The season of Christmas songs and overspending is in full swing, and for some, it is undoubtedly a time to withdraw and find solace in a good book. Cozy Christmas Mysteries may just be what you need to escape the times ahead that can quickly snowball into stress and sadness. Hold steady, friend, for a new season is always just around the bend. Happy reading!
Don’t forget the free downloadable book links at the bottom! You can lend them to anyone you wish!
*Remember, the price of the books listed may change and some may no longer be free by the time you go to grab them. I do not control the price of the books and/or the ability to offer them for free.*
Books for Purchase
Free Books (at time of posting)
Some links on my site are part of affiliate programs, and if you click on them or make a purchase from the link, I may make a few pennies. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Are you in need of the perfect gift for your favorite bibliophile?
What about your best friend who devours big books?
Maybe you just want to say that you love them?
Gifts are wonderful to give, but don’t leave yourself out!
Whatever the occasion, my Cozy to Go! cup wraps are the perfect accessory. Each Cozy to Go! cup wrap is cut and sewn by hand. Made of three layers: one outer embroidered cotton print or solid fabric, one cotton lining solid or print fabric, and a polyester insulating liner. You’ll be fashionable while protecting your fingers from the cold or hot drink in your hand.
The wrap should fit most disposable hot and cold to-go cups, however, it may not fit all large cups. Send us a note regarding specific cups, and we may be able to help you.
I’m continually adding new designs to the shop, so please stay tuned. Also, if you sign-up for my newsletter, you will automatically become a member of the super club who receives special coupons and purchase opportunities that are not made available to the general public. Don’t worry, I don’t flood your inbox with junk mailings or alert you to my every move.
Banned Books Week – September 27, 2015 – October 3, 2015
I love reading banned books. It encourages the tiny rebel that lives in a dark corner of my psyche. Who are YOU to tell ME what to read?
I don’t know about you, but when I look at the titles on the banned book list, I see books that have made a profound impact on my life. The books are deep, thought-provoking literary guideposts that reflect our culture and experience on this planet. What one person labels “dirty” or “inappropriate” shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether or not another person has the opportunity to read a book. Parents who protest a book’s inclusion into the school library because it speaks about slavery or homosexuality should be allowed to have their child excluded from reading the book, but they shouldn’t be allowed to speak for every parent and child.
There are those who defend the censorship, but when you show them the banned books list, they are dumbfounded when they realize one of their favorite books is included on the list. Well, some people will have this reaction and others will continue to blindly defend the censorship.
While things appear to be quiet around the site, my life has been anything but silent and boring.
I really don’t know where 2015 has gone. The stores are filled with all things fall, Halloween, and Christmas. I understand why this is necessary from the retail perspective, but it is also a good illustration of how crowded the end of the year becomes for most of us. I love this time of year, and as a result, I am more creative during this period. This increase in creativity and productivity can sometimes push me to the limits of my energy supply, but as the saying goes, “I can sleep when I’m dead.”
Here are a few updates about my site and my work.
The “Shop” tab isn’t new, but the items in it are new and shiny. Now you can purchase paperbacks of my book (signed, of course), and you can pick up some other awesome items like embroidered wall art, cup cozies, altered notebooks, embroidered key fobs, and more. I have many products in development and hope that you will turn remember to shop with me when you are looking for a little treat for yourself or that perfect gift for someone else. As an illustrator and artist, I’m excited to offer you additional products that reflect other sides of me.
I’ve also added a tab for “Stuff Jeannie Loves at Amazon” below the “About Me” tab. There are links to products I’ve reviewed and products that one could find within the pages of Manual Exposure. I’ve also added categories for the reader or writer in your life. Stay tuned, as this store will continue to grow and expand.
There is a third “shop” option that exists through my Zazzle store. You can purchase items that I’ve personally designed with my illustrations, photographs, and sayings. There are items related directly to Manual Exposure and there are general items that target readers and writers in general.
Events in my personal life, including issues with health and family, have pushed my writing to the back burner. I haven’t stopped promoting and expanding the reach of Manual Exposure, but I haven’t been able to suspend all other activities in my life and focus on completing my second book. I’ve been working on it, and I can’t wait to give you more details, but I haven’t been able to devote the time to it that it deserves. I hope the remaining months of 2015 will be dedicated to bringing more life to the pages of my second book.
I’m focusing on getting Manual Exposure on the shelves of more independent bookstores and creating opportunities to meet you at book signings and readings. My “Events” page is the place to watch for all the latest dates and occasions that may be near you.
There will be new essays coming to the blog, as well as a new segment that follows my travels. I like to take weekend or day trips to little spots near me, and I hope to bring these adventures to your inbox.
I can simply state that more podcasts are on the way. I love offering you the podcasts, but they do take a good chunk of time to edit. There are more book reviews and author interviews planned, so keep your ears open for a podcast update!
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to sign up to receive my newsletter. There are giveaways, updates, teasers, and special deals that are either offered exclusively or early to my newsletter subscribers. Don’t worry, I won’t drown your inbox with junk, and you can unsubscribe at any time if you find it is not to your liking.
Thank you to all who continue to support me by spreading the word about Manual Exposure and those who loyally return to the digital pages of this blog. I appreciate each of you, and I hope that you will continue to send me your notes and comments. I love reading them and responding to you. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me.
I’ve sold eBook and paperback copies of Manual Exposure, but until the Bookmarks Festival of Authors and Books, my book has never been available for purchase at a local venue where any member of the public could pick up the book, flip through the pages, and feel the weight of my words in their hands. As a child and teenager, I attended book festivals and dreamed of the day I would see my book offered to interested readers. Thanks to the local Charlotte chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, I was able to reach that important milestone.
Fellow members of the local WNBA traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to promote both the organization and member authors at the festival. The volunteers set up a lovely booth that featured published works from the members of the organization. Can you spot Manual Exposure on the table?
Between you and me, I would have happily stayed and watched the people come and go from the booth all day. I enjoy watching them scan the books and pick up the titles that intrigue them. I closely watch their reactions as they read the cover of the book and make a momentary judgement as to whether or not that specific title is destined to go home with them. I am frequently that reader, but I’ve never seen anyone do that with my book, and frankly, I can’t imagine ever growing tired of watching that dance.
I’m a new WNBA member, and I’m so glad to see the local chapter working to expand the name recognition for both the organization and the members. It takes time, money, and a great deal of energy to make it to an event like Bookmarks, and I appreciate the efforts and challenges the volunteers faced during the day. The calendar may have rolled forward to September, but this festival day was hot and humid. The volunteers always had a sweet smile and greeting ready for all who stepped up to the booth, and I can’t thank them enough for the work they did.
I really didn’t anticipate that I would sell any books at the festival. Aside from the big names that drew the crowd to the event, there were hundreds of titles waiting to be gobbled up by excited readers. Just having my book available for purchase was a big deal to me. I am the type of person who celebrates the little moments that others tend to overlook or downplay. When Manual Exposure went live as an eBook, my eyes were filled with tears. I felt the same giddiness when I saw my book on that table at the festival as I did when I hit publish on Amazon. Every step of this journey is a dream come true, and I don’t intend on ever forgetting it or ignoring how it makes me feel.
“Shut up!” were the first words out of my mouth when I checked back at the booth during a mid-day break. The volunteers told me that I had sold a book, and I couldn’t have been more excited and shocked if they had told me I had won a lottery jackpot. This was my jackpot. They explained that the woman had liked my cover and thought the summary sounded interesting. She loved that I’d signed the book, too.
Just as they were telling me the news, the woman who purchased the book returned to the booth and I was introduced as the author of her new book purchase. Seriously, that alone was enough to make me want to squeal.
She said that the cover of my book was beautiful and the photograph just drew her in. As a photographer, the title and photograph on the cover were big pulls for her. I desperately tried to not burst into tears. I took the cover photograph in Asheville, North Carolina, during the peak of the fall season of 2011. My husband and I had driven our beloved dog, Grandbury, on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Grandbury had such a wonderful day in the sun as he watched the landscape swirl around him. I’m so thankful that I captured that beautiful day and moment. Later that day, Grandbury would have the first of many seizures that indicated the likelihood of a brain tumor.
If it isn’t clear, my love for Asheville runs deep and in every pore of my being. To see someone connect with a photo that I took, a photo that is washed in memories and love, a photo that represents Asheville to me, means the world to me.
Her excitement about reading a book by some unknown author tickles me to no end. I’ve been that reader. I’ve been drawn to a book and purchased it for no other reason than liking the cover or book synopsis. Except now, the book that drew someone in and prompted them to take a gamble with their time and money–is mine. My book, my words, and ultimately me.
I’ll admit that I am not a cool author. I walked to the next discussion panel with tears in my eyes and the goofiest grin on my face. That reader will never know what her purchase meant to me, and I hope that she isn’t disappointed and loves my story and characters. Because of her, I ached to go home and get back to work on my second novel. Seeing a person connect with my book on a personal level is the most addictive part of being a writer. Knowing that I have had an impact on someone as so many authors have had on me is almost impossible to perceive.
You’ve been warned. I’m not a cool author. I may appear shy at your praise because I’m afraid if I open my mouth I may howl with tears of joy. I’ll try to get better; but never doubt that sweet words from a reader go straight to my heart and inspire me to return to the page. I never want to be so cool that I ever forget this feeling and what it means to connect with my readers. I always dreamed of it, but as a child who grew up in many trailer parks, I never knew if I’d ever get to see someone point to my book, choose it over the other selections, and take it home as a new treasure they had discovered.
I’ve now seen that happen in my lifetime. To other writers, young and old, I hope you dare to dream that for yourself. The time it takes to get to that moment doesn’t matter. I just want you to know that it can happen. No matter your circumstance, I encourage you to dream that your work and words will and do matter. The key is never to forget that this is what you wanted and to recognize the moment when it happens. Should a moment like this ever fail to impress you or mean something to you, for your sake and that of the readers, I hope you put the pen down.
As for me, I’m writing. I am uncool and greedy. I want to experience that moment again and again.
[typography font=”Dancing Script” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Sage Brant[/typography] sees the world through her camera lens. She focuses on the things that matter to her: family, nature, and Asheville, North Carolina. She doesn’t have time for anyone or anything that may derail her future career plans. Sage is not your average college student. When she isn’t in school, Sage can be found working, visiting with her family and best friend, and pursuing her passion for photography. She isn’t giggling over cute college boys, and she isn’t searching for love.
This is my college reader copy of The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe. This was her third novel, and it was first published in 1791.
Those who love a mystery with elements of the supernatural and impending threats of horror and terror should reach for a Gothic novel. Radcliffe is a wonderful place to start, as she was the best-selling author of the genre. While she may not be very well known today, she was enormously popular in her day.
Many readers seek out this book because it is referenced in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Interestingly enough, those same readers don’t often enjoy Radcliffe.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume should be required reading for every adolescent. Ms. Blume is one of my idols, and I appreciate her ability to write books for children and young adults that are honest and humorous. I bow to Ms. Blume.
Watch Ms. Blume perform the breast-enhancing exercise from the book. Adorable, thy name is Blume.
The Birdman of Alcatraz is a haunting read. Once you’ve been told the story of this man’s life, it will never leave you. Robert Stroud served 54 years in prison, and 43 of them were in solitary confinement.
After you read the book, watch the 1962 movie of the same name; it is also very good.
The Bell Jar by American poet Sylvia Plath celebrates its 51st year in print. The semi-autobiographical book was published in 1963 in the United Kingdom a month prior to her suicide. She was thirty years old. The first edition was published under Plath’s pseudonym, “Victoria Lucas.” It wouldn’t be published in the United States until 1971. My edition is from 1971.
Her only novel, The Bell Jar is “the heartbreaking story of a talented young woman who descends into madness.”
Listen to Ms. Plath read “Tulips” during her 1961 appearance on the BBC radio series, The Poet’s Voice.
The Little Locomotive by Ib Spang Olsen, 1976 edition. This little book was/is so dear to me. I loved the personification of the train. I don’t know how I came by this book, but I’m thankful it was always a staple in my room. I’m surprised I was allowed this book, as I’m certain my mother would have viewed it as something more appropriate for a boy. I’d love to know the story behind my coming to own this book.
Watch Ib Spang Olsen, Danish writer and illustrator, draw and paint in this video.
It’s time to take another peek at the items on my bookshelf! I’m having so much fun with this series, and I hope you are enjoying it. Has it encouraged you to go to your bookshelves and rediscover the books you own?
My husband purchased this hardback copy of Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, edited by Madeleine Stern with stories by Louisa May Alcott. This beautiful Christmas gift thrilled me, as I had never heard of the four stories.
Some of the stories in the book were published anonymously or under the name A.M. Barnard. The stories included are: “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment,” “The Mysterious Key,” “The Abbot’s Ghost,” and “Behind a Mask.”
Six years before she wrote Little Women, Louisa May Alcott was in financial straits. She entered “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment,” a novelette, in a newspaper contest. She published it anonymously, and it won the $100 prize. The subsequent “blood and thunder” tales she published would provide her livelihood for years.
I’ve been enamored with Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Less Masters since high school. A teacher read parts of the book to my class, and I found it to be a unique method of telling a story. The stories unfold in a series of epitaphs.
I’ve since purchased the audiobook, and I love to play it in the car for friends who’ve never read it. They are instantly drawn into the tragic and scandalous tales of the people buried in little Spoon River.
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong is a new addition to my bookshelf. If you haven’t done it yet, you should scoot over and give a listen to my podcast. I review this book and share news about the second book in the new trilogy.
Whenever my eyes fall upon Joint Mission by D. Gary Berube, I smile and instantly remember the author. He was my high school janitor. I was a reporter for the high school newspaper, and a teacher thought Mr. Berube’s story would make an interesting article.
Mr. Berube didn’t look like other janitors. His long hair fell just below his shirt collar, and he wore jeans and short-sleeved plaid shirts. I always thought he looked as though he were headed out to a concert. He was easy-going and kind. I remember how tickled he was when I interviewed him for the paper.
He autographed this copy he gave me, and I’ve always cherished it. The cover and internal illustrations are his work, too.
Below are just a few elements of the information available in the podcast. Note: Show notes are not complete transcriptions of the podcast show.
[typography font=”Smythe” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]My Book Review Policy[/typography]
I share my thoughts on five-star review systems, including what categories I believe deserve close scrutiny and warrant poor evaluations.
What are your thoughts on the five-star review system? Do you like it, or do you think it causes more confusion than it is worth? Is a simple thumbs up or down scale sufficient? Do you think people should be allowed to simply state that they couldn’t finish the book and that is a sufficient review? Let me know what you think!
[typography font=”Smythe” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris[/typography]
Listen to the podcast for my full review of the book!
The Day Shift, book two in the Midnight Crossroad trilogy, will be published in Spring 2015.
Having stumbled across Ms. Harris by way of the television show True Blood, I quickly sought out her Sookie Stackhouse series and completed my feast with her other titles.
Midnight Crossroad is a tale of action, mystery, and intrigue! At the heart of the book is a great little town filled with interesting and comical characters who bond over their task of solving the mystery of what happened to the girlfriend of one their beloved citizens.
Let me say this: Midnight Crossroad is not about Sookie Stackhouse. I’m disappointed to discover that some readers are comparing this book to the Stackhouse series, and that is not a fair assessment. I’ll never understand why readers treat their beloved authors with such disdain when the author chooses to write a different series or create a new world or characters.
While there are elements of the supernatural and paranormal, the story doesn’t revolve around those elements.
Have you read it? What did you think of your visit to Midnight, Texas?
[typography font=”Smythe” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong[/typography]
Listen to the podcast for my full review of the book!
Empire of Night, book two in the Age of Legend series, will be published in April 2015.
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong isn’t a book that I would normally have picked up, but I’m glad I did. This young adult, epic high-fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal read is just the ticket for anyone looking to step outside of their reading comfort zone and explore a new world.
Do you use certain genres as palate cleansers between other books? Paranormal and supernatural reads are genres I turn to to cleanse the reading palate. I typically read very heavy literary pieces back to back, and these fun genres give me an escape from those subjects and help free my mind.
I haven’t read any of Ms. Armstrong’s previous work, but I can say that if they are anything like this read, I’m sure to quickly devour them. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in the Age of Legend series.