Thursday, July 20, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman


ABOUT THE BOOK

Anna Coughlin is a modern 1920s woman, armed with a college education and a partiality for numbers. Now, within the walls of a fantastic castle-like mansion in the hills of Virginia, her skill will be tested as never before. Hired to serve as financial advisor to wealthy Lawrence Richardson, Ann finds the welcome she receives anything but warm. Lawrence's handsome but antagonistic son Tyler wants nothing more than to send her packing. The household staff isn't much better, but who can blame them, considering the way Lawrence's last advisor, Irene, disappeared...

Convinced that one of the enigmatic members of the household had something to do with Irene's disappearance, Anna doesn't dare trust anyone—not even temperamental Tyler Richardson, who, despite her best intentions, is beginning to steal her heart.

A series of frightening incidents ensnare Anna in a maze of intrigue, putting her life in peril. But even as Anna begins uncovering the secrets hidden within the mansion's stone walls, she harbors a secret of her own. Now, the only question that remains is whether she will disappear as mysteriously as Irene.

REVIEW

I really enjoyed this book as both an historical mystery and romance.  I found the characters interesting, the setting compelling, and the mystery intriguing.  Anna makes for a great main character as a young female in the workforce at a time when many still considered the home the best place for women.  When she arrives at Ashton Place to work as a financial secretary she's surprised to discover just how off things are in the family. The oldest son, Tyler, greets her quite rudely and tells her to leave, the housekeeper is also rude, and the secretary whose place Anna has taken, has disappeared.  It quickly becomes clear that Anna's reasons for being at Ashton Hall are more complicated than they seem and the mystery of Irene's disappearance is at the heart of it all.  As Anna gets to know the family, things get increasingly complex and confusing as she tries to figure out who might be behind Irene's disappearance.  But the Richardson family is not entirely happy with two sons who are fighting over control of the estate, a father with failing health who struggles to please both his sons, a father who ignores his son, and a woman who wants more than anything to become the estate's next mistress.  Add to this, Anna's growing attraction to Tyler Richardson and she's got a real mess on her hands.  Bateman has done a great job creating a mystery full of twists, turns, and a deliciously creepy and confusing atmosphere.  She's also done a good job of creating a group of characters with depth, strengths and weaknesses which makes it harder to guess who the guilty party is.  I can highly recommend this one for those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of romance.  I also enjoyed the romance because it's not a typical too-sweet-for-words romance either.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Capture by Julie Coulter Bellon


ABOUT THE BOOK

Julian Bennet, head of Griffin Force, finally finds love with Zaya Altes, but the day he buys her an engagement ring, international terrorist Nazer al-Raimi abducts her. Getting her back consumes him, yet it takes nearly six months to find her. The daring mission to extract her from a hidden prison in Afghanistan is successful, but Zaya has suffered during captivity. Though she’s grateful to Julian for breaking her out, she wants nothing to do with him. Before he can show her how much he still loves her, Nazer finds them and vows revenge. Can Julian keep Zaya safe and still stop Nazer once and for all?

Zaya Altes nearly gave up hope of ever being rescued, but when Griffin Force finally finds her, returning to life is harder than she imagined. While her feelings for Julian are as strong as ever, she feels too broken to recapture what they once had. Instead, Zaya jumps at a chance to trap Nazer, wanting vengeance for what she’s endured. As the final showdown draws near, however, Zaya will have to make an unimaginable choice to let Nazer close to her again. But when a shocking web of betrayal is uncovered in their own ranks, their one chance to capture him is compromised. Julian and Zaya will put everything on the line, but can they survive this ultimate test and finally reach for their chance at happiness?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Her book All Fall Down won the RONE award for Best Suspense and Pocket Full of Posies won a RONE Honorable Mention for Best Suspense.

Julie loves to travel and her favorite cities she's visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog ldswritermom.blogspot.com. You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website juliebellon.com.

