurora’s hydrographic equipment and underwater cameras had located appearing in real time before Hightower’s already wide eyes.

“What the h-- is—“

“Found it!” said the stranger before the ship’s captain could finish.

“Found what?” followed Hightower immediately. “This is impossible. We’ve already been over this area. There was nothing down there.”

“Earthquake must’ve changed that in a big way, el Capitan. I hope you’re recording all this.”

“There’s nothing to record. It’s a blip, an echo, a mistake.”

“Or exactly what I came out here to find. Big as life to prove all the doubters wrong.”


“Of the impossible.”

“That’s what you brought us out here for, a fool’s errand?”

“Not anymore.”

The stranger watched as a central screen mounted beneath the others continued to form a shape massive in scale, an animated depiction extrapolated from all the data being processed in real time.

“Wait a minute, is that a . . . It looks like— My God, it’s some kind of structure!“

“You bet!”

“Intact at that depth? Impossible! No, this is all wrong.”

“Hardly, el Capitan.”

“Check the readouts, sir. According to the depth gauge, your structure’s located five hundred feet beneath the seafloor. Where I come from, they call that impos—“

Hightower’s thought ended when the Aurora seemed to buckle, as if it had hit a roller coaster-like dip in the sea. The sensation was eerily akin to floating, the entire ship in the midst of an out-of-body experience, leaving Hightower feeling weightless and light-headed.

“Better fasten your seatbelts, dudes,” said the stranger, eyes fastened through the bridge windows at something that looked like a waterfall pluming on the ship’s aft side.

Hightower had been at sea often and long enough to know this to be a gentle illusion belying something much more vast and terrible: in this case, a giant wave of froth that gained height as it crystallized in shape. It was accompanied by a thrashing sound that shook the Aurora as it built in volume and pitch, felt by the bridge’s occupants at their very cores like needles digging into their spines.

“Hard about!” Hightower ordered Papadopoulos. “Steer us into it!”

It was, he knew, the ship’s only chance for survival, or would have been, had the next moments not shown the great wave turning the world dark as it reared up before them. The Aurora suddenly seemed to lift into the air, climbing halfway up the height of the monster wave from a calm sea that had begun to churn mercilessly in an instant. A vast black shadow enveloped the ship in the same moment intense pressure pinned the occupants of the bridge to their chairs or left them feeling as if their feet were glued to the floor. Then there was nothing but an airless abyss dragging darkness behind it.

“Far out, man!” Hightower heard the stranger blare in the last moment before the void claimed him.

Jon Land has decided to host a special giveaway for all of the participants of this tour. Mr. Land will be giving away 1 ebook set of his McCracken titles published through Open Road Media.To g THE OMEGA COMMAND THE ALPHA DECEPTION THE GAMMA OPTION THE OMICRON LEGION THE VENGEANCE OF THE TAU :

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the entire tour here.

"The Spy Lover" by Kiana Davenport Book Blast (Ends 3/14) WW

The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport

Thrust into the savagery of the Civil War, a Chinese immigrant serving in the Union Army, a nurse doubling as a spy for the North, and a one-armed Confederate cavalryman find their lives inextricably entwined.

Fleeing drought and famine in China, Johnny Tom arrives in America with dreams of becoming a citizen. Having survived vigilantes hunting “yellow dogs” and slave auction- blocks, Johnny is kidnapped from his Mississippi village by Confederate soldiers, taken from his wife and daughter, and forced to fight for the South. Eventually defecting to the Union side, he is promised American citizenship in exchange for his loyal services. But first Johnny must survive the butchery of battles and the cruelties inflicted on non-white soldiers.

Desperate to find Johnny, his daughter, Era, is enlisted as a spy. She agrees to work as a nurse at Confederate camps while scouting for the North. Amidst the unspeakable carnage of wounded soldiers, she finds solace in Warren Petticomb, a cavalryman who lost an arm at Shiloh. As devastation mounts in both armies, Era must choose where her loyalties lie—with her beloved father in the North, or with the man who passionately sustains her in the South.

