Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
Published July 2015 by Harper Collins

About the Book (from Goodreads):
From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

I will fully admit to getting caught up in the hype, and purchasing the hardcover on release day at an early morning release party at a local Cape Cod bookstore (Thanks, Titcombs Bookshop!)

And then, the reviews started filtering in, and they weren't good. People didn't like this book. My mother in law really didn't like this book, saying it besmirched her memories of Scout and Atticus. She actually said besmirched. So I put the book aside in all its hardcover glory, and didn't read it over the summer as planned.

The kids went back to school, my day job heated up, and the little hardcover sat on my office shelf, mocking me every once in a while. One day I was on a particularly boring Friday afternoon conference call and dusting the shelves while I listened (don't tell my boss) and the book mocked me again. After all, who am I to ignore a book based on someone else's opinion? Especially one I already purchased. In hardcover.

So I read it that weekend. While it was hard to get through the first chapter stylistically, (I've been reading way too much recent teen fiction lately, and not enough literary fiction) I caught onto the author's style fairly quickly. And once the story grabbed me, it was a quick trip to the finish line.

Bottom line? I really enjoyed reading this and have been recommending it to people for weeks. Yes, it raises uncomfortable questions, and yes, it paints American icon Atticus Finch with a new palette, but it doesn't make it any less of a good book or important story. I do think it's destined to be a classic, and that it helps people understand the complexity of race relations. A lot of America started believing we lived in a "post-racial" society when we elected a black president - but that's not really the case as incidents in Ferguson and around the country have starkly pointed out.

Maybe I'm lucky that To Kill a Mockingbird wasn't my favorite book of all time. I liked it, but only read it once, compared to, say, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, which I read dozens of times over my childhood and teens.(What can I say? I liked sarcasm even then.) Go Set a Watchman pokes holes in the solid, one-dimensional character that many people seem to remember Atticus for - conflating his solid belief in the law with a certain moral compass of racial equality that apparently wasn't his to begin with.

I read an article which talked about how Watchman was actually the first book Harper Lee submitted, and it was her agent who suggested she explore the backstory of the trial during Scout's youth as a better first book. First published in 1960 (and never out of print since) To Kill A Mockingbird became an instant classic and won the Pulitzer. It's an important work of American literature. But equally important might be peeling back the outer shell to see the nuanced layers behind the characters. Not everything is as black and white as we'd like, no pun intended. Even Atticus Finch has shades of grey.

If you haven't read the book yet, grab it on Amazon. Or give it as a holiday gift. Just as To Kill a Mockingbird was important in 1960, Go Set a Watchman is important in 2015.

If you enjoyed reading The Help or A Time to Kill, books where race relations in the South aren't so simple, you will find Harper Lee's "new" book interesting and thought provoking. Don't listen to the critics (or your mother in law) - Decide for yourself.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Feature: Cover Real from Marilyn Almodovar


When a portal leaves Baxter trapped and powerless in an alternate world, she finds herself on the run and fighting for her life. The world’s Council wants to hand her over to Declan, and her only source of support is a broken Alternate Jack who blames her for all he’s lost. Baxter soon realizes that if she’s going to defeat Declan and get back to her world, she’ll have to reclaim her abilities and be stronger than she ever imagined.

Declan and the Absorbers’ Initiative wage war on everyone who opposes them in their hunt for Baxter. Their actions reveal what her future will be like if she doesn’t make some drastic decisions. She knows that one misstep on her part will lead to the destruction of not just this world, but her own.

In a race against Time and bitter enemies, Baxter will discover how much is at stake and just what she’ll have to sacrifice to save those she loves. Can she learn from the fate of an alternate world how to become the Time Bender she’s meant to be?

Interred, Book 1

 Amazon US
Barnes and Noble

Fissure, Book 2

Barnes and Noble

Connect with Marilyn

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Book Review: A DEMON'S WITCH by Tena Stetler

A Demon's Witch, by Tena Stetler
Published by The Wild Rose Press, 2015

About the Book:
Keeping a lid on all the paranormal beings inhabiting Washington D.C. is a daunting job. Bruce, a six hundred year old demon and the Territory Overlord of the Western Hemisphere, keeps his finger on the pulse of DC’s power players through the activities at his highly successful Wycked Hair Salon. His movie star good looks and body builder physique keeps his dance card full and the rumor mills running. Within these walls, his anonymity is safe, mostly.

Bruce’'s world spins out of control when Angelique, a pint size, gorgeous witch, with an attitude breezes through the doors of his salon. She is the younger sister of Tristian, Bruce’'s long time trusted enforcer, whose professional skills are second to none. Tristian is furious at the relationship between Bruce and Angelique, a dangerous situation. The undeniable attraction between demon and witch promises to tear apart both their professional and personal worlds.
 My Take:

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, and eagerly cracked it open to kick off my Halloween season - witches and demons and romance, oh my! And I wasn't disappointed - I totally enjoyed this fun paranormal romance, with enough sizzle and suspense to keep those pages turning, rooting for that HEA.

Bruce Sahwyn is a 600 year old demon, the overlord of paranormal creatures in North America. He's also gorgeous, hunky, and owns a hair salon in Washington D.C., from which vantage point he keeps tabs on the movers and shakers of all species, human and otherwise.

Angelique Shandie is a young but powerful witch who just moved to D.C. with her best friend to open a boutique. She has no idea who Bruce is or the power structure of the hidden magical world, but from the moment their eyes meet they both feel the intensity of the connection. Bruce is thoroughly intrigued, until he realizes exactly who Angie is: the sheltered baby sister of his most trusted and powerful assassin (oops) which makes pursuing this particular witch a life and death sort of decision, literally. Except he can't live without her, consequences be damned.

