Smart Girls Read Romance





Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.






Sunday, December 30, 2018

Making It Easy on Myself

Hi everyone.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Due to travel and scheduling issues, we won't be opening gifts and having family time until tonight, but better late than never, right?

And now we are approaching another new year. Wow, 2019. Seems like the time is flying by so fast everything is a blur. Whatever happened to 2018? I'm not sure where it went. All I know is that it could have been more productive for me.

Which leads me to the age-old topic of resolutions. You know, those promises we make to ourselves on January 1st to lose weight, be kinder, get more done, meditate, and anything else to keep us happy. All those promises are great and should have meaning for us. The only problem is we rarely fulfill them. I always say I'm going to lose weight. Never happens. I say I'm going to be kinder and nicer to people until my patience runs thin with silliness. Oops, not so nice. I also make a pact with myself to write more and fritter away my time less. That one seems to sneak out the door real fast. I am determined to go to the gym and get in better shape, yet will look for any excuse not to do so.

And then there's social media. Now this is a real time suck. Last year I kind of promised to spend less time on Facebook, Twitter, and Gab. Up until a few weeks ago, this resolution had tanked, too. Since learning of the shenanigans going on with Facebook and Twitter, I've cut back my participation a lot. But that's another blog for another time. Maybe next month. At any rate, these arbitrary promises are generally doomed from the start. Do we really need to promise ourselves to nice? Or productive? Or healthy? I mean, nobody wants to be nasty, lazy, or sick, do we? Unfortunately, I feel guilty by not making them.

I may have written on this subject before, but this time I've come up with some resolutions I think I can keep. I'll be honest. I found them as a posting on Facebook. I laughed until I realized, there was a grain of truth in them. They certainly are realistic. And I love making things easy for myself.

So here goes:

1. EAT TOO MUCH. This one is a cincherino! I can do this every day of the week with no regrets until I go to the doctor and he gives me "the look."

2. DRINK TOO MUCH. My comment on this is how much is too much? Kind of a shady, gray area, so keeping it won't be a hardship.

3. DON'T GO TO THE GYM. I'd love to keep this one, but know even the twice-a-week workout is good for me so I force myself into becoming an aficionado of torture. That thigh machine is a killer.

4. BUY MORE SHOES. No problemo. Just steer me toward the nearest DSW and I'm good.

5. DON'T TRY TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT. I've been doing this for years, so I might as well continue.

6. MISPLACE THINGS. Now, where the hell did I put that grocery list? Moving on...

7. WEAR PJs OFTEN. Do beach cover-ups come under this category? If so, I'm golden in the summer.

8. DON'T LOSE WEIGHT. This is in direct correlation to #1. So, if I follow the first rule, I'll be in good shape--or bad shape depending on how I look at it.

That's it. Resolutions I can live with and actually enjoy.

Whether 2018 was terrific or horrendous, I hope this has made you smile. Here's wishing you all a wonderful new year. See you next month.

Suzanne

Friday, December 28, 2018

EXTRAORDINARY MOMENTS


Beth Trissel's father is gravely ill in the hospital, so Bea Tifton is filling in for Beth.

By Bea Tifton

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”  Vicki Corona


            Like many people, I saw the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” In it, Kathleen Kelly says, “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable.”

            I, too, lead a small life, but it is valuable. Because I firmly believe that, within that small, rather ordinary life, there are extraordinary moments.  One just has to be open to them. I am a school librarian. I love children, you see, and I really love books. But for years I’ve been battling two autoimmune diseases that ravaged my health. Finally, I had to take an early retirement in my forties because I could not physically perform the tasks it takes to keep a library running. An ordinary life made smaller. But, no. Those moments, those extraordinary moments, do still exist. As long as we are human beings, those complex, alarming, amazing creatures, we have the power to be extraordinary. I started writing again. And I keep my eyes and my heart open for those moments.

