(by guest blogger and dear friend K/V)

The signs were all there: anticipation and the thrill of the hunt (just imagine my increasing anxiety until I was able to locate a B&N bookshop in Manhattan – too few bookshops left there, IMHO!); the awareness of being hooked from the very beginning – “The end of her own particular world arrived early on a Tuesday morning, wrapped in brown paper and twine, sealed with a blob of red wax”; the unusual desire to lengthen the pleasure of reading by stopping before I really wanted to; the frequent re-reading of entire pages; the feeling of emptiness when the book was over; the lingering sense of bliss even days after I finished reading; the compelling need to tell someone about it... 
And what’s more, it happened AGAIN within a matter of months! I already felt that way last spring, when I devoured Joanna Bourne’s Spymasters series all in one swallow, ending with The Black Hawk. At the time, I resisted the impulse, but this time I simply couldn’t. Also because the authors I usually feel inspired to congratulate happen to be dead for a long time, centuries sometimes, and it is a privilege to be able to do so with someone who’s not only very much alive, but also friendly available to readers through her own website and even a Twitter account! What a temptation!

I have always liked Spy stories and historical novels: the addition of a bit of romance is very welcome, but not necessary. The mixture can be (it usually is) very dangerous for a writer to handle, and the models are quite hard to compare with. I’m thinking of classics like Dumas’s Opera omnia, Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles and such. That’s why I admired Ms Bourne’s ability to blend the ingredients together creating her personal mix, with the addition of witty dialogue and insightful presentation of the characters’ psychology which I have seldom (if ever) happened upon. The characters, the main ones as well as the minor, are so cleverly portrayed and expanded,  that they immediately start to grow on the reader: you can’t help actually caring for them. That’s because you can follow their thoughts, not being just a witness of their actions. Ms Bourne handles their background stories very cleverly, moving to and fro along the whole series – this is the 6th book of the series (including Her Ladyship’s Companion, because of Hawker’s ‘cameo’). Ah, Adrian: how couldn’t we love him? Looks like the Author herself can’t let him off: even if other (major) characters don’t appear in every novel, Adrian “Hawker” Hawkhurst is always there - at various stages of his interesting and complicated life – and smart, witty, lethal and good-looking as always. Not flawless, mind you: but that’s another reason why we like him.



SpellForSophia_453x680 Spell for Sophia

Sophia Perez-Hidalgo’s survival depends upon her mastering magic and the supernatural before her lawless parents and their vengeful boss catch up to her. How far must she flee to escape them forever? Sophia runs until she’s out of stolen money, then…Fate delivers her into the arms of Louisiana teen Shiloh Breaux Martine, and his grand-mère, a voodoo priestess living deep in the bayou. Breaux knows Sophia is trouble — but he’ll travel through time, battle zombies, and risk his bright future to protect her. While Ainslie, best friend extraordinaire, will jeopardize her sanity to find and aid Sophia. When friendship, magic, and love are not enough, Sophia will have to save herself. But first, she must believe she’s worth saving. Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you cannot see.  



What made you write a book about an older couple falling in love?

I belong to a Facebook group called the Clean/Sweet Romance Group. Last spring we held a joint promo event on Facebook, and afterwards the group leader challenged us to write a fall-themed short story, novella, or novel for a promo event to be held in the fall. At first I simply tried to come up with a story set during the autumn season, but then I thought, “What if I wrote a story about a couple falling in love in the autumn of their lives?” (All good plot ideas begin with “What if…?”  ) And then I remembered a pair of secondary characters who fell in love in my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart, who were in their 40s and 50s. Their romance was a very small part of the arc of that story, but I decided it would be fun to follow it up and see where their romance took them. And that became the kernel of my idea for Loving Luciannaand my Hearts in Autumn romance series. (Loving Lucianna is the first in my projected series. I have an idea for a second romance, hopefully to be completed by next fall.)

What advice would you give budding writers?

I  know this sound trite, but write. Write every day, even if it’s just 100 words. And most importantly, write whether you feel like writing or not. The best advice I ever received was from someone who said, “Real writers write even when they don’t feel like it.” That advice has gotten me through many a rough patch when I didn’t feel like writing but did it anyway. It’s the way books get finished. I may not enjoy every word that I write—some days it literally feels like pulling teeth to get 100 words on the page. But I have never once regretted “forcing” myself to write when I came back to the computer the next day and saw that I had made progress with my story instead of letting it stand still.


In The Brothers’ Keepers, we meet archaeologist Grace Madison who is in Brussels cataloguing looted antiquities when her son’s bride is attacked in Switzerland. Her day careens from bad to catastrophic when daughter Maggie disappears in France.
Coincidence is a luxury Grace cannot afford as history — saturated in espionage — is repeating itself.

The title of the book, The Brothers’ Keepers, refers to heroine Grace Madison’s determination to protect someone important to her. To what lengths would you go to protect someone you cared about?

I would do whatever it took — and I remember the exact moment I decided that! I stood at the edge of the tel Dan (northern Israel) archaeological dig pit in 2007 with my husband and two then-teenage children. They had accompanied me on an archaeological survey as part of my master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Heavy artillery fire began booming from Syria as staccato machine-gun reports peppered near the Lebanese border. An Israeli Defense Force camouflage-painted plane broke through an unseasonal cloud cover, circling the site. I hoped they could see we were unarmed! Grace Madison was born from this harrowing experience.

 The Brothers’ Keepers largely focuses on doing the right thing. Tell us about a situation in which you chose to do the right thing despite personal cost. Was it worth it?

My business was thriving, my children were young, and I had to choose between a smaller role in their lives or limiting my company’s growth. My husband was trying to transition from one career to another, and I was the family’s wage-earner.



Why this movie now? Not only to join the celebrations of  WWI 100th anniversary. At  83, one of the greatest contemporary Italian directors, Ermanno Olmi,  makes up his mind to direct a new  “useful” movie, committed and lyrical at the same time, which is a visual poem against all and any war. In “Torneranno i prati”, each frame is poetic imagery and each line is true poetry wrapped in simple, direct words. 

War is absurd and terrifying. This is something Olmi has always been convinced of, since he and his brother were made the addressees of painful war tales by their own father, a veteran from WWI, who had experienced the trenches in first person.



“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.”

It was a bit sad to be sitting in a half-empty theatre while  watching  this play,  one of George Bernard Shaw’s "Plays Unpleasant". The thought that The Eliseo is going to be closed at the end of the season, all those empty seats and what was said and performed on stage made me, in the end, quite melancholic. The "unpleasant" in the title is not a random choice. 

The cast was really good in the hard task to involve the audience in this not-at -all –easy- to - digest piece. You know, you can’t actually relate to any of the characters and you are constantly disturbed by the harshness of one or the hypocrisy of the others.



Can a TV series touch your heart and change your life? Nooo? You can only say that if  you haven't seen this one. I would have answered "no" myself before watching  it  by chance  a  few years ago. Unbelievable but true, this is what this miniseries did to thousands of viewers all over the world. If I had only suspected what a turning point   BBC NORTH AND SOUTH, would be in my life... I would have watched it earlier! Instead, I discovered  it only in the summer 2008 and it , incredibly, actually changed my life.
Exaggerating? Not a bit. I know the same happened to so many! Which other costume series had such an extraordinary response? Pride and Prejudice 1995, of course. But not many others.
Enthusiastic fans, hundreds of them, overwhelmed the BBC Drama message boards with messages about the series and,  in particular, its hero. Soon the BBC had to set up a separate message board for the discussions. The phenomenon of so many women taking to an Internet message board for the first time because of their love for this programme became the subject of an article by Anne Ashworth in The Times. She wrote: 
The BBC Drama website contains the outpourings of hundreds of thirty and fortysomething women for this year’s romantic hero. He is John Thornton, the northern millowner in Mrs Gaskell’s North & South, recently serialised on BBC One. Thornton was played smoulderingly by the previously little-known Richard Armitage as a blue-eyed, dark-haired stunner, the Darcy de nos jours. On the messageboard, character and actor merge into one object of desire: RA/JT (from http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/



Return to Chelsey FallsReturn to Chelsey Falls

After the death of his mother, fourteen year old, Wyatt Barnes was sent to live with his grandparents in Chelsey Falls, Washington. That summer was filled with new friends and new adventures until his life was turned upside down for a second time. Almost ten years later, an offer to teach at the high school in Chelsey Falls, brings Wyatt back to the small town. Is he getting a second chance to make amends with Alexa, the young woman that had befriended him? Meanwhile, Wyatt’s sudden reappearance in town sends Alexa’s life into a tailspin. Alexa can’t help but wonder if Wyatt has finally found the peace he so desperately needed. Although apprehensive about opening old wounds, Alexa knows she can’t avoid Wyatt forever. Could what started out as a crush so long ago become more than that now? Or is it just too late? Return to Chelsey Falls is a heartwarming story of second chances and forgiveness.

  Praise for the Book:

 Alisa says: Good read! I enjoyed the story and the characters. The author’s description and character development allowed the reader to get into the story easily and quickly. A fabulous clean, good story about following your heart and not giving up



Forget Me Not and Remember Me

Forget Me Not Forget Me Not

Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true. Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother's favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They're not just jewellery, they're part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery's power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device - and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she's Enemy Number One. She's forced to leave her father behind when she's taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends' lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.



My Name is Bryan
My Name is Bryan by Stacy Lynn Carroll If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? Bryan chose to dive. Moments later, as he lay on the beach, unable to move his arms or legs, two questions ran through his mind: Would he walk again? And would he ever have kids? Based on the incredible true story of life, love, and never giving up.

Praise for the book: "I plowed through his story, amazed at how he could so easily accept something that would destroy anyone else and just move forward with such a positive attitude. I don't give many 5 stars, but it's well-earned. This book really touched me. It's the kind of story that stays with you for a long time." --Amazon customer 

 "I actually love stories like this. Ones that show the power of the human spirit and what love and determination can achieve. I cried multiple times while reading this but they were a happy sort of hopeful tears. If you are looking for something uplifting and motivational read this heart-felt story of love and hope." --Inspired Kathy 

"You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wring your hands in frustration, and you won't be able to put it down to go to sleep as you keep waiting to read about Bryan's happily ever after. This is one of those books that stick with you long after you've finished reading it." --Bookmom