Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blog Tour Review: The Samaritan's Pistol


Congrats to Eric Bishop on his DEBUT, The Samaritan's Pistol! A Rocky Mountain Thriller published by Jolly Fish Press!
I’d like to start by saying I knew NOTHING about this book before opening it to the first page. I almost suggested Eric Bishop visit my blog and do a guest post, but...as I was one of the privileged few to receive an ARC of The Samaritan's Pistol I thought why not? And offered to do a review. The cover suggests some sort of crime novel, and I had seen hints that it had a flavour of a Western. I’m not a big fan of crime novels, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a Western, so I wasn’t all jump up-and-down-y to read it.

But you gotta live a little. Westerns have horses, and I’m a horsey person, so I thought I\d give it a try.

Enter Jim, the ex-military, PTSD-suffering, non-Mormon Wyoming cowboy riding a horse named Sam. What’s not to love about a modern day cowboy just trying to be nice and keep everybody happy? Especially when he’s a sharp-shooter and has a great horse and a brilliant dog? Jim is just a good guy in a bad situation, and he knows how to make it all better again.

The Bad Stuff 

Not a lot bad to say. I liked The Samaritan’s Pistol right away, and read it pretty-much straight through. There were a few times where I got a bit lost in the dialogue, maybe because I’ve been an East-Coast Canadian pretty much all my life. Sometimes I laughed out loud, and sometimes I just didn’t get it.  Eric skirts around topics that were new to me, like a non-Mormon cowboy picking at Mormon community life. Not sure how I feel about this. Awkward? Uncomfortable? I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to take Jim’s religious leanings, or lack there of. Especially when the bad-guy body count starts to pile up.

The Good Stuff: *spoiler alert*

There are many, many moments in the story I completely related to. I loved it when Duke (the dog) found himself a nice piece of horse hoof to chew on. How many times have I seen my own dog steal away with the same thing after the farrier drove away? And when Brody the farm hand turns all bad-a** and sets up a few bear traps for the bad guys, I wanted to cheer.  Go Brody! Eric really brings the feel of a Western ranch to life. The hard work, the friendly neighbours, the sounds and smells, the ‘we take care of our own’ mentality. And the combination of cowboy, gangster, ex-military stress and religious turmoil make for a solid read.

Although not my usual reading fare, I’d give The Samaritan’s Pistol two thumbs up! Not sure if Mr Bishop has converted me to Westerns but this is a great debut.  Looking forward to seeing what’s next from Eric Bishop!

The Samaritan’s Pistol is available from Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. You can find Eric Bishop on Facebook, Twitter and his Website.  

Also, join in on the draw to have a chance at winning a $15 Amazon Gift Card! Scroll down and see the box at the bottom of the posts!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Military Mondays: Meet Roberta Flood


Roberta Flood
Today’s guest is Roberta (Bobbi) Flood, a friend, entrepreneur and US Coast Guard wife, currently residing in the D.C area.  Bobbi and I met thirteen years ago when we (well, actually our husbands) were both posted to USCG Air Station Elizabeth City and our kidlets were babies. Some serious book clubbing and baby play-dates ensued…and through the wonders of Facebook we’ve managed to keep in touch.

Welcome Bobbi! Thanks so much for joining us on Military Monday!

Thanks Brenda.  I have been reluctant to join Facebook for years, but now I see how wonderful it is to reconnect with pals from the past.  I’m so glad to have found you and learn about your writing career.

So Bobbi, tell us a little about yourself. What is your connection to the military?

I’m military through and through.  I was raised as an Army Brat moving every two to three years.  We were fortunate enough to experience overseas duty stations such as Italy and Korea.  I was in the Army myself for seven years.  Now my husband is a U.S. Coast Guard pilot and we are moving our family around the country every few years.  It has come full circle for me I guess.

Can you give us a brief outline of your career path, and how the Coast Guard/Military life has affected it?

Brenda, I have to tell you that I pretty much do most things in the wrong order.  After college and during my first job I felt the desire to join the military.  So I enlisted in the Army.  Boy did the drill sergeants have fun with that: a college educated recruit.  I served in the Illinois Army National Guard while juggling my work for the Department of Natural Resources as a grower of native plant species.  During this time I took leave to do the OCS program (officer candidate school), start graduate school in Landscape Architecture, and eventually was selected for flight school. 

After I got married, my husband started his career in the Coast Guard.  And we decided to have a family.  I self selected myself out of everything.  The funny thing was that I really thought I could be a stay at home mom, do landscape design on the side, and fly in a reserve unit all at the same time.  After a few weeks with a new born, I quickly realized I wouldn’t get anything done but maybe a load of laundry, and not even folded at that.

Flash forward a decade now.  We have moved every few years and grown our family.  A friend of mine had a house fire and lost everything including heirloom photos, scrapbooks, and pre-digital memories.  It got me thinking.  As an army helicopter pilot, I was used to wearing Nomex flight suits that have some inherent flame resistance. I could not let go of the idea that fire protection for household memorabilia could come in more forms that are fire safe.  It took me about 6 or 7 years to incubate the idea.

Tell us about ZquaredAway…how did your company come into being?

I finally reached the point were I was ready to jump on in and give this idea a try.  I spent the last two years in product development, testing, marketing and building a brand. It has been a ton of work but if nothing else, I have learned so much.  A business owner has to know a little about everything from payroll to the needle and thread size to use in manufacturing.

How are sales going? Any plans for the future?

ZquaredAway is now selling on Amazon with success.  Amazon offers a start-up the opportunity to reach millions.  We just need a decimal of that amount to prove my concept.  We plan to team up with a manufacturing facility here in the USA to expand production.  

Back to your military background, what are some of your favourite things about the Coast Guard life?

I love to tell people about where my kids go on their field trips because that pretty much shows how blessed we are to move to such unique regions. In Alaska, the kids would walk from school to a tidal basin and pick up starfish and sea cucumbers. In Cape Cod, they took trips to Martha’s Vineyard.  In Arizona, a graduate school tour for my husband, we were only two hours from the Grand Canyon and the kid’s classes would go hike up there. Now we are in the D.C. area.  We are ten minutes from all the monuments and capital hill and the field trip possibilities are endless.  These are places that people dream their entire lives of visiting.

What about challenges? Do your feel that life as a Coastie wife has presented challenges that others may not have experienced?

Brenda, I’d like to answer that in regards to career and kids.  First, no matter how we tell ourselves that moving is a benefit for our children and that it makes them stronger, more resilient kids, the truth is it doesn’t make it any easier on them.  They have to prove themselves in a new group of kids each time they move and establish who they are. It is so important to be there for them during each transition. 

As a spouse, I had pretty much given up on a career.  Unless you are in a career field that needs folks anywhere, establishing a steady climbing career is just tough.  I chose to lean out and be a steady factor for our kids. I have a friend that likes to say “there will be many chapters to her life.”  I love that quote because I understand that now.  I feel blessed to be able to begin another new chapter now.

That's a great saying--"many chapters".  I may have to use that sometime. Thanks so much for joining us Bobbi! Maybe someday we’ll get down your way again to share a glass of wine.

Thank you Brenda for the opportunity to share my thoughts. Good luck on your next book.  You’re an inspiration to us all.

Aww... :) I've only done a few of these posts, and I'm already finding out so much about military spouses. How strong they are, how inventive they are, and how dedicated they are to their husbands/wives and families. It's been a privilege having you on my blog.
You can find out more about Bobbi’s fabulous ZquaredAway fire, water, and heat  resistant covers at: https://www.zquaredaway.com/ . She’s also on Facebook.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: Here Without You by Tammara Webber

I bought my first Tammara Webber book about two years ago, based on a best-seller/inexpensive e-book recommendation on my Kindle.  It sounded fun, light, and cheap so I paid the three or four dollars and downloaded BETWEEN THE LINES.

I finished it in a day.

I downloaded the second book, WHERE YOU ARE. I devoured it. Then I waited...not very patiently I might add...for book three: GOOD FOR YOU. Same thing.

So when book four, HERE WITHOUT YOU, released I couldn't even wait to dig my Kindle out of the back seat of my car...which my husband had taken with him on a business trip. I downloaded it on my iPhone. Twenty four hours later, I'm writing this blog. For no other reason than I can't contain my gushing praise for a great book.

The Synopsis (From Ms. Webber's blog):

Everyone has secrets.
Some are buried so deep, their existence is forgotten.
But a secret never told can turn into a lie.
And in love, a lie is one thing:


 Reid is in love with Dori, though she hasn't told her parents she's fallen hard for the guy they'd forbidden her to see. Now she's leaving for college, and Reid's promise not to push her to go public is wearing thin, especially when she can't - or won't - return those three important words he wants to hear.

 Five years ago, Brooke and Reid were a Thing. That relationship is long gone, detonated amid allegations of cheating - but they still share a secret that would stun everyone they know and alter public perception of them both if it ever comes out. And it's about to do just that.

 Here Without You is the fourth, final installment in the Between the Lines series, which includes: Between the Lines, Where You Are, and Good For You.

The BETWEEN THE LINES series is a New Adult series that follows Hollywood starlets as they discover love and learn that life can't be scripted. Emma, Reid, Brooke, Dori, and Graham have to deal with some serious issues, always underscored by the paparazzi's take on things. Lies get magnified and truths get altered by one picture, one rumor or one misunderstood gesture. In Reid and Dori's case, his past destructive behavior and his present celebrity status become a deterrent to her feelings for him. And the secrets they both hold could completely destroy the one good thing that's happened to either of them in a long time.

