Erika Mitchell on North Korea

Today I am joined by author Erika Mitchell author of Bai Tide.

Unless you’re like me and have just spent the last two years writing and revising a book that takes place in North Korea, you probably don’t know much about the famed Hermit Kingdom. That’s understandable. The country is the size of Pennsylvania, and the vast majority of the country does not have access to the Internet.

Throughout the course of my research, I’ve learned some interesting things about this terrible place and so now I share them with you. One of my goals in setting this book in North Korea was to subtly bring attention to some of the atrocities twenty five million North Koreans have to live with, and my goal with this blog post was to not-so-subtly share some things you may not have known. Without further ado, I present to you…

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About North Korea:

  1. North Koreans are only allowed to choose from twenty eight government-approved haircuts.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, North Korea is actually not Communist. Their official political ideology is called Juche, which was founded off the principle of self-reliance. Juche is the reason North Korea is cut off from most of the world politically, economically, and ideologically.
  3. Wearing jeans is illegal in North Korea, as is owning a Bible, watching non-North Korean TV programs, and distributing pornography. Funny enough, marijuana is not illegal and is not even classified as a drug.
  4. There are pockets of North Koreans working in Siberia. These North Koreans are usually forced labor because of offenses to the regime, and very few survive long enough to return home.
  5. Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather, is known in North Korea as the Eternal President. His son, Kim Jong Il, is the Eternal General Secretary. Kim Jong Un, the current leader of North Korea, is rumored to have had plastic surgery in order to look more like his grandfather.
  6. North Koreans born after the Korean War are on average two inches shorter than their South Koreans neighbors. Chronic food shortages have led to one third of the country’s children suffering from chronic malnutrition.
  7. North Koreans do not actually call themselves North Koreans. The official name of South Korea’s northern neighbor is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They hold elections every five years, and there is only ever one name on the ballot.
  8. North Korea has the fourth largest standing army in the world, with a 1.1 million people in its military. This is because North Korea has a “military first” policy, wherein most of the country’s resources are allocated to the military first. If you live in North Korea and want to eat and wear warm clothes in the winter, the military is by far your best bet.
  9. Between 150,000 – 200,000 North Korean live in prison camps. These camps are surrounded by electric fences and prisoners are never released. You can be sent to the prison camp for a multitude of reason, and many of the prisoners are there because of perceived disloyalty to the regime. Prisoners are sent with their entire families, and punished for three generations. That means if you were North Korean and your grandfather was sent to a prison camp for saying something critical of the regime, your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters would all be sentenced to the camp as well and worked in freezing, starving conditions until you all died.
  10. Kim Jong Un’s older brother, Kim Jong Nam was arrested in Tokyo in 2001 after traveling to Disneyland using a forged passport.

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Darcy Burke Presents, When Love Happens

When Love Happens blog tour

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Romance novel Darcy BurkeWhen Love Happens Ribbon Ridge # 3 by Darcy Burke
Release date: May 26th, 2015
Published by: Avon Impulse

Synopsis

In a town as small as Ribbon Ridge and with a family as large as the Archers, even the best kept secrets don’t stay buried for long…

Tori Archer is married…well, on paper anyway. She hasn’t actually seen her husband since the disastrous morning after their impulsive Vegas wedding. The memories of their intense passion may still make her weak in the knees, but Tori knows their marriage was a mistake.

After six months filming abroad, television producer Sean Hennessy wants nothing more than to track down his sexy, captivating wife and get her into bed… fast. So when his boss sends him to Oregon to persuade the famous Archer sextuplets-the former stars of a reality TV show-to do a reunion special, Sean sees the perfect chance to win Tori back.

Only, Tori wants nothing to do with him and is determined to push him away. But their attraction is as hot as ever and Sean will do anything to prove their relationship was more than just a fling…because he knows that when real love happens, it changes everything.

Add When Love Happens to your Goodreads shelf.

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The Deep End by Julie Mulhern

The Deep EndTitle: The Deep End
Author:  Julie Mulhern
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Women’s Fiction

Synopsis

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?

Purchase The Deep End on Amazon | Barnes and Noble |  Kobo

About Julie Mulhern

Photo Julie Mulhern

Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean–and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is–she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award.

Connect with Julie: Website | Facebook

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Excerpt

June, 1974

Kansas City, Missouri

My morning swim doesn’t usually involve corpses. If it did, I’d give up swimming for something less stressful, like coaxing cobras out of baskets or my mother out of bed before ten.

Watching the sun rise over the seventh green is often the best part of my day. I dive into the pool while the water is still inky. When the light has changed from deepest indigo to lavender, I break my stroke, tread water and admire the sky as it bleeds from gold to yellow to pink. It’s a ritual, a metaphorical cleansing, a moment of stolen peace.

After all, I have a teenage daughter, a mother with strong opinions, a Weimaraner named Max who plots to take over our house on his path toward world domination, and a husband. Much as I’d like to, I can’t leave him out.

I kicked off my Dr. Scholl’s, tossed my husband’s button-down onto a deck chair, dove into the dark water and gasped at the sudden, encompassing cold. That shock of chilly water against my skin is better than coffee when it comes to waking up. Maybe not better. Faster.

My legs kicked, my arms sliced and I settled into the comforting rhythm of the Australian crawl. My fingers knifed through the water, anticipating the smooth parting of liquid. They found fabric and the horrific touch of cold flesh.

***

I watched the sunrise from a deck chair. It was not cathartic or peaceful. It was awful. The police swarmed around the pool like industrious ants, pausing only when someone jumped into the water and floated the body to the side. They fished it out and laid it at the edge of the pool.

I turned my head away. I didn’t want to see.

A man wearing a truly unfortunate pair of plaid pants broke away from the ants and sat on the deck chair next to mine. “Are you all right? Do you want a glass of water?” He had nice eyes. Brown. Like coffee.

“Coffee,” I croaked.

He waved at the ants and a moment later one of them appeared with a thermos. He poured some caffeinated ambrosia into the red plastic top and handed it to me.

“Thank you.”

“I’m afraid we don’t have cream or sugar.”

“Black is fine.” I took a sip to prove it.

“I’m Detective Jones. Can you tell me what happened this morning?”

“I was swimming.”

“Without a lifeguard?” I could hear the disapproval in his voice. Detective Jones, purveyor of thermos coffee, wearer of plaid pants, was a follower of rules. I used to like that in a man. There’s something comforting about someone who colors within the lines. Problems arise when a strict follower of rules decides to forsake them. He doesn’t just jaywalk. Nope. A lifetime of good behavior gives him the right to sleep with other women. Or, if he’s slightly more powerful, order a break-in at Watergate. Goes to show, you can’t trust anyone these days. Not husbands. Not presidents. Not cops.

 

The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan

Diamond Thief book coverThe Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan
Release Date: 05/15/15

Synopsis

The Occasional Diamond Thief is the tale of Kia, who is courageous and practical with a quirky sense of humor, and a loner.

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted into travelling to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be — it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him — but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Even worse, Kia must translate for Agatha, who is as different from Kia as it’s possible for two people to be – Agatha is idealistic, naïve, and compassionate.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks – Kia unravels the secret of her father’s mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her?

And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend? Continue reading

My 10 Most Memorable Fictional Characters

Hi folks, today I thought I’d share my list of my top ten most memorable fictional book characters.

1.   Lucky SantangeloLady Boss and Chances (Lucky Santangelo Saga) by Jackie Collins.

Why I like Lucky is that she is a no BS, take no prisoners kind of gal, she is an entrepreneur and a total maneater. She is not afraid to get down and dirty with the boys and still get her sexy on. To take on Lucky, a man would have to have balls of steel, because she has enough for both of them. It’s funny to see how her lovers have tried to change her but Lucky is not having that. She speaks to me because I believe women deserve to be strong and who they are without being submissive to their partners.

2.   Heathcliff and CathyWuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Heathcliff and Cathy is my Romeo and Juliet wrapped in dysfunction. This dynamic duo, was so much in love with each other that they make other people around them crazy. Heathcliff is the brute, strong gypsy blooded boy and Cathy came from a well to do family. When Cathy’s father goes away on business he returns with a young boy, Heathcliff. He raises him as his own, much to the chagrin of his other children. After Cathy’s father dies Heathcliff is downgraded to servant status by Cathy’s older brother. Despite everything, Heathcliff takes the abuse because of his love for Cathy. When Cathy’s hand is given to the very wealthy Edward, Heathcliff leaves and as the years pass and connection lost with Cathy, he gambles his way to incredible wealth and comes back to find his woman. All hell breaks loose and, well… you’ll just have to read it to find out what happens next.

3.   Mr. RochesterJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.I found Mr. Rochester to be a man with dept and dimension. He was definitely loveable/hateable depending on the day. Mr. Rochester fell in love with the young Jane Eyre but he had a dark deep secret hiding in his attic. When Jane agrees to marry him, that secret is exposed causing him to loose the love of his life. My heart went out to him and given his circumstances, I think his actions were justified… right? Continue reading

21 All New Contemporary Romance Novels

21 ALL NEW Contemporary Romance stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors.

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Love when it’s hot? So do we. Especially when we’re writing about gritty alphas, angsty bad boys, sizzling attraction, and unrequited passion. Loosen your buttons, turn the fan to oscillate and join us for this steamy, groundbreaking bundle of summer tales that are hot hot hot.

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Enjoy the hot Summer Fire romances by these amazing romance authors:

Gennita Low

Stacey Mosteller

R.J. Lewis

L. Wilder

Victoria Danann

Kym Grosso

Cat Miller

Mimi Barbour

Clarissa Wild

Teresa Gabelman

Linda Barlow

Helen Scott Taylor

Victoria James

Mona Risk

Patrice Wilton

Joan Reeves

Danielle Jamie

Terri Marie

Lorhainne Eckhart

Brandy L. Rivers

Nicole Blanchard

Get the combo on B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads | Amazon

100

Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist!

Sex ColumnistConfessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist! by Kay MarieKaitlyn Davis
Release Date: 05/18/15

Synopsis

From bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie, comes a new adult romantic comedy about a girl who’ll soon discover that some secrets can’t be kept forever, especially those of the heart.

My name is Skylar Quinn, I just moved to New York with my best friend Bridget, and I have a confession. Well, more than one. Okay, quite a few really. Fine, here goes!

Confession #1: I’m a sex columnist. Hold on, that’s not really the confession. You see, I’m sort of a virgin…sex columnist.

Confession #2: I’m in love with Bridget’s older brother, Oliver. No—I was. No—I am. Wait, was? Am? Crap. Continue reading

Someday Beach by Jill Sanders

Someday Beach book coverSomeday Beach (Grayton Series #2) by Jill Sanders
Publication date: May 19th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis:

Shelly has always dreamed of going back to Surf Breeze. When she finally sets out on her own and buys a run down building along the popular boardwalk, she hires a sexy, but annoying contractor to help her turn it into her dream boutique. What she hadn’t counted on was finding herself slowly changing with her surroundings. Fighting against an overbearing family, she’ll learn to not only follow her own dreams, but stand up for something she believes in.

Marcus has been waiting his whole life for a woman who could see through the horrors he’d been through as a child, and the humor he uses to mask it all. Now that he found her, he’s not quite sure what comes next.

 

Add Someday Beach to your Goodreads shelf.

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About the Author

Jill Sanders

Jill Sanders is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pride Series, Secret Series and West Series romance novels. Having sold over 150,000 books within 6 months of her first release, she continues to lure new readers with her sweet and sexy stories. Her books are available in every English speaking country, audiobooks, and are now being translated to 6 different languages.

Born as an identical twin to a large family, she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, later relocating to Colorado for college and a successful IT career before discovering her talent as a writer. She now makes her home along the emerald cost in Florida where she enjoys the beach, hiking, swimming, wine-tasting, and of course writing.

Connect with Jill: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to win 

  • Kindle Fire HD
  • 4x $25 Amazon gift card
  • 5x Jill Sanders Audiobook
  • 2x Signed Jill Sanders Book

 

 

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10 Fun Facts About Kuwait

Today I am joined by author Nadia Nader. Nadia was born and raised in Kuwait. She shares 10 things you probably didn’t know about Kuwait.

  1. The official name is “State of Kuwait” but most people refer to it as Kuwait. Kuwait is derived from Akwat (the plural of word “Kout”) and means “fortress built near water”.
  2. The national bird of Kuwait is a falcon. You can see images imprinted in many places and on many objects. Falcons are trained.
  3. Theonly make up a third of the population, a minority within their own country. The other 2/3 are composed of expats from all around the world. Kuwait has an interesting societal structure and international community.
  4. Family is important in Kuwait. Single men and women are expected to live with their families until they are married. Once they marry, that is when it is acceptable for them to move out and have their own place. However, due to high real estate prices and not many options for rentals, many families choose to remain living under the same roof.
  5. Kuwait is one of the hottest countries in the world with temperatures reaching up to 50 Celsius in the summer months. That’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit! No one dies during the summer months from the temperature but it advisable not to stay out too long to avoid sunstroke.
  6. Gas is cheaper than water. Petroleum and petroleum-products make up nearly 85% of export revenues.
  7. The flag of Kuwait contains four colors: green, white, red, and black. They symbolize “our lands”, “our deeds”, “our swords”, and “our battles” respectively.
  8. People in Kuwait are early adopters of any technology and trend out there. If something is new, be sure someone in Kuwait already has five of it. It was not a good time when cheetahs were trendy to own.
  9. Wives do not take on their husband’s name upon marriage. The name you are born with is your name from birth until death.
  10. Nepotism is a fact of life and “wasta” gets you anything you need to get done.

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Hanging with the Banovic Siblings

Banovic Siblings Dec coverCollege boy Kevin Banovic’s casual affair with Savi DaCosta suited him perfectly. Things change when he finds out that Savi is his mom’s high school bestie. When Kevin tries to end their affair, Savi blackmails him.

After Kevin rescues Savi’s stepdaughter, L’Wren, from her abusive boyfriend, he can’t stop thinking about her. He must find a way to handle Savi, protect L’Wren, and keep his sanity.

Bad girl Adriana Banovic is pleased with herself for getting her nemesis expelled from Westwood Academy. As feelings between her and her latest victim Haze Lyndon escalate, an unexpected rival discovers her secret and threatens to expose her. With emotions on the line, will her new rival beat her at her own game or end up another casualty of Adriana’s wrath?

Zax Banovic has it all. Tall and handsome, he’s an academic genius, with a killer smile and a heart of gold. When his best friend gets into trouble, he feels responsible and covers for him. But his best friend is not as honorable and has other plans for Zax. Continue reading