Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Reading and #Reviews (Dean, Gallant, Brennan)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and some reviews. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a book or an eReader at night for the last hour of my day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. My current read is crime thriller by Lynda La Plante entitled Widows. I'm seventy-five pages into it, and holding my judgement. There are some technical snafus that are bugging me, but I'll keep reading for now.

Here are some of the books I've read recently. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Lady in the Mist by Alicia Dean
A gothic mystery romance...

I’ve read other books by Ms. Dean, and she never fails to entertain. Lily Jackson is looking for a new start, but she goes from her own personal family tragedy into the Breckenridge family with tragedy she didn’t expect. While caregiver to an emotionally disturbed young man, she is both repulsed and attracted to the older Breckenridge man. There are missing women, ghosts, and danger for Lily if she can’t solve the mystery. 

Lost Innocence by Jannine Gallant
Romantic Suspense
I’ve yet to read anything my Ms. Gallant that I haven’t liked. Her settings are well described without overkill. Her characters are interesting. Her stories are involved. In Lost Innocence Nina Hutton has troubles with break-ins, unaware she’s in possession of someone else’s lottery ticket—and a not very scrupulous someone. Thank goodness there’s a handsome hunk who just moved in across the street and is more than willing to give her a hand. Teague O’Dell has a cute daughter and a wounded heart from losing his wife. Now, he’s in the middle of danger with Nina by his side. What they might uncover is worse than either of them expected.

Speak No Evil by Allison Brennan
Murder Mystery with Romantic Overtones
You need a sturdy constitution for this Brennan mystery. A violent murderer who glues young women’s mouths shut suffocates them in a garbage bag, isn’t reading for the weak of nature. Carina Kincaid is the detective who investigates these murders. She's tough with a soft side, and Sheriff Nick Thomas can’t resist. Although Nick is scarred and unsteady from another serial killer case, his brother is the suspect in this one, and he can’t turn his back on it. The electricity between Carina and Nick is hot, but they’re working together to solve the case.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Communicating in More Ways by Kelly Brakenhoff #deaf #mystery


You'll certainly enjoy my guest day, Kelly Brakenhoff. Your heart will be touched and you'll learn something. Read on...

When I published Death by Dissertation, the first book in the Cassandra Sato series, I felt elated to check off my bucket list item that said, “write a novel.” But although writing feeds my creativity and love of story, my day job feeds my soul. Working as an American Sign Language Interpreter, I give access to communication for people who wouldn’t normally understand each other. For example, in a doctor’s office appointment, I help the medical people understand where the patient who is deaf feels pain, or how they became injured so the doctor can make a correct diagnosis and effective care plan. In a college classroom, I help the professor and students who don’t know ASL understand the discussion contributions from the student who is deaf.
Many times people who can hear but don’t know ASL tell me they want to learn because it looks fun. Often, they are shy about approaching a deaf person who uses ASL and communicating directly with them. I tell people to learn a little bit and then go try it out. I don’t speak Spanish or Italian, but I know a few phrases to find a bathroom, say please and thank you, or excuse me when I travel. The rest we figure out with pointing and gestures.
I hope people who read my books will feel inspired to communicate with your deaf family, coworkers, or fellow parents who have a kid on your softball team. Cassandra Sato, the main character, only knows a little bit of ASL but she figures out how to get her point across in other ways.
Learn ASL online or at your local community college (and not only the swear words, please). Don’t be intimidated that you only know a few signs. Most people appreciate that you’ve made a direct connection and are trying to use their language. I believe that being understood is a basic human need we all have, and we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to people different than us and understand the world from their viewpoint.

Here's one of my favorite websites to start learning signs:

Ambitious Cassandra Sato traded her life in Hawai’i for a dream position at Morton College in rural Nebraska. She expected the Midwestern church casseroles, land-locked cornfields, and face-freezing winters would be her biggest challenges, but it’s her job that’s rapidly becoming a nightmare.
A deaf student is dead, and the investigation reveals a complicated trail of connections between campus food service, a local farmer’s beef, and the science lab’s cancer research.
Dealing with homesickness, vandalism, and a stalker, Cassandra is trapped in a public relations disaster that could cost her job, or more. No one said college was easy.

