3 Suggestions for a Saturday Night Featuring Author Sue Moorcroft

July 27, 2019
Happy Saturday night! This is my weekly feature where authors and guests (and sometimes even me) share three suggestions for a Saturday night. This post will include a book suggestion, movie suggestion, and one wild card suggestion, where the guest can suggest whatever they want.

I am excited to have author Sue Moorcroft as my Saturday night guest. She is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award, the Katie Fforde Bursary and was twice nominated in the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and an array of publishers in other countries.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have also appeared around the world.

Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England at the age of ten. An avid reader, she also loves Formula 1, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.

And before we get into Sue's suggestions for Saturday Night, here is a bit about her book A Summer to Remember:

A Summer to Remember sees Clancy Moss escaping from her life, her (ex)fiancé and her business start-up in London to hide out in the tiny seaside village of Nelson's Bar. She's been looking after her cousin Alice's half-share of Roundhouse Row holiday cottages for six years and so she appoints herself the new caretaker there. But then there's Aaron, who owns the other half of the cottages ... last time they met they shared a heated kiss - and then a flaming row after Alice jilted Aaron's brother Lee. Awkward.

Be sure to add this to your GoodReads list or purchase it on Amazon. 

Now, here is Sue with her Saturday Night suggestions: 

Saturday Night Book Suggestion:

The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard. I listened to this as an audiobook and was absolutely gripped. It's a romantic suspense book about a drone operator in special operations who has to train to work with a team in the field in boot camps. It takes a while for her to be accepted but eventually, when she is and has snared the hot hero, she's left behind on a mission. It's for the greater good but that's no comfort when you're thousands of miles from home with the baddies after you. Awesome storytelling. My emotions were all over the place. I didn't want the story to end ... and yet I did because I wanted to know how the author was going to bring the right ending about.

I've been a fan of Linda Howard for years and think she's under-exposed on this side of the pond. She writes gripping suspense and sizzling romance, which is the kind of combination that carries me away.

Saturday Night Movie Suggestion:

I hardly watch movies but loved Solo, the spin-off from the Star Wars films. I had the brilliant idea of buying the DVD for us all at Christmas. Han Solo was my favourite character in the original trilogy and I wondered how I'd take to him in his younger form, but I loved the whole thing. The action scenes, the CGI, the touches of humour, the droids ... every ingredient of what Star Wars does best is present in this story. I think it went straight to DVD but don't know why. Maybe they thought it was just for die-hard fans of the galaxy far, far away? Alden Ehrenreich made Han Solo his own and, short of a time machine to fit Harrison Ford into the role, I don't think we could have asked for better. And there are wookiees.

Saturday Night Wild Card Suggestion:

In the 'anything I like category' I'm going to nominate Sky Sports' coverage of Formula 1. I love Formula 1. Although I don't watch much TV I do watch every practice session, every qualifying and race, even if it means watching it on my phone if I'm abroad. On a Saturday we get a practice session and qualifying. It's qualifying that I really enjoy, watching the teams strategising to try and get their driver(s) out onto the track at the optimum moment to either get a slipstream or avoid turbulent air, for the track to be rubbered in, the temperatures to be most favourable to their car's characteristics and the car and tyre set-up to be perfect. And for the driver to be top of his game. The session is divided into three parts with five cars being knocked out in Q1 and Q2, leaving the top ten to slug it out in ten minutes in Q3. Most of all, I love an upset, because then I know we're in for an interesting race the next day.

Sorry if you don't share my love of Formula 1 because I had a bit of a fan moment there.

Thank you Sue! If you want to guest host my "3 Suggestions" for next Saturday night, send me an email to npyles86[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Review of Audio Book, Banged Up Heart, a Memoir by Shirley Melis

July 25, 2019
 Are you looking for a new book to add to your reading list this summer? Well, you'll definitely want to add this one:

About the book

Banged-Up Heart is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.

What I Thought

It's truly been a long time since I've tried an audiobook! Mainly because with audible books, it requires me to sit, quiet myself, and listen. Never a bad thing to practice, I say. With Banged Up Heart, I enjoyed this so much. I appreciated the author's honesty. She captured me with vivid descriptions and the raw emotion that was displayed in the book. This book was such an incredible mix of emotions, both heartbreaking and touching and filled with so much love. I really liked the narrator's voice too, which I think really makes a difference with audiobooks.

I highly recommend! 

About the Author

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in

Galisteo, New Mexico.

Purchase your copy on Amazon.com and add to your Goodreads reading list. Purchase the audible version of the book now.

I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.
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Justice Makes A Killing by Ed Rucker, Book Spotlight & Giveaway

July 22, 2019
Today I have an exciting book spotlight and giveaway to share with you! It's Justice Makes a Killing by Ed Rucker.

For decades, Ed Rucker was one of the United States' most prominent criminal defense lawyers. His legal thrillers have been praised for their authenticity, as well as gripping suspense. During his career, he represented numerous high profile clients, including John Orr, the greatest serial arsonist in American history, a trial memorialized in Fire Lover, by Joseph Wambaugh; Laurianne Sconce, the matriarch of the Lamb Funeral Home, whose trial that was the subject of the book Ashes, by James Joseph, and Eddie Nash, a prominent nightclub owner, who was portrayed in the film, Boogie Nights. Ed Rucker's second book, Justice Makes a Killing, is available for purchase where books are sold.

A heart-stopping thriller, Justice Makes a Killing finds Rucker’s fictional defense lawyer Bobby Earl facing his most daunting murder case yet, one that involves a beautiful lawyer accused of a passion killing, as well as a conspiracy that might implicate the multi-billion-dollar private prison industry.

Kirkus Reviews calls Justice Makes a Killing, “A thoroughly enjoyable page-turner..... The classic courtroom drama at the heart of this story is perfectly orchestrated, and the seemingly impossible odds make Earl’s masterful handling of evidence, witnesses, opposing counsel, the jury, and the judge wonderfully satisfying to read.”

Purchase a copy from Amazon or buy from your local bookstore. Find more of Ed Rucker's books here.

I am excited to announce that I have two book copies to giveaway to two lucky readers. US only please. Enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends 8/9.

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Interview with Deborah L. King, Author of Glory Bishop

July 8, 2019
I am so excited for everyone to read my interview with the incredible author Deborah L. King. First, before the interview, here is a bit about her book Glory Bishop:

Glory Bishop lives her life in pieces. At work and with her friends, she reads novels, speaks her mind, and enjoys slow dances and stolen kisses with her boyfriend, JT. But at home, Glory follows strict rules and second-guesses every step. Though she dreams of going to college and living like a normal teenage girl, her abusive mother has other ideas.

When JT leaves to join the navy, Glory is left alone and heartsick. The preacher’s son, Malcolm Porter, begins to shower her with lavish gifts, and her mother pushes Glory to accept his advances. Glory is torn between waiting for true love with JT or giving in to the overzealous Malcolm.

When a stranger attacks Glory on the street, Malcolm steps in to rescue her, and her interest in him deepens. But the closer she gets to him, the more controlling he becomes. Glory must eventually decide whether to rely on others or to be her own savior.

Read an excerpt here. Or purchase your own copy on Amazon.

What inspired your book Glory Bishop?

Years ago, in a writing class, I wrote a piece about a young woman wrapped in a winter coat on a hot summer day. She was carrying a pair of red high heeled shoes and could be heard mumbling to herself. What she was hearing was her mother's voice in her head berating her for looking like a Jezebel and being seen in a bar. The last line of that piece " ...and that's where the sunrise found her...stripped down to her soul and dancing on the bar..." made me want to know more about the young lady, and how she came to her circumstances.

What an incredible scene that sparked this book! How did this book transform from its first draft to the final draft?

Haha! Glory lost a lot of weight! Originally, the book was 135k words, which is way more than almost any women's fiction manuscript. After editing and tweaks, she's now 100k words. Also, I have a character who sings everything, so I had to take out a whole lotta of song lyrics because of copyright rules. Now she just mentions song titles and hums a lot.

