Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pump Up Your Book! Announces January ‘13 Authors on Virtual Book Tours


Start the new year off with a great book! Pump Up Your Book is showcasing 45 authors with 56 books in a variety of genres: numerous thrillers, romance novels, crime drama, American history books and more. Follow our tours to see how you can enter for a chance to win fabulous prizes like the new Kindle Fire HD!

Several authors make a return appearance in January. Michael An’gileo tours with “The Bluelite Message,” Thomas Block talks about his thriller, “Captain,” and Richard Blunt continues his tour for “Grand Theft Magic.” Other returning authors include: V. Frank Asaro, A. B. Bard, Marc Cortez, Susan DiPlacido, Brandt Dodson, Deborah Dupre, C. Elizabeth, Mike Faricy, Cynthia Gail, Fumi Hancock, Jameson Hesse, Nya Jade, Darlene Josaphe, Ingrid King, John Knoerle, Bruce Meisterman, Greg Messel, JB Miller, Rachel Reynolds, Morrie Richfield, Kyle Scott, Hunter Shea, and Mark Spivak.

Thrillers come to you from H. W. “Buzz” Bernard, Gary Grossman, LC Kanon, and Stefan Vucak, while Penny Kim tours with her chick lit novel, “Desert Wedding.” You’ll find romance novels from Holly Bush and Catherine MacDonald, and James Mace tours with his two historical fiction novels, “I Stood with Wellington” and “Forlorn Hope.”

Also on tour in January are: Ryan J. Cunningham, Monica Daddio, Rita Garcia, Irene Helenowski, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Suzanne Jenkins, and Lory Kaufman. Don’t miss Tessa Stockton’s Book Blast that starts on January 14th.

January is also host to the memoir “French Illusions” by Linda Kovac-Skow, “Voodoo in My Blood” by Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat, the Christian business book, “Road to Damascus” by William Y. Higgins, and the political humor book, “It’s Nut Cuttin’ Time America” by Patrick Dorinson.

Visit YouTube at to view a video trailer introducing our clients on tour in January.

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

Contact Information:

Dorothy Thompson
Founder of Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Tours

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: Season for Miracles by Marilyn Pappano

A touching seasonal romance comes to you from Marilyn Pappano.

Emilie Dalton flees Boston with her nieces and nephew rather than let them be placed into the same broken foster care system that complicated her life. Lost while driving in a snowstorm, Emilie and the children arrive in the small town of Bethlehem. Taking refuge in a vacant old Victorian home, the neighbors assume she is the mysterious owner finally coming to claim the house that has been empty since the death of Miriam Pierce. In order to keep the children safe and cared for, Emilie plays along with the charade, making friends and melting the heart of police officer Nathan Bishop. But what will happen if everyone finds out the truth?

I decided to read this book after seeing the Hallmark movie based upon it. You can read my review of the movie here. I am surprised how closely the movie followed the book. There are some changes: Emilie's last name is Thompson instead of Dalton; there are only two kids in the movie--Alanna and J.T.--whereas the book has two girls--Alanna and Josie--along with a brother named Brendan; and I don't recall there being a full explanation as to how and why Nathan ended up in Bethlehem. The presence of the angel is also clearer in the movie than in the book.

Some of the reviews I've read of Season for Miracles said they liked the movie better. I felt the movie storyline was a bit clearer, but Pappano has written a heartwarming story of one woman's unconditional love that is pushed to every limit. Emilie doesn't want to lie to everyone, but she has so few choices if she wants to keep the children out of foster care--a system she knows well, and one that practically destroyed her and definitely destroyed her sister, Berry, who has become a drug addict looking for love in all the wrong places.

From the moment I opened the book, I was captivated. Part of that was because I knew the story, but more of it was because I wanted to experience the characters the way the author fully intended. Pappano totally captured me with this romantic tale of the season. The book contains some sex scenes that weren't part of the Hallmark movie. I didn't find them necessary, since those scenes didn't have a great impact on the overall story. Nathan and Emilie's connection went deeper than their physical relationship, and with talk of God and the presence of the angel so important to how everything is resolved, that aspect of the book threw me off a bit.

If you get a chance to read Season for Miracles it will touch your heart.

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Warner Books (December 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446603562
ISBN-13: 978-0446603560

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Interview with Cindy McDonald, Author of Dangerous Deception

For the past twenty years Cindy has helped her husband raise, train, and race Thoroughbreds at their forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables near Pittsburgh.

During those years Cindy has paid close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the track. She found the situations and life style most intriguing. In 2005 she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life that few understand.

Cindy has recently retired from making her living as a professional choreographer. She owned and operated Cindy McDonald’s School of Dance since 1985. She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon University to name a few. She has choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.

To find out more about future books of the Unbridled Series, please visit Cindy’s website at:

How to contact Cindy McDonald:

My website:

My FB page:

I’m a goodreads author:

Yep, I’m on twitter. Here’s my handle: @cindymcdonald7

My books are available on amazon:

Hot Coco:

Dangerous Deception:

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. I love the people. They are friendly and generous and God do they love their sports teams—especially the Steelers, but then again it’s been rumored that even God is a Steelers fan.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a teen but life happened—getting married, having children, opening my dance school, and everything else that life shoveled in my direction. It wasn’t until 2005 that I sat down in front of my computer and started pounding out the Unbridled scripts. I don’t know what made me sit down, but I felt a tug to start writing and I’m so very glad that I did.

