Tag Archives: books

Storytime with Miss Nha

I started picking up the glambaby on Thursdays back in August. It’s so awesome because I get to spend the whole day with her. We do all kinds of things but one of the things we’ve done since the beginning is Storytime with Miss Nha.


Since reading is one of my favorite things to do, I wanted to teach the glambaby about the library. I checked through the Tulsa Public Library’s events and that’s where I found the Thursday morning event at Nathan Hale Library.

Every week when we would get to the library, the first thing we would do if I had a book to return, is the glambaby would drop the book into the return slot. Then we’d head to the beads.

Playing with beads at the library

After that, it is time for stories! There are little carpets with the letters of the alphabet on them. The glambaby loves the D carpet.

D carpet

There are stories.

Reading stories

And rhymes.

Nursery rhymesAnd bubbles. And songs that have dances with them a lot of the time. At the end, is the all important sticker picking. 🙂


It’s great fun and the glambaby, although she was hesitant at first, eventually started coming out of her shell and really getting involved. The last time we visited, she was slapping her knee in laughter, it was so cute.

Now, in the new year, the glambaby is going to school on Thursdays so we won’t be going to Storytime with Miss Nha anymore.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Miss Nha! Aniston and I had so much fun! 🙂

My Favorite Books of 2013

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts like this one on twitter. Since I often find my next good book on such lists, and I read 87 books last year, I figured I could make my own list. I was going to do a Top Ten but like any good pageant girl, I know that a Top 12 is superior. 😉

Before I start my list I want to tell you that one of my favorite personal mottos is, “Life is too short to read bad books.” So all 87 books I read were good or I wouldn’t have finished them because there are just way too many other books waiting to be read.

So here we go. In no particular order…

Cave Women Don't Get Fat

I read Cave Women Don’t Get Fat towards the very end of the year so when I was thinking of doing this post, it popped into my head immediately. I’ve read probably every book about the paleo lifestyle on the market but I really loved this one because it was geared towards women. It’s written in an easily understandable style and I think it would benefit all women, who want to live healthfully, to read it. Additionally, the author Esther Blum is super nice and it’s been fun to read her newsletter and to engage with her on twitter @EstherBlum.

Think Like a Rock Star

It seems like Think Like A Rock Star was a big part of my life in 2013. I had been on Mack Collier’s email list for a while and when he said his new book was coming out and we might be able to read an advanced copy if we applied to, I jumped right on it. What a GREAT book! In it, Mack talks about how brands should look at how rock stars treat their fans and use it as a tool in how they treat their customers. We all know it would be awesome to have fans, right? Mack also gained a big fan (and friend) in me. I was excited to travel to Birmingham for Y’all Connect and meet Mack in person at what was a terrific conference. Find Mack on twitter @mackcollier.

Looking for MeIf I weren’t such an airhead, I would have also gotten a chance to meet the fabu Beth Hoffman (after I left Birmingham and on my way to Cincinnati) but I got my days mixed up. I read Beth’s first book Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt in 2010 and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.  I was so excited to get Looking for Me into my hands and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming story that I loved. It also made me really want to visit Charleston and that’s where David and I are planning our 35th anniversary trip in April. Thanks, Beth! Find Beth on twitter @wordrunner.

Killer Ambition

I stumbled across this book when I found that the Huffington Post does book reviews. I thought, “I know Marcia Clark!” When we moved back to the US after living in the Middle East, I was having trouble acclimating. The OJ Simpson trial was on TV so that’s what I did every day. For months. I watched the trial. So, honestly, I feel like I know Marcia Clark.   Killer Ambition got good reviews so I read it. I loved it! It is the third book for Marcia Clark and, although they are about Rachel Knight, they are stand alone stories. After reading this book, I went on to read her other two books and am looking forward to the next one. I’ll admit to being a little star struck when @thatmarciaclark tweeted me. I love twitter!

Seven Deadlies

Oh how I love Ms. Gigi Levangie’s books! And this one was different than the rest. It was kind of twisted. And funny. It totally reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut, an author I enjoyed reading a lot for those very reasons. Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale is a very clever spin on the seven deadly sins as seen through the eyes of a high school girl in Hollywood. Expect to be caught off guard and laugh out loud when you read this book. I also have fun connecting with @GigiLevangie  on twitter. She’s a pretty funny gal, which I more than appreciate!

Secrets of the Southern Belle

I’m a big fan of the Real Housewives shows although I will admit to not having watched the gals from Atlanta. Phaedra Parks, who wrote Secrets of a Southern Belle, is part of the Real Housewives of Atlanta cast. This is a wonderful book which (and please forgive me for sounding like someone’s grandma even if I am) I feel many young women today could benefit from reading! Although I was born and raised in northern Illinois, I found many of the thoughts in this book ones that we’re passed down to me from my mother and grandmother. Excellent book! On twitter @PhaedraParks.

Lowcountry Bombshell

This is another time where I read the second book before the first one. Lowcountry Bombshell is the second in the Liz Talbot Mystery series.  Liz Talbot is a smart and fashion conscious private investigator. I loved this book and read it right on the heels of Looking For Me. Lowcountry Bombshell also takes place in South Carolina. I was already planning a trip to Charleston and this book actually offered restaurant ideas that I’ve added to my list. Although the book is fiction, the restaurants are real! It was fun to read this book and I ordered the first book in the series and it’s on my list to read this year. I’ve also enjoyed connecting with author @susanmboyer on twitter! 

The Storyteller

I don’t know why I am always so sure I’m not going to like a book from Jodi Piccoult when that has never been the case. I have, though, picked up her books in the past, read what the story was about and thought, no, not for me. But then I take it and read it and love it. The Storyteller is an incredibly awesome book. I knew, right away, that I would like this one because the subject matter involves the Holocaust, a topic I’ve read much about. I did not want this book to end. When a book is this good, it’s hard for me to put into words just what makes it so. On twitter, @jodipicoult.

Empty MansionsI’ve never been a big fan of history. Oh, I like super old things like the Bible and the history of ancient Egypt but American history? No, thanks. Boring. Except for this book wasn’t boring. Empty Mansions is a cool book about a billionaire industrialist in the early days of America. The book begins with an empty mansion and his youngest daughter. The story of the family is fascinating and extremely interesting. A true American success story. I can no longer say I don’t like American history! Find the author @BillDedman.

Under the Jewelled SkyI have never been to India but I sure hope to visit there one day. I chose to read Under the Jewelled Sky because I thought it would show me what India is like. And it did that. Author, Alison McQueen writes a haunting tale of two generations of an expat family  who are stationed in India. The descriptions of everything from the palace to the refugee camp are so detailed you can see it in your mind’s eye. I liked that they visited, and eventually lived in, Ooty since my cousin’s daughter just finished up an assignment there and I had heard of it before. I’ve connected with @Alison_McQueen on twitter which, as you know, I think is awesome!

Waking Up In HeavenBooks about people who die and have an experience in Heaven are very intriguing to me so the choice to read Waking up in Heaven by Crystal McVea was an easy one. The book is hard to put down and I read it straight through. Awesome (I know I say that a lot but, truly) is a good word to describe her story. Again, I connected on twitter with @CrystalMcvea and she is a sweetie!

Buck: A MemoirBuck: A Memoir is another book that I don’t feel qualified to write a good review for, so my review is short but I will tell you this is an awesome book. Another that I couldn’t put down. It’s so out of the realm of what I normally read but I was immediately drawn into this story of a young boy trying to make his way on the streets of Philadelphia and I felt like his biggest cheerleader by the end of the book. The author is on twitter @mkasante.

So there you have it. That was way harder than I thought it was going to be. I really worry a lot that I don’t do justice to wonderful books I read by reviewing them. But I want to thank ALL of the authors I read this year for writing such great stuff.

If you want to see what else I read this year, you can visit my Goodreads page. That’s where I keep track. 🙂

Note regarding “awesome”: I promise to buy some more adjectives by next year. 😉






This past weekend, I was going through my email and was directed to Brian Hawkins’s blog.  He was having a contest to find a book to read on the new Nook he got for Father’s Day.

You know I’m very competitive and I love contests. I also love to WIN!

The rules of the contest were to pitch a book that would interest Brian. He didn’t want a fictional story but wanted one that fit into his interest groups of blogging, business and social media. He wanted to be able to download it onto his Nook and said that the first person to convince him would win their choice of book.

I actually love reading more than I love contests, if you can believe that, so I really wanted to win and I had just the book.

I pitched Think Like a Rock Star from Mack Collier. It’s a great book that I was lucky to read in galley form (but finally got in hard copy so I can write in it) and have been recommending ever since.

Here’s my pitch to Brian:



I won! I was so excited. I told Mack to give a look to the comments on Brian’s blog and look what Mack did:



Isn’t that fun! I love it!

I’m super excited that I won the book from Brian. Thank you, Brian! And I’m also excited he gets to read Mack’s awesome book and actually get a signed copy from Mack himself. 🙂

I’m looking forward to getting my own book signed when I meet Mack in real life at Y’all Connect in a couple of weeks.

And that folks, is some of the beauty of social media. 🙂

A Visit With the Artist

Today I want to introduce you to my dear friend, author Mariam Kobras. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Mariam lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia with her parents as a child before they decided to settle in Germany. She attended school there and studied American Literature and Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, where she met her husband. She lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband, two sons and  two cats. I know you will enjoy her post below!


Sycamore trees.

I keep telling Ginny, those trees lining the streets of Salt Lake City are sycamores, not maples, but she’s still skeptical. We’re driving through Sugar House, that much I know. That’s the name of this part of town. It’s elevated, all the streets on our right lead downhill, toward the valley with the city proper and the Great Salt Lake beyond.

Sugar House, and if you don’t know the history of the place it might sound a bit kinky, right? But no, I’m told, it’s because there was a maple plantation here, and the sugar house is where they make the syrup. Right, but Ginny, those trees are still sycamores.

We’re going to visit Eric. His art is on the covers of my books, first The Distant Shore, and now on my new release, Under the Same Sun. I’m very excited about this. I’ll be seeing Eric’s studio, all of his lovely paintings, and meeting the man himself.

Not even a year ago, I didn’t know he existed, didn’t know I’d fall in love with his art so much. Then, one Sunday morning, a friend of a friend posted one of his paintings on Facebook. It was stunning. It was beautiful, and it was the perfect depiction of a scene in my first novel, The Distant Shore. I did what every Facebook user does: I shared it to my own wall. My publisher saw it, and commented, “Where did you find this?”

“Right here,” I more or less screamed back, “And I want it on my book, I want it on the cover!”

And now we’re going to visit him.

I’m nervous. I’m scared, and I’m sweaty. I know I have to make a good impression, because I want more of Eric’s art on my future books, and I’m sure if he thinks I’m just another oldish, frumpy, housewife with the will to write, he’ll sneer at me and throw me out instead of signing the new contract the publisher gave me for him.

The door opens before we’re even properly out of the car, and there he is, his wife right behind him, and they’re smiling, waving, just as excited as I am!

“I love your book.,” Eric says. “You’re a wonderful writer!”

How many ways can you spell “abashed”?

I stand there in the Salt Lake City heat of July, purse pressed to my chest just like some frumpy old lady, and here is this tall, handsome man giving me a blinding grin, speaking to me in his wonderful, melodic voice, and I’m smitten.

I mean, I was smitten from afar before, by proxy, if you wish, through his art. But this is still different, this is Meeting the Artist.

His wife Hilary, the lovely girl on my book covers, is even prettier in real life. She really is, and she does look a lot like I pictured Naomi in my stories: slender, dainty, with very white skin and black hair, and a beautiful face.

I’ve brought a copy of  The Distant Shore, carried it with me all the way across the Atlantic and nearly across the US, to have Eric sign it for me. It already has a few really nice words from the publisher in it, and now I want his handwriting there, too.

The two people who, other than me, contributed the most to this book, one by giving me his art, the other one by signing me as their author.

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful book!” Eric writes, and I blush, reading those words from him, whom I admire so much. Does he really not understand that only with his art, is it, for me, complete?

We go into the studio, and there it is, the painting called Sunday Morning, the one that’s on the cover of Under the Same Sun.

I remember being at the Louvre the first time, just before my husband and I got married, and we walked all those miles through the endless hallways of that mammoth building to get to where they were hiding the Mona Lisa, and reaching it felt pretty much the way I felt seeing Sunday Morning: I could’t believe I was seeing the original, the real, paint-on-canvas piece of art.

By the way, I still have my doubts about the Mona Lisa. I believe that’s not the original, hanging in the Louvre, unprotected. I’m sure it’s a very, very, well done  copy, and the original is somewhere safe in the vaults.

But Sunday Morning, is right there before me, in the artist’s studio. I touch it, and Eric smiles.

Ginny is sitting on a couch in the corner and playing with the Thompson’s dog, chatting with Hilary, while the sun shines through the windows on Eric’s paintings, and for a moment, for as long as it takes to take three breaths, the world feels complete, stopped, perfect. I’m holding my first book in my hand, I’m standing before the painting that will be on my second, and Eric has signed, gladly, excitedly, the contract for the third painting on my third book. How much better can it get?

Later that night, on the plane, on my way back home, I get out the much-traveled copy of The Distant Shore and look at the handwritten dedications in it.

Serendipity, for sure. A blessing.

Thank you, world.

This was the thirteenth stop in Mariam’s Blog Hop celebrating the launch of her latest book, Under the Same Sun (Book II in the Stone Trilogy) which hit the Amazon.com bestseller list on its first day on sale!

We hope you enjoyed her guest post, and invite you to write a comment below about this blog post for a chance to WIN one of three copies of Under the Same Sun (plus some pretty gosh, darn, yummy chocolate)!

You can get additional chances by following Mariam at every stop on her hop and leaving comments after each post. And hey, while you’re here, why not follow this blog—you won’t regret it.

Join Mariam tomorrow, 10/31, when she stops by Wendy Mason’s blog.

And this is the link: http://wisewolftalking.com

Check our blog for the full calendar and more details about Mariam and her books!

Judging a book by its cover

Under the category of you learn something new every day, did you know that books have different covers in different countries?

I didn’t know this!

My friend, Beth Hoffman, who wrote my very favorite book Saving Cee Cee Honeycut has just had her book published in the United Kingdom.  I’m excited because now everyone in the UK gets the opportunity to read this awesome book.

As I congratulated Beth, she commented that the thing that has been so fun is seeing the covers that each new country chooses for her book. I asked her if she had a link to the covers produced so far and she showed me:

They are all very different and, yet, you can see how each cover relates to the story inside. Beth says she’s very curious to see what the books from Israel, Indonesia and Korea will look like. Me, too!

I thought this fact about the different book covers was interesting. I figured if I didn’t know they did this, other people might not know either. Also, it gives me a chance to share, once again, this awesome book. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!