Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Truffles' Toy Review: Edgar's Attic

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Are you an Etsy shopper? Mommy does a lot of browsing but has so far resisted the temptation. She says it's getting harder and harder though because there is so much cool kitty stuff on there.

Last month Edgar's Attic handmade catnip toys ran a contest on Facebook to celebrate 100 page likes. The prize was an Edgar's Attic tote bag for the humans and FIVE toys for the kitties...and I WON!!!

Debra Hussey is the owner of Edgar's Attic, and Edgar is the kitty that inspired the shop. He was Debra's faithful companion for 17 years before he went to the Bridge. Debra says of her Etsy Shop, "It grew out of a desire to fill the space where he used to be." To us, that makes these whimsical, catnip-filled felt cat toys even more special because they are handmade with love.

I was so excited when my package arrived. Everything looked so adorable individually wrapped in paw print tissue paper! We adore the tote bag's design with the two kitties and a cup of coffee, and it's perfect for Mommy because she is a tote bag fanatic!


These are the toys we picked out: a mouse, sock monkey girl, cupcake, paw, and maple leaf. (Mommy picked out the maple leaf because it's such a symbol of Vermont, not knowing that Debra is in Canada and of course the maple leaf is on their National Flag.)


I immediately jumped into the toy pile. I love grabbing the mouse by his corded tail and kicking the stuffing out of him! (Teehee!!!)


Many action shots had to be deleted because they were so blurry!


These toys are even pawsome to cuddle up with at naptime!


Thank you, Edgar's Attic! I just love my new toys!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Release Day Book Review & Giveaway: Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing's Greatest Rivalry

Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing's Greatest Rivalry


Blurb: From the moment they first galloped head-to-head in Saratoga Springs, the two chestnut colts showed they were the stuff of racing legend. Alydar, all muscle with a fearsome closing kick, was already the popular favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. Affirmed, deceptively laid-back streamlined elegance, was powered forward by his steely determination not to settle for second place.

In the Sport of Kings, the Triple Crown is the most valued prize, requiring a horse to win not just one race, but three: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. And 1978 would not be just for the record books, but also one of the greatest dramas ever played out in the racing world.

There were names to conjure with, worthy of the Sport of Kings. The bloodline of Native Dancer. The teen wonderboy jockey Steve Cauthen. The once unbeatable Calumet Farm—the Damn Yankees of the racing world—now in eclipse and hoping for a comeback. The newcomer Harbor View Farm—owned by brash financier Louis Wolfson, who wouldn’t let even a conviction and a prison sentence for securities violations stand in the way of his dreams of glory. And the racetracks themselves: Belmont, Saratoga, Pimlico. And, of course, Churchill Downs.

It has been thirty-five years since Affirmed and Alydar fought for the Triple Crown, thirty-five years when no other horse has won it. Duel for the Crown brings this epic battle to life. Not just two magnificent Thoroughbreds but the colorful human personalities surrounding them, caught up in an ever-intensifying battle of will and wits that lasted until the photo finish of the final Triple Crown race . . . and Alydar and Affirmed leaped into the history books.

Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: I am not a sports fan. While people around me heatedly debate major sporting events I smile politely and pretend that I know (or care) about what they're discussing. That being said, I am a NASCAR fanatic and passionate about horse racing's Triple Crown.

I am completely swept up in the mystique of the Triple Crown. The last time it happened was in the spring of 1978, and I was less than a year old, so seeing a horse achieve such a spectacular feat is the #1 sports story I want to see in my lifetime (besides seeing Kevin Harvick win a Sprint Cup Championship!!!)

I've religiously watched the Triple Crown races since the late '80s, and have seen some special horses come sooo close...Alysheba, War Emblem, Big Brown, Charismatic, Sunday Silence. I've also suffered through the tragedies of Barbaro and Eight Belles, which almost made me give up horse racing altogether, as Ruffian's tragic breakdown made my mother stop watching in the '70s. It's for this reason I only watch the 3 races per year...I am so terrified for the horses during each race I'm practically shaking until it's over.

To coincide with this passion I have a fairly extensive library of biographies of famous racehorses, and Duel for the Crown now has a cherished spot in my collection. It chronicles the aforementioned 1978 Triple Crown races between the great Affirmed and Alydar. While at times the first half of the book can move a bit slow as it focuses on the humans behind the horses, the thrilling second half is written so vividly I felt as though I was a spectator at the racetrack witnessing history. Shockingly, there is also a possible murder mystery involved. Sad, but true.

Have you ever watched the three classic races? One of the great things about the Internet is that all of these historic horse races are available to watch anytime with the click of a finger. Check them out and I guarantee that after watching them you will want to read the definitive account of that magical spring during which two spectacular 4-legged athletes captured the hearts and imagination of a nation.

Thanks to the publisher I have an extra Advanced Reading Copy of this book to give away. Simply leave a comment (with your email address) by noon eastern on Friday, April 25th. (US entries only) Do you have a favorite horse racing memory?

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher with the request for a review.


                                           

                                           

                                           




Monday, April 21, 2014

One Good Cowboy Book Tour with Catherine Mann: Interview & Giveaway

One Good Cowboy banner

Today is my blog tour stop during the blog tour for One Good Cowboy by Catherine Mann. It was my great pleasure to have the opportunity to ask her some questions about her animal rescue work. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs the whole month April on weekdays only, you can view the whole tour schedule here.

Interview with Catherine Mann

What inspired you to write One Good Cowboy?
I’ve long wanted to write a cowboy story – watching all those John Wayne movies growing up certainly made an impression! The opportunity and idea for a cowboy trilogy came along and what a treat it is to see the “Diamonds in the Rough” series launch with One Good Cowboy!

I understand you are actively involved in animal rescue...can you tell us about the work you do?
My family and I foster puppies and special needs dogs for our local animal shelter – we stopped counting at 100. It’s incredibly rewarding to help give these homeless animals the safe haven they need until they find their forever home. I also serve on the Board of Directors at the shelter.

I read on your website that you recently completed hands-on training for the Florida State Animal Response Coalition. What did that entail?
I went through an all-day training seminar, followed by an exam and a practice scenario setting up a temporary rescue shelter. There is also an online course included. FLSARC can be called to participate in rescue scenarios in other states as well. Having completed the FLSARC training also enables me to help with my local shelter’s D.A.R.T. (Disaster Animal Response Team). These teams can be called in to assist in anything from post-hurricane rescues to hoarding situations to puppy mill raids.

(This picture was taken the day I completed the hands-on training to be on the Florida Animal Response Coalition. I'm holding my official uniform T-shirt.)

Please tell us about the fur babies you share your life with.
I have four dogs and a cat, all rescues adopted from a shelter – a puggle, a yellow lab, a beagle, an American bulldog/pointer and a yellow tabby. My adult children, my sisters and my parents have all also adopted some of my former fosters! Family reunions are a treat on so many levels!

The title on your website header is "Rescued by Love". How have you been rescued by love?
There’s an awesome poem animal rescuers share called, “I Rescued a Human Today” by Janine Allen. The poem explains it far better than I can. Hope you are as touched by the poem as I have been.


OneGoodCowboy

One Good Cowboy (Diamonds in the Rough #1)
by Catherine Mann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult

Blurb:
From Ex to Eternity?

To inherit his family's empire, Texas cowboy-turned-CEO Stone McNair must prove he has a heart beneath his ruthlessly suave exterior. His trial? Finding homes for his grandmother's rescue dogs. His judge? Johanna Fletcher, the woman whose heart he broke.

Sure, Johanna can handle a week traveling the country with her ex-fiancĂ© to fulfilll his dying grandmother's request. She and Stone want different things—plain and simple. But there's nothing plain about Stone, or simple about the heat that still flares between them. One week may not be long enough.

You can find One Good Cowboy on Goodreads

You can buy One Good Cowboy here:

- Amazon

- B&N

- Kobo

- Harlequin

Do you like books with an animal rescue theme? Keep an eye out for Shelter Me by Catherine Mann, it’s being released on August 5, 2014. It’s a heartwarming novel about a returning soldier, the daughter of his fallen commander, and a very special dog with a mission.

ShelterMeCover

Shelter Me (Second Chance Ranch #1)
By Catherine Mann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: Adult
Release Date: August 5, 2014

Blurb:
Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra…

Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his…

But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra.

You can find Shelter Me on Goodreads.

You can view the book trailer for Shelter Me on Youtube.


CatherineMannHeadshotB2014

About the Author:
USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann and RITA Award winner, Catherine writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, and Sourcebooks, With over two million books in print in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated five RITA finals, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. A former theater school director and university instructor, she holds a Master’s degree in Theater from UNC-Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts: Theater (with minors in both English and Education) from the College of Charleston. Catherine and her flyboy husband live on the Florida coast where they brought up their 4 children – and still have 5 four-legged, furry “children” (aka pets). Catherine is an active volunteer with her local Humane Society, serving on their Board of Directors and fostering puppies and special needs dogs (she stopped counting at a hundred). She recently checked off a major item on her “bucket list” by completing the hands-on training for the Florida State Animal Rescue Coalition. Catherine enjoys hearing from her readers and can be found online daily. To receive an autographed bookmark, send a SASE to: P.O. Box 6065, Navarre, FL 32566

You can find and contact Catherine here:

- Website

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Goodreads

- Pinteres

- Blog

- Newsletter

There is a tour wide giveaway for a 25$ amazon gift card! For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

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In addition to this please leave a comment (with your email address) for the chance to win one paperback copy of your choice: either For the Sake of Their Son by Catherine Mann or 2-in-1 book Grayson's Surrender and Taking Cover by Catherine Mann. US and Canada only, ending at noon eastern on Friday, April 25th.

 



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Caturday Art: Happy Easter!

This will be Truffles' first Easter in her forever home...what do you think the Easter bunny should bring her?



Check out more artsy kitties here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Murder in the Dog Park/Dog Spelled Backwards by Jill Yesko: Guest Author & Giveaway


The Woman Who Almost Didn’t Love Cats


It may horrify you dear readers to find out that I grew up in a cat-a-phobic family. Both my mother and father disliked cats. My mother was frightened  and my father didn’t like pets—period.

No wonder I grew up suspicious of cats. Gretchen, a shy playmate from elementary school, had hands that bore scars of repeated scratches from her three cats. What kind of animal would do that to gentle Gretchen?

Fast forward thirty years. I fell in love with a man who had a cat. Oh dear, I thought, how am I going to manage this?

At first the cat (a chocolate-colored long-haired former stray named Kitten) and I ignored each other. Sitting in opposite chairs we engaged in epic stare downs. We had an unspoken agreement; we weren't friends, but weren’t enemies either.

One afternoon I awoke from a nap to find Kitten next to me. My boyfriend walked in, took a long look at both of us and proclaimed: “you two need to work this out.”

From that moment Kitten and I became friends. He enjoyed our daily brushing sessions. I discovered a special spot on his head that made him purr like a small motor. I even came up with up nicknames for him (I thought the name Kitten lacked imagination). I called him Bob, as in, “he’s not a bobcat, he’s a bobkitten.” He came running when I yodeled his name and accompanied me on my evening walks.

Over the next year, Bob began paying more attention to me than my boyfriend. Bob knew I’d fallen for him, it just took he a little while to acknowledge it.

When the boyfriend and I broke up, he asked me to take Bob.I thought long and hard. It didn’t seem right to take the cat he had adopted off the mean streets of Albuquerque. I agreed to care for Bob for six months while my ex traveled out of the country.

I cried the night the ex-boyfriend came to get Bob. As much as I wanted to keep him, I knew deep down that he had to go back to my ex.

Bob has since gone to cat heaven. I’m grateful to Bob for being my first cat. I couldn’t have had a better teacher. I’m now a cat lover. To think, it almost didn’t happen.

Dog Park cover

Murder in the Dog Park
Mystery
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (May 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485207
File Size: 242 KB
Print Length: 128 pages
ASIN: B00A10IU7O

Synopsis
Discovering a brutally murdered boy in a rainy dog park sends misanthropic private detective Jane Ronson on a journey through Baltimore’s gritty underbelly. Aided by a sexy cop, a bad-ass bull terrier, and an only-in-Baltimore cast of characters, Jane must use her computer-hacking and street-fighting skills to save her only family member from being framed as the killer.

DogSpelledBackwards

Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery
Mystery
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (August 17, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485214
File Size: 1355 KB
Print Length: 118 pages
ASIN: B00FDXQVO8

Synopsis
Private investigator Jane Ronson suffers from oppositional defiant disorder, the uncontrollable urge to punch first then ask questions later. When a rabbi with a shady past offers her a bag of cash to spy on a rival rabbi, Jane jumps at the chance to make what think will be easy money. To get her cash, Jane impersonates an Orthodox Jewish woman and infiltrates a black market kidney ring in Baltimore’s Orthodox community. Between Russian gangsters and double crosses, Jane is number one on everyone’s hit list. To save her life, she forms an alliance with a religious woman and confronts a family.

About This Author
Jill Yesko’s 20+ year writing career has included stints as a sport writer, NPR commentator and investigative reporter. She’s written about everything from body piercing to human pyramids in Spain. After a solo trek around the world, Jill was profiled as an “adventurous traveler” in O, the Oprah magazine. Before becoming a writer, Jill was a national-class cyclist and graduate and cartographer. A New Jersey native, Jill now patrols Baltimore’s dog parks with her basset hound.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Burnout Book Tour with Teresa Trent: Guest Author & $25 Giveaway


How to Solve a Mystery

by Teresa Trent


Throughout history people have loved mystery stories. A mystery is nothing more than a puzzle that the reader enjoys putting together piece by piece. It seems like the entire picture is there in front of them and yet there is always just one piece missing.

· They might try a piece of the same color, but it doesn't quite fit into the form of the opening.

· They might try something that has the right amount of bumps and notches in it, but the color is all wrong.

· Then, all at once the reader lands upon the one piece that was meant for that part of the puzzle. The entire picture in front of them with all of the wonderful details.

One of the great joys of reading a mystery is picking out those little pieces that other readers might not take notice of. When I was a child my family would sit down to watch a television mystery and my father would announce the murderer within the first scene. That in itself is pretty annoying, but the worst part was my dear dad was always right. What did he know that the rest of us didn't? Here are a few guidelines to solving a mystery.

Look for the small details. Look for a small seemingly inconsequential detail that the author includes about a character. Maybe your character smokes a certain brand of cigarettes that are then found at the murder scene. But maybe it's something a little more difficult like a character mentioning in an offhand manner that they were an orphan. The story races on it seems to circle around other characters who could be the murderers or the victim and then you come to find out that someone has a long lost child. You have to go back and find the orphan. It's the little details that almost always point to something much bigger.

Watch out for characters that you really like or can strongly identify with. Chances are the author has put that character in to either break your heart and kill him off . This character is also a perfect candidate to be the villain in disguise. So many times the antagonist is the least likely suspect in the story. You have a scene with a man, a bank president, a Boy Scout, who is helping the little old lady across the street. As you observe the scene you immediately dislike the con man, you may dislike the bank president, you're okay with the Boy Scout and that sweet little old lady reminds you of your grandmother. Watch out grandma's packing heat. It's those lovable characters that get you every time. 

Look for something that connects your victims. Sometimes it's really easy to figure out how the victims are connected, and other times it is not so easy. We have a young woman who was murdered in Philadelphia and then we had a man who was murdered in Santa Barbara. What is the connection? Maybe you don't find out until later they share the name Leslie. Something will almost always connect the victims even if it is a madness in the killer's mind.

Look for things that the sleuth misses. I love making my main character, Betsy Livingston, miss something. I know full well that my readers will pick up on this and are seriously bothered about it until Betsy figures whatever it is out. Of course this device can also be used to lead the reader down the path of the red herring or false clue. Either way, pay attention to all the little things.

Your last choice? Now if all of these tactics to solving mysteries still hasn't brought you to the identity of the murderer you can always go for the ultimate crime-solving, mystery-busting tactic ... Turn to the last page.

BURNOUTCOVER_TERESATRENT

Burnout (Pecan Bayou Series)
Cozy Mystery
E-Book File Size: 895 KB
Print Length: 202 pages
ASIN: B00ISDZK8S

Synopsis
It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.

About The Author
Teresa Trent writes her Pecan Bayou Mystery Series from Houston, Texas. With a father in the army, her family moved often finally settling in Colorado. Living in Texas for the last 18 years she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that seems to be woven through them all.

Author Links:
Webpage: www.teresatrent.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teresatrentmysterywriter
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5219581.Teresa_Trent
Twitter: @ttrent_cozymys

Purchase Links
AMAZON 

Book Excerpt
An hour later, Tyler and I walked into the Harvest Dance with our arms full of every baked item we could get our hands on from the grocery store. The tables were already covered in sparkling autumn colored table cloths with tasteful pumpkin and scarecrow centerpieces. It was stunning, and I hated to plop a box of Tasteeo Cupcakes on top of it all.

Phyllis, dressed in a mustard turtleneck with a maroon silk scarf tied around her neck approached. “What is this?” Her face turned white, and then was replaced with a complimentary fall color of scarlet red.

“Uh…” I stammered. “I had a little difficulty with the pumpkin squares, but you know kids. They’ll eat anything sweet, right?”

I waited for her to reassure me, but she seemed to be at a loss for words.

“You want me to open up these boxes, Betsy?” Tyler asked.

“Yes, if you would. I’m sure Mrs. Hamlin has lovely plates for us to put these on.”

Phyllis gritted her teeth and turned toward Tyler. “There are some paper plates over there.”

She turned back to me and took hold of my arm squeezing tightly on my bicep with her tastefully manicured nails.

“I specifically told you to make the pumpkin squares. If I wanted a hodge podge of junk food I would have simply stopped down at the Circle K Convenience store.”

Another mother stepped by with her freshly groomed son in tow. “Lovely tables Phyllis,” she said with a little wave.

“Thank you Shelley. We work very hard to make it a wonderful experience for our children.” Somehow I knew she wasn’t including me in that statement.

“I tried to make the pumpkin squares, but we’ve had flu at our house, and … I lost track of time, and they burnt.”

 “Then why didn’t you just make another batch?”

 “There’s not a can of pumpkin left in the entire town.”

 “Yes, there is. I have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry. All you had to do was call me.”

The principal walked by. “Beautiful job, Mrs. Hamlin. Don’t know what we’d do without you.”

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