Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Spotlight: Through An Icon's Eyes by Grace Conti

Set in 1440s London, Italy and Greece against a turbulent political background enflamed by religious divisions, the unfolding narrative of Benedict Paston and Annie Carter's relationship encompass memories of heresy, murder, loss and betrayal.

Benedict an erstwhile sundial maker, is lost to the world. His self-imposed exile, both emotional and physical, in a remote Greek monastery is relieved only by the task of painting an icon under the monks' instruction. Their hope: to save his tortured soul. As the hours of devotion mark the progress of one day in his monastic cell, an escape from Benedict's self-destructive isolation is brokered by the image of Mary Magdalene, guiding him back to his previous life and a new understanding of the events that have led him to Greece.

Annie, a young widow beset by visions and facing death, finds that she too has an unusual guide and confessor as the light and shadows mark the progress of an English day in a very different cell .....

Read an excerpt!

Benedict is drenched in sweat, his coverlet tied and twisted about his body as though it were a hastily wrapped shroud. He is still, calming his agitated breath. He listens to the silence turning his head to the window. The sky is dark with pre-¬dawn but in the almost-light he can see the template of the day awash with ribbons of cloud; it has been like this every morning since arriving at the monastery. As a distraction from the remnants of the dream, he focuses on the painting that is propped in the corner and wonders how long it will take to finish, considering its failings as a piece of art;; its failing as an icon. He has been given the task of painting it as a spiritual journey to ease his bruised soul. It has been an exercise in patience, nothing more. By way of slowing his breathing and calming his thoughts, he considers the process: the wooden panel rubbed smooth with course cloths; its centre, the holy space, carved out and smoothed again. The preparation of the gesso applied in layers until the surface shone like ivory. Gold applied in tattered leaves and burnished with water until it shone with flawlessness and now each day mixing a little egg, a little water, a little pigment and the portrait gradually forming, brilliant, resplendent. The only colour in the room is on the wooden panel. The paint is fresh, sensually resisting the dry Greek air and attracting the new light of the day. Magenta and gold frame her. Cream-¬faced, her pale painted skin is set against the sharp folds of her headdress, ultramarine; the colour of the gods. Wisps of dark hair escaping the fabric look more luxurious than the extravagant pigments he has used. She is beautiful and nearly finished. Her eyes meet his and he notes her calm aspect, its contrast with the violence of his dream bringing with it a detached interest. Her heavily lidded eyes offer a paradox, deep yet reflective, their colour casting his expression back upon itself. They are sky in sea. Her broad forehead, the formal line of her nose, the smooth ellipse from cheek through jaw, they are as they should be but the score of her face is not one of tranquil piety. She has a disconcerting smile and in this alone she defies the conventions of the icon he had intended to paint. The rough mattress is drenched in sweat and the smell of the wet straw intrudes upon his efforts at peace. He moves to the bowl and dips his hands into the cool cloudy water. There has been too little water at the monastery this week to replace it. He does not care, flicking it onto his face, dragging his hands over his features, listening to the rough sound of his beard and the water dripping back into the bowl. Benedict stares at the whitewashed plaster as though studying his features in a shapeless reflection; there is no mirror in the cell, its white walls bereft of all adornment save the plain wooden cross. The bells for Matins mark the first call to prayer for the monks. He will not join them.

'Are you going to spend another day without purpose?'

'I may,' he turns to look at the icon.

Read the reviews!

"This is a beautifully written story, so engaging, so engrossing, I could not put it down."

--Maggie Jo, Amazon reviewer

"It's a thriller, a love story - a brilliant piece of work by Ms Conti.

"Highly recommended."

--Bob Olivier, Amazon reviewer


Grace Conti received a not entirely irrelevant education studying English Literature at Oxford and London. Following this, she gained an MA - mostly 19th century literature - at the University of Warwick. She works in an art gallery where it is beautiful and quiet, and there is sometimes space to write, which is what she loves to do. Her partner is quick at mastering web-design and she is eternally grateful for his twenty-first century spin on her writing. They live in Wiltshire, England, with two gorgeous daughters, a savage cat and a disreputable dog.

Visit Grace online at:


Book Spotlight: Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

After one of the worst nights of his life, DEA Agent T.A. Reddick leaves Miami for Charleston, South Carolina, hoping a return to his roots will heal a wounded heart and the guilt of killing a friend. The sleepy and sultry city of Charleston is filled with echoes of the Old South: genteel playboys, society debutantes, and quiet cobblestone streets. But as Reddick will soon discover, there's danger lurking under her charming veneer. When a movie star's death shines a national spotlight on Charleston's underground cocaine trade, he must go undercover to find the main supplier and shut him down. As a hurricane bears down on the port city and the DEA gets ready to spring its trap, Reddick must contend with more than he ever could have imagined.  Brash and bold, TA Reddick is a hero you won’t soon forget. Lowcountry Punch is an action-packed novel that will have you on your knees begging for more.

Read an excerpt!


