Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Aloha to Gina Danna and LOVE & VENGEANCE




To Be Legion 

300. Spartacus. Gladiator. Epic films and shows that capture our attention. Tales of the ancient world that was beautiful and brutal at the same time. As a historian, I love tales of old. These films actually piqued my interest in Ancient times. Also, an added bonus, for two of these is that I’m half Sicilian. Our family ancestry traces way back to Italy so I’ve always been interested in its rich history.

That intrigue and interest kicked into play with one of the other fascinating tidbits of these dramas – these films have men who are in tip top shape physically. Their women are also. I was truly envious. The image of Dustin Clare as Gannicus in Gods of the Arena, when he steps out onto the sands in the first episode is classic – six-pack ab muscles, corded legs, biceps honed, he truly looks like a champion gladiator! A God of the Arena! Amazing and hot! The interest in how he and others got into shape for this show was filmed as a snippet which showed their ‘gladiatorial training’ prior to filming. Fascinating!

During the last season of Spartacus, War of the Damned, “an opportunity presented itself”. I was following Starz Spartacus, Liam McIntyre (Spartacus) and Stephen DeKnight (creator of the series) on Twitter. Comments about the gladiatorial training finally prompted Tyrone Bell, Liam’s trainer, to do a short video on how he got the actors and actresses in shape and staying in shape with a hectic film schedule with a 20 minute intense work-out and showed what some of these sessions were. I saw it & thought, wow! I can do that! Apparently I wasn’t alone because soon they announced Legion Training by Tyrone would be available to us fans. He set this up with us signing up through twitter, sending in a photo with our names and email addresses. Cool!

Legion Training is an 11 week work-out with an additional 2 weeks pre-work-out warm up. Liam McIntyre explained how Tyrone had him and the cast do this in their training. To participate, you had to join a gym, get a stop watch and be motivated. The workouts are 20 minutes long, done 5 days a week with 6 days of cardio (45 minute brisk walk first thing in the morning), leaving you with one day of rest. Included in this was a diet but you have to weigh in every 2 weeks and take your measurements, all recorded online in your account. The exercise changes daily and Tyrone has videos on how to do each (he is in New Zealand so all done thru the internet). This was designed as a competition for us and the winners got flown to NZ to meet Tyrone and Liam.

From what I saw on the show, I figured it worked so I was in it for me. What we do in 20 minutes is harder than most people at the gym do in an hour. It is timed to the exact second and he spells this all out for you. The mindset for this is relatively easy – back during Ancient Rome, they don’t have sweets like we’re used to (no chocolate – I know, how horrible!). The menu for this training is based on what you hope to gain out of this. In my case, that was to lose weight and get in shape. It’s streamlined plan using regular food like eggs, oatmeal, fruits, grains and protein.

During this time period in Rome, the Romans themselves were in physically good shape. They had gymnasiums where they played and being physical fit was important to them. Keeping that in mind plus listening to the soundtrack to Spartacus during my sessions helped to keep me focus on the goal.

So for 11 weeks I followed the plan and lost over 15 pounds (at 5 feet tall, that’s close to 30) and got in great shape, enough so when I submitted my final pix, wearing the same clothes, the change was noticeable! Plus I succeeded to be one of the 11 Honorable Mentions (out of the hundreds who completed this worldwide!).

So is it possible as an everyday person to get in shape like Dustin Clare, Manu Bennett, Liam McIntyre, Russell Crowe, etc? Yes. Legion Training IS a lifestyle and it’s great! And if I get to meet Russell Crowe, well, even better yet!



Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction. 

Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.



Congratulations, Gina, on your success with "legion" training! And congratulation on your new release, LOVE & VENGEANCE:

Amid his bloodthirsty quest for vengeance, champion gladiator Marcus saves Gustina from execution, only to realize his newfound love for the spirited slave might mean his own death.

Rome 108 A.D., under the Emperor Trajan, is the center of the civilized world. It is a time of sophistication and decadence, a brutal world to its conquered.

Marcus, a Roman citizen sentenced to die as a gladiator, stands accused by his wife and brother for a crime he did not commit. Yet death eludes him and he rises to become champion of the sands. The title he does not want. He seeks revenge, but his victories in the Colosseum bestow monetary rewards he can use to save a beautiful slave, Gustina, from certain death by the beasts. She gives him a taste of love in a world full of lies, betrayal and murder.

But his overwhelming desire for vengeance, for blood and the kill, brings a higher price tag—can he satisfy the demon inside him and face the truth? A truth that will kill the woman he loves
?

File:Hadrian's wall at Greenhead Lough.jpg
Hadrian's Wall in England
Image released to Public Domain (link)
 

I am giving away a "Roman" treat to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Rome - past or present.  My family has visited the Roman Empire's ancient ruins in Rome, Belgium, England, and Scotland.   

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 26, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Gina and her books, check out her website at ginadanna.com.

Roman Amphitheater in Caerleon, Wales

Aloha to Robin Bielman and WILD ABOUT HER WINGMAN


Robin Bielman is celebrating the release of WILD ABOUT HER WINGMAN:

Playing it safe never felt so risky.

Erin Watters is her small town’s resident wild child—she doesn’t do boring, and after having her heart annihilated, she definitely doesn’t do relationships. Her friends have other ideas, though, and when they throw down a matchmaking challenge, impulsive Erin can’t ignore it. Even when the annoyingly hot Troy Strieber accepts the matchmaker role…

As a rescue paramedic, Troy’s used to watching out for people. Never mind the bet he made with his buddy to play Erin’s wingman. But the more time he spends with the sexy, charismatic woman, the more he discovers a side of her she doesn’t let many see. Soon what started as an innocent game of matchmaking has them both thinking about the person right under their nose. But Troy’s a play-it-safe guy, and he won’t let a woman who lives for risk ever steal his heart.


Purchase links (at a very nice price):
Amazon: link
Barnes & Noble: link
Kobo: link
iTunes: link


Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini Labradoodle, Harry. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also likes to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Filled with wanderlust, she longs to visit many different places and fulfill her curiosity. She wouldn’t mind indulging her sweet tooth in every location either. She’s a lover of sticky notes, cable television shows and coffee drinks. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She writes contemporary and paranormal romance. Her Secret Wishes series includes Kissing the Maid of Honor, RITA Finalist Her Accidental Boyfriend, and Wild About Her Wingman. In July, 2014 her first single title paranormal romance, Veiled Target, will be released. She loves to connect with readers. Learn more about Robin and her books and sign up for her newsletter on her website at robinbielman.com.

Facebook: facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter
Twitter: twitter.com/RobinBielman
Goodreads: goodreads.com/robinbielman


Robin is hosting a fabulous giveaway ....




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review - Aloha to Hannah Dennison and MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL

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April 23 is St. George's Day - the Patron Saint of England.  

Cry God for Harry, England and St George!
- William Shakespeare

Let's celebrate St. George's Day with a contemporary cozy mystery set in Merry Ole England ... 

In Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison, former TV celebrity host Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house, on an isolated country estate, Honeychurch Hall, several hundred miles from London. When Kat arrives at the house, she discovers that Iris has yet another surprise in store. 

Iris has been writing in secret for years and reluctantly reveals that she’s actually Krystalle Storm, the famous bestselling author of steamy bodice-rippers. The gentry upstairs and those below stairs at Honeychurch Hall regard the newcomers with suspicion and distrust. When the nanny goes missing, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead, and Iris is accused of the murder, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all and wonders if she is—indeed—guilty. Although the six hundred year old estate has endured wars, corruption and Royal favors, it’s the scandals, secrets and lies of the last few decades that must remain buried at all costs.


Okehampton Castle in Devon -
Its owner fell out of royal favor

If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive. - Dale Carnegie

Kat Standford has kicked the beehive. As a TV host of Fakes and Treasures, she is the target of online gossip, especially from the almost ex spouse of her current boyfriend. Kat’s remedy – quit TV to open her own antique shop with her widowed mother, Iris.   But Iris has her own ideas - she bought a crumbling cottage from the family estate of Honeychurch Hall in Devonshire, miles away from civilization in London. Kat sets off for the West Country to “save” her mother only to find that Iris is just one enigma among many at Honeychurch Hall.

Hannah Dennsion spent her teenage years in Devon, giving her the credibility to bring its quirky characters to life in this cozy mystery. Dennison also salutes the romance genre through Iris’ alter ego, Krystalle Storm. Having grown up visiting my own English granny in Devon, I enjoyed Dennison’s success in capturing Devon’s magic.  Indeed, this is no modern day Downtown Abbey. The Devon denizens are not that dull. There is a surprise around every corner at Honeychurch Hall!  In addition to the murder, Kat has to “sort out” her mother and “sort through” her feelings for her not-quite-divorced boyfriend. Dennison hits the spot with one scene in Totnes – thanks, Hannah, for making me laugh!

Recommended read for fans of cozy mysteries, lighthearted humor, and the English countryside.

I received an ARC for an honest review.

Totnes Castle
English Heritage (link)

I am giving away an copy of MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL - winner's choice of format when it is published on May 12.   To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about St. George, Shakespeare, and/or rambling old houses.  

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 26, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Hannah and her books, check out her website at hannahdennison.com.


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Aloha to World Book Night - Sharing the Love of Reading



For the third year in a row, I was selected to be a giver for World Book Night (link):

On April 23, 2014, 25,000 volunteers from Kodiak to Key West will give away half a million free books in more than 6,000 towns and cities across America.  World Book Night US (WBN) is an ambitious campaign to give thousands of free, specifically-printed paperbacks to light or non readers. Volunteer book lovers like myself will help promote reading by going into communities and handing out free copies of a book we love.

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I received 20 copies of John Flanagan's THE RUINS OF GORLAN, Book 1 in the Ranger's Apprentice series:

They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaksand shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .


... and the recipients were Boy Scout Troop 424, chartered by the Savage Methodist Church, Savage, Maryland.  


Daisy looks forward to the scouts reading the book to her!

Mahalo to the many sponsors at this link plus Barnes & Noble in Ellicott City which distributed the giver's boxes in my area. To celebrate World Book Night, I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about a book you would recommend to a non reader to draw them into the world of reading.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 26, 10 pm in Baltimore

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about John and his books, check out his website at rangersapprentice.com.  My kids loved his books!


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Aloha to Tracy March and A SHOT OF RED




Did Someone Say Vacation? 
by Tracy March

I love to experience new places, so I’m always up for travel and adventure. Eager for excitement, I’ve flown in a stunt plane, snowmobiled on the Continental Divide, ziplined in the Swiss Alps, and been chased by a bull in the mountains of St. Lucia. Fun times in some of my favorite vacation destinations!

I just adore the craggy Rockies, and the little Western town of Crested Butte—the wildflower capital of Colorado. Surrounded by ranches and bordered by mountain wilderness, the historic little mining town has a storybook main street lined with colorful Victorian buildings. One of my favorite restaurants there has been open for more than a hundred years, and the only entrĂ©e they serve is to-die-for fried chicken! Delicious after a day of awesomely scenic hiking through Aspen groves, with wildflowers blooming on the mountainsides. Purple. Red. Yellow. Basking in the bright sun under an electric-blue sky. Vacationers can kick back in a restored miner’s cabin, or spoil themselves in a local B&B that offers bikes to ride around the idyllic little town. 



The islands are a great escape, too. I’m partial to St. Lucia, where the people are so welcoming and kind. Their words lilt from their mouths with a melodic accent, and their smiles are totally genuine. My husband and I stayed in a villa called Paradise, and we didn’t need convincing. We were quickly captivated by the island’s lush mountains and rainforests, and its cocoa and banana plantations. Forget that a bull on the loose chased us when we were on a walk high up in the hills. That only added to our adventure. Besides, there are plenty of magical places to relax after outrunning a bull! Private coves hide black-sand beaches, and azure waters lap at the shore. It’s a picture-perfect place for romance. 


I’m also wild about Switzerland—especially historic Lucerne. Set at the edge of the snowy Alps, countless swans swim in the lake at the center of the city. Covered footbridges festooned with flower boxes span the lake that’s bordered by a tree-lined promenade. Centuries-old buildings are painted with murals, colorful shutters hung at their windows. Clocks housed in Rapunzelesque towers chime every hour, but the oldest clock in the city does the honors. It’s allowed to chime a minute before all the others. Up on nearby Mount Pilatus, there is ziplining with a view, and a breathtaking aerial gondola ride to the peak. You can come down the same way, or take the world’s steepest cog railway all the way to the bottom. As if that isn’t enough to entice you to visit Switzerland—there’s chocolate! Swiss chocolatiers have fountains overflowing with decadent chocolate, and nearly any chocolate treat you can imagine. Mmm… 


It’s hard not to be romantic about vacations to awesome places, and sometimes I fall hard. Then I want to write books about all the special places I’ve been. Now I’ve got a long list just waiting for their stories, and even more trips planned. If only I could write as fast as I travel!

What are some of your favorite vacations spots, and what do you like best about them?




Mahalo, Tracy, for sharing your travel adventures with us! Tracy is celebrating the release of  A SHOT OF RED (link):

After fleeing DC following a one-night stand that had her reeling, biotech company heiress Mia Moncure has thrived working with a humanitarian aid team administering vaccines in Haiti. When the United States is threatened with a flu epidemic, Mia’s grandmother demands her return to unveil a new flu vaccine for Moncure Therapeutics. She arrives to find that her ex-boyfriend, the company’s PR Director, has died in a suspicious accident in Switzerland that Mia soon suspects was murder.

Determined to reveal a killer, Mia heads to Switzerland, where she’s threatened as she discovers a plan to infiltrate the vaccine for nefarious purposes. Desperate for backup, she turns to sexy Gio Lorenzo, Communications Director for her mother, a high-ranking senator—and Mia’s one-night stand. While negotiating their rocky relationship, they race to uncover a deadly scheme that could ruin her family’s reputation. But millions of people are being vaccinated, and there’s more than her family’s legacy at stake. Mia and Gio struggle to discover the truth about the scheme and their feelings for each other, but it just might be too late.




Award-winning author Tracy March writes romantic thrillers influenced by her interest in science and politics. She also writes lighthearted romances inspired by her real-life happily ever after.

Always up for travel and adventure, Tracy has flown in a stunt plane, snowmobiled on the Continental Divide, ziplined in the Swiss Alps, and been chased by a bull in the mountains of St. Lucia. She loves Nationals baseball, Saturday date nights, and Dairy Queen Blizzards—and rarely goes a day without Diet Coke and Cheez-Its.

Tracy lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with her superhero husband who works for NASA. They recently spent two years living in Washington D.C., and enjoy visiting often—especially when the Nats are in town.


To learn more about Tracy and her books, check out her social media:

Tracy is hosting a special giveaway at this link.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

 A touch of red in Hawaii could be flowers ...
... or Pele, the volcano goddess. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aloha to Nina Pierce and IN HIS EYES



Back in February, I made a quick trip to the Big Apple to see WICKED - I posted pictures on ALOHA ON MY MIND at this link and this link.   My college friend invited me ... and I met her sister-in-law ... who commented that her other sister in law is romance author Nina Pierce.   I invited Nina for a cozy chat ....


USA Today bestselling author, Nina Pierce, resides in New England with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of thirty years and several spoiled cats who consider her staff. She spends her days at the keyboard writing romance stories, blissfully creating chaos for her characters by throwing in a villain or two, a little murder and a whole lot of mayhem as they struggle toward their happy-ever-afters. You can check out all her books on her website, ninapierce.comand follow her day-to-day happenings on Facebook (link) and Twitter (link).
 
Kim:  Can you share your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Northeast?

Nina:  The rolling hills near my home dressed in the sunset hues of autumn. The rhythmic wash of the ocean against the rocks, it sooths all my stresses. And the smell of a pine forest after a rain, it’s like the fresh scent of Christmas in the forest.

I love the northeast!

Kim:  What was your family's reaction to your "spicy" romance novels?

Nina:  I came at writing a little differently. I was a science teacher at an outreach facility. It was the job of my heart. But 9 years ago the multiple sclerosis that had been percolating in the background of my life reared its ugly head. I had to give up the classroom and find something I could do sitting on my butt…enter writing. I wrote 3 complete novels without garnering any publisher’s interest.

I stepped back and did what I do best—research. What I found is that the erotic romance market was breaking wide open (and believe it or not this was 5 or 6 years before Fifty Shades). So I wrote the same romantic suspense story but threw the bedroom door wide open. And voila! My novels became the DANGEROUS AFFAIRS series.

And what did my family think? They were ecstatic. They’ve always been really supportive. Many of them won’t read my books, especially the very sexy ones, but they buy them. I have the best family. ;)

Kim:  Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?

When I first started writing, it was just me and the computer. About 6 months in I discovered Romance Writers of America (rwa.org). After joining the national organization I discovered there were many chapters, some of them online. I joined these smaller chapters and found great support in other writers. I also began taking online writing classes and entering writing contests. Author judges are amazing. I learned so much about crafting a story through their invaluable critiques. It meant so much to me that I now judge two or three major writing contests to help new writers on their journey to publication.

But the greatest support came from the local chapter of Maine Romance Writers. I went to their monthly meetings and made some amazing friends. It’s through them that I found my first publisher. It was nice not to navigate the turbulent waters of the publishing world alone. I always recommend new writers find a writing or critique group for support and encouragement.

Kim:  Tell us about your books - what inspired them?

My newest release, IN HIS EYES (link), is a romantic thriller (not as sexy as my other titles) set on the coast of Maine. The story actually stemmed from some winter renters my mom had at her beach cottage one year. They were going through a separation and splitting weeks between home and the cottage. Of course there was no serial killer or FBI agents roaming the beach that winter.

Kim:  What's next for Nina Pierce?

Nina:  I have a couple series, A TOUCH OF LILLY and SHADOWS OF FIRE that I’d like to finish. I’ve been plugging away at them, but my muse keeps walking away bored and I can’t seem to convince her to stay and play at the computer. About a week ago she inspired me with a complete series that takes place out west based on a family that owns a ranch. Each story will be how the siblings find their true loves. It looks like they’re going to be another sexy read. The ideas have finally come together and I’m really excited about writing these stories. Hopefully the first couple will be released this year.


Mahalo, Nina, for joining me at SOS Aloha!   I am giving away an ecopy of IN HIS EYS to one randomly selected commenter.  

It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?

To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt—and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her—and who’s got her in his sights. 

To enter the giveaway,

1.  What do you know about Maine?  I love Maine lobster!

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 26, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

The view from Makapu'u -
Hawaiian for "bulging eye"

Coin Challenge at the RT Booklovers Convention


defense.gov

Here ye, Here ye!   I am implementing a coin challenge for RT/NOLA. This is tradition for military personnel to carry around his/her unit's coin. When challenged, those in the area pull out their coins ... and those without their coins buy a round of drinks.

We'll modify this for RT/NOLA.   If you have military connections, bring any coin that is available to you.  No military connections? Make your own coin!  Use a favorite state quarter, souvenir poker chip, foreign coin - anything that you can "pull out" of your badge holder.

When you see me at the convention in an Aloha Shirt, pull out your coin for a special treat.   
You can also coin check me at the SOS America promo table in Club RT (link).  Stop by to see how you can support deployed personnel.  We accept donations of unwanted books from the convention to distribute to military families. 

We'll have a coin check at the SOS America Military Tribute on Sunday morning (link)

Kathryn Falk, founder of SOS America Inc., invites all booklovers to join her for this annual salute to military families. Our celebration includes an Honor Guard, barbershop quartet, and special guest speaker Chief Michael Jaco, retired U.S. Navy SEAL. We will recognize military veterans from the United States and its allies, plus the extended family who serve back home. Goody bags will be presented to the military families.

Please share with any friends attending the convention ... and be prepared for the coin check!


Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City