Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review/#Giveaway: Dying for the Past byTJ O'Connor

 Dying is not for the faint of heart . . . . . . Neither is the murder of a mysterious philanthropist with ties to the Russian mob and 1939 gangsters.

At an A-list charity ball organized by his wife, Angela, former detective Oliver "Tuck" Tucker is doing his best to prove that ghosts know how to have a good time--until a man is murdered in cold blood on the dance floor.

Never one to let a mystery go unsolved, Tuck is on the case with help from Angela and his former police-detective partners. Together, they must be the first to read "the book"--deceased gangster Vincent Calabrese's journal that names names and reveals the dirty secrets of several modern-day spies.

As Tuck learns the book's secrets, he begins to unravel his own family's wayward past, leading to the question--is being a ghost hereditary? Even while chasing a killer, the biggest challenge Tuck must conquer is how to be back amongst the living . . . but not one of them.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: Upper West Side by Susan Pashman

Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor’s office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York’s Upper West Side.

Here is the tale of their fierce parental love as it is tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs, and dies a few days later.

The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina’s closest friend–that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well–all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world.

Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.

With cries for racial justice rising up all around our country, we must stop and consider how recent headlines are impacting our children, kids raised to believe in an America that is different from the one now showing its face.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir

Transform Your Blog into a Book!

The world of blogging is rapidly changing, but it remains one of the most efficient ways to write and share your work with an eager audience. But how do you purposefully hone your blog content into a uniquely positioned book that will be noticed by an agent or a publisher?

How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that will increase your chances of publication and maximize your visibility as an author.

In this revised edition you’ll find: 

• The latest information on how to set up, maintain, and optimize a blog
• Steps for writing a book easily from scratch using blog posts
• Advice on how to write blog posts
• Tips on gaining visibility and promoting your work both online and off
• Current tools for driving traffic to your blog
• Extensive information on how to monetize your existing blog content into a book or other products
• Profiles with authors who received blog-to-book deals, including four new “from blog to book” success stories

Review: The Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great Blog Train Hop/Giveaway - Destination: Somerset, Kentucky, USA

The Great Blog Train by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo BlogTrainDestination_zps2925d251.jpg
The Great Blog Train

A monthly blog hop departing from your online train station on the first Wednesday of every month!
 Great Blog Train

The Great Blog Train has 7 Engineers
plus a "Destination Co-host"!!
If you link up that means your blog will be seen on 8 different blogs!!!

Please meet our Destination Co-host:
LuAnn from "Back Porchervations"

This month we will be travelling to Somerset, KENTUCKY!
Also, remember to visit the DINING CAR on one of the Engineer's blogs!

If you are interested in being a Co-host for the Great Blog Train then please click HERE and fill out the form (THANK YOU!!)

The Great Blog Train's Great Giveaway!!!
1 Lucky winner will win the following:

- $10 Paypal Cash from Heidi
- 1 Monthly Ad Space from Angie ($15 value)
- 1 Bar of Handmade soap from Laura
- 1 Recipe ebook - "My Cookie Creation Countdown" by Angie Ouellette-Tower


(photo of Main Street taken in July 2013 by J. Bearden of South Carolina)

(photo of part of the business district surrounding Highway 27, from the Homefinder website - 2nd of 3 listed photos)

Destination: Somerset, KENTUCKY

Location:   Pulaski County (south central Kentucky), about halfway between Lexington, KY and Knoxville, TN

Known For:  Somernites Cruise, Master Musicians Festival

Population:  11,196 in 2010

Official "City" Website:

Festivals/Events: Somernites Cruise, Master Musicians Festival



Probably the thing Somerset is most noted for is the monthly "Somernites Cruise", which runs the 4th weekend of the month from April through October of each year.  This is their 15th season.  From

Somernites has garnered national attention with coverage on various TV shows including My Classic Car and Horsepower TV.
'Officially' the cruise takes place on Saturday only - with the ability to look at the cars and talk with their owners downtown in the afternoon, and/or buy food and souvenirs, and when they take to Highway 27, the "business district" (my term), a 6-lane divided highway where they cruise up and down during the evening hours.

Downtown, the streets get blocked off to vehicular traffic early Saturday morning, and locals not attending the festivities will give a wide berth to the area.  (It once took me about 30 minutes to go from one traffic light to the next when I forgot to go around.  Ugh.)

The festivities have grown over the year, with "Friday Night Thunder" - think of a big block party taking place in the mall parking lot at the south end of town.

People line both sides of the road on Highway 27 to watch the cars cruise by on Saturday night, with a parade-like atmosphere.  Some people even stake out preferred spots as early as the day before, setting up with lawn chairs and those canvas gazebo umbrellas.



From the MasterMusiciansFestival.Org website:

2015 is the 22nd year for the premier summer event in the Lake Cumberland region, (and will feature Dwight Yoakum*added). The 2014 festival featured The Counting Crows and 2013 featured Willie Nelson.
Past performers have included Mark O'Conner, "Pigmeat" Jarrett, Doc Watson, Nickel Creek, Richie Haven, JD Crowe, Punch Brothers, Robert Lockwood, Jean Ritchie, The Avett Brothers, Steve Earle, Old Crow Medicine Show and hundreds of other captivating acts. 
The Master Musicians Festival was named the Southeast Tourism Society's "Festival of the Year" for 2013 and has been featured in numerous publications and web reviews.

They really do have an eclectic selection of musical artists.  My brother, who lives in Utah and has a Masters in Music, has heard about it even (without me telling him), and has mentioned wanting to come see it one year.  That, as much as anything else, tells me that this festival is a BIG DEAL.


There are other area attractions, with Somerset being the main city of any size closest to these facilities:


Lake Cumberland is a Kentucky State Park and a big tourism draw for the area.  Several businesses in town build houseboats, and not just the kind you would find at the "Hillbilly Yacht Club".  There was talk of having some power boat races this year or next, but I can't find information about that online, so don't quote me on it.

Some of the resorts have special festivities around holidays (Independence Day, Halloween and Christmas), and activities for all ages of visitors and locals alike.

My favorite feature of the Lake Cumberland area is Cumberland Falls.  There are some cabins, etc. in the park itself, but plenty of places to stay in Somerset and nearby towns.  There are miles of hiking trails and places to picnic.  

One of the biggest draws for the falls is the monthly 'moonbow', or a rainbow by the light of the full moon.  This is one of the few moonbows in the world and the only one (reportedly) in this hemisphere.



A number of Civil War battles took place in the area.  The most developed of these near Somerset is Mill Springs.  There is a museum with tours and several re-enactments and other activities during the year.  There is also a "Ghost Walk" (living history night presentation) in the fall.

On January 19, 1862, the small town of Logan's Crossroads (now Nancy, Ky.) erupted in a blast of artillery and musket fire, as Confederate and Union forces clashed in the Battle of Mill Springs.

I hope you have enjoyed your nickel tour of Somerset.  If you visit and happen to run out of things to do there, give me a call.  I can tell you all about Bee Lick or Monkey's Eyebrow or Dog Walk, Kentucky, too!


Blog Train Rules, by Angie Ouellette-Tower for
Linking up to the Train is as easy as
1, 2, 3!
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review/Giveaway: A Watery Death by Joyce and Jim Lavene

It’s the Fourth of July weekend in Duck, North Carolina and twenty-thousand visitors are on hand to enjoy the parade, the festivities – and learn about the murder of Captain Bill Lucky.

Lucky is the captain of the new gambling ship, Andalusia II, which is modeled after the famous ghost ship that haunts the small town on the Outer Banks. Like her predecessor, the Spanish treasure ship replica has been a boon to the hardy residents of Duck, but it has proven unlucky for her captain.

Mayor Dae O’Donnell has her hands full with setting up the parade set, convincing her friend, Trudy, that she shouldn’t call off her wedding, and getting her shop, Missing Pieces, ready for the summer when she makes most of her money for the year. She doesn’t need the problems involved with a local murder.

But Captain Lucky involves Dae when he asks her to buy an artifact from him that is supposed to be able to summon mermaids. He says he needs money to get out of town for a few days until some problems are resolved. Dae is glad to help him, but isn’t prepared to find him dead in his quarters on the Andalusia when she returns the keys he dropped at her shop.

It isn’t the first time that mermaids and mermen have been seen in Duck, but it’s the first time one of them has been accused of murder. While her grandfather and her fiancĂ©, Kevin, struggle to believe such a thing is possible, Dae is left trying to prove her new friends are innocent.