Saturday, May 27, 2017

Book Spotlight Giveaway! Off the Leash by Jean Ellen Whatley

I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.


Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

Off the Leash 

Off the Leash: How My Dog Inspired Me to Quit My Job, Pack My Car, and Take a Road Trip Across America to Reclaim My Life by Jean Ellen Whatley
Paperback, 238 pages
Published September 26th 2012 by Blank Slate Press 

In this memoir about having the courage to break free from thinking one’s life is predestined to be hard, sad, or screw up, Jean Ellen Whatley and her dog Libby set out from St. Louis and drive nearly 9,000 miles across America to revive her life.

With a family history of secrets and betrayals, addiction and abuse, survivor solidarity and abiding love, Whatley frees herself from the traps of the past. Her ex-husband got out of prison just as she was getting her last kid through college, her mother and two brothers recently died, and she has another brother who she has never seen, but needs to find.

What unfolds on her odyssey is nothing short of life-changing—aided and abetted by strangers on the highway, long-lost family members, and the ever-present comfort of Libby, who reminds her to always live in the moment. 

About the author

Jean Ellen Whatley

Subscribing to the notion that we’re all more alike than different, Jean Ellen Whatley feels privileged in her self-appointed role of cockeyed purveyor of our human condition. She’s both perceptive and profuse, sometimes profound, rarely punctual and given to alliteration.

Jean Ellen Whatley is an Emmy Award-winning journalist cum author who’s been published on,, and, at the low ebb of her writing career, as the Bedding Columnist for Furniture Retailer Magazine.

Jean has been a guest columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Winston-Salem Journal and the Albuquerque Tribune and has been featured as guest host on “The Evening Special” on KMOX (CBS) radio in St. Louis.

Jean’s broadcast career spans nearly twenty years and several diverse regions of the country. She has been a news reporter and anchor in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Winston-Salem/Greensboro, North Carolina; and St. Louis, MO. Her reporting has been featured on CNN and ABC.

Bridging the gap between reporting news and wrangling reporters, Jean has also served as Press Secretary to a New Mexico Attorney General, a Governor of Missouri and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Excerpts from her popular blog, A Woman With a Past: The Post-Apocalyptic Approach to Men, earned “Editor’s Picks” on Open Salon and high praise from many people who are not even members of her family.

Jean’s the proud parent of four, remarkably well-adjusted, mostly-grown kids and two high-maintenance mutts who reside with her in St. Louis, the dogs, that is. In her spare time, she deletes names of former boyfriends from her cell phone and composes pithy six-word memoirs in her head.

“It was all material. Some good.”

Connect with Jean


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Friday, May 26, 2017

On Tour: Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank #TLCBookTours #SameBeachNextYear


Same Beach, Next Year: A Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by William Morrow

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank returns to her magical Lowcountry of South Carolina in this bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart.

One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

Purchase Links

My thoughts about Same Beach, Next Year ~~ 

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"The conversation that launched my need to tell you this whole crazy story actually came from our son Luke, who, like his twin, is practically an adult." 

I love this time of year when all the "beach reads" come out. I simply devour them. Same Beach, Next Year is a wonderful beach read in every way. Of course, the main characters are at the beach or a vacation setting. There is plenty of fun, as well as a good share of drama. Gotta have the drama, right? Dorothea always writes such great stories with unforgettable characters. I love getting lost in the pages of her books and I love when I can spend uninterrupted hours savoring her words.

Eliza thinks she has the perfect marriage and loves her husband very much. They meet a nice couple one year while on vacation and end up making it a yearly thing. It turns out that Adam and Eve knew each other when they were much younger. What a coincidence. The two couples become very close and enjoy their times together as they watch their children grow up. And then, secrets are revealed, secrets that may break the couples apart.

I loved watching Eliza as she finds the strength to finally do something for herself, as she discovers what makes her happy. This is a story full of fun, interesting characters and situations that will make you laugh and sometimes make you sad. But it will entertain you and make you want more. Same Beach, Next Year is the perfect book to put on your summer reading list this year.  

I received a copy of Same Beach, Next Year for the TLC Book Tour in exchange for my honest opinion. 

About the author

Photo by Debbie Zammit

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Connect with Dorothea

Tuesday, May 16th: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, May 17th: bookchickdi
Thursday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, May 19th: Mom’s Small Victories
Monday, May 22nd: Stranded in Chaos
Tuesday, May 23rd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, May 24th: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, May 25th: Tina Says…
Friday, May 26th: The Book Bag
Monday, May 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, May 30th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, May 31st: Girls Just Reading
Thursday, June 1st: Jathan & Heather
Friday, June 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Rarity from the Hollow

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Paperback, 284 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Dog Horn 

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children's Story. For Adults.

Praise for Rarity from the Hollow

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest 

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
—Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." 
—Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” 
Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” 
—Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” 
The Baryon Review


 Purchase Rarity from the Hollow

About the author

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known locally for his nonfiction: investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997; nationally distributed models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions; research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family; and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency in West Virginia. Dozens of his works have been archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from a mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Two of Eggleton's poems were published in the 1970s and another won first place in 2015 international poetry competition managed by the WSC Science Fiction & Fantasy Club/WillyCon. His debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, was named one of five best reads in 2015 by a Codices, has been awarded Gold Medals by Awesome Indies and Readers' Favorite. Three of Eggleton's short stories have appeared in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction.

Author proceeds from Eggleton's Lacy Dawn Adventures project have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write adult literary science fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Connect with Robert


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer of the Loon (Audio-book) by Deanna Lynn Sletten


Summer of the Loon by Deanna Sletten 
Narrated by Vanessa Moyen
Published February 24th 2017 by Deanna Lynn Sletten 

Life can change in a heartbeat…

Ali Jenson's life changed forever the moment her mother died. The sixteen-year-old was suddenly swept away from the life she knew in California to live with her estranged grandfather in the deep woods of northern Minnesota. Ali's life has never been easy, but it seems her grandfather is trying his best to make it even more difficult. Her only hope is to get through the summer and her last year of high school so she can return to her old life in California. What she hadn't counted on, though, was slowly becoming attached to the grumpy old man and falling in love for the very first time.

Benjamin Jenson never planned on meeting his granddaughter, let alone having her live with him. He wasn't thrilled with the idea of a teenaged girl coming into his home or his life. He'd been down that path once before, and he didn't want to relive it again. But he is her only living relative, and he knew his deceased wife, Lizzie, would have wanted him to give Ali a home. Grudgingly, he figured he could put up with the girl for a year. He never expected Ali to find a way into his heart and make him face painful past memories and his worst fear. The fear of losing yet another person he loves.

Will Ben finally put away the past and give Ali the one thing she's always dreamed of? A home.


I loved Summer of the Loon when I read it. Listening to it recently took me back to that wonderful time and place. The narrator, Vanessa Moyen, is perfect as the reader. She has a young voice and totally became Ali to me but she does a great job with the other characters as well. I don't normally pick books by the narrator but I really enjoyed listening to Vanessa's voice. I'll be checking out more of her work. 

My thoughts about Summer of the Loon ~~ 
(originally posted February 27, 2014)

I know when I start one of Deanna's books that I am going to enjoy the story so, so much. When I get one of her books, I drop whatever I am reading and doing so that I can dive into the new world she has created for us. And I am never disappointed. She writes such wonderful, down to earth, believable stories with very likable characters.

Summer of the Loon was the perfect book to read right now, in the dead of winter, with the cold and snow blowing around me. The story takes place during the summer on a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota. I really felt like I was there, enjoying the boat rides and watching the resident loons.

Ali moves to Minnesota from California to live with a grandfather she has never met, after her mother dies. The move itself is a big adjustment but then she is also thrust upon an old man who really doesn't want her to be there.
'At only sixteen years old, her former life was behind her, and she was walking toward her new life, meeting her estranged grandfather for the very first time.'
Ben has had his heart broken and is not ready to let anyone in and he now finds himself responsible for a teenager. He doesn't want to be hurt again and isn't able to open his heart to her.
"Her mother had been so affectionate and loving. How in the world had she come from this cold, hard person in front of her?'
I loved the setting of the story. Like I mentioned, it takes place on a lake in Minnesota which just sounds so peaceful and relaxing. It reminded me of the times I have spent in a cabin at a lake as I was growing up. It can be such a happy time.
"The ocean was always moving, rushing onto shore, wave after wave. The lake, however, moved in slower motion, making it peaceful and calming.'
I totally fell in love with Ali. She is such a wise, mature girl for her age and she doesn't take any guff off of anyone, even her grandfather. Especially her grandfather! She tells it like it is and doesn't let anyone get away with anything.
'This was the closest he'd ever stood next to her. Ali could smell his spicy aftershave. He smells like a grandfather.'
Deanna's books are always so wonderful to read and she is able to make the reader connect emotionally with her characters. I was brought to tears several times as the characters worked through their issues and emotions. That takes a special kind of writing to be able to get the reader so involved!

And if you haven't already guessed, I love to mark great lines as I am reading and add them to my posts, lines that spoke to me in some way. So that's what the blue sections are above, lines that I loved. I will leave you with one of my very favorite lines of the whole book.
'Sometimes, you just have to believe in a person no matter what.'
I love it!! Thank you Deanna, for writing another great story to add to my collection.

About the author 

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women's fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna's romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara's Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

Connect with Deanna


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Release Day: Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Happy Release Day!


Allie and Bea

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Paperback and e-book, 350 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.


Congrats Catherine
on the release today of
Allie and Bea

I love Catherine's stories and Allie and Bea is waiting for me on my Kindle. I can't wait to read it! 

About the author

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 30 published and forthcoming books, including Leaving Blythe River, Ask Him Why, Worthy, The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You, Where We Belong, When I Found You, Walk Me Home, Second Hand Heart, Don't Let Me Go, and When You Were Older.

An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos From a Beautiful World.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How to Be a Writer in the e-Age: a Self-Help Guide.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released Pay It Forward: Young Readers' Edition in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original Pay It Forward was released in December of '14

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation, and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at

Connect with Catherine


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Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!


We went from an absolutely lovely weekend to a week of cold temps and rain. Oh well, it's good for the grass, flowers, and gardens, right?

We've had a grandkiddo for sleepovers the last two weekends. One is 8 and the other one is 9. They are at the age where we can share some of our favorite movies with them. Last weekend, we watched the original Ghostbusters movie and yesterday we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. the original Indiana Jones movie. It's just so much fun to introduce these classics to a new generation.  

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week. Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading/listening to
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
This is for my book club which is meeting later this week.

Saving Abby
by Steena Holmes

What I recently finished

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)
by Graeme Simsion
This is a great book and you should check out my giveaway here.

What I am going to read next

Same Beach, Next Year
by Dorothea Benton Frank

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?


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