As a writer, I've found that I read more and more for pure enjoyment. If something doesn't catch me, doesn't entertain me, I don't want to read it. I'm not looking for deep literary tomes. I'm looking to fall in love with characters and live their problems with them. I'm looking for small truths revealed amidst real-to-life dialogue and story telling. Regardless of age range or genre. And if you're looking for something similar, this series is for you. Tammara Webber is...I don't have enough superlatives to put into words her amazingness. Or what a fabulous job she does at bringing characters to life. I want to shake Dori. I want to swoon over Reid. I want to hug River. I want you to READ THIS BOOK. It's just that good.  Two HUGE thumbs up.

Only down side? The 'fourth, final installment' part. Nooooooooooooo! Say it isn't so! I want more.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Military Monday: Meet Marie Cotter

Happy Military Monday to you!

Today's guest post is by a new friend of mine, a wonderful woman I had the good fortune to meet through my husband while he was away on course in Toronto. She was a student on the same course, and has been a first rate supporter of my writing career since we met.

Marie Cotter: friend and
military spouse!
Marie is a wonderful example of the strength of Military Spouses--she has persevered through some
extremely challenging times, and has a successful career and family. She's lived through some (but thankfully not all) of the experiences my heroine in DEPENDENT lives through, and she's proven that life goes on. Not only that, but life can go on in a positive and enriching way.

Meet Marie Cotter, military spouse and proud Canadian!
Background: Tell us about yourself, in relation to the Canadian Forces, that is.

My Mom and Dad met at Stadacona (in Halifax, Nova Scotia), and my Dad had a full career in the military.  Lots of moves as a kid.  I joined the military for a while, and I married the funniest, coolest guy in NATO.  A few more moves.  Sadly, I lost him in a training accident, but was surrounded and supported by the Regimental family.  Now twice blessed, I’m remarried, again to another terrific military guy.  All that time, I’ve been either in the regular force or the reserves myself.  I count the military spouses as sisters, not just friends.

Why do you think military spouses are special?

If you’re a military spouse, you already know this, so you can skip over it.  Keeping the home fires burning isn’t just trite expression.  The husbands and wives of our uniformed folks do what most would quickly become discouraged with and abandon – we keep our home going, bills paid, daily tasks accomplished, children cared for and loved.  Oh yeah, and lots of us hold down jobs.  Without our spouse around to pitch in, provide support, encouragement, or call the appliance repair guy.

We do that, knowing our husband or wife will be returning next week, next month, or next year.  We deal with the school problems (hoping it’s the right thing to do), shoulder the household issues, shovel the driveway or mow the lawn.  Accepting invitations to social events, knowing we’ll be alone or maybe with a “stand-in”.  We rely on babysitters to escape the young ones for just an hour or two.  We comfort the kids and keep them happily anticipating their Mom or Dad’s return, and reassure our families who are likely in a different part of the country all together. 

Military spouses and national security? Really?

I’ll bet you haven’t thought of this angle.  Let’s face, it.  A lot of military spouses are wives.  Lots of dudes, too, but the majority are women.  And women aren’t typically the ones to blow their own horn.  So you won’t have heard this often ... or at all.  Well, I just completed a 10-month program examining National Security, and I am convinced our military spouses one of the country’s great strengths.  The same goes for many other nations too.  Here’s why.

Our uniformed folks, the majority being men, go off on deployment to some pretty crazy places.  Here’s the thing.  He (or in some cases she) has the reassurance of knowing that someone is waiting, and keeping a life going somewhere sane, where the rules and expectations are familiar.  And where he (or she) is wanted and loved.  And knowing there is an open pair of arms at the end of the day is what keeps people going.  I’ve been those loving arms, and I’ve needed those loving arms to be folded around me. 

I am certain that knowing there is a beating heart and an open pair of arms allows our uniformed folks to focus completely on doing what they do in those crazy places.  Doing Canada proud. National Security?  Damn straight.
Thanks so much Marie, for sharing your thoughts! Hope to have you back on the blog again soon.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Reunion on Ellen

I was playing around on YouTube this morning, and I found this video.

Firstly, I love Ellen DeGeneres. She's upbeat, she's funny, she's generous and best of all--you know she's just a good person. She stands up for her beliefs and she's willing to go to bat for others that can't. And now she's going to host the Oscars again.

Anyway, when I saw the title of this video pop up, I couldn't help but watch it. If you can watch this without crying you are a stronger person than I am...

Did you bawl?

What I love about this story isn't the fact that she was able to bring them together on her show. It isn't the honeymoon trip or the gift of money. What I love about this video is that one of the first things Jessica's hubby did was praise his wife for how amazing she was. How he was able to do what he was doing because he knew that she was home, taking care of things.

Because that's what military spouses do.