Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Last Regress by Rachael J. Thorne

Last Regress

Alyssa Matthews thought she had an explanation for everything. After all, as a slightly sceptical paranormal investigator that was what she was used to doing; researching, observing and explaining.

So when she began writing a paper about a long forgotten case of death by Spontaneous Human Combustion, she assumed it would be a run-of-the-mill piece. Little did she realise that she was about to be plunged into a situation that would not only force her to question her own sanity, but also her scepticism about the nature of the paranormal.

Not to mention the dreams that just wouldn’t go away...

The author did a wonderful job of writing this fun, paranormal romance that will keep you entertained from the beginning.  The storyline is pretty unique, intricate and mostly fast-paced. The book has a lot of mystery and romance in the novel. The romantic scenes were the kind that makes your heart beat. The characters are witty, entertaining and Alyssa being a good heroine who needs everything done for her.  A recommend this book.  I give it 3 stars.

Review: The Selkie Enchantress (Seal Island Trilogy, Book 2) by Sophie Moss

The Selkie Enchantress

In this modern-day fairy tale romance, Irish islander, Caitlin Conner, has been in love with professor of Irish folklore, Liam O'Sullivan, for as long as she can remember. But just when he's starting to look at her as more than a friend, a mysterious woman arrives on Seal Island and captures his heart. As Caitlin discovers the truth behind the woman's lies, she realizes Liam is trapped in a dangerous enchantment and the only way to break the spell is to uncover a secret Irish fairy tale that has remained hidden for hundreds of years. But when the petals of a white rose grown in winter start to fall, the legend is set in motion. And Caitlin must find a way to change the ending before the last petal falls.

Sophie Moss continues in this second installment of the Selkie Legend to keep us entertained and unable to put the book down.  Caitlin Conner must overcome the legend and spell in order to get the love of her life Liam O’Sullivan back where he belongs, with her.  

Sophie does a wonderful job of making you believe in legends, the magic of Ireland, of good over coming evil, and most of all believing in love.  This second book held me captivated even more than the first book did.  I couldn't put it down.  I can't wait to see what the last book of the series has in store for us to read.  I would highly recommend this book, even those of you who are not romance fans - this is an excellent book.  I give 4 stars. 

*View my review of The Selkie Spell HERE
*View Emily's Showcase with Sophie HERE


Saturday, December 29, 2012

You Can Hear The Angels Laughing by Dr. Madison Van Scott

In a collection of short stories captured throughout the authors life, I CAN HEAR THE ANGELS LAUGHING is such a rare gem.  The manuscript was hidden away in the garage found by the authors wife after his death. I absolutley fell in love with all of the stories and experiences the author shared with us.  He took us through some major historical events and showed us grace under pressure.  
This portion of the book really captured my heart:  "Until we have loved when we had every reason to hate, until we have hoped when we had every reason to doubt, until we have pesisted when he had every right to quit, we cannot say that we have done our best (p. 71)".  With the New Year quickly apporaching I feel inspired to find God in the details.  To enbrace when I have every reason to doubt.  I am not a very religous person, but I found myself thinking differently.  I think this is a very moving book and I highly recommend it.  I rate it 4.5 stars.



“You Can Hear the Angels Laughing: Finding God in the Details”
A timeless collection of reflections and meditations on how to live a God-centered life when times are hard

DALLAS (November 8, 2012) – “Never doubt that the fight for justice is a responsibility we all share.” As a nation going through tumultuous social and political times, this statement could have been lifted from today’s headlines ­– but it was actually penned more than 50 years ago by Dr. Madison Van Scott, a charismatic orator and minister who once captivated crowds across the country with his eloquent messages and deep baritone delivery.

Though Scott passed away in 2003, his intuitive wisdom and observations of human nature live on, transcending and even defying the passage of time, in the new book, “You Can Hear the Angels LaughingFinding God in the Details” (December 2012).

In 2009, Scott’s widow, Ruth, was cleaning out the garage when she discovered a dusty, discolored manuscript hidden in a file cabinet.  She handed it to her daughter, Dr. Sylvia Scott Gearing, and said, “You might want to read this sometime.”

“At the time, I had no idea about the treasure I held in my hands -- a gift my father had left for our family,” said Gearing, a nationally-recognized psychologist and author. “I read through the manuscript and was overwhelmed with its timeless messages.  The lessons are for everyone, and the perspective calls  our faith into action.  I immediately knew it must be published.” 