A novel of extraordinary scope that will stand as a defining work on the Chinese immigrant experience, The Spy Lover is a paean to the transcendence of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

Review from the Huffington Post
"...A great story told with such beautiful prose I am hoping The Spy Lover will be picked up by Ang Lee or Steven Spielberg. Kiana Davenport is a brilliant writer. [Based] on her ancestors from the American South and global East, The Spy Lover takes the incredibly difficult...topics of race, gender, slavery and war and artfully weaves them into a specific story. Davenport is genius at capturing complex times, and complications of the heart. It's been a long time since I cried while reading a novel, and that happened several times while reading The Spy Lover...I couldn't wait to finish the story, but grieved when it ended. That's exactly how I felt when I finished reading Gone With The Wind so many years go. If you need a holiday escape...or want to spend time in a different world read... The Spy Lover!" - Ellen Snortland for The Huffington Post


Author Kiana Davenport

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, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, and a new novel, THE SPY LOVER, now available in paperback and on Kindle. She is also the author of the collections, HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES Volume II, and OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME III. All three collections have been Kindle bestsellers. She has also been a guest blogger on Huffington Post.

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 Hawaii and New York City.

Praise for Kiana Davenport

“An epic feminine saga!  Davenport’s prose is sharp and shining as a sword.”
-Isabel Allende on Shark Dialogues

“Deeply Moving.  You can’t read Kiana Davenport without being transformed.”
-Alice Walker on Song of the Exile

“A powerful and moving experience.”
-The Washington Post on House of Many Gods

By Kiana Davenport

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 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.

“I never planned to write an historical novel, or a love story, or a spy thriller, or a story about how brave Chinese soldiers were used as throw-aways in the Civil War. I simply set out to tell the story of my ancestors, who fought on opposing sides of that War.”
- Kiana Davenport

Points of Interest

U.S. Civil War Research – Kiana’s research for THE SPY LOVER was exhaustive.  For five years she studied correspondences and documents and traveled to the battlefields of the Civil War, discovering facts that she hoped would fascinate her readers.  She learned about Southern women collecting urine from which to distill niter for making gunpowder. And she learned how women planted and harvested poppies, then scored and gathered from poppy-pods the sap known as opium.  She read books on spy-codes used in the War, what spies were paid, and how they were executed when caught by the enemy.  She lived and breathed the Civil War, letting it engulf her as she wrote her novel.

Kiana’s Heritage – Kiana’s ancestor, Warren Rowan Davenport, was a cavalryman who rode for the Confederacy in the Civil War with a famous unit known as the Prattville Dragoons, of Prattville, Alabama. Her research on Warren Davenport entailed reading over forty books on the War, then basing her fictional character, Warren Petticomb, on her Southern ancestor. Johnny Tom is based on another of Kiana’s ancestors, John Tommy Kam, who emigrated from Canton, China, to Hawaii and finally to the East coast of the U.S. While Kiana had access to tattered correspondences and documents from Warren Davenport, she had little but word-of-mouth stories from her Chinese uncle about his ancestor, John Tommy Kam. Eventually, she uncovered articles about Chinese soldiers who had fought valiantly in the Civil War, including two articles about John Tommy Kam.  Finally, she discovered his war records, and the grounds at Gettysburg where he is buried with his comrades, the Excelsior Brigade of New York State.

Multicultural Themes - THE SPY LOVER is the story of Chinese soldiers who fought valiantly for a country that, afterwards, refused them American citizenship. It also unveils the gross mistreatment of Native Americans, African Americans, “mix-bloods” and other minorities who served honorably in the American Civil War. Importantly, it is also the tragic story of Native American women - mothers and daughters - kidnapped and raped by slave-owners who used them as breeders of a more “superior” kind of slave.


