So, there I was, pleased as punch that I'd consolidated my blogs. I'd feel more free to write about everything, share my interests, bare my soul.
But I have very specific interests. It didn't work at all. I'd had a garden blog for over a decade. I have a garden memoir on the back burner. But every time I wanted to write a gardening post, I stopped myself. I can't only write gardening posts on a multi-topic blog.
And how many gardeners love romance? Probably a great many, if I know romance writers -- and I do. But certainly not all.
So I've decided to keep Grains of Sand as a more personal blog, with book reviews, even a few interviews, for topics.
It's going to be fun! Rubbing my hands together...
Thank you for your patience! More soon!
June. Where we live, it's the beginning of unrelenting heat and humidity. One of our favorite escapes is to the beach. My husband likes to fish. I like to nap. I also like to swim and I love to watch the seabirds. Much as I love the mountains, the ocean always impresses me. It's just so vast. It's also vulnerable.
Immense and powerful as they are, our oceans aren't immune to maltreatment. Oceans Day was first declared June 8, 1992, at the Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro. In 2008, the UN designated June 8 as World Oceans Day and observed it for the first time the following year. The impact oceans and humans have on each other is a broad topic with many subtopics. Fascinating lectures and discussions have highlighted World Oceans Day through the years.
Since last year, due to Covid, the UN hosts a day-long, virtual event that we are all welcome to join. This year's theme is The Ocean: Lives and Livelihood.
The schedule is posted on the website.
UN World Oceans Day 2021 - UN World Oceans Day
It’s such a wonderful feeling to read the first few pages of a book and realize that a wonderful story is unfolding. Crafted by an awesome storyteller, Knight of Runes is a beautiful, enthralling time travel romance. The book is filled with mystery, action, and passion.
I’ve begun to accept that author Ruth Casie was a warrior princess or a pirate, or maybe even a ninja, in another life. Her action scenes are astounding!
Even better, the romance is both tender and passionate. The relationship between Rebeka and Arik opens up and grows throughout the book. Their love for each other is deep and true. They are perfect together.
I am thrilled with the way the author handles the time-travel aspect. She doesn’t give too much away too soon and creates a perfect setup for a series. Trust me, we want more of these knights!
Many thanks to the author for a well-written, amazing, medieval escape! Five stars!
It’s as if we’ve moved to a new house, maybe even like we’ve built a new house – across the country. Ha.
But we haven’t. We just moved back into our renovated house. Anyone who has gone through home renovation knows how it feels. So does anyone who has moved. The amount of work is startling. The dust is startling. The amount of cleaning involved is downright shocking.
And so what? Now that the worst is over, I’m enjoying the challenge. I’m also loving the updates.
Are you the type of person who wants to hang the pictures almost before unpacking or do you focus on the less obvious tasks? Neither my husband nor I worry too much about the surface stuff at first. We’ve moved a lot and we’ve sort of nailed our routine. And each move – because that’s really what this is – is different, with different requirements.
For one thing, we’re not quite finished with updates. There’s going to be a Round 2. At least it should be a lot simpler. In the meantime, my husband is tackling some tasks himself. This “move”, he doesn’t have to worry about setting up the electronics. But he is installing our new stove tonight.
The kitchen cabinets have been cleaned, everything taken out, washed, and put back. Of course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to purge and rearrange. This afternoon, I plan to unpack some books.
We’ve had more help than we ever imagined. Our family has been wonderful.
But the space has changed in all sorts of little ways and will change a little more before the renovation is complete. There’s still so much to do. Our bedroom hasn’t even been unpacked.
That’s why I’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus. It won’t be for long, maybe a week or so.
At least we know where the pictures will go. 😊
Wishing you all a wonderful week.
Hidden secrets could tear them apart as fast as their passion drove them together.
Welcome to Medieval Monday! I have the honor of hosting Ashley York. For this last week of the spring session, enjoy a "first kiss" snippet from Lachlann's Legacy.
For more more medieval romance, be sure to stop by Medieval Romance Lovers on FB. We can also be found on Twitter, #MedMonSpring21.
For more of Ashley's beautiful work, be sure to visit her website.
Now for the snippet:
He clamped his teeth, then blew a breath, puffing out his cheeks. He decided not to answer her at all. Best if she believed he was asleep. Never had his hands, his entire body ached so, urging him to set aside his chivalry and test the desire smoldering in her eyes. A need she probably couldn’t name. No, it was better to find an experienced wench to see to him. Soon. As soon as they were done here. As soon as they found the silver, returned it to the priory, and were done with this. As soon as he could get Ethne out of his thoughts.
About the book:
An 11th-century highlander must deceive a lovely woman living among outcasts in order to save his priory, but it’s his heart that’s truly at stake…
On the Moray coast in Scotland…
Ethne’s genuine and caring nature makes her invaluable to her brother as his son’s caretaker, but he and his wife treat her as little more than their servant. When she learns their tribal leader would use her chaste status for his own purposes, Ethne plans to escape and reluctantly accepts the help of Lachlann—a handsome pilgrim she only just met at the local faire.
Despite her independent spirit, Ethne feels drawn to Lachlann. Her instincts say his intentions are honorable, but can she trust him with her heart?
Raised by his godfather with few clues to his family’s past, Lachlann values his freedom and the brotherhood of his highlander kin. Disguised as a pilgrim on a mission for the priory, he encounters Ethne, a warm, intelligent maiden whose courage in the face of a loveless marriage awakens an intense need to protect her.
Unfortunately, Ethne is one of the very people he must deceive to explore the cave system containing clues to the lost treasure he seeks. But he cannot abandon her to an uncertain fate—or deny the simmering tension between them.
With religious prejudice running high and both of them facing tests of loyalty, Lachlann and Ethne may realize the only way to fight for their futures is to surrender... to each other.
Get your copy of Lachlann's Legacy here.
Happy Medieval Monday!
I am sitting under our children’s gazebo, enjoying a beautiful morning. I think it’s the fifth and probably last week of our stay here. It’s been lovely. Work – a lot of it – looms in the near future. So does summer’s intense heat and humidity. I’d might as well relax while I can.
So here I am, gazing out at their swimming pool, peaceful and shaded from the morning sun, and at their perfect ligustrum hedge. It’s about four years old, lush, and flowering.
Ours, on the other hand, is about twenty years old, sparse, and it never flowers. I feel guilty.
Ever since we moved into our current home, I’ve rather resented the fact that I have a non-native hedge along the fence. Granted, ligustrum isn’t known to be an aggressive or invasive plant and it is quite the trooper. But it commandeers the water, which stresses my newer plantings, and it does nothing for the local bugs and ecosystem.
Or does it? At the moment, our children’s backyard is still and quiet. But on a sunny afternoon, butterflies flit from one flowering shrub to the next. Not a few butterflies, but a lot. Bees also visit. Squirrels scamper across the hedge, beneath the trees that comprise the greenspace behind their house. Our children’s standard green hedge gets plenty of action.
In contrast, our hedge has gaps, and I’ve never seen flowers. And what have I done about it? Nothing. I’ve only just realized that in almost seven years of living there, I’ve not fertilized that hedge once.
Shame on me. I might not be a fan, but the hedge is still a living thing. It’s still our hedge. It didn’t ask to be planted. It deserves a little love and care.
Our garden(s) will need all sorts of attention once we’ve settled back into our house. I have a list. The hedge wasn’t even on it, but it is now and near the top.
In the meantime, our daughter-in-heart has one rose bush. She mentioned liking our specimen Belinda’s Dream a couple of years ago, so of course I hunted one down as fast as I could. I don’t think Julia has time to give it a moment’s care, but it blooms away for her. That makes me smile. A rose blooming for a rose.
True love is eternal.
Welcome to Medieval Monday Week 13! I am excited to be featuring a snippet from Judith Sterling's time travel romance, Return of the Raven.
For more enticing snippets, be sure to stop by Medieval Romance Lovers on FB. We're also on Twitter, #MedMonSpring21.
For more about Judith's wonderful books, visit her website.
About the book:
Margaret, Lady Ravenwood, is trapped in a loveless marriage and firmly entrenched in the medieval world. Along comes Griffin Nightshade, a historian from the future whose soul resonates with hers. He persuades her to return with him to the 1950s, but heeding her heart means courting danger from a curse that could spell her doom.
Haunted by his parents' sudden deaths, Griffin knows all too well the pain born of love lost. He guards his emotions, but Margaret delves deep and goes straight to the soul. She's hard to resist…and harder to set free.
The heart's desire and history's demands don't always agree. Yet true love is eternal.
Enjoy the snippet:
Realization dawned and struck a blow to his gut. “You saw the future.”
Wordlessly, she nodded.
I was right. I’m going to lose her. Nausea swept through him. “Did you look older in the vision?”
“Not particularly.” She frowned and clenched her hands into fists. “I don’t want to go back. I want to stay here. With you.”
See last week’s snippet on Sherry Ewing’s blog: https://www.sherryewing.com/blog
Follow along next week on Jenna Jaxon’s blog: https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com/
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Return-Raven-Novels-Ravenwood-Book-ebook/dp/B08RYD2GW8
Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/return-of-the-raven-judith-sterling/1138556276
Her Royal Spyness is a thoroughly fun, clever, well-constructed cozy. Of course, it's by Rhys Bowen, so that's not surprising. I had hesitated to begin the series, not particularly excited to read about a "royal" -- it just didn't sound cozy -- but Lady Georgiana is a wonderful character. Georgie to her friends, she is only half-royal. Not only is she a great-granddaughter to Queen Victoria, she is also flat broke and has an independent streak. The combination makes for a comedy of errors and plenty of unusual circumstances, some, of course, involving murder.
The book, really, the whole series, gives us a glimpse of Britain's history in the 1930s. The supporting cast is absolutely funny and loveable -- her somewhat removed, but very glamorous actress mother, her socialite best friend, her cockney grandfather, and, of course, the delicious Darcy O'Mara.
I listened to the book with Audible. Katherine Kellgren does a brilliant job with all the voices. She has an amazing talent for accents.
Whatever the format, Her Royal Spyness is a fun and often hilarious escape. Highly recommended!
I honestly haven’t dropped off the planet, but it’s true that my world has changed these past few weeks.
This month, repairs and renovations have finally gotten underway at our house, damaged a few months back during Texas “historic deep freeze”, one among thousands. Despite all our precautions, pipes burst. I’d never realized how much damage water could do to ceilings, walls, and floors.
In the meantime, we’re staying with our sweet children and having so much fun. What a spectacular bonus, not to mention a balm to my soul. I’m sure that I’ll have withdrawal symptoms, especially from our little grands, once we move the several blocks back to our own house.
In fact, I’ve gotten to spend more time with all my dear loved ones. We’re a close family, anyway (for which I am very thankful), but I always struggled with my daily routine. Now, I don’t have one. I LOVE IT. My brother is surely pleased because he can tease us all in one visit! And I’ve grown even closer to my sister-in-law, who is a natural with colors and decorating. My husband and I are not great (= terrible) at deciphering colors from those little squares at the paint store, nor would we be prone to paint samples on the walls. But Mich is dauntless, not to mention tireless, when it comes to paint, tiles, everything to do with homes and décor. She is also patient. I would have killed me by now.
It’s funny. Ever since we moved to our current, suburban home from a gorgeous, rural neighborhood, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it. Worse, I’ve felt guilty about my attitude and rightly so. But I experienced sorrow at its devastation, which made me realize that I actually do like my house more than I thought.
And I’ve always thought of myself as uncomplicated!
In the midst of all this, my book Tremors was picked up by The Wild Rose Press. It really is a dream come true and my experience with them so far has only reinforced the dreamy feeling. Everyone I’ve interacted with has been warm, encouraging, and professional all at once. I am thrilled.
Under my new contract, I’ve had to pull Tremors from Amazon. It will be published under a new name and with a new cover. For now, edits have begun.
Strangely enough, I feel more like myself than I have in years. This last decade has been a tumultuous one in our lives. But now, with all sorts of work ahead, I feel calm and relaxed. My zen has returned.
That might change once we return to our house, layered as it is with construction dust, and our garden was the focus of improvements well before the freeze. But I don’t think so. I’m not sure if I’ve been revived or reinvented -- probably a little of both -- but it feels too good to give it up.
And that, my friends, is the proverbial silver lining.
She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…
Happy Medieval Monday! It's Week 12 of "First Kiss" and I am proud to host Eliza Knight. I love this week's snippet from her historical romance The Highlander's Reward.
For more medieval romance, be sure to visit Medieval Romance Lovers on FB. We can also be found on Twitter, #MedMonSpring21.
To see more of Eliza's dazzling selection of books, stop by her website.
Enjoy the snippet:
“Hmm… That is one thing Glenda was wrong about then.” She wiped slightly trembling hands down the front of her skirt.
He raised a questioning brow. “Who is Glenda?”
“My maid. She told me all about the ruthless Scots before we left England.”
For last week's snippet, visit Celeste Barclay's blog.
For next week's snippet, follow along with Ashley York.
About the book:Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her, she fears she's more in danger of losing herself.
The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.
Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. And that’s where the trouble begins… Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who've been scorned are out for revenge. Can their new found love keep them together or will their enemies tear them apart?
"For fans of Highlander romance, this series is a must read!" ~ Night Owl Reviews, TOP PICK!
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran