Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Feliz Navidead" by Ann Myers

Feliz Navidead
(Santa Fe Café Mystery Book 3)
by Ann Myers

Feliz Navidead is the third book in the Santa Fe Café Mystery series by Ann Myers. Also available: Bread of the Dead and Cinco de Mayhem.

Feliz Navidead is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Holly, jolly, and downright deadly - the third Santa Fe Café Mystery unwraps surprises both naughty and nice ... It’s the most picturesque time of the year in Santa Fe, and Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Café hopes the twinkling lights and tasty holiday treats will charm her visiting mom. Rita is also planning fun activities, such as watching her teenage daughter, Celia, perform in an outdoor Christmas play.
What she doesn’t plan for is murder.
Rita discovers a dead actor during the premier performance but vows to keep clear of the case. Sleuthing would upset her mom. Besides, there’s already a prime suspect, caught red-handed in his bloodied Santa suit. However, when the accused Santa’s wife begs for assistance - and points out that Celia and other performers could be in danger - Rita can’t say no. With the help of her elderly boss, Flori, and her coterie of rogue knitters, Rita strives to salvage her mother’s vacation, unmask a murderer, and stop this festive season from turning even more fatal.

Chapter 1
Mom stopped mid-stroll, thumping one hand to her chest, gripping a hip-high adobe wall with the other. “I need to catch my breath, Rita,” she declared, rather accusatorily.
I murmured, “Of course,” and issued my best good-daughter sympathetic smile. I did, truly, sympathize. At seven thousand feet above sea level, Santa Fe, New Mexico, can literally take your breath away, and my mother had flown in only a few hours earlier from the midwestern lowlands. Adjusting to high altitudes takes time. About a week, the experts say, although I’ve called Santa Fe home for over three years and still blame the paltry oxygen when I pant through my morning jog and puff under overladen burrito platters at Tres Amigas Cafe, where I’m a chef and co-amiga. I’ve even postulated that the thin air makes my thighs look larger. Lack of atmospheric compression, that unscientifically tested theory goes. The more likely culprit is my steady diet of cheesy chiles rellenos, blue corn waffles, green chile cheeseburgers, and other New Mexican delicacies.
Mom took deep breaths beside me. I wasn’t too worried. If Mom was at risk of anything, it was overacting. I strongly suspected she was making a point, something she likes to do indirectly and with drama. Things Mom doesn’t like? High altitudes, dry climates, hot chiles, and disturbance of her holiday routine. I knew she wasn’t thrilled to spend Christmas away from home. My goal was to win her over, and lucky for me, I had Santa Fe’s holiday charm on my side.
I leaned against the wall, enjoying the warmth of solar-heated adobe on my back. A group of carolers strolled by, harmonizing a bilingual version of “Feliz Navidad.” String lights and pine boughs decorated the porticos along Palace Avenue, and pinon smoke perfumed the air. To my eyes, the self-proclaimed “City Different” looked as pretty as a Christmas card. Once Mom got over the initial shock of leaving her comfort zone, she’d come around. I hoped . . .
Mom reached for a water bottle in her dual-holstered hip pack. “Hydration,” she said, repeating a caution she’d first raised nearly two decades ago, when I embarked for culinary school in Denver and its mere mile-high elevation. In between sips, she reminded me that proper water intake was the key to fending off altitude-induced illnesses ranging from headaches to poor judgment.
She tilted her chin up and assessed me through narrowed eyes. “You’re not drinking enough, Rita. I can tell. Your cheeks look dry. Your hands too. And your hair…” Mom made tsk-tsk sounds. “Perhaps a trim would keep it from getting so staticky. You do look awfully cute when it’s short.”
I patted my shoulder-length locks, recently cut into loose layers that emphasized my natural staticky waves. I could use a drink. A tart margarita on the rocks with extra salt would do. My mouth watered. Behave, I chastised myself. It wasn’t even two in the afternoon, way too early for tequila. Plus, I loved my mother and her cute silver-flecked pixie cut. Most of all, I was delighted that she’d come to visit me and my teenage daughter, Celia. It was nice of Mom. No, more than nice. The visit bordered on maternal sacrifice.
As far as I knew, my mother, Mrs. Helen Baker Lafitte, aged sixty-eight and three quarters, of Bucks Grove, Illinois, had never left home for Christmas before, nor had she wanted to. Mom is a retired high school librarian, a woman of card-catalog order and strict traditions, otherwise known as doing the same thing year after year. Under usual circumstances, Mom keeps our “heirloom” artificial Christmas tree perpetually decorated and stored in the garage until the day after Thanksgiving, when she takes it out, dusts it off, and installs it to the left of the living-room fireplace. She places electric candles in each front window, hangs a wreath on the door, and wraps the holly bush in tasteful, nonflashing white lights. All of her holiday cards are mailed by the twelfth of December.
