Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to all and To All A Goodnight

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

or Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas
Major Henry Livingston Jr. (1748-1828)
(previously believed to be by Clement Clarke Moore)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;                          

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Silly animated mouse

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
Santa and his sleigh on the new-fallen snow
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
Laughing Santa

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Santa in his sleigh

Friday, December 21, 2012

Q and A with Sarah Morgan and review of Once Upon A Christmas

Q&A with Sarah Morgan
Once Upon A Christmas

Available in the US as
The Doctor’s Christmas Bride & The Nurse’s Wedding Rescue)

As I’ve said before I review two series by Harlequin for RT reviews magazine and like all readers who have their favorite author, I’m no different. So I’m pleased to present Sarah Morgan to you, my favorite Harlequin Presents author and one of my all time favorite authors to boot. Sarah lives in the UK. So without delay let’s get to know her a little more.

Debbie- Sarah, thank you for participating in my all month holiday features starring the authors of Harlequin.
Sarah - Thank you for having me! It’s great to be here.

So first for some cool facts. You live near London. Have you ever seen the Queen?
Actually I have!  This year in the UK we’ve celebrated both the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics so there was plenty of royal activity!

Do your books appear on both the shores of the US and the UK? Anywhere else?
One of the very cool things about being published by Harlequin is their global audience – their books are translated into 34 languages and sold in 114 countries so I have some really interesting editions dropping through my door. My favorites are the Japanese Manga editions – seeing my story drawn by a skilled graphic artist gives me such a thrill.

Your bio says you knew you wanted to be a writer when you were 8. Can you tell us why and how long it took to realize that dream?
I loved writing, but I didn’t consider it as a career. Even when I eventually submitted and was published, I didn’t think it would be something I would do full time. For quite a few years writing was something I did in my spare time alongside another job, as it is for so many people. I do feel very, very lucky to be able to do this full time! I make a living by telling stories and that is truly Dream Job. Looking back, I don’t regret working as a nurse first. I saw a lot and learned a lot about human emotion and I’ve used so much of that experience in my books.

Are you a city girl or a country girl?
I’m a country girl with city edges :) Truthfully, I need both. I love mountains and being outdoors but I also need people and an excuse to pull off hiking boots and wear pretty shoes.

Why write romances?
Quite simply because writing romance makes me happy, and so does reading romance. I enjoy exploring the path the characters take to their happy ending.  I love the optimism and hope that is reflected in the romance genre.  Writing about love and romance is uplifting and it’s a great way to spend a working day!

Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas come from everywhere - from something I’ve read, or something I’ve heard (if I meet a couple I will ALWAYS ask how they met). Sometimes ideas appear from nowhere and that is the magic of writing. It is so exciting when that happens and all you want to do is rush and write the book immediately! Creating characters is fun and gives endless scope for variety. People ask me whether I’m running out of plots but there are as many plots as there are people, so the answer is no.

You write quite a number of Middle-East romances staring sheikhs and princes etc.. Why do you think they’re still as popular as ever?
There are times when a reader wants to be transported away from the reality of their lives and a Sheikh romance does that. I think the appeal of these stories is a mixture of the exotic settings and the strong, alpha male characters that tend to populate these books. It’s a pure escapist read.

You write about some beautiful opulent places. Where would your dream vacation be?
There are so many places I would love to visit. Top of my list is Brazil. I wrote a Presents a few years ago set in the Brazilian rainforest and since then I’ve been desperate to go and explore in person. But I love travelling and vacations and wherever I go I’ll take books with me and be happy!

Sarah, thank you so much for chatting with us. I hope you and your family have the Merriest of Christmases and if you ever get to this side of the pond and have any events at a Barnes & Noble store please let us know. And if you’re ever in my neck of the woods I hope you’ll let this rabid fan know so I can meet you in person.
I would be so thrilled to meet in person! Thank you so much for the warm welcome and a Happy Christmas to all.

My review of Once Upon A Christmas
Available in the US as
(The Doctor’s Christmas Bride & The Nurse’s Wedding Rescue)

Once Upon A Christmas
Sarah Morgan
Mills & Boon
ISBN13: 9780263902327
379 pages
Sarah Morgan must live a charmed life, must have her own prince charming at home, because one thing she does extremely well, better than most is write romance. I’ve read many romances by her and she’s never disappointed me, whether the characters are larger than life or just full of life they’re always rich, emotional and sexy. This one is no different. Sarah gives us two romances for our money in this delightful romance in a small English mountain town, far away from the bustle of big city life, but with it’s own versions of drama and excitement where the doctors are heroes in more than one way. In part one she gives us the romance of long time friends doctors Jack Rothwell and Bryony Hunter and in part two we get to see Bryony’s brother Doctor Oliver Hunter and distraught visiting nurse Helen who’s been dumped at the altar.
Sarah, I hope you have a very Happy Christmas and keep writing.

Part One:
It’s Christmas time and Lizzie Hunter just put in one special request for her gift. She wants a daddy for Christmas. Bryony’s aghast at her daughter’s request from Santa and she’s also decided she should do something about it, get on with her life, find a daddy for Lizzie. She knows that the man she’s loved all of her life, Jack Rothwell, will never settle down, he’s strictly the no marrying type. But as she tries to get into the dating game she’s constantly running into the immoveable wall that is Jack.

Part Two:
Doctor Oliver Hunter’s been given a mission by his baby sister Bryony. Her friend Helen’s got a problem, one she won’t discuss with Oliver. She’s letting Helen stay in her cottage for a month while she’s away on her honeymoon and has asked Oliver to look in on her. The minute Oliver lays eyes on Helen, he’s a goner. He knows it’s cliché, but it’s definitely love at first sight for him. But Helen’s been through a terrible love trauma, so he needs to tread gently.
Visit Sarah's website here

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of A Christmas Hope by Joseph Pittman

A Christmas Hope
Joseph Pittman
ISBN13: 9780758276957
336 pages

Nora Conners left Linden Corners NY years ago with stars in her eyes and dreams on her horizons. Now with the stars faded and the dreams that didn’t come true, she’s come home with her son in tow. Not for a visit, she’s staying and the former attorney’s gone into the antique business and she’s got her first customer and a big job to do for him.
Thomas Van Diver’s come home to Linden Corners too, he’s been gone for all but five of his 84 years. But he’s back with a promise to find a memory and perhaps some of the innocence of childhood that he knew here. He’s here to find a certain Christmas book, a very special edition of a certain Christmas book and he’s hoping that Nora can help him find it.
The funny thing about Linden Corners is that Christmas is a special time here where the residents tilt at windmills, believe in fate and most of all believe and take care of each other. Nora and Thomas have secrets, losses and hopes and in Linden Corners NY might just be where they find what they’re searching for.

If I had to choose one word to describe Joseph’s Pittman’s town and residents it would be Americana. Thank God I don’t have to choose because then I couldn’t tell you that no one depicts small town America quite like him. Where the characters quirky and conventional alike shine like no others. Where hope reins supreme as he once again gives readers a Christmas tale full of love, loss, and hope. We not only get to reunite with the characters he’s introduced us to but we meet some new and wonderful folks who’ve come to different yet equally important forks in their road through life who’re changed dramatically by this community of caring and committed residents. If you’re looking for a feel good novel, your look is over. Mr. Pittman, I can’t wait until your next tale from bucolic Linden Corners.Buy the book here, visit the author's website here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

January at General Fiction at B&

I know, you haven’t even stopped singing Jingle Bells and I’m talking about January 

The month long featured read is a sentimental, hard to read WWII story about a Japanese American Man and a Caucasian American Woman and what happens to them and during the war. It’s a love story, but it’s a dark one, it’s a true look at what really went on across our land, when the residents were guided by fear and by prejudice, it shows some real heroes and real villains too. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is an amazing novel and I know you will all enjoy not only the read but the author’s participation. Here’s my review and a Q&A with Kristina who we first met in February 2012 when the novel came out. Check out Kristina’s website to learn more about her and her love of history.

Our second feature is our brand new Nook feature, I’m still tweaking the details so for January we’re going to start with a Free Friday Nook selection, check through the Free Friday selections and pick out one you’d like to read then nominate it on the thread dedicated to it here. To find the selections click here for the Nook Blog

I have some amazing New Release features planned in January

For you Downton Abbey fans I have a Q&A with the author of the two companion books
the first one titled The World of Downton Abbey and this latest just released in late November called Chronicles of Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellowes. Jessica is also the niece of the creator of Downton Abbey Julian Fellows. Watch for it the first week in January.

1-1-13 Also the first week of January I’ll have a New Release Feature for The Death Of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. This novel was also chosen by B&N for the Discover New Author series as a part of B&N reviews so look for that sometime in the winter. So I’m honored that she agreed to a Q&A with little old me.

1-8-13 The second week of the new year I’ll be featuring a talented relatively new author (this is her second book) Mari Passananti and her newest release The K Street Affair. Mari is an interesting guest and I’ll give you one hint into her background, she’s a first generation American.

1-15-13 My New Release feature will by The Thief of Auschwitz by Jon Clinch. Jon’s first novel Finn is a dark look into the father of Huckleberry Finn, it made a lot of wave’s in the literary field so I’m looking forward to reading this novel and who knows it may end up being featured somewhere else on the forum this year too.

I’m  still working on the last two weeks of the month but be sure and stop by the forum often to see what’s going on and while you’re there chat a bit and let us know what’s going on in your reading life.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My 20 Best Books of 2012

20 Best Books of 2012
This year as most is a genre smorgasbord from contemporary to historical, from factual to fantasy and one non-fiction in this years group. So without further ado, let’s get to it. Number one means the best of the best, after that they’re in alphabetical order.
Click the links for the full review.


Overseas, by Beatriz Williams is the best book I’ve read in 2012 and perhaps the best book I’ve read in a very long time. It’s epic, it’s historical, it’s contemporary, it’s fantasy, it has some of the most memorable characters ever and remember this is a debut. It’s simply amazing and I’m thrilled that it will be my March featured read at B& General Fiction forum.
Catch Me, by Lisa Gardner is again featured here and again has another top pick. This novel features her protagonist D D Warren who’s just returned from maternity leave to face a case involving child predators. Lisa’s unnaturally expert at bringing the most heinous of criminals and this one is no different.
Edge of Black, is the second in the new Samantha Owens series by amazing storyteller and thriller writer JT Ellison. Samantha Owens, if you’re familiar with JT’s writing was a co-star in her Taylor Jackson series. She’s suffered a great loss and she’s picking up her life and starting over. In this novel Sam’s living in Washington DC, starting a new job and is caught in the middle of what looks like a terrorist attack, but looks can be deceiving.
Ember’s Kiss, by Deborah Cooke is #8 in her bestselling dragon shape-shifter series starring the oh so macho Pyr, only this dragon doesn’t really know about his heritage and thinks he’s more monster than man, who needs his mate and his brother Pyr to show him who he really is. If you know me you know how much I love this series, in fact anything by this wonderful author who’s way with words and worlds is in a class by herself.
home front, by Kristin Hannah is an incredibly hard story to read, but a necessary one. It deals with not only the soldiers “over there” but the realities they face when they come home. It’s touching, it’s dramatic, it’s a must read and a keeper for your shelves.
Illuminations, by Mary Sharratt is about a real historical figure, who’s just this year finally been canonized in May of 2012 and was raised in October 2012 to Doctor of the Church, it’s about Hildegard von Bingen who was an anchorage (click the link for more information). Mary has wowed me before with her historical research and what results in her novels. Whether you’re a lover of historical fiction or just great fiction this one will appeal.
King Of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence is the second in his fantasy trilogy featuring Jorg, the anti-hero, the very noir-ist of protagonists. Jorg has matured since we first met him in Prince of Thorns, he’s a King now and he’ll defend his throne any way he has to. (The review is courtesy of RT Reviews Magazine August 2012 edition)
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, by Matthew Dicks was a very refreshing change for me. The premise is quite unique as his protagonist is the imaginary friend of an autistic boy who’s job it is to be there for him in whatever way is needed. It’s a read that will appeal to a multitude of fans and genres. I’m pleased to announce that Matthew and his wonderful novel will be featured for the monthly read at B& General Fiction forum in June 2013.
One Breath Away, by Heather Gudenkauf was a terrifyingly realist crime drama that will bring memories of Columbine and Virginia Tech and the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting. In a fictional Iowa town on the last day of school before spring break terror is about to unfold in a K-12 school building when a gunman holds the entire population inside the walls hostage.
One Good Friend Deserves Another, by Lisa Verge Higgins is a testament to what being a friend really means, when this group of 4 cemented their friendship 15 years ago they made a pact. These 4 friends are as different from one another as dark and light but they have something special that shows through those differences. Friendship. Lisa is not a stranger to my B& forum, she was with us in 2012 when we read and discussed her previous novel, The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship and will be with us in May of 2013 when we will read together her upcoming March release Friendship Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.( review is courtesy of RT Reviews magazine)
One Mountain Away, by Emilie Richards is all about forgiveness, redemption and hope. It’s also about loss and it reminds we mere mortals that we never know what lies ahead so if we have regrets we should take care of them. I also loved that the protagonist was a woman of a “certain age”, I love seeing an older, mature star of a story. This is the first of Emilie’s newest series entitled “The Goddess Anonyms Series” Emilie was our guest for the month of September at B& when we read and discussed this novel as a group.
Paris in Love by Eloisa James is a novelty for me, it’s a non-fiction. A memoir of the year award winning, #1 NY Times Bestselling author and Professor of English Literature packed up her entire family and moved to Paris for an entire year, she fascinated and entertained her fans on FaceBook for the entire year with snippets of what was happening, the humorous, the sensitive, the sad, the happy and finally turned her experience into a book. Paris in Love is a 2012 Goodreads finalist.
Scorched, by Laura Griffin is #6 in her Tracers series, this time it stars forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn and her ex, Navy Seal Gage Brewer. It’s a web of intrigue of suspense and of ever loving terror which Laura is an expert at, it involves murder and mayhem and a huge who done it. It definitely needs to go on your read list.
Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness was definitely one of my most awaited reads of the year after the monumental first in the trilogy A Discovery of Witches from last year. It did not disappoint. It’s as epic as ever, it takes us to 16th Century Elizabethan England where we knock elbows with all the name droppers of the time, where witch Diana and her forbidden vampire spouse Matthew go so Diana can be taught the art of her craft and to search for the alchemic tomb known as Ashmole 782.
The Book of Lost Fragrances, by MJ Rose who’s another of my favorite go to authors. Her newest in her loosely related series in this novel she takes us to France where perfumer Jac L’Etoile’s fragrance heritage can be traced back centuries perhaps all the way to the very first fragrance factory built by Marc Anthony for Cleopatra, she’s also haunted by glimpses of past lives. MJ mixes genres with mystery, romance, historical and a bit of non-fictional facts as well. If you’re a fan of any of these, this might be right up your alley. It was my pleasure to have met MJ in person last summer when she visited as part of the Atria Mystery Bus Tour.
The Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, by Kristina McMorris is a culturally beautiful piece of Americana and yet nothing this country has to be proud about. It’s a WWII piece involving the not so happily ever after of a Japanese American man and a Caucasian woman. What they went through for the sake of their love, what they gained and especially what they lost. It’s a look at the dirty little secrets of our nations history that they never taught when I was in school, that should never be forgotten and told often. I am lucky to have Kristina with us the entire month of January when B& General Fiction forum discusses this wonderfully worded novel.
The Dog Who Danced, by Susan Wilson is an especially uplifting novel about the power of unconditional love given to us by our pets and one pet in particular that had a knack for dancing. No matter who you are, where you are in your life or what age you will find something to love about this story. Susan was my guest in November at the B& General Fiction forum when we read this very inspiring novel.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy, by Margot Livesey is one of those novels that would have never crossed my path if not for the cover having inspired me to look inside where I found a work of recent historical fiction. Gemma Hardy was an orphan from the 50’s in Scotland where she went through some life trauma because of her status. The author tells a brilliant story of neglect, hardship and success. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming with characters who’re quirky to very realistic.
The Other Woman by Hank Phillipi Ryan is the first of Hank’s brand new series starring girl investigative reporter Jane Ryland. Jane’s been recently fired from the TV news because of not revealing her source of a particular story. She’s landed on her feet at the newspaper where she’s given the mundane assignment of interviewing a candidate’s wife. Well Jane smells a story and boy does she get one. Kudos to Hank for this fast paced new novel. Hank was my guest in October when the B& General Fiction forum read this amazing new novel.
The Reckoning by Alma Katsu was a novel that my editor at LibraryJournal thought I might like, yeah she was right. I loved it. This is the second in Alma’s Taker trilogy and I was beamed right up into the plot, the characters and the amazing storytelling of this very talented fantasy author. The characters are very un-hero, very dark, very sensual, a very adult novel. But this adult can’t wait to get her hands on book three of the trilogy. (The review is courtesy of LibraryJournal)

Well that’s my list for the best of 2012, I hope you enjoyed one or more of the selections. I’d love to compare notes. Bring on 2013 which I’m sure will be a bumper crop of glorious new titles to pick from for next year.
Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of A Gift From Tiffany's and Q&A with Melissa Hill

Q&A With Melissa Hill
A Gift From Tiffany’s

Melissa, welcome to the B& General Fiction forum.

Debbie - Tell us a little about A Gift From Tiffany’s.
Melissa - I’ve been in love with the little blue box and its related allure since my UK publisher very kindly gave me a gorgeous Tiffany’s charm bracelet (much like the one Gary buys in the novel) when one of my previous novels went to No 1.  After that, every time I went to New York I visited the Fifth Avenue store for a charm to add to the bracelet, and one time my husband and I went to take a look around the diamond floor, where we saw all these happy couples choosing their engagement rings and walking away swinging bags containing that little blue box.
Each Tiffany’s shopping bag looks the same, irrespective of what’s inside, and there and then the thought struck me - imagine the mayhem if a couple of identical bags, but with very different contents somehow got mixed up?
This is what happens in A Gift From Tiffanys – on Christmas Eve one man is buying an engagement ring, the other a last-minute Christmas gift, and when those two very different gifts get mixed up, mayhem ensues!

You also co-write a forensic thriller series with your husband (congratulations on the series being optioned for TV).
Tell us the ups and downs of writing with your spouse?
Thank you! They say that when you find a job you love doing you never work a day in your life again, and this is especially true of writing. But it must be doubly true when you get to share it with your partner and best friend.
It’s not all a bed of roses, and we argue like cats and dogs over plot points and character development, but ultimately it’s great fun, and we feel very lucky to be working together in this way.

Between women’s fiction and thrillers. Do you have a favorite to write?
When I first began writing, I knew absolutely nothing about genres, and just wanted to write stories that I myself liked to read. I particularly enjoy novels in which there are underlying mysteries to be solved and are full of shocks and surprises, so I used these aspects in my women’s fiction right from the beginning.
Much of these same elements are used in crime writing and the aim is still the same; to create a story with strong identifiable characters and a compelling plot that hopefully readers won’t be able to put down.
I don’t have a favorite and even though both genres have their own challenges, the wonderful escapism of women’s fiction is for me, the perfect antidote to writing a more realistic gritty thriller.

Are you a reader?
Yes, I read absolutely everything I can get my hands on, and have been known to read the back of a milk carton if I don’t have a book to hand!

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I primarily prefer fiction – usually women’s fiction and thrillers (surprise) but do enjoy reading travel-related non-fiction, usually while travelling.

What’s the best thing about being an author?
There are so many great things, it’s almost impossible to choose just one, but if I have to, I think it’s connecting with readers. I’m always hugely humbled by the letters and emails I receive from people who tell me how much they enjoy reading about the hopes, desires and challenges the characters in my books face, and that it helps them better understand their own lives and what they might do if similar situations present themselves. I feel so honored and very grateful to think that something I’ve written could affect people in this way.

What’s one of your favorite Christmas traditions?
I live in Dublin near the sea, and every Christmas morning (despite the Irish cold!) my family and I go for a bracing dip in the freezing waters of Dublin bay. It’s a bit of local tradition, and an energetic way to start the day! 

Do you ever get over to this side of the pond, if so do you have any events planned at a Barnes & Noble location?
I adore the US and try to visit New York at least once a year for research (and shopping!) purposes. I also adore Clearwater Beach, Florida where I’m currently working on my next book while hiding out from the cold Irish weather. Nothing planned yet, but I would be delighted to visit a Barnes & Noble store anytime!

Melissa, thank you for taking time to answer a few quick questions.
Nollaig Shona Duit !
Thank you so much! Have a wonderful Christmas!

My Review of A Gift From Tiffany's

A Gift From Tiffany’s
Melissa Hill
St. Martin’s Griffin
404 pages

It’s Christmas Eve in New York city, visiting from London professor Ethan Greene along with his daughter, Daisy has one special purchase to pick up before his holiday is complete. Unfortunately while being a good Samaritan his package is mixed up, when his girlfriend, Vanessa opens the gift on Christmas morning he’s at a loss, instead of a brilliant Tiffany’s Marquise engagement ring inside the iconic blue box is a simple charm bracelet.
Dubliner Gary Knowles has almost finished his Christmas shopping and with a last thought that he should get his girlfriend, Rachel something because after all she did gift him with this trip to the big apple for Christmas, he stops at Tiffany’s to get her a little something special. Unfortunately before they can celebrate he’s struck by a New York taxi and ends up in the hospital. When they do finally get to exchange presents he’s astounded to find that instead of a charm bracelet his girlfriend removes a beautiful and expensive diamond engagement ring from the little blue box.
What happens next is a comedy and tragedy of errors, mistakes, lies and betrayals and perhaps a little fateful magic all brought about by a little blue box.

Melissa Hill’s beautifully penned Christmas novel is rich with scenes from both sides of the pond. With characters that are both naughty and nice who play their roles to perfection and one little girl who believes in magic. Her plot takes twists and turns so sharp you might think you’re clinging to the side of a cliff and just when you think there’s a straight-a-way ahead it’s only a mirage as you plunge down another steep dip in the story. It’s rife with humor and heartache, with both comedy and tragedy and it reminds us that fate is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
If you’re looking for a holiday tale to get the spirit started, a perfect gift for a friend or maybe, just maybe that perfect accompaniment to a certain special gift in a little blue box.
Melissa, thank you for a novel I will cherish for years to come that will definitely come off the shelf to be re-read every Christmas season. I can’t wait to see where you take me on our next journey together.
Buy the book here, visit the author's website here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Q&A with Santa, and review of Being Santa Claus by Sal Lizard

 Q&A w/Sal Lizard aka Santa Claus
Being Santa Claus

Debbie - Sal, I mean Santa, I know you’re terribly busy this time of year so thank you so much for taking time to visit us at The General Fiction forum.
Sal -My pleasure, Debbie.

Tell us a little about the book Being Santa Claus.
People frequently ask me what it's like to be Santa. I think that this book gives a glimpse of some of the things and people who happened to me as I matured into a professional Santa. It explains, to many, why I do what I do.
Is there a reason that you wrote the book now?
I'd like to say something like, "Because this is the time when such a book is needed" but it was really because I ran into Jonathan Lane and he talked me into "a collaboration" to tell my stories to a wider audience.

Can you give us one humorous example out of the book?
In one of the chapters, I tell of a little girl who asked me my name while standing in a checkout line. I asked who she thought I was and she said, "I think you're Santa Claus." I told her that she should be really good and she replied, "I am! I'm not even peeing in my underpants!"

Do you only portray the Americanized version of Santa?
Well, I do have a kilt and used to appear to in it for Scottish families that requested it.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town," of course!

Will there be another book?
Gosh, I hope so! There are still stories to tell and I would love the opportunity to tell them. I guess it all depends on how this book sells.

Do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings?
As a matter of fact, I do! My appearance list can be found on my website at I have lots of people asking me to come to their areas for signings but all I can do is ask that they ask their locl bookstore to request me. Hopefully, there will be more as the season progresses.

Thank you so much for answering these few questions Sal. As you know I loved the book. I think it should be required reading for treating Grinch like symptoms around the holidays. It’s inspiring, touching and it was very heartfelt.
Thank you so much for your kind words and wonderful review! I have been hearing from many how my book is helping them through some difficulty. One reader told me that she was going to give her sister (who is going through a tough divorce) a copy to cheer her up!

Good luck with the book.
Thank you so much for helping me share info about the book, and helping with its success!

Merry Christmas.
Same to you! And to all of your readers, too!

Santa Sal
Buy the book here, visit Santa Sals website here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review of Friendship Makes The Heart Grow Fonder by Lisa Verge Higgins

Friendship Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
Lisa Verge Higgins
Grand Central Publishing -5 Spot
352 pages
Release Date 3/19/2013

Monique lost her husband Lenny to cancer four years ago, and she’s had his “bucket list” hanging over her head, so when she learns that a friend is suffering a loss of her own she proposes a preposterous idea.
Becky has just gotten news that’s making her already dimming eyes more cloudy, she’s got children to raise and a troubled marriage to figure out, she’s got no time for going blind. When her friend and neighbor who’s suffered a loss of her own suggests completing her dead husband’s bucket list she thinks it’s the craziest idea ever.
Judy is suffering a huge case of empty nest syndrome that’s left her at loose ends which makes her feel small when she learns of Becky’s situation and thinks of the loss that Monique has suffered, especially since her married life is in good working order. But when Monique invites her on this complete the bucket list trip, she’s all for it.
This journey will mean different things to these three friends who’ve all suffered loss, who’re all at a fork in their particular road. Will they be enlightened or will this trip just make their losses more real. Will Monique find closure, and resolve to live again? Will Becky come to terms with her diagnosis, can she face what ever waits for her at home? Will Judy find a new reason to get up in the morning when she’s got no to do list to complete?

Lisa Verge Higgins has delivered another masterpiece in fiction and what makes it especially memorable is how she really “gets” friendship, the unique relationships that defines kindred spirits. She takes reality to a new height  and she delivers it not with the happy endings we find in romance and yet not with unhappy endings either, what she gives instead is a realistic recipe for life, served with a huge helping of hope. Her plot is not far fetched, it could happen to you or someone you know. Her narrative flows and her characters shine and no matter who you are or where you are in your particular life journey you will find a bit of you inside her pages.
Lisa you’ve taken me around the world more than once now and each time I find something new to love about what you lovingly have to say. So wherever in the world you plan on going next I’m in.
Pre-order the book here, visit the author's website here

And be sure to join us at the Barnes & Noble General Fiction forum in May 2013 when we'll read and discuss this amazing novel as a group, of course Lisa will be there every step of the way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Release Feature Finding Home +Q&A w/Lois Greiman

Debbie - Lois, welcome to the B& General Fiction forum. Can you tell us a little about your new novel Finding Home?
Lois - Finding Home is very near to my heart and near to my roots. It's set on a South Dakota ranch (I grew up on a North Dakota ranch) and is about a young woman who is trying to find her place in the world. Along the way, she learns who she is and who she wants to be.

Wow you have quite an eclectic career path, from horse trainer, to model, to veterinary assistant, to fitness instructor. How did that path lead to your being an author?
It doesn't make much sense, does it? But the truth is, I've always loved fiction and I've always fictionalized life. In other words, I have always told stories in my head. But about twenty years ago I began putting those stories on paper. I entered a short story in a writers' contest and I've been obsessed with fiction ever since.

According to your book list on your website you write romance and mystery. What genre would you call Finding Home?
I think of it as women's fiction. While it does have a romantic element, that's not the main thrust of the story. To me, the focus is on Cassandra Carmichael and how she shapes her life into what she wants it to be.

Do you have a favorite genre to write?
I'd like to say that every book I write is my favorite while I'm working on it, but I'm afraid the opposite seems to be true. Quite often, when I'm writing a mystery I wish I was writing a romance and when I'm writing a romance I wish I was writing women's fiction. It's one of the most difficult things about writing...sticking to it long enough to make it all work.

Do you belong to a writer’s group?
I belong to several. Sisters In Crime meets in a wonderful little mystery book store called Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis. I also belong to Midwest Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Having a writing community is so important as it's difficult for non-writers to understand the extreme weirdness of authors at times.

Do you write full time?
What constitutes full time exactly? Does it count if I take frequent thinking (aka nap) breaks? Basically, yes, I do write full time, but I also spend as much time in the barn as I can. Horses are good for my creativity...and my soul.

Since your first release day was in 1992, how has the experience of “release day” changed for you? Is it still exciting and nerve-wracking?
I've written over thirty novels, so my nerves are a little steadier than they used to be. But I'm extremely excited about Finding Home. It's a whole new world for me. I think this is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers and I'm really looking forward to hearing from them.

You also have a busy life caring for your family and farm residents. So tell us what would your ultimate vacation be?
 My son asked me that recently. Mind you, this is the same son who likes 'adventurous' vacations. We've done a few of them together. In fact we spent ten days in Costa Rica and spent a whopping $500 a piece so you can imagine there weren't a lot of luxury hotels involved. A couple years after that we climbed several mountains between Minnesota and California on my way to a writer's conference in L.A. Except for the kidney stone episode after scaling Mt. Elbert (the highest peak in Colorado) it was lots of fun. Still, even after all that 'fun' I'm not very good at sitting around and watching the sun set. My favorite vacation would involve horses, lots of miles, and probably a good deal of discomfort. I'm not proud of that fact. These masochistic tendencies do no one any good.

Do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings planned?
I have a couple...with several more in the works: I'll be signing a fun little anthology (Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from the Land of Minnesota Nice) with fourteen other mystery writers at the B&N in the IDS tower in Minneapolis on December 6th. Then on December 15th I'll be in Fargo North Dakota for my first event involving Finding Home. I can't wait.
Buy the book here, visit the author's website here