Saturday, December 28, 2013

#TuesBookTalk January Selection: Possession by A.S. Byatt

TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs on Twitter (@tuesbooktalk #tuesbooktalk) and on Goodreads will be reading the 1990 winner of the Booker Prize, Possession by A.S. Byatt, in January. Our first discussion will be on Tuesday, January 7. Our chats take place on Twitter at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT on Tuesday nights (see hashtag above). If you can't join us on Twitter, feel free to share your thoughts in the Goodreads group. The reading schedule is available in the Goodreads group here. Hope you will join us!


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Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 End of Year Book Survey


So, I've been debating and debating on whether I want to do the traditional top "such and such" list this year and I'm afraid I just don't have the gumption for it. I saw this end of year survey at She is Too Fond of Books and thought it might be easier for me to just answer some questions. I'm also still up in the air about New Year's resolutions, or goals, this year. I think I'm really going in for some changes in the new year.

This is the 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Historical Fiction: The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton (Honorable Mentions: Illuminations by Mary Sharratt and The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry)

Fantasy/Science Fiction: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (did not review)

Thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Horror: The Shining by Stephen King (Honorable mention: Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty)

Classic: Watership Down by Richard Adams (did not review)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 

The Princess Diana Conspiracy by Alan Power

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - I was really amazed at how thrilling this books was. I do love my classics, but sometimes they can be somewhat dry. This one was exciting. (did not review)

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I recommended The Stand by Stephen King on audio, read by Grover Gardner. One of the best audios I've ever listened to.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013? 

The Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rowland. I read the 17th book, The Shogun's Daughter for review this year and it was really good. I picked up on of the earlier books in the series at a library sale a couple of weeks ago. What I liked is that these can be read as stand alone novels, but are still a series.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013? 

Historical fiction: Stephanie Thornton
Thriller: Gillian Flynn

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? 

Night Demon by Lisa Kessler - I'm not a big reader of paranormal romance, but Lisa's books are SO good. I loved this second edition in the Night series.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013? 

Definitely Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 

I rarely reread books the very next year. 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Amy Dunne from Gone Girl...definitely. If you've read the book, you'll know what I mean.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

I read two books by Kazuo Ishiguro in 2013...Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day. The man writes the most beautiful prose.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - the book really makes you think and question.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

The Shining by Stephen of my top fave authors. Really? What was I waiting for?!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

From Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey. This quote was in the opening pages of the book. 

Posterity should pay no heed to those secret legends which are spread about a Prince in his lifetime out of spite, or a mere love of gossip, which a mistaken public believes to be true and which, in a few more years, are adopted by the historians who thus deceive themselves and the generations to come.
--Voltaire, Eloge Funebre, written during the reign of Louis XV

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Shortest: Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim by Chin'gak Kuksa Hyesim, translated by Ian Haight (108 pages)

Longest: The Stand by Stephen King (1153 pages) - I did listen to this on audio. You can imagine how long it took. HaHa!

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Gone Girl, of course! Again, if you've read it, you know exactly what I mean.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Kathy and Tommy from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A tragically romantic and heartbreaking relationship at the same time.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else: 

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty...recommended to me by my friend J. Kaye.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013? 

No big surprise here...Historical fiction

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Brendan Prescott from The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner...dreamy!

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell...terrific past and future imagery and world building.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013? 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn...I really did not want to put it down, even when I had to!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013? 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty...I didn't hear a lot of hype about this one and it's really good.

This part was optional so I decided to just answer this one question with some (tentative) goals for 2014.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
My main focus in 2014 will be to read more from my own home library. With 3000+ books, I have quite the TBR. I'm going to work on the perpetual and long term challenges I host and am already involved in so will sign up for very few short term challenges this year, if any. On the blogging front, I will continue with A Reading Life on Mondays and Cat Thursday. Most reviews will be book tours/for review books. If I do review from my TBR, it will be with Novel Glimpse posts most likely. Just a few thoughts on the books. I'm trying to go low maintenance here so I can focus more on writing my novel.

What were your favorites this year? Do you have any reading/blogging goals for 2014? If you did/do a post, leave me a link in the comments.


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cat Thursday: Post-Christmas Exhaustion

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

All that build up and preparation and it's over in a matter of hours...haha! Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. Looking forward to a new year in a week's time. How about you?

I know it's a dog, but so darn funny!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, here's wishing you all a happy and safe one! Enjoy your time with your loved ones and friends. *hugs*


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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cat Thursday: Christmas...just around the corner!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Did anyone happen to notice that I neglected to post "Authors and their Cats" last week? Wow! The holidays really put my brain in a muddle. Anyway, sorry about that! Back next month, I promise. 

I'm thrilled to say that I have most all of the presents wrapped and under the tree and I finally got my Christmas cards done and sent. Yay me! Alice and Arya are in the spirit. Here they are in their Christmas collars, although Alice had to stop wearing hers because she has gained weight since last year and it was really too tight on her neck. I have a new one that Arya couldn't wouldn't tolerate so I might try it on Alice. It is more loose so we shall see.

Crappy cell phone pics....grrr!

Now, on to the funny/cute...not that A and A aren't cute or funny. HaHa! Hope they don't see this...

If only we adults could see Christmas
this way. It comes on so fast!

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ann B. Harrison's From the Outback -- Guest Post and {Contest}


What keeps me focused on a given story? - Ann B Harrison

This one is easy to answer because I struggled a lot with it in the beginning of my writing career. In the first year or so of writing I could have as many as five stories on the go and it got so confusing, even when I was telling myself it wasn't.

It got to the stage whenever I had a new idea or inspiration struck, I would shelve the current work in progress and get into the new one. Looking at my screen one day and counting up how many partial manuscripts I had was a huge wake up call.

There was no point in having so many unfinished stories. I hated it, my publisher hated it and I had to take charge and be stricter with myself. Nobody could do it for me.

Now I work on one story at a time unless I have edits coming back and forth. If I get another bright idea, I can put a page of notes on my screen and add to them but under no circumstances will I let myself do more than notes until the current book is finished.

Being hard on myself is the only way it works for me. I'm too much of a scatter brain to concentrate on too much at once :)

About the book
Title: From The Outback 
Author: Ann B. Harrison
Publisher: Self Published
Formats Available In: Digital

Although desperate to get out of her dead end job, Sami is cynical when she hears of an inheritance from the grandfather she never knew. But once she and her young brother arrive in the beautiful valley, she discovers they are not wanted...especially by the sexy vineyard owner next door.

Will she persevere and make a home for them, or give in and take the easy money when the going gets tough?


A thump sounded on the bedroom door, jarring her from a deep sleep.

"Go away." Samantha Grace Rose Darling groaned into her pillow.

"Sami, phone."

"Tell them to fuck off and let me sleep." She threw a pillow at the door seconds before it eased open and her brother poked his head in the room. "Garth, I'm warning you, go away."

He sighed and she waited for the usual whine to follow. "There's an old guy on the phone. Said he wants to speak to you."

"Tell him I'm not here." She rolled over, brushed the hair from her face and then glared at him through half-closed eyes.

"I did but he insists on speaking to you. Said he wasn't going to go away until he does."

She groaned, pushed her blanket off with her hand and slowly slid out of bed. With languid grace Sami advanced on her brother intent on doing bodily harm to whoever it was who had the audacity to disturb her sleep. Holding out the phone, Garth waited for her to take it before he backed out of the room and quietly shut the door, leaving her alone.

"This better be bloody good. I pulled a double shift last night and I'm freaking tired."

Walking over to the window, she pushed aside the faded curtain and flinched when the bright Alice Springs sunlight filled her room, scorching her tired eyes. She promptly dropped the curtain into place wishing she'd left it alone. Sami rubbed her eyes and waited.

"Am I talking to Miss Samantha Grace Rose Darling?"

"Yeah." She dropped down to the edge of her bed, her fingers tracing a bruise on her leg from when she had bumped into a tray of glasses last night. I am such a klutz.

"Miss Darling, my name is Rupert Newland. I'm a solicitor with Newland, Newland and Cooper in Singleton, New South Wales."

She spat out a laugh before covering her mouth with the heel of her hand.

"I'm glad I amuse you. Now if you would be so kind as to contain yourself, I have news for you."

The voice on the other end of the phone was clipped and precise.

"I am acting on behalf of your grandfather's estate with regard to his final will and testament."

"I don't know who you're talking about. I don't have any family." Names ran through her mind but grandparents didn't come into the picture she had tucked away in her memory. "Nope. No grandparents I can lay claim to, sorry mate. You obviously have the wrong girl."

"Miss Darling, I have checked the facts and you are indeed the granddaughter of my late client. I need you to could come into the office for the reading of the will."

"Where did you say you were again?" Sami kicked through the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor and picked up the crumpled jeans from yesterday. She tucked the phone between her ear and shoulder to hold it firmly while she pulled her jeans on. One foot after the other she slid each leg into the jeans and yanked them up, wiggling her butt to pull them over her hips. Sami popped the button and did up the zip before she took the phone in her hand again.

"New South Wales, Hunter Valley. Singleton to be exact," he said.

"Mate, I don't know if you looked at the post code before you called me but I live in Alice Springs. In the middle of the frigging desert in the Northern Territory. I can't pop down the road and see you, understand?" She blew a stray curl from her face.

With one hand she opened her bedroom door and walked out to the lounge room. Garth tidied up his breakfast dishes and she smiled in his direction. He pointed to the coffee machine and Sami blew him a kiss.

"It will be worth your while to drive or fly down Miss Darling."

"I can't afford it, okay? It's not like I do double shifts at the pub because I enjoy the work. I need the money and there isn't enough at the end of the week for a happy little visit to your office. Tell me what you want to say and let me get on with my day now you've dragged me from my bed." She lifted a hand and rubbed at her eyes.

"Very well. You have inherited Buttercup Farm and it's contents. There is also a bank account with a small balance which I will disclose once you have formally proven your identity."

"Are you serious?"

Garth looked over at her, his shoulders raised in question. She shook her head and turned away.

"I did send you paperwork last week but I didn't receive a reply, hence the follow up phone call today." The solicitor’s bristling attitude irritated her.

A pile of unopened mail sat on the cluttered kitchen counter and Sami screwed up her face. Out of habit she threw the next day's mail on top of the pile, dreading the bills inside the envelopes. The longer she ignored it, the larger the pile grew.

"Sorry. I've um... been a bit busy and haven't got around to opening the mail for a few days."

"Well I suggest you do that. I need signatures to transfer the bank account into your name. It would be significantly easier if you were here in town. Since you are not, I would appreciate it if you could go to the nearest courthouse and have a Justice of the Peace witness your identity and your signature where I have indicated. It might be best if you Express Post the papers back to me today. You have to decide what to do with the farm and the stock." There was silence for a few seconds. "If I might make a suggestion? There are interested parties if you should decide to sell the property. Would you like me to have it valued for you? I can arrange everything from this end if you would prefer."

"No, no. I need to think about this for a bit. I'll ring you back after I read your letter. Thanks for calling." Sami hung up and threw the phone onto the couch and dropped her head into her hands.

"What is it? Was the landlord after his rent again? Sami, tell me."

"No, Garth. It was a solicitor." A wobbly laugh rose in her throat. "It seems as though we had family after all, even though he's dead."

About the author
Ann swears she was born with a book in her hands and has never put it down. A lifelong love of reader has finally culminated in achieving her dream of writing...and publication.

She lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley with her own handsome hero of many years. Ann has always loved the ups and downs of life in small communities and she shares this with readers in her rural romances.

Strong sexy heroines with a good dash of sass thrown in feature in her stories. Of course these women need an equally strong hero. Bring on the outback hero and watch the passion ignite.

When not writing Ann enjoys reading, gardening, walking her very large dog Hugo and fighting with her computer.

Ann’s Social Media Links:

Ann B. Harrison Romance

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Reading Life (24)

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? I can't! I actually have all the presents wrapped and under the tree. First time in years!

Listening To:  I finished listening to A Christmas Carol a few days ago. My favorite! Now, I'm back to the Christmas music. We have two radio stations here in Nashville that play all Christmas all the time until Christmas. Yay!

Books finished:


Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Snowman Maker, Barbara Briggs Ward
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

Coming Up:  
It's not looking like I'll be doing much more Christmas reading. I'm hoping to finish Winter Solstice tomorrow and The Snowman Maker by Wednesday. Then I might be able to start something else. I need to decide what my first read of 2014 is going to be too.

Watching: Christmas movies on TV and some favorites I own. I enjoyed the mini-series, Bonnie and Clyde. Can't wait for Michael Buble's Christmas special Wednesday night.

Making: Bought the stuff to make sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, Snickerdoodles, pumpkin cookies, and peanut butter blossom cookies. Need to start planning my Christmas dinner menu. I think the boys and I are going to eat dinner with mom on Christmas Eve. Craft-wise, I'm making some special gifts for a few people.

Grateful for: the small kindnesses I witness around here and there. They may be few and far between, but I notice them nonetheless. Must be the season!

Looking forward to: my shopping is done so now I can concentrate on the fun stuff with my boys. Their last day of school is Friday (half day), but I think we're going to start driving around to look at lights. Yes, even on a school night. =O)

Books I received or purchased:

Secret Santa gifts! from Laura at Book Snob *heart*

The Restorer, Amanda Stevens
The Kingmaker's Daughter, Philippa Gregory

Won from author, Laura Viera Rigler, personalized and signed (Holiday #Readathon)

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Library sale...special holiday sale, 25 cents per book! They had tons of copies of The Cuckoo's Calling (I couldn't believe it). Mom got one and I picked up one as a gift too.

From top to bottom:
Little Vampire Women, Louisa May Alcott & Lynn Messina
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
Christmas Grace, Anne Perry
A Christmas Visitor, Anne Perry
The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus, Tim Slover
The Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing
The Divine Sacrifice, Tony Hays
The Serpent Dreamer, Cecelia Holland
At Bertram's Hotel, Agatha Christie
The Sixes, Kate White
The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith
Labyrinth, Kat Richardson
Downpour, Kat Richardson
The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, Rebecca Wells
The Snow Empress, Laura Joh Rowland

What's been happening in your Reading Life?


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cat Thursday: Christmas...Baby, It's Cold Outside

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Please accept my apology for not getting around to all of your blogs last week. The holiday season is really catching up to me! Sheesh...I haven't even sent out my Christmas cards yet! Tell me what's hectic for you this holiday season...

This last one isn't Christmas, but I found it incredibly hilarious when I saw it on Facebook.

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