Gearing spent two years organizing and editing the book.  Penned by Scott himself, the book provides snapshots of life, or “sacred moments,” as he called them. His engaging writing style draws readers in, providing fresh insight into many of life’s everyday events.  Joyous to sad, humorous to poignant, yet always informative, Scott recounts his decades of work and guidance with parishioners and friends and the resulting life lessons that still resonate today.

The collection of stories also provides a glimpse into a unique time in American history from a man who lived it, including Scott’s work during the country’s Civil Rights movement. As the senior pastor of an Austin, Texas, church in the late 1950s and 1960s whose membership included the Texas governor and a U.S. senator, Scott was chosen to chair the committee to integrate Austin during the early 60s. He recalls it was a politically dangerous decision and worried the backlash from his congregation could be fierce, yet recognized that if all Southern Christian ministers did not stand up for racial integration, they would be betraying everything that Christianity stood for.

“These stories are the life lessons of a man who lived in some of the most controversial times in our nation’s history, contributed to major social changes and knew some of the world’s leaders who enacted that social change,” said Gearing. “This is the back-story of how he moved through such trying moments and a reminder of how many heroes it takes to change the world. My father is one of many who had the faith to do the right thing when he could have walked away.”

A theologian classically trained in Europe, Scott never let his scholastic or intellectual abilities interfere with his compassion for the everyday people he served.

“He dealt with everyone in the same way—from the janitor to the president,” said Gearing. “His sermons were renowned for their eloquent delivery–JFK was a big fan. Yet he never, ever lost sight of his own humility, compassion and kindness for others.”
Scott’s faith defined him. He was a man who loved deeply, having the same fears as others, yet always found ways to fight his way through the sadness of life–like losing his oldest daughter, Rebecca, in a tragic car accident–to rediscover God again and again.

“My father felt deeply and had his own challenges with such complete access to his emotions,” said Gearing. “He was such an accomplished minister because he had that emotional access. If you were going through tragedy, he was the guy to talk to. He would walk right along with you and share his enormous strength and faith when no one else would.”

You Can Hear the Angels Laughing: Finding God in the Details” will be released in December 2012 and available for purchase at, on and through major eBook retailers. 

 About Dr. Madison Van Scott
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Madison Van Scott was reared in an impoverished household. After his parents divorced when he was five years old, he was left on his own to roam the streets of Nashville. While his solitary childhood was traumatic at times, it also gave him a profound understanding of the suffering of others and engendered a lifelong commitment to serving the disenfranchised and less fortunate.

Blessed with a gift for language and speaking, he turned to the study of theology at Carson Newman College and excelled in leadership as president of his class. He was a champion debater and amazed audiences with his quick retorts and command of the topic. As a young man, he mastered the ancient languages (Greek, Latin and Hebrew) that would allow him to interpret the original ancient manuscripts of the Bible.

After graduating from Carson Newman College, Dr. Scott attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he prepared to enter the ministry.  In 1949, he sailed to Europe with his young wife, Ruth, to study theology in Basil, Switzerland. He taught himself German so he could fully understand the complex lectures of the world’s greatest theologians. At the University of Basil, he studied under the internationally renowned theologian and philosopher, Karl Barth, whom Pope Pius XII described as the most important theologian since Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was also a student in world famous philosopher Karl Jasper’s classes and seminars. Dr. Scott later transferred to the University of Edinburgh to complete his Ph.D. in theology.

Upon returning to the United States, he served for many decades as the senior minister in prominent churches across the South. His brilliant deliveries in the pulpit catapulted him into coveted positions at a young age. As a classically trained theologian, he delighted audiences with his dynamic sermons that drew upon Biblical scriptures, modern theological philosophy, and classical literature. He was a master storyteller and creative presenter. His sermons and speeches attracted thousands to his churches that grew enormously during his tenure.

During his career, Dr. Scott was a tireless advocate of social justice and Civil Rights. In the 1960s, he was the chairman of the committee to integrate Austin, the state’s capital and political fulcrum. Governor Price Daniel, Senator Ralph Yarborough, and President Johnson were ardent supporters of his ministry and speaking. He worked diligently with politicians, statesmen, and senators to advance the cause of the Civil Rights movement in the South. Dr. Scott felt that risking his career, his family’s safety, and even his own life were necessary sacrifices for a noble cause that was long overdue. From the pulpit, he insisted that the church should demonstrate the social conscience required for generating this revolutionary social change.