Food traditions are similarly strict. The Christmas Day lunch begins promptly at noon and is typically attended by my Aunt Sue, Uncle Dave, Aunt Karen, and younger sister Kathy and her family. Kathy’s husband, Dwayne, watches sports in the den, while their three kids hover between completely exhausted and totally wired from their morning gift frenzy. My mother and aunts whip up a feast of roasted turkey and stuffing, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole with mini-marshmallows, Tater Tot hot dish, amazing monkey bread, Aunt Sue’s famous (or infamous) Jell-O surprise featuring celery and cheese cubes, and my favorite dish: pie, usually apple, mincemeat, and/or pumpkin. It’s a lovely meal, which I truly miss when I can’t attend. However, I also love Santa Fe and want to make my own traditions here.
“That’s one benefit for your sister,” Mom said, polishing off her second water bottle. I swore I heard her stomach slosh. “The beach is at sea level.”
“Yep, that’s the beach for you,” I replied in the perky tone I vowed to maintain for the rest of Mom’s visit. “Kath and the kids must be loving it. What a treat! A holiday to remember!”
“I warned Kathy about jellyfish,” Mom said darkly. “Rip currents, sharks, sand, mosquitoes. . . . It simply doesn’t seem right to be somewhere so tropical for Christmas, but Dwayne went and got that package deal.” Mom’s tone suggested Dwayne had purchased a family-sized case of hives.
I gave Mom another sympathetic smile, along with the extra water bottle she’d stashed in my purse. Of course she was out of sorts. Once the kids learned that they’d get to open their presents early and go to Disney World and the beach, Mom and the holiday hot dish hadn’t stood a chance. I, meanwhile, saw my chance to get Mom to Santa Fe.
I employed some of the guilt she usually ladled on me, telling her truthfully that Celia and I couldn’t get away this year between my work and Celia’s extracurricular activities. Mom, the master of loving manipulation, countered with how much my Illinois relatives would miss us. I was also single, she needlessly pointed out, implying that I could easily uproot. Furthermore, I lived in a casita, a home with tiny in its very name. She wouldn’t want to put me out, she said. Mom then played her wild card, namely Albert Ridgeland, my junior prom date. Wouldn’t you know, Mom had said. She’d recently run into Albert and he was divorced just like me, and with his own successful dental clinic and a mostly full head of hair and he sure would love to catch up.
Mom might be indirect, but she’s never subtle. Ever since my divorce from Manny Martin, a policeman with soap-opera good looks and accompanying philandering tendencies, Mom’s been after me to move back “home.” She sends me clippings of employment ads and monitors eligible bachelors. Peeved that Mom had dragged a divorced dentist into the debate, I went for the guilt jugular, reminding Mom that she was retired yet hadn’t visited in nearly two years. My tactic worked, possibly too well. Mom was staying for nearly three weeks—to get her money’s worth out of the flight—and I’d feel terrible if she didn’t have a good time.
I looked over and saw Mom eyeing a brown paper lunch sack perched a few feet down the adobe wall. The bag was open at the top and slightly singed on the sides. I could guess the contents. A votive candle nestled in sand.
Mom stepped over to peek inside. “It’s a wonder this entire state doesn’t burn down,” she declared. “Remember when your middle school band director, Mr. Ludwig, put on that world Christmas festival in the gymnasium? He almost set the bleachers on fire with one of these . . .” She paused. “What do you call them?”
“A farolito,” I said, proud to show off my local knowledge. “Some people call them luminarias, but Santa Feans are very particular about terminology. Here, luminaria refers to small bonfires. Farolitos are the candles in paper bags. There are electric farolitos too. You’ll see a lot of those along the rooflines of hotels and businesses. They’re pretty but nothing compared to the real ones on Christmas Eve. You’ll love it, Mom. You’ve never seen anything like it.”
Mom shuddered, likely imagining Santa Fe bursting into a spontaneous inferno rather than aglow with thousands of flickering lights. I decided not to tell her about the amazing three-dimensional paper lanterns I’d once seen soaring above the adobe city, lifted by the energy of the candles burning inside them. I needed to work on Mom before I exposed her to flying flames or peppers for breakfast.
Mom was rooting around in her hip pack. “I thought I had a granola bar. This time change and the lack of air are making me light-headed. You need to keep eating too, Rita.”
Eating, I always had covered. I also had a better idea than a squished fanny-pack snack. “It’s the holidays, Mom. Let’s get some pie.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Another delectable cozy mystery from author Ann Myers, whose third book in this series about Santa Fe chef and amateur sleuth Rita Lafitte is her best yet. Mouth-watering descriptions of spicy Southwestern fare served up at the Tres Amigas cafe where Rita works combine with a devilish plot surrounding a murder at the Christmas pageant [...] and you have a holiday filled with laughter and mayhem. And murder!" ~ Carol Cacchione
"This cozy mystery was a delight to read. It has all the elements I require for a satisfying novel. [...] I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a cozy mystery with quirky characters, an informative and entertaining setting, and an issue to think about. I suggest you only read this novel on a full stomach as the food described is mouth watering." ~ Joan N.
"I love this series. I hope that it continues." ~ Loulou
"Having lived in New Mexico, her books bring back fond memories. The author does a good job of describing traditions and customs of the area - plus she tells an outstanding story." ~ oshaal
"The author and series. Great read!" ~ dana

About the Author
Ann Myers writes the Santa Fe Café Mystery series. The first book in the series, Bread of the Dead (2015), introduced café chef and reluctant amateur sleuth, Rita Lafitte. Rita and her friends stir up more trouble in Cinco de Mayhem (March 2016) and Feliz Navidead (October 2016). Ann lives with her husband and extra-large house cat in southern Colorado, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, and cozy mysteries.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five print copies of Bread of the Dead AND Cinco de Mayhem by Ann Myers (US only).


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Books Direct 2016 Christmas Giveaway


Note to Sponsors
It's once again time for our annual Christmas giveaway. Everyone is welcome to join in, whether you are an author, a blogger, or a reader.
The giveaway will run a bit differently this year. Rather than asking for prize donations that you have to distribute, I am seeking US$5 donations via PayPal. In return for each donation, you will receive a spot in the giveaway for one of your social media links.
Payments can be made via the following link:
Simply change the "5" to "10", "15", "20", or other amount for two or more social media links.
If you would like to participate, please submit this form and your payment by 21 December.
The giveaway prizes will be increased and more entry options will be added to the giveaway as more donations are received.
The giveaway will be open internationally and will end on 22 December. Sponsors are welcome to enter the giveaway and are encouraged to share it with their followers. The winners will be announced on my blog and notified by email.
Thanking you in anticipation,
Books Direct

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes. Entry options will be added as more donations are received, so check back daily. The giveaway will be open internationally and will end on 22 December. The winners will be announced on my blog and notified by email. Sponsors are welcome to enter as well.
$95 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
$20 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
$10 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
$5 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
Prizes will increase as more donations are received.

HTML code for those who wish to share:
<div id="pgt89069881989pgt" class="pgtContainpgt"><a href="//" rel="nofollow" target="_BLANK2">Entry</a><script type="text/javascript" src="//"></script><a href="//" rel="nofollow" target="_BLANK2">-Form</a></div>

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise" by Sharon Durgin

Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise
by Sharon Durgin

Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise by Sharon Durgin is due to be released on 1 July. Sign up for the author's newsletter to be notified when it's available.

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by BeachBoundBooks.

In Sharon Durgin’s Marty and The Christmas Eve Surprise, the mouse of the house, Marty, has a BIG surprise for all his Christmas friends. As Betty the ballerina, Nathan the nutcracker, and the rest of the Christmas friends get ready for Marty’s Christmas surprise, a little chaos with the two house cats, Emma and Leo, might just upset all their plans.
With vivid detail and colorful illustrations, Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise unfolds a unique story that will surely stretch your imagination.


About the Author
Sharon E. Durgin is a designer in the engineering business and an active member of Toastmasters International. With her love of the spoken and written word she has created Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise. This is her first book, and she looks forward to publishing more stories of Marty's life. Sharon has two adult children and lives and works in Greenville, South Carolina.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Asleep on the Hay" by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay:
A Dust Bowl Christmas
by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay is currently on tour with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.
Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth - extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.


Praise for the Book
"A beautiful story. The illustrations were exquisite as expected. I will buy anything Ben Sowards does artwork for. He is a very talented artist and now a storyteller as well." ~ Judy R Huffman
"Beautiful Christmas story written and illustrated by a very talented man. A tender story that will touch your heart like it did mine. Refreshing twist on a classic story." ~ brad
"Beautiful story and artwork!" ~ CJD
"Great book, I bought two for my family! Great Christmas Gift!" ~ masov
"Great story and great illustrations!" ~ Louise Fralie

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Paul's family is struggling to make ends meet during the dust storms of the Midwest in the 1930s. When a young family in need arrives at their door around Christmas, Paul must choose whether or not to sacrifice his most precious possession in order to help them. A dream about the birth of Christ helps him make this difficult decision.
The author manages to convey the feel, smell, and taste of the dust storm through his writing. The illustrations, also by the author, are absolutely breathtaking and a perfect accompaniment to the story. There are a couple of nice parallels drawn with the story of the birth of Christ: the title of the book, the appearance of the young family at Paul's home just before Christmas, and the barn setting. In addition, the Bible verse from John 14:27 quoted at the beginning of the book and a couple of times throughout the book ("Peace I ... give unto you ... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"), speaks to the farewell gift Jesus leaves his disciples, a gift greater than land, or houses, or possessions.
This book allows us to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and is sure to become a Christmas classic.

About the Author
Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges.
Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.