Friday, April 30, 2010

Blog Tour & Review: "Allon" by Shawn Lamb

Allon: Book 1
Author: Shawn Lamb
Publisher: Creation House
ISBN: 9781599798912
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis (taken from the back of the book):

"The Forces of Evil Grow Stronger ...

Long ago, the land of Allon was a paradise until the fall of the Guardians paved the way for the rise of the Dark Way. King Marcellus now controls the land as his forefathers did, with an iron fist and the help of the evil spirit, Dagar. But an ancient prophecy speaks of a time to come when the Guardians will return and Allon will be restored—lead by its rightful heir.

At sixteen, Prince Ellis is forced to flee from the life he has known, pursued by the King’s soldiers. With help from two mysterious strangers he meets in the forest, he must find a way to defeat the evil forces and prove himself worthy to be king if Allon is to have any hope of salvation. Along the way he will face trials that test his character, his wisdom, his courage, and ultimately, his heart.

'Allon' is a magical tale of adventure, destiny, and faith that you won’t soon forget."

My Thoughts:

"Allon" is a brilliantly written book that captivated me from the beginning to the end. It's good vs. evil theme had me at the edge of my seat more than once. To me the storyline is classic fantasy, with knights, kings, queens, gods.... and of course, magic - everything I look for in a fantasy.

The characters are well developed and I couldn't help by cheer on Prince Ellis and Shannon. They are good and righteous and want the best for all. The Guardians were interesting creatures - much what I would think angels to be, and of course, Dagar and the Shadow Warriors I likened with Satan and his fallen angels.

I adored this book and I found it to be a wonderful read. I am anxious for the next book of the series to come out. I am highly recommending it to both young adults and adults. "Allon" is a wonderful book to escape with and would make a wonderful summer read. Both of my teens are looking forward to reading it this summer. I know they will love it!

About the Author:

Shawn lives in Antioch, Tennessee, just outside Nashville with her husband of nearly 25 years and their college age daughter, Briana. Shawn pursued her love of writing and took it to a professional level, writing for the 1980s Filmation animated series "BRAVESTARR". Along the way, she won several screenwriting awards, including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association.

Taking the skills of writing for televison along with experience of working with kids and teens, she began work on the series ALLON. The results are stories of faith to believe and overcome obstacles, commitment to a cause, and the endurance to see it through to the end.

To learn more about the author you can visit her website at: and her blog at:

This book was provided by Glass Road PR for me to honestly review. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Review: "Lessons Learned" by Tinish N. Johnson

Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself As A Black Woman
Author: Tinisha Nichole Johnson
Publisher: Xpress Yourself Publishing
ISBN: 9780977939886
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help

Synopsis (taken from author's website):

"As a Black woman, have you ever dealt with insecurities and pressures from the world that made you feel unsure about yourself or life in general? Do you want answers and solutions to your most deepest, darkest feelings?
If so, Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself As A Black Woman is a book you need to read. It’s an inspirational and uplifting book, emphasizing ten life lessons that addresses your most intimate, personal, and professional life.
In Lessons Learned, the author passionately and straightforwardly expresses and lays out the following:
  • The “Q&A Method” of problem solving life’s problems
  • Understanding your deepest feelings and using the positive to overcome the negative
  • Recognizing and learning the importance of self-worth 
  • What Women tend to think the definition of true happiness is
  • The Five most common types of Black women
  • What some Black women say to themselves that they would never say out loud
  • Why Black women sacrifice their souls
  • Balancing Children, Family, and Friends
The author thought it necessary to create a book specifically catered to Black women in the self-healing process while laying out techniques on how to gain more self-confidence and strengthen your self-worth and your overall life.

The book
Lessons Learned reminds Black women the importance of loving themselves first.

If you would like to read an excerpt of the book, you can visit Tinisha's website and click the link next to her book cover.

My Thoughts:

Tinisha Nicole Johnson writes with such captivating prose and honesty, that you will find yourself not only entertained but will be nodding your head in agreement. She draws from her life experiences, creating a "real" self-help book instead of one that feels like it was written by the professional that has no idea what life really is.

"Lessons Learned" is written for the black woman, but the lessons can and do cross over into every race of woman. The book contains 10 lessons covering such things as: happiness, controlling, self-worth, exercising your mind & body, gratefulness, healthy relationships, don't sacrifice your soul, be positive, loving your "Sister", prayer and family time.

Personally, I found Nichole's book to be a wonderful and useful tool that she has given to women, but especially to the black woman. She started this as her own self-help journal, and ended up creating a book to help others. Her experiences, heart and soul pour out through the pages, and make you realize that you aren't the only one who has thought and felt a certain way. A very nice touch to the book is the areas she has included where you can write thoughts/feelings to help you focus on certain things in your life.

This is definitely a book that should be read, not only by the black woman, but by every woman. It will give you a different perspective and much more gratitude! I can say this from experience. Tinisha's book has been a true blessing to me.

I was lucky to have Tinisha write a guest post for this blog a few days ago. If you haven't read Tinisha's Guest Post, please make sure you do.

About The Author:

Tinisha Nicole Johnson is an author, writer, and poet. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her two children. Besides writing, Tinisha also hosts political and sports teleconferences as a profession. To date, Tinisha has written five books. She is also co-founder of Authors Supporting Authors (ASA) a non-profit group that provides support to other authors and promotes literacy. You can visit Tinisha’s website at: You can also find Tinish on Twitter and Facebook.

This book was supplied by Pump Up Your Book for me to honestly review.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Virtual Book Tour & Review: No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

I am so very excited to be able to be part of Kathi Macia's Virtual Book Tour. Although she has authored more than 20 books, this is the first one I have read, and I promise you, it certainly won't be the last!

If I had to sum up "No Greater Love" in one word, it would be "incredible"! Kathi has taken the hardship and pain of those involved in the apartheid-era of South Africa and brought it alive throughout the pages of this novel.

This story grabbed me and held me captive until the end. It was edgy and raw and the characters were so realistic that I had to remind myself more than once that this was a novel and not a true story. Even knowing that, I couldn't help but hold my breath and even tearing up at times.

The main characters are amazinly realistic. Chioma captured my heart and will be staying with me for a long time. She is one of those characters that has had a real impact on my outlook and what I have to be thankful for.

"No Greater Love" is definitely one of the best books I've read this month. Make sure to add this to your must reads list - I highly recommend it!!

No Greater Love
Author: Kathi Macias
Publisher: New Hope Publishers
ISBN: 978159669277
Genre: Christian, Fiction, General

Synopsis (from back of the book):

"Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr, and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress ANC movement against Apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.

When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge or forgiveness and selfless love.

Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, just prior to the setting of the popular movie Invictus, during the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely."

About the Author:

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer and radio show host who has authored 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

To learn more about Kathi you can visit her official website, read her blog and you can find her on Facebook.

This book was supplied by Pump Up Your Book for me to honestly review.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Giveaway: Win One of 5 Copies of "Stay a Little Longer" by Dorothy Garlock

Book Description (from publisher's website):

Louise Watkins has her hands full. Her mother had been the town midwife, but when her daughter Alice died under her care, she refused to assist in a childbirth ever again. Since then Louise has assumed the work. She also takes care of Alice's six-year old, Charlotte, because the child's father was lost in World War I. But Louise's principal job is running the boardinghouse that is the family's main source of income. One day, Charlotte befriends a stranger ill with influenza, a man who has taken refuge in an old cabin in the woods nearby. Although badly scarred by wounds suffered in the War, he is strong and slowly recovers. When he gradually takes on odd jobs around the house, Louise accepts his help. She is drawn to him despite his disfigurement, and his voice is comforting, vaguely familiar...


Anna of Hachette Book Group has been kind enough to offer readers of this blog a chance to win one of 5 copies of "Stay a Little Longer" by Dorothy Garlock. Thank you, Anna!

To enter:

1. You must be a follower of this blog.
2. You must leave a comment WITH your email address.
3. US and Canada only - no PO boxes.

BONUS Entries !! For extra entries (you must leave links for each):

  • Tweet about this contest (once per day)
  • Follow me on Facebook - see sidebar for link
  • Post on Facebook (once per day)
  • Add my button to your sidebar.
  • Post about this contest to your blog.
  • Add me to your blogroll.
  • Add this contest to your sidebar.

Contest ends May 10, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If no response, another winner will be drawn. Book will be shipped directly from Hachette Book Group.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller

An Honest Love
Author: Kathleen Fuller
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781595548139
Genre: Christian fiction, Amish

A lovely and heartwarming story about an Amish brother and sister who find both love and friendship in the most unlikely place. Lukas meets Anna who was hurt by the man she once loved and was going to marry. Elisabeth has known Aaron since her family is friends with his. She also knows of his dark past and wild ways before he joined the church. Now Elisabeth works with Aaron and has to deal with his quiet and sullen attitude and his rudeness towards her. Will the past, lies and half-truths destroy the lives and friendships that have been built, or can the past be dealt with?

An Honest Love is the second book of the Hearts of Middlefield Series. I didn't read the first, so I was concerned that I would be lost and not know the characters or their situations. That is not the case with this book. I had no problem with either the characters or the storyline. You learn along with the "new characters" presented in this book, to understand what happened in the past.

This story was an enjoyable read! It interested me enough that now I've added the first book of the series, "A Man of His Word", to my list to pick up the next time I go to the bookstore. This is a definite must read for anyone who loves Amish fiction or Christian fiction.

This book was sent to me through the Book Sneeze program for me to honestly review.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Getting In by Karen Stabiner

Getting In
Author: Karen Stabiner
Publisher: Hyperion
Pub. Date: March 2010
ISBN-13: 9781401322465
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: (from back of book):

Q: What does a parent need to survive the college application process?
A. A sense of humor.
B. A therapist on 24-hour call.
C. A large bank balance.
D. All of the above.

Getting In is the roller-coaster story of five very different Los Angeles families united by a single obsession: acceptance at a top college, preferably one that makes their friends and neighbors green with envy. At an elite private school and a nearby public school, families devote themselves to getting their seniors into the perfect school-even if the odds are stacked against them, even if they can't afford the $50,000 annual price tag, even if the effort requires a level of deceit, and even if the object of all this attention wants to go somewhere else.

Getting In is a delightfully smart comedy of class and entitlement, of love and ambition, set in a world where a fat envelope from a top school matters more than anything . . . almost.

My Comment:

With one child that just entered college and another starting the process, this book was very easy to identify with. It was a fun and quirky read that I really enjoyed. No, my children aren't going to the elite private colleges, and this makes me appreciate how little I had to deal with through the process we did go through. (Man, and I thought that was bad!)

Getting In is a great book for anyone that has children looking at going to college, starting the process, are in, or have graduated. It's a book that will have you laughing and shaking your head, and really enjoying what you did and didn't have to go through. For those that don't have to worry about facing the college woes, make sure to pick this up so you can appreciate what you missed!! This is a great read for every adult.

To learn more about Karen Stabiner and what other books she has authored, please visit her website at:

This book was supplied by Wiley of Authors On the Web for me to honestly review.

Review: Hawk by Brian Neary

Author: Brian Neary
Publisher: Self-published
ISBN: 9780615291949
Genre: Fiction, Spy Thriller

Synopsis (from Amazon):

If you are a fan of Vince Flynn, Clancy, Crais, Child or David Baldacci, you will love this book. Its an explosive spy thriller. Interest is grabbed early when the Secretary of State refers to most of Europe as "a bunch of teat-sucking freeloaders. A pack of meat hogs who never gave a crap about us in the first place." It's solidified when the President says of the Secretary, "The man's ignorance is only surpassed by his inability to make a decision." Thoroughly irreverent; believable, complicated story lines; a strong finish. Interest never wanes; a page turner you'll want to read end-to-end. The villains are so credible, so rich in political motivation and personal agenda, that after having finished the book, you'll find it hard to believe that Neary's bad guys don't actually exist. Likewise, the good guys; complex, intriguing, and volatile. A romantic relationship testing the faith of the protagonist - A ticking clock pushing the combatants toward an horrific conflagration, and the solution resting on the shoulders of Quentin Hawk, a rookie CIA agent compromised by his own non-conformist talents. A great read.

My Comments:

Although I enjoyed "Hawk", I found it somewhat difficult to get into the story for about the first 1/4 of the book. It introduced characters and jumped back and forth leaving me a bit confused at first. I found myself going back and forth to try to refresh my memory of who the characters were.

The story picked up as all came together. I did like the storyline, and enjoyed the characters. I wish Quentin would have appeared more throughout the book. He was to me a quite likable tough-guy. Luke was also an enjoyable character, and the storyline seemed to focus more on him, which I found surprising because of the title of the book.

The storyline pushes the realism envelope, as do the characters. To me, that makes "Hawk" both more interesting and fun to read. Since this is the first book of Neary's series, I hope that this was setting up and introducing Quentin Hawk, and that we'll see much more of him in book 2.

About the author:

BRIAN NEARY began his literary career in Los Angeles as an English teacher. When he was fired for utilizing tape recorders and video technology as part of his curriculum, he launched an exciting career touching all parts of the entertainment industry.

----As a graphic designer…silk screen art sold throughout the world; U.S. Postage stamp design with Corita Kent; LA Times honoree as California designer, culminating in a personal silk screen installation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
----As a TV writer…numerous comedic and dramatic writing credits, among them SNL, General Hospital, Owen Marshal, Hawaii 50 and Late Night.
----As a journalist…staff writer for Lifestyle Magazine, contributor to LA Times, R&R and People.
----As a cable exec…cofounder of the cable network E! Entertainment; the channel’s first VP of Production
----As a composer…writer/producer of two #1 Billboard hits, numerous gold records, named to Rolling Stone’s Hot 100 producers. Created more than 80 single recordings by a wide range of artists including Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton John, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton and Dionne Warwick.
----As a live show producer…the road show of The Wiz; producer/director of The Funny You Should Ask comedy show for HBO.
----As a video game designer…created “Slammin” a multi player Sony PlayStation game.
----As a screenwriter…recently honored with the prestigious Hollywood Screenplay Award for the feature screenplay ‘Legend.’
----As a nerd…a degree in English from Loyola University and an MBA from USC.A Member of WGAw, ASCAP, BMI.

Brian lives with his wife Karen in Carlsbad, California where he’s working on the next Quentin Hawk adventure. Visit his website at

This book was supplied by the author for me to honestly review.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Virtual Tour and Giveaway: Daughter of Mine

Daughter of Mine
Author: Laura Fabiani
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc.
ISBN: 9780595478576
Genre: Fiction, Romance


Tiziana Manoretti is an only child in her late twenties blessed with loving parents, a promising career, and a best friend who fiercely protects her. When her mother falls seriously ill and the relationship between her parents becomes suddenly strained, a carefully hidden family secret is revealed and Tiziana's seemingly idealistic world is turned upside down. After discovering she was born in a Naples orphanage and subsequently given up for adoption, Tiziana sets out for the small town of Gaeta in an attempt to find her birth parents. Meanwhile, her best friend Christopher is sending her mixed messages, causing her to wonder if there is more to their relationship than just companionship. As she becomes intertwined with a handful of interesting characters who help her uncover her past, Tiziana needs to decide whether her feelings for Christopher are deeper than she realizes. She discovers herself and others all while her family's resilience and love for one another is tested when confronted with a shocking truth.The answers lie in a box found in a closet in Italy, and Tiziana must determine if she wants to embrace the heartache and the pain from her past in order to learn forgiveness and find peace in the future.

My Comment:

"Daughter of Mine" is a captivating story about family, friends, loyalty, love, self-discovery, understanding and forgiveness. It is a story that will sweep you away with its beautiful descriptions and imagery, and will tug at your heart and won't let go until the very last word.

I found the whole storyline both realistic, and at the same time, enchanting. The descriptions of Italy were amazing and gave the book an almost magical feel. Honestly, after finishing the story, I wanted to take the next flight out to Italy!

The characters were well developed. Tiziana is an endearing character and her parents, especially her father, had that wonderful "old world" appeal. Those characters were so realistic, that I was reminded of my own grandparents.

I enjoyed everything about this novel: The air of mystery kept things very interesting, the descriptions swept me off to another place, turning it into a type of mini-vacation, and the struggles that Tiziana dealt with gave it a nice balance of realism. Laura Fabiani's beautifully written story is definitely one that I will be giving to my daughter to read. I'm sure it will capture her heart as it did mine.

Make sure to add this to your summer reading list. It's one book you won't want to miss!

