Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Louise Penny

I enjoy books that keep you guessing, keep you changing your choice118471773 of killers, and then surprises you at the very end.

A TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Louise Penny is a book like that. There are numerous suspects, each with strong motives and ample opportunity. Just when you decide on one suspect, a new lead is revealed that takes you in another direction.

Artist Clara Morrow finally has a solo show at the famed Musee in Montreal. All of the right people from the art world are there. Afterwards, a private party is held in Three Pines, the village were Clara and her husband Peter live. But Clara’s joy is short-lived when a body is found in her garden the next morning. To complicate matters, the body is that of Clara’s childhood friend Lillian Dyson. The two had a bitter falling out years before when Lillian wrote a horrid review of Clara’s work which almost caused her to quit painting.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec homicide unit and his team are called in to investigate. Gamache and his second-in-command, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir, are very familiar with Three Pines and its villagers. As the team begins to investigate the death and life of Lillian Dyson, they learn more about the art world and how Alcoholic Anonymous plays a role in the tragedy.

While Lillian’s murder takes center stage in this book, there are several sub-plots that are superbly woven in. There was a police tragedy the previous year that weighs heavily on Gamache and Beauvoir for different reasons. A TRICK OF THE LIGHT deals with the contrast between not only good and evil, but between forgetting and forgiving and hope and fear.

One of my favorite characters could be considered a minor player, Ruth Zardo. Ruth, the crusty and loud poet with a heart of gold. Ruth, who talks brassy and crude to cover that her heart is broken and lonely.

Author Louise Penny’s writing is fluent, almost mesmerizing. She holds you transfixed with her descriptions of Three Pines, its people and those who come to visit. She has created a quaint village with a serene landscape. Three Pines isn’t on any map, but is found by those who need to be there.

The narration by Ralph Cosham is like delectable icing on a triple chocolate cake. Listeners quickly become immersed in the world of Three Pines as Cosham’s soothing, yet commanding, voice brings the French accents to life.

A TRICK OF THE LIGHT is the 7th installment in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, but is a stand alone book. Penny delivers a moving end to this book while continuing the story.

Author Louise Penny’s website is

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny, A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, Read by Ralph Cosham, Macmillan Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4272-1320-4, 10 Discs, Listening Time: 13 Hours

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this audio book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. A special thanks to Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...for pointing me in the direction of this great find.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RED’S HOT COWBOY by Carolyn Brown

Much of the US has been experiencing near record breaking or aboveRed's cover temperatures so now’s the time to relax with a good book set during cooler weather.

Reading one of author Carolyn Brown’s books always gives me the feel of warmth, friendship and family. While Brown’s latest release, RED’S HOT COWBOY, begins during the Christmas holidays make no mistake there’s plenty of heat when the cowboy and the entrepreneur tangle. 

When her great-aunt Pearlita died and left her the Longhorn Inn, Pearl Richland quit her big city banking job and decided to try her hand at running the motel. When the lights went out in Henrietta on Christmas Eve, rancher Wil Marshall just wanted a place to stay with electricity. A twist of fate and a mistaken identity threw the pair together and sparks began to fly.

From their first encounter, Pearl and Wil are a perfect couple whether they know it or not. The chemistry between the two sizzles and will make you a bit breathless. Pearl may appear sassy, brassy and out-spoken, but she has a heart of gold. She comes to the aid of a woman on the run from her abusive husband, as well as giving assistance to others in need. Wil is a rough and tough cowboy, but has a tender spot for family, friends and the fiery red head, Pearl.

Carolyn Brown brings her characters to life with fire and spunk. She creates characters that are loyal, caring and with enough faults to make them real. She blends romance, humor and a bit of mystery into a rip-roaring good read.

While RED’S HOT COWBOY is part of the Spikes and Spurs series, it’s a stand along book. Familiar faces from the previous book (LOVE DRUNK COWBOY) are re-introduced and new friends appear for the next installment, DARN GOOD COWBOY CHRISTMAS coming in October. The family gathering continues to grow and expand leading to new and exciting adventures.

Author Carolyn Brown’s website is

Red’s Hot Cowboy by Carolyn Brown, Spikes and Spurs Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4022-5361-4, Paperback, 384 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Have you ever ……..?

Have you ever heard the roar of a jet streaking across the sky above667airplane and wondered where is it going? Where has it been? Who is on-board?

I know most jets that fly in a southerly direction over me are likely on their way to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It may be their final destination or it could be just a stop on their trip to wondrous other locations.

I love to fly and will fly in almost anything, and have. My favorite aircraft to fly in is helicopters, especially the old Bell 47 Helicopter that features the bubble dome. In those you can see all around you.

When I hear the jets roar overhead I can’t help but think of the passengers. Who are they? Why are they on the plane? Are they enjoying the flight or afraid to fly?

Then I think about changing places with them. And that’s where I need your help. No, I’m not asking you to buy me a plane ticket. I’m looking for a book I’m sure is out there somewhere in the vast book library of blogdom. I’m hoping some of you will know the title or author and can direct me to it.

The plot goes something like this: a person unhappy with their life sees a plane and wishes they were on it going far away from their life and troubles. By some twist of fate, the person is on the plane. But instead of being himself, he’s now in the body of one of the passengers living their life.

He lives this other person’s life for the few hours of the flight, feeling their emotions and fears they are facing. It turns out to be similar to the movie Groundhog’s Day where the flight is repeated over and over. Each time the person is in the body of a different passenger thinking their thoughts and facing their troubles.

The person experiences the life of a corporate embezzler afraid of being caught, a drug dealer trying to make his next deal, an abused wife fleeing her husband, a teen afraid of flying, even a murderer on his way to or from a crime, just to describe a few.

After a good number of these switches, the person realizes their life wasn’t as bad as they thought. He sees that everyone has their share of problems. The person wakes up and realizes he had passed out and dreamed the entire thing, or had he?

I know there has to be a book out there or maybe it’s a movie that follow this plot line. Have you read it or seen the movie?

Please join me tomorrow when I share my thoughts on a sizzling new release that is funny, romantic, with a dash of intrigue and all-around good feelings. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Salon: More Books To Share

Sunday Salon is here once again and it’s time to relax with our favorite464390_coffee_and_flowers beverage and discuss what books we’ve enjoyed lately.

Yesterday I asked how do you select a book when so many are published? Many commented they have their own system for selecting the perfect book, while others look to reviews and still others look for favorite authors and search the genre they enjoy.

Dru from notes from me graciously left a link to a great website, The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, where the latest book releases can be found. Dru, thanks so much. This will be handy. Hope you are safe and sound from Hurricane Irene.

No matter how you go about selecting a book to read, enjoying the adventure it takes you on is the fun part. Today I’d like to focus on 3 more books from Berkley Prime Crime that made their debut this month. Two of the books are the first in new series.

PLEATING FOR MERCY by Melissa Bourbon

9780451234360Being a descendant of the legendary Butch Cassidy was a mixed blessing on its own, but for the Cassidy women there was more. Each generation since Butch had been blessed with a special ‘gift.’  Harlow Jean Cassidy thought the gift had skipped her generation, little did she know.

When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas. But when she opens a dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited, Harlow senses an inexplicable “presence”. Her old friend Josie orders a gown for her upcoming wedding, but a murder has Josie looking at wearing prison strips instead of white. Harlow sets out to find the real killer and gets some help from an unusual source.

You don’t have to have a love of sewing to enjoy this new series. The characters are zany and the suspense will keep you on pins and needles. This is the first installment in the Magical Dressmaking Mystery series. The book includes dressmaking tips and a sneak peak at the second installment in the series, A FITTING END, slated for release in February 2012.

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, can be found at

Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451234360, Paperback, 320 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Sunny Meadows is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of9780425242759 Divinity, NY, to make it on her own. She opens a fortune telling business in an ancient Victorian house, inheriting the strange cat residing within. She names him Morty, as he seems a bit immortal.

Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled town librarian and discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, only she’s too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed Detective Mitch Stone is a “non-believer.” He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic’s future.

This is the first installment in the Fortune Teller Mystery series.

Author Kari Lee Townsend’s website is

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend, A Fortune Teller Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425242759, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

HARROWING HATS by Joyce and Jim Lavene

9780425242773Summers are a special treat for assistant history professor Jessie Morton as she works at the Renaissance Faire Village. Each summer Jessie takes on a different apprentice job for her dissertation at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.

This summer Jessie is working with hat maker Andre Hariot. All is going well until one of the faire’s Three Chocolatiers is found drowned in a vat of chocolate in his shop. To make matters worse, a hat pin is found sticking out of the dead man’s eye. To help her boss, Jessie must sort through a long list of knaves, knights, and wenches who might have wanted to see the chocolatier double-dipped and dead.

Authors Joyce and Jim Lavene have created an intriguing group of characters. Their descriptions of the Renaissance atmosphere places the reader among the lords, ladies and knights of the Middle Ages. 

This is the fourth installment in the Renaissance Faire Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. The book includes Renaissance facts and a recipe. The other books in the series include: WICKED WEAVES, GHASTLY GLASS, and DEADLY DAGGERS.

Authors Joyce and Jim Lavene’s website is

Harrowing Hats by Joyce and Jim Lavene, A Renaissance Faire Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425242773, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Don't you just love the covers of these cozies? Have a great Sunday and be safe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How do you select…?

How do you select which book to read when there are so many?

Each month I am fascinated by the number of books that are published. I’m talking just about print books and I see only a small portion. There are probably hundreds of books released each month. More than likely there is a site that lists all the current releases (print and e-books). If anyone knows of it, please share. I’d like to have a link on my sidebar.

I bring this up because I want to pass along some information on several new books Berkley Prime Crime has out this month. When you’re looking for a cozy murder mystery, Berkley has a book to fit the bill.    

A KILLER COLUMN by Casey Mayes

Puzzle columnist Savannah Stone is called to her editor’s office for an important9780425242230 meeting. When she arrives, Savannah learns her puzzle column has been sold to a syndicate. Upset Savannah slaps her editor, Derrick Duncan, where upon he fires her and she storms out all taking place under watchful eyes.

Later when Savannah cools off, she returns to Derrick’s office to talk things over. However, she finds Derrick dead and she’s the prime suspect. With the help of her husband, Zach, and her college roommate turned lawyer, Jenny Blake, Savannah sets out to find the real killer.

Zach being a former police chief and police consultant adds to the team’s investigation abilities. However, Author Casey Mayes has the couple working well as a team, not one being superior over the other. 

There are twists and turns to keep you guessing. These are unique characters you will come to enjoy and want to see more of.
This is the second installment in the Mystery by the Numbers series, but is a stand alone book. The book also includes puzzles. The first book in the series is  A DEADLY ROW.

Author Casey Mayes’ website is Casey Mayes is the pseudonym for Tim Myers.

A Killer Column by Casey Mayes, A Mystery by the Numbers, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425242230, Paperback, 288 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


9780451234353Professional dog walker Ellie Engleman is taking some time off and going to the Hamptons with her friend, Viv. They are attending the wedding of Viv’s sister, Arlene. But when the prospective bridegroom turns up death, Ellie has to step in to help find the killer. 

What makes this a fun read (and series) is the connection Ellie has with her dogs, which were also invited to the wedding. She can hear their thoughts.
Author Judi McCoy has created quirky characters that will have you laughing while trying to figure out who the real killer is.

This is the fifth installment in the Dog Walker Mystery series, but is a stand along book. The other books in the series include: HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT, HEIR OF THE DOG, DEATH IN SHOW, and BEGGING FOR TROUBLE.

Author Judi McCoy’s website is

Till Death Do Us Bark, A Dog Walker Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451234353, Paperback, 336 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

BITTER HARVEST by Sheila Connolly

Now the harvest is finally in, Meg Corey is looking forward to some free time toCover BitterHarvest 12-2-10 spend with Seth Chapen. She gets her wish when a major storms strands them at the farmhouse. While looking through a closet, Meg discovers a sampler detailing tragedies from long ago.

As she tries to unravel the mystery of the sampler, annoying mishaps start to happen. Meg begins to worry that her first harvest may be her last. While this is a bit of departure from the author’s usual style, it is still an intriguing mystery filled with twists and turns. 

This is the fifth installment in the Orchard Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. The other books in the series include: ONE BAD APPLE, ROTTEN TO THE CORE, RED DELICIOUS DEATH, and A KILLER CROP.

Author Sheila Connolly’s website is Sheila Connolly is the pseudonym for Sarah Atwell.

Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly, An Orchard Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425242766, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


9780425242742There aren’t many things pastry chef Rita Lucero hates more than losing. But two years after her marriage to fellow baker Philippe Renier fell apart, she’s still trying to get him to sign the divorce papers. Exasperated, Rita visits Philippe’s high-end New Orleans shop, Zydeco Cakes, to get his signature—and discovers that her marriage is already over when she finds Philippe dead with a chef’s knife in his chest.

Rita is shocked to discover the body, and overwhelmed to learn that since the divorce wasn’t final, she now inherits part ownership in Zydeco Cakes. But it’s a mixed blessing: the gorgeous shop is actually in financial trouble, and Rita’s windfall sets her up as a prime suspect in Philippe’s murder. Her former mother-in-law demands that Rita find out who killed her son, and his former employees don’t know whether to trust her. The feeling is mutual—especially since the real culprit is still out there, and Rita may be the next victim served.

Author Jacklyn Brady has captured the style and flavor of New Orleans in her descriptions and characters. While your taste buds will be crying out for cake, your mystery sensors will be heightened with this delightful book. 

This is the first installment in the new series, A Piece of Cake Mystery.

Author Jacklyn Brady’s website is

A Sheetcake Named Desire, A Piece of Cake Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425242742, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Lately I've Been Thinking....

Lately I've been thinking about my reviews and wondering just how helpful they are to you. I write the reviews to share my thoughts on the books, but if I'm not giving you the information you want (or need) then it really does help.

The thoughts circling my mind - Are the reviews too long, not long enough, or usually about what is needed? Do I include too much story information, not enough, or is the amount okay? Should I do single reviews or multiple reviews, does it matter?

Well, you get the idea. I was hoping you could help me by answering four short questions below. If you have any other suggestions you'd like to pass along, please leave those in the comments or send me an e-mail at Mark the subject line 'review comments' so I'll know what it's about.

I'd like to give a special shout to Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist... That's where I first saw these neat little polls. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the reviews here and for stopping by today.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE COSY KNAVE by Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen

Nothing says cosy mystery quite like a murder in a tea room of a quaintThe Cosy Knave English village.

Knavesborough is a buzz as the town’s prodigal son, Mark Baldwin now Sir Marco Bellini, has returned with fame, fortune and a butler in tow after a 40-year absence to Argentina. Sir Bellini, a famous violinist, has come home after an accident and purchased Netherdale Manor.

Sir Bellini hosts a house warming party for the villages to see Netherdale Manor. As gossip has been plentiful, the villagers eagerly attend. Rose Walnut-Whip, a bit of a nosey body, can’t help exploring the many rooms of the manor. However, she soon becomes very ill.

Days later the villagers gather again, this time at the Ye Cosy Knave, a tea room, to watch the latest football match on the large screen. Rose has recovered and joins the crowd. A commotion disrupts among the group when they feel their team was cheated of goal. Minutes later Rose is found dead. She has been stabbed in front of the villagers, yet no one saw a thing.

Constable Archibald Penrose is called into investigate. He finds he’s on his own as his superior, DI Mars-Wrigley is obsessed with England’s chance at the football world cup. Penrose finds help from his fiancée, Rhapsody Gershwin. Being the village librarian and the vicar’s daughter, Rhapsody has her finger on the pulse of the community. 

Another murder occurs and it’s up to Penrose and Gershwin to find the killer before one of them becomes the next victim.

Author Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen’s smooth flowing dialect and vivid details will have you smelling scones and reaching for a cup of tea. The quirky play on names (Kickinbottom, Cadbury-Flake, Warburton, etc.) is an added delight. 

But don’t be fooled, THE COSY KNAVE is also filled with suspense, intrigue and enough red herrings to keep you guessing until the end. There are twists and turns, and a few surprises along the way. Penrose and Gershwin make a charming and likeable pair of sleuths. Can’t wait to see what their next adventure is.

Author Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen’s blog is djskrimiblog

The Cosy Knave by Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen, A Gershwin And Penrose Mystery, Self-Published, @2011, ASIN: B005DTNXOI, Kindle Edition, 68,290 Words (Approximately) 

FTC Full Disclosure - This e-book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Author Katie Roberta Stevens: A New Perspective

Please join me in welcoming debut author Katie Roberta Stevens as theeurope_cruise1_037[2] special guest blogger here today as she makes a stop on her tour of blogdom with her memoir of survival.

Katie’s debut book is, MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY. Here’s a brief description of it: Every person has her secrets. If Katie can forgive her mother and herself for theirs, readers of this book can certainly find it in their hearts to forgive their own transgressions. This deeply affecting memoir by a Catholic schoolgirl during the 1960s shares her inspiring journey from an abusive childhood with a schizophrenic mother to an adulthood of redemptive love. MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY is a triumphant memoir detailing the life of Katie Murphy, a 1960s Catholic School girl struggling to keep the faith acquired at school in a home ruled by a mentally ill mother who believed she killed Jesus Christ. This life story is not divided into years, but into episodes capturing her family’s chaos, created by an absentee father and a mother frequently committed to a mental hospital. She and her four siblings are forced to shoplift food, toiletries and clothing to survive. Meanwhile, Katie's misguided search for parental love leads to an ongoing affair with a priest in high school, marriage to a man twice her age in college, and a twelve year affair with a married man in adulthood. She finally learns the truth about her childhood. Successful, safe and loved today, she lifts the veil of self-blame and anger to trace a path to true forgiveness. The author shares poignant proof that, with conviction, compassion, and truth, even the most damaging past can be transformed into a peaceful and meaningful present.

Katie joins us today to talk about having ‘A New Perspective.’

I thank Mason and Thoughts in Progress for allowing me to be a guest blogger today. Rather than writing about my book, which I hope you’ll read, I wanted to share another message that’s been on my mind. Since friends and strangers alike have read my memoir of survival, they have stopped me to tell their personal stories. I’ve been floored by the strength of everyday people who’ve been carrying overwhelming burdens from their past for years.  

One of the most remarkable stories shared with me was told by a 75-year-old German expatriate living near me in Florida. He and his wife are the personification of the idea that couples look alike after being married for so long. Viewing them from my balcony, I often see their two heads of shimmering pure white hair, combed back from their faces in similar hair styles, bobbing as they walk. They both have handsome faces that smile easily and are warmed by sparkling eyes revealing great intelligence and deep contentment. Although they walk constantly, both have been rounded by age, as if their chests sunk into their bellies, making them resemble bowling pins. If they were the last pins standing, they would be a 7-10 split that would be impossible to pick-up because they are incredibly sturdy. 

One day, when I was taking a break from my desk for a swim, Frederick was walking laps in the pool. As we said our hellos, I fell into stride with him and we chatted. He said, “I read your book.” Then he started to cry. His eyes reddened as he tried to wipe tears away with a chlorinated hand. I soon realized that he wasn’t crying for me. He kept pushing forward against the water and said, “I have a story too.”

He started, “I never said this part out loud. Not even to my wife. Did you know when I was 10 years old, my whole city was bookcoverbombed. My homeland in Hamburg, Germany. 30,000 people were killed. Just like that.” He attempted to snap his wet fingers. I saw the dump trucks. My buddy and I were getting grass for my rabbits. During the war, we had some food because we had those stamps. But after the bombing, we had no food. I raised rabbits. You know, to eat. Nobody was taking care of this neighborhood farm, so the grass was very high. We went with a long tool, my friend and me. We’d swing it like this.” His hand moved back and forth making ripples in the water that touched me gently on my chest.

“I was getting grass for the rabbits when I saw the trucks. Big dump trucks. Do you know what was in those trucks? We chased them.” His eyes became wet rings like those in the pool. Then, it seemed his mind went under water into the past. He stopped short and was no longer doing his laps. As if talking only to himself, he whispered again, “Do you know what was in those trucks? I was only getting grass for my rabbits. Why did I follow the trucks? They were filled with the bodies of my neighbors.”

A few weeks later in the Business Section of the Wall Street Journal, there was an article about a man named Felix Zandman, who as a teenager, survived the Holocaust crammed underneath floorboards in a tiny underground chamber, beneath a Polish peasant's cottage for 17 months.  A Catholic family sheltered him and others—not for 17 minutes. Not for 17 hours. Not for 17 weeks. But for 17 months. The Wall Street Journal article went on to reveal the familiar story of triumph that captures the American experience that we’ve heard told countless times throughout our lives. Felix Zandman survived the Holocaust and later immigrated to the United States of America. According to the article, he founded Vishay Intertechnology Inc., a major electronics firm that supplies the computer, aerospace and other industries. The article stated, “After years of success and various acquisitions, his broad-based electronics company posted sales of $2.7 billion in 2010.” 

Why did I decide to write about these two tales today? First I selected these, among the many I learned since telling my story, because I am awed by the strength of friends, neighbors and strangers. Therefore, if you have an account of survival, hidden deeply in your gut, I write this blog to encourage you to share it. Letting it out frees you and somehow strengthens our human family. I also chose to focus on these two men because, today, our news media tries desperately to convince us that these are really tough times. And while we may be facing challenges, we are NOT crouching beneath floor boards, hiding from dogs, praying for OUR lives. Please don’t let television shape your vision of reality. Every single day, we can stand tall and walk out into the sunlight of unlimited opportunity.  

Katie, thank you so much for blogging. You are so right too. We may be facing tough times now, but they are nothing like others have faced before us. Thanks for sharing these two stories with us. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now I’ll share a bit of background on Katie with you. She has worked as a professional grant writer for public school districts for the past 14 years. Prior to that, she taught high school English for 12 years, during which she enjoyed serving as a basketball coach and advisor to various clubs. She  resides in Brevard County, Florida, with her husband of five years.
When asked about writing her story Katie states, "I decided to write my story because turning 50 caused me to conduct a “mid-life” review and I felt ashamed of many things that I did. When I began writing, in my mind, I was writing a confession seeking forgiveness for the “sins” that I committed. In order to do this, I had to finally examine my childhood thoroughly for the first time. This process allowed me to acknowledge what I had survived and enabled me to forgive myself and others.  I hope you read my book because you want to be moved by what you read. So many books and movies leave me feeling empty. I want an emotional connection with characters and I hope you’ll find the opportunity in my story." 

For more on Katie and her writing, visit her blog at Konnections With Katie

MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY is available on and Kindle and Katie offers monthly free giveaways on

Katie will be stopping by throughout the day so if you have questions, she’ll be glad to answer them. Do you have an account of survival you’d like to share with us today? Do you know of others who have survived great hardships and inspired you? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Monday, August 22, 2011

SILENT ENEMY by Thomas W. Young

By the time I finished listening to this book, I was weary andsilent-enemy spent…..and ready to take off on another mission with these officers.

Not one to read many military-related books, I wasn’t sure what to expect from SILENT ENEMY. It surpassed any expectations and quickly drew me in.

Author Thomas W. Young’s vivid descriptions and detailed explanations places the reader right in the middle of the action. Drawing on his own Air National Guard experience in the Middle East, Young brings the sights, sounds and smells to life with authenticity. Narrator Scott Brick gives emotion and depth to the characters and their situation.

While SILENT ENEMY begins four years after THE MULLAH’S STORM, it is a stand alone book. References to the prior book are woven in as memories and add to the flow of the current story.

A bomb blast levels the Afghan National Police training facility in Kabul where Army Sergeant Major Sophia Gold teaches. She has minor injuries, but her students are critically injured and need immediate medical aid. Air Force Major Michael Parson, his crew and his C-5 Galaxy military transport plane are commandeered to help transfer victims. It’s the first time Parson and Gold have met since their ordeal in THE MULLAH’S STORM.

The plant isn’t designed to act as a medical transport, but all goes fairly well. That is until other planes that departed Kabul at the same time begin to blow up. Parson and his crew learn terrorists have somehow placed bombs on the military carriers that are set to explode at a certain point when the plane descends.

Not one to do nothing, Parson has the plane searched and discovers the bomb. Now he and his crew must detonate the bomb before they can land. However, all on board don’t want the plane to land safely. The crew also has to handle risky midair refueling, fly over multiple foreign governments, and encounter dangerous weather conditions, not to mention their own mental and physical exhaustion.

This is a riveting adventure that is non-stop from take-off until the fiery end. From one calamity to the next, you barely have time to catch your breath. The pulse-pounding adrenaline rush will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There may appear to be too many disasters for one flight, but Young makes it plausible. In an airborne situation such as this one disaster can trigger another given the circumstances and it becomes almost a snowball effect.

Make no mistake this is a military thriller. The author deals with problems both military and civilians face in war-torn countries. It is graphic at times as to what war does to people. The story is told back and forth from the viewpoint of Parson and his military training to Gold and her dedication to helping the civilians. I also found just a tiny hint of romantic undertone between Parson and Gold while both continued to be dedicated officers.

For an adrenaline-driven read that you won’t be able to put down, read SILENT ENEMY.

Author Thomas W. Young’s website is

Silent Enemy by Thomas W. Young, Read by Scott Brick, Penguin Audio, @2011, ISBN: 9781101523414, Unabridged Digital, Listening Time: 8 hours (Hardcover is also available through G.P. Putnam’s Sons.)

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this digital audio and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Salon: Does A Bear Sh*t In The Woods? by Caroline Taggart

763356_coffee_breakI know at first glance this seems like a most unusual book to feature on Sunday Salon but there is a method to my madness.

Each week as we reach for our favorite cup of brew and gather around to discuss the books we’ve read, we wonder….“Where did the week (or time) go?” It seems like each week passes quicker and quicker.

With that in mind, author Caroline Taggart’s latest release tackles rhetorical questions like this and many others coming up with some interesting answers.

DOES A BEAR SH*T IN THE WOODS? by Caroline Taggart
‘Where does time go?’ ‘Can a leopard change his spots?’ ‘Is the Pope Taggart Book CoverCatholic?’

These are just some of the rhetorical questions we ask never really expecting an answer. Do these type questions make you laugh or drive you crazy? Either way author Caroline Taggart’s DOES A BEAR SH*T IN THE WOODS? will bring a smile to your face.

Taggart takes on these previously unanswered questions in a hilarious approach, but with a logical spin as well. Her answers are a combination of quotations from Shakespeare, TV commercials, favorite action movie lines, song titles and the like. She covers such issues as the meaning of life; food and drink; literature, history, and politics; sex and romance; and many others.

While you may not want answers to that rhetorical question you asked, Taggart’s response may surprise you and have you pondering another one.

Just a couple of my favorite questions and responses: ‘Where do I begin?’ Taggart’s response, ‘Try Page 1.’ ‘Am I talking to myself?’ Taggart’s response is both funny and serious. After a brief explanation, the best line to me is, ‘So save your breath or be content with being your own audience.’

A delightful book to add to your library and a great conversation starter for parties.

Author Caroline Taggart’s website is

Does A Bear Sh*t In The Woods? by Caroline Taggart, Plume, @2011, ISBN: 9780452297074, Paperback, 160 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

What have you read this week? What about today, what’s that you’re reading now? Thanks so much for stopping by. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Author T.H. Waters: ‘A Kid Like Me…’

It’s my pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author T.H. Waters as theBook Bio Photo special guest blogger today as she tours blogdom with her debut release, GHELLOW ROAD.

Here’s a brief synopsis of her book: GHELLOW ROAD is a literary diary of a young girl’s journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa’s story begins in a large Midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, she eventually summons the strength to survive. This is a story of tragedy and triumph. This is the story of my life. 

T.H., aka Tera, joins us today to talk about “A Kid Like Me…” She tells how she came to write GHELLOW ROAD and what she hopes others will take from it.

I was born a long time ago, eons actually, or so it seems. My upbringing was unusual, odd at best, and I longed for the conventional lifestyle that all my friends enjoyed. Unlike many other writers, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew was that I wanted something different, far different, polar opposite different from the murky life I’d lived until the day I turned 18 and got ready to shove off for college.
412_Ghellow_Road_digitalI loved my parents… dearly. They both were young, smart and full of freshness when they married, poised to capture the American dream. Two people who were worthy of admiration for their unwavering determination. But as one life entwined itself around the other and the children came, bills mounted, jobs became harder to find, they were consumed by an obstacle that was simply insurmountable, and we eventually imploded, all four of us, Mom, Daddy, my brother and I, failing to land firmly on our feet. After Daddy died when I was ten years old, we moved to a small town in northern Minnesota. I swear that’s what saved my life. I was lucky that we knew so many gentle and caring people there who overlooked the untidiness of my wilting family and showed us the true meaning of “community”.
My mother, broken from years of mental illness and loads of prescription medications, died five years ago. It was only then that I stopped viewing her as a woman who could never provide the only thing I’d ever wanted from her… an unyielding bond between the two of us. It was only then that I started to wonder what her young dreams had been as a girl and all that she had lost, this extremely bright, delicate creature who was robbed by an inexplicable foe of all that life could have offered her, should have offered her. I wish I could have known the soothing of her voice as she read me to sleep or felt the strength of her support during my many failed attempts to properly examine my world. But my mother was never capable of such pivotal parental duties. She was far too consumed with treading the tumultuous waters of her own existence. It was never anyone’s fault; it was simply something that just happened. I know that now.  

My book, GHELLOW ROAD, was an extremely ambitious project for me. I had never put as much effort into anything else as I did with this endeavor, my blood, sweat, tears… you name it. Why did I ever write it? One reason -- I had so much I wanted to say. I hope that each and every person who reads it will be touched in one way or another. But if you glean only one tidbit, one shining morsel, I would ask it to be this: My tale is larger than just one child. It belongs to the thousands of kids out there who are just like me, past, present… and future.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mason Canyon from the bottom of my heart. You’ve been so gracious and I’m truly grateful for all of your support. …..Tera aka T.H. Waters

Tera, thank you for guest blogging today. I think your story is one that will inspire others. You have a great outlook. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now let me share a bit more background on Tera. She was raised in the state of Minnesota and currently reside in Minneapolis with her significant other and two loving fur balls. She has always been a life-long lover of the written word. 

When asked about her love of writing, Tera said, “I love the magic of it, the mystique; I love the breadth of it and how it can fortify one’s spirit. I didn’t grow up imagining that I would one day become an author. In fact, I never even considered it until about 8 years ago when I received news that my brother had died suddenly. He was only 39 years old. It was one of the saddest days of my life. Numb and in shock, I picked up a pen and some paper, sat down at my dining room table and, with tears streaming down my face, I wrote his eulogy. A few more years would pass before my significant other encouraged me to take my passion for writing and use it to create my life’s story, GHELLOW ROAD. My book is written from the heart, and I hope it will move you in some way… All my best,”

If you are a writer, do you include parts of your personal life in your work? As a reader, do you find books written from the heart more emotional and tend to stay with you much longer? Share your thoughts with us today.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Author Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows: Listening To That Inner Voice

Please join me in welcoming author Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows as sheElizabeth-Bellows-239x300 tours blogdom with her middle grade fantasy novel, ALEXANDER DRAKE’S EXTRAORDINARY PURSUIT.

While on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!, Elizabeth stopped by today to talk about her book published by Wild Child Publishing and why she can’t get any sleep.

SHHH!! Be Quiet, will ya…?  I’m trying to get some sleep! 

Your inner voice is a call to purpose… 

You’re snuggled up in your bed, blanket pulled over your shoulders, eyes shut tight - and here it comes... The voice. Darn it! Now the wheels in your head are spinning. Inspiring ideas and possibilities seem to be racing from your heart to your brain. Could I really do the things this voice is telling me? Will it ever just be quiet so I can get a little shut eye? Sheesh! 

Every night when my surroundings are finally silent the voice is at its loudest. In my younger years it had me envisioning myself as an adventurer, archaeologist, Extraordinaire. My dreams would begin with the theme song to Indiana Jones. With my crazy Rod Stewart hair poking out of a dusty brown fedora, I navigated my way through ancient ruins in a foreign land. 

On some nights I played the role of a wise wizard soaring over a mystical forest on a beautiful giant bird. When the Indiana Jones dreams intermingled with the wizard dreams, things would get weird. 

It wasn't just at bedtime; it was any time of the day as long as I was quiet enough to listen. The voice got me in to trouble in class more than a few times; especially if I sat near a large window. My poor teachers; it must have been frustrating  - constantly catching me with face in hand and a whimsical gaze fixed on the clouds in the sky. 

The voice I am referring to is my inner voice. We all have one. It is the reason I am a writer. I grew up feeling sort of lost; like a leaf blowing aimlessly in the wind. The archeology thing did not pan out because the wizards always got in the way. After years of adventures playing in my mind like a movie, it was time to listen to my heart and finally start writing them down. 

Alexander-Drake-version-2-compressedWhat is your inner voice telling you? I know it sounds silly. I’m not referring to the chatter – “I should have done this”, “why did so and so say that”, “what should I eat for breakfast tomorrow?” you get the idea.  I am talking about the strongest voice that has a feeling of joy attached to it - like it is coming from your heart. Instead of trying to silence your inner voice, make extra effort to listen. It will lead you to your purpose. 

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined!
~ Henry David Thoreau ~ 

Elizabeth, thanks so much for guest blogging today. Listening to that inner voice is definitely important. It can lead to some most interesting things. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now let me give you a bit of background on Elizabeth. Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave her a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat. 

Over the years she learned that the insecurities she carried around were a waste of time. Elizabeth still prefers a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into her writing providing a sense of joy and true purpose. 

For more on Elizabeth and her writing, visit her website at
Here’s a brief synopsis of ALEXANDER DRAKE’S EXTRAORDINARY PURSUIT: Alexander Drake is not a typical “story book” hero. He’s awkward, insecure and introverted. His struggle to make friends has made him a bit of a loner. He is terribly fearful of not living up to his conservative father’s expectations of him, and always puts forth every effort to make him proud. At the same time, Alexander is a curious and wildly imaginative boy, who constantly craves adventure.

Up to this point, Alexander led a very sheltered life. He was raised solely by his father, a reserved distinguished gentleman with a rarely exposed soft side. His mother died when he was baby, and he has no memory of her. Many secrets of his family’s extraordinary past were intentionally kept from him; which has sparked his curious nature even more.

Alexander wants nothing more than to know where he came from; more specifically, his mother. The opportunity finally presents itself during a stay at his grandmother’s cottage deep in the forest. His father’s childhood bedroom contained some interesting clues and a special key that set Alexander on a journey that would change his life forever.

Azra’s Pith is a child’s imagination brought to life. Enchanted spells roam the forest where Julien, a peaceful Empyrean wizard lives. A deep river flows through the realm containing run off from the snowy mountains looming in the distance.

That is where an element of unspeakable evil dwells unsettled – a sorcerer named Imperius. It is feared by all who inhabit the realm. Alexander is oblivious of his own significance in Azra’s Pith. He is a threat to Imperius’s powers and its plans to control the realm, and therefore must be destroyed.

Alexander was being hunted by dark spells and vicious creatures every step of the way, but he was determined to complete his journey. His destination held the answers he longed for; and a surprise that was beyond his wildest dreams. 

Do you listen to that inner voice? As a writer has it lead you to an intriguing story? As a reader, does it help guide you in what you read? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.