Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Featured Book: The Lost Colonies of Ancient America by Frank Joseph

About the book:

The Original Visitors to the New World Revealed

Was America truly unknown to the outside world until Christopher Columbus "discovered" it in 1492? Could a people gifted enough to raise the Great Pyramid more than 4,000 years ago have lacked the skills necessary to build a ship capable of crossing the Atlantic? Did the Phoenicians, who circumnavigated the African continent in 600 bc, never consider sailing farther? Were the Vikings, the most fearless warriors and seafarers of all time, terrified at the prospect of a transoceanic voyage?

If so, how are we to account for an Egyptian temple accidentally unearthed by Tennessee Valley Authority workers in 1935? What is a beautifully crafted metal plate with the image of a Phoenician woman doing in the Utah desert? And who can explain the discovery of Viking houses and wharves excavated outside of Boston?

These enigmas are but a tiny fraction of the abundant physical proof for Old World visitors to our continent hundreds and thousands of years ago. In addition, Sumerians, Minoans, Romans, Celts, ancient Hebrews, Indonesians, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Welsh, Irish, and the Knights Templar all made their indelible, if neglected, mark on our land.

About the author:

Nominated by Japan's Savant Society as Professor of World Archaeology, Frank Joseph is a veteran scuba diver and participant in hundreds of underwater expeditions off the coast of Africa, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and Polynesia. The editor-in-chief of Ancient American magazine from 1993 to 2007, he has traveled the world collecting research materials for his 27 published books.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: The Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. 

The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it's draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy "Gullible" Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. 

Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children's fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You'll never look at a mop the same way again.

Received for review.

I love YA books and this just looked like a fun series from the first glance.  I certainly was not disappointed.  Shadow Mountain also publishes another author who I really like, James Dashner, and this series favorably reminded me of his books.

The combination of adventure, friendship, and scary monsters combined for a lovely fast, fun, supenseful read suitable for children and adults alike.  The young characters were likable and identifiable and one felt like they could be people you'd like to know in real life.  The story, while fanciful, was solid as well.

Overall, I found this quite entertaining and a great start to a new series.  I am definitely looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Friday, December 27, 2013

Guest Post: Susan Shumsky author of The Power of Chakras

Susan Shumsky, author of the book The Power of Chakras, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

About the book:

The Power of Chakras reveals the truth that has been concealed until now--astonishing secrets about the human energy field. Dr. Susan Shumsky has delved into the ancient Tantric and Vedic literature to uncover the veiled mysteries of the ages, where the most authentic information about the 7 chakras, 7 sub chakras, and the subtle energy system can be found. Until now, much of this wisdom has been locked in hiding places in the forests and caves of India and Tibet.

This COVR Award-winning book is now offered as a new edition. Highly praised by spiritual masters from India as well as thousands of grateful readers, it has been hailed as the "quintessential reference on the subject."

By reading this valuable book, you will:
  • Discover your subtle body and energy field and how to heal blockages.
  • Gain understanding of Kundalini energy and the chakra system.
  • Learn to maintain health of your energy field.

About the author:

Susan Shumsky, DD, author of eight books published by Simon & Schuster, Random House, and New Page Books, has spent more than 45 years teaching thousands of people meditation, yoga, prayer, affirmation, and intuition. Her book titles include Exploring Meditation, Ascension, Miracle Prayer, Instant Healing, Divine Revelation, and How to Hear the Voice of God. A long-time close associate of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi--founder of Transcendental Meditation and guru of the Beatles and Deepak Chopra--Dr. Shumsky is a highly acclaimed and greatly respected spiritual teacher, award-winning author, retreat leader, tour guide to sacred destinations, and founder of Divine Revelation®--a unique technology for clearly hear-ing and testing your intuition. Her website is www.divinerevelation.org.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Featured Book: Explorer: The Lost Islands by Kazu Kibuishi

About the book:

The highly anticipated second volume to the critically acclaimed Explorer series, The Lost Islands is a collection of seven all-new stories written and illustrated by an award-winning roster of comics artists, with each story centered around the theme of hidden places. Edited by the New York Times bestselling comics creator Kazu Kibuishi, this graphic anthology includes well-written, beautifully illustrated stories by Kazu (the Amulet series), Jason Caffoe (the Flight series), Raina Telgemeier (Drama and Smile), Dave Roman (the Astronaut Academy series), Jake Parker (the Missile Mouse series), Michel Gagné (The Saga of Rex), Katie and Steven Shanahan (the Flight series), and up-and-coming new artist Chrystin Garland.

About the author:

Kazu Kibuishi is the creator of Amulet, the award-winning New York Times bestselling graphic novel series, and the editor and art director of eight volumes of Flight, the influential Eisner-nominated anthology series. He lives in Alhambra, California.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dr. Seuss & His Friends Book Club

This time of year I always watch one of my favorite Christmas movies How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which is, of course, based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. It never fails to charm me each and every time. My favorite part will always be the Grinch's dog, Max, with the antlers on.

Dr. Seuss always had the wonderful talent of being able to create characters that stay with you throughout your life. My mom started reading to me when I was little and my love affair with books began there. Dr. Seuss's books, including the always beloved The Cat in the Hat, were among those we started with.

And, who didn't give or receive a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go! as a high school or college graduation gift? It's the perfect message for anyone starting out on a new adventure in life and a book that will be treasured.

We all know reading to our children is an essential part of their development and creates a valuable time to bond as a family and prepare for bedtime. Dr. Seuss books are perfect for that.

Thankfully there's a great, economical source for Dr. Seuss books called the Dr. Seuss & His Friends Book Club. The Club was created to provide parents and grandparents with a perfect selection of books to read to their children and grandchildren, among them the favorites we enjoyed ourselves as children.

They offer a wonderful selection of books to help grow your child's library starting with five classic Dr. Seuss books plus a Dr. Seuss 2014 wall calendar for just $5.95. Their program will help you add high quality educational book, that your child will actually enjoy, to your library at a reasonable price.

I've given Dr. Seuss books as gifts many, many times and think the idea of a book club is delightful. I'm happy to have come across it!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Review: Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare by Sands Hetherington

When pineapple cheesecakes start disappearing from the world's only Pineapple Cheesecake Factory across town, Crosley, a zany red crocodile, enlists the help of young John Degraffenreidt to straighten things out. In this adventure-fantasy, the unlikely pair sneaks out of John's house by becoming invisible, thanks to the I-ain't-here doodad Crosley uses from the bunch of whatchamacallits hanging on his belt. On the way to the subway they get better acquainted, and John finds out the wacky reason Crosley is red, and also what happens if he gets any water on him. They get on the Night Folks Limited train and ride all the way to the Cheesecake Factory where they meet the giant manager, Big Foot Mae. There is danger ahead, but the Night Buddies must stay with their "Program" (the Night Buddies word for Adventure) if the world's supply of pineapple cheesecakes counts for anything. And it surely does, especially to Crosley who is totally goofy about the things and never seems to get his fill.

Galley received for review.

This was a cute little children's book but not spectacular. Neither John nor Crosley were particularly likable and Crosley was more than a little annoying. The story itself was cute and had a vaguely Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel to it.

If you're looking for a new children's book this is a solid option but I wouldn't rush out to get a copy.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Friday, December 20, 2013

Guest Post: Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman authors of Viral Mythology

Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman, authors of the book Viral Mythology, stopped by to share with us a piece they wrote.

About the book:

Behind every myth, fairy tale, and legend--hidden within the art, song, and structures of ancient times--is an encoded layer of wisdom, science, and truth passed down throughout history. This book will examine how information went "viral" long before the Internet, and served as the foundation for mythology, sacred architecture, and symbolic imagery throughout the ancient world.

Viral Mythology reveals:
  • How primitive and ancient cultures conveyed cutting-edge scientific knowledge in their origin stories and myths
  • Why esoteric knowledge was hidden in symbols, art, and architecture during times of religious oppression and persecution
  • How stories, songs, and art served to describe actual historical events
  • Why diverse civilizations told the same stories and created the same art with common themes and symbols, despite no apparent communication
From the great myths of the Greek, Roman, and Norse to the texts of the world's major religions, from folklore and fairy tales of old to sacred edifices and monuments, from cave paintings to the mysterious symbology of the Tarot, Viral Mythology uncovers the information highway of the past, and explores how it affects the more modern methods of communication today.

It all began once upon a time....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: The Sustainable Asian House by Paul McGillick and Masano Kawana

Today's byword is sustainability, and in few arenas is that more evident than in architecture. The Sustainable Asian House celebrates the new architectural vocabulary of environmental, social, and cultural sustainability as it is now emerging in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The houses in this book are an exciting representation of the region's reinterpretation of tropical architecture and its growing interest in traditional materials and craftsmanship. There is a new emphasis on fresh air, natural light, and spatial variety. Designers are considering issues such as orientation to the sun and prevailing winds to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. The twenty-seven houses are featured in this fascinating and stunningly photographed study.

I've been fascinated by architecture for quite a while and I love to take a peek at what other people are doing in their homes via books such as The Sustainable Asian House.

This engaging and beautifully photographed volume is visually stunning, yet thought provoking as it really makes you think about what sustainable really means these days.

Sustainable no longer equates with the hippie ideal architecture of homes made of bottles in concrete or hay bales and mud with minimal light and air. It also no longer means that you have to live in the smallest space possible.  Sustainable homes can be beautiful and functional.  They can also be any size, bright, warm, and welcoming. This book showcases those elements beautifully.

The book features twenty seven homes which are completely different in size, shape, and location yet each is completely sustainable in every sense of the word. The homes are sustainably built but also function sustainably as homes which can change and grow with their owners and their needs. The architects truly considered whether their design could sustain a couple through the years while they were just married, had children, and then were just the two of them again after the children left.

Each home is shown from multiple interior and exterior angles in simply gorgeous photographs. They show that the houses featured are actually homes that function wonderfully for their owners. They range from ultra modern homes to more classic styles. They feature fireplaces and bookcases and everything one might desire from a home and look good while doing so.

What is perhaps the most gorgeous is the many homes which feature courtyard spaces that provide stunning yet functional outdoor living spaces, some complete with swimming pools. I never would have associated sustainable living with a swimming pool before this book!

My personal favorite of all the homes featured was the Carphenie House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It embodied everything the book discussed and was visually stunning as well. I loved the curves and light and the wonderful grand entranceway filled with plants. It was simply gorgeous!

I was absolutely blown away by this stunning volume and highly recommend it!

★★★★★ = Loved It

Disclosure:  This is a publisher sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Featured Book: Perfect Timing by Laura Spinella

About the book:

There’s rock, there’s a hard place, then there’s Aidan & Isabel.

What’s a Jersey Girl to do when she moves to Catswallow, Alabama? Isabel Lang finds the answer in an unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The two share everything from a first kiss to startling family secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, the two flee to Las Vegas where Isabel’s future comes tumbling down.

Seven years later, the past is buried, including any relationship with Aidan. Isabel is busy running a radio station and closing in on commitment with Nate Potter, a guy who defines ideal. Life seems cozy until new station management demands a sudden-death ratings grabber, putting everyone’s future on the line. What should be a simple solution leads to a stunning revelation as Isabel is forced to call on the past and the only rock star she knows.

About the author:

Laura Spinella is the author of the award-winning novel Beautiful Disaster.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Turtle Season by Miriam Ruth Black

After the premature death of her husband of thirty years, Anna Simon learns the comfortable life they shared in Seattle had been built on lies. The discovery of her husband's betrayal challenges everything she had previously believed.

Grief and shock combine with menopause to topple her formerly secure identities as wife, mother, and educator. In an effort to build a new life, Anna pursues an interest in documentary film where she is surprised to find herself attracted to a talented and engaging woman. Will she have the courage to claim a new path, to trust her own feelings? Or will she scuttle back into her shell?

A funny and touching story of personal discovery, Turtle Season follows the deep inner journey of a woman at midlife as she chooses hope over despair and seeks a future that is true to her authentic self.

Received for review.

First I have to mention that this book had the incredibly annoying formatting of not starting new chapters on a new page, let alone a right hand page. It turned me against the book from the start, which was unfortunate as I think I could have enjoyed it more if it weren't so physically annoying to read.

Frankly I don't know what to say about this. I really don't. I mean, one minute Anna is married for thirty years with two kids, discovers that her husband was living a secret life, and then suddenly becomes a lesbian. Really? She just randomly becomes a lesbian in mid-life? Why did she even get married in the first place then? If she knew she was a lesbian then why did she get married to a man? To have kids? That's just offensive beyond belief - that all women want to have children and the best possible way is to lie to a man, get married, have the stupid kids, and then after he dies or you leave him you take a lesbian lover. I'm really speechless. This is just so offensive on so many levels. The author is essentially condoning Anna's unbelievably wrong behavior. There is no mention of just how much of a terrible human being Anna is to have lied to her husband and children for thirty years and to have built her "marriage" on a bed of outright lies.

I cannot recommend this at all. At all. Seriously, this is among the most offensive garbage I've read lately. It's not "funny" or "moving". It is simply nauseating. Do not touch this trash with a ten foot pole.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Easy Canvas Prints Facebook Promotion

I've worked with Easy Canvas Prints before and was very pleased with my print.  You can win one too during their Facebook promotion!

