Monthly Archives: November 2012

Open Adoption, Open Heart

Tour Schedule

When Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer offered up the opportunity to take part in a blog tour for this book, I initially resisted. But then I decided to read it, if only because I am curious.

You see, I am adopted. My adoption happened so long ago, Jesus and I were in school together with stone tablets. I was adopted back in the era of everything being closed, and to this day, I know nothing. I wish I did, but not enough to ardently pursue it. Some things are best left unknown.

In the case of Russell Elkins, he and his wife adopted a young son (and later a daughter) through an open adoption. They not only got to know their son’s birth mother, they also housed her, fed her, nurtured her, and provided her with unconditional support. They knew throughout that the birth mother could change her mind, but Russell and Jammie remained committed. Their faith helped guide them, and today they have two healthy, happy children.

Russell details the agonizing process of open adoption, providing unvarnished commentary on the challenges he and Jammie faced. You find yourself, even as you know that Russell and Jammie eventually were blessed with baby Ira, rooting for them, hoping that they get their baby. They face heartache, uncertainty and anguish. Yet they never give up. Their ongoing relationship with the birth mother appears strong and stable. It’s as positive a situation as you will find.

If you are curious about the open adoption process, this is the book for you. Russell takes you through every step that he and Jammie endured, and along the way you come to care deeply for them and their family. I admit that I occasionally had a “this is too good to be true” sense about it all, but I’m glad for a positive representation of adoption to be presented.

Before we get to the giveaway, let’s get to know Russell a little better. I asked Russell to discuss a few Top Tens, so here are some of his:

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books
I won’t pick more than one from any one author, not really in order:
10 Arson series- by Estevan Vega
9 Hunger Games series- Suzanne Collins
8 Moneyball- by Michael Lewis
7 The Firm- by John Grisham
6 Odd Thomas series- by Dean Koontz
5 Duma Key- Stephen King
4 Harry Potter series- by JK Rowling
3 A Walk to Remember (the book, not the movie)- by Nicholas Sparks
2 Angela’s Ashes- by Frank McCourt
1 The Hairy Woman- by my brother when he was 7 years old
Top Ten Things that Make Me Unique
10 I was a pitcher for my HS varsity team
9 When I turned 30, I had lived in more than 30 apartments and houses
8 I’ve lived in 7 different states and 2 countries
7 I would rather it be 110 degrees outside than 10 degrees
6 I can throw a frisbee 500 feet
5 I have more than 50 cousins
4 I’m proud to be bald
3 I play in a band with 2 of my brothers
2 As well as being a writer, I’m also a small business owner
1 I speak 3 languages
Top Ten Things on Your Bucket List
10 Start my own publishing company
9 Become debt free
8 Visit every state in the union (I’ve been to 35)
7 Perform with my band in front of 5,000 plus people (most I’ve done is about 2,000)
6 Coach little league
5 Go on a service mission for my church (doesn’t matter where)
4 See a ballgame in every major league baseball park (I’m halfway there)
3 Become fluent in ASL (I’m halfway there)
2 Go to Europe (Spain especially)
1 Go with the NFP group Brite Blue Foundation to Guatemala for service

Open Adoption, Open Heart

The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child.

 Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey.


Book Trailer:

From the Author: While my book’s primary audience was thought to be those hoping to adopt, close to half of the books I’ve sold are simply people who want to read about our story and how adoption is different now than it used to be- and they have not adopted nor do they plan to adopt.

About the Author:

Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.


Tour Giveaway:
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash from Author Russell Elkins
Ends 12/23/12
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent’s permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Fall in Love All Over Again Giveaway Hop

fall in love giveaway hop
The Fall In Love Giveaway hop was organized by Reading Romances!
[Enter your text here]
What you can win here:     
Your choice of one of these three fabulous novels that will make you fall in love all over again:
One Pink Line by Dina Silver
 The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Number of winners:  one
Open to (INT, US or US/CAN): INT
How to enter: Complete the Rafflecopter below

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Hop and find more prizes!


Filed under Fall in Love Giveaway Hop, giveaway

90-Day Weight Loss Challenge

I didn’t believe people when they said that my metabolism would slow down after I turned thirty, and my ignorance continued after I turned thirty-five. And now? Let’s just say I’m a believer.

I have the metabolism of a catatonic slug. Slower, even. So when the opportunity to take part in the 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge came up, I jumped at it. Yes, I have some weight to lose. But more importantly than that, I need a metabolism that I can wake up! That sucker is the Rip Van Winkle of my body: sound asleep and hoping to stay that way till I’m ninety. 
Well, metabolism, I have a news flash for you! Thanks to Creative Bioscience, I’m going to try the Diet Around the Clock for ninety days as part of the 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge. You, my precious, long lost metabolism, will get a jolt from Green Coffee Bean and Raspberry Ketone supplements, and YOU, long lost metabolism, will (finally!) wake up! It’s been too long since we’ve been acquainted.
If you are interested in joining the challenge, you need to click here: Creative Bioscience 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge. In fact, one lucky reader can win a 90-day supply, simply by completing the Rafflecopter below. Meanwhile, join me as I attempt to resuscitate my metabolism. I’ll keep you folks posted on my “journey” on this here blog, and you can tag along to see my results.
So long, nonexistent metabolism and hello! to the wonders wrought by the Diet Around the Clock supplements.
If you join in the challenge, please leave a note in the comments section. 

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Shiloh Walker
Published by Ballantine
400 pages
Genre: mystery; erotica; romance
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

If you want to go some place where you are not likely to be found, you might want to try Earth’s End, Alaska. That’s what Shay Morgan determines when she decides to escape a torturous, abusive life in Arizona. The good news about Earth’s End is that Elliot Winter is there … and Elliot Winter is HOT.

Shay lives alone and pens novels under the pseudonym of Shane Neill, whom many assume is a man. Despite having dated Elliot, she never let him in on the whole Shane Neill thing – and Elliott owns a bookstore. In fact, it was Shay’s inability to let Elliott in to her life that caused their break up.

Now, however, Shay needs him, even if she doesn’t realize it herself. The book opens with her returning home after spending three weeks in the hospital for injuries sustained in an accident. She has scarce memory of what got her there, and even scarcer memory of her childhood As the book unfolds, we discover that someone is pretending to be Shane Neill and that even Earth’s End is not far away enough.

There is the mystery part of this story – who is pretending to be Shay’s alter ego and why – and there is the romance. When Elliot and Shay reconnect, they do so passionately. Each has trust issues; Shay is not the only one who has had a rough go, and Elliot’s problems continue to haunt him. Thanks to her history, Shay needs a man who moves with a slow hand, and Elliot, who loves her desperately, wants to be that man. By the time the headboard rockin’ begins, we have waited for it, and the payoff is HOT. Elliot knows what to do, girls. He knows where to go, how to get there, and what to do upon arrival (and departure).

As the mystery deepens, so do Elliot’s and Shay’s feelings. But you cannot forget that each has endured a sort of trauma, so nothing will come easily for these two.

Much about this book is very good. Shay and Elliot’s relationship moves realistically, and you can’t help but like the two of them. The mystery is not as difficult to uncover as it should be; what becomes a greater mystery is the “why” question, but even that is solved fairly easily. The sex scenes are good, if not too few in number (yes, that old complaint again). I guess my biggest issue with this book is the ease with which some of the problems are dispatched.

Still, though, part of the mystery is strong, and those sex scenes are hot. And that counts for something, non?

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Filed under Hot Romance Novels, mystery

No Reservations

No Reservations
by Lily Cain
Published by Carina Press
44 pages
Genre: erotica
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

Sometimes you just need to let go. But Alicia Davis hasn’t quite learned that lesson. As it turns out, that may not be a bad thing, because her determination to get back at Travis Morgan brings her a whole range of satisfaction.

This little novella packs some hot sex, but not much else. Yeah, there is a plot in here somewhere, but it is inconsequential. Alicia holds a grudge against Travis for something a bit nebulous that happened when they were in college. He, of course, is oblivious. When he enlists her help in securing a flight to the east coast for a boys’ weekend, Alicia sees her chance at revenge and she takes it.

Part of that revenge comes with bedding Travis. There is a slight – very mild – BDSM tangent here, but it’s almost so tame that it barely registers. In just 40 pages, Travis and Alicia steam up a hotel bed, a stairwell, a shower and an apartment bed. Not bad.

For what it is, this is a fun book with some hot headboard rocking. Just don’t expect much else.

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Filed under erotica, Hot Headboard Rockin' but not much else

Every Breath You Take

Every Breath You Take
M. K. Gilroy
Published by Worthy Publishing
365 pages
Genre: mystery
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do. In Detective Kristen Conner’s case, she has to go undercover as an escort. For this pants and sensible shoes loving girl, having to deck herself out in tight jeans, high heels and fashionable hairdos is akin to selling a chunk of her soul. But she is a professional and holds the law in high regard, so she does it, because she wants to find a killer.

This is largely a mystery, and it refers to Cuts Like a Knife, the first book in what appears to be a series. You don’t have to read the first one, though, to understand this one. I think it might help you understand some of the interpersonal dynamics, but it is not necessary.

In the case of the mystery, we have a wealthy, spoiled, debauched man with a fondness for escorts turn up dead. Someone killed him, but who? It appears there are several likely candidates, and Kristen must figure out who dun it. Eliminating one suspect invariably leads to discovering a new one, as motives become apparent. The mystery has a good hook and will keep you turning the page, even if the outcome is not wholly surprising.

In addition to trying to find the killer, though, this is also the story of a young woman’s personal growth. Kristen has two sisters, one married with children and the other a gorgeous, popular news correspondent. Despite having a solid career, Kristen nonetheless is trying to find her place in the world. She is not married, has no children, and neither of those situations appears likely to change in the near future. Her previous boyfriend had a brother who kidnapped her sister. There is a man, but he’s an FBI man and does not live in Chicago. He comes to visit Kristen, and we hold our breath, waiting to see if she even knows how to have a relationship.

Then there is Kristen’s family, a tight knit, faith-oriented bunch who supports each other. As Kristen coaches her niece’s soccer team, we get to see her where she feels most comfortable. When she is challenged, whether by players’ parents or another coach, she reacts with strength and composure. The same holds true for her personal life.

Despite the sordidness of the crime, this is a fairly tame book. We don’t get down and dirty in the escort business, nor do we see much more than kissing exchanged between Kristen and her man friend. That’s fine and all – there is a definite Christian undertone to this book – but it makes it feel a little sterile. A little artificial. Kristen is pretending to be an escort. She fancies a man. We expect her to want to kiss men or to play a role. She doesn’t.

There are some loose ends, which obviously opens us up to a third book. That’s a good thing, because I want to continue to get to know Kristen Conner. She is an interesting character, if not a little too good at times, and she’s sympathetic. She needs another book about her.

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Lean on Me

Lean on Me
HelenKay Dimon
Published by Carina Press
111 pages
Genre: chick lit; romance
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3 / 5 cupcakes

What happens when a professional mountain climber meets a guy afraid of heights?

Well, you know exactly what happens, don’t you?

Cassidy has come home, and not one person is happy to see her. This could have something to do with her having said some not so nice things about the old hometown. The reasons behind her disparaging words come out later, but suffice it to say, there are people who won’t like her anyway, jealous little minds that they are. Unfortunately for Cassidy, her stepfather acts strangely and it is clear she can’t stay with him. But she’s running low on money, and she has nowhere to stay, so she camps out in a remote corner of a nursery’s fields, nestled in at the edge of the plants.

The nursery happens to be owned by Mitch, a former high school crush. Mitch still arries a torch for Cassidy, and when he discovers where she’s been staying, he offers her his nice warm home. And his even warmer bed.

Cassidy is no fool, and she knows better than to turn down Mitch’s offer – both of them. There are some pretty good sexy times in this book, but – go ahead and say it with me – I wanted more. That’s a compliment, HelenKay Dimon, because it means that you write good sex scenes.

There is no real conflict here, at least nothing overly dramatic. Yes, we want to find out what’s up with Cassidy’s stepfather, and yes, we want to know the details on Cassidy’s snarky comments about her hometown, but there isn’t a whole lot of tension. As heroes go, Mitch is pretty good. He’s hot, for one thing, and he’s loyal. He sticks by Cassidy even when everyone in his life – and I do mean everyone, because this is one nosy, judgmental town – tells him he’s making a mistake.

This is a decent book, if not a memorable one. It just needs more … more sex and more conflict.

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Filed under chick lit, cute romance