REVIEW

It's been a while since I"ve read a book by Julie Coulter Bellon.  But after reading this one I was reminded how much I like her books.  I'm going to have to go back and read the first two books in this series. Bellon's military suspense books remind me of another of my favorite authors, Ronie Kendig, who also writes fabulous, very suspenseful military stories.  The action begins right from the first word with Zaya a captive of a terrorist, ready to give up hope of ever being found.  But her former boyfriend, Commander Julian Bennet hasn't forgotten her, he's spent every spare moment of the last six months trying to find her.  But their troubles aren't over once Zaya is rescued.  For one thing, the terrorist is still on the loose and looking for revenge. For another, there is no way their relationship can be the way it was, both Zaya and Julian have changed to much.  As Zaya struggles with PTSD and the scars of her captivity, she isn't sure if she and Julian can find their way back to each other.  And Julian's feelings of guilt also interfere with his ability to be patient with Zaya's recovery.  But above all, neither has the luxury of time, unless they can find a way to take de Raimi down, especially since it's apparent there is a mole in their midst.  This is one of those stories that is almost impossible to put down once you start reading it, because the book moves along at such a brisk pace.  If you enjoy romantic suspense (lots of suspense), I can highly recommend this one.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT w/ GUEST POST: Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman Sullivan


ABOUT THE BOOK

Anna Coughlin is a modern 1920s woman, armed with a college education and a partiality for numbers. Now, within the walls of a fantastic castle-like mansion in the hills of Virginia, her skill will be tested as never before. Hired to serve as financial advisor to wealthy Lawrence Richardson, Ann finds the welcome she receives anything but warm. Lawrence's handsome but antagonistic son Tyler wants nothing more than to send her packing. The household staff isn't much better, but who can blame them, considering the way Lawrence's last advisor, Irene, disappeared...

Convinced that one of the enigmatic members of the household had something to do with Irene's disappearance, Anna doesn't dare trust anyone—not even temperamental Tyler Richardson, who, despite her best intentions, is beginning to steal her heart.

A series of frightening incidents ensnare Anna in a maze of intrigue, putting her life in peril. But even as Anna begins uncovering the secrets hidden within the mansion's stone walls, she harbors a secret of her own. Now, the only question that remains is whether she will disappear as mysteriously as Irene.

NOTE: My review will be coming next week.

LINKS

Marlene’s website: www.marlenebateman.info

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner.

 Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, Heroes of Faith, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.

EXCERPT

The tallest parts of the mansion—fanciful turrets and a circular tower—were visible only in glimpses Anna caught between lofty oaks and towering pines as her cab wound through the knolls and hills of eastern Virginia.

When the cab turned up the long driveway lined with dogwood trees in full bloom, Anna Coughlin reached for her handbag, gripping it with a tension that had knotted her muscles ever since getting on the train.

The vast estate stood on a hilltop, like a castle—and she craned her neck to better view the starkly impressive gray-stone mansion of Ashton Hall—where she hoped to be hired. With its arched, leaded windows and slate roof with numerous chimneys, the house rivaled pictures she’d seen of castles in Europe.

Instructing the driver to wait, she climbed out, patted her hat in case it was askew, then smoothed her gray suit with gloved hands in hopes of presenting a professional appearance. Anna had no confidence she was clever enough or bold enough to pull this off, but she had to try.

Her eye was drawn by a tall man—more than six feet—who came from the side of the house. Since the man was striding toward her so purposefully, Anna stopped and waited. As he drew near, Anna noted his deep-set eyes were as black as his hair. His skin was tanned, his thin, long-fingered hands brown and strong.

“Miss Coughlin?” He stretched out a hand and shook hers, but there was no warmth for her in his eyes. “I’m Tyler Richardson. Unfortunately, your services are not needed after all.” A touch of arrogance marked his manner, as though he was long accustomed to command those around him.

“Your father called only last week to have someone come out,” Anna blurted in dismay. “May I ask what caused him to change his mind?”

A fleeting glimpse of discomfiture crossed Mr. Richardson’s face. “I wasn’t consulted about his hiring another secretary to replace the one who left so suddenly. My father isn’t in good health, and the last thing we need is someone coming in and upsetting him by making a muddle of things.”

His words kindled a fire that glinted in Anna’s eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her. “Since I’m here, I’m sure you won’t mind if I keep my appointment. After all, your father is the one who requested my services. I’m sure he’s expecting me.”

Her words hit home.It took a few bitter seconds, but he finally acquiesced. “Come in, then,” he muttered ungraciously before leading the way up the steps and opening the door.

Following his rigid back down the narrow hall, Anna’s brows furrowed as doubts crept in. How wise had she been to come to this remote place? Especially when the previous secretary had disappeared so mysteriously? Even her employer thought it odd that no one in this mansion seemed to know where Irene had gone or where she was now. It was as if Irene had vanished into thin air.

GUEST POST

To Write Well—Show, Don’t Tell
 by Marlene Bateman
Author of Searching for Irene
"Don't tell us that the old lady screamed.
Bring her on and let her scream." -- Samuel Clemens

We've all heard the phrase "Show, don't tell" but exactly how do you do that? First, you need to know the difference between telling and showing. Telling is passive, slows down your pacing, takes away your action and pulls your reader out of your story. On the other hand, showing is active and creates mental images that brings your story—and characters—to life. When you have writing that is vivid, evocative and strong, there is plenty of showing in it. Showing is interactive and encourages the reader to participate in the reading experience by drawing her own conclusions. Here are a few other advantages:


  • Showing is more interesting to read.
  • It creates a sharper mental picture.
  • Showing provides more precise information.
  • Showing is more convincing. If I say it was a hot day, you'll probably trust me, but if I say Lois is horribly messy, you might wonder if she's really that bad. But if you show Lois crumpling an empty potato chip bag and tossing it on the floor beside empty pop cans, candy wrappers and stinky socks, you can judge for yourself.
  • Showing allows you to do two things at the same time. You can show the reader how hot the summer sun is when your character wipes the sweat off her brow as she pulls weeds out of the garden and tosses them into a pile.

Not sure you’ve got the difference between showing and telling? Here are two signs to look for:
If you’re using an adverb, you’re probably telling. One example of this is; "You are such a jerk," he said angrily. Always try to avoid modifying "said" with an adverb.  Adverbs are not evil little words that have to be avoided at all costs, but they should be kept to a minimum. It's far better to show emotions in concrete ways. And while showing does take more words, it’s worth it. For example: “You are such a jerk!" Dan slammed the phone book shut and threw it at the couch before jumping up, moving so fast his chair skidded against the floor and dented the new drywall.

You may be telling if you use any forms of the verb "To Be,” such as; am, is, are, was, was being, will have been, could have been, et al. Using these verb forms not only puts you in passive tense much of the time, but they also can remove your reader from the action. You don’t have to cut them all out of your writing, but if you can make your writing stronger without using the word "was" or other forms of it, you'll show more than you tell.

Here are a few other examples that will help you understand the difference between showing and telling;

Telling: The lawn was covered with leaves.
Showing: Summer had ended and I would be the last one to leave the cabin. I sat alone, holding a mug of hot chocolate without drinking, and stared out the back window, watching the red, gold, and brown leaves pile up against the sparse shrubs and worn out fence.

Telling: The temperature had fallen overnight and the heavy frost reflected the sun's rays brightly.
Showing: The morning air was bitter ice in her nose and mouth and dazzling frost lay on every bud and branch.

Telling: The taller man was a carpenter, complete with the tools of his trade.
Showing: A saw and hammer dangled from his belt and an adze was hooked into it. One thumbnail was black, and when he bowed, she saw several long wood-shavings caught in his curly hair.

Telling: They stood close and wrapped their arms around each other in a passionate embrace, so that she became aware that he had been riding, and then that he was as nervous as she was.
Showing: They gripped each other and the tweed of his jacket was rough under her cheek. His hand came up to stroke her hair; she smelled leather and horses on the skin of his wrist. He was trembling.

Telling; The room was perfect. She saw it and was immediately transported back to her childhood because it had all the elements she remembered.
Showing: She threw open the wide oak door and stepped into a past from twenty years ago. The bedroom she remembered, down to the last detail. Pink candy-striped walls with white trim. A thick white shag carpet, two plush maroon velvet chairs flanking a silent fireplace. An enormous canopy bed, draped with a sheer white veil. Linda pressed a hand to her mouth. What were the chances? Another room, just like the one she'd had, years ago, before she'd grown up and grown out of the one space that had brought her happiness.


BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Song of Copper Creek by Kristen McKendry


ABOUT THE BOOK

It's been more than a year since she lost her family—a tragedy that has left Grace Whitaker a shadow of her former self. Unable to move on surrounded by so many memories, she makes the desperate decision to return to her childhood home in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada. There she hopes to salvage the broken pieces of her life—but what she finds is the promise of peace and healing in an unlikely place.

Copper Creek Farm is part of a Canadian historical museum, offering glimpses into nineteenth-century pioneer life. Yet the farm offers much more than that—it is a place of second chances. For Grace, the opportunity to work the land alongside the loving Whelan family is the first step toward healing. But she isn't the only broken soul seeking hope on the farm. Grace is joined by a young man in trouble with the law, as well as the Whelans' son and grandchildren, who are struggling through their own heartbreak. Together, these survivors discover the strength that can be found in friendship. But when faced with the uncertainty of the future, will they have the courage to move beyond the past to forge new lives for themselves?

REVIEW

I really did not expect to love this one as much as I did.  But I fell in love with the characters immediately and read the book in one sitting.  Grace is a very sympathetic character as she struggles to find a new life for herself after losing her entire family in the blink of an eye.  She comes to Copper Creek Pioneer Village in search of a respite and a chance to learn to breathe again.  She finds so much more than that.  She finds a new home and a new adopted family.  While no one can replace the family she lost, she can't help learning to love the Whelans and their grandchildren.  And as she learns to farm, she also learns the value of hard work and the healing that can be found in working in the soil.  Surprises come as she once again opens herself up to friends, and to helping the Whelan's grandchildren deal with a loss of their own.  I also found the describes of carding of wool and planting remarkably interesting.  There were even moments of humor as well in addition to the possibility of a new love interest.  But the focus here is on finding healing and Grace stepping forward into a future different than what she had planned.  Highly recommended.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Lily of the Manor by Anita Stansfield


ABOUT THE BOOK

Broadbent Manor is a home brimming with life and love. With eleven adopted children in her care, young widow Lily Broadbent is in search of the right tutor to instruct and nurture her young charges. So when Frederick Woodstone arrives on the doorstep seeking the position, Lily is quickly impressed by his qualifications—but even more pleased with his gentle manner and immediate rapport with the children that society cast aside. It is clear: Mr. Woodstone is a perfect fit for the family.

From the moment he arrives at the manor, Frederick is enchanted by the lady of the house. Lily is a pillar of strength and compassion, and her striking beauty is undeniable. As the pair works side by side to teach the children, their professional association evolves into something far deeper. But when they stumble upon a young boy in dire circumstances, their relationship is put to the test as Lily makes the impetuous decision to rescue the child—no matter the consequences. What follows is a chain of events that will threaten all that Lily has built for her young family, as the fight for the safety of one small boy becomes a battle between life and death.

REVIEW

Anita Stansfield has written a tender story about faith, love, and forgiveness.  I found it easy to care for Frederick and Lily from the very beginning because both characters are genuinely good people.  Lily is a widow using the money her husband left her to bless the lives of the eleven children she has adopted. Frederick is a former vicar turned teacher who thanks to his mother's efforts has a deep faith in God and compassion.  As Frederick settles in as the teacher for the children, he finds himself falling in love with Lily and she with him.  But things get complicated quickly when Lily discovers a child nearby in rather desperate straits and can't resist trying to help him.  Frederick is worried about the risks Lily is taking to help the child.  A life-threatening illness puts everything Frederick and Lily have built at risk.  Will Frederick's and Lily's faith and love be enough to face the challenges in front of them, especially when some shocking revelations come to light?  I found it impossible not to cheer for Frederick and Lily's efforts and sympathized with their struggles.  Once again Stansfield has written a book to touch the heart.

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