My nighttime visitor, the owl

            A few weeks ago, I let my dogs out as usual. Immediately, I realized we had a most unusual visitor. I hustled the bewildered dogs back inside, and sat down in my porch chair. Perched in my tree, hanging on in the wind before the thunderstorm, sat a small owl, peering calmly back at me. I absolutely love owls. I managed to get a rather bad picture, and I was so excited I forgot how to use the zoom function on my phone’s camera, but mostly I just sat. We chatted, this owl and I. And looked at each other, for what seemed like a lifetime as time itself seemed to stop, just for a moment. And, after our chat, a gust of wind blew and my little owl flew away into the darkness. But, what a magical moment it was.

Dandelion with morning dew
turning to ice crystals,
another extraordinary moment

            So, my dear friends, as we approach our new year. Be open. Within your lives, be they exciting or ordinary, let in the extraordinary. Open your heart, and your minds. And have a magical year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Day After the Day Before by Vonnie Davis

The gifts are opened. Most of the company has left. The trash can is full of ripped wrapping paper and empty boxes; left-overs from a feast fill the refrigerator. Months of shopping, wrapping, and baking combined to make a loving family holiday.

And you're pooped.

Yet the house waits for conversion to its normal status sans tree, snowmen, lights, and all your favored decorations.

Maybe New Years Day. There are still friends and family members to see. A few more days of celebration to enjoy.

Evie Rose turns 1 year old Jan. 21at.
Here in my fair city of Lynchburg, land of seven hills, Christmas for Evie and me was quiet. I bought a small tree and a few tiny ornaments that wouldn't overwhelm it. Part of me wanted to avoid the holiday, but  I forced myself to decorate. This year the only lights I strung outside were around the mailbox. Maybe next year I'll drag out more. We'll see.

Surviving the holiday season wasn't as emotionally rough as I feared. Family, friends, and my furry baby girl uplifted my spirits.

I'm a very lucky woman. I trust you're lucky, as well. As we move toward a new year, I'm hoping you meet it healthy, happy, and full of new goals. Blessings to you all. Find value in everything you do and see. Love those who strut through your world.

Here's three of my holiday reads.


 Visit me at www.vonniedavis.com and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Wigilia - A Polish Christmas Eve


 by Judy Ann Davis
Warsaw, Poland
For people of Polish ancestry, Christmas Eve is a special night. It is a night of magic when animals are said to talk and people have the power to predict the future. It’s a time for families to gather and reconcile any differences, and to remember loved ones who have gone before them. It’s call Wigilia (vee-GELL-yah) which means, “vigil,” or waiting for the birth of Baby Jesus.

Pollish Santa
As dusk approaches, the mother of the family places a lighted candle in the window to welcome the Christ Child. Straw or hay, a reminder of Christ’s birth in a stable, is placed under a white linen tablecloth, which symbolizes Mary’s veil which became the Babe’s swaddling cloth. The eldest woman of the house places the blessed Communion-like wafers called oplatki (Oh-PWAHT-kee) on a fine china or silver plate. In modern times, straw and evergreens are assembled on a serving platter and covered with a white napkin. The oplatki is then placed on the napkin.

An extra place is set of any weary stranger who happens to pass by, in the same way Joseph wandered from home to home looking for a place for Mary to give birth, and in memory of those who are departed. (The extra place is also set in hopes that Christ will dine with the family.)

After sunset, the youngest child is sent to watch for the first star. This is why the wigilia dinner is also known as the Star Supper. Only then are the candles on the table lit and the dinner begun. But not a morsel is eaten before the “breaking of the oplatki.”

Oplatki
The eldest family member takes the wafer, breaks it and shares it with the next eldest with wishes for good health and prosperity, and a kiss on each cheek. Each person then exchanges oplatki with everyone else at the table. It can be a very emotional time as grudges are forgotten and deceased family members are remembered.

Instead of sending Christmas cards to friends and family not present, Poles send oplatki, first tearing off a small corner to show that the donor has broken it with them as a token of affection. (In America, Polish families often enclose oplatki in their Christmas cards.)

In some regions of Poland, at the end of the supper, Father Christmas, known as The Starman (very often the parish priest in disguise), accompanied by singing Starboys, pays a visit. He brings rewards to good children from Starland, and scolds the naughty ones, who eventually get their reward, too.

Typical food dishes on Christmas Eve include borscht, mushroom dishes, herring, white fish, meatless cabbage rolls, gingerbread cookies, pierogis, poppy seed rolls, spice cake, fruit, chocolates, tangerines, and cognac, liqueurs, and vodka made into a variety of drinks.

A fun video to watch with great music:    https://www.facebook.com/lovepoland.org/videos/1003789649809281/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDk3MzAzNzM5NzoyNDAwOTExMDE2NjE3OTc2/

[Information taken from “About Food – Polish Christmas Recipes and Traditions” - by Barbara Rolek, Eastern European Food Expert.] 
For more information about my books, please visit my Amazon Author Page:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My favorite Christmas Cake Recipe


During the holiday season, my thoughts turn to baking. Besides numerous cookie recipes, I also love to bake holiday cakes.



This month, I’m sharing my easy and festive Pistachio Cake recipe, which is featured in my sweet romance novella, 1-800-CHRISTMAS, the second book in my home flipping series, Flipping for You.
The other cake featured in the book is the hero’s Irish Whiskey cake.


Pistachio Cake Recipe

Easy, fast, and festive, this recipe is always a treat!

You will need:

One package of white cake mix- any brand

1 package of Pistachio instant pudding- sugar free may be used instead of regular

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup water

½ cup milk

5 eggs

Blend cake mix with 1 package of pudding. Add oil, milk, and water.  Add eggs- 1 at a time, beating well with electric mixer after each addition.

Pour into a greased (or spray with cooking spray) tube or bundt pan.

Bake 1 hour-at 350 degrees.  May be done beforehand- as ovens vary.

Cool for 30 minutes, and invert onto favorite cake platter.

For a lighter and festive topping, sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar and sliced maraschino cherries.


Optional frosting recipe:  (Spread on cooled cake)

½ pint heavy cream

1 package instant pistachio pudding (sugar free may be used)

1 container thawed Cool Whip (fat-free may be used)

Beat heavy cream until thick. Blend in rest of ingredients. Frost as desired.

Enjoy!

 
Do you have a favorite holiday cake recipe? Please share your comments below.

 
Pre-order 1-800-CHRISTMAS now. 







Available on Christmas Day!

Taking the high road is a whole lot easier with someone to love…

Attorney Desiree Contando can think of only one word to describe her very first home. Disaster. The vintage Queen Anne is beautiful—or will be, in about a thousand years. Certainly not in time to host the family Christmas gathering.

“Disaster” also describes the bad breakup that left her picket-fence vision in tatters. Even the carpenter she’s hired is a reminder of lost dreams—the high school crush who never spared her a passing glance. But she’s a grownup now, perfectly capable of keeping things professional.

Keiran O’Malley is back in Roses, North Carolina, lugging his own shattered dreams of home and family. Until he’s on his feet and ready to open his own Irish pub, serendipity finds him an attic apartment in Desiree’s fixer upper in exchange for his remodeling skills.

Roses is all polished up for the holidays, but nothing outshines the Cinderella beauty who owns the house. The spin of warmth between them is instantaneous…but their broken hearts may not be strong enough to build happiness on, especially when the past shows up to demand its share.

When two hearts get in a jam, it’ll take more than whiskey cake to sweeten the deal.


Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations.
Follow Josie on Bookbub and “like” her Author Facebook page.
 
 

If you enjoy reading, and love free books and ARC’s, join my VIP Facebook group today!



Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Christmas Grouch by Laurean Brooks

During this Season, let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas, as we rush around to get everything done. The poem below speaks of how easily we get side-tracked and forget to slow down and remember why we celebrate Christmas. I hope you enjoy it. 

                                       THE CHRISTMAS GROUCH

'Twas the night before Christmas and out slinked the Grouch,
Spying and stealing into every house.
Working to spoil the season's good cheer
By grumbling and grousing in each shopper's ear.
He made a decision, devised a sly plan
To tear Christmas away from every man.
He would approach the Creator to get permission.
If the Grouch won his case, he'd be off on a mission.

When he'd filed a complaint and prepared his case,
The Grouch brought his arguments and began to pace
To and fro in front of God's Throne,
His raspy voice a wearisome drone.

God granted his wish, but it would be stayed
If even one person gave thanks and prayed.
Smirking and mocking, the Grouch gave a nod,
Laughing at how easily he had fooled God.
Not a moment to waste, he swept through the city,
Creeping into homes adorned and so pretty.
Lurking in corners, he heard people say,
“I'm tired and so weary, I'm done for the day." 

Inside the dwellings people were busy,

Rushing around, their heads in a tizzy. 
With shopping and parties first on their mind,
Time with the Almighty was too hard to find.

Dauntless and smug, the crafty Grouch cried,
"I have won my case!" He shouted with pride.
"Christmas will be gone, removed from the earth
No joy, no peace, and no laughter and mirth."


Then, through a window, spilled a great light.
The Grouch rubbed his eyes at the odd sight
Of a child near a bed, kneeling and praying. 
The Grouch strained to listen. What was she saying?

"I thank you, God, for the Savior's birth
And for sending peace and good will to earth.
But, when the child spoke the words, “God bless everyone,”
The Grouch knew his case would never be won.
Furious and stomping, he yanked out his hair
Yelled up to heaven, “It's not fair! It's not fair!
I had it! I had it! Until this odd child."
God shook his head at the Grouch and smiled.


"Do you not know I sent Jesus to earth, 
To bring salvation, let the soul know its worth?
And, only because of my Gift from above,
Christmas is eternal, and so is My love.”


                        ***************************************************************

My featured book this month is OVER THE COALS,  a romance novelette about childhood secrets. 

Jill is sure Rob is hiding something. Every time she questions him about his childhood, he either clams up or changes the subject. What is Rob hiding? And why won't he confide in Jill?

If Jill uncovers the truth, will it destroy their blossoming relationship?

https://www.amazon.com/Over-Coals-Laurean-Brooks-ebook/dp/B075H3WF92





Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas



Ho! Ho! Ho! The time is drawing closer for the man in the red suit to make his appearance. We have the cookie makin's for Christmas Eve, the carrots are ready to put out for Rudolph and his crew, and we've made Sparkle oats for the reindeer so they have more power to finish out the night.
Our family will be here with us to set everything out for Santa in front of the fireplace, where we will be chimney-ready for our visitor.


In case you missed it last year, here is the recipe for Sparkle Oats
One cup of dry rolled oats
Sprinkle any color glitter (we like the multi-color) to your eye's satisfaction.
Mix all ingredients well and place into a bowl for reindeer. FYI the reindeer are messy eaters. We've found sparkle oats all over our front porch along with the green tops from the carrots. <grin>


For your Christmas reading pleasure, try this great collection about contemporary cowboys and Christmas. A Christmas Cowboy to Keep is a wonderful collection from seven great authors.


The weather is cold, the atmosphere is festive, and the cowboys are hot. How do you keep a cowboy at Christmas?


From our house to yours,
Merry Christmas
Carra and Family


Sunday, December 16, 2018

5 Christmas Romances by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

My latest release, a Christmas Romance, only 99cents thru 12/17
Christmas and Romance go together and inspire authors to write stories of people falling in love during the holidays--like my latest release Brianna's Season for Miracles.

I've written 5 such books--if you count Dead Heat which I call my "Die-Hard" Christmas romantic thriller. *G*

Some cynics say Christmas and Romance are a match made by Hallmark Movies.

No, it goes back farther than that. Actually, the first Christmas movie made was Santa Claus by George Albert Smith in 1898. which, coincidentally contained the first depiction of Santa Claus on film. You can watch a clip of it here.

The 1940's and 1950's gave us the classics like It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut, and, of course, all the movie versions of A Christmas Carol.

Books Into Movies

When I write, the story often unfolds in my mind like a movie. (Maybe this is why I enjoy making video book trailers.)

Mentally, I cast the characters with who would play them in a movie if my book were a movie.

For instance, in Brianna's Season for Miracles, Brianna would be portrayed by Lucy Fry who played Tikka in Bright.

The hero Daniel would be portrayed by Joe Keery who plays Steve Harrington on Stranger Things.

Winter Settings

Most of my other books are set in the summer. You write what you know, and I live in Texas where it's usually hotter than it is colder. Writing a Christmas setting gives me a bit of diversity in the seasons.

The first Christmas romance I wrote was Nobody's Cinderella.

Set in San Antonio in December, it depicts the cold, windy weather that often hits that area.

Darcy is in love with her boss, but she's not even a blip on his radar--until her BFF gives her a makeover--and she made a wish on a star. She should have been careful what she wished for!

Last Christmas was inspired by the pop holiday hit that gets stuck in my head every time I hear it.

A woman is swept off her feet one Christmas then she never hears from the man again.

What a great premise, right? Except in my story, the guy shows up when and where she least expects to see him.

"Great story...romance, mystery, suspense, and wonderful people in a small town."

Free Ebook For You

LuvU4Ever is the story of high school sweethearts who married at eighteen.

Ten years later, there's trouble in their relationship.

Or is there?

"What a wonderful short story. It is amazing the conclusions we can jump to and what lack of communication can do to a marriage.

What a great story. Perfect for a quick get-away from reality!"

It's a Die Hard Christmas for Sabrina Snow

If you like some suspense and a kickass heroine, then Dead Heat is the perfect Christmas romance for you. Oddly enough, when I was writing Dead Heat, I didn't even realize it was set during December.

Sabrina Snow knew she was going to get herself killed if she didn’t get help. She ran to the only man she trusted...the only man who had the skills to save her. Too bad John Galloway probably hated her.

Review: "Everything’s moving at a dead heat in this story, running full-tilt from the first page. The opening yanks you right in, hurtling you down twists and turns... Joan Reeves delivers the scenes so well that you live it with the characters, finding yourself running for all you’re worth, to coming to a dead stop, caught in the throes of the memory of desire."

Takeaway Truth

Whatever style of Christmas romance appeals to you, I've got you covered from the sweetness of Brianna's Season for Miracles, the comedy of Nobody's Cinderella, the vengeful humor of Last Christmas, the sensual poignancy of LuvU4Ever, or the romantic thriller suspense of Dead Heat. Grab a few romances to help you deal with the stress of the holidays. After all, you deserve a break too.

Friday, December 14, 2018

CHRISTMAS ELVES


By Bea Tifton

When I was four years old, I was wafting through the house, caught in the pre-Christmas euphoria and excitement, when I saw, just peeking up from our window, a little man with a beard peering in. As our eyes made contact, he ducked down and vanished. 

Elated, I ran to my mother and yelled, “Mommy! I just saw one of Santa’s elves!”

“That’s wonderful.” she replied. “He was checking to see if you’ve been good.” 

Then, she rushed me out of the room and walked calmly to the telephone, where she proceeded to call the local police and report that we had been the latest victims of the neighborhood peeping Tom.

Okay, so that wasn’t actually one of Santa’s elves. But, where did we get the whole idea, anyway?

Elves at work

Elves came from early Norse mythology. The word elf comes from the word √°lfar, also known as hulduf√≥lk, or "hidden folk." They could be good to people who treated them well or play pranks on people who treated them badly. Elvan pranks included sitting on someone’s head to give them nightmares, tangling their hair, (so that’s what happens to me every night), souring their milk, or stealing their sausages. If someone left a bowl of porridge on their doorstep at night, the elves would be appeased and would leave them alone.


Santa, the right jolly old elf.

The first reference to Christmas elves has been attributed to the 1822 Clement Clark Moore poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” which refers to Santa as a “right jolly old elf.”

 In 1857 Harper’s Weekly then published “The Wonders of Santa Claus.” The poem includes the lines

"In his house upon the top of a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps a great many elves at work,
All working with all their might,
To make a million of pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up you know
By the little girls and boys."

The Wonders of Santa Claus



And, of course, there’s that creepy little fellow, The Elf on the Shelf. In 2005 Carol Aebersold self-published her book and sold each one with a little toy elf. The story detailed a little Christmas elf who kept an eye on children to tell Santa whether they are good or bad. A sort of elven Homeland Security.  I have to admit, as much as I loved elves and fairies when I was a child, I’m glad that I was a grownup before this particular tradition became “The Thing.”  

And, just a little friendly advice in the true spirit of Christmas. If you do see a Christmas elf peeking into your window some night, you might want to pick up the phone and call the cops.

Sources:
Pappas, Stephanie. “Elf on a Shelf: The Strange History of Santa’s Little Helpers.” Live Science, December 18, 2013.
Radford, Benjamin. “A History of Elves” Live Science. October 31, 2017.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Recipes, Audio book, and End of year cheer by Paty Jager


Whether you celebrate Christmas, some other holiday, or no holiday, everyone has to eat. This month I'd like to share a recipe with you that I like to make for family, friends and neighbors and a recipe from my character Shandra Higheagle.

My recipe is for Caramel Corn- which could be from my character Shandra because caramel is one of her favorite things besides her horses, dog, friends, and Detective Ryan Greer. ;)

Caramel Corn 

15 cups of popped corn
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Divide popped corn into 2 ungreased cookie sheets with sides. In saucepan over medium heat, heat  sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt, stirring occasionally, until bubbles begin. Continue cooking over medium heat for  5 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in soda until foamy. Pour half the mixture in each pan, stirring until the popped corn is well coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. (this recipe was originally from General Mills I've adapted it)

Shandra Higheagle's recipe is for her famous cinnamon rolls- Well, they are famous with my readers and the fictional characters in Huckleberry, Idaho.

Shandra's Sixty-minute Cinnamon Rolls

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
2 packages Active Dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
Brown sugar to cover the dough
Cinnamon to cover the brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 11/2 cups flour, sugar, sale, and undissolved yeast.

Combine milk, water, and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120-130 degrees F) ( I use the microwave and a Pyrex measuring cup) butter does not need to melt. Gradually add this to the dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; place in warm (98 degree F) to rise for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out on floured board and roll into a large rectangle. Spread with melted butter, cover with brown sugar, and sprinkle with cinnamon. roll up long side and cut in 1-11/2 inch slices depending on if you want fewer but larger rolls or more rolls. Place cut side down in a buttered 9" x 13" pan. Let rise in in a warm, free from draft area for 15 minutes. ( I usually fill my small sink with hot water, place a cooling rack over it and set the pan on that with a towel over the top. My daughter uses the warming oven)

Bake at 425 degrees F, for 15 minutes or until done. Drizzle with a milk and powdered sugar glaze.

(This recipe was originally a Sixty-minute dinner roll recipe but my daughter and I sweetened the dough and added the cinnamon roll elements.)

These are both treats you can make any time of the year. 


In time for this season, book 7 in the Shandra Higheagle mysteries, Yuletide Slaying, is now out in audio book format. 
Here are a few of the reviews: 

A nice cozy mystery with a likable heroine and her police officer other half to-be,as well as a
lovable dog that has a penchant for finding trouble when she least expected it.
If you get a chance to listen to the audio version you'll enjoy it a lot. The voice-over actress is
really good and quite believable and you wanted the story to keep on going.
It had a lot of humor and some quirky characters that were fun in troubled times
and a few characters or two just might need a story of their own. *Amazon Review*
***
This is a tightly plotted mystery with several twists and turn. I was on the edge of my seat turning the pages as quickly as I could read. I adore how Shandra's grandmother comes to her in her dreams to give her clues. I also enjoyed learning about the native American culture presented through the story. *Goodreads Review*
***
Author Paty Jager is a wonderful storyteller, she has written an engaging and suspenseful mystery. I was fortunate enough to get to listen to the audio version of this book Narrated by Ann M Thompson. Mrs. Thompson’s ability to bring the story off the pages just make the reading experience that much better. Mrs. Thompson's voice, accents, diction, and timing are captivating.

I definitely recommend this book to Paty Jager fans, fans of Shandra Higheagle series, and to all mystery buffs. If you get a chance to listen to the book as well I would recommend that too. *Goodreads Review*

This audio book is $10, though some of the vendors have had it on sale this month so check around if you are on multiple audiobook vendor sites.

Book 7 of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series
Family, Revenge, Murder
When Shandra Higheagle’s dog brings her a dead body in a sleigh full of presents, her world is turned upside down. The man is a John Doe and within twenty-four hours another body is found.

Detective Ryan Greer receives a call that has them both looking over their shoulders. A vengeful brother of a gang member who died in a gang war is out for Ryan’s blood. Shandra’s dreams and Ryan’s fellow officers may not be enough to keep them alive to share Christmas.

Audio Links:
 iTunesNook:   Audiobooks.com:    Scribd:    Playster:    Amazon:    Audible




Monday, December 10, 2018

My Favorite Christmas Cookies & Other Traditions

Hello friends and followers of Smart Girls Read Romance,

Thanks so much for stopping by today. This month is a great month to visit the blog because you'll find all sorts of Holiday traditions and recipes you'll want to keep handy.

Here's a recipe for cookies I make every year. They're easy-peasy yet mouth-watering delicious.

PECAN CRESCENTS
Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Confectioners' sugar

Directions
In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour. Stir in pecans.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 2-1/2-in. logs and shape into crescents. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 325° for 20-22 minutes or until set and bottoms are lightly browned. Let stand for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

* * * *
What could be easier, right? And I know your family will love them!

Now...what about some of the first Christmas traditions in America?

CHRISTMAS TREE
Of course, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition. However, the first American Christmas tree can be credited to a Hessian soldier by the name of Henrick Roddmore, who was captured at the Battle of Bennington (Vermont) in 1776. He then went to work on the farm of Samuel Denslow in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where for the next 14 years he put up and decorated Christmas trees in the Denslow family home.

The first Christmas tree retail lot was established in 1851 by a Pennsylvanian named Mark Carr, who hauled two ox sleds loaded with Christmas trees from the Catskill Mountains to the sidewalks of New York City.

The first president to set up a Christmas tree in the White House was Franklin Pierce, and the first president to establish the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn was Calvin Coolidge.

On December 22, 1882, Edward Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, created the first string of Christmas tree lights. They were first sold in New York City.

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HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS
The first department store Santa was James Edgar, who, during Christmas seasons beginning in 1890, would wander about his store (the Boston Store) in Brockton, Massachusetts, dressed as Santa Claus, talking to the children of customers.

MORE CHRISTMAS FIRSTS
December 7, 1898: The first Christmas postage stamp was released in Canada
December 7, 1907: Christmas seals sold for the first time
Wednesday, December 1, 1909: The Christmas Club savings account began

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Thanks so much for visiting today, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh and Happy Holidays!