Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winner of Allison Pittman Book Giveaway!!!

Our congratulations go out to Nicole, who has won herself a copy of With Endless Spirit by Allison Pittman.

Thanks to all who entered.

If you would like to purchase any or all of the three books in the Crossroads of Grace series, you'll find them at

I also encourage you to visit Allison Pittman's website to learn more about the series and this wonderfully talented author who is also a public speaker and teacher.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February Featured Novel - Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

I have saved one of the bests for last. This is the novel that made me want to read more about the French Revolution. Mistress of the Revolution: A Novel by Catherine Delors is a superbly written epic novel. The characters are well-written, the storylines gripping, and rich descriptions flow througout its pages.

This is the story of a young noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat, who makes the dreadful mistake of falling in love with commoner Pierre-Andre Coffinhal. Her brother forbids their union and forces her into a marriage to an aging and wealthy cousin who mistreats her.

After the sudden and unexpected death of her abusive husband, Gabrielle goes to Paris to make a life for her and her young daughter, Aimee. As the threat of revolution hangs overhead, Gabrielle becomes a kept woman and a lady in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. When Gabrielle is faced with the guillotine, she reaches out to Pierre-Andre, who had fled to Paris to become a lawyer when he was denied her hand in marriage. The two lovers search for a way to hold onto each other, as violence swirls around them; pulling everyone and everything into its grasp.

Told in first person by Gabrielle, this is a powerful story of forbidden love. I remember the late nights I spent staying up to read just one more page--which always turned into at least ten more pages. I couldn't put the book down, and as soon as I was done, I wanted to read it again.

You can read my full review here.

The paperback version of Mistress of the Revolution is due out at the beginning of March, so make sure you stop by and pre-order a copy. You can also find out more about the book and its author at

You don't want to miss this one!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February Featured Novel - His Shadowed Heart by Hazel Statham

I had never read Regency romance before picking up His Shadowed Heart by Hazel Statham, but I was so glad I had the chance to review this one and will certainly be on the lookout for more of Hazel's books.

In His Shadowed Heart, we find Richard, the Earl of Waverly, plagued by the death of his wife. Now alone and caring for his daughter, he enters into a marriage of convenience to Caroline Northam. Little does the Earl know how much he will come to love her.

But their love is jeopardized by strange happenings that are blamed on the ghost of his first wife. Can their love survive?

The details that Statham includes in this novel paint a perfect picture of the era. Her work has been compared to that of Georgette Heyer and I truly believe that all Regency romance fans will love Hazel's books.

If I remember correctly, Statham has two new books coming out this year. See her website for more information.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February Featured Novel - Quills & Promises by Amber Miller

If you're looking for a tender, historical romance novel look no further than Amber Miller's Quills & Promises.

Published by Heartsong Presents, this is the second book in Miller's Delaware Dawning series. In Quills & Promises, young Elanna Hanssen meets Major Madison Scott, but he is soon called away to fight in the French and Indian War. They stay in touch through their correspondence, but when Madison's integrity is called into question, Elanna recalls her brief time with Madison and must put her faith in God to decide if she should follow her heart.

I loved the characters in this novel. Elanna and Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables would have hit it off splendidly. Madison is torn by his contradicting feelings about the war, his duty, and his desire to see Elanna again. And Mr. Witherspoon, a reporter whose intentions Elanna is not always sure of, makes the perfect antagonist.

Read my full review here.

Deceptive Promises, the third book in Amber Miller's Delaware Dawning series is now available. Visit Amber online at for more information.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Only A Few More Days Until the Winner is Announced

Don't forget we'll be giving away a copy of Allison Pitman's inspirational novel, With Endless Spirit, the third book in her Crossroads of Grace series at the end of the month.

You can enter here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

February Featured Novel - Studs for Hire: Woman In Charge

Yesterday we featured the first book in the Studs for Hire series by Sherry James, Woman On Top. Today we're going to featured the next book in this fun and steamy series, Woman In Charge.

Book Two centers around Casey, one of the female partners running Studs for Hire. She's never had any luck with guys and when she first meets Alex Roy--the stud she's hired to redesign a wealthy widow's mansion--she's already having a very bad day. Alex isn't too keen on women lately either, so they make a great match.

In addition to the top notch characters and loads of conflict, James managed to work in her love of Elvis into the storyline by having the wealthy widow requesting her mansion be redesigned as a shrine to the King.

There are just as many funny moments in this book as there are sexy moments--which is something that I love about James's books. You can check out my review of Woman In Charge here.

Feel free to stop by Sherry's website. She's got some new stuff coming out. And don't forget to pick up copies of the Studs for Hire books. You'll want to read them again as soon as you're done.

February Featured Novel - Studs for Hire: Woman on Top

My hot and steamy romance novel list could never be complete without mentioning Studs for Hire. In Book One of this series, Woman on Top, we are introduced to Sydnie, Casey, and Terri, three friends who start up a business where hunky handymen perform jobs for single women. I think I need to find me one of those. Oh wait, I'm married. Darn!

Each book in this series focuses on a different leading lady, and Woman on Top is Sydnie's story. When Trevor Vanden Bosch walks in the door and asks to become one of their Studs for Hire, Sydnie can't help but be skeptical and angry. Trevor did, after all, get the promotion that Sydnie deserved and broke her heart too.

Against her better judgment Sydnie agrees to take Trevor on, but there is more to this story than meets the eye. With well-developed characters, an interesting plot, a bit of humor, and some rather hot moments, Woman on Top is worth every penny.

You can read my review of this novel here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February Featured Novel - Discovery in Passion by Sheila Stewart

Some Like It Hot is a song from the 1980's group Power Station--which included Robert Palmer, John and Andy Taylor from Duran Duran, and Chic drummer Tony Thompson.

Check out the video:

But for those of you who like your romance hot, Discovery in Passion is a title you should pick up.

Cassie Evans moves to the town of Passion to get away from her overprotective parents. What she doesn't expect to find is a neighbor as handsome as artist and handyman Thomas Healy. Oh, she didn't really expect her house to be haunted either.

As I mentioned in my review--which you'll find here--Discovery in Passion is more than a hot and steamy romance novel. It's got a gripping storyline and complex characters. I had a hard time putting this one down, so it definitely makes my featured novel list for the month of love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Lost Diary of Don Juan, A Novel by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Most of this month's featured romance novels have been pretty tame, but not this one. The Lost Diary of Don Juan, A Novel by Douglas Carlton Abrams is sensual, it's romantic, and everything else you would expect to find in a novel about the world's most famous lover.

The author explores Don Juan's past and present (during the Inquisition) through the use of his diary and creates a much more sympathetic potrait of the world's most famous lover than has previously been told.

You can find my review of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, A Novel here. For all the reasons I mentioned above and more that I am sure you'll find, this book deserves a special feature during the month of love.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Doug Hewitt on Creating an Occupation for The Dead Guy

Today's guest blogger is Doug Hewitt, author of The Dead Guy--which we reviewed here.

Doug was born and raised near Detroit, Michigan and now lives in North Carolina. Along the way, he did a four-year stint in the Marine Corps and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He has been writing short stories for over 20 years and has been getting them published for most of that time, with over 80 stories in print. His stories have appeared in anthologies such as The Dead Inn and 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories. He has appeared in the premier issue of Apex Digest and has seen his chapbook, Slipstream, published by Scrybe Press.

He turned his attention to longer works and had his first novel Spear published in 2002. The Midwest Book Review calls Spear “a thrilling and deftly crafted novel.” After remarrying in 2004, he and his wife, Robin, founded In addition to authoring a non-fiction parenting book, The Practical Guide To Weekend Parenting, Doug and Robin teamed up to write The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting.

Doug returned to his original passion, writing fiction, and wrote The Dead Guy, which St. Martins author Lynn Chandler-Willis calls a “high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal ride through the criminal underbelly of the automotive world.”

You can visit Doug Hewitt and read a free PDF chapter of The Dead Guy at


Jack Thigpen works in Detroit, nicknamed The Motor City, the perfect place for a fraud investigator who specializes in car insurance scams. He is on a case he believes is a typical, low-level crime, but it quickly turns into a situation with ominous international consequences. Ironically, as he is targeted for death because of his investigation, Jack is diagnosed with a fatal disease that is untreatable, a disease that will end his life within months. And instead of killing Jack, the hit man shoots Jack's best friend. Struggling to come to terms with his impending death, Jack vows to track down his friend's killer.

Jack plunges into the world of corrupt car dealerships, chop shops, and fraudulent auto repair shops. He is soon swept into the darkness of Detroit's criminal underbelly to uncover the truth about power struggles within organized crime rings. Death is staring him in the face, but Jack doesn't back down. He pushes ahead, plowing through perilous roadblocks planted by his enemies, propelling himself toward the finish line and a teeth-gritting, heart-pounding conclusion.

Researching My Main Character’s Occupation
by Doug Hewitt

When I set out to write The Dead Guy, I wanted to write a good mystery novel, and the standard advice to authors is: write what you know.
That advice is very sweeping, though. What does it mean? One of the basic questions an author faces when laying out a new novel is where to set the action. I decided that I would place my mystery in Detroit. I grew up in a Detroit suburb (Mt. Clemens, to be specific), and I wanted my mystery to have a sense of place.

Okay, I was off to a good start. I would be writing about a place that I knew very well. Another thing I learned about writing is that in the best novels, the setting plays an active role in the storyline. So, I knew the ideal role that Detroit (the Motor City) would have in my novel would involve cars.

Now I was getting somewhere! Now, what about my main character, Jack Thigpen? What possible occupation could he have in the Motor City that would tie into the automobile theme and the sense of Detroit as a place in which cars carry more meaning than in other cities? Cars are the lifeblood of Detroit, and I wanted Jack Thigpen to have his fingers on the pulse of the city.

And so I decided he would be an investigator of car insurance fraud. This fit in perfectly with what I wanted, an amateur detective. Jack would know about investigative techniques, but murder would be way out of his league (or so it would seem, at first).

I began reading Internet forums that were dedicated to insurance fraud. I was surprised to find there were plenty to choose from! I also looked at online resumes. After reading these forums for a few weeks, I looked at some employee descriptions of insurance fraud investigators, and I found a few resumes online.

And so Jack Thigpen’s occupation was born! Jack was born to the job (of course), and it suited him perfectly. He finds himself investigating a low-level insurance scam, and suddenly there’s a murder attempt on his life. Instead of killing him, though, the hit man kills his best friend. Avenging his friend’s death becomes the driving force of The Dead Guy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Not Fair, Jeremey Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay Up All Night! by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.--Book Review

Looking for a book that will help you through some of the most diffcult challenges of parenting children? Look no further than It's Not Fair, Jeremey Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay Up All Night! by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.

I received this book from my daughter's school adjustment counselor. Having a strong-willed daughter and being strong-willed myself, I expressed concern over the battles we wage in our household each day. Why is it that she is so well-behaved at school, but the moment she comes home it's like someone dropped the bomb?

Through It's Not Fair, I was able to catch glimpses not only of my daughter's behavior, but also of my own. Already feeling like I was part of the problem, Wolf's insight showed me the areas I need to concentrate on, areas that required me only to change how I handled the situation.

In this book, Wolf discusses the "baby self" and how there remains a part of us that does not grow up. This "baby self" acts very differently from the "mature self"--the part of us that does grow up--who is able to handle stress, accept responsibility, and have self-control.

Topics I found especially helpful were those on power struggles, consistency, dealing with whining, sulking, and temper tantrums, and sibling rivalry.

It's Not Fair, Jeremey Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay Up All Night! is like a parent's best friend: understanding, not judgmental, and filled with great advice. Perhaps the best part is that Wolf doesn't insist you do things his way; he suggests what he has seen work in the past and shares his knowledge of why these parenting methods work. And he does it in such a way that you aren't left feeling like a failure before he came along to save you. He just gives you the tools to create the more tranquil home you want.

No parent should be without It's Not Fair, Jeremey Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay Up All Night!!

Title: It's Not Fair, Jeremey Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay Up All Night!
Author: Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.
Publisher: The Noonday Press
ISBN: 0-374-52473-4
SRP: $14.00 (U.S.)

A Carousel Tale by Elisa Kleven--Book Review

Come join Ernst the blue crocodile on his latest adventure in A Carousel Tale by Elisa Kleven.

Ernst loves to ride the carousel in the park. There are many colorful wooden animals to ride and his favorite is the honey-colored dog with the wigggly tail. But one day when Ernst arrives, he finds the carousel covered up. The carousel keeper says that it has to stay snug and dry for the winter.

Ernst finds the honey-colored dog's tail laying on the ground and the carousel keeper asks him to take care of it until spring. Putting the tail on his toy shelf, Ernst notices how lonely the tail looks without the dog, so he decides to cheer it up by painting and decorating it.

Then one morning, the carousel in the park is running again and Ernst is afraid that the carousel keeper might not like the way the dog's tail looks.

My daughters and I enjoyed this book filled with colorful and delightful pictures. Author and illustrator Elisa Kleven continues her Ernst books with this charming and adorable addition of Ernst and his favorite carousel ride. What child has not had a favorite toy or ride and then been suddenly disappointed when it is time to put it away? But Ernst has the chance to hold onto a piece of his favorite ride and turns it into something beautiful.

A Carousel Tale is a book where Ernst's imagination runs wild and makes something new out of something old with spectacular results. Sol, Ernst's older brother, plays the older brother part well, scolding Ernst for changing the dog's tail when Ernst was only asked to take care of it and assuring Ernst that the carousel keeper is not going to like this new tail. But much to Ernst's surprise, the carousel keeper thinks the new tail is wonderful. This subtle message will show children that imagination is a good thing. This book could even teach children about recycling in a fun way.

My girls and I anxiously await the next book in the Ernst series. Kleven is certainly one children's author you'll want to keep an eye on.

Title: A Carousel Tale
Author: Elisa Kleven
Publisher: Tricycle Press
ISBN-10: 1-58246-239-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-58246-239-4
SRP: $15.99 (U.S.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Romance in Mystery Novels by Marilyn Meredith

Today's special guest is author Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn has stopped by The Book Connection a few times and we've reviewed some of her books. Today, Marilyn is going to discuss the element of romance in mystery novels, something that I feel Marilyn handles very well because the romance unfolds without distracting the reader from the mystery that needs to be solved.

Though I write mysteries and crime novels, I’m a firm believer that romance needs to be in every book, no matter the genre.

In my latest Rocky Bluff P.D., No Sanctuary, which I wrote as F. M. Meredith, there is an ongoing attraction between Detective Doug Milligan and Officer Stacey Wilbur.

In earlier books, Stacey had a strict rule not to date anyone who worked on the Rocky Bluff P.D. Because she was the only female police officer, her fellow police officers at first weren’t thrilled when she turned up as back-up for them because of her small stature. However, it didn’t take long for her to prove herself. Of course the single guys flirted with her, and the bumbling Officer Butler actively pursued her to no avail. A widow with a young son, she didn’t want a relationship to complicate her life.

When she first worked with Doug Milligan she found herself attracted to him, but didn’t break her rule. Though they enjoyed each other’s company, Doug was still hurting from his divorce and the fact that his ex-wife quickly remarried and took their children to live in San Diego.

In Smell of Death Stacey and Doug succumb to the attraction and begin dating, though many obstacles pop up—including the fact that Doug rents a room of his house to Officer Gordon Butler. Gordon still has feelings for Stacey though it’s apparent her affections are directed toward Doug.

The romance heats up in No Sanctuary as Stacey helps Doug investigate a murder case. They continue to find it difficult to have any time alone as their jobs interfere, and she needs and wants to spend time with her young son and her parents.

Having Doug and Stacey fall in love has added a dimension to the Rocky Bluff series and is definitely influencing the way things are going to develop in future books. Doug is the perfect man for Stacey—-he misses his own children and will love helping raise Davey—t-hat is if Davey embraces the idea of having a step-father.

Stacey is a fun heroine to write about. She’s gutsy and works on being the kind of police officer who helps people. She also is willing to take chances—-chances that in No Sanctuary give her the opportunity for a new and better paying job—-and another that will nearly cost her life.

To order No Sanctuary you can get it through the publisher at or or for an autographed copy, from my website:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F.M. Meredith

You'll find our review of Smell of Death--the previous book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series--here, and you can read our interview where Marilyn shares more about Smell of Death here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Asthma and Anesthesia: What You Need to Know by Dr. Panchali Dhar, MD

Dr. Dhar returns today to discuss what you need to know about asthma and anesthesia.

Asthma is certainly a prevalent disease that affects all age groups. It can be a soley childhood ailment or it can appear in adult life. Fortunately there have been great advances in asthma medications in the past 10 years. The number of asthma attacks among sufferers can be decreased provided they stick to the regimen prescribed. It is essential to continue taking asthma medications up until the time of surgery. Do provide your anesthesiologist with a full list of your asthma medications, how often you take inhalers, and let the doctor know if you recently had an asthma attack.

Anesthesiologists have special techniques to prevent an asthma attack while under surgery. A general anesthetic usually involves placing a breathing tube in the windpipe. But in fact, if you have an asthma attack while under general anesthesia, the anesthetic gas actually helps expand air passages! You may also have the option to get a regional anesthetic (nerve block, spinal, epidural) which avoids placing any breathing device in the windpipe.

You can read more about Dr. Dhar's new book, Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know About Anesthesia at Tell Me Press.

To read the full table of contents, visit

To look inside the book -

This is the publisher's sale page -

To buy your copy -

Monday, February 16, 2009

Anesthesia and Obesity: What You Need to Know by Dr. Panchali Dhar, MD

In Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know about Anesthesia, Dr. Dhar walks readers through the various steps that ensure a safe and pain-free experience during medical procedures that may require or benefit from anesthesia. Before the Scalpel is formatted and illustrated for quick and easy reference in an interactive manner. This is a take-along-book to the doctor’s office, with outlines and room to make notations. Each chapter is a mini crash course for any person who is concerned about the anesthesia aspect of surgery.

In Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know about Anesthesia, Dr. Dhar explores such real-life topics as:

• Pain-relief options during Labor and Delivery
• Facts to know before deciding on Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery
• Why children are not just “small adults” when it comes to anesthesia
• How obesity adds risk to surgery and anesthesia
• The common fear of awareness during anesthesia

Author Panchali Dhar, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Anesthesiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology. She has demystified the process and terms associated with anesthesia and arranged the information in an easy to understand topic-by-topic sourcebook. Dr. Dhar takes you into the complicated, fascinating, cutting-edge world of anesthesia.

To learn more about Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know About Anesthesia visit Tell Me Press at

For today, I have asked Dr. Dhar to put together an article on the topic of how obesity adds risk to surgery and anesthesia. Here's what she had to say:

Obesity is a world wide epidemic. Obese patients have problems as a direct result of their obesity--such as knee pain and lower back pain, heart disease and diabetes. They also have a greater chance for going for various surgeries like hernia repairs. A number of new doors have opened in the world of anesthesia to help the obese patient.

Technical difficulties: The weight itself presents a challenge for the patient, doctors and nurses. Moving the patient on and off an operating table usually involves several strong people. Many health care workers have injured their own backs moving 300, 400, 500 pound persons. Special lifts have been created for moving such heavy patients. Sometimes, a wider operating table can be used to accommodate the patients. Then there is the problem of tucking the arms along the side of the patient so the surgeon can comfortably operate and reach over. Specially designed arm rests and layers of foam are used to pad the arms. Proper padding is the responsibility of an anesthesiologist.

It may take longer for the anesthesiologist to find a vein on the arm or hand because layers of fat obscure the "blue" color of veins. Not uncommonly do obese patients receive multiple needle sticks for blood draws and intravenous line insertions. Good thing anesthesiologists are the hospital experts at blood draws and intravenous line placements.

Medical advancement: Every piece of equipment is upsized for the obese patient. A routine device such as a blood pressure cuff that wraps around your upper arm is made larger and wider. Specially designed pillows or multiple pillows are used to help obese patients lay "flat". Most patients with morbid obesity cannot lay flat because their abdominal organs push up on their lungs, and they have difficulty breathing. More pillows raise the head.

Anesthetic techniques can accommodate the obese patient. General anesthesia has certain inherent risks for the obese. A breathing tube has to be placed in the windpipe as soon as general anesthesia is started to maintain oxygen levels and continue the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist today has an array of tools, scopes and camera gear to put the breathing tube in quickly. This is where anesthetic skill comes into play.

A regional anesthetic (nerve blocks, spinal, and epidural) may be an option to avoid the breathing tube placement I just described. Nerve blocks target specific nerves in the area of surgery to numb the site and prevent movement. Such nerve blocks are now done with ultrasound guidance. This machine provides a picture on a screen for locating the target nerves. Many anesthesiologists are specially trained in regional anesthesia. In addition, extra long spinal and epidural needles have been created for the obese. Specially designed needle length helps the anesthesiologist to go through inches of fat before getting near the proper location.

Additional Issues: Obese patients may need to be on a ventilator for a short while after surgery because they may not have the strength to breath on their own after a long surgery. Plus, there is increasing evidence that obese patients have a higher incidence of infections at the site of surgery.

For more information on concerns for overweight patients, please watch this video:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Devil's Darning Needle by Ben Furman--Book Review

A unique and engaging hi-tech counter-terrorism thriller can be found in The Devil's Darning Needle by Ben Furman.

Years ago, FBI undercover agent Frank Durazo infiltrated the terrorist organization known as FALN and helped to bring their leader Ojeda Sanchez to justice...but it cost him greatly.

Now that Sanchez is out of prison, Frank believes the FALN is regrouping and planning an attack on world leaders gathered at the President's gravesite. Unconvinced by Duranzo's suggestion about Sanchez and already stretched for resources, Frank's superiors want real proof before they'll put manpower behind him.

But time is running out. Duranzo's son, Luis, who's building top-secret micro-aerial vehicles for the U.S. Military is missing and the woman Frank has loved for years is in danger...and Sanchez and the FALN plot is connected to all of them. Can Frank stop Sanchez and the FALN in time without losing anyone he loves?

The Devil's Darning Needle is an intense, engaging read from page one. Frank's history with Sanchez propels this story forward and keeps the reader turning pages.

While I'm not usually a big fan of backstory taking up the beginning chapters of a novel, Furman's decision to set the scene for the attack that will unfold in present day is a smart one. The author's wealth of experience in counter-terrorism truly shines through and draws the reader right into a world of hi-tech weapons, the mind of a terrorist, and the work of the FBI. This novel also provides an interesting look into how politics impacts the work of the department.

As a woman reading this book, I must admit that Furman handled the relationships in The Devil's Darning Needle very well. Not every author can portray personal relationships in such an action-packed novel, but Furman made it seem easy.

Kudos go out to cover designer Frank Rivera. The picture of the Capitol Building in the background with a dragonfly whose transparent wings float into the title is stunning, as is the color selection. The thumbnail above doesn't do it justice.

Readers who enjoy the work of Tom Clancy should definitely check out The Devil's Darning Needle.

Title: The Devil's Darning Needle
Author: Ben Furman
Publisher: Black Hawk Press
ISBN-10: 0-97787-319-6
ISBN-13: 9-780-97787-319-7
SRP: $16.95 (US)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Win a Free Copy of Ray Comfort's latest book at Fish with Trish

Pop on over to Fish with Trish and enter to win a copy of Ray Comfort's latest book, You Can Lead An Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think.

“To be an atheist is to play Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded…

“An atheist just can’t win. Of course, he feels and acts like a big player, until the trigger is pulled. The issue isn’t the existence of God. If he is wrong and there is a Creator, then he was wrong. He gambled and he lost. No big deal. The real gamble is that there’s no Hell. That’s what makes the player sweat, just a little. “What if…?”

In this entertaining and enlightening new book, Ray Comfort, author of the million-selling The Atheist Test, “talks to the atheists” and reveals not just the weakness of their arguments but the solid foundation upon which the Christian stands.

Few books take the time to address the atheist’s conscience. This book not only gives empirical evidence for the existence of God, it shows atheists that they desperately need His forgiveness. Using a lively Q&A format, featuring actual questions from atheists sent to Comfort’s blog at Atheist Central, You Can Lead An Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think shows that God’s existence can be proven, and that anyone can do it!

You can find Ray online at

Happy Valentine's Day

While the mystery surrounding St. Valentine still exists, one thing that everyone knows is that February is the month to celebrate love and romance.

If you're interested in learning about St. Valentine and the history of Valentine's Day, visit the History Channel's Valentine's Day page at They also have a neat game that will test your knowledge of romance over the years.

We've featured some wonderful romance novels this month and will continue to discuss romance novels all month long. For today, here's a link to an interview with Emperor Claudius II from Jamieson Wolf's gay romance Valentine.

You can now find Jamieson online at


Friday, February 13, 2009

Margay Leah Justice's Nora's Soul

It's the day before Valentine's Day--which means all those guys will be out shopping tonight. Why do they procrastinate anyway?

This featured romance novel is by Margay Leah Justice. It sounds fascinating! Two people in peril, fate, and a couple of angels interwoven together. How could you pass this one up? Here's more about Nora's Soul

When angels of light and dark collide on earth…

Once he held a favored position in the heavens. But one moment of weakness casts Dante out and now he is cursed to walk the earth, collecting the souls of vulnerable women to buy his way into hell.

All hell breaks loose…

But standing in his way is Peter, an angel of light. Peter is everything Dante is not. Pure, above reproach. And determined to prevent Dante from achieving his goals. Peter will stop at nothing to protect the souls in his charge, even if it means achieving the impossible – leading Dante back onto the right path.

And no one is safe from the fall-out.

Nora Kendall believed in angels. Once. But then she lost her brother to cancer despite all of her prayers – and she lost her faith in all things angelic. Now, she is a lost soul who wanders through life like a sleepwalker, playing it safe and leaving the risk-taking to others.

Kyle Cameron is one of those risks. Burned by a bad marriage, his only concern now is providing a stable life for his children, who are left motherless by the unexpected death of his wife. This means working overtime to grow his architectural firm into a viable business – and leaving the care of his children to the care of someone he trusts. Despite his past connection with Nora, Kyle isn’t certain that she’s the right person for the job. He also doesn’t want to reconnect with her and repeat history.

But fate – and the machinations of two angels – has other ideas.

Nora’s Soul, by Margay Leah Justice, available now at

Margay talks about the romance factor in Nora's Soul:

Although Nora’s Soul deals with the issues of loss and faith, at its core, it is a story of love. Rediscovered love, to be precise. Nora Kendall and Kyle Cameron share more than their bond with his sister, Joelle. When Nora was still a teenager, they shared one night of bliss before he went off to college and all but forgot her and she began the transformation into the frigid woman she is at the start of the book. Despite their connection to his sister, they rarely see each other in the interim. But when circumstances require that they spend a good deal of time together, they are hard put to deny the attraction they feel for one another.

So the story becomes an intricate dance between the two, reminiscent of the tango. They get close, sparks fly. Tempers flare and they pull back. Each one challenges the other’s current stance on life and love until they ultimately come together. The romance in Nora’s Soul is embedded in this dance and the discovery that, although a previous partner has burned them, they are still capable of loving other people, namely each other.

You can find Margay online at

The Dead Guy by Doug Hewitt--Book Review

Looking for suspense? Looking for action? Looking for an intense read? You'll find it in The Dead Guy by Doug Hewitt.

Jack Thigpen is sent on what he believes is a routine car insurance scam investigation. But on this one, Jack gets more than he bargained for.

His investigation targets him for death soon after Jack discovers he's dying from an untreatable, debilitating illness. When Jack's best friend, Hal, is caught in the line of fire, Jack vows to track down Hal's killer, as he struggles to accept the fact that he's going to die--slowly and painfully.

The Dead Guy is one of those books that will leave you begging for more. Jack is a likeable, tough character who is put in a position no human being should ever be--feeling responsible for his best friend's death when he, himself, is at death's door. Hewitt's masterful storytelling allows the reader to experience everything with Jack as he uncovers the evil underbelly of Detroit, which is consumed by corruption, fraud, and organized crime.

Other memorable characters include Jack's brother, Tom, the only other person who knows of Jack's illness, and who is forced to deal with the impending loss of his brother while struggling to sit back and let Jack deal with things his own way; Octavia, a tennis champion who Jack used to mentor; and Blalock, whose own complex story unfolds in the background.

This book is a roller coaster ride of action, intrigue, and mystery. Just when you think Jack has it figured out, something throws a monkey wrench into his theory and things are no longer as they seem. The reader will unconciously be biting off fingernails as he follows Jack from car dealerships to body shops to riverboats.

If this book hasn't won any awards yet, it should!

Riveting, intense, and action-packed, The Dead Guy by Doug Hewitt keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.

Title: The Dead Guy
Author: Doug Hewitt
Publisher: Aberdeen Bay
ISBN-10: 0981472575
ISBN-13: 978-0981472577
SRP: $15.00 (U.S.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morgan Mandel's Girl of My Dreams

As a special feature during the month of February, I'm highlighting romance novels I've heard about. While I haven't read this one yet, it sounds excellent. Not only that, it came in Fourth in the Romance category in a recent Preditors and Editors poll. Here, author Morgan Mandel talks about Girl of My Dreams and why she wrote it:

After my dark romantic suspense, Two Wrongs, I needed to change gears and get light. That's when I hit on the idea of my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams.

What woman doesn't like a good makeover? When Jillian, the straitlaced temp to Blake, the producer of a reality show, gets the glam treatment and enters his television contest, the change does not set well with her boss.

Suddenly she's not the dependable gofer he thought she was, but a beautiful woman, way too similar to his conniving movie-star mother. Can Jillian convince Blake she has his best interests at heart? She has to because her love for him is at stake.

Morgan Mandel
Daily Blog:

More about Girl of My Dreams:

When food poisoning strikes the set of a new reality show targeted to save a floundering studio, Jillian, the temporary assistant, sets out to round up a contestant, but ends up filling the gap herself.

Her boss, the producer, discovers what she’s done, but it's too late to stop her. The curtain's up and the show must go on.

Believing his loyal assistant has turned into a selfish conniver like his movie-star mother, he's furious. The further Jillian advances in the rounds, the more convinced he is of her deceit.

Jillian faces all sorts of embarrassing situations and adventures along the way to the main prize of the millionaire. He's obviously attracted to her and she should be happy.

The problem is, Jillian loves the producer.

You can visit Morgan's website to read an excerpt from Girl of My Dreams.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jerry Pollock's Divinely Inspired Nourishes the Soul

Today's guest blogger is Dr. Jerry Pollock, author of the spiritual memoir Divinely Inspired and Messiah Interviews, both of which we have reviewed here.

For more about Jerry and his work, you may visit him online at

To read my review of Divinely Inspired click here and for my review of Messiah Interviews click here.

Jerry's turn:

I’m supposed to be promoting my books, Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul and Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God, but we live in difficult economic times where selling books may not be possible and may also not be what I should be worrying about. Maybe being created in God’s image means that I’m supposed to be writing articles on different subjects from my life experiences, which have the possibility of helping people. The messages of my books were never about money and I feel quite comfortable in sharing without any personal agenda or personal gain. If you come away with just one thing from this article that helps you, then I shall have accomplished my goal. They say that the best things in life are free. God is free, so why shouldn’t my articles be free as well. I feel like I am walking the walk in what I write in my books by sharing.

My Beginnings with Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine is everything that lies outside of Western conventional allopathic medicine. I can’t possibly write on such a breadth of alternative health, nor am I qualified. My background and training is as a logical rational trained research scientist, a world where anything of value must be proven by double blind experimentally sound scientific studies.

In 1991, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This is quite unusual to have at age 50, as this disease, or Manic Depression as it is also called, usually doesn’t strike past the age of 40. I was in clinical depression when my wife Marcia dragged me into Manhattan from our home on Long Island about an hour and a quarter drive by car. A friend of hers, our insurance agent Jerry, suggested that the Atkins Center could help. Robert Atkins M.D. died recently, but back in 1991 he had a five or six storied building that was devoted to what he termed Complementary Medicine. Complementary meant that the good Dr. Atkins was adding certain holistic medical approaches to his internal medicine cardiology traditional training. Upon arrival early in the morning, I was given a 5 hour blood glucose tolerance to determine whether I was either hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (possibly diabetic), blood was withdrawn for a variety of analyses, stool samples were collected, and food and other allergies were tested.

By the end of the day, I had a bag full of vitamins, was told that I had yeast in my intestinal tract, and went on the Atkins high protein, low carbohydrate diet. In that same year, Marcia also dragged me to our first alternative medical conference in Manhattan. None of the approaches offered, even the orthomolecular psychiatry at the Atkins Center, relieved the clinical depression but it did start me on a journey with holistic medicine. Today, I practice my own brand of complementary medicine strictly for myself and for anyone else who wants to listen. Back in 1991, I didn’t know that when I returned to Stony Brook University in August of 2000, to once again take up my professorial duties after a five year long term disability leave of absence from Bipolar Disorder, that I would offer an eight hour course on nutritional medicine for the dental students. Much of what I have gleaned, I put into this course on nutrition. I discuss a bit of it here and if there is interest, I can offer more at a later date. Consider this therefore as Part 1.

Part 1

Sugar and Migraines

When I was twenty-seven and returned to Toronto from Israel with my Ph.D. in Biophysics, my headaches that I had all my life turned into migraines that I thought I would now have all my life. The migraines were much worse and my pain took on a new dimension of intensity. I had learned to tolerate pain since age four but this pain was excruciating. Migraine headaches are vascular in nature where one first triggers the vasoconstriction or squeezing of blood vessels in the head and neck followed by the vasodilation or expansion of blood vessels. During the second vascular phase, the blood vessels expand way past where they originally started and the poor migraine sufferer feels the horrific throbbing of the migraine. I don’t know about giving birth but you can’t imagine what the pain is like unless you are a migraine sufferer yourself.

After years of living with this physical pain, I read a book by a South American doctor in the early eighties on the relationship of sugar to migraines. I can’t remember his name or the name of the book, but I do remember what the doctor wrote. He said that sugar triggered a migraine in certain individuals who were susceptible to the biochemical changes initiated by sugar. My science background allowed me to understand what the doctor was suggesting and I was looking for any explanation for my migraines as I was desperate. I had gone to the Headache Clinic at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, New York and no such explanation was offered. Basically, table sugar or sucrose gets broken down in the body and causes insulin to be secreted by the pancreas.

The insulin is needed to transport the glucose breakdown sugar of the sucrose into our cells for energy, for work in our muscles, and for making triglycerides in our fat cells. During this process, there is an exchange of certain ions like magnesium and calcium across cell membranes that cause changes in the bioelectric character of the cells. If too much sucrose is broken down to glucose, the pancreas will secrete an overabundance of insulin (more about this below). The insulin action can actually reduce the blood sugar levels to even lower levels than normally found in a person’s bloodstream. So much so that the body can cause the secretion of epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine (noradreanalin) to cause the breakdown of glycogen stored in our bodies to glucose to raise and rebalance our blood glucose levels. Blood glucose levels are actually our blood sugar levels but use of the word sugar is actually a misnomer because when we say sugar, we usually mean sugar or sucrose. In any event, the secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine can be a problem in some migraine sufferers whose blood vessels are susceptible because these hormones or neurotransmitters, in addition to breaking down glycogen which is a string of glucose molecules, cause vasoconstriction of the skin blood vessels in the head and neck. The consequence is that the migraine will commence and becomes difficult to stop.

The South American doctor noted that shortly after taking sweets, the migraine began in individuals. Anywhere from forty-five to ninety minutes after the sweets would do it. I noted his findings in the early 1980s in my head but never attempted to carefully watch my foods. That is until the Atkins Center in 1991. I weighed 175 pounds at the beginning of my treatment at the Atkins Center. A couple of months later, I was 150 pounds. Miraculously, the migraines disappeared at the lower weight after I went on a carbohydrate restricted diet. When I gained the weight back, the migraines returned. Not a double blind study for a scientist, but it convinced me that there was some validity to the relationship of sucrose to migraines. I still haven’t seen any writings on this subject, but I suggest you try it to see if there is a relationship of sugar to your migraines. There may not be as migraines have other causes such as food allergies, but it may be worth a try.

As a corollary to this story, my migraines had an additional component. I have done regression therapy back to my mother’s womb and have eliminated the emotional component of my migraines. I no longer suffer from migraines, but if I don’t watch the sugar, I still get muscle pain. Thank God, the migraines have left. You can read about Primal Therapy and return to the womb and migraines in both of my books, Divinely Inspired and the Messiah Interviews.

Sugar and Why You Can Gain Weight

Low carbohydrate was the whole premise for the Atkins diet to lose weight and it does work if you restrict your diet according to his suggestions. There has been a lot of controversy over the Atkins diet that you can read about elsewhere. With Dr. Atkin’s death, the diet has lost some traction although there are quite a few successful imitations out there. Some argue that the diet is not a healthy one and it is a truism that there is risk with everything. I’m back to my 175 pound weight but I do watch the sugar. The truth is that only about twenty-five percent of us can adequately metabolize sugar and get it out of our bodies so that it doesn’t cause weight gain. The rest of us can be affected by Carbs. It’s also a fact that although total daily calories are important, you can reach a state when you are older when it’s not how much you eat but what you eat. You probably ask yourself why you are gaining weight when you are hardly eating, or so you believe.

I don’t want to get too technical or give you scientific explanations that I don’t myself have at my fingertips, but have you ever heard of insulin resistance. Holistic doctors talk about insulin resistance in relation to becoming pre-diabetic and eventually diabetic and the relationship to being overweight. But why are some skinnier people diabetic while some overweight people do not have the illness?

When sugar is broken down, we said above that through a complex biochemical process, the glucose gets transported into our cells. This happens not only for table sugar but also for a starch like a potato that gets broken down into glucose or any simple carbohydrate like too much popcorn at the movies. We need that glucose for all our cells to provide energy in the form of ATP when the glucose reacts with oxygen inside our cells. The brain needs lots of energy and requires about 20% of our blood glucose. In addition to energy, our muscles need the glucose to convert to lactic acid so that they can function for example in throwing a punch or in exercise. Finally, the glucose gets transported into our fat cells and initially forms triglycerides which can be broken down, with the components of the triglyceride being converted into other lipids inside our fat cells. It is all of these lipids that have formed that can put on weight, especially if we are storing more fat than we are burning. In the Atkins diet, the low carbohydrate high protein forces the body to burn fat and thus Atkins saw the weight loss in his patients.

Okay, so what’s the connection? Well before the diabetic stage, the body tires of pumping out insulin and transporting the glucose. Insulin resistance first happens for the energy in our cells and brain although we usually have enough to function. There is a slowing down of the rate of glucose transport (thus the amount of glucose removed from the bloodstream is also decreased) which can be increased through medications such as Metformin or a nutritional supplement such as alpha lipoic acid. Now the glucose has accelerated more into our muscles and fat cells than into our cells and brain. This can happen at 150 pounds or 275 pounds depending on the person and his or her biochemistry. Next the muscles slow down in the insulin transport of glucose, so the best option for the body turns out to be transporting the glucose into fat cells. The muscle cells in addition to our other body cells have become more insulin resistant. The last to become insulin resistant are the fat cells, so if we are susceptible, we will gain weight until our fat cells become insulin resistant. We may weigh 350 pounds but we may still not be that bad in terms of insulin resistance in the fat cell systems. We keep gaining weight because we haven’t reached insulin resistance with our fat cells. Or we can be that 150 pounds and already be insulin resistant everywhere. Once all three systems become significantly insulin resistant, the blood sugar (blood glucose) levels may rise to the point where we are considered pre-diabetic. The insulin from the pancreas responding to the glucose in the bloodstream can no longer do its job. When levels of glucose go even higher in the bloodstream, diabetes can occur irrespective of whether you are fat or skinny. There is however more of a correlation between diabetes and being overweight.

A Tip in Preventing Intestinal Yeast Infections

Sugar can have effects on cardiovascular health and even cancer. It also can be a problem if you acquire an intestinal yeast infection. I should warn you that traditional allopathic medical doctors don’t believe in intestinal yeast infections even though they do accept oral and vaginal yeast infections. As a scientist having experienced the effects of yeast, I am a believer. It’s a lot more difficult to get rid of something than to acquire something. Some people say that about their marriages. Yeast in your large intestine can wreak havoc on you in similar ways that heavy metal contamination with mercury can, or yeast can cause similar symptoms as a low thyroid or having the low blood sugar levels of hypoglycemia. A couple of the telling signs of yeast are bloating and brain fog, but stool cultures and blood tests are needed to confirm an intestinal yeast infection. Mine was confirmed in 1991 at the Atkins Center. Yeast are a “bitch” to eliminate and a doctor who knows what he is doing is required. Intermixed with all of this is yeast allergy and the possibility of what I call yeast psychiatry. You may suffer clinical depression from the yeast and your family doctor may tell you that you need a psychiatrist. The yeast love sugar so once again you may need to go on a restricted carbohydrate diet.

While you are killing off the yeast and building your immune system to attack the yeast from the inside of your body outwards, you need to replace your intestinal tract with what we call good bacteria. When the yeast take over, they replace all your good bacteria. Back in the early nineties, we compared a bunch of commercial products for their good bacteria. It turned out that many of the commercial products had no live bacteria or were contaminated. We never published this work but you do need a product with live bacteria like that found in some organic yogurts in order for the bacteria to attach and adhere to the intestinal wall. I still use one of these products today. It’s called Kyo-Dophilus. I assure you that I have no stock in the company. There are others and you can ask your Health Food Store to recommend a product.

My tip is for prevention of yeast. The use of broad spectrum antibiotics that kill a wide variety of bacteria (both gram positive and gram negative bacteria) can alter the bacterial flora (composition) in the intestinal tract making it easier for yeast to take hold. Every time you take a pill of your broad spectrum antibiotic, you need to follow that one and a half hours to two hours later with two Kyo-Doplilus capsules or similar product. You let the antibiotic first go through your digestive system and then follow a couple of hours later with the good bacteria. The antibiotic each time you take it is destroying good bacteria and you need to replace it with new good bacteria. The use of good bacteria seems also to help with vaginal yeast infections.

I am going to stop Part 1 here. For pearls of wisdom on topics like Coenzyme Q10, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin C, etc. please see Part 2 when it comes out. As for everything I write about in this article, I would appreciate your feedback if you would like to email me at jerrypollock(at)bellsouth(dot)net A lot of supermarket foods have sucrose or glucose in them, so I can help you with this.

For information about me, my books, Divinely Inspired and the Messiah Interviews, and our nonprofit organization, please visit our website and blog at Shechinah means Divine Presence. May the Shechinah be with you.

Jerry J. Pollock, Ph.D.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish by Linda Thieman--Book Review

Katie & Kimble are back with a new adventure in Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish, Book 2 in the Katie & Kimble chapter book series.

When Katie finds a magic coupon in a box of cereal, Katie and Kimble decide to use their free wish to make Kimble human again. The wish will only last for two days and it's a bit scary for Kimble to know that Katie's parents will be able to see her and that she won't be able to float through walls for a while. But the girls plan to make the most of those two days and hope that everything will be back to normal once the wish is over.

Katie & Kimble is an entertaining series for young readers. After discovering Kimble in Book One--which we reviewed here--Katie and Kimble have become more like sisters than friends. While Katie's mother, Mrs. Russell can't hear Kimble when she's a ghost, she still allows Kimble to call her Mama. And once Kimble becomes human, Mrs. Russell not only hears her, but she hugs Kimble tightly and cries for joy.

One of the best aspects of this book is the complete acceptance of Kimble into the Russell family from Katie's parents, her two-year-old brother, Toby--who has always been able to see Kibo (as he calls her)--and even the family's dog, Twinkle. While young readers might not make the connection, this could be a book that parents use to show adopted children that they are accepted and loved just as much as natural born children.

An interesting admission comes from Mr. Russell in The Magic Wish and this helps pave the way for him to believe in Kimble and to welcome her home after she becomes a ghost again and goes off to rest.

The cover art uses the same color scheme as the first book to make it easily identifiable, and as the mother of a child who struggles with reading, I appreciate that the plot is interesting but not too complex and that there are words to challenge my daughter but many sight words too.

Katie & Kimble is a charming and fun chapter book series that kids will love. I can't wait to read the next one!

Title: Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish Book 2
Author: Linda Thieman
Publisher: Pale Silver Rainplop Press
ISBN-10: 0-9794396-2-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794396-2-9
SRP: $5.95 (US)

Across the Pond by Storyheart--Book Review

A charming and entertaining story of a boy from England who falls in love with a girl from the United States.

Across the Pond by Storyheart is the story of Fred, a boy from England who is sent to stay with his parents' friends in the United States while they are away, and Brittany, the girl who wins his heart.

While Fred struggles to understand American culture and the meaning behind many popular expressions, he finds himself drawn to Brittany, the daughter of his parents' best friends. What he doesn't know, is that Brittany has a secret--a secret so troubling that she hasn't even been able to share it with her parents. And once Brit trusts Fred with her secret, his life is turned upside down.

Having managed to avoid an incident with Steve Harris, the town bully, Fred suddenly finds himself the subject of much attention, when he catches a baseball that is worth a small fortune.

As Brittany and Fred's relationship deepens into love, Fred realizes he must protect Brit from the secret she has shared with him; but how can he do that once he returns to England?

There is so much to enjoy in Across the Pond. Following the developing relationship between Fred and Brittany, Fred's struggles in understanding how the same word he knows from home can mean something very different in America, Fred's desire to protect Brittany, and even Fred's relationship with Brit's parents, Phil and Julie, all make this a wonderful story for young adults. Some fun and exciting moments come when Fred and Brit are chased through the mall by an unknown man and watching things unravel with the famous baseball is a blast.

Steve Harris, acts the part of the perfect antagonist. He's always on Fred's and Brittany's minds because he is sure to make his presence known, and he travels with his goons, Rick and Eddie, who help him keep his fights uneven.

One of the things that seems to be missing in this story is the descriptions of scenery. While you don't want to get bogged down in details, Fred is new to the country, and would therefore, be more aware of his surroundings, perhaps even capturing some of what he saw in his notebook that he brought along for a school project about his trip to America. I wanted more of a picture painted than was there on the page.

The other challenge for me is that Fred, Brittany and their friends use a party in his honor to get back at a couple of people, and I just felt it sent the wrong message to the reader.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed Across the Pond. A strong cast of characters, an interesting plot, some great baseball, and a deep secret all come together for an engaging and fun read.

Title: Across the Pond
Author: Storyheart
Publisher: Xlibris
ISBN: 978-1-4363-7176-6
SRP: $19.99 (U.S.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bruce Skye Creates a World for Grayrider

Today's guest blogger is Bruce Skye, author of Grayrider, the first book in his Deathsong Chronicles series where fantasy meets medieval magic.

About the Author:

A former technical writer, detail is important to Bruce Skye. His research for the Deathsong Chronicles included medieval armor and fortresses, as well as Celtic names and magic. "If you create a world, it must be consistent. And that's what I strive for Grayrider's world to be. I've built a database of material for each of the Deathsong Chronicles. Those databases aid me in keeping the world the same from book to book.

"When I wrote Grayrider, I followed the advice of Stephen King. I did not write the book following any sort of outline. I have no more idea than my readers do when I write a novel what will happen in the midst of the story. It makes it more exciting for both the readers and myself."

You can visit his website at

About the Book:

Gabriel, the exiled king of Rivalin, comes before King Airell to warn him the Ansgarian army will invade his kingdom before the night is over. Airell tells him he has no one to send. Gabriel wants revenge for the murder of his family by the Ansgarians. He decides to fight the incursion without help.

As this takes place, Deirdre (Airell’s daughter), flees the kingdom of Cynyr north of Boadhagh. She knows now her mentor, Morrigan, created the Ansgarian army her father has fought for years. She goes south to warn him of her. Because Deirdre does not believe in herself, the young sorceress has difficulty in performing magic.

Once she is reunited with her father, she tells both he and Grayrider about Morrigan. Her power is growing; only Gabriel’s magical sword may yet destroy her. He must go to Cynyr to fight her. He agrees if Deirdre attends him, seeking her counsel. On that journey they fall in love and foil many efforts by Morrigan to kill Gabriel by both armies and sorcerers.

Grayrider fights Morrigan and sees his beloved slain by the sorceress before he is finally able to kill her. He returns to Rivalin brokenhearted. The ending is a complete surprise the reader will not expect at all.

Bruce's turn:

In creating a world, where do you start? I started with a premise. Gabriel the Gray possessed a powerful magic sword. Okay, where did he get it? And, perhaps more importantly, why was it created to begin with? In doing so, I started writing a partial history of Grayrider’s world. Unlike Tolkien, I do not have the entire history of this planet laid out. But I gave just enough detail to satisfy the reader’s initial curiosity.

Being an Anglophile, I decided during this process I would use Celtic names for the characters.

As this happened, other questions cropped up. What kind of magic system was I going to use? And what would power the spells cast? Since I was using Celtic names, why not use a Celtic magic system as well? This required research (which I happily did). I had, long ago and far away now, used role-play gaming systems. Based upon that, I decided the necromancers of this world would create spells using their own mystical strength. And the strength used would decide how powerful the enchantment was.

With these fundamental aspects of this medieval world established, other details needed to be decided upon. What kind of medieval weapons and armor would be used by the different armies? How would fighting take place? What kind of tactics would be used? Again, I did research in these areas. I based one of the major battles depicted in the book on the Battle of Agincourt (which was well portrayed in Henry V, my favorite Shakespearean play).

And with the armies and kingdoms came another question: what would be the heraldry used by each realm? Being a former technical writer, detail is important to me. As these matters were fleshed out, I created a database of information I could reference to ensure things stayed consistent.

With those matters dealt with, it was time to create my characters to flesh out this world. One reviewer has written about Grayrider “I really like the characters in the novel because they are unique versus the typical fantasy archetypes.”

Gabriel the Gray’s best friend and companion in the book is an amazing black warhorse named Windfire. How did I explain the steed’s high intelligence and ability to breathe fire when combat came upon him and his master? The explanation was simple: Windfire was of an ancient, prized and now rarely seen breed of horse.

Another example is Kalen, the commander of the Boadhagh army. I’m a former naval officer. And I have always believed an officer takes care of his people. Kalen did just that to the point of grieving for his slain troops after a victorious battle. To that degree, perhaps the reviewer is right. My characters are unique.

I hope you see what I did here. I built the Grayrider world one step at a time, starting with a story concept or premise and then building upon that a history, structure and then characters which would make sense to readers.

Learn about the next three books in the Deathsong Chronicles by visting Bruce's website at


The GRAYRIDER VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '08 will officially begin on February 2 and end on February 27. You can visit Bruce's blog stops at in February to find out more about his new book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Book Spotlight: Steven Clark Bradley and Patriot Acts

About the book:

In Patriot Acts, America finds itself under covert nuclear attack from a unified force of the Islamic Republic of Iran and radical American Militia groups; setting aside their political and religious differences to carry out the widest and deadliest attack on America in the nation's history. In the midst of an unsure, newly inaugurated presidency, the attack is discovered and the new President must forgo the honeymoon and take grave and massive actions to spare the nation

About the author:

Steven Clark Bradley has been to thirty-four countries including Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey and Africa. He has a Master’s in Liberal Studies from Indiana University and speaks French and Turkish. He has been an Assistant to a Prosecutor, a University Instructor and freelance Journalist in Iraq, Israel and Turkey. Steven is the author of, Probable Cause, StillBorn, Nimrod Rising, and Patriot Acts.

View the video trailer:

For more information about Patriot Acts visit Steven's blog at

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February Featured Book: When I'm With You by LaConnie Taylor-Jones

Today's featured romance novel comes from Award-winning author LaConnie Taylor-Jones. When I'm With You tells the story of wealthy philanthropist Marcel Baptiste. When Caitlyn Thompson, the director of a struggling youth center applies to Marcel's foundation for funding, Marcel is immediately drawn to her. But Caitlyn had to escape a stalker and leave town before moving to Oakland, so she's not eager to trust Marcel or any other man.

This is one romance novel that I could read over and over again. The characters and the plot make for an excellent read that you won't be able to put down.

Read my review of When I'm With You here.

You can visit LaConnie online at

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mystery Author Kim Smith and Avenging Angel

Today's guest blogger is Kim Smith author of Avenging Angel: A Shannon Wallace Mystery: Book 1

Kim Smith was born in Memphis Tennessee, the youngest of four children. After a short stint in a Northwest Mississippi junior college, during the era of John Grisham’s rise as a lawyer, she gave up educational pursuits to marry and begin family life.

After the birth of her two children, she gave up working outside the home for the more important domestic duties of wife and mother. During those years, she began thinking of stories to entertain herself and pass the time. Before long she started telling her husband about her stories and he assured her she could write a book if she really wanted to. She put the idea away once she landed a job as a network administrator for a small corporation, and together the Smith’s started their own video production company.

Writing was a dream, hidden but not forgotten, and soon Kim began to talk again of trying her hand at it. She played with words, and wrote several poems, one of which was picked up for an anthology.

When she decided to try out her hand at mystery writing, she discovered her true love and niche in the writing journey. She has since had four short stories, and her first mystery novel accepted for publication.

Kim is a member of Sisters in Crime, and EPIC. She still lives in the Mid South region of the United States and is currently working on her second book in the mystery series.

You can visit her website at

About the book:

Shannon Wallace is having a bad hair week.

She’s been ditched by her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and implicated in his murder.

When she finds out her very private video collection is missing from the crime scene, it is all out war to find the disks before the cops do. The problem is, the killer has them. And he’s watched them.

Now Shannon’s at the top of his most wanted list.

In this post, one of the potential suspects is interrogating Shannon Wallace to try and get into her head and see what makes her tick:

In the interrogation room waiting area, I watched as they brought in a sexy brunette wearing cut-off shorts and a Purple Wave tee shirt. She looked around at all of us and the questions were evident in her eyes.

“What’s with you?” I asked her. I was pretty sure she was a mistake. The guy had been stabbed. Not a murder of choice for a woman. “You don’t look like you’d kill a flea.”

She made a face. “Gee thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Another fellow, a muscular African American man, nodded at me. “Yeah, they reaching now, ain’t they? I mean she obviously ain’t guilty of murder.”

“You the man’s woman or what?” I asked, conversationally.

She rearranged her butt on the hard plastic chair. “Or what.”

I kept looking at her, waiting for her to answer why she was brought in. She dropped her gaze to the dirty concrete floor.

“I get it. You got caught hanging out around the apartment, and the cops decided to go hard on you.” She was probably the dead dude’s neighbor.

This brought her head up and her eyes flashed like twin blue sapphires. “Oh, you’re good, yes indeed. You think you know everything, but you don’t know squat.”

I couldn’t imagine what had triggered this reaction but determined to find out. “You must be the nosy neighbor caught in the act of checking out the traffic going in and out and the cops got ticked at you.”

She shrugged. “Think what you like.”

Oh yeah. I had finally found the story. “What? You’re a reporter? You stick a mike in the wrong mug?”

She laughed derisively. “Whatever.”

She looked like she might unload some details. I pushed a little harder. “It’s okay, lady. We’re not telling anyone your secrets. For all you know we’re the killers here. Are you a little scared?”

“Not even a little,” she said. I could tell by the way she avoided looking me in the eye that she was lying. Not that the man and me looked very deadly. Not that she would know that.

“So? What got you in here?” I lifted my cuffed hands and waved at the room.

Resolving to admit to the guilty part, she said, “I sort of let myself into the apartment and ran smack into a cop. Apparently, they don’t take to strange people storming onto their crime scenes. “

My pal and I hooted with laughter, maybe a little too long because she frowned. The door to the inner room where police interrogators waited opened and the grumpy Hispanic detective glared out at us. “Wallace, get your ass in here.”

She took a deep breath and hauled up out of the chair. “If either of y’all is the killer, I don’t want to know. But trust me, I have a photographic memory and I will check out the wanted posters before I leave here to see if you are there. See ya in the funny papers,” she said.


The AVENGING ANGEL VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on February 2 and end on February 27. You can visit Kim's blog stops at in February to find out more about this talented author!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February Featured Book: The Amen Sisters by Angela Benson

Our next featured romance novel comes from talented author, Angela Benson. When I first received The Amen Sisters, I have to admit to being a bit nervous. In addition to the fact that you often don't know what you're getting when you offer to review a book, this was Christian fiction with African-American characters. How would I relate to these people? Would the cultural differences distance me from the storyline?

I need not have worried. Not only could I relate to Dawn and Francine Amen, I could understand their pain because it is one of those emotions that transcends culture and race.

One of the best aspects of The Amen Sisters is the difficult issues it addresses. Church abuse and infidelity are approached in a real way that allows the reader to witness the tragedy of it and rejoice in the healing of these two sisters.

You'll find my review of The Amen Sisters here.

Since I last spoke with Angela, she has come out with a new novel, Up Pops the Devil, which you can read about at her website.