Friday, July 31, 2015

Strawberry Fields by Katie Flynn

I came across Strawberry Fields by Katie Flynn among used books for sale at a railway station in England. Apparently Katie Flynn is a top ten Sunday Times bestselling author. 

Strawberry Fields

Liverpool: Christmas Day 1924. 

When twelve-year-old Sara Cordwainer, the unloved child of rich and fashionable parents, sees a ragged girl with a baby in her arms outside her church, she stops to talk to her, pressing her collection money into the girl's icy hand. But from this generous act comes a tragedy which will haunt her for years.

When, years later, Sara meets Brogan, a young Irishman working in England, she feels she has found a friend at last. But Brogan has a secret which he dare tell no one, not even Sara.

And in a Dublin slum, Brogan's little sister Polly is growing up. The only girl in a family of boys, she knows herself to be much loved, but it is not until Sara begins to work at the Salvation Army children's home, Strawberry Fields, that the two girls meet - and Brogan's secret is told at last...

The story reminded me a little of Catherine Cookson's books and Katie Flynn captures life in the early 20s and gives the reader a glimpse into how people struggled with large families and lack of work both in Ireland and England. She compares life of a young Irish family to that of Sara who is both sheltered and privileged. I enjoyed the story but parts are heart wrenching. It's hard to believe that the contrast was so great between the rich and the poor that children died of starvation. This wasn't always because of lack of work but often because of fathers who squandered any earnings on drink rather than feed their family.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to Design a Book Cover

Indie publishers have limited resources for designing book covers and although Createspace has an easy to use book cover design wizard, you still need to have some idea of how you want your cover to look.

Up until now, my book covers have been simple, but a goal this year is to redesign them and make them more eye catching. I started collecting copies of book covers that I like to give me inspiration. Then I searched You Tube for "Mystery Book Cover Design."  I'll be posting more on my progress, but meanwhile take a look at the video of Chip Kidd below (designer of the Jurassic Park book by Michael Crichton).

Tips from Book Cover Cafe

Authorhouse Cover Tips

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Time for Truth by Ted Cruz

I usually don't put anything religious or political on my blog, but the next election appears to be heating up already, with Donald Trump dominating the news lately. I found Ted Cruz's book, A Time for Truth at the local library and decided to start reading about the candidates, starting with one from my home state of Texas.

The beginning is somewhat autobiographical about his birth in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother. (There is some dispute about whether he is eligible to run). Most of the book, however, is about the goings on in the government and his role as Senator and before that his rise through the Texas state government (solicitor general). His role models appear to be Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

I found the book an interesting look into the government and the explanation of some of the events that we were kept in the dark about by the media.
There is no doubt that Ted Cruz is passionate about what he stands for.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Falling For You by Julie Ortolon

Image result for falling for you julie ortolonI downloaded Falling for You for Kindle (free) and was enticed with the setting of Galveston, which is one of my favorite Texas towns. I don't usually read romance novels, but this was a nice story by Julie Ortolon about Rory and her siblings who want to open a bed and breakfast in an old mansion situated on a fictitious island off the Galveston coast. Of course, there's a romantic interest (Chance) who is on the verge of becoming engaged to a neighbor approved of by his well-to-do parents.

There are mixed reviews of the book and I admit some of the story I didn't find overly intriguing, but then I prefer murder mysteries.

Reviews on Amazon
I love books that are set in an area new to me and that evoke local color so dramatically that I feel that I am there or that I want to be there [in my case, now I want to go visit Galveston, Texas!].
This is a story with plenty of color, and one which takes a standard plotline - rich stuffy banker meets wild child - and sets it on its ear. Rich characterization helps, and the secondary characters are multidimensional living human beings who have their own life histories. There are some funny scenes, but what counted for me in this book was the wonderful evocation of a city in small-town mode, the twists and turns in the relationship between the banker and the "wild child", and the hints at family secrets between the two of them.
The plotline is simple - Oliver Chancellor "Chance" is a banker whose father has just sold his small family-owned bank to an East Coast group. He is still expected to spend his life with the bank, to behave suitably and to marry suitably. His intended bride Paige is the daughter of old family friends. However, Oliver finds himself attracted to the sister of a schoolmate. Aurora "Rory" St Claire comes from an unconventional and almost disreputable family, with a famous local scandal in their past. She is a tour guide, her brother is a chef, and her sister works for a gallery. Nothing particularly special about Rory, except her stunning looks and her bubbly personality. Rory has self-esteem issues (we soon learn why), but she desperately wants to run her own B&B. When a house belonging to an ancestor is up for sale (after foreclosure by Chance's bank), Rory tries to obtain a loan to buy the property and get the B&B started.

