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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: sports, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 336
1. We must try harder to stop the drug cheats

Reports of a Russian state doping programme are jarring reminders of times when victorious athletes were offered as evidence for the superiority of political ideologies. The allegations have certainly complicated aspirations to keep drugs out of the Olympics. If your state colludes in your doping then you have only to arrange to be clean around the dates of competition.

The post We must try harder to stop the drug cheats appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. B is for Bicycles, by Scott & Jannine Fitzgerald | Dedicated Review

Veteran bicycle shop owners Scott and Jannine Fitzgerald have penned a new alphabet picture book, B is for Bicycles, that is dedicated to promoting a healthy cycling lifestyle.

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3. #752 – 53 – I Can Dance and I Can Play by Betsy Snyder

I Can Dance & I Can Play Written and Illustrated by Betsy Snyder Chronicle Books       9/01/2015 978-1-4521-2929-7 and 978-1-4521-2905-1 14 pages     7” X 7”     Age infant—2 “Readers make dancers disco, tap, or pirouette and athletes splash, sprint, or score just by wiggling their fingers. But wait! There’s even more …

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4. #742 – Dino-Boarding by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott

Dino-Boarding Written by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Barry Gott Carolrhoda Books          9/01/2014 978-1-4677-0213-3 32 pages       Age 4—8 A Junior Library Guild Selection “Team Green Machine battles the Shredding Crew for dino-boarding domination! Allo and Diplo thrill the surfing crowd, while Compy comes up short on a short board. …

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5. NL East champion Mets rookies caught in Underoo controversy

It was "Rookie hazing weekend' in major league baseball, as new players were forced to undergo a rite of passage that speaks to traditional tribal notions of "crossing over" and appropriating the garb of different tribes or genders to signal their initiation into a wider role in society. Plus, guys in their underwear.

6 Comments on NL East champion Mets rookies caught in Underoo controversy, last added: 9/30/2015
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6. Football Season Arrives: A Quick Look at “Don’t Throw It to Mo!”

MissNelsonFieldI’m two-timing you, SLJ.  Yes, the ugly truth had to come out sometime.  I admit all.  You see, I’ve been blogging elsewhere.

Crazy but true?  It is, but this is a kind of blogging I’ve never really done before.  Because while my specialty is children’s literature, my new job here in Evanston, IL requires that I have a deep and abiding familiarity with books for adults.  The end result?  I’ve been occasionally blogging for EPL about adult titles.

Of course finding topics upon which to speak can be tricky.  I’m not sure what folks want to hear about, so I’ve gone the tried and true method of figuring out what people already like and then just tying the posts to those topics accordingly.  Example: Yesterday was apparently the first day of the new football season.  Do I watch football?  I do not.  Do I read about football?  I do not.  But none of that stopped me from writing a post about the newest 2015 adult titles about football in all its myriad forms.  If you know a football fanatic in your life and they have, say, a birthday coming up, this list may be of use to you in some way.

DallasTitansI cannot write posts for adults without thinking of their child equivalents, however.  And football has always been a very tricky subject in the children’s room.  Years ago a parent came in just before Thanksgiving and asked for any picture books we could hand over about football.  Not nonfiction, mind you.  Fiction.  And really, once you get beyond The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed (which Molly Ivans reviewed for The New York Times, doncha know) the pickings are slim.  I mean, there was the recent Fall Ball by Peter McCarty, Dino-Football by Lisa Wheeler, and the not so recent Miss Nelson Has a Field Day by Harry Allard, but by and large baseball has a lock on the sports/book market.

ThrowMoThis year, I was going through the usual pre-pub galleys and advanced reading copies when I saw a very slim little easy book going by the unprepossessing name of Don’t Throw It to Mo!.  It was by David Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks.  Good easy books are, I don’t need to tell you, a rarity.  The crazy thing is that as I read the story I found it original, interesting, and a really cool idea.  The whole premise is that it’s easy to fool your opponents when you’ve lowered their expectations.  Particularly if those expectations weren’t all that high to begin with.  I may have to stump for this one for a Geisel if nothing else.  It’s succinct and very cool to read.  I worry that with my reduced reviewing these days I won’t be able to get to it, so in lieu of a length diatribe, let me just say that if you choose only one football related easy book this season, let it be Adler, Ricks, and Mo himself who bring you in for a final touchdown.

Now play ball!!

(Yes, I am aware that you do not begin a football game by saying “play ball”. However, I don’t know what you do say.  “Hut hut”?  Just sayin’.)


2 Comments on Football Season Arrives: A Quick Look at “Don’t Throw It to Mo!”, last added: 9/14/2015
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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Broken Play by Samantha Kane

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Birmingham Rebels #1
Samantha Kane
Releasing Sept 1st, 2015
Perfect for fans of Shayla Black and Lexi Blake, the deeply sensual new Birmingham Rebels series introduces an unforgettable team of chiseled football gods—and the daring, provocative games they play behind closed doors.
Birmingham Rebels offensive linemen Beau Perez and Cass Zielinski are inseparable, on and off the field. Cass, the captain with the cowboy swagger, is a loose cannon. Beau, the veteran tight end, is cool under pressure. And ever since they were caught on tape in a steamy threesome, their exploits have fueled more than a few tabloid headlines—and naughty fantasies.

Marian Treadwell knows all about the video. And now that she’s the Rebels’ new assistant offensive coach, she can’t look at Beau and Cass without picturing their hard, naked bodies—with her pressed in between. Marian would like nothing more than to indulge those impulses, but she knows better than to get too close to her players, a bunch of adrenaline-fueled alpha males who don’t always follow the rules.
Just the thought of sharing the gorgeous yet guarded Marian drives Cass wild. At first, Beau isn’t sure she’s right for them . . . and lately, all he desires is a little alone time with Cass to explore their new intimacy. But it’s only a matter of time before Cass breaks through both of their defenses. Because when seduction is the game plan, he always plays to win.
Broken Play is intended for mature audiences.

“Get. In. Here.” Marian spoke in that one-word-sentence staccato that had become so popular on television and that she’d sworn she’d never imitate. Now she knew it wasn’t a choice. She was simply so mad she couldn’t get more than one word out at a time. Beau didn’t argue. He simply slid sideways in through her office door, past where she stood holding it. She started to close it, but a hand grabbed it from the hallway and pushed it open again. Cass. Of course. “Can’t I even yell at him without your presence?” she asked coldly.

“Nope. Team captain. Got to be here.” Cass turned and closed the door behind him, then leaned against it, his arms crossed, that damn cowboy hat in one hand.

“Fine,” Marian said. “Since you piss me off, too, you can share the punishment.”

“I don’t take punishment,” Cass said, his usual charming smile gone as he gave her a heated stare that made sweat pop out along her spine. “I give it.”

It took Marian a moment to get past the images that flashed through her head at that outrageous claim. “On the field, not in my office,” she said a little unsteadily.

“Anywhere I choose,” Cass told her calmly.

“Maybe I should go,” Beau said from behind her.

Marian jumped and spun around to face him. She hadn’t been paying attention. She couldn’t believe she’d let him flank her like that.

“Settle,” Cass said quietly but firmly. “There’s no threat here.”

“You just made threats,” she countered, backing up until her back hit the wall a few feet off to Cass’s left.

“No,” he said, the charm back in his voice, a sexy little drawl making it sound like Naw. “Those were promises.”

She actually felt a bead of sweat slip down her cleavage, and she shivered.

“Stop it,” Beau said. “You’re scaring her.” She glanced at him and he looked a little sad, his eyes big and golden brown, and soft with some emotion she couldn’t name. Instinctively she knew he wasn’t the threat here, which threw her into confusion. Wasn’t he the one in charge?

“I’m not scared,” she said. It was a knee-jerk reaction, something she’d said so often in the past few years—to others and to herself—that it was second nature.

Cass sort of rolled himself along the wall toward her until he was leaning over her, not quite pressed against her, his hands on either side of her head, one still holding his hat. “Good,” he said, his voice rough and heavy with wanting. “I don’t want you scared.”

She was breathing too fast. “Move your arms,” she said, and she winced at the panic in her voice.

“Cass,” Beau said. She saw his hand on Cass’s shoulder and her heart nearly beat out of her chest. She had to put her hand up to her chest and press against it to make sure it didn’t.

“You know I’d never hurt you,” Cass said softly. He turned and tossed his hat onto the couch, against the opposite wall. Then he dropped both arms to his sides. He didn’t move back, though. He stayed close enough that she could feel his heat and smell his cologne and a hint of his sweat and deodorant and laundry detergent and shampoo, all the things that combined to be Cass’s scent. She hadn’t realized she knew his smell so well. It was an odd thought and made her frown at him. He frowned back. “Don’t you?” he asked.

It took a moment to remember what he’d said. “Yes.” She did know it. But that didn’t make her heart slow down, because she wasn’t afraid of him. She was afraid of herself, and what she’d let him do if she let go.

“Yell at me.” Beau’s soft words were lost in Cass’s gaze for a second and then they sank in.

“I should,” she said, standing straighter and tugging on the hem of her shirt nervously. “What in the hell do you think you were doing out there?” She pushed on Cass’s chest, but he wouldn’t budge, so she stood on tiptoe and glared at Beau over his shoulder.

“Speaking my mind,” Beau said. He walked over and dropped down on the couch, easily within her sight, making sure not to crush Cass’s hat. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.”

“So you decide to do it on my watch?” Marian said in a strangled voice. “Gee, thanks.”

“On your watch?” Beau asked, obviously getting angry. “Now you’re my babysitter, too? Jesus, how many do I need?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cass said, turning to glare at Beau, hands on his hips.

“Don’t try to distract me with a lovers’ quarrel,” Marian warned them. “I’m still pissed about Beau’s big mouth.”

Cass slowly swung his head back around and pinned her to the wall with his stare. He had the bluest eyes, and they could go cold and hard as fast as they could turn hot and heavy-lidded. “Lovers’ quarrel?” he asked quietly. Too quietly. Marian tried to slide sideways along the wall, out of his reach.

“That’s right,” she said, full of false bravado. She thought for a second that this must be what the canary felt like before the cat pounced.

Suddenly Beau laughed loudly, a harsh bark that sounded more incredulous than amused. It broke Cass’s stare and Marian quickly moved over to lean against her desk, facing them on more solid ground. “What’s so funny?”

“We”—he gestured between him and Cass—“are not lovers. We’re friends and we fuck women together. That’s it.” He didn’t sound happy about it. Or was he unhappy that people thought they were?

“Beau.” This time it was Cass trying to yank on the leash with a warning in his voice.

“Forget it,” Beau said flatly. “I’ve come out of my shell today. I’m not crawling back in.”


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Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children, two boys and one girl. With a master’s degree in American history, she spent seven years as a high school history teacher before becoming a full-time writer and mom.

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8. I Like Your Shoes, by R. Stim | Dedicated Review

I Like Your Shoes is a suspenseful read that will satisfy audiences interested in contemporary mysteries featuring dynamic characters and inventive plots.

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9. Spotlight and Giveaway: Chasing Jillian by Julie Brannagh


This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Chasing Jillian.

Chasing Jillian
Love and Football # 5

By: Julie Brannagh

Releasing July 7, 2015

Avon Impulse


Jillian Miller likes her job working in the front office for the Seattle Sharks, but lately being surrounded by a constant parade of perfection only seems to make her own imperfections all the more obvious. She needs a change, which takes her into foreign territory: the Sharks’ workout facility after hours. The last thing she expects is a hot, grumbly god among men to be there as witness.

Star linebacker Seth Taylor had a bad day-well, a series of them recently. When he hits the Sharks’ gym to work out his frustration, he’s startled to find someone there-and even more surprised that it’s Jillian, the team owner’s administrative assistant. When he learns of Jillian’s mission to revamp her lifestyle, he finds himself volunteering to help. Something about Jillian’s beautiful smile and quick wit makes him want to stick around. She may not be like the swimsuit models he usually has on his arm, but the more time Seth spends with Jillian the harder he falls.

And as Jillian discovers that the new her is about so much more than she sees in the mirror, can she discover that happiness and love are oh-so-much better than perfect?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/chasing-jillian-love-and-football-5-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22608144-chasing-jillian?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112833-love-and-football

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

Author Info

USA Today Bestselling Author, 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



She hurried over to the laptop on the little desk in the kitchen, pulled up Google, and searched on Seth’s name. She sank into a chair while she read. He was six foot four, and she practically weighed as much as he did. Well, not quite, but still. She let out a long sigh. He was two years younger than she was. It also seemed Seth had been busy: He was single. “Very single,” according to one of the most recent fan websites she looked at. In Google Images, she found a series of photos of him with multiple tall, dark-haired women, each more gorgeous than the last.

Jillian shut the laptop lid with an irritated “click”, got up from her chair, and hurried into the bathroom. She’d stood in front of a full-length mirror so many times, but it always showed her the same thing. She wasn’t unattractive, but she could use a little more self-confidence and a lot more toning.  She wasn’t asking for physical perfection, but she’d like to make some changes. If she made a plan, started slowly and kept at it, she’d see a difference.  The biggest changes needed to start on the inside, though. Maybe if she got out a little more, she might meet a guy that was interested in her. Seth was gorgeous, but he wasn’t really in her universe. Jillian went into the kitchen, grabbed a frozen low-calorie dinner out of the freezer, ripped the cardboard lid off, and shoved it into the microwave. Dinner would taste a whole lot better if it was accompanied by half a bag of chips and some Ranch dip. But that wasn’t an option right now. She opened the refrigerator door to look for a fresh vegetable of some type.

She pushed the fridge door shut after a fruitless search and rummaged around in her apartment’s tiny pantry. She located a can of peas. Peas were good. Plus, there weren’t many calories in peas. Maybe she could fill up on them if the diet dinner didn’t cut it.

Jillian’s love-hate relationship with her body and food had started when she was little.  Most of the time, there wasn’t enough to eat. She ended up in a foster home at three years old after her mother died in a car wreck, and she was moved a few times before she entered elementary school. Things got a little better for Jillian when she was placed in a more permanent foster home, but she was still so hungry. No matter how much she ate, she wanted more.  When she was old enough to make her own money, she made sure there was more than enough, and that’s when the problems began. Even more than a diet or a new workout regime, she needed to focus on the great things in her life. She’d build a healthier lifestyle as a result. Even more than a diet or a new workout regime, change from the inside would last a lot longer. She wanted to build on the goals she’d already achieved and reach out for more of the things she wanted in life: A husband. A family. To belong.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Digital Bundle of the Love and Football Series Books 1 – 4)

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10. 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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11. 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?

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Texas Rangers Women’s Addison Slim Fit
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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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12. 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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13. 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


0 Comments on Who Would Win the Super(hero) Bowl? The Seattle Hulks or the Cleveland Things? as of 1/1/1900
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14. 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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15. GIVEAWAY: A Pocket Star EBook Kentucky Derb-E Treat! The Aspen Valley Series by Colette Auclair


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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16. 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:







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.

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

May Contain Spoilers


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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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


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



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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21. 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


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:

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


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.

 Rafflecopter Giveaway (5 eBook copies of PAIRING OFF)

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22. 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!  





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

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

Cold Fury Hockey # 2

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing February 17th, 2015



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


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.

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

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24. 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.






(c) Cricket Magazine/Carus

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25. 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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