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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - September 27, 2015

There was one thing for certain. I could not think with the clutter on my desk. What started out as an early writing session turned into an early and all day organizing session. I cleaned up all miscreant papers on my desk, (well, to be fair, I just put them in a box to get them out of the way for the time being), organized my drawer with all the Post-It pads and paper pads, organized my drawer with my bookmarks and stationary, threw out a bag of garbage and I even emptied out a box of office supplies and stuff I had on my desk at work that I had to take home when we moved to our new work space. Okay, I did put the toys from my desk at work in a bag and set them to the side. That's not the point. The point is the box is empty and now out of the way, so there is a little more room.

I then went downstairs to the library as I had a moment of inspiration. I took all the bookmarks I had that I could find and laid them all out on the floor so I could take a picture. The majority are promotional bookmarks I've received over the years from various cons, but there are purchased ones as well and that doesn't include my magnetic book marks.

Perhaps one day I will take a picture of all my pins and all my keychains. But I digress.

So it took some time to lay all the book marks out. Then I had to scoop them all back up. When I got back up to my desk, I had to organize them in the drawer in an effort to maximize space.

I also went through all the pages I've ripped out of catalogs so that I could add the items to my wish lists.

Once I finished all that, finally, I could sit down to write.

Procrastination, it's making me late. It's keeping me la-a-a-a-te. Hahahahahahha!!

An odd thing happened to me. I had a coupon for Barnes and Noble and couldn't find anything I wanted to buy. That is so irksome because I want to use so it doesn't go to waste, but I refrained and came away with nothing. Well, except for this awesome LED Ghost Candle. 'Tis the season!

But enough about that. I was on good behavior this week. Maybe that was because I slept a lot. Maybe.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Books Purchased:
Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas - Over 40% off - This was a preorder that came in, although I have not heard many favorable things about it, so hopefully I didn't waste my money.

Mirrored by Alex Flinn - Over 40% off - This was also a preorder.

Peanuts: Where Beagles Dare by Jason Cooper based on the Comic Strip, Peanuts by Charles Schultz - Graphic Novel starring Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace

Kindle Books Purchased:
Darlings of Urban Fantasy with contributions by Chrissy Peebles, Kaitlyn Davis, W.J. May, Claire Farrell, Dale Mayer, Holly Hook, Suzy Turner, CM Doporto, Tiffany Evans - Free eBook

That's it for this week's haul!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - September 20, 2015

Welcome to last Stacking the Shelves of the Summer. It has been a good summer, but a very busy one and I haven't been able to say that in a while. But now, it is time to put summer behind me, break out the fall garland and get my pumpkin spice on. I am ready for cooler weather and Halloween season!

One of the problems I've been having lately is that when I am busy all weekend, I don't have time to take care of some of the necessary stuff, like pay bills, call about my EZ Pass acting up and stuff. Just to give you an idea. I check my email daily on my phone for all the book emails I get daily. Other than that, I have been ignoring my email. I have not been deleting email because when I sit down to take care of that, it takes hours. I looked at my In Box and had 17,211 emails in my In Box. Some are saved as new, but the majority are unread, so I sat here for a few hours deleting email which has got to be one of my least favorite things to do. I ended up deleting or moving to folders 6,216 emails. Sure, I still have over 10,000 emails to sort through and delete, but I did make progress. This is going to be my project for the week. I need to get the volume down to a more manageable level.

Anyhoo, it's possible that was just a stall tactic, so I didn't have to think about writing. I allow myself to get distracted so easily. Or I let Egg distract me. Not the point, though.

So this is my first STS post of the month. The weekends have been very busy. I spent last weekend in Cape May with my niece and sister-in-law and the weekend before doing things with family. My youngest brother is finally home after living in Germany for almost 5 years. I haven't see in him in two years, so it was a wonderful reunion. But this weekend, I gave up the chance to go to the Renaissance Festival so I could write. I said I need my time. So naturally, I took a nap for a few yesterday and I was in full-on Doctor Who mode with the season premier last night. I am the Queen of Procrastination.

Enough about my lameness, though. And before you judge too harshly, I am going to say that the majority of the physical copies I bought were all marked down 40% or more. Sadly, Amazon does not seem to be offering deep discounts like they were this summer. I'm just glad I took advantage.

So without more excuses, here is my haul for the month so far...

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Books Purchased:
Deliverance by C.J. Redwine – Used Book

Defiance by C.J. Redwine – Used Book

Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book Eight by Bill Willingham

Fables: Deluxe Edition Book Ten by Bill Willingham

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood - Over 40% off

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments (Promotional Items)) from Running Press

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lost Stars by Claudia Gray - Over 40% off

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith - Over 40% off

Loki's Wolves (Blackwell Pages) by K.L. Armstrong - Over 40% off

The Boyfriend Project by Rachel Hawthorne - Over 40% off

Alice by Christina Henry - Over 40% off

Rogue: The Paladin Prophecy Book 3 by Mark Frost - Over 40% off

Trouble from the Start by Rachel Hawthorne - Over 40% off

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro - Over 40% off

Firewalker (The Worldwalker Trilogy) by Josephine Angelini - Over 40% off

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard – Used Book

Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel - Over 40% off

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - Over 40% off

Kindle Books Purchased:
Be with Me: A Novel (Wait for You Book 2) by J. Lynn – Reduced to $.99

Cloaked by Alex Flinn – September Monthly Kindle Deal

The Spiritglass Charade: A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason - Reduced to $.99

Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison - Reduced to $1.99

Wish You Were Italian: An If Only novel (If Only . . . Book 2) by Kristin Rae - Kindle Daily Deal

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone - Discounted to $.99

Giveaway Won:
Christopher Moore - Okay.  Technically, it was hubby who won, but it was only because I got the email and entered and then forwarded him the email to enter...from Romania.  And he won!!!  So from a certain perspective (okay, my perspective), I really won since he wouldn't have if I didn't tell him about it.

I'm totally keeping the throx, though.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

To Buy or Not to Buy: Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe

Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe

Book Description (From Amazon):
When aspiring writer Sophie Elliot receives the keys to the family townhouse in Bath, it's an invitation she can't turn down, especially when she learns that she will be living next door to the house where Jane Austen lived. On discovering that an ancient glove belonging to her mysterious neighbour, Josh Strafford, will transport her back in time to Regency Bath, she questions her sanity, but Sophie is soon caught up in two dimensions, each reality as certain as the other. Torn between her life in the modern world and that of her ancestor who befriends Jane Austen and her fascinating brother Charles, Sophie's story travels two hundred years across time and back again, to unite this modern heroine with her own Captain Wentworth. Blending fact and fiction together, the tale of Jane Austen's own quest for happiness weaves alongside, creating a believable world of new possibilities for the inspiration behind the beloved novel, Persuasion.

My First Impression:
Modern girl with old-fashioned sensibilities travels to Bath for a change of scenery after breaking up with her cheating ex. She is staying at the house in Bath that her family has owned at least since the 1700s and it is next to the house Jane Austen actually lived in. There is a lodger in the first floor flat she has not met, but she sees him from the street when he drops something. Once he crosses the street, she goes to see what it is and finds he has dropped a glove, so naturally she goes chasing after him to return it. She chases him through a park that takes an ominous turn and bam!, she is standing in the park in the 1700s, but she is not dressed as she was in the present. She is dressed as any privileged young woman of the time would be and she seems to be in the life of her ancestor also named Sophie.

What more could I ask for? Jane Austen, time travel and a dashing young man to swoon over.

To Buy

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In Search of Literary Dracula - My Transylvanian Adventure

I realize I’ve been back for a couple weeks and really have not mentioned much of my vacation, but as all my vacations generally take some sort of literary turn, I thought I’d share some of my experiences.

Romania is a wild and mysterious place. Having gone 10 years ago, it was like stepping into the Middle Ages. This trip, however, was somewhat a different experience. Romania is an impoverished country for the most part, but during the 10 years that have separated our visits, the country has made great strides in modernizing.

 You might wonder what would drive us to visit a country that is not exactly a hot vacation spot. Well, hubby is a Vlad Tepes fan; not a fan of the myth, a fan of the man. Our first trip was in search of Vlad. So we went to his birth place, his castle (and I’m not talking Bran Castle), his Princely Court, the castle where he was imprisoned and finally his final resting place (which does not actually house his remains).

This trip, hubby went ahead of me for a language course and research for his thesis on, who else, Vlad. His Masters is in history and he wants to specialize in medieval history. I joined him for the last two weeks. This go round, we found another one of his Princely Courts in Bucharest and we found a city called Medeas where he was imprisoned within the fortress walls of the city. But I wanted more, so I thought, we have explored the man, Vlad Tepes, called Son of the Dragon or Dracula, so let’s search out the myth. To do that, we would have to head north far into the mountains of the Carpathians. Our first stop was a city called Bistritz.

Jonathan Harker found his way to Bistritz in Northern Transylvania where he stayed at a hotel called the Golden Crown. He had meals of Chicken Paprikash and Robber Steak. While no hotel of such a name existed when the novel was written, a hotel was later built and named Coroana de Aur or The Golden Crown. Reputedly, you can request the same meal Jonathan Harker had, but it is not on the menu. There is a Jonathan Harker salon which I read on one website is suitably decorated in gothic type accents, but sadly, when we stayed at the hotel, the room was reserved for a large travel group and we were not allowed access.

So, Bistritz was basically a bit of a disappointment. We had thought that the city would really play up the ties to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but we really couldn’t find anything. Instead, after breakfast, we headed for the Borgo Pass and onto Dracula’s castle.

We had looked online so we could book a room, but every website we checked said there were no rooms available. This is the first vacation where our vacationing strategy worked against us. We hit the ground, rent a car and drive where the wind takes us. Never knowing where we are going to end up, we never make reservations. We have never had a problem. Then again, we usually travel in October, not over the summer. Still, we decided to make the drive if nothing more than to say we reached the Borgo Pass and saw the hotel. We figured we could at least have lunch there.

The drive was quite rustic full of farms and hay stacks. The scenery was also quite breathtaking the further north we drove, until we finally came upon the hotel. At first glance, it is properly Gothic looking from the front, but from the sides, it just looks like a big block. The hotel itself was built about 30 years ago or so which was during the communist regime. The intent was to create an actual castle, but the government would not allow that as I have been told. There is a cobbled inner courtyard that hosts an outdoor dining area and at night, the entire inner courtyard is bathed in red light. Red as blood.

Just below the hotel, there is a craft market where the traveler can buy kitschy souvenirs or real Romanian traditional wares, but the hotel would not be complete, however, without the little graveyard off to the side and the bust of Bram Stoker in front of the entrance. There is also a cable chair you can take to the top of one of the close peaks, but the notice indicates only parties of 8 I believe are allowed. It was not operating when we walked by, so we never asked if we could take the ride.

Inside, the reception area is properly atmospheric, looking like a movie set. The desk is all wood with taxidermy animals around as well as some Gothic looking artwork and suitable furniture. We were very pleased with the ambiance and even more pleased to find they had a room for us for the night. The rooms themselves were not overly Gothic, but the head board was a dragon crest.

The dining room was another experience. The room was complete with chandeliers, candles, mirrors, very rich and inviting looking and properly Gothic looking. The menu was like a tome of wizards’ spells or dark magic incantations.
Before dinner, though, but only after it was properly dark, we took a tour of the crypt below where Dracula’s coffin can be found. The story teller relates the story of Dracula, but in Romanian, so I couldn’t understand her, although hubby could. It’s a story with a twist, but it is not my story to tell.

Our rooms on the fourth floor looked out over the Carpathian Mountains and once the lights were out I felt like I was on the edge of the world. I haven’t seen such a crystal clear sky in a very, very long time. It was so clear I could actually see the Milky Way. It was awe inspiring and not a little bit humbling. Staring out into the black of the night with all of the cosmos defined so clearly above me, I felt small indeed.

The best thing about our room, though was the large pile of rocks under our window that were splattered in red paint which I can only assume was supposed to be blood.

All in all, we were both very pleased with our stay in Hotel Castle Dracula.

Before leaving, I made sure to acquire a copy of The Transylvanian Journal (a local newspaper), a map of Transylvania and a passport granting me permission to travel the lands of Dracula freely by royal decree.

I found it interesting to discover that Bram Stoker never visited Romania before writing his novel, but he captured the spirit of the country so accurately. The country as a whole is extremely religious and superstitious. There are roadside shrines littering all of Transylvania. Neither the purpose of the shrines nor the religious icon to whom the shrine was erected are unknown. We never took the opportunity to stop and take a look. We were in a monastery in Bucharest which I expected to have some tourists walking about taking pictures. Instead, we walked into a mob scene. There was a crowd of people that were presenting their petition of prayers to the priests of the monastery. They would then light candles and place them on the shrines outside. I saw representations of saints to which people were paying, sometimes touching the object as they prayed. I have never in all my life seen such religious fervor.

Regarding superstitions, I did some Googling on common superstitions and oddly enough, many of them I found are superstitions I have heard since I was a child, like don’t walk under a ladder, don’t let a black cat cross your path, if you spill salt, throw a pinch over your left shoulder, don’t break a mirror, itchy palm means you’ll get money, knock on wood, don’t open an umbrella in the house, etc. Some I never heard before are that you must leave a house through the same door you entered, even numbers in a bouquet are bad luck and reserved for funerals, don’t take the garbage out after dark or you’ll throw your money away, a bride should not change her shoes during the wedding or reception or she will change husbands as well, women must not sit at the corner of a table or they will never get married and many, many more.

But the hour grows late and the time for tales is done. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I wanted to share this post and spread the awareness.

My friend Tracy over at Pen & Paper contributed to this book with proceeds going towards Alzheimer's Research. So if you want to contribute and get come away with a book in the process, check it out on Amazon and Amazon.UK.  It's definitely for a worthy cause!

Oh it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you' so sang Lou Reed.

A purrfect day indeed and what better way to share it than with you, my friends and fellow bloggers.

As of yesterday, Saturday the fifth of September, Little Kitty the Cat Burglar (the first chapter of which was written by yours
truly) who ....

'Wouldn't exactly call herself a cat burglar. She just likes to bring back the occasional gift for her humans' ....

became available in paperback on Amazon (links at the bottom of the page) with a kindle version available to pre-order soon.

With all money raised going to Alzheimers Research, a great charity that is close to my heart, I'd like to thank my fellow authors Ann Bowyer, Suzan Collins, JB Johnson, Tottie Limejuice, Ros Lyons, Lucy Rayner and Jo Wilde as well as Catie Atkinson and Rachel Lawston for the illustrations and design and Jaine Keskeys (editor) all of whom gave their time and expertise for free. And of course not forgetting Mr T (my apologies for being a total pain) and author and friend Patricia Smith for all their encouragement and support.

To answer your questions that came about as a result of a previous post on Pen and Paper ....

A 'chain story', there were eight of us who wrote a chapter each. Knowing my love of cats and that I had a close family member suffering from this awful condition I was approached by Suzan Collins (whose books I had reviewed previously) who coordinated the whole project to write a chapter.

As for the cover (sweet, isn't it?), thanks must go to Catie Atkinson and Rachel Lawston for the illustrations and design.

Sorry but I'm afraid that my chapter won't be published anywhere other than in the book .... unless because the copyright for that chapter remains mine I choose to include it in any works I publish independently.

Available in paperback here on, my friends in the US can find it here on For friends elsewhere Little Kitty the Cat Burglar should be available, if it isn't already, on your local amazon site.

Please feel free to share this post and/or the link to the book on your blogs, FaceBook pages, Twitter, etc and lets raise some money for this wonderful cause.

Here is the link back to the original post:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Its Just Another Manga Monday: Skip Beat! 34 by Yoshiki Nakamura

When last we left off……

Oh, who am I kidding? Volume 33 came out in September of 2014. I can’t remember the details of the last volume except that Ren and Kyoko are still acting as the Heel siblings. I realized just a few days ago that this story arc is going to take years to complete as there are only two volumes published per year. Years, people!!!!

Book Description (From Amazon):
The President of LME has called Kyoko in for a special meeting, and she is all set for Judgment Day. Especially when Ren shows up too! But to her complete shock, Lory doesn’t reveal that she has feelings for Ren. In fact, he’s giving “Setsuka” some time off so Kyoko can study for finals. It seems like her secret is safe from Ren, but there’s no hiding from her own feelings. How will she cope with a heart that’s slipped its bonds?!

My thoughts:
This series continues to be one of my absolute favorites. Yes, Ren is the tall, dark and handsome brooding tortured soul, but it is really Kyoko that gives life to this series and in this volume, she doesn’t disappoint.

Kyoko is torturing herself because the president of her talent agency now knows how she feels about Ren. Theirs is a lot of sobbing, but she also berates and insults herself when she realizes her true nature. She tells him that she has no intention of letting Ren know how she feels, the president drops the M bomb. He asks her if Ren gets married to someone else if she will be able to be happy for him and congratulate him. She says yes even as she realizes she is lying to the president and herself. She calls herself ugly because she hopes she may never have to worry about congratulating Ren on a marriage. It would make her happy if he never got involved with anyone, but then Ren would be miserable.

The president does tell her he will not tell Ren about her feelings, but he challenges her to make a decision as to whether she wants to keep repressing her feelings or to embrace them and let them grow.

Kyoko has an on location shoot in Guam for Tragic Marker, but she arrives a day early unbeknownst to her talent agency. She is in the unwilling company of Ms. Muse who arrived early to get Ren ready to be Cain Heel. Kyoko wants to stop by and say hello, but Ms. Muse tells misleads her into believing Ren is not checked into the hotel. Kyoko promises to stay in her room until Ms. Muse comes to get her for dinner, but she decides to go walk on the beach since she realized no one would recognize her.

What she finds may change her relationship with Ren forever.

Volume 35 is due out on September 1 and I just can’t wait to find out what is going to happen next!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

UCF Mega Smackdown: The Ultimate Cover Showdown

You know?  I have actually realized there is a slight variation on a theme.  It took me a while to find it, but I feel as if I have come to know this couple intimately, so I notice things like that about them. As if they are old, old friends.

Well, I feel like they are on account of I can't seem to shake them.  Every time I turn around, Bam!, there they are again.

I can't really call them friends.  More like acquaintances.  The truth is I am kind of getting sick of their faces, but I feel compelled to seek them out.

I have to say, though, this has got to be the most utilized book cover for a contemporary YA/NA book.

Previously, I had brought you two smack downs, but this is the fight to end all fights and the winner takes all.

Bout 1:
Paris Cravings by Kimberly Montpetit
Starkissed by Brynna Gabrielson
‘Til Summer Comes Around by Susannah Balch
A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Byrne
Bella Notte by Amber Roettger

Bout 2:
Picture Perfect (First Kiss Romances Book 5) by Lily Carwyn
Heart Strings by Betty Jo Schuler
Lovesessed by Pamela Diane King

And now to introduce the challengers:
Crushing on the Enemy by Sarah Adams
Before Time by Ms. Xunaira J. and Ms. Michelle Browne
Every Beat by Samantha Rey

Who will take home the prize and who will be crying in their cornflakes?

I ask again?  Who is this guy?  He's like a young Tom Cruise wannabe.

Friday, September 4, 2015

To Buy or Not to Buy: Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Book Description (From Amazon):
First in a brand new series from the author of The Broken Empire Trilogy.

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all.

The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him.

But he is wrong…

My Thoughts:
I haven’t read an adult Fantasy in quite some time. I find that there is very little that is original out there. And while a really well written fantasy book is my favorite type of reading to do, I find that most of the books are just too formulaic and not to my taste at all. I don’t like Barbarian story, male or female, I don’t really like space operas, I don’t like stories about witches, am getting tired of stories about werewolves and vampires. And while I love the Game of Thrones HBO series, I tried reading the first book and just couldn’t get through it. I got mired down in so many words. Epic fantasy can be really enjoyable, but it is so hard to not draw comparisons between Tolkien and now George R.R. Martin.

However, Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence was on special for $1.99, so I figured why not give it a try and I downloaded the sample. I was hooked after the first paragraph:

I’ve always found hitting a man from behind to be the best way to go about things. This can sometimes be accomplished by dint of a simple ruse. Classics such as, “What’s that over there?” work surprisingly often, but for truly optimal results it’s best if the person doesn’t even know you were there.

Prince Jalan is a rake and seems to frequently be in somewhat compromising situations. The kingdom of Vermillion is ruled by The Red Queen, Prince Jalan’s grandmother, who does not seem to be liked over much. She calls all the royal off spring to her to announce that they will all need to take arms in the coming war. A war in which any dead are to be cremated immediately without fail. Witnesses were brought forth before the throne to speak of the horrors they have seen and that ends the sample.

I really liked what I read of Prince Jalan. He’s crafty, seems a bit lazy, but is also charming. He gets away with a lot and since he is ninth in line to the throne, doesn’t seem to think much of the possibility of ever ruling. I found that I wanted to keep reading to find out just what the heck is going on and what type of war was coming.

To buy