Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Dear Phebe by Janet Elaine Smith--Book Review

Young adults will experience the impact of the American Civil War from a young Northern girl's perspective when they read My Dear Phebe by Janet Elaine Smith.

Ten-year-old Phebe's family has moved from Pennsylvania to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. But even living in Upper Michigan can't protect her from the coming Civil War. Her best friend Sarah's father, Caleb Tuttle, is one of the first men to sign up when President Abraham Lincoln calls for volunteers from every state to help preserve the Union.

As Sarah must say goodbye to her father, Phebe's parents agree that she should help the large Tuttle family in Mr. Tuttle's absence, even though Mama and Papa could use her help looking after her sickly baby brother, Benjamin.

Even though Phebe corresponds with Uncle James Irvine who lives in Pennsylvania, the war still seems a bit far away for her. Then one day, a black family arrives at the Tuttle farm via the underground railroad stating that Mr. Tuttle said they could live on the property in the woodshed. As Phebe listens to Grady's stories about living on the plantation down south, the war suddenly becomes all too real. And when tragedy strikes the Irvine family, Phebe is determined to make a difference.

My Dear Phebe is filled with memorable characters: Phebe, Sarah, Sarah's brother Josiah, Grady and his wife Maisie, Mama and Papa Irvine, Uncle James; each character leaves his or her mark and the story could not exist without any of them.

The mixture of historical details and figures with fictional characters and events is very well done, though I feel the book gives the reader the impression that the Civil War was fought over slavery, when it was actually fought to preserve the Union after several southern states seceded.

Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery, but did not wish to interfere with it where it already existed, so I don't know that Grady would see Lincoln as a great President. Lincoln supported resettlement of Negroes outside of America. It was the first generation of freed slaves after the announcement of The Emancipation Proclamation that termed Lincoln, "Father Abraham"--which appears to happen after Grady's introduction into the story.

That aside, I truly enjoyed My Dear Phebe. Not only does it give young readers a chance to relive history, it allows them to think of the challenges that lack of technology presented in the ability to communicate with each other. And the strong message of the importance of family is witnessed throughout. A great bonus comes in the inclusion of actual letters between James Irvine and his niece Phebe.

With the holiday season fast approaching, this would make an excellent gift for the young adult in your family.

Title: My Dea Phebe
Author: Janet Elaine Smith
Publisher: Star Publish LLC
ISBN-10: 1932993738
ISBN-13: 978-1932993738
U.S. Price: $11.95

Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? by Carol Gordon Ekster--Book Review

Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? is a great way to help children of divorced parents deal with the change.

Mark wakes up to his younger brother Evan asking, "Mark, whose house are we at?" The smell of coffee and a morning radio show tell Mark they are at Dad's. Things are challenging since their mom and dad got divorced. Sometimes the boys forget important stuff like homework at the other parent's house. Mom and their step-dad handle things differently at their house than Dad does at his. But it's great to be loved at two homes. And with a little bit of organization, homework doesn't need to be so tough.

This short children's book filled with page after page of charming illustrations, helps children of divorce understand that they can make it through all the changes that divorce can bring. From dealing with not always knowing which house you're waking up in to how different parents handle running a household, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? will let your child know she is not alone.

Your child will be encouraged to initiate change as Mark does when he decides he will focus on the positive aspects of his new life. And since it is Mark who finds a way be more organized so that homework isn't such a challenge, readers will feel there are parts of their lives that they can control in spite of the fact that they can't control which house they wake up in.

I don't know if single dads will enjoy being stereotyped as the ones who can't cook, have messy houses and no rules:

* "I've gotten that lecture more times than the number of pizza nights we have at Dad's..."(Page 6)

* "At Dad's we play games until we're in a computer stupor. At Mom's, she and our step-dad have rules, lots of rules." (Page 12)

* He (Evan) is too young...to get confused, or lose track of reports left on tables at Mom's house, or under the desk in our room at Dad's." (Page 16)

But it does help kids to realize that it's okay that Mom and Dad handle things in their own way and that focusing on the positives and controlling the aspects of life that they are able to will help them feel better about having parents that no longer live together.

Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? could also help children of families not touched by divorce understand what their friends might be dealing with.

In our everchanging world, it is good to read a book that offers children ways to adjust to change in their lives.

Title: Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?
Author: Carol Gordon Ekster
Publisher: Boulden Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-878076-30-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-878076-30-4
U.S. Price: $9.95

Monday, October 27, 2008

Joel M. Andre, Horror, and Kill 4 Me

Here's an early Halloween treat. Joel M. Andre, author of the horror novel, Kill 4 Me is dropping in to tell us about his love of the horror genre. And in reading over his guest post I see that he and I share a favorite book, Stephen King's The Stand, so Joel is an okay guy in my book.

Horror is an interesting genre. Anything your mind can create is welcome and embraced with open arms. There is a world of creatures created and yet to be created that are at your disposal. You can explore a full range of passion and emotion, and let go of the inhibition other genres restrict you to.

Now don’t get me wrong, all genres are important in the literary world and each is needed for various reasons. ‘Gone with the Wind’ would never have worked had Dracula delivered that classic line. I can appreciate a good story regardless of genre.

My favorite books are ‘The Stand’ and ‘The Witching Hour’. But if you continue to explore my favorite books, you will see ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ are also in the mix.

Growing up, I had a strong imagination. I recall times at my grandparent’s home, fearing certain rooms, because I knew something was bound to swarm at me from the walls. The same could be said for the old house where I spent some time in Jerome, AZ. I stayed several months living in the attic, by choice, because I desperately wanted to see a ghost. My grandfather has some tales of encounters with the spirit world. Although my experiences with the unexplained are just a handful.

But my love of horror probably comes from my father Jerry Andre. He has a library full of old horror books and recent ones as well. Growing up, I would sneak in his study, and smell the pipe tobacco coming from the desk drawers while I admired the various book covers that lined his shelves. I would make up stories about the covers in my mind and entertain myself for hours.

There was only one cover I was deathly afraid of and that belonged to ‘The Stand.’ The man fighting the bird creature haunted me more than the others for some reason. To this day I have no idea why it affected me as much as it did. But I can clearly imagine it in my mind.

The impact was so strong from that novel’s cover I did finally read it for the first time in junior high school. It was my science class companion. While my instructor Mr. Scroggins was teaching his class, I would sit in the corner and read ‘The Stand’. I was hooked, while everyone else in his class learned from him, I learned from Stephen King. Unfortunately, my grades reflected that very same idea. But Mr. Scroggins was a good sport, and a great man.

Books began taking over my world from that moment on. By the start of High School I had read the Stephen King library, as well as the complete Fear Street series. I was addicted to written horror, I read Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, the complete works of Poe. The imagery stained my mind, and I would fantasize friendships with the characters from their books.

There was an awaking in me, and I began writing short stories with my own characters. Lauren Bruni first appeared on the market in my book ‘A Death at the North Pole.’ That however was not my first meeting with her. She had appeared in several of my short stories in the past. She had previously solved other grisly crimes. I did however have to reintroduce her to the general public, since she had never been introduced before.

For the fact of that matter, in my current book ‘Kill 4 Me’, Casey Dwyer was a minor character in a previous work as well. I loved her character so much; I knew she was the perfect match for this book. With a vast unpublished library ranging back from the 90’s, there are many more horror stories and characters I am anxious to share with the world.

From my stand point a good horror tale sends chills down someone’s spine. Classic horror can survive any amount of time that passes. Such as the classic tales of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Perhaps the greatest teller of a horror tale is Poe. His passion for the written word and his grasp on pain and terror is timeless.

Horror drives people through many emotions, much more than just fear. You feel joy, pain, adrenaline rushes and the strength of the hero fighting back. It’s an emotional passionate rollercoaster. All while enjoying the taboo side of life we keep locked away.

Because you read or write horror does not make you a strange person in the least. Take me for instance. I am an average person, with a kind heart. But a mind that spews dark and chilling tales. I would never harm a soul, but in the written word, I can take on a persona and go through their experience. Share the pain, the fear and return to my normal life, and enjoy a deep conversation.

My continued hope is new original ideas continue to flow into the horror genre. I also encourage anyone who has a passion to write to give it a shot. Writing can be a great escape; there are so many worlds you can get lost in. Only you can hold yourself back from your dreams. The same can be said for reading. All books have a merit to them, find a story that inspires you, and read it. Share it with a friend and discuss it. A book uses a part of your brain that a movie or television show can never do.

The KILL 4 ME VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit Joel’s blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about his book!

As a special promotion, 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. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com on October 30!

Quills & Promises by Amber Miller--Book Review

A tender mixing of inspirational romance, historical figures and memorable fictional characters come together for an enjoyable read in Quills & Promises by Amber Miller. This is the second book in Miller's Delaware Brides series.

Set during the French and Indian War, young Elanna Hanssen unexpectedly meets up with Major Madison Scott, a visiting cousin of her best friend. Both Madison and Elanna are taken with each other, but he is soon called away to war. They must depend upon their correspondence to carry on their relationship and to learn more about each other, ever careful not to reveal too much, lest their letters fall into the wrong hands.

An unusual interest in the war puts Elanna in contact with Mr. Witherspoon, a young journalist for the Wilmington Journal. When he shares war reports that question Major Scott's integrity, Elanna must depend upon her initial meetings with Madison and her faith in God to help her decide if she should follow her heart.

As I read through Quills & Promises, I thought Elanna could have been Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables. Elanna, like Anne, is constantly trying to reconcile what she would like to do with what is proper in society and for her age. This makes her a sympathetic character from the start. That sympathy increases when she is separated from Madison so quickly and later discovers he may not be the man she thought him to be. The reader is as eager to uncover the truth as Elanna is.

The strength of this book is definitely its characters. Madison is torn between his duty, his hatred of war, and his desire to see Elanna again. The camaraderie between Madison and the men in his regiment is something I very much enjoyed. Edric, Elanna's twin brother, is both protector and supporter of his twin, and ends up being crucial in Elanna getting information about the war. Mama understands Elanna's battle between her desires and what society allows, as well as, providing great insight into what Elanna must do in order to decide if she should follow her head or her heart. And Mr. Witherspoon, whose motives Elanna is not quite sure of, makes the perfect antagonist.

While the history buff in me would have enjoyed a few more historical details, since the writer is limited to a certain word count with Heartsong, that may not have been possible. The focus in these novels is always more on the romance--which this book certainly has from beginning to end as the reader watches the love between Elanna and Madison bloom across the miles.

Fans of inspirational romance and historical fiction will certainly want to read Quills and Promises by Amber Miller.

Title: Quills and Promises
Author: Amber Miller
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 978-1-60260-049-2
U.S. Price: $4.95

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Writers and Authors with Jo Linsdell--Blog Review

Writers and Authors is a great place for writers to network. Started by freelance writer and author, Jo Linsdell, this site recently made it onto the Preditors & Editors list of Sites of Distinction.

Their new format is as follows:

Mondays: Opportunities for writers
Tuesdays: Featured Author Interviews
Wednesdays: Publishers, Editors, etc.
Thursdays: Book reviews
Fridays: Upcoming events (chats, conferences, etc.)

In addition, you'll find an extensive blogroll with links to sites for writers, and various motivational items in the side bar: instant writing prompts, writing tip of the day, and quotation of the day.

Add Writers and Authors to your Favorites and put them on your blogroll because you'll want to keep an eye on this site.

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine--Book Review

Now in its third edition, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine will arm you with what you need to know before deciding on which company will help you self-publish your book.

Through years of research and experience, Levine motivates you to take control of your writing career, shares the qualities good self-publishers should have, and explains in layman terms the fine print of of publishing contracts. Chapters 6 through 9 are then dedicated to analyzing, ranking, and exposing 45 self-publishing companies--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Levine's conversational style and friendly tone throughout this book is a huge plus. It is obvious to this reader that he did not write the book to showoff how much more he knows about the subject matter than the average author. His advice truly comes from the heart; and while sometimes he just has to say it like it is, most of the book will leave the reader very encouraged about her options.

In my role as a virtual book tour coordinator, I am familiar with some of the self-publishing companies listed in the book. Most were placed exactly where I thought they would be in terms of ranking: Outstanding, Pretty Good, Just Okay, and Avoid. But there were a few surprizes in both positive and negative rankings.

Another huge plus is how much detail Levine provides into each company's contract--which will help an author decide on the company that best fits his needs. Levine also provides insight into why he ranked each company the way he did and a summary at the end of each analysis.

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing is not only a useful resource to the author considering self-publishing for the first time, but also to a self-published author who is wondering how his publisher stacks up against the competition. This would also make an excellent companion for Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Self-Publisher--which I reviewed here.

Do not take another step toward self-publication without reading The Fine Print of Self-Publishing first!

Title: The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, 3rd edition
Author: Mark Levine
Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group
ISBN-10: 0-9802455-7-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-9802455-7-8
U.S. Price: $17.95

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ed Green and and Voice Over Training Class

Today's guest blogger is Ed Green, the industry's leading voice-over talent. Here Ed will share with us some tricks of the trade that he has included in his eBook Voice Over Training Class.

I worked at the craft until I became a powerful talent in the voice over industry. For many years, I have been the voice of major sporting event projects, motion picture trailers, and television narrations, as well as the voice for the most familiar commercial and product advertisers in America. My commercials have currently passed the 30,000 mark, and are still climbing. This includes my best-known work as an audio personality for Fortune 500 Corporations - working on their national campaigns while creating a unique image for internal corporate projects and shareholder meetings.

Hosting the advertising industry's annual ANDY and CLIO awards ceremonies is usually a once-in-a-career honor for voice-over talent. I have been fortunate to have presented both - several times. Now, I've decided to pass on the insights, secrets, and methods that I've learned throughout my thirty years of success to a whole new generation of VO talent. So if you want to be a real VO pro...an in-demand voice over performer in all kinds of commercials and productions in today's growing broadcast, cable, and digital communications industry...It takes a little talent, a lot of drive...and the insider's know-how that I can teach.

It's a solid, easy-to-follow program. Working at your own pace you'll learn how to use a microphone, reading and pacing skills, how to audition and market yourself, my EMOTE method, and much, much more that you'll never learn anywhere else.

Some tips I've learned through the years:

1. Voice quality is only one aspect of success in becoming a voice-over professional. You also need to be able to take someone else's words (the script) and make them sound like your own credible, persuasive and motivating personal statement.

2. It can take years of perfecting your talent and skills, marketing yourself with or without an agent before you reach a higher level of success. Some will tell you luck is important. In my experience, trying harder and smarter yields more results. I have found the key to my success to be a "contagious enthusiasm" for the work.

3.Once you’re in the game you should practice every day to improve and master your craft. By listening to radio and TV spots for styles, nuances and sounds—things that get your attention and impress you—you’ll find things you can incorporate into your repertoire to broaden your capability and underscore your distinctiveness. So you can become one of those voices that producers and casting directors think of first.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cody McFadyen and The Darker Side

About the Book:

A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire- everyone has secrets they take to the grave. No one knew that better than FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett. But what secret was a very private young woman keeping that led her to her very public murder? And what kind of killer was so driven and so brazenly daring that he'd take her life on a commercial airliner thirty thousand feed in middair, a killer so accomplished that he'd leave only a small souvenir behind?

These are the questions that bring Smoky and her handpicked team of experienced manhunters from L.A. to the autumn chill of Washington, D.C., by order of the FBI director himself - and at the special request of a high-powered grieving D.C. mother.

As a mother, Smoky knows the pain of losing a child - it nearly killed her once before. As a cop with her own twisted past, she takes every murder personally, which is both her greatest strength and her only weakness. Brilliant, merciless, righteous, the killer Smoky is hunting this time is on his own personal mission, whose cost in innocent human lives he's only begun to collect. For in his eyes no one is innocent; everyone harbors a secret sin, including Smoky Barrett.

Soon Smoky will have to confront a flawless killer who knows her flaws with murderous intimacy.

About the Author:

Cody McFadyen openly declares his passion for words and credits his parents not just for opening that world to him but for teaching him how to dream. “I was raised by two idealists, children of the sixties who urged me to read Walden Pond and Lord of the Rings, and who explained Dylan songs to me when I was seven or eight years old.” One of the first gifts his mother gave him was a library card. He was six and he hasn’t stopped devouring books since.

Another gift was travel. The family spent most of their vacations in their car, exploring places as diverse as Louisville, Kentucky, where his mother grew up, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Wyoming, San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest. Along the way McFadyen shared the back seat with friends James Michener, Steven King, James Clavell, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and many, many others.

A childhood spent creating his own world through reading, listening to music and fantasizing with other kids likely sowed the seeds of his writing career. However, it was his parent’s idealism that gave him the lessons in living that stand him in good stead. Among them, the importance of doing something that matters and that helps other people. Also, quite simply, that people should reach for their dreams. “They never told me what the dream should be,” says McFadyen, “just that I was allowed to pursue it.”

It was awhile before McFadyen went after his own dream. After leaving school he went to work with a volunteer self-help group. He helped people get off of drugs and learn to study, did construction work and accounting and, continuing the McFadyen tradition, travelled extensively.

Ten years later, he changed direction, beginning his own “me decade,” adopting materialism and self-indulgence as his new mantra. Despite the chaos in his life at the time, he married and received the gift of a seven-year-old stepdaughter along with the responsibility of raising her. The experience changed him and, he says, “I came back to myself in the end.” He began to write.
He sold his first novel, Shadow Man, in 2005. It was followed by The Face of Death, published in 2007, and now The Darker Side.

Each of his three novels has been well reviewed, and his protagonist Smoky Barrett has been applauded by reviewers and readers alike. An FBI Special Agent, she is one of the agency’s best profilers and heads a handpicked team of law enforcement specialists. They’re relentless and they hunt killers.

Born in Fort Worth, Cody McFadyen has lived in Austin and Irving, Texas, and Kingston, New York. He now lives in southern California with his family and two remarkable black labs, often referred to as “The Black Forces of Destruction.”

THE DARKER SIDE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit Cody's blog stops on a daily basis at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October.

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. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anna Mae Mysteries - The Golden Treasure by L.S. Cauldwell

Anna Mae Mysteries - The Golden Treasure

About the book: Three 'tween sneaker sleuths face the unsolved mystery of Jefferson Davis'lost gold treasure with a little bit of help from a ghostly black fist and divining rods.

Twelve-year-old Anna Mae Botts, her eight-year-old brother Malcolm, and Anna Mae's best friend Raul Garcia, face a ghostly black fist on their first day of school. It blocks their entrance into school, while dropping paper clues about Jefferson Davis' lost Civil War gold. Things get more complicated when a school fire occurs.

Mysterious events soon overtake Raul, Malcolm, and Anna Mae at school as well as at home. Rats, alphabet noodle clues, floating chalk, and phantom false-bottom wagons lead the tweens to travel the same route by car that was taken by Jefferson Davis and his gold-laden wagon train.

With divining rods given to her by her granma, computer printouts, and Spirit Journey memories that take her back to a Civil War past, Anna Mae, Raul, and Malcolm find Jefferson Davis' lost gold treasure, part of it buried on Chennault Plantation and more of it in a vacant lot on the outskirts of Warthen, Georgia.


I heard someone stomping, and I thought it was Malcolm fooling around. I sniffed the air. The scent of lavender and roses invaded the hallway. I retreated into the living room and looked around. My eyes centered on the window that faced the neighbor's hedge.

The window frosted over. Letters dripped on the glass like melting icicles, ragged and blurred. A cold black hand covered my mouth. I stiffened. My eyes swung to the other side of the room. In the far corner, a mist twisted. Time stretched out endlessly. I strained my ears, but I heard nothing.

Then I saw him. An officer dressed in a gray uniform with golden buttons, high black boots and silver spurs. He glided towards me, but he faded when he reached me.

I bit the hand. It jerked away. My lips burned. I screamed, "Granma!"

I must have fainted. When I came to, Granma and Malcolm were kneeling on the floor beside me.

"What happened?" Granma asked.

"She saw another haint," Malcolm said, wiping my forehead with a damp
bathroom towel.

Granma glared. "No haints live here, oh dear Jesus. Tha' why I done made tha'
mojo. Don' eveah let me hear yo' sayin' that 'gain."

"Wha'evah," Malcolm said.

"Anna Mae, wha' happened t' yo'?"

"It started with the window. It frosted over. Written letters appeared on it."

She narrowed her eyes and clambered back to her feet. Granma pushed past the sofa and crept to the window. I saw her eyes. They widened until you could see her brown pupils. She studied the window, reached up and touched it. "The window's wet, but I reckon. I don' see any lettah spellin' words. Yo' sure 'bout tha'?"

Malcolm helped me to my feet. I trembled a bit, but kept my balance.

"Granma, look!" Malcolm pointed. On the window, letters appeared. My name,
Anna Mae, was spelled out. Malcolm ran over. He traced the letters with his fingertips.


Granma looked at the window, and then swung her eyes towards me. "Wha' are
yo' goin' t' do 'bout it?"

I looked at her. "Yo' see my name?"

"Of course, chile. Wha' I want to know is wha' are yo'goin' t' do 'bout it?"

"I'm not sure. First yo' 'cuse me of lyin' and now yo'r not. Wha' gives?"

"Lost gold."

Granma said it so plainly that I thought I heard her wrong.

"Whose lost gold?"

Granma stamped her foot. "The black fist's lost gold. Child, yo' ain't been paying
'tention t' nothin' I been sayin'. Wha' are yo' goin' t' do 'bout it?"

"Why are yo' hollerin' at me? I'm doin' the best I can. This is new t' me. I need t'
think first, 'fore I act."

"Don't take too long. Someone else might figurah it out afore yo', then what will
yo' do?"

Malcolm's head darted between the two of us. He was confused. So was I. Why didn't Granma find the gold if she was so hot to trot for it? I turned and walked towards the kitchen. "Yo' still thirsty, Granma?"

"Changin' the subject? I reckon the lemonade still sounds good. Malcolm, yo' want some too?"

"Anna Mae," Malcolm screeched. "Look at it…on the living room window.

Hells bells, I thought that chicken hoodoo worked!"

"False bottoms!" was written on the window.

"Merciful heavens!" Granma shouted. Her hands flew up over her eyes and covered them.
"It's meltin'" Malcolm howled. "See? Cat prints on the glass."

Granma backed up and sat on the sofa. She stroked her throat.

"Bettah write down wha' yo see 'fore it is gone. Malcolm, run int' yo' Poppa's den and get yo' sistah a slip of paper and pencil so she can write 'em down."

Malcolm ran down the hallway. I heard Poppa's study door open and then close.
Malcolm rushed back into the room with a yellow-lined pad and a pencil stub. He licked the stub and handed both over to me. I wrote down what I saw.

I felt Granma's eyes watching me.

"Got 'em, " I said.

"Let's have our lemonade 'fore the haint comes back!"

A Civil General by David Stinebeck & Scannell Gill--Book Review

A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill brings General George Henry Thomas to life for lovers of Civil War history.

Colonel William Swain is the narrator of this moving story of Thomas's wartime contributions as he served on the side of the Union, a decision that cost him dearly and found him disowned by his family in Virginia. From the Battle of Chickamauga to the Battle of Nashville, "Slow Trot Thomas" leads his men to decisive victories over Confederate troops, not often receiving the recognition he deserves. Forgoing self-promotion, Thomas is loved by his men, the Army of the Cumberland, and as his body travels by ferry and train from San Francisco to Troy, New York for burial, the love of the people leads the way with bowed heads, flowered arches along the train tracks, and swinging lanterns...for "George Henry Thomas had been their light in the dark."

Fans of military history and wartime strategy will certainly enjoy A Civil General. The research Stinebeck and Gill performed for this novel is obvious in the depiction of various battles. Anyone vaguely familiar with Civil War history will recognize many of the names filling these pages: Grant, Lee, Sherman, Sheridan, Rosencrans, Hallach, and Hooker, to name a few. The authors have put forth a great deal of effort to showcase the many contributions that Thomas made to the Union victory.

The challenge I had with this novel is that it is missing some basic elements of fiction. The narrator in essence tells the entire story to the reader, even at times addressing the reader, so that she is distanced from the happenings in the book and unable to be drawn in and experience them for herself. The tenses move back and forth between past and present, sometimes even in the same paragraph, so that it is difficult to stay focused on the fact that Swain is telling this story years later.

This reader felt it came much closer to narrative non-fiction than an actual novel, but the fictional characters and encounters definitely place it in the field of fiction. There is a speech given by Thomas to his men on Page 114 that was so moving I felt a lump form in my throat. This is how I wanted to experience the entire book, but the narrator kept me at bay and I was only able to fully exist within its pages for brief moments.

Even with this challenge, as a lover of Civil War history, I enjoyed this book to its powerful end. The illustrations added a great deal of depth to this piece of work and the cover art is stunning.

There is much to be gained by reading A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill.

Title: A Civil General
Authors: David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill
Publisher: Sunstone Press
ISBN: 978-0-86534-663-5
U.S. Price: $20.95

Cate Cavanagh and Her Godmother

Today's guest blogger is author Cate Cavanagh. Cate will be talking about the magic of hope found in her new book, Her Godmother.

Her Godmother and the Magic of Hope

by Cate Cavanagh

In Her Godmother Allie's mother and father break up because of her father's alcoholism. While her mother plans for relocation to rural upstate New York, Allie goes to stay with her colorful godmother, Brigid. Allie begins her journey to healing a sad and guilt ridden young girl but she begins to evolve into being a child again with the spiritual wisdom to understand and know what is not within her power but more importantly, what is. When a parent is an alcoholic a child experiences grief over the loss of normalcy in his or her life. Experiences like this steal hope. They steal the spirit and suddenly you are experiencing adult issues with the coping skills of a child. Such is where Allie is when we first meet her.

Everyone reaches crossroads. Allie's crossroad is the disease her father suffers from and the belief that it is somehow her fault that he cannot stop drinking. This belief is common to children of alcoholics as I personally know since my own dad was an alcoholic. This crossroad brings Allie to a a very sad place in her young life. To feel hope again, Allie needs to begin to heal.

Hope is not holding the Divine or yourself to a time frame and Allie's journey toward hope is a series of enchantments during a summer stay with her godmother who sees the magic of hope and belief everyday in everyday things. Through her godmother, Allie learns that faith is a very important component to recovering from being "lost".

What we often lose along our journey into adulthood is the feeling that anything is possible. Allie is losing this youth-entitled feeling before her time and with her godmother's help she begins to feel like a child again entrenched in the wonder of the spiritual healing of the magic in all things around her like a rainbow, a squirrel that taps on the window for peanuts and the mystery of a very fat, big black cat named Sally.

Like so many children, Allie is growing up too quickly as she faces adult problems within her family that affect her deeply. Sometimes adults underestimate the impact adult and family problems have on the children in the family and how they begin to steal the magic of believing. The magic of believing is essential to living life with hope. Without it life becomes a connecting-the-dots string of events that conceal what can be beautiful from us. Children deserve to not experience this. Childhood is supposed to be filled with dreams, fun, hope and believing! When children are able to hold onto these magical feelings, they are actually creating a strong spiritual foundation for a better adulthood. As for the rest of us it would have been so much easier for us if we had not lost that magic along the road from childhood to adulthood to begin with, if we had had a godmother like Allie's. My book, Her Godmother, although about a child and a story written to help children begin to heal from the trauma of an addiction in the family, is also a book adults will enjoy as well for it is a venue of healing for adults whose parents were alcoholics too.

Simply put- do you remember when you were a child eager to wake up the next day to see what the tooth fairy left you? Remember what it felt like wishing on a star? Remember how it felt to believe anything was possible? The way we used to feel is a spiritual way of being for within this feeling is hope is the base of all spirituality. This is a precious gift that Allie is losing. So many of us lose this along the way and as we do we experience doubt, a challenge to hoping and the loss of the belief that life can hold blessings, miracles and magic. I have written numerous articles that help adults recapture hope and belief through loss and grief and truly difficult times but this book is an entertaining way for children to receive the same message and for adults to remember what hope feels like. Her Godmother is a simple handbook to healing and seeing what there is to celebrate about life everyday.

In Her Godmother, Allie learns to connect with the magic all around her and within herself and in discovering this, she begins to heal; she begins to release the problems that are not hers and learns what it is to experience magic all around and the hope it brings with it. She begins to believe again.

To see the book trailer, produced by VALKYRIE PUBLISHING, you can visit my blog, somethingmagicalinourmists.blogspot.com
Please visit my websites quantumspirituality.tripod.com and catecavanagh.tripod.com

The HER GODMOTHER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and ends on October 30. You can visit Cate's tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Monday, October 20, 2008

J.L. Miles and Cold Rock River

Cold Rock River is the parallel journey of two women born a century apart. In 1963 rural Georgia with the Vietnam War cranking up, seventeen-year-old and pregnant Adie Jenkins discovers the diary of seventeen-year-old and pregnant Tempe Jordan—a slave girl—circa 1863, with the Civil War winding down.

This book began as Adie’s journey. It wasn’t until I went to the library to do some research—and stumbled upon the slave narratives—that Tempe’s portion came to life. The complete collection includes over two thousand first-person accounts. They are housed at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Commissioned by President Roosevelt, they are as fascinating as they are poignant.

After seven months of carefully sifting through the vast material, Adie and Tempe’s parallel journey emerged. Henceforth, I came to think of Cold Rock River as Fried Green Tomatoes meets Cold Mountain.

Placing the story in the midst of the Vietnam War was central to the story because of Buck’s (Adie’s husband and the father of her baby), maturation during that war. Having discovered the slave narratives, it seemed natural to place Tempe’s journey during the Civil War.

It’s been said that life is like a patch-work quilt. It’s not over until the last stitch is put in place. Here are selected pieces of fabric that blanket Adie and Tempe’s lives, two young women who learned to treasure their joy in spite of their sorrow. May you discover what they did, that the joy of our journey is not in the destination; it’s in each and every moment at hand.

—Jackie Lee Miles, author of
Cold Rock River
Roseflower Creek
Divorcing Dwayne

Dear Dwayne (April 1st, 2009)

The COLD ROCK RIVER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit J.L.'s blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about her latest 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. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Tutu Ballet by Sally O. Lee--Book Review

Sally O. Lee is back with a new book about a unique ballet that my children have asked me to read them time and again.

In The Tutu Ballet, Belinda the bear, Mirabel the mouse, Harriet the hare and Fillippo the fox are ready to dance for their ballet teacher, Ms. Berry. The problem is that Ms. Berry can't get them all to do the same steps. How will Ms. Berry put together a dance for the recital that lets everyone do their favorite things?

Each story from Lee is more delightful than the last. Her charming illustrations and easy to understand stories of friendship and problemsolving are sure to become favorites with your children. If you own one Sally O. Lee book you'll want to own them all. I can't wait until I open my mailbox and find another Sally O. Lee book inside!

The Tutu Ballet will make a great holiday gift for your young dancer. You'll find it at Amazon.com.

Check out Sally O. Lee on the web at http://leepublishing.net/

Title: The Tutu Ballet
Author: Sally O. Lee
Publisher: Lee Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-4392-0916-2
ISBN-13: 978-1 439209165

Read my reviews of The Cake Thief and The Rabbit and the Snowman also by Sally O. Lee.

Don't Know Much About Anything Else by Kenneth C. Davis--Book Review

Clara Barton, West Point, the Gulf War, Labor Day, trains, mosquitoes, the Kentucky Derby, The Wizard of Oz and the Girl Scouts. What do these things all have in common?

These people, places, things and many more can be found in Kenneth C. Davis's latest book, Don't Know Much About Anything Else.

Davis makes learning fun for people of all ages. Broken down into nine different sections, the author brings you along on an enjoyable adventure to learn more about the people, places, and things you have read about in school or in books. Each topic begins with a brief introduction and is followed with a short series of questions, whose answers you'll find on the next page. Living only 15 minutes from Thedor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel's childhood home, I was thrilled to see a page dedicated to this famous children's author. (Check out Page 45)

A fun, easy, and interesting way to learn more about the world we live in and the people who have made a difference. Teachers could use this book to encourage a love of learning in young people and readers will enjoy testing their family and friends about what they know. There's only one problem with this book--it's addicting.

I can't wait until Davis comes out with another Don't Know Much About title.

Title: Don't Know Much About Anything Else
Author: Kenneth C. Davis
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-156232-7
U.S. Price: $14.95

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone--Book Review

For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone is a heartfelt tale of the season.

Johnny and his beloved brother, known to the reader only as Tiger, are still dealing with the loss of their mother when their Navy Commander father is transferred to a military base in Michigan. Plagued by illness since birth, Johnny along with Tiger and the commander must survive the difficulties of military life from their hunter's cabin on Lake Huron. Luckily, kind and elderly Mrs. Pennington is there to help out. But when the commander is called away before Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the U.S. Military, the boys pray to St. Nicholas for their father's safe return. Can the love of St. Nick save a life and reunite a family?

As with Maccagnone's novel, St. John of the Midfield, this story is held together by human emotions: the sorrow over the loss of a wife and mother, the pain of leaving home behind and the promise of starting fresh, the joys of living in the Michigan wilderness, and the fear of losing the person who connects you to the past. Woven into all this is the magic of Christmas and an undying belief in the love of St. Nick.

Tiger is the perfect narrator. Now older, he looks back upon this time in his life and brings the reader up close to what he and his family experienced, making you want to cry at times, laugh at times, and always hold onto the magic that is Christmas.

The jpg of the cover does not do the cover art justice. It is a striking cover when you see it up close. The cherubs to the right of the title are the perfect compliment.

A truly remarkable Christmas tale, For the Love of St. Nick is a must read for those who hold family and Christmas close to their hearts.

Title: For the Love of St. Nick
Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
Publisher: BookSurge
ISBN-10: 1-4392-1012-8
ISBN-13: 9781439210123
U.S. Price: $8.99

You'll find my review of St. John of the Midfield here. I interviewed Garasamo (Gary) Maccagnone in February 2008. Follow this link to read all about it.

The Ethnic Presidency by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House – Will Race and Ethnicity Decide the Presidency?

Any way you look at it, this is a historic political season. Whether the next president is a Democrat or a Republican, there will be a “first” in the new administration. The first black president or the first woman vice president will be elected. The media and the internet are buzzing with the possibilities.

Race and politics is an interesting and sometimes explosive combination. This topic is the focus of Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s book The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House. Throughout this election year, we have all seen the news reports, the specials, the debates and much more that addresses the questions and curiosity about race and politics. More specifically, what it would mean to have an African American president in the white house.

Race isn’t a new issue in politics and The Ethnic Presidency delves into a vast array of details from the past three decades to demonstrate the difference race and ethnicity makes in any election. Race is a much bigger factor in the 2008 election than it has been in past elections.

For an inside view at the history of race in politics, take a deeper look into The Ethnic Presidency. This book is a must have for political junkies who follow each election, but it is also a great primer for the millions of first time voters who would like to understand more about the people and the elements of this election year and elections in the past. Get a real look at the way each political party used race and ethnicity to further their agenda through the years.

It examines:

The soaring Latino vote
The silent but potent Asian-American vote
The GOP’s love-hate relationship with black and Latino America
Will America accept a black president? Can Obama be that president?
Will the GOP use the same Southern Strategy that repeatedly won the White House?
Did blacks and Latinos elect Bush?
Have the Democrats taken the black and Latino vote for granted?

For much more information and to order your own copy, visit The Ethnic Presidency on Amazon.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author, syndicated columnist, political analyst and commentator. He is a frequent guest on Hannity and Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, The Big Story, EXTRA, and numerous CNN News and Talk Shows. He is associate editor of New America Media. His op-ed columns appear in the Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, L.A. Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Christian Science Monitor, and other major newspapers. He is the author of ten books.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

With Endless Spirit by Allison Pittman--Book Review

The story of a young girl's determination to stay true to God's plan despite the tragedies and loss she endures is what you'll find in the highly anticipated conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series by Allison Pittman.

With Endless Spirit introduces the reader to Belinda, a young girl born into privilege. Led to believe her family is going on this great adventure, reality soon strikes while on the journey West. Wounded and suddenly alone, Belinda clings to her faith to help her in this harsh new world.

Forced to spend the winter with the man who stole the life she once knew, Belinda struggles to find the power of forgiveness. Her journey takes her to a mining camp in Wyoming, also home to a red-roofed brothel, where she finds friendship and perhaps love. But is her faith strong enough to let her forgive?

What a satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series! Belinda, who fans of the first two books will learn receives a new name once she ends up at Jewell's place at Silver Peak, is an inspiring character whose story was begging to be told. The author pits Belinda against tragedy and loss while the reader is allowed to witness her evolution from a secure but shy girl to a young woman determined to survive and believe in God's hand in her life.

Just as with Pittman's other books in this series, Ten Thousand Charms and Speak through the Wind--which we reviewed here and here--the author's attention to historical detail adds realism and depth to this novel. Just like Speak through the Wind, fans of the series are treated to discovering the story of a secondary character from the first book. And while in Ten Thousand Charms, most of the story unfolds at Jewell's place, a good portion of Belinda's story is told before she even finds herself in the red-roofed brothel.

Christian fiction fans won't want to miss the powerful conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series. And they'll want to read all three books again as soon as they finish. Allison Pittman is an author whose work touches the heart and lifts you up. I eagerly await Pittman's next project.

Title: With Endless Spirit
Author: Allison Pittman
Publisher: Multnomah Books
ISBN: 978-1-60142-012-1
U.S. Price: $13.99

Interview with Rosemary Chaulk, author of Nissitissit Witch

Joining us today is author Rosemary Chaulk. Her debut novel, Nissitissit Witch was recently released from AuthorHouse. We’ll talk to Rosemary about the book, the history behind it, and current social tie-ins.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Rosemary. It’s great to have you with us!

Let’s get started by finding out a bit more about you. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Littleton, Mass which used to be a small farm town. We moved there from Waltham when I was in the third grade. At that time there was more cows than people.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I used to write when I was a teenager, later after college I was married with a family and had no free time or even the desire to write. Three years ago I began to write again. Now I seem to be totally obsessed with writing.

Who is your greatest source of inspiration?

My greatest source of inspiration was my mother. Her life in some ways was a mess. She was a manic depressant alcoholic but never gave up and always got back up and tried again. When life knocks me down and I wonder if it is worth getting back up I look to her example of never giving up no matter how dark it gets.

Tell us a little about Nissitissit Witch. Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

I was born under the sign of the bull, forever connected to the earth. I have spent my entire life working outside year round doing land survey. I have a deep respect and love for the land and at times in my career I was sickened and even despondent about the massive pollution that I saw. In the early seventies I worked in a survey crew doing topographic surveys along the banks of the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass. The branches of the trees, which hung in the river, were covered with toilet papers and condoms; tampons swam by like perverted sperm on their way to the ocean to infect the source of life. I have carried these images my whole life.

In the town I live in was a village, North Village, and people to this day believe the village was cursed by a witch and died. A cursed piece of land right in the town I live in. But then I thought, “Can land be cursed or is it just the tortured souls who roam it who are cursed?

In this book I found a way to express my love for the land and make people aware of just how much we polluted North America once we took it from the Indians.

When the settlers took the valley from the Indians they killed a tribe that had lived there for six thousand years. The settlers lust for the land was strong. It proved to be ironic that their lack of respect for this land was the very thing which killed them.

Tell us about your main characters.

I based my fictional characters on actual newspaper articles. In doing the research I noticed that there were many mentions of people dying in an unusual way. Reading some of the research I found North Village to have a cobbler who made his own felt. In researching felt I found it to be made using mercurous oxide. The cobbler traveled the farms in the area selling his boots. There was also a velvet shop and in researching velvet I found that it has to be steamed and not ironed. Further research showed that all of the royal colors back then contained poisons and sometimes heavy metals; even the wallpaper back then was toxic and many infants died in their cribs. It is even rumored that Napolian’s insanity was caused by his love of green wallpaper, which was the most toxic. When I researched heavy metal poisoning it showed that people died raving lunatics, certainly that would be an unusual way.

Why will readers relate to them?

The story is very contemporary in the fact that we are still polluting our word, we still have bigotry and small mindedness and people are given derogatory labels because we do not understand them.

What will they like about them?

My characters come alive and the reader will enjoy being with my characters as much as I enjoyed being with them when I wrote the book.

Is there anything they will dislike?

Everyone has detested the Norwegian and several people urged me to take him out of the book but he was a real character in the village.

The 1800’s was a time of great growth for America. The West was settled; railroad towns popped up across the land as the U.S. Government sought to connect the east and west coasts; and inventions like gas lighting, the telegraph, and the grain elevator made life better and easier for people living in the 19th century. How did progress affect the characters of your novel?

The industrial revolution was one of the causes of the death of North Village. None of the small mill villages in this area survived the industrial revolution. All the large businesses moved to the large cities abandoning waterpower for steam.

Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was a popular CBS TV show in the 1990’s. Set in the mid-1800’s it might have been the first show to showcase the mistreatment of the Indians and the crimes against the land that took place in favor of progress. Have you ever seen the show? And if so, do you feel there are parallels between Dr. Quinn and Nissitissit Witch?

Yes. I used to watch the show all the time.

Dr. Quinn had trouble being accepted as a doctor because she was a woman. My main character is very intelligent like Dr. Quinn but she is a Quaker in a town that was Puritan in a backwoods village. Worse than Dr. Quinn, my main character is persecuted and murdered because she is different.

Are there contemporary themes or struggles running through your novel?

When the settlers took the valley from the Indians they killed a tribe that had lived there for six thousand years. The settler’s lust for the land was strong; it proved to be ironic that their lack of respect for this land was the very thing, that killed them. This type of blind lust still exits today.

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and Nissitissit Witch?

The book and more information on the book is available on my website at

I have two videos on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPNHobuS_yE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGSTiqs7gGQ

What is up next for you?

I am working on a science fiction story J1T.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The book is entertaining and educational and is a must read if you love the environment.

Thanks for joining us today, Rosemary. I wish you great success!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Easy Entertaining with Patricia Mendez

Patricia Mendez is our guest blogger today. Patricia's book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners is reviewed by us here. One of the interesting aspects from the book is that each chapter has a mistake to avoid. I've asked Patricia to talk about some of these mistakes and how to avoid them.

Top Five Mistakes to Avoid When Entertaining

By Patricia Mendez

Mistake #1: Hosts that try to do all of the preparation for a party on the day of the event. They clean the house, shop, cook AND have guests over in the same day.

Solution #1: Pace yourself! Always try to have 2-3 days in preparation for a party. That might sound like a lot to you in our instant microwave world, but it is well worth the effort. You will feel more confident and you won’t be exhausted. For instance, two days before a party, clean the house, reread the recipes and make a shopping list. One day before, do the shopping and some of the food preparation. The morning of your party, do most of the remaining food preparation and decorating. Spend some time each day for two to three days before a party in preparation.

Mistake #2: Not reading through the recipes or ever preparing them prior to your dinner party.

Solution #2: Whether you are cooking for a crowd or hosting dinner for two, you should always prepare a recipe you have never made at least once before your event. If it is a large recipe, simply cut the recipe in half and try it a couple of weeks before your dinner party. Also, carefully read through each recipe before you are ready to start putting ingredients in mixing bowls and firing up the stove. These tips will give you time to fix any mistakes you might make, help you gain confidence and set a relaxed and warm tone for your dinner party.

Mistake #3: Rushing around in frantic preparation as your guests are arriving. This mistake is usually a result from making the first two mistakes above. Not being organized and not pacing yourself and being unfamiliar with recipes you are preparing for your event can lead to being way behind schedule. This sets the wrong tone for your dinner party. It is awkward for guests when they arrive on time and the host is either away at the store for a last minute trip or is still elbow-deep in preparation.

Solution #3: Being organized is the key to hosting fun, satisfying and successful casual at-home entertaining. Remember, beginners should “Do a few things and do those well.” Concentrate on the food, the table and the tone that you set as host. You want to be able to be ready to greet your guests as they arrive. Make introductions, get a beverage into their hands and you will immediately set your guests as ease and set a friendly tone for your dinner party. Kudos to you for your desire to give this wonderful gift of delicious food and warm hospitality to your family and friends!

Mistake #4: Not being able to problem-solve and letting mistakes and problems ruin your evening.

Solution #4: Even the most seasoned hosts can deal with unexpected problems when they entertain. If something goes wrong (the icemaker breaks, the smoke alarm goes off, one of the dishes you will serve has taken a turn for the worse), don’t panic. Simply solve the problem and move on. The ability to be flexible and not let it ruin your evening is a plus.

Mistake #5: Choosing a menu that is too difficult and fussy.

Solution #5: When hosts are looking for a dinner party menu they should choose one that can be mostly prepared in advance. This is especially helpful advice for a beginner. Many books and internet sites put together complete menus if you are not sure what to serve. When I designed and wrote my book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners, I put together menus for occasions that I thought new nesters/newlyweds would most like to host in their first couple of years in their new homes. I wrote the recipes specifically for those who might not have much cooking experience. Just because a recipe is simple, does not mean it is not delicious! So choose most of your recipes that can be prepared in advance. I believe entertaining should fit your life so another great tip is to prepare the main meal items and use your favorite purchased items to fill in your menu. For instance, purchase a fantastic dessert instead of making one. Use a purchased dip or washed and bagged salad greens instead of cleaning and cutting your own. These all save time and allow you to concentrate on doing a few things well.

The EASY ENTERTAINING FOR BEGINNERS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit Patricia's blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion, 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. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spotlight on the Deputy Tempe Crabtree Series by Marilyn Meredith

With the recent release of eighth book in Marilyn Meredith's Deputy Tempe Crabtree series we are going to spotlight all eight books today, starting from the most recent release, Kindred Spirits and working down.

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits is about a troubled marriage, a husband who planned the "perfect" murder, a murder victim whose spirit won’t rest until the murderer’s identity is revealed, the genocide of the Tolowa nation, and two dangerous trips for Deputy Tempe Crabtree as she searches for answers.

Judgment Fire

A shaman warns Deputy Tempe Crabtree her life is in danger. The death of a battered wife leads Tempe to participate in a Native American starlight ceremony that brings back hidden memories of her painful high school days. She attempts to help the delinquent son of the murdered woman, is threatened by his step-father--the primary murder suspect, deals with a man who may be mentally ill, and renews acquaintances with not such good friends from her younger years. A second fire brings judgment to the guilty party.

Calling the Dead

In Calling the Dead, Native American Deputy Tempe Crabtree puts her job in jeopardy by investigating two suspicious deaths without permission from her superiors. She jeopardizes her marriage to the local minister by using Native American ways to call back the dead in order to solve a mystery.


A hidden marijuana farm and the murder of a long lost granddaughter keep Tempe busy, while her husband has troubles of his own--when the description of a man who exposes himself to school children sounds just like Hutch.


Tempe and Hutch escape to a mountain lodge for a longed for second honeymoon. Instead they find themselves surrounded by a disgruntled group of Hollywood has-beens. A murderer takes advantage of a white-out storm that takes out the electricity and phone service.Tempe shifts into official mode to investigate the murder. Will she be able to discover who the killer is without becoming a victim herself?

Unequally Yoked

The search for a missing child takes Tempe Crabtree on a quest for a murderer, which includes participation in a Yanduchi ceremonial and a dilemma in her relationship with her husband.

Deadly Omen

Tempe Crabtree, part Yanduchi, is the resident deputy of a small community called Bear Creek. Recently married to a Christian minister, raising a teenage son, Tempe is in the process of learning about her own heritage. Assigned to keep peace at a native American Pow Wow Tempe discovers the body of a young woman who was a candidate for princess. Tempe finds herself drawn into the investigation in spite of clear warnings from the male detectives to stay out of the case.

Deadly Trail

The tranquility of the Bear Creek in the southern Sierra is disrupted by the suspicious death of the owner of the local Inn. Investigating a murder case isn’t Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s job, but when the detectives don’t look any further than Nick Two John as the primary suspect, Tempe begins asking questions.

Putting the planning of her wedding to Pastor Hutch Hutchinson on hold, it doesn’t take long for her to discover there are several more people who wanted the victim dead, including his wife. Tempe follows the trail of clues, putting her job, her upcoming marriage, and herself in peril.

About Deputy Tempe Crabtree: Native American, Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy of the area surrounding Bear Creek, a small mountain community which includes the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. She has a son, Blair, by her first husband who was killed in the line of duty as a California Highway Patrolman.

Her second husband, Hutch Hutchinson, is the pastor of the community church.

Hutch and Tempe have a good marriage though he worries about the dangers of her job and the threat to her soul when she uses Native American spiritualism to find out the answers in difficult cases.

Bear Creek is similar to where Marilyn lives in the Southern Sierra. Bear Creek Indian Reservation bears a striking resemblance to the reservation nearby. However, Marilyn always reminds people she is writing fiction.

You can find Marilyn on the web at fictionforyou.com.

The KINDRED SPIRITS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit Marilyn's blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion, 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. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sienna Skyy talks about Villains and American Quest

It's time for the bad guys to roll on out. Today's guest blogger, Sienna Skyy is going to talk about villains and her book, American Quest.

Don’t you just love villains? I can’t seem to get interested in the heroes until the unsavories have churned them through the wringer. And in my opinion those unsavories are juiciest when they’re on the bad, bad, extra-bad side, but with enough complexity and hint of redemption that they’re still interesting.

My heroes in American Quest, Bruce and Gloria, are young lovers with uncommon depths of passion—for their work, for life, and for each other. They’re completely unaware that there’s another world out there, one full of demonic creatures called Maculs who gain power through crushing human virtues. One in particular, Enervata, is on a mission to defile love.

Villains tend to grow so fast in scale that as writers, we don’t really have to work hard to bring their personalities to life. They’re already chock full of conflict. I found it easiest to write about Enervata and his band of nasty minions: two gluttonous brothers who swill honey wine and lay booby traps, a mouthless wretch with shifty loyalties, and two half-bird, half-human creatures called canteshrikes. The canteshrikes live for all things sensory, be it the thrill of flight, sexual pleasures, or the art of pain.

As American Quest unfolds, Enervata abducts Gloria and lays a trap of seduction and temptation, trying to turn her to his side and renounce her love for Bruce and all that she cherishes. If he succeeds in breaking her, he gains enough power to enslave the earth; but if he fails, he will kill her. Bruce sets off on a quest to save his true love, never knowing whether she will remain loyal to him, and unaware that Enervata’s minions are lying in wait.

I suppose writers have enjoyed working with the wicked characters since the beginning of time. We never know what our heroes are capable of until they have to face challenges, heartbreak, and even devastation. One of my favorite literary villains is Sir Bruce sans Pitié from Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. It seemed that any time the knights of Camelot achieved success on their quests, Sir Bruce would show up and wreak havoc. Some believed that he was actually one of Arthur’s knights who lived a double life as a rogue.

Another one of my favorites is Melville’s whale in Moby Dick, whose pure meanness drove Captain Ahab to conjure an even darker, more inescapable enemy: himself.

I’m curious about favorite villains among The Book Connection’s readers. Do you have a preference—man vs. man, man vs. beast, or man vs. nature? And who would you consider to be the best literary villains of all time?

Thanks for the opportunity to say hello. Happy reading!
--Sienna Skyy

The AMERICAN QUEST VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and ends on October 30. You can visit Sienna's tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in October to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on October 30!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Secret of Yahweh! by LeFerna Arnold-Walch--Book Review

Sound Biblical teaching, adorable characters, and one fuzzy and mysterious lamb is what you'll find in The Secret of Yahweh! by LeFerna Arnold-Walch.

It's the start of a new school year and best friends Mary and Petey are hoping to avoid mean kids like The Con and Bitsy. But to their horror, The Con, Bitsy and some of the other mean kids are in Miss Sawyer's class too.

When the children are told that the words "under God" are being removed from the daily reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance, everyone is confused. Why can't they say it the way they always have? And so Miss Sawyer's class embarks upon a journey to discover how the modern interpretation of the First Amendment has removed any practice of religion from their school.

The day Mary brings J.C. Lamb with her to school turns into utter chaos as the children realize not everyone is able to see or hear the fuzzy lamb with the heart embroidered on his chest. But Miss Sawyer can see him, and she assures everyone if they come to Mystery Sunday at her church, everything will be made crystal clear.

The Secret of Yahweh! is filled with many wonderful things. The characters are adorable and the illustrations charming. Arnold-Walch captures the quintessential curious child in Mary, and The Con and Bitsy teeter between being unlikeable and being misunderstood. Miss Sawyer could easily be any Christian teacher in America's public schools, wishing she could share her beliefs, but hampered by a modern interpretation of the First Amendment that does not allow it. J.C. Lamb's appearance and actions in the book will make him easily adored by young readers. The book is also filled with sound Biblical teaching, something expected of this genre.

I did, however, find this to be a challenging read on many levels. The pace of the story is very slow with many pages dedicated to happenings that did nothing to advance the plot. The first day at school takes up the first 76 pages of the book and the chapter where Mary and Petey tie their horses to carts and race serves no purpose--except that it's cute to see J.C. Lamb's reaction.

A good editor would have found the numerous typographical and grammar errors running through the pages. The book is made up primarily of dialogue with very little narrative to compliment it and there are moments when the tenses change from past to present. The reader will feel that she is being given a Bible and history lesson as much of the dialogue is an information dump, such as here:

"Do you know that over one hundred million Americans do not go to church at all? And the sad thing is that 27 million of those are children. In some unchurched families children will never get a religious education." (Page 75)

While the back cover states that The Secret of Yahweh! is the "Christian parent's answer to the Harry Potter phenomenon!"--the main reason I requested the title for review--this reader failed to see any comparison. My mind immediately thought of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and was disappointed to find that The Secret of Yahweh! is nothing like that beloved series. While the book was originally written for children ages 7 to 12, the added illustrations are meant to allow parents to share The Secret of Yahweh! with younger readers. I don't, however, see there being enough action that my girls (ages 7 and 5) would ask to continue reading the story to completion.

If a parent is looking to provide a more enjoyable way for their children to experience American history and Biblical teaching than the standard textbook and Bible verse memorization, then The Secret of Yahweh! would be the way to go. While I found this is an excellent message for Children of God, no matter what age, I couldn't get by the challenges to truly enjoy the story.

Feel free to browse through other reviews of The Secret of Yahweh! here.

Title: The Secret of Yahweh!
Author: LeFerna Arnold-Welch
Publisher: Mary's Lamb Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9801794-8-4
U.S. Price: $16.95