Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

Abby Cooper is a P.I., psychic intuitive. But her insight failed her when she didn't foresee the death of one of her clients-or that the lead investigator for the case is the gorgeous blind date she just met. Now, with the police suspicious of her abilities and a killer on the loose, Abby's future looks more uncertain than ever.

From my private collection.

I'd had high hopes for this considering all the positive reviews but frankly, this was crap.  Yes, I said it, crap.  I was so not impressed.  At all.

First, let me mention that I listened to the Audible edition, which may have made it even worse.  The reader was simply intolerable.  Imagine a Kardashian reading an audiobook in her condescending voice and that's what this was like, but perhaps even worse.

The story itself was marginal, but the characters were horrific.  Abby herself was just a WASPy bitch.  She was condescending.  She was rude.  She was snotty beyond belief.

Let's just take one exchange as evidence of her bitchiness - she was surprised when Dutch (the cop/potential boyfriend) mentioned that he'd gone to grad school.  She didn't think cops were smart enough for grad school.  No, really.  As if that wasn't enough, she "questioned his sexuality" when he showed her to his lavender painted guest room.  What is that all about?  Um, hello!  What a bitch!

Oh, and lest I forget, Abby also hates overweight people.  Unless you're model thin you're fat in her book and she hates fat people.  She constantly bitches about "dough arms" and how one woman "looked like that girl who chewed the blueberry gum in Willy Wonka and turned into a blueberry".  Oh no, I'm serious.  I mean, come on!  That's just plain rude!

So, between Abby's holier-than-thou bitchiness and the reader's annoying whine this was a giant waste of time.  You may ask why I even bothered to limp to the end.  Well, I was actually doing some Spring closet cleaning and this was the only audiobook I had available at the time.  It probably would have been better to just listen to the wind.

Just do not pick this up.  I beg you.  Just walk on by.  Unless, of course, you are a homophobic, elitist WASP (or is that an oxymoron?), in which cast you'll thoroughly enjoy this.

☆☆= Didn't Like It

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest Review: Louisa and the Missing Heiress by Anna Maclean

I'd like to welcome McKenzie Wagner who has stopped by to share a lovely book review she's written for us!

Long before she will achieve fame as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott is writing stories of a more dark and mysterious nature. But nothing prepares her for the role of amateur detective she assumes when the body of her dear friend, wealthy newlywed Dorothy Wortham, is found floating in Boston's harbor.

It's well known that Dorothy's family didn't approve of her husband, a confirmed fortune hunter, but Louisa suspects that some deeper secret lies behind her friend's tragic murder...

Guest review by McKenzie Wagner.

My sister works at a local book store, Downtown Book & Toy. The owner of the bookstore suggested it to me as a great read.

Anna Maclean takes us back into the fictional life of a classic author, Louisa May Alcott. Louisa is in the midst of writing the timeless classic, Little Women, when tragedy strikes her life. Dorothy, the recently married very wealth heiress, has suddenly died. Louisa defies the norms of society and acts out against the role of a typical woman. Dorothy’s family is not supportive of the search for Dorothy’s murder, nor is Dorothy’s husband Preston. Louisa thrives on the dark and mystery developing in Boston. The search for Dorothy’s murder becomes dangerous, bloody, and life threatening. The deeper secrets hidden in everyone’s lives will shock you…

Anna Maclean is a thrilling and entertaining author, and this novel is full of mystery and joy. The characters are colorful and enticing drawing the reader from page to page and chapter to chapter. The ending is exciting, colorful, and unexpected creating anticipation for the next novel, Louisa and the Country Bachelor.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

About McKenzie:

I am a junior at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. I am a double major in Secondary Education and English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies. I love to read historical fiction and perusing a book store until I find the perfect book!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Deep Down True by Juliette Fay

From the author of Shelter Me—a funny and poignant novel about having your heart in the right place.

Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice- even to telemarketers-but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad's departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn't end in middle school... and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity.

Received for review.

This was fairly standard chick lit.  It's not my favorite genre so I wasn't overjoyed by it, but it would be a solid read for those who enjoy sagas about divorced women with kids reentering the dating pool and their challenges with said children, ex-husbands, and dating.

We're also not talking about a beach read here.  While mildly amusing in some parts, it does not qualify for the light and fluffy read category.

Now, if you do enjoy chick lit this would be a rewarding option for you to pick up since it is well written, with a nice flow. 

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein authors of Kiss That Frog

Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein, authors of the book Kiss That Frog, stopped by to share with us a piece they wrote.

Seven Truths About You
By Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein,
Authors of Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work

Your natural state is to be happy, peaceful, joyous, and full of excitement at being alive. In this natural state you wake up each morning eager to start the day. You feel wonderful about yourself and your relationships with the people in your life. You enjoy your work and derive a great sense of satisfaction from making a contribution that makes a difference. Your primary goal should be to organize your life in such a way that this is how you feel most of the time.

As a fully functioning, fully mature adult, you should be doing things everyday that move you toward the fulfillment of your potential. You should feel grateful for all your blessings in every area. If you are unhappy or dissatisfied in any part of your life, something is not right in your thoughts, feelings, or actions, and it needs to be corrected.

The starting point in unlocking your full potential is to realize that you already are a prince or princess, deep down inside.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -- Abraham Lincoln

No matter where you are today, or what you have done or not done in the past, you need to accept seven essential truths about you as a person:

1. You are a thoroughly good and excellent person; valuable and worthwhile beyond measure. No one is better than you or more gifted than you.

Only when you doubt your essential goodness and value do you begin to question yourself. The inability to accept that you are a good person lies at the root of much of your discontent.

2. You are important, in many, many ways. To start with, you are important to yourself. Your personal universe revolves around you as an individual. You give meaning to everything that you see or hear. Nothing in your world has any significance except for the significance that you attribute to it.

You are also important to your parents. Your birth was a significant moment in their lives, and as you grew up, almost everything you did was meaningful to them.

You are important to your own family, to your partner or spouse, your children, and the other members of your social circle. Some of the things you do or say have an enormous impact on them.

You are important to your company, your customers, your coworkers, and your community. The things you do or don't do can have a tremendous effect on the lives and work of others.

How important you feel largely determines the quality of your life. Happy, successful people feel important and valuable. Because they feel and act this way, it becomes true for them.

Unhappy, frustrated people feel unimportant and of little value. They feel frustrated and unworthy. They feel "I'm not good enough," and as a result they lash out at the world and engage in behaviors that hurt themselves and others.

They don't realize that they could be a prince or princess inside.

3. You have unlimited potential and the ability to create your life and your world as you desire. You could not use your entire potential if you lived one hundred lifetimes.

No matter what you have accomplished up to now, it is merely a hint of what is truly possible for you. And the more of your natural talents and abilities you develop in the present, the more of your potential you can develop in the future.

Your belief in your almost unlimited potential is the key to becoming everything you are truly capable of becoming.

4. You create your world in every respect by the way you think and the depth of your convictions. Your beliefs actually create your realities,and every belief you have about yourself you learned, starting in infancy. The amazing thing is that most of the negative or self-limiting beliefs and doubts that interfere with your happiness and success are not based on fact or reality at all.

When you begin to question your self-limiting beliefs and develop beliefs consistent with the incredible person you really are, your life will begin to change almost immediately.

5. You are always free to choose the content of your thoughts and the direction of your life. The one thing over which you have complete control is your inner life and your thinking. You can decide to think happy, fulfilling, uplifting thoughts that lead to positive actions and results. Or you can, by default, end up choosing negative, self limiting thoughts that trip you up and hold you back.

Your mind is like a garden: if you do not deliberately cultivate flowers,weeds will grow automatically without any effort on your part. If you do not deliberately plant and cultivate positive thoughts, negative thoughts will grow in their place.

This simple metaphor about the garden explains why so many people are unhappy and don't know why.

6. You are put on this earth with a great destiny: you are meant to do something wonderful with your life. You have a unique combination of talents, abilities, ideas, insights, and experiences that make you different from anyone who has ever lived. You are designed for success and engineered for greatness.

Your acceptance or nonacceptance of this point largely determines the size of the goals you set, your power of persistence in the face of adversity, the height of your achievements, and the whole direction of your life.

7. There are no limits to what you can do, be, or have except the limits you place on your own thinking and your own imagination. The biggest enemies you will ever face are your own doubts and fears. These are usually negative beliefs, not necessarily based on fact, that you have accepted over the years until you no longer question them.

As Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, "What's past is prologue." Everything that has happened to you in the past has been a preparation for the wonderful life that lies ahead of you in the future.

Remember the rule: It doesn't matter where you're coming from; all that really matters is where you're going.

About the book:

Just like the lonely princess in the fairy tale who was reluctant to lock lips with a warty frog and transform him into a handsome prince, something stops many of us short of attaining our dreams. Our negative thoughts, emotions, and attitudes can threaten to keep us from achieving all that we're capable of. Here bestselling author and speaker Brian Tracy and his daughter, therapist Christina Tracy Stein, provide a set of practical, proven strategies anyone can use to turn those negative frogs into positive princes.

Tracy and Stein present a step-by-step plan that addresses the root causes of negativity, helps you uncover blocks that have become mental obstacles, and shows how you can transform them into stepping-stones to achieve your fullest potential. The book distills, in an accessible and immediately useful form, what Tracy has presented in more than 5,000 talks and seminars with more than five million people in fifty-eight countries and what Stein has learned through thousands of hours of counseling people from all walks of life.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," the authors quote Shakespeare. The many powerful techniques and exercises in this book will help you change your mindset so that you discover something worthwhile in every person and experience, however difficult and challenging they might seem at first. You'll learn how to develop unshakable self-confidence, become your best self, and begin living an extraordinary life.

About the authors:

Brian Tracy, co-author of Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work, is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International. As a keynote speaker and seminar leader, headdresses more than 250,000 people each year. He is the bestselling author of more than fifty books that have been translated into dozens of languages.

Christina Tracy Stein, co-author of Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work, is a psychotherapist in private practice. She collaborates with her clients to help them create more fulfilling relationships, develop ways to handle stress and anxiety, and find greater enjoyment and satisfaction in their lives. She also works as a personal and professional development coach where she more directly facilitates her clients' growth.

For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Summer Fit Fourth to Fifth Grade: Keeping Children Physically and Mentally Active During the Summer

Summer Fit contains grade appropriate, basic skill activities in reading, writing, math and language arts. The daily fitness component is a fun and easy-to-use exercise routine that gets children moving on a daily basis and is designed to help children build healthy exercise habits while away from school. Children choose from Aerobic, Strength and Sport activities using a Fitness Index developed by professional trainers, school coaches and parents. Exercises are reinforced online with videos that show children performing each of the different exercises.

Weekly core value activities and exercises are a resource for parents and guardians to use in talking about and teaching good character and values. Each week a different value is introduced and reinforced using real world examples of a person who represents that value.

Summer Fit is the most comprehensive summer workbook available and provides parents with the tools and the motivation to develop the physical and social well being of their child as well as the academic.

Summer Fit includes online games to reinforce basic skills in reading, writing and language arts.

Received for review.

If you're a parent looking for summer activities for your child you simply need to get a copy of this book!  The series covers multiple grade levels so you simply need to order the appropriate one for your child.

These workbooks cover absolutely everything from math to reading and writing to physical fitness.  Each day has its own set of exercises which can be completed quite quickly.  Everything you need is right there in the workbook, as well.  There is no need to copy pages, or find a separate notebook to log responses.

This particular volume included exercises covering all sorts of topics including multiplication, fractions, spelling, science, and physical fitness.

The workbook also includes access to online games which the children should find fun.

These activities should be thoroughly enjoyed and will give your child a head start on the next school year.

I highly, highly recommend this series!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Featured Book: Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky

About the book:

Broken Glass Park made a remarkable debut when it was published in Germany in 2008. Its author, the twenty-nine-year old Russian-born Alina Bronksy has since been hailed as a wunderkind, an immense talent who has been the subject of constant praise and debate.

The heroine of this enigmatic, razor-sharp, and thoroughly contemporary novel is seventeen- year-old Sacha Naimann, born in Moscow. Sacha lives in Berlin now with her two younger siblings and, until recently, her mother. She is precocious, independent, skeptical and, since her stepfather murdered her mother several months ago, an orphan. Unlike most of her companions, she doesn't dream of getting out the tough housing project where they live. Her dreams are different: she wants to write a novel about her mother; and she wants to end the life of Vadim, the man who murdered her.

What strikes the reader most in this exceptional novel is Sacha's voice: candid, self-confident, mature and childlike at the same time: a voice so like the voices of many of her generation with its characteristic mix of worldliness and innocence, skepticism and enthusiasm. This is Sacha's story and it is as touching as any in recent literature.

Germany's Freundin Magazine called Broken Glass Park 'a ruthless, entertaining portrayal of life on the margins of society.' But Sacha's story does not remain on the margins; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to be seventeen in these the first years of the new century.

