Legends abound

Legends abound

Legends Abound
by suzanne-svajda

Christmas Time 

(Lavender, Texas #5.5)

Kindle Edition27 pages
Published November 27,  2015

GoodReads Summary:

Not many young women are as alone in the world as twenty-two-year-old McKinley Alva who grew up in a children's home after being abandoned by her parents at an early age. Plain and shy as a child, she never was offered an adoptive home, but being quite bright was given scholarships and work opportunities to attend college. So she has a decent job, a share in an apartment, but few friends, having never learned how to relate comfortably to others. She has told her apartment mates that she'll be spending Christmas with her Aunt Ida in Iowa, a fictional relative whom she made up back in her teen years when other kids talked of their families. Prepared for a pleasant but solitary holiday with her videos and books, most of them about families and Christmas, she is literally thrown off her feet by an encounter at a grocery store with handsome young Jerry Caldecott. 
Jerry, along with his parents, spirit her off for an old-fashioned Christmas in a place she's never heard of before, Lavender, Texas where celebrating with family in the big Victorian house on Crockett Street is like stepping back in time. 
Christmas Time is an 8,000 word short story. Though an independent story, its place in the sequence of Lavender novels falls after the fifth book, 'Lavender Dreaming' and takes place just before 'Murder in Lavender', first book in the upcoming cozy mystery series.

First reactionWhat a lovely story. I only wish there were more of it! Full review on my blog later.

My Review:
McKinley Alva, or Mac to her friends, is alone in the world. No family of any kind. She even keeps her friends at a distance with a fictitious Aunt Ida. That's really alone when you don't let roommates know you don't really have anywhere to go for Christmas and you have to make up a relative. It's sad. Mac is a sad person. She lets no one in, no one close. So when she takes up with strangers, it's really strange.

Jerry and his folks literally scoop her up and whisk her off on a holiday adventure. She can't explain everything that happens, but she's hurting from her fall, so she isn't thinking straight. After awhile she stops trying to explain some things and she just enjoys herself with people who are just so warm and genuine that she can't and doesn't want to keep them at a distance. Christmas works its magic on Mac. Or is it human kindness and a bit of love, something Mac's had too little of in her life? Happiness, fun, acceptance? I gave this magical little story a 5-star rating just for the magic of it and the warm feeling it left me with. There are a few rough spots, but like other reviewers before me, I am inclined to overlook them and read other books in this series to see if the magic continues through the series, Lavender, TX by Barbara Bartholomew

I bought this in Kindle format from Amazon. This is an honest review and I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


New Years Eve!

NYE

Keeping Warm and Looking Good!

The Week Between 4

Sweaters and jeans with scarves are great looks for keeping warm and looking good!

The Week Between 5
Leggings and fuzzy tunics do it, too! Add a scarf in a great color like teal and you look great!

Choose a book from your Christmas stack, fix a cup of something hot to drink, and curl up in your favorite spot. Enjoy and look great doing it!

Cheers!
Judi and the Blue Cat

Embers (Common Law #2)

by 
GoodReads Summary:

Small town—big problems. Jericho Crewe is back in Mosely, Montana, trying to deal with police corruption, interfering feds, his newly discovered family members, and, of course, Wade Granger.

He doesn’t really need a biker war on top of it all, but as the bodies start to pile up, it becomes pretty clear that’s what he’s got. Not only that, but Wade’s involved somehow, and as soon as Wade is a part of something, things that seemed clear become cloudy.

With the feds breathing down his neck, Jericho has to find his way through Wade’s maze of half truths and manipulations. It would all be so much easier if Jericho could think straight in the other man’s presence. So much easier if their passionate past could be forgotten, and if he could be sure he’s strong enough to resist the temptation of a passionate present.


My Review:

I wish I had read the first book as well! Embers, book 2 in the Common Law series by Kate Sherwood, is pretty good. It's a psychological and emotional twister. Ms. Sherwood has you constantly trying to figure out whether or not Jericho is being manipulated by the feds, his boss, his stepmother, the biker club or his former lover. He is something of an innocent in all of this in spite of the life he has lead and his family connections.

And this is why I'd like to have read the first book. I'd like to understand his family connections and the prior happenings better. Ms. Sherwood gives us some insight into his family, but not nearly enough for me. And then there are all those different police types that don't like working together. I think reading the first book, Long Shadows (being released January 2, 2017), would go a long way to helping keep straight who some of the these people are and why they have the attitudes they do. A lot of the people in Embers first came together in Long Shadows. There is attitude to spare when they come together right from the beginning in Embers. Their attitudes seem a little overboard without any understanding of what went before.

As for the relationship between Jericho and Wade, I would say it is complicated and always has been. There seems to be a certain element of competition to it. And yet they seem to watch out for each other even when they're not together. It is a highly sexual relationship, but there really wasn't much time for their relationship in this book. I think there will be more opportunity for them in the next two books.

I'm thinking of going back and reading Long Shadows before March 6, 2017, when Darkness (book three) comes out. You know me, I always like to read a series right from the beginning.

This eARC was provided by Riptide Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Note: I now have an eARC of Long Shadows; and as soon as I have read it, will review it, and share it with you all!

Catching Up on My Christmas Reading!

Miss Kane's Christmas

by 

First ReactionWhat a sweet little read! From bah-humbug to merry ho-ho in just 154 pages. Well done! Full review later in the week on my blog.

My Review:

When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be rather corny. I mean, Miss Carol Candy Kane Claus? Sweeter than candy canes and my teeth started to hurt from so much sugar! But I quickly got over that as I started to read about the problems faced by this young woman with this sad, little family. She tries her hardest with everything she can possibly think of. She even has some friends of hers help out a bit behind the scenes. But this man is writing the ultimate Christmas sabotage book! Failure doesn't come easily for her.

Her family is very supportive of all her efforts and welcomes her home to their holiday festivities. She's been sadly missed there as she's a very active part of the whole system. In the mood for one more bit of holiday magic? Choose this little bit of it to lift you up and share Carol's holiday surprises! I gave it a 4-star rating! Read it and rate it yourself.

I bought this in Kindle format from Amazon. This is an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

A Book Give-Away!

On October 24, 2016, I did a review of a book that's being released in February. That book is called Gilded Cage by Vic James. I was recently given a paperback copy of the Advanced Reader's Edition by the publisher, DelRey Books. It's for sharing with a friend, so I'm sharing it with one of you! 

I will choose the lucky winner from all entries received between now and January 15, 2017. All you have to do is contact me at judieasley@comcast.net with the subject line GILDED CAGE. I will announce the winner on the blog on Monday, January 17, 2017.



So get your entries in!

The winner will be contacted for her address and I will ship the book when I have the address.

Rogue Magic

by 


My Review:

I felt this was an excellent debut novel! It was so fun to read and I would certainly read it again. 

Ms. Brisby has created a world where magic is outlawed and mages are controlled and registered. Each mage has a little bit different type of magic and their magic comes from within them without spells or chanting, just the force of their own will. Some mages are weak and some are very strong.

In any society where a segment of the population is controlled like this, there is abuse of the system. And this is so in this society. The silver cuffs that each registered mage must wear actually causes them pain. But no one seems to care. There is an energy shortage, so one company is using the magic from strong mages to produce electricity for cities. Remember I said that a mage's magic comes from within them, so basically this is sucking out their life force. No one really seems concerned with this. In fact, the average person seems to think the mages deserve this treatment. The population seems to have been brainwashed over time by some really good PR person. Who could that be?

Byron is the PR person for his uncle's company, which is experimenting with mages to produce electricity to make up for the energy shortage. Sound familiar? It takes a near death experience and having his life saved by a young and scared mage to change Byron's view of magic and what those of his world have been doing to mages. I don't want to give anything away, so I'm going to stop here. I recommend this to anyone who likes clean magic, the underdog winning and a sweet love story. Just a warning, this is LGBT, if that's an issue.

This eARC was provided to me by Riptide Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

The Week Between Christmas and the New Year

The week between Christmas and the New Year a lot of people take a vacation, or a staycation actually. The schools aren't in session, so all you teachers are off. The spouses of teachers usually try to take the same time off. Kids are out of school so parents try to take the time off. So there are a lot of you at home this week. What do you wear?

Well, people are still in the visiting and partying mood. And there is still lots of goodies around to eat. Look good, but keep it casual and comfortable. How about these three looks?
The Week Between

Neat jeans and a nice sweater with a lovely ombre scarf. Keep to flats this week just for the comfort.

The Week Between 2

Wool slacks and a bright blue sweater with a cozy kimono jacket over it for warmth. Again, flats that are so easy to kick off when you prop your feet up on that ottoman.

The Week Between 3

A casual look with the black jeans and charcoal silk camisole under the red plaid shirt. But the fab suede flats and fuzzy ball earrings add tiny details to keep the fun in the outfit.

Like I said, look good and be comfortable and casual. Enjoy!
Judi and the Blue Cat!

Outcome:

LGBT Portraits

by 


Photographer Tom Dingley started his #Outcome project a couple of years ago, in response to his concern at the lack of positive role models for young people on the cusp of coming out. He decided to photograph LGBT people with the attributes of their everyday life – their work, or their interests; and holding a picture of themselves as a child. The message is, no matter how hard it is growing up, no matter who you were, you become who you become, and you are amazing. Several well known people are included. Two years and several exhibitions later, this is the Outcome.

My Review:

The eARC that I received was full of typos that made reading the script and understanding what was being said difficult at times. The pictures were chopped up and distorted as well, so that spoiled the experience, too. However, what I did take away from this book was how much freer this community is in the UK than it seems in the US. The fact that one of the people in the book is an Army officer and the liaison for the LGBT members of the Army was amazing to me. That is a long way off for the US, if ever. Mr. Dingley seems to have chosen or found people from all walks of life to use in his book. He had teachers, dancers, poets, activists, airline pilots and even the first out MP and Cabinet Member in the world.

I thought the technique Mr. Dingley used of a stark white background brought the focus to the person very nicely. Also, having the person hold a picture of themselves as a child was very creative and clever. It pointed to the concept that all things change over time, "this too shall pass". It gives hope to those still struggling with their identity or with the consequences of it. And every single one of his subjects was smiling! These are happy, productive people. These are people who have adapted to what their life is and are content. This is a picture of a wonderful project. I would recommend this book to anyone (British, American or any other nationality) who is struggling with coming out. Also to anyone who is just curious about this community. Perhaps this will help you understand a bit better. And surely understanding is what we need to help relations. These are just people trying to live their lives. And these people seem to be doing it rather well.

I was provided an eARC by Arachne Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


 
by 
Kindle Edition61 pages
Published November 9,  2016, by Pronoun

GoodReads Summary:

There's no shortage of experts to cheerfully advise you on how to declutter, organize, and clean your home. But do they know what YOU want and need? Or are they only pushing rigid, quirky systems that ignore people's differences and how we really live?

With insight, wit, and common sense, "Smart Housekeeping" cuts through the clutter of questionable and often silly advice to offer practical keys to reclaiming and maintaining your home.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

Anne L. Watson is the author of a variety of works, including literary novels, soapmaking manuals, and a cookie cookbook. She is also retired from a long and honored career as a historic preservation architecture consultant. Anne "lives apart together" with her husband, fellow author, and publisher, Aaron Shepard, in Friday Harbor, Washington.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

CONTENTS

Getting Started
A Decluttering Tale
Keys to Decluttering
Step-by-Step Decluttering
Clutter Control
Keys to Organizing
Keys to Cleaning
Sharing the Load
A Few Final Keys

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

BASIC SUBJECTS

HOUSE & HOME / Cleaning, Caretaking & Organizing
SELF-HELP / Self-Management / General



My first reaction:
What a fun read! I've read other books on decluttering and housekeeping and such, but none as fun as this one. Full review soon on the blog. 5 Stars


My Review:

I have browsed so many of the decluttering books and housekeeping books on the market these days. It was pleasant to find someone who wasn't giving me a schedule and list of supplies to buy. Anne Watson writes with knowledge of the human condition and humor. No one really wants to be tied to a rigid cleaning schedule and it's no fun to live in a house that is so clean that you can't relax and put your feet up.

Her guest expert interviews are amusing. I was familiar with most of them and their opinions on housekeeping. This was a part that I enjoyed greatly. It really showed how some people can take this whole thing to the extreme and why so many people don't want to get involved with experts!

I thought her advice on how to approach the project was rather down to earth and sensible. Take your time and be realistic about how you live and what you like. You are the one who has to live in the house, so it should be to your standards, not some artificial benchmark. I really liked her attitude overall. If you are the average person who leaves your glasses, book and cup of tea on the table next to your chair while you go off to do something else, this book would probably appeal to you. This is the relaxed and realistic approach to keeping house and feeling at home in it.

I was provided an eARC of this book by Pronoun and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Winter Queen by theonly-queenregina

Winter Queen

Merry Christmas Day

Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas!
by crezenthie

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Christmas!
Judi and the Blue Cat

A little winter fun!

" Uh, Maxine, I don't think we are in Florida anymore !! "

"Uh, Maxine, I don't think we're in Florida anymore"
by kateo

Christmas is everywhere
Christmas is everywhere
by pepitarita

A caroling we go....
a caroling we go...
by lindafaulkner-adams

Atrophy (Atrophy #1)

by Jess Anastasi (Goodreads Author)
Kindle Edition329 pages
Published December 7,  2015, by Entangled: Select Otherworld

GoodReads Summary:

Twelve years on the prison planet Erebus makes a man long for death. The worst part for Tannin Everette is that he was framed for murder. He's innocent. When the ship Imojenna lands for emergency repairs, Tannin risks everything to escape...only to find himself face to face with the captain's undeniably gorgeous sister.

Zahli Sherron isn't planning on turning Tannin in. In fact, she actually believes him. Sure, he's sexy as every kind of sin, but he's no criminal—so she hides him. But no one escapes from Erebus and lives to tell about it. With every day that passes, Zahli further risks the lives of the entire crew...even as she falls in love with a man she can never have for herself.

My Review:
I read the number two book (Quantum Atrophy series #2)
in this series awhile ago and really liked it. Then a short time ago, the publisher asked if I'd like to read the third book (Diffraction Atrophy series #3) and do a review. And, of course, I said yes! I thought perhaps I should go back and read book number one so I would have the whole picture. Now I know how Mae gets involved!

Ms. Anastasia writes a pretty good sci-fi adventure. She throws in just enough of the love scene business to satisfy all but the really hardcore romantics. What I really like is that she has carried the "big picture" over into the other books to tie them together nicely. Book one has the Infamous Captain Rian Sheeron taking his crew off after the shape-shifting bad guys. These are the ones who tortured him and are now trying to take over the galaxy. But no one really believes Rian until they see one of these shape-shifting creatures die. That's when their true form is revealed, and it's kind of yucky!

This invasion and the Captain's pursuit of the shape-shifters is an ongoing theme in this series. It's a nice tie-in. Each book is the story of the individual couple, but the series' theme plays in the background (or foreground) providing the link to the rest of the series. A nice technique and very well done in this case. Ms. Anastasia has a very nice writing style.

There were a few weaknesses when characters didn't act the way I felt they should have. Mostly Rian, the captain, and his sister, Zahli. They both had a couple of very childish, impulsive moments when they basically had temper tantrums and didn't consider the consequences to themselves or anyone else. These things aside, if you like some romance and a righteous cause thrown in with your sci-fi, this series might be one for you to try out.






I find I'm really looking forward to book three!

I purchased this book from Amazon in Kindle format for full price. This is an honest review for which I am not being compensated. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley



peace & joy this christmas

peace & joy this christmas



Untitled #2885


Hi there!
Just wanted to let you know, in case you weren't sure what was up, that I am changing things up a bit for the next few weeks. First of all, I was in the mood for a bit of a change. And second of all, this will take me less time and I can spend more holiday time with my family. So, I hope none of you feel slighted at all. I'm trying to keep things fun and interesting. Do feel free to comment if things aren't what you want. Let me know if you miss something. In the meantime, enjoy the new content.

Judi and the Blue Cat

Imagine That!: Igniting Your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance

Kindle Edition, 348 pages
Published October 4, 2016, by Greenleaf Book Group Press

GoodReads Summary:

An Incredible Adventure of the Mind

In his provocative and engaging new book, Imagine That!, James Mapes shares the knowledge and experience he has gained in his thirty-plus years as a researcher, speaker, and personal coach. Well-written, engaging, and very accessible, Imagine That! is a guidebook that shows readers how to lead an exceptional life. Enhanced by exercises, in-depth research, real-life anecdotes, and URLs for relevant videos, Mapes dives deep into topics as diverse as re-framing thinking patterns, shattering a series of limiting myths, hypnosis, stretch goals, transforming fear into love, and forgiveness.

My Review:

After reading just 23% of this book, I had to stop and set the book aside. I found myself fighting what the book was telling me. I don't think I'm quite ready for this. Mr. Mapes is so immersed in his subject, and this book is totally set on changing the way you think. But I was resisting! Just reading it, without doing the exercises, I think you'll find that you start on the journey the author has prepared for you. If you continue reading, AND doing the exercises, you can't avoid falling in with the mindset the author is presenting to you.

For a person who is looking to fine tune their life, this book is probably not so forceful. To a person who has major changes to make in their life, the aspect would be much more daunting. Mr. Mapes is telling you what is wrong and what you need to change. He's also telling you how to go about changing it. Then he tells you to do this little exercise. Read this little story. Now make this adjustment in the way you think (or feel) and if you don't get it right the first time just keep practicing. You're in charge.

Well, people don't like change. In fact, most people are afraid of change, especially in themselves. So at the same time you're reading and doing exercises, you're fighting the change as well. And the author acknowledges this problem. Change is not easy and that is why this book has to be so powerful and able to sweep you along with it.

Mr. Mapes is an excellent writer. The way this book is written, it's almost like brainwashing. It'd be very easy to simply accept it. This isn't fire and brimstone, but it is a book with a very powerful message and effect. If you are looking to make your life more positive and intentional, this is certainly a book you should consider.

I was provided an eARC of this book by Greenleaf Book and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Your Christmas Table? Traditional or Modern?

traditional or modern?

Whichever style you're doing this year on your Christmas table, have a little fun with it. Make sure it shows your personality rather than just sitting there taking up table real estate.

Happy Wednesday before Christmas!
Judi and the Blue Cat

 
by 

Kindle Edition

Expected publication: January 17, 2017, by Loveswept

GoodReads Summary:

A hidden society of vampires—and the humans they love—are at the heart of this opening novel in a biting, all-original series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightwalkers saga.

Rafe DaSilva is an energy vampire, soaking up nourishment from the sun—and, only when necessary, drawing sweet sustenance from humans who are pure in body and spirit. As the right-hand man to his queen, Rafe is a key player at a historic peace summit in New York City, which will unite the vampire nations against a common threat: the sycophants, who feed on humanity and kill indiscriminately. But Rafe’s fascination with a beautiful blond police detective may put everything at risk.

Detective Renee Holden has never worked a homicide quite like this. The victim has twin puncture wounds on his neck, and the only eyewitness swears she saw a vampire. Now’s definitely not the time to get distracted by a seductive stranger. But the suave, darkly austere, exotically handsome Rafe DaSilva is a hard man to deny, and as Renee falls under his spell, she also falls prey to his enemies. Desperate to protect her, Rafe lifts the veil on a shadow realm she can only visit—a world of intoxicating power, terrifying dangers, and forbidden pleasures.


My Review:

Jacquelyn Frank wrote the Nightwalker series, which is outstanding from book one to the end. Thirst is the first book in her new series The Energy Vampires and so far, I'm not seeing the same sort of success for this new series as Nightwalkers had.

Rafe DaSilva and Renee Holden make such a sweet couple in spite of their differences. Differences you say? Well, let's see, she's human, a homicide detective, rather casual, and very cautious about men and relationships. He's an e-vampire, a high government official for his queen, very rich, formal, and has never been human. I'd say that's quite different, wouldn't you?

The story was okay. The characters weren't terribly deep, but you got to know them a bit. You got some of Renee's quirks from her friend's comments. As for energy Vampires, well they are something else. There are always good and bad in all things, so of course, there are with these Vampires. Good ones such a Rafe and his queen live the good life and take energy only from clean resources. No blood, just energy, as in your life source. Yes, people are called resources, not humans or people. Just resources. Isn't that friendly? The bad guys, sycophants, use dirty resources. A dirty resource is someone who abuses their body with poor nutrition, alcohol, and drugs.

Other than the cold folks who refer to people as resources, and the term "e-vamps", there was something else that bothered me. I really thought Renee had lost her mind when she was talking about going under cover and using drugs. I won't harp on it, but no way.

I would really like to see Ms. Frank turn this series into something really good with a second book that pulls this out of mediocre. The concept is good and I know the author has great writing skills. So, I have hope for book two. I recommend this book to Frank fans to read with an open mind and with the same hope that I have for book two. In the meantime, we can always reread the Nightwalker series.

This eARC was provided to me by Loveswept and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley

Last Trip to the Mall Before Christmas!

Last Trip to the Mall Before Christmas!

Make sure you're wearing layers and comfy shoes or boots. Go through your handbag before you leave the house and carry only what you will need. Have a list and only buy what you need. Get in and get out as quickly and easily as you can, since the mall this close to Christmas is a madhouse and very stressful! No one needs more stress right now!

Happy Tuesday before Christmas!
Judi and the Blue Cat
 
by 
Kindle Edition319 pages

Published May 13, 2015, by Black Rose Writing (first published April 23, 2015)


When Callie MacCallum sews her first quilt after the death of her lover Jack Sebring, she doesn't realize she'll be drawn into a Sebring family battle between wife and daughter-in-law. She simply wants to fulfill her promise to Jack to visit their cabin in the West Virginia mountains, where their long love affair was safely hidden.

Instead, her emotionally reminiscent trip becomes crowded with the two Sebring women, a grief counselor, and the massive role Callie assumes. She must speak for Jack in order to protect his four-year-old grandson Chad from his stubbornly manipulative and blame-passing grandmother and his recently widowed and power-usurping mother. Callie understands both women grieve the loss of Chad's father. He died when a raging storm split the tree that crushed him.

Grief isn't the only common thread running between the four women. One by one, their secrets are revealed on the West Virginia mountaintop.


I must admit to some confusion at times keeping track of whom they were speaking since there was so much family involved, two deceased husbands, but three grieving widows. And, of course, it seemed that everyone was plotting. Full review soon on my blog.

My Review:

I kept saying to myself and then out loud all through the book, "Why did they all get together in one place? These three women should never have been together in this place of all places!" But it made a really good story. It just frustrated me that they were crazy enough to try to do this!

There was a lot of tippy-toeing around and secret phone calls. Lots of conversations that couldn't be shared with more than two people. Lots of explanations that should have been made to clear up the problems before they reached the boiling point since those secrets were bound to become common knowledge sooner rather than later.

I felt outraged for what was being done to the deceased's widow. I felt sympathy for how trapped the deceased's "widow" felt bringing along this woman to the home the couple had shared together. I empathized with the counselor wanting to help these two women before she left to take care of her own problems. I felt embarrassed for the people who got dragged into the scenes as the mess was played out and all the deceit was revealed on all sides. This book really is a roller coaster of emotions in the traditions of women's lit. So if you're a fan of women's lit and roller coasters, take a look at this one.

I was provided an eARC of this book from Black Rose Writing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review.