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

I love to write in the evening, it is the quiet time of day, and my thoughts turn to my latest Unbridled adventure, and what dodgy debacle I will ask Mike, Shane, Punch, or Lugowski to walk into without hesitation. I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, check to see what my husband is watching on TV, I pour myself a glass of wine, and then retire downstairs to my office, where my characters live inside my computer. They are waiting for me—sometimes in a panic, depending on what state of affairs I’ve left them in the last time we met. I click on the file, take a deep breath, a sip of the wine, re-read what I wrote the night before, and then I ask myself one question: what if?

What is this book about?

Vic Deveaux’s glory days as a winning jockey have ended, but he refuses to accept that pile of horse hockey!

When the West family asks Vic to take an easier position at their Thoroughbred farm, Westwood, he becomes enraged and teams up with two greedy stable hands in a scheme to kidnap the youngest son, Shane.

Things turn ugly when Vic discovers that his new-found friends have murder on their minds. Suddenly Vic finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He has betrayed his good friend, Eric West, but will he participate in his son’s murder as well?

Not content to sit at home and wait for her men to bring her brother home, Kate West convinces homicide detective, Carl Lugowski, to check out a hunch at an old abandoned mansion. Soon they’re trapped in a hornet’s nest of a notorious biker gang.

Oh yeah, Vic’s deception has placed the West family in more danger than they know what to do with!

What inspired you to write it?

Actually, The Unbridled Series did not start out as a book series, but rather a TV drama and the Hollywood readers loved the premise and my scripts—I had written nineteen in all, an entire season. Problem was we just couldn’t sell it. Finally one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn the scripts into a book series.” And so I did! Dangerous Deception is one of the nineteen scripts. In other words, I have terrific outlines for quite a few books for this series.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Honestly, I love all my characters. Each one holds a special place in my heart, but if I had to pick one to write about today, it would be Lugowski—Lieutenant Carl Lugowski that is. He is a homicide detective at the Rosemount Police Department, and he dates Mike West’s ex-wife, Ava. Now here’s the kicker—he’s in love with Mike’s younger sister, Kate. Ouch! He wrestles and wrangles with his feelings for Kate because he has always been in love with Ava. And now Ava is exactly where he always wanted her to be—in his life and in his bed.

Lugowski also has a nicotine addiction. Boy oh boy do I have a blast writing in his struggle to give up those cigarettes, and all the little quirks that he has with the cancer sticks. Eric West once said to him (in the first book, Deadly.Com) “I thought you quit smoking.” Lugowski answer was—“It’s on my bucket list.”
Will Lugowski ever be able to kick the habit? Mmmm, not on my watch—he’s just too much fun to torment.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

All of my books can be purchased at,, and where all fine books are sold.

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

Yes, my daughter and I create all the book trailers for The Unbridled Series and we have a blast doing so. You can see the trailers for all the books on my website:

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

Write every day. Get a good editor and listen to their insights. A good writer only becomes better by accepting helpful criticism and putting it to use. Clutching your manuscript to chest and refusing suggestions is not a good plan in growth.

What is up next for you?

Presently, I am busy working on the fourth book of The Unbridled Series, Against the Ropes, which will be released in June 2013. I am always a book ahead and I am also planning a new series which I will be working on as soon as Against the Ropes is finished—I’m one busy author!

Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to thank Cheryl for hosting me today, and would like to wish everyone much success with their writing in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interview with Rozsa Gaston, Author of Running from Love

Rozsa Gaston is an author who writes serious books on playful matters. She is the author of Running from Love, Paris Adieu, Dogsitters, Budapest Romance, Lyric, and the soon to be released Paris Adieu sequel, Black is Not a Color Unless Worn By a Blonde. Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between Rozsa worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and runs with Van Cortlandt Track Club in the Bronx, NY.

Visit Rozsa at her website, or join the discussion of runners and romance and like her at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I always wanted to be someone else when I was a child. I was raised by my grandparents as an only child, and I always wanted to have brothers and sisters and a father and mother around. I think a lot of readers may relate to those unfulfilled longings.

Where did you grow up?

West Hartford, Connecticut.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Sitting out on the back patio in the summertime with my grandmother, looking at the sun go down over Avon Mountain while sipping black cows. I wrote a short story about it—"Black Cows at Sunset."

When did you begin writing?

Eight years ago in July, our daughter received a diagnosis of a permanent condition. I couldn't process it. That August I holed up in our study for the entire month and wrote my first book, Mystique. I was hooked on writing after that.

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

I'm like Balzac in my writing habits. He used to write every day from seven to eleven A.M. then go out to a cafe for lunch, then spend the rest of the day doing other things.

I write from eight thirty A.M. to three P.M., Mondays through Fridays. I'd love to go out to a cafe afterward, where I could sip a cappucino while editing my work. I just can't find any cafes in my neighborhood to go out to. It's probably just as well, since I have an eleven-year-old, a two-year-old, a husband and a dog to keep me busy when I'm not writing.

What is this book about?

Running from Love is about overcoming fears: 1) fear of falling in love again after getting burned the first time, and 2) fear of running downhill fast.

Farrah Foley runs the way she runs her love life—too cautiously. She slows down when it's time to fly. Getting dumped with no explanation by the love of her life, she's determined never to find herself in that position again.

When Jude Farnesworth comes along, Farrah is intrigued but fears she can't compete with the kind of high society women he's surrounded by from his town of Greenwich, Connecticut. Raised in Queens, she lives in the Bronx, where she runs with the Van Cortlandt Track Club. Down-to-earth yet vulnerable, she has no idea that Jude is attracted to the qualities in her she's trying hardest to hide.

Growing up on the fringes of affluence, Jude wants to write about straddling two groups, belonging to neither. But first he needs to finish ghostwriting TV financial expert Dan Perlstein's latest book "How to Marry Money." When Jude meets Farrah, for the first time he can see himself as an insider, the only other member of Farrah's club. But when Farrah discovers what Jude is writing about, she leaves him behind in the dust. Will Jude be able to catch her at the finish line?

What inspired you to write it?

The inspiration for Running from Love is my own track club, the Van Cortlandt Track Club of the Bronx, NY. The Van Cortlandt Track Club is based in Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest Bronx, next to Riverdale, the Bronx's wealthiest neighborhood. Some of New York City's finest private schools are located here and notables such as Joseph Kennedy and Arthur Toscanini lived in Riverdale. Running from Love is a paean to Riverdale and Van Cortlandt Park—a modest, homey area surrounded by natural beauty and overlooking the Hudson River.

Yes. Bronx mojo goes up against Gold Coast style when Farrah Foley of Van Cortlandt Track Club in the Bronx meets Jude Farnsworth of Greenwich Track Club. Cultural contrasts between the Bronx, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut are vast. It's a rich topic to explore. I hope my readers will have as much fun reading about the contrasts of these two clashing cultures as I did writing about them.

Who is your favorite author?

Françoise Sagan really bowled me over with Bonjour Tristesse. I'd love to hate her since she wrote it when she was seventeen, but I'm too busy learning from her for her spare, elegant prose style.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Running from Love is available in paperback and for Kindle at at The Kindle Edition is available FREE on for two days only, Thurs., Dec. 27 and Fri., Dec. 28.

Where can readers find you online?

Please like us at and add to the discussion of running and romance. Also visit, or follow me on Twitter at @rozsagaston.

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

I have two pieces of advice I'd like to share.

Never stop writing. Write because you love to write, because you can't live without writing. The more you write, the more your writing will improve.

Don't be afraid to offer the same message again and again. If it's a good one, people will want to hear it again and again. Messages on forgiveness, sacrificial love, revenge, ambition, passion, loss, desire don't get old. Readers will always be interested if they're delivered in readable, well-crafted prose.

What is up next for you?

I'm hard at work on Paris Adieu's sequel, Black is Not a Color ... Unless Worn by a Blonde. It's the story of a young woman's relationship with her father, who has a heart attack soon after she returns to New York from Paris. Caring for him consumes Ava, putting the brakes on her budding romance with Pierre, the Frenchman she has met at the end of Paris Adieu. There's another more important man in her life whom she needs to figure out first.

Zsolt Fodor is a Hungarian poet fond of saying crazy, cryptic things such as "black is not a color unless worn by a blonde." No one understands him, foremost of all, his daughter. Ava learns how to accept, love, and care for the man who fathered, but didn't raise her. It's a struggle, but with the help of friends she's made at her new job at the United Nations—a few Serbs and a Romanian—she begins to understand something of her father's own fractured background and the difficulties he has endured as an immigrant in New York City. By learning to love and forgive her father, Ava learns how to look at men in a new light. But is it too late to find Pierre again? I can't wait to finish the story and find out myself, so I can share it with my readers.

Any final words?

Start off the new year right and read about how to overcome relationship and running fears by downloading Running from Love for FREE onto your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or other device on Thurs., Dec. 28 or Fri., Dec. 29 only. If you've ever thought about dating a runner from your running club, or if you've ever wondered how to move on from fear of falling in love again after a bad experience, Running from Love is the book for you.

2013 Ebook Challenge

The 2013 Ebook Challenge is hosted by Workaday Reads. Encouraging readers to expand past just physical books to embrace ebooks in all forms, whether on Kindle, Kobo, computer, or any other reader.

Challenge Guidelines:

This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013.

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).

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

You can plan your books in advance or as you read them.

When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
You can move up levels, but no moving down.

Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.


Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
CD – 10 ebooks
DVD – 25 ebooks
Memory stick – 50 ebooks
Hard drive – 75 ebooks
Server – 100 ebooks
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. The linky will remain open for the remainder of the year, so if you forget, feel free go back and add them when you remember.

There will be a giveaway at the end of the year for everyone who achieves their goal level (or higher). If you are an author or publisher and want to contribute to the prize, please contact Sarah at Workaday Reads.

I choose a goal of DVD - 25 books. Here is my list, which is larger than my goal--just in case I can read more like I did in 2012.

Blood: The New Red by David S. Grant
Anasazi Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Mayan Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Montezuma Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Desert Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
For the Birds by Aaron Paul Lazar
FireSong by Aaron Paul Lazar
Resonances by Mary Andrews
Rose of the Adriatic by K. M. Daughters
The Second Republic: Trapdoor by Steven Bradley Clarke
The Covert Element by John L. Betcher
Fur Ball Fever by Maureen Fisher
Fire Men by Gary R. Ryman
The Pull of Gravity by Brett Battles
Angels Don’t Die by Soren Petrek
Patience by Soren Petrek
Snow Burn by Joel Arnold
Dominic by Hazel Statham
George Washington Stepped Here by K. D. Hays
Godchild by Vincent Zandri
Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long
Little Girl Gone by Brett Battles
Never without Hope by Michelle Sutton
Obsession by Sally Royer Derr
Possession by Rene Gutteridge
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider by Ellen C. Maze
Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant
The Remains by Vincent Zandri
Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales
Walking through Walls by Karen Coiffi-Ventrice
Devil's Hand by M.E. Patterson
The Chosen by Andrea Buginsky
Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardiff
The Next Best Bride by Kelly McClymer

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 Catch Up Reading Challenge

Books, Bones & Buffy

With 2012 coming to a close, I've been reviewing my extensive TBR pile. I thought I would read more than I did this year, and I know I owe several people reviews. That's why 2013 is going to be the year for me to work on catching up. This challenge from Books, Bones & Buffy will be perfect for me!

Here are the rules for the Challenge:

1. Select the books you’d like to “catch up” on during the year. There is no minimum or even a limit on the number of books. It’s really up to you.

2. Grab the challenge button and post it on your sidebar.

3. Do a Catch Up Challenge blog post listing the books you’d love to finally get to read in 2013. Include the button in your post and link back to the original post.

4. Every time you read one of your catch up books, write a review and let her know about it in the comment section of this post. She would love to see what you’re reading! You can easily find this post again by clicking the Catch Up Challenge button on my sidebar. It will take you right back there.

5. PRIZES!! For every ten bloggers or reviewers that sign up, she will have a giveaway. And for each of your challenge book reviews, you’ll get an entry into the giveaway. Giveaways will be spread out during the year to give you time to read and review your books.

6. You don’t have to have a blog to participate! You can post reviews on Goodreads too, just let her know in the comments where to find your review.

Now that you know the rules, here are the books I want to catch up with in 2013:

Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins
The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner
Help! For Writers by Roy Peter Clark
The Kensei by Jon F. Merz
Love Your Husband Love Yourself by Jennifer Flanders
Dead Reckoning by Caitlin Rother
Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease by Eric M. Osanksy
The Third by Abel Keogh
Zero Day by Mark Russinovich
Water to My Soul: The Story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney by Pamela Bauer Mueller
The Map Across Time by C.S. Lakin
Miracle Play by Lynn McMonigal
Forsaking the Call by Lynn McMonigal
The Ladies of Faith by Lynn McMonigal
Mama’s Comfort Food by Rhett DeVane
Blood: The New Red by David S. Grant
Anasazi Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Mayan Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Montezuma Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
Desert Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
For the Birds by Aaron Paul Lazar
FireSong by Aaron Paul Lazar
Resonances by Mary Andrews
Rose of the Adriatic by K. M. Daughters
The Second Republic: Trapdoor by Steven Bradley Clarke
The Covert Element by John L. Betcher
Fur Ball Fever by Maureen Fisher
Fire Men by Gary R. Ryman
The Pull of Gravity by Brett Battles
Angels Don’t Die by Soren Petrek
Patience by Soren Petrek
Snow Burn by Joel Arnold
Dominic by Hazel Statham
A Dream Unfolding by Karen Baney
A Heart Renewed by Karen Baney
A Wedding to Die For by Heather Haven
Alone by Lisa Gardner
American Lion by Jon Meachum
Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib
Assumption of Right by Annabel Aidan
Cabal of the Westford Knight by David S. Brody
Calling the Dead by Marilyn Meredith
Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson
Dancy's Woman by Lori Copeland
Daughter of Liberty by J.M. Hochstetler
Dead Man's Gambit by Frank Scully
Deadly Omen by Marilyn Meredith
Deadly Trail by Marilyn Meredith
DeadMistress by Carole Shmurak
Exiles on Main Street by Lisa Kleinholz
George Washington Stepped Here by K. D. Hays
Godchild by Vincent Zandri
Here's the Story by Maureen McCormick
Hide by Lisa Gardner
Intervention by Marilyn Meredith
Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long
Little Girl Gone by Brett Battles
Little Mountain by Bob Sanchez
Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan
Mother's Day Murder by Leslie Meier
Native Son by J. M. Hochstetler
Never without Hope by Michelle Sutton
Obsession by Sally Royer Derr
One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller
Possession by Rene Gutteridge
Preaching to the Corpse by Roberta Isleib
Property by Valerie Martin
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider by Ellen C. Maze
Red Dust by Fleur McDonald
Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
Silenced Cry by Marta Stephens
Starting Over by Laura Rittenhouse
Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant
The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A.K. Arenz
The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher
The Confession by Beverly Lewis
The Fairy Tale Bride by Kelly McClymer
The Fire in Ember by DiAnn Mills
The Fisherman's Wife by Dianne Sagan
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis
The Remains by Vincent Zandri
The Shunning by Beverly Lewis
The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Faust
Uncertain Ground by Carolyn Osborn
Unequally Yoked by Marilyn Meredith
Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales
Walking through Walls by Karen Coiffi-Ventrice
When Pigs Fly by Bob Sanchez
Why I Left the Amish by Saloma Furlong
Wing Beat by Marilyn Meredith
Devil's Hand by M.E. Patterson
The Chosen by Andrea Buginsky
Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardiff
The Next Best Bride by Kelly McClymer

