Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway (US only): Blue Bells of Scotland by Laura Vosika - GIVEAWAY CLOSED


Did you know that everyone’s name has a meaning? For example, Shawn Kleiner’s name means self centered. And he certainly lived up to his name. As the critically-acclaimed virtuoso of the orchestra and an unabashed ladies man with an undeniable gift for blarney, Shawn didn’t care who he took advantage of or who got hurt as long as everything always went his way. But eventually the day came when his disenchanted girlfriend Amy, weary of his selfish ways, had finally had enough and left him high and dry in the tower of a ruined Scottish castle. Surprised by Amy’s behavior and totally defensive of his narcissistic motives, Shawn decided to remain where he was, enjoy the picnic he had brought with them, and worry about finding his way back to their hotel and the orchestra in the morning. Except when morning arrived, his entire world was changed…

Fourteenth-century bard Niall Campbell of the Clan MacDonald was as talented with the harp and song as he was with the sword. Well known as a mischief maker as well as warrior, Niall was the clan chief’s future son-in-law and most trusted champion. When Niall suffered an injury on the day before he was to embark on an extremely dangerous mission for the clan, his fiancĂ©e Allene, fearing for his health and safety, tried to talk him in to letting her accompany him. They argued about it in the castle tower, and Niall, having imbibed too freely of the ale that evening in the hopes of easing some of his physical discomfort, ends up falling asleep on the top of the parapet. As the mist swirled around him and he drew his cloak close around his body, his last thoughts were for the mission he was to embark upon in the morning. But when he awoke the next day, he found himself in much more dangerous territory than he could have ever imagined…

This is how Blue Bells of Scotland by Laura Vosika begins. What follows is an amazing adventure in two different lifetimes, as Niall and Shawn find themselves somehow switched into each other’s existences. Filled with humor, intrigue, and tumult, I found this to be an entertaining beginning to what I hope will be a compelling trilogy. I give Blue Bells of Scotland 4 paws!

And now for the giveaway!
Win my copy (read once) of
Blue Bells of Scotland by Laura Vosika!

If you would like a chance to win this book, please do the following - and make sure to include your email address so I can contact you to claim your book!

Mandatory entry (You MUST do this to be eligible to win!):


1. Follow Crazy Cat Lady's Library on GFC and leave a comment on indicating you do. (1 entry)

Optional entries:

2. Follow CCLL on Twitter - include your twitter name in your comment(1 entry)


3. Tweet about this giveaway. You can use the text below or make up your own (1 entry)
Win a copy of Blue Bells of Scotland by Laura Vosika @CrzyCatLdysLibr: http://bit.ly/cCPbod

4. Follow Crazy Cat Lady and/or like CCLL on facebook - include your facebook name in your comment (1 entry each)


5. Post about this giveaway on Facebook (1 entry)

6. Subscribe to CCLL via e-mail and/or RSS feed - make sure to specify the email being used (1 entry each)

7. Add CCLL's button to your blog - make sure to include a URL in your comment and let me know where to find it (3 entries - enter your comment 3 times)

8. Blog about this giveaway on your blog, linking back to this review and giveaway (5 entries - enter your comment 5 times)

That's 1 mandatory entry and a possible total of 15 entries per person!

Contest ends 11/5 at 23:59 CST.

Good Luck!





***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Giveaway: Regression (Book One of the Infinion Series) by Kathy Bell - Open Internationally! - GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Readers, would you like to win my copy (read one time) of Regression, signed by author Kathy Bell?

If you would like a chance to win this book, please do the following - and make sure to include your email address so I can contact you to claim your book!

Mandatory entries (You MUST do both to be eligible to win!):


1. Read my "Interview with Kathy Bell" post below, and leave a comment on THAT POST (not this one!) telling me something you have or wish you had in common with her. (1 entry)

2. Follow Crazy Cat Lady's Library on GFC and leave a comment on THIS POST indicating you do. (1 entry)

Optional entries:

3. Follow CCLL on Twitter - include your twitter name in your comment(1 entry)

4. Follow Crazy Cat Lady and/or like CCLL on facebook - include your facebook name in your comment (1 entry each)

5. Subscribe to CCLL via e-mail and/or RSS feed - make sure to specify the email being used (1 entry each)

5. Add CCLL's button to your blog - make sure to include a URL in your comment and let me know where to find it (3 entries - enter your comment 3 times)

6. Blog about this giveaway, linking back to the giveaway *AND* the author interview posts - make sure to include a URL in your comment (5 entries - enter your comment 5 times)

There...
That's 2 mandatory entries and a possible total of 15 entries per person!


Contest ends 10/31 at 23:59 CST.

Good Luck!


Book Review And Author Interview: Regression (Book One of the Infinion Series) by Kathy Bell



Crazy Cat Lady's Library is proud to be a part of Pump Up Your Book!'s Virtual Book tour for Regression, Book One of the Infinion Series, written by author Kathy Bell!

Kathy graciously agreed to an interview with yours truly, Crazy Cat Lady, and I am so excited to share her answers and insights with you today! But first, Here's a little background information on Kathy, taken from her Bio on Goodreads.com:
Born in 1971, I've called the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron area home for my entire life - minus the years at university. Even so, I found books a wonderful way to travel through time and around the world.

I live in my dream house on 60 acres with an amazing view of the city skyline in one direction and the sheer cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment in the other. I was only able to start writing after checking off most other things on the to-do list of my life: marry high school sweetheart (check); get an awesome career as a high school teacher (check); have four wonderful kids (check); build my dream home (check); be a successful entrepreneur (check); breed Canada's top winning bulldog (check); get a herd of horses (check). Suddenly, I found myself inspired to begin writing after a break of more than twenty years - when I was in high school I wrote short stories which never made it past my journal binders. I still have both.

Regression was conceived in the middle of the night, one hand cradling a fussy baby while the other pecked at the keyboard - you can only surf the internet for so long! I feel it is a reflection of the many roles I have had in my life, and the observations of human nature accumulated through those roles.

CCL: Wow, that's a LOT of information to inspire my nosiness! Let's start with an easy question: Where did you go to University, and what degree(s) do you hold?

KB: I jumped around a bit...you can read on my blog (kathybellauthor.wordpress.com, entry Memories and Ironies) why I started at Ryerson Polytechnic the year it received accreditation. I transferred to University of Guelph where I finished a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology with a secondary focus in Biology. My teaching certification is from D'Youville College with teachables of Secondary Biology and Individual in Society. I've continued to advance my certifications, with Honour Specialist standing in both Biology and Individual in Society.

CCL: How old were you and your husband when you met, and when did you realize you were meant to be together?

KB: We were introduced shortly before my sixteenth birthday...Twenty-three years ago this fall. My best friend was a cheerleader and Trent was a football player who grilled her about me because I was new to the school, until she finally relented and introduced us. After that, we haven't really been apart! I don't know if there was a moment where we truly decided we were meant to be together, it was more of becoming a hard habit for either of us to break. We've certainly had our ups and downs, and growing up with someone makes for different challenges than meeting someone as an adult, but we've built an amazing life together over top of the foundation of our younger years.

CCL: What subject(s) did/do you teach in high school?

KB: New teachers end up teaching a bit of everything as they try to obtain a permanent position. I think I've taught almost 30 different courses, ranging from photography to computer science to parenting. My current schedule usually has a mix of science and humanities courses because those are my two qualification areas. I'd love to teach computers again; I really enjoyed working with programming language and system hardware - I was supposed to write my MCSE exams when I found out I was admitted to teacher's college, so never bothered writing the tests. Since it's been a few years, I've fallen behind on my information science advancements so would have some catch up to do should the opportunity arise.

CCL: Tell us a bit about each of your family members.

KB: As mentioned, my husband is my high school sweetheart, and he teaches science at the school across town. We have four children, three girls and a boy.

Destiny is our oldest at almost 13, and she is our loner. She likes quiet time just like I do, but enjoys her ringette and soccer teams as well as her privacy. Savannah is our actress, always putting on a show for her younger siblings and, just turning 12, also for the school plays. She is an aspiring author,in part because she saw me working on Regression and took encouragement from that. Hunter is our love. Only 5, he already has a string of girls and women who are head over heels in love with his green eyes, tousled curls, and soulful looks. He and his dad do tend to stick together in a houseful of women, though. Trinity was my muse, her birth three years ago became the catalyst for writing my first novel. She was born to manipulate and control, and excels at both while managing to make you adore her at the same time. She is my mini-me, although my mother admits I was not quite that demanding.

CCL: Tell us about your champion bulldog and your bulldog breeding business…How did you get involved in breeding bulldogs? How long have you been one?

KB: I grew up on a farm, and knew I wanted to settle down on one again as an adult, and raise animals. The bulldogs were actually my husband's choice of breed, because he admired their mugs and appreciated their less-than-energetic reputation. Over the fifteen years we've been breeding, we've certainly seen the spectrum of bulldog temperaments, and not all are lazy. Multi-Best-In-Show winner, Canadian and American Champion Trent's Adoreabull Crusader was Canada's #1 bulldog in 2007 and 2008, with a show record in the US to be quite proud of as well, finishing his AKC title with four majors-two of them five point wins and one a Group 2 for 3 points. For dog people, these terms will have meaning;) Crusader is our fourth generation, and his grandpuppies are now in the ring.

We took the past year off from breeding for a number of reasons, but with the hopeful arrival of two litters in December we plan to get back into the puppy and show circuits again. As with any competitive sport, there can be politics and scheming, which we generally try to avoid, but the average person involved in the fancy is a good-hearted character. It's exhausting, though. A litter of puppies starts off with artificial insemination, c-section delivery, hand feedings for the first weeks of life, and then plenty of maintenance as adults. The reasons behind these phenomena are discussed on my website, englishbulldogs.ca, but together they do tend to produce a dog who is so keenly attuned to humans that they truly become a part of the family. They are also the clowns of the dog world, with expressive eyes, odd noises, and noxious fumes. Thus their presence in the top 10 breeds registered with the AKC. Unfortunately, popularity can often be a curse for a breed.

CCL: Besides bulldogs and horses, do you have any other animals? Any interesting/amusing anecdotes about your animals you could share with us?

KB: We have had quite a few different animals over the years, but right now in addition to the bullies and Arabians, we have two cockatiels, chickens, koi, and now some barn cats.

My husband sent me out to grab a cardboard box from his truck one afternoon last year. I brought it into the house, and he suggested I open it. Curled up in the bottom was a long-tailed grass lizard. Lizzie was intended for Hunter, but we had no place to put her. I took a shelf from our garden window and propped it across the opening of the window to create a makeshift terrarium. Little did I know the darn thing could climb glass! Lizzie escaped, and after a month was declared missing in action, likely not to return although every once in a while strange rustling sounds could be heard in my house plants. About two months after her departure from her luxurious home, my husband noticed Lizzie crossing the sunroom floor-very slowly-heading toward the bathroom. We could just hear her cries...'Water...water.."! We think she had been drinking from the sink; climbing the wall would offer less challenge I imagine than scaling glass. We purchased Lizzie proper housing so she could no longer venture about. It's surprising how uncomfortable people are when you warn them there might be a lizard on the loose, even just a small one!

CCL: What do you do to unwind and relax?

KB: Write! And, occasionally, I'll watch a TV show but really don't use the television much. I keep telling myself to get back into strength training, but usually put myself last on my to do list. But, I do enjoy exercising to clear the mind and work the body.

CCL: How long did it take you to write Regression? Did you know immediately that it would be the first of a trilogy, or did that develop as you were writing it?

KB: When I began in earnest to write the tale, I did plan on there actually being four books. The story took a turn I was not expecting, which ended up allowing the story to flow through a trilogy instead. I do think some people would have happily read what would have been the second book of four - the cut book would have detailed the years between 1985 and 2011, but I didn't think there would be enough meaty material to complete an entire volume so instead dribbled back-story into Evolussion to bring readers up to speed on the intervening years between Regression and Evolussion.

When I was still working on Regression, I began sending the first few chapters out to agents and publishers. I had been warned it took months before a reply would come around, if at all. Thus I was caught by surprise when a request for a full manuscript came back right away for one submission...I was not finished the book! I blitzed over one weekend, composing 40,000 words and finishing the tale in time to send to the editor on the Monday. Unfortunately, she did not end up taking the story but at least it provided motivation to get the novel finished. It took two years from the first tentative efforts at writing to having the print copy in my hand, while Evolussion took less than one. Free time is the factor which determines how long the story takes to write - if I could afford to write full time, I think I could produce a first draft each month, based upon the speed at which I actually compose! While writing Evolussion, I tracked my productivity at about 1000-1500 words per hour when I had dedicated periods of time to write. But, every time I set aside days for writing, the world conspired to create some great emergency which needed my attention, drawing me away from the keyboard. I could write an entire story about my curse of Karma. That will be my first non-fiction effort!


CCL: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

KB: Anne McCaffery is my favourite author because of her Dragonriders of Pern series. The characters she sketches with her writing are so easy to picture, and so easy to relate to even though distanced by time, space, and surroundings, that I found myself immersed in the stories as a girl. I also enjoyed her Talent series although I lost interest in the Crystal Singer works. I've tried in some small ways to emulate her writing style because of the pleasure I took from her work, but I don't think I've come close to creating such a wide variety of well-developed characters, both good and bad. I can only hope someday I'll approach her polish.

CCL: Do you and your children have any favorite bedtime books? What makes them /it your favorite?

KB: Usually the children have me make up stories, to which they contribute. Sometimes the stories are songs, or at least rhythm based, because I tend to wax poetic frequently! Our nightime routine must include one story and one song (again, a spontaneous one rather than traditional), or the children will not fall asleep. For Trinity, the youngest, she does have a rotation of three favourite books: Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (translated by J. Alison James), Hullabaloo ABC by Beverly Cleary, and Sparkle's In The Dark by Christine Tagg. Although Rainbow Fish does not have rhyming, I usually end up changing the words to make it have rhythm and rhyme since Trin loves both.

CCL: What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

KB: Hmm. There are so many things I have to be both proud and thankful for that I don't even know where to begin. I'm very proud of my children for being who they are...it has not been easy because there have been a number of challenges on the way, but we've managed to overcome them and the kids are all amazing little people. I'm proud of successfully doing the things I've set out to do - live on a farm with a house of my design, have four children, write a bestseller, run my own business, breed a top-winning dog. It's funny, though. I don't usually say much about my life when at work, so I can guarantee the majority of teachers at my school have absolutely no idea about the successes with dogs, books, or even the kids. I remember when I was pregnant with Trinity, someone asked me if I was excited about having my first child. I smiled and gently explained to them that she was my fourth. I had been at the school for four or five years at the time. But I tend to be a private person (in person...apparently not so much on the 'Net, LOL!), and keep my trials, tribulations, and successes close to heart. When relevant to a lesson, I will share with students anecdotes from my life which help illustrate whatever the topic of discussion may be (genetics, business practices, etc.), but otherwise try not to brag.

CCL: What life goals have you set yourself for the future?

KB: Again, I'm not sure where to start because I've already reached so many of my life goals! One thing I would like to do, which will take some planning and preparation, is to take an entire year off with the family and have some incredible experiences around the world. With our careers, we can make that happen by planning four years ahead, and not only would that give our children exposure to so many different cultures, I expect I would also find plenty of fodder for my fertile imagination to mull over. But, for the immediate future, I'm just taking a breather and enjoying everything I have.

If we were able to make arrangements, we have thought of taking a well-drilling truck to Africa and going around drilling wells. Not even sure if such a thing is feasible, but since there are so many wells in our area we are quite familiar with the practice, and wonder if it would be as easy to hit ground water in the Nubian Aquifer as it is here. There would be the obvious ramifications of water usage and contamination, etc, so an education program would have to be delivered with each well. But, that is one of our long-term goals when we retire.

CCL: Tell us about your books.

KB: The Infinion Trilogy is science fiction. The further you go in the series, the deeper the story veers into true SF. Time travel, an alternate history, and genetic abnormalities are the extent of the sci-fi in Regression, but Evolussion melds traditional native American lore with alien DNA, space travel, and more time travel, while Revolussion actually has aliens, astral projection, and again more time travel.

Regression was a book written furtively in the dark of night. My husband began to worry I was having an online affair because I would disappear for an hour or two each night (mind you, I did have the fussy baby in my arms, little hard to romance someone while feeding an infant, LOL!), until I finally revealed to him I was, of all things, writing a book. He does not read fiction, and has never understood why I do!

The story is predicated on the wish most of us have had at one time or another, that of going back to relive your life with all of your knowledge intact. But, in Adya's case, she did not want to change a thing, so when she found herself living life over again she tried to preserve her timeline and recapture her life. Instead, she was faced with either keeping things the same and losing her world, or saving the world and losing the children she had loved.

Evolussion picks up the story two and a half decades later, as the people from Regression approach the crucial date when all of them died in their original lifetime. With their knowledge of future technology, the scientists of megacorp Three Eleven have created a system of control and management which encourages productivity and frowns upon diversionary entertainment while attempting to develop a means to prevent the disaster of 11/11/11. The oppression begins to wear on some members of the company and the public, and fractures the leadership of the corporation, threatening their progress and the future of the entire planet.

Revolussion, the final instalment of the trilogy, will be released on 11/11/11 and details the battle to preserve Earth from two races of hostile aliens. One is bent on taking the resources they need-embedded in the enhanced humans- to save their dying culture, while the other wants to harvest the Infinions (time travel particles) to control the fabric of time.

I believe there will also be a companion novel which documents the journeys through time of Nicholas Weaver, the man who orchestrated the time travel and lives through eleven lifetimes of apocalypse. Even when readers have not necessarily enjoyed the main story in Regression, they have almost all felt an affinity with Nicholas and many have asked for more of his story. I may just oblige.

CCL: How and where can readers purchase copies of your books?

KB: Regression and Evolussion are available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and should be available special order through most major retailers. Being based in Canada, it has been a bit of a struggle establishing the international distribution and we are still finding gaps in service now and again, so readers can always order (signed copies, of course) directly from Northern Sanctum's website, northernsanctum.com.

CCL: If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

KB: Make everything count. The most common question people ask me is 'How do I do it?'. I make the moment count, the hour count, the day count, and the life count, by taking and making the most out of the time I have. Does that TV show really contribute to your happiness? Does that Wii game make you a better person? Yes, I do have those things in my home, but they get used as a family, not a lifestyle. In Regression, I admit to stepping on a soapbox about the direction technology use is heading in our current society, but as a teacher I see on a daily basis the effects of weaning our children from the nipple to the antenna. My students act as if taking away their cell phone is as emotionally traumatic to them as removing a pacifier from an infant! We as parents model our lifestyle for our children. I am hoping that by reaching so many of my goals, and continuing to set more in the future, I foster in my children (and perhaps my students) a thirst for learning and a pride in productivity which allows them to attain their goals early and enjoy the rewards for more of their lives.

CCL: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my interview questions!

KB: I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you on your blog, and thank you for supporting my in my promotional tour!



And now, dear readers, here is my review of
Kathy Bell's book,
Regression, Book One of the Infinion Series:



40 year-old Adya Davies has it all: a loving husband, six healthy and happy children, a Doctorate in Child Development, and the ability to stay at home and raise her children full-time. When she and her infant daughter Hope leave her parent’s house to run a quick errand on November 11, 2011, disaster strikes in the form of an out-of-control SUV aiming straight for their vehicle. When Adya wakes up in the hospital, her whole world is changed.

Adya finds herself 14 year-old Adya Jordan again, and the year is now once again 1985. Nobody knows anything about her husband and children, and everyone believes her memories of her adult life are just side effects of her head injury. But Adya knows she is no normal 14 year-old. She still has the knowledge and memories of her 40 year-old self, and she is determined to figure out what has happened to her. She begins to keep a journal to record her memories and to give herself a place to vent her frustration and confusion.

On her first day of high school in this new life, Adya is asked a question in her technology class that points her in the right direction for finding the answers she seeks: What does “11, 11, 11” mean to you? To everyone else around her, Three Eleven is the name of the largest technology company in the world. To Adya, Three Eleven is the date that her old life abruptly ended, 11/11/11. A quick phone call to the toll-free number she is given in response to her answer heralds the beginning of Adya’s new life as a Three Eleven intern, and the start of her real quest to discover what happened to her and the reasons behind its happening. She meets others like herself who have been “regressed” and have now devoted their lives to finding out why. Little do any of them know that 14 year-old Adya, the only female known to have regressed, not only holds the key to unraveling the whole mystery, but is also the solution to their ultimate plight!

I really enjoyed reading this book. I’ve read many other time-travel books, but the story line of this one is quite unique. Although the book started out a bit slowly for me as I became familiar with the characters and adjusted to the abrubt shift in time, I soon found myself captivated with the story, unwilling to put it down, and even wondering about it and forming conjectures of what would happen next when I was not reading it! Anyone who enjoys reading science fiction and time travel stories will find this book to be enthralling and full of surprises. It'a a great beginning to a promising trilogy, and I, for one, am eager to get my hands on Book 2, Evolussion! I give Regression 4 pawprints!



Readers, do you want a chance to win my copy (read once) of Regression, signed by Kathy Bell? See the post above this one for more details!




***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Industrial Pioneers Giveaway Winner!


It's time to draw the winner of the unbound galley print edition of
Industrial Pioneers: Scranton, Pennsylvania and the Transformation of America, 1840-1902
by Patrick Brown!

And the winner is.....

LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN!!!

Stacie has been e-mailed, and has 48hours to claim her prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Please Vote for My Friend and Enter to Win $5,000 at the Same Time! - You can vote once a day!!!

One of my cyber-friends, Margaret N., is a finalist in the Pillsbury Crescent Wow 2010 Recipe Contest. She needs our help voting for her yummy recipe, Zippy BBQ Chicken Packets!




Every time you vote for Margaret (which can be once per day, per e-mail address!) you are also getting an entry into the Pillsbury Crescent Wow Sweepstakes, which has a $5,000.00 prize! So please stop on over at the Pillsbury Crescent Wow website, click on Margaret's recipe every day, cast your vote, and enter to win that money!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Please Vote for My Friend and Enter to Win $5,000 at the Same Time!

One of my cyber-friends, Margaret N., is a finalist in the Pillsbury Crescent Wow 2010 Recipe Contest. She needs our help voting for her yummy recipe, Zippy BBQ Chicken Packets!




Every time you vote for Margaret (which can be once per day, per e-mail address!) you are also getting an entry into the Pillsbury Crescent Wow Sweepstakes, which has a $5,000.00 prize! So please stop on over at the Pillsbury Crescent Wow website, click on Margaret's recipe to vote, and enter to win that money!

 
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