I used to work as a morning news anchor, which meant I got up at 3 a.m. and went to bed at 8 if I was lucky (And I usually wasn’t very lucky. I also probably shaved a few years off my life in the process; I was constantly exhausted.) But this also meant no prime time TV. I was so out of the loop on current TV shows, I didn’t even know where the loop was. I’ve never even watched American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. Enough said.
But when I lost my job and started working at home, I had some time on my hands—and a later bedtime. I discovered a bunch of great shows everyone had been talking about and had several seasons worth to gobble up on Netflix. I watched four seasons of The Office in two weeks. (I knew Pam and Jim were going to get together!) Five seasons of Lost in two months. It’s incredible to be able to watch back-to-back shows without the angst of waiting. (And it was easier to remember some of the complicated twists and clues in Lost. I’m still confused about the ending, though.)
I’m the same way with books, too. I was late to the Harry Potter series, so there were four books waiting for me that I devoured over the course of a few weeks. Diana Gabaldon was just releasing book number five in her Outlander series, so I had months of incredible writing to enjoy there, too. (Those are some big books, baby.) And now, intrigued by the movie trailer to Janet Evanovitch’s One for the Money, I’ve started reading her hilarious Stephanie Plum series. With eighteen books out, I’ll be set for a while. (Although I have been reading them at a rate of one every two days. I really should pace myself.)
I’m sure there are many other great series out there waiting to be discovered. What are some of your favorites? If you sat next to me on the subway and saw me with my kindle, what would you insist I download? Have you ever been lucky enough to find a series after the fact?
From BLB–TV news’ loss is our gain. Lisa is busy writing fun, flirty books. Discover Lisa’s breezy style for FREE through her short story, THE HOT GIRL’S FRIEND, at Amazon. Look for the entire FLIRTS series–perfect vacation reading–or when you need a vacation!
One of my favorite reads of last year was something I picked up on a whim at the library–Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods. Romance, adventure, politics, and sex–monkey sex–Bonobo Handshake has it all.
In 2005 Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo’s capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA and who live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake.
A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa’s self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings in this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa.
Written with a breezy first person tone, the book is engaging, informative and ultimately quite moving as the reader comes to care about the small bonobos and their struggle to survive on a continent torn by strife. Woods achieves a pathos that Sara Gruen somehow missed in her attempt to publicize bonobos in Ape House last year.
If you’re looking for something a little different with heart and humor, take a peek at Bonobo Handshake.
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Spread the word–JAGUAR JACK: A MYSTIC ADVENTURE by Dana Taylor is now available!
Jaguar Jack Campbell, Aussie reality TV star, travels the globe filming escapades in the wild. His charismatic charm conceals an unwanted psychic gift and buried memories.
Major Maggie Savannah, aka Maggie-the-Mouth, is brash, brave and beautiful. She lives to beat the bad guys via covert military operations. The last thing she wants is a pretty boy TV personality partner.
But when an American female missionary is kidnapped by terrorists on a mysterious island, Jack and Maggie must join forces to secure her rescue and, perhaps, save the world.
Dana Taylor’s books have recently been on the Movers & Shakers List, and in the top Romance and Religion& Spirituality Bestseller Lists at Amazon. Over 30,000 of her books were downloaded in January & February of 2012.
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BLB Indie Gem
Congratulations to Shirley King and “Catwagman” for winning a free copy of SPARE CHANGE. Thanks for participating the caption contest!–BLB
Olivia Westerly is superstitious to the core. She knows what she knows. Opals mean disaster, eleven is the unluckiest number on earth, and children weigh a woman down like a pocketful of stones. That’s why Olivia avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her dead husband’s grandson. Against her better judgment, Olivia takes him in. With a foul mouth, dark secrets and heavily guarded emotions, Ethan Allen Doyle is not an easy child to like. He swears he’s got dead parents, and no other relatives. He was counting on the grandpa he’d never met for a place to hide, but now that plan is shot to hell because the grandpa’s dead too. Olivia claims she’s not his real grandma, but if she doesn’t let him stay, he’s flat out of luck. He’s got seven dollars and twenty-six cents, his mama’s will for staying alive, and Dog. But none of those things are gonna help if Scooter Cobb finds him. Only two people know the truth of what happened the night his parents were murdered–Ethan Allen isn’t talking and the man who squashed his daddy’s head like a pumpkin wants to make sure he never does. Ethan Allen knows the same fate awaits him if Scooter Cobb catches wind of where he is. The only one who can stop it from happening is Olivia. Written in a Southern voice, SPARE CHANGE takes place in the 1950’s and provides a poignant albeit sometimes humorous look at the weighty issues of love, loss, and adapting to change.
Review by Dana Taylor
SPARE CHANGE is one of those books that starts out good and just gets better. Bette Lee Crosby evokes a post-war America not quite Norman Rockwellian, but close. Norman didn’t paint people like Ethan Allen’s parents, but Olivia and the residents of the Wyattsville Arms might have posed for him. Crosby writes with a strong style, bringing many characters alive with their separate voices while moving the story along at a good clip. Spare Change is reminiscent of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, making the South come alive with flawed human beings. It’s a special story that deserves a wide audience and we hope that Book Luvin’ Babes can give it a boost.
Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.
Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently the 2010 Reader’s View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.
Her published works to date are: Girl Child (2007), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), and Spare Change (2011). She has also authored a memoir for Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic. Scheduled for release in March 2012, the book is titled “Life in the Land of IS.”
CHAVIS’ CLASSIC CORNER
How many times have you read a book that creates a world that is so vivid, so real, and so alive that you would do almost anything to live in that world? One of my very favorite books does precisely that. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander,the start of an amazing literary experience!
If you’re not familiar with Diana Gabaldon, she came to writing after earning degrees in Marine Biology, Ecology, and Zoology, which is great for us because it means she loves details in her writing. She wrote the first Outlander book about 20 years ago, and it has gained a cult following.
Our central character is Claire Beauchamp Randall who moves to Scotland after WWII in 1946. While walking one day, Claire strolls through a “circle of standing stones” (much like a mini-Stonehenge), and gets sucked back in time to 1743 Scotland. She lands smackdab into a clan full of lusty lads, redcoats, blunt weaponry, and the like. In order to survive, Claire needs to be married off to one of the men in the Scottish clan she’s joined. Enter our hero James Fraser.
James (aka Jamie) is one of those heroes who literally leaps off the page with every passing chapter. If you thought Mel Gibson’s William Wallace was a hot, tough, chivalrous guy, believe me, you’ll love Jamie Fraser. He makes Wallace look like the playground punching bag. Jamie is the right mix of ruggedness, tenderness, and that “X” factor that will grab any reader’s attention, and it’s so much fun watching the growth of his relationship with Claire.
Despite the fantastical setting, Gabaldon incorporates a lot of actual historical content and detail in her books. In fact, she fought for years to get Outlander moved out of the “romance” section of the bookstores because her books are more than simple love stories. They are historical fiction. Gabaldon writes her two main characters with so much real-life details and behaviors that you will probably talk about Jamie and Claire as if they’re real people.
So be forewarned, you WILL get hooked, and hooked hard. While it’s not necessarily a “fast” read, it is one that is well worth the time. If you enjoy romance, Scottish swordsmen, chivalry, and history, I can strongly bet that Outlander will be a gem to treasure in your book collection. Face it, who doesn’t love a man in a kilt?
Three Moons Over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler
Review by Dana Taylor
Any title with the word Sedona in it, is going to get my attention. The story begins, however, in Ohio with these lines:
Georgia Mae Brown wanted out of her life. No rush. She’d already waited fifty-three years.
Author Sherry Hartzler piqued my curiosity from the title to the opening paragraph and I soon became caught up in Georgia’s journey of transition and self-discovery. Georgia’s life has recently been turned upside down by the death, under embarrassing circumstances, of her husband, Ed. As the story opens, she is heading out for a gallon of milk and just keeps going.
An aimless drive turns into a road trip when a stranger at a gas station mentions Sedona, Arizona as a “must see” location. Georgia now has a destination and the hope that she’ll find clarity in the new surrounding.
Hartzler does an excellent job of weaving Georgia’s past and present into a smooth story flow. She introduces new characters along the way. Soon Georgia is involved with younger friends in Sedona dealing with their life challenges also.
Zoe is the daughter of a Joan Crawford-like movie star (with a little Loretta Young thrown in for good measure). Her story line adds glamour and mystery to the tale. Trish, the owner of the café where Georgia finds a home base, has her issues and the reader comes to care about her also.
Though the story is devoid of car chases, bad guys, shape shifters, or ditzy heroines, it provides an engaging cast of characters learning to take a chance on new friends and new loves.
Oh, yeah, and most of it takes place in one of my favorite spots, Sedona, Arizona. Did I mention that? Three Moons Over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler, a BLB Indie gem.
Lisa Scott is a former TV news anchor who now enjoys making up stories for a living instead of sticking to the facts. She lives in upstate NY with her husband, two children, dog, cats, and koi fish. When not writing, she works as a voice actor on projects like audiobooks, apps, narrations, voice mail systems, commercials and more. As an anchor and reporter, she worked for TV stations in Bangor, ME, Rochester, NY and Buffalo, NY. She loves chocolate, hates sushi, and spends much of her time gardening. (But truth be told, she can’t keep an indoor plant alive to save her life. You don’t want to know how many orchids have perished at her hands.) Lisa is the author of the “Flirts” series. See Lisa Scott at Amazon.
Oh, Favorite Books, Why Do I Love Thee So?
by Lisa Scott
I read a diverse selection of books: contemporary romance, historical romance, business books, self-help, children’s books, YA, paranormal. (I write in different genres, too. Romance and middle grade fiction. As they once said on The Simpsons, “Nuts and gum, together at last.”) But certainly, all these books have something in common.
So what do my favorite books contain—the ones I prattle on about to strangers, demanding a signed pledge that they will read it? The first thing that I remember about these books are the characters. My favorite books always feature people I care about. Characters who seem so real, I wonder what they’re up to when I’m not reading the book. That’s one must for a favorite book. Like Jamie and Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. (That’s a book that deserves its own post at a later date.) Quirky, real characters, like Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s series.
Next, take me to a place or time I’ve never been, and I’m in. Memoirs of Geisha swept me away to a world and a culture I knew nothing about. The circus world of Water For Elephants was as intriguing as the characters. Teach me something I don’t know; show me something I haven’t seen. This isn’t a must, but it is a plus.
I also love books with callbacks. Jokes throughout the book that reference something mentioned at the beginning. Good comedians do this often, closing their show with a joke that touches on something they talked about earlier. In my Holiday Flirts! short story collection, there is a running gag through the five short stories about a santa costume. I’ve heard from many readers who loved that. And while I love funny books, I like emotional ones, too. I think the key is making me feel an emotion deeply, whatever it is.
I also drool over beautiful imagery in books. Jodi Picoult is a favorite. She has so many wonderful descriptions that just resonate; passages you read over and over again to enjoy their beauty one more time. Some of her sentences contain more truths than you’ll find in entire books.
And for better or worse, I like all threads to be tied up. When the Lost TV series ended I was miffed, because I felt there were so many plot points left dangling. No Country For Old Men? I was livid when it ended like that.
Basically, when I finish a book, I want to hold it against my chest and sigh. That’s when I know it was a good book. The ones you can’t stop thinking about long after the end. The ones you tell your friends about. The ones that change you.
Not much to ask for, huh? What about you? What things excite you about a good book?