Book Thoughts: Falling For You

Creative, funny and true-to-life.  Aurora St. Claire is tall, blonde and gorgeous.  Your normal stereotype romance heroine, right? Wrong.

Aurora, Rory to her friends, is a people person but shies away from anything that she feels requires even a modicum of bookishness.  She has a learning disability that paralyzes her if it’s spotted.  Rory’s also prone to panic attacks.  Did I mention that Rory has never taken a job that requires her to use a computer?? Not your typical femme fatale in our modern era but that’s part of the beauty that is Falling For You by Julie Ortolon, a USA Best-Selling author.

Couple Rory with an uber-handsome brother, a porcelain beauty of a sister, a quaint waterfront Texan town with old money families and even older gossipers — how can Rory find love in a place where her family’s scandalous past precedes her? In typical Rory style — wing it!

In walks Clark Kent-like, Chance Chancellor.  A geeky banker who went to school with Rory’s older brother, Adrian.  But he’s totally out of Rory’s league and Rory knows it (he’s from one of those old money families…)!

One fateful bright and sunny day, Rory’s dream house goes up for sale and that galvanizes her into action.  In her incessant surge towards owning the house, she draws towards her a series of events that leaves everyone in Galveston panting for breath!

Read how Rory finds love in an emotionally charged situation that close up loose ends for both her generation and the generations past.

Rating: 3.7 Blogairy Notebooks

Book Thoughts: Family Ties

Family Ties by Louise Behiel begins with a boisterous moving day for Andie Bowen’s family.  They moved to a neighborhood that’s established and settled (read: geriatric).  Andie’s four children are not exactly what the neighbors wished for especially Grayson Mills, Andie’s nearest next door neighbor but there’s nothing to be done now.

Or is there?  In short order, a petition is presented to the neighbors for the ousting of the new fatherless family.  Simultaneously, harmful threats are levied at Andi and her children (whom are all foster children).  Grayson, although reluctant, pitches in to help protect his lovely neighbor and her children.  In his role as protector, feelings, emotions and new insights about his life bombard him almost from the first moment he lays eyes on the svelte Ms. Bowen.

Without throwing in any spoilers, I will say this read is worth the ride!  It’s both a sizzling romance as well as a well-paced family situational drama.  The interaction between Andi and her sister, Dina, is priceless.  Both characters are very well rounded and developed in a story arc that is sure to please!

Rating: 4 Blogairy Notebooks

Book Thoughts: Marked

In Marked: Soul Guardians Book One by Kim Richardson, the 16-year-old Kara Nightingale is rushing to get to an art competition.  Of course, Murphy’s Law is in full effect and her alarm clock did not go off .  Kara’s late!  In her haste, she drops her phone while crossing the street.  In the process of picking it up she is killed by a city bus.  That’s where all the adventure of this YA novel begins!

This page-turner creates tension immediately — how can the protagonist expire within the first few paragraphs?? Because she’s a guardian angel — yeah, that kind, except without the wings, halo or the long white toga…

Kara, in her Guardian Angel role (GA for short), has a hunky mentor named David that shows her the ropes and engages all of her other senses as well (which did not turn off when she died!).  In heaven, (this novel calls it Horizon), there’s a rule that GAs are not to have intimate relationships but Kara is sorely tested as she gets closer to Petty Officer David McGowan.  They even share a sizzling kiss!

But their grueling work of saving mortal lives and their souls from horrific shape-shifting demons is a great distraction.  The work keeps Kara and David on the straight and narrow.  But when Kara gets the opportunity to go on a life-quest in order to earn the right to go back to her mortal life, will she go back and leave David in Horizon?  More importantly, will she survive the ordeal that is the life-quest?

The only way to know is to get this great read and explore the upper reaches of Horizon for yourself!

(Pssst!! – Parent/Adults: You’ll enjoy this fun read yourself!)

Rating: 4.2 Blogairy Notebooks

Book Thoughts: The Bridge of Deaths

The Bridge of Deaths is a labor of love created by and for people who are WWII buffs, history lovers, or are avid research fans.  For people in any of these categories, The Bridge of Deaths will be nirvana for you because all 3 areas are the focus of this hefty tome.