The author creates a paranormal world within the contemporary world that is hidden from most humans and brutal in its rules, prejudices and hierarchies. For an overlord demon to seriously date a witch is unprecedented, but the heat that sizzles between these characters is undeniable (and fun to read.) Angie is a strong-willed heroine, not one to submit to any man, not even a 600 year old demon.

This was right up my alley. I really enjoyed the characters and the storyline, and think this book is a strong start for a series. Despite some unanswered questions and a few dangling loose ends (thus the need for a next book, hint hint, Ms. Stetler) the romance wraps up nicely and the main issues come to satisfying resolution. And despite the dark natures of many of the characters, the book itself is never too dark or gory, giving readers just enough suspense and tension to satisfy. If you enjoy paranormal romance, definitely check this one out.

*Note* I've read a few reviews that list this as a book for young adults. No. It's not. Maybe those reviewers don't understand genre categories of paranormal romance, but the characters and situations are definitely adult in nature, both the romance and the politics. New adult fans of True Blood may enjoy this novel, but this isn't YA by any stretch.

Grab a copy on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015



Welcome to the 2nd annual

Cowboys and Christmas

Blog Tour!

Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand

JCCF logoNovember 1 through December 24, ten percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don't forget to add books to your Christmas lists! USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

New Releases

To kick off the second annual Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour and the JCCF campaign,
 two brand new holiday romances will release Nov. 12!

Capturing Christmas CoverCapturing Christmas is the third installment in the sweet holiday western Rodeo Romance series.
Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.
Determined to capture the best images possible, rodeo photographer Celia McGraw is fearless and feisty. Not one to back down from a challenge, her biggest risk isn’t in her work. Danger lurks in the way her heart responds to one incredibly handsome stock contractor. Will Kash and Celia capture the spirit of the season?
Pre-order your copy today!


“Someone like you should be smart enough to know better than to do something that stupid, Miss McGraw.” The man frowned at her as he held her across his lap, riding over to the fence, out of the way of the horses and the men on horseback behind them.

Too stunned to reply, Celia gulped and continued staring at him, gradually comprehending she hadn’t been killed.
At least she assumed she hadn’t died, unless angels wore dusty cowboy hats, dark blue chaps, and were breath-stealing handsome.
Those engaging eyes bore into hers, making her heart skitter in her chest while an entire bushel of butterflies burst into flight in her stomach.
She observed her rescuer. He sat tall in the saddle and had muscles to spare, or so she presumed from the way he easily hoisted her off the ground and onto his horse. A hint of light brown hair peeked out from beneath the brim of his hat. The pale blue shirt he wore almost matched the fascinating shade of his eyes.
Celia experienced the most unreasonable urge to run her fingers along the stubbly expanse of his cheeks, down his square jaw, and over his strong chin. Mesmerized by his full bottom lip, she inhaled a deep breath and nearly choked.
The very scent of him hinted at a lethal combination of freshly fallen snow, a warm winter fire, and sweet seduction rolled into one incredibly enticing package. 

Get all three books in the Rodeo Romance series!

The Christmas Vow CoverThe Christmas Vow is the fourth book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series.
Columbia River Pilot Adam Guthry returns to his hometown of Hardman, Oregon, after the sudden death of his best friend. Emotions he can’t contain bubble to the surface the moment he sees the girl who shattered his heart eleven years ago.
Widow Tia Devereux escapes her restrictive life in Portland, returning to the home she knew and adored as a girl in Hardman. She and her four-year-old son, Toby, settle into the small Eastern Oregon community, eager for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only man she’s ever loved shows up, stirring the embers of a long-dead romance into a blazing flame. When her former father-in-law, a corrupt judge, decides he wants to raise Toby, Adam may be the only hope she has of keeping her son.
You can pre-order your copy today for only $2.99!


 No. Her fear was for the big, loveable lunk who’d scared her half witless when she saw him tumble off the roof.

“I believe that’s exactly the point.” Adam’s lopsided grin revealed his dimples and made her mouth water for want of his kiss.
Aggravated with herself, Tia aimed her fury at Adam. “The point is your recklessness might get you or someone else horribly injured.” She turned around and strode toward the kitchen door. “I insist you…”
A snowball caught her square in the back. Mouth hanging open in surprise, she spun around and glared at him.
Adam worked to form another snowball, ignoring her scowl.
Incensed, Tia surrendered to the need to stamp her foot. “How dare you!”
“Just like this.” He grinned and lobbed another snowball at her, catching her on the shoulder. Bits of snow sprayed into her face and hair.
“Oh! You are in for it now, Adam Guthry!” Tia bent down and hastily formed a snowball. With unmistakable precision, she threw it at Adam, hitting him on the chin.
He spluttered and returned fire, barely grazing her arm as she twisted away at the last second.
Peals of her laughter filled the quiet December afternoon and drew Toby outside as she and Adam continued to throw snow at each other.
“Mama?” The little boy’s lip quivered. “Did you send me inside so you could play without me?”

Hardman-Holidays-block for web 
Don't miss out on the Hardman Holidays series!

Guest Author Sign

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party, Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more (many of the giveaways will stay open until the following morning)!
Here’s the link to the party:
The talented guest authors joining in the celebration include: 
10 a.m. - Carmen Peone 
12:30 - Rachel Rossano 
1:30 - Dani Harper

Grand Prize Photo

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, Wrangler Tote Bag, Rock & Roll Cowgirl T-shirt, autographed books, chocolates, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced Nov. 16.

Where to Find The Books

The Christmas Cowboy Cover 
Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.
christmas bargain cover 
Travel back to a time of grandeur in the old west
with the Hardman Holidays series.
The Christmas Bargain begins the popular series
and is available free for a very limited time!

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.
Find Shanna’s books at:
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