Sunday, November 27, 2016

Breaking the Billy Goat Curse

Dirty laundry? Beer? Ritual Sacrifice? What really broke the Billy Goat Curse and won the Cubs the World Series?

Check out my blog post at  Paranormal Romantics

Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: You're Saying it Wrong by Ross and Kathryn Petras

I like anything that makes me sound smarter than I am. You’re Saying it Wrong is a handy little pronunciation guide filled with all those pesky phrases that leave even the well-educated scratching their heads. Some of the words like plethora and niche have never given me trouble, but others, I’m sorry to say, I’ve been stumbling around for years. The book isn’t limited to English words. Common foreign ones are also include. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve butchered oeuvre until the Petras set me straight.

The book isn’t dull and dry. It includes a few surprises and interesting backstories on each puzzling word or phrase. My favorite is the correct pronunciation of Dr. Seuss. Yes, we’ve all been sounding like idiots for years. Theodor Geisel created his pen name in honor of his mother. Seuss is her maiden name and it rhymes with voice instead of goose, but English-speaking Americans went with a phonetic pronunciation instead of German.

There are interesting “How to Sound Like A…” side notes that list often mispronounced words associated with areas such as arts, business, travel, and others. Want to sound like a fashionista? The book has the top sixteen designer names so that the next time you’re in Paris for Fashion Week you won’t be mistaken for a dork.

This is a short book and a fast fun read. I recommend you take it to your next dinner party and annoy the hell out of everyone.

I received this from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Spotlight: An Angel's Hearty by Annette Miller

Angel Haven team member, Rachael McCafferty, is losing control of her superpowers, and it started benignly when an old man shook her hand. Now, she's being followed by a shadow man who terrifies her, but she’s also tempted by the whispers of untold power he plants in her mind.

Joseph Caine is called in to help Rachael understand what is happening with her. As an earth wizard, he feels an affinity to her, believing he can help because they both have the same connection to the earth.

But as evil grows around them and Joseph begins having visions of death and destruction, he knows Rachael isn't the dark warlock's only target.

Excerpt
"What are you doing?"

He stood in the doorway, wearing only jeans, HIs hair was in more disarray than usual. The early afternoon sun shone in, making him almost glow in the light. Magic flowed from him, filling her heart with joy at his presence. She could see bright light dance across his skin. Could that be his aura, and if so, how did she learn to see it? She'd carry the memory of how he looked right now for the rest of her life.

She held up the music box. "I was listening to it. I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all." He laid his left arm across the middle of his back and held out his right hand. "Shall we?"

Winding the music box and letting it play, she stood and took his hand. His steps were easy to follow, even though she'd never waltzed in her life. They twirled around the living room, the music seeming to get larger and fuller the longer he held her. As the music box wound down, they slowed and eventually stopped.

"That's such a beautiful melody. First the lullaby, then the music box. Your family knows the prettiest and yet, somehow incredibly haunting, tunes."

"It's part of our charm."

Author Bio
Growing up in Baltimore, MD, Annette always liked superheroes, science fiction, and fantasy. She started writing when she was 5, using a lot of her favorite characters from movies and television. It was only later, when she started reading romance that the two worlds merged. Creating her own heroes, she realized heroic relationships have their own sets of problems and her Angel Haven series was born.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

New Release: The Pirate's Lady by Tricia Schneider

The Pirate’s Lady by Tricia Schneider
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Captain Marco Dante was captured and sentenced to hang two years ago, but he escaped before his punishment was carried out. Now he's come back to the woman whose memory kept him alive those long months in prison. Arianne had been his grand passion, but he failed to see how much she meant to him until it was too late. Can he recapture her heart? Or has he lost her forever?

Arianne never imagined she’d see her notorious pirate lover again. Though her heart sings with joy at his return, she knows he hasn't come back for her but for the treasure he left behind. She agrees to help him find it, but can her heart withstand one more adventure with him?

Excerpt

“I have a life here now.”

“There’s nothing for you here. Your place is by my side. In your heart, you know ’tis true.”

She looked away, turning her gaze to the ocean’s waves pounding the beach with hypnotic rhythm. A few moments ago, she sat here, mulling over her life’s misfortunes and attempting to reach a decision about her future.

Her fate.

Arianne shook her head. “I no longer travel your path. You sail without me, my friend.”

She pushed her bare toes into the grainy sand and stood, brushing the remaining sand that clung to her petticoats. In the silence of the crashing waves, she turned and walked away, Inside, her heart bled. Yet, she deserved no better. Her life led to this heartache. That she walked away from this man now, after all this time only confirmed it.

“Arianne, you’re coming with me.”

His serious tone warned her of his intentions. She spun to face him, unsheathing her sword in time to block his attack. The sound of metal striking metal pierced the moonlit darkness. Her ears rang with the sound.

They stood, neither moving. She stared into his eyes. “You would take me by force?”

“Never by force,” his voice lowered to a growl. “You will come willingly.” And he smiled, that knowing one she hated.

She let out a howl of outrage and swung her sword. He easily blocked. They stepped a deadly dance of striking blades, until again they were trapped by heated gazes.

Her breathing was heavy, labored, filled with excitement. She looked at his lips, wanting to taste them but knowing she dared not. Her will was never strong around him. With one touch she might lose herself and want him again for forever. But that dream would never be achievable with Marco.

With him, she’d always be alone.

“Come with me, Arianne.”

“No.”

She pushed away and again they danced. Her feet moved lightly as she sprang, her petticoats swirling with each movement though she hoped they would not entangle her legs. Her arm swung with lithe movements as she fought. She equaled him with skill and grace. Each time their swords clashed, the noise pierced her soul. That she fought him was a testament to her determination to escape his tyranny over her heart. She could not succumb to him again.

As they battled, a sheen of sweat appeared upon his brow. The exposed skin of his chest glistened in the moonlight. His arms flexed as he swung his sword. His grace, his power, his energy seduced her.
Her heart pounded. Her skin ached to touch his. The heat in her lower regions grew to a fiery inferno. She trembled.

Again, they locked blades.

They stood a moment, staring. His gaze burned into her soul. She licked the salty sweat from her upper lip, and his eyes followed the movement with utter fascination.

He pushed their swords away. With his free hand, he grabbed her shoulder, pulling her tight against his chest. Arianne tilted her head to look into his eyes. The blue depths called to her, like the ocean’s waves licking at her feet. The yearning to go to him was too great. She hadn’t the will to fight.


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About the Author:

Tricia Schneider is an author of historical, paranormal and gothic romance. Before the supernatural took possession of her pen, she worked for several years as Assistant Manager and bookseller at Waldenbooks. After the store closed, she turned to writing fiction full-time. She has written both short stories and full-length novels published by The Wild Rose Press, including her newest book, The Pirate's Lady, and her historical paranormal romance series, The Merriweather Witches. Tricia is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives in the Pennsylvania coal region with her musician husband, their 4 young children and 3 rescued cats.



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Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Language of Dogs by Victoria Stilwell

The Secret Language of Dogs is a fun read. Fans of Animal Planet will recognize the author, Victoria Stilwell, as host of the show It’s Me or the Dog. Although she gives tips about dog training, this book is more about dog understanding, essential for a current owner or someone considering adding a dog to the family. From body language to barking, Stilwell attempts to translate dog actions so we dull humans can understand what our pets are really trying to say.

Stilwell is a strong proponent of compassionate training techniques and how they can be used in managing your pet. Dominance, for instance, is important for maintaining order in a pack, but dominance is not the same as aggression. According to Stilwell it evolved as a way to avoid vicious conflict over resources. Dominant dogs can use behavior such as simple looks or paw touches that don’t necessarily involve violence. A person who uses physical force to control an animal is more bully than pack leader.

The book is divided into two sections. Part I: The Secret Inner Experiences of Dogs covers such topics as affection and how dogs learn. She adds a bit of sciency stuff such as the effect of oxytocin on dogs’ brains, but not enough to turn off casual readers. Although this isn’t a training manual, Stilwell also includes brief Top Tips and Training Tips which are more like games you can play with your dog to promote bonding and good behavior. None of them are complicated. All require more patience than anything and would be good activities to help a child learn responsibility for a new pet.

Part II: The Secret Meanings of Body and Vocal Language has topics such as paw preference. (Yes, there are right- and left-pawed dogs.) It also clarifies the meaning between a dog’s different physical movements such as tail wagging and head tilting. I found the section on aging particularly interesting as Stilwell details the physical and mental decline common in older dogs, and how an owner can help boost cognitive health.

The book is light in the section on aggressive dogs. There is no discussion, pro or con, on the use of muzzles or different types of leashes. As I noted, this isn’t a training manual and the sense from the author is that if a dog shows signs of aggression, the owner needs to call a trainer immediately.

The Secret Language of Dogs is fun and uncomplicated with lots of cute pictures that will appeal to both older children and adults. By the end, the reader learns that dogs' thoughts are actually more complicated than Eat now?, Walk now?, and I see a squirrel!


I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chinese Halloween

Blogging today at Paranormal Romantics on Chinese Halloween.

http://paranormalromantics.blogspot.com/2016/10/chinese-halloween.html

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: Photographs from the Edge by Art Wolfe

It’s a pleasant surprise to find a book that’s not only lovely to look at, but can teach you a little something, too. Art Wolfe is a master photographer. Trained as an artist, but with a passion for the camera, he’s been clicking away for over thirty years. Photography from the Edge is a collection of his favorite photographs covering the past three decades. An interesting aspect of Wolfe’s creative process is his breadth of subject matter. His preferences can best be described as in the raw. He’s an outdoor photographer who likes animals in their natural element and cultures without all the trappings of modern western society.

The pictures, whether of nature or humans, are all vibrant and capture light and shadow in different ways. Wolfe has a particular interest in light and isn’t a slave to normal photographic standards that say the most interesting images come from either early morning or late afternoon sun. For Wolfe, all type of light can be used to produce compelling photographic studies.

Along with the visual aspect, Photographs from the Edge is also an enjoyable read for both amateur photographer and those of us who simply like looking at pretty pictures. The book is divided into decades. Paired with each image is a short essay by Wolfe describing the circumstances surrounding the day the image was taken. I particularly liked two short sections at the bottom of each photo; Nature of the Photo and Photo Tip. The former gives a little background on the subject matter while the latter give a quick explanation on how to duplicate the photo’s creative aspect. It’s an artistic explanation, rather than technical, but Wolfe also include details before each essay on film, camera, lens, and shutter speed. Non-photographers can easily gloss over them.

Because of the well-written explanations and the compelling beauty of the photographs, this book would be a good addition to the library of either an artist, amateur photographer, or any person who can appreciate the skill required to turn a snapshot into a work of art.


I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.