The “story” in this book centers around the actual events that occured in August 1939 on a small plane that crashed between Denmark and Germany shortly before the start of WWII.  What makes The Bridge of Deaths unique is its voice.  While the book is based on factual occurences, the author invented characters to energize and ennervate the story which is laden with footnotes, journal citations and books utilized to glean specific information about all aspects of the plane crash and the five people who perished.

While the crash was well-documented, the cause of the crash is shrouded in mystery.  No traditional research methods were providing the details of the ultimate reason the plane experienced a fire and crash landed in the salty cold waters of the ocean.  This is where Egan uses non-traditional methodology and her fictional characters to get to the root of the issue.

Egan has her fictional characters, Bill, Maggie and Catalina go to psychics, past life regressionists and hypnotherapists in order to ferret out details that the hard data did not divulge — a fascinating concept!

The book was amazingly jam-packed with dates, facts, figures, old newspaper print, old photos and book citation references along with copious notes regarding each reference.  This is the perfect book for those who love putting large and complex jigsaw puzzles together as this is a word-puzzle in the form of a novelized documentary.

While this is not my traditional read, it was fascinating to see how Egan manipulated this hard-core material to create a work that is neither fully fiction or all fact but something in the nebulous area in-between.

Rating: 3 Blogairy Notebooks

Away From Books to…Shen Yun 2012

Over the weekend I experienced the brilliance of Shen Yun Performing Arts 2012.  All I can say is — Breathtaking! In the opulence of Lincoln Center, Shen Yun is performed by classical Chinese dancers that are so lithe you fear they have no bones or cartilage!  The choreography, the timing, the precision and most of all the stories that are portrayed in each little skit (approx. 12 in all) transports you to times past.
Shen Yun comes to New York every year and each time the extravaganza is different.  So, seeing it once does not mean you’ve seen it all.  In this year’s performance, one of my favorite pieces was The Monkey King.  There is a large screen at the back of the stage that depicts various scenes from ancient China and for this scene with the Monkey King it was a backdrop of large majestic mountains.  The Monkey burst from it and bounded his way down the mountainside and exploded onto the stage in an amazing trick of the eye and precise timing so it appeared as the the holographic Monkey King from the screen magically popped out and became real!  Totally amazing!
Flower Fairies was also a favorite of mine.  The stage was covered by a thick layer of white “clouds” (smoke machine) and the dancers dressed in flowing white and pink dresses undulated with style, flair and absolute precision and grace to emulate sprites that have come to Earth to play.
I can go on and on about Silk Sleeves or Lotus Leaves and what we call acrobatics and gymnastics executed perfectly but I will not.  You have to see it!  And, just a note, the leaps, arials, and other tumbling rolls seen in Shen Yun is an integral part of classical Chinese dancing.  We were told that other art forms have co-opted some of the moves but it is not acrobatics in these performances.  Chinese classical dancing is very complex and contains moves and gestures that are indicative and specific to their ethnic identity.
So I tell you again, if you get a chance to see Shen Yun — take it!!

Author Interview: Wenona Hulsey!

Drum roll please…..

Today we have our very first author interview & book giveaway featuring Wenona Hulsey! With almost 900 Twitter followers, this indie writer sensation is creating a strong fan base for herself. She is actively creating characters that are memorable and interesting (see my book review of Blood Awakening!).

And what does Wenona say for herself?? A lot! In her own words, Wenona shared with me that she spends her time scaling roof tops, kicking bad guy tail, and rescuing small kittens from tree tops. But during the time when she isn’t asleep, she’s a mother of two beautiful children and fiancé to the man of her dreams. She lives vicariously through great books and creates magical worlds in her spare time. She is also an avid social networker, who loves to meet new people.

Being a fellow writer, I had some questions that were pressing on mind as I read Blood Awakening

* What was the inspiration that lead to “Blood Awakening”?

Blood Awakening actually came to me when I was writing the novel, Burden of Blood. I love the friendship between Nicole and Kat in the novel so I decided to take it back a few years to the time just after high school. It also gave me the opportunity to show readers where Nicole’s paranormal powers started to seep into her life. The story was a lot of fun to write, especially since I got to show a bit of my humorous side.

* Is the main character, Nicole, similar to you in any way?

Funny enough, I gave Nicole the hair that I despise: long curly hair. I have hard to tame curly hair so It’s kind of annoying seeing every woman on television and even the ladies in books having perfectly straight, shimmering blond locks of hair. My character needed to feel real to me so I gave her a real trait that I could relate too.

* What obstacles, if any, did you come across in creating the story arc across several books?

I’ve not had too hard of a time keeping my goals for the story in place. I pretty much started out with an idea for Nicole and what her battle would be but even I at this very moment don’t know how it’s going to end. That’s half the fun of being a writer is being surprised with the twist and turns as the story writes its self.

* Do your characters speak to you? If so, have any of them refused to play the part you scripted for them?

Oh me and my characters!! LOL. We usually get along very well. They know who they are and speak to me in their own, unique voice. Their likes and dislikes are easy to follow so if I write something that doesn’t fit they let me know. I’ve not had any problem out of Kat and Nichole but there is a dark fae you meet in the next book that throws me for a loop every time she speaks.—Now if anyone other than an author had written this paragraph they would be locking them up in a padded room about now LOL.

* When did you first realize you wanted to write?

The idea first touched my mind when I was a teenager. I spent a lot of time reading and loved the world that I could visit between the pages. I knew that one day I would create my own worlds and invite people in to visit for a while. That day didn’t actually come until almost a year ago but it was like finding myself in a dark room. From the first line I wrote I knew this was who I was supposed to be.

* What would you do if you could never write again? Why?

Wow! That’s a hard question! I don’t know. I know I would work…I still work a day job now but it would be a sad world to live in without writing.

* What else can we expect from you in the future? (Genre change??)

Right now I’m working on *Blood of Fire which will be the final book in the Blood Burden Series but yes, you will see other genres from me. I have the first draft of a crime thriller written and waiting for me to revisit it after I finish Nicole’s story. This will be a stand-alone novel and I’m super excited about it! [* Folks!! You’re the first to see the new Blood of Fire book cover!!]

* Anything else you’d like to share?

Next on the list for me is Blood of Fire which will be the final book in the Blood Burden series. BUT, my readers have been asking me if I plan on doing a spin off? To be honest I’ve been playing around with the idea. There is a good story behind Nicole and Luke (You meet him in Burden of Blood) being police officers. I’ve not put anything down on paper yet but the ideas are swimming around in my ol’ noggin so we will see.

Also, if there’s a question you would like to know about the Blood Burden series I’d love for you all to join me at my Facebook Fan page where I chat with readers, answer questions about my books, and talk about normal things. Things like books I’m reading and the books my fans are reading. After all, before I was a writer I was a reader and that part of me will never go away.

You can friend Wenona on Twitter:!/WenonaHulsey

Like her on Facebook:

Follow along on her website:

Now, for the the moment you’ve been waiting for — the Blood Awakening giveaway! To enter to win a copy of this novelette, simply re-Tweet this exact phrase from a single Twitter account:

Read Wenona Hulsey’s latest interview & win her FREE novelette “Blood Awakening”! RT this today to enter to win!

The winner will be the person that re-tweets this phrase the most by Friday, 4/20/12 by 6:30pm EST. The winner will be announced on this blog Saturday, 4/21/12 .

Until next time — Good Luck & Happy Reading!!

Our Social Twitter World…

This weekend a friend of mine took some time to teach an old dog (me) some new Twitter tricks. Had no idea that there was so much going on ALL the time. Sure I knew about the tweets of the mega stars and how Lady Gaga tweeted a pic without makeup but who knew about trending topics??

Sounds like something you learn in a PoliSci class! “The new trending topic on the Hill today…”

So, the trending topics in the US right now?? They are:

#IndieFilmLove Promoted
Kidrauhl Owns Our Hearts
That Tupac
OMW To School

Well, that is specifically at 8:04 AM. It changes practically minutely. Then there are trending topics — worldwide. Those topics now are:

#IndieFilmLove Promoted
Christopher Pain
Craig Thompson
Pinoy JS Prom Memories
Kidrauhl Owns Our Hearts

See? Very different. You can change the settings so you can see what different parts of the world are talking about. That excites me! To be a part of the ongoing person-to-person conversation anywhere in the world. To be able to take the pulse of a group of people without huge phone bills. Totally awesome.

So, if you think Twitter is just for kids, think again! There’s so much more if you deign to look.

Have a happy Monday and hit the trend topic — #DearMonday to see how many people just love Monday. LOL!!

How Willy Wonka Helps Us Suspend Our Judgement

In my book of short stories, Leaping Out On Faith…, my most controversial story, All God’s Men, deals with a couple who come from different faiths. Salera, the main character, practices a very old religion from Africa called Yoruba. Her child’s father is a Christian and the son of a pastor which ups the ante in this relationship.

Whether from your own experiences, watching TV, or through a friend, you know that when someone is affiliated so closely with an idea or belief, any opposing belief is even more offensive to them.

In All God’s Men, the story starts off with a ceremonial event on Salera’s behalf to assist her in making the right moves for herself and her unborn child. The opening details some key ritualistic practices that are fairly commonplace in the Yoruba religion. The reader clearly sees from the outset a very different religious viewpoint from one that is usually seen and heard in the West.

As a writer, I enjoy bringing lesser known topics to the fore in prose that is lively, entertaining and sometimes jarring. My goal is to get readers to think about the topics and hopefully engage in conversation with their friends to discuss the ideas expressed in my stories. To me, that is how great literature is born — the ability to get people talking about a particular topic.

For instance, in Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway is talking about an extremely controversial issue of his time — abortion. With his inimical style, Hemingway boldly discussing a topic almost in code making the story even more engaging. The result? A classic short story that had people talking about a topic that needed to be discussed.

In another example, Chambray Curtains Blowing In the Wind (one of the stories in my book), you’ll meet Sally, an early 20-something year old woman who is emotionally and physically damaged because she was a victim of sexual abuse in your childhood. Sally watched her mother succumb to the abuse and vowed that was not going to be her. When the time came, Sally removed her attacker so he could not harm her anymore. However, her actions caused great consternation among the people who were her supporters and nurturers.

Sally learns from this that sometimes doing what’s best for ourselves is not what’s best for the rest. A hard lesson to learn in one’s teens.

The 4 stories in my book, Leaping Out On Faith…, all deal with the emotional struggle these women engage in to come up with their own best “right” answer for their current situation. In the scheme of things, did these women make the “right” choices?

That’s just it — who knows? It is all very subjective and depends upon your own previous experiences.

In the best-selling book, The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold’s main character goes through a range of emotional experiences before she settles on the “right” one. However, in the process, she greatly harms her father. Is that right? Or, is it a part of the process? Does that make all this character’s choices “right” because the end justifies the means?

In the 70’s movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder), Mr. Wonka is certifiably insane, wouldn’t you agree? Yet, his feigned nuttiness ultimately served a purpose — to find a worthy new owner for the factory.

In, Isaac Asimov’s, I, Robert (starring Will Smith), the main character is obsessed with the idea that robots are not trustworthy. This belief is the complete opposite of that society’s prevailing belief. Yet, it was this one man’s unpopular belief that saved their society from destruction in the end.

In essence, these 3 works just mentioned asks you to suspend your judgement for a time to allow you to gather more facts about the worlds in these stories. I ask readers to do the same for my stories. Before leaping headfirst into the ideas and beliefs you are already familiar and comfortable with suspend your natural judgements and see where they lead you. You may be stunned at where the new thoughts lead you…

Book Thoughts: Blood Awakening

Blood Awakening by Wenona Hulsey begins with a leisurely well-deserved getaway to South Florida. Kat and Nicole are young pleasure-seekers wanting only relaxation and a glimpse, or three, of “eye candy”.

However, that first evening, Nicole’s tete-a-tete with the gentlemen that Kat beguiled to join them, went downhill when Nicole felt a deep unease. She traced the disquieting feeling to an older gentleman’s piercing gaze and was so disturbed by it that she abruptly ended the evening much to Kat’s chagrin.

The next day, while things went smoothly during the daylight, the evening ended with Nicole and her possible new beau in hospital beds after a harrowing experience with the same older man who disturbed Nicole the evening before.

What follows for Nicole are a series of surprising discoveries about herself. She begins to exhibit some extrasensory abilities altering her life irrevocably. Yet, Nicole remembers vividly the promise that the old man said he would be back for her…

You’ve got to read this thrilling novelette so you too can begin the journey that is Blood Awakening. To help you start your journey, Ms. Hulsey is giving away a free book (for Kindle or Nook!) to a lucky Notebook Blogairy reader! Watch for details next week when we will be feauturing Ms. Hulsey here for our very first author interview!! Keep it locked!

My Rating: 4.5 Blogairy Notebooks