About the author:

Born in Jekaterinburg, Russia, in 1978, the author now lives in Frankfurt, Germany. Broken Glass Park, nominated for the prestigious Bachmann Prize among others, is her first novel. Alina Bronsky is a pseudonym. Little else is known about the author's true identity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Post: Beth Gutcheon author of Gossip

Beth Gutcheon, author of the book Gossip, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

Where a Novel Comes From
By Beth Gutcheon,
Author of Gossip

In my experience, a novel accrues, over time and from many sources, with ideas and aspects seeming to light up until enough of them form a cluster that can become a story. I read a lot of biographies and I love volumes of letters because they give you authentic voices, the diction and vocabulary of a period. A major plot line in my novel Leeway Cottage came from one sentence in a book of letters by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Her fiction doesn't speak to me at all, but her letters are brilliant and wonderfully frank and full of the daily details of a life. At one point the love of Sylvia's life left her for a younger woman who was more beautiful and far richer than Sylvia. She bore it quietly, in spite of being devastated, because she wanted her lover's happiness even more than she wanted her own. Eventually, Valentine came back, and Sylvia wrote to a friend this incredibly simple explanation: her rival had all the advantages, except that "I was better at loving, and being loved."

What a thing to say, what a thing to understand.

I think Gossip started with a biography of Emily Post. I'm a longtime fan of Mrs. Post, a very witty writer and brave, self-reliant and deeply considerate woman. Etiquette books in general paint a vivid picture of changing manners and mores, but Post's are the most fun. From her 1928 edition one learns that is shocking to allow your butler or footmen to sport facial hair of any kind. Who knows, in this Downton Abby world, when that might come in handy? (As you can infer, I find a lot of research material in second hand bookstores.) Mrs. Post is brisk and confident, but a crusader against snobbery and fussiness, and I thought I might do a character based on her, but instead turned out to use Tuxedo Park, the very grand, very early gated community where she spent much of her childhood and where she is buried. It was the perfect symbol for one of the questions the book raises: what does it mean to be an insider in society? What does it mean to choose to be an outsider? A maverick, if you will? By society, I mean any group that sets the tone for a community, be it the local grange in a farming village, or Mrs. Astor's Four Hundred.

This is real life, but it is also Edith Wharton territory, of course; so many of her New York plots are turned by the terrible power of social judgments and gossip. But in Wharton's world, and in Mrs. Post's, there is a recognized social standard and body of opinion. Our world is very different. The true purpose of manners, according to Emily -- I think of her as Emily, since she feels to me like a friend -- is to treat others with consideration and kindness and avoid making people uncomfortable. In my mother's youth, good manners required addressing people formally unless you were truly familiars. When she insisted, though, on calling my friends "Mrs. Todd" or "Mr. West" although she was 35 years older than we and we were wearing blue jeans with our hair down to here, it didn't seem polite, it just seemed weird, really a protest or rebuke, if not actually to us, then to the world for changing and shifting the ground beneath her feet.

So the deal with manners is not propriety, but kindness. Which reminded me of the "Iago question," which you hear a lot about if you're an English major. What is his motive, why is he evil? Does he even know? He does seem to be one of the few characters in literature or life who actually knows that he's mean. So I re-read Othello, and Othello led me again to the subject of gossip, or rather to the fact that knowledge is power, and words are weapons. I began to think of a modern character who winds up doing something like what Iago does, but in such a way that we understand what she thinks she's doing when she does it. You almost never meet with pure malice outside of a mental ward, but you certainly all the time meet with people who do casual harm to others while feeling swell about themselves, and that seemed like a proper subject for a novel.

But is that really where this particular novel came from? I think we all wonder why some things lodge in memory when we forget so much else; someone once told me we remember moments when we learned things. Here's a moment from when I was about seven. The subject of rumor had come up, maybe in life, maybe in a book. My mother told us about the girl who went to confession because she'd said something untrue about somebody else. The priest said that as a penance, she was to go outside, cut open a feather pillow, and empty it on the breeze. Then she was to retrieve all the feathers. I remember my childhood bedroom, blue wallpaper, my sister's horseshow ribbons on a string above the mantel, the clock on the wall in the shape of a black and white cat with eyes and tail that went back and forth as it ticked, and that story.

© 2012 Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossip


About the book:

"Did you know that the origin of the word gossip in English is 'god-sibling'? It's the talk between people who are godparents to the same child, people who have a legitimate loving interest in the person they talk about. It's talk that weaves a net of support and connection beneath the people you want to protect."

Loviah "Lovie" French owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste and discretion, Lovie is the one to whom certain women turn when they need "just the thing" for major life events—baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals—or when they just want to dish in the dressing room. Among the people who depend on Lovie's confidence are her two best friends since boarding school: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf.

Outspoken and brimming with confidence, Dinah made a name for herself as a columnist covering the doings of New York's wealthiest and most fabulous. Shy, proper Avis, in many ways Dinah's opposite, rose to prominence in the art world with her quiet manners, hard work, and precise judgment. Despite the deep affection they both feel for Lovie, they have been more or less allergic to each other since a minor incident decades earlier that has been remembered and resented with what will prove to be unimaginable consequences.

These uneasy acquaintances become unwillingly bound to each other when Dinah's favorite son and Avis's only daughter fall in love and marry. On the surface, Nick and Grace are the perfect match—a playful, romantic, buoyant, and beautiful pair. But their commitment will be strained by time and change: career setbacks, reckless choices, the birth of a child, jealousies, and rumor. At the center of their orbit is Lovie, who knows everyone's secrets and manages them as wisely as she can. Which is not wisely enough, as things turn out—a fact that will have a shattering effect on all their lives.

An astute chronicler of everything that makes us human, Beth Gutcheon delivers her most powerful and emotionally devastating novel to date. Gossip is a tale of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship, competition, and motherhood that explores the myriad ways we use and abuse "information" about others—be it true, false, or imagined—to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another. 

About the author:
Beth Gutcheon grew up in western Pennsylvania. She was educated at Harvard where she took an honors BA in English literature. She has spent most of her adult life in New York City, except for sojourns in San Francisco and on the coast of Maine. In 1978, she wrote the narration for a feature-length documentary on the Kirov ballet school, The Children of Theatre Street, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and she has made her living fulltime as a storyteller (novelist and sometime screenwriter) since then. Her novels have been translated into fourteen languages, if you count the pirate Chinese edition of Still Missing, plus large print and audio format. Still Missing was made into a feature film called Without a Trace, and also published in a Reader’s Digest Condensed version which particularly pleased her mother. Several of her novels have been national bestsellers, including Still Missing, More Than You Know, and Leeway Cottage. All of the novels are available in new uniform paperback editions from HarperPerennial.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Socialpunk Trilogy by Monica Leonelle

Monica Leonelle, author of the Socialpunk trilogy, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.

He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.

But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.

He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.

He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.

In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.


About the book:

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win. 

About the author:

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit.

Giveaway Details

The contest takes place from April 3rd - April 30th in conjunction with the Socialpunk blog tour.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Creep by Jennifer Hillier


Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology, an expert in human behavior with her own hidden past. But she’s not the only one keeping secrets. . . . When Sheila began an affair with her sexy graduate assistant Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, she was riddled with guilt when they were apart. Now she’s finally engaged to a good man, and it’s time to end the dangerous liaison. But Ethan has something different in mind. He intends to make her pay for rejecting him.

. . . NO ONE CAN.

As Sheila attempts to counter Ethan’s increasingly threatening moves, he schemes to reveal her darkest, most intimate secrets by destroying her prestigious career . . . and then her. Caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game, Sheila must fight for her life and free herself from the ex-lover whom she couldn’t resist—who is now the manipulative monster who won’t let her go.

Received for review.

This wonderful debut by Jennifer Hillier is the perfect read for suspense fans! 

Fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell will fully appreciate the genuinely heart-pounding response this book evokes from its readers.  This is perfectly crafted and so well written that it immediately draws you in and keeps you entranced until the final page.

I am certainly looking forward to future releases by the author.

I highly recommend this!  It will seriously have you up well past your bedtime, flipping the pages as fast as you can read them, and sleeping with the light on!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Friday, April 20, 2012

Featured Book: Rock to the Top by Dayna Steele

About the book:

Rock To The Top is classic business advice set to the tune of rock and roll! Author Dayna Steele, an award-winning female rock and roll on-air personality, spent years traveling the globe and interviewing countless bands and rock stars like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie, name just a few. The great music and insights bestowed upon Steele by these rock legends were what helped her compose this symphony of lessons about the importance of passion, confidence, organization, networking, and the power of a brand. Steele shares her backstage adventures, celebrity escapades, and the secrets that she took from it all to create several successful businesses in her new book, Rock To The Top.

About the author:

Dayna Steele is a Hall of Fame radio personality, successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author, sought-after speaker and in-demand business consultant and media strategist.  Readers’ Digest Magazine has called her one of the “35 People Who Inspire Us.”  Successful Meetings Magazine calls her presentations “a pep talk from the deejay booth.” Talkers Magazine said she was one of the “100 Most Important Talk Radio Show Hosts.” And, AOL Business named her “one of the foremost experts on career networking.”

A nationally recognized radio and TV personality, Dayna regularly contributes to, Strategy Magazine and Campus Talk. Her personal musings From the Desk of a Steeleworker are shared worldwide and she continues to interview rock stars from all industries in her Rock Star Conversations. She is the author of the business book Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Something for Nothing by David Anthony

Martin Anderson has a racehorse, a deep-sea fishing boat, a vacation home in Tahoe, and a Caddy in the garage. But his life is in freefall. It's the 1970s, and with the arrival of the oil crisis and gas rationing, his small aircraft business is tanking, as is his extravagant suburban lifestyle. Martin keeps many secrets from his wife, from his mounting debt to his penchant for sneaking into neighborhood homes and making off with small keepsakes. So when he's given the opportunity to clear his debt by using one of his planes to make a few drug runs between California and Mexico, Martin accepts the offer . . . only to find his troubles have just begun.

Smart, suspenseful, and funny, David Anthony's debut is a perfect snapshot of America's misguided pursuit of happiness—then, and now.

Received for review.

This pleasantly reminded me of the sort of humor and flow found in a Tim Dorsey novel.  How can you not love a book that has this quote from the main character's wife in the first two pages?

"You really are pathetic," she'd said, not looking at him, which was always what she did when she was genuinely mad at him.  "Seriously, I mean it."

I found this to be a fun, fast read that felt intelligently amusing.  The characters had a certain Mad Men quality to them and, while you probably wouldn't want to know them in real life, perfect for the story.

I highly recommend this to Tim Dorsey fans.  You're sure to enjoy the mixture of humor and action.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Featured Book: Tell Me a Story by Bea Gold

About the book:

This book is made up of 36 stories and an illustration for each story. Each story portrays the experience of a young, Jewish, first generation American girl, growing up in Old New York. The stories are based on memories of a childhood in the 1930s and 40s. The writer combined her art background with her writing skills to create a beautiful coffee table book with an illustrative painting to accompany each story. Three sets of twelve story/painting combinations have been exhibited at three art exhibits in 2009 and 2010. The three group exhibits were presented through the member organization, the Silver Lake Art Collective and the complete set is presented here.

About the author:

Bea Gold is a painter, woodcut artist, avid gardener, community activist, early childhood specialist, mother of 4 children, grandmother of 5 and great-grandmother of 1. Born in New York City, she attended the Art Student's League under scholarship during her high school years and beyond. She relocated to California as a young adult, and has lived in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles for 36 years. Bea presently is a member of an international, on line wood-cut society and paints portraits on commission. In 2010 she completed a volume of 36 one page stories based on memories of her childhood in the 1930s and 40s. The stories are in the voice of the child and portray the experiences of a young, Jewish, first generation American girl growing up in old New York. Bea Gold combined her art background with her story-telling skills to create a beautiful coffee table book with an illustrative painting to accompany each story. Three sets of twelve story/painting combinations were shown in Los Angeles at art exhibits in 2008 and 2009 through the member organization The Silver Lake Art Collective. The complete set is presented here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Excerpt: Activate Joy by AlixSandra Parness

AlixSandra Parness, author of the book Activate Joy, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.

Activate Joy
By AlixSandra Parness

Chapter Two: Finding Your Joy


“My health was very poor at the time I decided to attend the Inner Focus School. Feeling happy was not at all easy. I would have settled for one day of feeling good. At that time I had lost 20% of my body weight and I was in a physical and emotional crisis. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I tried so many things to find relief and I was tired of trying. I felt like I wanted to die. I simply didn’t know what to do. I was scared.”

Andra had been to many practitioners, none could give her relief. The thought that no one could help her was overwhelming. She also had digestive issues. Her muscles were taut all the time, she was visibly clinched up, afraid of the world and everything in it. She had left the corporate world, believing her health issues related to job stress. When she came to an Inner Focus class (my school in Las Vegas) for the first time, she didn’t know if she could make it through the day. She was weak and needed to eat and sleep every few hours. Working together for a short time, she realized that her mind would obsess about thing, especially negative experiences or worries about her health. Strongly embedded negative patterns held her tight. She truly believed that there was something wrong with her, that she was unlovable, that her life had no value, that she was small and insignificant. These beliefs were visibly reflected on her body.

As her healing progressed, she learned to discern the voices inside her of the Perfectionist, the Critic, and the Commentator. These “Yabbits” were her point of attraction, running her life and keeping her trapped in fear.

