Monday, January 30, 2012

Lifting the Wheel of Karma Winners!

Congratulations go out to April S. and Farrah A. They each won a copy of Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul Magid. I have already emailed them. They have 72 hours to respond before I select new winners.

Thanks to all who participated. Don't forget about our $10 Amazon Gift Card giveaway that's going on right now. You can find a link in the sidebar to enter for your chance to win.

First Chapter Review: Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken

Maybe you're thinking I better reconcile myself to the fact that the holiday season is over and start reading something else, but I'm not quite there yet. I have tons of books set during different time periods once I'm ready, though.

TITLE: Unexpected Gifts

AUTHOR: Elena Aitken

BLURB: Let it snow! Cozy up to the Castle Mountain Lodge in the middle of the remote Canadian Rockies for Unexpected Gifts.

Christmas represents everything Andi Williams is supposed to have, and doesn't. Running away to a remote mountain lodge in the Canadian Rockies, sounds like the perfect way to escape, until a mix-up finds her sharing a villa with sexy, rough around the edges, Colin Hartford.

Colin's determination to enjoy the holiday he’s missed for the last five years, sweeps Andi into a season of joy that she’s not sure she’s ready for. Can Andi open herself up to everything the holidays have to offer...including love?

COVER:  Not bad. You can definitely tell it's a seasonal story. It doesn't, however, tell me it's a romance novel. If you don't want to put a couple in a romantic setting on the cover, then why not a snow-covered log cabin nestled in the woods with smoke filtering out of the chimney. This would indicate not only the setting, but the smoke reminds you of warmth and the people who might be snuggling up by the fireplace. For a romance novel, this cover is kind of cold.

FIRST CHAPTER:  The reader meets Andi Williams and her business partner, Eva. They run a party planning business, which is doing so well they have hired two girls to help out. This makes it easier on Andi, who is dealing with a recent tragedy that has left her feeling miserable. She just wants Christmas to be over. An unexpected change in plans has her heading to the Castle Mountain Lodge to spend the holidays by herself curled up with a good book in front of the fire.

KEEP READING:  Sure. The scene has been set for what we know is to come--Andi meeting with "sexy, rough around the edges, Colin Hartford." You don't know yet how they are going to meet and what the immediate result will be, but you're certainly interested. The tragedy that changed Andi's life makes her a sympathetic character who you want to see find happiness.

Eva is funny and beautiful. She genuinely cares about Andi and hopes things will get better for her, which is why she suggests the free invitation from the lodge as a way to escape it all. This breaks the mold in that the female and male lead haven't met in the first chapter, but it is done so well that you are already captivated by the story and are eager for Andi and Colin to catch first sight of each other.

Publisher: Ink Blot Communications (November 11, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
SRP: $2.99

I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: Words of Inspiration from Your Own Kind by Rachel Greer

Looking for a fresh voice in modern literature? Looking for a poetry collection that is both modern and evergreen? Looking for a collection of words that is both edgy and touching?

You'll find all this in Words of Inspiration from Your Own Kind by Rachel Greer.

Covering a diverse set of topics this collection of poetry provides a glimpse into life as we know it--the good and the bad. From love to fulfilling dreams, from knowing when it's time to let go to coping with those who don't understand your ambition, and from leaving your mark to living with life's choices, Words of Inspiration from Your Own Kind reaches deep into the heart.

Profound in a raw and edgy way, this collection gets you thinking. It embraces life's adversities and inspires the individual to reach high.

There is some profanity and a few grammar and spelling issues, but the true focus is on the messages contained within this slim book's pages. Rachel Greer is a young writer to keep your eye on.

Title:  Words of Inspiration from Your Own Kind
Author:  Rachel Greer
Publisher: AuthorHouse
ISBN-10: 1456738046
ISBN-13: 978-1456738044
SRP:  $14.99 (paperback)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

This is the fifth book I've read for the following challenge:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

First Chapter Review: My Christmas Angels by Jason W. Chan

There are so many seasonal titles I wanted to read this year, but I couldn't get to them. After reading the blurb about this book I picked it up for free on Kindle.

AUTHOR:  Jason W. Chan

BLURB:  My Christmas Angels is a tragic yet heartwarming Christmas story about Greg, a single father in his twenties, and Angie, his lively six-year old daughter, living in poverty in Vancouver. When they are evicted from their home, they move in with Greg's ex-girlfriend, Jessica, for whom he still has feelings. Just as their romance blossoms, Angie suffers a concussion and slips into a coma.

Riddled with grief and guilt, Greg stays at his daughter's side night and day. As the Christmas season approaches, he comes to terms with the possibility that his daughter may never wake up. He is advised to keep busy so he buries his grief in doing good deeds. Uplifted, Greg takes solace in the realization that great tragedy can give birth to great blessings.

COVER:  Simple, yet nice. Appropriate for the story, but it screams self-published.

FIRST CHAPTER:  The book opens on a cold November day with an unknown person on a street corner waving a sign asking for help. The reader soon discovers Greg, a twenty-something father, is jobless and on the verge of being evicted. He is the narrator of this story, and the reader soon learns how he got to be where he is right now. Luckily he has his daughter, Angie, to make his life better. A proud man, he refuses to take money from Angie's teacher, but ends up bringing his child to the local soup kitchen for a good meal. There he meets up with his ex-girlfriend Jessica. In the back of his mind, he wishes he could find a way to get Angie a Christmas tree with an angel on top, just like she wants.

KEEP READING:  Probably not. Between the awkward sentence structure and the lack of character depth, I don't think I could make it through the whole book. While Greg is a first person narrator, he doesn't draw me in. As desperate as his situation is, I can't sympathize with his plight. His actions don't really make sense. He's willing to stand out on a street corner and suffer that humiliation hoping for a few bucks, but when his daughter's teacher offers him a hundred dollars he turns her down, knowing his child will suffer for it. When he enters the soup kitchen and sees Jessica, he almost leaves without letting his daughter eat so that he's not embarrassed by Jessica finding out what has happened to him after all these years.

My understanding from reading other reviews of this novella is this is a true story. I would be curious what the real details are. This seems like a story of great promise, but it needs an editor to shape it into one that captivates readers.

Publisher: Jason W. Chan Entertainment Group (December 7, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B004FN21J6

I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review:Purity's Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off Edited by Donna Lee Schillinger

If you have a teen or know a single person who is working to stay pure until marriage as God intended, a great gift would be Purity's Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off edited by Donna Lee Schillinger.

This two-sided book is filled with inspiring stories. One side holds stories from people who experienced the benefits of saving themselves for marriage, and the other has ones from people who learned the hard way that premarital sex takes away a precious God-given gift you can't fully recapture.

What I loved about this book is how real the stories are. Those who spoke of saving their gift for their spouse didn't always find it easy. They set boundaries and they pushed them. While some people didn't even kiss until their wedding day, others got very close to giving it all up for a night or a few nights of passion. On the reverse side, the reader gets to hear first hand of how damaging promiscuity can be to your body and soul. These weren't easy stories to read. Some of them were frightening: multiple abortions, multiple marriages, molestation that led to deceit in future relationships, etc.

Schillinger opens Purity's Big Payoff by talking about sexuality on network TV. I was right there with her. I'm afraid to turn on the TV in front of my kids some days. It's also prevelant in music, where every popular song seems to be about hooking up, sex, and being sexy.

On the flip side, in Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off the editor gives a great history lesson on how society viewed premarital sex over the years. It's like the pendulum has come full swing, and just like it was thousands of years ago, premartial sex is common today.

I think every church should have a copy of this book to share with its youth. Learning to respect and appreciate our God-given gift can make a difference in the lives of these young people. Purity's Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off can be the start of meaningful discussions for parents too.

Title:  Purity's Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off
Editor: Donna Lee Schillinger
Publisher: The Quilldriver
ISBN-10: 0979163927
ISBN-13: 978-0979163920
SRP: $14.99

I received a free copy of this book from the editor in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

This is the fourth book I've read for the following challenges:

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Mad Max meets Blue Lagoon in this action-packed romantic tale that will soon become a blockbuster movie.

Katniss Everdeen lives in Panem, the remains of what used to be North America. Her father deceased, Katniss makes her home with her mother and younger sister, Prim. Living in poverty, Katniss has learned to hunt and trade for her family's needs.

Long ago, the districts waged war on the Capitol and suffered a devastating loss. As terms of surrender, every year each district sends one boy and one girl to compete in an annual televised event known as "The Hunger Games." When Prim is chosen to represent District 12, Katniss volunteers to be the tribute in her place. While the terrain and rules may change, the one thing that remains constant in the games is "kill or be killed."

This is not a book I would ever have chosen to read. I find its premise disgusting. The Lil Diva (10) was given this book as a present from one of her teachers. Since she is such a reluctant reader, yet was eager to read The Hunger Games in anticipation of seeing the movie, I decided the best way to handle it was to read it with her.

The plot aside, Collins is a masterful storyteller. She knows how to pull the reader in and keep them turning the pages. What unfolds is the story of a bright, independent young woman who learns to hunt illegally so that she can feed her family now that her father is gone. She has a close, yet confusing relationship with Gale, who also hunts.

Katniss is soon turned into a brave sibling, who protects her younger sister from certain death. The other tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the bread boy. It is Peeta's budding friendship with Katniss that provides the emotional side to this tale of death and woe. The kids have been trained for survival. Without the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, you simply have a story of horrible loss of life.

I didn't care for the ending, which only in some ways wraps up the loose ends, but it will provide a nice flow into the second book of the series. This isn't a book I would have allowed my daughter to read without me. It contains graphic violence that is more appropriate for older teens and adults. She is eager to read the next book in the series, Catching Fire. I haven't decided yet if we'll continue. It will be interesting to see what Hollywood does to this story for the movie. The special effects should make give it an epic Narnia battle type of feel, but I'm hoping they don't ramp up the romance too much.

Have you read any of The Hunger Games books? What are your thoughts? Were the next two books more violent than the first one?

Title:  The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN-10: 0439023483
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481
SRP:  $17.99 (hardcover)

Our family received a copy of this book as a gift. I also purchased the Kindle version of it. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

This is the third book I've read for the following challenges:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview: Gordon Gumpertz, Author of Red Hot Sky

Gordon Gumpertz brings fiction readers another exciting action/adventure experience in his new novel RED HOT SKY. This is the author’s second book, following his highly acclaimed novel TSUNAMI.

In addition to writing novels, Gordon has won gold and silver awards in national and regional short story competitions. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Palm Springs Writers Guild, a UCLA graduate, and an instrument-rated private pilot. He keeps his website current by blogging on natural disasters and natural phenomena.

Gordon and his wife Jenny live not far from the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate thrusts into the North American Plate, building increasingly high levels of faultline stress which, the seismologists say, may soon produce the Big One.

Visit his website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a native Californian, a UCLA grad, and an army vet. I'm an instrument- rated private pilot. Flying a Cherokee Arrow from L.A. to New York and down to Los Cabos in Baja are among my favorite trips. I started my working career as an advertising agency copywriter. Later, I opened my own ad agency with two partners. I began writing adventure fiction after leaving the agency. I'm married with two kids and two grandkids. Things I enjoy are reading, hiking, tennis, movies, and travelling. I'm a member of the Authors Guild and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. In addition to writing novels, I've won gold and silver awards in regional and national short story contests. My wife and I live in the California desert just a few miles from the San Andreas fault, which is overdue for the Big One.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in San Diego, but raised in Oxnard, CA, a small agricultural town sixty miles north of L.A. Population was 7,000 at the time. There were 90 in our high school graduating class.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Playing touch football with the neighborhood kids.

When did you begin writing?

I wrote some short stories in college, and a ton of advertising copy during my business career, but didn't start serious fiction writing till I left my business to devote myself to becoming an author.

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

I do all my writing during the day. I like to start by 9:00 a.m. after clearing my email, and get in 4 to 5 hours of undisturbed writing time. Sometimes life interferes, but I try to stick with the schedule.

What is this book about?

Red Hot Sky is a fast-moving novel about what happens when the buildup of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gasses in earth's atmosphere reaches a tipping point. In this scenario, global weather destabilizes and turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.

Scientists Ben Mason and Claudine Manet, developers of the computer model, are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth's bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.

Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab, is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general's plot. Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben, his cover blown, is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.

What inspired you to write it?

I read a report that CO2 concentration in earth's atmosphere had increased dramatically in the last 50 years, and that the rate of increase had greatly speeded up just in the last two years. Ice caps are melting, weather is getting more extreme, and scientists say we are now heading toward a hotter and greatly changed natural environment much faster than predicted. In my imagination, I took it a step beyond, and wondered what would happen if CO2 concentration keeps zooming higher till it reaches a tipping point, and kicks earth's atmosphere into something radically different, and threatening to human survival. My book is based on that idea.

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

Yes. I belong to critique group of published writers. We meet weekly for 2 to 3 hours and critique each other's work. I find the feedback extremely helpful.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

When I finished my first novel, Tsunami, I sent query letters and chapters to agents for several months, without success. When a small press called with interest in the book, I signed up. Unfortunately, they were underfunded and unable to live up to their commitments on publishing schedule and promotion. They took orders for several thousand copies, but by the time the books were finally shipped, the recession had hit and book sales were going south. Half the shipments were returned and I never saw a penny of royalties. I finally negotiated the return of all publishing rights and went direct on Kindle, selling through my website, which has been quite successful.

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


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

Do a more thorough check of the publisher's finances and track record before signing the conract. For Red Hot Sky, I decided to bypass the traditional route and publish with Amazon's CreateSpace.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Paperback copies of Red Hot Sky can be ordered from Amazon or your local book store. The ebook version is available on Amazon's Kindle.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes. My website is where I blog on natural disasters and natural phenomena. In addition to my blog articles, the site features information about Red Hot Sky and my previous novel, Tsunami, plus reviews, excerpts, and bio info about the author.

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

My best investment was paying a good website designer to design an attractive homepage. Also, I've signed up for a virtual tour with Pump Up Your Book and I'm hopeful the program will pump up interest in Red Hot Sky and drive more traffic to my website.

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

Write every day. Some days will be better than others, but stick with it. Never give up.

What is up next for you?

I've completed the first draft of my next book, also on a disaster theme, which I prefer not to divulge at this time. It's being revised. I plan to publish it later this year.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Buy Red Hot Sky. It's a pulse-pounding read.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amazon $10 Gift Card Giveaway!

Thank You Clip Art

Wow! I am so honored and thrilled that readership is way up. I was checking the stats and we're up to over 10,000 pageviews a month. How can I let that go by without offering my loyal readers something?

I'm offering one lucky follower a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win.

Good luck!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Little Shepherd Giveaway at Books, Products and More!

I'm running a giveaway over at Books, Products and More! for three printed copies of my book, Little Shepherd. You can find the details at

E-Book Review: Don't Be A Dick (Advice for Writers) by Mike Cooley

If you're looking for a very short (10 pages) book with some basic, common sense advice for writers, then pick up a FREE (at least of as right now) ebook, Don't Be A Dick (Advice for Writers) by Mike Cooley.

From social media to book reviews, from beta readers to editors, from blogging to book signings and beyond, Cooley provides a humorous but helpful set of rules that will help writers navigate the murky waters of the publishing industry. Published in fiction and non-fiction, Cooley knows from wence he speaks.

Some of the important things he discusses are:

* Not using social media solely to promote your work,
* Do not respond to bad reviews,
* Say thanks for good reviews,
* Treat the people who show up for book signings like royalty,
* Don't be a know it all.

There's more to this book than that, but you get the jist. Despite the cuss words, it's a handy little book to have around. It would be a good idea to keep it on your desktop for the times you're tempted to do something that might be disastrous for your writing career.

Title: Don't Be A Dick
Author: Mike Cooley
Publisher: Smashwords

I downloaded a free copy of this book from I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Friday, January 20, 2012

First Chapter Review: The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein

This First Chapter Review might not be for everyone. I bought this book based upon a recommendation from Ellen over at Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I've watched her blog grow from a few hundred followers to over 4,100, and who knows how many subscribers. She has made a name for herself as a Mommy Blogger and Social Media Expert. Like Ellen, I've met with moments of frustration in growing my blogs.

In following agent blogs and being a user of Twitter, I've come to learn how powerful it is for networking. Many of my online friends prefer the more personal feeling of Facebook, but for branding and reaching consumers directly, many feel Twitter is the way to go. I like Twitter much more than I did in the beginning, and I find I'm spending more time there than Facebook lately.

TITLE: The Twitter Book

AUTHORS:  Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein

BLURB: "Media organizations should take note of Twitter's power to quickly reach their target consumers." —Tim O'Reilly (@timoreilly), in a Los Angeles Times interview, March 2009

This practical guide will teach you everything you need to know to quickly become a Twitter power user. It includes information on the latest third party applications, strategies and tactics for using Twitter's 140-character messages as a serious—and effective—way to boost your business, as well as how to turn Twitter into your personal newspaper, tracking breaking news and learning what matters to you and your friends.

Co-written by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein, widely followed and highly respected twitterers, the practical information in The Twitter Book is presented in an innovative, visually rich format that's packed with clear explanations and examples of best practices that show Twitter in action, as demonstrated by the work of over 60 twitterers.

This book will help you:

•Use Twitter to connect with colleagues, customers, family, and friends
•Stand out on Twitter
•Avoid common Twitter gaffes and pitfalls
•Build a critical professional communications channel with Twitter—and use the best third-party tools that help you manage it.

If you want to know how to use Twitter like a pro, The Twitter Book will quickly get you up to speed.

COVER:  Cute. It's simple. It has a Twitter-like color scheme and there's birds. What else could you ask for in a book about Twitter?

FIRST CHAPTER:  As is expected, Chapter 1 gets you started. It talks about why Twitter is simple, yet useful and fun. It brings you through how to set up your Twitter account, create a profile, explains following, finding people and figuring out who to follow. The first chapter also briefly mentions updating Twitter from your mobile device.

It moves on to talk about the 140 character limit and ways to shorten your messages. Then comes the fun stuff--Twitter jargon. From tweets to @messages, from hashtags to reweets, from DMs to tweetups, and beyond, they briefly explain what they are and how they are useful to those of us navigating Twitter. Did you know the big white whale that appears when Twitter is over capacity has a name? Me neither. The authors will more deeply discuss some of these topics in subsequent chapters, but the opening of this book is a nice overview and gets you comfortable with things.

KEEP READING:  I sure will. Since Twitter is just one way I promote my blogs, I want to understand it better. O'Reilly and Milstein have a conversational style that engages readers and makes for an interesting read. I started with the Introduction and then worked my way through the first chapter. Much of this stuff I knew, other things I didn't. You mean you're not supposed to start off a Twitter message with the @message? Whoops!

I'm certain reading The Twitter Book is going to make me a more informed, more efficient Twitter user.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (November 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1449314201
ISBN-13: 978-1449314200

I purchased a Kindle version of this book recently. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Chapter Review: From Ashes to Honor by Loree Lough

September 11th remains a difficult date in our history. Like probably many of you, I remember where I was that day; still recall the horrible images on the news, and have struggled to make sense of such a tremendous loss of life.

For these reasons, I've mostly steered clear of books set around September 11th or in which that tragic event plays a part. I felt drawn, however, to this book. As I read last night, it struck me how the author writes with a sense of compassion. I was glad to have picked up this one.

TITLE:  From Ashes to Honor: Book #1 in the First Responders series

AUTHOR: Loree Lough

BLURB:  If he had only answered that last phone call from the World Trade Center . . .

Minutes before two jumbo jets changed U.S. history, New York police officer Austin Finley ignored the call from his brother, who’d been bugging him for days. Trying to live with his one regret causes hatred and bitterness to consume Austin, and when counselor Mercy Samara recommends desk duty, Austin resigns. Haunted by her own memories of 9/11, Mercy takes a job as a school counselor in Baltimore. When Austin, now an EMT, responds to an emergency at Mercy’s school, both are stunned and wary.

Finally their common—and painful—memories turn suspicion into friendship, then romance.

But hard questions linger: Can they truly move beyond their past harsh judgments and harsh words? Will their past finally bring them closer or—as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near—drive them farther apart?

COVER:  Beautiful. The cover is exactly what one would expect for a book in which September 11th plays a big part. The use of the soft blur over the scene of NYC draws out the block letters of the title and displays a sense of calm despite the plot. The American flag reminds the reader how for a few days we weren't African-American or Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian, Catholic or Jew, Democrat or Republican--we were all proudly American.

FIRST CHAPTER:  It is January 2003. We find Austin Finely sitting in the office of Dr. Mercy Samara. A decorated police officer who responded to the call on September 11th, he has been placed on desk duty and ordered to see the doctor after a series of violent altercations with perps. He knows Dr. Samara is the key to him returning to his regular job.

Finely is very angry, but he's not about to tell the doctor about the images he can't erase from his mind or his regret over not answering a phone call from his twin brother from the World Trade Center that morning.

KEEP READING:  A resounding yes! As I mentioned in the beginning, Lough writes with a sense of compassion as she relays Finley's story. You're pulled in, despite how badly he is treating the doctor who is trying to help him. You can understand and sympathize with the pain and suffering he has had to endure for the past sixteen months. He makes it obvious he's not a fan of therapy, and through his internal thoughts we experience his disdain for this Muslim doctor. But you can't seem to dislike him, because of the way Lough has drawn him.

The powerful scene between Finley and Dr. Samara after he accidentally reveals something he wishes would remain hidden, clinched it for me. I want to keep reading. I want to see him open up to her and find a way to heal himself. And in this touching scene, we get a glimpse of the romance that might be.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (September 2011)
ISBN-10: 142670769X
ISBN-13: 978-1426707698
I picked up a free Kindle version of this book earlier this month. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Chapter Review: Once A Cowboy by Linda Warren

Have a I mentioned that I love cowboy stories? Probably, but I don't usually read a lot of them because cowboys are often found in romance novels and that's not a genre I read regularly. I have limited time, so it's historicals, mysteries, thrillers, and kid's books; though I enjoy romantic elements in many genres.

TITLE: Once A Cowboy

AUTHOR: Linda Warren

BLURB: Once… And For Always

Brodie Hayes is a former rodeo star, now a rancher-a cowboy, through and through. But when he finds out some shocking news about the circumstances of his birth, he begins to question his identity. Luckily, private investigator Alexandra Donovan is there to help him find the truth about who he is. Along the way, he discovers that even a man who thought he’d be alone for the rest of his life can fall in love.

For Brodie, love was something you did once-and for always. But is Alex the type of woman who can take on a stubborn man like him? Because there’s one thing about him that will never change, no matter what they find out about his past-once a cowboy, always a cowboy.

COVER: Wow! What's not to like about this cover?  A ruggedly handsome, open-shirted cowboy leaning up against a rail fence. I love the earthy tones of the landscape behind him. Definitely makes me think of rodeos and ranches.

FIRST CHAPTER: Two women pay a visit to private investigator Alexandra Donovan. The older of the two wants to hire Alex to find out if Brodie Hayes is her son who was stolen from her at the hospital two days after he was born. Though Alex swore off missing child cases after she left the Dallas police force, she is drawn to this mother who has lost so much. She agrees to look into the case, which angers her father and business partner, Buck.

KEEP READING: Definitely! First of all, this romance novel has a unique opening. Instead of the man and woman meeting right away, the reader gets to learn some of Brodie Hayes's history from his mother, who has searched for him for over forty years. Yes, life eventually moved on. She and her husband had more children, but they never stopped thinking of their lost son. Now, Mrs. Braxton is certain this picture she has seen of Brodie Hayes is her son, and nothing is going to stop her from finding out for sure.

So, we get a good glimpse into some of Brodie's potential family right away too--which again, isn't typical, but it is refreshing.

Then we get to learn what life is like for Alex. After Mrs. Braxton and her daughter leave, Buck Donovan arrives. A tough guy who never gives his daughter a compliment, he berates her for taking on a case where she can get so emotionally involved. Warren truly paints a great picture of the tense relationship Alex has with her father.

It was hard for me to stop after Chapter 1. I really want to see how this turns out, and Alex and Brodie haven't even seen one another yet.

Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Harlequin (February 1, 2009)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

The Kindle edition of this book is currently FREE.

I picked up a free copy of this book for my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation to provide my review.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Chapter Review: Angel Be Good by Kathy Carmichael

I can't resist a modern-day Scrooge story. Why? Because I think the character Dickens created in A Christmas Carol is fascinating and his redemption inspiring, so I enjoy seeing how others bring this type of character to life.

TITLE:  Angel Be Good

AUTHOR:  Kathy Carmichael

BLURB:  Miracles still happen in modern day New York when "Scrooge" (Nathaniel Danvers) meets Heaven Can Wait (Daphne), who has been sent to give him one last chance at redemption. Angel Be Good captures the essence of the classic Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and offers a touch of humor and romance. This sexy romantic comedy is the perfect holiday feel-good read.

COVER:  Fabulous! The deep red, silky dress against the green cover truly captures your eye. The ornament hanging off the author's name is a nice touch and lets the reader know this is a seasonal tale without turning the book over to read the back cover blurb. The genre is clear from the words, "Heartwarming, Sexy & Fun."
FIRST CHAPTER:  Nathaniel Danvers wakes from a dream where his deceased parents have implored him to mend his ways. Dismissing it as an effect of the rum punch from the office Christmas party, he begins making out the pink slips for employees that will be let go after the holidays. Have to keep those employees on their toes.
A crash in his outer office draws his attention, but he knows he's alone, since everyone else has gone home to celebrate Christmas Eve. When a sexy, beautiful woman marches through the door without even knocking and says, "Hiya, Nat ol' boy," he's not sure what the heck is going on. Suddenly trapped in his office by this woman, she informs him that his dream was very real and she's here to make sure he changes his ways.
KEEP READING:  Yes, but if I hadn't read the prologue first, I wouldn't really know what was going on in the first chapter. We discover Daphne is given a second chance to live a full life by helping Nathaniel's guardian angel, Leonard convince Nat to change his ways--which isn't going to be easy. The conversations between Leonard and Daphne make the book worth reading, and it's pretty funny to watch Nathaniel's confusion over who Daphne is, while thinking she's off her rocker because she's talking to some guy named Leonard who he can't see. What I thought was unique is how helping Nathaniel connects Daphne to part of her past.
Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (November 4, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1466482109
ISBN-13: 978-1466482104
Kindle edition: ASIN: B002YK45IW

I picked up a free copy of this book for my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spread the News - Other Blogs for You to Enjoy!

Just in case you're wondering what I've been up to lately, you'll find two blogs added to The Book Connection family:

Cheryl's Christian Book Connection - - will feature Christian books in a variety of genres. You'll find Christian books for kids and adults alike. You can like our Facebook page here.

For those who like their romance novels on the spicy side, you can check out The Spicy Romace Connection - Hope you'll like our Facebook page here.

These should be the last two blogs I'll be setting up. Don't know how I would keep up with more. I'll continue to feature some of the same books here as I will be putting on the newer blogs until they gain more followers. After that, I'll bring you the eclectic mix of books you're used to at The Book Connection, while the other genres will move to their new homes.

I'm always open to feedback from my readers, so hope you'll leave me some comments. I've been encouraged by the stats lately. We've had over 9,600 page views the last month. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interview with Alexis Harrington, Author of Home By Morning

Alexis Harrington's first book was published in 1994. She has written several books and contributed to a couple of novellas.

You can find her online at:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and I’ve lived here all of my life.

When did you begin writing?

In 1983 I read a book by LaVyrle Spencer that made me decide to take a chance at writing fiction. I loved her work (and I still do). Until then, all I’d written were effective business letters—I could get just about anything done with them, refunds for defective merchandise, comps for bad service in restaurants. Probably the best one I ever wrote was to a local car dealership here in Portland. I wanted to test drive a Corvette and I told the owner up front that I could not afford one but that if I became a successful writer, I’d come back and buy it from him. He not only invited me to the showroom, but sent his own son with me for the drive.

Um, I’ve since changed my mind about owning one.

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

I try to squeeze in a little writing during the day, but mostly I work at night. It’s quiet, no ringing phones, no one coming to the door. It’s especially nice in the summer with the windows open, or in the winter when the east wind comes howling down the Columbia River Gorge. I live close by and get the benefit of that sound.

What is this book about?

Home By Morning is about Jessica Layton, a young woman who left her small hometown to study medicine with a promise to her childhood sweetheart, Cole Braddock, that she would return. But the amount of time she was gone stretched out and one day she received a telegram from him saying he wouldn’t wait any longer. The book opens with her returning for a visit on her way to a research job in Seattle. She has no intention of staying but the influenza pandemic of 1918 strikes the town and there is no other doctor to help. So she stays, only to discover treachery, tragedy, and the depth of her love for Cole.

What inspired you to write it?

I originally got the idea 10-15 years ago. I realized that even though the influenza pandemic killed millions of people—more than those killed in World War I—no one ever talked about it. I didn’t learn about it in school. The only information I had was from my grandmother, who contracted it in Europe before she came to the United States. Then scientists began talking about the next possible pandemic and I was off and writing.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

My hero, Cole, is my favorite in terms of strength and honor, certainly. But I had the most fun with a couple of the secondary characters, Cole’s father Shaw, and Emmaline Bauer, a prostitute who has a quiet little business up in the woods outside of town.

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

I sold the first book I wrote, Homeward Hearts, shortly after I finished it. After that, it was a bumpy ride that turned into an uphill, unpaved, rock-filled, goat track.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

The publishing business changed so much over the years, most of the factors that affected me were beyond my control. What I was writing wasn’t trendy and my attempts to adapt didn’t work out. Today’s self-publishing came along at exactly the right time for me.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Home By Morning is available exclusively through Amazon/Kindle and is part of their Montlake imprint, in both ebook and trade paperback formats.

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

Not this time around. Maybe in the future.

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

I hired publicist Joan Schulhafer. She’s a gem and a marketing whiz!

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

This is an exciting time for talented writers (talent and skill are still requirements). If they have a book that is getting “good” rejections but can’t sell it, I urge them to give self-publishing a try. There are ways to do it for practically nothing except the investment of time and a professional-looking cover.

What is up next for you?

In July, the sequel to this book will be released by Amazon/Kindle. Home By Nightfall jumps ahead a couple of years, taking up the story of what has happened to the characters after the twin catastrophes of World War I and the influenza pandemic.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dark Fiction Specials at MuseItUp Publishing!

Save 25% on select dark fiction titles from MuseItUp Publishing. Sale runs through January 20, 2012.

Visit them online at!

Interview with Chris Shella, Author of Reasonable Facsimile

Author Chris Shella is a graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Texas Law School and started his legal career in Long Island, New York at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. He is admitted to the practice of law in New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and North Carolina. Shella is also admitted to the federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Middle District of North Carolina, U.S. District of Columbia, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the Eastern District of New York, and the Southern District of New York.He is also admitted to the Bar Of The United States Supreme Court. He and his cases have been covered on Court TV, CNN, and in the New York Times, and other media outlets across the globe. He has represented everyone from lawyers to major drug traffickers to a serial killer in Baltimore. His two most famous case are the Vegan Baby Case and his defense of the Duke Lacrosse Case accuser for the alleged murder of her boyfriend.

Chris now resides in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and son.

His latest book is the legal thriller, Reasonable Facsimile.

You can visit his website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a criminal trial lawyer with more than 100 major felony jury trials to my credit and I have handle more than 50 murder cases up and down the east coast. I also do appellate work and I’m admitted to the Bar of The US Supreme Court.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina called Hillsborough.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

When I was in the eighth grade, I got in trouble for fighting in school. Another guy attacked me and I stood my ground and beat him up. My mom came to school when the principal suspended me to take me home. I just knew I was gonna get my butt whooped. But instead, my mom hugged me took me to McDonald’s and told me she was proud of me for standing up for myself.

What is this book about?

Reasonable Facsimile  is about a broken down lawyer named Jasper Davis who has seen better days. The criminal defense work he does has slowly destroyed who he was and left him as a shell of who he used to be earlier in life. The book is a two-week snapshot in his life where he is trying a first degree murder case in Baltimore, Maryland. During the trial he becomes a suspect in the murder of a DEA agent who was preparing to testify against his client.

What inspired you to write it?

I wrote this book when my mom passed away in 2009. I just felt that I had to do all the things I had always wanted to do because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

The idea or the book comes from all the wild things I have seen in courthouses up and down the east coast. I’ve seen drunk lawyers, belligerent judges and whacked out cops. If I wrote about what I really saw people wouldn’t think it was just fiction they would think it was a fantasy novel.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My wife.

Who is your favorite author?

Walter Mosley. My favorite book by him is Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I don’t have an agent and I would consider it. I kind of like the work that I do for myself.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, local bookstores and LuLu.

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

Yes. I actually have a webisode series at

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

Pump Up Your Book tours.

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

Sit your butt down and write.

What is up next for you?

After 3 or federal trials early this year I will be writing my new book in the Jasper Davis series, Just Shut Up and Pour My Liquor.

Is there anything you would like to add?


Book Review: A Vision of Sugarplums by Jennifer Blake

Meghan Castle doesn't like Christmas at all. It's Christmas Eve and she wants to close up and go home to hide from the holiday and the bad memories it brings.

As she goes off to shoo away the last lingering customer from the Silver Bells Christmas Shop, she discovers an abandoned baby under a tree. The handsome hunk she had hoped to kick out of the store, convinces her to take the baby home and offers to help her take care of it.

Though they are both attracted to each other, secrets might tear apart this couple before they get too far.

A Vision of Sugarplums by Jennifer Blake is a romantic novella that goes against Mark Twain's adage that "truth is stranger than fiction," because fiction has to stick to possibilities (make sense). While Blake is very talented when it comes to painting a picture for the reader and she can write a moving love scene, I can't remember when a story has made me so furious. It requires one to stretch the imagination so far that you can't truly enjoy it.

I can't go into all the details without giving away the story, but what I can say is if a man treated me the way Rick Wallman did Meghan, there is no way I would want a future with him--no matter his motivation. This is one time I wish the boy didn't get the girl.

Title:  A Vision of Sugarplums
Author:  Jennifer Blake
Publisher: Steel Magnolia Press
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B006A1Z06W
SRP:  $1.99

I purchased a free copy of this book from the Kindle Store. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

This is the second book I've read for the following challenges:

This is the first book I've read for the following challenge:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Chapter Review: Corn Silk Days by Linda Pendleton

Historicals are some of my favorites, and if there's one set during the Civil War, it's a safe bet I'll want to at least take a glance at it. The blurb on this one sounded good, so I picked it up for free for my Kindle.

TITLE:  Corn Silk Days

AUTHOR:  Linda Pendelton

BLURB: Iowa, 1862:

The dramatic story of two families, four generations, during a time when the United States is seriously divided by war, North against South, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, son against father; slave against slave-owner—a distressful time of upheaval, tragedy, heartbreak, and death.

In the summer of 1862, Iowa farmer, Silas Storm, volunteers for the Union Army and his wife, Elizabeth Jane, pregnant with their second child, must maintain their farm and meet the many challenges the absence of her husband creates.

Four generations of Silas's family and extended family discover their lives changing drastically while facing adversity and challenges: family secrets, denials, fears, forbidden love, death, and grief. Like Silas Storm on the battlefield finding courage to dodge the next Rebel bullet, they, too, must deal with their fears and transform those fears into courage.

Will they be able to survive? Or will it be their defeat?

"Well Janie, when I heard of the death of Lincoln it appeared to me that I had lost one of my mightiest friends. He was the soldiers' best friend, but he had done enough in this world and the kind hand of Providence called him home to live in peace." ~Silas, May 1865

Although Corn Silk Days is a fictional account of life during the Civil War, Linda Pendleton has woven actual letters written by her great-great-grandfather into her story, staying true to the military facts presented in his letters home to his wife.

COVER:  The cover is beautiful, though it makes me think of an historical romance, not the story from the blurb. In all fairness, however, if I read further it might turn out to be the perfect cover.

FIRST CHAPTER:  Elizabeth Jane Storm kisses her six-year-old son, Denny goodnight. His prayer has once again filled her with sadness, as he pleads for God to bring his Daddy home. Now pregnant with her second child, she can't understand why Silas had to run off to war. She's struggling to take care of the farm, even with the help of her father and father-in-law, and can't imagine what she'll do once the baby is born.

KEEP READING:  Maybe. My challenge is that I don't care for Elizabeth Jane all that much. Her anger over Silas signing up is coupled with indifference over the plight of the Negroes and states seceeding from the Union. Silas didn't need to get involved. He needed to take care of his family. While I understand that a good portion of her feelings come from being overwhelmed by running the farm while pregnant, she comes off as a bit whiny and selfish.

I could get by that, but the first chapter is mostly back story and that isn't what I like to see start off a book. We join Denny and Elizabeth Jane in the boy's bedroom, but as soon as she is by herself, the reader is given the reasons she's miserable and how Silas decided to sign up against her wishes right off the bat. Then the reader is taken even further back in time to a conversation Elizabeth Jane had with her mother a few weeks earlier about her mother's first husband and a promise the older woman asks her to keep. The reader is returned to the present by the end of the chapter, and Chapter Two will focus on another member of the family, I'm guessing one of Elizabeth Jane's half-brothers based upon the first sentence.

I would probably read at least one more chapter to see if I am drawn in by this story.

I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interview with Paul Magid, Author of Lifting the Wheel of Karma (Giveaway)

Paul H. Magid started writing his debut novel, Lifting the Wheel of Karma, twenty-five years ago while still in high school. It took him so long to complete because he tried repeatedly to abandon it, but the work refused to be forsaken. Eventually he realized that sharing this story with the world was, in fact, his Dharma.

Along the way he has worked as a Wall Street financial analyst, a waiter (not a very good one), a Hollywood Agent Trainee, a real estate developer, a summer day camp director, an award winning screenwriter, and independent filmmaker—including his autobiographical film, A Life Unfinished, which screened in The Hamptons International Film Festival.

Visit Paul online at

Where did you grow up?

Manalapan, NJ.

When did you begin writing?

I began secretly writing in high school. I say "secretly" because I was too insecure to tell anyone that I wanted to be a writer.

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

I write mostly at night because the energy of late at night is best for me. Having said that, however, you never know when inspiration will strike. I try to put myself in moving meditative moments when, for me, the creative juices get flowing, which can mean going for a walk or a drive. When it works, I scramble for something to write on before I forget it and it's gone forever.

What is this book about?

Lifting the Wheel of Karma is a searing spiritual epic about healing, about redemption, and ultimately, about a boy who finds God in the most extraordinary of ways.

What inspired you to write it?

I knew from the start that I wanted to share with the world a penetrating and powerful story of meaning. I wanted to share with the world the most amazing story I possibly could, and after twenty-five years of working on it, I finally did.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

It's funny you ask that, because that's also the very first question in my Reader's Group Question list. For me, my main character, Joseph Connell, is my most favorite character.

Who is your biggest supporter?

By far, my girlfriend Sharon. There isn't even a close second. She is the reason that, for me, Happiness is possible.

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

I am not a member of a critique group. I run my work first by Sharon, then my two closest friends, who love me too much to anything less than brutally honest.

Who is your favorite author?

Theodore Dreiser, who wrote An American Tragedy. Every word I needed to know for the high school SATs I learned from that one novel.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I do not have an agent. I wouldn't say I'm looking for one, but if one presented an opportunity that would benefit me, I would certainly agree to a sit down.

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

It was a bumpy twenty-five years, then a smooth sailing six months.

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

Yes, I would have been much smarter twenty-five years ago.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon is the best place for readers to buy my novel.

Where can readers find out more?

My web site - - has the 1st two chapters for reading and/or downloading, as well as some great pictures of my research journeys to India and Montana.

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

The biggest difference between good writing and great writing usually hits around the 500th time you rewrite it -at least it was for me.

What is up next for you?

Once my novel is up and running on its own I turn to writing the companion book, which is part memoir/part self-help guide.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just thank you very much for having me.

The blog tour's official site is:

Paul H. Magid Facebook:!/profile.php?id=100002979900843

Lifting the Wheel of Karma Facebook:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Lifting the Wheel of Karma blog tour site:

Price: $15.00
ISBN: 9780984016068
Pages: 192
Release: September 23, 2011

Amazon buy link

Barnes& buy link

Price: $9.99

Kindle buy link

Book Summary: A Profound Spiritual Journey of Extraordinary Healing and Redemption

Joseph Connell is a gifted high school athlete from Montana, loved deeply by his family, yet tormented by nightmarish visions he can neither explain nor escape.

He believes the answer to what threatens to crush him can be found in the knowledge possessed by a mystical old wise man, who lives deep within the remote Himalayas of India.

If Joseph is ever to find the peace he so desperately seeks, he must get this wise old man to reveal what he truly knows, but that will not be easy…for this sage knows far more than he admits.

A modern tale that harkens back to the myths of antiquity. It takes you on a remarkable journey, while exploring the themes of healing, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and ultimately...peace within.

Paul is giving away 3 paperback copies to lucky winners from my blog. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.

First Chapter Review: Chasing Glenn Beck by Michael Charney

While I hadn't planned to do this, I am doing it. What is that you might ask? I am writing a First Chapter Review on a book I know I plan to review next month. Why? Well, mostly because I love politics. For the most part I stay away from it on my blogs, at Facebook and Twitter because as an author I can't afford to tick people off because of my political views. Does that make me a wimp?

This is a book I am reviewing for a Pump Up Your Book tour, but I am not the coordinator promoting this particular book. It has been calling me since it arrived and my curiosity couldn't be tamed until I at least read the opening to see what it's all about.

TITLE:Chasing Glenn Beck: A Personal Experiment in Reclaiming Our Hijacked Political Conversation

AUTHOR:Michael Charney

BLURB: Is Glenn Beck a liberal?

Perhaps not, but when Michael Charney decides to plant that idea out in the “Twitterverse,” some interesting conversations begin. People shout at him (MORON!), block him (SCUMSUCKER!), and belittle him (WAKE UP, IDIOT!). Eventually, though, some people start to listen…

Today’s political dialogue has been stolen, hijacked from us by those with the loudest voices. Until we begin to take that conversation back for ourselves, we remain at the mercy of those with the most radical agendas, the most extreme visions for our country. The risk is great: a country run by a vociferous minority that just happens to scream louder than the rest of us is NOT what democracy is supposed to be about…

With discussions about politics, schools, national security, manifestos, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Flag Code–and the Senate’s Candy Desk–Charney cuts a wide swath through the issues facing our country, a country he claims has a serious case of “Electile Dysfunction.”

COVER: While the design is something a reader might expect from a book covering modern-day politics, I don't care for it. The sullen man with his arms crossed makes me bristle. I feel like I'm five years old again getting stared down by father who is angry over something I've done wrong.

FIRST CHAPTER: In a book of this nature, I felt it important to start with the Introduction. I'm glad I did, because I'm not certain I would have understood the scope of the book without it. One thing about the Introduction caught my eye. While one of the author's rules is that he won't invent quotes and attribute them to Beck, he did say he might, "twist a few of his quotes to suit my purpose..." This is being done in the interest of fun.

The first chapter is more a lesson in Twitter than anything else. It opens with the author's experiment in its first week and having gained his first follower. Now, he doesn't know if the user has automatically set up her account to follow anyone with the #GlennBeck hash tag in their post, but since she hasn't tweeted anything in a while, he figures it's likely.

Charney goes through explaining a bit how followers work, the importance of hashtags, the 140 character limit, and things like that, and how he went about setting up his own Twitter account to perform his experiment. Again, one thing stood out in this chapter--his bio, "Preserving conservatism by exposing the hypocrisy of the conservative media."

KEEP READING: Yes, and not only because I am supposed to review this book. The first chapter, while a bit dry because of the Twitter explanation, captured me with the Twitter bio. I immediately want to know what he means, and how he sees things. That doesn't mean I'll agree. I may end thinking he's totally off base. And though I didn't learn anything new about Twitter--since I use it every day--Charney adds some humor into it, like when he discovers his one follower (a Glenn Beck fan) unfollows him after he sends her a message of thanks for following him.

Look for my full review coming on February 24th.

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book in exchange for my honest opinions. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this first chapter review or the review that will follow.

500 Follower Giveaway at Books, Products and More!

As I'm posting this notice of the 500 Follower Giveaway for my blog, Books, Products and More! I wondered why I didn't think to do this here too. Oh well, maybe soon.

While The Book Connection is dedicated solely to books, BPM is a family friendly site featuring books, movies, and products for families. Since the beginning of the year, I've been working to increase its readership. Part of that has included new features five days a week:

  • You've Got Mail Mondays
  • Tunes Tuesdays
  • WSJ Wednesdays
  • Taking Time for Mom Thursdays
  • Free for All Fridays
In addition, if you check the upcoming events page, you'll see we'll have special books or products each month that will be highlighted. Most of the products reviewed right now come from my own purchases or free samples, but I am definitely looking for sponsors and advertisers.

If you enjoy The Book Connection, I hope you'll consider becoming a follower of Books, Products and More! Once I reach 500 followers, I will be holding a giveaway that includes multiple prize packages. You can find the details at BPM also be participating in the Follower Love Giveaway Hop in February. Hope you'll check it out.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guest Blogger: Morgan Mandel, Author of Forever Young: Blessing or Curse (Review Included)

Fresh beginnings turn tragic when Dorrie Donato’s husband, Larry, is killed in a hit and run accident a few months after starting a new job at the Life is for Living Institute. Discouraged and desperate after suffering countless setbacks, Dorie accepts an offer by Larry’s boss, the famous Angel Man, to be the first to test an experimental pill designed to spin its user back to a desired age and hold there, yet still retain all previous memories. The pill seems too good to be true. Maybe it is.

Them Bones, Them Bones… by Morgan Mandel

At this time of year, if you live anywhere it’s cold, you may notice some twinges and stiffness in your bones that didn’t bother you as much as during the summer. It could be arthritis, just the weather, or something else.

You could be suffering from osteoporosis, a disease from which the bones lose their density and easily fracture. Most susceptible are post-menopausal women and anyone of advanced age. A painless bone density test can clue you in if it’s starting to happen. As mentioned in Wikipedia, there are many methods of prevention and treatment, such as vitamins, exercise and special pills, which could offer some relief, depending on the severity of your case.

You may wonder why I’m bringing up this medical subject during the Blog Book Tour for Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. Of course, I’ll tell you.

Dorrie, my 55 year old heroine, knows she’s suffering from the onset of osteoporosis, the disease which debilitated her mother and ultimately led to her death. It’s not an experience Dorrie wishes to replicate. Added to that, she’s lost her husband, her job, and horror of horrors, her looks have gone downhill.

The Forever Young pill, as offered to her by Roman Remington of the fictional Life is for Living Institute, is a daily pill through which she can turn her age back to a desired level and keep it there,with the added bonus of remaining free of age-related illnesses.

Sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it? You can look and feel like you did before and stay that way, yet still remember everything you already know. Maybe one of these days such a pill will be invented.

For now, it’s only a part of fiction. Even there, in my book, it’s not perfect. The pill’s flaws lead to untimely deaths for some and terror for Dorrie.

To find out what happens to my plucky heroine, look for Forever Young: Blessing or Curse on Kindle at It’s also available at Smashwords, which distributes to all sorts of other venues, such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and more. The link for Smashwords is: Once I conquer the enigma of CreateSpace, this book will also be in print at Amazon.

By the way, I don’t want to start any panic, but if you’re of a certain age, it wouldn’t hurt to get that bone density test. Or maybe you’ve already had one.

Mine was okay, thank goodness. Does anyone have any more light to shed on the subject?

Along with writing mysteries, thrillers, and romances, Morgan Mandel loves to blog and network. You’ll often find her on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, as well as at various e-groups. Her previous books, still available, are Killer Career, Girl of My Dreams, and Two Wrongs, all on Kindle and Smashwords.

She’s a past president of Chicago-North RWA, past library liaison for Midwest MWA, belongs to Sisters in Crime and EPIC.

Her next project is a sequel to Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, called Blessing or Curse: A Forever Young Anthology. This book will describe what happens to other subjects who take the Forever Young pill.

Personal Blog:  

  My review:

I can't say I've ever read a book like Forever Young: Blessing or Curse by Morgan Mandel. Employing a unique take on the appeal of the Fountain of Youth, Mandel draws the reader in from the first sentence where Dorrie's life changes forever with a situation that leads her on a path that not only helps her rediscover her youth, but also places her life in danger.

The reader sympathizes with the pain and suffering Dorrie experiences over the loss of her beloved husband, Larry, while perhaps feeling a bit jealous over this fictional character's ability to go back in time to the lovely woman she once was. Mandel does a superb job of delving into Dorrie's  mind so the reader gets to experience everything right along with her. In what I felt was an excellent decision on the author's part, the reader is also able to understand the motives of Roman Remington, Larry's boss, and the gorgeous face behind the Life is for Living Institute. Switching between Dorrie's and Roman's points of view adds an extra emotional and gripping element to the story, especially as the suspense increases.

The ending is fabulous and sets up the sequel nicely. I'm eager for the next book. Forever Young is definitely worth checking out.

Title: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse
Author: Morgan Mandel
Publisher: Choice One Publishing Co.
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
SRP:  $2.99

I received a free Kindle version of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

This is the first book I've read for the following challenges: