Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Artsy gift ideas with a romantic theme (pt 2)

I just finished Cheryl Pierson's "Time Plains Drifter" and it was a thoroughly unique and grabbing read ... not your everyday roTimePlainsDrifter-CherylPiersonmance novel! Revolving around a woman swept back into the past with a few of her school students and a man who has been dead for 16 years brought back to fulfill a mission, Time Plains Drifter is part paranormal, part romance, part mystery, and part theology. A great "what if" that stretches the imagination. Hero and heroine are equally strong and vulnerable, depending on each other: no one-sided rescue here. And the rescue goes well beyond the main characters. Definitely a book for those who like to ponder and question, with a hint that another will follow.


I reviewed Jane Richardson’s “A Different Kind of Honesty” a while ADifferentKindOfHonesty_w646_300back and also recommend this one for a nice Christmas gift. It travels between England and the US and features a London detective and a US undercover cop who meet under rather strange circumstances and  think of each other until fate reunites them. I loved the characters and the easy, relaxed writing style. A softly sensual romance with psychological roots.

As a CRR reviewer, I read and reviewed Judah Raine’s “Still Running” a few months ago. Raine is from Africa and uses her country as a StillRunning-JudahRaine gorgeous setting for her novels. This one features a young woman with a past she wants to hide and is so afraid of it, she pulls away from relationships for fear of it haunting him, as well. Unfortunately, she gets stuck returning to the scene of the crime and has to finally deal with the event instead of running from it. Although I wasn’t sure her deed was bad enough to be worth that much fear, the heroine was well drawn and highly convinced it was that bad. The hero is well worth spending some time with.

How about romantic comedy? If that’s your pull, or on someone’s list, I have the perfect book (note: this is 18+, slightly graphic). Francesca MuchoCaliente-FrancescaPrescott Prescott’s “Mucho Caliente!” is a chuckle-as-you-read journey down the path of a nearly middle-aged pop fan obsessed with one pop star in particular (who has bits of a Ricky Martin feel to him). She gets seated beside him on an escape-from-life trip and sparks start to sizzle. This is a page-turning, don’t-read-when-you’ll-be-bothered kind of book. The characters are real and charming and if you’ve ever had a crush on any celeb, you’ll totally sympathize with Jemma.

Note: two of the above were purchased and two were provided as PDF copies for review. None of my reviews are paid for, ever. I review only books I feel are worth the read and in my interest zone, at least to some extent.

Note #2: Be sure to keep up with my blog for more reviews to come. Most will be more lengthy. These are quick quick gift ideas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Artsy gift ideas with a creative theme

GrinchQuotewDove-LKHunsaker For Christmas 2007, I got creative with my family photos and turned them into a photo book, posting the best from each month with a short blurb about what we were doing that month. I had one printed for us and one for each set of parents. That went over well. :-)  It’s a great idea for parents or if you’re a grandparent, do one of your grandchildren to give to their parents. There are many places online that have set up themed formats where you only have to upload and arrange your photos and they print it into a book. I use because I have an account there but look around online. They’re easy to find now. If you do paperback version full page size, it should be around $15 for a 20 page album book, hardback can add $10 to that. There are also less expensive smaller sizes. Mine actually turned into New Year’s gifts since I didn’t get them finished early enough in December to have it delivered and then sent out before Christmas, but that’s nice, too – something  a little unexpected in the early January winter days.

Something else I used to do for a few years was to cut out a dove pattern in white felt (bunches of them), paint them with clear sparkling craft paint and let dry, then used needle and thread and metallic gold or silver string to turn them into Christmas ornaments. Time-involved but very inexpensive. And very appreciated by those I shared some with. Simple and beautiful. Dove patterns should be easily found online.

Another ornament idea is to get red and green pipe cleaners and round pretty clear beads. Push the beads onto the green pipe cleaner, make it into a circle and wrap the ends together. Then use a red one to shape into a bow that ties around the wrapped ends.