Note: Jill Mansell also has a novel of the same name.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Welcome to the Blog Hop Giveaway

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop is hosted by Bookhounds

On this blog I will be giving away a printed copy of High Tide (part of the Lowenna cozy mystery series). To enter the giveaway, leave Your name and email address (US addresses only).  Winner will be contacted by email.
Giveaway ends July 22, 2015.

Hop over to each blog below to enter for a giveaway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guide Through the Publishing Maze

You’ve finished your book and now want to get it published. Where do you start? The publishing industry is a maze of choices. Learn how to navigate through the maze, what publishing path to take and if you choose to self publish, how to format and send your book to a print on demand company for little cost.

To date I've published eleven books and am constantly asked questions about publishing. In my book A Quick Guide Through the Publishing Maze I've addressed most of those. 
The book is available in print, for Kindle and in other e-reader formats for 99c on

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Apparently Go Set a Watchman might give readers a different view of Atticus Finch. The story begins twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird and was actually the first manuscript from which her literary agent suggested Harper Lee change the story which eventually developed into To Kill a Mockingbird. The Go Set a Watchman manuscript was then discarded until uncovered recently (Read the first chapter here)

You can see part of the PBS interview here (it expires 7/24)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey is a combination of two stories. One present day and the other nearly 100 years previously.

From the Cover:
Cassie Holloway is not content. She's stuck in an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job. Longing for an escape, she moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the southwest coast turns sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and finds an intriguing new love. But when the Aquino family patriarch dies, a devastating secret is revealed that threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie's future happiness now resets with her quest for the truth.

My thoughts:
I liked the setting. We don't often get books advertised that are set in Australia and although Giuseppe had planned to emigrate from Italy to New York, fate took a turn and he eventually ended up down under. I also liked the story but found it a little choppy. Just as I was getting into the story about Giuseppe, it jumped to present day and with a new set of characters. Maybe it was just me, but I found it confusing to keep up with everybody and their relationships. Di Morrissey's novels all seem to have interesting settings and I'll be looking out for more to read.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber has an impressive number of books in print and many have been adapted for Hallmark Channel series. Last One Home tackles sibling rivalry and family upheavals. 

Growing up, Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were incredibly close—until one fateful event drove them apart. After high school, Cassie ran away from home to marry the wrong man, throwing away a college scholarship and breaking her parents’ hearts. To make matters worse, Cassie had always been their father’s favorite—a sentiment that weighed heavily on her sisters and made Cassie’s actions even harder to bear.
Now thirty-one, Cassie is back in Washington, living in Seattle with her daughter and hoping to leave her past behind.  Her difficult marriage is over, she is back on her own two feet, and the pieces of her life are slowly but surely coming together. Yet despite the strides Cassie’s made, she hasn’t been able to make peace with her sisters. Karen, the oldest, is a busy wife and mother, balancing her career with raising her two children. And Nichole, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom whose husband indulges her every whim. Then one day, Cassie receives a letter from Karen, offering what Cassie thinks may be a chance to reconcile. And as Cassie opens herself up to new possibilities—making amends with her sisters, finding love once more—she realizes the power of compassion, and the promise of a fresh start.
My thoughts:
This was a very emotional read for me as I've been in the same position as Cassie. Despite her struggles with a bad marriage and financial difficulties, she was able to provide for her daughter and worked hard to overcome obstacles with no help. 
(Spoiler alert) I wanted this to have a different outcome though. I saw the sisters as being conniving and selfish. The inheritance left by their parents would have made a huge difference in Cassie's life, had she received any of it, and improved the living conditions for her and her daughter. Yet the two sisters, who already seemed well off, split the money between themselves and then squandered it. They gave Cassie the left over furniture neither of them wanted, and Nichole finally gave Cassie the cameo that had been promised to Cassie as a child. It seemed giving Cassie a few items eased their conscience somewhat. I didn't see either of them acting out of love. What I would have liked to have seen was the sisters finding a way to give Cassie her share of the inheritance. Even after reconciling with her sisters, I'm sure that once Cassie found out she had been cut out of her mother's will and inheritance (apparently her mother wasn't in sound mind when she made the will and I wonder if the sisters might have influenced her), Cassie would be hurt all over again. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Saving Grace by Jane Green

Saving Grace is a look into what others might see on the surface as a perfect marriage, but to Grace it is anything but that. If you've ever dealt with a narcissist, you know how they can turn on the charm shortly followed, once they have you hooked, by anger and tantrums. There is an excellent description of this personality type in the Huffington Post. Sometimes there is a fine line between a narcissist and a sociopath.
Jane Green is a gifted writer and I thought the book was well written and delves into dealing with strong personalities and mental illness (Grace's mother). I won't say any more for fear of throwing in spoilers, but it's going on my list of favorites for 2015.

And . . . there are lots of delicious recipes - Eton MessGinger and Honey Chicken with SoySalmon Parcels

From the cover:
Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees - what is churning under the surface - are Ted's rages, his mood swings and the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted's longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble,and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to . . .  until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.

A big thank you to Mason Canyon over at Thoughts in Progress - I received the book as winner of a giveaway on her blog.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Waiting Time by Eugenia Price

I found The Waiting Time by Eugenia Price in a Little Free Library (residential library where you leave a book and take one). Apparently this was written shortly before her death in 1996. I haven't read any of her books before and while looking for her bio, found out that in addition to writing several novels and more than twenty inspirational books, she also wrote daytime serials for NBC.

Although many of her books are part of a series, The Waiting Time appears to be a stand alone novel which is set in 1853 Georgia.

From the Cover:
Spirited Abigail Banes dreams her newly married life in coastal Georgia will be lived amid spreading magnolia trees, where lovers walk and whisper along blossom-lined paths. But her dreams are shattered when a fatal accident claims her husband, Eli, leaving her sole proprietor of thei rice plantaion - and the slaves that work the magnificent land.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell has 26 published books and continues to write best sellers. Her books have been listed as romantic comedies (like Four Weddings and a Funeral) and often comes under the chic lit genre. She definitely keeps the reader enthralled in the stories - she usually has several story lines going throughout her books. I noticed that The Unexpected Consequences of Love is called The Unpredictable Consequences of Love in the UK and has a different cover.

9780755355938The Unexpected Consequences of Love takes place in Cornwall (which most of you know is one of my favorite places). Josh moves into the family hotel and is interested in Sophie. Sophie has no interest in men at all, but her friend Tula has a crush on Josh. Meanwhile, surfer boy Riley has a crush on Tula, but she believes him too flaky to take an interest in him. Thrown into the mix is Riley's aunt, a superstar author and Josh's grandmother and grandfather who are divorced, but still seem to care for each other. Of course there are lots of misunderstandings and a few secrets.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brighton, England

If you're visiting London and want to take a day trip to the coast, Brighton is a good choice. It's easily accessible by both train and car. Even on days without a lot of sunshine there is still plenty to do with a Sea Life Center, The Lanes (for antique shopping), the Royal Pavilion (a seaside palace built for George IV), the Marina for walks, shopping and great restaurants and everyone should stop at the restaurant on Brighton Pier for fish and chips. Don't expect miles of sand though, Brighton beach has pebbles.
The Royal Paviliion

Volks Railway Train
Tip: Parking is difficult at the Pier and aquarium. Park at the Marina and take the little Volks Railway train along the seafront to the pier.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I remember the Moon-Spinners, from the movie starring Hayley Mills (the story differs a little from the book) and recently found the book by Mary Stewart who died last year at the age of 97.

In the Moon-Spinners, Nicola has planned to meet her cousin at a small coastal hotel on the Greek island, Crete, but on her way there, Nicola comes across an injured man and tries to help him. What she doesn't realize is that his injuries are no accident and she finds herself among ruthless criminals who are hiding out in the small Greek village. As is common in books written in the 60s, the story is a little long winded at times and much repetition, but it's a good mystery and Mary Stewart's descriptions are delightful.