“Torrid, yet intelligent…her writing compares with Toni Morrison.”
—Glamour on Shark Dialogues

"The strengths of this novel are many.  Davenport is a superb storyteller!”
—The Seattle Times on Song of the Exile

“Davenport mines the depths of emotion…Readers who enjoy a Doctor Shivago-like saga will appreciate the broad scope of this novel”
-Library Journal on House of Many Gods

“Complex, resonant … handles the sweep of history and the nuance of the personal equally well.”
— San Francisco Chronicle on Shark Dialogues

And guess what?  Yours truly had the privilege of reviewing this book this past summer.  If you would like to read my thoughts, please click here.

BookBlast $50 Giveaway
Ends 3/14/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Starbox by Starlooks January Box Review

I am so pleased to be able to bring you another wonderful review from Starbox by Starlooks!  This has been a wonderful service, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting them each and every month.  Read my past reviews:

Wow!  I had forgotten how many wonderful items I had received.  Some of them have become staples in my beauty regimen--more about that later.  If you know nothing about the service, let me explain.  For just $15 a month, you get to try an entire make-up line of products!  That's right!  You pay the fee, and you get a monthly surprise ever month.  Honestly, if I were married or had a boyfriend, I would certainly direct him towards this wonderful gift subscription.  I always figure that guys will enjoy getting this for the women in their lives because it comes automatically every month.  They don't have to think about it.  Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and I can't think of anything better to give.  Maybe when my daughter grows up, I might give this to her.  I think it would be perfect for a girl going off to college for the first time.  It's much more figure-friendly to send a monthly box like this rather than one full of goodies!

Enough of that.  On to the review.  I have to say that  this is my absolute favorite box so far!  I know I have raved about their products in the past, but this month's is just unbelievable!  I can actually use everything.

And I think this is the biggest box they have sent.  See the special bonus item?  That green bracelet!  Isn't is darling?  I will probably give it away as a gift because it's not quite my style, but I think it is gorgeous and special just the same.  If my daughter were a little older, it would be perfect!  And they have included a card explaining that this bracelet will be availabl during the month of February on the Starlooks website for $15.  It is made by Abby Rose Designs on etsy.

But let me tell you about the other items in the box that I will probably be using weekly if not daily!  

The first thing I used was the "Cuty Peach" Blush Compact.  I could tell right away that this blush was a perfect color for me, and I can show you right now how perfect it is!
Blends well, doesn't it?

The next three things kind of work together.  The 858 Dome Brush is ideal for my eyeshadow.  The Brown Eye Liner works well for my eyebrows (I know it's supposed to be used on my eyes, and I might, but it I love finding new uses for my cosmetics).  And the Fancy Diamondine Eye Liner surprised me more than anything else.  I was certain I would hate the look when I put it on.  I would have used it for evening wear, but let me show you the finished look.

Ever wonder if I still use items that I got from previous boxes?  Yes, I used the eyeshadow palette from December--the blue and a light purple.  It still worked with the "greenish" sparkly eye liner.  I used the mascara tool from the November box (that has been one of my all-time favorites).  And the lipstick is from one of the boxes as well.  I was happy with the look, and it all stayed on well even after my workout this afternoon.  

I am so pleased that Starlooks sent me this wonderful box for review, and I would encourage you to check them out via social media for the latest.

I received the above products through Sublime Media Connection in exchange for an honest review. In no way was I asked to give a positive review.

Fools for Luv Giveaway Hop (Ends 2/14) WW

Hosted by

Steph at Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust  And   Dana at Readaholics Anonymous

I am going to make my giveaway very simple.  I am going to giveaway a romance book of your choice (no erotica, please) to one of my international readers (Book Depository or Fishpond must ship to your country).  All you have to do is enter below on the rafflecopter form by 9 P.M. Pacific time by February 14.  And then be sure to hop on to the other blogs for even more chances to win!  And don't forget about the amazing grand prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$75 Pottery Barn Gift Card Giveaway (ends 2/28) U.S.

Hosted and Sponsored by: Everything Mommyhood 

A special thanks to my co-hosts for making this giveaway possible
One lucky winner will receive a $75 gift card to Pottery Barn. 
Can be redeemed at any of Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, Williams-Sonoma, Williams-Sonoma Home or West Elm stores, online or by phone.

This giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway is 2/1 12:01am EST - 2/28 11:59pm EST

Enter below via the Rafflecopter to win. Good Luck!!!
Disclosure: Everything Mommyhood is responsible for sponsored prize, all other blogs involved are not responsible, nor did they receive any compensation for promotion of this giveaway.
Must be 18 years old to enter. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media outlets. For detailed disclosure please see rafflecopter.
If you have any questions please contact Everything Mommyhood at

I absolutely love Pottery Barn's whole line of products, and this is an unbelievable giveaway as far as I'm concerned.  And you can also redeem it elsewhere?  My goodness, don't delay!  Enter today!

Your Dream Stroller Giveaway (Ends 2/28) U.S.

(The picture is only an example)


One lucky winner will win a stroller from any brand they like, it can be with car seat included or just the stroller.

The winner will pick up the stroller from and will be sent directly from their website.

The stroller can be up to $300 including shipping charges.  


18 Years or older to participate 

2/1 to 2/28

Good Luck!

Be sure to enter now so you don't forget, and take advantage of this awesome giveaway!  Even if you don't have babies or toddlers in the house, I bet you know someone who does!

Disclosure: My Devotional Thoughts is not responsible for prize.  If the winner picks up a stroller with a lower value, the winner will not get the remaining value of the prize.  The prize can't be changed from any other prize than the stroller.

From Our Hearts to You (Ends 2/14) U.S.

Welcome to the 2nd annual From Our Hearts to Yours Valentine’s Day Giveaway Hop hosted by Life With Two Boys and With Our Best. Each blog participating has a prize of at least $25 worth of Valentine-related items so after you have entered my giveaway, I encourage you to hop along and see what the other bloggers are giving away too!

I have two wonderful products to give away (in addition to a few surprises).  I want to thank both of my wonderful sponsors.  Please read about the product reviews below.

This product has to be one of the most exciting products I have ever gotten to try in the shower!  Let me introduce you to Spongelle® heart-shaped sponge with shower gel.  I love sponges of any kind for use in the shower, and there is nothing better than an exfoliating sponge.  When I  first looked at this product, I thought there was no way I would like it.  After all, how could a sponge like this have long-lasting shower gel in it?  And how would it hold up?  It said 10+ washes (and I have used two thus far), but I was skeptical.  The smell was nice, however.  It is an original "Comme Moi" scent that has been exclusively created for the company.  It is infused with bergamot, lemongrass, sea kelp extracts, and olive oil.

Upon my first use, I thought the exfoliating side was too harsh.  That is until I got more water on it.  It is best to use the sponge side first, and then use the exfoliating side.  Having the extra water softens it so it is not too harsh.  I tend to have dry skin, and sometimes exfoliation irritates it.  Not so with this!  It is gentle, and it prepares my legs perfectly for shaving.  I had forgotten how much I loved exfoliating my skin in the shower!  This is definitely a keeper, and it would be the perfect gift for any lady on Valentine's Day (or any time!).

If you are interested, please check out the social media links and newsletter sign-up below:

Are these not the most beautiful studs you have ever seen?  These are 2 Carat White Topaz Stud Earrings with Sterling Silver Backs from Shadora.  I was absolutely enraptured with these from the beginning, and my mom thought they looked great, too.  They fit well, and they go with anything.  They are no irritating, and you will probably forget you even have them on.  They are classy, and I think they are the perfect gift for any lady any time!

Shadora is a great site for buying jewelry that will not break the bank.  Ladies, send your husbands to that site, and they can find the perfect jewelry item for you.  Everything from rings to necklaces to earrings and more.  Certainly worth checking out!

One U.S. reader will receive both of the items above and a couple Valentine's Day surprises.  Just enter the rafflecopter by 9 P.M. Pacific time on February 14.  And don't forget to hop on for the chance to win even more chances to win awesome prizes!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. a Rafflecopter giveaway

eMeals Meal Plan Review Review

Make Time For Family - eMeals Blog

You will be hearing a lot about eMeals from me this year.  Why?  Well, I have joined the eMeals Blogger Network, and I have the subscription to their fabulous service for a year.  I have heard all about eMeals in the past, but I didn't think it was worth the price just to have meal plans with recipes and shopping lists.  It sounds good, but I figured that I could do the same thing myself and save a little money.

If you have watched my blog over the past couple years, my recipes have been a bit sporadic.  Yes, i generally made some kind of meal plan, but it was always a pain.  I tended to put off picking out meals and making shopping lists until I absolutely had to.  And it seemed that I always spent more at the grocery store than I intended.

I was skeptical when I printed off the first week's recipes and shopping list.  I decided on the low-fat Walmart meal plan, and I was amazed at how accurate the shopping list prices were.  And once I started cooking the recipes, I was absolutely amazed!  Within the first week of making these tasty easy-to-make recipes, I was hooked.  And so was the rest of the family. I secretly wondered if the good meal plan would continue.

Sure enough, the next week came, and the recipes were unbelievable!  I went back to work, and they have continued to be tasty, wholesome, and very easy to prepare.  In fact, all the recipes for the week are so uncomplicated that they are able to fit on one sheet of paper.  Once in a while, our Walmart does not have the particular item listed (but we have a little Walmart), but that is no problem.  

EMeals is extremely versatile.  We have changed over to the classic plan, and I will probably change plans again.  You can pick the plan that works best for your family.

Be sure to check this out if you're trying to lose weight.  We have not found a single recipe we did not like--at least so far.  For the first time ever, I have found myself looking forward to cooking meals at home and trying to keep from going out to eat. There are always seven meals from which to choose, and we only need five of those.  So I get to choose my top favorites from the list. I love the fact that you can pick your grocery store (I wish they had Costco!).  We tend to pick Walmart just because we know that it is the least expensive--at least for our needs.  

Have the meals gotten boring?  Not at all!  They are well-balanced.  I have made easy alterations to the meals to cut down on calories and fat.  Click here to get some free, inexpensive meals from eMeals.  I am also considering trying out the lunch meal plan because lately, my lunches have been pretty horrible.  I will let you know what I think of it.

I would invite you to try out eMeals.  Right now you can save 15% on any plan by using the promo code: NEWYEAR.  Be sure to enter their giveaway here as well!

I am a part of the eMeals blogger network, and I wan not financially compensated in any way for this review.  I was offered a free year's service in exchange for my honest review and promotion.  

This Day in History January 31, 1981

Okay, honestly, I am not a Justin Timberlake fan.  I was never even an NSYNC fan.  I know I grew up hearing about this guy's group, but I was the strange one who didn't listen to pop music.  I was too busy listening to music from the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's.  Who cared about the '80's and '90's?

But today took me back to my old music teaching days when I used to teach about musicians on or near their birthdays.  And it just so happens that on this date in 1981, Justin Timberlake was born.  I remember the first time I realized I had to teach about him because my students would love it.  And I began to discover NSYNC for the very first time.  And I actually bought an album!!  Go figure.  Once in a while,Justin Timberlake does something good, but not too often in my opinion.  I will never forget the hoopla surrounding the infamous Super Bowl incident in 2004 (though I didn't see it because I didn't normally watch the Super Bowl).

Anyway, I  am going to post a video that my students absolutely loved when I taught about Justin and any of the members of NSYNC.  Enjoy,

For more information:

Printed Books Giveaway Hop (Ends 2/7) WW

I am one who has come to prefer e-books.  Mostly, it is because I have so many books, that I have run out of room.  However, there is still something special about having a hard copy.  And not everyone has access to an e-reader.  And there is nothing easier than sharing a printed book with someone.  When I am in a classroom and reading an e-book, I get the following response:  "Is that a kindle fire?"  Most don't really seem to ask what book I am reading.  However, if it is a printed book, all I have to do is show them the cover in order for them to know what I am reading.

Anyway, enough of that.  I am participating in this printed books giveaway hop, and I have decided to award two international readers their choice of a printed book $10 or less.  You are eligible to win if book depository or fishpond ships to you (of course, if you are U.S., I will probably use amazon).  All you need to do is enter the rafflecopter by 9 P.M. Pacific time on February 7, and you are in to win!  Don't forget to hop on for even more chances to win prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RABT: "Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play" by Ellen Mansoor Collier Promo

NEW ADULT Jazz Age Mystery
Title: Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play
Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier

Flappers Flasks and Foul Play

Date Published: July 2012 

"Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. 

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.


Why in the world was Fed Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don't usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story's really hot, then they'll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing.

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

"To what do I owe this disturbance?" I adjusted my cloche cap, acting nonchalant.

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. "I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?"

"What do you want?" I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn't see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. "You really want to discuss it here, out in public?"

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else's business.

"Let's go outside," I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal's office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. "Jazz, is everything jake?"

"Everything's berries." I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

"I remember him. Your boyfriend?" Burton seemed amused.

"He's the staff photographer." I ignored his crack. "And a good friend."

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.

"How was lunch?" In broad daylight, Burton didn't seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

"Fine." I covered my growling stomach. "What brings you here?"

"Sorry to barge in that way." He smiled, tugging on his hat. "But I had to get your attention. You wouldn't give me the time of day the other night."

"Can you blame me? A raid isn't exactly the best way to meet new people."

"I think we got off on the wrong foot." He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. "Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?"

"Dinner?" Was he serious? "Just like that?" I snapped my fingers. "You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You've got a lot of nerve, mister."

"I wouldn't be a Prohibition agent if I didn't." He looked smug. "How about tonight?"

Ellen Mansoor Collier

Author Bio

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN'S WORLD.

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items ( Formerly she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, inspired by real people and places. Currently, she’s working on the sequel.

"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitement of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era."

“Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, set during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest."
Links to Buy
Amazon  | B&  |Smashwords

I always have enjoyed jazz age books, and who can pass up a good mystery?  I never enjoyed "The Great Gatsby," but this book does spark my interest.

Goddess Fish: "The Angry Woman Suite" by Lee Fullbrght Book Review/Giveaway (Ends 2/1) WW

Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all. There’s his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian.

For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. He finds a friend and mentor in Aidan Madsen, schoolmaster, local Revolutionary War historian, musician and keeper of the Grayson women’s darkest secrets. In a skillful move by Fullbright, those secrets are revealed through the viewpoints of three different people–Aidan, Francis and Francis’stepdaughter, Elyse–adding layers of eloquent complexity to a story as powerful as it is troubling.

While Francis realizes his dream of forming his own big band in the 1940s, his success is tempered by the inner monster of his childhood, one that roars to life when he marries Elyse’s mother. Elyse becomes her stepfather’s favorite target, and her bitterness becomes entwined with a desire to know the real Francis Grayson.

For Aidan’s part, his involvement with the Grayson family only deepens, and secrets carried for a lifetime begin to coalesce as he seeks to enlighten Francis–and subsequently Elyse–of why the events of so many years ago matter now. The ugliness of deceit, betrayal and resentment permeates the narrative, yet there are shining moments of hope, especially in the relationship between Elyse and her grandfather.