Here are the details from their site:

Christmas is just over a week away and we’ve finalized our wish lists for Santa here at the office! Now it’s time to focus on gifting to friends and family this holiday season. We all know that personalized presents are a great way to show loved ones how much you care. To help with gift giving this year, we’ve created a contest for your chance to win Easy Canvas Prints credit!

Follow the easy steps below to enter.

  1. Upload a photo that you’d want to create on canvas and give as a gift
  2. Provide a description
  3. Spread the word via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Enter our photo contest here or on our Facebook page. The 3 entries with the most votes will receive photos on canvas credit and those winners will be announced on our blog December 22nd!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Featured Book: Marilyn Monroe: On the Couch: Inside the Mind and Life of Marilyn Monroe by Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.

About the book:

There is much written, rumored, told, and retold about Marilyn Monroe, but the most unusual and remarkable fact about her is this: In person as well in her films, she appeared to be outright luminous? enveloped by a glow, like a firefly in the dark.

Even Laurence Olivier, who costarred with Marilyn in the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, saw it. Though he seemed to dislike her intensely, he had to admit that, in all her scenes, she lit up the screen.

But exquisite as it can be, luminosity can be a kind of camouflage. It can hide the truth underneath.

What exactly was Marilyn illuminating in the atmosphere that surrounded her? Her beauty was certainly stunning, dazzling—blinding, even—but what did it hide?

Marilyn, more brilliant than many understood, knew well the difference between looking upon the light and seeing beyond the glow. "Men do not see me," she said. "They just lay their eyes on me."

Psychoanalyst and longtime woman's biographer Dr. Alma Bond imagines, in detail, a several-year stretch during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Marilyn, an exceedingly fragile figure, submits to analysis on the couch of Manhattan psychoanalyst Dr. Darcy Dale and, following her . return to Hollywood, corresponds with her.

Brilliantly, entertainingly, and movingly, Marilyn Monroe: On the Couch shows just what lay beneath Marilyn's radiance. Dr. Dale, a fictional stand-in for the author, Dr. Bond, sees Marilyn Monroe as few ever have, both inside and out, and transfers those insights to readers. It's impossible to imagine anyone providing a better, more complete, intimate, and unforgettable understanding of this truly remarkable, iconic, and even pivotal figure in film and sexual history.

About the author:

Dr. Alma H. Bond is the author or co-author of twenty-one published books, including this one. Among her others: Jackie O: On the Couch; Lady Macbeth: On the Couch; Michelle Obama: A Biography; The Autobiography of Maria Callas: A Novel; Margaret Mahler: A Biography of the Psychoanalyst; Camille Claude: A Novel; America’s First Woman Warrior: The Story of Deborah Sampson; and Who Killed Virginia Woolf? A Psychobiography.

Dr. Bond received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, graduated from the post-doctoral program in psychoanalysis at the Freudian Society, and was a psychoanalyst in private practice for 37 years in New York City. She “retired” to become a full-time writer.

Dr. Bond is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Dramatists Guild, and the Authors Guild, as well as a fellow and faculty member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, the International Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Psychological Association. She was one of the first non-medical analysts to be elected to the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Dr. Bond grew up in Philadelphia, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology from Temple University, and following voluntary military service, moved to New York, where she earned a graduate degree in psychology from Columbia University.

A longtime resident of New York City, she lived for nearly a dozen years in south Florida, and now resides in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Driving the Saudis by Jayne Amelia Larson

After more than a decade of working in Hollywood, actress Jayne Amelia Larson found herself out of luck, out of work, and out of prospects. Without telling her friends or family, she took a job as a limousine driver, thinking that the work might be a good way to dig out of debt while meeting A-list celebrities and important movie moguls.

When she got hired to drive for the Saudi royal family vacationing in Beverly Hills, Larson thought she’d been handed the golden ticket. She’d heard stories of the Saudis giving $20,000 tips and Rolex watches to their drivers. But when the family arrived at LAX with millions of dollars in cash—money that they planned to spend over the next couple of weeks—Larson realized that she might be in for the ride of her life. With awestruck humor and deep compassion, she describes her eye-opening adventures as the only female in a detail of over forty assigned to drive a beautiful Saudi princess, her family, and their extensive entourage.

To be a good chauffeur means to be a “fly on the wall,” to never speak unless spoken to, to never ask questions, to allow people to forget that you are there. The nature of the employment—Larson was on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week—and the fact that she was the only female driver gave her an up close and personal view of one of the most closely guarded monarchies in the world, a culture of great intrigue and contradiction, and of unimaginable wealth.

The Saudis traveled large: they brought furniture, Persian rugs, Limoges china, lustrous silver serving trays, and extraordinary coffees and teas from around the world. The family and their entourage stayed at several luxury hotels, occupying whole floors of each (the women housed separately from the Saudi men, whom Larson barely saw). Each day the royal women spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery and mega-shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive. Even the tea setup had its very own hotel room, while the servants were crammed together on rollaway beds in just a few small rooms down the hall.

Larson witnessed plenty of drama: hundreds of hours of cosmetic surgery recovery, the purchasing of Hermès Birkin bags of every color, roiling battles among the upper-echelon entourage members all jockeying for a better position in the palace hierarchy, and the total disregard that most of the royal entourage had for their exhausted staff. But Driving the Saudis also reveals how Larson grew to understand the complicated nuances of a society whose strict customs remain intact even across continents. She saw the intimate bond that connected the royals with their servants and nannies; she befriended the young North African servant girls, who supported whole families back home by working night and day for the royals but were not permitted to hold their own passports lest they try to flee.

While experiencing a life-changing “behind the veil” glimpse into Saudi culture, Larson ultimately discovers that we’re all very much the same everywhere—the forces that corrupt us, make us desperate, and make us human are surprisingly universal.

Received for review.

First, let me state that I found the entire book of stories incredibly offensive. The tales of these rich people disgusted me and turned my stomach. I had zero sympathy for these poor little rich girls no matter the author's efforts to humanize these frankly disgusting monsters. They had zero redeeming qualities. It was like someone trying to get you to like a certain hotel heiress as a person. It wasn't going to happen. She (and the people in this book) is a horrible, horrible person and frankly makes my skin crawl. To call them animals is offensive to the animals. They're just outright monsters.

So, why the four stars? The writing was excellent, and the author did do her best to represent these people fairly, which is more than I could have managed. She told of her experiences with an often humorous tone that made reading more bearable. So, the combination of excellent writing and use of humor made this an interesting anthropological study.

If you're looking for insight into the ultra rich then this is for you. Just put your humanity to the side as you start reading or you will never be able to finish the book.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Blast: The Tempest Murders by P.M. Terrell

Detective Ryan O’Clery has always had dreams of a beautiful woman he’d loved and lost but when he discovers his ancestor’s journals from his native Ireland, he realizes his dreams are really the other man’s memories.