Sharing the podium with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson was one of the many honors he enjoyed in his esteemed career. He had many memories of both presidents and remained a lifelong advocate of their administrations. However, later in life, he was fond of noting that one of his greatest honors was to have worked with the unnamed soldiers of the Civil Rights movement.  He held tremendous respect for the thousands of people who fought tirelessly for equality. He once said that all great change is championed first by individuals. Dr. Scott’s life and legacy are a tribute to this abiding value.

Dr. Scott passed away peacefully at home in 2003, with his beloved wife of fifty-eight years, Ruth, by his side.

About Dr. Sylvia Gearing
Nationally renowned psychologist and author, Sylvia Gearing, Ph.D. has been a pioneer in psychology for over twenty years. As an author and frequent media contributor, including NBC's Today Show and Dr. Phil, she also remains a popular speaker on women’s and girl’s issues, personal and professional excellence, and emotional intelligence.

In addition to her writing and media work, Dr. Gearing is the Executive Director of Gearing Up! Counseling Centers where she oversees a professional staff of ten counselors, along with her husband, Dr. Milton Gearing. The Gearings’ acclaimed counseling center addresses the mental health needs of thousands of North Texas adults, teens and children with the latest, most effective approaches in clinical psychology.

Dr. Gearing graduated Magna cum Laude in psychology from Duke University and completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She studied at the prestigious Masterson Institute in New York City for several years where she worked with internationally renowned psychiatrist, James Masterson M.D.  She is the author of “Female Executive Stress Syndrome: The Working Woman's Guide to a Balanced and Successful Life” (Summit, 1994) and “Woman-Sense Rules!” (Anderson Adams, 2003).  Dr. Gearing is currently writing her third book, “Growing Girls Strong: A Mother Mentor’s Handbook”.

Married to Dr. Milton Gearing for over thirty years, she is the devoted mother of two grown sons.  For more information please visit

Friday, December 28, 2012

Blog Tour: Sparkle by Cara Alwill Leyba- Review/Excerpt/Q&A

Follow the tour HERE

As women, we have become professional self-critics. We've become so convinced by society that we need to attain a level of perfection that just isn't real. Whether it's trying to get skinnier, look younger, get that promotion, please our parents, get fuller lips or rid ourselves of cellulite -- we're on a never ending mission to change and it always makes us feel like crap.

Instead, why not focus on all the fabulous qualities we already possess? There is so much to celebrate when we look at all of our accomplishments. In this straight-up girlfriend's guide, lifestylist and wellness coach Cara Alwill Leyba encourages women to discover what makes them sparkle so that they can design the lives they desire and deserve. So raise your glass and toast yourself. You're about to start shimmering, shining, and dazzling every day. Because isn't everything better when it sparkles?

Taken from Chapter 2: Uncork Your Best Self
Cara Alwill Leyba
Chasing our passions and figuring out what makes us sparkle is crucial, but we can’t get there if we aren’t confident. And as women, we have mastered the art of being professionally critical of ourselves. From crash diets and plastic surgery to wrinkle creams and colonics, we’ve done it all and then some. We’ve read books on why men like bitches, and strived to be more of a bitch. We’ve read articles on why we should stop eating bread to lose weight, and we’ve stopped eating bread (and, God, wasn’t that hard?) We’re constantly being told that we should look younger, be skinnier, have fuller lips, act a certain way to obtain the job we think we should have, and we’ve bought into it all. And frankly, I am over it.
It’s time to start celebrating ourselves! We’ve come a long way, baby. Women are now mothers, wives, girlfriends, professionals, executives, students, politicians, doctors, teachers – the list goes on. We’re beautiful, we’re strong, and we are empowered, and we have carved a pretty unique niche into this world. We’ve proved that we can do it all. Raise the children, run the household, and run the boardroom – sometimes all in the same day. In short, we’re pretty damn amazing.
So let’s stop obsessing over our flaws and start toasting to the deliciously authentic creatures we are. Let’s get our attitudes in check and start appreciating all the fabulous things we are blessed with. Let’s rock our best ass-ets and forget the rest. Sound good? Good. But first, we’ll need to change our mindset.

Author Bio:
Cara Alwill Leyba is a best selling author, and certified life and wellness coach from New York City who empowers women to live their most effervescent lives and celebrate themselves. She encourages women to indulge in the things that make them happy, and swears that every woman can live a "champagne life," no matter how busy she is or how tight her budget.

Her blog, The Champagne Diet, boasts a following of thousands of loyal readers and has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Cafe Mom, Daily Mail UK, MSN Australia, AOL UK Lifestyle, and a host of other publications worldwide. Cara's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, xJane, Mind Body Green, MTV News, and many other sites. 
Cara regularly appears on the “Ask Dr. Fritz” radio show on WWRL New York, where she helps host Dr. Fritz answer questions from callers about love, career, family, relationships and more. She also hosts her own lifestyle and wellness show, "Uncork Your Best Self" on Blog Talk Radio.

Cara's first book, SPARKLE, became an immediate #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Happiness and Self-Esteem categories upon hours of its release. She celebrated the release of her book with a book signing in New York City this past fall.

When she’s not popping bubbly, blogging, or working with her coaching clients, Cara spends her days leading a digital advertising team at MTV Networks. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and dog-child. For more on Cara visit

Connect with Cara!
Cara's website:
Cara's blog:
Want to learn how to sparkle? Join Cara's "Sparkling Start" workshop next month and kick off 2013 in glittering, shimmering style! 

Everybody needs a good friend to tell us the truth, it often is helpful when the delivery of the truth is funny and inspiring...that is what Cara does in Sparkle. Not only does she tell the truth about so much she gives intelligent and wonderful advice along the way.  Cara exposes herself in order to help others and that to me is such a great gift.  Read this book before the New Year and have a sparkly 2013!  5 stars!!!!

How to Create a Support System as a Writer

When I made the decision to part ways with my literary agent, pull my book from submission, and self-publish, I felt two things: total excitement, and total fear. On one hand, I was thrilled to release my book on my terms, and not wait for an editor to come along and deem me worthy of having a published book, but on the other hand I was petrified that it was now all up to me.

Self-publishing is not for everyone. It takes an incredible amount of discipline and drive. There’s nobody holding you accountable for turning in chapters. There’s no PR budget backing you up. And there’s certainly no cheerleaders egging you on to get through those days where you just want to hide under the covers and call the whole thing off. This is why it’s crucial to build a team as a writer to help keep you on track and motivated.

Depending on your connections and your budget, hiring a writing or publishing coach can be a fantastic option. Someone who checks in with you once a week, via phone or email, to help answer questions and hold you to your goals is great. There are lots of affordable people out there who are wonderful, and many are independent writers themselves, so they understand what it’s like to be investing in your project on a budget. In fact, my company, Passionista Publishing, offers two bootcamp programs to help writers gear up to get their books started (or finished), and ultimately self-publish.

But what if you truly can’t afford to hire someone? Get your friends on board! Chances are, your closest friends know just how important it is for you to get your book out there, so they’ll be willing to check in with you weekly, or even monthly, to hold you to your deadlines. If your friends can’t do it, ask your parents or siblings. And if that doesn’t work, try to find local writers on Facebook or Twitter and form a writing circle.

No matter how you approach it, having a team on board to help you achieve your goals as a writer is key to being successful!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd

The Walnut Tree

"I was in Paris the day the French Army was mobilized."

In 1914, while visiting her friend Madeleine, Lady Elspeth Douglas's life is thrown into chaos when war breaks out and the Germans quickly overrun Belgium, threatening France. Having just agreed to marry Alain, Madeleine's dashing brother, Lady Elspeth watches him leave to join his unit, and then she sets out for England, only to find herself trapped on the French coast.

Caught amid a sea of stranded travelers, terrified refugees, and wounded men overflowing the port of Calais, the restless Elspeth—daughter of a Highland aristocrat whose distinguished family can trace its roots back to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots—decides to make herself useful, carrying water to weary soldiers near the Front. It is an act of charity that almost gets her killed when enemy shells begin to explode around her.

To her rescue comes Captain Peter Gilchrist, who pulls her away from the battle and leads her to safety. But before they can properly say good-bye, Elspeth and Peter are separated.

Back in London, surrounded by familiar comforts, Elspeth is haunted by the horrors she witnessed in France. She also cannot forget the gallant Peter Gilchrist, even though she has promised herself to Alain.

Transformed by her experience, Elspeth goes to London and enrolls in a nursing course, where she meets a fellow nurse in training, Bess Crawford. It is a daring move, made without the consent of Elspeth's guardian, her cousin Kenneth, a high-handed man with rigid notions of class and femininity.

Yet Elspeth Douglas is a woman with a mind of her own, which—as she herself says—is a blessing and a curse. She is determined to return to the battlefields of France to do her part . . . and to find the man she has no right to love, no matter how far Cousin Kenneth may go to stop her. But before she can set things right with Alain, he goes missing and then Peter is gravely wounded. In a world full of terror and uncertainty, can the sweetness of love survive or will Elspeth's troubled heart become another casualty of this terrible war?

A poignant, compelling tale brimming with adventure, danger, and love, The Walnut Tree is an enchanting holiday gift and a wonderful companion to Charles Todd's acclaimed Bess Crawford series.

This was quick stand alone holiday romance set in England and France during WWI.  This is the first book I read by this writing duet and found it to be quite a treat.   I enjoyed the characters, as well as the setting.  I found it to be beautifully well written.   It captures love, hope, despair and sacrifice.   I rate it 3.5 stars!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 12: Kris Radish: 12 Authors of Christmas


Christmas Eve in the Radish house was the same year after year and that is where my fondest Christmas memories lie. I have two brothers and a sister and all we really cared about was the arrival of Santa Claus but there was lots of stuff happening before he came to visit.  There was dinner and then we would start slapping ourselves so we could stay awake and go to Midnight Mass. Back in the old days when I was a child it actually snowed in Wisconsin.  Sometimes we would follow a snowplow to church or home so we could get where we were going. A funny thing always happened while we were at church - not that church itself wasn't funny enough most of the time with anxious children jumping all over the place and those priests wearing dresses. Somehow Santa knew we were at church and he or she - Santa could be a woman you know - would deliver the goodies while we were gone.  Isn't that amazing? The festivities really got cranking after that with wrapping paper all over the place and the Radish kids zipped up with cookies and my parents zipped up with a few holiday cocktails.  The best part was feeling loved and safe and happy and that is why to this day I keep a string of lights up all year round.  Bottoms up - Santa is coming!

GIVEAWAY!  The Shortest Distance Between Two Women to remind my readers that even if we argue with our siblings during the holidays we are still required to love them!

The Shortest Distance Between Two Women
Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.…
After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? She’s put a lot of distance between herself and Samuel, filling her life with work and family, lavishing her attention on her lovely nieces and a garden that’s the pride of Higgins, South Carolina. So why does his voice still have the power to make her heart skip? Why can’t she stop thinking about this man she’d forgotten so long ago?

Emma has always been the dependable daughter, the mediator of the controlled chaos always surrounding her high-strung sisters and her widowed mother, Higgins’s own senior citizen seductress. But with the annual Gilford family reunion just around the corner, at least two of her sisters approaching meltdown, and her favorite teenage niece taking sanctuary in her home, Emma’s concrete wall of self-denial is showing cracks. And on the other side is a life she can’t put off living a moment longer.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 11: Samantha March: 12 Authors of Christmas

I loved the holidays and especially Christmas as a kid. The family would get dressed up and trek the 10 minute drive to Grandma’s house where we would celebrate as a big joyous family. Food was eaten, drinks drunk, and presents exchanged. At the end of the night I would gather in a spare room with my favorite cousins, Leah and Erinne, and we would discuss all the great gifts Santa would bring, because we had been especially good this year (said every year!). Eventually the kids would fall asleep, and my mom and stepdad would carry me and my little brother to the car and drive us home. The next morning, to our extreme delight, we would find that Santa did indeed bring us what we wanted – American Girl dolls, The Baby-Sitters Club books, and a new pair of roller skates. Well, those were for me. I can’t remember what all my brother got ;) As we got older, the magic of Christmas seemed to wear off. Entering teenage years and then early adult hood, the holidays became about how much money you would spend on gifts, the time needed to go gift shopping, and how to split the holidays between significant others and their families. But I try not to let that get me down. I still feel magic in the air when Christmas arrives. I can still imagine myself as a little girl in Grandma’s room, wondering where Santa and his reindeer were at that exact moment. I love seeing the looks on my nieces and nephews faces when they open presents or see the glass of milk has been downed by Santa. The holidays are truly a time to celebrate and be with family. Even if the magic wears off as we become adults, I think it’s even better to pass that spirit along to children. I’ll be excited when I have some of my own running around, gathering cookies, milk, and of course carrots for the reindeer, to leave out on Christmas Eve night.

Another great Christmas gift? My second novel, The Green Ticket! Marching Ink will be publishing The Green Ticket on December 5, and one lucky winner will be entered to win an eBook copy on this fabulous blog :) Thanks again Emily for having me!

Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and her debut novel Destined to Fail. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Ticket

College junior Alex Abrams scores her dream job at the ripe age of twenty – manager to a successful salon and spa. Thrilled to finally have a real adult job, Alex enthusiastically jumps into the world of schedules, conference calls, and getting a massage when interviewing prospective employees. What she doesn’t expect are the very grown-up issues that comes with a demanding boss. Kevin Dohlman quickly becomes Alex’s worse nightmare – covering up his affairs, dealing with his enormous ego, and trying to protect her female staff from him becomes a full-time job in its own right. Alex has also befriended Kevin’s wife and co-owner, Dani, and is trying to keep Kevin’s secrets hidden from her. The situation only worsens when Kevin starts paying Alex off to make sure she keeps her insider knowledge to herself.

While struggling to keep her wits and stay happy with her new grown-up job, Alex is juggling college courses, a new love interest, and keeping up with her close group of girlfriends. When her roommate and best friend Lila gets offered an opportunity to move to Los Angeles and sign with an agent, Alex realizes her life truly is changing, and everyone around her – including herself ¬¬–– is growing up. Knowing she is faced with some hard decisions ahead, Alex struggles with keeping her job at Blissful. But does she really want to throw away what she dreamed of as a career – or will the secret-keeping for Kevin become too much to handle? The Green Ticket is a story about morals versus money, and how one young woman navigates the shaky line between the two.

Jasmine Jones is ready to begin her new life as a college student, and is ecstatic to have best friend Abby by her side. But weeks into their new college life, Abby drops the bomb- she is pregnant, and dropping out of college. Jasmine can’t handle the fact that Abby is wasting her opportunity to get an education, and going back to her cheating, abusive boyfriend. She struggles to move on from her friendship with Abby, but befriends two new girls at college. Everything seems back on track for Jasmine- great new friendships and roommates, a strong relationship with boyfriend Nate, and excelling at her college courses. But Jasmine’s newfound happiness is shattered when her pregnancy test comes out positive. Does she have to drop out of college now and become a young mother? Will Nate stay with her? How can she afford a child? Jasmine’s life has been filled with obstacles and challenges along the way- from a missing father, sexual and physical abuse, and addictions that tore her family apart. With this latest setback, Jasmine fears her life will always be a struggle. Destined to Fail is one woman’s story about overcoming adversity in life, about taking the negatives and finding a positive, and about never giving up hope.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 10: Jackie Pilossoph: 12 Authors of Christmas

I Heart Romantic Comedy Christmas Movies
By:  Jackie Pilossoph

                The holidays are all about family and togetherness and kids and presents and eggnog and turkey, right? But Christmas and New Years can also be very romantic times of the year, just ask any movie producer. There have been dozens of romantic comedies made that are set during the holidays. What’s more romantic than snow and cold and fireplaces and wine and mistletoe?
                So, I’d like to give you my list of favorite romantic comedy Christmas movies. If you’ve never seen one of these, I’d say you are missing out big time. And even if you’ve seen them all, these are movies you can watch over and over again, and I guarantee you’ll still laugh, cry and just plain old feel good. PS. They make great gifts, too!

When Harry Met Sally (1989):
When I decided to write this article, this was the first movie that came to mind. The last scene, when Harry (played by Billy Crystal) runs to the New Years Eve party to tell Sally (Meg Ryan) he’s in love with her is probably the cutest, most romantic scene I’ve ever watched.  Harry: “It’s not because it’s New Years Eve, and it’s not because I’m lonely. When you decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Sally: “You see Harry? You make it impossible for me to hate you, and I hate you Harry, I hate you.” Then they kiss. Got to give it to Nora Ephron on that one. She knew how to write a romantic love scene better than  anyone.