“Sheriff Hart’s hand rested on his thick black leather utility belt. “Can anyone identify the student?”
Evan said, “I’ve seen him on campus, but I dunno his name. He’s a sophomore or junior.” The others nodded, but no one volunteered a name.
Cassandra looked right and left in surprise. Morton was so small, Cassandra had just assumed others recognized him, too. “I know him. I’m pretty sure that’s Austin.” Saying his name out loud had made it real. “His roommate, Lance, is a work-study student in my office. He’s deaf . . . both of them are,” she added.
Loud voices drew Cassandra’s attention to the far end of the two-story Media Center where a small crowd had gathered. A wide sidewalk, bordered by shrubs and ornamental trees, connected it to the Edgerton Center. Even 20 yards away they chattered animatedly, but one student wearing a knitted hat was more agitated, pointing at the staircase and yelling.
Cassandra looked back over her shoulder at Austin’s body. As bad as she felt for him, he was the police’s responsibility now. Her job was with the students. No one covered this in New Student Orientation. Frowning, she moved towards them and noticed Dr. Nielson doing the same thing.
When she came close enough, Cassandra heard shouting. “My lab’s in there! I need to check the rats! Who is that?”

Excerpt From: Kelly Brakenhoff. “Death by Dissertation.”

Kelly Brakenhoff is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Her first mystery, Death by Dissertation, was published in April, 2019. Look for the sequel, Dead Week, and her children’s picture book series featuring Duke the deaf dog, both coming in the Fall of 2019.

Twitter: @inBrakenville
Instagram: @kellybrak
Pinterest: @kellybrak 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

#WickedWednesday with Sadira Stone #WRPbks #romance


Back with us today is one of my favorite guests, Sadira Stone. Her latest novel is set in Oregon, a favorite state of mine. How about a wickedly sassy senior citizen? Read on...

Thanks for hosting me on another Wicked Wednesday, Brenda. Today I’m talking about my most recent steamy contemporary romance, Runaway Love Story, Book 2 in the Book Nirvana series. Set in Eugene, Oregon, this series centers around the owner and employees of an indie bookshop, complete with a friendly shop cat and a collection of—let’s say adult books—kept behind a locked red door. (Hence the title of Book One, Through the Red Door.)

My favorite character by far in RLS is the heroine’s 90-year-old great aunt Maxie. A quirky, artistic spitfire, Maxie is the adoptive grandmother to many young artists. Her colorful cottage in Eugene’s Whiteaker District is always buzzing with activity. With her neon-red hair, bedazzled cane, and funky outfits, Maxie is a role model for her grandniece Laurel, the model of the independent, artistic woman she wants to become.

Alas, Maxie has reached the point where she can no longer live alone. She’s elected to move into an assisted living senior complex, rather than burden her family. Here’s a snipped in which Laurel and Maxie arrive for a tour of the facility.

              “Earth to Laurel.” Maxie’s cane rapped her knee.
                “Sorry, I was just…”
                “And they say I have memory troubles. Let’s go.” No question, Maxie was completely herself again, energetic and focused. And bossy.
                Laurel followed her to the office building. Really quite lovely for an old folks’ home, Willamette Grove resembled a college campus. Tudor-style buildings with dark wood trim surrounded a neat lawn. Pansies nodded from cement urns at every doorway. Beneath a huge sycamore tree, a dozen white-haired residents in pastel sweats glided through a slow-motion Tai Chi routine.
                “Looks boring,” Maxie grumbled. “I’m gonna sign up for Zumba class.” She toddler-stepped up the shallow stairs. “And painting, of course. The art building’s over there. The café next door is open all day. Good place to meet fellas.” Maxie handed her a spiral-bound notebook. “You take notes, in case I forget anything later.”
                Inside, a plump woman with freckled cheeks and a short pouf of white hair greeted them. “Welcome to Willamette Glen. I’m Pearl. What can I do for you ladies today?”
                “Mr. Mendez said I could take measurements for my new apartment. Maxine Schmidt.” She poked the desk calendar with one glittery fingernail. “That’s me. Ten o’clock.”
                “Just let me fetch a pass key.”
                While the receptionist stepped away, Laurel whispered, “Ritzy place, Maxie.”
                She nodded. “Been saving for a rainy day. I’m going out in style, my dear.”
                Maxie’s dark humor weighted Laurel’s shoulders. No matter how many pansies and classes this place offered, it was still the last stop for its residents.
                “This is the nice side, of course,” Maxie continued. “Over there, behind the dining hall, there’s the wing for the folks with CRS.”
                “Can’t remember sh**.” She cackled and smacked the countertop. “But hey, if they gotta lock me up to keep me from wandering off, at least I’ll be in a pretty place. With cute nurses.” She nodded toward a buff young man in scrubs. “Hubba Hubba.”

Author Bio 
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.

Visit Sadira at www.sadirastone.com.
I love to hear from readers!

Buy links for Runaway Love Story

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Fearless Dream by C.B. Clark #FearlessFriday #hiking #adventure


Wow, do I have an exciting Fearless Friday for you today. Who says authors spend all of their time sitting on their butts writing? C.B. has charged into fearlessness and her travel adventures are amazing. Read on!

Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru has long been a dream of mine. The stunning Inca ruins, the gorgeous mountain scenery, the terraced mountainsides…I wanted to see it all. What I hadn’t counted on were the devastating effects of hiking at a high altitude.

The second the plane touched down in Cusco (elevation 11,152 feet), shooting pains attacked my
C.B. hiking the Inca trail
joints, waves of nausea washed over me, and even walking the slightest uphill had me struggling to breathe. I took prescription medication for altitude sickness and chewed the cocoa leaves the locals swore would ease my symptoms. Nothing helped.

What an adventure!
The hike was even harder. Each step up the ancient stone stairs required a massive effort. My heart thundered in my chest, and I gasped for oxygen in the thin air, but I was determined to finish. The trek lasted four days, and by the time I crested Dead Woman’s Pass (elevation 13,828 feet), I was exhausted, but thrilled. I’d done it! I’d pushed my body to its limits and beyond and made it to the highest elevation of the Trail.

This accomplishment filled me with a new confidence. I now know I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I went on to cycle through Central America and hiked towering, glacier-clad mountains in Patagonia. This strength of will also helps with my writing. When things get tough, and the writing muse deserts me, I keep on trudging…one step at a time until the writing flows.

Head college librarian, Marissa Reynolds has spent years distancing herself from her crime king pin uncle and his criminal empire. When she awakens in an unfamiliar hotel room with blood on her hands and no memory of how she got there, the past returns with a vengeance, and her life spirals into a nightmare.

Straight-laced, Assistant district Attorney, Scott Bannister has spent a lifetime seeking justice for the senseless gangland shooting deaths of his parents. When he realizes Marissa is the niece of his prime suspect, he crosses a line guaranteed to put in jeopardy both his life and his beloved career.

He’s made it clear he’ll do anything to destroy her uncle. She fears he’s using her to achieve his goal. As the body count mounts, and their lives are threatened, they must put aside their distrust and work together to find the devious killer. Will they be able to forgive and find true love?

She pushed to her hands and knees. The pounding in her brain mushroomed into a full-blown, jackhammer assault. With a moan, she sank onto her bottom and grabbed her head in a fruitless effort to keep her brain from exploding. Despite the pain, she needed to get up. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
Faint wisps of light seeped through the edges of the window curtains. The distant sound of traffic echoed through the glass. A lamp imbued the room with a soft, rosy glow, revealing a king-size bed. The cover on the bed was a glossy, garish pink, the pillows covered in the same lurid color, the edges trimmed with frilly, black lace.
She rubbed the back of her neck and closed her eyes, but when she opened them again she was still in the unfamiliar room. A battered desk faced the bed, a large, flat screen television on top. The flickering images of a naked, full-breasted woman being entertained by two equally naked men played across the screen.
A wingback chair, covered in black leatherette sat in the far corner where a door was ajar revealing the cracked linoleum floor of a bathroom and the edge of a chipped porcelain sink. A framed diagram of a fire escape route was posted on the back of the other door. A hotel room? She dug her fingers into her temples. Why couldn’t she remember?

Buy Links:
Google Books: https://bit.ly/2XlPANO

Author Bio:
Secret Betrayal is award-winning author, C.B. Clark’s fifth romantic suspense published by The Wild Rose Press. She has worked as an archaeologist and an educator, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.
Social Media Links:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Reading and #Reviews (Brennan, Buchbinder, Gallant)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and some reviews. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a book or an eReader at night for the last hour of my day.

I tend to read what I write (romantic suspense), but not exclusively. My current read is a mystery/crime novel by James M. Jackson entitled False Bottom. No romance.

Here are some of the books I've read recently. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Notorious (Max Revere Novels, book 1) by Allison Brennan
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Brennan. It won’t be my last.
“Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Maxine, routing for her when dealing with her snobby rich family, and for her gutsiness in standing up to most everyone in defense of a suspect. She’s out to solve more than one murder, and you’ll enjoy the tale.

Legacy of Evil (the Hotel Labelle Series, book 2) by Sharon Buchbinder
Romantic Suspense
I happen to love horse stories. Emma Horserider is a horse whisperer. I’m also of American Indian heritage, so this book had it all for me. Horses are under attack and there’s a hate group to deal with. When Emma teams with Harley-riding Bronco Winchester, not only are they one tough couple to meet the challenge, but the romance will offer up its own challenges.

Fatal Encounter (A Counterstrike Novel, book 1) by Jannine Gallant
Romantic Suspense
The first book in the Counterstrike Series by Jannine Gallant kicks off this series in true Gallant style. She starts with a great series premise…an organization who rescues kidnap victims any way they can.

In Fatal Encounter, we meet Jaimee Fleming who has left the organization because one of their own has been killed. I really enjoyed this character who is a former Olympic biathlete turned sniper turned dog walker.

Pair Jaimee with best-selling novelist Eli Croft and you have a good mix for a romance with lots of suspense. Eli’s grandmother is murdered and it looks like one of the family did the deed. Counterstrike joins in to bring the murderer to justice.

I’m looking forward to more books in this series.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Creating a Kinder World by Susan Antony #YA #Romance


Please welcome Susan Antony to Discover...

First, I want to thank you, Brenda, for giving me a voice on your blog. It’s an honor to be here. My name is Susan Antony and I write young adult fiction. Becoming a writer was a childhood dream I’d buried years ago. One day in the recent past while spring-cleaning, I came across a fifty-page novel I’d written as a ten-year-old and my long forgotten passion awoke again.

While I enjoy reading books of many genres, YA Contemporary and YA Romance novels are my favorites. I adore the genres. Young adults love, hate, and play hard in an arena where the world shines new and the future burns wide open. When I’m writing or reading YA, if I dig deep inside, I can recapture those intense, wonderful, sometimes painful feelings and immerse myself in that world once again through my characters lives.

Often times, I think as adults we don’t give our youth enough credit. Though still physically and mentally developing, teens have valid beliefs and concerns and deserve to be heard. I believe if everyone strives to be as pliable in his or her thinking as young people are naturally, together we could create a kinder and more brilliant world.


When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John's friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

