Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Book Trailer Spotlight: Stonebridge by Linda Griffin


Rynna Dalton is welcomed to Stonebridge by the ghostly presence of her mother's murdered cousin Rosalind, but both Rosalind and Cousin Ted warn her against marrying Rosalind's son. 

Title: Stonebridge
Author: Linda Griffin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2023
Pages: 256
Genre: Ghost Story/Romance

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After the death of her mother, Rynna Dalton comes to live with her imperious great-grandmother and her bookish, disabled cousin Ted at Stonebridge Manor. Almost immediately she is aware of a mysterious presence, which she believes is the spirit of her mother’s murdered cousin, Rosalind. Rynna is charmed by Rosalind’s lawyer son Jason Wyatt, who courts her, and she agrees to marry him. Meanwhile Ted and Rynna become good friends. But Stonebridge holds secrets that will profoundly affect her future. Why is Ted so opposed to the match? Why does Rosalind seem to warn Rynna against it? And how far will Jason go to possess Stonebridge—and the woman he professes to love?

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks


Book Excerpt:

She negotiated the stairs one at a time, her bare feet silent on the plush carpet. Halfway down, she leaned over the banister, concentrating intently. No sound from the  direction of the music room, no stir from the servants’ hall.

       She crept in the door of the music room, where she could barely make out the shape of the piano in the darkness. A quick, furtive glance behind her and then she switched on the flashlight and swept the beam around the still room. Nothing lurked in the shadows. She tiptoed to the piano and ran the light across the keys. No visible strings or wires. 

She heard a faint murmur and snapped off the flashlight. She ducked back from the door and hid in a shadowed corner where she was sure she couldn’t be seen with the overhead light off. She waited and heard nothing more. The sound had been almost inaudible, perhaps just the old house creaking or settling.

She held her arm close to her face so she could read the faintly luminous dial of her wristwatch. It was 2:15. Easy enough to wait where she was for a few more minutes. If the pattern held, the practical joker would fall right into her trap. She leaned against the wall and kept her breathing steady and quiet. Just a few minutes more, a little patience. The house was quiet, peaceful, waiting.

Someone was in the room.

Rynna snapped on the flashlight.

No one was there. She had not heard anything to suggest anyone had come into the room, and nothing had touched her, and yet for a split-second she had been absolutely certain someone was a few feet away. She’d had such a strong kinesthetic sense of a presence that the flashlight was on before she had time for conscious thought.

She switched it off again, feeling foolish, but damn it, she had detected something. The sensation was so vivid she had a lingering memory of the other person’s scent. Or did she detect something tangible now? A faint trace of perfume? Something unfamiliar and s suggestive of roses. Now I’m imagining things, she told herself sternly. She hoped the light hadn’t given her away and she still had time to wait undiscovered for the trickster to appear.

She leaned back against the wall and waited, listening to the silence. The house was almost too quiet, as if nobody lived there. Nothing creaked or shifted or fluttered in the darkness. But for the knowledge that she didn’t have long to wait, the silence would have gotten on her nerves. As it was, the hair on the back of her neck prickled. She shivered a little. Like most old houses, Stonebridge was drafty. 

The silence was oppressive and in some way alive. An inexplicable chill ran down her spine. She saw nothing, heard nothing. She didn’t even have a definite sense of someone else in the room. She was simply unnerved for no reason. For a few seconds more she stayed in the shadows of the music room and then, with an almost physical sensation, her composure shattered.

Rynna fled. She ran for the stairs and clambered up them, slipping and stumbling in the dark, half-choked by terror and gasping for breath. At the top of the stairs, she ran full tilt into someone hurrying down the hall, and before she had time to register who it was, she screamed.

Book Trailer:
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About the Author

Linda Griffin knew she wanted to be a “book maker” as soon as she learned to read and wrote her first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” at the age of six. She retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on her writing. She has had stories of every length from short shorts to novellas published in numerous literary journals, and Stonebridge is her eighth book from the Wild Rose Press. She enjoys the three R’s — reading, writing, and research–as well as Scrabble, movies, and travel. 

Author Links  

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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Movie review: The Man Who Invented Christmas

On Christmas Day, in keeping with the theme, I decided that the movie du jour should be The Man who Invented Christmas. This star-studded cast boasts some acting greats such as Christopher Plummer, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, Donald Sumpter, Jonathan Pryce, Bill Paterson, and Miriam Margolyes. The story this time is not A Christmas Carol, the most beloved Christmas tale, but the story behind the story; how Charles Dickens came to write this 1843 novella. It makes for very interesting viewing, especially if one is a writer. The plot of the movie revolves around how Dickens, facing financial failure, conceives of and writes the story in just six weeks. He comes up with names, characters, ideas, and plot twists based on the people and events around him. But soon one wonders if the author is writing the book, or the characters are writing the book…

Dan Stevens plays Dickens rather frenetically as the somewhat self-absorbed, eccentric author who can’t stand failure and/or criticism, and very nearly loses his friends and family while he wallows in the mire of writer’s block and the pressure of creating a new work. The characters appear in his imagination but very quickly assume more corporeal proportions and offer their opinions of him, his attitudes, his character, his behaviour, and his words. Chistopher Plummer is utterly superb as Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean old scoundrel who knows the value of a penny but not of love. Can he change? Will he survive the three phantom visitations? I can’t think of any other actor being able to play Scrooge with the nuances that Plummer gives the character. He is brilliant. The excellent supporting cast is too large to mention everyone, but Donald Sumpter is wonderful as the ghost of Jacob Marley. 

The sets are fantastic as well, giving the right atmosphere and ambiance, with famous names of the era dropped in here and there. The audience is transported right into Victorian Engand. The scenes are well fleshed out, giving background to the period, and highlighting some of the sadder social issues. Dickens, as a writer and social critic, highlights the issues and desperate plight of the poor at the time. The movie epilogue says that Charles Dickens changed the way people viewed Christmas and revived the spirit of goodwill and giving. A bit of research shows that yes, the novel was so wildly popular that it reinvigorated the Christmas season and people’s interest in an ancient custom. Is it worth watching? Absolutely, it's a must-see. Stevens is chaotic in his interpretation of Dickens but the solid cast and superb performances, plus the poignant nature of the story, make this an excellent movie to both enjoy and ponder a little more thereon. This is a perennial Christmas movie the family can watch year after year without tiring of it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Book review: A Friend for Christmas by Mike Martin


A Christmas book about overcoming your fears and finding friends at Christmas. 

Title: A Friend for Christmas

Author: Mike Martin

Publication Date: October 20, 2023

Pages: 36

Genre: Children's

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Good things come to those who face their fears. 

Robbie Rabbit lived in a warren in a big city with his wife Rowena Rabbit and their nine kits. He called it their rabbit apartment. Robbie and his family were hunkering down for winter when an unexpected visitor makes an appearance. 

A Friend for Christmas is the heartwarming tale of a very brave rabbit who faces his fears and makes a new friend at the magical time of the year.  He learns that friends can come in all shapes and sizes and Robbie and his family discover the joy of Christmas.

This beautifully illustrated book is suitable for children of all ages. Especially those who still believe in the magic of Christmas.

“This lovely fable tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a family of rabbits and a gray cat named Whisper. In these war-torn times, it’s an important reminder of our innate ability to choose live over fear.” – Amazon

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My Review: A Friend for Christmas by Mike Martin is an adorable children’s Christmas story that young readers will simply love. Robbie and Rowena Rabbit have nine youngsters (called kits). All their names start with the letter R: Rhonda, Riley, Rebecca, Rowan, Ruby, Ryan, Rose, Romeo, and Ricky. With so many mouths to feed, dad Robbie must forage daily for food. It’s not easy. It’s winter, it’s snowing, and he must navigate the road and passing cars safely. But Robbie is brave and determined and he and Rowena are devoted parents. However, there’s one thing that Robbie fears the most: cats. Whenever he sees a cat, he runs as fast as he can all the way home, which is the advice he gives to the youngsters. One day he meets a cat, a slinky grey cat called Whisper, that seems determined to befriend him. Robbie and Rowena are astounded. What strange behavior from a cat! Can rabbits be friends with a cat?

A Friend for Christmas is a lovely story just in time for Christmas. Mike Martin introduces the concept of friends in all shapes, sizes and … wait for it … species! The spirit of Christmas and festivities filters through with the tall creatures (humans) putting up twinkling lights and beautiful decorations. From Whisper, Robbie and his family learn what Christmas is all about and that sometimes the greatest gift one can give someone is their friendship. This is the message of the festive season and one that parents will be pleased to see in this charming story. Other positive aspects of this book are the lessons Robbie and Rowena teach their children about road safety, the wonderful sense of a family playing and having fun together, new friendships, and learning about animals. Youngsters will also have fun with so many ‘r’ words in the rabbit family names! The illustrations are simple and clear and help to tell the story.

About the Author

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the award-winning and best-selling author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 13 books in this light mystery series with the publication of All That Glitters.

Author Links  

Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Book Spotlight: The Hope Series by E.C. Jackson


The Certain Hope: Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert; she also happens to be stunningly beautiful. When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind? James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It’s rubbed off. Years ago, he disengaged from his brother’s smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, “Get married or lose your seat at the table.” Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn’t love her. But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she’s due to meet his family. Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure? Amazon

The Confident Hope: Is there hope for this love between friends? Pamela Hayes is a smart, successful business owner with a supportive family and a thriving bakery. She should be the happiest girl in the world. But she can’t shake the melancholy that accompanies every conversation she has with her best friend, Mark. Pamela doesn’t know how much longer she can hide her true feelings. Why can’t Mark see how perfect they would be together? She would make a much better girlfriend than the one he currently has. Pamela prays he’ll come to his senses soon and realize he’s with the wrong girl. But when her dream comes true, it isn’t the fantasy she had envisioned. There is trouble in paradise from the start, and all the red flags she’s been ignoring are starting to threaten her confidence…and her relationship with Mark. She’ll have to rely on family and her faith in God to help her secure the hope she so desperately needs. Amazon

Overflow With Hope: Two men. One wrong choice. Tempia Wade’s life had jumped the rails. One fateful night, she believed a stranger’s lie rather than the assurance of a trusted friend. For her lapse in judgment, she paid an agonizing price. Her now-bankrupt life featured shattered dreams, ruined friendships, and the loss of a promising relationship. Now, two years later, the twenty-three-year-old prayed for a second chance with the man she had fallen for at first sight. Would Cory Sanders finally overlook her egregious mistake in accepting a next-day date and liaison with another man? Or would she have to truly accept life without him? Amazon 

About the Author


E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. Thirty-one years later, she adapted the play into Pajama Party: The Story, a companion book to the second book in the five-book standalone Hope series. Jackson’s favorite pastime is reading fiction. She enjoys taking the journey along with the characters in the books. That also led to her unorthodox approach to story writing. Her vision for each book she writes is to immerse readers into the storyline so they become connected with each character. “The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on her Facebook author page. She feels that if every person reading her books feels connected to the characters, her job is done. 

Author Links   Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Friday, November 24, 2023

The Inspiration Behind Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips by M.G. Rorai



If you loved Catnip, Toilet Paper, and Lasers, this new collection of cat poems will tickle your whiskers and your funny bone.

Title: Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips: Cat Poetry: The Art of Being Feline

Author: M.G. Rorai

Publication Date: September 30, 2023

Pages: 178

Genre: Poetry/Cats

Ever wonder why there are “mews” in “amewzing”? This collection of cat poems will tickle your whiskers and your funny bone. They’re the purr-fect way to brighten your day and celebrate the furry friends in your life. Prepare to laugh out loud as you read about cat adventures with magnets, candles, strawberry milkshakes, and plush balls—but don’t let me ruin the surprise, you’ll have to read to find out! Get ready to laugh your tail off!

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Scribd | Smashwords

Book Excerpt  

The magnets are so cute

that I must knock them off

but get yelled at for this,

so the new approach is soft.

I sit by the fridge

staring at those squares

and when Human isn’t looking

I lick with tongue hairs.

All was going good

until one was quite sticky

leaving a bad taste,

and I’m not so picky.

I bite at the air

to get rid of the taste

then knock down that magnet;

good riddance, post-haste.**

The Inspiration Behind Catnip, 

Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips

Kitty Elsa perches on a chair to slurp water droplets during shower time. If my husband or I don’t let her into the bathroom she cries at the door. When we do let her in, she drinks from our fingers until she gets bored, then abandons the shower to go slouch in a basket. Ah, the life of a Queen.

As you can tell, I think cats are adorable creatures, and as such I’m part of many cat groups on social media to get my daily fix of funny cat things. One day I was reading a thread of real-life funny stories, and I thought how fun it would be to turn them into silly poems. At the time I had been re-exploring my poetry, something I used to write unpublished about ten years ago, and posted in the group if anyone would be interested in reading such a book. The response was overwhelmingly positive. 

I received permission to use those stories, and that’s how the first book in the series Cat Poetry: The Art of Being Feline came about. It’s called Catnip, Toilet Paper, and Lasers. Of course, my kitties Elsa and her brother Socks contributed and became the theme of the book.

But I wasn’t done. I started on the Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips sequel with inspired cat stories and continued on with the antics theme of my own cats, along with writing other books. But then burnout hit, plus job issues needed to be addressed (as I wasn’t writing full-time) and everything took a backseat. I didn’t get back to the feline sequel until two years later. By then the world had righted itself, I had recovered from burnout through lots of rest and pursuing other activities, and I felt it was time to complete Q-Tips, which I think is better than the first poem collection.

When I first started this series, I was exclusively on Amazon. But with Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips I’ve decided to expand my reach and publish at other places, such as Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, libraries, and others. I want to share my laughs with many who appreciate the love of cats. And now part I, Toilet Paper and Lasers, is wide as well.

But it’s more than cats too. These books are also about sitting down and having a good moment when good times might be hard to come by. What better way to find distraction than amewzing cat poems? A cat’s companionship can help tremendously on a bad day, and I wanted to capture some of that for anyone needing a silly moment.  

About the Author

M.G. Rorai enjoys hanging with her cats and annoying her husband. Her latest book is Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips.

Author Links  

Website | Facebook

Monday, November 20, 2023

How I Reset My Life by Quitting Drinking by Lisa May Bennett, author of My Unfurling


Wicked hangovers. Scary blackouts. Ugly fights with friends. The results of binge drinking weigh heavily on Lisa May Bennett. She tries repeatedly to savor “just a few” glasses of wine—only to find herself passed out on the couch again.

 Lisa has a bucket list full of exciting adventures with zero check marks next to them. Her anxiety and self-doubt are crying out for real solutions, not more booze. And her dream of becoming a published writer is fading away. She worries that her love of a good buzz will keep her stuck in this rut. Can she take charge of her life, or is she headed for a disastrous rock bottom?

 This touching and funny memoir explores the childhood experiences that paved the way for Lisa’s drinking habit. She examines her complicated relationship with her mother, her experiences as a late bloomer, and her ongoing search for validation. In an engaging and relatable voice, the author shares how she began to “unfurl” without alcohol holding her back. But will she stay sober and discover how to truly thrive? Anyone wondering if they'll ever burst out and follow their dreams will find My Unfurling compelling and hopeful.

Purchase a copy of My Unfurling on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


How I Reset My Life by Quitting Drinking

For many years, decades actually, I was an enthusiastic drinker. I couldn’t imagine a Friday night, a fancy dinner, or getting together with friends without an alcoholic beverage. It helped me relax after a stressful week, and it made the good times seem even better. You could say that drinking was my main hobby, along with watching TV and cooking (both of which could be done with a bottomless glass of wine).

Sure, I often drank way too much, which resulted in some bad nights. I was no stranger to blacking out, getting into nasty arguments, or making a fool of myself. But I always thought quitting drinking was for people whose lives were totally falling apart. We hear about those big “rock bottoms” people hit—losing your job, getting in a car accident, discovering your health is at risk, being arrested, or losing custody of your kids. These are the experiences that are supposed to send you straight into recovery.

I didn’t hit one of those rock bottoms. So, every time I pondered whether my relationship with alcohol was toxic, I concluded that it wasn’t that bad. Except for that one time. Oh, and that other time. But otherwise, I was good, right? When I hit middle age, I started wondering if there was more to life. Was my routine way too routine? I had a bucket list of fun things that I wanted to try—none of which were getting checked off. Most importantly, I had dreamed of becoming a published author since I was a kid, and that had gone nowhere.

I did a lot of thinking about what was standing in the way of these things I desired. Watching less TV would definitely open up more time, and cutting back my social media scrolling was a no-brainer. But after going alcohol-free during a 30-day food elimination program, quitting drinking started to emerge as the potential key to resetting my life. Several more years passed before I finally made the decision to part ways with alcohol. I don’t know if I had been waiting for a serious rock bottom. A different kind of sign—an online essay kind of like this one is what finally pushed me off the fence.

Once I stopped, a reinvigorated life began to unfold. I checked off many of those bucket-list items, and I’m still adding to the list. I finally returned to my writing, and I authored and self-published a memoir. (And I’m working on book two.) Maybe I never would have hit a true rock bottom. Maybe I didn’t have a “real” problem, as some people close to me have suggested. But I think it was a problem that I was more attached to drinking than I was to fulfilling my dreams. 

So, if you’re looking for a sign, take it from me—you don’t have to wait for a big, scary one. Maybe this is your notice that life can get much more interesting than you ever imagined once you give alcohol the boot.



About the Author

Lisa May Bennett is the author of the memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking. She had a flourishing career in marketing and communications for more than two decades before finally embracing sobriety and chasing her dream of becoming an author. Her upcoming book will demystify the self-publishing process, and she hopes to encourage more people to tell and publish their own stories.

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