Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumping Up the Holidays with the 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour '09

Pump Up Your Book Announces 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09

Join a talented and diverse group of 28 authors who are touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion during “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09”!

Follow these authors as they travel the blogosphere for the first 12 weekdays of December (December 1st – December 16th) to discuss their books. You’ll find everything from tween fiction to memoirs, horror and suspense novels to historical romances, children’s books to self-help and so much more!

Michael Anthony, David Berner, Hope Edelman, and Ingrid King tour with their memoirs. Learn more about short story collections from Barbora Knobova and J.W. Nicklaus. Michael Estepa and Larry Sweitzer travel the blogosphere with their young adult fiction books, while Bernadine Feagins, Dixie Philips, and Victoria Simcox are children’s authors. Tween/teen fiction books are being promoted by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and Beverly Stowe McClure, and historical novels from authors J.M. Hochstetler, Dot Ryan, and Cindy Vallar will also be touring. Nonfiction books on a variety of topics come to you from Malana Ashlie, James Burns, James Diehl, Jacqueline Klosek, Pat Snyder, John Tippets, and Sophia White.

Also touring in December are Joy DeKok with her contemporary novel, Gale Laure and Stephen Masse with their suspense novels, horror author Maryann Paige, and romance author Bill Walker.

Check out our special “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09” video trailer featuring each author:

To follow these authors during “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09” visit the official Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour site at or

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price. More information can be found on their website at

Final NaNoWriMo Update

Today I planned to write some to at least reach 10K for NaNoWriMo, but it doesn't look likely. I worked on virtual book tours most of the day and caught up on some reviews at my kids book blog.

While I am slightly disappointed I didn't even make it halfway, I am pleased that I have been writing every free moment I had in November and hope to be able to work on it more in December thanks to the reduced tour schedule.

If any of my readers participated in NaNoWriMo I would love to hear how you did and what you learned from your experience.

Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo winners!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November, Where Have You Gone?

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has passed and November is almost over. The last day for NaNoWriMo is tomorrow and I will never make my goal, but I keep plugging away at Amelia's Mission whenever I can. If nothing else, I am becoming a more disciplined writer.

We're gearing up for new book tours to start on December 1st. Pump Up Your Book Promotion is running a reduced schedule in December.

I hope you'll visit in December and follow the many authors in various genres who will be touring with us next month. Our founder, Dorothy, has put together a great video trailer for the 12 Days of Christmas Book Tour Special, which you can check out at YouTube.

Here is our list of authors:

Michael Anthony and Mass Casualaties

Malana Ashlie and Gringos in Paradise: Our Honduras Odyssey

David Berner and Accidental Lessons

James Burns and The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth

Joy DeKok and Rain Dance

James Diehl and World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware

Hope Edelman and The Possibility of Everything

Michael Estepa and Purged by Darkness

Bernadine Feagins and Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery

J.M. Hochstetler and Wind of the Spirit

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything)

Ingrid King and Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

Jacqueline Klosek and War on Privacy

Barbora Knobova and Tales for Delicious Girls

Gale Laure and Evolution of a Sad Woman

Stephen Masse and A Jolly Good Fellow

Beverly Stowe McClure and Just Breeze

J.W. Nicklaus and The Light, The Dark and Ember Between

Maryann Paige and Cemetery Gates

Dixie Phillips and One Noble Journey

Dot Ryan and Corrigans' Pool (we'll review this in January)

Victoria Simcox and The Magic Warble

Pat Snyder and The Dog Ate My Planner

Larry Sweitzer and The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth's Piano

John Tippets and Hearts of Courage (we reviewed this over the summer)

Cindy Vallar and The Scottish Thistle

Bill Walker and A Note From an old Acquaintance

Sophia White and Jesus is for Everyone

With so many authors and such a diverse set of genres, you're sure to find something for everyone on your shopping list.

As we move from November into December, I hope you'll stick with us to see what fun things we have in store.