I invite her into the circle of my arms. She leans against me and rests her head on my shoulder. Above us, the moon is nearly full, casting bluish light across the river. The sky is a starry mess. “Look.” I point to the sky. “There’s Ursa Major.”
“What?” she asks.
“The bear constellation.”
“Where is it? Show me.”
I raise her hand and trace the starry image like I’m doing a dot-to-dot picture. “There’s the head.” I swoop her hand left. “And there’s the tail.” I finish by pointing out the bear’s front and rear legs.
“The way you do it makes it look like a skinny, headless dog,” she says.
I laugh. “Where’s your imagination?”
“Let me try.” She lifts my hand and traces a detailed shape of a bear, describing the air-drawing from ear to toe. “Is that better?”
“Perfect,” I say. “Like you.”
She laces her fingers through mine. I rub tiny circles on her palm with my thumb as I speak. “When I was a kid, I used to fear the bear would swoop down from the sky and eat me alive.”
“That’s horrible.” She presses her lips together, and her ribs shake in suppressed mirth.
“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you,” I say. “Elisi says that bear is pretty bad.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you from Star Bear.” She makes a muscle, flexing and releasing her cute bicep.
“You will, huh?” I tickle her side.
She squeals, wiggles around, and digs her fingers into my ribs. We engage in a full out tickle-war. In the middle of our battle, the wind shifts and the earth rotates, and soon we’re on the ground with her straddling me, both of us panting.
Our eyes lock, and I brush a strand of hair behind her ear. She leans over inch at a time until her nose touches mine. She kisses me, only a peck, then runs the tip of her tongue around lightly around my lips. Unable to resist any longer, I pull her to me and crush my
mouth into hers…

Buy links: 

I work in an IT department for a hospital by day. I’m a hipshaker and writer by night, an artist whenever possible, and an Internet addict. I live in the sunny south with my teenage son and two Cairn Terriers.

You can find Susan here:
Twitter @SusanAntonyCS https://twitter.com/SusanAntonyCS  
Instagram SusanAntony79  https://www.instagram.com/susanantony79 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Not Your Usual #Villain by Jean M. Grant #MotherNature


Mother Nature can be a wicked lady. Even in her beauty, the volatile presence can make for a great villain. My guest today, Jean Grant, uses this fact to spin a great story. Tell us about it, Jean.

I have an interesting villain in Will Rise from Ashes. It’s not human. It’s not alien. It’s Mother Nature at her best: the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Though it can come off as fantastical, two giant magma chambers sit beneath Yellowstone National Park. It bubbles and hisses and erupts (ala geysers) daily. Will it unleash a grand eruption again? Yes. Tomorrow? Maybe not. Soon? Geologically speaking, yes.

Yellowstone is a scientist’s Disneyworld.
How about some cool facts about this sneaky villain?
  1. Yellowstone National Park became the first National Park in 1872. Over 5 million people visit it annual.
  2. Yellowstone is a hydrothermal wonderland with over 10,000 hydrothermal features: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, and over 500 geysers. It is a very active volcano.
  3. The park is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, covering 2.2 million acres.
  4. Yellowstone is a supervolcano. Two massive magma bodies bubble beneath the park.
  5. There are over 20 supervolcanoes across the globe, Yellowstone being one of them.
  6. Old Faithful has been very faithful, erupting approximately every 90 minutes.
  7. Sadly, human trash and pollution has caused many of the vibrant hot pools to lose their color over the years. However, Yellowstone has created innovated programs to manage waste and human impact.
  8. Yellowstone has had 3 [2 of them being “supervolcanic”] caldera-forming eruptions over the past 3 million years (2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, respectively). The last eruption was 174,000 years ago, with 60 smaller ones since.
  9. The VEI scale measures explosivity of volcanoes and runs from 0 to 8.
  10. To date over 92 people have died in the park, mostly from falling into burning hot springs, off ledges, or tempting fate with a bison.
Where can you learn more? The USGS and Yellowstone National Park websites are great places to get accurate facts. Happy digging, my aspiring geologists!

Set in present day, Will Rise from Ashes takes a mother on a perilous journey across the country to find her missing son in the wake of the Yellowstone volcano’s eruption. Though the eruption is not supervolcanic in level, it is BIG, and unleashes ash, destruction, chaos, and death upon half of the USA, forever impacting the country and world. Young widow AJ Sinclair travels with her 9-year-old autistic/Asperger’s son as her co-pilot straight for ground zero. Along the way, her son and a stranger she meets show her a world that she's almost forgotten...that living is more than mere survival. The book (women’s fiction) is a story of heartache, healing, and hope…exploring grief, anxiety/depression, autism…and redemption.

Social Media links:

Buy links:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ GooglePlay ~ soon to be on Audible (later 2019)