The Holiday (2006):
This is a layup. You’ve got Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Ed Burns (small role but so what?) and writer and director Nancy Meyers. What a completely cute, funny, romantic, entertaining feel good flick. Two women swap houses for a week over the holidays, and both experience the other’s life. They both, of course meet men. THE CUTEST! I wouldn’t expect any but that from Meyers.

Love Actually (2003):
Love Actually is one of those movies that has tons of stars in it, and all these different stories going on at the same time. What I remember so clearly about this movie is the story line between a writer (played by Colin Firth) and a Polish housekeeper he falls in love with, even though she doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t speak Polish. I thought that was a brilliant love story idea. All the other stories as very cute and romantic, as well, the movie offering nothing but happy tears, smiles and that fulfilling ending that has you thinking happy thoughts for days.

Serendipity (2001):
Aww, how can you resist a good John Cusack romantic comedy? Set during the holidays in New York City, and co-starring beautiful Kate Beckinsale, and one of my favorites, Jeremy Piven, Serendipity will have you rooting for this cute couple to reunite. I think the message of the movie is to offer hope to people who think true love is hard to find (which it is!) Plus, the last scene in the movie is adorable. They are standing at the counter of some department store buying gloves together.  If they were going for a tear jerking ending with some giggles, producers nailed it.

The Family Stone (2005):
Anything with Sara Jessica Parker can’t be bad. That’s my theory, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I went to see The Family Stone when it first came out. That said, the movie was in a word: fantastic! Luke Wilson sort of made the movie, but then you’ve got tons of other adorable characters, including Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams (who deserves special mention for how funny she was) and Craig T. Nelson. The family was adorable, the relationship that sparks between Luke and Parker is THE BEST, and the sense of love and family and tragedy will have you bawling. Great flick!!

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001):
This movie made me fall head over heals with Colin Firth. It is also by far, Renee Zellweger’s best movie  (although, her performance in Jerry McGuire falls into that category, too.) This movie is the epitome of  the single woman trying to find love. I can guarantee that any woman watching Bridget Jones’s Diary can relate to her and to the story. The movie is funny, sweet, entertaining, and sends a great message. Best scene: when Bridget runs outside (while it’s snowing and really cold) in her underwear to chase down her guy. Brilliant.

On a side note, it’s not only movies that can be romantic during the holidays. So can books, gifts, and other forms of entertainment, including music. So, I couldn’t resist mentioning one of my VERY FAVORITE Christmas songs, the very romantic All I want for Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey.

“I don’t want a lot for Christmas, There is just one thing I need, I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know.  Make my wish come true. All I want for Christmas is you.”

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year with your families and friends. AND I wish you the same when it comes to love and romance.

Free Gift With Purchase

Your FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE doesn't always come from the department store makeup counter!

Emma and Laura are about as different as two sisters can be. Emma's always been the party girl, Laura, the hardworking doctor. But now, the two have something in common. Both are newly single and trying out the dating scene after marriage.

Emma's a widow and a single mother with a guilty secret she can't let go. Laura's husband just dumped her for one of four women he's been sleeping with. A dispute over the house forces Laura to move in with her sister and that's when the fun begins.

Go on some dates with these 42 and 44 year-old adorable sisters who are both looking for love and your jaw will surely drop! Laura's mixed bag includes Dan, a selfish womanizer, Ari, a stalker, and Tim, a compulsive liar. For Emma there's gorgeous, sexy Preston, a self-proclaiming "fun guy," beautiful Alice, who's a lesbian, and a string of Matts who go from bad to worse. Then there's separated, charismatic, wealthy Luke Sullivan. Luke's carrying some baggage, but he makes Emma's heart stop every time he appears.

Free Gift With Purchase is a book about two sisters who have always seen things from an entirely different perspective, but who as women in need of each other learn to consider that instead of judging, looking through each other's eyes might make their lives a lot richer. In other words, when you buy into opening your heart and believing in yourself, you might just end up with a Free Gift With Purchase.


If your mother offered you 8 million dollars to have a baby, would you do it??

Jamie Jacobson doesn't have a lot of faith in love, except when it comes to her Jimmy Choo shoes. Her brother Danny has two loves; his barely existent acting career and his ability to pick up women. But life is about to take a wild turn for these two dysfunctional but lovable siblings now that their mother has just won the lottery.

Frankie, a longtime widow has wanted grandchildren for years. Now she's prepared to pay cash for them. When Frankie presents her son and daughter each with a contract promising $8 million dollars if he or she can produce a child in the next twelve months (DNA tested, of course), Jamie and Danny each begin a frantic search for a person to help them reproduce.

Come along on their desperate, outrageous and hilarious journeys where fake seductions, ovulation kits and a tarot-card reader are replacing condoms, the pill and fun, meaningless hook-ups. They hit a couple big bumps in the road that have nothing to do with their lack of diaper changing experience, but a lot to do with their hearts.

Now they face the choice of their lives. Give in to love? Or go for the JACKPOT?

Hook, Line and Sink Him

A hilarious and heartwarming novel about the fear of commitment, the beauty of devotion, and loyalty with the right person, this is the story of Anna, who wants to get married; her boyfriend Chris, who wants to wait; and Jeff and Dave, two relationship-phobic guys who guarantee they can convince Chris into walking down the aisle. After their plan works, Jeff, Dave, and Anna decide to go into business together, taking on clients, manipulating boyfriends, and turning frustrated girls into blushing brides, all while raking in the cash. But the marriage business gets messy when Jeff discovers he has a little problem—he never counted on falling madly in love with Anna, the girl who is now planning her wedding thanks to him.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 9: Andrew McAllister: 12 Authors of Christmas

Hi Everyone,

It’s a pleasure to be included in the 12 Authors of Christmas event – thanks to Mrs. Mommy Booknerd! This is a truly cool thing. However I notice I’m the only male author included in the event. I’m not sure what to make of this. It might be some sort of conspiracy. It’s also quite possible I’m lost and I’ve stumbled into this event by mistake. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like that.

I thought I’d tell you a bit about my writing. My current work in progress is a relationship self-help book entitled Housework Harmony – How To End The Chore Wars So You Both Win. I write about problems that bother couples because they bother me too. The problems, that is. Not the couples. Well … most couples anyway. Although there is that pair down the street who claim the fifteen-foot Elvis in my front yard is an eyesore. There’s just no pleasing some people.

But I digress.

Here’s a random fact about my writing – I always plan to get plenty of it done during the Christmas break. I’m one of the many authors who writes for a non-living while maintaining a day job on the side. (Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be the other way around. Just smile and nod so I can hang on to my delusions.)

That means at least two different agendas go to war inside my head whenever any type of holiday rolls around. Take this Christmas for instance. On the one hand I’m looking forward to having loads of family fun. My son and daughter are both away at college and will be home for a couple of weeks, which means more to me than I can say. They will be my priority. (My daughter still likes to curl up with her head on my shoulder while I read to her. I can’t tell you how lucky that makes me feel.)

I must admit there’s also another part of me that wants to take advantage of the time off to pump out some extra pages. I always imagine being up early each day, tapping away madly on the laptop while the members of my family blissfully sleep in. And then I envision them drifting down to the kitchen one by one, eventually waking up enough so we can all plan our day of relaxing and making wondrous celebrations together.

Right. As if.

Oh, the traditional family activities all take place, just like they’re supposed to. The uninterrupted quiet time for some extra writing? Not so much. That time is more likely to be taken up by such things as last minute shopping, helping people run errands, or the additional housework and meal preparation required because of the extra people in the house.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I think about it, I realize this has become a weird sort of Christmas tradition for me. Every year I fool myself into thinking that THIS year is going to be the one. This will finally be the year when the stars align with Mars (or is it Venus?) and the pages will fly. And every year I end the Holiday Season with the realization that I’ve spent my time in ways that are much more important. That thought always makes me smile.
Unauthorized AccessGift giving is one of those important activities, so I’d like to kick that off today by offering a giveaway for two e-books. The first is my current release, a novel entitled Unauthorized Access. This is the story of Rob Donovan and Lesley McGrath, two young people in Boston whose engagement is cut short because of the jealous shenanigans of a supposed friend. You can see Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Showcase and Q&A for this book by clicking HERE, which includes an excerpt from the book.

The second e-book included in the giveaway is Housework Harmony. I’ll provide Unauthorized Access immediately once the winner is selected. Housework Harmony will follow as soon as it is released, which is scheduled for early 2013.

I’ve had another look at the list of authors included in the 12 Authors of Christmas event. I feel honored to be included in the company of such wonderful writers. This has motivated me to work hard on getting my next book done on time. Or maybe even a little bit early. You see, I hope to get some serious writing done during the Christmas break.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season everyone!

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