Five Stars For A Cutthroat Business

I’ve read a lot of books that I rate five stars. A Cutthroat Business by Jenna Bennett is one I’ve just finished reading. Now, I must admit, it has been on my Kindle for quite some time. (I tend to capture way more e-books than I can possibly read.) Last week it was “eenie, meenie, miney, mo” time, and I’m glad this one got the finger. Even better, I discovered that this is the first of a series, with several more to read.

5 star ASavannah Martin is a newcomer to the real estate sales business. She is a proper southern belle who always remembers what her mother says. On a date, a proper lady doesn’t eat too much, or ever eat dessert. There’s a few other things a proper lady doesn’t do, and, unfortunately, Savannah falls a bit short on some things. Like, I’m sure, it isn’t proper to find a dead body, even if it is in the house she’s showing and it just happens to be her hated boss. And one definitely shouldn’t be attracted to that bad boy, Rafe. Of course, Savannah is most polite to the questioning police, and that could be a good thing.

All that is good and well, but exactly why do I pick this is one of my favorite books? For one thing, when I realized I was way over half way through with the book, I stayed awake until 2 A.M. to finish it. For another thing, there’s a considerable amount of sexual tension, but it’s lightly played, and a kiss is the ultimate thrill. (I’m sure that succeeding books will go a tad further, but I do like the fun of this approach.) And, while this is not the first fictional real estate agent I’ve read about who finds a body in the vacant house, there’s a lot more going on in this book that warrants applause.

As I write this brief review, I see that the e-book is available for free. How lucky can you get? A Cutthroat Business available here. (Don’t know if it will be when you read this.) Read all about the author Jenna Bennett here.

Now a word from your sponsor (me). Leave a note here if you wish. Suggest a favorite book of your own. Check out my book page, or my web page. And come back on Thursday for a blog that is yet to be determined—but it will be different. And, next Monday, I’ll tell you about another of my favorite books.


New Year Outlook

Today, when I think of all the new things a year can bring, I realize some would have been quite unimaginable in the not too distant Airplanes, sure—but a tiny drone planned to deliver packages? Even familiar items get an unexpected twist as innovators do their thing.

I’m thinking the telephone here. When I was young (a century or ago), a telephone was firmly attached to the house by a cord, or even secured to the wall. I picked up the receiver and a voice said, “Number, please.”

My answer was, “Three, four, five, oh, J,” and presently, my grandmother answered.

I don’t remember those earliest phones specifically—not until we moved into a farm house when I was in seventh grade. That phone was a wooden box, about a foot and a half tall by maybe ten inches wide, mounted on the wall at adult eye level. A large mouthpiece stuck out in front. The receiver was on a hook at the left. On the right was a crank. To place a call, I lifted the receiver, gave one long crank and waited for the operator. Of course, first I had to be sure no one else was on the party line using their phone. There were quite a few other families, each with their own ring. Ours was two shorts, a long, and a short. Each family heard all those rings, and mostly, ignored them. But, since people didn’t call anyone unless it was necessary, (and nothing secret as anyone could lift their receiver and listen in), there weren’t too many rings to ignore during the day.

Party lines. Do you remember them? After I was married with children in high school, we still had a party line. There were only two homes, and we didn’t hear each other’s ring, but we had to check to be sure no one was on the line by listening in before making a call. As happens, sometimes the other party doesn’t want to relinquish their turn. That happened once when our kids had the high school musical cast party in our basement. Two of the kids had to call home to get parents to collect them. You guessed it—that was when our party would not hang up. My husband had to drive them home instead. And, when we requested a private line, they turned us down—not enough free numbers or free lines or some such.


I mean, two homes using one line and two numbers. With today’s proliferation of phone use, our family with two parents and five children would have had seven cell phones plus one house phone.

Oh, yeah—cell phones. Wireless phones they used to call them when we got our first one. It was as big as a large wall phone and looked the same. (Needed room for those batteries.) But we were boaters, our grandson was expected, we wanted to hear the news. We did—and he is now fifteen. My, how time flies.

Now hubby and I each have a cell phone that doesn’t do anything but take and answer calls. But all our kids and grandkids have the phones that do everything but wash the dishes. They can’t get along without them.

Which is something I read in the latest Forbes with their profiles of thirty business people under thirty who are changing the world. One young woman said, “If we lived in a world that somehow didn’t have cell phones, I’m not sure how I would have been able to do it.” But, looking at her profile and business, I think she’d have managed. Her business is changing every-day objects into power sources to light up her parents’ native country of Nigeria. If you can imagine it—a soccer ball, kicked around for an hour will provide three hours of light. Fifteen minutes of using her jump rope provides two hours of light.

Now, that sounds truly remarkable, possibly impossible. But stop to think—twenty years ago, did you ever expect to take pictures with your telephone? Read e-mail? Even play games?

It’s All About The Book

5 star AStarting next week, every Monday will be my FIVE STAR READS day. I’ll talk about a book I’ve recently read, or, maybe not so recently read, that’s on my favorites list.

What makes a book one of my favorites? Ummm… could be because I stayed up late at night to continue reading. Could be because I absolutely loved the main characters, or the plot, or the sentiment, or… Perhaps I don’t know exactly what it is that tips an enjoyable novel over to the superlative.

Like they say, my choice might not be your cuppa tea. Even, on another day, it might not have been my favorite. But, rest assured, I’ll tell you what shivered my timbers with each book. Likely it will be a mystery. But, not always. (I’m looking forward to listing a particular middle-grade novel.) I also like historic fiction, especially historic mysteries. A few romances resonate with me (I have favorite authors). Often, a non-fiction will catch my eye.  I like comedy in stories, but I appreciate good suspense as well.

Along with my Monday with books, I’ll post another blog entry each Thursday. The subjects will be varied. I’ll include entries on both days to follow my mystery, history, and spooks, oh my caption. But, I’ll no doubt include some that could only be considered ‘rambling.’

Come back on Thursday, and again on next Monday. Hopefully, I’ll have refined my five star reads logo. And, hopefully, I’ll find out how to reorganize my first page to include an option to follow my blog, to shorten the list of past posts, and, possibly, even include other options.

What makes a book one of your favorites?


A New e-book

Two years ago I published A KNUCKLEHEAD IN 1920s ALASKA, aA Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska memoir of my father’s experiences when he went to Alaska hoping to earn money for college expenses. I’ve now published it as a Kindle e-book.

Here’s the blurb: At age eighty-eight, William (Bill) Collins recorded his adventures as a young man who traveled to Alaska to earn money for college. In the 1920s he found adventure, but not much money working in the railroad yards, in mines, as a pearl diver (dishwasher), and anything else between.

During three summers and one winter, Bill survived hunger, earthquake, stomping caribou, and icicle frost. He learned about stopes, sluice boxes, powder smoke, and the Festival of the Midnight Sun. He found friends who would face a bear for him and enemies eager to knife him or smash him with a twenty-pound sledge. Bill had one lucky day and more than a few really bad days.

This is the story of one hot-headed young man determined to earn his own way. In his own words, he was a true knucklehead.

~ ~ ~

I’ve included a bonus short mystery at the end, “Yesterday’s News,” previously published by Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. Even better, the entire e-book is free for those who purchase, or have already purchased, the paperback from Amazon.

Now for a question: Do you know any interesting stories from your parents or grandparents that your children might be interested in?

And another question: Have you ever considered telling that story to a wider audience?

And a hint: Those were the questions I asked myself a few years ago, and with a bit of encouragement, this was my answer.

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Kait Carson lives in and writes from Florida. Her latest book, DEATH BYKait-cover BLUE WATER, was released by Henery Press on Veterans’ Day 2014.  In it, paralegal Hayden Kent discovers a man’s body at 120’ beneath the sea. She thinks she is witness to a tragic accident. Instead, she becomes the prime suspect when the victim is revealed to be the brother of the man who recently jilted her, and she has no alibi.