On the way to the office, I stopped on the side of the road at Ricky’s Boiled Peanut stand. Big Ricky parks his red trailer in the lot near the Earth Fare, which is James Island’s version of a Whole Foods Market. If you can get past the folks that don’t believe in deodorant or shampoo, it’s a good place to fill your cart.
Ricky was pushing three hundred pounds, so as he waddled over to the back in his overalls to fill up a plastic bag with his boiled peanuts, the trailer tilted with him. He had three choices: regular, Cajun, and ham-hock. I always asked him to layer them in one bag. Love a good surprise. Give me a pound of Ricky’s peanuts and a cup of coffee and I can go for miles. I thanked him and walked back to the Jeep, still thinking about Anna’s letter.
As I put my hand on the handle, I heard motion behind me and started to turn. Something hit me hard on the back of the head. I dropped onto the asphalt and everything went black. When I came to, two black men were hoisting me into the back of a trunk.
I thought I recognized one but my vision was hazy at best. They didn’t have masks on, which was not a good thing. It meant they weren’t worried about me picking them out of a lineup later. Because I would be dead. But why didn’t they just shoot me and leave me in the lot? No matter the reason, I knew there was a lot of pain coming my way. Much to my chagrin, I had the day off, so no one was expecting me.
They tied my hands in front of me with a zip tie and slammed the trunk shut. I kicked and thrashed until I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.
“Damn it!” I cursed. How had I been so oblivious?
The trunk was totally empty, not even a tire iron or jack. It smelled musty and old, like someone’s grandfather had held onto the car for decades. By the vast amount of room, I guessed it had to be a Cadillac—or something big, at least—with a powerful engine.
The back of my head hurt like hell. I felt around with my bound hands. Had a bloody gash on the right side. The pain nearly overwhelmed me. I tried to shut it out and sense where we were going, but it was hard. Much more difficult than figuring out who was behind this little joy ride. I hadn’t given Tux Clinton enough credit. That’s what I get for letting my guard down.
I looked at the glowing hands on my watch and marked the time. Two minutes into our ride, the incline told me were heading over a bridge. I guessed the West Ashley connector. A few more turns and another bridge confirmed it. Then the highway wasn’t too hard to figure out. Smooth and fast. The engine working harder.
Nineteen minutes later, we took an exit. It could have been one of three or four. It was impossible to tell. All I knew was that we had driven into North Charleston. The pain had faded some. I made a few more futile attempts to bust open the trunk. Then we made several turns. Finally, a big bump and we slowed down and came to a stop. A garage door squeaked open. We pulled in.
The engine shut off, then footsteps, and then the trunk lifted. My eyes adjusted. Two of them were looking back at me. I did know one of them. Jeff Cooke. One of Tux’s known associates. He had a shadow of a beard, shaved at the neck line. A flat nose. Street tough. Detectives liked him for Jared’s murder and were looking for him. The other guy wore a light blue Adidas warm up suit. His gray eyes were tucked into deep sockets.
“Did you guys happen to grab that bag of peanuts?” I asked. “I didn’t even get one.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Seriously. That was my breakfast.”
Cooke jerked me up by my elbow and dragged me out of the trunk. He had hard, calloused hands. I couldn’t get my feet down in time and fell onto my back. He helped me up in a not so polite way. I was right, it was an old Cadillac.
He walked me through an empty garage and into an abandoned house. Probably for sale. The other guy followed us in and when I turned, I noticed a .38 in the front of his jeans. I wasn’t surprised they were carrying, and I didn’t like how this was going.
Cooke threw me to the ground in the living room. I got onto my back and looked around. The walls were brown. Some spider webs dangled from the ceiling. Two large glass doors led to the backyard with a ragged beige curtain covering half of them.
As they stood over me, the man in the Adidas suit made a call. “We got him… yep. Aight.” He looked at Cooke as he closed the phone and drew the .38 from his waist. “Change of plans.”
I didn’t know what that meant but I had a feeling it had to do with me dying. Was it Tux on the other end of that phone call? Had he planned on beating me up some before killing me and then thought against it? I started talking, just to kill the tension. Buy some time. “You gonna tell me why I’m here? I don’t have all day.”
No answer.
“Tux wasn’t man enough to show up? Doesn’t surprise me.”
Cooke went to the glass doors and looked out. “Where you wanna do it?” he asked. Obviously not speaking to me.
“The garage,” the other one said, as he started to pace, dangerously close to me.
I rose slowly. It was the only chance I had. I threw my leg up and kicked him in the balls. He nearly collapsed. I got to a squat and thrust my head into his chin. His jawbone cracked and he screamed in pain, dropping to his knees, clutching his face. You can’t beat a good head butt.
Cooke was in between the glass door and me. I pivoted around and was on him before he had time to get over the shock of the action. I pulled my bound hands to my chest and ran right into him with a shoulder. His back hit the curtain and then smashed into the glass door. The curtain ripped from the wall, and the door exploded around us as we tumbled down the brick steps into the backyard.
I stood quickly, knowing I wasn’t even close to being free. I kicked his head with my boot just like the old UVA days, trying to knock it into the goal. I didn’t score but his lights went out.
I went back up the steps. The guy inside was still on the ground, screaming in pain. As I reached the broken door, I started to saw the zip tie with a sharp edge of glass sticking out of the doorframe. Then he looked up. With one hand still holding his face, he eyed his gun on the ground and went for it. I had to get out of there, and I didn’t want to cut my wrist trying too quickly to sever the zip tie. So with my hands still bound, I backed away and darted toward the chain-link fence at the end of the yard.
He began firing.
The bullets whizzed by me, giving me a shot of adrenaline. I increased my speed. Reaching the fence, I leapt into the air. My feet grazed the top but I made it over. I tucked a shoulder and rolled. Coming back up, I didn’t even look back. The bullets were flying by, tearing into the house in front of me.
As I rounded the corner, I felt one hit me in the side. I hadn’t been shot in a while—not since Juarez, Mexico years before—but it was a familiar feeling. Icy and hot at the same time. I could feel the warm blood dripping down my side. As long as I could run, it didn’t matter. Couldn’t be that bad of a wound or I would have been flopping around on the ground. Staying close to the houses, I kept pushing with everything I had.
Seeing some signs of life in the distance, I began to head that way. Breathing like I was dying, I reached the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly. An older woman was pushing a grocery cart to her car. She was yapping away on a cell phone. I went right for her, mumbling that I’d return it as I snatched it from her hand. I ran toward the store. Didn’t see Cooke behind me. “Call the cops!” I yelled to the first clerk I saw, a teenage girl.
The clerk stalled. Someone else screamed.
“I’m DEA. Call the cops. Okay?”
The clerk went for the phone.
“Is there a security guard here?”
With a phone to her ear, she shook her head. I wanted a gun. I had no idea if Cooke was still coming. I dialed Chester’s number with the woman from the parking lot’s cell, then walked back outside and scanned the area. No signs of trouble.
Chester picked up and I said, “I’m at the Piggly Wiggly off Rivers. I need you here now. Tux sent some guys after me.”
“On it. You all right?”
“I took a bullet. I think I’m okay, though. Jeff Cooke was one of them. Black jeans and a white polo. The other one, same age, has on a blue Adidas warm up suit. White stripes up and down. Probably in an old tan Cadillac. Get an APB out.”
“See you in a few.”


After getting patched up by one of the paramedics, I climbed into Chester’s g-car. The bullet had only grazed my side. Another scar to remind me of what’s important. A crime scene unit was at the house where they’d taken me. Both men were gone. Lots of good DNA, though. They didn’t have time to clean up. The whole county was looking for them.
Chester and I only knew one way to fix this problem. Something we should have done earlier. We both had logged hours dealing with gangs in L.A. and Miami, and sometimes you have to treat them like businessmen. They appreciate it and it prevents trouble. Even when we did catch my attackers, they wouldn’t finger Tux. I had a feeling he already knew about the botched attempt, and he was expecting me.
We drove to his place, only five miles away. He owned a little white house in a neighborhood that had begun its leap into gentrification. He paid the mortgage on it with income from a legitimate landscaping business that he had owned for five or six years. Tux knew how to be careful and cover his ass.
He was on the porch, looking like he was waiting for us, just like I’d thought. His feet were propped up on a table, not a worry on his mind. An older BMW sat in the driveway. I was going to let Chester do the talking, but seeing Tux there got me excited. I stepped out of the car and said, “I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced.” I slammed my door and hiked up the steps.
He had a well-groomed appearance complimented by some gold around his wrist and neck. No visible tats. Dark skin. He had on jeans and a white muscle shirt. Very broad shoulders. Clearly had a thing for lifting. Looked like he’d be a hell of a lot of work to beat down.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“You know exactly who I am.” I pulled the table out from under him and his feet hit the floor.
“I’m guessin’ you’re a cop,” he said, all tough and badass. “I could smell you coming ‘round the corner.”
“You’ve been looking for me. Now you got me.”
“All I know is I have two pigs in my yard.”
Chester came up the steps. “I’m Agent Benton. You know who my partner is. We’re looking for some resolution. You don’t need to admit to anything.”
“You can get back in your car and ride out. I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
“Such eloquent speech,” I said. “No ivy league for you, huh? Very surprising.”
“Don’t you come into my neighborhood insulting me.”
“You threatening me? Is that a good idea?” I got in his face. “That’s what your cousin did.” I stood back and lifted up my shirt and ripped off the bandage covering my wound. “I owe you one for this anyway.”
Chester pulled me back and said, “Tux, I know you aren’t gonna come clean, but I want you to hear us out. You don’t fuck with us. I know you feel like you got to, but don’t do it, man. We won’t let up. I know he messed up your cousin, but I doubt you’re gonna get an apology out of him. You know he had no idea who Jesse was. The guy robbed a bank, took a baby hostage, and shot his mama. He had it coming. But because I want you to owe me, I can help Jesse out. We can make sure the prosecutor goes easy. That is, if you wanna back off Agent Reddick. We’re still gonna track down the boys who grabbed him.”
My turn. “Or you can try again. I’ll dance with you every night, sunshine. We could go right here. You’re the least of my worries.”
Ches waved his hand, trying to shut me up. “He’s got a hot head. You both do. Leave this one alone, Tux. I’ll look out for Jesse.”
Tux thought about it and then nodded at him.
Ches started to walk back down the stairs backwards. “Then we’re cool.”
“We’re cool.” Tux put his feet back up on the table. “Just get this muthafucka off my porch.”
I threw up my middle finger and started down the steps. “You know where to find me.”
As we drove away, Chester said, “You know, Reddick. I’m startin’ to like you. You don’t take shit from anybody, do you?”
“I wanna know who gave him my name.”


Boo Walker spent his College of Charleston years and a few after in Nashville as a banjoist and songwriter for the avant-garde punchgrass band, The Biscuit Boys. Some hand problems knocked him out of the game, and he stumbled into a position with Automated Trading Desk, a short term equity trading firm based out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. To feed his ravenous muse, he began writing his first novel, Lowcountry Punch. Around that time, what started as a passion in wine became a neurosis.

After six years of the Wall Street thing, Boo decided it was time to end his sedentary, computer-driven lifestyle. He grew out a handlebar mustache and moved clear across the country into a double-wide trailer situated on 5 acres of Malbec vines just down the road from Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain in Washington State. The Hedges family took him in and taught him the art of farming and the old world philosophies of wine. He now travels North America peddling the family's juice, and chances are you can find him in an airport somewhere working on his next novel.

Visit Boo online at:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blogger: Joel Andre, Author of A Death at the North Pole

Joining us today is Joel Andre, author of A Death at the North Pole.

Detective Lauren Bruni has dealt with death for her entire life. She has watched it ruin lives, and brought people closer together. Her job taught her to separate fact from fiction.

But on a cold December day, all Lauren had believed in would be shattered and tossed aside. Thrust in a world unlike any she has seen before, she investigates a prominent figure’s grisly murder, and searches for answers along a strange new set of people.

All while a killer watchers her every movement from the background. He waits in the shadows, waiting to strike at her when the time is right.

What is the secret of the death at the North Pole, and what is the larger horror at hand? Life lessons are learned and a realization that sometimes the most real things in this world are the ones we believe in the least.

The Art Of Writing Suspense by Joel Andre

Writing suspense can certainly be tricky for some people. In most cases, the writer struggles and a scene that should be suspenseful will often come off as cliché, or just forced. While I am in no way an expert on the topic of writing suspense, I will be more than happy to give some tips that I think will help the avid writer expand on their content.

One of the most important things the individual writing suspense can do is to take the time to get the tension into their story. This tension should offer some emotional weight for the reader and this tension should have the reader fearful for the characters involved. Usually, if I place a character in danger, there is a very good change they are going to die and my readers get that. Getting a reader emotionally connected to even minor characters is essential to help build the suspense in the tale you are telling. If you have disposable characters that are thinly written, your readers won’t react when you kill them off.

Sometimes, time can be another way you can help to add some suspense to your story. When there is a ticking clock that your hero is up against, this gives a sense of urgency and each page they turn can keep that urgency alive until time runs out. While doing this, just make sure that you have a crisis that is set to happen at a moment’s notice. By keeping the stakes high in your book, your reader is going to get more from the overall experience.

While going through the story, add complications as often as possible. No one wants to read a simple story where a problem is discovered and solved. Make the characters work for the ending. This doesn’t mean making things so complex that they can’t make ground. You just want something that will keep the reader invested and add depth to the story you are writing.

Along with that, never become predictable. Instead of writing how you think the reader wants a story to go, add some twists. In life, nothing goes from point A to point B smoothly and you will want to be sure that you take that the story you are writing reflects these real life scenarios.

Above all, make sure your villain and hero are people that can be related to. The best villains come across as the other characters in the books and they will often shock the reader when they are revealed. In turn, the hero of the story should complement this character as well. If you invest a lot of depth into the villain and flesh them out better than your hero, you will find that your story doesn’t hold up as well.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the ways you can build a suspense tale. Use these ideas to help flesh out your story and have a blast writing a story that keeps your adrenaline pumping.

Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981. At a young age he was fascinated with the written word. It was at fourteen that Poe blew his mind, and Andre began to dabble with darker poetry.

Between the years of 1999 and 2007 Joel was featured in various poetry anthologies and publications. In 2008 he released his first collection,Pray the Rain Never Ends.

Knowing there was something deeper and darker inside of his soul, Joel decided to take a stab at commercialism. Releasing the dark tongue in cheek, A Death at the North Pole, created a dark world among the death of Kris Kringle. Ultimately providing a tale of redemption.

October of 2008 saw Joel release his second book, Kill 4 Me. A tale in which a woman is haunted by a vengeful spirit through text messages and instant messaging.

Taking some time off and doing a lot of soul searching, Joel took things in a new direction and dabbled in the Fantasy Genre with, The Pentacle of Light. The tale dealing with five major races battling for control of Earth, and the acceptance of their God.

Finally, after missing his detective Lauren Bruni, he released the book The Return in October 2009, this time moving the action from the North Pole and placing it in the small Arizona community he was raised in.

Andre’s latest book is The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen about a dead man who seeks revenge on the woman that tormented him in peaceful Northern Arizona.

Currently, he resides in Chandler, AZ.

You can visit his website at

Next stop: December 13-Excerpt@ Chris Redding, Author

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Assassination of Governor Boggs by Rod Miller Giveaway Winner!

Our congratulations goes out to Linda, winner of a FREE copy of The Assassination of Governor Boggs by Rob Miller. I'll contact Linda now. She has 72 hours to respond with her contact information. If I don't hear from her by that time, I'll select a new winner.

Thanks to all who participated in our recent giveaway.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Spotlight: Speed of Light by Lee Baker

Living the life of his dreams, and married to his longtime sweetheart, Pierce Black has been selected to be the first to pilot the Speed of Light plane. He is destined to make history like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Pierce’s idyllic world screeches to a halt when, three weeks before the historic flight, his wife is killed in a tragic car accident.

Determined to carry on with the groundbreaking flight in spite of his grief, Pierce is changed forever when, during the flight, his body is transformed into light. The shock throws Pierce into a deep coma and when he wakes time is not relevant to his mind. Suddenly able to step into visions of the past, Pierce struggles to make sense of what he sees as he learns that his wife’s death was not an accident, but murder and the murderers are still after him.

As Pierce and the beautiful attorney, Vanessa Trace, sort through the bizarre attacks on Pierce and his vivid visions of the past, they cannot substantiate any evidence to his claims. In a frantic race to stay alive, Pierce and Vanessa find themselves matching wits with a conspiracy with seemingly endless resources and a police department convinced Pierce is a murderer, while at the same time they question whether or not Pierce himself is crazy.

Standing out from traditional suspense novels, Speed of Light is fast-paced, intelligent and intricately layered with mind expanding concepts.

Read the reviews!

"Speed of Light by Lee Baker is a terrific read that takes you on a fast-paced, thrilling experience and journey with twists and turns that surprise and entertain! It’s a book you won’t want to put down. Lee Baker makes a strong impact with his first novel, and reveals himself as a master storyteller!”

—Larry King, CNN

“A thrill ride like no other. Futuristic technology collides with edge of your seat suspense… This action-packed, intelligent novel is intricately layered with mind expanding concepts that will take your imagination to new levels.”

—Jennifer St. Giles,

Lee Baker is the president of Sandman Studios, a visual effects and animation company and has taught courses at UCLA Extension, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Utah. He is the author of the illustrated books “Humbug, A Christmas Carol” and “Beau and the Beanstalk,” and now his latest thriller “Speed of Light.” Lee lives in Utah with his wife and five children.

Visit the author online at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Fundamentally Different by David Friedman

David Friedman is the former President of RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm in the Philadelphia area. In his debut book, Fundamentally Different, Friedman shares what he has learned through nearly three decades in the business world.

These are questions posed on the inside jacket:

"Is organizational culture just a New Age obsession that distracts us from the real work of business? What role do values play in organizational success? How can we create greater consistency between the values we say are important and the ones that actually show up in the routine behavior of our people? What’s the most important common denominator found in all dysfunctional organizations, and how can we avoid it?"

Within the 300 pages of this book, Friedman answers these questions and more. His conversational style engages the reader. And who is that reader? Definitely business leaders, but you'll be happy to know even the average person can gain a wealth of knowledge by reading Fundamentally Different. That's because it's not merely a business book. Many of the 30 Fundamentals featured can be applied to daily life:

  • Fundamental #2 - Check the ego at the door,
  • Fundamental #4 - Take the extra time to do things right the first time (I say this to my kids all the time when referring to their homework),
  • Fundamental #7 - Make decisions that reflect a reverence for long-term relationships,
  • Fundamental #13 - Communicate to be understood,
  • Fundamental #18 - Listen generously.
These are just a few of the Fundamentals that can be used every day in your personal and professional life.

Friedman discusses each Fundamental at length, relaying how they applied to his years in business. There are also blurbs throughout the book from others who discuss their experiences. Fundamentally Different also includes several Appendices, which include the Original Fundamentals Card, emails to employees, and a survey that RSI sent each year to clients, vendors/suppliers, and employees.

While Fundamentally Different is Friedman's first book, it shouldn't be his last.

Title: Fundamentally Different: Building a Culture of Success through Organizational Values
Author: David Friedman
Publisher: Infinity Publishing
ISBN-10: 0741466805
ISBN-13: 978-0741466808
SRP: $28.95 (Hardcover)
Also available as a paperback, Kindle book, and Audio CD

I received a copy of this book from the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinions. While I was paid to coordinate a virtual book tour for the author, that fee did not include a review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Interview: Karen Arnpriester, Author of Anessia's Quest

Karen Slimick Arnpriester is a creative, passionate and adventuresome woman. She raised her two children, adores her seven grandchildren and is now a foster mom of two young ladies. She has been a self-taught graphic designer for twenty five years and started her own business twenty years ago. Her faith in God is strong and she believes that we are Christ’s hands, feet, arms and wallet. This translates into her involvement in youth ministries, local women’s shelter, street ministry, the elderly, as well as many other outreaches over the years. Her home has been available to single moms and their children, allowing them to get a fresh start.

ANESSIA’S QUEST is her first novel. The desire to write began two years ago as a hobby. She had an idea for a beginning and the end. The rest of the story flowed and took Karen on a journey. She cried and laughed as she followed the twists and turns of the characters. Once friends read the book, she was strongly encouraged to share her story with others.

RAIDER’S VENDETTA is Karen’s second novel. It will be released in October 2011. It is a psychological thriller between the main characters,Charley and Raider. Charley’s faith and ability to survive is challenged by the rage of a shattered man.
Her third book, which addresses bullying, is in the works and should be released in 2012. The tentative title is HEY! LEADBOTTOM!
This author wants to take her reader to a place where they can evaluate their beliefs and who God is in their life. When asked why she limits herself to Christian fiction, she simply explains that it is where her heart is. If she commits her precious time to writing, it needs to be of value and have God’s ultimate purpose in mind. Bringing his children home to him. Karen welcomes God’s influence in her writing and prays that she is fulfilling His destiny for her life.
Connect With Karen at:

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Alton, Illinois. We moved a lot, and I lived in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania until we moved to California. I was eight. Once in California, we lived all over central California.

When did you begin writing?

I always made up stories for my kids and considered writing children’s books, but life got in the way. Our church put together a testimonial book as a fund-raiser for our women’s ministry events several years ago. Once published, quite a few people asked if I ever considered writing a book. They really enjoyed my contributions. It planted a seed that grew into a possibility. I started writing Anessia’s Quest on a whim, to see if I could. Friends were so encouraging and insisted that it was good and I should take it seriously.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I own my own business and have two new daughters through foster care. Writing is a passion, but it has to be when I can fit it in. I tend to write late at night, but I can’t do that on a regular basis without everything else suffering.
What is this book about?

The book is about the life of a young girl into adulthood. We celebrate the journey and her choices that change a heartbreaking situation into a glorious life of love, truth, compassion and joy.

Pagne finds the love of God and the support of her Heavenly Angel to get her through life’s emotional roller coaster. An angel that protects, leads and assures Pagne that she is not alone by using an unusual method of communication.

Pagne shares healing, tears and laughter with a group of broken people that become her family. She discovers the purpose of her life and the revelation of God’s destiny for her. Pagne will eventually understand the powerful ripple she created as she lived her life. She was not an accident; she was placed on Earth with divine intent.

What inspired you to write it?

I always had a WHAT IF question. This gave me the beginning and the end. The rest of the book was a journey that led me on an emotional discovery of the story and characters. I truly felt God’s lead, and I would find myself crying or laughing while typing. Once the book was done, I reread and was in awe that I had written it.
Who is your favorite character from the book?

My favorite character is Pagne (pronounced Pain). She represents that person who survives life with grace. Most of us survive, but create havoc while doing so. Pagne brings love and forgiveness into extreme situations that touch the other characters profoundly. I aspire to be like her.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

No, but I have a small group of friends that love me enough to be honest. They are all avid readers and creative spirits. They comment on flow, story believability and if I have accomplished my goal.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I have a wonderful agent and she is helping me through the process of becoming a published author. I am like so many people who have a very full life, but have a story to tell. It is difficult to know what is productive and what isn’t when trying to promote your book and secure a publisher. Mary has been a real blessing and she keeps me from wasting a lot of time and money.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My book is available at This is my own site and books are autographed. You can also purchase my book at, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it.

Yes, on my site There is a trailer, reviews and the first three chapters for download. The trailer is also available at

What is up next for you?

My second book, Raider’s Vendetta, is in the editing phase and will be available soon. It is a psychological thriller. A trailer is available at This was a wonderful experience. I was able to think like a devious criminal and a strong Christian evaluating her faith.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for presenting my book and myself on your site. I am very excited about the book tour. I hope your readers will check out Anessia’s Quest. I believe my story has something to offer every person who has dealt with difficulties in their life. The message of love and forgiveness is powerful and are incredible tools for healing.

The Next Stop:

November 23-Spotlight/Interview@Double Crossing

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book spotlight: The World of Department Stores by Jan Whitaker

By the 1870s what we’ve come to recognize as the classic department store, with its vast assemblage of merchandise ranging from clothing and fabrics to house furnishings of all kinds came into being. By the 1890s big stores around the world – but especially in Northern Europe and in countries begun as English colonies – had expanded to include piano, bicycle, and luggage departments, as well as grocery stores, photography studios, and restaurants. The huge volume of advertising by department stores financed newspaper expansion and the foundation of the first advertising agencies. For people living in big cities and medium-sized towns, the department stores lining downtown streets served as proud evidence of local prosperity and up-to-date style.

Although some stores from the golden era of department stores remain in business today, particularly in global cities such as Paris that have heavy tourist traffic, most no longer have the huge market share in consumer goods they once enjoyed. Nor, in our electronic age, are department stores the places where consumers encounter the latest technological wonders. Nevertheless many grand buildings remain, as do photographs and historic artifacts which have been displayed on every single page of this lavishly illustrated book which is being published simultaneously in France and England.

Read the reviews!

“Since my visits as a child to La Opera Department Store in Santo Domingo, I have believed that the best department stores are merchants not of clothing or shoes or cosmetics but of dreams. Whitaker’s book is a remarkable around-the-world look at these dream factories. It is an invaluable resource to anyone interested in the business of retailing and to shoppers everywhere.”

—Oscar de la Renta

“The World of Department Stores is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the foundations of the urban experience in the West and the department store as the ultimate expression of the needs of the rising middle class and its tastes.”

­—Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

“I have nothing but good memories about the many department stores that played an important part in my business, [and] I warmly welcome the publication of this wonderful and unique book on department stores throughout the world.”

—Hubert de Givenchy

"The birth of the department store in the late 19th century brought everything glamorous together under one roof—from inviting, intelligent architecture and design to the latest fashions. Jan Whitaker's The World of Department Stores looks back to the biggest and brightest shops—including the belle epoque splendor of Paris's Bon Marché, the block-long, palatial GUM in Moscow; and the always outrageous holiday windows at Barneys New York."

–Elle Décor


Jan Whitaker is a consumer historian often consulted by the media about historic department stores. Her first book on this subject, Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, focused on American stores. She writes and lectures about department stores, with essays appearing recently in Philadelphia Style and in an encyclopedia published by the German Historical Institute.

Visit Jan online at

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Second Chance Giveaway: The Assassination of Governor Boggs by Rod Miller

Consider this your lucky day. The participants for this original giveaway didn't leave contact information, so I am running this giveaway for a second time, so you'll have a chance to pick up a copy of this great book by Rod Miller.

Here is what the book is about in the author's own words:

"The Assassination of Governor Boggs is a cold-case investigation into the 1842 attempted murder of Lilburn Boggs, former governor of Missouri. Given up for dead, and reported so in the newspapers, he survived. The crime was never solved. Twenty-five years later, following the Governor’s death, his family hires a Pinkerton agent to determine who fired the shot. We follow the investigator as he tracks down clues across the Old West on a trail that leads to Salt Lake City and Mormon gunfighter Porter Rockwell.

As a historical novel, the book is based on real people and events; it also a detective story, an Old West frontier novel, and something of a mystery."

To read our entire interview, please visit:

Since this is a second chance giveaway, there won't be any bonus entries. Here are the details:

1) You must be a follower of The Book Connection in order to win.

2) Leave a comment including your email address (you can't win if we don't have your email address).

3) Winner must be 18 years of age or older and reside in the United States.

Deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, November 27, 2011. Only those following the rules of this contest are eligible to win. Book will be shipped to the winner via the author or his representative. The Book Connection is not responsible for lost or damaged goods.

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias Giveaway Winner

Our congratulations go out to Annette for winning a copy of A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias. I'll be emailing her in a few moments. She'll have 72 hours to contact me with her mailing address. If I don't hear from her within that time frame I'll select a new winner.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pump Up Your Book Live! November 2011 Authors on Tour Chat/Book Giveaway Party!


Strike up the band and join the chorus…Pump Up Your Book will be hosting the November 2011 Authors on Tour at a chat/book giveaway party on Friday, November 18, 2011 starting at 8 p.m. eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain and 5 p.m. Pacific) and ending at 10:30 p.m. (eastern time). Tell your book friends that not only will this give them an opportunity to chat with their favorite authors there will be a huge giveaway at the end of the chat!

* 8 p.m. eastern * 7 p.m. Central * 6 p.m. Mountain * 5 p.m. Pacific *

Here’s how it will work:

The party will kick off at our new chat room with an approximate 2 to 3 hour chat in which all authors touring with Pump Up Your Book in November 2011 will get a certain time slot to answer questions. All time slots are listed below so you’ll know when your favorite author is going to appear. When the party winds down, it’s time to dish out the goodies! All winners will be announced below after the chat is over so be sure to check this page to see if you’ve won a prize! If you are a winner, you have 48 hours to contact us in order to win your prize. We will be using to determine winners.

Find the link to the chat room and a list of participating authors at:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall

Phoebe Martin keeps running from her past. Problem is, it keeps catching up with her. She hopes Echo Falls is finally her safe haven from the secrets she holds inside.

After Phoebe is violently attacked in an alley, policeman Aidan O'Bryan finds her to be the only path to understanding why the Echo Falls pack--his pack--is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses everything, including Aidan.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about reviewing this one. Werewolves aren't my thing. I went through my vampire stage, but it was more television shows--Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel--than books. And any time you review a book for a friend you've known for a few years, it lends itself to some tense moments before you crack open the binding and begin reading.

Thankfully, McDougall is an excellent writer. I felt drawn in right from the moment I met Phoebe, who was running for her life. I love a book that drops me right into the action, and Echo Falls certainly did that.

I applaud an author who can create a superb villain, as it is something I struggle with as a writer. McDougall managed to make Liam despicable, yet the reader still is left with an ounce of sympathy for him. Challenging to do, yet wonderful when a storyteller creates such a character. McDougall's strength definitely resides in her ability to develop characters and bring them to life for her readers: Aidan the strong, sexy hero; Phoebe the independent, stubborn heroine who is determined to handle things herself; Will and Elle--husband and wife, leaders in the pack, who accept Phoebe and help her feel welcome; Mia, a member of the pack who isn't fond of Phoebe and Aidan's developing relationship.

I would definitely look forward to an Echo Falls sequel, perhaps a story that focuses on one of the secondary characters. If you enjoy a fast-paced paranormal romance, Echo Falls is the book for you.

Title:  Echo Falls
Author:  Jaime McDougall
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN-10: 1463664044
ISBN-13: 978-1463664046
SRP:  $10.99
Kindle version: $3.00

Book Spotlight: Nine Insights for a Happy and Succesful Life by Mitchell Gibson M.D.

The greatest achievements in human history have been attained by those individuals who strive to elevate themselves above the everyday ebb and flow of life. This yearning to achieve is central to our search for happiness. We want to laugh, to sing, and to feel good at the end of the day as much as we might wish to do anything else.

Happiness is an art. If you wish to practice this art, you must first decide that it is something that you want, above everything else. People that choose to be happy will at some point wake up to a day filled with smiles, joy, and laughter. If they are lucky, they will remember that day, focus on its high points, and strive to repeat it. Before too long, another happy day will appear, seemingly out of the blue. People around them will wonder why they seem to be so different. The reason will not be found in surface changes.

The Nine Insights For a Happy and Successful Life emerged from my own life long desire to help thousands of people find happiness. Happiness is a gift that we bestow upon ourselves each time that we embrace the joy that breathes within. This book outlines two main themes that will guide you on the road to happiness. The first explores methods that will help you discover the secret inner joy that already hides within you. The second explores powerful and effective methods that will help you remove the chaos and obstacles that prevent you from feeling and expressing that joy in your daily life.

Success and happiness travel together on the road to joy. Let us discover your inner path together.

Read an Excerpt

Insight Number Four: Remember to Empty Your Cup once in a while…..

In truth, I never really fully emptied my cup enough to enjoy the simple harmony of the moment.

I often held my daughter’s hand when she felt sick, or hugged my son after a long day. My wife and I held hands while we watched television, and sometimes we would hold hands while we sat in the car. But I realized, even with all of these good attentive moments of endearment, I never really let go of the world around me long enough to fully appreciate the beauty of simply being with another person. My cup, as it were, was always full.

I wanted to stay well read. I wanted to stay in shape. I wanted to be well traveled. I wanted to see the best movies, the best plays, and listen to the best music. I wanted to build my practice, meet my financial goals, and be the best father and husband that I could be. In short, I had become adept at keeping the cup of my life full to the brim. I did not ever really stop to think about the fact that at some point, I was going to lose all of those things. At some point, my life on this world would stop and I would have to let go of all of those things that had filled my cup. In the same way that my grandfather and Mrs. Van Damme had slipped away, I too would slip away from this world. As a matter of fact, so too would everyone that I ever met.

The process of emptying my cup would at some point be done for me, whether I wanted it done or not. Those two wonderful souls had given me a precious gift before leaving this world. The insight they left me with had given way to a sense of peace and harmony that remains with me to this day.

The cup of life has the capacity to fill itself each day with a myriad of tasks, both big and small, that we struggle to complete as best we can before we sleep. The reality is however, that we can never really get it all done. No matter how hard we try, something remains undone at the end of the day.

Those little undone tasks consume the waking and sleeping moments of our lives and without realizing it, we often surrender the serenity and peace that we truly deserve to worry and anxiety.

If we choose, we can let go of that cup and fully empty it at any moment that we choose. In a moment, we can choose to contemplate the silence of togetherness, the beauty of sharing life with another. Let me suggest a few methods that you can use to gradually learn to empty your cup:

1. Take twenty minutes a day to sit, close your eyes, and do nothing. You don’t have to count your breaths, say a mantra, or visualize anything. These minutes are yours. Allow your mind to drift for this special space in time. Try to incorporate doing this each day no matter how busy your day becomes.

These minutes are yours. Allow your mind to drift for this special space in time. Try to incorporate doing this each day no matter how busy your day becomes.

2. Share your twenty quiet minutes with a friend or loved one. If you like, hold their hands while you share this time. Let your minds drift together. Try not to talk. Remember to smile.

3. Take two hours each week to do something that you absolutely love. Write out a list of things that you like to do. I mean truly, absolutely like to do. Make an exhaustive search inside your psyche for those things that ignite your passion. Then, clear two hours once weekly to indulge yourself in one or more of the items on your list. You will come to find that these times will become some of the most precious and special times of your life.

Read the reviews!

"This is a helpful resource to individuals who want to consciously live a good life. I enjoyed the simplicity of the message and the ease with which the author makes his points with creative metaphors. The author has an honest, genuine voice that is positive about human potential. Anyone interested in psychology and self-improvement will enjoy his insights. There is depth and complexity to the messages conveyed in each of the insights, yet it is very accessible to laypeople."

--Bibliophile, Amazon Reviewer

"Anyone looking for some guidance and friendly advice will want to read Nine Insights for that extra needed push in the right direction. It is not a long read and the sentences are well spaced but it is informative in a caring way that will warm the reader to its graces."

--One Day at a Time

"If you are looking for a self-help book that can guide you in the essentials for a happier life - this is the one."

--Penny Brien


Dr. Mitchell Gibson is one of the world’s leading authorities on the interface of science, the human soul, and the frontiers of human consciousness. He is the best-selling author of Your Immortal Body of Light, Signs of Mental Illness, Signs of Psychic and Spiritual Ability, The Living Soul, and Ancient Teaching Stories.

He has delivered addresses to many of the world’s largest conferences related to science and consciousness. These include, The International Science and Consciousness Conference, The Sivananda Ashram Annual Symposium, International Institute of Integral Human Sciences, The SSGRR-IT Conference on Advances in Electronic Medicine in Italy, The Southeast Regional Unity Ministers Conference, The Northwest Astrological Association, The American Federation of Astrologers and many others.
Dr. Gibson has been a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes, A&E Network, NBC, ABC, and CBS regional affiliate television stations, newspapers, radio stations.

He has been a guest on hundreds of radio programs and was the host of his own TV show in Phoenix called “The Doctor’s Corner” for more than eight years. He has been a consultant for A&E for a project entitled “The Other Side”. He was also contacted as a consultant by the History Channel for a project entitled “Seekers 2012″.

Dr. Gibson was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina on August 24, 1959. He was born to William James and Mary Magdalene Gibson. One of five children, Gibson’s parent’s separated when he was 6 years old and he grew up in Ellerbe North Carolina; a small farming community near Pinehurst.

Gibson excelled in academics and received a full scholarship to Florida A&M University. He majored in Premedical Science and graduated at the top of his class, magna cum laude.

Dr. Gibson received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then completed his residency training at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. During his last year of residency he served as Chief Resident in Psychiatry and received the Albert Einstein Foundation Research Award for his work in Sleep Disorders.

Dr. Gibson then moved to Phoenix Arizona where he became Chief of Staff at the East Valley Camelback Hospital in Mesa Arizona.

Dr. Gibson has been listed among the Top Doctors in Arizona in the Phoenix magazine on several occasions. He has also twice been named to the Woodward and White listing of the “Best Doctors in America”.

In 2003, 2004, and 2005 he was honored with listings in the Consumer Research Council of America’s compilation of the Top Psychiatrists in America. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American College of Forensic Medicine, and the American Board of Forensic Examiners.

Visit Dr. Gibson online at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Blogger: Jo Linsdell, Author of Italian for Tourists

Italian For Tourists: Pocket Edition is a basic guide to the Italian language covering phrases and words most needed by tourists. It includes all the words and phrases a tourist is likely to need during their stay in Italy as well as a pronunciation guide and a map of Italy.

3 Free must-see sites in Rome By Jo Linsdell

Italy is constantly one of the top holiday destinations for tourists from all over the globe. Out of a total of almost 477 million tourists to Europe in 2010, Italy ranked 3rd place with 43.63 million, and international tourist arrivals grew by 6% in the first 8 months of 2011 despite the continuing economic uncertainty.

With its 3600 museums open to the public and numerous, world famous, archaeological sites and monuments, Italy has a lot to offer. Rome alone offers an overwhelming number of attractions and even contains a separate state- The Vatican- which means you can leave the country without really leaving the city!

Guide books are packed with the, better known, must see sites but queues can be long and visits will eat into your spending money. What a lot of tourists don't realise is that there are lots of amazing places to visit that aren't listed in the books and better yet, are completely free. Here's my top 3:

1. Gianicolo

A Roman Hill (not one of the famous seven) located to the west of the Tevere river. Gianicolo is the second tallest hill in Rome and offers one of the best views of the City with its innumerable domes and architectural skyline.

In 1849 Gianicolo was the site of a battle between the army of Garibaldi and the French. Because of this battle many monuments and statues can be found on the hill in honour of Garibaldi and to those fallen in the Italian war of independence.

2. The keyhole of Rome

The most famous keyhole in Rome is located in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. In the Piazza you'll find a large, guarded, wooden door. If you go up close and look through the keyhole you get an amazing and unique view of the Vatican. Take a camera with a good zoom feature and you'll have a fantastic souvenir.

3. Ponte Milvio

Also known as the lovers bridge, Ponte Milvio is a much frequented site for couples to the north of the city. The site was featured in a book by the Italian author Federico Moccia in 2006 which renewed interest in the site. Couples write their names on a padlock and attach it to the bridge. They then symbolically toss the key into the Tevere river below to 'seal their love forever'.
Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer and author of the book Italian for Tourists amongst other titles. Find out more about her and her projects at her website

Book Review: The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts is back with another seasonal story that tickles your funny bone and touches your heart.

The Nine Lives of Christmas opens with Ambrose the cat making a deal with his Creator, begging him to save his ninth and final life from the scary, mangy dog threatening to tear him limb from limb as he dangles from a tree.

A kind stranger saves him, and it soon becomes apparent to Ambrose that the Creator wants the furry little beast to save his benefactor, firefighter Zachary Stone, who is deeply in need of some romantic help. Ambrose figures that Merilee, the nice, pretty woman who works at the Pet Palace would make a good match for Zach. And the silly cat is fairly certain if he can get Zach and Merilee together, his happy, long ninth life is secure.

I love seasonal titles. Nothing gets me in the Christmas mood quicker than a great story set during my favorite holiday. I fell in love with the work of Sheila Roberts when I read On Strike for Christmas. With The Nine Lives of Christmas, Roberts continues her tradition of unique stories that blend humor with heartwarming moments. There are times when you feel for Zach and understand why he isn't quick to get involved with a woman. There are times when you want to encourage Merilee to step out of her comfort zone and follow her heart. Through all of it, there is this quick-witted furry little beast working as hard as he can to guarantee his last life is a long one.

If you're looking for a delightful seasonal love story with tons of laughs, look no further than The Nine Lives of Christmas.

Title:  The Nine Lives of Christmas
Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN-10: 0312594496
ISBN-13: 978-0312594497
SRP:  $14.99 (hardcover)
Also available in a Kindle edition and as an audio book.


Monday, November 14, 2011

2012 Ebook Reading Challenge

The 2012 Ebook Reading Challenge is being hosted by Workaday Reads.

Challenge Guidelines:

1.This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.

2.Anyone can join, you don't need to be a blogger. If you don't have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).

3.Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.

4.You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5.When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.

6.You can move up levels, but no moving down.

7.Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.


1.Floppy disk - 5 ebooks

2.CD - 10 ebooks

3.DVD - 25 ebooks

4.Memory stick - 50 ebooks

5.Hard drive - 75 ebooks

6.Server - 100 ebooks

7.Human brain - 150 ebooks

At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. If you forget, feel free to add your reviews in the following month. Any reviews submitted will be entered into the draw for that month.

Yes, there will be draws every month for participants. As long as you are signed up below, every review you add to the monthly roundups will get one entry into the giveaway for that month.

There will also be a grand giveaway at the end of the year for everyone who achieves their goal level (or higher). There may be different prizes for different levels, but that is not decided yet. If you are an author and want to contribute to the monthly or grand prizes, please contact me.


For my level, I am choosing CD - 10 ebooks!


  1. Anasazi Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
  2. Mayan Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
  3. An Uncommon Enemy by Michelle Black
  4. Dominic by Hazel Statham
  5. Fire Men by Gary Ryman
  6. Fire Song by Aaron Paul Lazar
  7. For the Birds Aaron Paul Lazar
  8. Fur Ball Fever Maureen Fisher
  9. Little Girl Gone by Brett Battles
  10. The Remains by Vincent Zandri

150+ Reading Challenge for 2012!

The 150+ Reading Challenge for 2012! is being hosted by My Overstuffed Bookshelf.


1. The goal is to read 150 or more books. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Posting on GoodReads or wherever you post your reviews is good enough.

2. Allowed are: Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.

What doesn't count: Individual short stories or individual books in the Bible and comic books.

3. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

4. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st, 2012 thru December 31, 2012. Books started before the 1st do not count. You can join at anytime.

6. When you sign up under Linky, put the direct link to your post where your books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

READY......SET.....SIGN UP!!!!

A partial list is posted on a separate page above!

Book Preview: The Last Confederate Battle by John Cline

History records that the last battle of the Civil War was fought on the red clay soil of the Rio Grande River at Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas. That battle took place in mid-May 1865, more than a month following General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. There are factual accounts of skirmishes that took place long after Lee’s surrender. The historical attention to detail is highly accurate giving the reader a front row seat to life before, during and after the Civil War.
The Last Confederate Battle brings to light the perspectives from both sides, revealing the positive and negative natures of men. Conflict within our own country is remarkably described through the writings of John Cline; the main characters of this multifaceted story come to life as real historical experiences are interwoven into each page.

Originally, my review of The Last Confederate Battle by John Cline was scheduled for today. I did not have time to complete the book yet, as during that week I lost power, I had very little reading time. Here I am going to provide my thoughts on what I have read so far, and then my full review will appear on December 22nd, hopefully earlier, if I get caught up on my reading.

The book opens with a Prologue that takes place in July 1865. After four years of war, Captain Andrew Jefferson Davis returns to Georgia to the land which once housed the Davis plantation. Foraging Union soldiers had set fire to the plantation's barns and fields, and tortured and killed Andy's wife and son. The book then travels back in time to when Andy was growing up with his brothers, Dwayne and Everett, before moving forward to the spring of 1857, then through the years of the Civil War and beyond.

I've enjoyed what I've read so far. The author is taking his time developing the characters, especially Andy. The cover art captures your attention with the prominent flag. I look forward  to reading more.

Following a twenty five year career in both the enlisted and officer corps’, John Cline retired from the U.S. Navy as a Limited Duty Officer (Mustang) in July 1993 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He was the director of the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services until he retired in 2005.

He has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Workforce Education and Curriculum Development from Southern Illinois University, and a Master of Art degree (M.A.) in National Security Studies; Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (140th Session), and was nationally certified by the National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management and the International Association of Emergency Managers. He is an avid Amateur Radio Operator with the call sign W5USN. John and his wife Pat have three children and four grandchildren. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Chandel L. White, Author of Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed

Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture Revealed is a ground-breaking Bible reading guide that teaches Christians how to delve far deeper into the King James Version of the New Testament, namely Romans to Jude, to gain an accurate, more complete and meaningful understanding of Biblical text.

Unlike anything ever presented in modern times, this book enlightens readers about Biblical allegory, symbols, terms and sentence structures that “unlock” the vernacular and foster a comprehensive and more vivid awareness of what the original gospel writers intended to share when they first inscribed the words millennia ago.

Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture Revealed challenges the entire Christian world to open their minds, lay aside doctrines and consider a fresh perspective on scripture’s intended messages. The book offers insightful, step-by-step “how to” strategies to help readers discern the text of the New Testament with greater accuracy for a more sound and sober application to their lives.

Understanding the Bible – Chandel L. White

Have you ever wanted to just one day sit down to read the Bible and actually “get” what it was saying? What if the most misunderstood book in the entire world unearthed its entire truth to you—how special would that be? Wouldn’t you want to share this fresh insight with the entire world?

Throughout history, primitive and modern cultures alike have all used levels of meaning to pass on knowledge. The Bible is one such body of knowledge that has been passed down to most of us on a literal level. However, in my quest for enlightenment, I realized that literal levels of meaning had far less to do with what the original gospel writers intended to share when they first inscribed the words millennia ago.

Myths, parables, and teaching stories were never meant to be taken literally nor were they supposed to hold any historical merit. Rather the literal levels were designed to hold a higher meaning, which could only be revealed to the initiated, or those who were able to think beyond the literal unto a higher psychological level.

Whether you’re a new seeker or a long-time reader of the Bible, my new book Romans to Jude – Precise Christian Scripture will be the key to helping you finally graduate from the literal meaning of the New Testament unto a higher, esoteric knowledge of Biblical truth. The days of the Bible being the most understood book ever published have come to an end. Here is your chance to become a master of Christian literature and a bona fide steward of the mystery. The time has come for us all to finally see with clarity.

Chandel L. White, author of Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed, has been interested in humanity’s relationship with the universal and textual truth of God since early childhood. These curiosities have led him into 30 years of enlightened experiences with a variety of spiritual organizations, philosophies and teachings. With a holistic approach to religion, White has a passion for teaching fellow Christians how to delve deeper into the New Testament to discover the gospel truth just as the original writers intended. His book Romans to Jude - Precise Christian Scripture Revealed is helping individuals world-wide accurately read, interpret and apply scripture to their lives on a more meaningful level on their path toward enlightenment. White holds an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Learn more about this title and the author online at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interview with Sigrid Weidenweber, Author of Catherine, The Volga Flows Forever, Book One

Born in Germany in 1941, Sigrid Weidenwber remembers the horrific aftermath of fascism. At the end of the war, she found herself living under communism. After the Berlin Wall was built, she managed to escape the repressive environment with the help of friends and a French passport. To this day she does not speak French.

She holds degrees in medical technology, psychology and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Concordia University of Portland, Oregon for her trilogy “The Volga Flows Forever.” In her trilogy she brings to life Catherine the Great in her multiple roles as monarch, woman, lover, mother, grandmother and head of the general staff of the army, in Volume one. The following two historical volumes deal with the Volga Germans brought to Russia by Catherine’s edict.

Three years ago she moved to Santa Rosa Valley, California from Portland Oregon. She has passionately embraced California together with her family that also resides here.

Visit the author online at

Where did you grow up?

In Beuthen O/S Germany This part was ceded to Poland by Russian decree.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

The day we were sold bread. It was a year after WWII ended and got enough for each person to eat and feel full.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write regularly between four and seven pm.

What is this book about?

It tells the life of Catherine the Great from the historical perspective of a woman. Catherine is an adventure into the heart, mind and soul of one of history's greatest rulers. The story reveals the full spectrum of a woman's potential by exploring the breadth and depth of feminine experience. Catherine exposes everything every woman ever wanted to experience and more. I offer compassionate insight into Catherine's weaknesses along with an admiring view of her strengths. This is a bold and vivid story about the daring of one woman meshed with a psychological peeling of the layers of character found in every woman. This is a book for readers who want to experience the true soul of history through one of the most dramatic lives ever lived.

What inspired you to write it?

I was writing the second book of my trilogy “The Volga Flows Forever,” when I found my research material saturated with references to Catherine. She was adored, maligned and vilified and her detractors outright lied to diminish the woman.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Of course, Catherine the Great, but I was also intrigued by Count Potemkin.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My husband and a few good men in literary circles.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

For the trilogy my work was read and critiqued by professors of different Concordia Universities.

Who is your favorite author?

I have a few, but probably Shakespeare.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I was published by a university—so it was fairly easy.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

On, from my website:, from Concordia University, and from downloads through Nook and Kindle.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

Lectured about the subject.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Trust in your own style and believe in your subject matter.

What is up next for you?

I am working on a murder mystery, I blog often and lecture.

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