Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Duke's Undoing - Giveaway

I recently did a book review for The Duke's Undoing; which, you can read here. Now, thanks to the author GG Vandagriff, here's a giveaway for an e-book copy of it.

There are no requirements for this giveaway! Leave a comment for each you complete, with your email address. Here are the to-do's:
Follow me via GFC, in the comment leave your username (1).
Follow me via Twitter, in the comment leave your username (2).

The winner will be chosen via Sunday, May 6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before another winner will be chosen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beware of Direct Buy

Did you know there are pushier sales professionals (using the term loosely) than used car sales professionals!!  We found them last Saturday at Direct Buy. My husband received an invitation the week before to come in for their tour. In the invitation was a voucher for an e-tablet. So we went. They have a nice facility and seem to be able to order just about anything you want/need except food and medicine.

However, the dues are at least double what we expected. We explained that my husband had not been working much for the past three months and couldn't afford much in way of monthly payments. That's when the salesman started on how much the payments were. We explained we couldn't afford it. The salesman said he'd get one of the owners and we had to get up and walk away. To be fair, they did give us the e-tablet without us mentioning it. There was no way I was going to say anything about that. I just wanted away from the money-hungry company!

If you've had any kind of experience with Direct Buy or any other company that's pushier than car sale professionals, please leave a comment!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Darkroom - Book Review

by Joshua Graham


After scattering her mother’s ashes in Vietnam, photojournalist Xandra Carrick comes home to New York to rebuild her life and career. When she experiences, in her darkroom, supernatural visions that reveal atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, she finds herself entangled in a forty-year-old conspiracy that could bring the nation into political turmoil.
Launching headlong into a quest to learn the truth from her father, Peter Carrick, a Pulitzer Prize laureate who served as an embedded photographer during the war, she confronts him about a dark secret he has kept—a secret that has devastated their family.
Her investigations lead her to her departed mother’s journal, which tells of love, spiritual awakening, and surviving the fall of Saigon.
Pursued across the continent, Xandra comes face-to-face with powerful forces that will stop at nothing to prevent her from revealing the truth. But not before government agencies arrest her for murder, domestic terrorism, and an assassination attempt on the newly elected president of the United States.
Darkroom is a riveting tale of suspense that tears the cover off the human struggle for truth in a world imprisoned by lies.

My Thoughts

There was a lot of action and suspense in the story. It twisted and turned every which way and you never really knew what was next. This kept the story going and me involved in it.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Howard Books for the opportunity to review Darkroom. I received a complimentary copy of this book for purposes of facilitating this review.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Duke's Undoing - Book Review

GG Vandagriff is the author of The Duke's Undoing. It's published by Orson Whitney Press and is available now.

Here's a little about the author, GG Vandagriff.

GG Vandagriff is the author of thirteen books. A genre hopper, she writes mysteries, thrillers, historicals, women's fiction, and non-fiction. (See the list of her publications on her Amazon Author Page). The Duke's Undoing is her first Regency romance, written after the manner of Georgette Heyer and Candice Hern. She has been reading Regencies since she was a teen, and writing this one was the most fun she's had in years. She advises that your read it with something chocolate close at hand.

Book Description

Meet the Duke of Ruisdell, the unlikely hero of this traditional Regency Romance, after the manner of Georgette Heyer and Candice Hern. The duke has just returned wounded from the Napoleonic wars. He is weary, cynical, and very bored. Known as the worst rake in England, he finds he has no interest in upholding that distinction, when his friend, the Marquis of Somerset, proposes a bet: "Five thousand guineas says that seducing Miss Elise Edwards will cure your ennui." Because his friend has just lost a packet to him, he agrees that the bet be posted in White's famous Betting Book.

The following day, while walking in Green Park, he spies a mysterious young woman, veiled, and obviously grieving. A disembodied voice, sounding strangely like that of his late adjutant, informs him, "The jig is up. That is the girl you are going to marry!" He scoffs, but is nevertheless intrigued by something about the slight figure. He even sketches her and asks if he can be of assistance to her. She declines his offer kindly.

At the opera that evening, he is captivated by a beauty across the Opera Hall. He hears the same voice, saying the same thing. The marquis informs him that the woman in question is Miss Elise Edwards. When he meets her, he recognizes her voice as that of the woman in the park. Now she is surrounded by a surfeit of ex-fiance's, one of them dangerously unbalanced. Ruisdell discovers an actual bond between them which renders him honor bound to protect her.

Thus begins a train of unstoppable events--dangerous, humorous, devilish, and amorous--that carry his life along at such a pace that the duke soon knows not whether he is on his head or his heels. And then there is that bet . . .

Enjoy this delicious romance that will carry you back to the Regency period in English history, where manners were dictated by strict rules of fashion. It is the Jane Austen era, populated by gentlemen and ladies of leisure. These books are best enjoyed with a box of chocolates, and are guaranteed to enliven any boredom (ennui) that you may be experiencing!

My Thoughts:

At first, I couldn't seem to get into this book. It seemed to move too slowly; however, it picked up by about the fifteen page or so. I liked the action and danger as much as the romance it contained. 

I will be reading more books from GG Vandagriff. She succeeded in keeping my attention with the action, suspense, and romance throughout the book!

Disclosure: Many thanks to GG Vandagriff  for the opportunity to review The Duke's Undoing. I received a complimentary copy of this e-book for purposes of facilitating this review.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Royal Sheikh - Book Review

Clare McKay is a dedicated architect with no time for womanising men. That is, until she accidentally meets Sheikh Rafiq Al Kahil, an Arabian Prince, known in the international press as the Playboy Prince. Clare is intent on not falling for his seductive charm, but when he asks her to design a mansion, he presents her with an offer that she can’t refuse. Once she finds herself alone with him in the Arabian desert, how long will she be able to hold out against his advances? And will he be able to cast aside his womanising past for her, as well as a secret engagement to an Arabian Princess?

My Thinking: I enjoyed this book. It was predictable; however, it was light-weight, easy reading. I've gotten away from straight romance and this was a nice change from the paranormal that I've been reading lately. I like how, at the end, Clair is continuing to do some architecture work after marrying Rafiq. She's not going to 'just stay home' and not put her training to use!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Goodies at EdenFantasys - Review

This post is for mature audiences only. It contains links to EdenFantasys and is not appropriate for little ones. Thank you.

EdenFantasys has several new products I'm anxious to try. In their Beauty and Body Products, the Glistening Dry Shampoo and Powder is just one such item. In their words: Satin sugar glistening is a revolutionary new dry shampoo that uses light-reflecting minerals to achieve shiny and healthy-looking hair without washing! That sounds perfect for those days where I just can't seem to get up and am in a rush to get out of the house (of course, those are the days I didn't wash my hair the night before)!! At just $19.99, that sounds like a deal for those days.

I also want to try the Brown Sugar Scrub. It's available in two fragrances: 'It's a Slice', which is Tahitian vanilla and coconut and 'Deserted Island', which is orange and vanilla. My choice would be the It's a Slice fragrance.

For the brides, they have some new items also. In their Bridal Collection, the new Bride Robe and BabyDoll Peignoir is cute for the honeymoon, as is the Lovely Innocent Garter Slip and Thong Chemise. At $27.99 and $29.99, both are good buys.

Disclosure: I will receive a gift card in exchange for writing this post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig - Book Review

"I invited the child I was once to have her say in these pages. I am the one who came out on the other side of childhood; she is the one who searched for the door."

In the tradition of The Glass Castle comes a debut memoir about a woman’s hopeful life despite the sad results of her mother’s choices.Moonlight on Linoleum is an affecting story of a girl who rose above her circumstances to become an early and faithful caretaker to her five siblings. It is about the power one finds in sisterhood to thrive in a difficult and ever-changing landscape as the girls bond in unconditional love despite constant upheaval and uncertainty. In these pages, Teresa Helwig crafts a moving portrait of a mother she loved completely even as she struggled to understand her.

"Putting myself in Mama's shoes, which were most often white moccasins molded in the shape of her size seven-and-a-half foot, I see an eighteen-year-old girl with two children, one of them still a baby. . . . Her former husband is in Korea, drafted after their divorce; she has a sister who disappears from time to time, leaving yet another child in her care; she has no money, no high-school diploma, and a mother unhappy to have her home."

Teresa and her sisters, who were added regularly throughout the 1950s and '60s, grew up with with their charismatic, troubled, and very young mother, Carola. Because of their stepfather’s roving job as in the oil fields, they moved frequently from town to town in the American West. The girls were often separated and left behind with relatives and never knew what their unstable mother would do next. Missing her mother became a habit for Teresa; one summer Carola dropped off her two daughters at her ex's family farm.

"If there were an idyllic summer of childhood, it was that summer on the Iowa farm. Yet, if I had to choose a time when I felt most forsaken by my mother, it was also that summer. Even back then, I was acutely aware of the paradox. On the outside, by day, I was like the morning glory vine twining around the back fence. Every day opened to a life I loved on the land. I reveled in and relished the absolute freedom and abandon of being turned loose in Eden.
"But then, each evening, after the sun set and the dinner dishes had been hand-washed and dried, I became like the moonflower vine climbing up the weathered boards on the side of the garage. The moonflower opens its large fragrant blooms at night; they shimmer like moonlight and sweeten the night air.
"I evolved a ritual at bedtime before crawling into my bed . . . I held Mama's Polaroid picture to my heart.
I love you. Please come get us soon. I want to be with you more than I want to be anywhere else. These were my prayers, my blooms that opened to the night. Then I pursed my lips against the cool glass and kissed her smiling face goodnight."

There were good times too: Carola made fudge for the girls during rainstorms, helped Teresa's cat deliver kittens, and taught her to play "You Are My Sunshine" on a toy piano. But when her husband was out working on the oil fields, Carola, who had married at fourteen, began to fill her time with men she met in the various towns her roving family moved to. She referred to her secret dating life as "going to Timbuktu," leaving Teresa in charge of her siblings. As Carola roamed and eventually developed crippling migraines, Teresa became a replacement mommy before her own childhood was fully in swing. Stress, guilt, and recurring nightmares marked her days and nights.

"In addition to the amphetamines [for weight loss], Mama was now taking barbiturates for her migraines. Her moods began to yo-yo. She became as hard to predict as the weather. When Daddy was out of town and Mama was in one of her fogs, I learned to fend for myself. And, being the oldest, I learned to fend for my sisters, too . . . It was around this time I came to realize a hard truth. Once your sisters begin looking up to you, as if you really could save them from being poisoned, as if you know a way out of a dark cave, there's no going back. You'll draw your last breath, trying to find that door to the Lost City of Enchantment, because you can't bear to let them down."

Yet, even in the face of adversity, Teresa found beauty in the small moments: resting in the boughs of her favorite oak tree, savoring the freedom she found on her grandparents’ farm, and gleefully discovering the joys of dating and dancing. While Carola struggled for an exciting and satisfying life, Teresa faced adolescence and young adulthood, increasingly burdened by Carola's dysfunction. Finally, as the family splintered between colleges, homes, stepfathers, and their mother's disintegrating mental health, Teresa drove Carola to a mental hospital--where at last the mother of five found some peace and order.

Upon leaving the hospital, sadly Carola continued in a downward spiral: more men, a drug addiction, a toddler son's death, and finally her own accidental overdose death in 1974. Though Carola's unhappy life meant Teresa's was marked by hardship and tragedy, Teresa found redemption in writing her mother's story and discovering empathy for the woman continually harmed by her own bad choices. The bonds of sisterhood helped sustain her, and today the girls are still close, still savoring the good in a childhood pocked with pain. Teresa, now a counselor and mother of a daughter, was able to conclude, after visiting her mom's grave and asking her blessing on the book,

I believe joy and sorry rest together, the two sides of love. I have repeatedly uncovered places of joy inside my own heart tucked within the folds of sorrow.

With enormous skill and sensitivity, Teresa deftly explores the history she shared with Carola and the relentless love of a child for her mother.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book. It brought home to me, again, how different people's home-life and childhood differs from person to person. With her book, Terry's life brought another world to me. I felt as if I was there with her when she was left with her father, whom she didn't know, and through all other incidents in the book.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Howard Books for the opportunity to review Moonlight on Linoleum. I received a complimentary copy of this book for purposes of facilitating this review.