Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tina Whittle offers ideas for gift-giving books

Author Tina Whittle is making a list and checking it twice...

Tina Whittle (far left) moderates panel at Left Coast Crime conference

I forgive Whittle for being Georgian (sorry, Tina. I couldn't resist), since she writes such wonderful mysteries. In her upcoming blog, she's taking some of the mystery out of giving books as gifts. Her Book Happy Blog Hop will provide a variety of suggestions for  books. Check them out for great ideas. While you're there, you can subscribe to her blog, too.

Don't forget Whittle's own Tai Randolph mysteries, "The Dangerous Edge of Things" and "Darker Than Any Shadow." And you'll find reviews of many great books in a number of genres right here!

And now a word from our sponsor, ME! My story, "Little Miss Sasquatch," begins on page 244 of "Not Your Mother's Book on Being a Stupid Kid." The book is available in both print and electronic form, and (IMHO) makes a great Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys hilarious adventures. I thought I was a stupid kid, but I'm discovering as I read that I'm not the only one out there! Somehow we all survived, so I guess stupidity isn't a terminal condition. Even better, the book is part of a riotous series of books on a number of subjects.

By the way, the publishers are looking for stories for other anthologies, so check out the topics and tell them your story!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Come into the world of horse racing with 'Noor' by Milton Toby

  Race horse owner Charles Howard didn’t stop racing horses with his famous Seabiscuit. Among the residents of his stable, one could find other racing royalty. The story of one of those horses comes out of the shadows in “Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky” by Milton C. Toby.


Noor (short for Kohinoor, named after the supposedly cursed diamond) proved to be an impressive purchase for Howard, defeating two Triple Crown winners in his career (Citation and Assault) in the course of his many wins. Toby takes us through the horse’s career in the mid-20th century, sharing his victories and trials as Noor struggles in the press for the respect he has earned on the track. 

This is not just book about a horse. It tells about the inside politics of racing and how a great horse can miss the stature he deserves because he is a West Coast horse and not the media darling. Noor’s death in 1974 received almost no press outside of racing periodicals.

The second part of the book deals with what happened to Noor in the 21st century and how he captured the heart and imagination of a woman who would not let Noor’s final resting place fall into obscurity because real estate development. Charlotte Farmer’s campaign to secure a dignified and accessible grave for the valiant horse is a story of courage and dedication. 

Toby has written an engaging book. He knows racing, and has been writing about it for decades with books such as "Dancer's Image" and "Ruffian." His gift for storytelling brings the reader into the world of thoroughbreds and the people who own them. He explains the terminology and activities in such a way that a racing enthusiast will appreciate the story and a story lover will enjoy the racing. Yet this is not a textbook. Toby doesn’t lecture about racing; he just doesn’t assume that everyone knows every aspect. He provides a context that lets readers understand what’s happening and appreciate the significance.

The book works on several levels. It is an exciting book about racing, of course. But within the pages, readers will come to understand more about Charles Howard as a human being, about horse personalities, and about a woman with a dream and an iron will who is as great a champion as the horse she strove to honor. 

The little publicized story of Noor and of his place in racing history deserves a film as big as Seabiscuit’s. Charlotte Farmer makes an endearing heroine as she finds a home for Noor’s remains. This book is a winner!

“Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky”
Written by Milton C. Toby
Published by The History Press
ISBN-10: 1609495616
ISBN-13: 978-1609495619

Disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of the book provided by Walked Author Tours. No constraints were placed upon the review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Christmas at Barncastle Inn' delivers Christmas fun and romance

The four novellas that make up "Christmas at Barncastle Inn" take the reader through four depictions of love. The book covers several years because Barncastle Inn's new marketing niche allows patrons to rent the entire bed-and-breakfast  for the holidays and enjoy Christmas with their family and guests in the era of their choice.

Part of the fun in the stories comes from how each era is recreated and the various snags that are encountered. The love stories at the core of each novella share a locale but little else as each author brings a different perspective to the individual story. Each couple is different and the road they must travel to romance takes a variety of forms.

These tales are good, clean fun with a Christmas heart and very readable. If you enjoy history, romance, Christmas or any combination of the three, you should put "Christmas at Barncastle Inn" on your list for Santa!

Disclaimer: This review is based on a purchased copy of the book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm in this one!

Please forgive this blatant self-promotion, but...

"Not Your Mother's Book on Being a Stupid Kid" is out today. This new non-fiction anthology from Publishing Syndicate is of special interest to me, because I have a short story in the book. Can I claim that I'm on Amazon.com now (even if it is as part of an anthology)? Here's the link, if you're interested: http://amzn.to/TJsVWo. Kindle version should be out in a few days.

You can also ask your local bookseller about ordering it, if you prefer.

Mary Beth

Monday, October 1, 2012

Newly published author begins series with ebook and its challenges

Marlene Urso’s first published novel hit the bookseller sites as an eBook. Under her nom de plume of Paisley Kirkpatrick, she released “Night Angel,” set in a fictional town patterned on her home of Placerville, California. The Desert Breeze publication is an eBook only release and as such, presents its own challenges.

So how does a new author market a book that she can’t display in stacks on tables? Urso uses a number of strategies. First, she networks like crazy. She is a member of several writing groups, including the Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America, From the Heart, Celtic Hearts and Hearts Through History. She has received mention on many of the blogs and websites of her fellow members. Some of those appearances include Cynthia Woolf’s blog, Fierce Romance blog, Sweet ‘N Sexy blog and Reviews and Opinions.

Read more from my interview with Marlene Urso here.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor's 'Path of Freedom' provides history, adventure

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor shares an intriguing story of faith, friendship, courage and love in “Path of Freedom,” part of the Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Press. Her novel takes us inside the world of Quakers and the Underground Railroad from the viewpoint of a Flora Saferight, a young Quaker woman called into service on a dangerous mission because of her training as a midwife.

Flora and her young sister Irene will accompany Bruce Millikan as they spirit an escaped slave couple to safety in the north. There’s a complication: Flora and Bruce have been at odds since their school days. Can they declare a truce long enough to complete their assignment? Guided by a quilt provided by Flora’s mother, the threesome begins their dangerous journey. They collect the escapees in a specially built wagon and head north.

Read the full review here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An 'Unstoppable' faith guides a spirit-filled life

"One of the biggest advantages of being a reviewer comes from the advance notice one receives on upcoming books. That’s the case with evangelist and inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic’s new book, “Unstoppable.” 

Vujicic was born with no arms or legs. In earlier times, he might have been abandoned to die or institutionalized out of polite society’s view. Today, he not only lives in society; he is changing society with his uplifting message of the importance of every life in God’s sight. His ministry Life Without Limbs reaches around the world. His story can be found in his books and on YouTube. He appears on television programs and shares his words of hope with all who will listen.

Check out the first chapter of the book for free here."

You can read more about this new book here.