Oh that must have been tough to cut it down so much! The cover is GORGEOUS! Did you have any say in the design?

I wish I could take even a little credit for the cover, but really, my publisher works with incredible designers.

I loved reading about all the careers you desired as a young child and how they manifested in your adulthood! How did each of those experiences shape your writing?

I can't say all of my childhood dreams shaped my writing, but my daughter pointing out that I'd actually accomplished almost everything I ever wanted to do made me realize that I could possibly be an author one day. But...I guess I do draw on those experiences for character interests.

I think that's amazing you do that. Did you do any research for the book? What were you surprised to learn?

I did a fair amount of research since my story is set in the mid-80s. I had to find a lot of music (which I couldn't use because lawyers), and my study of Chicago neighbors and bus routes was quite informative. I was surprised to learn a lot of history about Chicago's west side, and the handling of the AIDS epidemic in its early days. I also got a lot of help from my high school classmates on Facebook.

That is awesome you did that in-depth research. I saw in an interview it took you 25 years to write this book. Why did you stop and why did you go back?

I stopped writing because life happened. Work, marriage, children, caregiving, etc. Then one day, a friend told me about the Writer's Institute, a conference in Madison, WI held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the time I was working on a memoir, but at the conference, characters from Glory Bishop started coming to me. With my friend's and my Aunt's encouragement, I picked up the story again and started seriously listening and telling Glory's story.

What advice do you have for writers who desire to return to a book they haven't finished?

I know it's cliche, but just do it. If what you're writing is not flowing, write a different part of the story. If you're not feeling the characters, write character descriptions. You'd be surprised what you can learn about your characters or world when you try to describe them.

I love that advice! How did your approach in writing this book change when you went back to it?

When I went back to it, I had a plan. I had characters that had dreams and goals and I took my time and wrote out timelines and maps and recipes. I approached it like I thought a professional writer would. I took my writing seriously for real for the first time.

What was your process in finding a publisher?
Hoo boy! First, I listened to my instructors and followed their advice. I finished the book and had it professionally edited and proofread. I sent query letters to agents, with the hope of just getting them to read the first couple of pages. I used a site called Query Tracker to keep up with my queries and responses. All told, I got 99 rejections. I'd say 90% of my queries were tossed without reading any of the pages just because of my story's word count, so I didn't take any of the rejection personally. I was running out a patience a little when I started querying publishers directly. Red Adept Publishing was one of them. My word count wasn't a problem for them, and the acquisition editor loved my story. When I got the call that my story was accepted, I was useless for a couple of days.

I'll bet! My heart broke when I read you lost many of your handwritten stories and essays! As a hand-writer myself, I can relate to how hard it is to keep track of all of those. What is your writing method now? Do you still hand write? How do you keep track of everything?

I no longer hand write. I use Google Docs, and store everything on Google Drive, which is synced to folders on my computer. That way, I can truly access my work anywhere without fear of losing my place or file corruption.

I do the same thing! So, I read that you loved to cook! So if you could recommend any recipe that readers should make that goes well with your book, what would you recommend?

In the book, Glory makes a pot roast, and I describe her recipe...it's pretty easy and uses a crock pot.

"She watched her mother savoring the pot roast and brightened a little. Glory had learned to cook it from her dad when she was nine—cut meat up in big hunks, add onion-soup mix and mushroom-soup mix, and chop the vegetables kind of big. The time they’d had a snow day last year and she let JT in after her mother left for work, he’d liked it, too." Glory also likes to make 1-2-3 butter cookies. 1 part butter, 2 parts sugar, and 3 parts flour. Mix together 'til dough forms. Roll into balls and press down with 3 fingers, then bake til the edges are brown."

Now I want to try that myself! Thank you so much for this interview and best of luck to you with your book!

I'm also happy to announce that I get to giveaway a copy of the book to one lucky reader! It will be a e-book copy of Deborah L. King's book Glory Bishop. Enter via Rafflecopter below. Open internationally. Giveaway ends July 31st.