Thanks agan for your support.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Aspiring Author is Moving In

Well, after a poll that only received three votes on this site and the other, I have decided that I will be moving The Aspiring Author blog onto this site, so if you see a few more personal posts about my works in progress, my children's picture book that is due out next fall, and some motivational quotes, don't think you're in the wrong place.

Starting on December 1st I will no longer be blogging at The Aspiring Author. All posts will appear at The Book Connection. I will maintain my other two blogs, Book Tours and More and Laura's Little Houses--a blog dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder, her books and the movies and shows based upon them.

I hope you enjoy the new additions to this blog. Feel free to drop me a note anytime to let me know how we're doing.

Thanks for all your support.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Melinda and the Wild West Giveaway at Suko's Notebook

When Jenny Roberts arrives home from college in the summer of 1908, she yearns to escape her small hometown of Paris, Idaho, and accomplish something remarkable in the world. She develops a promising friendship with Will Jones, a young farmer who is new to the area and has secretly fallen in love with her. Meanwhile, her father, Gilbert, attempts to catch a legendary giant grizzly bear that has devastated the community with its haunting elusiveness and slaughter of the local sheep. In the third installment of A Family Saga in Bear Lake Valley series by Linda Weaver Clarke, Jenny finds herself in the middle of drama, adventure, and romance as she struggles to gain the power of forgiveness and the ability to face new possibilities.

Here is a blurb from Suko's review: "All in all, I enjoyed this charming book and recommend it, especially to fans of historical fiction who savor more than a dash of sweet romance mixed in."

Linda Weaver Clarke is giving away at Suko's Notebook an autographed copy of Melinda and the Wild West, the first book in this series, which was a semi-finalist for the "Reviewers Choice Award 2007".

-To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment at Suko's Notebook.

-For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of Suko's blog, or indicate that you are already a follower.

-For a third chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Make sure you let Suko know by commenting at the blog.

Enter by Monday, Dec. 7, 5PM PST. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, Dec. 8. US residents only (sorry!). Good luck!

Jenny's Dream Giveaway at Suko

My First Writers Conference

Last weekend I attended my first writers conference in person. I have participated in the Muse Online Writers Conference for at least three years now, but this is the first conference that I drove to and attended all day.

Some of my writing friends have asked me to share my experience, so I'll try not to bore anyone with the details while I share my day.

This was an all day affair that started with a continental breakfast and a great keynote speaker. Then we broke up into our sessions. In the morning I took How to Write Great Beginnings. Having never attended a conference before I wasn't sure what to expect. What it entailed was four published authors--some multi-published--discussing what makes great beginnings. There was a Q & A session, but I didn't find this workshop overly helpful, and one author admitted to not being prepared at all and rambled a lot, so that part was annoying.

Then I went to a mystery workshop to see if I could get some help with my crime fiction piece and that suspense short story I've had lingering in unfinished hell for a year or so. Another Q & A session, but because it was such a small group, all four authors gave their perspectives on each question. I knew one of the authors in this group, as she was a former client of Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I introduced myself and made a few potential contacts for future virtual book tours there.

Right before lunch I bought one book from each of the mystery writers--one that I wasn't quite sure about, but I didn't want to leave her out. Now I have even more books to review. I also bought Write from the Heart by Leslea Newman, who was the morning's keynote speaker.

Lunch was very nice and I sat with my buddy Frank who had told me about the conference and some of the presenters from the first workshop.

In the afternoon we had an amazing keynote speaker, Roland Merullo. Absolutely out of this world. He's written several books and even though he had lost his voice two days before the conference he managed to speak for the full hour or so.

The best workshop of the day was How Agents Think. You got a chance to submit the first page of your work. Conference coordinators chose selections at random, read them, and the four agents provided their thoughts on whether they were interested, wanted to know more, would pass and why. I didn't put anything in the box and am kicking myself, but I now have contact infomation for four potential agencies, most of them out of NY.

My buddy Frank, had the chance to meet with one of the agents, the only man on the panel, and he requested that Frank send along the first three chapters of his novel, so I am excited for him.

Got home around 5 p.m. and got right into Mommy mode. A fun day, and I offered to help coordinate next year's conference because you all know I have nothing else going on. I figure this will keep me in touch with people I need to be in touch with as I move along in my career.

Celebrate Black Friday by Picking Up A Book

(Photo from the NY Daily News).

How are you celebrating Black Friday? Me, I've only gone shopping in the wee hours of the year's holiday shopping kick-off once, and I hated it so much I vowed never to do it again. This year I am at home baking goodies for tomorrow's Christmas Bazaar at church.

I've never been a huge shopper--how unfemale of me, I know. LOL! And crowds certainly aren't my thing either. I want to get in, buy what I need, and get out in as little time as possible. That's why online shopping is such a hit with me. You can get some great deals online, like's Black Friday Deals.

In case you have some readers on your list, check out some of these great books I've read this year:

Still There, Clare by Yvonne Prinz. I'm a huge fan of this and the other Clare books: No Fair, Clare and Double Dare Clare.

My Father, My Don by Tony Napoli.

Excellent book about organized crime and the love of father and son.

No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith. The latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series featuring Detective Stacey Wilbur.

The Lost Hours by Karen White; southern fiction at its best.

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today and My Son, John by Kathi Macias. Christian fiction and nonfiction don't get any better than what Kathi Macias delivers!

One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler, a powerful and moving contemporary miracle story that will make an excellent gift for fans of Christian fiction.

Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms by Jane Doiron will help you stay on top of holiday cooking and baking.

These are just some of the many titles we have reviewed this year, with several more to come. Enjoy Black Friday, no matter how you decide to celebrate it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Book Connection wishes all its readers a very happy, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Thank you for your continued support.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Female Friendship by Barbora Knobova, Author of Tales for Delicious Girls

Today's guest blogger is Barbora Knobova, author of Tales for Delicious Girls.

What’s in a word? Anything you want there to be! D for daring, E for enchanting,
L for loving, I for inspiring, C for captivating, I for intriguing, O for outgoing, U for unique, S for sophisticated: DELICIOUS.

Twenty-five exhilarating real-life stories about delicious women, eccentric men and stubborn dogs.

This book is meant to entertain you. It will make you laugh until there are tears in your eyes. It will become your faithful companion, and will help you find yourself. It was written for you because you’re delicious – the most delicious girl in the world.

Tales for Delicious Girls offers witty, refreshing, clever and ironic insight into relationships between men and women from all points of view. The book is a modern relationship manual, providing answers to the most pressing dating and friendship questions that strong, independent, modern women want to know. Tales for Delicious Girls deals with wishes, desires and dreams – as well as hilarious mishaps and dating disasters.

However, Tales for Delicious Girls is not simply a humorous book. In addition to entertaining the readers, the tales will inspire women to think about their own life and relationships, see themselves through different eyes and realize that they are their own best friend, the pillar of their own life, and the only person they can always count on. Tales for Delicious Girls encourages women to love, respect and appreciate themselves, to live the life they have always wanted, and become aware of their true uniqueness and deliciousness.

Tales for Delicious Girls contains over fifty beautiful, original illustrations by Nela Vadlejchova

"Female Friendship: Fragile, Tricky And So Necessary" by Barbora Knobova

My book, Tales for Delicious Girls, deals with many aspects of relationships that we women have. Our relationships with men, the relationship we have with ourselves, and last but not least, our relationships with other women.

At the end of one of the chapters about female friendship, Why Women Compete With Women, I say: "I do believe that women should simply stick together. Our lives are complicated enough, full of obstacles, trouble with men, with kids, with parents, with the world around us. Every day we have to fight, strive, prove something to somebody. That's why we should pull together. We don't necessarily have to love each other, we don't always have to agree, but we shouldn't try to trip each other up and hurt each other only because we're not always happy with ourselves and because sometimes things just don't go our way. We should trust ourselves and each other and listen more. Life in our female pack would be much happier then."

Yes, female friendship is tricky. It can be very deep and very honest but also very treacherous and even toxic. Nevertheless, I very much believe in the importance of female friendship and its bond. I think women should back each other up. They shouldn’t be competitive, envious, jealous and malicious. They should rise above their petty disputes because female solidarity and loyalty are one of their greatest powers.

Well, in a perfect world all this would be true but what about the world we live in? How to deal with the doubts, questions and insecurities brought about by the complex labyrinth of female friendships? And how can you know that your Best Friend is your Real Friend?

1. She is there for you. Now I don’t mean small talk over a cup of latté every other week or shopping for vintage clothes. You know that your Best Friend is your Real Friend when you can dial her number at two in the morning to ask for help or to simply cry on her shoulder and she won’t be bothered by your late night call. She is there for you when you need her most because she is sensitive to your moods, to the look in your eyes and to your gestures, and she knows you so well that she can sense when something is wrong. Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on absolute and unconditional trust.

2. She is happy for you. We all have our ups and downs. Sometimes we are on top of the world and sometimes we hit the rock bottom. You know that your Best Friend is your Real Friend when she is able to be happy for you even if her life is not going as well as yours. She doesn’t envy you, she’s generous and your happiness is hers. Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on mutual empathy.

3. She tells you the truth (even if it hurts). We all make mistakes but sometimes we don’t want to admit them. And sometimes we don’t even want to be reminded of them. You know that your Best Friend is your Real Friend when she’s not afraid to tell you the truth, no matter how harsh it is and no matter how much it may upset you. Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on straightforward honesty.

Now let’s get back to the three paragraphs and have a look at the last sentences: Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on absolute and unconditional trust. Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on mutual empathy. Your Best Friend is your Real Friend when your friendship is based on straightforward honesty.

Unconditional trust. Mutual empathy. Straightforward honesty. The three pillars of friendship. Look for them if you are not sure whether your Best Friend is your Real Friend. And remember to love and cherish your female pack because real friends never let you down.

Barbora Knobova is a writer, love coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving, true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from her new book Tales for Delicious Girls.

Visit the author online at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

This has been a painful but fun expereince so far. Only 6,444 words in and will never have time to come close to my goal, but I did work on Amelia's Mission for a little while today. It's so exciting to watch these characters develop and engage in conversations I never imagined when I first thought them up.

While I won't win NaNoWriMo, I am still proud of myself for sticking to it and I want to finish the first draft by early 2010 so I can get the story edited and submitted.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moonbeam Dreams by Gina Browning

Moonbeam Dreams is an intricately rhyming bed-time story written and illustrated by Gina C. Browning. It takes the reader and listeners on a magical, Dr. Seuss-like romp to the Land of Beddie-byes, where they meet all sorts of wonderful and interesting creatures. There are butterflies with gems dripping from their wings, dragons riding in red wagons, Lycra-wearing newts skating on moonbeams, unicorns, a frog climbing a kite-string, extra large snails and cats with fish-tails, and many, many more fun creatures to meet. It’s a positive, up-lifting and fun story that encourages children that almost anything is possible if you can dream it and believe in it strongly enough. It also encourages children to not be afraid of the dark, and that they have the ability to take control of their dreams. It also encourages children to welcome the weird and wonderful things that they might see in their dreams.

It is a story with a vocabulary that a child can learn from and grow into. It is also entertaining and interesting for adults to read as well. It contains some interesting rhyming mechanics, alliteration and 22 bright and colorful, entertaining illustrations.


With colorful, vivid and fun pictures, also illustrated by author Gina Browning, you and your child will delight in the magical and whimsical world where anything is possible and the dreamer controls the world. - Cafe of Dreams

I thought that this was a fun children’s book to read...The rhyming was also a delight. It almost made me want to sing this book out versus reading it. - Cheryl's Book Nook

If your child likes to dream and take fantasy journeys then this would be an excellent book for them to get their hands on. - 4 the Love of Books

There’s so much to love and enjoy about this book. From its unique characters to its lyrical prose and the stunning illustrations, Moonbeam Dreams will captivate young readers and keep them turning the pages, which they will do often, because they will want to read this book time and again. - The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

Writer and illustrator, Gina C. Browning, says some of the verses in her poetry book first came to her in her dreams as she was recovering from surgery years ago.
The poems and illustrations in Moonbeam Dreams gradually evolved into “a keenly rhymed, fantastical romp through a fantasy land, with weird and wonderful characters for readers of any age to enjoy.” Her poetry truly is for the young at heart.
Browning thinks her dreams are fun and adventurous, as she always looks for the positive side to everything. Her book encourages children not to be afraid of the dark, and to believe in themselves and their abilities so that almost anything is possible. Browning says dreams can come true “either in daylight or night” if you believe in them strongly enough.

You can visit Gina online @

To see where Gina's virtual book tour stops next, visit

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Recipe for You - NaBloPoMo Special Feature

Here's another holiday recipe for you. This recipe also comes from my Betty Crocker New Christmas Cookbook and they call them cheese triangles. I guess the Greeks have a different name for them, but I can't remember what that is. I'll have to ask my mother-in-law.

Like most Greek foods, I've found this to be a time-consuming project, as you have to cut the phyllo sheets into thirds and wrap them around the cheese mixture inside, which can be back breaking work. Phyllo also dries out quickly, so it is a good idea to cover them by a sheet of waxed paper with a damp towel over the waxed paper to keep them moist. If the sheets dry, they are impossible to work with.

While this is not a recipe you should make if you are pressed for time, it can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and refrigerated. These are also very delicious!


1 pound of feta cheese*
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup finely choppse chives
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 package (16 ounces) frozen phyllo sheets, thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet.

Crumble cheese in small bowl (Grocery stores also sell containers of crumbled feta); mash with fork.

Stir in eggs, chives and white pepper until well mixed.

Cut stack of phyllo sheets lengthwise into thirds. use two sheets for each strip.

Place one heaping teaspoon cheese mixture on end of strip; fold phyllo strip end over end, in triangular shape, to opposite end.

Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo and cheese mizture. (Triangles can be covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.)

Brush butter over triangles. Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. About 36 appetizers.

* Finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese can be substituted for the mashed feta cheese.

Note: While it says to place a heaping teaspoon of mixture on the sheets, don't overstuff them or they will be hard to wrap.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, National Blog Posting Month is certainly going better than National Novel Writing Month. I should be over halfway to my goal of 50,000 words and I barely have over 6,000. I am slightly bummed, but I am writing every chance I get. Work and family life have made writing a challenge, as did many of the unexpected things that have popped up this month.

I'll be busy all weekend, so I don't know how much I will get to write, but we'll see what happens. At least I am further ahead than when I started.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WriteAngles24 Writers Conference

Tomorrow morning I am going to attend my first writers conference. While I participate in the Muse Online Writers Conference every year, this is the first time I am attending one in person. A reporter for our local paper who goes to our church invited me along, and I figured it would be great experience with my children's book coming out next year.

WriteAngles24 is happening at the Willits-Hallowell Center on the campus of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. I'm excited to attend, but a bit nervous too. I'll be gone all day tomorrow, but I hope to get some time next week to share my thoughts on attending.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Year Brings Changes

Every year around this time I begin thinking of what changes I can make in the new year that will lead to me being more productive. An idea I am pondering is consolidating my The Aspiring Author blog and making it part of The Book Connection.

