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.