About the Author:

Laura Fabiani holds a degree in Special Care Counseling and has worked as a psychiatric child counselor and as a special education technician at various institutions. She launched NouveauWriter an online resource for new and aspiring writers. It covers topics on writing, English grammar, vocabulary building and publishing and marketing. She also reviews books at Library of Clean Reads She owns a translation business, mainly translating medical documents from French to English. She currently teaches Creative Writing Workshops in English and French. She lives with her husband and two children in Montreal, Quebec. Visit her at


Laura has been so kind to offer a copy of her book to one lucky reader of this blog!

To enter:

1. You must be a follower of this blog.
2. You must leave a comment WITH your email address.
3. US and Canada only.

BONUS Entries !! For extra entries (you must leave links for each):
  • Tweet about this contest (once per day)
  • Post on Facebook (once per day)
  • Add my button to your sidebar.
  • Post about this contest to your blog.
  • Add me to your blogroll.
  • Add this contest to your sidebar.

Contest ends May 10, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If no response, another winner will be drawn. Book will be shipped directly from the author.

Good Luck!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Virtual Book Tour: Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

Firefly Rain
Author: Richard Dansky
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781439148631
E-book ISBN: 9781439163276
Genre: Horror

Description (from publisher's website):

When Jacob left home for a new life, he pretty much forgot all about Maryfield, North Carolina. But Maryfield never forgot him. Or forgave him.

After a failed business venture in Boston, Jacob Logan comes back to the small Southern town of his childhood and takes up residence in the isolated house he grew up in. Here, the air is still. The nights are black. And his parents are buried close by. It should feel like home—but something is terribly wrong.

Jacob loses all his belongings in a highway accident. His car is stolen from his driveway, yet he never hears a sound. The townspeople seem guarded and suspicious. And Carl, the property caretaker with so many secrets, is unnervingly accommodating. Then there are the fireflies that light the night skies . . . and die as they come near Jacob’s home. If it weren’t for the creaking sounds after dark, or the feeling that he is being watched, Jacob would feel so alone. He shouldn’t worry. He’s not.

And whatever’s with him isn’t going to let him leave home ever again.

I found a nice video on Youtube of Mr. Dansky discussing Firefly Rain. Unfortunately, the audio is not very good.

My Comments:

I grew up reading Alfred Hitchcock and Steven King, so I adore classic horror. As time went on, I found that many of the horror books on the market became more and more graphic and I stopped reading them. I didn't want to be grossed out, I wanted to be terrified.

Firefly Rain boasts on its cover that it "reads like Pat Conroy and Stephen King..." so it set up huge expectations for me. I am pleased to say it has met those expectations and more. It's a brilliantly written tale that had me terrified at times and kept me interested all the way to the end. Finally!! An excellent classic horror that is worthy of staying on my shelves next to Mr. King and Mr. Hitchcock!

If you love classic horror, the paranormal, mysteries, or just a good story, make sure to add this to your TBR list.

About the Author:

Mr Dansky is a fascinating person. If you'd like to learn more about him, please visit his website. I'm not going to attempt to tell you about him - I'll let him do that on his own site & in his own words. Please visit:

Please visit other websites who are participating in the Tour to hear what they have to say about "Firefly Rain".

Revenge of the Book Nerds:
Drey’s Library:
My Life In Not So Many Words:
All About {n}:
Crazy Books & Reviews:
Pick of the Literate:
Book Junkie:
The Cajun Book Lady:
I Heart Monster:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Just One More Paragraph:
My Friend Amy:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Lucky Rosie’s:
Pam’s Private Reflections:
Star Shadow:
Patricia’s Vampire Notes:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
My Book Views:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Brizmus Blogs Books:
Simply Stacie:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer:
Books And Things:
Book Tumbling:
Jen’s Book Talk:
Dan’s Journal:
Avid Reader:
Starting Fresh:
A Journey of Books:
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
I’m Booking It:
Must Read Faster:
Maria’s Space:
Rundpinne: Time For Mommy: http://

Book was supplied by Sarah of Gallery & Pocket Books for me to honestly review.

Lots and Lots of Winners!

By the magical powers of generator, the following people will be receiving a wonderful book to add to their TBR pile!

Glorious by Bernice McFadden:

Dr. Bill Smith

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow:

Amber Y.
Bill & Marjorie

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson:

Stacie V.

Congratulations to all the winners. Everyone has been notified. In case of lack of response, new winners will be drawn.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Author Tour: Tinisha N. Johnson "Lessons Learned"

It is with great pleasure to introduce Tinisha N. Johnson, author of Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself as a Black Woman.

The target audience for Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself as a Black Woman says it all in the title – primarily black women. The secondary audience is all women. I decided to write a book specifically catered towards black woman, because sometimes African-American women experience challenges and situations that other races of women may not necessary face on a day-to-day basis or ever. These challenges and situations range from hair texture, culture, relationships with black man, negative stereotypes, conquering racism and sexism, and being the minority of minorities, just to name a few. Of course, all women regardless of race deals with issues of self-esteem, and this too is addressed in the book.

When women read this book, I hope to revolutionize their mind into a whole new way of thinking about themselves. Day in and day out, can sometimes seem like a struggle or fight, but I want to open new ways of thinking about what happiness is. I want women to realize how important self-love is and regularly take advantage of it in their lives. 

Tinisha Nicole Johnson is an author, writer, and poet. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her two children. Besides writing, Tinisha also hosts political and sports teleconferences as a profession. To date, Tinisha has written five books. She is also co-founder of Authors Supporting Authors (ASA) a non-profit group that provides support to other authors and promotes literacy. You can visit Tinisha’s website at:

Article provided by  Pump Up Your Book. Posted with permission.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Tour: Necessary Heartbreak

Necessary Heartbreak
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781439184233
Genre: Fiction

Book Description

An extraordinary journey back in time shows a struggling single dad that the faith he’s lost is still alive—and stronger than ever. . . .

Michael Stewart has weathered his share of hardships: a troubled childhood, the loss of his mother, even the degradation of living on the city streets. Now he’s raising his teenaged daughter, Elizabeth, on his own and doing the best he can at work and at home. But he’s turned his back on his faith—that is, until the morning Michael and Elizabeth volunteer for a food pantry at their local church. While storing boxes in the basement, they step through a mysterious door . . . and find themselves in first-century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Jesus Christ’s life. It is a dangerous and violent place, where doing what your heart tells you is right can get you imprisoned—or worse—and they are thankful to take refuge with a kind widow. But when they come face-to-face with Judas Iscariot and the condemned Christ himself, Michael realizes that before they can escape Jerusalem, he must experience history’s most necessary and shattering heartbreak—and that pain and loss must happen if Michael is to be set free: to live, love, and reclaim the blessings he has in the present day.

My Comment:

Necessary Heartbreak has a fascinating storyline that held my interest throughout the book. To take the reader back to the time of Christ and to present the possibility of being able to change history - how could one go wrong?

I enjoyed the total story, but found the characters weren't always believable. I found that somewhat frustrating as it hindered the story for me. The teenage daughter was what I would call a stereotypical teen - mouthy to her father and everyone else. When she goes back in time, she continues to be mouthy and doesn't seem to have any fear of anything around her. For me, this created a lack of realism and gave the feeling that I was reading a story written for a younger audience instead of an adult book.

Although I didn't always care for the characters, the book was a really interesting read, and one I would recommend to both teens and adults alike. It's still a fascinating story line, and one that would make a nice light summer read.

Author Biography

Michael J. Sullivan is an author and sports writer living in New York who graduated from St. John's University, and is a member of the McDonald's All-American Selection Boys Basketball Committee and the Parade All-American Selection Committee. Michael hosted sports radio shows on WGBB on Long Island, NY, and WEVD 1050AM in New York City, as well as worked with ESPN and Sporting News. In addition to writing the When Time Forgets series, Michael covers high school and college sports for Fox-owned, which involves daily activity on ten to twelve message boards as well as writing approximately 100 articles each month.

Michael has published a number of books through established trade houses, including the trivia book So You Think You're a New Yorker, which was an iconic work lauded by columnist Cindy Adams. In addition, he published seven sports-themed books for children through Enslow, and a volume of a children’s book series through HarperCollins.

See what others participating in the tour have to say about "Necessary Heartbreak"

Drey’s Library:
Dragonflies ‘n Daydreams:
Book Junkie:
I Read:
Just One More Paragraph:
My Friend Amy:
Starting Fresh:
Frugal Plus:
Broken Teepee:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
The Avid Reader:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Blog Business World:
A Journey of Books:
Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews:
Simply Stacie:
Bibliophile’s Retreat:
The Book Tree:
You Wanna Know What I Think? :
Libby’s Library News:
Book Tumbling:
I Heart Monster:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Pam’s Private Reflections:
My Book Views:
Write For A Reader:
I Heart Book Gossip:
This Book For Free:
Mad Hatter Mom:
Books Reviews by Buuklvr81:
Arms of a Sister:
Books and Needlepoint:
A Room Without Books Is Empty:
Country Bookshelf:
Bellas Novella:
I Heart Books:
Loving Heart Mommy:

This book was provided by Gallery Books for me to honestly review.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Author Tour: U.L. Harper - "The Flesh Statue"

The Flesh Statue
Author: U.L. Harper
Publisher: iuniverse
ISBN: 9781440153228
Genre: literary fiction
Pages: 364


Langley, sick of his suburban life and sick of watching the man who raised him wither from the relentlessly ugly clutches of Alzheimer's, moves to Long Beach with the hopes of finding more. What he finds is a group of poets with a message, a message they want to get out.

When Langley moves to Long Beach he instantly finds himself in a new world of poetry and graffiti. A world that is in the throws of destruction and in the need of revolution. Langley is forced to make the decision; does he stay in this new world with its collapsible revolution, or does he attempt to endure a life marred in the memory of his death mother and in the current state of his Grandfather.

The Flesh Statue follows Langley on this search for answers and along the way introduces us to an array of characters from the eratic Cinci who is trying to escape a troubled past, to Bert, a man who is willing to fight and burn for his ideals, to Latrail, a young woman taking on the role which Langley should himself be filling

Book Excerpt:

"Your grandfather left us a while ago, when the disease took over his mind. Then again... If he was here this whole time, did he want to be here? He'd move-on, on his own time. He'd leave us when he wanted. Couldn't keep him against his will, if I knew him any."

To Langley, how this situation summed itself up seemed all too close to what he remembered from some class discussion he had on the sacred cow. The cow was sacred mostly because of all it could offer society—dairy products and such. The bull on the other hand, which was basically only good for mating, well, they let it die because they didn’t need so many of them. To his Grandma, Grandpa had served his use with the world or maybe just served his use to her, and because she couldn't watch his useless carcass wither in an expensive hospital, she let what was no longer useful just die. She didn't kill it. She let him starve and become weak so he'd "move on" a little faster, at his own choice, perhaps.

"You know what I feel?" she said, finally taking a glance at Langley. "I feel free." She took a deep breath. "That's why you should go to college. You'll find some teacher that'll ask you good questions, like what freedom is. My philosophy teacher asked me that. What is freedom, he asked. That whole class was over my head, fifty some odd years later, I can answer that question out of experience."

This caught his ear. He could save himself about fifty years of thinking if he just listened now. Langley tried to yawn as to clear his ears as much as possible.

"Everything certain already happened to me,” she said. “You know what I think freedom is? Having no expectations. I don't have a goal in front of me, and it's scary. I have a lot of life in me." She was ready to cry again. "Too much life."

"You're young for your age. That's what I think."

"Too much time to do too much by myself."

"I'm about twenty and I feel like I'm almost out of time. Here you are at, how old are you?"

"Freedom is having nothing to grasp on to,” she said. “Having no basis for anything, having no point and no reason. No reason at all. None," she waved her hand at him. "None."

"In the end, we'll all be free, then?"

"Who's we?"


"Everybody will be free if they live long enough to have nothing to look forward to. I hope that's not what all this really is, come to find out." Then she stood and casually stepped towards the door. She said, "Are you fine to make your own meal tonight?"

"Grandma," he said. "Grandpa’s not dead is he?"

"Make some for Latrail. We're expecting her. I'm going to ride the bus somewhere."

"What do you mean ride the bus?"

"I need to be away from here for a little while. I'll be back." She left the room, not looking back. "And Langley," she said from the dining room, "don't walk Grandpa."

For quite some time Langley sat there peeling his eyes at Grandpa, indecisive on whether this man was dead or not. Surely no one could stay in one place for that long, alive. Then again, he didn't check for a pulse. Grandpa’s chest wasn't going up and down like it would if he were breathing, something people did when they were alive. Langley couldn't gather the motivation to leave the room. Something, he couldn't tell what, kept him there. In this time, he didn't think too much about the outside world. He wondered how Grandpa’s skin felt. How he slouched in the wheelchair—was he weighted differently?

Gravity pulled Grandpa towards the floor, the grave, as he inched lower in his wheelchair, kind of sinking per minute. Grandma had cleaned the dead man before sitting him there, like a flesh statue. When it finally settled in that his Grandpa was dead, Langley's back went stiff. He remembered tiny pieces of memory. Not whole moments.

There was the time having the flu and Grandpa telling him that people used to die of the flu. Its full name was Influenza. Learning to drive a car. Being made fun of because of his car. He and Latrail playing with each other when they were young enough for him to push her on her chest and there not being any breasts there. Langley being bashful at Grandpa saying Langley had a crush on Latrail.

A car pulling up in the driveway shook him from his memories. He didn't bother to see who it was. A moment later, the door rattled with a knock. If Latrail had been dropped off by her mom she could let herself in.

Sometimes Grandpa pretended he was on the air at the radio station and acted like Langley was a guest on his show. As a guest on the show, a young Langley confessed to wanting to be a professional basketball player. In reality, he didn't like the sport all that much. Then again, he couldn't think of another job he might want to do. That, and Grandpa, back when he had a healthy pot belly and not a sagging one, loved sports, and Langley didn't want to let him down. Besides, Langley loved going to the Dodger games, especially when Grandpa would suddenly decide that they had to go, "pronto". Grandpa might not have wanted to go if he knew he didn't like sports too much to begin with. The fact was that Langley had been so well pampered his whole life—now he knew this—that he thought his grandparents would always be there to take care of him. Not true. Not true at all.

Grandpa was a starved bull.

About the Author

U.L. Harper is an author at heart but works with children in the Long Beach area. California. He has fun. Tetherball rules. Think of the phrase, “I would rather starve than feel better than this.” It’s a sentence into his thought process. If you would like to learn more about the author, you can visit his website at:

Book excerpt was provided by Rebecca of Pump Up Your Book and was used with permission.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review: They Never Die Quietly

They Never Die Quietly
Author: D. M. Annechino
Publisher: AmazonEncore
ISBN: 9780982555033
Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Homicide Detective Sami Rizzo is assigned to head a task force investigating serial killings in San Diego. The target: highly intelligent and evil villain Simon - who believes God has given him absolute authority to purify his unholy victims through a ritual that ends in a grisly crucifixion.

Rizzo urgently yearns to solve the case and gain the respect of her male colleagues, but her obsession to apprehend the killer on her own clouds her thinking. When Simon outsmarts Rizzo and captures her, she must employ all her resources - both physical and intellectual - to outwit the villain at his own game.

They Never Die Quietly has been published by AmazonEncore, the program that identifies exceptional yet overlooked books and works with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers. Originally published by author Daniel Annechino using BookSurge services in February 2009, They Never Die Quietly was an immediate hit with Amazon reviewers and customers, who called the story of a terrifying serial killer and the detective who becomes his prey “a wild ride,” “an extreme page turner” and “one of the best thrillers I’ve read.”

My Comment:

When I started this novel, I found couldn't put it down. It is fast-paced and a true page-turner that only allowed me to put it aside only when necessary. The storyline was very interesting, yet somewhat predictable. The characters were nothing new or exciting: a woman cop that needed to prove something, a male partner, and a woman-hating serial killer. Even though I've read many thrillers with this "formula", I found Annechino's writing style to be very captivating.

This book is intense and not for the squeamish. There are pretty descriptive scenes that made me shudder and I really wondered about nightmares after finishing it. I've read many thrillers in the past and can honestly say that this is one of the better ones I've read.

If you love crime fiction, detective stories, or thrillers, make sure you add this one to your reading list. Annechino is writing a sequel to this book called, Resuscitation, and I'm really looking forward to reading that one as well. He promises it to be even better!!

About the author:

Daniel Annechino’s passion has always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He wrote several novels early in his writing career, but it wasn’t until he authored They Never Die Quietly that he fulfilled his goal as a novelist. A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California. He is currently working on a sequel titled Resuscitation, which he promises will be even more chilling than They Never Die Quietly. To learn more about the author, please visit his blog at:

This book was sent to me by Paul of AME for me to honestly review.

Review: The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool
Author Holly LeCraw
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385531931
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: (from publisher)

A heartbreaking affair, an unsolved murder, an explosive romance: welcome to summer on the Cape in this powerful debut.

Seven summers ago, Marcella Atkinson fell in love with Cecil McClatchey, a married father of two. But on the same night their romance abruptly ended, Cecil's wife was found murdered—and their lives changed forever. The case was never solved, and Cecil died soon after, an uncharged suspect.

Now divorced and estranged from her only daughter, Marcella lives alone, mired in grief and guilt. Meanwhile, Cecil's grown son, Jed, returns to the Cape with his sister for the first time in years. One day he finds a woman's bathing suit buried in a closet—a relic, unbeknownst to him, of his father's affair—and, on a hunch, confronts Marcella. When they fall into an affair of their own, their passion temporarily masks the pain of the past, but also leads to crises and revelations they never could have imagined.

In what is sure to be the debut of the season, The Swimming Pool delivers a sensuous narrative of such force and depth that you won't be able to put it down.

My Comments:

Somewhat of a summer romance and mystery, The Swimming Pool was quite well written and followed two families and a summer at the Cape. A nice summer theme with a beach and summer homes, would interest most for a quick summer read.

Personally, I didn't care for the book. I'm not big on soap operas and for me, this storyline had the same qualities as a daytime soap. With a "Cougar", a love triangle that I found pretty distasteful, and numerous descriptive sex scenes, I just got bored with the whole affair. Had there been less sex, I probably would have liked it more.

The cast of characters were interesting but I found that  I didn't like any of them. The storyline contained exciting elements:  murder, mystery, affairs, romance, and depression. One review (from the back of the book) says "as riveting and psychologically complex as Hitchcockian film noir". That's what drew me to wanting to read the book.

Parental note: I would not recommend this for teens. Book contains offensive language, descriptive sex scenes, murder, depression, attempted suicide.

About the author:

Holly LeCraw lives outside of Boston with her husband, who is a journalist, and three kids. Her short fiction and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications, including the Edge City Review and the Boston Book Review. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Though a newcomer as a novelist, she grew up in the book industry. To learn more about the author, you can visit her website at:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author Spotlight: Michael Cogdill

The High Calling of Hard Times: Leadership, Hope, and Radical Love -- Even on the TV News
By Michael Cogdill,
Author of She-Rain: A Story of Hope

The complaints sail almost daily into my professional life. People tell me they find the news so depressing they can't watch anymore. I understand their longing for hope, even as I say the news contains a mother lode of the hope they crave. We journalists and viewers have a way of missing it, even as we look straight at it.

My answer grows from having covered terrible news on television for more than twenty-five years. Holding what I deem the sacredness of human grief on my very breath -- as a television reporter and anchor -- has revealed to me the power of the news to inform some of the best of humanity. It forms a lesson in leadership, especially in the worst of times.

Aristotle believed "happiness depends upon ourselves." In the coverage of stories such as 9-11, the earthquake in Haiti, or a suffering child in America, we discover the joy of our dependency upon one another. Those stories contain a radical love -- the kind we feel for a stranger in whose eyes we recognize something magnetically familiar. News of human suffering clarifies what Mother Theresa meant when she said charity isn't about pity. It's about love. Too often we who cover and consume the news -- or write about any human events -- fail to see through the hardship to find the leadership. We miss the seismic love.

A few years ago, a tiny piece of television brought me to a man whose life forms a clear window on the power of both. When we met, he was chronically underestimating the potency of a heroism he had lived. This is the soldiering story of George Campbell.

I met Mr. Campbell on a steaming day in June. We shot a TV public service announcement together for a terrific charity, Meals on Wheels, whose volunteers bring hot meals and priceless company to the elderly and infirm. Mr. Campbell lived a small life in a tiny house in Greenville, South Carolina. Apart from the tick of a clock in his living room, it seemed a life of nearly constant silence. Having finished our quick work, we chatted a moment. I had noticed a shadow box on his wall, holding some of the noblest honors the U.S. Military can award. When I asked about those medals, he stood silent for a time, then replied, "You know, son, it was almost 60 years ago to this day I set foot on that piece of France they called Omaha Beach."

That small retired pharmacist had served as an unarmed U.S. Army medic on D-Day. He had climbed out of a boat directly into the savagery General Eisenhower knew awaited the men of that terrible time.

Mr. Campbell, in his courtly, humble, and gentleman's way, told me of running through the Nazi hell that rained onto the men of that beach. He spoke of expecting, any moment, to join the swelling tide of death before him.

It took little time for his well-kept memory to reach the first fallen man he had found.

"I rolled him and saw it," he said. "A spurting wound of the chest. And there was a girl, right there with him. He had a girl's picture in his hand."

In the din of battle, that anonymous U.S. serviceman lay with blood flowing across the hands of Medic Campbell, and he begged him. "Help me get home, Doc. Help me outta here to see her again."

With me at his kitchen table, those sixty years later, Mr. Campbell withdrew into another moment's quiet. Then he spoke of a hopelessness he still felt. There was no saving that boy. He could only kneel there with him until death came. One terrified man had simply knelt with his hand on the blood-sodden chest of another, whom he did not know. That became George Campbell's full experience of D-Day. From one broken body to the next, he had made his way across that jagged beach, and he carried a despair of it across those sixty years to our time and place together -- there in his little house and near anonymous life in America.

"They died on me," he said, thrusting down tears. "All of them."

Every boy Medic Campbell had reached during his D-Day service had died. And palpable in his voice was the feeling of failure. He, in his private sadness of war, felt he had failed as a soldier and, on some levels, as a man.

What followed stands among the most valued and sacred moments of my career. For I had the opportunity, such as I am, to remind that gentle veteran of what he had done -- how he had led, and deeply loved, strangers through the worst time of their lives. It had clearly never dawned on him that, because of him, not one man he reached on that beach died alone. Because of his mettle, those men died witness to the terrified love and hope of a fellow man. As he knelt with them, he feared with them. I'm quite sure he wept with them. Yet he became their living courage, their leader to the mercies of death, a mortal usher who helped shoulder them to death's veil. Without being able to save a single life, he proved to them how courageous leadership truly feels -- not the absence of fear but the presence of care.

Up in his eyes, in that storm of doomed Nazi horror, dying men saw the very best of humanity. He led them to a ground of peace, forged their final relationships on earth. With him they experienced an intimacy with hope.

We men tend to rattle a bit when we venture a try at love talk. As I write this I can but hope I managed to convey to Mr. Campbell the stunning force of the love I felt from him. I can only trust I convinced him, in some small way, of the priceless difference his life had made in the withering moments of the lives of soldiers barely out of boyhood. He had become a quiet hero of Omaha Beach -- one of its many great leaders. If I could, I would call and remind him of this even now. I long for the opportunity -- even to thank him again for his service. Not long after our time together, shared there in his home and in his memories, Mr. Campbell died.

Yet he lives in this reporter's memory, and in the ways he makes me a better man. Because of my time with him, I am led to become a more caring writer -- of journalism and, yes, even fiction as it draws from our deepest reality.

Before his death, I was blessed to report a TV story on Mr. Campbell for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. As with so many, that story cast forth a human tragedy. To this day it is a story of war's unstoppable grief. Yet within it, viewed through the lens of the soul as well as the mind, that story gives off the hope of what great leaders do. They move toward the people they lead. They carry on lives of extravagant caring. With a broadness of the heart, they bear another's hurt with beautiful humility. 
In the next story of what seems boundless grief on the news, may we each hear that whispered call to lead with such a radical, generous form of love. May we look within ourselves for the leader who quietly scatters hope where it seems only hurt will live. To paraphrase and nuance Gandhi just a bit, may we become the hope we long to see in the world.

And to that end: Veterans out there -- this reporter says, THANK YOU! This writer of journalism and fiction owes you a debt beyond words. And to you, Mr. Campbell, peace to your spirit, sir, with gratitude for trusting, and loving, me enough to share that great triumph of your days.

© 2010 Michael Cogdill, author of She-Rain: A Story of Hope

Author Bio

Michael Cogdill is blessed as one of the most honored television storytellers in America. His cache of awards includes 24 Emmys and the National Edward R. Murrow for a broad range of achievement, from live reporting to long-form storytelling. His television credits as a journalist include CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show, and Michael's interview history crosses a wide horizon: The Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Abby Hoffman, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Howard K. Smith, James Brown, Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and many other newsmakers. His coverage credits include Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States.

Michael spent ten years writing She-Rain, letting it evolve into a world of fiction drawn from his upbringing in Western North Carolina but reaching far beyond. His other writing credits are Cracker the Crab and the Sideways Afternoon -- a children's motivational book, and a self-help volume, Raise the Haze. Michael makes his home in South Carolina with his wife, Jill (a publishing entrepreneur), and their second-generation golden retriever, Maggie. He's currently working on his second novel.

For more information, please visit

Friday, April 16, 2010

Author Tour - Paul V. Stutzman "Hiking Through"

Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail
Author: Paul V. Stutzman
Publisher: Synergy Books
ISBN: 9780984076055
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Synopsis: (from publisher)

After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie. With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom.

My Comment:

This is not the first book I've found about hiking the Appalachian Trail, nor will it be the last. What makes this book different is the message and the reason behind it. When Mr. Stutzman's wife died, he realized that all he worked for was nothing compared to what he lost with his wife. The importance was spending time with your loved ones, and live each day like it's your last with them. He took that message along with him on his 5 month trip on the Appalachian Trail.

Mr. Stutzman writes his adventures with both humor and truthfulness. He examines his relationship with God and finds that the longer he is on the trail, the more his relationship with God changes. He tells about triumphs and hardships along the way, and leaves you nothing but amazed and in awe by the end.

To say this is a fantastic book, is an understatement. Mr. Stutzman's message is quite personal to me, as I realized how we put things off when my parents died. Going through things and seeing items that were kept for that special someday that never came, brings a harsh reality that we shouldn't wait for tomorrow, but enjoy what we have today.  For this reason alone, I had wanted to participate in this tour, but I found that the book held so much more. It's about regrets, love, healing, forgiveness, and finding peace and freedom. It will tug at your heart and make you laugh and cry, and you will be cheering Mr. Stutzman along throughout the book.

Do yourself a huge favor and read this book. It will definitely change how you look at yourself and your loved ones. It has a powerful message that everyone should hear!

About the author:

Paul V. Stutzman left a restaurant management career to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2008, after losing his wife to breast cancer. He tells the story of chasing his dream from Georgia to Maine in his new book, Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail.  See photos from his hike on his website,

This book was sent to me by Dorothy of Pump Up Your Book for me to honestly review.