Now he is working a series of murders in North Carolina that are eerily similar to cases Rian Kelly was working when his soul mate was murdered during one of Ireland’s most horrific storms, in which the Atlantic Ocean swept over the island all the way to the Irish Sea.

As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the North Carolina coastline, Ryan discovers the serial killer’s real target is a reporter who bears a striking resemblance to the woman of his dreams—a woman with whom Ryan O’Clery is falling deeply in love.

Is history destined to repeat itself? Or can Ryan save Cathleen Reilly from a killer intent on destroying everything he ever loved?

Purchase Your Copy Here

About the Author:

P.M. Terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 18 books in 4 genres. A full-time author since 2002, she previously opened and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the Secret Service, CIA and Department of Defense as well as local law enforcement. Computer and spy technology are two themes that recur throughout her books. She is the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates. And she founded the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair which takes place each February. She is also an animal advocate and helped to start the New Leash on Life program in which dogs destined for euthanasia are rescued and paired with prison inmates in Robeson County, North Carolina, who train them. The dogs are then adopted into loving homes.

Book Excerpt

They were bites away from finishing their meal when the sky opened up. There might have been a warning, had he been by himself and able to observe his surroundings; but by the time he noticed the trees bending deeply and the gray clouds roiling, the rain had descended on them in a torrent. Within seconds, their food was floating.

A tiny shriek escaped Cathleen’s lips as she vainly tried to keep the rain off her head.

Ryan jumped up, grabbed her wrist and in one fluid movement, had her on her feet. They raced for the back door, managing to rush inside just as a wicked clap of thunder sounded, followed almost instantly by a white streak of lightning.

Once inside, he closed the door, plunging them both into relative silence. He turned around, an offer to get her a towel on his lips. But when he laid eyes on her, the words froze. She was completely drenched. Her hair was hanging in folds from which water streamed until it formed a puddle on the hardwood floor. Her thin blouse was plastered to her body and seemed to highlight the black lace bra beneath. It further accentuated a slender waist before giving way to jeans that she now appeared to have been poured into. Her feet were soaked and as he took in the petite toes peeking out, he found himself staring at the pink polish and a Celtic toe ring before his eyes moved back up her body.

By the time they reached her eyes, he felt as if he was on automatic pilot. His mind was completely blank, his emotions swept away. He stepped toward her at the exact moment he reached out and pulled her to him, the wet blouse teasing his chest. He didn’t look in her eyes but closed his as his lips locked onto hers.

They were everything he’d dreamed about; full and moist and soft. But she wasn’t kissing him.

He stopped and took a step backward, separating them. She stood perfectly still and stared at him with eyes that had grown round and huge. Her face had lost its color and as she continued staring at him, he realized she was in shock.

Horrified with his own boorish behavior, he stumbled over his words. “I am so sorry. I’ve never done anything like that in my life—”

She rushed at him and for the briefest of moments, he didn’t know if she planned to slap him or pummel him or push him to the side to rush out the door. He staggered backward to get out of her way but when she descended on him her arms encircled his neck, pulling his head down to hers.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Seven Thousand Ways to Listen by Mark Nepo

MARK NEPO MOVED AND INSPIRED millions of people with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening, a spiritual daybook that draws on his awakening through cancer to offer life lessons from all the spiritual traditions. In his continuing exploration of the human journey, Nepo has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” In his latest book, he inquires into the endless ways we are asked to listen. Experiencing hearing loss himself, Nepo affirms that listening is one of the most mysterious, luminous, and challenging art forms on Earth: “Whatever difficulty you face, there are time-tried ways you can listen your way through. Because listening is the doorway to everything that matters. It enlivens the heart the way breathing enlivens the lungs. We listen to awaken our heart. We do this to stay vital and alive.”

In Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Nepo offers ancient and contemporary practices to help us stay close to what is sacred. In this beautifully written spiritual memoir, Nepo explores the transformational journey with his characteristic insight and grace. He unfolds the many gifts and challenges of deep listening as we are asked to reflect on the life we are given. A moving exploration of self and our relationship to others and the world around us, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen unpacks the many ways we are called to redefine ourselves and to name what is meaningful as we move through the changes that come from experience and aging and the challenge of surviving loss.

Filled with questions to reflect on and discuss with others and meditations on how to return to what matters throughout the day, this enlightening book teaches us how to act wholeheartedly so we can inhabit the gifts we are born with and find the language of our own wisdom. Seven Thousand Ways to Listen weaves a tapestry of deep reflection, memoir, and meditation to create a remarkable guide on how to listen to life and live more fully.

Received for review.

I am always intrigued by self-help books. I just find them fascinating and I was immediately drawn to this volume because of the author's warm, friendly tone which was reminiscent of Deepak Chopra.

To focus an entire book on listening may seem odd but it is a skill that many in today's society need to cultivate. This meditative book is not one that is necessarily read cover to cover in a matter of hours, but rather one that is picked up here and there and a few pages or a chapter read and digested before moving on. Cover to cover reading might prove to be too information intensive and overwhelming.

Although this is a spiritual book it is not a religious book and can thus anyone can enjoy and benefit from its teachings. It does have a distinct new age feel to it, so if that is something you're not into this may not be for you. If you are a Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer fan you should enjoy this and find much food for thought.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: The Seance Society by Michael Nethercott

It's 1956, and Lee Plunkett has taken over the family business as a private investigator despite his reluctance to follow in his father's footsteps.

When murder intrudes on a group of ghost seekers, Lee is asked to solve the case by a cop on the verge of retirement. At the urging of his perpetual fiancée Audrey, Lee enlists the help of Mr. O'Nelligan, a scholarly Irishman with a keen eye for solving mysteries. The duo is drawn into a murder investigation involving the “Spectricator," a machine designed to communicate with the dead.

Soon, Plunkett and O'Nelligan are knee-deep in a suspect pool that includes a surly medium, a former speakeasy queen, a mysterious Spanish widow, and a whole slew of eccentric servants. Engaging, charming, and smart, The Séance Society by Michael Nethercott is a fresh take on the traditional mystery genre for readers who love original characters, witty dialogue, and a great whodunit.

E-galley received for review.

I always enjoy a good mystery so I was intrigued to read this one.  I was initially drawn in by it but it very quickly became rather wearying.

The setting was 1956 but the author seems to take every opportunity to mention that.  It became almost annoying.  It was as if he were trying to write an Archie Goodwin and just not doing it very well.  The details of the time didn't flow in the story and felt almost forced, not effortless at all.

The main character himself, Lee, was also too fake feeling.  He was a caricature of a sidekick and really rather on the annoying side.  He had none of the charm of Archie or Captain Hastings to offset his annoyances either.  His "assistant" (a.k.a. the guy who actually solves the crimes) Mr. O'Nelligan was Irish, as was mentioned at every available point.  Mr. O'Nelligan was marginally more tolerable than Lee, but not by much.  His literary references were annoying to both the main character and the reader, although he seemed like a nice enough guy.

The story was marginal, and extremely predictable at points, despite the addition of the ghostly element (which wasn't as well done as a Mary Roberts Rinehart by any means) and lead up to the inevitable finale in the library (living room, whatever).  The big reveal had none of the panache of Poirot and really wasn't even that good anyway.  The reader could deduce the how as soon as investigations began so it was really the why that was in question and that reveal wasn't even that great either.

Overall, it was an acceptable book.  There was nothing outstanding about it by any means but it was readable and decent enough to finish just rather bland.  I wouldn't go out of my way to pick up a copy, but if you see it at the library you may want to check it out.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voight

Newbery medalist Cynthia Voigt presents a rollicking mystery in three acts!

Max's parents are missing. They are actors, and thus unpredictable, but sailing away, leaving Max with only a cryptic note, is unusual even for them. Did they intend to leave him behind? Have they been kidnapped?

Until he can figure it out, Max feels it's safer to keep a low profile. Hiding out is no problem for a child of the theater. Max has played many roles, he can be whoever he needs to be to blend in. But finding a job is tricky, no matter what costume he dons.

Ironically, it turns out Max has a talent for finding things. He finds a runaway child, a stray dog, a missing heirloom, a lost love. . . . So is he a finder? A detective? No, it's more. Max finds a way to solve people's problems—he engineers better outcomes for them. He becomes Mister Max, Solutioneer.

Now if only he could find a solution to his own problems . . .

E-galley received for review.

I'll admit it, it was the cover art that initially attracted me to this.  I'm shallow like that.  :)  The book, thankfully, turned out just as well as one could have hoped from a great cover.

On the subject of great artwork, the illustrations by Iacopo Bruno were quite lovely and really helped you to imagine Max and his world.

As for the story, I'm so glad that this will be a series.  It turned out to be quite a fun series of adventures and I look forward to seeing what Max and Company are up to next.

Max and his parents and grandmother are easy to identify with, and people you'd probably actually like to be friendly with in real life.  The supporting characters, Pia, Joachim, Ari, Gabrielle, etc. are just as enjoyable.  While you may not immediately like them they do have redeeming qualities.

The setting is the early 20th century so adds an extra flavor to the story, but isn't so overwhelming as to become annoying as in so many other books.

The way the various adventures are woven together is so well done as to feel almost effortless.  Even after figuring out several pieces of the puzzles you are still left wanting to see how it all works itself out.

Frankly, although this is a young adult book it's also a fun read for adults as well.  I genuinely highly recommend this!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Friday, November 15, 2013

Featured Book: What's In Your 24? by Dana Simone Stovall

About the book:

What's in Your 24? is a book for women who want to create a "new normal" in their lives. 

24 is the guide to living happier, getting fit from the inside out, taking control of your destiny, and living life without excuses. 24 will empower you, make you laugh, teach you how to love yourself more, how to prioritize your thoughts, how to be more selfish with your time, and how to quiet the chatter around you. 24 intentionally consists of 60 pages and three chapters that will change your life forever. 

It contains 24 Time Efficiency Tips that Simone promises will help you maximize your day more effectively and help you exercise at least three times a day with little effort. 24 is a concise and radical lifestyle guide that shouldn't take you more than 60 minutes to read it, more than 60 seconds to make the decision to change your life, and no more than 24 hours to begin making that transformation.

About the author:

Dana Simone Stovall is a bank examiner with the FDIC, founder of Destiny's Door consulting company, a basketball/cheer/dance/PTA/track mom, an active & life member of the National Alumni Association at Wiley College, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a dedicated mentor, an officer of a Toastmasters International club, and a 25-year supporter & volunteer of UNCF. She has created a daily routine to stay healthy and physically fit-without excuses and without allowing others to hijack her To Do list. Simone resides in Aurora, Illinois, with her daughter, Destiny Subira Stovall, and her cat, Dominion ShakaZulu Stovall.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

Best friends forever… until life got in the way.

Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.

Laney Marten always swore she’d never get “stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big-city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and mother. That was when her best friend ran out.

When Katherine receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved.

Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?

Received for review.

I'm not a giant Chick Lit fan, but this just sounded so fascinating that I had to try it.

I'll admit that Katherine, although she did grow on me a bit by the end of the book, was not my favorite character and I kept thinking "Oh my god, what a bitch!" throughout.  It was extremely difficult to sympathize with her at all, especially not over the entire Grant situation.

On the other hand Laney was a more sympathetic character but really not any more likable as she was all high and mighty that she was a mother and how wonderful that was, blah, blah.

The story itself, about two former friends reuniting and rekindling their friendship, was very good.  Granted, I would never want to actually be friends with either of these women in real life, but as characters they worked well.  There was a lot of genuine emotion in the book that either came from a very imaginative writer or someone who has actually been through the situation described.  Either way, it was wonderfully written.

I highly recommend this to those who have gone through losing a long time friend and wondered "what if", and especially to all Chick Lit fans.  You will not be disappointed!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Constantino

An authentic guide to the festive, mouthwatering sweets of Southern Italy, including regional specialties that are virtually unknown in this country as well as variations on more popular desserts such as cannoli, biscotti, and gelato. 

As a follow-up to her acclaimed My Calabria, Rosetta Costantino collects 75 favorite desserts from her Southern Italian homeland, including the regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, and Sicily. These areas have a history of rich traditions and tasty, beautiful desserts, many of them tied to holidays and festivals. For example, in the Cosenza region of Calabria, Christmas means plates piled with grispelle (warm fritters drizzled with local honey) and pitta 'mpigliata (pastries filled with walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon). For the feast of Carnevale, Southern Italians celebrate with bugie("liars")—sweet fried dough dusted in powdered sugar, meant to tattle on those who sneak off with them by leaving a wispy trail of sugar. With fail-proof recipes and information on the desserts' cultural origins and context, Costantino illuminates the previously unexplored confectionary traditions of this enchanting region.

E-galley received for review.

I adore cookbooks, especially ones about sweets so I just knew I would like this volume as well. I was certainly not disappointed.

The photographs by Sara Remington were lovely and made you want to try each and every recipe!  And there is a photograph for almost every recipe, which is extremely helpful, and tempting!

I can't wait to try a few recipes:
  • Soft Almond Cookies
  • Dark Chocolate Gelato
  • White Chocolate Gelato
There are recipes covering everything from cannoli and cookies to tarts and cakes, and, of course, gelato.  I'm sure you will find at least one recipe you'd like to try, and while you're looking you can check out the stunning photographs of both the recipe results and the corresponding landscapes in Italy where they originated.  Although I'll admit I was hoping for a less fussy group of recipes, there were at least a few that do not require an entire morning in the kitchen,
and several others that do.

This would make a lovely gift or simple an interesting read for yourself.  I certainly recommend at least a peek inside, if only for the beautiful photographs.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Exodus Lost by S.C. Compton

Aztec and Mayan chronicles told of voyagers who arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean centuries before Columbus. Remembered as founding fathers, they hailed from a remote land called Tlillan Tlapallan, "Black Land Red Land." Now, for the first time, Exodus Lost presents compelling evidence that this lost homeland was Kemet Deshret, "Black Land Red Land," the ancient Egyptian name for Egypt. From this follow a series of groundbreaking discoveries into the origins of Mexican civilization, the roots of Western civilization, the creation of the alphabet, the history of the pyramids, and even new archaeological evidence for several major Bible stories. Enter a world of exploration and discovery, mystery and revelation. Whether your passion is archaeology or religion, history or simply a great adventure, Exodus Lost delivers.

Beautifully illustrated with 126 photos, maps, and engravings.

Received for review.

I've always been interested in history so this was particularly intriguing for me to read. I was already reasonably familiar with the history of the groups involved (Aztecs, Mayan, Egyptian, etc.) so that did help a bit but the author explained everything so clearly, and provided lots of excellent charts, graphs, and pictures to fully illustrate his points, that you really don't need to have any previous knowledge to thoroughly enjoy this volume.

The author's research and conclusions may seem controversial to some but the evidence presented has been thoroughly vetted which certainly adds to the veracity of his genuinely fascinating arguments.

I will admit that this is on the longer side and does require a time investment, but it is certainly well worth it.

I highly recommend this well written, intelligent, and cohesive volume. Both those already familiar with the subject matter and those new to it will benefit from this excellent read.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: The Macaroon Bible by Dan Cohen

Despite perennial interest in French macarons, as well as other unique dessert subjects like cake pops and whoopie pies, this is the first book that celebrates traditional macaroons. But these are nothing like the old-fashioned macaroons you may remember. Famous for his flavors of Danny Macaroons like salted caramel, Baileys, and red velvet, Dan Cohen offers macaroons for a new generation with nostalgic appeal for people who grew up on them. This unique cookbook is sure to delight anyone who loves to bake, but one special thing about macaroons is that they’re naturally gluten-free, made mostly with shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and egg whites, plus whatever flavors you can imagine. This is great news to people who can no longer eat many desserts like cookies, cakes, and pies. Almost all of the fifty recipes are shown in beautiful photographs, and though making macaroons can hardly be any easier, there are step-by-step technique photos for first-timers.

E-galley received for review.

You know I love cookies and you know I love cookbooks so a cookbook of cookies I simple could not pass up!

I have to say that I am not enamored of the French macarons. I know, I know, they're pretty and delicate but they are impossible to make unless you actually are Martha Stewart which sort of takes any joy away. But macaroons can be made by mere mortals and are chewy with a crispy crust and are virtually impossible to screw up. Hence my love for them. I haven't made any in simply ages so I was thrilled to get plenty of ideas from this fabulous collection of recipes!

So, the recipes - yum! There are recipes for all palates from Piña Colada to Chocolate to Cappuccino to the traditional Vanilla. This book has them all! And each recipe is stunningly photographed by the clearly talented Alice Gao.

The recipes are concisely written and easy to follow. They also come together very quickly with just a few basic ingredients that came be purchased ahead of time and kept until needed - sweetened condensed milk and coconut. The fact that they use just egg whites is fabulous
as well, since I always wonder when I'm making a gelato what the heck I'm going to do with all those egg whites - now I know - a batch of macaroons!

This would make a lovely and unique gift for the cookie lover or baker on your list. Or just a special treat for yourself to add to your collection. It is sure to be enjoyed by all. I highly recommend it!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Monday, September 23, 2013

Giveaway: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

At eighteen, Kate Worthington knows she should be getting serious about marriage, but her restless heart won t let her settle down. To escape her mother s meddlesome influence, she dreams of traveling with her spinster aunt to exotic India. But when the opportunity arises, Kate finds herself making a bargain with her mother: she will be allowed to go only if she spends a season at the family s wealthy estate, Blackmoore, where she must secure and reject three marriage proposals. Enlisting the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield, Kate sets out to collect her proposals so she can be on her way. But Henry s decision to help threatens to destroy both of their dreams in ways they could never imagine. Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to listen to her heart. With hints of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, Blackmoore is a page-turning tale of romance, intrigue, and devotion.

Enter to win a copy!

US/Canada only

Friday, September 13, 2013

Featured Book: Stories by Kevin Raney

About the book:

This book is for anyone who has ever wanted to be a park ranger, forester or wildland firefighter.

At the ripe old age of 30 I ask for help to grow up.

You will read about problems and solutions, illness and healing.

I have written this book because I believe my experiences are interesting.

I believe you will be interested too.

About the author:

My name is Kevin and I am 59 years old. I have a bachelor and masters degree. These stories are based on my life even though they are fiction. I feel my life has been and is interesting. I live with my Mom in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am one of Mom's caregivers.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Excerpt: Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist by Thomas Wictor

Thomas Wictor, author of the book Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.

Excerpt, Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist by Thomas Wictor
(Schiffer Publishing, 2013), copyright: Thomas Wictor, 2013, all rights reserved.

Since Bass Player had never written anything about Gene Simmons, I pitched him to Jim Roberts. Jim agreed, telling me it would be another feature article, my third. I contacted Simmons's publicist, who asked if Gene would get the cover. That decision was out of my hands. Jim said he never made deals and had to see the interview first. The publicist and I called back and forth a few times until I threatened to move on to another project.

Simmons himself called me without warning a few days later and wanted to do a phoner, which I refused. The point for me was to meet him and hone my chops. He abruptly hung up, called the next day, and asked if I could meet him in half an hour. When that didn't work, I cleared my schedule and waited until he called a third time and we worked out a deal to talk at the studio where Kiss put the final touches on their new album. I interviewed Simmons on January 28, 1996.

The interview began with him actually taking my tape recorder out of my hands and cradling it in his lap as he sat on the sofa with his legs stretched out on the coffee table. He went into his standard interview, which I let him do for a while, and then I started in with questions I'd never heard anyone ask him before. I don't know how I figured this out, but with someone as famous as he is, it's a complicated dynamic: You can't be too deferential, or they get bored because everyone kisses their rumps all the time, but you also can't be too familiar, because then you're disrespecting their hard-earned position in society. The key is to simply be perceptive. I took my cues from my interview subjects; they always let me know exactly how to interact with them.

When speaking to Simmons, I remembered a story I'd read about the actress Ethel Barrymore, who was a legend in her day. At a party, a stranger kept addressing her as "Ethel." Finally, she shouted, "Ethel, hell! Just call me 'Cuddles'!" So you have to show that you're not a sycophant, but you're also not in any way taking liberties. I can tell you the exact moment I won him over: I referred to myself as an insignificant insect, and he whistled the way you do when you witness a terrible disaster or something you simply can't believe. At that point he knew I was camping it up for him, and he knew that I knew he was camping it up for me, and everything was going to be okay. It was something neither of us acknowledged, of course; if I'd punched him on the arm and said, "Aw, ya nut!" he would've rightfully cut me off at the knees.

Initially, the Gene Simmons interview was the most difficult balancing act I performed in my career. When I asked him my most combative questions, I actually got out of my chair and sat cross legged on the floor at his feet, like an acolyte. From this position, I could then really challenge him. An extremely intelligent man, he knew exactly what I was doing and appreciated my strategy. All was well, as long as I didn't overstep my bounds by acknowledging the art we created together. That would've been boorish and disrespectful, and would've shown unearned familiarity. It also would've put me at the center of the story. My goal was to telegraph to Simmons that he was entirely the focus; he'd set the agenda; and I'd make him shine by playing the straight man. He got it--understanding that in no way was it manipulation--and ran with it. I always shudder at interviews I read, thinking, No, no! Why'd you ask him that?

Though the interview was originally supposed to last no more than an hour, he gave me two. We had a huge, shouting fight over tone when I told him I could tell different brands of bass by the sound, and he said I was full of it. The fight wasn't real, but we had to pretend it was. It's very hard to be deferential while yelling at someone, but it can be done. I told him that he was full of it because the tone of the bass in his songs changed and so did his instruments. If it didn't matter, he wouldn't have changed tone or basses. He eventually admitted that tone is important, but he refused to tell me a thing about his equipment, settings, or anything technical. At least twice in the interview he said he needed to be on the cover; what I did to allay his concern was to present him ever more opportunities to say outrageous, entertaining things. It was up to him.

About the book:

Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist chronicles Thomas Wictor's ten years in the Los Angeles music industry and his quest to free himself from the past. Ostensibly a memoir, Ghosts also asks - and possibly answers - provocative questions about fate, destiny, and life after death. The book is structured as a collection of anthologies rather than a continuous narrative; the seven anthologies detailing Wictor's failed career are separated by six interludes with the "Collateral Ghost," one of the most brilliant, yet unsuccessful, musicians who ever played - former Frank Zappa bassist Scott Thunes. Thomas Wictor's experiences include multiple failures across multiple spectra and an endless series of coincidences that always returned him to the notion that there is a Plan. Losing nearly everything he loved gave the author clarity, enabling him to see patterns of guidance and sustenance visible everywhere once he was no longer blinded by rage and negativity. This clarity exorcised Thomas Wictor and brought him peace of mind, which allowed him to transform the anger over what he lost into gratitude for what he once had. Written with profane humor and no self-pity, Ghosts and Ballyhoo includes previously unpublished articles, excerpts from interview transcripts personal correspondence, and photos.

About the author:

Thomas Wictor is the author of five books. A failed music journalist, failed military historian, failed novelist, failed ghostwriter, failed biographer, failed poet, failed essayist, failed rock musician, failed miniaturist, failed photographer, failed field representative for a document-retrieval service, failed delivery driver, failed temporary worker, failed voiceover actor, failed copyeditor, failed technical writer, failed editor of the world's first online newspaper, failed bartender, failed archivist, failed longshoreman, failed ladies' man, and failed ally, he is the planet's only expert on World War I flamethrowers. He lives happily by himself in Southern California.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Post: Elizabeth Romero author of Means to an End

Elizabeth Romero, author of the book Means to an End, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

I’ve been asked many times how my novel MEANS TO AN END came to be. Was it an autobiography? Did I dream one night and suddenly an idea formed in my subconscious mind?

No, this story is not about my life… not exactly, but we certainly draw from our life experience and my life was full of unusual experiences. How can one write believable stories unless there is some experience that lends authenticity to the emotions? Actors are often asked to draw on a very sad event in their lives to allow them to feel the depth of a particular scene. Does the scene at hand have anything to do with the experience that was drawn upon? No, probably not, but given that, the emotion will appear more real than it would have been without anything to draw on.

I knew that one day I would write, and I believe that many first novels draw primarily on some aspect of us. So it was just a matter of time. For my entire childhood, I knew that my life was different from that of my peers. I also knew that I had an inner strength that set me apart.

The novel begins when Ashby Devereaux (the protagonist) is a young teen and brings the reader along as she struggles through her teen years. I had already determined that Ashby would go far in life and reach out to the most vulnerable. She would right the wrongs and face the demons that she had not been able to do for herself. So I knew where she started and what had brought her to her seventeenth birthday. I knew where I wanted her to be by the end of the book. It was just a matter of filling the trip with interesting characters and suspenseful events. It was during that “filling in” that I realized that my heroine would go on to fulfill my dreams in two more upcoming novels.

So all these elements came together at just the right time and MEANS TO AN END was born. A professor once told me that she taught writing because she always wanted to be a writer. Certainly she knew the functional elements of a story but just could not pull these elements together for herself when she sat down to write. So she was more like me than I realized. I had always wanted to be an attorney and serve the underprivileged and downtrodden but given my history that was an impossible dream. Now with writing I can be anyone I wish to be, do anything I dreamed of doing. My hope is that my stories and my insight will light a spark in someone who may otherwise think that their life has limits. We can all soar in our own individual way.

Struggle was a way of life for me growing up but never would I have believed that those very struggles would give me the strength that I needed later in life. Additionally I could never have predicted that the tragedies and triumphs of my life would come together, be restructured, and molded into a trio of psychological thrillers. I am working on the second novel and have no idea where my protagonist will go next. None the less, I can’t wait each day to grab her hand and follow along on her suspenseful journeys.

Elizabeth Romero

About the book:

When Marie Broudreaux, the beloved daughter of wealthy and prideful Louisiana Cajuns finds herself disgraced, pregnant with twins and abandoned by her family, she is forced to save the family name by becoming the wife of Garrett Devereaux, who unbeknown to her Father is a cruel and abusive man. Both twins, Ashby and Danny along with their now drug addicted mother struggle to survive in the backwards mountains of North Carolina. Abuse and murder are hidden behind a veil of ignorance in the mountains and hollows of a region far removed from the many changes of the world in 1985. Seventeen-year-old Ashby Devereaux is growing up fast. Escape to a better life seems impossible as long as Garrett is alive... Alone and running from the authorities Ashby assumes a new identity and returns to the New Orleans of her mother's stories in search of her runaway twin. While hiding amongst a group of interesting characters and with the law nipping at her heels Ashby unwittingly catches the attention of a local Judge. Will he still love her when he finds out the truth or will he turn her in? Has that been his plan all along? Follow Ashby and a diverse group of powerful characters as you turn the pages of this fast-paced mystery. You will meet a personality that you will not soon forget.

About the author:

Elizabeth Romero was born the third of four children in North Florida. She relocated to Louisiana in her early teens where she remained for the greater part of her life. Her interest in writing started with reading as a child when books would whisk her away to wonderful places where the author controlled the outcome. Her own novel was always waiting for just the right time. Well that time came when Katrina hit in 2005. She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where she started her novel, while working in real estate. In 2010 she retired to Miami to write full time. Elizabeth lives on a lake with her writing pal and constant companion, her dog Charlie. ‘Means To An End’ is the first of three novels in the ‘Monique Moreaux Series’ and the second a psychological thriller is presently in the works.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Giveaway: The Voice Is All by Joyce Johnson

A groundbreaking new biography of Jack Kerouac from the author of the award-winning memoir Minor Characters

Joyce Johnson brilliantly peels away layers of the Kerouac legend in this compelling new book. Tracking Kerouac’s development from his boyhood in Lowell, Massachusetts, through his fateful encounters with Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and John Clellon Holmes to his periods of solitude and the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951 that resulted in his composition of On the Road followed by Visions of Cody, Johnson shows how his French Canadian background drove him to forge a voice that could contain his dualities and informed his unique outsider’s vision of America. This revelatory portrait deepens our understanding of a man whose life and work hold an enduring place in both popular culture and literary history.

Thanks to Penguin Books I have 2 copies to give away!

US only.  No PO Boxes.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Excerpt: The Call of the Soul by Aila Accad

Aila Accad, author of the book The Call of the Soul, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.

About the book:

The Call of the Soul presents a new perspective on the quest to find your authentic self. When that quest is successful, you know who you truly are and what your life's purpose is. This book provides a new way to approach the journey, with a map and effective tools to ease the struggle and assure success.

The Call of the Soul shows you how renegotiate the relationship between the ego and the soul so you can step fully into your purpose. Step by step, you will discover inner passion, purpose, peace, prosperity, and love--all by learning how to hear the call of your soul.

With a down-to-earth writing style combined with true-life examples, this book offers accessible wisdom to achieve the self-knowledge you are seeking.

The Call of the Soul will guide you to:
  • Compassion and appreciation for all of you, including the part that resists change
  • A quick way to release emotions and beliefs that stop you from expressing your true self and purpose
  • A new feeling of ease and confidence in yourself and your purpose
  • Your authentic self

About the author:

Aila Accad, RN, MSN, is an award-winning international speaker, best-selling author, and certified life coach who began her quest for the purpose of life at age nine. She became an energy healer, reiki master, and stress expert in the process of exploring numerous wisdom paths. As president and founder of LifeQuest International, LLC, she shares uniquely simple experiences to help clients hear and heed their soul's calling. Thousands have achieved self-knowledge and freedom from stress through her groundbreaking process, Breaking the Perfection Myth, and best-selling book, 34 Instant Stress-Busters. As a stress expert and healthcare futurist, she is a popular keynote speaker and radio and television guest. Aila lives in the beautiful hills of Charleston, West Virginia.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Notting Hill, Actually by Rachel Johnson

Rachel Johnson is one of Britain 's best-loved journalists.

Now, many of her finest articles are gathered in one place for the first time - together with an exclusive essay on the fall and rise of the area she is most closely associated with, London's Notting Hill.

From Hugh Grant to the housing bubble, families to fro-yo, Rachel realises that the devil is in the detail and that there are reasons to be cheerful even during the economic gloom.

In her fearless prose, Rachel tackles what not to wear, pet-hates, social media pests, holidaying in Syria and life as a me-columnist. With a quick wit and an eye for satire, she cuts to the hilarious truth of life in modern Britain.

Whether it be battling yummy mummies at a sport's day or considering whether housework really is the new sex, Rachel is neither tired of London, nor of life.

Rachel's columns have kept readers laughing for years - now the cream of the crop is brought together in this lively and irreverent read.

E-galley received for review.

I'm an admitted lover of all things British, so I was delighted to come across this collection of articles and I genuinely enjoyed every page of it!

The author has a wonderful feel to her writing that makes it seem as if you're sitting chatting with your best friend over coffee (or tea). She's honest and funny and someone you'd actually like to have as a friend in real life.

The articles themselves are, obviously, beautifully written with a refreshing humor and frankness and cover a wide variety of topics. Whether you read them all or just a few, they're sure to entertain. And, as they're articles they're short enough to be read whenever one has a few minutes. Or you can do what I did and read them all in one go over the course of a morning.

I highly, highly recommend this lovely collection!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guest Post: Aila Accad author of The Call of the Soul

Aila Accad, author of the book The Call of the Soul, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

About the book:

The Call of the Soul presents a new perspective on the quest to find your authentic self. When that quest is successful, you know who you truly are and what your life's purpose is. This book provides a new way to approach the journey, with a map and effective tools to ease the struggle and assure success.

The Call of the Soul shows you how renegotiate the relationship between the ego and the soul so you can step fully into your purpose. Step by step, you will discover inner passion, purpose, peace, prosperity, and love--all by learning how to hear the call of your soul.

With a down-to-earth writing style combined with true-life examples, this book offers accessible wisdom to achieve the self-knowledge you are seeking.

The Call of the Soul will guide you to:
  • Compassion and appreciation for all of you, including the part that resists change
  • A quick way to release emotions and beliefs that stop you from expressing your true self and purpose
  • A new feeling of ease and confidence in yourself and your purpose
  • Your authentic self

About the author:

Aila Accad, RN, MSN, is an award-winning international speaker, best-selling author, and certified life coach who began her quest for the purpose of life at age nine. She became an energy healer, reiki master, and stress expert in the process of exploring numerous wisdom paths. As president and founder of LifeQuest International, LLC, she shares uniquely simple experiences to help clients hear and heed their soul's calling. Thousands have achieved self-knowledge and freedom from stress through her groundbreaking process, Breaking the Perfection Myth, and best-selling book, 34 Instant Stress-Busters. As a stress expert and healthcare futurist, she is a popular keynote speaker and radio and television guest. Aila lives in the beautiful hills of Charleston, West Virginia.