2012 Reading Challenges Update

There are only a few more days left in 2012, so I figured I would update my progress on the reading challenges I participated in this year.

I set myself a goal of 10 books and I easily met that one. I probably should have gone for a higher level, but I honestly didn't plan on reading that many e-books when I started this year.

While I read 131 books this year, I only read 62 books that applied to this challenge. My reading time was significantly lower than usual, so that didn't help.

Since I chose the second level (24 books) for this challenge, I didn't meet my goal. I did, however, read 12 books in these genres, so I reached the first level.

There were a few more rules to this challenge, and non-fiction could not be included, so I read 38 books for this one.

I enjoyed participating in these challenges and am already browsing challenges for 2013. Did you participate in any challenges this year? How did you do?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We were blessed with a little of the white stuff today, making sure the children got their white Christmas. More of it on the way for tomorrow, so it's a good thing Santa brought me a couple of books.

I hope you and your family had a blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Free And Bargain Seasonal Kindle Downloads

It wouldn't be Christmas in Keeneston without a party! Everyone's invited, even Santa…

Kenna's court docket is full, Dani's hiding from her in-laws, Paige and Annie are about to burst from pregnancy, and Marshall is breaking up fights at the PTA Christmas Concert. The sweet potato casserole is made, the ham and biscuits are on the table, and men are losing their shirts - and not because of bets placed with the Rose Sisters! All the while, the entire town is wondering one thing: who is the Secret Santa that showed up with special gifts for everyone?


Ruby Miller is the best ice-skater in the community and Jesse Fisher wants lessons from her so he can attend the Christmas Skate Party. Will Ruby's overbearing cousin, Priscilla, get in the way?

Priscilla Miller has no intention of letting anyone get close to her after losing her father and brother in a buggy accident. Will Tobias Fisher and his quest for making snow angels be able to turn her attention from the mischief she's stirring up in the community?

Eden Fisher has always dreamed of living in a house she'd always called the "Gingerbread Haus". But when it is condemned by the city, will her dreams fall apart if the haus is demolished?

Gabriel Miller had been secretly in love with Eden since grade school. Will he be able to save her dreams from falling to peaces along with the gingerbread haus?


Rebecca King has only been married for four weeks when a snow storm threatens to keep her and her new husband, Gideon Stoltzfus apart for their first Christmas. She watches the snow falling from the kitchen window as she helps her mamm prepare the Christmas supper.

Despite being apart, she takes comfort in reflecting on their courtship and marriage, knowing that God will provide for their future. But does Gideon have different plans?


Hans Christian Andersen, April 2, 1805 - August 4, 1875) was a Danish author and poet noted for his children's stories. During his lifetime he was acclaimed for having delighted children worldwide, and was feted by royalty. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages. They have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.  


Madison Segalle’s Christmas plans became derailed the moment she, her mother and her sisters were hauled into Mall Jail for unsportsmanlike shopping on Black Friday. Armed with a Bible and a Josh Groban Christmas CD, Madison’s father decides it’s time to put the Christ back into Christmas by outlawing all the trappings of the overly commercialized holiday. When Madison falls for a boy with his own religious crisis, can she find the true meaning of the season despite a questionable Christmas pageant with a rent-a-donkey? Some adult language.


Prices can change at any time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Union Hypocrisy by R.M. Smith

A former member of the Teamsters Union, author R. M. Smith writes how she discovered the union she believed in did not exist. Instead, she found groups that were more consumed with their own power than protecting the members they claimed to serve.

Union Hypocrisy is a revealing look into the motives and politics that flow through today's unions. Smith provides numerous examples of how unions rally against corporations for anti-worker policies they themselves utilize. She also creates a compelling case that indicates they prevent their own staff from unionizing, but condemn companies like Walmart for doing the same.

I approached Union Hypocrisy with a bit of bias. While unions were vital in fighting for workers' rights when they began, now they have become one part of a huge broken political system that has failed the middle class time and again. The little guy has been squeezed out of the game by a rich elite who can "buy" what it needs, all the while trying to convince the rest of us that they have our best interests at heart.

Much of what Smith discusses didn't come as a shock to me. You can tell by the details she provides, the quoted material, and the works cited in the References section that she knows what she's talking about and has performed additional research to back up her arguments. While the decision to resort to name calling in the book and  the use of certain colorful words did not win me over, one can't deny the experience and knowledge the author brings to the table.

For some, including myself, the shock comes when certain celebrity names and politicians are mentioned as not being union-friendly when one would assume they are. That was the most interesting aspect of the book for me. I definitely felt Union Hypocrisy was an eye-opener from that perspective. I won't reveal those names, since I feel it's worth checking out the book for those sections alone.

Those following current events and politics would be interested in this book.

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1478275162
ISBN-13: 978-1478275169
SRP: $12.99
Also available in electronic formats
Purchase this book at Amazon!

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 61st book I've read for the following challenge:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Interview with John Catenacci, Author of Dianna's Way (Giveaway)

After spending his youth doing cement construction work while getting his education, John Catenacci earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He went on to work on the Apollo 11 Project as a member of the USAF in California, then as an engineer for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI, doing both process research as well as designing and building chemical plants.

Mid-career he became interested in group dynamics, leading to another 20-year career in team building that took him across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Saudi Arabia.

With a sprinkling of published short stories and articles in small magazines along the way, his abiding passion has always been writing, something now coming to fruition in this, his first book.

Please tell us about your current release.

I will use the back cover copy as it works pretty well on its own.

John Catenacci is enthralled from the start by the beauty, radiance, and mystery of the much younger woman he meets at a party. Dianna “is in Technicolor and everyone else is in black and white.” Expecting to be the teacher, not the student, John is humbled by the gradual discovery that the opposite is true, in their marriage and in life. The author is profoundly awed by Dianna’s courage, determination, and lightness of being that remains entirely undiminished in the face of what becomes a seventeen-year battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. John accompanies Dianna each step of the way, and is increasingly amazed by the undeniable healing affect she has on others. Theirs is a shared spiritual journey into the nature of love and transformation. Even after her passing, their relationship pierces the illusion veiling this reality.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

At some point in our life together, I began to notice Dianna was living her life in a genuinely powerful, almost mysterious (to me) way and suggested to her that I write her story. She was as delighted as any child running down the stairs on Christmas morning. But, as her health deteriorated, I became focused on care giving and put the writing aside. After she died, I was engulfed in grief and for a couple of years I just couldn’t climb out of it. One day, I happened upon a book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, which I credit with guiding me back into the game.

The book is in five parts. The first four recount our life together with the fifth devoted to my personal spiritual journey of coming to terms with her leaving, my long view of who she was and what I learned from her. The first four parts flowed like water once I began to write but I struggled mightily with the last part. Yet it is this last part that weaves together the whole of her life, her message, in a way very satisfying to me.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

Well, originally the cover was going to be centered on the photo of Dianna that is now on the back cover. I love this photo of her – it is quintessential Dianna in an image.

However, my editor, Marly Cornell, convinced me this was going to be an ineffective cover and, after accidentally seeing the photo of Dianna and me from the rear taken by a dear friend/professional photographer, Giovanni Sanitate, she instantly said, “This is the one. Use this one.” Well, it has taken most of my life but I have finally learned to listen and follow advice when the advice comes from someone I respect. So, now, everyone gets to see my bald head instead of Dianna. More mystery, more intriguing, Marly said. Probably because anyone looking at it would wonder what this young woman is doing with this old man.

Anyway, unwilling to let it go completely, I pushed Dianna’s photo to the back cover because I wanted it to be seen and seen in color.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

Everyone is unique. No one could have written this book but me and no one else has existed nor ever will exist who is like Dianna. So her story and how I have written it is like no other book anyone has ever read. Of course, this does not make it a good book but simply a unique one. I have read quite a few memoirs, many involving illness, care giving – and some of them were really good. What I think makes this book special is what made Dianna special, what made our relationship special – so much laughter, optimism, ways of constantly making lemonade when we needed it, and, finally, the deeply spiritual orientation to the book’s message – good or bad, there is nothing fluffy about where Dianna goes in her life nor in the way I have chosen to examine her life …. and the very meaning of life itself.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to write in sentence fragments and the entire book is a sort of a mosaic – there are chapters that are conventionally chronological because they had to be but other parts of the book are like bursts of light shining on an amazing woman so the reader can enjoy her in the way I – and all who knew her – enjoyed and were inspired by her. I am so happy with how the entire tapestry came together into a whole. I think Dianna is too.

Of course I could go into grammar and punctuation, which I thought I knew. And my love of ellipses and my aversion to the word “that” and my unconscious tendency to start sentences with “So.”

So, my early readers and editor ripped me to pieces on those “quirks.”

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

In my reality, nothing in life is random — or accidental. When I was about to write this response, I happened to look out the window and saw three – three – hummingbirds dancing around a honeysuckle – have never seen this before – like Dianna saying “talk about the hummingbird chapter.”

While I was writing the book, it occurred to me to use a hummingbird as one metaphor for how Dianna lived her life – flitting from person to person, embracing their love wholeheartedly while impregnating each one with a simple grace, unflagging humor and ineffable love in return, all in one magical spontaneous exchange.

The look of triumph on her face, her excitement and joy, when the first hummingbird showed up in our yard was unforgettable. She had worked so hard for several years, planting for them, and finally there it was, this little Ruby Throated blur. In that moment I saw, once again, her determination, patience, faith, appreciation and gratitude all in one tiny vignette during one day of our lives.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

An already almost fully formed book is in my mind now. Better writers than I have said don’t talk about a book idea or the energy for writing it will bleed away, leaving it stillborn.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo and The Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware because I am old enough now where I should pay attention to these things — probably before tomorrow — and A Broken Sausage Grinder by Hank Thomas, a friend of mine and The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele, a relative and friend of mine. I often read several books at a time, switching back and forth depending on my mood. All are interesting in different ways and for different reasons.

There is so very much talent in the world, isn’t there?

Read an excerpt!

The End of Something
     “Honey, why don’t we make love anymore?”
     We are in bed. Dianna is reading a book about healing cancer, while
I’m thumbing through a bird hunting magazine. Dianna lays her book
on the end table and rolls over toward me. I lay down the magazine, too.
She has my undivided attention now.
     “I think we make love every day in some way,” I say.
     “You know what I mean.”
     I let out a big sigh. We have not had sex since the transplant. I have
been thinking about this for quite a while, and nothing ever comes up
making sense to me.
     “Don’t you find me desirable anymore? Do you still love me?”
     “Do you actually have to ask me that?” I’m looking her right in the
eye. “I love you more now than I ever have.”
     “I don’t have a way to explain it. It’s not that I don’t find you attractive
or desirable. It’s just with everything that has happened to us, to you, I
just…I don’t know what to say.”
      “It’s because I’ve lost my breasts, isn’t it. You never touch them
     “Well, honey, we’ve discussed that already. You’ve admitted you
don’t have any feeling there anymore. Why would I touch them? I don’t
fondle doorknobs, either. But, anyway, your breasts have nothing to do
with it.”
     “Then, what?”
     “The only way I can put it is, I love you very much, and more and
more with each passing year. But expressing my love for you in a sexual
way feels…I don’t know…just feels inappropriate somehow.”
     “Like you will hurt me or something?”
      “I guess so. No matter how much you love someone, if the person
you love is wounded and bleeding, you don’t try to have sex with them.
Feels… just doesn’t feel…right. You protect them. You care for them, not
have sex with them. Something like that.”
     “I’m not a cripple, you know. I’m not a piece of glass. I won’t break.”
     “I know that, honey.”
      “I’m a woman with womanly needs. I still desire you sexually. I would
love to have sex with you like a normal human being.” She slides her arm
under my arm. “I feel rejected. That hurts.”
     “I realize that. I feel terrible about it. Don’t you think I haven’t thought
about how much you’ve lost? You have lost your dream of having a child.
Now your menstrual cycles have ended, reminding you that all you are
going to get from now on is hot flashes instead of the child you so dearly
wanted. You’ve lost your breasts, a part of you, you were always so proud
of…, and you have lost your hair twelve times. You…”
     “Three times.”
     I laugh. Then, so does she, a little.
     “What I’m trying to say, maybe not very well, is I realize all these
losses assail your femininity, of what it means to be a woman, …and…
not having sex with your partner is just another thing piled on top of all
the rest. It’s the last thing you need to have happen in your life, right now.
I know I can’t feel what you feel exactly…, but I do understand these are
losses you deal with every day. That’s why it hurts me so much to be stuck
like this, this way.”
     “Then, I don’t understand why you would want to deprive me of this,
     My eyes are getting wet, and my heart is thick in my throat.
     “Believe me, if I could do anything about it, I would. I just can’t. Men
can’t fake it, you know.”
     “I don’t want you to fake it.”
      I put my arms around her and pull her close to me. I can’t stop the
tears now.
     “And so I don’t. I’m not faking my love for you, either. I would do
anything I know how to do for you. I do what I can. I’m so sorry, honey.”
      She starts to cry, softly, quietly, burying her head into my neck.
     “So am I,” she whispers.
     We fall into silence. There doesn’t seem to be anything else to say. I
keep my arms around her, and she keeps her arm over me.
     We fall asleep that way.

