Monday, August 21, 2017

Aloha to Chick Flicks and Friend Recommendations

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 I spent last week moving oldest back into his dorm room at college. I also had the opportunity to catch up with a college friend. Since her husband does not care for "chick flicks", we enjoyed two movies together.


From 2007, THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB,

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships -- both old and new -- begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.

The movie featured an ensemble cast of Hollywood's favorite - Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Jimmy Smits, and Hugh Dancy. We spent just as much time naming the actors' previous works as watching the plot line. Perhaps my favorite scene is Grigg (Hugh Dancy) attending the first meeting with a large black compilation of Jane Austen's six novels (listed down the side of the spine) which he thought were sequels.  

Although the movie was predictable, it was still entertaining, especially as we joined the book club in discussing what we loved - and loathed - about each classic novel.


We then opted for another romance that my friend adored ... CUTTING EDGE from 1992:

A temperamental figure skater and a former hockey player try to win Olympic gold as a figure skating pairs team.
CUTTING EDGE throws numerous tropes into the pot - rich girl meets poor boy, enemies to lovers, underdogs overcome adversity - to jump on the figure skating bandwagon.  It was a fun movie to watch despite the "retro" cinematography (technology has improved in 25 years) and the "retro" music blaring to add drama to the skating competition.  


We chatted about other "chick flicks" we love - MISS CONGENIALITY with Sandra Bullock, BRIDGET JONES DIARY with Renee Zellweger, and LEGALLY BLONDE with Reese Witherspoon.


I am giving away a swag pack from RWA17 - approved by Elle Woods from LEGALLY BLONDE - to four randomly selected commenters from my posts published in the month of August. To enter the giveaway,

1. Can you recommend a "chick flick" that, no matter its flaws, still makes you smile?

I adore Drew Barrymore in THE WEDDING SINGER (a loving tribute to the 80s), EVER AFTER (a feminist remake of Cinderella) and NEVER BEEN KISSED (undercover reporter returns to high school).

2. Comments are open through Thursday, August 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, September 1.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


Friday, August 18, 2017

Aloha to Diane Kelly and ENFORCING THE PAW - Book Review

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When a case of he-said/she-said turns criminal, it s up to Megan Luz and her devoted K-9 to dig for the truth. . .

A TAIL OF TWO LOVERS
When relationships go south, some people just can t or won t let go. When Fort Worth Police Officer Megan Luz and her pawed partner Brigit investigate a series of stalking incidents involving a couple who recently broke up, their detective powers are put to the test. Is this a case of a controlling creep who refuses to accept rejection or one about a woman scorned whose fury has been unleashed?

WHO END UP IN THE DOGHOUSE. . .
As hostilities escalate between the former lovers, the situation goes from romantically dysfunctional to downright dangerous. He insists his former flame has become a crazy ex-girlfriend intent on vengeance. She alleges that he is a master of manipulation and lays blame entirely at his feet. Who's the culprit and who s the victim? Can Megan and Brigit sniff out the truth. . .before somebody ends up dead?


ENFORCING THE PAW is Book 6 in Diane Kelly's Paw Enforcement series.


Fort Worth PD K9 Division (link)

I am a sucker for someone that is charming - Beyonce.


I am a sucker for bacon. - Brigit 

Fort Worth's dynamic duo, Megan and Brigit, return to a dangerous case of he said/she said.  Former lovers accuse the other of stalking, escalating from petty harassment to public endangerment. Since the parties involved reside inside her patrol area, Megan keeps an eye on both suspects with the intent of defusing the volatile situation. Brigit, on the other paw, keeps her eye on the treats inside Megan's pocket.  She proves herself useful by sniffing out the culprits and keeping Megan safe.

The conflict is unveiled through Diane Kelly's unique employment of three perspectives in this series - Megan's first person perspective, Brigit's third person perspective, and villain's third person perspective. Kelly also gives Megan and Brigit the opportunity to flex their muscles with other crimes on the street, including tracing a lollipop stealing doctor (hence the quote about suckers). Kelly continues to give readers a strong (but flawed) heroine who can hold her own in a male dominated world of law enforcement. Likewise, Brigit shows who is boss even among the male dogs at the fire department. ENFORCING THE PAW was an entertaining escape which I did not want to put down. I look forward to the next adventures of the baton twirling officer and her rescue partner with the best nose in Fort Worth. 

I received a copy of ENFORCING THE PAW from St. Martin's Press during the RWA Annual Conference in Orlando.  I read it straight through on the flight home to Baltimore.


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I am giving away a swag pack from RWA17 to four randomly selected commenters from my posts published in the month of August. To enter the giveaway,

1. Let's chat about candy - what do you like to buy from a convenience store?  I indulge in the bite size packages of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups.

2. Comments are open through Thursday, August 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, September 1.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Aloha to Charlene Sands and REDEEMING THE TEXAS RANCHER (Forever Texan Book 3)


Charlene Sands is celebrating the release of REDEEMING THE TEXAS RANCHER ...

Falling out of love with Colby Ryan wasn't working...

There hasn't been a woman who's held Colby Ryan's heart for long, not since his teenage love went awry twelve years ago. Now, all of a sudden, Dakota Jennings, his longtime family friend and trusted wrangler on the Circle R ranch, is catching his eye. For Dakota’s sake, Colby won't ever give in to the temptation she poses.

Dakota has been secretly in love with Colby since the age of ten, but his sense of honor and the Texas code he lives by won’t allow her permanence in his heart. Up until this point, he’d never hinted at romance between them and yet, falling out of love with him just plain isn’t working.

Colby has always protected Dakota, and he isn’t about to stop now. If he gives in to his desire, she stands to lose far too much. Colby doesn’t deserve her love, he's already ruined one life, but the binds that tie them are strong. Can Dakota be the woman to redeem his broken soul?

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Charlene Sands is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. She has been honored with the National Readers Choice Award, the Booksellers Best Award, The Cataromance Reviewers Choice Award and Romantic Times Magazine's Best Harlequin Desire Award of 2014. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she spends time with her four "princesses", enjoys sunny Pacific beaches and yummy chocolate mocha cappuccinos!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Aloha to Hayson Manning and TEN DAYS WITH THE HIGHLANDER


Scotland is glorious in the summer ... so let's escape to Alba with Hayson Manning's TEN DAYS WITH THE HIGHLANDER ...

Go-getter Georgia Paxton has ten days to acquire a quaint hotel in the Scottish Highlands for her travel accommodation company before she’s off on her next grand adventure. Too bad the sexy, broody Scot who owns the place is dead against the idea…and that she’s in very real danger of losing their little bet to see who can convince whom first.

There’s no way Callum MacGregor is going to let the gorgeous American turn his tiny hometown over to bored tourists looking to satisfy their Outlander fantasies. He only has ten days to convince her to slow down and see the magic of the town and its people. If he succeeds, he won’t have to run her out of the county. But if he fails, Georgia might run off with his heart.


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I love Princess Bride, Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives – the drama is deliciously addictive. Big Bang Theory but will take Wolowitz over Cooper. Star Trek not Star Wars. Undercover Boss, Secret Millionaire – any story that shows the little guy making it. I follow the Buffalo Bills like a religion. I am spellbound by showjumping and equestrian eventing. I love curling up and reading all books – no genre is off-topic. I like ironing, I hate peas, love donkeys, I play a killer game of Scrabble. I will often be heading towards the fridge for another Diet Coke. I eat nothing with legs and believe wine goes with everything, oh and I’m an expert at finding new and inventive ways to avoid exercise.

I live in the sparkly beachside suburb of Redondo Beach in California with my infuriating shoe-dropping husband and my two boys who speak in mystifying grunts.

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Hayson offers an excerpt from TEN DAYS WITH THE HIGHLANDER ...

“What are we doing?” she asked against his mouth.