Each new awareness lifted Andra out of the deep despair that had become her life and she showed greater and greater strides allowing the true light of her higher self into the forefront of her life. Later she told me, “I didn’t know that I was missing something. My life lacked so much…beauty, love, peace, mystery, adventure, joy…” She wrote me a note that is close to my heart. “The tools that I have learned from you, AlixSandra, have been invaluable. They support me in increasing my awareness of who I am. They also give me the confidence that I can know anything about myself and change anytime I desire. As a result of my determination to live, I have been able to free myself pretty much from limitations. And I am so much happier!”

As I watch others move beyond very challenging obstacles, I know that finding joy is possible even in the most extreme circumstances. For myself, I now fully accept the parts of the Activate Joy puzzle I had been missing.

  • I absolutely know now and accept that:
  • I am an eternal being — I am in the world but not of it.
  • I am okay and there is nothing I need to prove to anyone because my worthiness is a given truth.
  • Everything is within me. Free choice allows me to choose my expression, no matter in what direction I want to go.
  • Everyone else is okay just the way they are.
  • Whatever has already manifested in my life is irrelevant to who I am right now.
  • JOY is the essence of my life purpose, and following my joy IS my only purpose.
Whenever I read that list, I feel a thousand pounds lighter. I now realize the extent of the debt I incurred by denying the greater part of me all these years. That is what had been missing. When I feel these words come alive within me, I am in a hot air balloon and each statement is a weight that drops away, allowing me to align with my true self, that part of me that loves me unconditionally. Eyes of appreciation watch me unfold as I rise to the occasion of my enlightenment again and again. Softly, joy enters my heart each time I see the world from a higher perspective than ever before. I can see more clearly now through the eyes of my greater self.”

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from ACTIVATE JOY © 2012 AlixSandra Parness. Published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved


About the book:

Do you know you that are an eternal being? Do you know that right now you have the capacity to experience exquisite levels of joy? Self‐help books have been wonderful tools that do their best to help us achieve joy. But now, we are looking for something beyond self‐help. Something where what is shared on the pages changes you forever — for the better — so much so that your life becomes unlimited and juicy. Activate Joy is that book that takes us beyond self‐help.

In her book, Dr. AlixSandra Parness takes us on a journey back to the simple and exquisite pleasures that come from joy. Gently written, Activate Joy assists us in intentionally resetting our hearts to align with our dreams in all aspects of life. With ease and flow, you will become a deliberate creator in this extraordinary world.

This book took a lifetime to write as AlixSandra integrates ALL that she has learned during her many years as a practicing minister, healer and teacher. She can help you see beyond the haze that results from energetic debt and into practical insights for deliberately building your new, prosperous and joyous reality. AlixSandra leads you with her fresh and original ideas; this wisdom resets your heart‐focus and carries you up the ascending spiral of joy!

In Activate Joy, AlixSandra delivers in her bright and cheery style, a powerful and fun series of practical methods designed to make our journey to joy EASY. Even though many people struggle with finding joy and get stuck, especially when the world seems gloomy, hope points the way to joy. AlixSandra guides us in seeing those old hurts and traumas in a new light that helps in realizing our own true worthiness. This book is deliberately focused on fearlessly moving into levels beyond our present understanding to find and help us Activate Joy in every area of our life. AlixSandra writes about how joy can emerge from uncomfortable feelings. She leads you to focus on something which elicits feelings of passion, bringing forth creative momentum. She also explains what happens when group energy combines with JOY! From the Universal Laws of Attraction and Resonance, to taming our “Yabbits” (the pesky voices in our minds), into the arts/processes of basking, blessings, and goodness, you will receive a series of practical applications that assist in deliberately activating joy into your life.

You have the capacity to experience exquisite levels of joy. Don’t wait a single moment longer to read Activate Joy.


About the author:

Dr. AlixSandra Parness, DD, is a dedicated healer who has spent a lifetime refining her clairvoyant, channeling and teaching abilities, as well her ability to stay in a constant state of joy.

To polish her natural skills, she trained in a wide variety of modalities, from working with psychic surgeons, to studying with Jane Roberts, becoming one of Barbara Brennan’s first students, to being a senior faculty member and national coordinator for the School of Energy Mastery in Sedona, Arizona. As an ordained minister and Doctor of Divinity, she led and founded The Inner Focus Church in Las Vegas, NV. In 1994 Dr. Parness founded then directed the Inner Focus School for Soul Directed Advanced Energy Healing as an international vehicle for attaining personal enlightenment and world peace.

Her dynamic journey led her to an even greater vision of world service. Dr. Parness is a passionate activator of higher consciousness with the ability to find, hold and lift individual and group energy and then stabilize the group on that new level. A palpable shift in consciousness becomes a new springboard for success again and again.

Her connection with the realms of divine love opens space for spontaneous healings and enlightened information that uplifts the hearts of individuals and reveals soul lessons in a gentle, firm and empowering way. Because of her ability to transmit the divine energy that flows through her, it is impossible to experience this woman without being forever touched and moved into heightened joy.

As a teacher of teachers, in her extensive workshops and healing school Dr. Parness has trained several thousand students; many who today have their own expanding networks and now touch thousands more. A dynamic and unforgettable presence, she teaches through seminars and teleconferences, and at special events held across the United States and Canada.

She resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. She invites you to visit her at

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Featured Book: Katie and Spirit Wolf by Littlewolf Griffith

About the book:

Littlewolf Griffith Grew up in the Native American world during the depression area. Littlewolf has always had her feet part in the white mans world and part in the Indian’s spiritual world. Her mind has imagined her in many different avenues of the real and the spiritual. She has seen and heard many stories from her Indian people of the here and now and the spiritual aspects of the Indian world. She bears the birth right of a seer, as did her mother and her Mother’s Mother. So it is not unusual to see how she would finally come to write the story Katie and Spirit Wolf. The life and happenings of Kate Cody a private Detective, an unusual wolf named Spirit Wolf and Mama Blue an Elder of Monacan heritage. With their help she is guided into the Native American spirit world in solving crimes that the three of them worked on together as a team.

About the author:

Lorraine Littlewolf Griffith born in 1938. She grew up in Danville, Virginia and spent much of her young years with an Aunt who lived in the Amherst Virginia area of Bear Mountain a Monacan Indian community. She is the eldest of 15 children.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Featured Book: The Unlikely Career of Sonny B. Feelright by Dwight David Morgan

About the book:

Fresh out of graduate school, Sonny Feelright has high hopes when he stumbles into a job with a Chicago investment banking boutique. But he soon finds himself overwhelmed by the cast of egotists, incompetents, manipulators and crooks he encounters in the world of finance. When evil hedge fund manager Nancy “Black Widow” Black ensnares Sonny through forgery and fraud in an audacious and illegal corporate takeover, Sonny faces a Faustian choice: participate in the scheme and accept the riches and career advancement it promises, or maintain his honesty and risk prison and career ruin. To save his integrity and himself, Sonny must rely on his wits and the help of two colleagues, the confident but fragile Charlotte McCardle, with whom he is falling in love, and alcoholic Simon Courtney, who becomes Sonny’s reluctant mentor. The book presents a humorous and sordid portrait of the world of high finance and the unscrupulous people it attracts, ending with the ultimate confrontation between everyman Sonny and demented Nancy Black, for whom winning is everything.