Book trigger warnings for language, sex, scenes of physical and emotional abuse... Can't wait for the giveaway to be over to read this book? Make sure you purchase a copy on Amazon.com and make sure you add this book to Goodreads. Be sure to visit the author's webpage to also follow along her journey.

About the Author, Deborah L. King

Growing up, Deborah King wanted to be a cook, a teacher, a model, an artist, a photographer, and an author. To date, she has cooked for or catered several receptions; taught Sunday School, led Girl Scout troops, and been a corporate trainer for a retail chain. As a young adult, she modeled in boutique fashion shows. She now works as a freelance graphic artist and photographer; and with the publication of her debut novel Glory Bishop, Deborah King is officially an author.

Deborah lives in Illinois with her husband and two youngest children; and according to her daughter, she has “literally aced her life!”

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Heal Your Self with Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy [Book Review]

July 3, 2019
I was so excited to be part of and put together this blog tour for Mari L. McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. Be sure to stop by the WOW blog and read an interview with Mari!

I was exposed to the powers of journaling thanks to my Mom who really influenced me to journal and write down my thoughts. I got my first journal when I was ten and have been journaling off and on since. Ironically, by the time I had the chance to read and review Mari's book, I haven't been journaling as much. So this came at the perfect time.

First, here is a bit about the book:

Mari L. McCarthy’s international bestselling book, Journaling Power, started a movement. Now, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is igniting a revolution!

You’ll discover the life-changing magic of journaling through moving personal stories told by just some of the thousands of people who have tapped into the proven therapeutic power of expressive writing. 

These are people just like you, and their challenges are the same ones you have. 

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power reveals the inner strength and grace that comes with living your life in the present from the inside out. It will help you transform your life and… 

● Manifest everything your desire 

● Fill you with uplifting positive energy 

● Put you on a path to better health and wellness 

● Give you the inspiration and motivation to live your best life 

● Show you how to use journaling to solve your most pressing problems 

The only right way to journal is YOUR way. Just grab a pen and paper and do it!

My Thoughts

Mari's book is nothing short of inspiring! I loved reading the experiences people had with journaling and it inspired me to get back into my own. Packed with testimonies from people who have seen their lives transformed by journaling, this will inspire you to rethink your own health issues. I believe with all my heart that body, mind, and spirit are all connected and journaling allows you to unleash stress and the things you carry around in your soul and just lets it all out.

What I also really like about Mari's book is that it provides prompts along the way. This is great if you've been away from journaling for a while and need some help with what to focus on.

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is now available to purchase on Amazon.com, Kobo.com, Barnes and Noble and also on Mari's website CreateWriteNow.com (where you can get a signed copy).
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Rain Town by Andy Donaldson [Book Review & Giveaway]

July 2, 2019
I have to say I am a sucker for a good cover and a charming story. Reading Rain Town reminds me that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and ages and you can surely be a hero in your own town and in your own life.

Here's a bit about the book:

Sidney Rain is an ordinary man with an ordinary job in an ordinary town. Except for the fact that sometimes at night he dresses up as a superhero and heads out living his fantasy. But he’s putting on weight, about to lose his job and he’s generally not feeling particularly super at all. 

Stanley Rain is Sidney’s 12 year old son. He’s an ordinary boy with ordinary friends at an ordinary school. But that school is being taken over by a local entrepreneur and is changing for the worst. And Stanley is not going to let that happen without a fight. 

When a mysterious theft takes place, Stanley and his friends will need to turn detective to help save their school. And after being fired at work by his new boss, Sidney will need his friends to help save his soul.

My Review

This book was so charming. I enjoyed Sidney Rain's character, who is a bit out of touch with people, but surely means well. As for his son, Stanley, he's also a delightful character, and his interactions with his friends felt so real to me. I thought the author did an excellent job introducing me to this city and I truly fell in love with the characters in this book. I was glad to read it and I highly recommend it to someone who wants to escape into Stanley and Sidney's world while laughing along the way!  

Be sure to add this book to your GoodReads list and purchase it on Amazon.com.

I am also excited that I get to giveaway a copy of this book to one lucky reader! Open internationally (note: reader may receive an e-book depending upon location). Giveaway ends on 7/24.

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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