Sunday, August 31, 2008

Recipes for Enchantment: The Secret Ingredient is YOU! by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein--Book Review

A series of entertaining and thought-provoking stories awaits you in Recipes for Enchantment: The Secret Ingredient is YOU! by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein.

This book of short stories reminds me once again why I enjoy Dr. Barbara's books. All of these stories focus on the positive aspects of life, inspiring you to do the same. You'll meet Joey, a young cancer patient whose attitude and perception of events help him to believe he'll be well again. Then there's Mr. Diamond who completed his circle of life by returning to the city he once had to flee. Read how Bernadette Hoyer's memory of a childhood pet reminded her of a great act of love from the father she had lost. And meet The Mysterious Rabbi who shows the meaning of serving others. With contributions from Bernice Becker, Leslie Brittman, Emily Doherty, Bernadette Hoyer, Doreen Laperdon-Addison, Sherri Rosen, Ellen Saposnik, Sylvia Schultz Margolin, Tzvia Singer, and Claire Wintram this story collection will find you feeling better about your life and motivated to keep finding the positive side of things.

Dr. Barbara also provides commentary after each story, exercises, and discussion questions to help you make the change toward a more positive way of life.

If you long to change your point of view, if you want to find more joy in everyday living, if you seek a life filled with ENCHANTED MOMENTS, you'll want to read Recipes for Enchantment!

Title: Recipes for Enchantment: The Secret Ingredient is YOU!
Author: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Publisher: The Enchanted Self
ISBN: 1-58820-362-X
U.S. Price: $14.95

Look for my reviews of other titles by Dr. Barbara: The Truth, the Girl's and Mom's edition of The Truth, and Delight. You'll also find my 2007 interview with Dr. Barbara here.

The Life and Times of The Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels by Peter E J Smith--Book Review

If you are looking for an easy way to review or study the life of Jesus Christ then The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels by Peter E J Smith may be just what you're looking for.

In this 155-page book, Smith has taken the events written about in the four Gospels and put them in chronological order so that the reader gets a full understanding of the events of Christ's life as they occurred. Hailed by the author as "...something of a fifth gospel" this book begins with John 1: 1-18, which says, "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Then moves quickly through the ancestry of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, the announcement to Zacharias of the upcoming birth of his son--who he is instructed to name, John [the Baptist], the annunciation to Mary, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, and John's birth--which are all found in the first chapter of Luke. We briefly hear of the announcement to Joseph and him taking Mary as his wife from the Gospel of Matthew, then return back to the the Gospel of Luke for the birth of Christ and other events that occurred within his infancy. The reader travels along through the various gospels from Christ's infancy up to his Resurrection and Ascension.

Meant to be a companion volume to Ellen Gould White's Christian classic, The Desire of Ages, The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ can be helpful to new Christians who want to explore Christ's life easily. It would also work well for Bible study groups who are interested in studying the four Gospels as a unit rather than exploring them separately. It could be a helpful resource to writers whose fiction or non-fiction stories revolve around the life of Christ or the times in which He lived.

I did, however, have a couple of concerns regarding this book. Smith states that he has spent over 20 years as an avid student of the life of Jesus Christ, but provides few sources. I found the Comparison a bit confusing because it contains so many numbers, and perhaps the reader would have been better served if Smith only discussed the reasons for the size of his book as he did in the last few paragraphs of this section. And this is just a tiny nitpick, but the entire Preface is written with every word capitalized and it also contained a few typographical errors. This is a bit distracting.

I know I will find The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ helpful in my research and I believe others will find this chronological telling of the life of Jesus Christ easier to understand than if they read all four Gospels one after the other.

Title: The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels
Author: Peter E J Smith
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4327-0939-6
U.S. Price: $13.95

Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet Dr. Hal Lanse, author of READ WELL, THINK WELL

Today we welcome education expert Dr. Hal W. Lanse to talk about his new
book, Read Well, Think Well: Build Your Child's Reading, Comprehension, and Critical Thinking Skills. Dr. Lanse will discuss how parents can become actively involved in their children’s education to help them succeed in life.

Welcome to the Book Connection, Dr. Lanse. It’s an honor to have you with us.

Thank you so much for having me!

Please tell our readers about your background and how you’ve become an education expert.

Ten years ago, I was hired to do teacher training by the Teacher Center in New York City. They provided training with some of the leading literacy experts in the country. I’ve heard lectures from Lauren Resnick, Janet Allen and a host of others. Later, the NY Department of Education sent trainers (now called Literacy Coaches) to classes and lectures at Teachers College. I’ve also attended training from Diane Snowball’s people at AUSSIE and of course I have a Ph.D. in education from Walden University. Additionally, I belong to several professional organizations and they send me lots of research. Are you exhausted yet? LOL!

What made you decide to write Read Well, Think Well?

I’ve given many workshops over the years for parents as well as teachers. Parents are always hungry for information that can help boost their children’s literacy skills. After my workshops, I am often asked to recommend a good book on literacy. This was always a problem because most of the literature in the field is written in educational jargon and isn’t aimed at people who want to support literacy at home. Eventually, I decided that if such a book were to be written I’d have to do it. So, Read Well, Think Well was born.

How have you seen teachers and school systems change in the years you’ve been involved with education?

They haven’t changed much; that’s the problem. There’s so much research today, and so many effective methodologies that can boost children’s literacy skills; but in my experience only a small percentage of teachers make any real effort to learn and implement these strategies.

What challenges does this present to parents?

The quality of teachers is very uneven. Some are fantastic, many are dreadful, and the majority of them are just so-so. Parents can’t count on schools to provide their children with all the support they need. They must learn how to support literacy at home.

It seems that parents are pulled in a million different directions these days. Many children have two working parents or are raised by single parents. In addition, children are involved in several extra curricular activities during the school year. How can busy parents implement your strategies to help their children succeed in life?

Sometimes, we have to make choices. Some extracurricular activities are great but I also advise parents to make time for family reading. This should include asking your child questions like, “What do you think the character is feeling?” or, “What would you do if you were in this situation?”

What about children with reading or other learning disabilities? Can Read Well, Think Well help them too?

There’s a chapter that helps parents assess whether or not they need to have their hildren tested for a learning disability. And I describe various disabilities that might hold back the learning process. The good news is that many children who need special services suffer from mild disabilities. With the right support, these children can be quite successful.

How do you suggest parents teach a reluctant reader to enjoy sitting down with a good book?

Most children are “reluctant readers” because we give them books that are on the wrong level; or we force them to read books that don’t interest them. Read Well, Think Well teaches parents how to select books that are appropriate and exciting. I also provide lists of books for the most reluctant group of readers: boys.

What is your hope for this book? Do you see it being promoted by educators and pediatricians as a resource for parents?

I certainly hope so. Parents deserve quality information about reading and learning.

If you could provide a parent with only one bit of advice to help them bring up good readers, what would that be?

Talk. Talk about the characters in books, their feelings and motivations. Build vocabulary by talking about and naming things you and your child see every single day. Read stories and talk to your child about why she loves them. Have parties and play dates where all the children bring books and talk about their favorite parts of the stories. Children should be seen and heard.

Where can readers purchase a copy of Read Well, Think Well?

Barnes and Noble, or any of your favorite booksellers.

Do you have a website where readers can find out more?

You can find out more about me and my work at:

What is up next for you?

