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Results 1 - 25 of 327
1. Illustration Inspiration: Jennifer Gray Olson, Ninja Bunny

JENNIFER GRAY OLSON is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in art education. She is a glassblower and sculptor. In addition to writing and illustrating ... Read the rest of this post

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2. Guest Post and Giveaway: All of Me by Jennifer Bernard

 
 
 

Jennifer Bernard dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of her latest, All of Me. Check it out!

When I started writing this post, it was supposed to be about my five favorite baseball players, but then I realized that on top of my list was Crash Davis. Don’t know him? That might be because he’s the completely fictional catcher played by Kevin Costner in the movie Bull Durham. I’m still crushed that Crash is not a real person. So I changed things up a little, and now offer you … my five favorite baseball movies!

#5 Million Dollar Arm

Jon Hamm. Need I say more? This movie is about the search for a pitching phenom in the baseball-oblivious nation of India. It’s actually based on a true story, because who could make something like that up? It’s a little (okay, maybe a lot) Disney-fied, but I love India, I love baseball, and besides … Jon Hamm.

Tied for #5 Moneyball

Brad Pitt. Need I say more? Moneyball delves into baseball statistics and backroom deal-making and is oddly fascinating. Besides … Brad Pitt.

#4 The Perfect Game

Also based on a true story, this movie is about a group of boys in Mexico who start up a Little League team in a country where there’s no organized baseball. On a three-day visa, they cross the border to play for a spot in the playoffs, never dreaming they’ll make it all the way to the World Series. By some miracle, they do, and their star pitcher, a skinny, scrappy kid, pitches the only perfect game in Little League World Series history. Baseball is about impossible dreams becoming possible, which this movie captures perfectly.

#3 Pitch Perfect

I know, it’s not about baseball, but it does contain the word “Pitch” and it belongs on any top five favorite movie list I write, so there.

The real #3. 42

The sport of baseball gives true character a chance to shine. When Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League team, he went through a gauntlet of emotions and experiences. This movie shows it all, the good, the bad, and the shameful. It’s worth a rental just for Chadwick Bosworth’s incredible performance, but it’s mostly a compelling story about a proud man proving his skill and ability under almost unimaginable pressure.

#2 A League of Their Own

A classic. I love every second of this movie, even the ones with Madonna. It too is loosely based on the true story of a women’s baseball league formed during World War II, when the male players were unavailable. It’s a riot watching these women try to win over audiences who are completely skeptical about their talent. It’s about friendship, sisterhood, patriotism, and doing what you love.

#1 Bull Durham

Number 1 in my heart, forever and ever, Bull Durham stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in a movie about a Triple A team in North Carolina. It’s adorable, it’s romantic, it’s sexy, it’s hilarious, it’s minor league baseball in all its quirky perfection. I freely admit that this movie inspired my new series, Love Between the Bases, which is about a minor league team in Texas. I wrote it because I wanted more of that pure, goofy baseball spirit, more romance and heat and fun and mostly … I still, to this day, want Crash Davis to be real.

What are a few of your favorite sports movies?

 
Enter to Win a Touch by Alyssa Milano
Texas Rangers Women’s Addison Slim Fit
V-Neck Burnout T-Shirt – Royal Blue
 
 
ALL OF ME
Love Between the Bases #1
Jennifer Bernard
Releasing May 26th, 2015
Avon Romance


Jennifer Bernard, the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen series, scores another homerun with a brand-new series about sexy, single baseball players.

Playing for the Kilby Catfish is hotshot pitcher Caleb Hart’s last chance to salvage his career after a major league meltdown. But the day of his opener with the minor league team, Caleb strikes out with the gorgeous woman who is delivering a petition to run the unruly Catfish out of town. Now to stay in the lineup, Caleb will need to score big with the feisty brunette he can’t keep out of his thoughts.

After the nasty lies Sadie Merritt’s rich ex-boyfriend spread about her all over town, she’s lucky to have a job at all. She can’t afford to screw it up by falling for the player who is supposed to be helping her change the image of the fun-loving Catfish. But that’s easier said than done when Caleb’s voice alone is enough to make her pulse race. And when he surprises her with a mind-blowing kiss, she knows there’s no turning back.


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Jennifer Bernard is the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriels series. She is a graduate of Harvard and a former news promo producer. The child of academics, she confounded her family by preferring romance novels to … well, any other books. She left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She’s no stranger to book success, as she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name not to be mentioned at family gatherings.





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3. Screaming at the Ump, by Audrey Vernick | Book Review

Screaming at the Ump will appeal to both boys and girls who are interested in sports (especially baseball), and journalism, coping with the transition to middle school, or dealing with family conflicts.

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4. Who Would Win the Super(hero) Bowl? The Seattle Hulks or the Cleveland Things?

Last week, Chicagoland geeks were congregating at McCormick Place, enjoying the plethora of pop culture paraphernalia.

This week, Chicagoland geeks are congregating at Grant Park, to experience the NFL Draft.  It’s Chicago’s first draft in 51 years, and the NFL has a “fan experience” set up in the park, complete with a beer garden.

(Side note… I think the worst team in the NFL should host the NFL draft the next year, as a consolation prize to the fans who don’t get to enjoy the post-season.)

So, you ask, aside from the shared geekery, why am I writing about this?

Because graphic designer Justin Kozisek has taken the NFL’s 32 teams’ helmets, and crafted Marvel Comics-themed helmets and mascots for each!  My favorite:

FINFANGHe’s got a store, where it appears you can buy t-shirts and posters of your favorite teams/characters.

It’s doubtful we’ll ever see these used in an actual game, given the hubbub over the Spider-Man 2 baseball promotion. One would hope that Diamond Direct or Nike would create faux jerseys for those fans which geek over sports and comics. (Full disclosure: I own a Drunken Monkeys bowling shirt.)

Meanwhile, if fictitious football teams bore you, there’s always indoor football

 

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5. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander | Book Review

This is a book young people will probably want to read more than once, both for the themes in the story and for the author’s storytelling. It will appeal to middle grade readers who like sports – especially basketball – and coming of age stories.

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6. GIVEAWAY: A Pocket Star EBook Kentucky Derb-E Treat! The Aspen Valley Series by Colette Auclair

GIVEAWAY

A Pocket Star EBook

Kentucky Derb-E Treat!

The Aspen Valley Series:

To gear up for the Derby, and to celebrate the start of the horse show season, I have a giveaway for Colette Auclair’s Aspen Valley series, thanks to Pocket Books!   I loved Thrown, so I’m excited to share this giveaway with you!

The Kentucky Derby is just one week away and we are giving away promo codes for the EBooks Thrown, Jumped, and Branded in Colette Auclair’s award-winning Aspen Valley series!

THROWN (December 2013; $5.99) is the first book in The Aspen Valley Series.  Professional horse trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t compete. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—and braces herself for three miserable months. But the movie star is funny, down-to-earth, and gorgeous—and his spoiled daughters are just desperate for a mother figure. By Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.

 

JUMPED (August 2014; $5.99), the second book in The Aspen Valley Series, is Colette Auclair’s steamy sequel to her “page-turning debut” (Library Journal), Thrown. A young woman in the equestrian fashion business finds herself head over heels for her ex-husband.  Thoroughly enjoying herself at her best friend Amanda’s wedding, Beth is shocked when she is seated next to her ex-husband, Finn, at the reception. Determined to not let this fluster her, Beth strikes up a conversation only to learn Finn isn’t the same man she walked away from. 

Relieved the reception is over, Beth is looking forward to a relaxing weekend against the beautiful backdrop of sunny Aspen at Amanda and Grady’s estate.  Little does she know Finn will be partaking in the weekend activities.  But just as Beth decides to keep as much distance between her and Finn as possible, Finn has a terrible accident and Beth is stuck being his bedside nurse.  Over the course of the weekend, Beth and Finn discover that the wounds of their failed marriage are not all that’s left. There are sparks…and hope. But just as they decide to give it another try, Finn confesses a huge secret that could destroy everything he’s fought to get back—Beth, their relationship, and another chance at love.  Will Beth turn away, or will she take a leap of faith and say “I do” once (again) and for all? 

BRANDED (December 2014; $5.99), the third book in The Aspen Valley Series, will take readers on a wild and dreamy ride through the beautiful valleys and mountains of Colorado.  Professional, polite, and pearl-wearing, dressage rider and resort consultant Cordy Sims is the last person anyone would expect to initiate a weekend of debauchery. And yet, that’s exactly what she does after meeting a handsome stranger at an Aspen resort. Agreeing that they’ll leave personal details at the door, they indulge in a memorable weekend of carnal recreation. On Sunday night, Cordy doesn’t want to leave this charming, seductive man, but she must play by her own rules.
On Monday, Cordy sits in a meeting at the ad agency that’s hired her as a freelancer, and her professional and personal worlds collide. Turns out agency owner Jack Cormier looks just as good in the boardroom as he did in the bedroom. Forced to work together, Cordy and Jack can’t ignore the chemistry that crackles between them, or the deeper feelings that have developed. But secrets and scars from their pasts may prove too formidable, even for a love that’s as powerful as it is unexpected. 

Praise for The Aspen Valley Series:

“The story portrays two convincingly flawed but likeable characters who find each other’s aults both provocative and exciting, as they try to decide whether a second chance at marriage is worth the risk.”

Publishers Weekly on Jumped

“Harris, the Brunswicks’ chef, is a clairvoyant Cupid, full of honest evaluations of people and their love lives. He adds a spark to the story as Auclair continues to build her cast of series characters and develop their varied personalities.”

—Library Journal on Jumped

In JUMPED, the author returns to the Aspen area with many of the same characters that were in her well–received debut novel, THROWN…Major and minor characters are interesting and likable, and the friendships add to the primary romance. There will be at least one more book in the series. Look for BRANDED to release in December. If you like horses, a tangled relationship, and a series that flows from one book to the next, check out these titles.”

—Romance Reviews Today on Jumped

“If you’re looking for a highly entertaining, fast-paced, horsey beach read, Jumped should fill the bill.”

—Horse Nation on Jumped

“There is enough tension among all the forces at play to keep the pages turning. Debut novelist Auclair is a 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, winner of the 2011 Winter Rose Contest, and a finalist in the 2011 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest.  Recommended for most romance fans.”

—Library Journal on Thrown

“Romantic fiction with an equestrian theme gets a fun new twist in this novel which follows trainer Amanda Vogel… the star is single, handsome, and has the hots for Amanda. But both characters are carrying hefty loads of their own baggage, and as they navigate through various dramas and horse-related mishaps, the layers (both physical and psychological) start to come off. Thrown weaves horses into the story with a practiced tone, and the accuracy of equine knowledge and horse people adds to the plot. For a fun, entertaining read, be sure to pick up this debut novel by Colette Auclair.”

Horse & Style on Thrown

“Totally accurate, as far as HorseGirls go…Colette Auclair nails the horse stuff…whether it’s describing Amanda’s selection of appropriate mounts for Grady’s beginner daughters, or setting up a human cross-country course for the girls to play Olympics over, or accurately detailing an episode of colic (including the joy when the horse finally poops), or explaining the feeling of connecting with a once-in-a-lifetime horse…my favorite part about the book, aside from the discussions of how horse training prepares just about anyone for human training…is the humor…Aside from getting the horse stuff right, the characters are also well-developed…The story is quite a page-turner, so be prepared to be completely unable to stop–like a runaway horse except actually fun.  And the book does have one pretty detailed sex scene and multiple explicit make out sessions, so it’s not for kids. Bottom line: if you like romantic comedies, you’ll definitely enjoy Thrown.”

Horse Nation on Thrown

Colette Auclair has been a copywriter for more than twenty years.  She’s ridden and shown horses since she was ten and owns a lovely twenty-year-old Thoroughbred mare.  Thrown, her first novel, was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist in the single-title contemporary romance category.  It also won the 2011 Winter Rose Contest (Yellow Rose Romance Writers) and finaled in the 2011 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest (NE Ohio Romance Writers Assoc.)  Jumped is second and Branded is third in the Aspen Valley series.  Please visit coletteauclair.com.

One Winner will win all three ebooks!

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7. Cover Reveal: One More Shot by Victoria Denault

I have a Top 5 list and a cover reveal this morning for Victoria Denault’s NA hockey romance, One More Shot.  This is the first book in Victoria’s Hometown Players series.

Top 5 Fun Facts about Victoria Denault

1. I’ve run the bulls in Pamplona, Spain – twice.

2. The title One More Shot was inspired by a song by a band named Kane.

3. The characters are from the fictitious town of Silver Bay, Maine. It’s roughly based on Old Orchard Beach, Maine, but I swapped the ocean for a lake.

4. The relationship between the Caplan sisters (Jessie, Rose, Callie) is inspired by the relationship I had with my best friends growing up.

5. I LOVE hockey and was lucky enough to be at a Stanley Cup winning game. Total bucket list item.

ONE MORE SHOT by Victoria Denault (June 2, 2015; Forever Yours E-Book; $3.99; Hometown Players Book #1)

They say you only get one shot at making your dreams come true. Jordan is determined to take two.
Drafted by the NHL at eighteen, Jordan Garrison was headed for fame, and there was only one person he wanted to share it with-Jessie Caplan. He was crazy in love with her, and had finally told her so. They shared an amazing night . . . and then everything fell apart.
Jessie tries not to think about the night she gave herself to Jordan-or how he broke her heart. She tries not to think about it, but she does. Especially now, when she’s staring into his sky-blue eyes for the first time in six years. After so much time and torment, she can’t tell if she loves him or hates him. But Jordan has learned enough to know a connection like theirs is rare. He was lucky to find Jessie once. No way will he lose her again.

Pre-Order Links:

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

BAM

GooglePlay

Kobo

About the author:

Victoria Denault loves long walks on the beach, cinnamon dolce lattes and writing angst-filled romance. She lives in LA but grew up in Montreal, which is why she is fluent in English, French and hockey.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

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8. Review: In the Brazilian’s Debt by Susan Stephens

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

So I couldn’t resist the polo.  Where there is polo, there are polo ponies, or so my thought processes would like to think.  And yes, there were horses in Susan Stephens’ In the Brazilian’s Debt, but alas, not enough to keep me happy.  The biggest disappointment, however, was Chico, because he treated Lizzie so terribly after having sex with her.  He went from being Mr Hottie Sex God to Biggest Jerk on the Planet in 0 to 60, and I was like, “What?”

To say that Lizzie comes from a messed up family is the understatement of the year.  When she was 15, Chico and his mentor, Eduardo, visited her family’s stud farm in Scotland, and Lizzie and Chico formed a fast friendship.  Or so she thought.  She confided in him how awfully her parents treated her, and the terrible things that went on in her house, and she begged to go back to Brazil with him and Eduardo.  Chico promised to help her, but he suddenly left without a word to her.  Heartbroken, she watched as her parents brought ruin to the family legacy with their greed and depravity.  Only Lizzie’s grandmother’s intervention saved them from losing the land and farm that had been in the family for generations.

Years later, Lizzie’s the last hope for saving the family farm.  She’s won a scholarship to Chico’s polo training program.  In the intervening years, Chico has become a polo legend, and he’s worked hard to establish a multi-million dollar empire.  Chico came from the slums, and only Eduardo saved him from a life of poverty.  Now he gives back, by mentoring poor youths, and by teaching his equine skills to a select few.  He’s surprised to see Lizzie among the latest group of students; she left him high and dry after her mother accused him of raping her.  He’s still angry that she didn’t take his side, or that she ignored the letters that he wrote to her afterwards. 

There’s a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings for Chico and Lizzie to work through, but they both feel the same attraction for each other.  Though Lizzie tries to avoid Chico, it’s nearly impossible.  Still, she resists her feelings for him because finishing the training program means so much to her, and as the instructor, Chico is off-limits.  Until a sultry night, when she throws her inhibitions away. And then he treats her like a Class A Jerk, and my affections for him withered and died like my neglected house planets.

He did manage to get back into my good graces, at least a little bit, after a family tragedy forces Lizzie back home to Scotland. He’s very supportive, and sends her parents packing when they appear on the scene like so many vultures.  They are so awful they’re actually entertaining.  They both deserved an extended vacation at the local penitentiary.

I didn’t like Chico when he was in Brazil.  Chico in Scotland was more tolerable.  Given their history, he knew how poorly Lizzie had been treated by her parents, and that her grandmother was the only family member she could trust.  His casual treatment of her during the party was just…there are no words. He knew what her parents were like, and that at 15, she had no control over their actions (not like she had any control over them as an adult!). She deserved better, and I thought she forgave him far to easily.

Grade:  C

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

Paying for the past…

Lady Elizabeth Fane has two choices: lose her family’s Scottish stud farm or swallow her pride and beg Chico Fernandez for help. She’s never forgiven the arrogant Brazilian polo star for abandoning her years before, so instead she will collect on the debt he owes her. 

Yet in the sultry Brazilian heat passions flare, revealing feelings Lizzie thought she had long conquered. That is until Chico finally reveals the truth behind his desertion and Lizzie realizes that he not only has power over her body but it’s she who is in the Brazilian’s debt!

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9. Physical Literacy 12 Steps Pledge Ambassadorship: I Dance for Physical Literacy | Dedicated Review

Author Steven C. McCartney has created a 12-step healthy lifestyle plan for all ages and fitness levels.

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10. Growing Up Pedro

Growing Up Pedro   by Matt Tavares Candlewick Press, 2015 ISBN: 9780763668242 Grades K-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library. Red Sox fan and author/illustrator, Matt Tavares, has released a new baseball biography just in time for opening day. Growing Up Pedro follows the rise of pitcher, Pedro Martinez, from a childhood of poverty in the Dominican Republic to

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11. Cricket Magazine Illustration: “What’s Wrong?”

I love doing big, busy spreads with a lot of activity going on. This one was for Cricket magazine. See if you can find the sports-related “wrongs” in this illustration.

ww-carus-spread

ww-carus-spots1

ww-carus-spots4

ww-carus-spots3

ww-carus-spots2

(c) Cricket Magazine/Carus

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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: Sawyer Bennett, Author of Garrett

I have an excerpt and giveaway for Garrett by Sawyer  Bennett today! 

Garrett
Cold Fury Hockey # 2

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing February 17th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett hits the ice with the story of a playboy athlete whose winning ways lead him to a beautiful woman with a lot to lose.

Carolina Cold Fury star Garrett Samuelson never wants to miss out on a single minute of fun. Whether he’s playing hockey, hanging out with friends, or walking the red carpet with a new date on his arm, he lives every day to the fullest. When he meets Olivia Case, he sees someone who’s exactly his type—confident, sexy, smart . . . his next fling. But the more he pursues her, the more Garrett shares a side of himself that other women don’t normally get to see.

Olivia has been keeping a secret. While Garrett lives for the next thrill, Olivia’s not sure she’ll live to see the next day. She’s undergoing treatment for some serious medical issues, and she doesn’t have time for a relationship with no guarantees—especially one with a hot-as-sin womanizer who won’t take no for an answer. But as she gets to know the real Garrett, Olivia can’t help falling for him . . . hard. To reveal the truth would mean risking everything—but you can’t score without taking the tough shots.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/garrett-cold-fury-2-by-sawyer-bennett.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23121837-garrett

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/125350-cold-fury-hockey

 Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today Best-Selling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series. She will be releasing her second book in the Cold Fury Hockey Series with Random House Loveswept, February 2015.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

EXCERPT:

The team party is in full swing by the time I arrive, which is always late, and Coach Pretore and his wife, Suzie, have gone all out. I find them in the kitchen of their seven-thousand-square-foot home, holding court near an ice sculpture set inside a huge crystal bowl teeming with peeled shrimp.

Coach gives me a hearty handshake and a thump on the back. “Good to see you, kid.”

I give him a smile and then bend down to kiss Suzie on the cheek. “Great to see you both. You throw a mean party,” I tell them as I snap two shrimp up.

“Use a plate,” Suzie chides me, and thrusts one into my hands. “So how has your summer been, Garrett?”

“It’s been great, but I’m ready to get back at it. Can’t wait for camp to start tomorrow.”

“Enjoy yourself tonight,” Coach Pretore says, “but not too much. I’m going to work you hard tomorrow.”

“Bring it on,” I say with a grin as I pop the shrimp in my mouth. Setting the empty plate down on the russet-colored granite, I give my hands a quick wash in their sink, then head through their house to the backyard, where I know most everyone is hanging.

I’m stopped no less than five times on the way out back to give and receive high fives and back slaps, as well as one hard smack on my ass from Zack Grantham, our second-line left winger.

Rubbing my stinging butt cheek with one hand, I give him a playful punch on his shoulder with the other.

“What’s up, dude?” he asks as he wraps his arm around the waist of his girlfriend, Gina. He pulls her into the side of his body, and I watch with interest as she wraps her arms around his back and stomach, cuddling in tight. They are about as close as two people can get. They’re not married and have no plans to be, as far as I know, but fuck, they are committed to each other. I think they’ve been together going on close to seven years now, and they have a little boy, Benjamin, who I think may be close to three. He’s fucking adorable.

“Not much. Ready to get back on the ice,” I tell him.

“No shit,” Zack agrees. “It’s been a great summer off, but I’m starting to get bored.”

“So bored,” Gina adds in with a laugh. “He’s driving me nuts at home. Trying to fix stuff that doesn’t need fixing. I’m ready for him to get back on the ice too.”

Nodding, I ask, “Where’s the rug rat?”

Zack jerks his head over his shoulder to the double doors that lead out onto the back deck. “Outside, playing with Andre and Mely’s kids. We took him to Disney last week and he won’t quit talking about Mickey. I think he has the other kids riled up now.”

Laughing, I clap him on the shoulder. “I’m foreseeing some of the other players having to take their kids next summer.”

“Exactly,” Gina says impishly.

“Hey, are Alex and Sutton here yet?” I ask genially. I have the dirtiest joke I just heard last night—compliments of Donna or Debbie, not sure which—and I have to tell Alex. And it has to be done in front of Sutton, so I can watch her blush prettily, then snarl at me to clean up my act. I love torturing her.

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug)

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Sawyer Bennett, Author of Garrett appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Jackie Robinson Led By Example

I Am Jackie Robinson

By Brad Meltzer; illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos

 

We are coming to the end of something this month, and the beginning of something else. It’s almost the end of February which is traditionally referred to as African American History month and we are on the cusp of the beginning of Spring Training for the All American sport of baseball.

Brad Meltzer’s picture book from the series entitled, “Ordinary People Change the World” is a “hit out of the park” on both counts!

Chronicling the amazing journey of an incredibly talented and courageous African American baseball player named Jackie Robinson, this picture book enables a new crop of picture book readers a window into a world with a very different baseball roster than the one they see now.

Incredibly, at one time, there were NO African American players in Major League baseball!

C C Sabathia, Jason Heyward, Dominic Brown, Ryan Howard and B.J. Upton are but five players today that stand metaphorically on the shoulders of Jackie Robinson. And, I think many of them know this. In fact, there is a link at the bottom of this post to interviews with some of these players, as regards to Jackie Robinson.

Today, there are many players of race that stand on the shoulders of the courage, conviction and calm of Jackie Robinson as he broke the so-called “color line” in Major League Baseball.

I have always believed that “Example is the strongest teacher.” In the end, it is not so much what we say, but the values we hold, and how those values define our lives, that our character is formed. Never was that more true than today. Never was it more important for young readers to have picture books like this one in their hands.

And that is why a book like “I Am Jackie Robinson” is a great picture book read this month OR any other. It arranges the arc of Jackie’s life, and the experiences, example and ethos that drove it.

Perseverance, courage, determination, fearlessness and an incredible talent that could not be denied, are but a small semblance of the values and attitudes that formed Jackie Robinson.

Brad Meltzer’s picture book allows your reader a very vital and vibrant glimpse into a far different world than the one they are growing up in. Some injustices never change fast enough. They are part of the fabric of a nation for a very long time.

For Jackie it was a long road to change – but one he travelled alone, and with a quiet strength. He let his talent do the talking. And it commanded respect – eventually.

In baseball, it took the impetus provided by a manager named Branch Rickey, President of the then Brooklyn Dodgers to hire an all but unknown player named Jackie Robinson.

Athletic abilities, at that time, unlike today, had little to do with being hired by a Major League Baseball team – if you were a man of color.

Jackie, born the youngest of five children was named after the “Rough Rider” hero and President, Theodore Roosevelt. He was named Jackie Theodore Robinson. Quite a name to live up to – and he did!

Bravery was something that did not come immediately to Jackie. But, at the age of eight, he found his voice when a young girl called him a name – AND the girl’s father got into the fray. A fight began – yet that is never a solution; at least not a rock fight!

Told in the first person, sports and winning were what fueled Jackie’s passion for achievement. And it was here, at least initially, where the color of his skin did not wholly define him.

But it’s a huge leap from the sandlot to the floodlights of a Major League Baseball field.

Living in a mixed neighborhood, his mother gave Jackie a phrase that would carry him through many an angry confrontation on the field – “When you do something good, it brings out the good in others.”

At UCLA he was the first student EVER to win letter in four sports – football, baseball, basketball and track.

Then the call came – from Branch Rickey.

Jackie had guts and what we used to call “gumption”, as he embarked on being a historic first in the world of professional baseball. He did it with grace, style and a first home run of 340 feet! Scoring and stealing home became his trademarks with a professionalism that stood the test of racial epithets.

It’s hard to go first in any field against opposition, but it IS essential to lead by example. Jackie Robinson did both.

So as Spring Training starts, and African American History Month closes out for 2015, it’s batter up for this great picture book called, “I Am Jackie Robinson.” It’s both a “hit out of the park” for Jackie, and for your young reader.

Jackie Robinson defined what is possible if one has the talent, timing, technique and tenacity to reach a goal. It can be done!  

 

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2029246-mlbs-african-american-superstars-discuss-jackie-robinsons-impact    

 

 

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14. Interview and Giveaway: Elizabeth Harmon, Author of Pairing Off

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Elizabeth!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Creative, energetic, sociable, easily-distracted, short

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Pairing Off?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Absolutely! A great way to describe my debut novel, “Pairing Off” is that it’s like “The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist. It’s the story of a pairs figure skating duo who team up to train for the Olympics and fall in love in the process. What makes it different from TCE is that it’s set mostly in Russia and the hero is Russian.  He’s also a champion pairs figure skater, rather than a hockey guy recruited at the last minute. Anton did play hockey as a kid though, and was proud to have the best double toe loop jump of any goalie in the youth league.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Elizabeth Harmon] One of the most romantic scenes is when Carrie and Anton skate on a moonlit pond in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Their relationship has deepened but they’ve not yet crossed the line from friend-zone into something more.  I love the romantic setting, the sexual tension between Carrie and Anton, and also the details about the cold night, tinny music and the little crowd who applauds after watching this champion-level pair skate together.  Watching skilled pair skaters do their stuff live is really amazing, especially when it’s impromptu, as this skate is.  I also love Anton’s little comment to Carrie at the end, when he says, “guess we’re pretty good.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Getting to know Russia and Russians, both through my own research and with the help of a Moscow-based blogger and his wife, who proved to be an invaluable resource. As an American, we don’t always get the most favorable impressions of Russia and it was great to be able to connect with two Russians who were so generous with their time and excited to see the city they love used as the setting for a light, fun romance.  Corresponding with them also helped me create the cadence of Anton’s speech, and helping them edit an English-language cookbook gave me some insights into Russian home-cooking. The descriptions of fish pie and syrniki in Pairing Off were inspired by their family recipes. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Something to read, because you never know when you’re going to be stuck waiting, as well as something to write with and on, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Pictures of my family, today’s to-do list, and my cat, who loves to lay (and walk!) on my laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Elizabeth Harmon] For late night writing, nothing beats popcorn– NOT the microwaved stuff, but the real kind cooked on the stove, and tossed with butter, parmesan and salt.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Just one day? Probably an average person living in either ancient or medieval times. I think it would be fascinating to experience these worlds, but not live there long term, especially not as a woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Elizabeth Harmon] There are a lot of powers I’d love to have, but surrendering them after a week would be so hard! I would choose teleportation, the ability to travel anywhere instantly. I’d make a list of all the places I’d love to visit, but are difficult to actually travel to and hit all of them during that one week. As a writer, this would be an amazing experience.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Fiction-wise, I loved “The Haunting of Maddie Clare,” which was beautifully written, and scary– kind of “Downton Abbey” meets “The Ring” if you can imagine that.  I also enjoyed “ICE Blue,” a Chicago-set romantic suspense novel by Susan Rae. It’s the second book in her DeLuca family series and the latest installment is on my TBR list.

Since I’m in the midst of turning my National Novel Writing Month first draft into the third book in the Red Hot Russians series, I’ve been reading my favorite writing books which I always turn to at revision time. One the best is James Scott Bell’s “Revision and Self-Editing,” which takes the big scary revision monster and turns it into something manageable, as well as offering great ideas to develop characters and setting. Writing isn’t an easy job, but so much fun, because you’re always learning and improving.

Pairing Off
Red Hot Russians # 1

By: Elizabeth Harmon

Releasing February 2, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

A scandal-plagued American figure skater’s last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia’s sexiest male skater…who happens to be the first man she ever loved.

“The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist.

American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/pairing-off-red-hot-russians-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23440537-pairing-off?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/141555-red-hot-russians

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I’m a happy girl.

I read a variety of genres– romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.

When I’m not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Excerpt:

This is it…I’m going to die.

Carrie clutched the back of the sticky vinyl seat and braced for the end. She hadn’t imagined she’d meet it speeding down a Moscow highway in a small, vomit-scented taxicab.

“Slow down!” she shouted, but it was useless. The driver spoke almost no English. She knew three words of Russian. Desperately, she tried to remember one. “Pozhalujsta! Please! Slow! Gooo sloooow!” She gestured with raised, outstretched hands.

The driver glanced back. “Chto?”

Thank God, he’d understood. “Yes! Slow!”

Instead, she was thrown back against the seat as he darted into a tiny gap between an 18-wheeler and a sinister, black Lexus SUV with tinted windows. The Lexus honked its displeasure. Wind whipped through the open windows, blowing her hair into her eyes and mouth. As they rocketed past the warehouses, office buildings and apartment blocks that lined Kashirskoe Highway, Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky blasted from the rear speakers.

When I die and they lay me to rest…”

Nice music. What was next, Death Cab for Cutie? From behind, a shadow loomed. She turned to see the Lexus bearing down.

The cabdriver saw it too. Yelling, he gestured out the window with a raised middle finger and shot back into the center lane, just missing the front bumper of a cement mixer. More horns honked. She yelped and covered her eyes. It was best not to look.

She could have waited for a legitimate cab, but her flight landed late, Customs took forever and the line at the taxi-booking desk inched forward at a glacial pace. When two German-speaking business types left the official line and gravitated toward the motley fleet of private cabs parked outside, she’d followed. The driver, a friendly guy in a faded Beatles T-shirt and Yankees cap, promised in very broken English to get her downtown by 3:00, or 15:00 as it was known here, no problem.

She should have mentioned that alive would be nice too.

She was rocked by another wild swerve, followed by more horns and Russian swear words. Then, the cab slowed. She peeked between her fingers. They were on an exit ramp. The tense knot between her shoulders relaxed, and she glanced at her watch. Two forty-five. Miraculously, she’d survived, and was right on time to meet her new coach.

A little smile tugged at her lips. For the first time in a long time, things were looking up. They parked in front of an old red brick building in an industrial area near a river. A concrete medallion of a hammer and sickle loomed above the door, but the geranium-filled urns flanking the front steps were a nice touch.

The driver turned in his seat and tugged his ragged ballcap, ready for his fare. Carrie reached into her purse, her fingers brushed against the clasp of her wallet. At the airport, they’d agreed on one hundred U.S. dollars, but that was before he’d almost killed her. She shifted her gaze from his expectant, gap-toothed smile, to the dirty windshield. The peeling dashboard. The items attached to the sun visor with rubber bands. A pencil and notepad. A packet of tissues. School photos of two little girls.

The driver pointed to the pictures and his smile grew wider. “Moi docheri.”

His daughters. The pride in his voice required no translation. This man supported a family with his beat-up, smelly taxi. She counted out five twenties, and added an extra as a tip. “Spasibo,” she said. A Southern girl always knew the words for please and thank you.

As the driver carted her bags inside, she reread Galina Borisova’s email, shaking her head in wonder. American skating had shunned her, fans had turned their backs, yet here was the official paperwork confirming that someone—a Russian coach of all people—still thought Carrie was worthy of her time.

In the rink’s lobby, she bit back disappointment. This looked more like a neighborhood hangout than an elite training facility. Why was she surprised? Galina was a minor coach who’d gotten lucky and discovered Olga Zelenskaya, one of skating’s stars in the making. After winning silver at Worlds in Halifax this spring, Olga and her partner, Anton, had no doubt left to train with a top-level coach, leaving Galina to cast her net for new skaters. That she was willing to take on the pariah of American figure skating proved how desperate she must be.

Good thing Carrie’s expectations were modest. Since no one in North America would partner with her, she’d team up with a reasonably skilled Russian leftover, and find something low-profile to fill the days—maybe a cruise ship ice show—while she figured out what to do with the rest of her life.

In one corner of the rink’s lobby were wooden benches and day lockers, in the other, a shuttered blade-sharpening counter. At the rear of the lobby was a concession stand, also closed. The faint, fried aroma that hung in the air brought a memory of corn dogs. And just like that, she was ten years old, gliding across the oval at the Sweetspire Ice Palace.

“Momma! Watch me land a toe loop!”

At the boards, Momma chuckled and shook her head. “You’re gonna crack your skull, baby girl.”

Not that it would have mattered. She would have been back on the ice the minute the bandages came off. Skating once made her so happy. Dare she hope that it might again?

She pressed her fingers against her lips. She wasn’t asking much, just to find the joy she lost somewhere between landing that first jump, winning—then losing—the U.S. Championship, and arriving at this run-down Moscow rink, hoping for a fresh start.

She wiped perspiration from her brow and took a zippered makeup pouch from her purse. Her hair was a snarled disaster, but she tugged out most of the tangles and dabbed powder on her shiny cheeks. She slicked her lips in Succulent Peach, dabbed on enough Calvin Klein to mask any trace of the Vomit Comet and straightened her travel-wrinkled linen skirt and silk top.

She glanced at the swinging doors that led to the rink and took a deep breath. Time to face the future.

She’d seen Galina Borisova at competitions, but they’d never been introduced. Galina looked to be in her fifties and her thin neck, sharp features and spiky bleached blond hair, tinted pink on the ends, brought to mind a flamingo. Her dark eyes and brows suggested neither blond nor pink were her natural shade.

“It is well to meet you. Flight was agreeable, yes?” Galina’s accent was so heavy, Carrie struggled to understand. The ancient Zamboni rumbling past on the ice didn’t help.

“Yes. Spasibo. As I said before, I want to reimburse you for the airfare. I know it was very expensive.”

Galina waved the offer away. “Money is made to be spent. I consider investment. I wish you had let me arrange pickup car.”

“Really, that’s fine. You’ve been more than generous.” The Russian coach’s willingness to pay for and arrange everything now seemed too good to be true. Didn’t Dad always say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” She had the feeling she’d just flown six thousand miles to see him proven right. “I’m excited to begin training. I was a big admirer of your work with Zelenskaya and Belikov.”

Galina gazed wistfully at the departing Zamboni and the glistening ice left in its wake. “Olga and Anton were once-in-lifetime pair. Every coach should have good fortune to work with skaters so talented.”

Carrie offered a sympathetic smile. Losing her longtime students must have been heartbreaking for Galina. “Well, I’m no Olga Zelenskaya, but I’ve also been quite successful.”

Galina thinned her lips. “In your way. But we all must move forward, not live in past, yes?”

She bobbed her head, as her cheeks grew warm. Just how successful she’d been was the subject of ongoing debate. From the corner of her eye, she spotted someone doing warm-up stretches on the opposite side of the rink. “Is that my new partner? Your emails didn’t provide much information.”

A tall, dark-haired man skated out. Fast and athletic, he stroked halfway around, then cut toward center ice, launching himself into a double axel. After a confident landing, he glided into the far corner and did a camel spin, rotating with perfect form, his muscular body in flawless, T-shaped alignment over the ice.

Carrie caught her breath, but it wasn’t his beautiful skating that made her heart race. “Oh. My. God.”

“Yes, this must be good news for you. Antosha!” Galina waved, beckoning him over.

Carrie grasped the rink board to ground herself in reality, shaking even more than in the cab. This couldn’t be happening. But incredibly, it was. Her new skating partner was Anton Belikov, World silver medalist…and the first man she’d ever made love to.

He gave a polite nod, but didn’t smile. “Hello, Carrie. Welcome to Moscow.”

How could this be? He belonged with Olga, training at a top rink with a top coach. Not here, with a second-rate coach and skating with…her! She gaped and shook her head. “What are you doing here?”

His brows lifted in surprise. “You don’t keep up with news of your sport?”

Under normal circumstances yes, but these past months she’d avoided as much contact as possible with the outside world and especially the skating world. Galina crossed her arms. “Olga has teamed with Valentin Egorov. You are to be her replacement.”

She grasped the board tighter, as her out-of-control life spun into orbit. “That’s impossible.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Galina said. “You will train with me, and partner with one of world’s top male pair skaters. I cannot see how this is bad thing.”

Well gosh, for starters, she knew how he looked naked. Damn good, if memory served. Though seven years had passed since that night, this wasn’t an ideal start to a professional partnership. Even if he and Olga no longer skated together, she assumed they were still an off-ice couple. She searched his eyes for any sign of recognition. There was none. Was she relieved, or disappointed?

And how was it that Galina had simply decided to pair her with Anton, without even a tryout? Skaters were matched after weeks of evaluation, like dating before you were engaged. This felt more like a quickie Vegas wedding. She shook her head, as if that might clear her addled brain. This was ridiculous. They couldn’t possibly skate together. “We’re very different,” she began. “Olga’s delicate and artistic. I’m more of a jumper. An acrobat.”

Anton nodded. “You and Olga are different. But with right coach…and right partner, you could be champion again.”

His smile was much too attractive. Straight, perfect teeth gleamed against tawny skin dusted with the shadow of late afternoon stubble. She flashed back to that smile shining brightly in a stranger’s dim bedroom, as Anton gazed down and gently stroked her face. She crossed her arms over her chest as her cheeks burned hot and she let out a harsh laugh.

“Well, bless your heart.” The damn drawl slipped out, the way it always seemed to when she was nervous. “This is all very flattering but I’m afraid we can’t compete together. I’m an American. I’m not eligible.”

Galina spoke up. “Under international rules, you are eligible by permission to compete for us one year after date of your last competition for United States. Since you never skated at World Championship, your last competition was U.S. Nationals and this year, Russian Nationals begin exactly three days after one-year date. Our skating federation has contacted yours and both are willing to grant permission.”

Wasn’t that nice of them? Normally, a top-tier skater wouldn’t be released to compete for another country so easily. American figure skating was clearly anxious to be rid of her.

“As for citizenships,” Galina continued, “you can be both American and Russian. Becoming citizen here normally takes long time, but our government can be most accommodating when dreams of gold medals are at stake. Now then, shall we get to work?”

Carrie stared. Her hands fell to her sides. These two weren’t talking cruise ships. “Lake Placid is in less than seven months! You can’t be serious.”

But the Russians looked dead serious. Anton shrugged. “Not ideal situation, but neither of us is beginner. I am World medalist. You were U.S. champion.”

“Only because my partner slept with a judge!”

“Is that what you think?”

She gave a bitter laugh. “What difference does it make? Everyone else thinks so.” “Maybe you have something to prove, then?” His deep, exotic voice sent a shiver up her spine.

God, it was tempting. She’d been so close to her dream of competing at the Winter Games, only to see it snatched away. Here was another chance. Maybe, if she could salvage her career and restore her reputation, she could finally hold her head up. The public would forgive her. Dad would forgive her.

Was this the opportunity of a lifetime…or a disaster waiting to happen?

Just as she had skating dreams, Dad had political dreams; to win Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this fall…then in a few years, maybe run for president. The Cody scandal had embarrassed him, and as much as it hurt that he’d done nothing to defend her publicly, she understood. His political opponents had slobbered over images of Les Parker’s cheating daughter like dogs with new bones.

Imagine how they would react to her turning Russian so she could compete in Lake Placid.

And suppose Anton suddenly remembered their night in Amsterdam? True, she’d had jet-black hair at the time, and been hidden behind those silly sunglasses she and the other Silverettes wore when they snuck out after curfew. Back then, she’d still talked like Scarlett O’Hara too. But hey, it could happen. How would he feel about skating with a girl he’d deflowered, even if it meant nothing? Nothing to him, anyway.

Besides, who was she kidding? She didn’t belong here. The Russians ruled figure skating—especially pair skating—like the popular kids ruled the school cafeteria. She’d been the queen of that lunch table in high school, and if you didn’t belong there, you didn’t try to sit down. She’d lost her seat in spectacular fashion and now the quarterback wanted to take her to prom.

This was too weird for words, and she’d had enough weird to last a lifetime.

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15. Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lynda!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lynda Aicher] Driven. Direct. Loyal. Analytical. Serious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Game Play?

[Lynda Aicher] Game Play is the first book in my new Power Play series and follows the Glaciers professional hockey team. Young, professional hockey player, Dylan Rylie, meets his match in Samantha Yates, a hockey star in her own right. The heat between them is as hot off the ice as it is on, but her career is at a forced end and his still rising which is hard for Samantha to accept. Dylan has to win her over while still allowing Samantha to follow her own path.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Lynda Aicher] Ooh… The office sex scene ranks pretty high for me. Lol. But I also like the quieter moments when they’re really learning about each other. I love seeing them both open up to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Lynda Aicher] I had to learn A LOT about the details behind the game of hockey. I do enjoy learning new things though, so that was both arduous and fun. I can now say I know more about the details behind the sport than I ever thought I wanted to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Lynda Aicher] Excedrin Migraine. Seriously. I get bad tension headaches and two of those will stop a headache before it gets awful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Lynda Aicher] Slim Jims. Water bottle. Thank you cards (I still have to fill out from Christmas).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Lynda Aicher] Beef Jerky and Mountain Dew. Newly added to the list is Dried Roasted Spicy Seaweed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Lynda Aicher] ??? I have no clue. None. Sorry. I guess I like being me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Lynda Aicher] It would always be teleporting. I would go everywhere and see as many different places as possible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Lynda Aicher] The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes; No Place That Far by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov; The Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon; The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas. I’m reading exclusively Male/Male right now, just so you know.

Game Play
Power Play # 1

By: Lynda Aicher

Releasing February 16th, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

One night, one time, nothing more. That’s all it was supposed to be. They’d agreed their first night together would be their only night together—and Minnesota Glaciers defenseman Dylan Rylie was fine with that. Giant hickeys and claw marks on his ass had never been his style, even if the very memory of Samantha Yates’s merciless sexual energy gets him hard within seconds. He needs to focus on getting a better contract, not mind-blowing orgasms.

One night, one time, nothing more. Fresh off representing the US at the Games and with nowhere else to play, Samantha gave in to one night of frantic passion with the Glaciers’ brawny hotshot. She couldn’t get hurt—not if she controlled the outcome. And she planned to leave Minnesota soon, anyway. She didn’t expect to be recruited to coach Dylan after they’d gotten down and dirty.

When brutal on-ice workouts lead to kinky locker room sessions and “one night” falls by the wayside, Samantha insists on keeping things casual, despite Dylan’s quiet hope for more. But when Dylan goes down—hard—and his career is in jeopardy, Samantha is the first one by his side. What will it take to keep her there after he’s healed?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/game-play-power-play-1-by-lynda-aicher.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23289990-game-play?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | Kobo | iTunes

Author Info

Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. After years of weekly travel implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties as a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. Find her at: http://lyndaaicher.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Timing was everything, and she waited for her moment to kick up some fun on an otherwise blasé event. The charity that donated hockey equipment to kids from military families was a great cause that would benefit from a little show. At least, that was what she told herself.

“Don’t be stupid,” Meg warned in her ear.

“Why not?” Sam asked. “What do I have to lose?” Absolutely nothing. She’d never do anything to smear her name, but it wasn’t like she had a hockey career to worry about. Or a coach she was accountable to.

Or a reason to behave.

Rylie was spending as much time tipping his trademark worn brown cowboy hat at the passing women as he was paying attention to the kids looking for pointers. The ends of his brown hair curled over the back of the gray hoodie he’d worn under his jersey and seemed to match his hat color almost perfectly. Too perfectly.

Nicknamed Cowboy within the hockey world, he was dubbed Pretty Boy as well. The second label was coined his rookie season by a sports announcer and as far as Sam had heard and seen, the man cultivated both brands equally.

“Hi, Rylie,” a group of teenage girls dressed in skinny jeans and overdone makeup chorused as they skated past. Rylie shot them a nod and grin that somehow managed to be appropriate for the age of the girls.

Sam shook her head and chuckled at his easy charm. The guy had it all. Talent, looks, personality—he was a star in the making. One full of potential if he didn’t get distracted by the fame and parties he seemed to enjoy.

Walters smacked the puck toward Rylie, and Sam broke through the kids to swoop across the ice and steal the puck from the preoccupied man. A cheer went up from the kids when she circled the pro player, puck firmly in her control. The air chilled her cheeks and laughter rang in her ears as she sped away.

A quick glance over her shoulder showed Rylie chasing her, the determined pull of his brows blending with a full smile that somehow managed to put a matching one on her face. She caught sight of Meg and passed the puck off before she stopped then took off in the direction she’d just come from.

The circle of kids widened as Walters got into the play, tailing Meg. She swooped around a group of unsuspecting adults, using them as a pick to cut off Walters, and she smacked the puck back to Sam.

“Think you’re hot stuff, do you, Yates?” Rylie was at her side, jabbing his stick at the puck with no effect. She was under no illusion the man knew who she was. Her name was printed in big letters across the back of her jersey.

“Just having some fun.” She cut a sharp circle and faced off Rylie, who skidded to a quick stop.

He tapped his stick on the ice, an indulgent half smile on his lips. “Come on then.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You and me to the net.”

Her stomach did an unwanted flip when his eyes landed back on her. An interesting mix of brown and green, they seemed to dance with the same excitement that flooded her. The challenge was exactly what she’d wanted and his proposition was the best offer she’d had in months. On or off the ice.

“You are so on,” she said, grinning.

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The post Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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16. The Manager, by Caroline Stellings | Book Review

This funny novel is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Ellie, but the real star is her older sister Tina. They live in Whitney Pier over the gym where their father, a former boxer, trains aspiring boxers.

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17. Guest Post and Giveaway: Katie Rose, Author of Too Hot to Handle

Katie Rose dropped by the virtual offices to share a guest post. Don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway below!

TOP FIVE THINGS YOU WON’T FIND IN JAKE’S LOCKER by Katie Rose

So Jake Baldwin, the talented shortstop for the New Jersey Sonics, is a bit of a ladies man as well as a local heartthrob. He has a group of fans that follow him everywhere, bikini clad women known as Baldwin’s Beauties. He also has a gorgeous girlfriend, Nikki Case, who owns her own PR firm and knows how to deal with Jake.

And Jake is a guy’s guy. He loves beer, practical jokes, and winning. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but in spite of his lighthearted approach to life, he is the real deal. He takes care of his girlfriend, his mother, and is mentoring a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

So Jake does not have the following things in his locker:

  1. Girly Magazines. He used to have a primo collection of Playboy, Hustler, etc. But now that he has Nikki, he has more than enough sex, and his own poster girl.

  2. PEDS. Jake has no need for performance enhancing substances of any kind. Enough said.

  3. Rosary beads, rabbit’s foot, or a four leaf clover. Some of the players in the National League are superstitious and have religious artifacts, charms, a special glove, or a trophy from a girlfriend to bring them good fortune. Jake has none of this stuff. He doesn’t believe in luck; he believes in work. He does, however, have his own odd collection in his locker: shaving cream, champagne, peanuts, and condoms. These things are for pranks. And if there is one thing Jake is really good at, besides sex, it’s practical jokes.

  4. His old jersey. Jake lost number 11 in a bet over Nikki. He has never looked back, and considers himself the winner, not the loser.

  5. Flowery cologne. The Sonics used this to prank a player in book 3, IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT. But it wasn’t in his locker. It was in Chases’.

As the leadoff hitter, Jake really is the heart of the team. He gets the momentum going, inspires the players around him, and knows how to take a joke as well as deliver one. He knows that laughter is a way of dealing with stress, making disappointment seem lighter, and helping the players put a loss in perspective. But he is also a man they can count on. He exemplifies everything good about the Sonics: the team spirit, the sense of joy, dedication and hard work.

And as far as his locker goes, he loses it completely in book 3. And since it is Jake we are talking about, he doesn’t look back. After all, he now has Nikki.

Too Hot to Handle
The Boys of Summer # 2

By: Katie Rose

Releasing January 27th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Katie Rose’s Boys of Summer series returns for a delicious double-header—with the story of total opposites who are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.

Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/too-hot-to-handlethe-boys-of-summer-2.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22551564-too-hot-to-handle

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/126154-the-boys-of-summer

NOTE**If you use the Pre-Set up links, you don’t have to also use the link URL’s as well, they are Pre-Linked**

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Too-Hot-Handle-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00KUQGRBU/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418316743&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=too+hot+to+handle+y+katie+rose

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/too-hot-to-handle-katie-rose/1120641382?ean=9780553390483

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/too-hot-to-handle/id887129411?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/too-hot-to-handle-the-boys-of-summer-series

Author Info

Award-winning historical author Katie Rose makes her contemporary debut with the Boys of Summer novels, Bring on the Heat and Too Hot to Handle, which combine Katie’s true loves: baseball and romance! When not watching baseball, Katie is at her lake house in New Jersey, hard at work on her next book.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads

Website: http://www.colleenquinn.net/katierose.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/historicalromanceauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCQuinn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/399542.Katie_Rose

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18. Meet Derrick Collins from Julie Brannagh’s Holding Holly and Giveaway

 

Please give a warm welcome to Derrick Collins this morning!

I’m Derrick Collins. I have been playing football since my daddy put my brother and me into Pee-Wee. I currently play for the Seattle Sharks. When I’m not playing football, I spend time with my Holly.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Derrick Collins] Driven, passionate, fun-loving, happy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in your life?

[Derrick Collins] I get out of bed as late as possible before I have to be at practice. The other six months a year I get up as late as possible. Holly is awake (and happy about it) when the sun is up.

The rest of my day goes like this. I do some lifting, take care of whatever it is that needs to be done, and then I go home and spend some time with the women in my life – my wife, my mama and my grandma. My little bro is home from Afghanistan for good, so we play video games or do some work around Mama and Grandma’s place when he has some free time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Holly?

[Derrick Collins] She’s caring, compassionate, and loving. She thinks about other people before she thinks of herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s her most appealing quality?

[Derrick Collins] She knows everything about me and loves me anyway. And that makes me the luckiest guy in the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What just drives you nuts about her?

[Derrick Collins] Did I mention she’s up when the sun is? I can’t be too mad, though. My beautiful wife is teaching me to love mornings.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Derrick Collins] I would have met Holly sooner.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Derrick Collins] My phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less

[Derrick Collins] Health, happiness, wealth, and Holly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Holding Holly
Love and Football # 4.5

By: Julie Brannagh

Releasing December 2nd, 2014

Avon

Holly Reynolds has a secret. Make that two. The first involves upholding her grandmother’s hobby answering Dear Santa letters from dozens of local school children. The second…well, he just came strolling in the door.

For the last two years, Holly has not been able to stop thinking about gorgeous Seattle Shark Derrick Collins. His on-field exploits induce nightmares in quarterbacks across the NFL, but she knows he has a heart of gold.

Derrick has never met a woman he wants to bring home to meet his family, mostly because he keeps picking the wrong ones-until he runs into sweet, shy Holly Reynolds. Different than anyone he’s ever known, Derrick realizes she might just be everything he needs.

When he discovers her holiday letter writing, he is determined to play Santa too. And as the pair team up to bring joy to one little boy very much in need, they discover the most precious Christmas gift of all: love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/10/holding-holly-love-and-football-45-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21805398-holding-holly?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Holly-Love-Football-Novella-ebook/dp/B00JDKBU0M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414528607&sr=8-1&keywords=Holding+holly

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holding-holly-julie-brannagh/1119887866?ean=9780062363862

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/holding-holly/id852752781?mt=11

Author Info

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.

When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.juliebrannagh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieBrannagh
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julieinduvall
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7127296.Julie_Brannagh

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19. Guest Post and Giveaway: Julie Brannagh, Author of Covering Kendall

Please give a warm welcome to Julie Brannagh!  She’s here to share a Top Ten list about Drew, her hunky hero from Covering Kendall.

The top five ways Drew McCoy of COVERING KENDALL unwinds after a game

Drew’s workplace isn’t a cubicle in an office or on a construction site. He spends his Sunday afternoons from September until February each year playing in front of 70,000+ screaming fans. Drew loves what he does, but it’s tough for him (and many other pro football players!) to unwind after a game. Here’s the top five things Drew might be doing shortly after he walks through the front door of his house on a Sunday night…

  1. Drew’s a little hungry after chasing some other team’s quarterback around Sharks Stadium for three hours. As a result, he might be out for dinner with one or more of his teammates.

Zach Anderson stopped by his locker as Drew picked up the overnight bag he brought to home games.

Hey, come on out with us. We’re going to Jak’s Grill in Laurelhurst. Cameron’s meeting us there, too,” Zach said. He grinned at Drew. “You know you want a big, juicy steak and a beer.”

It sounds great, but I think I’m going to have to pass this time.”

Other plans, huh?”

You could say that. Give your woman a hug from me.” Drew got to his feet and gave Zach an elaborate handshake. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

  1. Drew loves to read. He owns an e-reader, but prefers the feeling of a book in his hands. A comfortable chair and a new book might be just the thing he needs right now.

Drew stopped on the way home and picked up a to-go dinner. He’d watch some mindless TV, have a beer, and go to bed early with the book Kendall had given him.

He pulled into his garage, disabled the alarm system, and walked into his house. He dropped the overnight bag in his laundry room. He’d unpack it later. He moved through the kitchen and turned into the hallway by his front door to scoop up the book he wanted to start reading.

As he picked up the plastic bag with the two books, he heard a phone ringing. He unfurled the top of the bag, pulled the phone out, hit “talk,” and said, “Hello?”

Is this Drew? It’s Kendall Tracy. You have my phone.”

  1. Maybe a visit to a warm, sunny climate might improve his mood.

Drew rubbed his hand over his face and let out a groan. His concern about how he could return her phone in the most convenient way possible wasn’t self-serving at all. It had nothing to do with wanting to see her again, or spend a few more minutes chatting and laughing together. He’d go to the same lengths for anyone else.

He shook his head and muttered, “No, I wouldn’t.”

  1. Drew McCoy: Overgrown Boy Scout to the rescue.

She moved back, pulling the door open enough for him to step inside. He moved over the threshold into her house. They were still staring at each other, and she licked her lips. He tried and discarded twenty things to say to her in his head. Maybe he should keep things light. He reached into his pocket, pulled out her cell phone, and handed it to her.

I believe this belongs to you,” he joked.

Her fingertips lingered as she took the phone out of his hand. He felt the tingle all the way up his arm.

  1. If all else fails, a visit from someone special might work.

Drew was interested in watching the TV program, but he couldn’t stay awake. It had been a long day. He usually was in bed by ten on game days. He held up his phone to see what time it was: Ten forty-four. Hopefully, his mom and dad were sleeping now. He shoved his phone back into his pocket and heard someone knocking on his front door.

It was pretty freaking late for the guys to drop by and see if the cake was all gone. Maybe one of them left their phone at his house. He hurried to the front door and looked through the peephole.

Kendall looked back at him.

Drew has a few more ways of unwinding after a game. You’ll have to read COVERING KENDALL to find out what they might be!

Again, thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and Go Sharks!

Covering Kendall

Love and Football # 4

By: Julie Brannagh

October 21, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Blurb

Kendall Tracy, General Manager of the San Francisco Miners, is not one for rash decisions or one-night stands. But when she finds herself alone in a hotel room with a heart-stoppingly gorgeous man-who looks oddly familiar-Kendall throws her own rules out the window…and they blow right back into her face.

Drew McCoy should look familiar, he’s a star player for her team’s archrival the Seattle Sharks. Which would basically make Drew and Kendall the Romeo and Juliet of professional football…well, without all the dying. Not that it’s an issue. They agree to pretend their encounter never happened. Nothing good can come from it anyway, right? Drew’s not so sure.

Kendall may be all wrong, but he can’t stop thinking about her and he finds that some risks are worth taking. Because the stakes are always highest when you’re playing for keeps.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/covering-kendall-love-and-football-4-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21805397-covering-kendall?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Covering-Kendall-Love-Football-Novel-ebook/dp/B00JDKBU1Q

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/covering-kendall-julie-brannagh/1119471858?ean=9780062363817

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/covering-kendall

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/covering-kendall/id852754397?mt=11  

Author Info

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links

Website: http://www.juliebrannagh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieBrannagh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/julieinduvall
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7127296.Julie_Brannagh?from_search=true

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Julie Brannagh, Author of Covering Kendall appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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20. Here come the Yankees

It’s not easy being a Yankees fan in Boston. Just ask my husband. Or Ben Affleck. (It’s ok, son. Let it out. We won’t judge. #dothprotesttoomuch)

Here are three new children’s books that will have Yankees fans cheering. And not the Bronx cheer, either.

jeter contract Here come the YankeesDerek Jeter hung up his cleats earlier this year, and now he’s starting his own imprint. The Contract (written with Paul Mantell) is about a boy, named Derek Jeter, who chases his dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. According to an author’s note, it’s “based on some of my experiences growing up and playing baseball,” and the “theme” of the book is: “Set Your Goals High.” Third-grade Derek (the character) is remarkably — and unrealistically — self-possessed and self-aware. No matter; Jeter fans will get a kick out of this kid-version of their hero.

rivera thecloser final Here come the YankeesThe Closer by Mariano Rivera (with Sue Corbett and Wayne Coffee) is an adaptation for young readers of Mo’s memoir about growing up in a fishing village in Panama. (The attention-grabbing first line: “You don’t mess around with machetes. I learn that as a little kid…”) He works hard, gains the attention of a baseball scout, and blossoms into a baseball superstar while remaining an all-around nice guy. Didactic “Notes from Mo” inspirational-message anecdotes are interspersed. With an eight-page color-photo insert.

appel pinstripe pride Here come the YankeesPinstripe Pride: The Inside Story of the New York Yankees is a young readers’ version of the adult book Pinstripe Empire written by Marty Appel, former Yankees PR director. It’s a history of the Yankees juggernaut — the team’s highs and lows — with a little social history thrown in as well. Those Bostonians who don’t root for the home team will be happy to have this resource (though maybe throw on a paper-bag book cover if you’re going outside).

The World Series starts tonight. Needless to say, the Yanks won’t win it (neither will the Sox; it’s the Giants v. Royals), but kids can relive the memories with these Bronx Bombers books.

Bonus: here are a couple more baseball booklists.

 

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21. Review: Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Twelve year old twin brothers, Josh and Jordan Bell, are basketball players just like their father. And just like their father, they are GOOD.

Josh loves basketball and words; he is the one telling the story, in a sequence of poems organized by sections as if it were a basketball game, starting with Warm Up, moving on to First Quarter, and ultimately ending with Overtime. His father loves music, giving Josh the nickname Filthy McNasty after a favorite song.

His twin, Jordan, is JB, and loves basketball and betting.

The Crossover takes the twins through a basketball season, ending with an important game. And while this is a book about basketball and basketball players, it is also a story about brothers, a father and sons, a family. The two brothers complement each other on the court, a great pair leading their Junior High team to victory after victory. Their parents are loving but strict, with complications because their mother is also their Assistant Principal; their father, who played professional basketball, is a stay at home father who coaches his sons. And then there is a new girl in school, who Josh likes but before he can say a word, it's his brother who is dating her.

The Good: I'm on a roll of reading good books lately!

I loved Josh, his poetry, his love for his dad, his brother, basketball, words. Oh and his hair: he's proud of his locks, just like his dad wore when he played, and conflict with his brother starts when Josh loses a bet to JB -- a bet that allows JB to cut one of those locks off. There is also competition and jealousy, but those feelings are hidden deep inside Josh, only coming out in full force when JB begins dating. The feelings are so hidden, and the parents are so into reinforcing the brother bond, that these emotions are ones that Josh has a hard time understanding. Their father pushes both sons to be good basketball players, but he's individually pushing them: there is no setting one brother against the other.

If I talk more about the twins' father, it's because of the strong basketball bond between the father and sons. The father stopped playing years ago, explaining to his sons that he saved his money and is happy being with them full-time. As the twins learn, it's a bit more complicated than that: an injury ended their father's career. Health issues continue to plague the family; there's a history of hypertension, and their father has a huge distrust of doctors and hospitals so refuses to see one. (And yes there is foreshadowing there.)

One thing I really liked about The Crossover is that it's a book about two typical kids -- readers will see themselves in Josh as he struggles with his love for his brother but also his jealousy; with wanting to play basketball; enjoying being good at something; practicing to become better. Having a father who is loving and caring; a mother who is also kind and loving but knows when to be strict. Parents who value their sons' education as much as their basketball skills. It's a story played out in towns and cities everywhere.

Another Favorite Book Read in 2014!

Other reviews: The New York Times review; Stacked; Clear Eyes, Full Shelves; Bookshelves of Doom.







Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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22. The World Series Is Here…and So Is a Great Picture Book!

Becoming Babe Ruth

By Matt Tavares

 

I guess the reason I enjoyed reading this book about the life of the iconic baseball figure, Babe Ruth, was mainly because of its title. It says a great deal to children in a simple phrase and its use of the word “becoming” is very telling in itself. In addition I think the art work is very warm and emotional in that it has a real “feel” for portraying the beginnings of the life of the Babe, the big moments AND the giving back for which he was known.

No one becomes who they are “alone” – not even world class baseball idols like Babe Ruth. Even his name, “Babe” was given him by teammates, who after his hire by Jack Dunn of the Baltimore Orioles, said, “He’s one of Jack Dunn’s new babes” – shorthand for a newbie.

Babe’s early life seemed destined for trouble. Stealing, skipping school and roaming the streets filled his days until his parents, at seven years of age, take him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys on June 13, 1902. He begs for another chance, but unbeknownst to George Herman Ruth, THIS is his chance!

School seems an endless routine of church, class, work and rule following. Rule following and classes are his least favorite things. And he is homesick.

One pursuit at the school sparks his interest – baseball. A Brother Matthias can hit the heck out of the ball, over the school yard fence, not once, but again and again.

George is mesmerized. He has found his passion and his mentor. He will play in 200 games a year at the school, even in winter.

Brother Matthias teaches him how to throw a curveball, how to turn a double play, how to get a runner off at first. He learns EVERY position on the field including catcher and shortstop.

At 16, George is the biggest boy on the team – and the best. Soon he has caught the eye of Jack Dunn, owner of the minor league, Baltimore Orioles and after watching him for a 30 minute pitching demo, Jack offers the 16 year old a contract.

Two weeks later, suitcase in hand, he leaves St. Mary’s for the outside world. Newspapers start calling him “Babe Ruth” after the nickname given him by his teammates.

From the Baltimore Orioles to the Boston Red Sox where he becomes the best pitcher in baseball, his team wins the World Series in 1915, 1916 and 1918. Then, it’s to the New York Yankees and signed for an unheard of $125,000 paid for his contract, the largest sum EVER paid at that time for a baseball player.

Babe is a celebrity living the high life. But he never forgets his early start at St. Mary’s. He breaks the single-season home-run record halfway through his first season with the Yankees. Babe is dubbed “The Batterer”, “The Colossus” and “The Sultan of Swat.”

Here comes the part of the book I love and I hope kid and parents will too. St. Mary’s is demolished by a raging fire. It has all but been destroyed, but Babe has an idea. Writing a letter to Brother Matthias, Babe invites the 50 piece school band to join him “on the road” and come along with the New York Yankees on a road trip. Could you see kids reading this and imaging the thrill of such an opportunity today?

The 50 boys go to all the games and before each game, play a concert in the stands. They are called “Babe Ruth’s Boy Band” and the huge crowds attending the game are eager to contribute to the rebuilding of St. Mary’s – and they do!

And he returns to the Big Yard at the rebuilt school where he saw Brother Matthias smack the ball over the big trees again and again. But this time, The Babe does the same thing for the boys.

Matt Tavares has written a historically accurate picture of a baseball icon and honed in on one small event in a historic baseball career. BUT, he has managed to achieve more than that in “Becoming Babe Ruth.” In his “Author’s Note”, Matt states that even the seemingly superhuman Babe Ruth needed help along his journey to greatness. He needed role models that cared, along with a ton of support and guidance.

And even after his fairy tale rise to stardom, he never forgot the shoulders that he had stood on to achieve his goals – or even forming the idea of a goal to be reached.

Much has been written in eastern papers of late of the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. His   career that has recently come to a close has served as a role model of dogged determination for excellence, along with a scandal free personal life, topped off by a final game that was magical in which all the stars seemed to align.

Yet, the character and performance of Babe Ruth still stands out in its greatness, despite the weaknesses that showed themselves in his later adult life. His athletic achievement stood out, but what is remarkable is his eagerness never to forget what formed him. He wanted to provide hope for kids in orphanages, reform schools and hospitals, telling young ones that they too could achieve something in life – that good things are possible even with a rocky start.

“Becoming Babe Ruth” is a great picture book in this “play off” season to remind kids what is possible in baseball – and life, even when you’re down in the 9th inning AND bases are loaded.

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23. Guest Post and Giveaway: Collete West, Author of Game On

Please welcome Collete West to the virtual offices this morning! She’s here to share a Top 5 list, and she has an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

Top 5 Things Jilly Would Never Do on a Date by Collete West

1. Make boring, small talk.

If he’s going to say something, it’s going to be meaningful—something that’s sure to hold your interest and give you some deep insight into his character.

2. Split the check.

He might not take you to the most glamorous of locations, but he’ll be sure to pick up the tab. He likes being able to take care of his girl, but he’s going to make sure that there’s a personal touch to everything he does.

3. Get dressed up.

He will if he has to, but he’d rather not. He finds suits to be uncomfortable, especially those Italian designer varieties. He doesn’t like clothing that constricts his movements, and if it does—he’d fantasize about you taking it off him.

4. Go to trendy places.

He’s much more comfortable out of the limelight. He’s a well known ballplayer, who can’t run from being a celebrity, but he’d like to pretend that it’s possible when he’s with you. He wants you to see him as just a regular guy, and he’s happy indulging in activities that ordinary people take for granted—even something as simple as strolling down the street hand in hand.

5. Make the first move.

He’s super shy and even though he’s full of confidence on the field, it doesn’t mean he scores a lot off of it. He wants to satisfy your desires but you’ll have to encourage him to take it to the next level because Jilly’s the kind of guy who needs you to spell it out for him.

Game On

New York Kings # 3

By: Collette West

Releasing October 17th, 2014

Self-Published

Pitching phenom Bruce “Jilly” Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he’s painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin.

Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone.

Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly’s life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he’s about to become her new leading man.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/game-on-new-york-kings-3-by-collette.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22883350-game-on?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Game-Collette-West-ebook/dp/B00OHQ8ZLE

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/game-on-west-collette/1120553674?ean=2940150494725&isbn=2940150494725

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/collette-west/id830692301?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?Query=%22collette+west%22+&fcmedia=Book

Author Info

Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball’s biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette’s impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.

Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she’s not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at collette_west@yahoo.com

 

She is the author of NIGHT GAMES, GAME CHANGER and GAME ON.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Collette-West/537935442972229

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Collette_West

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7539982.Collette_West

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($10 Amazon eGift Card and, signed paperback of GAME ON)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Collete West, Author of Game On appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway: Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry

I enjoyed Midnight Games, the 2nd book in the Blue Dynasty series, so I’m happy to share an excerpt and giveaway for Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry.

 
Enter to Win
$10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
and
Signed Copy of JUST FOR CHRISTMAS NIGHT
 

 
A red-hot holiday

Pro football publicist Martha Blue has something to prove. To protect the image of the Las Vegas Slayers—and stay employed— she has to shed her party-girl reputation. Fast! So no more mistakes. No further scandals. And absolutely no falling for the one man who can give her everything she wants…and nothing of what she needs.
 
Danger and desire never mixed well for undefeated prizefighter Joaquin Ryder. A friend of the Blue family, he’s a man who knows his boundaries…boundaries he has secretly crossed only once before. Now that he’s back in Sin City to train for the biggest fight of his career, he can’t afford to let a sexy distraction like Martha put him against the ropes. Revisiting their sizzling past is something he isn’t willing to risk—until a steamy Yuletide encounter, where for just one night, they’ll surrender completely….


BUY NOW
 
 
 
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Lisa Marie Perry encounters difficult fictional men and women on a daily basis. She writes contemporary romance fiction with plenty of sizzle, energy and depth. Flawed, problematic, damaged characters are welcome. Her tales feature exciting multicultural mash-ups, sexy guy-next-door heroes and powerful larger-than-life alphas who are brought to their knees by the love of complicated women.

According to Lisa Marie, an imagination’s a terrible thing to ignore. So is a good cappuccino. After years of college, customer service gigs and a career in caregiving, she at last gave in to buying an espresso machine and writing to her imagination’s desire. She lives in America’s heartland and she has every intention of making the Colorado mountains her new stomping grounds. She drives a truck, enjoys indie rock, collects Medieval literature, watches too many comedies, has a not-so-secret love for lace and adores rugged men with a little bit of nerd.






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Excerpt:

Joaquin’s heart staggered, bearing the impact when he saw Martha waltz into the study a few steps ahead of her mother.

Some women had butts, others had asses. Martha had an ass, and it shone under the metallic gold-green fabric that fondled her slender body as she moved.

She was all bronze and shimmer and curves and long limbs, scarcely contained in a gown held together by strands of jewels.

A meaningful, appreciative glance passed between the attorneys, and Joaquin eyed them coldly.

Martha arrived at the desk, set down a shopping bag. “Merry Christmas, Pop.” She wiggled a sprig of something woven into her shiny, slicked hair.

Mistletoe. She’d tied mistletoe in her hair.

“Careful of my makeup,” she warned, offering her cheek for a kiss. To the rest of them, she said, “Excuse me, fellas, but my father insists that I knock, so—” She rapped on his desk obnoxiously.

“All right. All right.” Marshall’s smile appeared painful, but it was genuine. “Go, men. Enjoy the party.”

As the attorneys left, accepting drinks from the server waiting at his post, Joaquin approached Martha. She stood between her parents now, a treasure dangling out of his reach, a beauty out of his realm.

“Merry Christmas,” Joaquin said to her, presenting the oversize candy cane.

At the exact moment she ventured forward, suddenly near enough to taste.

Grab her face, lick into her mouth. Pull her close, drink her moans.

Rather than do it and have Tem threaten castration or Marshall call him out for a street fight, he laid the cane in her hand and murmured against her hair, “So you won’t steal mine the next time you’re in my ride.”

A snort of wry laughter or a smartass remark was expected. Not crystalline tears.

“I need to speak with my parents.” Taking the candy, she added in the silkiest whisper, “Tonight, if you want me, Joaquin, find me.”

It was the sexiest proposition he’d ever heard, or the most baffling. Either way, he left the office dazed, hard and confused.

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Just for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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25. Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit

geno smith Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit

If you are a New York Jets fan, as I am, you know that the best part about supporting this team is finding out just how awful and bizarre things can get. I know other football teams are terrible and have weird things happen, but when you throw in the New York media fishbowl, you get a special kind of magic. That magic has been on full display for the last few years with the wonderful soap opera known as The Jets Quarterback Situation. The Situation seemed to be okay for a few years (2009-10) when young Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship game TWO YEARS in a row. But then….it went pear shaped.

Sanchez and the franchise faltered in 2011 and it was revealed that flamboyant coach Rex Ryan had a tattoo of Sanchez at the same time it was discovered that Ryan liked to make rather sweet foot fetish videos with his wife. In 2012, Sanchez was joined by back-up quarterback Tim Tebow, already a sensation for his God-fueled rampage with the Bronco despite not really being able to do things like throw the ball. This led to a three ring media circus of insane proportions as model-dating Sanchez and God-loving virgin Tebow were cast as antagonists, while all they wanted to do was stand around on the sidelines pretending nothing was happening. Sanchez was eventually sidelined for keeps after being injured in the last quarter of a meaningless pre-season game, leaving Geno Smith and Michael Vick to enact this year’s version of the sacrifice of the Corn King Quarterback for bloodthirsty fans.

In his first year in 2013, Geno Smith proved to be a…work in progress. That progress was stalled entirely this year, with Smith’s skills such as they are wilting under the New York media scrutiny, and yet another drama over whether washed-up Vick should led the team. At this point the Jets are 2-11, and well on their way to one of the most futile years any fan can remember.

On Sunday the Jets lost in overtime to the Vikings, 30-24 in a game that wasn’t as close as it sounds. Although Smith didn’t have the horrific game he had on Monday night, Gang Green could only muster a bunch of field goals in five red zone attempts.

NOW, if you are really a Jets fan you know that the best part of being horrible is how the SNY analysts rip the team to shreds after every game. It’s a guilty pleasure we’ve all enjoyed for years. The current crew is a bit more mellow than the Adam Schein/Joe Klecko years, but yesterday they managed to find a new way to be critical, tearing into Smith for how he was dressed for the traditional post game press conference. Smith came out in some kind of shapeless white smock that looked like something Uncle Owen would throw on to go check on some vaporators out on the moisture farm. It’s true that it was very cold in Minnesota, and Smith was probably only trying to bundle up for the brutal 10 yard journey from the players entrance to the team bus, but that was no excuse for the SNY team. Even after the worst shellacking, Sanchez would show up for post game appearances in a suit and tie, a look that the SNY team of Brian Custer, Erik Coleman, Ray Lucas and former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff found far more suitable.

Just watch.

I hope you will forgive me for my one sports moment of the year. I added this video to the library of great jets moments such as Mark Sanchez eating a hotdog on the sidelines,

and a more recent event where he reviewed the food options available at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, where he’s playing pretty well now that he doesn’t have New York’s psychotic mind blitz coming at him on every waking moment.

Obviously, poor Geno Smith has crumbled under the pressure, and so has his closet.

4 Comments on Sports Moment: Jets QB Geno Smith hits a new low with poorly styled outfit, last added: 12/8/2014
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