Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review...Dancing Naked in Dixie By Lauren Clark

Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark, from
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?

Contemporary romance isn't my usual glass of wine, but once in a while, a girl likes to change things up just a bit.  Add in a little southern hospitality and the holiday season?  I'm all in.
First person isn't always my favorite perspective to read. Getting a peak insidesomeone's inner thoughts can feel like the author has made the choice to tell you absolutely everything in a non-stop inner dialogue that can make any premise seem like a encyclopedia of information dumping instead of story telling.  Phew. Thankfully (and joyfully), Lauren Clark avoids this and allows Julia to develop through her own experience and the experiences of those she encounters in this seemingly sleepy southern town in such a charming way that it made me want to get off the beaten path and take a long deserved pilgrimage down south myself.
Quaint, a little sassy, and sweet like southern sweet tea (by the way, I always have to do half sweet tea and half water!), Dancing Naked In Dixie has everything a typical contemporary romance could want...the ruggedly handsome somewhat attached (though I never can get why these men can't see the true colors of the perfect girlfriend who secretly covets the money and power he provides while simultaneously and insecurely snapping at the nice girl who's new in town) good guy, the charming if not somewhat quirky family, the evil developer trying to change the town and ruin all the traditions that have made Eufala unique and full of southern hospitality, and the heroine who just can't see that her life would be that much better if only she would leave her crummy city life and take a chance on herself and love. 
Plus there's a Batman reference to make the fan girl in me squeal in delight.
If I had any complaints, it would be that it took me a few minutes to get over the weird feeling that maybe her new editor was a bit creepy.  And then we find out exactly who he is...and then some. That first feeling may have been justified. And Shug...loved him, but his name had to grow on me.  Bless his heart.  Or his name's heart, if possible.
I enjoyed my trip down to Eufala much more than I would have thought.  Maybe it's because the leaves are changing, and the air is crisper...or that I just love the holidays and secretly want my own historical house in the south, but I found Dancing Naked In Dixie to be the kind of sweet story you want to cuddle up under a comfy and cozy blanket.  And a good glass of wine...
(Provided for review...visit Lauren Clark's website here.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

There's a First Time For Everything

Take a deep breath.  Now let it out.  This has been my new mantra lately.  The future is always uncertain, and when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we have a choice (obviously).  To take the easy path, or the new one that can be scary.  Risk versus reward, easy versus hard.  Or, hard versus harder.
Over a year ago, I had a simple injury that I brushed off that eventually became incredibly serious.  And scary.
One that meant possibly losing the ability to walk, and with it, dance.
Now, I'm no prima ballerina.  Tribal bellydance is a beautiful exploration of self and expression, and by no means can the average person make a living doing it.  Some do, but, I've never seen myself as that person.  The journey, for me, is more about self, creating, sharing, and enjoying life how it is meant to be enjoyed!
And this all could be gone.  I was devastated.
You know that saying, when times are tough, you find who your friends are?  Well, times were tough.  And I was pregnant with my little bundle of joy.
I thank those who supported me, and those who didn't.  The people who stood by me gave me the faith to believe and never give up.  And the other ones?  They made the decision I had been dreading/hoping to make that much clearer and easier.
On Sunday, I'll be dancing in my first real show since healing and becoming who I am today.  Beyond the excitement and triumph of this moment, there's a new challenge.
The number the ladies and I will be performing is the very first tribal fusion number I've fully choreographed.  I've done other numbers (mostly improv and cabaret style), but this is my first full on piece.
Here's to where we've been, where we could have gone, and where we are and should be.
And remembering the choreography!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Released by Amber Polo (And if you love libraries and sheep dogs...)

(Provided by author):

Released by Amber Polo

Love dogs? Love books ?Love libraries? Hate Book-burning werewolves?

Once long ago the Shipsfeather Academy was a training ground for an ancient race of dog-shifters whose mission was to protect the world’s knowledge. A powerful curse sealed these librarians in the basement of their building and gave the control of the town to a pack of book-burning werewolves.

Librarian Liberty Cutter watches in horror as the town’s public library goes up in flames and plans to re-establish the library in the abandoned Shipsfeather Academy building. Chronus, the Old English Sheepdog headmaster of the academyand leader of the dog-shifters, knows he must make some changes to continue to keep his pack safe. But even if he could persuade Liberty to believe in a talking sheepdog, how far can she be trusted? And will she ever be able to care for him as a man. He has to try, because Liberty Cutter and her staff of zany librarians may hold the key to the dog-shifters’ freedom…and the future of the town.

Being a book lover and an expert library loiterer, the chance to review a new book that somehow intertwined these two things definitely piqued my interest.  But, the real reason?  Bunnicula.

Let me explain.

Bunnicula was one of the first books I became obsessed with when I was younger.  Vampire bunnies draining vegetables to the pale, werewolf daschunds, and of course, the most lovable pup protecting his family.  Now, Released by Amber Polo is far from Bunnicula, but let's just say the cheese has transformed into charming.  And delight!

Once you get past the abruptness of being thrown into Liberty's life (in a frantic opening that introduces her and her situation in a frenetic and information overload way)...a librarian raised by her aunts who desperately wants to learn of her town's history as well as her own but whose library (dream job!!!!!) has mysteriously burned downed but is now being moved into the equally mysterious abandoned old school that always seems to have someone watching her from the shadows as she passes.  PHEW! Wait, the once part!!  At this point, the charming, if not adorable, and dare I say cute (I love sheepdogs) storytelling takes over and we find out the real mystery of this town.  The shape shifting dogs are the librarians of the world, protecting humans and working with them to make the most glorious libraries you can imagine.  And their arch enemies?  Werewolves who split from their canine cousins ages ago in their selfish wolfish ways who burn books and libraries in their quest to destroy both the books and their protectors forever.

The doggie librarians in Shipsfeather have been cursed to stay below grounds in the abandoned school which in turn keeps the werewolves out.  Will this stop the burning?  Or are the books and their caretakers doomed?

I simply adored this book...from the Dewey references (charming!!!!!) to the plethora of dog breeds that so represented their wonderful characters to Liberty herself, it was simply a delight to read. The other characters (Elsie, you mangy Alpha and Harry...we saw that Marley and Me!) added a rich and colorful layer that only made the read more enjoyable. Plus, a little romance thrown in? Who could resist? Sigh...a silver haired dashing man and sheep dog who loves books and a little adventure. Again, sigh...If there was one thing I longed for, it was an epic battle between the wolves and librarians (to really teach those book burners a lesson!), but there's always book two!

Quirky, quaint, and romantic, Amber Polo has delivered a breath of fresh air to this book blogger that was desperately needed.

Once in a while, you come across a story that isn't the newest most popular book obsession but is so worthy of being happily recommended that you know your book vacation would have been a little less sunny without it.  And here it is...

(Thank you, A Buckeye Girl Reads...always a delight.  For serious!!!  Book provided on Kindle for review...)

One lucky commenter from the tour will receive:  Prize pack to include:  Large canvas Shipsfeather Library book bag, 4 signed books by Amber Polo including The Shapeshifters’ Library Book 1: Released, Amber's Relaxation CD, 2collectible dogs, & a tuft of Arctic wolf fur.

Please comment away and make sure you find Release for your own reading pleasure...and to see who wins this battle of the books!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesdays Musings...Released

The resignation letter in her briefacase would never be submitted.  This town needed a library.  It needed her. She couldn't leave now.

"We could try huffing and puffing."

Bliss smiled contentedly. "Magic is all around you.  Can't you see it?"

Just a few tidbits from my review of Released by Amber Polo...can't wait to share it with you!!!!!