The Beginning of Something Else
     The next morning, I get up, leaving Dianna still asleep, and go into the
kitchen to make coffee. My back is facing the hallway to the bedroom.
Suddenly I feel her arms around me as she lays her head sideways against
my back.
     “I know what love is, John.”
     “You do?” I ask without turning toward her.
     “Look at me,” she says.
     I turn around and look into her eyes. They look wet, but she’s
smiling. “Love is the way you are with me,” she pauses, then, in a more
perky tone of voice, “And the way I am with you, too.”
     Now I can’t help it. I fall apart. She wraps her arms tight around me
and I bury my head into her neck.
     “It’s going to be okay,” she says.
     “It is okay,” she says, then adds, “More than okay.”
     After a minute, she steps back and looks at me with a smirk on her
face. “Do you ever desire other women?”
     I think about that minefield, but decide to go ahead anyway. “Of course.
Once in awhile, I do. Some women are sexually attractive and, …and don’t
look wounded to me, I guess. Must be about a billion of ’em out there.”
     She smiles, gives me a little kiss on the cheek, then walks over to
the dining room window and looks out over the lake. Finally, she says
quietly, without looking at me, “Maybe one day, honey, you’ll see we are
all wounded.”
     I stop pouring water into the coffee pot in midstream, about to enlist
my skills in mental masturbation, when she darts away to a different
     “Oh, honey, I think it’s going to be a beautiful day today. In fact, I’m
sure it is.” She comes across the room and peeks over the bar. “Oh. Are
you making coffee for me?”
      “Everything is for you,” I say with a smile.

Price: $16.95
Format: paperback
Pages: 365
Publisher: Spiritdogtalking
Release: December 14, 2012

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview with Frank Nappi, Author of Nobody Has to Know

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood on Long Island.

When did you begin writing?

I have a vague recollection of when I began writing. I can remember writing a story when I was very young - maybe five or six years old. It was about a king who rescues a girl and makes her his queen. Not really sure where the idea came from, or even how good it was. I just remember my mom typing it for me when I was finished and that image always makes me smile. Professionally? I published my first novel with St. Martin’s Press in 2005 and have had the good fortune of publishing three more since then.

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

What is this book about?

Nobody Has to Know is a dark and somewhat daring psychological thriller that, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love. On a more profound level, Nobody Has To Know illustrates how the landscape of our past influences our present and how, sadly, some of these more indelible moments hold us prisoner for the duration of our lives.

What inspired you to write it?

The book was inspired by the same thing that always inspires me - Essentially, when I observe a facet of the human condition that I feel is worthy of exploration, I begin to create scenarios or vehicles through which I may examine this. The rest of the process sort of evolves from there.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Despite his flaws, Cameron is my favorite character in the book. He is multifaceted and complex. He is also the embodiment of so many good people who have lost their way due to past experiences that have fractured their psyches.

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

I’d say I hit a pot hole or two with this one. No doubt. But in the end, I could not be more pleased about the release of Nobody Has To Know.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

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

Yes, I do. The trailer may be accessed from my site -

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

This is perhaps the area of the publishing process fraught with the most uncertainty. So much of what we do ourselves as authors promotionally is fruitless. It is tough out there. But I would have to say that offering the first two chapters of the book on-line for free, a suggestion made to me by my very talented publicist, has been nothing short of brilliant.

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

It is what I was told years ago. Just keep writing. As Ernest Hemingway would say, “Sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

What is up next for you?

Well, after completing Nobody Has To Know, I began working on the final installment of my Mickey Tussler series. The book is called Welcome To The Show. I have also begun playing with an idea for a second thriller but that is still very much in its incipient stages.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just a most sincere thank you to readers for their interest. And a warm invitation for them to visit my website ( and drop me a quick note. I love reader emails! And, I answer all of them.

Price/Format: $3.99, ebook
Publisher: G Agency LLC
Release: October 16, 2012

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Novella Review: Her Handyman by Morgan Mandel

If you enjoy romantic comedies, Her Handyman by Morgan Mandel should be on your electronic device.

This novella length romance finds Jake responding to the penthouse of a rich, quirky artist. A "jack of all trades" handyman who has a penchant for helping people with their problems, he's enjoying his life and looking forward to his marriage to the beautiful Angelina. So why is he so taken with Zoe, an oddball artist who lives like a hermit with her ugly little dog, FuFu?

Her Handyman is a sweet, funny romance. Mandel has a knack for creating characters whose lives you dive right into. Jake and Zoe are perfect examples. Jake is this really great guy who has a lot going for him: a good job, a lovely fiancée, and the admiration of many. People truly appreciate all Jake does for them. Zoe, on the other hand, is this kooky artist-type who changes costume to get into character to paint, doesn't clean her penthouse because she's too caught up in her work, and has this secret fear that all men are bad. While I couldn't relate much to either of them, it still worked because the author created them to be people I wanted to care about; people I wanted to see together.

Knowing that Jake was engaged at the beginning of this, I wondered how Mandel would pull off his doubting his relationship with Angelina. Could the author get Jake and Zoe together and still keep Jake likable to the reader? She did that, and more. By the time this novella is over, you understand Jake's actions and are glad he did what he did. The secondary story of Zoe's relationship with her father Carmen was a nice touch. It helped to round out her character.

What I thought was smart considering the length of this story is that the majority of the novella was focused on the two main characters. There were secondary characters around, but not a lot of time was spent with them, so the reader comes away feeling like she followed these two people on a wonderful journey to discovering each other.

Another A+ for Morgan Mandel. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

File Size: 282 KB
Print Length: 121 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Choice One Publishing Co. (September 6, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
SRP: Only 99 cents at Amazon

I downloaded a paid copy of this book to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 61st book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 37th book I've read for the following challenge: