Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: "Death in Amber" by Dean Fetzer

Death In Amber
Author: Dean Fetzer
Publisher: GunBoss Books
ISBN: 9780956158109
Genre: Fiction, Action, Suspense, Mystery

About the Book: (taken from Amazon.com)

"The Amber Room - a wondrous room made from panels of carved amber - a gift in the 18th Century to Peter the Great, Czar of Russia. Once part of a palace outside St Petersberg, this priceless treasure has been missing since the end of World War II. Removed from the palace by a Nazi art collection squad at the height of the war, the Amber Room was last seen in Königsbourg in late 1944 - it vanished without a trace. Now, someone knows where it has come to rest and will do anything to get it. Ninety years on and beautiful young women are being found dead with no evidence of why they died. Forensics has no clues and fewer answers. Haunted by a mysterious benefactress, Jaared Sen is hired by an old friend to find his missing niece. A Contractor for The Company, Jaared is the only one who can find her - and the Amber Room - before the killer strikes again."

My Thoughts:

The Amber Room's history has always fascinated me, so when I saw this novel, I knew I HAD to read it. I must say the beginning started out slow for me. There were a lot of characters introduced and the story jumped around. I was a bit confused, but as I plodded on, I found there were actually 2 story lines running side by side. When I figured that out, the placement of the characters came much more easily, and the whole thing became crystal clear. The way it written was really quite brilliant.

The story is full of mystery and suspense with a bit of sci-fi/fantasy to give it an interesting twist. It is action-packed and very exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. With the twists and turns, I didn't really figure it all out until close to the end.

One of the main characters, Contractor Jaared Sen, was my favorite. He is a blind investigator who is not only smart, good looking, and very well trained, but he has a sense of humor. He's one that will bend the rules if he has to, and then face the consequences later.

Mr. Fetzer did a brilliant job keeping me on edge throughout the story. I really hope the decides to keep Contractor Sen alive and working on more cases in the future, as I can't get enough of this detective!

Parental note: Book contains violence, some offensive language, and sexual situations.

About the Author: (taken from author's website)

Born in a small town in Colorado, and a voracious reader of mysteries and science fiction, Dean started writing around the age of twelve. Mostly short stories, bad poetry and the odd novella appeared.

Then, Dean wrote a pulp sci-fi novel with his best friend, which they completed by the age of eighteen. University got in the way, and the novel never saw the light of day.

Dean attended the University of Colorado, studying architecture. His work in technical theatre carried on, lighting and set design getting him involved in a number of theatrical and operatic productions in the Boulder and Denver area, as well as working with Consenting Adults Theatre Company in Washington D.C.

He came to the UK for an appearance in the famous Fringe Festival and never really left, living in Edinburgh for a time. After a brief time in Washington D.C., he returned to the UK and found himself working for a large telecoms company in London.

He and a friend started fancyapint.com in the 90's and left the telecoms company.

He now lives in East London with his wife Debra and their two cats, and travels as much as time will allow.

You can learn more about Dean by visiting his blog at: http://www.deanfetzer.com/letters-from-the-company/feed.html or his web page at http://www.deanfetzer.com. He can also be found on Twitter: http://twitter.com/deanfetzer

Author's photo taken from Wikamedia Commons - used with permission. 
Book was supplied by author/publisher for me to honestly review.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: "Inspiration Zingers Jumble" by Christopher Hudson

Inspiration Zingers Jumble
Authors: Christopher Hudson with Megan Chrans
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 9781414326797
Genre: Games/Puzzles

About the book: (from publisher)

Every day, millions of people enjoy Jumbles in newspapers across the country. Now you can enjoy these popular puzzles while being encouraged by inspirational thoughts from the Bible and wisdom from the world’s most successful people. Perfect for families, trivia buffs, and puzzle fanatics, Inspirational Zingers Jumble is packed with six different kinds of puzzles for hours of fun:
  • Jumbles
  • Double Jumbles
  • Mystery Person Jumbles
  • Word Search Jumbles
  • Super Jumbles
  • Criss-Cross Jumbles

My Thoughts:

When I came across this puzzle book, I wasn't completely sure if it was for children or adults. The cover and the description didn't give me much of a clue. I know when buying from online sources you just don't always have that luxury to be able to view it.

I was very happy to find that this book is appropriate for teens through adult. The puzzles are fun and challenging and every family member enjoyed them. More than once you'd hear someone ask where that puzzle book was and someone else would have it in their room - working on it or just finished working on it.

This book was a big hit in our family. I'm looking forward to getting more of Mr. Hudson's books and am even considering next time getting everyone their own copy!

About the Author:

Christopher D. Hudson has contributed to many Bible reference and novelty books, including Bible Brain Busters, Mysteries of the Bible, and the What the Bible Says About series. He lives in northern Illinois with his wife and three children.



Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to honestly review.

Review: "Bad Biscuits & Ugly Women" by Liz Kingston Bettle

Bad Biscuits & Ugly Women: A Roundup of Stories
Author: Liz Kingston Bettle
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.
ISBN: 9781434902634
Genre: Memoir, Family stories

"Now my daddy, the late Duncan Kingston, said he never met up with either a bad biscuit or an ugly woman." What a wonderful start to a fun and entertaining book. "Bad Biscuits & Ugly Women" is a lovely collection of stories from Liz Kingston Bettle's family history. You know the type of stories - those that are shared when family members get together for a picnic or reunion. You'll find stories that are revealing to those that are down right hilarious.

Liz gave her family and others a wonderful gift when she recorded those stories to share not only with her family, but the whole world. She has given an insight of what it was like growing up in her family and shares a part of her Texas upbringing. Be prepared to snicker when you read "Nosy Nellie Gets In Trouble" and nod your head when you read "How to Remember A Name". There are many interesting bits in this book and I found myself hearing some stories not much different than what I heard my family shared when I was young. After reading this, though, I was somewhat saddened that I hadn't written down those stories like Liz did.

About the Author (taken from publisher's website):
 
A native of Balmorhea, Texas, Liz Kingston Bettle currently lives in Lampasas, Texas, with her husband of forty-five years, George Richard (Dick) Bettle. She graduated from Balmorhea High School and earned a B.A. from Howard Payne University before working as a chef, floral designer, and secondary school teacher. She is now retired and enjoys collecting swan figurines and Indian artifacts.


   I received a complimentary copy of "Bad Biscuits & Ugly Women" as a member of the    
  Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team.  Visit dorrancebookstore.com
  to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team

Review: Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook Revised & Updated

"Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook Revised & Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes"
Author: Phyllis Pellman Good
Publisher: Good Books
ISBN: 9781561486854
Release Date: May 1, 2010

About the Book: (from FSB)

"Little fuss. Lots of flavor. We busy people love that!"
--Phyllis

The book has already sold more than 5 million copies, so we didn't want to spoil it! We have only added a few enhancements to this original cookbook in the wildly claimed Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook series:

  1. Brand New: 100 new recipes for slow cookers.

  2. Brand New: "Prep Time," "Cooking Time," and "Ideal Slow-Cooker Size" are included for each recipe.

  3. Brand New: 4 pages of basic and very helpful "Extra Information":

    • "Substitute Ingredients for When You're in a Pinch"
    • "Equivalent Measurements"
    • "Kitchen Tools and Equipment You May Have Overlooked"
    • "Assumptions about Ingredients in Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, Revised and Updated"

  4. Brand New: 1 page of "Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker: a Friendly, Year-Round Appliance."

  5. Brand New: Additional tips and tricks for making the most of your slow cooker, spread throughout the book.

  6. Brand New: A second color -- a rich purple -- for recipe titles, contributors' names and addresses, the words "Tip" and "Variation," and the numbered instruction steps.

  7. Brand New: The drawings on the opening pages of chapters and the spot illustrations throughout.

  8. Brand New: 1 page of tip-in color, right inside the front cover.

  9. Brand New: 2 pages of review excerpts to position the original book's success, immediately following the tip-in page of color.

  10. Revised: An improved Index!

  11. Revised: A personal Introduction to the book by author Phyllis Pellman Good.

  12. Revised: Good's personal comments and voice throughout the recipes.
We've learned a lot since the original Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook first quietly appeared. Now you and your customers can benefit with this new edition of the beloved favorite -- Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook REVISED and UPDATED!



Broccoli Corn Bread
Winfred Ewy

Newton, KS
Makes 8 servings
Prep. Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Ideal slow-cooker size: 3- to 4-qt

1 stick margarine, melted
10-oz pkg. chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 onion, chopped
1 box corn bread mix
4 eggs, well beaten
8 oz. cottage cheese
1¼ tsp. salt

1. Combine all ingredients. Mix well.

2. Pour into greased slow cooker. Cook on Low 6 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serving suggestion: Serve like spoon bread, or invert the pot, remove bread, and cut into wedges.

The above is an excerpt from the book Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook: Revised & Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Reprinted from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. © by Good Books (www.GoodBooks.com). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Phyllis Pellman Good, author of Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook: Revised & Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes
 
My Thoughts:

I have used the original "Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook" for years. It is one of the most used cookbooks in my kitchen library. I jumped at the chance to be able to review the "Revised and Updated" version, because the first was a great cookbook. I was a little concerned, as I thought that the revisions would end up removing recipes or changing them to a more "healthy" and possibly less flavorful versions of those that made the original great.

The "Revised and Updated" version is definitely worth getting! After putting both the original and "Revised and Updated" books side by side and comparing them, the "Revised and Updated" wins hands down. There have been recipes eliminated, but only those that I found that were redundant or very similar. One hundred new recipes were added in their place. The "Revised and Updated" edition contains hints and tips that are wonderful, beautiful mouthwatering photos, and what I found really useful was how large of a crockpot to use. Many times, I had to move up to a larger one, because I underestimated the amount. Now no more guesswork! Another useful hint I really liked tells how to find out what temperature your slow cooker cooks at. Now, with this information, you will have the perfect dish instead of one that may come out underdone or overdone.

I learned quite a bit from this book, plus all my favorite recipes like Pirate Stew (p44), Full-Flavored Beef Stew (p85) and Cherry Delight (p250) are still included. I have retired the original "Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook" and passed it on, replacing it with the "Revised and Updated" edition. It really is a better cookbook than the last! This is a must have for anyone that loves to come home to a good home cooked meal. I highly recommend it!!!

About the Author:


Phyllis Pellman Good is Executive Editor at Good Books. (Good Books has published hundreds of titles by more than 135 authors.) She received her B.A. and M.A. in English from New York University. She and her husband, Merle, live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They are the parents of two young-adult daughters.
For a complete listing of books by Phyllis Pellman Good, visit www.GoodBooks.com. You can also visit Phyllis's blog at: http://fix-itandenjoy-it.com/blog/ and find her on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/fixitandforgetit.

 
Book excerpt was provided by FSB Media. 
Book was provided by FSB Media to be honestly reviewed. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blog Tour & Review - "The Last Christian" by David Gregory

The Last Christian
Author: David Gregory
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 9781400074976
Genre: Fiction, Christian, Futuristic Fantasy, Science Fiction

About This Book   (from publisher)

In the future, it’s possible to live forever—but at what cost?

A.D. 2088.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?

As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding "what-if?" novel.


SNEAK PEEK - You can read CHAPTER 1 here.








My Thoughts:

The more I read Christian fiction, the more I love it! It's not just romance any more. Christian fiction has taken a direction that is wonderfully exciting and "The Last Christian" is a fantastic example!

I will warn you - this book isn't for the person who reads a few paragraphs and then puts it aside to pick back up at a later time. It is one of those books that won't allow you to put it down. I started this in the morning and couldn't help but read straight through. I had to know what happened next. Yes - it's that captivating.

Mr. Gregory has a fantastic way of pulling you into the story. He makes you want to know more about the main characters and their situations. He is a master at weaving an exciting tale that you soon won't forget. It stays with you long after you put the book down. I am putting David Gregory on my watch list and am looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Make sure to add this book to your reading list. You won't be disappointed.


About the Author:

David Gregory is the coauthor of two nonfiction books and a frequent conference speaker. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning two master's degrees. David lives in Texas, where he works for a nonprofit organization.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Waterbrook Contest - Win a full library of WaterBrook Multnomah children's books

This Little Prayer of Mine Contest
Teach your kids about prayer, have fun and be entered to win 30+ kids books!
Teaching your kids about prayer is important, but it can also be enlightening to get a child's perspective on something that we as adults take for granted.
Here's your mission (should you choose to accept it):
  • Video your child(ren) talking about prayer, praying, explaining what prayer is, etc. It can be creative, informational, enlightening, funny, or all of the above but it needs to be no more than one minute and thirty seconds long.
     
  • The video doesn't need to be professional quality. You can shoot it using your phone's video recorder or use that "video" feature on your digital camera for the first time!

  • Post your video on YouTube, Tangle or Vimeo.
     
  • Go to our website and enter your information and include the link of your video (the full list of instruction on how to enter can be found here).
     
  • This Little Prayer of MineThe winning video will win a full library of WaterBrook Multnomah children's books, including the new release This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano. That's over 30 books!
Teaching your kids about prayer has never been so fun! See here for contest rules and more information.
HURRY! This contest ends on 6/7/2010 so time is limited.
ENTER NOW!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Virtual Blog Tour & Review: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

The Devlin Diary
Author: Christi Phillips
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781416527404
Genre: Historical fiction
464 pages

Synopsis: (taken from publisher's website)

From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a “thrilling” (Library Journal) novel of intrigue, passion, and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.

London, 1672. A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing the victims’ bodies with mysterious markings.Are the murders the random acts of a madman?Or the violent effects of a deeply hidden conspiracy?

Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s dream come true—until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam. The only key to the professor’s unsolved murder is the seventeenth-century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king’s mistress. Through the arcane collections of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire and fellow historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Hannah left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s murky present and discovering that the events of three hundred years ago still have consequences today. . . .

Want a sneak peek? Go here to Read Chapter One online.










My Thoughts:

Out of all the genres, historical fiction and mysteries are my favorite. What a true treat it was to find both combined into this one book! I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up. I wish someone would have warned me that it would be absolutely impossible to put down. I spent every possible moment that I could find with this book. I found that it was not only engrossing, but I found myself rereading and savoring parts - lingering and just getting lost in the story.

To say Christi is a masterful storyteller would be a tremendous understatement. She has woven a beautiful tale, mixing past and present with mystery in both. She presents two puzzles that end up being pieced together in a most interesting and unlikely manner.

I have been entranced by both main characters - Hannah from the past and Claire from the present. Both are strong women that one cannot help but enjoy spending time with. They are complicated and passionate, and each has a career that drives them.

"The Devlin Diary" is definitely one of my favorite reads for this year. It's captivating, a true page-turner, and amazingly well told. This is a must read for anyone that loves historical fiction, mysteries, or just well written fiction.

Parental note: Book contains one sex scene.

Christi Phillips is the author of The Rossetti Letter, which has been translated into six foreign languages. Her research combines a few of her favorite things: old books, libraries, and travel. When she’s not rummaging around in an archive or exploring the historic heart of a European city, she lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is at work on her next novel, set in France. Visit www.christi-phillips.com.

Others participating in this tour:

Rundpinne: http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
My Five Monkeys: http://www.tableforseven-julie.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog: http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
A Journey of Books: http://ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net/
My Book Addiction and More: http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/
Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/
The Book Girl: http://www.thebookgirl.net/
Just One More Paragraph: http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com
Booktumbling: http://booktumbling.com/
Books Gardens & Dogs: http://maryinhb.blogspot.com/
Renee’s Reads: http://www.renees-reads.blogspot.com/
Taking Time For Mommy: http://takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com/
Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
Star Shadow: http://www.starshadowblog.com/
My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/
Write For A Reader: http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/
Bibliophile’s Retreat: http://bibliophilesretreat.com/
Jeanne's Ramblings: http://www.jeannesramblings.com
Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
Avid Reader: http://www.tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com/
Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks: http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/
Lucky Rosie’s: http://www.luckyrosiescreations.blogspot.com/
Celtic Lady’s Reviews: http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/
Books Like Breathing: http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/
A Room Without Books Is Empty: http://detweilermom.blogspot.com/
Chrissy’s World of Books: http://chrissysworldofbooks.blogspot.com/
DK’s Everything Books Blog: http://dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com/
A Musing Reviews: http://www.amusingreviews.blogspot.com/
Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/
I Heart Book Gossip: http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/
That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com/
Reading Extensively: http://reading-extensively.blogspot.com/
Knitting and Sundries: http://www.jewelknits.blogspot.com/
Thrifty and Frugal Living: http://www.thriftyandfrugalliving.com/
See Michelle Read: http://seemichelleread.blogspot.com/
‘Til We Read Again: http://tilwereadagain.blogspot.com/
Reminder List: http://reminderlist.blogspot.com/
Loving Heart Mommy: http://www.lovingheartmommy.com/
Pam’s Private Reflections: http://hip2bhomeschooling.blogspot.com/
The Book Tree: http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/
The Down Home Diva: http://thestuffyouneedtoknow.blogspot.com/
Once Upon a Twilight: http://twilightsdance.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Winners Announced - "Still the One" by Robin Wells



Congratulations to the following winners of "Still the One" by Robin Wells

Vicki.
Cheryl
Kristin
Sandy Jay
Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith

I have emailed you.
Enjoy!!!

Winners Announced for "Stay A Little Longer"



Congratulations to the following winners of  Dorothy Garlock's "Stay A Little Longer"

fredamans.
Teresa
Edna
Kailia Sage
Marjorie

I have emailed you.
Enjoy!!!

Winner of Daughter of Mine by Laura Fabiani



Congratulations to Sandra K321. You are the winner of  "Daughter of Mine" by Laura Fabiani. I have emailed you.
Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Review: "The Elf of Luxembourg" by Tom Weston




The Elf of Luxembourg: Being a Love Story
Author: Tom Weston
Publisher: Tom Weston Media
ISBN: 9780981941349
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis: (from the back of the book):

The thing about El Dorado is . . . No, forget that. The thing about younger sisters is . . .

What’s an older sister to do? It’s not all fun fairs and ice-cream. Well, it is – but that’s beside the point. When one is in Luxembourg, there is a certain standard to maintain, and vacationing with Elves and Vampires is just so old school. But can Alex convince her younger sister, Jackie, of that? No, of course not, so she may as well get used to it.

But deep beneath the ancient city of Luxembourg there lies a secret. The Vampires believe it is protected by the Elf. The Elf believes it is protected by a prophecy concerning Alex and Jackie. And the sisters? They believe shoes in Luxembourg are too expensive.

Why are the Vampires going toe-to-toe with an Elf for the pleasure of the sisters’ company? Why does the Elf think Alex and Jackie can sing? And just who let Sir Walter Raleigh and the Conquistadors into this story?

To answer these questions will take all of the sisters’ cunning, bravery and imagination, as well as some souvenir shopping. Because this is the Elf of Luxembourg and this is an Alex and Jackie Adventure.

My Thoughts:

Take an elf, vampires and a mermaid and combine them with Luxembourg history. Add two teen girls and mix gently and you've got a fantastic story that is guaranteed to keep you entertained. "The Elf of Luxembourg" is a fantastic young adult novel that weaves history, humor and the paranormal all together and creates a novel that's hard to put down.

I enjoyed everything about this book, from the history lessons of Luxembourg, to the beautiful black and white photos, the interesting quotes, and the fascinating storyline. Mr. Weston has an interesting way of presenting things. I quote from his introduction: "Therefore consider the narrative to be a fictional account of real events, except for those chapters which pass for real accounts of fictional events. I hope this distinction helps." This quote really shows the feel of the book and playfulness of the author, making it a fun and very interesting read.

The characters were interesting. The elf was a charming character that you can't help but like. The main characters were teen sisters, Alex and Jackie, are both so very different. Their differences made them quite real and ended up being an important part to the storyline.

This book is the second in the Alex and Jackie adventure series, but is certainly able to be read as a stand-alone with no feeling that one has missed anything. I really enjoyed this book and certainly want to read the other books in the series.

If you would like to read them in order, the first Alex and Jackie adventure is: "First Night: Being a Ghost Story". Mr. Weston is currently working on the third installment.

About Tom Weston

Originally from England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning his hand to fiction, Tom had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, conference speaker and writer of industry articles and business books. His novel, "First Night", set in Boston during the New Year’s Eve festival, introduced the unlikely heroines, Alex and Jackie, and the ghost of a 17th century Puritan named Sarah Pemberton. "First Night" won an Honorable Mention in the Middle-Grade/Young Adult category, in the Writers Digest 17th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel to "First Night", called "The Elf of Luxembourg", was published in January, 2010. As with "First Night", "The Elf of Luxembourg" is also a supernatural mystery, with a blend of humor and history that has become Tom’s trademark. Tom is currently working on Book 3 of the Alex and Jackie Adventures, and is researching the background material for the story, which will be set in Ireland. Tom has also written the screenplay, "Fission", based on the true story of scientist, Lisa Meitner, and the race for the atomic bomb, and which was named a finalist at the London Independent Film Festival.

To learn more about Tom and the other books in the series, make sure to visit his website at: http://tom-weston.com/

I received a copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book to honestly review.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Author Spotlight: "The Elf of Luxembourg" by Tom Weston


One of the most exciting things about hosting tours is meeting new authors and discovering books that I would have missed. Today, I am so very pleased to be able to introduce you to Tom Weston. Tom is the author of "The Elf of Luxembourg" which is part of the YA series of Alex and Jackie Adventures. Make sure to stop back tomorrow as we continue Tom's tour with a look and review of  "The Elf of Luxembourg".

A Walk through the Green Heart of Europe with Alex and Jackie.

Chapter 12 of The Elf of Luxembourg is titled, ‘A Walk through the Green Heart of Europe’. I lifted this title from the booklets published by the Luxembourg Tourist Office, which outline walking tours around the city, including the Vauban Walk and the Wenzel Walk. I’ve taken them both. On a warm summer’s day, stopping occasionally along the way for a refreshing glass of beer, or some ice-cream (as the sisters would insist), Luxembourg is displayed at its best.

While The Elf of Luxembourg is a fantasy, I wanted the story to highlight this very real and ancient city. This is something I started with Boston in First Night, and something that is a feature of all the Alex and Jackie Adventures. Of course, with Luxembourg what is real and what is fantasy can quickly become blurred. Looking up at the towering walls of Siegfried’s castle, or across the Petrusse valley to the Saint Quirinus chapel, carved out of the rock, it is easy to imagine that Luxembourg is indeed the City of the Elves.

Although these walks take you past many of the landmarks that feature in the book, I’ll point out just two.

The first are the Vauban Towers, located in the in Pfaffenthal region of the city. If any one man is responsible for the look and feel of Luxembourg, it is Louis XIV’s (the Sun King’s) Marshal and Engineer, the Marquis de Vauban (1633 – 1707). Although the French and Vauban ran rampant throughout Europe during this period, laying siege to cities, knocking them down and then rebuilding them, his work at Luxembourg in 1684-1685 shaped the future of the city. He turned the whole city into a fortress, complete with the enigmatic Spanish Towers. He expanded the Casemates, that labyrinth of underground tunnels which could house an army; and today his work in Luxembourg is recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Head on over to the East Tower, which today houses a self guided audio/video presentation of the City’s history.

And my second stop for today, after pausing in the Grund for some light refreshment, is another tower, Jacob’s Tower. In The Elf of Luxembourg, I feature some ancient artefacts known as the Glozel Stones, and the markings – hieroglyphs – that appear on them. In the book, similar markings appear in the ceiling of the Church of St John. But in reality, I found the hieroglyphs in Jacob’s tower. In the story, I shifted them to the Church for the sake of continuity. Go ahead and look for them, they are well hidden, but they are there. Another audio/video presentation is housed in Jacob’s Tower, and then, if you have the legs for it, you can make your way back to the upper part of the city via Neumünster Abbey. If you’re feeling a little bit tired, return to the Grund and take the elevator.

So if you find yourself in Luxembourg, head on over to the Tourist Office, grab a copy of A Walk through the Heart of Europe and go explore. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time for idle loitering with a glass of Luxembourg crémant, and don’t forget to say hello to the Elves.

About Tom Weston

Originally from England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning his hand to fiction, Tom had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, conference speaker and writer of industry articles and business books. His novel, "First Night", set in Boston during the New Year’s Eve festival, introduced the unlikely heroines, Alex and Jackie, and the ghost of a 17th century Puritan named Sarah Pemberton. "First Night" won an Honorable Mention in the Middle-Grade/Young Adult category, in the Writers Digest 17th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel to "First Night", called "The Elf of Luxembourg", was published in January, 2010. As with "First Night", "The Elf of Luxembourg" is also a supernatural mystery, with a blend of humor and history that has become Tom’s trademark. Tom is currently working on Book 3 of the Alex and Jackie Adventures, and is researching the background material for the story, which will be set in Ireland. Tom has also written the screenplay, "Fission", based on the true story of scientist, Lisa Meitner, and the race for the atomic bomb, and which was named a finalist at the London Independent Film Festival.

To learn more about Tom and the other books in the series, make sure to visit his website at: http://tom-weston.com/

I received a copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book to honestly review.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Opposing Voices in Digital Publishing Video

A perspective on all the emotion in the eBook industry by the digital publishing team at Tyndale House Publishers

Friday, May 21, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Review - "Ni'il: The Awakening" by James Boyle


Today, I'm very excited to be able to host James Boyle's Virtual Book Tour. James is the author of a fantastic book, "Ni'il: The Awakening", the first book of the Ni'il Trilogy.

Ni'il: The Awakening
Author: James Boyle
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 9781440108679
Genre: Fiction, mystery, horror

Synopsis (from the back of the book):

"When several people are brutally killed in the town of Placerton, on the isolated Oregon coast, most locals think a rogue bear or cougar is roaming the forested hills near town. Police Chief Dan Connor is not so sure. He has witnessed some very strange things lately, such as disembodied voices, muttering a strange foreign language and an old Indian man who seems to be near every crime scene, but disappears before he can be questioned.

Dan’s investigation takes him to the local Sihketunnai Indians and their legend of the Ni’il, magical shamans charged with maintaining the balance between humans and the natural world. According to the elders, one of the Ni’il is responsible for the murders and intends to kill everyone in the community. It is Dan’s job to stop it.

It sounds unbelievable, but is the only explanation that fit the facts.

As a violent Pacific storm crashes ashore, cutting the town off from the outside world, Dan finds himself entering a strange world of myth and magic that was not covered in his police training. He must use all his wits and new-found powers to save himself and his community from the Ni’il."

My Thoughts:

I had no idea what was in store for me when I picked up "Ni'il: The Awakening". The book's cover is peacefully deceptive, making this one book you certainly can't judge by its cover. I was carried through the pages like the storm that hits the community of Placerton. The book is fast paced and scary!

James Boyle is a masterful storyteller that can really weave one monster of a tale! I started this book at bedtime and found that I couldn't put it down until my eyes no longer could stay open, and continued with it as soon as I woke up the next morning.

This tale of Native American folklore and the white man's world is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. I was thrilled to find that this book is the first in the series, so the story will continue on, but disappointed that I didn't have the next book in hand so that I could continue on. I'm definitely putting Mr. Boyle on my watch list!

About the Author:

Like all of us, James is a product of his environment.

He was raised in a religious/spiritual family and that spirituality pervades most of his work. He even attended a Catholic Seminary for a year before deciding the priesthood was not for him.

James’ father worked for the phone company as he was growing up, which was much like growing up in a military family. The company transferred his family from town to town every couple of years. By the time he’d graduated high school, they’d moved twenty times. He attended nine different schools in five cities and three states.

He lived mainly in North Dakota until he was eight, since then he lived in Washington and Oregon, moving to Gold Beach when he was sixteen. He finds that the landscape of the Pacific Northwest has done more to influence him than nearly everything else. Its vast forests, rugged mountains, seascapes and sparse population inspire recollections of what the pioneers first fell in love with a century and a half ago. From his house, he can still hike fifteen minutes and spend the entire day without seeing another human being. And the possibility exists that he could see sasquatch.

One of his goals is to build a dark fiction landscape of the Pacific Northwest, much like Stephen King has done with Maine. A landscape of dark possibilities.

When he was a child living in Bismark, North Dakota, his parents took James to Fort Abraham Lincoln, the fort Gen. Custer left on his last, fateful campaign and the Knife River Village, the restored ruins of a Mandan village. Now forty years later, the memories have faded, but not the memory of the impression the visits made on a small boy. Years later, he read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. After that he devoured everything he could find about Native American history and culture. He came to have a deep sympathy for the Native peoples’ doomed resistance to the white culture and admiration for their cultural connection to the natural world around them. The dominant culture seeks to change and subjugate a nature it sees as an enemy; the Natives sought to live within the natural world as one part of a dynamic whole.

When he was eighteen, James was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis. After graduating early from Gold Beach High Schoolin 1978, he underwent surgery that fused most of his lumber spine. Six months in a body cast later, he continued on to college at the University of Oregon, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Now, forty years after the surgery, his body is beginning to break down a bit. So if you see him and notice he seems to be bent and twisted, you know why.

When he’s not writing, James has worked in the restaurant industry as a cook and as a manager, mostly in the Eugene/Springfield area, but most lately at Gold Beach’s Port Hole Cafe. Looking back, he seems to have a lot of scenes set in restaurants. He enjoy reading, playing an occasional video game, taking his dog for exploratory hikes along the beach or river. He is happily single. (it’s so much less complicated.)

You can visit James’ website at www.jamesboylewrites.com.

Author's Bio was provided by Pump Up Your Book.. Book was provided by Pump Up Your Book. for me to honestly review.

Book Review & Author Interview: "The Right Call" by Kathy Herman

489 Right Call cover-KHerman for email.JPGThe Right Call
Author: Kathy Herman
Publisher: David C Cook (March 1, 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6784-4
Genre: fiction, Christian, mystery

Kathy Herman’s The Right Call, the third book in the Sophie Trace trilogy, has made the April ECPA Fiction bestseller list.  All three titles in this trilogy are now bestselling books. Additionally in the Amazon Kindle store, The Real Enemy was listed the #1 bestseller in fiction, #1 in Literature and Fiction, #1 in Mystery, #1 in Genre Fiction, and #5 bestseller in all Kindle books.

In The Right Call, Herman looks at the topic of addictions and obsessions. Based on 2 Peter 2:19b: “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him,” The Right Call demonstrates how we’re all slaves to something—either to God and righteousness or to the flesh and its pitfalls. Filled with heart-pounding suspense that delivers heart-changing truth, The Right Call uses the perilous story of a young college student to reinforce the importance of walking closely with God, to be armed with wisdom and strength in order to face the toughest of circumstances.






The Right Call, by Kathy Herman from David C. Cook on Vimeo.


My Thoughts:

When I received "The Right Call", I knew that it was the last book in the series. I wasn't sure how it would do for a stand-alone book, but it fared very well. The story and the characters didn't rely on the previous books and were easy to get to know. There was references to past happenings, but nothing that would make you feel like you needed to read the others in the series or you were really missing something.

I really enjoyed "The Right Call". It was a fast paced mystery packed with murder and excitement. It was full of twists and turns and along with the mystery, was a side story of romance. I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once. I found Kathy's writing style captivating and her characters likable and quite realistic, especially Ethan. I found that after I finished the book, I wanted to know more about these people and their lives! I now have put the first two books " The Real Enemy" and "The Last Word" down on my TBR list.



An interview with best-selling author Kathy Herman

HERMAN, KATHY for email.JPGWhat is the underlying moral dilemma that you hope your readers will wrestle with as they read this book?

That all human beings are born slaves to sin, and until we lay claim to the power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we’ll never be set free from of our fleshly nature.

The Right Call is based on 2 Peter 2:19b. What truth in this passage drove you to write this book?

The fact that we’re all slaves to something—either to God and righteousness or to the flesh and its pitfalls. This is especially relevant in today’s world with so many addictions now being fed by the Internet. As long as we’re confined to these mortal bodies, the Enemy will fight to control us—body, mind, and spirit. Obviously, the vast majority of us will never experience the devastating effects of a gambling, drug, alcohol, or sex addiction, but how many of us fall victim to the more acceptable vices, such as overeating? Overspending? Overworking? Overindulging? It’s the flesh that gets us into trouble, and our only hope to overcome it is Jesus. But most of the time, we deny we have a problem until it already has a foothold. Then, rather than letting God’s Holy Spirit have the reins, we struggle to tame it in our own strength and realize we can’t—and that we’ve become slaves rather than masters, overdoers rather than overcomers. It doesn't have to be that way.

Why were addictions/obsessions a topic you decided to write about?

All generations have struggled with addictions. That's not new. But something this generation faces that others didn’t is EASY ACCESS. With the Internet, all it takes is a click of the mouse and kids can be exposed to every manner of evil, which makes them vulnerable at a much younger age—Often young people think they can have a foot in both worlds, but Satan plays for keeps. It’s easier to get sucked into the darkness than to walk in the light. Our best defense is to stay grounded in the Word so our conscience is tender. And to be in fellowship with trusted believers who will hold us accountable.

Why do you think humans tend to do things in excess? What are some ways we can fill our emptiness with God rather than other excesses?

We're born slaves to sin. Our fallen nature has a propensity to do things in excess because we have an emptiness that resulted from the fall of humankind. So much of our overdoing is an effort to fill that emptiness, which ultimately can only be satisfied by God and a relationship with Him. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The more we seek God, the closer our relationship with Him, the more that emptiness is filled with His love and the fruit of that love. But so often we don't recognize the emptiness for what it is. Problems that come our way seem exaggerated when we're dissatisfied with life. And we do whatever it takes to feel better. For example, how many of us tend to eat when we're upset? We use "comfort food" as a temporary fix for a larger problem, which is an emptiness—a longing for home (paradise). This fallen world is not our home. As long as we're here, there will be times when that emptiness cries to be filled. What we decide to fill it with is our choice. Many addictions and excesses start out small. But trying to satisfy that void inside us with anything other than God, His Word, and things that draw us closer to him can end up being a temporary fix that leaves us sorely wanting and vulnerable.

Interview and synopsis were provided by B&B Media Group. Book was provided by BB Media Group for me to honestly review.

Book Review & Author Interview: "Chosen" by Ginger Garrett

490 Chosen cover-Ginger Garrett hi resChosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther
Author: Ginger Garrett
Publisher: David C Cook (April 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6801-8
Genre: Christian, fiction, Biblical fiction

Ginger Garrett’s retelling of this classic story gives new perspective to one of Scripture’s most beloved figures

Based on the historical account of Queen Esther of Persia, Chosen, by Ginger Garrett, is a contemporary account of this beloved and ancient story. Uniquely written in first-person diary format, renderings of Esther’s thoughts and experiences are interspersed with current-time news excerpts, which show how Esther’s tale is woven into our own lives.

Chosen tells the story of Queen Esther, the young woman with the future of her nation in her hands. Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living. Quick of mind and strong in spirit, she refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him as queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future—and that of an entire nation.





Chosen, by Ginger Garrett from David C. Cook on Vimeo.


My Thoughts:

"Chosen" is a beautifully well told story of the life of Esther in a journal form. The story didn't feel like a story, but felt like reading an actual journal. It was so real and so alive. Esther tells her life from the heart, and transports you back with her to that time. I could feel the heartache and fear she lived with, and the faith that she held was nothing less than inspiring.

This is a wonderful piece of Biblical Historical Fiction that I found I couldn't put down. Ginger Garrett's writing style is amazing. She portrayed Esther so well, with such real feelings. Wow! I am really looking to the rest of the "Lost Loves of the Bible" series she is working on. They will definitely be treasures in any historical fiction library!


Garrett, Ginger for emailQ: Why did you include Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther in the David C. Cook series Lost Loves of the Bible?

A: I chose these diaries for the Lost Loves series because of the potential for love that Esther lost.

The moment Esther was chosen for the harem, whatever hopes she had for her future, her heart, and her family were lost. She became one wife among thousands. She lost freedom and many days, she lost her dignity in the treatment she received.

However, Esther is foreshadowing the story of Christ, who tells us that to surrender our own desires and plans will lead to blessings unimaginable, and overflow goodness into the lives of others. Esther’s loss, and her submission to a cruel turn of events, resulted in the saving of a nation. Millions of Jews were saved throughout history by her sacrifices.

Q: What are the other books in the Lost Loves series?

A: I’ll be adding two novels: the stories of Jezebel and Delilah. Both women have been sorely overlooked by history, painted as cardboard villains without any understanding of who they were and why they acted as they did. Their stories are more poignant, and disturbing, than what we’ve ever imagined.

Q: Will you ever complete the Serpent Moon series?

A: Since I get this question every day on email from readers, I thought I’d answer it here, too!

Dark Hour began what was to be a trilogy of evil women from the Bible. However, due to circumstances well beyond my control, I had to stop work on the series, while certain events sorted themselves out.

While I won’t be returning to the trilogy, I will be returning to my desire to tell the stories of two epic women from biblical history: Jezebel and Delilah. Their stories, their passions, and the loves they lost compel me to finish the work.

It’s fitting, really, that these women be allowed to tell their tales without the stigma of being in a series about evil women of the Bible. Until we get past that label, and see their hearts, we can’t begin to understand the lessons they would whisper to us across the generations that separate us.

About the author: Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Focusing on ancient women’s history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham’s The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets. A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in theater, she is passionate about creating art from history.

Interview and synopsis were provided by B&B Media Group. Book was provided by BB Media Group for me to honestly review.

Blog Tour & Book Review: "Life In Spite of Me" by Kristen Jane Anderson


Life, In Spite of Me:Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice
Written by: Kristen Jane Anderson
As told to: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 9781601422521
Genre: Nonfiction, Christian, inspirational

About This Book

"She wanted to die. God had other plans.

Why does my life have to be so painful?
What’s wrong with me?
It’s not going to get better.
It could all be over soon, and then I won’t hurt anymore.

Kristen Anderson thought she had the picture-perfect life until strokes of gray dimmed her outlook: three friends and her grandmother died within two years. Still reeling from these losses, she was raped by a friend she thought she could trust. She soon spiraled into a seemingly bottomless depression.

One January night, the seventeen-year-old decided she no longer wanted to deal with the emotional pain that smothered her. She lay down on a set of cold railroad tracks and waited for a freight train to send her to heaven…and peace.

But Kristen's story doesn’t end there.

In Life, In Spite of Me this remarkably joyful young woman shares the miracle of her survival, the agonizing aftermath of her failed suicide attempt, and the hope that has completely transformed her life, giving her a powerful purpose for living.

Her gripping story of finding joy against all odds provides a vivid and unforgettable reminder that life is a gift to be treasured.

Includes notes of encouragement Kristen wishes she had received when she was struggling most."

Want a Sneak Peek? Read Chapter 1 here.






My Thoughts:

An amazingly powerful yet heartbreaking story of a failed teen suicide. Straight from Kristen's point of view, she tells what drove her to finally decide to kill herself and how it failed. She tells how she had to learn with her one bad choice and how that choice changed her life.

From the moment I opened this book, I was held captivated by Kirsten's story. As a mother, my heart ached for her inability to communicate with her family. As a person, I understood the place where she was at to make her very painful mistake - or decision. There was no way I could put the book down until the end. I needed to know how she got from such a "bad place" to a healing point in her life.

This is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. It is one I think everyone NEEDS to read, and am requiring it to be read by both of my teens. I'm sure after they finish it, it will be passed on to their friends. It is an amazing, amazing story!!

About the Authors:

Kristen Jane Anderson has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women’s and youth events, churches, and suicide prevention outreaches. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute and the founder of Reaching You Ministries, Kristen seeks to help those who are hurting, hopeless, lost, suicidal and depressed.

Tricia Goyer is the author of three hundred articles for national periodicals, as well as fourteen novels and six nonfiction books, including Blue Like Play Dough.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Virtual Book Tour - Author Spotlight: Josi S. Kilpack - "English Trifle"


Welcome to day 2 of Josi Kilpack's Virtual Book Tour. Today, I'm very pleased and happy to share a lovely guest post written by Josi. Thank you, Josi, for sharing your personal thoughts of your success!

Success as a writer is a pretty subjective thing. When I started out I thought success would be taking up space on bookstore shelves—and I have certainly reveled in that—but once that was completed I almost felt as though I started moving backward. Whereas the tangible proof of my ability had been my goal for a long time, once I hit that one I started realizing that I was now competing with all the other books on that shelf. Was mine as good? Better? Or did it not even compete? I had assumed publication in and of itself was proof that the book was great and as good as it could be, but then reviews come and some of them made me wonder if my books had any merit at all. I went back to my earlier books and found myself wanting to change certain things.

So I wanted to feel successful by knowing I had done my best work. I studied the craft of writing, I met other writers and learned what their version of success was. I worked on this for years, desperately trying to keep my work par with my competition. Honestly, I think I’ve accomplished that too. So I’m published and I’m secure in my skill—does that make me a success? Do I feel like I’ve arrived?

Not really. I am now asking myself if I’m creating the stories that make the world just a teensy bit better. Am I satisfied with the way I spend my time? Are the other aspects in my life supported or hindered by my writing? It’s a big question and one I’m sure I’ll spend a long time trying to figure it out. Until then I look at where I started, where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I take confidence in those things, I treasure the positive feedback, and I keep moving forward one day at a time, one story at a time and one success at a time.

Stepping back and looking at this it seems reasonable to have done these things in reverse. Chosen my affect first, then honed my craft, and then sought publication, but it didn’t happen for me that way. And I’m good with that. I have yet to see anyone's journey reflect the journey or someone else. They might be similar, with common landmarks along the way, but the joy of life is that we have our own path to travel and our own successes to achieve. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunities I have had and I look forward to many more. I can see success in my past and I am reaching toward it in the future. It makes life a journey worth taking.


About the Author:

Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998, while on bedrest with a pregnancy, and never stopped. Devil’s Food Cake is Josi’s eleventh novel, and the third book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series. The other novels, Lemon Tart (Book 1) and English Trifle (Book 2) were released in 2009. While the books all feature Sadie Hoffmiller as the main character, they stand alone in regard to plot and can be read as a set or as individual titles. Josi currently lives in Utah with her husband, four children, one dog and varying number of chickens.

For more information about Josi, you can visit her website at www.josiskilpack.com or her blog at www.josikilpack.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Review: "English Trifle" by Josi S. Kilpack


It is with great pleasure that I am able to introduce Josi S. Kilpack. Josi has written 3 Culinary Mysteries as well as 8 others. She has been the recipient of the 2007 Whitney Award. I am very excited to be able to participate in Josi's tour and to be able to read and review her book "English Trifle".

English Trifle
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Publisher: Deseret Book
ISBN: 978160641216
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Culinary Mystery

Synopsis: (from the publisher's website)

"What begins as a holiday trip for amateur sleuth and cooking aficionado Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, turns into a bizarre mystery. First comes the discovery of a dead body in the sitting room of an English manor belonging to the family of Breanna’s boyfriend, who is also heir to the family title. When the body comes up missing, Sadie and Breanna are stranded at the estate until the police can clear them to leave.

Armed with a jogging whistle, her personal recipe collection, and an unfailing sense of American justice, Sadie begins her own investigation to find the killer. But when she seems to encounter one dead end after another, Sadie wonders if anyone is telling the truth — or if the case is really as hopeless as it appears to be.

Layer by layer, Sadie uncovers a mouth- watering mystery with an English flair. Included are Sadie’s favorite new recipes for American English Trifle, High Tea Lemon Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, Wake ’Em Up Breakfast Casserole, Sausage Rolls, Crumpets, and Sadie’s Scrumptulicious Scones."

My Thoughts:

There is nothing I like more than to cuddle up on a rainy day with a good cozy mystery. So, on a chilly and rainy morning, I decided to start "English Trifle". I found it humorously fitting that the book would take place in England during a rainy week.

In just the first pages, I was whisked to England and got lost in the story and didn't even realize that I had been reading for hours. Josi has such a way of drawing you in and keeping you captivated! From characters to the plot to the recipes - I was totally in love with "English Trifle".

When I think of the main character, Sadie Hoffmiller, I find myself smiling. She's a card, plain and simple. She's a mom of an adult daughter that isn't too worried about being straight-forward, and sometimes to the point of being just plain nosy. She also loves food, and thinks about it and eats a bit more than she should. She's one who won't take no for an answer and can be a bit pushy and aggressive. I adored everything about her!

"English Trifle" is book 2 of the Culinary Mystery series, and I was a bit worried that I would be lost. I hate coming into a series that I can't grasp the characters or storyline because I haven't read the books in order. This book, to me, stands on its own. I had no problem getting to know the characters. This book has also whetted my appetite to want to read more of the series, though. "Lemon Tart" and "Devil's Food Cake" are on my list to pick up the next time I go to the bookstore!

One of the neatest things I found about Josi's book, is the recipes. Sadie will tell about a fantastic thing she had to eat and make you really want to just have a taste. (Sadie is definitely bad for my waistline!) Then at the end of the chapter, Josi has the recipe! What a wonderful surprise.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Make sure to put "English Trifle" on you reading list. In fact, do yourself a favor and get them all at once and save yourself another trip to the bookstore. :)

About the Author:

Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998, while on bedrest with a pregnancy, and never stopped. Devil’s Food Cake is Josi’s eleventh novel, and the third book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series. The other novels, Lemon Tart (Book 1) and English Trifle (Book 2) were released in 2009. While the books all feature Sadie Hoffmiller as the main character, they stand alone in regard to plot and can be read as a set or as individual titles. Josi currently lives in Utah with her husband, four children, one dog and varying number of chickens.

For more information about Josi, you can visit her website at www.josiskilpack.com or her blog at www.josikilpack.blogspot.com

"English Trifle" was provided by Pump Up Your Book for me to honestly review.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Virtual Book Tour - Review: "Immortalis Carpe Noctem" by Katie Salidas



My only exposure to a vampire novels has been the "Twilight" series, so I'm coming from a "newborn" point of view. I have never read an adult novel  up to this point - not even "Dracula" (does the movie count?)

"Immortalis Carpe Noctum" held me captive from the first page. Written in first person, it allowed me to climb inside Alyssa's head and experience her struggles and disappointments, thoughts and fears and her heartache of never being able to return to her life. All of this on top of her inner struggle gave this book a real feeling, making this a fantastic read.

I really took to Alyssa's character, and adored Lysander. He's was a gorgeous vampire that has a heart and conscience that ended up getting him into some trouble. This created an exciting storyline that kept me on edge and made for an exciting ending.

I'm really looking foward to Katie's next book in this series. Her writing style is captivating and her characters are ones I really want to get to know more of. This is definitely a must for this summer's reading list. It's great for the paranormal lover, but is also just a good story that would satisfy most.

Parental note: Contains offensive language and descriptive sex, rape and murder.

Don't forget, Katie is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader of this blog, so make sure to register for the drawing. This is one book you'll want to add to your to read list!


Immortalis Carpe Noctem
Author: Katie Salidas
Publisher: Rising Sign Books
ISBN: 9780984419609
Genre: Paranormal fiction

Book Summary (from Pump Up Your Book):
"Walking back home through the badly-lit campus of UNLV, twenty-five year old Alyssa is brutally attacked by two savage men. By the time a handsome stranger intervenes, Alyssa has almost bled to death, and doesn't even struggle as her new protector sinks his sharp teeth into her neck.
      Alyssa wakes to a harsh new reality, and to a raging thirst she's never felt before. Lysander, the sexy yet aloof man who turned her, must now teach her the way of the immortals - and with such a desirable teacher Alyssa starts to realize that her fate is not as dark as she first feared.
      But, just as sparks begin to fly between the pair, Lysander is alerted that his enemies are on the move and determined to destroy them both.
      Led by the cunning and ruthless, Santino Vitale, the fanatical Acta Santorum have vowed to hunt down and destroy every last immortal in God's name, and they have the vampires of Las Vegas in their sights.
      Meanwhile, after seeing that Lysander has taken a new mate, the beautiful and pitiless Kallisto, is out for revenge. Alyssa soon finds out that hell hath no fury like a vampire scorned."





About the Author:


      The  youngest of four children, Katie has always had a desire to entertain.  Since, early childhood, she's dreamed up fantastical characters and  scribbled them into pages of various journals and notebooks. Taking  an interest in vampires at an early age, she devoured every book,  featuring  those blood sucking creatures, in any genre she could find. She claims  that, of all the monsters out there, vampires had always been the most  interesting. 

      It  was only natural that a love of reading about vampires, and a love of  writing, turned into a desire to write her own stories. Thus, Immortalis   Carpe Noctem was born.

      A  Las Vegas native, having grown up in the famed City of Sin, Katie loves  to feature it as a recurring setting for many of her stories.


If you would like to learn more about Katie, you can visit her blog at: http://myimmortalstories.blogspot.com/. You can also find and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY:

Katie is offering one lucky reader a copy of her book "Immortalis Carpe Noctem". Now's your chance to add this exciting book to your library. See below how to enter. Contest ends May 31st at 11:59pm EST.

TO ENTER:
Visit day one of Katie's Book Tour and follow the giveaway instructions then come back here for a BONUS Entry !! All you need to do for an extra entry is leave a comment here on my review of "Immortalis Carpe Noctem".

Book was provided by Pump Up Your Book to honestly review.

Virtual Book Tour & Review: "Play Dead" by Ryan Brown

Play Dead
Author: Ryan Brown
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781439171301
Genre: Fiction, horror

Synopsis (from publisher):

"Today’s #1 New York Times bestselling thriller writers agree: Ryan Brown’s compulsively readable first novel is unbeatable—a darkly humorous, rich and pungent zombie shocker that melds our national obsession with football and the newest wave of fascination with the undead.

For the first time in Killington High School history, the Jackrabbits football team is one win away from the district championship where it will face its most vicious rival, the Elmwood Heights Badgers. On the way to the game, the Jackrabbits’s bus plunges into a river, killing every player except for bad-boy quarterback Cole Logan who is certain the crash was no accident—given that Cole himself was severely injured in a brutal attack by three ski-masked men earlier that day. Bent on payback, Cole turns to a mysterious fan skilled in black magic to resurrect his teammates. But unless the undead Jackrabbits defeat their murderous rival on the field, the team is destined for hell. In a desperate race against time, with only his coach’s clever daughter, Savannah Hickman, to assist him, Cole must lead his zombie team to victory

. . . in a final showdown where the stakes aren’t just life or death—but damnation or salvation. Boundlessly imaginative and thrillingly satisfying, Play Dead gives small-town Texas an electrifying jolt of the supernatural, and is unquestioningly The Zombie Novel of the Year!

The Comeback Story of the Season . . ."




My Thoughts

When I read the synopsis for this novel, how could I resist? Take a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, throw in a football team of zombies, add some dark humor and it promises to be an entertaining read. I was certainly not disappointed.

"Play Dead" had an interesting story line that held my interest and kept me in suspense. I found myself not only engrossed and wondering what would happen next, but chuckling and laughing out loud at times.

I found myself really liking the main character and his sidekick. Cole Logan was a tough kid that was strong, determined and would do whatever it takes to succeed. His "friend", Savannah, also has the same drive and toughness that makes the two of them work well together.

I really enjoyed "Play Dead" and look forward to seeing more books by Ryan Brown. His humor and playfulness made this book really work for me.

Parental note: Contains offensive language, sexual situations, steroid usage, death, dismemberment and witchcraft. I would recommend this for older teens to adult.

About the Author

Ryan Brown is an actor who has starred on the daytime dramas Guiding Light and The Young and The Restless, and has appeared on Law & Order as well as in feature films for Lifetime Television. PLAY DEAD is his first novel. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

To learn more about Ryan (and find out who his mom is), please visit his website at: http://www.ryanbrownauthor.com/ 


"Play Dead" was provided by Gallery Books for me to honestly review.

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