And/or get white or blue pipe cleaners and starred beads in different sizes. Start with the smallest size and wrap the end of the pipe cleaner around it to hold, the keep adding them in increased sizes, leaving room at the top to loop back on itself. These make gorgeous icicles for your tree, or someone else’s. Mom did a bunch of these for us several years back and they’re among my favorite ornaments.

Many of those sites will also create calendars from your photos. Use family pics or travel pics and share a one-of-kind year-round gift from your creative heart!

Feel free to add your own crafty ideas in the comments. :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Artsy gift ideas with a romantic theme

I’ll post more of these later on, but here’s the first batch. Romances that are heart-warming, fun, kicky, and non-graphic:

A Knight’s Vow by Lindsay Townsend

I picked this one up in paperback for only $3.99 at my local bookstore. I happen to know the author, but even so, I’m not exaggerating to say how much I enjoyed the story. This Medieval Historical romance is well written, well researched (without throwing in a bunch of extra stuff to show the author did her research), and very believable. The sensual scenes are done nicely without overdoing it. The hero and heroine are both very likeable and easy to root for. The villain is complex enough not to be cliche and we’re not always sure whether or not he’ll remain a villain. Nice read! I have the next of the series sitting here waiting for me and look forward finding time to get to it.

A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing by Deborah McGillivray

I also found this in paperback for under $10 - $8, I think. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one although I’d seen plenty of good reviews for it. The title and description made me think it might be paranormal, which I don’t read much, but it wasn’t. This contemporary romance was very fairy tale based, and at times there were too many repetitions on the theme for my own taste, but it was a fun read overall and the hero is not all hero – he has a touch of a villain in him, which makes him fun. The heroine is easy to sympathize with and believable. It also has nice sensual scenes that don’t go too far. A good gift for a reader who likes quirky romance.

Next is a list of three books I have waiting and haven’t yet read, so I can’t give them a review other than to say I’ve read a lot of excerpts and this is an author who pushes the romance bounds as I do. It’s artsy and intelligent and also non graphic. I very much look forward to reading all three and at least one of these historical romances will be on my holiday reading agenda:
Anam Cara; The Art of Love; & Ties That Bind by Keena Kincaid 

I also have a couple of books by Maggie Toussaint waiting for me. Another author of my acquaintance, Maggie has a fun, unique style and writes cozy mysteries. She loves golf so look for that in her books, and the profits to one of them goes to help fund horse rescue projects.

I was fortunate enough to win another fun novel – novella, as it’s a short read – from author Linda Banche. The title is Pumpkinnapper and I haven’t finished it yet (I’m in the middle of 5-6 books at the moment so reviews will be coming!) but I was completely pulled in by the beginning. I love the writing style and the humor. Linda writes Regencies, but I can guarantee they aren’t stuffy Regencies!

Speaking of Regencies, I reviewed Joanna Waugh’s Blind Fortune a while back and still highly recommend that one!

If you’re a western fan, along with Cheryl’s books (check interview below), a review of Celia Yeary’s All My Hopes and Dreams is here in my blog from a couple of months back, and she has a new one I’ve not read yet, Showdown In Southfork. Look her up!

All of the above can be found in electronic format (not sure about Wolf) for under $10.00 which makes them a nice gift! 

Please remember, if you buy an ebook to gift, you cannot keep a copy for yourself as well. Piracy is rampant in ebook world and hurts authors.

Oh, mine are available in ebook format for under $10, also! Find them all here:   Or, for a special gift, buy my newest from Elucidate Publishing with the email address to send it to your receiver directly, and I’ll also send a personally signed bookmark and bookplate in the mail to him/her.

Happy gifting!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Artsy gift ideas with a family theme

Today’s ideas focus on the family. To start off, I’m suggesting one of my favorite mainstream authors, Marilynne Robinson. I first started reading Robinson’s work as a “have to” for a college class. The book was titled Housekeeping which I have to say made me roll my eyes. The title, however, is so completely understated. It’s an incredible book, full of cultural and psychological issues and maybe the best prose I’ve read.

Home-MarilynneRobinson The one I’m suggesting today, though, is Robinson’s newest: Home. Also simply titled, this book is an incredible deep look at the inner workings of an old minister’s family and the black sheep son and unassuming daughter who seems to be fine and well-adjusted but holds things within she can barely deal with. Again, the writing is beautiful and the story more so. I’m in awe of this author if you can’t tell yet. Gilead, her second novel, is slower and more inward, also an incredible read. It’s now in paperback and Borders has it for less than $13.00.
If you’re buying for a non-fiction lover, look for her The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought. I’m only partway through this  one. It’s not a quick, easy read, but it’s incredibly thought-provoking and very much on-target.

How about that hard to buy for (other than electronics) group: young teen and pre-teen boys? Personally, I recommend the Hardy Boys series (not only for boys! I loved them as a kid!)

My son would highly recommend Rick Riordan’s Percy series for those who love action-adventure mixed with mythology.

Different artsy ideas:

Blank Journals for any age! You can usually find these on clearance at a bookstore. Add colored pencils, colored pens, or drawing pencils to spark creativity.

Find an art store and see what they have on clearance for a hodge-podge bag full of creative stuff for kids (or artsy adults). Add a low cost sketch pad or a calligraphy set. (Learning calligraphy is very good for young kids!)

Have your own family theme ideas? Leave them in the comments. :-)


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Artsy gift ideas with a curative theme

Through the month, and maybe into the next for those who receive money for Christmas, I’ll be posting ideas for gifts of reading, music, and maybe other arts. Some will be interviews, some reviews, and some by guests announcing their offerings.

Today’s post has a curative theme, specifically cancer help related.

First up is Nancy O’Berry’s brand new novella, Stormy Weather:

StormyWeather by Nancy O'Berry Stormy Weather
Nancy O’Berry 
Mainstream Romance Contemporary
ISBN: 978-1-60435-430-0

Buy link:

As a woman, Lauren Phelps has suffered the worst life can throw at her. The loss of her breast, the rejection of her husband, a divorce can she pick up the shattered threads of her life and continue?

Cole McGuire met Lauren Phelps through a mutual friend, his mother.. When Lauren took a medical leave of absence, he wondered if he would ever see her again. When she returned to Teague and Marshalls, he made sure she was transferred to his office.  Now divorced, he wondered if he stood a chance to woo her.

Can Lauren learn to love again after the storm?

Please note, this book contains frank discussions on breast cancer and reconstruction. The money raised from this book goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Tidewater chapter.  I have signed over my royalties to raise money for the cure of cancer. Won't you join me in stopping this disease. 
Nancy  O'Berry, author

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Next is an album from the founder of Music for Life, a non-profit that raises money to fight cancer. I interviewed Vicki Blankenship last month and you can read it here. Now for a quicky review of her latest album that would make a great gift for a music lover:

BlueFlameTrance-VickiBlankenshipBlue Flame Trance
Vicki Blankenship


Soothing is the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe Vicki’s music. It’s a beautiful folksy feel that reminds me of Peter, Paul, & Mary but with a touch of modern country ballads in the vein of Martina McBride. It’s simple and straight forward with lyrics any of us can relate to and features voice and guitar instead of a lot of background mish-mash. It’s about the true love of music for the sake of the art and personal expression. Vicki’s voice blends with her musical style and makes this CD perfect for an evening of relaxation after a long day. Don’t take my word for it, though. Go to her website and listen to samples of the CD!

~~ ~~ ~~
My last suggestion for today (come back tomorrow!) is from one of my favorite current bands:

Sister Hazel

$9.98 Rock Ridge Music
(Best Buy currently has it for $5.99)

I have several of Sister Hazel’s CDs and I love every one of them. Their newest release, Release, is no different. I’m big on lyrics. They have to be well written to make my favorite music list. SH’s are some of the best out there: poetic and meaningful, clever and upbeat. And their music is unflawed, uncomplicated but outstanding, easy to listen to for any mood, no over producing but a nice sharp sound with intricate guitar work. I love this band. Great music gift.

Oh, and Sister Hazel is the steam behind Lyrics for Life, raising money for children’s cancer research with big events in support of their SantasPlaylist-SisterHazelcause that’s close to lead singer Ken Block’s heart, as he lost his brother to cancer when he was only a child.

While you’re at their site, you might check out Santa’s Playlist, also. ;-)


Monday, December 07, 2009

Author Interview: Cheryl Pierson

TimePlainsDrifter-CherylPierson Cheryl Pierson is the author of Fire Eyes, a new historical romance that has already received much acclaim by readers and reviewers. If you haven’t yet, you can  read my review of this page-turner set in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory just after the end of the War Between The States. If you have a question or comment for Cheryl, please feel free to leave it in the comments after the interview! I’m happy she was able to find time in her hectic schedule to provide a short interview for us.

LK: Hi Cheryl! Thanks for being here! First off, I always give authors I review (if I can reach them) a chance to respond to what I said, agree or disagree. Would you like to take this chance to comment on the review?

CP: Thanks for having me, Loraine. It’s a pleasure to be here! The review was wonderful, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the story of Fire Eyes. I’m especially pleased to know you found the telling of it true to life and realistic.

LK: I’m glad you were happy with the review! Tell us a little about how Fire Eyes came about.

CP: Fire Eyes was my fourth attempt at a sellable manuscript. The first book I wrote was way too long for mass consumption—over 1000 pages! The second one needed work, because I tried to shorten that story at the expense of the characters. A paranormal was #3, and then Fire Eyes came along. I really seemed to “hit my stride” with Fire Eyes. The characters were so strong and real to me that the story actually told itself. Growing up all my life in Oklahoma, the setting was natural. The places are actual, so I’m sure that helps with the overall feel of the book.

LK: As another “long” writer, I understand completely! Isn’t it nice when you feel that stride kick in?

From our conversations, I know you’re a music lover like I am. While my only ‘band’ experience was in school, you played in an actual band. Would you like to share a bit about that?

CP: Sure! My husband, Gary, is a fantastic rhythm guitarist, and has played and recorded professionally. When he and I started dating, he’d play and we began to sing together. Eventually, we added another guitarist who played lead. We entertained as a group for a while in local clubs, then when Gary got transferred to Oklahoma, he and I continued to perform together at local clubs and restaurants, both of us playing guitar (yes, that was pretty daunting for me!) I really enjoyed the band, but at first I was very nervous, and always worried I’d forget the words! < G >

LK: Sounds like an incredible experience. :-)  So, do you see a similarity in process between creating music and creating a story?

CP: Writing a song is a lot like writing a short story, or a novel. Trying to make an entire story fit into three stanzas is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Anyone who knows me knows that I love—absolutely love—Marty Robbins. He was a master at being able to tell a story in the most unusual ways, but he always got the point across and did it with flair. From the time I was about three years old, I loved “El Paso”—the story of an “old west” outlaw and Felina, the dancer he loves. He gets killed at the end of the song, and what could be more romantic than that!? Years later, I learned Marty had written a companion song about Felina, and why she’d come to El Paso, and what happened to her after her lover was killed. Not only that, but he wrote yet another song about the subject. In “El Paso City” the story is told from yet another perspective—one that haunts me. A man is flying over “El Paso City” thinking about the story of the outlaw and Felina. He feels he might be the re-incarnation of the outlaw: “Can it be that man can disappear from life to live another time? And does that mystery deepen ’cause you think that you, yourself lived in that other time?” The story line was carried through three songs, two of them major hits.

LK: Do you see yourself bringing your music background into a book at some point in the future?

CP: I had a plot line for a story, a contemporary, that was about a band and their newest member—the niece of their label owner. Of course, she’s got talent, but they don’t like having her crammed down their throats as an unwanted member of the band.

LK: Of course I’m intrigued by your concept and will be watching to see if it evolves.  ;-)  Speaking of story lines, I love to hear about beginnings and inspirations. Do you remember when you first sat down to write a novel? How did that come about?

CP: It seems I was always writing. I remember when I was ten, telling my mom I wanted to write a really long book. She asked me what it was going to be about and I told her “Cowboys!” LOL The desire was always there, but real life intervened until I was in my twenties. I married Gary when I was 21. He had two kids by his first wife who eventually came to live with us (the kids, not the wife!) About this same time, he took a job where he was traveling all the time. I had a job I absolutely hated. I wrote at night to keep my sanity. I thought about what I was going to write all day, then after dinner when the kids were doing their homework, I started writing my book.

LK: Ah, quite a few similarities to my own story! It is such a sanity saver, isn’t it?  While we’re on that topic, just for fun – what is your favorite color? And do you have a favorite artist or style of art?

CP: You know, I don’t really have a favorite color—just don’t like pastels. I like deep, rich colors. My favorite style of art is western and Native American art. I love Tom Ryan, and even had the chance to meet him when I worked at the museum. Other western artists that I really like are Don Spaulding, Carrie Ballantyne (man, she is amazing with colored pencils!), Harley Brown, Tim Cox, William Acheff…too many to mention. I like Donald Vann, Bert Seabourne (hope I’m spelling that right!) Jerome Tiger and Woody Crumbo—these are all Native American artists, and again, just the tip of the iceberg—too many to mention. For a great sampling of western and Native American art, take a look at

LK: Now there are some names I’ll have to look up!

So tell me, if you won an all-expense-paid month-long trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

CP: Ireland. No doubt about it. I have ancestors from there that I would love to know more about. I’d spend time researching.

LK: Ireland is gorgeous! I sure hope you get there to research and sight-see!  Speaking of travel, your next book, Time Plains Drifter, will be out in December! Would you tell us about it?  (interviewer note – I’m late putting this up and the novel is already out!)

CP: Time Plains Drifter is a paranormal time-travel western historical. It takes place in 1895, Indian Territory. In this story, the hero, Rafe d’Angelico, is gunned down in the first chapter. He’s a U.S. Territorial Marshal and he and his older brother, Cris, are betrayed by fellow marshal Josiah Kemp, and murdered. Sixteen years later, Rafe is “brought back” to help a beautiful young school teacher and seven of her students who have been flung backward in time from 2010 when a comet rearranges the bands of time on earth. Rafe is a very reluctant angel. He wants only to be human again—to have his life back. But when he learns that Satan’s minions are after one of the school teacher’s young charges, he can’t turn his back. The problem is, figuring out which one of them Hell is seeking. And in the process, he pits himself once more against his nemesis, Josiah Kemp, who will stop at nothing to prove his worth to the Dark One. This time around, Rafe finds he’s got so much more to lose—and that surprises him.

LK: I have to tell readers that I’m heavily into reading Time Plains Drifter at the moment and am riveted by the story! Review will follow before long. A nice Christmas buy for any reader into westerns and/or paranormals, plus romance, of course!

Cheryl, thank you again for taking the time to chat with us. Before you go, please leave links where we can find you and your books. Best of luck for your continuing success!

CP: Thanks again for having me, Loraine. I enjoyed this!

A Night For Miracles is available at The Wild Rose Press:

I also have another Christmas short story, a FREE READ, available there, Until the Last Star Burns Out:

My debut novel, Fire Eyes:  is also available at The Wild Rose Press.

My second novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER was released through Class Act Books on December 1st: