Saturday, April 4

Karen Rock's Top Ten Books

I am so mean! When I asked fellow Heartwarming author Karen Rock to pay us a visit, I asked her to choose her favorite 10 books. It gets hard when you're doing a promotional blog tour to think up new things to write about, so I thought (insert smirk) I was making things easy for her. Not so much! But her list is great. Join the Wranglers in welcoming Karen Rock to the Corral today!

This could easily be the hardest post I’ve ever written!! I love so many books and to choose only ten seems like choosing which kids I love the most. Still, it’s a good question that I will do my best to answer- and in no particular order they are:

1.       Gone with the Wind- Undeniably the combination of great romance, complex plot twists, richly drawn characters and a dramatic, historical setting makes this one of the greatest books of all time.

2.       The Color Purple- Lyrical, emotional, and a true triumph of the human spirit. This novel has the strongest narrative I’ve ever read and fully immersed me into Celie’s world where I experienced her suffering, loss, growing strength, first love and ultimate empowerment. This book transformed me and made me look at racial and gender issues in a way I’d never examined them before… and isn’t that what the best books do? Make you a better, more enlightened person?

3.       To Kill a Mockingbird- Set in a southern small town that could be anyone’s hometown, this book brought the issue of bigotry, racism and ignorance right up to our porch steps and rang the bell! It was beautiful written, had a gorgeous parallel story of the children’s fear of someone they didn’t understand- Boo Radley, outstanding characters like Atticus Finch and taut suspense that kept me flipping pages to the heart-wrenching end.

4.       The Great Gatsby- Another classic- Ah!- but I just can’t help it. Jay Gatsby is the ultimate tragic hero. In a sense, he represents all of us in that he wants to better himself. However, because he is also a dreamer who can’t let go of his old love, he fails and loses everything. This is a haunting story and a cautionary tale against reaching too far for things that may not be worth pursuing.

5.       Me Before You- Jojo Moyes- What an amazing love story! Two completely opposite characters (a high class businessman who’s lost his health and an ordinary shop girl who’s lost her ambition) make this a compelling, combustible read that is will break your heart. I love books set in Ireland and anything by Moyes… and this is one of the best! Plus- the movie comes out this August!

6.       A Walk to Remember- Nicholas Sparks- No one does it better than Sparks in making our romantic hearts beat even faster. This story is especially dear because it’s based on Nicholas’s actual sister who was dying but still had unshakable faith, cheer and a determination to help others, even a troubled hero who can’t help but fall in love and marry her. This is a love story despite the odds and I love that!

7.       The Fault in Our Stars- John Green- speaking of love despite the odds… this story of a cancer patient and cancer survivor seems like it should be a downer but instead it’s actually one of the most uplifting, moving, inspiring, beautiful love stories I’ve ever read. It’s funny, touching and quirky in a memorable way that makes me want to read it again and again. Thank goodness it’s also a movie.

8.       The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings- Yes, I am a fantasy geek. I’m also a sci-fi, mystery, thriller, romance, horror and YA fan, too. I basically read everything. However, this series turned me from a casual reader into a reader for life. This complex, fantastical world sucks me in every time and the epic battle of good versus evil is so originally told and so compelling I’m never tired of it. It’s a classic for good reason and I hope generations read it for years to come.

9.       Gone Girl- Wow. This was a suspense story that took me completely by surprise. I did not see the huge twist and I’m usually good at guessing them. This book was cleverly written and plotted, with such finesses, it deserves to be on this list.

10.   Pride and Prejudice- I can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. They have the best chemistry of any romantic couple I’ve ever met between the covers of a book! The story is so well-paced, the dialogue so witty, the relationships so complex that this book is a must read for any aspiring romance writer.

That’s it! (Or as much as I can fit on a Ten’s List J) My heartfelt thanks to Word Wranglers for hosting me today. It’s been a treat to meet with everyone and talk books! 

Blog Tour Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock
This is our stop during the blog tour for Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 1 till 7 April, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours:

Raising the Stakes
By Karen Rock
Genre: Adult
Age category: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 1 April, 2015

Hiding from the world…

Tucking herself away in the Adirondack woods was supposed to keep Vivienne Harris safe. From dark memories of the Bronx, from danger, from entanglements. But when an orphaned bear cub raids her pantry and conservation officer Liam Walsh appears with news of poachers nearby, her private, peaceful world is turned upside down!

Suddenly two forces are drawing her out—Button, the cub who needs her help, and Liam, the man who's dead set against her rehabilitating the bear. If she can just win Liam's support, Vivie knows she can give Button a good life. And maybe find the courage to embrace a future with Liam…

You can find Raising the Stakes on Goodreads:  

You can buy Raising the Stakes here:

Excerpt from Raising the Stakes

He lifted her chin with a gentle finger and gazed down at her. “You’re always safe with me.”
For some odd reason, her eyes welled and a tear clung to her lashes.
He brushed the wetness away with his thumb, his hands lingering and cupping her face.
“I’m never safe,” she whispered, her voice so low he had to bend closer to hear.
“I’ll protect you,” he found himself saying, a gallant and reckless offer considering his planned move. Still, a fierce urge to reassure her filled him. A need to kiss her full lips followed.
He captured them with his own, tasting berries, and something sweeter still. He buried his hands in her silky hair and brought her close, an insatiable hunger taking hold. The wildflower smell of her enveloped him and her mouth tantalized his. He nibbled on her lower lip, loving her soft exclamation of pleasure. Or was it surprise? She was early spring sunshine, a spring-fed pond, a mountain peak and everything that’d ever made him glad to be alive.
Without warning, she jerked away and sprang to her feet, backing away until her legs brushed the bushes.
“What’s wrong?”
Her face had lost all color and she looked as if she might faint. She shook her head, her hand rising to cover her mouth.
Regret snuffed out his elation. He shouldn’t have moved so fast. Or at all, darn it. “Did I offend you? I’m sorry. Blame it on a beautiful day. A lonely bachelor. A stupid one.”
Button appeared at Vivie’s feet. She stretched up on her hind legs, put her paws on Vivie’s sides and pressed her face against her caregiver’s stomach. If Button wasn’t a wild animal, he’d think the young bear sensed Vivie’s mood. Was trying to console her. He’d comfort Vivie, too, if she didn’t seem ready to bolt.
“I’m an idiot, Vivie.” He got to his feet, feeling like a consummate jerk for kissing her without any signs she’d welcome it. But for a moment, when she’d kissed him back, it’d seemed as though…
He shook his head. Women had the final say when it came to what they wanted. He should have been more sensitive. Not given in to impulses. “Please. It won’t happen again.” And he meant it. She was upset. Had a right to be. If he had any sense, he’d know kissing her was wrong for him, as well. Soon he’d be across the country. His attraction to Vivie was irrational.
“Vivie, talk to me.”
She stumbled away, Button stuck by her side, the cub’s turtle dangling from her mouth.
He ducked in front of her, unwilling to let the moment end badly. “What can I do?”
She wiped her nose and met his gaze. “Just stay away.” Without another word, she returned to the trail.
It took all of his willpower not to chase after her. He’d follow at a distance instead, staying far enough behind to ensure she got home safely. But it wasn’t enough. He wanted things back to normal again. If that was possible.
Strange that she’d said the same words he repeated to himself whenever Vivie came to mind—stay away.
Yet the more time he spent with her, the harder that became. His emotions for this complicated woman deepened every day. He could deny it all he wanted, but he cared about her.
The job in Yellowstone came to mind. He wouldn’t put off his decision any longer. As soon as he got home, he’d let them know. Escape before his feelings lashed him down forever.
Vivie was right.
Except when it came to Button, he’d stay away.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for having me! This was a fun list to make though Top One Hundred Books might actually be easier- lol

  2. Love the excerpt! Great story, btw. And agree with your top ten books, too.

  3. Liz is kind of evil--making you pick ten books. I don't know that I could narrow it down. A few of my faves ended up on your list. I read You Before Me last month and WOW--amazing.

    Good luck with your new book! Happy sales to you.