Tag Archives: Christmas

Unholy Night- Seth Grahame-Smith- a Review

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A mash up of the book of Luke in the Bible and a thriller. It’s gruesome in parts, funny in parts, moving in parts, and maybe partially sacrilegious. Maybe.

What an interesting idea this author had to make the three wise men into common criminals who find themselves in a situation where they are protecting a newborn baby and his parents from King Herod and his soldiers. Pontius Pilate as a young centurion makes an appearance in this tale. We also come across John the Baptist as a child.

As the story progresses, we learn more about the main protagonist, Balthazar and how he became embroiled in a life of crime. He became a legendary thief called the Ghost of Antioch. A price on his head, part of the adventure is the chase as Herod sends his men after not only all of the male children under two years of age in Judea, but sends them out to find the Antioch Ghost as he wants to kill him as well. He feels the Antioch Ghost has made a fool of him and Herod wants his revenge against the man.

Lots of violence in the story which can get a bit over the top—some gore, rape, and child murdering takes place so beware of that—but it was a lawless time for many in that era. Or maybe not lawless, but dangerous and life was easily lost with the Romans in charge of the world. Man’s inhumanity to man is pretty obvious in this story. The common man and woman really didn’t have any rights—especially the women. They were forced to do things against their wills in this strongly patriarchal society. The author touches on that in the scenes related to the harem of Herod.

If this sounds depressing, I don’t mean for it to. I liked the story and the hero’s journey was satisfying as it progressed to the ending. Balthasar had a lot of issues—some rooted way back in his past, but the reader gets to enjoy watching him grow as a person and learn that violence doesn’t have to be the answer—unless the whole Roman Army is trying to kill you…

This author has a unique voice and is very clever and creative.  This book was compelling and well written. As a lover of thrillers, I was entertained by this one. Lots of excitement, but also tender moments as well as a bit of humor mixed in. A good read if you can get past the violence and the sometimes disrespect for Mary, Joseph and the baby.  

Christmas Cocoa Murder- a Review

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This was an anthology of three stories. Carlene O’Connor wrote Christmas Cocoa Murder;   Maddie Day wrote Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse; and Alex Erickson wrote Death by Hot Cocoa.

All three stories were enjoyable. I liked the Death by Hot Cocoa one the best. I enjoyed the escape room concept and the set up was clever. I did guess who-dun-it pretty quickly, but that didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story and the rooms set up in a holiday theme in the escape room. 

The Christmas Cocoa Murder was also a really cool set up. As a fan of dunking tanks in my younger days, I loved how the author used that concept in her story—I can’t even imagine how sticky it would be to be dunked in cocoa though- *shudder* — The characters in this one were well drawn and intriguing. The mystery was well done and the nutcrackers were a neat addition to the puzzle.

My least favorite was Christmas Cocoa and a corpse. Not because the story lacked anything, it was a good concept and execution. What I didn’t care for was the nicknames – every single character had a nickname- which just seemed off-putting to me. I also didn’t enjoy the overuse of descriptions- too much detail on everything the characters wore and the settings. I know some people enjoy that, but it wasn’t my thing at all.

Overall, this was a cute set of stories and very holiday—if your holidays include murder by cocoa. 🙂

My Grandfather, a Small Tribute to Mark the Anniversary of his Death

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Henry A. Richardson

January 3, 1897-December 21, 1968

My grandfather, my mother’s father, was a kind, gentle soul. He was a soldier in WWI and worked after the war helping build the Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama as well as other projects that needed manual labor during that time period. He also did work for the WPA (Works progress Administration) during the depression. He was also a tenant farmer who worked the cotton fields. He was eventually the father of ten children. My mother was number 8. All the children worked those fields to help support the family. It was a rough life, but they were full of joy. The children all remained close as adults. We had a slew of cousins to play with for sure. The house was always filled with laughter. Loud, fun, crazy family members.

By the time I knew my grandfather, he was in his sixties. He was a quiet man who didn’t say much. They lived in an old house with no indoor plumbing. There was a well for water and four buckets sat at the back door at the kitchen. Three were for cooking and the fourth had a beat up old ladle we all drank from. It was the iciest, coldest, water ever. My grandmother had a red pump to pump water into the sink. She also had one of those clothes washers that basically ran around the room. It was fun to watch that thing. She hung all clothes to dry and sheets as well.

We didn’t spend the night with them often—we usually stayed with my dad’s parents who had a bigger house in town—but when we did, we either had to use a chamber pot or run to the outhouse past the chicken coop which was a fair distance. I think that may be where I got part of my active imagination as I ran through the night in my jammies past those chickens. I imagined all kinds of demons on my tail. And man, if you’ve never smelled the inside of an outhouse, count yourself lucky. You’ll never forget it. It is a visceral memory to me to this day.

Anyway, back to my grandfather. The year I was going to turn 8, we lived in Virginia. We traveled down for Christmas—a14 hour drive—and arrived at my dad’s parent’s house around 7 pm on the 21st of December.  My sister and I went to our room to put our suitcases down. My mother started screaming and crying so loudly, we were terrified.

We raced out to the den and found my mother hysterical.  My grandfather had to break the news to her that her father died in his sleep and her mother found him when she tried to wake him for breakfast.  He died 13 days before his 72nd birthday.

It was a terrible Christmas that year. I still remember my mother unwrapping the shirt we’d bought for him so she could take it back to the store. She helped my grandmother take back a lot of things that year. It was heartbreaking even for a little kid to see. I can’t listen to that song where the grandmother gets run over by a reindeer. Having lived a Christmas like I did that year, I can’t deal with that song.

There is a picture of me (wish I could find it as I write this) on my birthday that year sitting on the couch holding my new doll. It is a pitiful picture as I look so sad and alone.

He never said much—unless you thought you could turn the television channel because he was asleep.   He’d mumble, “I was watching that.” He didn’t get mad, but we never changed it when he said that. He always had a spittoon by his side and always wore a fedora. He also cooled his coffee by pouring it into his saucer once he’d added his cream and sugar. It made me laugh.

I could say a lot more about him and his life, but I’ll save some stories for another day. Suffice it to say, I miss him even after all this time, and for some reason, I’ve felt him close to me this year. I sense him, watching out for me, as I make my way through this tough year.

New Release – Coming Dec 23, 2017- Cowboy Boots on the Ground

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I have a new romantic suspense novel coming Dec 23 from Black Opal Books.  Here’s the cover and blurb. Stick around for an excerpt later in the week.

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  • BLURB:
    New York heiress Olivia Jacobs flees from her stepfather
    who’s trying to kill her in order to obtain her trust funds.
    Eventually landing in Texas where she buys a country bar
    she names Ollie’s, Olivia believes herself safe. Then one
    night in the bar, some thugs decide to rob the place.
    Ollivia pulls out her Stillson wrench and ends their plans.
    Unfortunately, the event goes viral and the media
    surrounds her home the next day. Her cover is blown and
    her face is all over the tabloids. Now she must run again.
    Rocky, a rancher living in the same town, offers to help
    her escape. Not quite trusting him, or the attraction she
    feel for him, she’s reluctant—that is, until her stepfather’s
    minions show up and she realizes she’s out of options.
    Now both she and Rocky are on the run from one of the
    most powerful men in New York, and things are about to
    get ugly…

Dasher and Dancer- a Flash Fiction Piece

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Here’s a bit of flash fiction for the season. It’s called Dasher and Dancer:

Dasher and Dancer

“Dude, hurry up. Time’s a’wastin’,” Rudy said.

Slamming the locker door, the other man tossed his used towel into the hamper. “I’m ready.”

“It’s about time, Dasher. We’re going to be late.”

“Why do you insist on calling me Dasher?”

“You’re the only guy I know who can run the fifty yard dash that fast. The name fits.” Rudy clapped him on the back. “I want you to meet that girl I told you about. She’s just your type. All doe-eyed and brown hair.”

“Then let’s get to that vixen’s party.”

“You don’t like me calling you Dasher but you always call my girlfriend Vixen.”

“Like you said, it fits.” The man referred to as Dasher led the way out of the gym and to the parking lot.

Soon, they arrived at the party. The house was decorated with enough lights to illuminate a small Middle Eastern village.

“I’d hate to be the one to pay your gal’s January power bill.” Dasher rang the doorbell.

“Yeah. I’m glad it’s her nickel and not mine.”

Once they were inside, Dasher glanced around at the crowd. Spying a gorgeous girl near the punch bowl, he turned to Rudy. “Who’s that chick over there with the brown hair rocking around the Christmas tree?”

“Oh her?”

“Yeah, her.”

“We call her Dancer since she’s always boogieing. She’s the one I wanted you to meet.”

“Then lead on.” Dasher followed Rudy across the room to the table laden with cookies, fudge and other sweets. There was one plate of vegetables arranged in the shape of a wreath with lettuce in a circle with tiny tomatoes and kale arranged as holly and another with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower shaped like a Christmas tree.

Glad to see at least one or two healthy foods since he had to keep in running shape, Dasher decided to ignore the snacks for the moment and concentrate on the girl. She really was pretty.

Rudy tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned to face them, Dasher sucked in a breath.  Up close, she was absolutely stunning. And doe-eyed for sure.  He held out his hand as Rudy introduced them.

When she clasped his, hers was so cool and smooth it was all he could do not to put it to his lips and kiss it as if he were from another age or another country.

“Since you’re called Dancer, would you like to dance with me?” Dasher asked.

“I’d love to.”

He was glad the band played a slow song next. That way, he didn’t have to let go of her hand.

Leading her to the area cleared for dancing, Dasher spun Dancer around the room and stared into those beautiful eyes.

As the song, Silver Bells, continued, Dancer hummed along. They moved in unison. Dasher realized she was the perfect Christmas gift for him.

He liked to dash, she liked to dance and they fit together perfectly. Both clearly loved Christmas music. They were meant to be.

THE END… OR…THE BEGINNING…

 

 

FREE! Through the 22nd!

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As a Christmas gift to my readers, I’m offering my short Christmas tale called The Thirteenth Gate free on Amazon through the 22nd.

From a review: “The Thirteenth Gate was a wonderful short story of one young girls journey to a better life. Clarissa thought there was no hope for her until Jed came into her life and let her see that all was not lost, just trust and believe! Great story for this Christmas season.”

LINK to get free. securedownload

Merry Christmas Freebie!

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From the 20th- 24th, I am offering my Christmas short story, The Thirteenth Gate, free at Amazon. Here’s the link to get your copy. I hope you’ll leave a review if you enjoy the tale.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Blurb:

Clarissa, a teen raised in foster care, runs away in the middle of a Christmas snow storm and learns valuable lessons from a mysterious old man who may hold the secret to her future.

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Available Now- The Thirteenth Gate

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It’s out in the world now. The Thirteenth Gate is a Christmas story about a runaway. It’s a magical tale.

BLURB:

Clarissa, a teen raised in foster care, runs away in the middle of a Christmas snow storm and learns valuable lessons from a mysterious old man who may hold the secret to her future.

BUY LINKsecuredownload