A year ago I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, but this year I’m at home in Pennsylvania. Unlike my guest, that was only a sometime visit. But Kait remembers past Thanksgivings and has her own way of celebrating in the tropics. Let her tell you about it…

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Known to my family as Turkey Day, it was a favorite childhood holiday. Whether it was at home or away – there were two constants. A groaning table of food (followed by groaning family members), and cold weather—sometimes snow. SNOW, what has snow got to do with a tropical thanksgiving? Well, nothing. But my childhood turkey days were usually spent in the north. Sometimes on my great grandfather’s farm. He was a hardy soul who lived into his 100s. Family history varies on whether it was 103 or 106. I doubt he knew. He was born in the ‘old country’ at home on, yes, a farm. No records were kept, or no records that he kept were kept.

Turkey day on the farm in upstate New York was special. All of the dinner was homegrown. Since both of my great grandparents were immigrants, keeping American holidays, especially Thanksgiving, was a religion with them. Our location made snow a frequent visitor on Thanksgiving Day.

Fast forward to my late teens. Here comes the tropical part. I fell in love with Miami as a five year old when we visited cousins. I never fell out of love. When the time came for me to go to college, it was UM or bust—Go Canes! Once planted, my roots grew in the warm, sandy soil, and I’ve never left. My adult reality has Thanksgivings far removed from anything resembling snow, unless you count white sandy beaches. Temperatures of 80 and above are the norm. But it’s Thanksgiving! It’s autumn. It needs to be COLD. I don’t know who invented air conditioning. I could probably Google it, but that’s been my solution since I moved here. Crank the A/C down to 60, pull on a sweater, turn on the oven and have at it. Turkey, brussels sprouts, yams (a Southern staple I might add), mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato pie (nod to the South) and pumpkin pie. It all pours out of my oven and on to the table. I close all the drapes to block out the green grass and palm trees, light the fireplace, and voila, a cool, Florida, Thanksgiving.

Hayden Kent, the heroine of DEATH BY BLUE WATER, would never understand. Hayden is a Conch. Born and bred in the Florida Keys. Her idea of Thanksgiving runs to Florida lobster stuffing (very good by the way) and ambrosia (also very good). She’s probably going to spend her early morning SCUBA diving to celebrate having a day off, and then hosting a dinner for her friends Mallory and Janice, and maybe her boss, Grant. Any way she slices it, the pie will be from the bakery, and everyone will have a late night, a great time, and leftovers to go.

Come to think of it, that sounds like the perfect turkey day. No matter where or how you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Kait-photoBIO: Kait Carson lives and works in South Central Florida. She shares her home with her pilot husband, a Cherokee Six airplane, eight rescued cats, and three birds. So far, there is no partridge in the avocado tree. Kait is a rabid SCUBA diver and can be found underwater most summer weekends. A self-styled warm water wimp, the diving stops on Columbus Day and the day trips by air begin. Visit her at, or on Facebook at

Kait’s mention of her favorite foods, especially that ambrosia, reminds me of our family specialty—a necessity for any holiday meal, officially known as apple pudding, but also known as red stuff. Do you have a favorite for holiday meals?

Saving Dogs

Dogs on a plane. A mercy flight for animals facing death in overcrowded shelters.

Recently our newspaper told the story of the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team when they brought fifteen dogs to the Lancaster County SPCA shelter. The PAART began when a couple of new pilots wanted a mission other than just flying around Pittsburgh. After one transported a dog for a friend, the idea took hold. When the group hears of an overcrowded shelter about to euthanize dogs, they fly in and collect up to one thousand pounds of animals and take them to a shelter that has room and people who want to adopt dogs.

Since 2006, they’ve moved more than 600 dogs. They’ve also shifted cats, ducks, even pigs and a python. Sometimes the dogs are in crates, other times they are loose. The altitude makes them sleepy. The only problem has been when an affectionate dog wants to sit on the pilot’s lap. (The only damage to a plane was when one Great Dane chewed up the co-pilot’s seat.) Many of the dogs are puppies.

The team of pilots has gone out nearly every weekend for the last two years. On occasion a pilot will adopt one of the dogs. But they know the dogs face a bright future. Locally, the Lancaster shelter had previously taken twenty-eight dogs from the same overcrowded shelter in another state, but these were the first that came by plane. All of those those taken earlier have been adopted.

“Our turnover has been phenomenal,” said Lancaster’s Susan Martin. “We live in such a great county. There are so many dog lovers.”

The full article with pictures is here.

Wild Fire Release Party and Settings Hunt

Ally-WildFire_Cover-453x680Wild Fire released November 7

I’m happy to be part of Ally Shields’ Release Party. She has a great event planned. Keep reading to learn all about it. Here’s Ally —

Thank you so much for being part of the  release party and giveaway for the sixth book in my Guardian Witch series!

(See contest details at the bottom.)

Book Blurb: A vision. A lost talisman. A dangerous journey through time…

A month after their bonding, Ari and Andreas are still adjusting to married life when they learn the hard way that the O-Seven, the terrifying and brutal vampire elders, still have them in their sights. A three million dollar bounty hangs over each of their heads, and there’s no lack of assassins eager to collect.

When the local seer has a terrifying vision of the destruction of Riverdale, it’s up to Ari—as usual—to keep everyone safe. Only this time, an enemy from the past has bound her fire powers, and the city’s string of arsons seems connected.

Daron, the vampire prince in Toronto, has information that two of the vampire elders are on their way to Riverdale. Which can’t be good. Only a risky and unprecedented journey through time can provide the help they need. But that will leave Andreas to face the O-Seven alone…

Buy Links


Also available at most online booksellers

Book Trailer on Youtube:

Author Bio: Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, and considers herself a “river rat.” The setting and folklore of that area are often incorporated into her Guardian Witch series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009. She loves writing, reading and traveling. Way too often she can be found on Twitter. @ShieldsAlly

Author Contacts:






Amazon Author Page:
Other books in the series:

Awakening the Fire (#1); Fire Within (#2; Burning Both Ends (#3); Blood and Fire (#4); Fire Storm (#5).

Coming Soon: Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) (TBA)

Also by Ally Shields: Cross Keys, an Elvenrude novel (October 2014)

Blog Tour GIVEAWAY: Nov. 7-10:  Readers and writers always talk about characters in books, but settings are almost as important, and they play a huge role in the Guardian Witch series. Wild Fire is no exception, and this blog tour is revealing several settings that are the backdrop for major events in this new release. In fact, I think they’re so important that I’m running a special contest.

If you collect the names and numbers of all ten settings, you could win your choice of three ebooks in the series (including this latest release) or a $15.00 Amazon gift certificate. It’s easy to do. Here are the rules.

Visit the blogs on this list — or enough to collect all ten settings — then email me at by 9:00 a.m. EST, Monday, November 10, 2014 with your completed list. You will automatically be entered in the random drawing (two winners).

NOTE: A setting may appear on more than one blog, so be sure you have 10 different settings before turning in your entry.

Here is the list of participating blogs*:

AJ Locke
Angela Myers
Brinda Berry
Carmen Stefanescu
Danielle Devor
Dani-Lyn Alexander
DL Richardson
JL Buck
Joyce Laverne
Kath Marsh
Kirstin Pulioff
Lindsey Loucks
Norma Huss
Sue Roebuck
Tina Gayle
Erin Moore

(*If you can’t find a post, return to for updated links and blogs.)

Now for the setting: #10

Setting #10:  Victorian Mansion – Andreas’s Victorian home in Olde Town, which Ari now shares. The well-preserved residence and its spacious lawn is surrounded by a six foot wrought iron fence and partially lined with well-kept shrubbery. It is furnished primarily with antiques from the 1700s and 1800s.

Halloween Countdown-YA Ghost Reads

Vala-Ghost_Writer_300dpiIs there anything better than a ghost story for Halloween? Yes—two ghost stories. One is mine, but first, let me tell you about Vala Kaye’s Ghost Writer.

Tech-savvy teen Malden Montgomery leaves New York City anticipating nothing but boredom when her artist-mother brings her along on a two-week vacation to a family inn in rural Virginia.

What Malden doesn’t expect is the owner’s 17-year-old son, Jackson, who is totally to-die-for cute. But does she dare believe him when he tells her that her room at the inn may be haunted by a young woman named Emily, who died there more than 150 years ago?

Then Emily begins to communicate with Malden and she and Jackson realize they have to find a way to help Emily’s ghost come back home or risk a spirit’s wrath if they choose to leave her lost in the darkness forever.

Vala Kaye – ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vala Kaye

Vala Kaye grew up in Texas as an avid reader of science fiction, romance and history. Her favorite writers ran the gamut from Robert Heinlein to Margaret Mitchell, and included side journeys with Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and The Hardy Boys mysteries.

After graduating from college with a double major in Communications and History, Vala now lives and writes in warm and sunny southern California. She is addicted to movies, live theater, word games and salsa dancing.

In her first published YA novella, Ghost Writer, Vala explores what happens when the human ‘spirit’ meets computer technology. Vala’s newest title is Artificial Intelligence, book #1 of “The Superhero Next Door” series.


Get in the mood for Halloween with this fast, fun YA paranormal novella! “Ghost Writer” is now available in print or as an e-book. Check it out at these online retailers: Amazon | B& | KoboiBooks


The second YA ghost read is mine, Cherish (A YA Ghost Mystery). You can read all about it here: The e-book is free for five days from October 28 through November 1 at Amazon. But, before you do anything, comment below. Maybe you will win Ghost Writer.

An Historic Blog Visit

I love to visit Suzanne Adair’s blog, Relevant History. There’s always something new to learn about history. Her guest bloggers tell some of the unknown stories, that happen to be true, about various times in the past. All that historic lore is really a by-product of research an author has done for his or her book. Sometimes, the history is more recent, and includes memories never before written. And sometimes, the comments by readers of the blog add to the history.

Suzanne’s own specialty is the American Revolution, especially in our southern states. But she welcomes any area and time as her guest bloggers. Right now I’m a guest, which completely thrills me. My newly published book is a ghost story, with a ghost from 1946. Since I’m old enough to remember that year (I was 16), much of my post is memory. But, when one is writing a book, one can’t depend on memory, so, of course, I did research too.

Come visit my guest post, Civilians and Internees in World War II. Suzanne will choose one who comment to win a copy of my book, Cherish (A Ghost Mystery), just in time for Halloween.

Shadows Over Paradise

Emmons-CoverAnne K. Edwards writes mystery (and I love mystery). Her book, Shadows Over Paradise is the story of complicated characters intent on achieving their own ends, some heedless of the cost to others. Action and tension blended with a brooding house set on a volcanic island with soaring cliffs and few modern amenities, along with turbulent emotions offer a perfect catalyst for the storm that is about to break over the Mantuan Islands.

I’d like to quote from a four-star review on Amazon.

“Julia’s been invited to her friend’s wedding on an exotic island but nothing seems to go right in Anne K. Edwards’ Shadows over Paradise. Even the boatman on the way to this island paradise says Julia shouldn’t be there. Still, the location’s great, the people are full of character, and, being a writer, Julia’s sure she’ll build a wonderful mystery novel from the experience. Meanwhile she’s living a mystery of her own.”

There’s quite a bit more to this review, but this is the way it ends — “An exciting ending is filled with fear and adventure plus the saving hands of good timing and true love. While I guessed some of what was going on, I certainly didn’t guess it all, but I might avoid island paradises after this tale.”

Oh, that does sound like a sure-fire read! Love that kind.

Here’s all the necessary information: Available in paperback and e-book formats

Order this book via check or credit card, aStore
~ or visit ~ Amazon; Barnes & Noble;; Indy bookstores.

Anne’s Amazon author page