He pulled back and stared into her stormy eyes. “I think it’s called kissing.”

“Oh. I’ve heard of it.” She paused. “I like it. A lot.” She regarded him. “You taste good. Like an ice cream cone I want to lick forever,” she murmured, then leaned forward and sucked his bottom lip between hers.

He shifted, his zipper denting tender flesh. “What flavor?” He nuzzled her neck and bumps flew across her skin.

“All flavors of the rainbow. Sweet, salty, and with a hint of you, and before you ask I don’t know what that taste is, but I’m calling it delicious.”

“That’s a lot of flavors.” He cupped her face and stared into her liquid eyes.

I wish you were mine, Georgia Paxton.

She snuggled deeper into him, their combined heat misting the windows and possibly the countryside.

He glanced out the window. The rain had eased to a steady drizzle, and the road appeared manageable. He glanced at his watch and pulled a hand through his hair. They’d been out way later than he’d planned, but Callum had enjoyed every minute of her company. “I think we can get going.”

“Are you sure? I’m not sure if I’ve got this kissing thing down. I need to practice.” She wiggled in his lap.

When you put it that way. He glanced at his watch again. Damn, he wanted to spend hours exploring her body with his hands, with his mouth, map it until he knew every quiver, every intake of breath, every moan. Right now, with her hands in his hair, her amazing sunshine scent was making him punch-drunk.

“If I don’t leave now, I don’t think we’ll be leaving for a while.” He cast a glance in the backseat at his goat. “I don’t want an audience.”

She blinked away the haze. “Absolutely not. Poor Delilah.” She did one last wiggle against him, then crawled over to the passenger seat.

“Can we practice kissing later, but without company?” She lowered her voice. “I was enjoying that.”
 


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Aloha to Catherine Lloyd and DEATH COMES TO THE FAIR - Book Review

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One of the many perks of the RWA Annual Conference is the publishers' signings ... giving me the opportunity to catch up on books I missed last year, including Catherine Lloyd's DEATH COMES TO THE FAIR, Book Four in the Kurland St. Mary's series (a Regency Cozy Mystery):

It’s harvest time in the village of Kurland St. Mary as Lucy and Robert prepare to take their vows—but a murderer has taken an unseasonable vow of vengeance . . .

As Miss Lucy Harrington, daughter of the village rector, and Major Sir Robert Kurland plan their nuptials, the major is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever hear wedding bells. He’s seen complex military campaigns that involved less strategy, and he’s finding Lucy’s meddling family maddening.

When the body of Ezekiel Thurrock, the church verger, is discovered crushed by a stone gargoyle that has fallen from the bell tower, the tragic death strikes a somber note and the wedding is delayed. But the evidence suggests this was no accident, and Lucy wonders if bad blood at the village fair had anything to do with the man’s mysterious demise, since there was much bitterness over Ezekiel’s prizewinning vegetables.

As Lucy and Robert uncover long-standing village feuds, the town’s dark secrets begin to take their toll and the couple soon finds they too are in grave danger . . .


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County fair, county fair
Everybody in town will be there
So come on, hey, we're goin' down there

- Bruce Springsteen

After three books, Lucy Harrington and Major Sir Robert Kurland are ready to marry.  She helped him recover from a battlefield injury and he inspired her to consider a life away from the rectory. Alas, Lucy's aristocratic family wants a London social wedding while she and Robert would rather marry in the village. The ongoing marriage negotiations are put on hold when the beloved verger is found dead in the bell tower. Was it a tragic accident or the intentional act of revenge?

Catherine Lloyd holds a master's degree in history from University College of Wales. It is not surprising, then, that she hits the mark in this Regency cozy mystery. Catherine incorporates the customs, language, and nuances readers enjoy in Jane Austen books. While the plot focuses on the unusual death of the church verger, the ongoing romance between Lucy and Robert plays out in the background. Catherine adds humor with the secondary characters, including an enemy-turned-friend, an overreaching cook, and the magical Romany. I appreciated that this Regency mystery reaches further back into English history to create an intriguing read. Secret tunnels, unexpected spies, and royal treasure, oh my!

DEATH COMES TO THE FAIR can be read as a stand alone book but I recommend reading the series in order to follow the characters' development.

I received a copy from the Kensington signing.


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I am giving away a swag pack from RWA17 to four randomly selected commenters from my posts published in the month of August. To enter the giveaway,

1. Trouble begins in DEATH COMES TO THE FAIR with the vegetable contest. What's your favorite veggie, fruit, or special treat from a country fair or farmer's market?

I miss the fresh fruit, especially pineapple, from Hawaii!

2. Comments are open through Thursday, August 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, September 1.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Makes Bloggers Tick? Aloha to Sue Brown-Moore, "DaVinciKittie", and Grave Tells


As previously posted, an author at RWA asked me, "What makes bloggers tick?"  I responded on Tuesday at this link ... and I invited other bloggers to offer their thoughts. Today, please join me in welcoming fellow blogger (and freelance editor) Sue Brown-Moore. From her bio,

Sue “DaVinciKittie” Brown-Moore is a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. Sue is a fiction editor experienced in the genres of romance, urban fantasy, epic dark fantasy, and crime thrillers and has tamed manuscripts ranging in length from 7.5k to 180k words. Schedule a sample edit with Sue here!

Sue is also a veteran romance blogger and the primary review voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards since 2010, and she has been a Featured Blogger for Coastal Magic Convention. She is the co-coordinator for the San Francisco Area RWA chapter’s Heart To Heart competition and has judged the Prism, Passionate Plume, and On the Far Side contests.




When Kim asked the question, “What makes bloggers tick?” My first thought was that this answer is as varied and complex as the question itself. And something I’ve thought about a lot recently, when I started writing a series of Book Blogger 101 courses for a special event I hosted [link]. So, at the risk of subjecting you to wall-o-text eye bleeds, I’m breaking this rather high-level musing into three critical questions:

1. Why are bloggers MOTIVATED to do what they do (whatever that is)… and

2. How they choose WHAT to do in their little slice of the blogosphere… and

3. Why they KEEP DOING IT even when it becomes a part- or full-time job that doesn’t really pay.

Why I blog

Authors are our rock stars, and we basically just want to head bang at the concert that is romantic fiction. My reason for starting a blog is that...but is also a little more personal. I grew up in rural Texas in the 1980s and '90s, where diversity and tolerance were a joke, judgements were passed like Sunday peach cobbler—oh so sweet and frightfully potent—and perception ruled everything. Hell, anal sex between consenting—married!—heterosexual adults was illegal (and still may be). Women were slut shamed for enjoying their own bodies, and young men were practically sainted for winning in a Friday night game that to this day condones sexism and violence. So you could say I was a little repressed. And as an adult, I have discovered that I am neither conservative nor vanilla. And I am not willing to sit down, keep my mouth shut, and look pretty for the boys.

So romance was always my escape, and I remember swooning over tales of swashbuckling pirates and lordly rakes before it was probably socially acceptable to even be seen with those books. So I hid in my room and devoured them. My mom totally enabled me—she’s as rabid a romance fan as I am. Then Twilight came along, and I discovered paranormal romance. Suddenly, I was obsessed with vampires and werewolves and faeries, oh my! I mean, seriously, I would blow through these books, maybe three or four in a week, and be so amped up and excited about them that I was just bursting with it. And yet, I had no friends who read paranormal. Or, really, romance at all. And my husband wasn’t exactly the right audience for those talks. You know the ones I mean, ladies.

Blogging was just gaining notoriety in 2010, and there were a few bloggers in the romance sphere who were making waves, so I latched on to that promise land of sisterhood and community and hope, and I never looked back.

What I blog about

I have been blessed to work with some truly amazing authors over the years, and if I’ve learned anything about writers, it’s that they’re called to do what they do. They don’t create the story—it uses them as a mouthpiece, and words just come out. That’s how it is for me as a blogger. When I read a book, I highlight quotes and make notes, and sweet or snarky comments pass through my head. When I don’t write those thoughts down, they take over and I literally can’t think about anything else. And if I abandon those notes I’ve written my thoughts on? I feel listless and distracted. The job isn’t done, and I need to see it through. I love recommending books to readers. Tell me what you like, and I’ll tell you what you would like! So part of what I do on GraveTells is recommend books by genre, series, heat, and kink. It’s a challenge that never ends.

So deciding what to blog about was never a question, even if my focus and style have shifted over the years. I review books because that’s what comes out of me. Reading is an integral part of my life, and sharing my love of those books with others is a therapeutic release. If you think about it, reviewing—the creation of true book reviews—is essentially hyper-focused journalism. It’s examining a concept—the story—and picking it apart to highlight the things that make it work…or not. And the more time I spent writing reviews, the better writer I became. Eventually, I embraced a truer journalistic style and began creating original content (like my article on why to become a blogger [link]). I’m now starting to focus on blogger education—how to blog responsibly, the ins and outs of the role, the technical details that I had to figure out on my own.

Finding your niche as a blogger can start out as this big, overwhelming cloud over your life—Oh god, what do I post about? Who will even read it or care? And what if they’re mean to me?

Eventually, you just figure it out and you do your thing.

Why I’ll probably blog until I die

“They”—those vaunted, over-quoted, unnamed knowers-of-everything—say to find something you love to do so much, you’d do it for free. Then find a way to make it into a career. Well, I’ll tell you that I haven’t figured out how to get paid to be a full-time blogger yet, but blogging did lead me to editing, and that is my full-time job now. I provide freelance content (story critique) editing services for indie authors and publishers. It’s taken me a long time to get here, and foregoing a Silicon Valley corporate salary to commit to an unpredictable freelance editing role was a huge leap of faith, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I still blog faithfully, nearly seven years after I posted my very first Tumblr blog article for GraveTells [link], and I still get the same rush and relief from shepherding my words out into the universe. Even if no one ever reads them. Even if no one ever comments or responds.

But you know what? People do notice. They do care. There is value in what we do. Bloggers are essentially the next iteration of the librarian—ours is just a voyeuristic, disengaged society that prefers observation over action. Libraries still play a critical role in communities, but now we have so many other avenues for finding books. And who better to recommend those books than the readers who fangirl over them?

Blogging gives me a consistent focus through which to channel my emotions and take baby steps toward my greater dreams. Everything I want is on the other side of fear and hard work, and I’ll be damned if I let anything stand in my way of happiness. And blogging truly makes me happy, even if I never figure out how to make a living out of it.

If you’re still with me, thanks for listening, and apologies for the eye bleeds. *hands you a tissue*

❤️ Sue



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Mahalo, Sue, for sharing your story! I am giving away a swag pack from RWA17 to four randomly selected commenters from my posts published in the month of August. To enter the giveaway,

1. Let's chat about Sue's hometown of San Francisco - have you visited the City by the Bay?  I have not but would like to see the sea lions, walk over the Golden Gate bridge, and dine in China Town.

2. Comments are open through Thursday, August 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, September 1.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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This post was Lucky approved ...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Aloha to Laura Trentham and LEAVE THE NIGHT ON - with giveaway!

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I enjoyed chatting with Laura Trentham at RWA ... love her Southern accent!  She is celebrating the release of LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, Book 4 in her Cottonbloom series ...

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiance's classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton's whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton's shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage--and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she's got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?




I was born and raised in a small town in Northwest Tennessee. Although, I loved English and reading in high school, I was convinced an English degree equated to starvation! So, I chose the next most logical major - Chemical Engineering- and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years. Now I live in South Carolina with my husband and two children. In between school and homework and soccer practices, I love to get lost in another world, whether its Regency England or small town Alabama.

Learn more about Laura and her books at lauratrentham.com.


Laura is hosting a special giveaway at this link.

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