My publisher, Adams Media, has asked me to submit a proposal for a companion book on writing; so hopefully, Write Well, Think Well will appear in the not-too-distant future.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes; I’ve just launched a blog at I will be addressing a variety of educational issues on a weekly basis. I hope
that readers find it useful and thought-provoking.

Thank you for spending time with us today Dr. Lanse. I wish you great success with your book.

Thank you so much!

THE READ WELL THINK WELL VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit Dr. Lanse's tour stops at in August!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on our main blog on August 31!

Find out about Dr. Lanse's TEN BOOK GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA by clicking here!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Willow in a Storm: A Memoir by James Peter Taylor & Kathleen Murphy-Taylor--Book Review

A gripping and oftentimes shocking story of one man's journey through life and the tactics he had to employ to survive decades in prison.

Sexually abused at a young age by family and friends, James Peter Taylor marries young and then abandons his wife and daughter. In pursuit of the "perfect crime" he unintentionally kills Minnesota banker Kenneth Lindberg and is sent to prison for two 10-year terms,plus life.

After attempting suicide on more than one occasion, Jim decides he wants to live and learns ways to help him survive his long prison sentence. The sexual abuse and violence in prison leave him confused about his sexuality and beaten almost to death. Released on parole in 1980, James Taylor finds himself back in prison on false charges and spends over a decade seeking parole--which is constantly denied based upon Jim being charged with a crime the government says he committed in 1985 while he was actually serving time in Lewisburg, PA.

Meeting a few people along the way who believe in Jim's rehabilitation and offer help, Jim is finally paroled in 1995. Now an old man and partially blind, Jim must find his way in the world and put his years of sexual abuse and prison life behind him.

Willow in a Storm is a moving story of one man's life that could have taken a very different path with the right set of circumstances. A strong athelete, Jim's inability to see things through finds him leaving scholarships and jobs behind. His tense relationship with his adopted father is damaged further by the sexual abuse he is victim of at his father's hands. And while Taylor does not make excuses or blame anyone for his plight, the reader must wonder what the impact might have been if even one thing about Jim's early life were changed.

The stories of the physical and sexual violence Taylor endured during his years in prison are graphic and disturbing, as are the descriptions of prison guards meting out excessive and unwarranted punishments. The authors did not sugar coat anything. The reader can actually feel Taylor's frustration in dealing with the injustices served him during his time in prison, which is part of what makes Taylor's rehabilitation and successful reintroduction into society so triumphant. Crediting the good people he met along his journey and his faith in God, Taylor says, "I had some rare experiences that few other people have in this life, and through these experiences I was able to learn exactly what I needed to learn."

An excellent first-person account for anyone interested in memoirs or prison reform.

Title: Willow in a Storm
Authors: James Peter Taylor and Kathleen Murphy-Taylor
Publisher: Scarletta Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-9765201-5-3
ISBN-10: 0-9765201-5-X
U.S. Price: $14.95

Author Spotlight: The Crimson General by Slawomir Rapala

Dispossessed at an early age, Aezubah has wandered the world in search of vengeance. On arid mountaintops, remote glaciers and burning deserts he has conquered demons from the edge of creation, wicked sorcerers, and evil kings. As a General, he is beloved of all the warriors who follow him.

But his victories are never final; he goes forth again and again with nothing but his horse, spear and sword, in loneliness and solitude, seeking the treasure that always eludes him: peace.

The Legend of Aezubah: The Crimson General is a sword and sorcery epic of human aspirations and tragedy. It shows how anyone can be both a villain and a hero and how even the smallest actions can change the world.

About the author: Slawomir Rapala is a fantasy and sword and sorcery author who lives in Cambridge, Ontario. Most of his fiction is featured in the Bewildering Stories magazine, but his poems have also been published in two Canadian anthologies, and he has co-authored articles appearing in academic journals on topics relating to immigration and disability.

Aside from writing, Slawomir loves traveling and when time permits, he and his wife enjoy plotting out another adventure. Until quite recently, they moved around a lot, having lived in Florida, Australia, and Poland for extended periods of time. Together they have traveled Australia and Tasmania, visited New Zealand, stopped by Hong Kong, and enjoyed the spectacular sights of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona.

Find out more about Slawomir and The Crimson General at Bewildering Press.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eliezer Sobel and The 99th Monkey

Our guest blogger today is Eliezer Sobel, author of The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist's Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments.

Eliezer has provided a great article on why he approaches spirituality in a humorous way.

Lightening Up
By Eliezer Sobel

Author of The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments

I may have approached writing about my spiritual path in a humorous way, but I’ve always been quite serious about the work itself. You don’t spend 40 days alone on a secluded mountain top with no power or plumbing, as I did, on a lark, nor sit in silence and stillness on a meditation cushion for weeks at a time on retreat just for the fun of it. And you don’t spend ten days at Auschwitz for the laughs. There are lots of other things one can do that would be both more fun and funnier. Going to the dentist, for example, can be more fun than confronting your own mind on a meditation retreat.

On the other hand, given that enlightenment means, among other possible definitions, “to lighten up,” it does seem to be a strange juxtaposition to come across a room of grim-faced and determined spiritual practitioners, hell bent on achieving that serene and joyful state of consciousness in which one is not hell bent on achieving anything. Because all the teachings are emphatic that God or enlightenment is always already present in the here and now, so all attempts to achieve something or get anywhere are doomed from the start. So everyone is striving to be free of striving, desiring to be released from desire, attached to letting go of attachment. It’s a maddening paradox, and you can’t get here from there. And that can be a very humorous predicament unless you don’t get the joke. As Wavy Gravy famously put it: “If you don’t have a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny.”

I took my wife Shari to a 7-day silent retreat at a Buddhist center once, where the people had been meditating for years, and she wondered why everyone’s aura seemed gray, and she kept asking herself, “Where’s the joy?” She was part of a more New Agey type of group at the time, people who believed they came from other star systems, listened to channeled readings direct from Quan Yin and so forth, but say what you want about those sorts of far out things, those folks from the other star systems are definitely having a pretty good time here on our planet, exuding a lot of positive energy.

I sometimes talk in a self-deprecating way about how I have utterly failed to get enlightened, but I recently realized I’m actually in very good company. Utter failure on the spiritual path is practically a prerequisite in the Zen tradition. Until you completely fail and give up the search, you are unable to appreciate and grasp what is already present. When you finally get that there was never anywhere to go, at first it is extremely annoying, but eventually it becomes hilarious. Or as one teacher put it, “The truth may set you free, but it will piss you off first.”

About the book: The 99th Monkey is the story of one man’s utter failure to get enlightened, despite over 30 years of trying. Eliezer Sobel invites readers along on what is both a hilarious and astounding journey through the spiritual, New Age and Human Potential movements of the last 35 years, providing an insider’s view that is at once eye-opening, deeply moving, and completely entertaining.

From encounters with enlightened beings, saints and madmen, to ingesting a powerful shamantic brew in the forests of Brazil at all-night ceremonies; from 40-days alone on a mountaintop, to 60 hours in hotel ballrooms at crash courses in consciousness; from the ashrams and gurus of India to the rebbes in Jerusalem and a ten-day Zen retreat at Auschwitz, there were very few extremes to which Sobel did not go in his life-long quest for self-realization. ("Don't even ask about the 'Tush Push,' which was a partner exercise I did during a Human Sexuality Workshop. Or the very obese female therapist who sat on my head for twenty-five minutes at Esalen Institute so I could re-experience being smothered by my mother."

Although he claims to come out at the end feeling pretty much like the same guy as when he started, and while he suggests that bookstores create a new category for his book alongside the Self-Help section to be called "No Help Whatsoever," The 99th Monkey is actually a modern-day hero's journey that contains its own unique blend of wisdom and insight into what it really means to be a human being.

About the author: Eliezer Sobel is also the author of Minyan: Ten Jewish Men in a World That is Heartbroken, which was the winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, and Wild Heart Dancing. His short story, Mordecai’s Book, won New Millennium’s First Prize for Fiction, and his articles and stories have appeared in the Village Voice, Tikkun Magazine, Quest Magazine, Yoga Journal, New Age Journal, and numerous other publications. Sobel was the Editor-in-Chief of The New Sun magazine in the 70s and was Publisher and Editor of the Wild Heart Journal more recently. He has led intensive creativity workshops and retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, the Open Center in New York City, the Lama Foundation in New Mexico, and Elat Chayyim Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. Sobel lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife, Shari Cordon, and three cats: Squarcialupi, Peanut and Plum.

THE 99TH MONKEY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit Eliezer's tour stops at in August!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. One winner will be announced at this blog on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Read Well, Think Well by Dr. Hal Lanse

Here's a chance at a book giveaway! Education expert Hal W. Lanse is giving away a copy of his latest book, READ WELL, THINK WELL!

Synopsis: Millions of children struggle with reading-and even more struggle to understand exactly what they're reading. Read Well, Think Well will help you to teach your children to build the essential reading and comprehension skills they need to succeed in today's demanding school system. Teacher trainer and literacy specialist Hal W. Lanse, Ph.D., provides the necessary knowledge, strategies, and exercises that will turn your kids into first-rate readers and thinkers.

Learn how to:

Choose the best, age-appropriate reading material

Boost your child's memory and retention skills through verbal and visual exercises

Utilize technology aids to help your child understand the comprehension process

Understand the "Big Six" of reading comprehension through analysis and summary of the text

Promote values for everyday life through reading

Read Well, Think Well-the ultimate guide to secure your child's academic success.

Here are the rules:

You must comment below with your working email address so that we can contact you.

If you blog about this contest, leave a comment, telling us where you are blogging about it and that gives you 2 entries!

Contest starts today and ends on September 29. The winner will be announced on this blog on Sept. 30.

Look for my interview with Dr. Lanse coming on August 29th!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista--Book Review

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is a wonderful and heartwarming story.

Mo, is a toy bear who lives on a high shelf in an airport gift shop. One day, a man and woman come into the store and the woman buys Mo. He wonders where they are going. Mo travels with them on a plane to a cold, different place. The woman gives Mo to a young boy named Yuri and many days pass before Yuri and Mo see the man and woman. But once they are back together again, Mo knows he's right where he belongs.

This is such a touching story that I almost cried. Bashista has created a unique perspective by telling the story of Yuri's adoption from Mo's point of view. Just as one can imgaine Yuri being unsure of all that is happening with the man and the woman who played with him for a day and then left, leaving Mo behind; Mo also experiences his moments of uncertainty. And while I don't know a single word of Russian, Bashista provides the right amount of action tags and description so that the reader knows what the characters are saying. I truly enjoyed, however, how she didn't reveal the meaning of the word "Mishka" until the end.

Miranda Mueller provided beautiful illustrations for Mishka.
Mo looked so cuddly that I wish I had a teddy bear just like him when I was younger. The book titled "Speak Russian" in the man's lap while he's on the plane, the tall buildings in the city, and the pictures of the orphange where Yuri lived, all brought the story to life in a meaningful and charming way.

A touching book to help any young child understand about adoption.

Title: Mishka: An Adoption Tale
Author: Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
Publisher: DRT Press
ISBN: 978-1-933084-01-5
U.S Price: $16.95

This will be one of the books available as a prize when I begin book giveaways in September. Check back soon for more information.

Scarecrow Finds a Friend by Blume J. Rifken--Book Review

A delightful seasonal tale of friendship is what you and your young reader will discover in Scarecrow Finds a Friend by Blume J. Rifken.

It's just after harvest time and Scarecrow is dreaming about Tally the friendly witch and the day she came to grant him a Halloween wish. When he is suddenly woken from his dream, he finds Tally has returned and she has a problem: her flying powers are weakening from granting too many wishes. So Scarecrow devises a plan to steal the wishbone from the Thanksgiving Day turkey to help Tally get her powers back.

My daughters adored this story and begged me to read it again. At 32 pages it is long enough to attract children who are already reading on their own, but not so long that children who are still being read to will get bored. The story will fill your child with the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn.

Carl W. Wenzel provided fun and colorful illustrations that left my children asking questions about the characters and happenings--a true sign that the illustrator has brought a story to life. The cover art--which works so well with the purple cover--is actually an illustration from Page 29. From the organge patch on Scarecrow's coat to the pink flower decorating Tally's hat, Wenzel's attention to detail compliments the story perfectly.

An enjoyable and entertaining seasonal read that explores friendship and working together, Scarecrow Finds a Friend will engage young readers and make them want to read about Tally and Scarecrow time and again.

Title: Scarecrow Finds a Friend
Author: Blume J. Rifken
Publisher: Whirlpool Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-9796948-0-6
ISBN-10: 0-9796948-0-9
U.S. Price: $14.95

The Detectives of Mary Burton's I'm Watching You

Today we'll be treated to character profiles of the two detectives in Mary Burton's romantic suspense novel I'm Watching You.

Detective Zachary David Kier, age 31, is six foot one, has jet-black hair and a lean athletic build. (Think Colin Farrell in SWAT.) He’s the second of four children. His older sister Eleanor has downs and works in his parents’ Italian restaurant, Zola’s. His younger brother is Malcolm, age 29, and he serves on the county’s SWAT team. Youngest sister is Tess who also works in the same police department in the forensics division.

Zack grew up in a great family with lots of love, laughter and hard work. His parents made him and all the Kier children believe that they could do whatever they wanted as long as they put their mind to it. After graduating college, Zack joined the police force. Zack is very competitive and has also embraced the sport of Triathlon.

Zack loves being a cop and when the chance to work on an undercover drug operation opened he jumped at the change. Unfortunately, the undercover work took an emotional toll on him and he found himself drinking more than he should. When he met his wife Lindsay, he cut back on his drinking for a time, but the pressures of work never vanished. Lindsay because of her own history had no patience for drinking and when he refused to get help, she left him. Initially, their separation made him drink more. But finally his brother Malcolm intervened and helped him to sober up.

When I’M WATHCHING YOU begins a now-sober Zack has joined the homicide division. He is not only determined to prove himself as a good homicide detective but he is also determined to win back his wife Lindsay.

Zack can be very sentimental. He recently bought a house in disrepair because it had been a favorite of Lindsay’s. He is determined to remodel it himself.

Detective Jacob Thomas Warwick, 34 is six foot two, dark brown hair and broad muscled shoulders. (Think Gerard Butler in training for 300). He has been a policeman for thirteen years. He has been on the homicide team for several years and proven himself to be a clever, hard-edged detective. An alcoholic, single mother raised Jacob. When he was twelve he decided to vandalize a local boxing gym. The owner, Pete, caught Jacob in the act but instead of taking him to the cops put the kid to work at the gym. In the boxing gym, Jacob found his first home. He quickly learned to love the gym and the sport of boxing. When Jacob’s mom died, Pete became his foster father. Jacob joined the army at eighteen and even became a Golden Gloves fighter. After the army, he became a cop and continued to box on the armature circuit. He has no patience for drunks and his “radar” tells him that Zack has had a drinking problem.

Jacob fully expects Zack to fall off the wagon and to disappoint him. Because of this bias, Jacob isn’t friendly to Zack and constantly second-guesses him. Zack hates this, but he understands that no amount of talking will win Jacob’s respect. Only time and solid police work will do that.

Both Jacob and Zack are alpha males who are type-A personalities. Their drive is what makes them great cops and plays havoc with their personal lives.

When Zack and Jacob are on the trail of a serial killer who has viciously killed and mutilated several victims, they do their best to put aside biases and worries and focus on the job. Towards the end of I’M WATCHING YOU they’ve learned to respect and even like each other. The book’s shocking violence puts both men to the test and you’ll have to read the book to find out which of these brave men passes and which one fails.

Mary Burton

The I'M WATCHING YOU VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4 and end on August 29. You can visit the Mary's tour stops at in August to find out more about her and her book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Best-selling author Lisa Jackson's Left to Die

About Left to Die:

One by one, the victims are carefully captured, toyed with, then subjected to a slow and agonizing death. Piece by piece, his exquisite plan takes shape. The police can't yet see the beauty of his work, but soon, very soon, they will. In the lonely woods around Grizzly Falls, Montana, four bodies have been discovered. Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli have been hoping for a career-making case, but this is a nightmare. Even with the FBI involved, Selena and Regan have nothing to go on but a killer's cryptic notes, and the unsettling knowledge that there is much worse to come. When Gillian Rivers opens her eyes, she's trapped in a mangled car. Then a stranger, claiming to be a trail guide named Zane MacGregor pries her free. Though she's grateful, something about him sets Jillian on edge. And if she knew what lay out there in the woods of Montana, she'd be truly terrified. Because someone is waiting...watching... poised to strike and make Jillian the next victim...

About the author: Lisa Jackson can’t keep away from murderers, especially serial killers. She’s been killing people everywhere from Savannah and New Orleans to San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest—and it’s been worth it. Her readers come back again and again, and her novels are fixtures on national bestseller lists. In fact, her book Fatal Burn was a number one New York Times paperback bestseller, and the first two of her novels to be published in hardcover, Shiver and Absolute Fear, were in the top five on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Having made serial killing her business—sort of—she has put her characters through the wringer. They have been up to their necks in danger and stared death, usually a pretty gory one, right in the face. She continues to be fascinated by the minds and motives of both her killers and their pursuers—the personal, the professional and downright twisted. As she builds the puzzle of relationships, actions, clues, lies and personal histories that haunt her protagonists, she must also confront the fear and terror faced by her victims, and the harsh and enduring truth that, in the real world, terror and madness touch far too many lives and families.

Lisa began writing at the urging of her sister, novelist Nancy Bush. Inspired by the success of authors she admired and the burgeoning market for romance fiction at the time, Nancy was convinced they could work together and succeed. They sat down, determined to write and to be published.

They did and they were.

Initially they wrote together. Later, they moved in different directions. Lisa brought more and more suspense to her work and began writing much darker stories. Nancy’s writing expanded to include not just her own novels, including her highly praised Jane Kelly Mysteries, such as the recently published Ultraviolet. She also spent several years writing for one of television’s leading soap operas, even transplanting herself for a time from the sister’s Pacific Northwest roots to Manhattan. This year, they plan to work together again on a thriller set for publication in 2009.

Meanwhile, for Lisa the killing continues as this mother, daughter, workaholic and amazing writer continues her habit of making the hair stand up on the back of readers’ necks, and landing her books on The New York Times, the USA Today, and the Publishers Weekly national bestseller lists.

Lisa Jackson’s novels include LOST SOULS and the best sellers Absolute Fear, which will be published in paperback for the first time in March, Hot Blooded, Cold Blooded, The Night Before, The Morning After, Deep Freeze, Fatal Burn, and Almost Dead. Last year, Most Likely to Diewas written by Lisa, Beverly Barton and Wendy Corsi Staub was published and became a number three New York Times paperback bestseller. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and the Romance Writers of America.

You can find Lisa Jackson on the web at and you'll find her blog here.

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Author Spotlight: Danny Birt

Back Cover of Ending an Ending:

Existence is not supposed to be optional in this flat polytheistic world—it is the dictate of Etre, one of the world’s three founding gods. But Sanct, a man lacking memories, skills, and purpose, possesses (or is possessed by) an object that seemingly ignores the gods’ rules with impunity. To make matters even more confusing, Sanct is purportedly one of the gods’ servants.

But when the deities are forced to play by their own convoluted rules, even they can make mistakes.

Ending an Ending Excerpt:

"...don't you worry, lieutenant, I haven't forgotten my promise. I will still save you for dessert." The vampire's disembodied voice continued, now worming its way between those standing and those sitting. "This evening all I want is to learn about this Sanct that I find so fascinating.
"What I have before me is patently impossible – a man who is not a man… carrying a staff that does not exist. I must admit, sir, you are quite beyond my six thousand years of experience to fathom. Please, flatter me and answer my original question: what are you?"

About the author:

Danny Birt was born about twenty-seven years ago in Washington State to Irish and Californian parents. He attended New Mexico Military Institute in the small town of Roswell, NM for his high school and junior college years, then attended Loyola University New Orleans, for his next two college degrees in music therapy and psychology.

Danny has published science fiction, fantasy, and professional works in The Raintown Review, Strange Worlds of Lunacy,, and Musica Ficta. His fantasy series “The Laurian Pentology” is slated to be published through Ancient Tomes Press, starting in early summer 2008 with the book Ending an Ending.

In addition to literary publication, Danny composes classical and filk music, such as his nonstop hour-long piano solo, “Narcoleptic Pianist,” and the ever-peculiar album “Warped Children’s Songs.”

Danny also works as a Music Therapist and Massage Therapist with clients of multiple ages and populations.

Currently, Danny lives in Winchester, Virginia, and attends Shenandoah University in pursuit of his Music Therapy Master’s degree.

You can purchase your copy of Ending an Ending by Danny Birt and get to know him at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Giant Leaf: take a giant leaf of faith by Davy Liu--Book Review

Davy Liu has come up with a beautiful and fascinating retelling of a Biblical story using an animal's perspective with his children's picture book, The Giant Leaf: take a giant leaf of faith from his Invisible Tails series.

In this story that tells of The Great Flood, Kendu the fox dreams of floating in an endless blue beneath a giant leaf. But his days are long and hard as the foxes are forced to dig holes for the Beasts to lay their eggs.

Then one day, Kendu escapes and decides he must find the giant leaf from him dream. Meeting up with Yitzhak the monkey and a koala bear named Odelia, the three decide to go to the Wilds, even though they are afraid of the Animal Eater. When the rains come, they realize that their only chance of survival is the dreaded Animal Eater. But maybe the Animal Eater is not what it appears to be.

Just as with Liu's book Fire Fish--which I reviewed here--The Giant Leaf is filled with symbolism and entertaining animal characters to delight young readers. Douglas Wood offered the illustrations in this book and they are just as stunning as the ones Liu provided for Fire Fish. The characters, the glossy pages, and the beautiful illustrations will make The Giant Leaf a book that your child will treasure for many years to come and the book's unusual size (12 X 6 1/2 inches) will ensure you'll easily be able to find it on the bookshelf--though it will never be there long because you'll want to read it often.

I eagerly await more books in the Invisible Tails series.

Title: The Giant Leaf: take a giant leaf of faith
Author: Davy Liu
Publisher: Kendu Films Productions
ISBN-13: 978-1-57921-864-5
ISBN-10: 1-57921-864-4
U.S. Price: $19.95

Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield--Book Review

Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield is a gripping novel sure to please fans of military historical fiction.

It’s 1942 and Richard Chapman is a lieutenant in the British army. German Panzers are enjoying success after success in Africa and threatening to dominate Egypt and the entire Middle East.

The Long Range Desert Group, or LRDG, is a special forces unit that operates behind enemy lines and far from central command. After an earlier denial, “Chap” finds himself temporarily deployed with the LRDG on a technical mission. Through a confluence of events his technical mission morphs into a daring assignment to find and kill the commander of the German Afrika Corps, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel – The Desert Fox.

Pressman’s meticulous portrayal of the sights and sounds of the 1942-43 Africa campaign transports the reader to the front lines. Pressman weaves harrowing desert combat sequences throughout with depictions of the often seemingly endless monotony these warriors also had to endure.

In addition to the technical aspects of military matters so masterfully relayed in this novel, the character development and interaction is also first rate. Particularly effective--and often unexpected--are scenes that illustrate chivalry and honor on the part of the German and Allied forces amid the chaos of warfare.

Killing Rommel is an engrossing read that captures the essence of desert tank warfare. Fans of World War II era historical fiction will not be disappointed.

Title: Killing Rommel
Author: Steven Pressfield
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0-385-51970-0
U.S. Price: $24.95
Reviewed by: Paul H. Malandrinos

God Has a Purpose for Me by LaRonda Koffi--Book Review

God Has a Purpose for Me by LaRonda Koffi is a heartwarming and inspirational story of a young girl's quest to find God's purpose for her life.

When Aya hears the pastor of her church talk about fulfilling God's purpose in your life she's not quite sure what he is talking about and her attempts to make God happy leave her exhausted. With the help of her family, Aya is able to discover what fulfilling God's purpose in one's life is really about.

God Has a Purpose for Me is an excellent way to help children grow in their faith and knowledge of God in an entertaining and easily understood manner. Your young reader will instantly connect with Aya's confusion over how to fulfill God's purpose in her life; and just as your child would seek the advice of adults close to her, Aya asks her parents and grandmother to help her understand what the pastor meant by his sermon. I could also see this book encouraging more questions about God and spirituality from a young reader.

The illustrations provided by Victor Guiza are absolutely beautiful. They remind me of Kevin S. Collier's work. The bright colors and the attention to every last detail bring this wonderful children's story to life.

A story your child will enjoy reading time and again, God Has a Purpose for Me* is sure to touch your child's heart and help lead him on the right path.

Title: God Has a Purpose for Me
Author: LaRonda Koffi
Publisher: Jesus Loves Me Children's Books, LLC.
ISBN: 978-0-9817150-0-1
U.S. Price: $15.95

* For each book sold, $1.00 will be donated to Compassion International. To learn more about Compassion International you may visit their website at

Muse Online Writers Conference--Registration deadline approaching fast

The deadline to register for the 2008 Muse Online Writers Conference is September 1st. Now in its third year, the Muse Online Writers Conference offers writers the opportunity to hone their craft and learn about everything from book proposals to book promotion and beyond.

Don't miss this opportunity to attend a totally online and free* writers conference. Register now at

* Our conference is FREE but ask if you can donate to help support this site and our cause (to continue offering you FREE workshops each year). Your generosity is appreciated.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year: Interviewing Stories by Yadin Kaufmann & Mark Bernstein

Today we welcome Mark Bernstein and Yadin Kaufmann, the editors of the best-selling college life guide How to Survive Your Freshman Year, a Hundreds of Heads book.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year was compiled from interviews with hundreds of students at over 120 colleges across the country, and includes the latest advice and tips straight from students. The book is sure to help freshmen get off to a great start in college, armed with the experience of hundreds of others who have "been there, done that." The book also helps parents better understand how their teens can survive and thrive in college, and makes for a great high school graduation gift.

The book’s Special Editor, academic advisor and instructor Frances Northcutt, adds expert advice, guidance and insightful commentary.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year gives students great advice on:

• Getting off to a great start in college
• What to take
• Where to live
• How to get a good roommate
• Dorm Life
• Choosing classes
• When and where to study
• Exams secrets
• Filling free time
• The dating and party scene
• Finances, and
• Choosing a major

I asked Yadin and Mark to provide us with some interviewing stories from their work on the Hundreds of Heads books. Here's what they had to say:


I'm a big fan of recruiting people to interview by using the Internet, eavesdropping on strangers' conversations in cafes (and politely interrupting depending on the subject matter), and by posting signs in random locations, like my gym locker room.

I end up connecting with so many interesting people who I would otherwise not have access to. I've been contacted by teenagers who wanted their voices to be heard in the 'How to Survive Your Teenager' book, a former prisoner from the county jail who discussed all the reflective time he had (I suppose in his cell) after his divorce, and I've seen more close-ups of strangers delivering their babies than I expected to when I put out the call for the 'How to Survive Your Pregnancy' title.

A couple of stories:

1) My roommate walked by my computer and gasped, "I thought you were interviewing people!" I didn't know why she was so confused, until I realized that my screen displayed a glossy close up of a woman in labor. This was one of many photos I have received from women who I've asked about pregnancy!

I've found that the kind of women who respond to my questions for 'HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR PREGNANCY', are different. They tend to be very caring, proud and open - they are mothers, after all!

2) I called a guy I met on-line to interview him for 'HOW TO SURVIVE DIVORCE'. Within a few minutes, he started to interview me. He wanted to know my age and my interests. I soon realized he was trying to gage whether or not he and I would be a good match. Eeeck!

3) I've gotten the biggest response when I've asked for people to tell me how they survived their divorce. I've thought about why this may be...perhaps it's cathartic to write about their experiences, and it probably crystallizes many things for them. I also think that it's a relief that they are ASKED to talk about their divorce. I imagine many people don't know what to say to them. After all, there's no Hallmark card to comfort someone through this painful process. For many who have gone through a divorce, it's nice to have someone ask them to share their story and their advice. For this reason, I've really enjoyed working on this title...
Andrea Syrtash
Toronto, ONT
HH since fall '04

This past June our Chief Headhunter, Jamie Allen, suggested that in order to collect more interviews we might want to give cold-calling a try. I’m shy by nature, but I had only been on the job for a few months and thought I’d give it a go to keep the boss happy.

So one day I packed up my notebook, pen and a copy of the only book in the series that was out at the time-"How To Survive Your Freshman Year"-and headed across the border from my home in Western Pennsylvania and into Ohio. The first town of any size I came to was East Palestine. It looked perfect.

I parked the car and began walking up and down the main streets of the little town randomly stopping people on their way to work or to the bakery or to the corner store to buy a newspaper and asking if I could interview them for a new and exciting book series. But the people were less than excited. I quickly changed my approach shortening my pitch and promising an interview that would last a mere five minutes. Ten tops.

But most people still politely declined. My confidence and eagerness began to fade. I started to lose hope. Then I met mailman Bill.

I had walked out of the ‘downtown’ and into a residential area hoping to find people watering their lawns or washing their cars-environments where it would be more difficult for them to simply wave me off and walk away. But no one seemed to be out on this glorious July morning. I was ready to head back to the more populated area of town when I spotted mailman Bill working his way toward me from the other end of the street. When in doubt ask a federal employee, I thought. So I approached Bill with my usual pitch about how I was interviewing for a new publishing company that was putting out a series of books in which regular people would give advice to people in need on topics like surviving your baby, marriage, etc.

Bill said he really couldn’t stop to talk but that I was welcome to tag along while he delivered the mail. I accepted. I quickly found out that not only did Bill qualify to speak on most of the topics I was seeking interviewees for, but that he was actually full of good advice. Unfortunately he was also full of rage. At practically every home we stopped to deliver bills and ads and birthdays cards from Grandma, Bill had some, um, less than kind things to say about the homeowners. This guy never cuts his grass. There are always toys blocking the walk at this place. This lady’s dog drives me crazy with the constant barking. This guy never shovels his walk. On that last one I had to use my imagination seeing that the temperatures were already in the low 80s and climbing. On another day I might have thanked Bill for his time and got going while the going was good. The term ‘going postal’ kept darting in and out of my head. But the thing was, Bill was actually a very good interview. And on a day where that animal was in short supply I felt a need to keep listening…and hoping Bill wouldn’t completely blow his top.

We made it to the end of the block with my notebook full of Bill’s nuggets of wisdom and Bill’s blood pressure still (marginally) below the boiling point. I shook his hand and thanked him for all his help. I finished out the day, drove home and parked the car. Then I starting moving all my kids’ toys out of the walkway.
Ken McCarthy
HH since summer '04

1. I interviewed a lady who is a spokesperson for NutriSystem. As I usually do, I asked if she could put me in touch with anyone else who might like to share tips for the book. Someone from the company emailed and asked if I'd like to talk with Zora Andrich, the winner of the first Joe Millionaire TV show!

My husband and I had watched every episode of that show, rooting for Zora the whole time, so I was excited--and nervous--to talk with her. To my delight, when I interviewed Zora, she was just as down-to-earth and friendly as she seemed on the show. She was so at ease, I felt like I had known her for years. Best of all, Zora was very grateful to be a part of the book and share her experiences and advice with women who had struggled, as she had, with weight.

2. After submitting a query about the diet book on a journalism web site called ProfNet, I received a reply from Daphne Budge from Utah. She's part of a weight loss support group for a company out there. Daphne set up a conference call for me to interview not one, not two, but 13 women! The call was chaotic, and very fun. The women joked and bounced ideas off of each other, and my biggest challenge was keeping all of the voices straight. "Who's this?" I had to ask a few times. It was one of the most fun interviews I've ever had.
Jennifer Bright Reich
HH since spring '04

Last spring and summer (when the weather was nice and it was high tourist season in San Francisco), I would take my daughter, who was then about 6-12 months old, to some of the hot spots in Golden Gate Park. We would just be lying out on a blanket, snacking, or crawling around. Not to be too biased, but she’s a real cutie, and she’s also extremely friendly with strangers. She was a sure-fire conversation starter, and I would “just happen” to have a copy of a book, some release forms, and a paper-and-pen with me. I met people from around the country that way and got lots of good stories. Unfortunately, this technique stopped working once she got really good at crawling and then started walking, because now it’s impossible to have an extended conversation with anybody, as I spend my time running after her trying to stop her from picking flowers, poking babies, and stealing other children’s balls.
Kazz Regelman
San Francisco, California
HH since spring of '04

HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit the authors' tour stops at in August to find out more about them and their book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. One winner will be announced on our tour blog on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Author Spotlight: Janrae Frank

Synopsis of Serpent's Quest:

Red Wolf was the strongest of the Nine Great Chiefdoms of the lycan clans, which had long suffered under the yoke of the blood-drinking sa'necari necromancers. Thirty years ago, the realm of the sa'necari, Waejontor, was conquered by the amazon nation, Shaurone. The Sharani brought the lycan people three decades of peace and freedom that is now threatened by the sudden rise to power of a young Waejontori Queen.

Clan Redhand, the family that rules Red Wolf, is plunged into danger when a sa'necari bounty hunter and mercenary named Malthus Estrobian arrives in their valley, posing as a human refugee from the battles beyond their borders. Unknown to them, Malthus is the "Butchering Serpent," the genocidal mastermind behind the hidden laboratories where hundreds of lycans perished in vicious experiments. He infilitrates Red Wolf with two goals in mind: find out what happened to his brother, Troyes, who disappeared in the valley several years ago; and destroy the Redhand family in order to subjugate Red Wolf for his queen.

The only person standing between Malthus and his objectives is a young guardsman with a concealed heritage: Kynyr Maguire. Trained by the greatest armsmaster the lycans have ever known, and educated well beyond the norm for his kind, Kynyr must find a way to defeat the dark arts of the Butchering Serpent or see his people destroyed, including the woman he loves.


The Great Hall of the Redhand Manorhouse was the largest room in the building. Two rows of stone support columns ran along the south and north sides of the room. Clusters of comfortable chairs, sofas, and low tables in dark-stained wood broke the Great Hall into false alcoves. The sections of a large trestle table stood stacked along the south wall to be assembled for rare formal dinners. At the east end stood the deep hearth and to the left of the hearth were three looms, a spinning wheel, and several baskets of wool and yarn.

Claw sat in his big over-stuffed chair. Like most of the lycan clans, he maintained an informal household, rather than the elaborate courts of the sa'necari and the humans of Shaurone to the south and Creeya to the Northeast. On the side table sat his pipe rack with a jar of tobacco in the center and four pipes in cradles around it. He filled his pipe, struck a lucifer and lit the herb. Claw took several puffs, then slid his gaze across the four guardsmyn seated around him: stout Belgair, the Captain of Claw's Household Guards for the past two decades, reputed to be a bully although Claw had yet to witness it himself; blond Kynyr Maguire, the youngest of the guardsmyn at twenty and so handsome that some said it was downright sinful; tow-headed Finn MacIver, who had missed being youngest by two months; and Ramsey Fitzgerald with hair as red as a whore's petticoats and a temperament so mellow and staid that it proved you could not judge a mon's nature by the color of his hair.

A slender nibari slave entered with a tray and handed out tankards of mead. "Will be all, Master Claw?"

"Yes, Kissie."

His gaze rested longest on a handsome young male named Kynyr Maguire. Kynyr looked so much like Claw's long dead son, Tarrant, that it often caused a poignant flutter in the otherwise crusty, obdurate old chieftain. "I hear they've a new one at the Camp."

Kynyr glanced at the Captain of the Guard, Belgair, before answering. He drew a glare followed by a shrug from Belgair. "A male with two little girls."

"I don't like it. Males don't stop here."

The Sanctuary Refugee Camp existed only because Claw permitted it, and he liked to keep a close watch on it.

"They do if they've children along." Belgair pointed out, and took a long draw from his tankard.

"Yaw. And how many times has that happened in the last four years? They stay just long enough to dump the cubs and run."

Kynyr shook his head at Claw, drawing another glare from Belgair. "Nikko says this one is insisting he's here for the long haul… that he won't desert his nieces."


"Only the girls. He's human."

"Or so he says. Go ask around, Kynyr. Ramsey, you and Finn go with him."

Kynyr finished his mead and they left.

Belgair out-stayed the others, leaning in toward Claw. "Just because he's got a pretty face…"

"Shut up, Belgair." Belgair had never known Claw's twin sons, Logan and Tarrant. They had died ten years before Belgair's birth. Belgair had no idea what they looked like because Claw had ordered all their portraits removed from the walls of the manor after their deaths: looking at them made his wife Aisha cry. Let Belgair think what he would; Claw had no intention of opening himself up for accusations of sentimentality by telling Belgair what it was that drew him to Kynyr.

"I wouldn't put so much trust in Kynyr… if I were you."

"I'll be the judge, Belgair. You've made your points, now get out."

Belgair frowned and removed himself.

Claw sat a long time alone, smoking and drinking, ringing the bell for Kissie repeatedly to refill his tankard. He kept hoping that Kynyr would draw the eye of his daughter Merissa, but she seemed determined never to fall in love again; and like the rest of the Redhand family, stubbornness was proving a curse. So far all that Claw had was the bastard child Merissa had borne her sa'necari lover — a child that could not inherit the realm because he had not been born lycan. If Merissa did not find a husband in the next year, Claw intended to exercise his rights and arrange a marriage for her whether she wished it or not.

Visit Janrae's website at for more information and for links to purchase Serpent's Quest.

His Shadowed Heart by Hazel Statham--Book Review

An enjoyable, romantic read is what you'll find in Hazel Statham's His Shadowed Heart.

The Earl of Waverly might never love again. After the death of his wife, he believes his heart irreparably damaged. Entering into a marriage of convenience to young Caroline Northam, the Earl settles in to a life with his daughter and new bride. Little does he know the affect Caroline will have on him.

But their new-found happiness is jeopardized by strange happenings and heinous acts attributed to the ghost of his first wife. Will their love be strong enough to survive?

This is the first Regency romance I've read, though I am a huge fan of historical fiction and historical romance novels. The story opens with the Earl of Waverly's (Richard's) sister, Lady Victoria Stanton, trying to bully her younger brother into remarrying, even if just for his daughter's sake. The entertaining exchange sets the mood for the remainder of their conversations, which I found almost as enjoyable as the tense moments between the earl and his cousin, Gerald Dent. The author goes to great extents to create Richard and it shows in every emotion and movement he feels and performs.

The rich details draw the reader right into the time period and through Statham's eloquent prose the reader discovers how much meaning can be found in a brief glance, a caress, a tender kiss to an upheld hand.

I only wish I had not discovered the identity of the perpetrator earlier than when it was openly revealed. Perhaps if one or two clues had not been dropped in previous chapters I might have been more surprised. This did not, however, take anything away from the delightful ending--which I believe is perfect.

His Shadowed Heart by Hazel Statham should be on every historical romance lovers wish list.

Title: His Shadowed Heart
Author: Hazel Statham
Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-59088-756-8
U.S. Price: $16.95

Ten Thousand Charms by Allison Pittman--Book Review

Ten Thousand Charms by Allison Pittman is an outstanding and powerful novel of love and redemption.

A mining camp certainly isn't the place for someone as young and pretty as Gloria. But when you're a pregnant prostitute trying to decide how to get out of your predicament, a mining camp where you know someone isn't such a bad thing. Taken in by Jewell, the closest thing to a friend she knows, and the owner of the local brothel, Gloria pays her way by taking care of things around the place...that is, until her time comes and then she'll be expected to work like the rest of the girls.

John William McGregan is desperate. His wife died in childbirth and he is forced to seek Gloria's help to nurse his newborn daughter. They enter into an agreement where Gloria will tend to his daughter if he raises her son. No marriage, just taking care of the kids together until Gloria feels it's time to leave--she's not the motherly type.

After moving to the new Oregon Territory things begin to change. John William's faith and the doting of a neighborly widow leave Gloria longing for the love she's never known. But she's not worthy of a man of great faith like John William McGregan and certainly God couldn't want anything to do with her. When tragedy strikes, Gloria turns to the God she's never trusted. Can He save her new found family?

Kudos go out to Pittman for delivering such a powerful and inspiring story right out of the gate. Ten Thousand Charms is Pittman's debut novel and now I am eager to read the next two books in her Crossroads of Grace series.

A story of unanticipated love and redemption, Christian fiction and inspirational romance fans are certain to be moved by Ten Thousand Charms. Pittman has thrust two characters from distinctly different points of views together out of necessity and brings them to the point where they discover God's plan for their lives.

Gloria is at times crass, but her childlike eagerness to learn from John William and Maureen (the neighborly widow) about God endears the reader to her. It is easy to relate to the helplessness that Gloria feels as she wanders through life believing she has no future and doubting that she could ever be worthy in John's or God's eyes. The unfolding love story between John and Gloria is heartwarming and beautifully done, especially when it comes so unexpectedly for both of them.

Pittman's research and attention to detail make this story come to life as much as her realistic and all too human characters do. This story is set in the 1860's--a favorite time period of mine--which is why I wanted to read the book in the first place. And the discussion questions at the end make this the perfect book club selection.

I can't imagine how Pittman will top such a strong introductory novel, but since she sent me books 2 and 3 in this series to review, I eagerly anticipate sitting down with a cup of tea and finding out.

Title: Ten Thousand Charms (Crossroads of Grace series #1)
Author: Allison Pittman
Publisher: Multnomah Books
ISN: 1-59052-575-2
U.S. Price: $12.99

David S. Grant's Bleach/Blackout

We welcome back David S. Grant to talk about his double novel Bleach/Blackout.

About the book: Fans of fluffy romance novels and that all-too-familiar, over-hyped, edge-of-the-seat crap should steer clear. This is life at its most jaded. Offense Mechanisms is proud to present Bleach | Blackout by David S. Grant, two novels about drugs, sex, revenge, the corporate crunch, and the inevitable unpleasantness of life and death.

About the author: David S. Grant is the author of Corporate Porn, published by Silverthought Press in 2006. David's first novel Bleach and its sequel titled Blackout are now available through Offense Mechanisms, an imprint of Silverthought Press in 2008. Also, newly published in 2008 the novel The Last Breakfast and short story collection Emotionless Souls through Brown Paper Publishing. David lives and works in New York City.

I asked David to share a bit more about this double novel with us today and to add some of his reflections. Here's what he had to say:

Bleach tells the tale of coming back home for the holidays to find decadence that forces a look inside. Blackout is a dark comedy with the theme of living moment to moment. A story about living.

Bleach, written in 2002 was my first novel. In late 2006 I wrote the sequel named Blackout. When I asked Silverthought Press (publisher of Corporate Porn) if interested in both we agreed a double novel with a topsy-turvy cover for each was the only way to do it.

Bleach opens during the last 60 seconds of 2003 in a bathroom where a girl lay dying and a jaded 30-year-old named Jeremy, who navigates the reader through the endless repulsiveness of the world, watches. Before diving into an explanation of what is going on, Jeremy doubles back eight days where you find him in the office ready to embark on a vacation back home to the Midwest. The question is whether Jeremy makes it back to New York.

I believe the first novel is the most personal and that is certainly the case with Bleach. Having made the move myself there are relatable sequences and feelings “coming home” and what it means to pick up relationships right where left off.

The entire story builds up to the climax of the "The Party" on New Year's Eve where all the men are dressed as prostitutes, all the women look like pimps and decadence and debauchery dictate the rules. Everything seems to be spiraling out of control, and Jeremy realizes there are no guarantees for him or anyone else.

Blackout picks up two years after Bleach in Las Vegas where Stoner and friends are celebrating his bachelor party complete with strippers and crack cocaine. The ride home is blurry and the next morning in Los Angeles brings a surprise when Stoner’s friends, Chip and Jeremy, wake to find police officers and a dead body they are allegedly responsible for, but neither can recall.

When writing Blackout I wanted to go in a different direction, having the story two years later allows the characters to develop without a lot of back story. Also, moving to the West Coast allowed me to move forward with a new story and not worry about tying up loose ends from Bleach.

Underneath the stories of hangovers and death, Blackout is a story about living. Living for the moment and having a story to tell.

Both stories move quickly through decadence and addiction, but you won’t notice…before you know it you will be partying in your head with Jeremy, Sharon, Chip, and Stoner. For excerpts, reviews, and more information please go to:

Bleach/Blackout is available at, Barnes and Noble, and

The BLEACH / BLACKOUT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month long. You can visit David's tour stops at in August to find out more about him and his book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops during the tour. More prizes will be announced as they become available. One winner will be announced at our tour blog on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tori Kropp Shares The Joy of Pregnancy

Joining us today is Tori Kropp. Tori is a Perinatal Registered Nurse and an international figure in the field of women’s health, pregnancy and early parenting. She is known as the “Dear Abby of Pregnancy” and has helped deliver thousands of babies. She is the author of The Joy of Pregnancy, The Complete, Candid and Reassuring Companion for Parents-To-Be.

I asked Tori what makes The Joy of Pregnancy different from the many other books available to expectant parents. Here's what she had to say:

Hi and thanks for inviting me here today.

What is it that makes The Joy of Pregnancy truly a different book than the thousands of other pregnancy books available, especially the most popular one? To answer that, please let me give you some background on myself and how I came to write it.

I have been a Perinatal nurse for more than 20 years. Even years before that I had a fascination with birth that has led me on this long and expanding road of pregnancy. There is nothing I know more about than “birthing” babies. I have seen more that 2000babies come into the world in hospitals, birth centers, bedrooms, bathtubs, hammocks and even in the back of a pickup truck! I practice in a very well respected, family centered women’s hospital in San Francisco.

Many years ago, I began to recognize that many women who were “prepared” for birth by having read books and taken classes were coming into their births ill prepared for actual labor. They were trusting a variety of “experts” and writers more than they trusted themselves. They were struggling to “think” their way through and to try to control the very primal and uncontrollable experience of childbirth.

In 1990 I founded a unique pre- and post-natal teaching program: PillowTalk, Modern Childbirth Education. My strategy in these classes—teaching women not to overwhelm themselves with information and to focus instead on trusting their bodies and enjoying their pregnancies was very well received in the San Francisco/Bay area. The classes came to be known as the “common-sense” ones to take. In 1995 I began Stork Site®, a community website for expectant and new parents. Bursting with activity, this site became one of the Internet’s first successful communities and later became a part of

I have been able to use the skills I have in my work with pregnant women in a variety of ways. And I know I have been able to have a positive impact. My heart warms when a woman, with a child (or two or three) in tow, makes a beeline across the street to say, “Tori, do you remember me? You were with me eight years ago when my son was born, “ or “Thanks! We learned so much in your classes. They made such a difference for us.” What could be more fulfilling? I have always wanted to reach out to more women through a book and the time finally presented itself. The Joy of Pregnancy is not merely a resource. It is truly a work from my heart.

Women today are more worried, anxious and serious than I have ever seen. Where is the humor of that expanding belly, the funny stories, and the old wives’ tales? It seems as though the common sense and lightness of this wonderful time has been replaced by dry facts about procedures, tests, and nutrition. These are all important things but certainly not the whole picture.

The Joy of Pregnancy is warm, contemporary, practical and fresh. It speaks to today’s women. Because I actively work with pregnant women, the information is absolutely current and sound. I present information in a non-judgmental way so that women have the resources to make decisions that are best for them. Among the best-selling books, I continue to discover plenty of opinions and biases and medical information presented in a way that creates worry and fear. Much of what is written is alarmist, outdated and impractical. So many books focus on the negative possibilities.

Why is it that there is so much polarization in how women should experience their pregnancies and especially what should and should not happen during labor and birth? There are so many “opinions” about what the “right or better” choices are. The truth is that all those opinions do is create guilt for women. Of course, we want to do what is best and it is simply unfair for women to feel as though a reasonable choice they make is not the “right” one.

I focus on the realistic experiences that women may have and describe them in a positive way. I talk about how normal most of what women experience is. Practicality, particularly related to what is useful to buy and what is and is not necessary in preparing for the new baby is highlighted. I talk a lot about how to spend less and focus on things such as spending money on wholesome food and buying for the long-term and borrowing for the short term. The book also addresses some of the unrealistic expectations that magazines and the media place on pregnancy, weight gain, postpartum and baby care. I concentrate on what is real for women. Finally, I share a lot of myself in the book and it is very personal and honest. My goal with The Joy of Pregnancy is to help women in the most non-judgmental way possible prepare for their babies. The book is fresh, uplifting, funny and empowering.

I don’t for a minute say that I know everything. I really don’t want to give the impression that I do. I simply have had a lot of experience and hope to share that in a positive way through The Joy of Pregnancy. People close to me who have read the book tell me that it sounds just as though I am speaking. And I think I speak more comfortably than I write! I hope women can feel as though they have a trusted companion walking with them through their pregnancies.

I welcome women to read and learn and take from the pages of The Joy of Pregnancy anything that they find to be helpful. Feel free to leave the rest. The ride is great. There is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. Babies are unbelievable, and humor is the ingredient that keeps us sane and happy.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share all of this with you and your readers.

~~ Warmly, Tori Kropp

THE JOY OF PREGNANCY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit Tori's tour stops at in August to find out more about her and her book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on our main blog on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sam's Quest for the Crimson Crystal by Ben Furman--Book Review

An entertaining and exciting read awaits young adult readers in Sam's Quest for the Crimson Crystal by Ben Furman.

Samantha Mae Costas is not your typical heroine. Her small size and thick glasses have made her the butt of many jokes and her asthma attacks are embarrassing and difficult to control.

When Prince Buznor pleads with her to come to Innerworld, Sam discovers she's a legend. She must push aside self-doubt and fear to find the Crimson Crystal so she can save the Awokian people from elimination.

Sam's Quest for the Crimson Crystal is a fun read. Young people will easily relate to Sam's feelings of self-doubt and how she deals with her asthma separating her from her friends when she can no longer participate in soccer. And this is part of what makes Sam's role in Innerworld so delightful. She is thrust into a battle that tests her limits and is forced to reconsider everything she believes about herself.

In addition to Prince Buznor (Buzz), Sam meets a host of interesting characters along the way: Captain Gorn, who has trained all the soldiers and who is a good friend of Buzz and his family; Kryton, the leader of the dragonflies who can communicate with Sam; and Raptor, a bird who also has reptilian features, along with an eclectic group of others. Many friendships are forged along the journey, and Patch, Sam's trusted and faithful canine companion has such a strong personality that you would swear he was human.

With Sam's Quest, Furman has created a fun new world for fantasy lovers to explore. And at a retail price of $8.95 the book is a steal.

A terrific, satisfying, and entertaining story that will leave you begging for more. I eagerly anticipate the release of the next book in the Sam's Quest trilogy.

Title: Sam's Quest for the Crimson Crystal
Author: Ben Furman
Publisher: Black Hawk Press, Inc.
ISBN-10: 0-97787-318-8
ISBN-13: 978-097787-318-0
U.S. Price: $8.95