I've always tried my best to keep my book blog and my own writing separate, but it is becoming harder and harder. If I maintain The Book Connection as my personal and book blog, then I could post motivational quotes on the weekends because I usually only post about books on weekdays. In addition, I could really work on branding The Book Connection when I don't have to split time with another blog.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and feel free to vote in my survey in the sidebar. Thanks you for your support.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh -- Book Review

Events from his past have turned Sir Gerald Stapleton against love and women. They are not to be trusted and should only be used for pleasure. While visiting Miss. Blythe's politely dubbed "finishing school", Sir Gerald suddenly finds himself captivated by a young courtesan known to him as Priss. How could such a refined young lady end up at Miss Blythe's and why has her beauty and grace touched him so?

A victim of unfortunate circumstances, Priscilla Wentworth's path to Sir Gerald's bed became more than she expected. Trained never to see a man as anything other than business, she struggles with her growing feelings for him.

Despite everything these two people have been through, they are drawn to each other. Can they trust their hearts and find love?

A reader favorite in 1993 when it was published by Signet Regency Romance, this unaltered republication from Dell will capture your heart within moments.

We first meet Sir Gerald when he has returned to visit his regular courtesan at Miss Blythe's finishing school. When he finds her indisposed, Miss Blythe suggests he may wish to try one of her new girls, Priss. This encounter between Priss and Sir Gerald pulls the reader into a romantic, moving story of two characters who battle against their wills and attempt to deny what it happening between them.

The fact that this is not your typical Regency romance is one of the book's greatest assets. Both Sir Gerald and Priss are sympathetic characters who readers will be begging to see together in a more meaningful way.

Balogh proves why she is a New York Times bestselling author through her masterful storytelling, her ability to create multi-faceted characters, and her rich descriptions. I now wish to own every book Balogh has ever written, as A Precious Jewel did not release me from its grasp until the last word, and then I was ready to read it all over again. I know I will make a point to purchase The Ideal Wife, in which Sir Gerald has a minor role.

If you love romance novels, you'll certainly want to pick up a copy of A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh. It would also make the perfect holiday gift for any romance reader you know.

Title: A Precious Jewel
Author: Mary Balogh
Publisher: Dell
ISBN: 978-0-440-24463-9
SRP: $7.99 (US)

F U Penguin by Matthew Gasteier

Inspired by the popular blog, F U, Penguin, this book is filled with color photographs and funny, though biting, commentary addressed to our furry friends.

I received a copy of this book from Random House while I was away on vacation. It's not a book I would typically read considering my total lack of sense of humor--or at least that's what my husband says.

Based upon the over 8100 followers this blog has, it is obvious that author Matthew Gasteier has a dedicated readership. I just can't include myself among them. While Gasteier might say what some of us might think, I just don't see the humor in tossing obscenities around like you do one dollar bills to strippers. I lost count of how many F-bombs there were, and comparing some animal's facial expressions to female anatomy isn't exactly my idea of a good read.

I did find some of the selections downright hilarious, but those were the few that didn't include swears or vulgarity. I will say that the photography in this book is superb, the pictures crisp and clear. Each page included some additional bordered text and many of those tidbits were the funniest parts for me.

While F U, Penguin: Telling Cute Animals What's What wasn't exactly my style of book, it has received several excellent reviews at Amazon and it has a good rank there too, so you can feel free to check it out and decide for yourself.

Title: F U, Penguin: Telling Cute Animals What's What
Author: Matthew Gasteier
Publisher: Villard Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-51816-3
SRP: $15.00 (US)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Pineiro

Caterina Shaw’s days are numbered. Her only chance for survival is a highly experimental gene treatment – a risk she willingly takes. But now Caterina barely recognizes herself. She has new, terrifying powers, an exotic, arresting body — and she’s been accused of a savage murder, sending her on the run.

Mick Carrera is a mercenary and an expert at capturing elusive, clever prey. Yet the woman he’s hunting down is far from the vicious killer he’s been told to expect: Caterina is wounded, vulnerable, and a startling mystery of medical science. Even more, she’s a beautiful woman whose innocent sensuality tempts Mick to show her exactly how thrilling pleasure can be. The heat that builds between them is irresistible, but surrendering to it could kill them both . . . for a dangerous group is plotting its next move using Caterina as its deadly pawn.


People always ask how book ideas come to me, but in actuality, I usually get the ideas for the characters before the idea for the plot. When it came to SINS OF THE FLESH, Caterina’s character popped into my head first. I knew I wanted her to be vulnerable, but strong and determined to be in control of her own life. I wanted her to be elegant and creative.

That demanded a hero who was the seeming antithesis of all that. One who wanted to be in control. One who was powerful and possibly a little rough around the edges. It was then that Mick Carrera popped into my head and I had no doubt that at first glance, the reader might not like Mick very much. But that was just the start of the fun!

Since I’m a character driven writer, one of the things I strive for in a novel is creating a story that slowly peels away the layers on the characters, exposing new and interesting things about them with each chapter.

In Caterina’s case, the reader discovers right away that she is a world renowned cellist, but that success can’t protect her from a terminal illness. As we get to know Caterina, we see her strength and purpose as she decides to try a radical gene therapy to restore the one thing she loves most in her life – her music. That music is the center of her universe tells us something about Caterina immediately – that she really has no one of importance in her life. That’s confirmed when Mick goes to speak to Caterina’s best friend. As the story progresses, we learn more and more about Caterina’s family and why Caterina is alone.

What I loved most about Caterina was her strength in the face of nearly impossible odds, both at the beginning of the book and at the end, when she is confronted with the possibility of not only her death, but Mick’s.

As for Mick . . . There was so much I loved about this character and revealing his true nature little by little was a writer’s dream. I loved that at first, your initial impression of Mick is possibly negative and he seems far from hero material. But as the story progresses, you come to find out that there are many people who admire and respect Mick, which makes you wonder whether he is really as bad as he seems. After all, friends and family surround him, so is he really the dark mercenary we meet in the first chapter?

But what I loved most about Mick was his honor. Time and time again when confronted with not only the villain but with Caterina, he chose the high road in dealing with them. Especially with Caterina! There is an initial scene in the book which I actually rewrote to demonstrate that deep sense of honor. Caterina is feeling ill and is burning up with fever. She decides to cool that fever by escaping Mick’s house and diving into his pool, setting off all kinds of alarms in the process. When Mick hears the alarms he goes into action mode and is ready to recapture and/or punish Caterina, but as he realizes why she “escaped”, he becomes concerned and even tender. When he holds her in the pool and his body responds to her proximity, he contains himself, even though he realizes that Caterina might not reject his advances. He does so because of his honor. Because he realizes Caterina is not well and possibly not thinking clearly.

Mick wants nothing more than to have Caterina totally aware and totally in agreement with making love with him. Anything else would be wrong in his code book. As for Caterina, it is almost impossible for her to resist Mick both because he is attractive, but more so because she sees the unique and loving individual he hides behind his rough exterior.

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at the characters in SINS OF THE FLESH and I hope you will grow to love them as much as I do!

For Behind the Scenes blogs where readers can find out about the places where the book is set, you can go to:

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Caridad Pineiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project – to write a book for a class lending library. Bitten by the writing bug, Caridad continued with her passion for the written word through high school, college and law school. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Caridad’s passion for writing led to a determination to become published and share the stories she loved with others. In 1999, Caridad’s first novel was released and a decade later, Caridad is the author of over twenty novels and novellas. Caridad hopes to continue to share her stories with readers all over the world for years to come.

When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista. For more information on Caridad, please visit or

Sins of the Flesh is available at as a paperback and Kindle edition.

To see where Caridad stops next on her virtual book tour, please visit

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shakespeare Ashes by Chris DeBrie Tackles America's Toughest Issues

Today's guest blogger is Chris DeBrie, author of Shakespeare Ashes: A Novel.

Donna wonders how she can forgive and forget.

Charlene doesn’t quite know what she wants.

Robbie is usually thinking about which honey he plans to bag.

And Erven just does his best to obliterate the world…

Their lives and histories interconnecting, these characters navigate that uncertain time between classrooms and the wide-open world.

I posed the following question to Chris: What is one question about your book that you wish interviewers would ask you?

Here is what he had to say:

Shakespeare Ashes deals with some of America's toughest issues--race, gender, age, and sex. You mention President Obama's inauguration in the first chapter. Is his presidency a benchmark for black people? Is America still racist?

This is too complex to answer in the time we have, but I would say"yes and no" to both questions. Racism is relative to the person. If you want, you can find a flaw in any comment, any person. I feel it's better to keep it moving, instead of allowing your life to be controlled by people who don't care for you based on how God created you to look.

There was a period of a year or two, as a young adult, when I was frustrated that no matter where I traveled on Earth, there was a percentage of people who were instantly afraid, disgusted, or offended by my very existence. But I quickly realized that everyone who's born on this insane and beautiful planet faces pain. And when people try to say "my pain is greater than yours", that misses an opportunity to connect with others.

As for President Obama, I feel we're too quick to put things on the shelf and call it over. One event, one person, is not a finish line. There are thousands of benchmarks; life is a continuum, not a single goal. There's a continuing adjustment to the idea that a black man is in the White House, which you already know because people can't stop talking about it, if sometimes in veiled terms.

One day we'll get past the point of giving a handful of people the mantle 'black leader'. That's the spot Obama is in right now--he's a so-called black leader in a lot of short-sighted minds, if not in reality, no matter if he wants to be. No matter if those he suppposedly represents want that.

Whatever happens during his presidency, black people will be viewed through that prism. On smaller scales, the same goes for a number of celebrities. Just picking out of the air: Omarosa, Al Sharpton, OJ Simpson, Snoop Dogg, Willie Horton.... I could go on but that would get boring. Things they do somehow spills on anyone who resembles them in a superficial way. Yet you can point out any less-than-admirable person from David Duke, Levi Johnston, Ted Bundy, Charles Stuart, all the way down to a Stalin, and they are not made to represent all white people. What I am saying is not news, if you're a reasonable person.

As a writer I touch these wounds, but as a person walking around, I have a larger view. There are just too many exceptions to the stereotypes and assumptions in our minds. And I love using characters and situations to poke at the reader.

Chris DeBrie was born in North Carolina, creating comics and stories as soon as he could hold a pencil. He wrote the millennial love story As Is as a ninth grader, publishing it a decade later. Selective Focus was the result of those homemade comic screenplays. With Shakespeare Ashes, he pulls the reader into the raw thoughts of four very different characters. DeBrie is a fan of photography, learning languages, and clean water. He lives in Virginia.


Chris DeBrie has written a highly-entertaining, fast-paced book for readers. We follow the lives of four individuals through trials and tribulations of finding the right love; addressing gender issues and the all-encompassing racial issues.

The book is somewhat like letters and conversations exchanged between friends. With the elaborate descriptions of the characters readers will feel they know each one individually. The language is completely today’s language that you would hear anyone speak. In his writing he starts each sentence with small letters instead of the usual capital letters, which I found intriguing. I might even compare this to a journal one would write.

Readers will find themselves rooting for each of the characters and disliking other minor characters in the book. From the very first page readers will be captivated by the writing style and language. This book is everything we experience in our daily lives, right down to the elderly lady with an open umbrella and cane trying to maneuver getting on public transportation.

The author has written two other books, neither of which I have had the pleasure of reading. If they are anything like “Shakespeare Ashes”- they are a must read for all.

To see where Chris stops next on his virtual book tour, please visit