Monday, December 30, 2013

The LEGO Adventure Book: Spaceships, Pirates, Dragons & More!


~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~


Synopsis (from No Starch): Join Megs and Brickbot on another exciting tour of LEGO® building in this second volume of The LEGO Adventure Book series. As they track the Destructor and rebuild the models he destroys, you'll follow along and meet some of the world's best builders. Learn to create sleek spaceships, exotic pirate hideaways, fire-breathing dragons, fast cars, and much more. With nearly 40 step-by-step breakdowns and 100 example models, The LEGO Adventure Book is sure to spark your imagination and keep you building!


My Review:  Another home run by No Starch Press and their LEGO authors.  My kids really loved the "comic" style writing in this book.  It is different from the other LEGO books we have reviewed.  
Isn't this shipwreck island cool?  I just can't believe all the things that can be made with LEGOs.
This shows what type and number of pieces you need to make the Market Cart.  

All the instructions throughout the LEGO Adventure Book are just like this.  Very easy to follow along.
Brick Friends was my favorite section/chapter.  The bridge with the ducks is the best.  Look below and you will see cows in the field.  I want to build that for my dad "the farmer!"  The health club is awesome too.  There is a guy bench pressing, treadmills, juice bar and a locker room.  Seriously, how do they do it!


Thumbs up all around at my house for the The LEGO Adventure: Spaceships, Pirates, Dragons & More!


Meet the Author:  Megan Rothrock is a former set designer for the LEGO Group whose models have been displayed at ComicCon and at LEGO events across Europe. Rothrock enjoys meeting builders at LEGO fan events and hopes that her book will inspire the LEGO builders of tomorrow. Originally from California, she currently lives in Denmark where she works as a freelance toy designer.


Connect: You can connect with No Starch Press online at their blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase it:  You can purchase LEGO Adventure Book online at No Starch Press ($24.95 for hard cover and free ebook; $19.95 ebook) or Amazon ($24.95 hardcover; $11.99 Kindle version).


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

LEGO Space - Building the Future


~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~



Synopsis (from No Starch Press): Come explore an incredible LEGO® universe in LEGO Space: Building the Future. Spaceships, orbital outposts, and new worlds come to life in this unique vision of the future, built completely from LEGO bricks.
A selection of step-by-step building instructions will have you constructing your own cosmic creations to play with at home. Marvel at interstellar battlecruisers, space pirates, charming robots, and other stunning builds from an amazing future!
My Review: As you may remember, we love LEGOs at my house and LEGO Space - Building the Future book is no exception.  It is a very cool book and my kids all agree. My kids loved the step-by-step instructions on how to construct all the space ships and robots.  I liked the story (reading) that went along with the book.  It is an extra bonus when I can add fun to reading!

Read all about the Robots!

www.seasidebooknook.com
Step-by-step instructions (including the type and number of pieces you need-look out LEGO store, here we come!)


Once again, No Starch Press out did themselves with beautiful illustrations.  


www.seasidebooknook.com
Isn't he too cute!
www.seasidebooknook.com
 Read all about the pilots
www.seasidebooknook.com
I just love the photos!
What Others Are Saying: "LEGO and space, a match made in heaven." —CNET

"LEGO, is there nothing it can’t do? A bricky final frontier." —SFX

"One small brick for man, one giant brick for mankind." —BuzzFeed

Meet the Authors: Peter Reid has been a fan of LEGO since childhood. He is a contributor to The LEGO Play Book, his work appeared in The LEGO Book, and he has attended design workshops with the LEGO Group in Billund. His incredible LEGO Exo Suit, featured in this book, has been chosen by LEGO for mass production in 2014, as LEGO CUUSOO #006, Exo Suit. He lives near London with his fiancee, Yvonne.


Tim Goddard is a contributor to the New York Times-bestselling The LEGO Ideas Book and The LEGO Play Book. He has also participated in product development with the LEGO Group. He works as a laboratory manager and lives with his wife, Sharon, in the UK.

Connect: You can connect with No Starch Press online at their blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase it:  You can purchase LEGO Space Building the Future online at No Starch Press ($24.95 for hard cover and free ebook; $19.95 ebook) or Amazon ($24.95 hardcover; $9.99 Kindle version).


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

It Started With a Kiss Book Blast and Giveaway




Title: It Started With a Kiss
Author:  Lindy Dale
Published: October 10th, 2013
Publisher:  Secret Creek Press
Word Count:  21,000
Genre:  Contemporary Women's Fiction/ Chick Lit


Synopsis:  Out for a jog one Saturday afternoon, Georgie Bird is greeted by two things she never expected to see ~ a huge lump of dog doings on the sole of her shoe and her old boyfriend Nate. Nate and Georgie had been the only peas in the pod growing up and in the twelve years since they’ve seen each other, neither of them seems to have forgotten. Over a cup of coffee and a series of shared recollections, Georgie and Nate begin to rekindle the embers of the love they lost.
But can they save the relationship or will their one night of passion bring the closure they never had?



About the Author:
Lindy has lived on an acreage in country Western Australia for the past two years, after moving from the big city of Perth. She shares this laid back lifestyle with her long suffering and handsome husband, Big G, her two dogs and a flock of sheep named after the Brady Bunch characters. She also has two fabulously talented children who are pursuing their own creative careers and will one day be famous! Lindy began writing at University but never really wanted  to be 'an author'. She wanted to be a Princess or at worst a Kindergarten teacher. Her first novel, Heart of Glass was penned in 2007 and since then she has developed her voice as a Chick Lit and Women's Fiction author. Her greatest achievement to date is having a Top Five Bestseller on the Short Stories List with Amazon early in 2013. Filled with hilarious and sweet moments the novella, A Cupid Kind of Day, is a good representation of Lindy's hunorous writing style.

On a good day ~ when not at her day job teaching literacy ~ you can find Lindy lurking around Twitter and Facebook generally seeing how much useless information she can impart in 140 characters or less. She's a hopeless U2 and Bon Jovi fan, a rugby union fanatic, coffee lover, chocoholic, over-exaggerator, trashy TV, music and iPhone addict. If you can't Google it then it's not worth knowing!


Giveaway Details:  There is an International tour wide giveaway.  The Prize is:

   $20 Amazon Gift Card


Excerpt: As they made their way into the theatre, Nate caught up to her, nudging her arm with his elbow in his usual greeting style. He was dressed up that day, wearing jeans of all things. Nate never wore jeans in summer. He liked board shorts.
“Hi Georgie.”
“Hi.”
“You’re late today.”
“I had to get changed after ballet.”
“I’m glad you’re here,” he said, grabbing hold of her hand and dragging her towards the double doors of the theatre. “You can save me from Jessica. She’s being annoying again.”
It was no secret the Jessica had a crush on Nate. She followed him around like a puppy, even inviting herself along when they went to the beach. Not that Jessica surfed. She was a girlie girl. She sat on the sand in her sparkly bikini and watched. She jumped up and down and applauded Nate’s prowess so that her breasts jiggled. It was very distracting. One time, after a particularly rigorous display, a couple of the boys fell off their surfboards.
Georgie gave a giggle. “Nathan’s got a girlfriend, Nathan’s got a girlfriend,” she teased.
“Shut up. She’s not my girlfriend. The only girlfriend I have is you.”
Georgie refrained from reminding him that she hadn’t been his girlfriend since they got married in his wardrobe when they were eight.  They were mates.
“You look pretty, by the way,” he said, as they shuffled along the row to their seats. He put the snacks down in between them. “That top looks nice.”
“It’s new.”
“Well, it looks good. You look good.” His cheery blue eyes glanced over her body before coming to rest on her face. For some reason, Georgie felt herself blushing.
“Thank you.”
Then Nate’s focus moved to her lips and Georgie reddened even more. So much for him not noticing the lip-gloss. His eyes were stuck to it, like her lips were made of Super Glue. Trying to concentrate on something, anything other than the way he was looking at her, Georgie twisted at the garnet ring he’d given her because he said it matched her eyes. She shoved her hands between her knees, wiggling her legs up and down. He was making her feel all weird inside. It was very uncomfortable.
“Georgie?”
Georgie pretended to watch the previews that had come up on the screen. “Hmm?”
“Nothing.” Nate half-turned towards the movie too, a queer look on his face. Then he blurted, “Are you wearing lipstick?”
Geez, what was his problem? It was as if by putting on a bit of make-up she’d transformed from best friend Georgie to a new Georgie he’d never known existed and now he couldn’t stop staring. But she hadn’t done it to make Nate notice her. She’d only wanted to be like the other girls.
“Is there something wrong with that?”
Nate shrugged. “Nup. I like you better without it, though. It makes you look like you ate too many toffee apples. I like you better when you’ve just got out of the surf and your hair’s all messy.”
“And I like you better when you’re not being an idiot. If you don’t cut it out, I’ll swap places with Jessica and leave you to fight her off.”




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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Bride Stripped Bare TLC Book Tour and $1.99 e-Book!


~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~
Nikki Gemmell


Synopsis (from Amazon): A woman disappears, leaving behind an incendiary diary chronicling a journey of sexual awakening. To all who knew her, she was the good wife: happy, devoted, content. But the diary reveals a secret self, one who's discovered that her new marriage contains mysteries of its own. She has discovered a forgotten Elizabethan manuscript that dares to speak of what women truly desire, and inspired by its revelations, she tastes for the first time the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is: How long can she sustain a perilous double life?


My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I am really struggling with The Bride Stripped Bare.  It was very well written and tells a good story, but I am really bothered it.  There has to be a sequel - it just can't end the way it did.  

After many, many hours spent thinking about The Bride Stripped Bare, there are several things that just have me worked up. The first was her being dependent on her husband.  I was raised to be independent and to be able to take care of myself and my family.  I have daydreamed about not having to work and to be a stay-at-home mother.  Given that I have never lived that life, I can't judge the main character, but it really bothered me that she gave up her career when she got married.  

I am also bothered by her relationship with Gabriel and yet, I am sure it happens more than I even can imagine.  It is probably happening within my own neighborhood!  But I honestly have to say the taxi drivers....I can't imagine it and it broke my heart.  Emotionally, I felt I was right there with her....a very well written scene.

The Bride Stripped Bare really had me on an emotional roller coaster, that I am not sure I have gotten off yet. This would be a GREAT book club book - the discussion would be pretty deep!

Favorite Character(s):  I was surprised that it took me up to now to realize we don't know the name of the main character.  As I am sitting here, trying to think of my favorite character, I was going through all of them....Cole, the husband, Theo (the best friend), Gabriel (the lover), Martha (the friend), Mother (the main character's mother) and Jack (the baby). 

I have to say, I don't have a favorite character.  They all have their place in the story, but I didn't connect with any of them.

Setting:  London (which I love), but there really wasn't a focus on the setting.  The focus is more of a bored housewife and her sexual awakening.

Fast read/slow read:  For me it was a slower read. However, it was an easy read. I liked the format....diary style broken down into 138 lessons.  It was easy to put down and pick up.

Cover:  I like it, but I don't get it.  I actually really like this one....

What Others Are Saying:  'Starkly explicit...richly descriptive with a fast-paced narrative' Sunday Telegraph.

'Nikki Gemmel's prose has a wonderful sensuousness...witty...a subtle portrait of a modern and rather alienating marriage' Lisa Appignanesi, Independent Magazine 

'Must read...A tale of sexual awakening for the dark horse in all of us' Tatler 
'The sex is well-written...Gemmell is refreshingly straightforward about the act' Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard 

'Easy to read, hard to put down. Keep an extinguisher handy' Closer 

'A page-turner' Evening Standard 

'A bored housewife embarks on a life of sexual pleasure...The sex is rude and raunchy and "exactly where you want it"' Elle 

'Personal dilemmas are bravely explored; thoughts and fantasies about sex and infidelity, which most women have learned to keep to themselves, are laid bare on the page in all their shocking glory...brutal, brilliant and addictive' Glasgow Herald


Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Yes, but not in a row. I am still processing this one.

Meet the Author:  Nikki Gemmell's unmasking as the 'anonymous' author of The Bride Stripped Bare sparked tremendous media interest in the book, which went on to become an international bestseller. Reviewers have hailed the freshness and power of her writing.

Connect: You can connect with Niiki online at her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Purchase it:  You can purchase The Bride Stripped Bare online at Amazon for $13.95 ($1.99 Kindle version - you can't beat this!!)



TLC Book Tours:

Please make sure you check out other reviews on the TLC Book Tour.

Monday, December 2nd: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, December 3rd: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, December 4th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, December 5th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Thursday, December 5th: Bodice Ripper Novels
Friday, December 6th: Cruising Susan Reviews
Friday, December 6th: Lovely Reads
Friday, December 6th: BookNAround
Friday, December 20th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]


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A Madaris Bride For Christmas Blog Tour and Giveaway!




Synopsis:

IN HER 100TH BOOK, NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR blends heated sensuality and drama into a dazzling new novel featuring one of her most unforgettable Madaris heroes yet…

One by one, Madaris men have surrendered to the matchmaking schemes of Felicia Laverne Madaris, matriarch of the family. But Lee Madaris isn't letting anyone else control his destiny. He'll bring a bride of his own choosing to the family's holiday gathering—if his hotel's gorgeous new chef will agree to a marriage of convenience.

It's not just the chance to work at the Strip's hottest hotel that brought Carly Briggs to Vegas. Witnessing a crime in Miami may have made her a mob target. Though she's reluctant to complicate their working relationship, Lee's tempting offer is so hard to resist. And soon, desire is clouding their no-strings arrangement.

The danger that made Carly flee Miami is about to land at their door. So Carly and Lee must decide who to trust, when to let go—and whether a love they never anticipated is strong enough to pass the ultimate test.

About the author:

A New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning author of more than seventy-five romance titles, Brenda is a recent retiree who divides her time between family, writing and traveling with her husband.

Connect with Brenda online at her website and Facebook.

Giveaway:  I am so excited - I have two print copies of Bride for Christimas to give away to anyone in the US or Canada.  Just leave a comment (and your email) letting me know if you have ever attended a holiday wedding?  Giveaway ends 12/10/2013 at midnight (EST).

Excerpt:
Lee Madaris glanced at the clock on his wall before rubbing away the tension forming in the back of his neck. Although it was nearing midnight, he was still in his office working. It was imperative that he do so.

Five potential investors would be arriving tomorrow and spending four days at the Grand MD Vegas hotel. He would be catering to them at a level that was unprecedented. The five men had enough cumulative capital to balance the national budget, if they'd chosen to do so. However, balancing the national budget wasn't Lee's goal. His objective was to get them to invest in his next hotel—the Grand MD Paris.

After the success of the Grand MD Dubai, as well as all the attention the hotel in Vegas had received since opening its doors four months ago, a number of investors were ready to provide funds for his next venture. But he didn't want just anyone; he wanted men willing to take a chance on a hotel that would be astonishingly different from its two predecessors. It would be a hotel of the future.

Both Grand MD hotels had been Madaris-Di Meglio joint ventures—highly successful and breaking sales records. But the third hotel, the one planned for Paris, France, would use state-of-the-art technology while maintaining the rich architectural design Paris was known for.

Lee's cousin and the architect in the family, Slade Madaris, had designed the first two Grand MDs and would likewise design the one proposed for Paris. Slade's design was nothing short of a masterpiece and would be unveiled at one of the meetings this week. Slade's twin brother, Blade, would be the structural engineer. No two Grand MD hotels would look the same. Each would have its own unique architecture and appeal.

Pulling in a deep breath, Lee returned his attention to the documents in front of him—bios on the five men. The name that topped the list was that of his grand-uncle Jake Madaris. Lee didn't need to read his uncle's bio.

The man was a walking genius when it came to playing the stock market, and as far back as Lee could remember, Jake had been financial adviser to the entire Madaris family. If it hadn't been for his uncle's smart move of establishing a trust fund for all his nieces and nephews when they were still in high school, Lee would not have had the money to partner with his good friend DeAngelo Di Meglio to build their first two hotels.

Jake and another family friend, Mitch Farrell, had been the hotels' financial backers. Mitch—the second man on the list—and Jake had already confirmed they were on board for the Paris hotel since the last two hotels had been a successful venture for them.

However, the price tag for a Paris hotel was higher than the price of the other two combined, and Jake had suggested bringing in other investors. All were good friends of Jake's, but his uncle had warned Lee that convincing them to invest would be Lee's responsibility.

He was ready.

The third person on the list was Kyle Garwood, a multimillionaire who made his primary home in Atlanta. Kyle was married, the father of six. Lee liked Kyle and highly respected him.

The last two men were sheikhs from the Middle East. Sheikh Rasheed Valdemon of Mowaiti had such a close relationship with the Madaris family that he had been named an honorary family member and occasionally went by the name of Monty Madaris when he did business in the United States.

Finally, there was Rasheed's brother-in-law, Sheikh Jamal Ari Yasir of Tahran. Lee had never met Sheikh Yasir but had heard he was a shrewd businessman, always looking for a good investment. He was married to an American woman, the former Delaney Westmoreland.

Lee would be wining and dining the five men in the Grand MD style. Everything was in place and would be set in motion as soon as they arrived tomorrow morning.

Their visit had been strategically planned down to the last detail. They would be given a tour of the hotel before they were served lunch. Since tomorrow was a traveling day, no meetings had been planned. However, early the following day, Lee's skilled marketing team would kick things off with several video presentations and meetings. Around three, the men and their wives would be given the chance to rest and relax before a dinner fit for royalty.

Afterward, they would enjoy the nightlife Vegas was famous for—from right inside the Grand MD. The casinos, live shows, state-of-the-art IMAX theater and the exquisite mall on the fifth floor that offered twenty-four-hour shopping all guaranteed that the Grand MD would gain a reputation as the hotel that never closed.

A winning hotel had to have a winning staff. He and Angelo had handpicked all of his executives and managers. Each had hotel experience and had come with sterling resumes and excellent recommendations. He and Angelo were pleased with every staff member, and those who didn't deliver were quickly replaced. Second-best was not an option at the Grand MD.

Lee moved away from his desk, intending to walk around and get his blood flowing, but the moment he stepped into the executive suite's lobby he stopped to stare at the huge picture hanging on the wall. It was a portrait of his great-grandmother Felicia Laverne Madaris the First, whom they fondly called Mama Laverne.

She was the matriarch of the Madaris family. Having borne seven sons, his grandfather Lee being one of them, Mama Laverne had raised her sons by herself after her husband, Milton, had died. All her sons were still alive except for Robert, who had been killed in the Vietnam War. Lee's grand-uncle Jake was Laverne's baby boy.

Mama Laverne had insisted that Lee hang this particular picture of her right there on that wall. She'd given the same directive to his other cousins. They all had the same framed photograph hanging in the offices of their various businesses. She was dressed in her Sunday best, with a huge dressy hat on her head, and she appeared to be looking directly at the viewer with those shrewd eyes and an all-knowing smile. At least she was smiling. A Mama Laverne frown could make him quake in his boots. She definitely liked giving orders, and she expected them to be carried out.

Lee chuckled. He wished he could say she was getting bossy in her old age, but as far back as he could remember, she'd always been bossy. Besides that, she was a notorious busybody when it came to meddling in the lives of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even at ninetysomething, he figured she would still be around to meddle with the great-great-grands' lives as well.

He didn't want to think of a time when she would no longer be in their midst. Their love for her was the main reason why he and his still-single brothers and cousins overlooked a lot of her shenanigans, especially her determination to marry off each of them.

Closing the door behind him, he walked along the spacious lobby hallway, noting the elegance, style and sophistication that were such integral parts of his Vegas hotel. Besides being the tallest building on the Strip, with seventy-five floors, it had an amusement park on one of its lower levels, making it an ideal place to stay for both adults and families. From the carpeting on the floor to the paintings on the wall, from the furnishings to the hotel's special amenities, anyone would agree that the hotel deserved the seven-star rating reviewers were giving it.

Sliding back huge glass doors, he stepped out onto the terrace of the executive suite. Normally, he wasn't one who took the time to appreciate a lot of greenery, but with the quality of the hotel on his mind, he couldn't help doing so. Various plants had been flown in just for this terrace.

Lee inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of the plants mixed with the September air. He looked beyond the Vegas view to study the looming desert. The rain had lessened the heat and now a sultry breeze stirred the air. The sky overhead looked dark and dreary. There didn't seem to be a single star. A part of him longed to be back in Houston, gazing up into a Texas night.

Lee shook off the longing. He had too much work to do to be melancholy. He hadn't been home since last Christmas and another one would be coming up soon, but opening the two Grand MDs had taken up all his time, personally and professionally. Now luring investors for a third hotel would make him even busier.

Just as he turned to go back inside, his gaze landed on a woman standing on the balcony a couple of levels below. His breath was snatched from his lungs. A low groan passed from his lips as a jolt of sexual energy rocked him to the bone.

She was beautiful. Sensually stunning. Picture-perfect.

She stood leaning against the balcony rail, wearing a sexy green dress and chocolate-colored stilettos, her hair blowing in the breeze. From her expression, as she stared down below, he could tell she was fascinated by the bright lights of the Strip.

Was she a guest at the hotel? He scanned the balcony connected to a tri-level observation deck. It appeared she was alone. Something about her pulled at him. She looked happy, peaceful, but lonely.

Lee didn't know the woman yet he felt as if he could read her perfectly. He stood and watched her, totally mesmerized. A slow heat flowed through him and pooled in his groin—she was arousing him in a way no other woman had. What was there about her that made every muscle in his stomach tie into knots? Made full awareness of her fill his every pore?

Granted, he hadn't dated in a while because of his stringent work schedule, but still, there was something about this particular woman that had lust rushing through his veins.

Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He checked his watch. It was getting late, but he had to meet that woman and find out why he found her so captivating.

Anticipation filled him as he made his way off the terrace and toward the elevator bank.

She simply loved it here, Carly thought. Bright lights lit the Strip and each hotel seemed to compete to shine the brightest.

It was hard to believe she had gotten the job of pastry chef at the Grand MD's Peyton's Place restaurant a little more than a month ago. The hotel had been gracious enough to give her time to resign from her job in Miami and remain in Florida long enough to pack up her things and attend Heather's wedding.

Initially, she had missed South Beach and wondered if she would ever get acclimated to Vegas's dry summer heat. But she had discovered that in addition to being a fun city with its infamous Strip, Vegas was also a nice place to live.

Her house was in a residential area of town not far from shopping. Because she had everything she needed right at her fingertips she rarely came into town on her days off.

Except for today.

Today was her twenty-eighth birthday, and she had decided to celebrate with a night on the town. She had even treated herself to a night at the Grand MD. It had to be the most beautiful hotel she had ever seen. Her room on the fiftieth floor was to die for and the service was excellent.

Carly had stumbled across this particular balcony a few weeks ago while on break. She loved the view, and it had become her favorite. There had been several other couples here earlier, enjoying the view as well, but they had departed, leaving her alone. She didn't mind. It was the story of her life.

Carly forced the depressing thought from her mind.

After all, it was her birthday and she intended to have fun. So far it had been a beautiful day. Before leaving home this morning she'd gotten calls from Aunt Ruthie and Heather. They had remembered, and they were the only two people in her life that counted.

There was a party going on in one of the ballrooms upstairs. She could hear the music playing, a Marvin Gaye classic. She felt like dancing. What the heck. It was her birthday and she had every right to be silly if she wanted to.

Turning from the rail, she waltzed across the floor. She closed her eyes and pretended she was at a party, celebrating her birthday in style, dancing around a ballroom filled with tall, dark, handsome men. One would come forward, claim her hand and ask—

"May I have this dance?"

At the sound of the deep, husky voice, Carly's eyes flew open and she stared into the most gorgeous pair of dark eyes she'd ever seen. And there was a very handsome face to go along with those eyes. Where on earth had he come from? She blinked, wondering if she was still clutched in the throes of her fantasy. She had to be.

"Are you real?" she asked, making sure she hadn't conjured him up in her mind.

He smiled and the sight of the dimple in his chin nearly brought her to her knees. It definitely caused every hormone in her body to sizzle.

"Yes, I'm real. Now, how about that dance," he said, taking her hand in his. A different song was playing now, this one by Luther Vandross.

Carly nodded her consent and he pulled her into his arms. The man was a total stranger. Had it not been her birthday, she would not have allowed him to hold her. But she had already decided that it was okay for her to act silly today. And it wasn't every day that such a good-looking man asked her to dance. Not only was he handsome, but he smelled good too. And to top it off, they danced well together. The way their bodies swayed and moved against each other had her fighting a desire she hadn't felt in close to four years.

A desire that had never been this strong.

She was reminded how it felt to be held by a man, in powerful arms. Every part of her body tuned in to the solid hardness of his. It was staggering; she was mindful of his every movement, the steady sound of his breathing, the way his arms encircled her waist.

Carly looked up at him to find him staring down at her. His predatory look made her insides simmer. Swallowing deeply, she said softly, "Where did you come from?"

He smiled again and she felt a tingling sensation in the pit of her stomach. "From my terrace."

She nodded. He was a guest at the hotel.

"What about you? Are you a guest here?" he asked.

"Yes." She wasn't lying. She had checked into the hotel that day. There was no need to tell him she also worked here. "It's a beautiful hotel."

"I think so too. I'm Lee, by the way."

"I'm Carly."

His smile widened. "Nice meeting you, Carly. Is there a reason you were dancing alone?"

Her face warmed as she wondered if he thought she'd looked ridiculous. "It's my birthday and—"

"Happy birthday," he said.

She smiled up at him. "Thanks. I was having my own private party of one."

He tilted his head. "That's no fun. A beautiful woman should never party alone."

He was smooth, she thought. As smooth as he was handsome. And she'd noticed he wasn't wearing a ring. She knew some men didn't cherish the sanctity of marriage vows, but she did.

"For me that's no problem. I'm a loner anyway," she said.

"Why?"

Purchase at:  Amazon      Barnes & Noble   Indie     Books-A-Million       Walmart
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Candlelight Christmas Blog Tour and Giveaway!







Synopsis:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR SUSAN WIGGS INVITES YOU TO AN UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS IN THE CATSKILLS

A single father who yearns to be a family man, Logan O'Donnell is determined to create the perfect Christmas for his son, Charlie. The entire O'Donnell clan arrives to spend the holidays in Avalon, a postcard-pretty town on the shores of Willow Lake, a place for the family to reconnect and rediscover the special gifts of the season.

One of the guests is a newcomer to Willow Lake— Darcy Fitzgerald. Sharp-witted, independent and intent on guarding her heart, she's the last person Logan can see himself falling for. And Darcy is convinced that a relationship is the last thing she needs this Christmas.

Yet between the snowy silence of the winter woods, and toasty moments by a crackling fire, their two lonely hearts collide. The magic of the season brings them each a gift neither ever expected—a love to last a lifetime.

About the author:

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's Talk of the Nation, and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people. At the age of eight, she self-published her first novel, entitled "A Book About Some Bad Kids."

Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. Her recent novel, Marrying Daisy Bellamy, took the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and The Lakeshore Chronicles have won readers' hearts around the globe. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature.

She lives with her husband and family at the water's edge on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

Connect with Susan on her website and Facebook.

Giveaway:  I am so excited to be able to host a giveaway as part of the Candlelight Christmas Blog Tour.  I have two print copies of Candlelight Christmas to give away.  All you have to do is leave a comment (and email address) letting me know what was the best gift you have received.  Contest is open until 12/9/2013 at midnight (EST).  Giveaway is for anyone in the Us or Canada.

Excerpt:
Summer's End

Logan O'Donnell stood on a platform one hundred feet in the air, preparing to shove his ten-year-old son off the edge. A light breeze shimmered through the canopy of trees, scattering leaves on the forest floor far below. A zip line cable, slender as a thread in a spider's web, hung between the tree platforms, waiting. Below, Meerskill Falls crashed down a rocky gorge.

"There's no way I'm going off this." Logan's son, Charlie, drew his shoulders up until they practically touched the edge of his helmet.

"Come on," Logan said. "You told me you'd do it. The other kids had a ball. They're all waiting for you on the other side, and I heard a rumor about a bag of Cheetos being passed around."

"I changed my mind." Charlie set his jaw in a way that was all too familiar to Logan. "No way. No W-A-Y-F."

Logan knew the shtick, but he went along with it. "There's no F in way, dude."

"That's right. There's no effin' way I'm going off this thing."

"Aw, Charlie. It's almost like flying. You like to fly, right?" Of course he did. Charlie's stepfather was a pilot, after all. Logan crushed the thought. There were few things more depressing than thinking about the fact that your kid had a stepfather, even if the stepfather was an okay guy. Fortunately for Charlie, he'd ended up with a good one. But it was still depressing.

Charlie spent every summer with Logan. During the school year, he lived with his mom and stepfather in Oklahoma, a million miles away from Logan's home in upstate New York. It sucked, living that far from his kid. Being without Charlie was like missing a limb.

When he did have his son with him, Logan tried to make the most of their time together. He planned the entire season around Charlie, and that included working as a volunteer counselor at Camp Kioga, helping out with the summer program for local kids and inner-city kids on scholarship. The zip line over Meerskill Falls was a new installation, and had already become everyone's favorite feature. Nearly everyone.

"Hey, it's the last day of camp. Your last chance to try the zip line."

Charlie dragged in a shaky breath. He eyed the harness, made of stout webbing and metal buckles. "It looked really fun until I started thinking about actually doing it."

"Remember how you used to be scared to jump off the dock into Willow Lake? And then you did it and it was awesome."

"Hel-Zo. The landing was a lot different," Charlie pointed out.

"You're going to love it. Trust me on this." Logan patted the top of Charlie's helmet. "Look at all the safety features on this thing. The harness, the clips, the secondary ropes. There's not one thing that can go wrong."

"Yo, Charlie," shouted a kid on the opposite platform. "Go for it!"

The encouragement came from Andre, Charlie's best friend. The two had been inseparable all summer long, and if anyone could talk Charlie into something, it was Andre. He was one of the city kids in the program. He lived in a low-income project in the Bronx, and for Andre, it had been a summer of firsts—his first train trip, his first visit upstate to Ulster County, where Camp Kioga nestled on the north shore of Willow Lake. His first time to sleep in a cabin, see wildlife up close, swim and paddle in a pristine lake…and tell ghost stories around a campfire with his buddies. Logan liked the fact that at camp, all the kids were equal, no matter what their background.

"I kind of want to do it," Charlie said.

"Up to you, buddy. You saw how it's done. You just stand on the edge and take one step forward."

Charlie fell silent. He stared at the waterfall cascading down the rocky gorge. The fine spray from the rushing cataract cooled the air.

"Hey, buddy," Logan said, wondering about his son's faraway expression. "What's on your mind?"

"I miss Blake," he said, his voice barely audible over the rush of the falls. "When I go back to Mom's, Blake won't be there anymore."

Logan's heart went out to the kid. Blake had been Charlie's beloved dog, a little brown terrier who had lived to a ripe old age. At the start of summer, she'd passed away. Apparently Charlie was dreading his return to his mom's dogless house.

"I don't blame you," Logan said, "but you were lucky to have Blake as your best friend for a long time."

Charlie stared at the planks of the platform. "Yeah." He didn't sound convinced.

"It sucks, losing a dog," Logan admitted. "No way around it. That's why we're not getting one. Hurts too bad when you have to say goodbye."

"Yeah," Charlie said again. "But I still like having a dog."

"Tell me something nice about Blake," Logan said.

"I never needed an alarm to get up for school in the morning. She'd just come into my room and burrow under the covers, like a rabbit, and she'd squirm until I got up." He smiled, just a little. "She got old and quiet and gentle. And then she couldn't jump up on the bed anymore, so I had to lift her."

"I bet you were really gentle with her."

He nodded. After another silence, he said, "Dad?"

"Yeah, bud?"

"I kinda want another dog."

Aw, jeez. Logan patted him on the shoulder. "You can talk to your mom about it tomorrow, when you see her." Yeah,, he thought. Let Charlie's mom deal with the mess and inconvenience of a dog.

"Okay," said Charlie. "But, Dad?"

"Yeah, buddy?"

"Kids were telling ghost stories in the cabin last night," he said, picking at a thread in the webbing of his harness.

"You're at summer camp. Kids are supposed to tell ghost stories."

"Andre told the one about these people who committed suicide by jumping off a cliff above the falls."

"I've heard that story. Goes way back to the 1920s."

"Yeah, well, the ghosts are still around."

"They won't mess with the zip line."

"How do you know?"

Logan pointed to the group of kids and counselors on the distant platform. "They all got across, no problem. You saw them." The other campers appeared to be having the time of their lives, eating Cheetos and acting like Tarzan.

"Show me again, Dad," said Charlie. "I want to see you do it."

"Sure, buddy." Logan clipped Charlie to the safety cable and himself to the pulleys. "You're gonna love it." With a grin, he stepped off the platform into thin air, giving Charlie the thumbs-up sign with his free hand.

His son stood on the platform, his arms folded, his face screwed into an expression of skepticism. Logan tipped himself upside down, a crazy perspective for watching the waterfall below, crashing against the rocks. How could any kid not like this?

When Logan was young, he would have loved having a dad who would take him zip-lining, a dad who knew the difference between fun and frivolity, a dad who encouraged rather than demanded.

He landed with an exaggerated flourish on the opposite platform. Paige Albertson, cocounselor of the group, pointed at Charlie. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

"Oh yeah, my only son. Oops."

"Why is he staying over there?" asked Rufus, one of the kids.

"I bet he's scared," said another kid.

Logan ignored them. On the opposite platform, Charlie looked very small and alone. Vulnerable.

"Everything all right?" Paige put her hand on Logan's arm.

Paige had a crush on him. Logan knew this. He even wished he felt the same way, because she was great. She was a kindergarten teacher during the school year and a Camp Kioga volunteer during the summer. She had the all-American cheerleader looks, the bubbly, uncomplicated personality that most guys couldn't resist. She was exactly the kind of girl his parents would want for him—pretty, stable, from a good family.

Could be that was the reason he wasn't feeling it for her.

"He's balking," said Logan. "And he feels really bad about it. I thought he'd love zip-lining."

"It's not for everybody," Paige pointed out. "And remember, if he doesn't go for it, the world won't come to an end."

"Good point." Logan saluted her and jumped off, crossing back to the platform on the other side, where Charlie waited. The zipping sound of the pulley and cable sang in his ears. Damn, this never got old.

"Just like Spider-Man," he said as he came in for a landing. "I swear, it's the coolest thing ever."

Charlie shuffled across the wooden planks of the platform. Logan reached for the clips to attach him to the pulley. "That's gonna be one small step for Charlie," he intoned, "one giant leap for—"

"Dad, hang on a second," Charlie said, shrinking back. "I changed my mind again."

Logan studied his son's posture: the hunched shoulders, the knees that were literally shaking. "Seriously?"

"Unhook me." Beneath the helmet, Charlie's face was pale, his green eyes haunted and wide.

"It's okay to change your mind," Logan said, "but I don't want you to have any regrets. Remember, we talked about regrets."

"When you have a chance to do something and then you don't do it and later on you wish you had," Charlie muttered.

Which pretty much summed up Logan's assessment of his marriage. "Yep," he said. "At the farewell dinner tonight, are you going to wish you'd done the zip line?"

Logan unhitched himself. Charlie studied the cables and pulleys with a look of yearning on his face. Okay, Logan admitted to himself, it bugged him that Charlie had conquered the jump off the dock with his mom, but Logan couldn't get him to push past his fear of the zip line. He had a flashing urge to grab the kid, strap him in and shove him off the platform, just to get him past his hesitation.

Then he remembered his own pushy father: get in there and fight. Don't be a chickenshit. Al O'Donnell had been a blustering, bossy, demanding dad. Logan had grown up resenting the hell out of him in a tense relationship that even now was full of turmoil.

The moment Charlie was born, Logan had made a vow. He would never be that dad.

"All right, buddy," he said, forcing cheerfulness into his tone. "Maybe another time. Let's climb down together."

The final dinner of summer at Camp Kioga was served banquet-style in the massive dining hall of the main pavilion. There was a spaghetti feed with all the trimmings—garlic bread, a salad bar, watermelon, ice cream. Awards would be given, songs sung, jokes told, tributes offered and farewells spoken.

The families of the campers were invited to the event. Parents arrived, eager to reunite with their kids and hear about their summer.

A sense of tradition hung like the painted paddles and colorful woven blankets on the walls. The old Catskills camp had been in operation since the 1920s. People as far back as Logan's grandparents remembered with nostalgia the childhood summers they'd spent in the draughty timber-and-stone cabins, swimming in the clear, cold waters of Willow Lake, boating in the summer sun each day, sitting around the campfire and telling stories at night. In a hundred years, the traditions had scarcely changed.

But the kids had. Back in the era of the Great Camps, places like Camp Kioga had been a playground for the ultrawealthy—Vanderbilts, Asters, Roosevelts. These days, the campers were a more diverse bunch. This summer's group included kids of Hollywood power brokers and Manhattan tycoons, recording artists and star athletes, alongside kids from the projects of the inner city and downriver industrial towns.

The organizers of the city kids program, Sonnet and Zach Alger, pulled out all the stops for the end of summer party. In addition to the banquet, there would be a performance by Jezebel, a hip-hop artist who had starred in a hit reality TV series. The show had been filmed at Camp Kioga, chronicling the efforts of the outspoken star to work with youngsters in the program.

Tonight, the only cameras present belonged to proud parents and grandparents.

Charlie was practically bouncing up and down with excitement, because he knew he was getting a swimming award. Andre was next to him as they took their seats at their assigned banquet table.

Paige, who stood nearby, handing out table assignments, leaned over and said, "Those two are such a great pair. I bet they're going to miss each other now that summer's over."

"Yeah, it'd be nice if they could stay in touch. Tricky, though, with Andre in the city and Charlie off to an air force base in Oklahoma."

"Must be hard for you, too."

"I can't even tell you. But…we deal. I'll see him at Thanksgiving, and he's mine—all mine—for Christmas."

At the moment, Christmas seemed light-years away. Logan wondered how the hell he'd keep himself busy after Charlie left. He had his work, a thriving insurance business he'd founded in the nearby town of Avalon. If he was being honest with himself, he was bored stiff with the work, even though he liked helping friends and neighbors and made a good living at it.

Initially, the whole point of setting up a business in Avalon had been to enable him to live close to Charlie.

Now that Charlie's mom had remarried and moved away, Logan was starting to think about making a change. A big change.

His sister India arrived to join in the festivities, and Logan excused himself to say hi. Her twin boys, Fisher and Goose, had spent the summer here. Charlie had had a great time with his two cousins, who lived on Long Island, where India and her husband ran an art gallery.

Red-haired like Logan and Charlie both, and dressed in flowing silks unlike anybody, India rushed over to her twin sons, practically in tears.

"I missed you guys so much," she said, gathering them against her. "Did you have a good time at camp?"

"The best," said Fisher.

"We made you some stuff," said Goose.

"Real ugly jewelry, and we're gonna make you wear it," Fisher told her.

"If you made it, then I'm sure it's beautiful," she said.

"Uncle Logan taught us how to light farts."

"That's my baby brother," India said. "Now, you need no introduction, but I'll introduce you, anyway." She indicated the woman behind her. "Darcy, this is my brother, who probably needs to be sent to the naughty corner, but instead, he's a volunteer counselor."

"And head fart lighter," said the woman, sticking out her hand. "I'm Darcy Fitzgerald."

He took her hand, liking her straightforward expression. She had dark hair done in a messy ponytail and a direct, brown-eyed gaze. Her hand felt small but firm, and she had a quirky smile. For no reason Logan could name, he felt a subtle nudge of interest.

"Are you here to pick up a kid?" he asked her. "Which one belongs to you?"

"None, thank God," she said with a shudder.

"Allergies?" Logan asked.

"Something like that."

"Then you came to the wrong place." He gestured around the dining hall, swarming with excited, hungry kids. To him, it was a vision of paradise. He liked kids. He liked big, loud, loving families. It was the tragedy of his life that he was restricted to summers and holidays with his only child.

"Except for one thing," said Darcy, turning toward the dais where the band was setting up. "I'm a huge Jezebel fan."

"You must be. We're a long way from anywhere."

She nodded. "I came along for the ride with India when she invited me to pick up her boys. Thought it would be nice to get out to the countryside for a weekend."

"So you live in the city?" he asked.

"In SoHo. I didn't have anything thing else going on this weekend. Yes, I'm that pathetic friend everybody feels sorry for, all alone and getting over a broken heart." She spoke lightly, but he detected a serious note in her tone.

"Oh, sorry. About the broken heart. Glad to hear you're getting over it."

"Thanks," she said. "It takes time. That's what people keep telling me. I keep looking for distractions. But hearts are funny that way. They don't let you lie, even to yourself."

"Not for long, anyway. Anything I can do to help?" He instantly regretted the offer. He had no idea what to do about someone else's broken heart.

"I'll spare you the details."

Good.


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