Ultimately, as more of the past filters into the present, the question becomes: What is the truth, and whose version of the truth is correct? Fullbright never untangles this conundrum, and it only adds to the richness of this exemplary novel.—Kirkus Reviews


“I’ll tell you what I’m ready for, Aidan. I’m ready for the top floor.” His eyebrows shot up.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The third floor of Grayson House. I’m ready for it. I’m really ready.”

“I don’t think I understand—”

“Please, Aidan.” I emphasized each word: “I’m ready to meet Jamie.”

I turned and walked out of that parlor then, and into the foyer and up the ten steps to the landing where the grand staircase turned direction. I ran up the first flight, then paused at the second landing, waiting for Aidan. When I glimpsed him behind me, I turned and ran up the next flight, to the third floor, straight for the door at the end of the hallway, next to the door that opened onto the outside stairs.

I’d been able to pinpoint this door as the one by the soft thumps I’d heard when I’d sneaked into Papa’s room on the second floor—things nobody thought I’d hear—and by watching from my spot across the road: the quick deliveries and arrivals, the things and people nobody thought I’d see.

I hesitated, not feeling anything, I was now so empty. No more  anger. Instead I was in tune with senses: the steady tick-tock of the clock at the end of the otherwise soundless hallway, the wallpaper’s perfectly vertical stripe, even an aromatic odor reminiscent of the appendectomy I’d had when I was six—was it ether? And then, finally, Aidan’s ragged breathing when he caught up with me. We were ready,  in position—and it was understood I’d assumed leadership: I’d go first.

I turned the doorknob. My opponent had just run through his resources.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Let me tell you right off the bat that this was not a book that connected with me in the way I had hoped.  Don't get me wrong--the book had good content, characters, and much more.  There was a lot of great historical reference, and I appreciated that immensely.  I also loved the music and artistic bent of some of the characters in the story.  I was enraptured with the musical descriptions, and the art was quite intriguing. In fact, for me, those were the highlights.  I could have read a lot more about both.  I was drawn into the way in which the children were treated.  I don't want to offer any spoilers on the emotional portions of the story.

But I have to give my honest opinion (which may or may not agree with yours).  Unfortunately, there was a lot of truly unnecessary profanity.  (I know I always feel profanity is unnecessary, but there are varying degrees in my opinion.)  There were allusions to sex scenes, and some that were very non-descriptive.  I could handle those.  The stark violence was sometimes bone-chilling, but I suppose I could even deal with that.

My highest objections was the style in which the book was written.  I appreciate the fact that there was a "cast of characters" sheet in the beginning of the book.  But the constant jumping from time period to time period between the chapters truly confused me.  I don't mind occasional flashbacks, but I found this style to be extremely disjointed and hard to follow.  Maybe I just need to get used to the style, but I feel I would have enjoyed this book more had it not jumped around so much.

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.

View all my reviews

Lee Fullbright, a medical practice consultant in her non-writing life, lives on San Diego’s beautiful peninsula with her writing partner, Baby Rae, a 12-year-old rescued Australian cattle dog with attitude.        

The Angry Woman Suite, a Kirkus Critics’ pick, 5-starred Readers Favorite, and a Discovery Aware winner, is her first published novel.


 Lee will be giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour.  Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

As an addendum:
I'm so glad to see so many of you responding on here.  Just in case you don't follow my reviews much, let me emphasize that I hardly ever mark down a book for profanity and sex scenes.  And this book is no exception.  Due to the nature of my blog, I always point out any potential problems in a book.  The beauty of reviews is that we all have different perspectives.  I have read many complimentary reviews of books with which I did not connect, and I have read less complimentary reviews of books I loved and could not imagine people not liking.  I strive to honestly review books, and just because I did not like portions of the book, it does not mean it was a horrible book or had no merit.  Very rarely have I ever read a book that I feel has no merit.  I appreciate the fact that Lee allowed me to review the book, and though it is not at the top of my list of favorites, it was certainly a book that dealt with many complex issues.  I am certain that a good share of people reading the review here will enjoy the book even more than I did.
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