About the author:

THE UNLIKELY CAREER OF SONNY B. FEELRIGHT draws on Dwight David Morgan’s successful career as a writer, lawyer, corporate executive and entrepreneur. With a degree in Journalism from Kent State University, Morgan spent his early career as a freelancer and communications consultant. After earning a law degree from the University of Akron, he became a senior executive of a major corporation, where his duties included investor relations and M&A. In 1998 he founded a successful plastics manufacturing company, which he sold in 2008. He lives with his wife and two children in Medina, Ohio. FEELRIGHT is his first novel.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post: Lia Fairchild author of In Search of Lucy

Lia Fairchild, author of the book In Search of Lucy, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

Guest Blog from Lia Fairchild, 

“Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister” - Alice Walker

Having written a story about two sisters, I am often asked if I have a sister and if the story was based on my own experiences. The ironic part is that I have three sisters, yet was never given the chance to live life with any of them. And, though I had three brothers and three sisters, I actually felt very alone growing up. The one brother I lived with ended up in the “got in with the wrong crowd” category, causing him to drift from the family and leave me feeling like an only child. So, maybe some part of my feelings of loss came across subconsciously in this story of two sisters, once so close, but torn apart by life’s circumstances.

In the novel In Search of Lucy, sisters Lucy and Katie have been separated for six years without contact. Growing up, Lucy sacrificed everything to care for Katie and their alcoholic mother until Katie got pregnant and moved away, leaving Lucy struggling to find her own identity. Then Lucy finds out that Katie needs a kidney transplant and she is the only one who can save her life.

With the help of new friends, Lucy sets out on a journey to reunite with her sister, hoping to let her bitterness go and find happiness in the process.

In developing this relationship, I tried to put myself in Lucy’s head. How would she react in the face of this betrayal by someone she spent most of her life caring for? Given that I’m a mother of two, I knew that Lucy's maternal instincts would take priority and she’d want to do whatever possible to help her sister. That’s a given. But the challenge would be in letting the past go and moving forward. This is the journey Lucy takes readers on. She is finally facing her past, coming to terms with her own life, and learning to let people in that just want to help her.


About the book:

Lucy Lang’s life is spiraling out of control. For years she sacrificed her own needs to care for her half sister and alcoholic mother, only to be abandoned by both. Now, at age 30, Lucy finds herself held back by memories and regret as she struggles to find her own purpose in life. But when her sister needs a kidney transplant, Lucy is the only one who can save her life.

With the help of new friends and a man who won’t give up on her, Lucy sets out on a journey to reunite with her sister and find the answers she so desperately needs. Can she get past her emotions and have a chance at happiness? With its colorful, endearing cast of characters, In Search of Lucy takes readers on a rollercoaster of emotions from sadness and heartache to happiness and hope.

About the author:

Born and raised in Southern California, Lia Fairchild holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a multiple subject teaching credential. She is also the author of A Hint of Murder: The Writer, A Hint of Murder: The Doctor, and a short story entitled Special Delivery.

Writing is something Fairchild has thought about all her life, and she found completing In Search of Lucy truly satisfying. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter at!/liafairchild.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Featured Book: Kaiser Brightman 082314 by Michael Springer

About the book:

In mid-1944, a half-million German prisoners of war are working in U.S. factories and fields because military enlistments and the draft have caused labor shortages. Two hundred PWs are billeted in an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp on Muskrat Island in the Minnesota River at New Bonn. Twelve-year-olds, Frank Warner, Jack Steiner, and Skeeter Stark stake out the PW camp from an abandoned cabin along the river. Frank’s and Jack’s dads are serving with the 3rd Infantry Division in Italy. Skeeter’s brother is an Army Ranger in France. Frank and Jack are Boy Scouts, and fluent in Morse Code; however, a series of mysterious radio messages intercepted in that format baffles them. The boys build a raft, land on the island, and encounter a PW who drops a matchbook cover with the following strange words and numbers printed on the back: KAISER BRIGHTMAN 082314. The trio is dawn into a Nazi conspiracy of murder and sabotage that imperils many lives, including theirs.

About the author:  

MICHAEL SPRINGER is a Minnesota native, graduate of Minnesota State University, former U.S. Navy line officer, and free-lance writer. He lives with his wife in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

FYI: Share Buttons Updated

Thank you to those who contacted me to tell me that the share buttons at the bottom of my posts had gone MIA!  I grabbed the new code from AddThis and all is now well.

So you should see these lovely new buttons again at the bottoms of posts to make it easier for you to share.

Let the sharing begin (again)!  :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Group Giveaway: Kindle Fire

I've joined up with Freebie Shark, American Family, Coupon Pro, Mark Your Savings, Acadiana's Thrifty Mom and a group of awesome bloggers to bring you a chance to win one of four Kindle Fires!

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck!

*This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest in any way. You must be 18 years of age to enter to win. This giveaway will be open worldwide. Freebie Shark, American Family, Coupon Pro, and Mark Your Savings with E are responsible for the distribution of the prizes. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of your prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Ending Tonight: 250 PrintRunner Stickers

Just a reminder that the giveaway for 250 PrintRunner stickers ends tonight.

If you haven't gotten your entries in yet, enter here.

Group Giveaway: Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire Giveaway Event

Yes, it's true.  I've joined up with another group of bloggers to give away a Kindle Fire to one lucky person!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

This giveaway is sponsored by Giveaway Promote and U.S. Coupons and Deals.

This giveaway is open in the United States and Canada.

It will end at 11:59pm EST on April 22nd, 2012.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Featured Book: 52 Weeks of Non-Stop Bliss by Terri L. Cunkle, ME, BS, TC

About the book:

Take some time out to truly enjoy your life! This delightful book packs a year’s worth of joy into 52 easy activities that you can do in about an hour or less each week. Written for those of us who are so busy, we forget to indulge in the simple joys of everyday life, 52 Weeks of Non-Stop Bliss reminds us how simple yet powerful the little things can be—things like listening to children’s conversations, indulging in a special dessert, reaching out to long-lost friends, feeding birds in the backyard… The best things in life are affordable and easy, but they can be life-changing! With 52 Weeks of Non-Stop Bliss, you can treat yourself to: • 52 blissful activities • 52 brainstorming journals • 52 ways to be happy all year long. Find everyday joy in the simple things in life and take the time to heal your soul.

