Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review # 205: The Gods Among Us - The Divine Masquerade Series by D. C. Belton

Description: (book jacket)
     Pallas is a friendless teen from a backwater village on a forgotten shore. She really doesn’t believe in the gods except to peevishly blame them for drowning her mother. But she’s forced to shelve her moody cynicism when she accidentally rescues an obnoxious cat.
     Suddenly caught in a celestial war, Pallas must do the unthinkable – champion the very goddess she hates. Masquerading as a mythic princess, she convinces everyone she’s a child of Atlantis.
     Yet nothing can save her from certain doom, when the Volcano god reaches out to slay her. For how can a mortal fight a god?

      I have been told that some authors are afraid of my reviews because I tend to nit-pick spelling, grammar, and proper sentence structure; however, though I do mention these flaws in my review, I don't often subtract points from the overall rating unless the mistake(s) interfere with my reading experience. For instance, in The Gods Among Us by D. C. Belton I noticed that ellipses (...) were overused, there were a few misplaced commas, and a couple of sentences did not make sense - but these imperfections did not hinder my ability to read and enjoy the book. That said, there were other aspects of the book that hurt the rating. First, I noticed that the character point of view changed without warning from from first-person, to third-person, to I don't know what person, and with so many characters to keep track of readers can easily become confused. Second, the readability switched from middle school vocabulary to a conglomeration of synonyms straight out of the thesaurus, adding to the confusion. Dialogue should be meaningful, yet succinct, not full of ten-dollar words that the author uses to impress readers. I also disliked the underdevelopment of the secondary characters, but there were also aspects of the book that I really enjoyed. The entire realm created by D.C. Belton is phenomenal, the descriptions are alluring and a welcome break from reality. Just like the Hogwarts campus and the expanse of Middle Earth, the landscape of the Zoo is one that I would like to revisit in subsequent novels. Similarly, I would love to see Pallas and Othello again since I enjoyed reading about their strange dynamics, even though I strongly disliked Othello's personality at the novel's introduction. As for the Gods, I wish that there had been more background, but their characters may have more central roles in future books. I cannot complain about the plot, I found it entertaining and well-developed, and the ending, (no spoilers!), left me longing for more. This series has a lot of promise, and if readers can get over the few errors in mechanics they will find a worthwhile read. Recommended for YA and up.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 204: RUST by Glen Joshpe, M.D.

Description: (GoodReads)
     When the unorthodox, free-thinking, Cornell University scientist, Alex Stein comes across a life altering finding in Africa, a series of action-packed adventures crossing continental divides are set into motion. As the very essence of life’s mysteries become unraveled, the CIA, the Russian mafia, and Stein himself fight to retain control. 

     As of late, I have become a huge fan of medical-based fiction, particularly thrillers - think Robin Cook, Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerritson, so when I read the blurb for RUST, I knew it was the book for me! Unfortunately, after 132 pages, I still could not attest to the cover's promise of, "tantalizing, scientifically-based action". There was more than enough scientific and medical jargon, (almost to the point of extreme), but if there was action, I really did not witness it. There are a couple sections that warrant an increase in pulse, however, most of the novel is dialogue, meetings, investigations, and a mild sense of dread. The tagline should read 'scientifically-based novel'; it had the potential for thrills, but with so much science and so little climax, I felt that it started to drone on around page 88. I am a scientist, so I know a lot of terminology and complex medical processes, but even my background in medicine and anatomy did not prepare me for some of the lingo used in this novel; the good news is that I got some use out of my kindle dictionary app. Overall, I enjoyed the characters and diagrams, and most of the plot-line was satisfactory, nevertheless, the story seemed unrealistic at times. Glen Joshpe's writing style is quite engaging, but if he wants a wider audience he will need to pull back some of the shoptalk and add in some combat. Not everyone is a gerontologist or other medical professional, which makes RUST's intended audience harder to pinpoint. Personally, I recommend it to those who have a background in the sciences, or readers who are "prepared to understand aging like never before." (RUST p-iii)

Rating: DNR (2.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 203: My Big Bottom Blessing - How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life by Teasi Cannon

Description: (from GoodReads)

"Loving the girl in the mirror isn't about changing how you look but allowing God to change how you see." 
       My Big Bottom Blessing is a joyful and wise guide to exchanging the limitations of a merely human body image for the liberty of knowing that we are made in the image of God.

     Finally, a witty, down-to-earth and well-written book about one woman's lifelong struggle with her self-esteem and body image! I have read so many self-help/diet/women's nonfiction guides pertaining to weight loss and body happiness that I have learned to take little stock in the genre. There are so many doctors/trainers pushing "the best" diet, exercise plan, weight loss surgery, etc, that it is easy to lose hope when one of those millions of plans fails. For most of us who struggle with our bodies, one small failure can cause a total loss of hope and motivation, which is why Teasi Cannon's book is so refreshing. My Big Bottom Blessing is all about acceptance, inner beauty, and the realization that we are all made in God's image. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down! Teasi's inner and outer struggles with her body image mirror my own, and her writing style makes it easy to relate. She balances humor, heartbreak, wisdom, encouragement, honesty and compassion to create an authentic and enjoyable chronicle of her life experiences, from her feelings about family gatherings, to the horrors of her past, and her acceptance of her future. It is a very personal story, but one that has forever changed the way I feel about my own body. Knowing how to accept one's image is a much better source of motivation than a book about dieting, exercise or liposuction. There is also a section at the end of each chapter that allows the reader to reflect, take notes, read related scripture, and evaluate what they have learned about themselves. These sections inspired me; as a Christian woman I have always been told that humans were made in God's image, but I had never really thought about what that meant. In a world that emphasizes a skewed vision of outer beauty, (perfect skin, perfect hair, model thinness, etc.), this is a lesson that everyone needs to be taught. Everyone is perfect and beautiful in their own way - it shouldn't be rated or judged - body image is at the discretion of the individual. This book is recommended for Christian women of all ages, and to those who want to find out more about themselves instead of pursuing another emotionally empty diet plan.

Rating: Clean Getaway (5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 202: Spirit, Time, and the Future - An Inclusive Transpersonal and Theological Inquiry Into The Spirit for Our Times by Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta PhD

Description: (from GoodReads)
     In this book, Peter explores how an inclusive and expansive awareness of the Spirit is central to the development of changing and emerging world views. In these pages, you will find a deeper understanding of spirituality, both in its roots and its wings, becomes necessary for ecological and human survival. In the face of all the dire and disturbing 2012 predictions, Peter provides us with a grounding for our hope, and for openhearted religious vision of future possibilities. Peter convincingly conveys his message by drawing from multiple sources. From traditional and dissenting theology; from linguistic studies, ethics, and Biblical aspects of feminism to including world religions, mysticism, and Jungian psychology. Each pathway has provided Peter with insights that make his investigation into these timeless metaphysical teachings on the Spirit readable and inspiring.


     I was unsure of what to make of Spirit, Time, and the Future when I first found it in my mailbox. I had recently received several books about 'the end of the world' and the Mayan 2012 predictions, so I was in no hurry to jump into the mind of another religious conspiracy nut, however, that wasn't what the book turned out to be at all. Peter E. Lanzillotta is a reverend and a PhD who has always been fascinated with transpersonal, metaphysical, and spiritual experiences, and his ideas about our spiritual/religious pasts and eventual future sparked my interest. I have never thought of the Holy Spirit as a 'she', or as a sort of vitality/ energy source, but after reading the first couple of chapters I realized that the Spirit is a sustaining presence, bringing us a sense of safety, belonging, and the power to create! Peter's ideas on the subject are quite eye-opening, and the chapters describing theological viewpoints and the complexity of time really resonated with me. I also believe that churches/religious organizations have forgotten some of the most basic cultural teachings and traditions. Congregations today are much different than they were in the past; people come to sit, sing, listen to The Word, be among friends, and, hopefully, find some peace, but where is the pulse of the Holy Spirit? Where is the inspiration and the transformation that once came from belief in [her] and in God's Word? I enjoyed asking myself these questions and relating them to my own religious practices, especially since religious viewpoints are always changing. Are we in The Age of the Spirit? I cannot be sure, but Lanzillotta's insights are intriguing. I enjoyed the format of the book, although there were some grammatical/run-on errors, however, there were a couple sections that I had to reread because they were very wordy. I recommend this to anyone interested in The Spirit or the religious traditions of yesteryear.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author (Bostick Communications) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

     Doctor Peter Lanzillotta has been a lifelong student of transpersonal thought ever since his early introduction to unbidden spiritual experiences. His curiosity, his academic and experiential conclusions form much of the background of this book. After many years in ministry, Peter now works as an interfaith spiritual director and as a transpersonal counselor. He is actively expanding his spiritual understanding by applying his insights to new areas such as holistic health, weddings and rites of passage, hospice care, etc.. He will continue to offer his ideas by writing books, through teaching, and by giving workshops.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review # 201: Know God and Love Him - Prayer with Scripture by Joanne M. Rypma

     A scriptural prayer book based on the OT/NT Christian theology of knowing and seeking God/ the Holy Spirit, and the many ways we can praise him in our daily lives.

     Know God and Love Him is a Christian prayer book that follows the liturgical calendar from the 1st Sunday in Advent through the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time ("The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ the King"). It contains three years of Sunday devotions based upon the Holy doctrines of both the Old and New Testaments. I really appreciated the well-researched and heartfelt lines of prayer, as well as the inspirational moments that followed. The genuine tone of each prayer was uplifting and emotional, often leading to deep meditations on God's Word. I also liked the "Alphabetical List of Scripture" for years 1-3, it made it easy to look-up what book the prayer was based on. Using this text along with The Holy Bible provided me with a more in-depth and spiritual experience. I definitely recommend this prayer book to any Christians who would like to get closer to God and his teachings. Great for church groups and confirmation classes!

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author (Bostick Communications) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 200: Anger Mastery - Get Angry, Get Happy by Kevin B. Burk

Description: (from GoodReads)
     Good morning. This is your wake-up call. Your life is a constant struggle. No matter how hard you work, things aren't improving. You're not happy. You haven't been happy for so long that you don't know what happy is anymore. And worst of all, you don't have enough energy to do anything about it, because other people are stealing it from you. This energy is more vital and more useful than gas or electricity: it's anger. When you learn how to master your anger, you can avoid ever being a victim again. Your anger can help you to get everything you want. Ultimately, your anger can help you to become truly happy. But first, you have to learn to master your anger. If you don't master your anger, it will master you, and you will continue to be victimized and manipulated. You will waste more energy, and feel less happy. In other words, your life will continue exactly as it is now. But it doesn't have to be that way. Follow the three-step Anger Mastery Process to: Take control of your life and stop being a victim. Reclaim your energy and use it to create the life you deserve. Protect yourself from the pain of loss by becoming truly Safe. Stop wasting your time on distractions and focus on what really matters to you. Become completely happy.


    Everybody deals with anger in their own way - some try to take it out on inanimate objects, others hold it in until it explodes, and then there are the people who simply simmer in a boiling pot of anger year-round. These methods may work for some individuals, but in most cases anger is just beneath the surface, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation; I speak from experience. I approached Kevin B. Burk's Anger Mastery hoping for answers to my top three questions about anger: Why am I angry?, Why do I take my anger out on others?, and How can I tame/stop my anger?. My goal was to at least find some suitable methods to control my inner dragon, (attitudes, actions, and language), in order to change my overall mood; and I definitely found some worthwhile tips. However, parts of the book did not appeal to me, particularly the repetitive nature of the text and the sporadic comma/punctuation usage. Yes, misspellings and grammatical errors make me very angry, but the use of an editor would make me very, very happy. I also did not enjoy the first couple of chapters which included rants on the Rich, the Central Bank of the Federal Reserve and the Government. I may not like everything that these groups/organizations do, but that does not mean that everything they do is underhanded or unnecessary. On the other hand, I did like the set-up of Burk's self-help guide, the size wasn't overwhelming (120 pages), the diagrams were quite interesting, and the Phases (1-3) were doable for most individuals - not easy, but as the author infers, nothing remunerative ever is. The section on the F-word was one of my favorites, as was the chapter on victim consciousness - I appreciated the level of humor and the down-to-earth, (get your butt moving), tone. It is clear that the author knows what he is talking about, but I felt that the chapters could have held more actual anger-beating techniques than they did. I am surprised by Burk's background, but some of his experience as a astrological counselor really played into his Anger Mastery Phases. Overall, this book has some great tips on mastering anger and is recommended for adults seeking help with anger issues, or those who are curious about taming them.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author (Pump Up Your Book) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Book Trailer:

About the Author:

     Kevin B. Burk has been helping people around the world to improve their lives and relationships since 1996 through his astrological counseling and relationship coaching practice. His humor, wisdom and compassion are always present, in his books (ten so far, including Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life, and his newest book, Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy), his classes and workshops, and his interactions with his clients and students. Kevin’s focus is always on the practical, exploring how we can actually use astrology and spiritual practice on a daily basis to transform our lives.

     In the astrology world, he is best known for making Classical Astrology accessible to everyone, taking complex and abstract concepts and showing how they can be used to create concrete, specific and practical interpretations. Kevin’s website, The Real Astrology with Kevin B. Burk is one of the premiere astrology resources on the Internet. His book, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart is a textbook used at Kepler University in their Undergraduate Astrology Degree program, and has been translated into Russian, and is currently being translated into Bulgarian. Kevin’s articles have appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, the Australian publication,Well Being Astrology, and in Llewellyn’s Moon Sign books.

     In the non-astrology world, Kevin is best known for his unique approach to understanding and improving all human relationships through The Relationship Handbook andThe Relationship Workshops.

     Kevin has released a series of DVDs of his Law of Attraction workshops: the self-contained Prosperity & The Law of Attraction, and Astrology & The Law of Attraction, a series of 7 DVDs recorded live in Houston, TX at a weekend workshop for the Gulf Coast Chapter of NCGR.

     Kevin has developed a revolutionary program for spiritual growth called Archetypal Astrology: The Hero’s Journey. This intensive program guides participants through the process of meeting and moving into Right Relationship with each of the seven Astrological Archetypes (you may know them as the seven personal planets).

     Kevin is currently synthesizing astrology and spirituality into his next series of books: Astrology & The Law of Attraction, Prosperity & The Law of Attraction andRelationships & The Law of Attraction.

You can visit Kevin’s website at

To get your paperback copy of ANGER MASTERY by Kevin Burk:

To purchase a copy of ANGER MASTERY at Barnes & Noble:

Buy the book directly from the author at

Like Kevin Burk on Facebook:

Tour Information:

Tour Schedule

Monday, July 2

Book Feature at Examiner

Tuesday, July 3

Guest Blogging at Literal Exposure

Thursday, July 5

Book Feature at Book Marketing Buzz

Friday, July 6

Book Feature at My Devotional Thoughts

Monday, July 9

Book Review at Margay Leah Justice Blog

Tuesday, July 10

Book Feature at Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Thursday, July 12

Interview at Between the Covers

Friday, July 13

Book Review & Guest Blogging at Books Books and More Books

Monday, July 16

Interview at Beyond the Books

Tuesday, July 17

Interview at Bunny’s Reviews

Wednesday, July 18

Book Feature at Book Bloggers Collaborative

Thursday, July 19

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Friday, July 20

Book Feature at The Book Loving Busy Mom’s Daily

Monday, July 23

Guest Blogging at My Reading Table

Tuesday, July 24

Book Feature at The Road to Here

Thursday, July 26

Guest Blogging at Literarily Speaking

Friday, July 27

Book Review at The Paperback Pursuer Blog

Monday, August 6

Interview at Examiner

Tuesday, August 7

Guest Blogging at Books Books the Magical Fruit

Wednesday, August 8

Guest Blogging at Waiting on Sunday to Drown

Thursday, August 9

Interview at Paperback Writer

Friday, August 10

Guest Blogging at The Book Connection

Monday, August 13

Book Feature at Cafe of Dreams

Tuesday, August 14

Guest Blogging at Writing Daze

Wednesday, August 15

Interview at Broowaha

Thursday, August 16

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz

Friday, August 17

AuthorVid at Pump Up Your Book

Monday, August 20

Book Review at The Story of a Girl

Tuesday, August 21

Guest Blogging at Coffee and a Keyboard

Wednesday, August 22

Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Thursday, August 23

Interview at Review From Here

Friday, August 24

Interview at As the Pages Turn

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guestpost: Elyse Douglas - Looking for Work

Looking for Work
by Elyse Douglas

When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt. - Henry J. Kaiser

I worked as a graphics computer consultant while also working on a novel. An agency called and asked if I would handle a “difficult and challenging assignment.” It was at a leading investment banking firm on Park Avenue. I said yes. I dressed appropriately—corporate casual: khakis, button down shirt, loafers.

I entered the soaring-to-the-heavens building, going through 5 minutes of grueling security, but was respectively called Mr. Pennington, because I looked akin to investment bankers who are important and prosperous.

I played the part, carrying an impressive shoulder bag that had nothing in it except a protein-packed peanut butter bar and edits for a new women’s fiction novel entitled, Wanting Rita, that my wife, Elyse, and I were writing.

I was whisked to the upper floors that looked out over the impressive, gleaming towers of Manhattan. I stepped across gold carpeted hallways and passed shimmering enclosed offices, where determined men and women worried and jousted over important financial issues.

I was led across the trading floor, around islands of printers and computers, down corridors that opened, vast and wide, to more cubicles and computers, with even more people, dressed like me, hunched over keyboards, working assiduously. I was about to be involved with powerful people doing important work and I was ready for it. I was ready for the difficult and challenging assignments that lay ahead.

I was shown my desk, my computer and my printer. I lowered my shoulder bag with a dramatic sigh, aware that curious eyes were watching, and pretended to strain under its weight. Let them think I have important documents inside, I thought to myself. Let this first impression be one of “this guy has come to do difficult and challenging assignments.”

I sat, adjusted my ergonomically designed chair—one that was so carefully and skillfully designed that I could have been shot to the moon in ease and comfort. I booted up the computer. I logged on, using the highly secret passwords. I waited.

A tall, focused supervisor arrived, quiet and serious. “Welcome. Good to have you with us. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

He drifted away into the endless corridors and cubicles and glass-enclosed offices. I waited.

The district supervisor soon arrived. She was easy, friendly and attractive. “We have so much work to do. So glad you’re here to help us, Douglas.”

“Good to be here,” I said earnestly.

She soon ambled away, to some distant shore, where security doors released you through a hallway that led to more security doors and corridors and stairs and a bank of elevators.

I waited… At 1pm, I was told to go for lunch and return at 2pm. I did. At 6:30, I was kindly instructed to go home. Being the last worker on the floor, I did, shutting down the computer on which I had stared longingly for stale, protracted hours. I then wandered through the maze of cubicles and silent offices until I arrived at the bank of lonely elevators. They seemed to speak to me.

“Ah…Douglas, the vicissitudes of life: up and down, down and up.”

A week passed—one day looping into the next—each following the same familiar and grueling pattern. I never was given any work to do. Often, in quiet desperation, I worked on Wanting Rita.

One night, as I prepared to leave after a particularly fallow day, a co-worker drew up, flushed, perspiring and weary. “What a kick-ass day, huh? I’m beat.”

I mopped my brow with a tissue. “Oh, yeah. A real pressure cooker.”

On another evening, I left the hushed, empty cubicles, slouching my way to the elevators. I stood in an awkward silence. The CEO of the company was standing beside me. He stood aloof, dressed smartly in a suit and tie. No doubt he’d spent endless challenging hours wrestling with problems, financial quagmires and near life-and-death issues.

I, on the other hand—for nearly three months—had done absolutely nothing.

He eyed me suspiciously. I could hear him thinking: “Humm…last man out. Obviously, a dedicated employee. No doubt he’s been working on difficult and challenging assignments.”

I left the building with all the other essential people. I kept my head held high, but my shoulders a little slouched to show that I, too, had done important work and I was weary from it.

I never saw the supervisor again. I returned several times a week for about a year and was rarely given any work. When work gratefully arrived, it was elementary at best. Anyone could have done it.

Whenever I asked if there was any work for me, I was told “Oh, yeah, we’re going to be busy today.”

Then the day finally came: the assignment came to an end. Not with a bang but a whimper. “Good job,” I was told. “Thanks for all the hard work.”

Two weeks later, I received a call from the agency.

“Douglas, they want you back. They said you’re the only one they trust to handle the workload. Are you available?”

About the Author:

     Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.

     Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer’s Daughter and Wanting Rita.

     When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”

Find out more at, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Elyse Douglas and Pump Up Your Book Tours are also hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway!!! Click here to find out more details.

About Wanting Rita:

     When his high school sweetheart experiences a devastating tragedy, Dr. Alan Lincoln reluctantly returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see her. It’s been 15 years. Rita was a small town beauty queen—his first love whom he has never forgotten. He was a nerd from a wealthy family. Her family was poor. They formed a strong connection during their senior year, but Rita married someone else, and the marriage ended tragically.

     Alan’s marriage of three years is disintegrating, and he sees in Rita the chance to begin again with the true love of his life. Rita has been mentally and emotionally shattered, but she reaches out to Alan and fights to build a new life with him. During a passionate summer, however, the past and present converge and threaten their rekindled love, as Alan and Rita must struggle with old ghosts and new secrets.

Book Excerpt:

“She’ll be there, Alan,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said, in a quiet, hopeful voice. “She’ll be at Jack’s Diner. She’s been working there for a month now. It…well, it would just be a good thing…a nice thing if you could…” Her voice trailed off, then grew weak and brittle. “You’re the only person she’s asked about. But… you must be so busy. I mean, I know doctors are always busy. Of course, you’re busy, but… Well, if you could just go and see her…”

Then there was desperation. “I’m sorry to call you at your office, but I just thought…well, if she saw some old friends. She needs to…get out and…”

I’d heard that voice frequently working in the ER during my residency. A voice stripped of pride by a mounting panic.

“She’ll be so glad to see you again, Alan. I just know it. She was always so fond of you, you know.”

Just as I was about to end the conversation, she broke down, repeating the story of Rita’s tragedy in deep sighs and choking sobs. I waited, impatiently. She rambled and paused, hoping for a response. I didn’t offer any, so she continued on with a weepy intensity, with anger, remorse, and an occasional hacking cough. I listened coolly, aloof, frequently checking my watch. I was already behind. Patients were complaining to reception. I had mountains of paperwork to do and I hadn’t eaten lunch.

Mrs. Fitzgerald persisted, with surging emotion. Her pace became a desperate sprint to the finish line, jumping from self-pity to scorn, to cursing, to rage. She trampled on all my efforts to cut her off. So I waited for the end of emotion; for the end of her confessions; for the shattered voice that finally fell into a withering and feeble “Oh, God… please go see Rita… Please…”

I wasn’t moved in that hollow silence. My heart contracted with an icy chill—with the rush of unwanted memories. I wasn’t even moved when she timidly called my name to see if I was still there.

“Yes… I’m here, Mrs. Fitzgerald, but I have to go now. Thank you for calling.”

I hung up, abruptly, without another word. I wanted to erase her—erase the entire population of Hartsfield, Pennsylvania—from my mind.

I’d already heard the story. My sister, Judy, had called eight months before, stunned, teary and grateful to share. Two hours later, an old friend from high school, whom I hadn’t heard from in six years, called me stammering, shocked, and depressed. Then my father had called, using cold, sharp words. “They were trash. Didn’t you date that girl a couple of times? What was her name… Rita?”

It had briefly hit the national news, I was told, although I didn’t see it because I was in Barbados on vacation when it happened. Of course it upset me. It would upset anyone, but I had never been particularly fond of Mrs. Fitzgerald when I was a kid. And when I was a kid living in Hartsfield, she’d never been particularly fond of me. But then, with few exceptions, nobody was. Except Rita. Rita, at least for a fleeting miraculous time, had been fond of me. Perhaps, she had even loved me. And I, without a doubt—any doubt—had loved her.

In the last two years of high school, Rita had blazed with a beauty and magnetism that burned through a crowd like wildfire. She possessed a kind of languid rapture and soft exotic glow that I compared to the starlets of the 1940’s and 50’s; that mysterious mixture of fire and ice that arrested the eyes and heart in a breathless expectation. She was art, with her refined aristocratic nose, long chiseled neck, and voice like pure unraveling silk. Her lips were red, full, and often parted, as if in want of a kiss, though there was no pretension in this. At least, I never thought so.

She was full-figured and statuesque, with honey blond hair that fell in waves over thin ivory shoulders, in a longing, really—in a natural invitation to touch and caress. And she moved in an easy rhythm, as if hearing distant pagan music, with a gentle sway of her hips that sent ripples of fervent pleasure through any gathering of guys, and a humid jealousy through any crowd of gals.

Rita had been the town treasure. The prom queen. The beauty queen. The trophy. Men with cigars on the Courthouse steps jerked nods of agreement that Hartsfield could produce more than just thermal underwear. They produced Rita Fitzgerald: beauty, talent and personality. She’d go somewhere, New York, LA, and become somebody, and they’d be the proud town fathers who had supported her, nurtured her and helped her along. She could sing and dance, and she wrote poems and short stories that were published in the local paper. She was even going to write a novel about Hartsfield. For weeks after this fact was published in the Sunday paper, I observed that teachers, neighbors and town folk all had broader smiles, softer dispositions and kind words, where few had been offered before.

Whenever she had shined her large sea-blue eyes on me, I saw tenderness, wonder and intelligence; and when she took me into them, fully, and held me for a time, I felt primitive and exalted. During those rare moments when Rita and I had been close and I felt her soft breath on my cheek or in my ear, and whenever she leaned into me and I smelled the spring scent of her and looked into her blue eyes, wide with magic, I saw them break into prisms of fire so magnificent that I often went dumb and silent with desire for her.

As I stared vacantly ahead at the garish neon lights of Jack’s Diner, I felt the rise of apprehension and dread. Surely Rita had changed. Had the tragedy blunted her beauty and zest for life? Did I really want to see her defeated and small, working as a waitress at Jack’s Diner? Did she really want to see me?

Book Trailer:

Interview with the Author:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review # 199: Waiting for Daybreak by Amanda McNeil

What is normal?
Description: (from Book)
     Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at
herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to
get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry
zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda
can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal
compared to every other human being who is craving brains?


     Over the last few years it seems that a shift has occurred, instead of teenage girls going ga-ga over Twilight-esque vampires, readers are flocking toward a different type of undead - zombies. These lumbering flesh-eaters are ripe with interest, ( in human brains), and are bringing back the gut-shredding fear and blood-curdling uncertainty that their 'sparkly' counterparts lack. Books, comics, movies and TV shows - especially The Walking Dead series - are popular because they scare the bejesus out of fans using blood, gore, gritty violence, and an overall feeling of doom - not to mention some pretty kick-a** plot-lines; however, after reading one, (or eighteen), similarly themed books, the premise can get old. I currently have four 'zombie' novels in my "To Be Read" pile, and I am already suffering from an undead hangover of apocalyptic proportions. When I was asked to read Waiting for Daybreak, I almost declined the opportunity. Another end-of-the-world zombie-pocalypse scenario? Boring. But after reading the blurb I was surprisingly intrigued. 

     Frieda is an multi-faceted character, her Borderline Personality Disorder adding layers to her already depressed, yet quirky and attitude-laden, persona. I was blown away by Amanda McNeil's ability to develop such a unique and troubled character who every reader can relate to on some level. Everyone has questioned the boundaries of normalcy, but Frieda finds herself in a situation where her past fears and vulnerabilities don't coincide with the present. Now that ~90% of the human population is craving a dripping chunk of people-meat, where does that leave the rest of the uninfected, (seemingly normal),  individuals? (Or their pets?) I enjoyed the relationship between Frieda and her cat, often unbothered by the fact that the dialogue was mainly one-sided. Frieda's love for her pet - her only living companion - was genuine and provided a couple of laughs. I much preferred this connection over Frieda's awkward relationship with another survivor, Mike, who I felt did not have enough of a history. I found the plot-line engaging and surprisingly twisty, each chapter bringing in more of the gore I would expect from the genre without soiling the well-written characters.  Also, the ending was excellent, and I didn't see it coming, (no spoilers). This is one of the first zombie novels I have read with a psychological/romance flair, and I really enjoyed it! I will definitely be adding this book to my collection, and hope to read more of Amanda McNeil's novels and short stories! Recommended to fans of the survival horror genre, and those looking for a psychological twist for the end-of-the-world.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

Amanda McNeil lives in Boston in a funky attic apartment that used to be a servant's quarters. She, alas, must write by night and work by day. She writes scifi, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and horror and has been strongly influenced by Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and Chuck Palahniuk.

Her first book, Ecstatic Evil, was released on July 7, 2011. Its sequel is set during American Thanksgiving and the release date is not set yet.

Her second book, Waiting for Daybreak, about a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder attempting to survive a zombie-like virus outbreak in Boston, was released on June 4, 2012.

You may contact Amanda at and find her online at her blog where she also maintains an up-to-date listing of her published short stories.

Buy the Book:

Amazon, Author's Blog, Author's Twitter, GoodReads, LibraryThing, Pinterest

Tour Schedule:

13—Earth’s Book Nook guest post and giveaway
14–The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul review and giveaway
15–Tabula Rasa review and giveaway
18–Nicki J. Markus interview and giveaway
22–From Me To You… interview and review
23–The Paperback Pursuer review
25–Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf interview and giveaway
26–Bookishly Me interview
27–Fangs for the Fantasy review and giveaway
30–Gizmo’s Book Reviews interview

1–Unabridged Andra review, interview, and giveaway
2–Cynthia Shepp guest post
3–Pocketful of Books guest post
4–NovelOpinion interview
5–The Book Blurb interview
6–Ellie Hall guest post
Eva’s Sanctuary review and interview
7–Kindle Fever interview and giveaway
10–Lily Element review
11–Wickedly Bookish interview and giveaway
13–Ellie Hall and cross-posted to 1889 Labs review
14–Blood, Sweat, and Books review and interview
15–The Book Hoard review and giveaway
16–Persephone’s Winged Reviews review
17–Offbeat Vagabond review, interview, and giveaway
18–Mervi’s Book Reviews review
20–Paperless Reading review
21–An Eclectic Bookshelf review and interview
22–Book Stacks On Deck review and giveaway
28–Pure Textuality review, interview, and giveaway
29–Just a Lil’ Lost… review
Reflections of a Book Addict interview and giveaway
30–Obsessions of a LibraryGurl review and interview
Reflections of a Book Addict review
31–Opinions of a Wolf author’s wrap-up!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review # 198: An Unexpected Guest by Anna Korkeakivi

Description: (from GoodReads)
     Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist.


     Not every book has to be fast-paced in order to be entertaining, however, a slight increase in tempo would have been a welcome addition to An Unexpected Guest. The novel takes place in a single day - a deceivingly short amount of time - and chronicles Clare's preparations for a Parisian dinner party that could launch her diplomat husband's status. Each page is inundated with Clare's mental to-do lists, her thoughts, hopes, fears, interactions, and suspicions - every minute detail of her daily routine plotted meticulously, the pressure mounting with each passing hour. I love detail, especially flourishes of descriptive prose, and Anna Korkeakivi delivers a picturesque play-by-play of events. Unfortunately, by the novel's midpoint, the depictions have become monotonous, dawdling on like a Parisian soap-opera; without adequate action/drama and presenting too many unnecessary details. So much more could have been done with Clare's character, and I plodded on in search of any additional plot-lines that had potential, but the only real surprises were in the last three chapters, (no spoilers). I had never really read much about foreign diplomats before this book, but I like how Edward's job is explained and built upon, and I also enjoyed the view of Paris. Overall, a very interesting novel, but I felt that it lacked depth within the story-line and could have used some humor.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guestpost: Shobhan Bantwal - Mismatched Soul-mates - Do Opposites Really Attract?

Mismatched Soul-mates - Do Opposites Really Attract?

Shobhan Bantwal - author of The Reluctant Matchmaker

     Haven't we all come across at least a few odd couples who just don't seem like they could possibly belong together, and yet they are as happy as the most well-coordinated twosomes? In my Indian-Hindu culture of arranged marriage, this phenomenon is more common than in America, where couples typically meet on their own, fall in love, and then marry.

     Practical considerations like family and social values, economic status, and educational levels take precedence over other factors when conservative Indians arrange a marriage for their family members. Consequently, every once in a while, two seemingly incompatible individuals may end up marrying each other. More often than not, the couple manages to find genuine joy and contentment in their relationship. This is one of the unique characteristics of arranged marriage in old-fashioned societies: strangers who are brought together in matrimony by their families forging a lasting bond based on mutual respect and love that blossoms, not before but after marriage.

     But how about when two mismatched people fall in love with each other? I have explored this very notion in my latest book, The Reluctant Matchmaker (July 1, 2012). I have paired the nuances of Indian-American culture with an unconventional romance.

     My heroine, Meena, is a very petite woman who falls in love with her exceptionally tall and slightly older boss, Prajay. So imagine her astonishment when Prajay requests her to craft a personal ad to help him find a suitable bride: a statuesque and sophisticated Indian-American woman. Meena can't refuse the odd assignment or the generous fee attached to it. Suddenly thrust into the role of "matchmaker" and "marriage consultant," Meena has to decide what is more important: her own happiness or making Prajay's marriage dreams come true. In making that crucial decision, she comes to some surprising realizations about love and tradition, and the sacrifices she will or won't make for the sake of both.

Book Trailer

About the Book

     It starts with a bizarre accident. Petite and successful Meena Shenoy's contented life turns upside down when she collides, literally, with her strikingly tall boss, Prajay Nayak, and suffers a nasty fall. But when she discovers that he's a bright, caring, family-oriented man, she's attracted to him. When he unexpectedly asks her to meet him in secret, she wonders whether he feels the same way about her.

     Meena walks into his office that evening with high romantic hopes. Imagine her shock when instead of declaring interest in her Prajay makes an astonishing request: He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife - a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his striking height.

     Despite her feelings for Prajay and the complications of balancing work and her "marriage consultant" role, Meena can't refuse the assignment, or the generous fee attached to it. While she nurses her bruised heart, Meena comes to some surprising realizations about love, tradition, and the sacrifices she will—and won't—make to fight for the man she loves.

About the Author

     Shobhan Bantwal is an award-winning author of six multicultural women's fiction books with romantic elements and numerous short stories, branded as "Bollywood in a Book." Her articles have appeared in The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, India Currents, and New Woman. The Reluctant Matchmaker is her latest novel. Shobhan lives with her husband in Arizona. 

    For more information: about The Reluctant Matchmaker and Shobhan Bantwal’s other books, visit or to get your copy today. 
The full virtual tour schedule is available at:
Shoban's Facebook page:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Interview: Farrokh Nazerian - "The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh"

About The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh

     As dusk falls over a desert landscape, a lone woman waits anxiously on a bench near a dried tree to meet someone. She is approached by a young man. The mysterious interaction, and enigmatic conversation, which ensues after their encounter, sets the tune for this esoteric four act play...

Interview with Farrokh Nazerian

Q: Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

     The idea to write my play:  The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh came to me years ago, with the realization that a universal and pervading “confusion” is one of the main problems afflicting mankind. I was young, and had just broken up with my girlfriend; in fact it was a mutual decision by both of us to go our separate ways. We were ad and confused, we were both still in love with each other, but separating.
     In  The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh , (M), a young woman, is searching for a lost love. Her search in her own words is the search; for someone who is not there, someone who does not exist. The play is an existential drama concerning Man’s eternal search for salvation, and his struggle to find a meaning and purpose for his life; while life has no reason: Life is – a reason and result unto itself.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
     It was not really very hard. For any writer, the writing is giving birth to her or his ideas and thoughts. To me it was also an attempt to see Farrokh, myself. Seeing is the ability to bypass the mind and have direct connection with life; it took me a long time. My tip: Write with the knowledge.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
     A local publisher.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
     The only surprise was that I actually did it!

Q: Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?
     It was similar to the experience of seeing my first born child.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?
     I am working on a new book; Sisyphus Revisited. It is a story based on my search to understand the power that surrounds and affects our life, and my efforts to cultivate and possibly culminate that power.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?
     Man has amassed a great deal of information, but is bereft of necessary knowledge to live in harmony with life. We
    The cry of the “why” is echoing throughout the history of mankind, only facing the deafening silence of the universe. My play illuminates a path that would take us from the confusion of why to the clarity of how, from the Ape of Reason to the Superman of Will.

Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you. 

More About the Author

Farrokh Nazerian has been a journalist, editor, poet, entrepreneur, art collector, developer, and above all, he has been a lifelong student of “knowledge.” Born in Iran, he lived in England, before residing in California, where he is working currently on his second book, Sisyphus Revisited.

His first book is a 4 act play titled  The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh .

You can visit his website at

To get your paperback copy of  The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh by Farrokh Nazerian at Amazon:

To purchase a copy of The Last Person Who Saw Farrokh at Barnes & Noble: 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review # 197: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

Description: (from GoodReads)
     High above the bustling streets of Dubai, in the world's tallest and most luxurious skyscraper, reside the gods and goddesses of the modern world. Since they emerged 14 billion years ago from a bus blaring a tune remarkably similar to the Mister Softee jingle, they've wreaked mischief and havoc on mankind. Unable to control their jealousies, the gods have splintered into several factions, led by the immortal enemies XOXO, Shanice, La Felina, Fast-Cooking Ali, and Mogul Magoo. Ike Karton, an unemployed butcher from New Jersey, is their current obsession.


     I had to do a double-take when I saw this cover on Amazon, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack...? What in the world is that about??? There were quite a few plot scenarios going through my head in that moment, but not one of them came close to the asinine truth. I can find something good to say about every book I read, but this... novel... threw me for a loop. I had to force myself to get past chapter one, the language and ridiculous names/concepts insulting. I understood that there were Gods and Goddesses, and that they all had a few "screws loose", but other than that, I couldn't figure out what in the world was actually happening. The characters seemed to do things for no reason in particular, and without reason there was only chaos - a collection of nonsensical phrases leading nowhere. I guess the only redeemable qualities I could find were Mark Leyner's word choices and sentence formats, but even they could not make me overlook the obvious flaws. I felt like I was trying to read as fast as humanly possible in order to finish, the inane characters and dialogue far from attention-worthy. I usually prefer ideas that are out-of-the box, but the highly repetitive and annoying dialogue left me drowning and confused in a sea of sugar frosted frivolity. Enjoyed the handful of laughs, but overall, I felt that the book was, "artisanal bull[****] of the highest order," (TSFN p.199). I can not honestly recommend this as suitable reading material for any age...

Rating: Toe-Tag (1/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 196: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

     It is the summer of 1914 and newly-wedded Grace is on a luxury ocean-liner with her husband Henry, celebrating their nuptials. But when the ship suffers a fatal explosion, Grace is placed on a lifeboat as Henry and other crewmen/passengers sink into the ocean with the doomed vessel. Now widowed, Grace must fight for survival on an overcrowded lifeboat where rations and hope are dwindling. Who will stay afloat when there is no choice but sacrifice? Who will answer for the decisions made?


     I was really excited when I first received this book, but it wasn't what I expected, especially the lead character Grace. I disliked her personality, it was ingenuine and irritating, and I did not see where her character improved/ visibly changed throughout the novel. Her narration was unreliable and monotonous, often leading to predictable plot-lines and a general lack of interest on the readers part. I usually love survival stories, especially those that take place in open water or in unfamiliar and dangerous territory, but The Lifeboat failed to peak my interest - ship explodes, some live and some die, crowded lifeboat floats on, passengers bicker, meager supplies, death, repercussions, and atonement - typical. I was ready for shocks, plot-twists, and (admittedly) cannibalism. Who doesn't love a plot readers can chew on? Unfortunately, my continued reading was only rewarded with more disappointing narration and dialogue. As for the aspects I did enjoy, the character development was pretty good and there were definitely distinct personalities present. The details were welcome additions as well, often transporting me to the very lifeboat where the characters were stranded, or to the isolating walls of the courtroom. I really appreciated Charlotte Rogan's poetic writing style, using some beautifully crafted depictions to describe the moods of the lost, but the story as a whole fell flat. Good for a first-time author, but still not up to par with other books in the survival genre. My favorite part was taking in the cover art.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 195: An Unquenchable Thirst- Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson

     An Unquenchable Thirst is the autobiography of Mary Johnson, a woman in search of God, love, and her true-self under the influence of Mother Theresa's teachings.

     I have to admit, I wasn't expecting this book to affect me so much, but Mary's story was really moving and genuine. The level of detail was astonishing, Mary's feelings and surroundings adding to an already intense journey for human understanding; her hopes, fears, and secrets permeating every page. I have never really appreciated the idea of convents or nuns, but I completely understand devotion, and when I consider the term, Mother Teresa does come to mind. I knew some basic information about her life, but had not considered her earthly contributions as of late, however, An Unquenchable Thirst sketched a life portrait that I had not expected. Not only does Mary Johnson recount Mother Teresa's graces, but also her flaws and failures - humanizing a woman who is so often only described as saintly. I love when a book, especially one detailing such a prominent figure, makes history relatable and enjoyable. No one wants to read about absolute perfection - an attribute the Earth knows not. Overall, I rather enjoyed Mary's story, minus a few grammatical/punctuation errors, and I am glad that her life ended up the way it did, (no spoilers). Recommended for open-minded readers who would like to know more about Mother Teresa and her followers... or those who want a look into the little-known and misunderstood lives of nuns/missionaries and those who choose to devote themselves to GOD.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Product Review: Firmoo - Unisex Full Frame Memory Plastic Eyeglasses #KLD8043

Unisex Full Frame Memory Plastic Eyeglasses



If you are looking for something bold and different, these plastic frames are the answer! These smaller rectangular frames are fit for all faces and have a classical look. They are made from high grade plastic and have multiple color combos (blue, black, red, purple, black...). The frame weighs about 17 grams; is stylish, lightweight, and comfortable for all day wear. You can order lenses with a variety of coatings, (anti-glare, anti-scratch, polychromatic, tinted, sunglasses... and many, many more), and most are priced lower than at prescription/frame retailers. Price: $17.95; but the first pair of glasses you buy are free! If you buy multiple pairs, shipping is free too! There are always promo codes and coupons on Firmoo's FaceBook and at, so you can get even more savings! Link to this pair:

Promo Code - 40% OFF in July: JULY40

I was skeptical about Firmoo's products when I first heard about the prices for prescription glasses, especially since my first pair was free; but when I received my frames, I was ecstatic! The frames are light and comfortable - great fit with no apparent flaws - the color and style are exactly what I ordered, and my prescription was spot-on! I have read "iffy" reviews on other companies and similar products, but I could not be more pleased with what I received (only five days) after ordering. In fact, I am so happy with my new blue glasses that I just ordered two more pairs with free shipping and 40% for being a repeat customer! I will definitely be using Firmoo for my prescription/sunglasses needs in the future; and I am sure that friends and family will be too!

Rating: 5/5

*** I purchased these glasses from and this honest and unbiased review is solely my own.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review # 194: DJ Chronicles by John Foreman

     Johnny B has a charmed life - he is one of the hottest DJ's in LA, works at the most premier strip club in town, hangs with Hollywood's A-listers and gets all the "perks" (ladies, booze, and drugs) that the night life has to offer. But what happens when a perforated bowel leaves Johnny incapable of going back to his old life? When the drugs are out of his system, will he choose to go back to old habits, or start anew?

     After being contacted about this book, I wondered if the content - Hollywood/DJ's/Strip Clubs - would amount to a worthwhile read. I had recently read a couple similarly themed books that were less than enjoyable, more smut than story-line, but I was willing to give DJ Chronicles a try. The beginning was abrupt, but the resulting pace was welcomed, the series of events that led Johnny B to the emergency room and beyond were gritty, sometimes comic, and entertaining - a peek into Hollywood's nightlife/club scene. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the characters, particularly Johnny B and his strange relationships with strippers, clientele, big-wigs, and celebrities. I also found his "relationships" with inanimate objects interesting - drugs, alcohol, sex, music - the reader knows where Johnny's overindulgent and destructive habits are leading him, but it is hard to stop reading once you've started. DJ Chronicles felt like something I should dislike, but I had the opposite reaction; its illicit nature draws readers into a world that most people never see or contemplate. Popularity, fame and money are all things people dream of - the "Hollywood" lifestyle, but what happens when it goes too far? I definitely got a taste of the answer from John Foreman's novel, and it certainly does not paint a pretty picture - although I could not help but read on. This would make a great prime-time TV show, albeit there is strong language, drug use and sexual situations, but there are cable channels for that. My only qualm is that some of the action/dialogue seems forced in certain sections of  the book, however, I liked the realistic story-line. I did not enjoy the ending, but sometimes the unexpected makes readers think - always a good thing, (No Spoilers!). I look forward to future books by this author!

Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.