Photo Meme


Fleur tagged me for this photo meme

“Find your 5th photo file folder, then the 5th photo in that file folder. Then pass the meme to 5 people.”

This is me and my Mom last year on Mother’s Day before we went downtown to the Ritz for High Tea.  It was a wonderful day 🙂

I’m not going to name names, but if you have not participated already – give it a try!

9 in ’09 with LaConnie Taylor-Jones

This Friday romance writer, LaConnie Taylor-Jones, joins me for 9 questions.  Last year I reviewed When a Man Loves a Woman, here.    You can visit her website at

LaConnie is a wife, mother of four, health educator, and author.  Somehow she found the time to fit in these 9 questions 🙂  Thank you, LaConnie!

1. When you wrote your first book, When I’m With You, did you know you would continue to write about the Baptiste family? Did you have future stories in mind for these characters?

Yes, I actually knew from the beginning that there would be at least four stories from the Baptiste Family. Since I’ve introduced them to readers, they’ve been well received and many readers have requested stories from some of the secondary characters. Only time will tell if this will happen.

2. I love a great romance, but sometimes the genre gets a bad rap. What is the most memorable reaction you have received when you told someone you are a romance writer?

First let me say, I ditto your sentiments. I love romance, too, both as a reader and a writer. A romance novel has the same characteristics as any other novel, except it centers on the love between two people, and provides an optimistic ending. The read is fresh, smart, and diverse.

The most memorable reaction occurred in late 2007 when I stood face-to-face with a person I’d recently met at a small gathering. After a few moments of polite introductory exchange, I casually mentioned that I’d recently published my debut novel.

“Oooh, so how exciting,” the person exclaimed.

With a smile, I nodded and said, “Yes, it certainly is.”

“So, tell me, what do you write?”

“Contemporary romance.”

There are no words in the English language to truly describe the flabbergasted expression on that individual’s face the moment I uttered those last two words.

3. I think it is hard to walk the fine line between too little and too much sex in a romance, but you did a great job in When a Man Loves a Woman. How difficult is it to know how much to put in and when to stop?

The answer to that question comes with an author truly understanding the genre they are writing in. If for example, an author is writing erotic, then it would include more sex scenes than a traditional romance. Most of my books hover between 300-310 pages and I usually include no more than three love scenes.

4. What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice came from my author mentor, Beverly Jenkins. She wisely said, “The only control you have is the story you write, so write the best darn story you can.”

5. What was your favorite childhood book?

Actually, there are two: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger.

6. I love quotes. Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

“Reach beyond the break.”

7. What are you reading right now?

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

8. If you got stuck in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?

Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. Despite her faults, this character showed a tenacity to succeed and perseverance to overcome the most difficult of situations.

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m working on the plot for an upcoming romantic suspense series.

Books by LaConnie- When I’m With You, When a Man Loves a Woman

God on a Harley, by Joan Brady

Cover ImageFinished 2-25-09, rating 3.5/5 , fiction, pub. 1995

How had I become so unhappy with myself and the way my life had turned out?  Why couldn’t I find solutions to the problems that were holding me back from a joyous life?  I know for a fact that I am at least a fairly intelligent person and I’ve even known stupid people who are a whole lot happier than me.  Why couldn’t I find a way to fill the emptiness in my life?

Chapter 2

Christine Moore was a 37 year old nurse who had just moved back to New Jersey and was fighting the apathy and bitterness she felt about life.  Then she meets Joe, or God if you are old school, and she begins a path to a less complicated, more fulfilled life.  He starts popping up in her life in the flesh and sometimes on his Harley.  Unfortunately, at some point she feels that she is in love with Joe/God.

“It’s simple,” he said.  “I’m getting you ready to live.  I mean really live.  Meaningfully.”

Chapter 3

This is a slim new age fable that may help you see your life in a new light.  At its core it is about learning to love yourself and making changes in your life.  After reading this yesterday all I wanted to do was purge old stuff out of my closets and live with less stuff  (and it is still a work in progress today).  It is a charming and hopeful book and a nice gift for any woman who has ever had her heart stomped on and has lost faith in herself or God.

It’s probably not for everyone and for most it is not going  to change your life, but it may make you look at your choices from a different perspective.  I thought it was a little hokey, but Christine felt real enough to make it a nice read.

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

Cover ImageFinished 2-24-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2000

“…Faith is universal.  Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary.  Some of us pray to Jesus, some go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles.  In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than oursselves.”

Langdon wished his students could expreess themselves so clearly.  Hell, he wished he could express himself so clearly.  “And God?” he asked. “Do you believe in God?”

Vittoria was silent for a long time.  “Science tells me God must exist.  My mind tells me I will never understand God.  And my heart tells me I am not meant to.”

Chapter 31

This is the book where we meet respected Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon for the first time.  (You may have also heard of him in a little book called The DaVinci Code)  Langdon is called to Switzerland to investigate the brutal murder of a physicist that appears to be the work of the mysterious and defunct group, the Illuminati.  Here he finds out about a new energy source that is being used for the first time as a weapon.  Langdon and the dead physicist’s daughter, Vittoria, head to Rome where they have very little time to find the hidden anti-matter that could take out all of Vatican City.

Vatican City is preparing for the enclave to elect a new Pope.  The camerlingo, head of the Catholic Church until the new Pope is elected, welcomes Langdon and Vittoria and opens the tunnels and secret documents of the Vatican to them so that they can save the city and the Cardinals kidnapped by the Illuminati.

This book is essentially a treasure hunt, with clues and hints, that leads the reader through Vatican City and Rome.  At its core it is a book trying to bring together the two opposing forces of science and religion.  But most importantly it is a page-turner.  A 700+ page edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.  

I liked it.  I finished it it one day (obviously I did very little else!) and think it is going to make a fun movie.  Maybe a better movie than the DaVinci Code because it has a more revered and known setting.  But, it did have a problem.  It was a good 100 pages too long.  It’s like Brown tried to cram as many twists and turns into the book as possible when it really wasn’t necessary.  There was a point in those last hundred pages when it just went too far in trying to shock and everything after that was a little tainted to me. 

I do recommend it.  It’s fun and fast and interesting.  My husband liked it better than the DaVinci Code.  Except for the backdrop of Italy I didn’t, but it was still worth it.

Teaser Tuesday – Angels & Demons


TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given
    Please avoid spoilers!

“When you’re a black woman, her mother said, ain’t no hiding what you are.  Day you try is the day you die.  Stand tall, smile bright, and let ’em wonder what secret’s making you laugh.”

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, chapter 63

(This is where the book fell open and I must confess that it has little importance in the book, but I liked the sentiment)

Let me hear your teaser.

Most Notable Black Writers Quiz

Here’s how to play…Identify the author and leave a comment with the # and the name and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! 

1. She was born Marguerite Johnson and became the first woman San Francisco streetcar conductor, but she is well known for her poetry and especially the first volume in her autobiography about caged birds.  Maya Angelou, Mark

2. After his 20 year career in the Coast Guard he wrote a book about Roots and also an autobiography about someone else, let’s call him X.  Alex Haley, Kathy

3. He published only one novel during his lifetime (about a man who wasn’t there) and it won the National Book Award in 1953.  Ralph Ellison, Jason

4. He has written a series of best-selling mysteries featuring detective Easy Rawlins- played by Denzel Washington in the movie.  Walter Mosley

5. In 1937 she published her most famous book (about watching God), but because of money problems she was buried in an unmarked grave in Florida.  Zora Neale Hurston

6. He was the grandson of the first black American elected to public office in 1855 and his first published poem ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ was also his most famous.  Langston Hughes

7. When she was eight she lost the sight in one eye when one of her brothers shot her with a bb gun, but that didn’t stop her from winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for a book about a color.  Alice Walker

8. He was a Pentecostal preacher when he was still a teen, but left the church when his writing began exploring sexuality; his novel about telling it on the mountain was semi-autobiographical.  James Baldwin

9. She was the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 and her novel  about a loved one won the Pulitzer in 1988.  Toni Morrison

10. He just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004 in novel about a world we all know.  Edward P Jones

What I Did for Love, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Cover ImageFinished 2-20-09, rating 3.5/5, romance, pub. 2009

She dropped the tabloid and turned to flee, but they’d trapped her.  She tried to back up, but they were behind her, in front of her, surrounding her with their hot strobes and heartless shouts.  Their smell clogged her nostrils – sweat, cigarettes, acrid cologne.  Someone stepped on her foot.  An elbow caught her in the side.  They pressed closer, stealing her air, suffocating her… (Chapter 1)

Georgie York grew up in front of the camera becoming the darling of sitcom tv.  Her life in the eight years since has become a circus.  She married Lance, a hugely successful action star, and he left her for the icy do-gooder, Jade.  He spread lies after their break-up, but his betrayal only cemented Georgie’s title of America’s sweetheart.  But her movies have tanked and she has become a paparazzi magnet, making her life a game of cat and mouse.

Bram had spent eight miserable years rescuing Georgie from thorny situations, but his days of playing gallant Skip Scofield to Georgie’s spunky Scooter Brown were long behind him.  This time Scooter Brown could save her own ass – or, more likely, wait around for Daddy to do it. (Chapter 1)

Bram Shepard was wildly popular when he and Georgie played Skip and Scooter, but he had ruined that opportunity with drinking, drugs, and a sex tape.  Now, he received only small offers in B movies and he was trying to find a way to reform himself in the eyes of studio execs who didn’t trust him.

Georgie and Bram hated each other, but a few drugged drinks, a marriage certificate, and a sleazy paparazzi forced them to come to terms with each other, literally.  Georgie could not endure another scandalous marriage so soon after Lance, so she made a deal with the devil.  Bram would stay married  to Georgie for a hefty fee and use her to gain respectability.

There are great secondary characters in this book.  Georgie’s father, Paul, appears heartless and his slow thaw was a wonderful story.  I loved Bram’s young cook, Chaz, and Georgie’s confidence lacking assistant, Aaron.  The only problem may have been that at times they, especially Chaz, overshadowed Georgie and Bram.

Anyone who knows the Brad, Jen, Angelina story will recognize it here.  And if you need last names you may not be interested in this celebrity culture story.  I think the story is very current in that that tabloid reporters are taking greater and more dangerous steps to get the money shot, and it was interesting to see it from the other side. 

I have read every one of Phillips’ books and while I really liked this one it was not my favorite.  Bram and Georgie had chemistry and sass, but the end became sentimental mush.  I think she’s great, but if you have never read her, this is not the book to start with.

My first Blog award

Wrighty (who received it from Bev who received it from J.Kaye) awarded me this absolutely fabulous award.  I love the sentiment and the gorgeous award itself.  Thank you for taking the time to present it me!

 I’ve decided to pass it on to 3 wonderful bloggers–

1. Heather at Book Addiction

2. Tonya at Storytime With Tonya and Friends

3. Elena at The world according to e

Pllease pass this along to a few of your favorite blogs 🙂

Joy School, by Elizabeth Berg

Cover ImageFinished 2-17-09, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 1997

This is the thing about strong people: you can mostly be scared of them but sometimes the way they are makes you feel safe.

page 108, hardcover

Katie and her father have moved to Missouri from Texas just as Katie is entering the insecurity and wonder of her teen years.  Her mother is dead, her sister is pregnant, her father is distant, and she is mostly ignored at school.  She thinks maybe the only people who like her are the cafeteria ladies because they always give her seconds.  Then she meets Jimmy, the much older manager of a gas station and her luck seems to be changing.  She begins spending more time with the married Jimmy and even finds a few friends along the way.

Katie’s story covers all of the universal feelings of youth.  Loneliness, awkwardness, confusion, and fear all come together for the perfect storm we call  puberty.  I was touched by Katie and when she was uncomfortable or horrified, so was I  because the memories all came back to me.  She was heartbreak and humor at once.  She had me laughing out loud (her first experience at the drive-in was priceless) and also cringing at her optimistic view of a future with Jimmy.

I love this book.  There is something distinctive about the words Elizabeth Berg chooses and I am immediately engaged.  I recognize myself in her characters and I think you will too.  If you haven’t read her, you should!

This book stands on its own as a wonderful read, but it is a sequel to Durable Goods.  I did not know this until I was finished reading it and it really made me mad.  I think you should read this book, but I also think you should read Durable Goods first (even though I haven’t read it myself!).

Highly recommended.

The Red Siren, by M.L. Tyndall

The Red SirenFinished 2-15-09, rating 3/5, inspirational fiction, pub. 2008

Charles Towne Belles. Book 1

Dajon’s exuberance sank to the floor.  “Your daughters?”  his voice squeaked.

“Why yes.  There is no better man than you to be their guardian in my absence.  With the Spanish and Indian attacks of late, not to mention the savage nature of some of the settlers, they need a naval officer to protect them.”

No promotion?  Dajon’s breath halted in his throat.  He wiped the sweat from his brow.  A guardian?  Of women?  Every encounter he’d ever had with females had ended in disaster.

Chapter 2

It is 1718 and the Westcott sisters – Faith, Hope, and Grace- are in the Carolinas with their father, Rear Admiral of the British Royal Army.  Having already married off their oldest sister to an abusive brute, Faith is afraid of the same fate befalling her, so she has secretly been a pirate captain for over five years.  She hopes to amass a fortune so great that neither she nor her sisters will be forced into marriage.

When the Admiral must go back to Europe he leaves Captain Dajon White in charge of his daughters.  Dajon’s duty in the Navy is to protect the Carolina shore from pirates and this causes much concern for Faith, who finds herself drawn to Dajon.  Dajon has been duped by the lady pirate before and he suspects Faith, but his growing feelings for her cloud his judgement.

I did enjoy this historical inspirational romance.  It had adventure and danger and a wonderful message of God’s forgiveness and redemption.  Faith had lost her belief in God when her mother died, and it wasn’t until the God-fearing Dajon entered her life that she began to reconnect with God.  Dajon was a good man and it was nice to see chivalry and honor in a hero.

While I liked it, I did not love it.  I found all three sisters a little selfish and too modern for the times.  And I found it difficult to envision Faith as the captain of a pirate ship.  The way in which men were betrayed in this book made me question how this pretty girl commanded a ship full of obedient men.

If you like historical romances or inspirational fiction I think you’ll enjoy it.

I received this from LibraryThing to review.