Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop

A wonderful and inspiring travel memoir filled with faith, adventure, and love is awaiting you in Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop.

Single and sometimes wondering if God would answer their prayers to find the person they could spend their lives with, Tim and Debbie met and married at the age of 52. Avid cyclists, they discovered each had a desire to ride across the country. After a romantic proposal and short engagement, their wedding would be followed by fulfilling their cycling dreams. Embarking on a coast-to-coast cycling tour armed with maps, gear, a sense of adventure, and their unwavering faith, the Bishops explore the country and navigate their new relationship over a summer they will never forget.

Two Are Better is a book that holds wide appeal. Cyclists and travelers will enjoy Tim's attention to detail as he shares their coast-to-coast journey: the technical stuff, like how he chartered their course, daily mileage, repairs along the road, and the difficulty of embarking upon such a journey without proper training, and also the beautiful descriptions of the areas he paints for the reader along the way that are accompanied by numerous color photographs. Singles and couples will be inspired by how these two people were brought together by God and the many tiny miracles along their journey as they learned a great deal about themselves and each other. Intermingled with Tim's narrative is Debbie's point of view on certain aspects of their lives before and during the trip, in addition to her thoughts on that final night before arriving in Maine.

While not someone who is interested in cycling, that didn't keep me from thoroughly enjoying Two Are Better. Tim speaks with an air of authority tempered by a deep love for life and Debbie has an adventurous heart. The numerous photographs and this couple's ability to share so much of themselves make this book a truly special reading experience. You simply can't help but get caught up in their story. I feel as if I've journeyed the country right alongside them and been treated to many sites I might not visit on my own. What a blessing.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Open Road Press (May 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985624825
ISBN-13: 978-0985624828

Available in paperback and digital editions. You can purchase directly from Open Road Press or at Amazon.

This is the 11th book I've read for the following challenge:

The author's publicist paid me a fee to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. This fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Release: Blog This by Cami Checketts

Will protecting children throughout the world cost Natasha her own family?

Devastated by the loss of her brother, Natasha Senecot works to expose the dangers of Matthew Chrysler’s violent video games, succeeding in bankrupting and humiliating him.

Chrysler retaliates and sends a hit man after her. Natasha is forced to fake her own death to protect her children, but after witnessing another tragedy, Natasha won’t hide any longer.

In a race against time, can Natasha expose Matthew Chrysler before his assassin murders her family and shatters her world?

From the very first chapter, Blog This grabs your gut and your heart with surprising action and touching moments. Cami Checketts blends suspense, humor, and good clean romance into a story that will stick with you.
Daniel Coleman, Author of Gifts and Consequences

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Have read all of Cami’s books but Blog This is on the top of my list. Read it twice and enjoyed it just as much the second time. Just when you think you know what is going to happen you’re led into a different direction. Had a hard time putting the book down and was anxious to see how it was going to end.
Elsa Akinason

Purchase here!

Cami Checketts is married and the proud mother of four future WWF champions. Sometimes
between being a human horse, cleaning up magic potions, and driving boys to lacrosse practice, she gets the chance to write fiction.

Cami graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Exercise Science. She is a pro bono fitness trainer and shares health and fitness articles at

Cami and her family live in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. During the two months of the year it isn't snowing, she enjoys swimming, hiking, biking, running, and water-skiing.

Visit Cami online at 

A portion of the proceeds from Cami's books will be donated to The Child & Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Spotlight: Good Intentions by D.N. Simmons

Scitech Labs was handsomely commissioned by the United States Military to design a revolutionary serum that would create the ultimate soldier.  If successful, the soldier would have an increase in endurance, strength, awareness and overall speed. They would become the true super soldier. That's if everything went according to plan. 

Scitech put its best scientists on the project and gave them a time limit to complete the job or else. With the pressure on and the stakes high, Vincent Masterson and his team put everything they had into the project. . Everything was looking hopeful until an experiment went horribly wrong. The scientists mutated their specimen's DNA, turning it into something monstrous. Now, life as we know it will never be the same. 

   As it stands, the only thing that can save them is one of the two things they should be running from. 

  Can the human race survive being caught in a bloody war between two vicious predators?


The Director of the Biological Research Department of SciTech Laboratories, Dr. Steve Morris sat at
his desk in his comfortable black, leather chair as he spoke with the military general across from him.
“I'm sure I don't have to tell you that this little experiment is to be kept top secret?” General Bradley
Fuller reiterated. His cold blue eyes attempted to cut ribbons through the debonair attitude of the younger
Dr. Morris cleared his throat, blatantly ignoring the General’s glare. “I understand full well the
importance of secrecy in this matter and I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about.”
“If it's all the same to you, I'll be the judge of that. Trusting SciTech Labs with this wasn't my choice.
However, this company came highly recommended as one of the top labs in the entire country, so here I
am.” The General crossed one leg over the other as he rested his hands on his knee. “What can you
guarantee as the turnaround time? We want results as soon as possible.”
“Well, from what you've shown me, it's an unknown substance. It might help us if you can give me a
little more background on the compound. It would help us to know where it came from,” Steve said.
The General frowned. “Unfortunately, that's classified.”
Steve scoffed. “General, you've got my hands tied—”
“It's need to know and you don't have the clearance,” Gen. Fuller interjected brashly. “If you don't
think your department can work under those circumstances I'll inform my superiors of your
“General, please, there's no need for rashness. I only want to give the United States Military Forces our
very best effort.”
“The United States Military isn't looking for 'effort', Doctor. We're looking for results and with what
you're being offered to come up with those results, failure is not an option. Are we clear?”
Gen. Fuller's stern gaze became even more intense. The nerves Steve was trying to ignore came roaring
to the forefront. He shifted in his chair, feeling a lot less comfortable.
Steve cleared his throat. “As they say in the military, crystal.”
Steve adjusted the knot of his tie, loosening the material a bit. The room was feeling a bit hotter than it
was several minutes ago before the general entered. He couldn't help but wonder if it was because the
heat was turned up or if it was just him.
“I'd like to meet the team you're going to assign to this experiment,” Gen. Fuller requested.
“Oh, of course. One minute.” Steven pressed several buttons on his phone keypad and a masculine
voice came over the intercom.
“Yes, Dr. Morris?” Dr. Vincent Masterson replied.
“I'd like you to gather your team and come to my office,” Steve ordered.
“We'll be there shortly.”
The line disconnected. The two men sitting in the office looked at each other for a few seconds before
Gen. Fuller broke the uncomfortable silence. “You still didn't give me a turnaround time.”
“You’ll have to forgive me General, but with so little information provided to us regarding this
compound, I can't in good conscious give you an exact date,” Steve said.
“You have six months.”
“Six months? I think it's premature to attempt to put a time limit on this project.”
“Regardless of your opinion, six months is the limit. We would prefer results before that date, of
course. You'll have every resource you'll need at your disposal. If after six months, you come to me empty
handed, you will lose the sizable grant your company is being awarded based on your success with this

Purchase at:
·         Amazon  
·         B&N

D. N. Simmons lives in Chicago IL., with a rambunctious German Shepherd that's too big for his own good and a mischievous kitten that she affectionately calls "Itty-bitty". Her hobbies include rollerblading, billiards, bowling, reading, watching television and going to the movies. She has been nominated at Love Romances and More, winning honorable mention for best paranormal book of 2006. She has won "Author of the Month" at Warrior of Words. She was voted "New Voice of Today" at Romance Reviews and "Rising Star" at Love Romance and More.

To learn more, and have the opportunity to speak with the author personally, please visit the official website and forum at . D.N. is always interested in meeting new and wonderful people.

·         Blog
·         Facebook Dead War
·         Facebook Good Intention
·         Twitter
·         Youtube:
·          Pinterest
·          Tumblr

Giveaways at the Facebook event page

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview with James Stone, Author of Crypto

Dr. Stone has a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, and numerous international certifications in computer security. He has worked at NSA, NASA, and the Department of Defense in various capacities, as well as having been a professor of engineering at a major university. He recently retired from engineering and plans to devote himself to writing. His first novel, CRYPTO, has just been released by Twilight Times Books and is available on Amazon.

When did you begin writing?

1st Grade. I’ve always liked to write.

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

Depends on what’s going on. Tomorrow I have to divert to finishing my 2012 taxes, which I’ve put off about as long as possible. I’m lured by the keyboard and go to it at every chance. Sometimes I’ll write all day. Sometimes I’ll be at the keyboard in the middle of the night. I have a very supportive wife.

What is this book about?

Spies, traitors, espionage, inter-agency conflict, etc.

What inspired you to write it?

Decades in the security business, plus actually knowing a traitor who was eventually caught.

For those of us who are unfamiliar with espionage terminology, what are cryptographic chips?
Cryptographics is a field of mathematics devoted to rendering messages unreadable except by a party that has the key to reversing the encryption. The chips in the book are silicon wafers using Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) to pack the encryption functions onto a singe chip. The crypto chips in the book are controlled items, unique to NSA. When they start showing up in boxes hanging from the backs of highway signs, all kinds of alarms go off.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I don’t have one. There are several sympathetic characters, and several who are despicable. I suppose my primary protagonist, Ellen Drew, must be favorite by default. But I really enjoyed building the characters and making them consistent, good or bad.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
Smooth as silk. Most of the six months time to publication was taken up going through edits. I didn’t understand “point of view” until the editor explained it, etc. The editor, through our iterations, made it a much better book. And the publisher was fabulous.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Twilight Times Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble. 

Being an author of spy novels, you must read a lot of them yourself. Who are some good authors in the field these days?
Too many to detail without shorting some. Plus, I read and enjoy many authors from other genres. My frustration is they don’t write fast enough. Somewhat the reverse of a character in a book who was said to read everything written by Stephen King, which doomed him to read only King since King could write faster than he could read. 

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

Just getting started promoting.

What is up next for you?

A Sci-Fi novel, half written.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Series Spotlight: The Bionics Series by Alicia Michaels


The year is 4010.

Nuclear war and the wasteful nature of humans have all but destroyed the United States. A new government regime rules the day with strict laws, rationed food, and careful control. When those injured in the nuclear blasts that rocked many of the nations largest cities are offered another chance by the Restoration Project, how could they refuse?

Little do they know that the robotic additions to their body will paint targets on their backs once the government decides that they are dangerous. At the forefront of the resistance is a girl with a bionic eye, Blythe Sol, who wants nothing more than to be a normal girl. Blythe has yet to realize that normal will never exist again for her, or anyone else.

The Revolution has begun...

All I ever wanted was to be a normal girl. I had dreams of joining the ranks of the Military Police and making my family proud. But the nuclear war that laid waste to our country destroyed any hope I had of being normal ever again. They took everything away from me, including my humanity. I am now half-human, half-machine, part of the never-ending freak show that is the Restoration Project.

They hate what they created and they fear us for being powerful.

And so they hunt us, destroying our lives so that they can bury what they built. What they don’t know is this: there is a Resistance out there and The Bionics aren’t going down without a fight.


“I wish that I had died that day,” I admit, unable to look away from his gaze no matter how much my mind tells me that I need to. “I wish that all the time.”

He inches closer to me on the bed. “Is it really so bad? Professor Hinkley gave you and the others a second chance at life. It’s not fair that the government has decided you and others like you pose a threat.”

I think about a news broadcast I saw a couple of weeks ago, showing a surveillance video of a man with an arm identical to mine smashing in the window of someone’s car and beating them to a bloody pulp for no reason, before pulling a limp body from the driver’s seat and driving off in the stolen vehicle. Of course the thief was found and immediately executed; no trail, no jury, no questions asked.

“Some of us are dangerous,” I answer, and of course, it’s the truth.

“Some people are dangerous,” he insists. “Bionics are still people….just modified.”

“Right now your blood pressure is 124/90, your heart rate is an elevated 70 beats per minute; not bad, but still high for a healthy male that I assume is athletic. You have a tattoo on your left arm of an eagle, and a fractured rib.”

“That is amazing.”

I shrug. “It’s my eye. It is capable of reading a person’s body heat signature as well as their vital statistics. It allows me to pull away individual layers, such as clothing, skin, and muscle to expose what’s underneath. It’s how I knew about the rib.”

I reach out with my bionic arm and poke the rib for emphasis, raising my eyebrows as he winces in pain. “Still think I’m human?”

Gage reaches for my arm—my robotic arm—and grabs it by the hand. I can’t feel it, or his hand circling the wrist above it. His eyebrows wrinkle as he turns my arm over, inside facing up. He traces the inside of my arm, his fingers sliding over the cool metal and, for the first time since I woke up with that hunk of machinery on the other end of my elbow, I am wishing that I could feel the damn thing.

“Cold,” he murmurs as he draws circles on the metal. His fingers stop on the inside of my elbow, on the line where the titanium ends and I begin. I hear his breath catch in his throat and another noisy swallow as the pad of his index finger slides over my skin. I gasp as he trails it up the inside of my arm, flesh now on flesh. The human contact that I’ve denied myself for years has left me sensitive to every touch, and I feel as if I’m being caressed for the first time.

Of course Dax has held my hand from time to time; he’s even held me against him some nights when the nightmares get particularly bad until I fall back asleep. But he’s never touched me like this, and while I’m no virgin I certainly feel like one right now. A thousand emotions are exploding in me at one time and just as many sensations are following the path his finger traces up to my shoulder, pausing at the strap of my tank top.

“Warm,” he says with a smile. “Only about….what…ten percent of you is metal. When I got past your elbow, I felt skin, blood flowing through veins, muscle, and…goose bumps?”

He says that last bit with a smile, forcing me to look away in embarrassment. He holds his arm out toward me, pulling up the sleeve of his shirt and revealing a tanned arm sprinkled with light blond hair, which is standing on end. He leaves the sleeve above his elbow and holds his arm out in front of me.

“See?” he says gently, his head way too close to mine, his breath brushing my cheek. “I have them too.”

I reach out with my human hand and touch his arm. His opposite hand comes up to cover mine.

“If anything,” he says, his fingers gripping mine tightly, “the additions to your body give you character. They tell a story about where you’ve been.”

He pauses, leaning in so close that locks of his hair brush my forehead. “Where have you been, Blythe?”

I know he’s referring to the screams and my nightmare. I wonder if I can put him off like I do the others, but quickly realize by the glint in his eyes that he’s not letting me off that easy. I clear my throat and open my mouth, but no sound comes out. Gage leans forward and presses his lips to mine, taking advantage of my open mouth to nibble on my lower lip.

With a soft sigh, he closes the distance between us and cups my face in his hands, taking my breath away with the simple act of molding his mouth to mine. My hands resting on his thick thighs, I come up on my knees on the bed, leaning into him, trembling both inwardly and outwardly, unsure of what I’m doing or why I’m doing it, but know that I can’t stop. Kissing Gage feels like walking down the street used to be before the government labeled Bionics as dangerous. It feels like freedom.

“Hey Blythe, I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking…”

Dax’s voice trails off as the door to the bathroom we share knocks against the wall, pushed open by my bone-headed best friend who never knocks because he knows I’m never doing anything he can’t see me doing.

Except this time.

This time, guilt propels me away from Gage and back against the headboard, my lowered eyelids shielding me from Dax’s dark glare.

“Sorry,” he says, sounding anything but. “Didn’t realize you’d have a visitor at three o’clock in the goddamn morning.”

Part of me wants to rip Dax a new asshole for being such a jerk. What right does he have being mad at me when I know he’s screwed Olivia on several occasions, and who knows what other groupies he’s got salivating over him in both Mosley and Hexley Halls? Another part of me feels like I just got caught doing something unforgiveable, although I’m not sure if it was that I kissed someone, or if it’s just the fact that the someone I kissed happens to be Gage.



We stand on the brink of a double rescue mission, a plan so foolhardy that even our bravest men are quaking inside with fear. Storm the capitol, free the prisoners, don’t get killed. It seems like a suicide mission, but not a single one of us has anything to lose.

In my past life, I was a scoundrel; a drug peddling street thug who cared nothing for anyone because I had no one to care for me. The nuclear blasts of 4006 reminded me of the value of life, and a girl with the saddest eyes I’ve ever gazed into gave me someone to care for. Now, as we embark on our most dangerous enterprise, I can only hope that we make it out alive and that those we have lost can be recovered.

Foolishness … fear … hope … These are the elements that threw our revolution into motion. As the momentum of the Resistance continues to build, we can only pray that hope continues grow larger than our fear.


Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. The mother of two and wife to an Army sergeant loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Spotlight: Murder Once Removed by Roz Russell

The truth can set you free...or get you killed.

Investigative reporter Jessica Curtis's life is about to turn upside down. Joe Taylor, her mentor for the past six years, is killed while investigating the murder of a high-profile Santa Fe art dealer and construction entrepreneur. Sensing the two are connected and determined to find her friend's killer, Jessica picks up the investigation where Joe left off and is quickly ensnared in the complex Santa Fe art world full of treachery, greed, and power--and deep connections to the world of politics. When the number of possible killers increases the number of people Jessica can trust quickly dwindles--including the enigmatic artist she has begun an affair with. As the tension mounts and body count rises, Jessica must answer the ultimate question: can she solve the case before the killer adds her to the list of victims?

A taut, suspenseful mystery that explores the nature of fate, the inevitability of certain life events, and the cascading consequences of one act as it influences everything that happens after, Murder Once Removed dives deep into the inner dimensions of the artistic mind to ask whether murder itself can be a form of art.

Publish Date: September 9th, 2013
Format: Softcover/E-book
Price: $12.00
ISBN: 978-1484820650
Published by: CreateSpace

Roz Russell was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and earned a degree in fine arts from the University of Texas, El Paso. She has spent most of her life in the Southwest, and in the past she has been a private investigator, travel agent, realtor, and an artist working in pottery and stained glass. She is a certified ESL teacher and a licensed dog groomer. Russell currently lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her dogs, Minnie and Coco.

Visit the author online at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogger: Karina Fabian, Author of Mind Over Psyche (Giveaway)

Can Deryl and his friend unlock the secrets of Deryl’s role on Kanaan before the Kanaan decide he is too dangerous to let live?

Deryl isn’t crazy; he’s psychic. Desperate to escape the insane asylum, Deryl teleports to Kanaan, a world of telepaths who regard him as an oracle. But freedom comes at a price. The Kanaan expect their oracle to teach them to use their powers to wage war. Meanwhile, he’s falling in love, but to be with her means to share his psyche, which could drive her insane. Most dangerous of all, he hasn’t escaped the Call of the Master, enemy of the Kanaan, whose telepathic manipulations were why Deryl was committed in the first place. Now, the Master will forge Deryl’s powers into a weapon to kill all he loves or destroy his mind trying.

Character Make-Over: Joshua Lawson
By Karina Fabian

(If you’ve not read Mind Over Mind, then caution: this post contains spoilers. Check out Mind Over Mind, the first book in the Mind Over trilogy here:

I’ve mentioned in several interviews over the years that the Mind Over trilogy started out as a novel I wrote in college. Like many first works, it was pretty pale, and after not succeeding in selling it, I had put it aside for ten years. Coming back with much living and writing experience under my belt, I realized just how two-dimensional I’d made the characters. I still loved the general idea of the story, however, so I rethought the characters and they turned the story from good to amazing.

Other blogs have covered how I altered the main character, Deryl Stephens, a psychic teenager. In a nutshell, I gave him so many problems concerning his telepathic abilities, I had to commit him for half a decade before I could start the story! Seriously, who has psychic contact with aliens and ends up well-adjusted? Today, however, I want to talk about his cohort, Joshua.

Joshua started out as Deryl’s roommate in college, a real redneck with cowboy boots and accent and a bad attitude toward his new East Coast yuppie roomie. Obviously, the revised Deryl never made it to college, so I needed a different reason for Joshua to interact with him. Psychiatric intern worked well, and kept him around the same age, plus allowed him to help Deryl as well as befriend him (much to the chagrin of Deryl’s lead psychiatrist). Joshua needed a special skill set, though; otherwise, why would his work be so much more effective than the counseling and drug therapy of five years at an expensive mental institution? Since I’d done some reading about neuro linguistic programming and think it a fascinating process, I made Joshua a natural at it, having learned it from his father growing up. However, my characters inevitably have minds of their own, so NLP was a fallback plan for Joshua, who really wants to be a singer and is only doing the summer internship to make money for college after having lost his scholarships.

In Mind Over Mind, Joshua provided pockets of normalcy and balance to Deryl’s fantastical experiences. But what happens when normal gets plopped into the fantastical?

This is what we explore in Mind Over Psyche, when Deryl teleports them to the planet Kanaan. There they encounter psychic aliens, dragons and unicorns, trees that grow to the size of school buildings, and the Miscria, who can alter the weather and the shape of the land with her mind.

What fun for a science fiction/fantasy geek like Joshua. NOT. When they first arrive, Deryl’s unconscious. Joshua can’t communicate. The unicorns look dangerous. The aliens try to kill him, and even after they “accept” him and Deryl, they don’t trust them. Joshua is umpteenth-billion miles from his family, his fiancé, his music…and before that summer, he’d never set foot out of Colorado. Worst of all, he’s not confident Deryl can get him home, ever.

All of Joshua’s self-assured manner from Mind Over Mind vanishes. His first reaction upon seeing the aliens is to throw his hands over his head and cry, “We come in peace!” He panicks, despairs, and at one point in the book has an anxiety attack. In other words, he reacts the way most people who love their life would if suddenly kidnapped from their homes.

Of course, it’s not all bad. He makes friends and becomes a favorite of the unicorns, especially after he discovers they aren’t so unlike the horses he raises at home. (He’s not a cowboy, but does have a horse and was in 4-H.) He discovers he has a healing talent, though it seems limited and only works on Kanaan. More importantly, he’ll need to use his psychiatric and musical skills to save both Deryl and the Miscria. How? Go read Mind Over Psyche and find out!

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories, like the Mind Over trilogy. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at

Find Karina at:
Google +:

E-book Giveaway: Here’s your chance to win a free electronic copy of Mind Over Psyche. Leave a comment or question (with email address).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O’Reilly and historian Martin Dugard’s Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.

Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus’s life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever.

Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.

The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She's changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She's never said a word--to the cops, to her doctors, to family--about those four years.

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn't find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years.

Bryce Bishop doesn't know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather's estate--and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor--she's decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she's willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She's not giving him much of an opening to work with.

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter...

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust.

Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser is convinced he is right and engages attorney Catherine Lockhart to bring Rosenzweig to justice. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's own family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has Solomon accused the right man?

Once We Were Brothers is Ronald H. Balson's compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.(Reviewing the first chapter of this book on October 9th.)

Snow is falling, cookies are baking, and Christmas is just around the corner in Willow Ridge, Missouri, where a new season marks fresh beginnings for the residents of this tranquil Amish town . . .

As another year draws to a close in Willow Ridge, life seems to be changing for everyone but Rhoda Lantz. Her widowed mother is about to remarry, her twin sister is a busy newlywed, and soon Rhoda will be alone in her cozy apartment above the blacksmith’s shop. An ad posted by an Englischer looking for someone to help with his mother and children may offer just the companionship she’s looking for, but if she falls for the caring single father, she may risk being shunned by her community. Certain she can only wish for things she cannot have, Rhoda must remember that all things are possible with God, and nothing is stronger than the power of love. (Reviewing November 8th.)

“The Christmas Visitors”: For spirited Martha Coblentz and her twin Mary, the snow has delivered the perfect holiday and birthday present to their door—handsome brothers Nate and Bram Kanagy. But when unforeseen trouble interrupts their season’s good cheer, it will take unexpected intervention—and sudden understanding—to give all four the blessing of a lifetime.

“Kissing the Bishop”: As the New Year’s first snow settles, Nazareth Hooley and her sister Jerusalem are given a heaven-sent chance to help newly widowed Tom Hostetler tend his home. But when her hope that she and Tom can build on the caring between them seems a dream forever out of reach, Nazareth discovers that faith and love can make any miracle possible. (Reviewing October 15th.)

Amanda Lambright loves Wyman Brubaker, and after four years as a single mother, she is grateful for his support and for this new chance at happiness as his wife. She’s confident that their children will get along just fine. But once Amanda’s clan moves into Wyman’s home, the tight quarters and Wyman’s reluctance to make changes to accommodate Amanda cause friction. The older kids are squabbling. The little ones are frequently in tears. Tiny Alice Ann isn’t speaking at all. Amanda and Wyman can’t find any privacy. And Amanda wonders if she’ll ever have a chance to pursue the pottery making that means so much to her.

Amanda believes that family lies at the center of any well-lived Amish life. Can she find the wisdom to guide the reluctant members of her new extended family toward the love that will bind them together? (Reviewing December 5th.)

When her unwed medical student daughter discloses that she is pregnant, Dr. Laura Branson is torn between excitement and fear. Until now, her beliefs and stance on pro-life issues have been more theoretical than personal. It isn’t until she receives a Christmas gift—a quilt that depicts the life of pioneer Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America—that she is forced to wrestle with her beliefs. What does she really believe, and will she have the courage to stand by her convictions?

Inspired by literature’s most haunting love triangle, award-winning author Lynn Cullen delivers a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allan Poe, his mistress’s tantalizing confession, and his wife’s frightening obsession . . . in this “intelligent, sexy, and utterly addictive” (M. J. Rose) new masterpiece of historical fiction.

1845: New York City is a sprawling warren of gaslit streets and crowded avenues, bustling with new immigrants and old money, optimism and opportunity, poverty and crime. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is all the rage—the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support two young children after her husband’s cruel betrayal, Frances jumps at the chance to meet the illustrious Mr. Poe at a small literary gathering, if only to help her fledgling career. Although not a great fan of Poe’s writing, she is nonetheless overwhelmed by his magnetic presence— and the surprising revelation that he admires her work.

What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit affair . . . and with each clandestine encounter, Frances finds herself falling slowly and inexorably under the spell of her mysterious, complicated lover. But when Edgar’s frail wife Virginia insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe’s tales. And like those gothic heroines whose fates are forever sealed, Frances begins to fear that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war. (Reviewing October 21st.)

Interview with Helen Wan, Author of The Partner Track (Releases Today!)

HELEN WAN is Associate General Counsel at the Time Inc. division of Time Warner Inc. Before that, she practiced corporate law and media law at law firms in New York. Born in California and raised near Washington, D.C., Wan is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her essays and reviews of fiction have been published in The Washington Post and elsewhere. She lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her husband and son.

Visit Helen online at

What’s your novel about?

THE PARTNER TRACK is the story of Ingrid Yung, an ambitious young Chinese-American woman who’s being groomed to become the first minority female partner at one of the country’s most prestigious law firms. Though she often feels like an outsider, Ingrid has perfected the art of blending in. Then an incident at the firm’s summer outing threatens to change everything, forcing her to square off against her colleagues in a workplace war of race, gender, and sexual politics.

What was your biggest challenge in the actual writing of this book?

Plot. Plot, plot, plot. So many first-time authors – and I am no exception – know exactly what themes they want to write about. I wanted to write about the experience of a minority woman trying to succeed in a white-shoe work environment, to tell the story of what it’s like to be an outsider in a work context where it’s very, very important to be on the inside. But ask that same author, well, what’s the story, precisely? What happens? That was the hardest part to figure out.

This novel went through so many iterations, so many drafts, over the course of a decade. Finally, one day, about four years after I’d first started writing it, my biologist husband was reading over a scene when he pointed at a line of dialogue. “Right here. This is what the book’s really about,” he said. I looked at the page and realized he was right. I completely revamped the plot from there. Just jettisoned about half my draft, which was painful. (It is painful to kill your darlings!) But now I had my plot. The story had been lurking there all along; what I’d needed was to locate that single loose thread. And then I just pulled.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

That’s easy: write the book you’d most like to read. I was not seeing any books being written about Asian American women that did not involve: (a) a soul-searching trip to China; (b) a flock of quaint-as-hell relatives; or (c) an arranged marriage. I’m am not denigrating novels that happen to include these plot points; in fact I myself enjoy them. I’m just saying I wanted to be able to read a contemporary novel about a minority woman whose perspective and experience were closer to my own. Finding none, I decided to write one.

What are you working on now?

I’m at work on my second novel. It’s a lot of fun to get to know a whole new set of characters. It feels kind of like starting a new school year. I’m still at the “themes” stage – I know what I want to write about, but am still figuring out the story. And I also gave birth a few months ago to a beautiful baby boy. In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that a first book and a first baby would arrive the same year. But if you want to make God laugh, just tell her your plans.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Chapter Review: Blackmoore, a Proper Romance novel by Julianne Donaldson

The first chapter of this Regency romance was sent to me by Shadow Mountain Publishing for review.

BLURB:  At eighteen, Kate Worthington knows she should be getting serious about marriage, but her restless heart won’t let her settle down. To escape her mother’s meddlesome influence, she dreams of traveling to exotic India. When the opportunity arises, Kate finds herself making a bargain with her mother: she will be allowed to go only if she spends a season at the family’s wealthy estate, Blackmoore, where she must secure— and reject—three marriage proposals. Enlisting the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield, Kate sets out to collect her proposals so she can be on her way. But Henry’s decision to help threatens to destroy both of their dreams in ways they could never imagine. With hints of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, Blackmoore is a page-turning tale of romance, intrigue, and devotion.

COVER: This is a stunning cover. The family estate in the background with the close up of the elegant young woman is lovely, especially because of the calming color scheme.

FIRST CHAPTER: Kate finds her sister, Maria, on the stairs wailing over the departure of a Mr. Wilkes. Unsympathetic, she moves by her to practice her Mozart concerto for when she goes to Blackmoore. When her mother arrives home, they have a dreadful confrontation that ends with Kate's plans up in the air.

KEEP READING: Most definitely. Julianne Donaldson quickly moves to set up the Kate's conflict with a powerful opening hook and a first chapter that begs you to continue. The tension between Kate and Maria, the struggle of wills between Kate and her mother, and Kate's goals for her life as opposed to what is conventional at this time in history, blend together and create an engaging story line. Kate's mother is quite awful, and the reader doesn't know, yet, why her relationship with Kate is so stressed. The woman is easy to dislike, increasing the sympathy for Kate's plight. I'm eager to see how Kate manages to change her destiny.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (September 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609074602
ISBN-13: 978-1609074609

Purchase at Amazon. Special e-book pricing in September.

I received a free PDF copy of the book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Spotlight: Where Hope Starts by Angela D. Meyer

In a city full of dreams… Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both. She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets and an angry brother bent on revenge.

Still in New York, Barry fights his own demons. He knows he messed up, but is powerless to stop his rage and addictions. A fistfight on the streets of the city lands him in jail and forces him to face the possibility of a future behind bars.

Karen knows holding onto her bitterness won’t repair her marriage. But how do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers the family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

Praise for Where Hope Starts

Angela Meyer is an author to keep an eye on. Her debut novel, Where Hope Starts, is a powerful story about the brokenness in each of us and God's faithfulness. Meyer's characters are deep and rich and I was hooked on the story within just a few pages. She expertly weaves the theme of redemption through the story and keeps the reader on their toes with an element of mystery and a bit of romance. ~Jill Hart at Radiant Lit ~

"Real, raw, and full of redemption! Myer tackles the tough subjects of spousal abuse and pornography. For anyone dealing with either of these this book is a tough read, but a must read. Myer shows how to find hope and healing in the midst of deep trial and pain."
~Tara Rye~Dean of Women at Grace University~

Purchase Where Hope Starts at CrossRiver Media.( )

Angela D. Meyer lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of 22 years. They have two children whom they homeschool – recently graduating their son. She has taught Bible class for over 35 years and is on the leadership team of her local Christian writers group. She loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea.

Connect with Angela D. Meyer at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: The Queen's Vow by C. W. Gortner

Filled with political conflict, religious tensions, intrigue, and romance, The Queen's Vow by C. W. Gortner portrays the early life of the woman known to history as Isabella of Castile.

Barely a teenager, Isabella and her brother, Alfonoso, are taken from their mother's home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his conniving queen. When Isabella becomes a pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique, she is suspected of treason and held captive. At the age of seventeen, she finds herself heiress of Castile and is plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, while determined to wed the man she loves, Fernando, prince of Aragón.

Isabella and Fernando face difficult times: an impoverished Spain beset by enemies, the demands of the inquisitor Torquemada to punish relapsed conversos, and a declaration of war from the Moors. Isabella's resolve and courage are put to the test as she moves toward fulfilling her God-given destiny.

The Queen's Vow is such a superb book, I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner. I'm even more upset that it's finished, because I want to experience it all over again. Rich descriptions, stunning settings, and a fascinating plot filled with a host of historical figures spring to life through Gortner's masterful hand. While a bit of a slow starter for me, once the puzzle pieces were in place for Isabella to inherit the throne, I became totally engrossed. From the fights to secure her crown to wedding the man of her choosing at a time when women were not given the power to do so, Isabella proved a force to be reckoned with. Her deep faith and willingness to put herself in harm's way led to much admiration.

Reading The Queen's Vow also helped me to have a greater understanding of the origins of Gortner's earlier book, The Last Queen, which is about Isabella and Fernando's daughter, Juana, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne.

What I was pleased to see with The Queen's Vow is that Gortner ends it at a what I would say a perfect place. After years of war and division, Isabella can look toward the future.

Highly recommended!

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (July 2, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345523970
ISBN-13: 978-0345523976

I received a free hardcover version of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

This is the 11th book I've read for the following challenge:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Actually, the entire Sullivan Boys series by K. M. Daughters would make an excellent series. It kind of reminds me of a sexier more romantic version of Blue Bloods. It's a family of brothers and a sister who are all in law enforcement. I've chosen Beyond the Code of Conduct because it was the first book in the series I've read and because Joe and Bobbie's romance is a favorite of mine.

Someone is going to think I have a thing for crime dramas. The Brotherhood is the first in Jerry Jenkins's Precinct 11 series. It's about Boone Drake, who is rising up the ranks of the Chicago PD when tragedy strikes. It would be a suspenseful movie.

Historical fiction--especially Civil War fiction--is always high on my list. Corrigans' Pool is about Ella Corrigan, who must run the family plantation after her mother dies and her father turns to alcohol to drown his sorrows.

Gentry Garland arrives and quickly captures Ella's heart, but disappears without a trace. She hastily marries Victor Faircloth, but can't seem to get Garland out of her thoughts. She soon comes to regret her decision to marry the abusive Victor, and learns of a mystery surrounding Corrigans' Pool.

Killer Career by Morgan Mandel kept me up late at night. Julie McGuire is an attorney and wanna-be writer who comes face-to-face with best-selling author Tyler Jensen at a conference. She quits her law practice, which angers and hurts her partner, Dade Donovan, a man who seeks more than friendship from Julie. What lengths will Tyler go to when he decides Dade is getting in the way?

I recently reviewed Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney and think it would make a great cozy mystery TV movie. Ghosts, family secrets, and poison leave a lot of ground to be explored. Actually, I think a regular TV series staring Ellen McKenzie as an amateur sleuth would be great.

My Son, John remains one of my favorite novels by Kathi Macias. It's about a family whose life is turned upside down when Liz Peterson's elderly mother is brutally murdered and her son is accused of the crime. A novel of faith and unconditional love, this would make a powerful movie.

One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler is a classic dramatic Christmas story. A contemporary miracle story, it features a WWII vet named Frank McRae who is tortured by nightmares of a war he can't forget while his son is called off to duty in Viet Nam. On the home front, Frank's wife is battling ovarian cancer.

Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush is set two years after the end of the Civil War. Returning home in a wheelchair, Reed Jackson becomes bitter when his father deems him unfit to run the family plantation. He moves in with family in Fenton, Missouri, where he meets Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl abused by her father and brothers. Set during the time of Reconstruction in America, this moving story is just as much about the plight of free African-Americans as it is romance.

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias is one of those tear-jerking seasonal stories that begs to be made into a movie. It is the story of Josie Meyers and her two children who find themselves homeless after the sudden death of Josie's husband, Sam. On the streets, they meet Rick, a homeless Viet Nam veteran who has given his life to God, and who will be instrumental in bringing Josie to Christ.

It has been years since I've read Wind of the Spirit by J. M. Hochstetler, but I still remember how captivated I was by it. This is the third book in her historical series set during the Revolutionary War. As the overwhelming forces of British General William Howe threaten to wipe out General Washington's Continental Army, Elizabeth Howard risks her life to obtain and return with critical intelligence. Meanwhile, the man she wished to marry is far out on the western borders. General Jonathan Carleton, now known as the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, has helped his braves drive white settlers out of Ohio territory, while fighting a more personal battle of his own--finding a way to get Elizabeth out of his heart and steeling himself against the seductive charms of Pathfinder's widow, Blue Sky, as the conflict between him and the shaman Wolfslayer escalates.

The historical detail in this novel is amazing. The series was re-released and I look forward to reading the other three books, which I have already purchased.