About the author:

Terri L. Cunkle lives in the picturesque village of Jonesville, Michigan. She holds a Master’s of Education and is a middle school special education teacher and teacher consultant in Hillsdale, Michigan. She has themed day camps for girls in the summer and owns and operates the Country Manor Mystery Dinner Theater in Jonesville, Michigan. Terri has also written A Mother’s Power in The Gratitude Book Project Celebrating Moms & Motherhood, and A Soulful Soothing in The Gratitude Book Project Pets Edition. Her new collection, The Easy and Affordable book series, is coming out soon and will include ideas for crafts, gardening, businesses, and Christmas gifts.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Guest Post: When Was the Last Time You Read Nonfiction? by Alvina Lopez

Alvina Lopez, writer for Accredited Online Colleges, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

When was the last time you read nonfiction?

by Alvina Lopez

If you’re as big of a bookworm as I am, chances are that you spend most of your time devouring page-turning works of fiction in the genres of romance, mystery, sci-fi, or anything else you can get your hands on. There’s an unexplainable magic to being transported into fictitious realms, whether they resemble our own world or not. Only recently did it strike me that the vast—and I mean vast—majority of my reading is fiction.

The realization hit me when a friend asked if I had read the memoir called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I told her no and she asked if I had read a similar biography, and again I said no. Suddenly I started to feel self conscious about how little nonfiction I had read all my life up to this point. So began my journey through nonfiction, and I have to tell you that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride thus far. But I can also sympathize with readers who wouldn’t know where to start if they want to delve into the realm of nonfiction. In fact, I’d like to give you a little advice on the subject.

Look for topics that draw your interest

The most obvious place to start when looking for a book of nonfiction is in a field that you care about. If you don’t care much about whaling, I don’t suggest that you pick up the most informed book on whaling in American (though such a book does exist). People are intimidated by nonfiction because of the sheer volume of information available on any one topic, but once you decide on an area you’ll find that it’s just like choosing among fiction titles. After you read a bit a chapter or two of a book of nonfiction you can tell whether or not you want to stick with it or move on to another author.

What if you don’t know what topic would make for an interesting read? Well, in my case I simply picked something that looked interesting. One of the first nonfiction books I read last year was a biography of Cleopatra. I enjoyed the read so much that all I wanted to do was read another biography about a powerful woman, so a biography on Mary Queen of Scots was next on my list. Thus began my spree of biographies.

Read nonfiction that contextualizes your normal readings

Another angle worth trying is reading nonfiction that gives context to the fiction that you’d normally read. For example, if you’re keen on dense Victorian romance novels, why not try a book detailing the various class hierarchies of that era? Or if you’re a fan of historical Southern war fiction, why not check out a book or two about the Civil War? Every work of fiction you read is grounded in some sort of reality, no matter how abstract the setting may be. All you have to do is search for that reality in a compelling work of nonfiction.

There’s no wrong way to start

Don’t settle when it comes to books of nonfiction. This might come off sounding like dating advice, but it holds true. If you aren’t enjoyed a book, it’s probably not your fault, so ditch it and find another one that draws you. There are more nonfiction books being published this year than you will ever have time to read, so you have to be choosey about your picks. Don’t waste time on something that you’re not enjoying. Life, and especially your reading time, is too short.


About the author:

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Featured Book: My Brother's Keeper by A. J. Farris

About the book:

Imagine for one second that you had to take the life of someone else under the direst circumstances—a game of high stakes poker that came down to being killed or being a killer. You claimed it was a matter of self-defense, but the police didn’t believe you. What would you do? How would you feel? That’s exactly what Morgan Sheldon’s problem is. He’s a successful author, a devoted husband, a loving father, and a murder suspect. The two homicide detectives who are questioning him aren’t buying his claims of self-defense. And with only Morgan’s distorted account of what happened, who can blame them? To find out what really transpired on the vacant lot under the darkness of that cold, January night, a lifelong journey has to be taken back to where it all began: the night he was born. Through the unraveling of key moments in Morgan’s life that include when he first discovers true love, his passion for writing, and his role as his brother’s keeper; the past and present eventually merge and the truth about the self-defense killing—or the cold-blooded murder—is ultimately revealed.

About the author:

A. J. Farris is a poet and author currently residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My Brother’s Keeper is his first book.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Excerpt: When Dreams Come True by Cathy Maxwell

Cathy Maxwell, author of the book When Dreams Come True, stopped by with an excerpt from her book!

By Cathy Maxwell

Eden didn’t want to lie, not to him, not anymore. But she couldn’t tell him the truth.

Lord Penhollow sat down on the piano bench beside her, his back to the instrument. “Play.”

“What shall I play?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

Her fingers trembled as she touched the ivory keys. She was all too aware of him, of his thigh brushing against hers, of his arm leaning on the piano, of the intensity in his face.

For a moment, her mind went blank. She could barely remember her name, let alone why she was here. Her fingers stuck a D chord and then began moving almost with a will of their own. Mozart.

The music had been written to be played by moonlight. It wasn’t an easy piece. Its mood changed swiftly, flowing from pensive contemplation to almost joyous rapture and back again.

She played for him as she’d played for no other, letting the music speak words that could never, should never be spoken between them.

His expression sober, he leaned his head down on his arm, listening. The light from the single candle encircled them.

Eden didn’t feel the burn of tears until the first one trickled down her cheek. She struggled to hold back the others. Her throat ached with the pain of regret. Still she played, her fingers running over the keys, striking chords. Another tear escaped, this time falling free and striking the back of her hand just as she finished the final chord.

The music vibrated in the air. Neither spoke. Eden couldn’t face him. She lowered her head, staring at the contrast of her fingers against the creamy ivory keys.

The back of his fingers stroked her cheek. She shivered at his touch, then closed her eyes, pressing her cheek closer, wanting these few moments between them.

Her tears flowed freely now. She tasted them on her lips, and then, tasted him. His fingers brushed her lips softly, before his lips hovered near hers in silent question.

Eden had never kissed before. The women of Madame Indrani’s did not kiss. A kiss was too intimate, too personal. A poet had once said, a kiss could claim a woman’s soul and never give it back and Madame had trained her women to believe it. But now, Eden craved that intimacy. The blood roaring in her ears, she wet her lips and parted them.

He needed no other invitation. Their lips met.

The kiss was far more gentle than she’d anticipated. His lips were smooth and soft. Kissing him felt as natural as breathing and she relaxed into it with a small sigh. His arms came around her, pulling her closer. Her hands still rested on the piano keys. She raised them now and placed them awkwardly upon his shoulders.

His lips pressed against hers curved into smile, a heart beat before his arms tightened and his kiss deepened.

What had started off as simple and innocent flared into passion. Her breasts flattened against the solid strength of his chest. Separated by only the thin layers of cotton material between them, she could feel his heart beat. Her nipples tightened in response. The tip of his tongue gently stroked her lower lip. It tickled and she gasped in surprise. That’s when his tongue sweetly entered her mouth and she really learned how to kiss.

This was intimate. . . but, very exciting.

Eden drank her fill of him. He’d been sipping brandy. She could taste it in the kiss, mingled with the salt from her own tears. His skin smelled of the spice scent of his shaving soap he’d used a few hours earlier.

But it wasn’t enough. She wanted to be closer and hooked her arms around his neck He chuckled deep in his throat. His hands on her waist, he lifted her up to sit on his lap.

Eden faced him, her bent legs embracing his body. She kissed him back now. He’d shown her how and she reveled in the feel of his body pressed against hers. Placing her hand against his jaw, she delighted in the texture of his whiskered growth beneath her fingers and the movement of his muscles as he devoured her with his kiss.

Their movements pushed her night dress up her thighs. Pressed against his black, finely woven breeches, she could feel the long, hard length of him. Something possessive and proud soared inside her, opening her to him. She pressed closer.

His hand ran up her bare thigh and slipped beneath the night dress. Their kiss went deeper and deeper as if they could pull the very breath from each other. She tugged at his shirt, wanting clothes removed between them. Her fingers slipped under the waist of his breeches and her fingertips brushed the velvety hard head of his erection. His hand came round and captured hers, preventing her from exploring further. He broke the kiss and leaned back against the pianoforte, his breathing heavy.

Eden tossed her hair back, a wildness thrumming through her. She leaned her arms on his chest and bit his bottom lip. “Why did you stop? I want to touch you. I need to feel you.”

She would have kissed him again, but he shook his head, taking both her wrists in his hands. “If we don’t stop here, then I’ll never stop.”

Eden rubbed her breasts against his chest. “Then let’s not stop.”

His eyes glowed in the candlelight. She waited. She felt wanton, she felt powerful . . . she felt honest. This, she was trained for. This, she understood.

Suddenly, he rose, bringing her up with him. Strong arms cradled her shoulders and her legs. He blew out the candle and carried her from the drawing room to the hallway leading to her bedroom.

Eden threw her arms around his shoulders breathing in the scent of warm man and starched cotton. Tomorrow, she would leave, but she would have tonight.

He pressed her door open with his shoulder. The room was dark save for the moonlight coming in through the panes of the French doors and spreading across the bed. Outside, the fountain splashed and crickets called.

Eden’s heartbeat quickened as he didn’t waste time but crossed to the bed and laid her down upon the sheets, the bed still indented where her body had been resting earlier. She reached for him.

But Lord Penhollow didn’t follow her onto the bed. Instead he backed away, moving into the shadows.

Eden came up on one elbow. “Aren’t you joining me?”


Her passion fuddled mind had difficulty understanding. “No?” She came up on her knees. “But I thought– We were just . . .” Her voice trailed off. She couldn’t put into words what they’d been doing in the drawing room. Oh, she knew many descriptions for it, but none of that matched this racing of her heart and the almost desperate need inside her. “Don’t you want me?”

He gave shaky laugh and then whispered, “I burn for you. I want nothing more than to be buried inside you and feel your body around me.”

Eden groaned with the aching desire his words inspired. She reached out. “Then come to me.”

“I can’t.”

Eden dropped her hand to the bed, gathering the sheets in a fist clenched in frustration. “Why?”

“Because there is something I want from you more.”

“And what is that?”

“I want you to trust me.”

Trust. Eden sat back on her heels. She combed her hair back from her face with her hands. “What if I can’t give you that?”

“You will,” he said fiercely. “Because I’m not the type of man to stop until I get what I want.”

Her heart seemed to stop. “What if what you want, is not what you expect?”

“You’re an innocent, Eden. I could never believe you guilty of wrong doing.”

“An innocent?” she repeated with disbelief. “What makes you believe that, my lord?”

His teeth flashed white in the darkness. “My sweet Eden, I could tell by your kiss. I’m the first man you’ve kissed, although you learn quickly.”

“My lord, I’m far from innocent that you think–”

“No, stop. Aren’t we all guilty of something?” he practically growled.

His anger surprised her. She pulled back just as he crossed the room to her. His hands grasped her arms and lifted her to meet his kiss. This kiss was different than the earlier. It was savage, possessive, and branded her completely as his.

He let go and Eden slid to the bed, unable to move.

Her body cried for more.

He stood over the bed. “You’re mine,” he said. “But I want more than just this, Eden. When I take you, it will be when I can claim all of you. Your heart, your mind . . . your soul.” Without another word, he turned and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

It was hours before Eden could fall asleep and when she did, she knew she would not be leaving on the morrow.

Copyright by Cathy Maxwell. 
Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the book:

Everyone knew the Earl of Penhollow needed a wife, so one thunderous night the villagers gathered together to ask the ocean to deliver a bride to the bachelor lord…

When Pierce Kirrier rescues a mysterious beauty from the billowing ocean waves, he has no idea who she is or where she came from. But at first sight of this enchanting maiden, he knows he must claim her for his own. Taking her back to Penhollow Hall, he pampers her like a princess, determined to win her trust and her heart.

For Eden, awakening in an elegant bedchamber in a remote corner of Cornwall is like a perfect dream. In Pierce’s arms she has discovered true love, true joy, and a passion she never imagined could exist. Yet she knows in her heart that, once her secret past catches up with her, her dreams could be shattered … forever.

About the author:

Raised in Olathe, Kansas, Cathy Maxwell’s love of stories and history come from family tales shared around the dinner table. She's from pioneering stock who first hit these shores on the Mayflower. (She and Dick Cheney share the same Mayflower ancestor. Who would have thought?) She has long called Virginia home, noting she is “a Virginian by choice, but a Kansan by nature.” (That means she isn't afraid of a challenge.) She worked in television news as a broadcaster before spending six years in the Navy . . . and then she took to writing.

Maxwell began her writing career in 1991 while her children were still small. “It wasn’t easy,” she says. “I worked full time, my husband travelled, we had three kids, I volunteered and I was writing from four until seven every morning.” Now, twenty years later, she is the author of seventeen national bestsellers and her novels appear regularly on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Her recent bestseller, The Seduction of Scandal, the fifth and final book in her Scandals and Seductions series, was published in September 2011 and was part of Avon Books’ K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign marking National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.

Maxwell has set all of her novels during the Regency time period. A rarity in the book world, she has published every one of her novels with the same publisher, Harper Collins/Avon Books. Her next novel, Lyon’s Bride, is the first of her The Chattan Curse series and will be on sale April 24th, following the re-release of WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE.